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Everything posted by jade

  1. If you are a member of another museum that is part of the ASTC group, you can get into several Chicago museums for free. Check your museum membership card, if you are a member, for the ASTC logo. With our museum membership that is connected to ASTC, we visit, for free, the Field Museum, the Museum of Science & Industry and the Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier. You still have to pay for parking and special exhibits, but it saves a lot of money. I think the Art Institute may be part of a reciprocal art museum thing as well. The Shedd Aquarium always has long lines and the tickets are rather expensive. For those reasons, we have yet to visit. We like the Art Institute and the Field. The Museum of Science & Industry has an interesting history of Disney exhibit up. If you like archaeology, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Egyptian history, then you might like the Oriental Museum on the University of Chicago campus near the Science & Industry museum. The Oriental Museum is in the Hyde Park area which is the neighborhood where the Obamas lived before moving to the White House. Parking in Chicago is very expensive. The easiest way to pay for street parking is to use your credit card. Otherwise, you will need to be carrying around lots of cash. Parking garages can be expensive, too. Park in the Grant Park garage accessible via Michigan Avenue to go to the Art Institute. The Field and the Science a& Industry have their own parking lots. Once you are parked in the Grant Park garage, then you can go to the Bean. We also like walking up and down Michigan Avenue. My son is obsessed with Nike shoes so we are now always visiting the NikeTown store on Michigan Avenue, very near the Apple store. There is an American Girl store and Lego store in the Water Tower mall. You can walk over bridge over the Chicago River that has been featured in a lot of films. Take a Wendella Boat ride that gives you an interesting perspective on the city and helps you understand the architecture, too, which Chicagoans are proud of. There is a hostel in the south Loop. It is near the main library building. From the outside, it looks quite nice. You are still going to have to park your car nearby. We often stay in the western suburbs in Oak Brook/Lombard area. It is about a 20 minute drive on expressways through the suburbs and city to downtown. That is, if the traffic is going fast. We like staying in this area because the hotels are fine, many serve breakfast, have pools and the parking is free. But then, we don't go out a lot in the evening. So we are usually exhausted and back in the hotel by 7 or so. Staying in the city mainly allows you to hang out at night. Frequently there are free concerts in Grant Park in the summer and fireworks off Navy Pier, so those are incentive to stay downtown. Chicago is a big city with big city prices. Plan ahead and you can save some money and time. You will like it.
  2. You would probably have the most success selling it on Ebay. Do some research on Ebay first. You may be surprised that it's worth a little, or a lot, depending on what your research shows. Good luck.
  3. We're in central Illinois, too. There are several homeschooling groups in Champaign, Bloomington and Peoria and throughout the state. It is easy to officially homeschool in Illinois. Just start! The recommendation among homeschool parents is usually not to even register with the state. There are lots of homeschoolers in the state, so the public is more aware and less weirded out by kids that are home all day. However, I would recommend that if you think you may at some point have your children enter public schools that you at least are familiar with the state curriculum standards and/or a country you may eventually move to so that at least you know where you might want to aim for in your curriculum. I think it's good to have your child do some kind of standardized testing at some point on a regular basis just so you at least know your child's academic strengths and weaknesses. I'm just suggesting considering some kind of annual test. The SAT-10 is one of these types of tests. I would also try very hard to connect with some homeschool groups so you can exchange ideas with parents and another group for your kids to meet other kids.
