It’s All About Socialization

The other day Ani’s friend came over to bake (gluten free) cookies. This friend is 18 days younger than Ani’s little brother (so 20 months younger than Ani). They get along great and have fun together. My best friend is a month older than my older sister. She’s 3 1/2 years older than I am. This is how socialization is in the real world. Ages don’t matter. Friends are not limited to a class of kids in your geographical area who happened to be born within the same 12 months as you. Friends are made because you have things in common and get along well.

As time has passed since we pulled the kids out, we’ve learned some things about their time in public school. The education was great. The schools (with a couple exceptions at Ani’s high school) were great. It was the socialization that was a problem. Two of my kids actually regressed in social skills while in public school. And, yet, people always ask homeschoolers about how they will possibly properly socialize their kids.

Adrian can be a handful. We knew this before he ever entered public kindergarten. The number of days he ended up on red on the behavior chart far outnumbered the days he got yellow and those far outnumbered the days he got green. By November, kids in his class would walk by him and whisper things like “you’re a bad boy” to him. I told his teacher about this and she talked to the kids, but it continued. Adrian didn’t seem to care, but it can’t be good for a 5 year old to hear that over and over from his peers every day. It did seem to make him think there are no point in trying to be good and he did tell me often that he’s just a bad boy. I began to have some serious anxiety every time my cell phone would ring. Most of the time it was the principal calling about Adrian yet again.

Fritz started talking in his head rather than out loud. He was so worried about going down on the behavior chart that he chose to simply quit talking. His teacher didn’t even notice. She liked that he was so quiet and easy to deal with. When I told her that Fritz said he would have whole conversations (sometimes “with” other people) in his head, she was a bit concerned. He quit talking to non-family members except when absolutely necessary. He became afraid of most social interactions. Fritz has always been prone to anxiety, but previously it had only been related to severe weather. Public school made his anxiety much worse and more generalized. Only after we pulled him out and some time went by and he started talking a lot again did we realize he had greatly reduced his talking at home, too.

Cameron has always been pretty much in his own world and things roll off of him easily. He says the main thing he learned in school was how to ignore other people because, most of the time, his fellow students were just trying to annoy each other. He says that if someone videoed the students during the passing periods it would be rated R due to language. The language used by most of them was quite foul. This was 6th graders. Eleven and twelve year olds. The grade levels are on separate floors at the middle school he went to, so it really was just 6th graders.

Ani is my other kid who regressed in her social skills. She took somewhat the same route as Fritz. The kids at her school (and I’ve observed this in other places with high schoolers who attend a different school than she did) were just plain mean to each other. Insulting, rude, picking at each other – even when they claim the people they are talking to are their friends! Ani says she mostly stopped talking to anyone but her teachers. Most people had something nasty to say every time anyone else opened their mouth, so why even talk in the first place. In addition, she had always been complimented on how she could communicate so well with people of any age. While in public school, she became terrified of talking to people, particularly those she did not know well. Social anxiety became an issue for her, too.

It’s been over a year since any of my kids attended school. Ani and Fritz are talking like they used to. Fritz is back to only being anxious about weather. Ani has no problem talking to people, including strangers, now. Adrian no longer tells me he’s a bad boy. Cameron has become sensitive to hearing cuss words and they bother him again. Their friends, like the one Ani likes to get together and bake with, come from a variety of ages. It looks to me like the best place for real, positive socialization for my kids is not in a public school classroom, but, instead in the real world.

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The Kids on the First Day of School

Adrian, age 7 years 2 months, 2nd grade
The Kids on the First Day of School
Favorite food: Hot Pockets
Favorite movie: Big Hero 6
Favorite TV show: How to Train Your Dragon: Race to the Edge
Favorite subject: Math, specifically Math-U-See
Favorite color: Yellow
Wants to be when he grows up: YouTube Video Editor
Height: 3’11.5″
Weight: 54 lbs

Fritz, age 9 years 1 month, 4th grade
The Kids on the First Day of School
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite book: All the Wimpy Kid books
Favorite movie: Big Hero 6
Favorite TV show: Girl Meets World
Favorite song: Bad Blood by Taylor Swift
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite color: Blue
Wants to be when he grows up: Physical Therapist
Height: 4’3.5″
Weight: 80 lbs

