Monthly Archives: June 2011

Dr. Joyce Brothers Addresses Homeschooling

Dr. Joyce Brothers released a quiz about homeschooling that

will test your knowledge of the pros and cons of home schooling when it comes to kids’ psychological and social development.

It is nice to see such a mainstream doctor/author having such an open mind to homeschooling.


Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Soon Your Clocks May Not Keep Accurate Time

Too late

The group that oversees the U.S. power grid proposing an experiment that would allow more frequency variation than it does now without corrections. The experiment is tentatively scheduled to start in mid-July. Unfortunately, this can mean that some clocks will not keep time accurately. According to US Today:

Since 1930, electric clocks have kept time based on the rate of the electrical current that powers them. If the current slips off its usual rate, clocks run a little fast or slow. Power companies now take steps to correct it and keep the frequency of the current — and the time — as precise as possible…

…No one is quite sure what will be affected. This won’t change the clocks in cellphones, GPS or even on computers, and it won’t have anything to do with official U.S. time or Internet time.

But wall clocks and those on ovens and coffeemakers — anything that flashes “12:00” when it loses power — may be just a bit off every second, and that error can grow with time.

Of course, homeschoolers are notorious for being late, so now we have one more excuse thing to make us late.

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Village Garden Challenge #4 Link Up


The weather here has greatly improved. It seems that everything is running 2 weeks-1 month behind though. For instance, the strawberry u-picks have just opened. Meanwhile, Dora and I did a couple new things in the garden. We hung up an insect hotel to attract beneficial bugs.


I’m hoping that we’ll attract some mason bees to pollinate the trees we have. I’d particularly like to get our dwarf peach tree, which Tertia planted a couple of years ago, get pollinated. Ironically, right after we hung the bug house, I noticed that the peach tree had actually produced a couple of peaches for the first time.


We also have a dwarf cherry tree. I’ve been less excited about it since I learned that it was a sour cherry tree. If you’ve never had a sour cherry, I highly recommend not eating them straight off the tree. they redefine the word “sour”.


Dora and I also decided to risk the rats and plant a couple of sunflower and pumpkin plants. We planted them as far away from the rock wall as possible, in hopes of discouraging rats. The pumpkin plants started growing right away, which has been very exciting for Dora.


Our flowers started growing finally, but it has been so long since we planted them, Dora doesn’t even remember planting them, so she has not been very excited about them. Honestly, I’m not even sure what is growing and what isn’t at this point.


Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

A Very Funny Blog

Not A Supermom is one of my favorite blogs. She just cracks me up! She recently posted about entertaining, Nota Supermom-style. She posted this image and it just made me laugh so hard that I asked her if I could share it with my readers. She graciously agreed and so, without further ado…


Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Mom, the Nurse


Gohan recently informed me that he believes that all kids prefer to have their moms around when they are sick. While, I won’t say ALL kids feel this way, it does seem like many kids feel this way. I was kind of thinking about it and wondering what exactly is it that dads don’t do that make moms the nurse of choice for most kids. Then last night, Mr. Mo showed me exactly what it is that dads are missing.

Last night, Dora was coming down with a nasty virus that the pediatrician says is going around. It involves feeling generally icky and running a very high fever. I needed to shower, but Dora was clinging to me to the point where I couldn’t even brush my teeth. I tried suggesting several things that she could do with Daddy while I showered, but she was having none of it, going so far as to scream, “I don’t like Daddy!” This is totally not true, she loves her Daddy, who is way more fun than I am.

Finally, I asked Mr. Mo to try to come up with something fun to do with Dora to distract her so that I could shower. So he feebly turned on the TV in the other room. Then, when that didn’t work, he came in and asked her if she wanted to take a bath!

To fully appreciate the utter lameness of this request, one needs to understand that Dora despises baths. Almost every bath ends with her screaming bloody murder. Just recently, she has seemed to be coming to terms with baths and maybe sort of like them, but I still only bathe her once every five days or when the stink fumes coming off her become visible, whichever comes first (don’t judge me, all of my other kids got daily baths, but Dora’s dramatics in regards to every single aspect of personal hygiene have finally worn down this mom).

When this amazing suggestion of Mr. Mo’s did not work, he shrugged and started brushing his teeth! Once I recovered from the shock and was able to adequately suppress my homicidal urges, I was able to convince Dora to let me shower, but at that moment, everything became clear. Men just don’t possess that nurturing trait that is required to make a good nurse. I’m sorry to sound sexist, obviously this is a stereotype and may have more to do with upbringing than nature. I am sure that there are many men who are wonderful nurses, but it does seem like moms are the ones who tend to take care of the nursing, especially when kids are young.

