On Monday I shall begin, with renewed vigour this blog in hopes that it will be of some benefit to all who take the time to read it.
See you soon,
Symeon Donovan Price

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Spring Ahead

Posted: April 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

IMG528 IMG537 IMG536 IMG527 IMG526 IMG525 IMG_0010 IMG_0009 IMG_0008 IMG_0007 IMG_0006Things in the Price school have progressed rather well over the last month or so. Having made such a concentrated effort on the fundamentals early has afforded us the chance to spend some time in areas that the kids are really excited about. Not that they were not excited about math, science, history and language arts, but it is nice to seem them studying and learning things that they have a deep passion for.

This month has seen us begin using the “Brave Writer” curriculum for both Tekoa and Axton. They have both taken large steps in their writing abilities. Tekoa’s spelling has improved as she slows down and focuses herself. Axton’s oral ability has begun to translate into effective writing. Along with working on our writing we have begun a study in early 20th century artists and musicians.  So far we have studies Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and George Gershwin. Both Axton and Tekoa agree that abstract expressionism is far more interesting than simple representational art.

In our world history class we have reached the “Greeks” and the kids love it. The stories of Zeus, Hera and the other greek gods had found fertile ground in the minds of Tekoa and Axton. In learning these stories the kids are learning the very foundations of social narrative and its importance in cultural development. It teaches them that myth and story are as important for a civilization as Art and Technology.

While we have shifted our focus, we have not neglected the fundamentals. Tekoa has been slogging her way through the joys of grammar and syntax! Sometimes, I wish we used a far simpler yet more expressive language that english. Axton having internalized the rules of language is beginning to show on paper his understanding. Math is a task to be conquered in our house and it is slowly falling to the diligent work of both Tekoa and Axton.

As spring takes full bloom, we have been spending more time outside learning about life cycles. We have started the seedling for our garden and the kids love seeing the speed at which plant life moves at the very beginning. While, I do not advocate screen time as means to education there are time when it provides some benefit. In our case the kids love to watch “Daily Planet” and “How it’s made”, both of which provide them with some interesting insights into science and technology.

Quick, Quick, slow…

Posted: February 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

There seems to be a pattern to education that I am slowly becoming aware of as we continue to wrestle with the dynamics of the homeschooling environment. Knowing what I do about history, philosophy and art you would think that this pattern would be obvious to me, but as is so often the case I am blinded by my own involvement in the pattern itself. This blog and the profound wisdom of my wife has allowed me the necessary objective vision from which to not only view the pattern but to engage it in a positive manner. I suppose you are wondering when I will tell you what the pattern is, unfortunately you will have to suffer my verbosity for at least another sentence or two.

While homeschooling can a be an exercise in isolation and one fraught with a space bereft of social contact, there is no denying the reality that it is also subject to the same warp and woof of life as the rest of the universe. This pattern of success and failure is a very natural one, one which pervades every aspect of our existence. So, why I am I so surprised  that it marks our homeschooling adventure. I suppose that I was under the rather wonderful delusion that my sublime teaching skills would overcome the natural order of the universe, not unlike Thor’s hammer. The thing about delusions however is that they are exactly what they claim to be. Thankfully there is no better cure for a delusion than a child. Their proclivity towards reality allows them to inform adults in remarkable ways about the actuality of existence and how having a proper and clear vision of this reality is imperative for their education and development.

So you see I have discovered the joy of quick, quick, slow and maybe even backwards. I have learned that education is not about habit but about wonderment. It is about the joy of discovery and the pain of failure. Tekoa and Axton have proven this to be a true and excellent path towards living as wise and loving human beings. I can only hope that I continue to embrace the wonderment of this path which is filled with so much beauty.

