Does Your Planner Have Room for God?

It’s funny how much of a home educator’s emotion can become tied into the state of the homeschool environment.   I am sure that, at least in part, this connection has everything to do with the amount of time and energy we pour into curriculum, lesson plans, and all matters education.   Personally, I find that, if I allow it, one child’s confusion or frustration, or a spirit of whining, can totally overshadow all of the wonderful things that are happening in our lives.

This is the season of resolutions.  And whether you buy into the idea that you need to begin a new year with new intentions or not (I personally do not), I find myself drawn to the many articles that are available right now on how to transform your homeschool in this new year.   So it should be no surprise that what I’ve thought about most how I would want our school to look in 2013.   As if that thought didn’t offer a wealth of opportunities, for we are far from perfect, I came to this conclusion as I’ve thought about this semester: I don’t want to change a thing.

For the person who is always willing to tweak and tinker, and who never uses anything in the format in which she received it, it seems odd to admit that I don’t want to make any modifications to what we are doing.   Given our extracurricular activities, I made a semi-conscious choice to not include more formal studies in music and poetry.   Each only takes a few minutes, but thinking about who to study and preparing myself and the kids with tools, etc., became overwhelming in the midst of everything else going on.   I am sure that the purists of Miss Mason’s approach could discuss at length the poor choice I’ve made, and to be sure, we might pick up some things as we go.   However, I don’t want to set the stage for something I consider far more detrimental to our school than a year without formal poetry or music study: overplanning.

As a purposeful digression, my MIL and I were having a related conversation not too long ago.   There is a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in churches.  I don’t know if it is specific to non-denominational churches or not.   The practice, you ask?  Walking to the pulpit in the middle of a sermon to lay down money, commonly called “sowing into the Word.”    This act is separate from a formal offering, but instead creates walking and busy-ness in the midst of the speaker’s message—a huge no-no in the traditional church community.    I was asked how I felt about this.  Is it disrespectful and/or disruptive?  Is it “tipping God?”   I think not.   Who are we to hinder anyone when the Spirit strikes them to move?   And though I believe in decency and order, I also think that, in some cases, we have “programmed” the Lord completely out of our services.    And that is what I don’t want to happen here.

Perhaps because our school will be one seat emptier after this semester, I am much more cognizant of the need to pour into the children—not academics, necessarily, but training in life.   I want to be sure they understand why we made the decisions we did, and what is important to us as we raise a family.   These are conversations that we’ve had before, but now I’m aware of the need to create time for them in our day.  I want to hear from them, and have a dialogue.  Most of all, I want to create room for them to just be, and for God to just be in them.   It occurs to me that we sometimes become so obsessed with the mechanics of homeschool—the day-to-day academic opportunities—until we miss out on opportunities that mean so much more.

Just as one example, I’ve mentioned previously that our youngest joined a book club at our local library.   I’ve also mentioned my general disdain for the books, but given the youngest’s almost equal amount of disdain for school right now, I have lowered my standards and allowed her to stay in the club.   This past week, the club selected a book where the content is over her head.   Even in reading the back of the book to get a feel for it, she wasn’t clear on all of the words.   But, she gave it her sincerest effort, sequestering herself on a couple of nights before bedtime (from her, that’s dedication!) to read.   After a couple of nights, she came to me and asked if I would help her by reading the book to her as a part of our school day.  Now, as embarrassed as I am to admit this, there was a time when I would have immediately said, ”No,” because it threw the reading schedule that I put together—last summer, mind you– way off track.   Yes, I’m scratching my head, too, but there they are, my exposed feet of clay.   But I’m learning.   And so I applauded her for coming and trying to get help in an area where she needs it.   She did not skim the book, finishing but not understanding; she did not throw in the proverbial towel and beg to quit—all behaviors that have plagued our past.   She wants to learn, and she made the adjustments needed to make it happen.   The book I was reading probably fits more my idea of quality literature, but okay.   This is a quantum leap forward in her attitude about learning, and shame on me if I can’t get out of my own way to accommodate her.   We will still have plenty of time to read books that will hopefully be more to both our liking—I believe God for that, and He’s always been faithful.

As a final thought, I love God’s Word, but I also love the places where He left the page blank.   One of those places is where He said, “I AM.”    He did not qualify it for us, but instead allowed us to fill in the blanks.   Who do we say that He is in our homeschool?   Who do we allow Him to be, and are we leaving room in our planners for expectation of the unexpected?   May God open our hearts, mind, and lesson plans such that He can do a work this year.  God bless you, dear friends.