  4. Wow! Thanks everyone for your thoughts. You are really helpful in giving me a sense of how to frame the problem in my mind. I really appreciate reading other parents' perspectives. I am thankful for all of them. Through this forum and then researching online, I've learned more about how these kinds of things are handled through stores and police, which makes me realize as the responsible adult I probably could have been in trouble, too. I guess I should clarify that my son told me about the bracelet within two days. I think he was waiting for a good time to talk to me about and was feeling guilty and confused. I like the idea of anonymously mailing the bracelet back to the store. That sounds good. I'm not sure about talking to the two boys together. If we were neighbors, I'd do that. But since it's a process to get the boys together, discussing the problem with them might backfire. I don't think I want them together for awhile. I kind of think the boy left the bracelet at our house because he didn't want it in his house and he wanted to get caught. The question in my mind continues to be whether I tell the parents or not. They're both concerned about his other behaviors, including how he's handling a girlfriend. He talked about how he is seeing a therapist and looking into medication. One of my reasons for taking the boys to the museum was to get the friend to do something positive and educational instead of being alone in his house for extended time over the long weekend. The parents like my son and think he's a positive influence. I don't think the parents would immediately become defensive if I explained the situation. Altho, I do feel bad about missing what was happening at the mall. We are going to avoid having my son hang out with him. They see each other often through activities at the boy's church and stay in touch through Facebook. The boy has sports and after school activities so he will be busy. And if they do get together, it's going to be really supervised. No walking downtown for sure. My son and I are talking this through as well and using your advice.
  5. Last weekend, I took my son and his good friend to a a special event at a museum 50 miles away and then afterward to the mall nearby to go to a specific store they liked. We went to one other store selling inexpensive teen clothes. My son spoke about one of the male store clerks who was following them around the store. It kind of bothered my son. His friend, who is a year old and much more urban and street-wise, wasn't bothered. We did buy 2 belts at the store. Then we went out to eat and drove home. The two boys get along well. My son is a little voyeuristic watching the other boy's dramatic life unfold, while he is learning lessons of how not to do some of the things. I know the parents. They are incredibly busy in their careers. But they are interested in their son and frequently ground him for doing things that are wrong or stupid. My son and the boy have a lot in common and their activity interests intersect. The boy's father has invited my son to be involved in special activities he organizes. Later this week, my son and I were having a good, heartfelt conversation. During that time, he revealed that his friend has stolen a small men's bracelet from the teen store. My son didn't know about the stealing until after it had taken place In fact, he had left it at our house later and my son had it. We talked about how that was wrong and how he shouldn't be doing that. My son was a little freaked out by the experience. He still really likes the boy. Since he's homeschooling these days, he doesn't have lots of friends -- altho we keep trying new experiences, of course, so we are working hard on that. My son is a good kid. He was really open and honest, so I decided I would not get upset and just listen and have a positive conversation, rather than get completely angry, which didn't seem quite right. The boys are 13 and 14, old enough to know better, but young enough to want attention However, what would you do: Tell the parents? Have my son avoid this boy all together? Where's the balance?
  6. Reading a wide range of literature exposes readers to many new ideas and perspectives. Cultures throughout the world are based on stories. Our basic belief systems, our reasons for reaching for the stars, exploring new things, come out of the stories that we tell to each other. It's frustrating if at some point you're not introduced to these stories. We live in a post-modern world where everything references other things. There are whole episodes of South Park or The Simpsons that assume you've read Charles Dickens or Washington Irving. Without knowing the key books that are being referenced, the jokes are gone. Not that you should read just to get the jokes on sit-coms, but reading opens the world. That said, I can understand not wanting to get your son frustrated with reading. But you're also suggesting that you want to think about studying literature, which really is different than reading. Both are important. Try getting some of the books that are recommended in the Lightning Lit, because it is a good list, and just putting them around the house. Either go to the library, make the library inter-library loan them, or buy them cheap on AbeBooks or Alibris or something. You could try reading them yourself and talking about them to get your son interested in them. More ideas: If all you do is watch videos of Shakespeare for weeks, that would be tremendously helpful, literature-wise. Get videos of Shakespeare. (many are online) There are new apps for studying Shakespeare (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/books/review/new-apps-for-help-reading-shakespeare.html). Subscribe to Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac. A new poem a day with biographical material about writers. Maybe once a week you'll find something interesting (http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/) Study for the Mythology test. That will increase his knowledge about literature. Read Aesop's fables and talk about them. Look into graphic novels. Many classic books are now in graphic novel form. If you don't want to read the books, then watch the films based on some of the books and then discuss the theme and ideas afterwards. To Kill a Mockingbird is also a great film. Treasure Island (even The Muppets version), Tom Sawyer. See the new Hobbit film. There are lots of version of A Christmas Carol (Scrooged with Bill Murray). I guess I'm also saying that there's more to literature than reading books -- it's being exposed to new ideas and there are multiple ways to experience these texts. The Online G3 program uses Lightning Literature if you don't want to teach literature.
