This week has been a pretty decent week, homeschooling-wise. Mostly the seven year old did math and writing practice, and the four year old reading and math practice.

My four year old made some pipe-cleaner letters, which were actually meant more for math practice than reading/writing practice. I wanted to challenge him to think about what length of pipecleaner we needed for each part of the letter – 1/2, 1/4 or a whole pipecleaner.

My seven year old’s math course surprised me this week. He’s doing Right Start Mathematics Level E, and one of the worksheets involved reading stock prices and calculating what the stock price was the previous day, given that how much it went up or down. That led to some wonderfully fun conversations around stocks. He knew a bit about stocks already, from a conversation we had a while ago where we made up a story about a lemonaid stand and how he could sell stocks in his lemonaid stand to his family members, and they could buy and sell them. I’m not quite sure why were talking about it, because it isn’t like the stock market forms a part of his dad or my life, but somehow we had been talking about it, and now he could reference to it from his math curriculum.

Then on Thursday the seven year old decided his writing project would be a sign for a protest we were going to go to. He’s learning about percentages so he wanted to make the sign about the percentage of people in Ontario who use the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit, which is being cut. Once we calculated that out to the best of our ability he decided the number didn’t sound impressive enough and so he wrote about the percentage of money being cut and he drew his own illustration on the sign. We had lots of good discussions through the making of the sign.

It has been really neat for me to be part of the fight against the cuts to the CSUMB. There are many organizations province-wide are active trying to get the cuts stopped. Basically this benefit is what people on Ontario Works and Ontario Disability go to when they need a lump sum of money to allow them to pay first and last months rent, or to buy furniture or household items when they are setting up a new household, or to pay for repairs for things like refrigerators. Women escaping abusive relationships turn to this fun. Our local Member of the Provincial Parliament has been less than honest with people saying that the fun is just being “streamlined” while in fact the amount of money is being cut by 50% and the responsibility of dealing with it is being passed to municipalities, so that it will no longer be something on social assistance people have a right to, but something people can only apply for and hope that the pot isn’t already depleted for the year.

Another educational topic that came up with the protest was the issue of police officers. A few weeks ago my children saw video of the local police being pretty brutal with a protester friend of ours. Then this protest we went to on Thursday was one where a permit had been purchased and the police were doing an escort and blocking off the roads for the protest. So we had to have another conversation about the role of police officers, and how they can be helpful or not helpful depending upon the circumstances. “They’re like mercenaries,” the seven year old said, “they just do what they’re told and it depends what instructions they are given whether they are good or bad.” I had to think about that. The word mercenaries tends to make me think of people just doing stuff for the money. Is there a difference between that and doing stuff for the job? Perhaps police officers are there partly out of a belief in law and order, and yet are they always contributing to law and order or are they times that they are actually a hindrance to it, because of the orders they are given?

The other thing we did this week was tell (and retell over and over) several science jokes. We started with ones like:
A cop stops Heisenberg on the freeway. The cop asks “do you know how fast you were going?” Heisenberg says “no but I know where I am.”
This was their first intro to the Heisenberg principle, though I’ll probably make a point of showing them the parts in some of our science books that talk about it. Then we moved to chemistry jokes.

Some helium floats into a bar. The bartender says “Sorry, we don’t serve noble gases here.” The helium doesn’t react.

The chemistry jokes they could get, because we’ve talked lots about the periodic table. I like the idea that they view chemistry and science as something to joke about. Even if they don’t understand it all now, they’ll view it as a part of life and not something scary.

## One Comment

• ### redpeffer.me

Wow! I would love to give my daughter an alternative education. Lots of respect and admiration to you.

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