9 Ways to Rest and Restore

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents…” Charlotte Mason, The Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason

 

Restoration is not just about us; we may be quite comfortable with ourselves and our methods of educating our children. Yet, we sometimes need restoration so that we can restore life and energy to what is around us. Think about it: attitude is a reflection of leadership. Are those “younger mirrors“ in your home reflecting what you want to see?   Your homeschool might be anything but restful right now, but read on and maybe store this one for later!  Blessings!!

What’s New? From Our Point of View…

It is a beautifully sunny, 74-degree day here in coastal Texas, and with the oldest at college and our son at the dentist, the youngest decided to school outside.   Funny, this was my vision when we first began homeschooling—days outside on a picnic blanket, completing schoolwork and viewing exotic animals.   (You can stop laughing now).   The vision sounded wonderful, and the outdoor school day sounded delightful until it met with my own plans and realities.   I had a fairly simple morning plan to complete a few chores and write a blog entry while the youngest worked beside me at the table.   So, it shames me to say that when she initially approached me about going outside, I sent her out and continued with my plans.   I felt bad, so when she came back inside the first time, I said, “Let me just do ____ and I’ll come out with you.”     I got that pot of vegetarian chili to a point where it could just simmer, started that load of clothes, and then pulled up a chair alongside her in the backyard.   That’s when I realized that even 74 degrees—in full sun—is still just plain hot.    After reading for a spell, we both gave in to what became our heart’s deepest longing–air conditioning.

One of our struggles this year has been sustaining her with a deliberate diet of rich literature versus twaddle, in Charlotte Mason vernacular.   Our youngest, with all the extroversion that missed our older two, wanted to start a book club this past year.   She had almost completed all the planning, complete with convincing Mom that this was a good thing, when our local library announced its plans to have a book club.    I thought this was too much of a coincidence to be a coincidence, and we hurriedly signed up to be a part of their event.   Now I wish that I had stuck with the original plan to have our own club.   The selection of books that the librarians offer—yuck!!!      I would love to simply pull her from the club, but I’m torn by the fact that she likes being a part of the group, she enjoys the time and activities, and—here’s the kicker—she likes the books.  They are much easier reading, for sure, but based upon what I consider to be a “good” book, i.e., a story that engages the mind and pricks the heart, the book club’s selections are way past poor.   The longer I allow this, of course, the more difficult it is to interest the youngest in books that demand more of her.   Consequently, I’ve not pulled her yet from the club, but have been instead picking my teachable moments.   As an example, we are now reading The Whipping Boy, which is actually very easy to read—a short book with short chapters.   Upon reading chapter 1, she immediately stopped to whine empathetically when she realized what was the whipping boy’s  responsibility (to receive the punishment that should have been given to a spoiled brat excuse for a prince).    While she was sharing how badly she felt for the boy, I talked about the power of a good read and recalled that she’d never stopped to empathize with Vordak the Incomprehensible.   She still maintains that Vordak is the best book ever (heavy sigh).

While I ponder what to do about the book club, I am excited about the cursive handwriting curriculum from LightHome Publications I found on Currclick.  Can you say $6??!!   This looks awesome!!  A chance to share the Word of God, to practice cursive handwriting, and to create a lasting keepsake of the Word in Psalms!!  Can’t beat it with a stick!!

After years of, ahem, uncertainty, shall we say, about homeschooling my MIL blessed us with an entire high school biology curriculum—teacher’s guides, transparencies, DVDs, videos,… everything!   I have been thrilled with all the extra project ideas that have come with the text that really cater to how we like to learn.   The publisher of this not-so-dry text has actually partnered with Dinah Zike (foldables guru, author of The Big Book of Books) to include manipulatives to enhance the content!!  Given Dinah Zike’s popularity within the homeschool community, I couldn’t help but think this was pretty cool in an odd sort of way.

Our school this year is a gentle foreshadowing of the next 2-3 years to come as the oldest spends a significant amount of time away from us.   Her classes keep her away on Mondays and Wednesdays, but the extracurricular activities associated with the Honors Program, plus the time to complete her coursework actually occupy her throughout a good portion of her week.   My dh and I were just discussing today that even though she wasn’t the noisiest of our children, her presence, or lack thereof, is definitely felt if not heard.    Her high school courses this year include Algebra II, Physics, and World Geography.    Other than that, I’m the taxi cab driver!