  7. My son took the ACT through Northwestern's NUMATs program. We live near Chicago, so I thought we would go that route. He is going to take the SAT in January. I am just wondering if there is any advantage to signing up for the SAT through Duke's TIP program or Johns Hopkins. I guess my thought is we're already in Northwestern's program. Duke seems to have different courses and options. We might also consider doing one of the weekend programs, as we have relatives in Raleigh. Does anyone have any experience in being in more than one gifted program through colleges?
  8. I like the description of Lightning Literature as "a gentle approach." It's quite guided and seems relatively well rounded in bringing up different kinds of literature. My concern with your reading list is that it's focused on fantasy and science fiction. Trying to read a few different types of literature would be a good experience for eighth grade.
  9. I hope it all works out for you. We have pulled DS out of public school and figured out what to do. It is really hard. The teachers are often so focused on things that have nothing to do with kids that just want to learn.
  10. Thanks for the link to your blog post. I found it insightful as I can't quite comprehend Doug Wilson. I haven't read as much of his work as you have, so I appreciate that you have gone through it and analyzed it. I like reading your newspaper column, too!
  11. To follow up. The immense amount of homework was only part of the problem at this Christian academy. It turns out that the students were also bullying my son, in part because he has long hair (barely touching his shoulder) and also because he was trying to be friendly to girls. Some girls in the tiny choir were terrified of a boy talking with them because they thought it was flirting, and, for some reason, for these very conservative girls flirting was sinful -- in choir, where harmony was important. The choir teacher tried to get the 4 fours and DS to get along, but that didn't work. This school atmosphere is incredibly conservative. I did talk to the principal a few times about these problems. She was very sympathetic about the bullying issues, and she did try to start getting the kids to rethink their behavior, particularly toward more Christian styles. However, the amount of homework seemed to be just kind of a given. Then the teachers began to learn about some of the 'cheating' that I mentioned previously because one of the boys started passing around the answers in study hall. The kids had been passing around the answers in every class that their parents could get an answer key. I think that the school's expectation had catapulated in junior high beyond what the kids in this class could handle and the parents were just trying to help them learn and get the homework done because it was so excessive, especially when most of the kids were also on a sports team. In the end, we decided that the oddly conservative perspective of many students and teachers, the intensity of the school work which was more about memorization than actual learning and causing kids to cheat, and the bullying atmosphere were enough negatives for us. The few positives did not outweigh the negatives. We are now homeschooling. My mom said that DS sounded so distraught in phone conversations, but now he sounds like himself again. This school was definitely a learning experiment for us. The administrators were kind when we left. But I think they realized that even though he was the 'kind of boy we want at our school,' DS was not the kind of student currently enrolled. We are on our own adventure again and that seems a positive. Thanks for everyone's insight. It was definitely helpful.
  12. I think the Maria Tartar annotated edition might be what you're looking for. Jack Zipes is another one of the leading critics on fairy tales. You might check out his version. http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Fairy-Tales-Brothers-All-New/dp/0553382160/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353386064&sr=1-7 Zipes himself writes about liking the Mannheim translations: http://www.amazon.com/Grimms-Tales-Young-Old-Complete/dp/0385189508/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1353386064&sr=1-11 For fun, you might check out Shelly Duvall's Fearie Tale Theatre videos, which are entertaining and pretty good. Some are better than others. Somewhat more scary are Jim Henson's The Storyteller videos. There are several fairy tales in the mix.