Thanks for listening to my education process. I suppose I will shed some light on what Tekoa and Axton have been learning  and experiencing. We continue our studies on Canadian history which both of the kids have embrace whole heartily. We discussed they way Cartier and some of the other early explorers treated the indigenous people that they encountered and how differently people thought about reality at that time and how different it is from how we think know and yet how similar. Tekoa has been progressing quickly in the area of language arts. She has an excellent grasp of the basic rules of grammar and her ability to construct sentences with clarity and precision continue to make me look bad. Mathematics are also a strong point for Tekoa and she enjoys the process (when she wants to). She continues to courageously battle the great spelling beast with some success. As always art is a arena in which she thrives. I continue to encourage the use of art as way to understand other topics as well. This is specifically true in the area of music.

Axton seems to posses the ability to learn via osmosis. I say this because it seems that he very rarely sits still long enough for any information to take root in his brain. However, he continues to surprise me with how much he actually retains. Axton is a very oral person and so he loves to verbalize things. However, this means that his writing skills are not very well developed and he struggles to remained focused while writing anything. He has however made progress in this area to the point that he was able to write a story of several sentences. Math and science are the arenas in which Axton thrives the most and he loves experimenting with stuff and building things. As such I am considering enrolling him in the Architectural Institute of America. On second thought I may be moving a little fast; I think I will wait a year.

Thank you for taking the time to read this it means a great deal to me to know that you have invested a measure of your time to suffer through my obtuse machinations (I mean them very good I really do) I hope that through our struggles you are able to gain a measure of wisdom that will aid in your journey to becoming a beautiful human being.

Donovan Price

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A new school year

Posted: January 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

We had a great break over Christmas, however the time for lollygagging is over and we must get back to work. Education  should never be confined to a static methodology and so we have adopted a new formula for home school. To be honest it is not really all that new, more of an adjustment really. We focused a great deal on the fundamentals last semester and we all worked hard at getting a good start on things. In approaching things this way we spent less time on the “arts” that we should have, however now the kids get the joy of specifically focusing on their artistic endeavours. That being said we have not neglected in anyway the more traditional aspects of learning.

This semester Tekoa is working on a writing a three act play. She has already developed a theme, characters and the first setting. This project should be finished in March and hopefully performed on Broadway by May. I do not think this unrealistic, as my kids are amazing (and so is their teacher). In addition,  Tekoa has been drawing a great deal and we have included drawing as a way of learning history. Over christmas we worked hard with her to develop her love of reading, which included me threatening her with a class in the Russian classics if she did not pick up the pace. Thankfully, she began to see the imaginative value in reading and it’s role in developing her skills in other areas as well. Although, I was a bit disappointed that I did not get to teach my Russian classics class.

Axton has reading consistently over the break and uses it as a means to escape the chaos the comes from living with his family. Axton project this semester is to write a picture book about his adventures. Axton’s interest in the arts is not as passionate as his sisters however, he does in enjoy sculpting things ( aliens mostly) with his modelling clay. As such is has been a challenge to keep him engaged in the artistic process. Frankly, as is the case with most six year old boys, his attention span continues to develop as quickly as molasses in the winter. I think this is a good place for a rant.

I truly believe that if Axton attended school in the standardized public system he would be setting off  alarm bells. Meaning, that because of his desire to move all the time the act of sitting for long periods of time would be causing him to act out in ways that are not part of his character. Thankfully we have learned that while he moves a great deal, this movement does not affect his retention, nor his ability to understand abstract concepts. I feel a deep empathy for the kids ( especially the boys), their parents, and their teachers  who are struggling with trying educate and develop them  in a very rigid system. I am done now.

This semester also marked the beginning of our study of Canadian history. I am very passionate about the importance of my kids learning about their nations history. As is this case in all the history I teach them we focus on the fact that history is not just a collection of facts that happened in the past, but that it is about people and further that history is something that happens all the time and that is a dynamic reality full of new discovers. Thus we should never be to quick to pass judgement on the actions of those in the past, whether they be good or bad. Stayed tuned for more next week.