During the summer, Knowledge Quest distributed what I assume was a preview of their Globalmania curriculum, but it was PERFECT (yes, I’m shouting) for what I wanted to do with World Geography.     There is enough of a guide-like feel to this .pdf file without it being too prescriptive.   I played the games that help with map memorization and, in completing them myself to get a feel on what the oldest would do, I determined that my geography needs serious work.  No wonder I almost failed this class in middle school ( LOL)!!  There is also a schedule that, again without being too prescriptive, suggests how to spend time learning a specific continental region.    What I have added (because without the additions the curriculum might be more elementary) is the idea of research of the continents to find out more about the history and culture, and the idea of understanding a major religion in that region and how you might evangelize with respect to what the people believe.    Finally, when I taught World Geography at our local homeschool store, that particular curriculum set a goal for a student to draw a world map from memory by the end of the course.   I so loved the students’ results that I incorporated this same goal for the oldest.   I’m enjoying watching her get started, and her illustrations of how much she is learning.

 

 

I am so glad, in spite of the fact that American Lit at the college level has her permanently attached to a Norton’s Anthology, that we made the decision to add in as many living books as we could to complement her studies.    She decided early on that audio books would best help her keep up with everything.    This was easily accomplished with Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, but we’ve been reading aloud Homer Hickam’s October Sky together.   The latter book has been a welcomed accompaniment to her Physics studies, and I’m so glad that I didn’t place too much stock into the warning that this coming-of-age story had potentially inappropriate subject matter.  Yes, he’s a love-struck teenage boy who is learning, unsuccessfully, how to be suave with the ladies (picture Jerry Lewis in “The Ladies’ Man”), but what far overshadows those moments is this book’s ability to take you through Coalwood, WV with such imagery until you feel as if you stepped back 40 years and are standing alongside one of the “rocket boys.”    We even resisted the urge to watch the movie.  (Was it just a coincidence that it came on television while we were reading?   Hmmm….)   After Jules Verne, I’m on the hunt for what might our next great geography-related find: Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them.   If I could just find the audio book for something less than $27…

 

What’s new with your studies?   I’d love to “hear” about all those cool and creative homeschool  studies.

 

Judge Not, Less…

 

“So, where do your children go to school?”

If you’ve homeschooled a minute, you’re well aware of the whirlwind of emotions that swirl within you when you respond, “We homeschool.”     The moment in time almost freezes while you wait for that follow-up question, comment, or unsolicited advice.   I read an interesting article not too long ago about the responses of others when you make a decision to homeschool.     Though I like to think that I am past caring what others think–at least in that area, I can remember the days when approval mattered as much as any other homeschooling-related decision we made.   Coming from families of public school educators on both sides, our choice to educate our children at home was not taken lightly–by anyone.

I have often stated that one of the nuances about choosing to homeschool is that you must speak from a place of confidence long before you have it.   Moreover, once you do become confident, or have even feigned confidence long enough, it’s not a far jump to arrogance and/or judgment of others because they don’t homeschool.    I can remember that phase of my own homeschooling journey when I thought people who chose not to homeschool were just missing out.   I became particularly condescending when other parents would state very plainly that they lived in the la-te-da school district, and so they had no reason to homeschool.   Of course, my response was often prompted by a comment like, “Well, if I lived in your district I’d homeschool, too.”    This was the one time that I defended our local public school and its Texas-exemplary status.

To be sure, homeschooling is not for everyone, and we shouldn’t be too upset with those who will say, “Ooo, child, I just don’t have the patience for that,” or something similar.   Our decision to homeschool, for whatever reason, is our decision; it works for our household and family structure.   Returning rudeness with rudeness does not allow us to minister grace.   How do we steer clear of judgment?   How do we acknowledge our choice without belittling someone else’s?

1. Understand our own emotions.    We need to dig into that whirlwind and understand what those emotions are and why they are there.   Years ago, I heard a pastor make a statement that was very powerful for me at a time in my life when I was truly struggling with feeling cast out and rejected.   His comment was that people don’t actually hurt your feelings; they just brush against sensitive areas that you’ve not surrendered to Christ yet.   Wow.   I’d never thought about it that way!   Could it be that the hurt I was feeling was because another person stated aloud some subconscious pain I’d been dealing with all along?   Could it be that someone else’s comment of “How are you going to homeschool your children?” really stings because it’s occurred to you that you might not be able to homeschool?  Acknowledge their concern, regardless of how obnoxious it may be, with something like, “Yeah, that has occurred to me, but…” and then begin to minister in wisdom.

2. Learn the facts.   For you to minister in wisdom, you must grow in wisdom.   There are an overwhelming number of articles that point to the tangible and intangible facts about homeschooled children.   Reading some of this information not only helps you with the sister(s) or MIL who is put out that you think you can do what they were formally educated to do (that’d be me and my house), but knowing some facts will also give you the encouragement you need, especially in those days when the fruits of homeschooling are still germinating.

