Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Artistic Inspiration

Well, after just getting over everyone having the flu at the same time and having loads of disgusting laundry and a house to decontaminate and clean for weekend guests - my guys were suddenly inspired....

Yesterday, we let the kids open their gifts to help lift the boring doldrums of being sick. Brianna got a calligraphy pen set and nice parchment paper. She usually hates anything to do with "handwriting" and has an ongoing hate relationship with her own. I would agree that I have the same issue. Handwriting being the only thing I failed in 4th grade. In any case, she loved the calligraphy set and set down to work through the alphabet according to the book. She did such a great job! In the meantime Chase, who really dislikes any kind of sit down style work - wanted to write as well. So I found some lined "elementary" age paper and he wrote his name and copied some sentences, which I wrote to purposely make him laugh. Alexa followed suit, and even pulled the papers out tonight to play around with her sentences some more.

The amazing thing I find is that they do as well as if I had forced him to sit everyday and do workbook sheets or a curriculum. It is great to see how a child can really learn and be inspired by following their own interests and timetable. How much we think we know from our past experiences with schooling, that learning must take place in a certain way, or that if it doesn't happen at a certain time, your child is doomed to failure. I may even consider taking up with Brianna's calligraphy set and seeing if I can improve my own handwriting.

Following this, Lexi wanted to watercolor. I had purchased real watercolors from the craft store awhile back for Brianna after she had gotten some watercolor art books from a wonderful "older" friend Aunt Betty. We also got an acrylic set, with canvases. So everyone water painted and Brianna painted two acrylics for her grandma's.

They all made pizza for supper and we read together from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. We all love this book! Brianna likes that it uses big words. I like that we all learn new words - by context, words that aren't used anymore in modern fiction. I think as a society we have gotten away from using and understanding rich vocabulary. John does voices for Scrooge and the Spirits, and the Cratchits – which make it all the more interesting.
Amid all this I did manage to make a good dent on the laundry and do some decontaminating ;-)!

Friday, December 03, 2004

Money Management

My husband and I decided to give our kids an allowance to help them learn to manage their money. We all had a field trip to Commerce bank on Tuesday. The kids particularly liked the "Penny Arcade", where you can put in all your coins and they change it into cash for you. Pretty neat. One mother said she'd rather have her kids count it all so as to encourage their skills...

In any case, being a finance major and a previous bank employee, I think I was surprised at what my guys didn't know when asked questions by the bank CSR. My older daughter hadn't given much thought to the concept of interest, even though she has a bank account and is very pleased whenever she deposits money in her account. They were all impressed however, by all the money in the vault. The Teller in the drive-through let them push the tubes in and out - and that seemed to be a hit.

Overall, I thought it was a great field trip. The bank has a website, where homeschoolers can register as educators and print out lesson plans and workbook sheets. The kids were given activity books and a bank.

So - after all of this, today is allowance day. The kids all get $5.0o, of which they save $1.00, give $1.00 to charity of their choice, and get to spend the rest. Last week my son, who also had birthday money saved up his money and bought a rescue hero jeep, with a man at the consignment shop with his own money. He was so proud of himself. This has also limited their constant asking for things, as they have their own money to manage. My younger daughter, who is 5, does tend to want to spend hers as soon as she gets it on whatever - my older daughter is a bit savvier.

Today, however, was our homeschool bowling league day and they all spent all of their weekly spending money on the video arcade. What is really hard for me - is I really want them to get the fact that some of these games are wasteful. Some are games of chance - I guess the only merit one could suggest is that they got some sort of momentary satisfaction from their minutes of usage. It is their money, and I have to admit that I wasn't really happy with their choice. My son even put all of his money in one video game. So, I am not looking forward to when we go into a store and they want something and will realize that hey - I don't have any money left!
I guess it’s really not any different than life as an adult. I mean how do we really explain all those credit cards! We want instant gratification - and we sometimes spend on things when we have bills or other to pay - but want something instead. Perhaps this lesson is really meant for me... I could use a little more restraint. Also, I have a weakness for books. I can't go into Borders without spending $50. My husband thinks this is a waste. I hate spending any money on car repairs or parts, telephone of electric bills, and taxes, even though I know they are necessary evils. I guess one could even say that my Starbucks coffee habit is a bit excessive. So I guess the moral of the story is that it is all a learning tool - what's important to me may not be to you and vice versa. I am sure this will continue to open up all kinds of issues and insight. Another reason why homeschooling is teaching me as much as it is my kids!