Pictures

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As the winter closes in…

Posted: November 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

To be honest I have failed to be diligent in my posts, it is something that has prevented me in the past from blogging and I promised myself that I would not succumb to this lack to consistency again; which I did. However, there is as I have learned always a chance at redemption. So I will try again to maintain a more regular production of blog posts in the future. With my feeble confession out of the way I will now enlighten you all with the magnificence of my prodigies.

The last few weeks have seen us all begin to find our unique place as a homeschooling family. Expectations have been adjusted to a more realistic and attainable level.  Time for another confession; I have had to come to the realization that despite my most earnest efforts my children will not pass grade one and three and go directly to college in three months.  This foolish notion is a result of being erroneously indoctrinated by the producers of the evil and vile Doogie Howser ( yes I am old). However, I will accept responsibility for my foolish notion and do my best to hold my children to realistic expectations when it comes to their education. I am beginning to think  homeschooling has been as much about my own education as it has my kids. Well, then let us continue to review the children and stop focusing on their obviously needy parent.

Tekoa has found her stride in mathematics; which is a blessing for all involved.  The math-u-see program has done what I thought impossible which is to make math learnable and fun!  Tekoa now finds the process of mathematical learning a rather enjoyable process rather than the tortuous journey through hell that she  previously associated with math. She has mastered skip counting, addition and subtraction and has begun in earnest the use of decimals and multiplication. God bless you Professor Steve and your wonder working powers. Axton’s progression through math, while being filled with less dramatic shifts, is a more plodding journey into the world of math.  Axton has always always taken his time to do everything, which can be agonizingly slow at times, however he accepts this as his preferred method of learning and it allows him to find success. He has achieved a sound understanding of numerical values and places and has moved into counting and writing numbers in the thousands. His addition and subtraction skills are moving from fingers and toes to relying solely upon the formulas that he is learning. While I am great advocate of free learning, I would be a fool not to see the immense value and necessity of formulaic learning.

Axton

Axton

Tekoa

Tekoa

It is this formulaic learning that has allowed Tekoa to grasp grammatical concepts that I was still struggling with in college. In turn her love of reading and her degree of comprehension has increased greatly over the last few weeks. She is now able to read well beyond the prescribed grade three level and she has begun to write excellent book reports ( oh how I hate book reports). However, like her father she struggles with spelling, I believe that it stems from the fact that her mind is so much further ahead of her pen that in her attempt to keep up she forgets how to spell. I know this to be true because I struggle with this as well and it still plaques me. I suppose I will have to make up for passing this struggle on to her by buying her some clothes (What is it with females and clothes?). Axton’s love of reading is a remarkable to a joy to see. He will often disappear by himself to read in his bed. He is currently engaged in series about the adventure of one Gernimo Stilton. We have found that through a combination of silent reading alone, reading out loud together and family reading time the kids have each found their joy in the art of reading. Both Christa and I believe firmly that reading is indeed an art that must be practiced and developed through out life. Which is why we push Tekoa and Axton to read books that are well beyond their ability. In doing this the kids develop the desire to always strive to move forward in their reading ability. Little do they know that I plan on introducing them to the joy of Russian literature in December; oh wait I think I remember something about having unrealistic learning expectations for my kids.

Book Report

Book Report

Book Report

Book Report

Science is an area in which both Tekoa and Axton find great enjoyment. Axton loves to experiment and collect bugs whereas Tekoa loves to apply her artistic talent to the joy of scientific discovery. We are currently working on a mould experiment (

Mould experiment

Mould experiment

my wife’s idea) and the kids love to check the weekly growth of their new pets. We have also created a large rainforest art installation which the kids add to weekly. Science has presented the most challenge to us as educators but I think that we have arrived at methodology that makes us feel like we are creating an environment in which our children are able to effectively learn truths of the scientific world.

Axton's camel

Axton’s camel

Tekoa's drawing

Tekoa’s drawing

I am sure that there are many more educational accomplishments that I could reveal, but I would not like my kids to get to proud of themselves! So I will end for today. I look forward to being a more responsible blogger and I thank you for all of your enlightening and encouraging comments.

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Moving along!

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

We are learning that adapting to new routine is as challenging for the adults as it is for the children, and in some cases more difficult. Despite the challenges we are becoming more and more comfortable with the routine and are even dare I say enjoying the large amount of time we spend together as a family. All of us are learning that education is a not something that occurs only within with ivory towers of academia or  the elementary school; rather it is something that occurs all around us. The kids are coming to understand the notion that they can learn through all the activities and situations that surround them. We are trying to allow them to discover on their own that being educated is not solely about what you do and the facts that you gain but about how they change the person that you are and the role they play in creating the person you will become. I firmly believe that my kids education will; through the accumulation of knowledge, cause them to grow in virtue and character ( as you can see I am a bit of an idealist). This shift in epistemological conditions has begun to open their eyes to the purpose of learning exciting things like skip counting and  the societal conditions of the Babylonian empire.

Tekoa has been making great strides in her willingness to accept her ability to make mistakes. I believe that before this she just assumed that mistakes were only made by others and that perfection was the only state of reality that she could exist in. My giant red marker has gone along way to removing this foolish notion from her head. As a result of her acceptance of her less that perfect state she has make great progress in applying herself to her math work. In the beginning she experienced great difficulty in taking on any math problems that posed a pose a problem for her. Now she is taking steps to challenge herself with more difficult problems without the fear of making a mistake. Along with my giant red marker, the addition of the Math-U-See program has also played a major role in this. Tekoa has been moving through skip counting and double digit addition and subtraction quite easily now. Which makes life easier for all of us!

Axton treats math much like he treats most things that do not involve climbing, that being as an unfortunate but necessary condition that must be met before more climbing can ensue. He has begun to work through simple subtraction and addition. Furthermore, through the Math-U-See program he has started to learn place value. As a very tactile learner the blocks provided by the Math-U-See curriculum have increased the happiness with which Axton approaches his math work.

Both Tekoa and Axton have shown a great affinity for history and art and it is wonderful to see them fully apply their skills to something they love. Tekoa loves to learn about the people of history, whereas Axton enjoys learning about the weapons and buildings constructed by the Ancients. Our history lessons this week covered the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the start of the Hebrew people. We also took a trip to the Fort Langley National Park, which was a rounding success. The kids were able to take advantage of the bad weather and lack of other visitors, by participating in an extended tour with  Netty  our  tour guide. We saw the Blacksmith at work and learned all about the inner workings of a fur trading fort. Unfortunately the kids assumed that every week would now include a field trip to some exotic location. They were not satisfied with my answer that given the nature of the weather on the west coast in the winter anytime outside would considered a field trip.

In language arts Tekoa is moving into the fascinating world of adjectives and adverbs and all the rules that apply to their correct usage. To be honest I find myself learning the rules over again; a secret that I keep to myself. She is getting more and more fluent in her reading, which allows her to take on more challenging books. This week she finished the “Fantastic Mr. Fox” in four days. Axton seems content to stick to non-fiction books about Star Wars and Snakes. One of his tricks is to take so much time reading or printing that we get frustrated and take over. This trick has however failed him of late as we have begun (much to his chagrin) to catch onto his ploy. Thus he spends his reading time reading aloud and his printing time on a timer. Axton has been charging through his grammar work and has excellent knowledge of both proper and common nouns. Both of the kids posses the ability to memorize quite well so they have started to memorize some poems.

As we continue to move along in our home schooling journey we are all learning a great deal about ourselves and each other. We are becoming better teachers and in turn the kids are becoming better students. The nurturing and development of the  symbiotic relationship between teacher and student is one of the many areas in which homeschooling far exceeds the public system (at least in my opinion). Through this relationship our kids see the effects of learning in the way we teach both positive and negative. If we are distance,disengaged and despondent at the prospect of having to teach them then they see little reason to not be the same way when it comes to learning. If however we are present, engaged, and encouraging then so too are they.

 

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Week 2: The joy’s of learning…

Posted: September 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

This week was a week of profound realizations for both Tekoa and Axton. They both realized that homeschool requires work and effort in order for it to be fun and enjoyable. I think that they assumed that they would be able to do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, with no “teacher” to impede their march towards fun! Once the trauma that arose from the shattering of this illusion had been overcome (yes tears were involved) both of them were resigned to accept a new vision of their educational future. A vision, that this time included work.

The tag team approach that we have taken to teaching is working out well and the diversity keeps the kids from getting to bored.  With Christa taking Monday’s and Thursday’s, I am left with Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s. This division of labour is sure to keep the proletariat away from the throats of the bourgeoisie, at least for the moment. With Christa’s strengths lying in the more analytical realm she has taken the role of math and science teacher, as well as sharing language arts and art with myself. I being the more metaphysical one, have taken on the role of history/social studies and literature teacher.

The week began with a bang! Which was the sound Tekoa made when faced with the mathematical challenges that lay ahead of her. We are still in the process of reviewing the principles she learned in grade two. Which involves a great deal of double digit addition and subtraction as well as skip counting. Axton’s approach to math is much more reserved and he has accepted albeit with resignation that math is a requirement for life.  He has being working on counting backwards  and some simple addition and subtraction. As in all things Tekoa likes to be correct in every attempt, whereas Axton seems to care little about finishing his work in a reasonable amount of time. We are all looking forward to the arrival of our math-u-see curriculum.

In language arts we worked on verbs and reading comprehension with Tekoa. She read several books and chose one to journal about. She listed the main characters and wrote an short sentence about the plot. Axton focused on proper and common nouns as places and people. He read several books as well and also completed a reading journal entry, where he listed the title, the main characters and an event or two that took place in the story. In, addition Tekoa continues to work vigorously in the art of cursive, while Axton plods along with printing. Both of them have their strengths and weakness in the language arts and they have begun to help each other in this areas!

In History class we discussed the move from nomadic to semi-nomadic ,to agrarian, to city dwellers and some of the things that precipitated these large changes and there effects on peoples daily lives. The kids found the notion of being nomadic and never having to take a bath a rather idyllic life, until I informed that this life also entailed great suffering and death around every corner (Dad FTW).  We moved on and read the stories of King Sargon and Gilgamesh. We also discussed the challenges of living in a military dictatorship like the one exercised by King Sargon. Both Tekoa and Axton found in disturbing that these conditions still exist today. I took some time to explain that while the ancient people of the world where different from us in many ways they were also very much like us. It was a good lesson in learning that history is not the study of mere fact, but rather the study of people much like ourselves in many respects. I will save the lesson on the foolishness of the noble-savage notion for a later date.

Art class this week was a mixture of criticism and appreciation and how they are both important tools in understanding the role of art in our culture. Tekoa and Axton spent some time appreciating the new art work in the coffee shop, where they focused on the pieces that they liked and why they liked them. This was followed by an exercise in art criticism. Where they observed and discussed the pieces they disliked and why. After this they created pieces of their own art that reflected their interpretation of a piece they liked. Tekoa, chose a painting of tiger lilies and proceeded to add her own flair. While Axton chose a painting of an old truck and stayed as accurate to the image he saw as possible. We decided to end the day early on Wednesday and went to Westminster Abbey. Where we were able to take some time to appreciate the beauty of architecture and the powerful feelings that it can produce.

In science class they discussed the sun and it’s role in our solar system and in our daily lives. In addition, we discussed future experiments  and ways to make science fun.

So in the end joy remains the state in which our family finds itself as we journey together in our education as individuals, as members of a family, as members of local community and a members of this great and wonderful world that we live in. Hopefully, this will remain the case at the end of next week!

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Art class

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Westminster Abbey

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Art by Tekoa

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Tekoa’s reading journal

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Axton’s reading journal

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working hard

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Axton’s Gilgamesh

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Tekoa’s Gilgamesh

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