  13. My friend who's a professor in school psychology says that parents who help are doing what's called "scaffolding." It's considered a positive in her field, not necessarily a negative. I am debating how much to help out an 8th grader as well (you'll see in my other posts). But I do think that some guided directions are okay. It helps students figure out where they should go so they will know the next time. I think you need to observe how things are going. If he gets stuck and spins his wheels, then start him on the right route. Keep encouraging him to stick with it, which is better than yelling to get homework done. Others obviously disagree with me, but I don't think it's often such a good idea to let kids fail. Many experts believe that parent involvement is a key component to their children's and teens' success in school. There are lots of serious ramifications if the student fails, especially repeatedly. And eventually the parents will be called in anyway.
  14. The reason he is at a Christian school is because there are no private schools in our area beyond third grade. So we are kind of stuck in that way. Thanks for the suggestion. Wish it was different. I am just going to toss this out as well. Turns out many of the parents have bought the test books and answer keys for the textbooks. One girl even shared the answer guide for the math book with DS as they were working on math homework while waiting for the chorus to begin rehearsing after school. Parents have specifically told me that many of them do this. Weird, right, or not?
  15. Glad you started this post. We are watching because there is something appealing about it. But I don't really like all the story lines either. I liked the show last year that had a post-apocalyptic vibe with the family in the jungle and the renegades outside, sort of like Jurassic Park or Avatar. That story line seemed far more plausible. Revolution has too much confusion. Maybe it will be better as a Netflix intensive watching years later.
  16. Roadrunner makes good points. I am not against homework, per se. I agree that long stretches of time, at home, are good for reading, researching and writing papers, etc. Homework should be meaningful, a way to reflect on what you learned. There should also be time, I think, for a chance to go over notes. We have been explaining this with DS. What's frustrating it that at this school there are lots of little bits of homework that are all adding up to three hours or more. It *seems* good, but it's the relentlessness that has us concerned. We are helping him reconsider where he's studying and how he does homework. These are all good things to learn. We are working on getting assignments written out clearly -- which was not a problem when we homeschooled, but has become a huge problem in school. Still, my point that I return to, is if he's doing the homework diligently, understanding it quite well (we know because we quiz him), in other words, following along with what the teachers specifically ask, and then not doing well on the tests, that's a problem. Is it him? It is the school? It is a wrong fit? Can we all adapt better? That's what we're trying to figure out. Everyone's thoughts are helpful and it's good to know how people adapt to homework and afterschooling in junior high and high school.
  17. I wondered that too about a Doug Wilson connection. I don't know, but it looks like this area of Idaho is a hotbed of rethinking reformed Christianity. Totally separately, I have been reading The Dragon's Tooth, the latest series by his son, N.D. Wilson, called The Ashtown Burials. I loved his 100 Cupboard series, didn't like Leepike Ridge at all (which was taught in DS's 5th grade class). They're interesting middle school/YA books that kids might like if they enjoyed Percy Jackson series, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe series and fantasy adventure books like that. The point about bringing 3 hours of work from home is a good one. That ideas lurks in the back of my mind. Yet many do bring that much work home and I have done that in the past. The question seems to be why kids need that much homework. Things have improved a little with DS's homework but it still seems like evenings are essentially homeschooling. I know if we go to homeschooling he will be lonely because we just have not had lots of good experiences finding positive groups for him unless we drive 50 miles. A few good experiences, but not enough probably for him.
  18. Keep in mind that you are accelerating him for the rest of his school life. It's not just this year. He will be the youngest in high school when everyone can drive and he can't. He will be the youngest senior year in high school. He will leave for college one year earlier and will be young in college. Consider trying to get him into as many accelerated classes as you can in junior high (if they exist) and let him mature. There's something to be said for just letting him be a kid for awhile. He possibly could take college classes during high school at a community college or online. That would save you money once he gets to college. Many studies show girls are more mature and advanced than boys until sometime late in high school. Biologically speaking, boys seem to just take longer. This forum could debate this, but I'm just saying look at the total picture of your son and think about it from that perspective, not just that he's good at math and has some friends who are older. Being a good writer is going to be just as important in high school as being good in math. And being a neat person who colors within the lines is extremely important in school, even in junior high and high school. On the other hand, some smart people are desperate to get out of school... Check over on the accelerated forum for more ideas.:grouphug:
  19. Yes, the teachers are credentialed through the state or Christian teacher accreditation. I finally found something that explains how some Christian schools view homework. Here's a link that I first found in a Texas Christian school that's from The Ambrose School in Meridian, Idaho, which bills itself as "The Boise Valley's K-12 Classical Christian School." http://www.theambroseschool.org/documents/document-library/ Scroll down to the document named "Homework." This school's approach should be of interest to Well Trained Mind forum readers as it takes the Classical approach but in a private Christian setting. I wonder how you all think it reflects or parallels how you homeschool?