Cameron, age 13 years 10 months, 8th grade
The Kids on the First Day of School
Favorite food: Bread
Favorite book: Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
Favorite TV show: House M.D.
Favorite song: Little Talk by Of Monsters and Men
Favorite subject: When school’s over
Favorite color: Mint
Wants to be when he grows up: Absolutely no idea
Height: 5’8.5″
Weight: 119 lbs

Ani, age 15 years 6 months, 11th grade
The Kids on the First Day of School
Favorite food: Popcorn
Favorite book: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Favorite movie: Big Hero 6 or Maze Runner or The Giver
Favorite TV show: Girl Meets World or Doctor Who
Favorite song: Youth by Daughter or Waiting for Superman by Daughtry or Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant
Favorite subject: ASL
Favorite color: Orange or Mint
Wants to be when he grows up: Taekwondo Instructor with her own studio (she even has an idea where she wants it to be)
Height: 5’3″
Weight: 116 lbs

Bonus: Heather, age 37 years 4 months, teacher
Favorite food: Salad from a salad bar
Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Favorite movie: Miracle on 34th Street (original version)
Favorite TV show: Girl Meets World or Psych
Favorite song: Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
Favorite subject: All of them when the kids are cooperative
Favorite color: Purple

First Day of School!

Yesterday we went back to school!
First Day of School!

We talked about the timeline and wrote in important family birthdays and when the kids will graduate from high school. Adrian pointed to where we are right now on the timeline.
First Day of School!

They watched some of their Latin video.
First Day of School!

We went over some religious vocabulary words. This year we’re doing modern teachings using ideas from the Come Follow Me lessons.
First Day of School!

We started our modern history year learning about Africa, which Fritz found on the map.
First Day of School!

We read a book about Georgia O’Keeffe.
First Day of School!

Cameron outlined a two page spread in the Kingfisher History book.
First Day of School!

We took a break in the middle to go to taekwondo, eat lunch, discuss some current events, and read a chapter of a read-aloud.
First Day of School!

The kids did lots of Language Arts…
First Day of School!

…And Reading.
First Day of School!

And Math.
First Day of School!

Everything went really well until Adrian had to do actual work that involved him actually reading and writing.
First Day of School!

But once he got over not wanting to do school, he really enjoyed playing with his homemade playdough that my Beautiful Beehives made at our activity last week.
First Day of School!

The day was completely finished about 4. We got started around 8. We took about a 3 hour break in the middle for taekwondo, lunch, etc. Fritz and Cameron didn’t have much left after lunch and were both done by about 2 or so. Adrian’s on his own work is really what took so long (his break between all together and on his own work was much longer than his brothers’).

NOT Back to School!

The kids in our ISD went back to school today so we had our annual NOT Back to School celebration. Adrian proclaimed it “the best day ever!” (I love that since a few years ago Ani declared NOT Back to School Day 2010 her best day ever, which was really the start of our super fun, rather than just a day off from school, NOT Back to School days.)

The day started out like every other Monday – with gluten free chocolate chip muffins. I’m pretty sure if I didn’t make these one Monday I’d have a mutiny on my hands.
NOT Back to School!

Honey, I’m Good by Andy Grammer came on the radio while we were driving. It’s one of the two songs (the other is Bad Blood by Taylor Swift) we turn way up and sing and dance to every time it comes on.

We went to Thin Air, a trampoline park. The kids were so excited that I actually jumped this time.
NOT Back to School!

NOT Back to School!

NOT Back to School!

They have really cool obstacle courses.
NOT Back to School!

I even tried one. I could only make it to the third one.
NOT Back to School!

Ani can make it all the way across easily.
NOT Back to School!

Find the Cameron.
NOT Back to School!

Flying Side Kick!
NOT Back to School!

It’s incredibly hard to get out of the foam pits!
NOT Back to School!

Cameron can climb all the way the wall.
NOT Back to School!

Proof that I actually jumped!
NOT Back to School!

The trapeze is really cool.
NOT Back to School!

NOT Back to School!

