The kids and I have worked out a schedule where I get to “TOUCH” the computer twice a week whether I’m ready or not, so I can keep up with the blog. I felt they were online, skype, or youtubing too much and missing out on the actual living in Japan part. They gamely agreed, and each of us gets internet / iPad access twice a week. I get the netbook / iPad on Tuesdays and Fridays!
As for home schooling, it’s really a 24 hrs / 7 days a week job, and it takes a bit of getting used to as there’s really no set schedule. For example, today we blew glass in the afternoon, and it took about an hour to reach the studio. Plus, Amy and I have been staying up past 1 am most nights (night owls are we!), so we awaken about 9:30 – 10:30 am. Just in time for breakfast / lunch, and a dash off to the studio! Afterwards, we do schoolwork, homework, and tests. So, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, school can happen at any time!
I’ll be the first to send Kudos to teachers. From the last time I home schooled Geoff and Chris (5th and K) in 1996 when we traveled for one month to Greece, lugging the books, papers, tests, and Chris’ rock collection, I thought I would NEVER home school again. So, perhaps it’s ironic or poetic justice that I am home schooling Amy at the same age as Geoff was. Luckily for me nowadays, the internet IS my saviour in making this arduous task a bit easier, and definitely lighter! (Like reading books on the iPad, research online – ah, BUT the hardest part is finding a GOOD internet connection. Comcast’s cable connection had spoiled us terribly! Now getting two little bars on the network perks the kids up! No matter how advanced Japan seems, wifi is NOT prevalent, easily available, nor cheap! Thanks to YBBUser somewhere in our apartment, we are able to send and receive bits and bytes! Trusting, generous soul…)
That said, however, the Palo Alto Unified School District was anything but helpful. Each department or phone # I called gave me a different answer, from no home schooling was allowed, to I could do anything I wanted. One answer I was given was that home schooling was only if it was a health requirement, and that travel wasn’t covered.
As for online home schooling, the sign of the times have not caught up entirely. Though there are several online home schooling supplements, there is not an online only program at present. The ones that came highly recommended still shipped tons of papers, books and required paper exams, and records. Ok, it’s not tons, but 60 plus pounds is over the weight limit for almost all international flights when our packed items are included (40 kg = 85 pounds, and I don’t intend to lug that much)!
So, we are using a combination of internet and a Core Curriculum book published by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., author of Cultural Literacy, and the book is part of a series called The Core Knowledge. It’s the same book – I’ll admit it – that I used when we went to Greece, and I taught Geoff. We now supplement the book with some internet searches, everyday science and math, as well as language arts – especially while trying to talk with the Japanese! LOL…
With just about a month of experience living in Japan, we’re now much more comfortable about traveling within this rather civilized country. It has spoiled us, but has given us the “shakedown” of our packing, expectations, spending, sanitation, and health concerns. Those mosquitos will be Amy’s biggest pests! I could write about riding trains, the various train lines (color coding sure helps!), the variety of toilets that Toto makes (a VERY famous toilet manufacturer), and the number of convenience stores that can be found at almost every corner – it used to be primarily 7-11s, but now we find more Lawsons. (Did you know 7-11 was begun in Japan, in Koto part of Tokyo in the 70s? And all this time I thought it was as American as apple pie!)
Grocery shopping and cooking in Japan are experiences, too, that I will cover later. I have quite an album of pictures to share from our grocery store shopping sprees!
Our biggest limitations is the entertainment – we didn’t bring DVDs or CDs along as we figured we’d have YouTube (helpful), iPod / iPhone / iPad for music. So, Chris has tapped into a way to download movies, which takes slightly under FOREVER, but once downloaded, has kept Amy somewhat busy for a bit. Reading and game playing has kept us occupied, too. I’m thankful for bringing my bag of Scrabble tiles! We play “Speed Scrabble” that we learned from John at PALY (yes, this is the Bamboo Bike guy with Chris), as well as UpWords. The iPad’s games of UnBlocked, HD Gears have challenged us, too, and we play competitively. Any other suggestions for brainy games is welcome!
Well, signing off for now – it’s 3:40 am Japan time, and we’re all blowing glass in the afternoon! G’night!
“I have a purple pumpernickel on my behind!” (a bruise from when she slipped)
“Mommy has natto breath!” (man, can’t sneak past this kid!)
“Mommy, if you order the natto and green onion okonomiyaki, then you’ll have to go by yourself!” (hmmm, will have to remember this!)