How about in your house? Do your kids prefer to have Mom or Day around when they are sick?

Labels: This and That
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

CurrClick is Having a Educational Freebie Scavenger Hunt!


Labels: Educator Discounts and Curriculum Sales
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Inspiring Video About Homeschooling

Why Homeschool Shared this video today and I just had to share it also.

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschooling Approaches, Philosophies, and Styles

Recently, on a homeschool list that I belong to, people were discussing a homeschool approach that I had never heard of. The thread motivated me to post about various homeschool philosophies/approaches/styles. I’m going to create a page for new homeschoolers and add this list to it. I will add to the page as I can.

  • Charlotte Mason was a late-19th/early 20th century British educator. Simply Charlotte Mason has a good definition of the Charlotte Mason method. “A method of education popular with homeschoolers in which children are taught as whole persons through a wide range of interesting living books, firsthand experiences, and good habits.” Ambleside Online provides a free Charlotte Mason curriculum.
  • Classical – The Well-Trained Mind author, Susan Wise Bauerm gives us a good definition of classical education. “Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.”
  • Core Knowledge – this educational approach was begun by E.D. Hirsch. According to the Core Knowledge site, “Core Knowledge provides a clear outline of content to be learned grade by grade so that knowledge, language, and skills build cumulatively from year to year. This sequential building of knowledge not only helps ensure that children enter each new grade ready to learn, it also helps prevent the repetitions and gaps that so often characterize current education.”
  • Eclectic – eclectic refers to homeschoolers who take a bit of this and a bit of that in regards to educational approaches. They may use a Montessori approach while their child is a preschooler, an unschooling approach for elementary school, and a classical approach for junior high and high school. Or they might use Charlotte Mason for their nature study, great books for language arts, classical for social studies, unschooling for math, unit studies for science, Waldorf for art, etc. And they mix things up year-to-year or do things differently with each child.
  • Enki Education “is a Global Cultures Curriculum in which ALL academic learning is introduced through the arts. Our Classroom & Homeschool curriculum weave together many diverse elements in order to support our fundamental premise: the central task of education, whether in the classroom or homeschool, is the integration of body, heart, and mind within each child. The result is the cultivation of educational excellence, confidence & competence. This individual wellbeing is inseparable from the wellbeing of the communities of our lives – families, neighbors, the global community. For this reason, we have developed a Classroom and Homeschool curriculum in which the children can see their own strengths & struggles reflected in all peoples, and can experience human greatness in all, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.”
  • Great Books – this education approach is sometimes lumped together with classical education, but though I consider Great Books to be a component of a classical education, a Great Books education does not necessarily revolve around the three developmental stages, include the study of Latin and/or Greek, etc. Great Books refers simply to an education based on “a group of books that tradition, and various institutions and authorities, have regarded as constituting or best expressing the foundations of Western culture.” (Wikipedia)
  • Lapbooking/Notebooking – Lapbooks and notebooks are tools used to do studies, very often unit studies. Lapbooks use file folders to store minibooks, foldables, printable games, art, writing, photos, etc.  Notebooking often involves using specially designed notebooking pages instead of, or in addition to, minibooks, foldables, etc. to record information.
  • Montessori – this educational philosophy was created by educator, Maria Montessori. According the Montessori International Index, “The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is mixed age group (3 ages – 6 ages in one class), individual choice of research and work, and uninterrupted concentration. Group lessons are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds.”
  • Moore Method was developed by Dorothy and Raymond Moore, and according to the Moore Foundation site, includes :
    1. Study from a few minutes to several hours a day, depending on the child’s maturity.
    2. Manual work at least as much as study.
    3. Home and/or community service an hour or so a day. Focus on kids’ interests and needs; be an example in consistency, curiosity, and patience.
    4. Live with them! Worry less about tests; we’ll help you there. With the Moore Formula, if you are loving and can read, write, count, and speak clearly, you are a master teacher.
  • Objectivism is a philosophy that was defined by Ayn Rand. According to Wikipedia: “In her philosophy of Objectivism, Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion…” Honestly, I don’t really understand how objectivism translates in regards to homeschooling, other than it seems that public schooling goes against the very grain of objectivism. So I am going to point you towards some objectivist sites and blogs that may be able to help answer any questions you might have:
  • School-at-Home – This method of homeschooling would  entail running your homeschool just like a public school, but at home. I’m not sure if anyone really does this method of homeschooling, the phrase tends to be used more as an insult from one homeschooler in reference to another homeschooler, as in “She tends to be more of a ‘school-at-home’ homeschooler, she even makes her kids say the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before they start school.” New homeschoolers tend to veer towards the “school at home” approach more than experienced homeschoolers.
  • Sue Patrick’s Work Box System is a way of organizing and presenting any curriculum.
  • A Thomas Jefferson Education – This educational approach has seven key principles:
      1. Classics, Not Textbooks
      2. Mentors, Not Professors
      3. Inspire, Not Require
      4. Structure Time, Not Content
      5. Simplicity, Not Complexity
      6. Quality, Not Conformity
      7. You, Not Them
  • Unit Studies use the study of one subject matter to cover multiple disciplines. For example, a study of cars could cover the history of cars, the math and science that goes into the operation of a car, literature about cars, the art that is involved in designing a car, etc.
  • Unschooling can also be referred to as child-led, natural, self-directed, etc. learning. Unschoolers allow the learner to dictate what will be learned, when it will be learned, and how it will be learned. The term was coined by educator, John Holt, who went on to found Growing Without Schooling. 
  • Waldorf education is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. According to Waldorf Answers, “Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is based on an anthroposophical view and understanding of the human being, that is, as a being of body, soul and spirit. The education mirrors the basic stages of a child’s development from childhood to adulthood, which in general reflects the development of humanity through history from our origin, far back in past times up to the present.”