Flips are way more fun on trampolines.
NOT Back to School!

I had Ani and Cameron do the first half of In Wha 1 (our current form in taekwondo) while jumping. I tried it. It’s super hard.

An hour of jumping seriously wears you out!
NOT Back to School!

When our hour was up, we went to Mellow Mushroom for some awesome pizza.
NOT Back to School!

The little guys (they aren’t so little anymore!) got macaroni and cheese. Fritz got broccoli with his and Adrian got apple slices.
NOT Back to School!

Ani got Kosmic Karma and I got White Pizza. They are gluten free and so good. Mellow Mushroom does everything in their power to prevent cross contamination which makes having Celiac suck a little less (thanks, Mellow Mushroom!).
NOT Back to School!

Everyone else got a Mighty Meaty pizza. It got devoured really fast.
NOT Back to School!

After we ate, we dropped Ani off to help at taekwondo (our festivities got a little out of hand and she barely got there in time) and then ran to the library to get the last two books I had reserved for the first three weeks of school. Jamie took the little guys to the playground at the library while I ran inside. They didn’t argue at all about getting back in the van when I got done. It was hot (close to 100).
NOT Back to School!

So now we have played and partied. Tomorrow it’ll be time to hit the books for the start of what is sure to be another awesome homeschool year.

(A look back at our previous NOT Back to School celebrations: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, somehow I missed 2011, 2012, 2013 they went to public school, and 2014. We started out just having the day off. It’s morphed into a day – or two – of super fun.)

The Classroom is Ready!

I spent a couple hours this morning finishing getting the dining room ready for school to start on Tuesday.
The Classroom is Ready!

The tall bookcase holds the kids’ binders and folders, some books and things, our awesome pencil sharpener, library books for the first three weeks, and the Math-U-See blocks and algebra/decimal inserts. (My sister made the welcome sign hanging on the wall several years ago. The little picture thing at the top changes each month.)
The Classroom is Ready!

The long bookcase holds some childrens books, our Life of Fred collection, some random school books, and all of Ani’s books for the year. On top are the kids’ books and notebooks in magazine holders (pink flowers for Ani, orange for Cameron, blue for Fritz, and red for Adrian). They have matching pencil holders. The red and blue flats on top hold my answer keys. (Ani likes to use the whiteboard to help her memorize everything related to our current cycle’s taekwondo life skill.)
The Classroom is Ready!

The three drawer shelf holds various school supplies, art supplies, and the science bags. On top are my binders.
The Classroom is Ready!

On one wall are the New American Cursive alphabet sheets for the boys to look as when the need to remember how to form letters.
The Classroom is Ready!

Across the hall on the wall of the craft room is the timeline ready for the boys to write in dates and facts as they get to them (we’re doing modern history, 1850-present this year).
The Classroom is Ready!

Science Bags

Several years ago I found we weren’t doing the science experiments I had planned very often. This was mainly because we’d have to figure out what we needed to use and then go on a scavenger hunt every science day to find everything. Often we were missing one or two things so we’d just skip the experiment.

Then I got the idea to make up bags containing the small things we needed (and particularly the things we didn’t always have in the house) and a little list of what to collect the day of doing the experiment. Those bags worked great. For the rest of that school year we did every experiment planned. It really made science so much less stressful for me.

Last year I added what we needed for experiments to the shopping list every Friday. It was kind of complicated and a bit of a pain to remember to do that. So this year, remembering how great that one year with the science bags was, I decided to do bags again.

Since school starts a week from tomorrow, I spent some time yesterday assembling the first three week’s worth of experiments.
Science Bags

Each bag has a sheet detailing the experiments to be done that day and a card taped to the bottom of the sheet with a list of the items that will need to be gathered that morning. Many of these things are either too big to fit in the bag or are items we regularly use.
Science Bags

Some of the bags have another card with a list of things I still have to find or buy to add to the bag.
Science Bags

Each bag contains all the small or unusual items needed ready and waiting to be used in that day’s experiments.
Science Bags

I’m just doing 3 weeks at a time this time around (as opposed to the entire rest of the year I did last time). Hopefully we’ll have just as smooth a science year as we did the last time I made science bags.