  20. I hope you find the right school for your children. You are really doing great things for her. I hope you can find the positiveness in the experience, too.:grouphug:
  21. Thanks for the input on certain kinds of Christian schools. That parallels the kind of school I think this -- one with lots of homework. I have spoken with several of the parents at the school. Most acknowledge that there's lots of homework and then proceed to explain how they kind of work around that. One way is they have all the books and teachers manuals at home and work through them. It seems like an interesting approach. The school has actually cut down the amount of homework, the parents say. We went to the Open House and met all the teachers. We are going to have a new family meeting with the head of the school. I guess, however, I am still confused how my son can do so well in other learning situations and come to this school and not connect. We have talked about it, but I can't figure it out. He is having more problems adjusting than I thought he would. The Christian environment is making him uncomfortable, even tho we are Christians. He is confused that the teachers don't seem to go over materials. Maybe we will go back to homeschooling.
  22. Lots of solid ideas already! Teaching Textbooks uses videos and a workbook format. You might find that helpful. It is a bit expensive. For specific type of problems, the Khan Academy is pretty good. For a girlie perspective on algebra, try Danica McKellar's book, Hot X: Algebra Exposed. Your son may not like it, but if you're trying to brush up, you may find it helpful. We have also found that if you type the specific question into Google, there's usually already an answer for it, usually including an explanation.
  23. I would definitely look into one of the gifted options, as someone else mentioned, through Northwestern, Stanford, Duke, Johns Hopkins. There are lots of online courses. They are expensive, but they might be appropriately challenging. Also, kids can enroll in college courses, too. They can do this online or in community colleges. Kids at some of the public high schools in our town take classes at the university in town.
  24. I finally got my password and can post again! Here's the problem. Last year in 7th grade, we took my son out of the public junior high because he was not being challenged, the teachers were poor, and his friends were getting into fights. Still, he got good grades and loves learning. He has tested at the high school or post high school level on the SAT-10 for years. He did well enough on the ACT to get into the NUMATS program. We homeschooled for the last half of 7th grade and enjoyed it. We had previously homeschooled in a similar way in 5th grade, but he wanted to try junior high. But he was lonely during homeschooling. So we decided to try a local private Christian school K-12, that is supposed to have a "college prep" type curriculum and is definitely more rigorous than public schools. But it's not what we thought it would be. The pluses are that it's safe, it's a new building, the classes are small. Mosr teachers are congenial. The downside is that the teachers are plowing through the curriculum, but not stopping to make sure the kids know the material. They never review homework, but it's usually graded. There are 6 new kids in a group of 24, but they're not helping them get up to speed, unless the kids stay after school for short tutoring. The parents have begun to tell me how they have to teach the kids at night. Homework is routinely 3 hours at night and often 5 -7 hours on the weekend. My son is doing the homework and really trying. But it is becoming too much for him. His grades are faltering considerably, which has never happened. The materials are not difficult for him. But if he didn't learn it in class, he isn't always asking for help. He doesn't have enough time to digest what he's learning either. So, we are debating how long we stay at a private school that is rather expensive place to be getting poor grades. There are other facts, but maybe someone would have a perspective or questions that would be helpful in our thoughts. Thanks!
  25. You can use the frozen cranberries in the bread. They should taste great, as long as they haven't been frozen for more than 6 months. You probably don't even have to defrost them to use in the bread. If you feel that you must, just put the frozen bag into a bowl of hot water for awhile.
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