Labels: High School, This and That, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Tot Time– Starting Summer and Cashing in at the Consignment Shop

Gross Motor – After Dora had so much success with stilts in her gym class, I bought her a pair of stilts at Lakeshore Learning (we have a store near us). They did not work quite as well as the ones in the class as she did not quite grasp the way the Lakeshore ones work. She tried them a lot the first two days, but then has expressed no interest in them since. She continues to spend hours everyday playing at the park, in gym class, or running amok at home.


Fine Motor – Dora has spent a lot of time tonging and spooning the gems from her beach-themed sensory tub. She also has spent a lot of time playing with this magnetic color maze from Lakeshore Learning, which I got for a steal recently at a consignment store. I’ve been really happy with this maze as it really encourages her to use a proper pincer grasp to hold the magnetic wand.

Literature – I bought and checked out several books about summer, but Dora still keeps coming back to the series about the seasons from Scholastic, which I have mentioned previously. Each book has a simple storyline that describes things children do during the season. Each page is touch and feel, with a variety of textures. Even though Welcome Summer (affiliate link) has a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl as the main character, the series has a variety of skin and eye colors represented, which I particularly appreciate since we live in such an extremely multi-cultural area and I try to have our book and toy choices reflect that. Each book ends with the child feeling “safe and _____” in Mommy or Daddy’s arms.

Art – I bought these Faber-Castell Gel Sticks (affiliate link). They are unlike anything that I have used before. They are extremely creaming and coloring with them is kind of like coloring with a cross between a crayon and an oil pastel. The are encased in a plastic holder, so the material doesn’t get on your hands. Plus, the case makes the sticks wide enough that they encourage a pincer grasp. When you are done coloring, you can leave the picture as is, smear the gels with a tissue, or paint them with water, which essentially turns them into water colors.


Sensory Play – Dora has been gaga over the Moon Sand (affiliate link) from this month’s sensory tub. It is the first moldable material that she has really enjoyed working with. I’m seeing this as being an activity that I keep around to bring out over and over. We have used sand molds and other objects to shape and build with the sand and she has used her play kitchen knives and forks to experiment with creating different textures in the sand.

Board Games – As I mentioned previously, we went to the consignment store this week. We really cashed in an got many things for really good prices. I was really happy to get several board games I had been wanting to get her. In particular, The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Game (affiliate link) has been a big hit with her. It is her first experience with a spinner, which is reinforcing the concept that numbers have associated symbols (she knows how to count, but doesn’t know what numbers look like). She really likes to “feed” her caterpillar as she goes around the board. It has been challenging for her to distinguish between the different types of foods to feed the caterpillar (fruit, picnic foods, etc.). I have been working on categorizing with her, so this was good practice for her.

