Ok Grandma…Time For Your Wii-habilitation

My mom had surgery yesterday – – a complete ankle reconstruction.  At her age, I guess her ankles were developing unsightly wrinkles, so before sandal season, she decided to have them done.  (Just kidding, mom. Geez!)   Anyway, Grandma (for kicks, lets just call her Time-worn Techie, or TT for short) will be off her ankle for a few months, and in need of some serious physical therapy for quite a while.  But the great news?  Her grandsons are fully ready to be her primary therapists.

Apparently, according to the Associated Press, doctors and therapists are recommending the Nintendo Wii as part of some patients’ therapy protocol.  As all of us who have secretly been sneaking into the den after little Bobby and Betsy are safely tucked in for the night in order to play Wii Golf know, the Wii is more than just a little fun.  And playing Wii games requires many of the same range of motion movements that therapists use with their patients.  So combining fun and therapy is a win/win situation, right?


Well…unless you are not exactly as techie as some of us.  My husband had knee surgery last summer, and had a good many physical therapists throughout his recovery.  I have to admit I’m getting a little tickled trying to picture any one of those dear ladies trying to operate a Wii for their patients.  One of them had great difficulty remembering exactly where the therapy pool light switch was located each time.  I’m guessing that she might struggle a bit with setting up a patient’s Mii, toggling between connection settings, and logging patient game scores.  But who knows?  Maybe there was some suppressed, untapped tech-iness lying dormant underneath those hot pink scrubs.  I’m just thankful it didn’t burst out all over my unsuspecting hubby!

Perhaps we are getting to experience a new cultural phenomenon.  What if PT’s all over the country are aging out of their profession as we speak?  What if Wii Therapy begins being offered as a High School elective, and instead of heading to their part-time job at McDonald’s after school, teens beeline toward Regency Sports Therapy for some extra gas money?  Fathers all over America will be lecturing to their ten-yr-olds how they had to wash filthy cars and mow overgrown lawns to help out their family, and the time has come that they must pick up their Wii remotes and pull a little weight of their own.

Well, my boys are primed and ready.  They’ve spent countless hours in on-the-job training.  They have sacrificed precious homework time to prepare themselves for the task.  When TT gets home from the hospital, she has two of the most highly skilled, experienced Wii therapists at her disposal.  Just remember, mom…we don’t take insurance.  (I love you mom…get well soon!!)


Can’t Find Moby Dick? Just Follow The Smell…

When I describe our style of homeschooling to people, I often get that “oh, yes, you are a Moonie, how wonderful for you” look.  I think it’s actually a pretty accurate comparison, though.  In general, people know little to nothing about the beliefs, practices, and mission of the Unification Church, and so they associate it with the few stereotypical images they have filed away in their psyche.  Trying to get someone to understand what it means to be a techie homeschooling family is actually not so dissimilar.  Who knows…perhaps pictures of kids wired together in front of a mainframe in someone’s bomb shelter first come to mind???

Anyway, for us, being a technology-friendly homeschool entails lots of electricity, lots of hand-eye coordination, and usually lots of fun.  Both Uber-Techie and Hyper-Techie take most of their classes online.  Uber, an eighth grader,  is involved in a 3-D Virtual School called 3-D Learn, where his personal avatar represents him in classes, and interacts with his other schoolmates’ avatars.  (Who says homeschoolers aren’t socialized??)  His assignments are completed and uploaded to his school daily, and many projects are done using 3-D building techniques.  It’s sorta like high school drafting class, minus the T-squares and protractors, oh, and maybe the smell of that kid’s tuna fish ripening in his backpack…yep, there are some things about high school you just never quite get over.

H-T, in sixth grade, also takes both math and language arts online, through Time4Learning.  H-T has dyslexia, and T4L is designed in such a way that the lessons can be read aloud to you if you want them to be.  H-T generally does NOT want them to be, but I like the idea that the option is there if he so chooses.  In my day, having my school lessons read to me would have been comparable to sitting next to the classroom radiator with Yanni blaring through the PA system, so I sort of get how he could balk at the thought. 

In addition to taking classes online, we integrate technology into many other parts of our homeschool day.  We use a portable keyboard called The Writer for keyboarding lessons, and daily journaling.  I also supplement most of H-T’s science and geography lessons with online educational videos from United Streaming.  We Tivo CNN student news each day, as well as other educational programs that we use as springboards for discussions.  We have an Interactive Globe that downloads world facts and news, and plugs in the facts into a fun geography game format.  We use spelling, geography, math, and even handwriting software at various points in our day, as well. 

The only non-techie thing in our homeschool?  Books.  I know…I know.  Nowadays books can be downloaded, added into portable readers, and accessed in virtual libraries.  Reading an actual spine-bound manuscript is somewhat traditional and conventional.  Olde worlde…right up there with the thee’s and thou’s.  Passe.  Archaic. Out-dated.  Moth-eaten.  Last season’s Top Model.  I know!  But have you ever just put your nose right in the open fold between the freshly published leaves of a good book?  There is absolutely NOTHING like it.  No sensory experience can equal it. Not even that nice dinging sound my Tivo makes when I obey it. 

So sue us.  The Topsy Turf will always have a book or two lying around.  Usually under the portable DVD player.

I Can Homeschool Here or There…I Can Homeschool ANYWHERE

 The way I figure it, most homeschooling is done at home.  I mean, the term spa-schooling hasn’t seemed to take off yet.  And if people are bar-schooling, they aren’t admitting it.  So the majority of homeschoolers seem to actually do some or most of their educating within their four walls.  And it’s a good thing, too.  Have you ever visited a curriculum fair?  If homeschooling families are cramming even one one-thousandth of that stuff into their dens and dining rooms, there is no way that homeschooling can be very “portable.” 

Not true for the Topsies.  Our slogan is: Have laptop, will travel.  We can homeschool almost anywhere.  From California to the New York Island, from the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream Waters…well the waters that sport a Wi-Fi connection, anway.  That’s one of the tremendous advantages of using an online curriculum.  Your education is never farther than your PC.


It is a very environmentally friendly way to homeschool, as well.  While the Smiths and Smythes are depleting the rain forest as they write paper after paper on the endangerment of the rain forests, we are happily hitting our SAVE key and saving the planet.  While the Jones and Jonesboroughs are sending poor Seabiscuit to an early grave as they paste stars and planets onto their milky-way posterboard, the Topsies are busy watching how the planets rotate and orbit in an online simulation.  Imagine how excited Al Gore must be that his invention is not only connecting the world, but saving it as well.  That man really earned that Nobel, if you ask me.

But there are days when being so portable can be a drag.  Like when your mom has an appointment, and asks you to come over and homeschool at her house so you oversee her ongoing remodeling project.   Or when your church expects you to homeschool on the pews so you can help set up for the bizarre.  Or when your friend asks you meet her for coffee (darn those wi-fi friendly Starbucks!) to explain how she just has to get out of her dead-end relationship with her dead-beat boyfriend.  On those days, I can easily get a bit of pre-tech homeschool envy.  I can picture myself sitting cozily on the couch flipping through lesson planners and textbooks as my kiddos sit at my feet, singing Kum-ba-ya, filling in worksheets, and pasting things to each other………Oh dear!  I think I just snorted part of my Grande Mocha Java on some man’s briefcase.

Nope, I’m afraid we’ve gone too far to turn back now.  If you need us….we’ll be homeschooling at the Y today…see you there!