Weekend Review: Breathing a Sigh of Relief

Early this week, I realized just how close standardized testing and evaluations are, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. Remember that panic I went through a couple months ago? Well, I had a slight relapse. Homeschooling in Pennsylvania can be a bit stressful because of all the requirements we have to deal with, but being an unschooler here is new to me, and I started freaking out with worry over how we’re going to comply with these rigid laws. Our state requires us to keep portfolios with work samples, and since my kids are more hands-on, I became quite fretful.

I even went against every instinct I have about learning and started having the kids do an activity with me everyday, just so I’d have some sort of work samples. They really didn’t mind it, as we just incorporated a lot of what we learned from our nature walk on Saturday and went from there. On Monday, we examined, drew, and labelled a wild onion that Arianna brought home. We also studied some moss that Bailey brought home and discovered that moss does not have actual roots but little root-like structures called rhizoids. Arianna actually got really into it and went on to dissect a pine cone, a nut, and a wild potato from our outing. We never even knew that wild potatoes existed before this. I mentioned to her that the root of a yellow flower she was looking at looked like a little potato. She cut it in half, and we smelled it…definitely a potato. Google confirmed our suspicions.

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The kids also painted little wooden butterfly cutouts.

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On Tuesday, we discussed the differences between plants and animals, and the kids each drew their own version of a plant/animal hybrid. Dillon and Devin have been playing WOW often, and Arianna is still into her theatrical makeup. We made fruit salad for dinner that day, so the kids had a great time helping me cut fruit. (Actually, I didn’t have to cut any of it- they did it all!)

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Wednesday we watched a cute YouTube video of a photosynthesis rap song. Afterwards, we discussed the root words of photosynthesis and chlorophyll, and the kids made word scrambles using plant vocabulary words. The kids enjoyed watching a documentary about insects on Netflix called “Microcosmos.” We’ve also been reading Farmer Boy and have been discussing the many responsibilities of pioneer children. I’m hoping this will help to curtail their whining over their chores…
Wednesday night some of the kids went to Kingdom Builders, and Arianna went to youth group. I had nursery duty, so I stayed in there with Kenzie.

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On Wednesday evening, I got some exciting news…I found an evaluator who also has ten kids and is an unschooler. It was like a big weight lifted off of my shoulders. Part of the reason I’ve been so nervous about work samples is because of evaluations. I’ve always turned in extremely thick portfolios before, and I wasn’t sure how my evaluator would react to a much thinner binder. This new evaluator is much more relaxed, and since she is also of the mindset that children are always learning, the amount of samples makes no difference to her. Hallelujah. Big exhale.

On Thursday, I informed the kids that they no longer have to do activity time with me, unless they want to. They all said that they actually thought it was fun and will probably continue to do things with me sometimes. That made me happy because I really did enjoy it; I just didn’t enjoy feeling compelled to do it to please the bureaucracy. Learning should not be forced. Period. Ireland was the only one who opted to work with me today, so she made a plant lapbook, and we talked about why plants are important. Speaking of learning by choice, today was my third day of learning German through Mango Languages. I was able to start at Chapter 6; I took a placement test because I did take six years of German in school. I’m having a lot of fun with that. The younger kids have been on coolmathgames.com and Khan Academy brushing up on their math and logic skills. Ireland has been requesting math “schoolwork” quite a bit, so I’ve been printing a lot of Pre-K worksheets for her. Arianna still likes to cook, so after baking a cake, she helped me make stuffed peppers for supper. Yum.

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Kenzie has started pushing her little stroller around the house. She’s not going to be a baby much longer. Sniff.

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Friday will probably be a low-key day. Saturday, Devin has drawing and painting class, and Sunday is her art show. And Caollin and London will finally be getting baptized on Sunday! The water heater for the baptistry had broken, but the replacement was supposed to come in today. They’re so excited.

What have you done this week? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

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23 thoughts on “Weekend Review: Breathing a Sigh of Relief

  1. I’m really happy for you. I’m trying to schedule an appointment with a retired teacher my friend uses to understand better what will be required in Ohio. Your kids are cute!

    1. You have no idea how happy I was. I was actually in the kitchen, dancing and singing “I’m so Excited” (Pointer Sisters) when my 8 yr. old walked in and said, “Well, that was just terrifying.”

      1. LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!!!!!! And that is why I love kids. Would rather spend time with them any day over adults. They SAY what they THINK…which is mostly entertaining…eh-hem…mostly ;p

        Loved the visual of you dancing and singing. Would have loved to dance with/for you!

  2. Shelly, if your new evaluator is willing to do some other evaluations (even remotely via Skype, FaceTime, or Google HO) could you email me her contact information. People frequently ask about homeschool friendly evaluators who don’t require more than the law.

  3. I’m laughing over here because I’ve had those moments before where I start to panic over what we ‘should’ be doing and change things. It almost never goes well. I’ve heard PA is a strict state for records and such, I’m glad you found an evaluator that will understand your unschooling style so well!

    I need to take time to browse Netflix for some good documentaries for the family! Do you have any other recommendations beyond Microcosmos? Bugs have been popular here lately too.

    1. They just watched another one today called “Wings of Life.” If you just type in insect, a bunch of suggestions will pop up. I’m so glad I found this evaluator, too. My poor kids have such a neurotic mother sometimes! ;)

  4. I had never heard if a wild potato before either! Now you’ve got my curiosity up to see if we have any around here! I’ll bet you do feel less stressed with the more laid back evaluator! Lord knows we don’t need any added stress! Congrats on the baptisms!

      1. Yes, glad to hear about the baptisms!! Great news! My youngest is getting baptized in about 3 weeks. Exciting :)

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