Starfall 010Apps – I have not found any good summer-themed apps, so I thought I’d just mention one of our all around favorite apps, Starfall’s ABC’s ($2.99). If you haven’t looked into it before, Starfall is wonderful free online phonics program. This app just  lets you take one of their activities with you.

Starfall 011

In the Kitchen – Dora’s new favorite thing to do in the kitchen is to help me make “pizza” with Boboli crusts. I’m going to look into their mini-crusts so that she can make them for lunch too.

Outside Activities – Dora started a new session of Kindermusik with the same teacher that she had before, whom she loves. She was really excited that we all sang and danced to Mr. Sun. She also has started a gym class. This class is a bit long for her age, one full hour. They do work on a lot of different things in it besides the usual tumbling and climbing. They have introduced her to zip lines, stilts, “dodgeball”, and more. She loves the class, but is a bit bonkers by the end of it.

I’m linking this post to:
  Tot School play academy
We Play  

Labels: Montessori, Summer, This and That, Toddlers
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Wrapping up May

In my life this week… We are just wrapping up the school year and trying to enjoy the sun when it is around. Secunda and I have made plans to exercise together this summer. I already bike a lot, but it is hard to arrange babysitting for Dora in order to bike. So I had already decided to cut down to biking twice a week and start jogging twice a week. I can take Dora in our jogging stroller for jogging, so do not need to make babysitting arrangements. Secunda is going to join me on those days and we will also lift weights as Secunda wants to join her college’s crew team in September. We will also take yoga twice a week, so I will be exercising six times per week, which was typical for me in my pre-babies years (20 years ago). I do like variety and as I am getting older, need to focus more on building muscle, increasing flexibility, and maintaining balance – I tend to focus on and enjoy high cardiovascular workouts.

In our homeschool this week… I have been really bad about writing about what Gohan has been doing. Four weeks ago, he was testing and we went to Great Wolf in between his testing days. Then we have just been busy wrapping up everything and deciding what we have to work on over the summer. Due to us taking many breaks during the school year, we have some catching up to do. As usual, we will  continue to read fun literature out loud (I have to read to him or else he would not be able to enjoy age-appropriate books).  I also want him to work on math over the summer, mostly reviewing skills, so he doesn’t forget them (i.e. long division, working with decimals, etc.).

We did not finish science, so once a week, we will do a lesson from the weather unit that I posted (or the space unit that I am still putting together). 

We also did not quite finish up geography, for which, I have decided to use board games for the summer. We played 10 Days in Asia Game (affiliate link) and really enjoyed it. We both learned a lot about the countries of Asia, but it also was a fun strategy game for both of us (I suspect that Secunda and Tertia will join us next time).

Finally, we came no where near finishing the Meet the the Masters curriculum and will do one unit a week for most of the summer. This last week, we studied Mondrian and I did not have Gohan do the final project, because 1) it did not really seem to represent Mondrian’s art very well, and 2) I didn’t quite understand what to do, their directions are not always as clear as I would like, which is compounded by the fact that they do not include photos.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Gohan is finishing up his classes this week. He will still go to Yug-Gi-Oh League every week over the summer and has a party to attend tonight (he will be gone from 12 –10 PM – and people worry about homeschoolers socializing enough!!?!?!). The ALE/PPP that he belongs to will also have a Talent Show/Field Day/Party this week. He will have one week off, then will be starting a homeschool PE class twice a week for the summer.

I’m reading… The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (affiliate link). While not as good as Blink, it is still quite interesting. I had a very strange experience with this book. One day, I got a 2nd flat on my bike and only had one spare tube, so I was walking to meet my friend, who had gone back for the car. I was getting really tired of telling so many bikers that I did not need help, thank you, though greatly appreciating knowing that help would have been there if I did need it. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that whenever a large group of bikers went by, they rarely offered to help. It was usually only the singletons and pairs that offered help. That night, I was reading The Tipping Point and he discussed this very phenomena! It is referred to as “The Bystander Problem” and essentially comes down to the fact that the more people who witness a problem, the less likely they are to help. He refers to the case where 38 people watched a woman be assaulted and eventually murdered with none of theme even picking up the phone to call police. Had it been just one of those witnesses, in an  alley or something, the odds are much greater that the one witness would have helped, than when the one was one of 38.imageI’m cooking… I’m currently trying to find a really good teriyaki sauce recipe. This recipe is the closest to what we want, so far, but I still need to tweak it some,

A photo, video, link, or quote to share… Thank goodness I was never sent to school...Beatrix Potter quote at
I’m linking to:

Labels: Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff