Saturday, March 17, 2012

What Grade Are You In, Dear?

By far, the funniest side effect of home schooling is that Colleena has NO IDEA what grade she is “in”.  As she looks old enough to be in school now, people often ask her, and she looks at me helplessly as if she hasn’t the faintest clue of what to say.  Baden, having spent a few years at school, understands the importance of this question and answers much more naturally with “ grade 2”.

I never noticed before, but this is our culturally normal way of finding out how old children are.  It becomes a moot point after high school, but until then, it’s the way we gauge a child’s age, likely interests and areas of learning. We might say “ Oh, you’re in grade 3?  That must mean you are learning cursive in school… do you like it?”  

I kept coaching her to say “ I’m in Kindergarten this year”.  This is what people expect, and from that they can deduce that she is 5 or 6.  She refused, however, and one day I pressed her to find out why.  “ I thought I was in Grade 1 and 2!” she said.  It was cute, and it made me laugh, but honestly, I can understand her confusion.  None of her workbooks are for Kindergarten.  The thing about homeschooling is that children learn whatever they need to understand next, and this is different from the public system .

Neither Baden nor Colleena does many workbooks in “their grade”.  Many homeschooling materials come with no grade, suggested grade windows, or are very different than the province where we live.  Language Arts Through Literature has different colors of workbooks that you progress through, with suggested grade equivalents.  Colleena is doing the “blue” level, which is “about grade 1”, and Baden the “red”.  Although “red” is marked for grade 2, in our province, they wouldn’t study the topics in it until grade 3, maybe grade 4 if they are in French Immersion.  Their Math books are graded, and each child is ahead by one year, besides, this curriculum is again further ahead than the province’s stated levels for their years.  They are both doing grade 2 Bible, as it was easier for me to have them do the same one, and their science books are “grades 4-6”.  In French I am sure they are behind where they would be in school, as I have really dropped the ball there and am having a hard time finding enough materials.

So, you can understand Colleena’s confusion.  She has no idea why people expect her to be in Kindergarten.  Homeschooling has made me realize that I have to stop lumping all kids of the same grade together as having similar interests, abilities or areas of study.  Just in case you’re wondering, I am not going to be teaching cursive to Baden next year in “grade 3”.  I can’t read his printing a lot of the time, and I am not moving on to a potentially messier style until he is neater at this one.  He is not going to be hurt by another year of printing, he’s an 8 year old boy and this is just where he is at. I for one am going to simply ask how old a kid is from now on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Colleena’s Beauty Salon

I remember hearing a story once about a famous artist.  As a child, he took the ink well and drew pictures all over the walls.  His mom, instead of freaking out, saw that he had talent and encouraged him to draw, but on paper.  I always liked to imagine she had to count to 12 thousand before responding, because that is what I would have done to avoid going bananas.  Oh, and I’m sure she made him clean it up too…

I always wanted to be that mom, the one who doesn’t mind the inconvenience of cleaning up after some great exploration or learning opportunity.  The one who kept her cool, and encouraged her kids to explore their interests.  Sometimes I am.  My kids ( and often my friend’s kids) are always doing some crazy thing at my house.  They play with tubs of water on the kitchen floor ( and get in them), I tape paper on walls to let them paint it, I let them paint windows, I fill the bathtub with snow, I give them puffed wheat to “cook” with in the play kitchen and I have even filled up a paddling pool on my deck in early spring so they could splash in their bathing suits.  It’s often said “ only at your house!”

I was pretty cool when I discovered that Colleena had cut herself some bangs…She did a pretty good job, and only minor touch ups were needed at the hairdresser’s.  But last week, I really blew it.  Colleena snuck downstairs and gave haircuts to her Barbies, their clothes, and horses.  When I discovered the pieces, she lied to cover it up.  I won’t lie, I was mad.  Some of the things she cut where mine from childhood.  In that moment, I was thinking “ I am NOT going to have a kid with a scissor issue, I have to put a stop to this right now!”.  It was a big angry fight, ruining an other wise great day.

After I had some time to cool off, I got to thinking… why not let her cut hair?  Can I make an appropriate venue for this?   So I made a little plan, and today I got to put it into action.

DSC_0880I went to Value Village, and for only a few dollars, I bought a small scrubs shirt as a smock, a dolly that none of us had any attachment to, and a bib to be the “client’s” cover.

Colleena got out all the toolsDSC_0879

She wanted to use, washed and combed out the hair and set to work.

Lily wanted to play too, but she wasn’t allowed to have real scissors, so she was just a stylist tonight…

Colleena was so thrilled!  We had a lot of fun, and told her that we would allow her to keep certain dollies for hair cutting.  This also came with a stern warning thatDSC_0882 she was not to cut hair, whether real or dolly, without mom or dad, and that we would only play this game in the kitchen.

So, tonight ended on a much happier note.  Colleena got to try something she has been interested in, and mommy didn’t lose her cool.  And apparently, Dolly was pleased with the new ‘do…DSC_0891

Monday, March 5, 2012

How Long Should You Store Hand Me Downs?

This question is on my mind again this week.  With the girls, it’s not really an issue.  Colleena is petite, and Lily is average, so even though there are three years between the girls, there is only one size in between them.  Shirts generally go straight from one to the other, and I have one diaper box of pants in their closet. ( Have I mentioned how much I LOVE diaper boxes for storage?!)

Now… the boys… There are 7 years in between my boys, and although Bremen is bigger at weigh ins than Baden was at the same age, and even though I just broke out the size 24 month t shirts for an 8 month old, he isn’t likely to make up THAT much ground! ( yes, seriously.. he is almost 25 pounds, so while he isn’t tall enough to need the 24 months/size 2 stuff, he needs them for width. hahah!  He could probably make due with 18 months stuff, but I don’t have much left, and I do have a lot of that next size, so I figured I’d move him up a bit early and things could be a tad bit big)  When we weren’t sure if we wanted to have more than two kids, I pared down the baby clothes, figuring there was no sense in keeping boxes and boxes of clothes, not to mention the fact that there weren’t that many clothes to hand down from Baden, he wrecked most of them.  I had to buy new ( used) boy clothes after Bremen was born, since I hadn’t kept enough to avoid having to buy more.

And then, we had two more kids, hahah!  Right now, girls clothes can go as soon as Lily out grows them.  Baby toys, seats, swings and the like are leaving as soon as Bremen is too big for them ( he weighted out of these types of items!). I have been keeping, boxing and labeling boys clothes in each size as my oldest, Baden out grew them.  I tried to keep mostly things that are timeless, selling or giving away items with “in” characters or styles that were likely to be dated too soon.

Besides my own in house generated hand me downs, I recently got several huge rubbermaid containers full from a mom with two boys and way better taste in clothes than me.  I know her mom and she just wanted them out of her house, so she boxed them all up and her mom brought them over.  Everything two kids could wear in sizes 18 months to 5.  Gorgeous, really cool clothes.  I keep them in that crawl space behind my wall over the stairs where we have our tv mounted.  Today, as we were emptying that space to do some work up there, the kids were playing in there having a great time, and I started wondering… should I really be keeping all these clothes?

Big items seem like a no brainer to me.  Snow suits, winter boots, shoes… all have large bins in my garage and are worth saving.  What do you think about the hand me downs?  How much is worth storing in boxes for up to seven years? How much work re-sorting, re-organizing and moving around these boxes is worth it? What will still be good?  I have noticed that some of Baden’s old outfits that I pulled out of bins smelled old even after I washed them for Bremen.  Sometimes shirts with that plasticy printing are all stuck together and gummy after sitting in a bin.  Elastics in socks seem to be brittle.  Should I put a time limit on it, as in I will keep what he could wear in the next two years?  I could sell or give away the rest.  Are boys jeans that manage to make it through without holes in the knees worth keeping for seven years?  Five?  Two?  The cheap ,ahem, frugal, part of me wants to keep them all, since it’s such a good way to save, make due with what I’ve got and a great feeling of being prepared for years to come, but is it really worth it?  How long would you store hand me downs?

  © Blog Design by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates

Back to TOP