3. Understand the nature of people.    As sad as it is to say, human nature is to respond negatively to things with which we are unfamiliar.  Every now and then, you might receive genuine curiosity about homeschooling.   Caught on the wrong day, this can be aggravating for me because I don’t always feel like answering the typical questions about reporting, socialization, testing, etc.   But then again, when I’m aware of my own emotions, I recognize my mental fatigue and fight through it–you never know when you might be an angel unaware to another homeschooler-to-be!   Yet, I’m convinced that people sometimes respond negatively because they have little or no experience with homeschooling, and because it is not the status quo–always a source of mild anxiety for some.   When I consequently hear about their friend/ relative/ someone they knew who had a horror story of a homeschool journey, my simple response is, “Oh, well, that’s not been our experience.”

Also realize that we all want the best for our children; some of us just form different opinions about how to get there.   The parents that move to a certain area in order to place their child in a certain public school are doing this for the same reason that you have taken your child out of the public school system altogether.   Allow them the same freedom of choice that you would want for yourself.   

4. Give others–and yourself–time.    You will not slay every dragon that comes in the form of an unsolicited, unwelcomed response all at once.    If we are honest, some of the concerns might be legitimate, and we owe it to ourselves and our children to think about the question and do the homework required to be sure there is not a budding issue.   As a personal example, several years ago, one of my sisters, an English teacher by formal training, questioned our choices for literature, especially poetry.   As one whose love for poetry is still germinating (lol), I could have responded defensively.   But she was right; regardless of my own personal feelings, I owed it to the children to at least expose them to rhythm and rhyme and rhyme scheme and…ugh.     Just last week I was telling her and another sister that our oldest was accepted into the Honors program at our local community college.   And though I’ve homeschooled long enough now until the children’s development is pat on the back enough for me, it felt good to hear the two of them say, “You are doing a great job.”   People may question your methods all day long; what they cannot knock is your fruit.

How do you respond to people’s comments after saying “We’ homeschool”?    Hopefully with all the knowledge that you can muster in the moment, all the wisdom of someone who is ever hoping to improve, and all the grace and mercy of a child of God.   Blessings, dear friends.

A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city, and contentions are like the bars of a castle. (Proverbs 18:19 NJKV)

Fitting Big Business into your Little Homeschool Planner

We’re baaaaaccccckkkkk, at least for a brief moment!

We had a tremendous time, and experienced God’s “blow-your-mind” blessings as described in Ephesians 3:20.     Then, during this past weekend, our older two participated in an academic competition.   Given the trip to Memphis, we literally went almost around the clock preparing in the last minute-effort to give the kids a chance at winning.    In just five short days, we’ll leave again for the Titus 2:1 Conference in Sterling, VA.   I am pinching myself that all of this and more is transpiring in these few weeks, but I’m also glad to settle down into a blog post for moment.   Writing gives me some sense of normalcy.

It’s been a long while since I’ve been to a conference–on either side of a booth.   It occurs to me how overwhelming the choices are for someone who is just entering this season of parenting and educating at home.   One of my customers, who had homeschooled for 17 years, shared that when her family began homeschooling, it was the choice of a small few who embraced homeschooling as an extension of God’s will for parenting.   Now, as she observed, it’s big business. 

In making this big business somehow fit neatly into our home, I’ve been think about next school year and what we’ll do, where I’ll focus, etc.   Here are my thoughts as of right now:

1) Courses for the oldest will be driven by her choices of college, and what is required to close the gap between where she needs to be versus where she is.   Regardless of her plans, her course load will be some combination of high school and college courses as we continue to take advantage of Texas’ dual enrollment opportunities, chipping away at her college requirements while we wrap up high school.

Amazing that her schedule is the simplest of all three kids–WOW!

2)  Our son is continuing through his third stint in the classical cycle, studying medieval history this year.    There are books that I didn’t think our oldest would enjoy, but I’m looking forward to sharing them with him.    He also wants to study Swahili, so I’ve had fun pulling together sites for language study; what remains is to find a few living books to compliment our work.    I’m also looking for living books to accompany our biology studies.    I’ve struggled with how to approach this year, when he should study biology.   He has no long-term interest in science, and I’ve slowly, but surely,  steered away from our household staple, Apologia, at the older levels.    Yet, I’d bought their (allegedly) elementary level Anatomy and Physiology text for the youngest–a failed experiment.   So, in the effort to not waste precious dollars, we will use this same text as a spine and then add much to it in terms of labs, outside studies, and again, living books.

I’m already thinking ahead to his final year with us before moving on to higher studies.  He is our one child that skipped a grade.   If we stayed with our current plan, he would leave home potentially as a very young 17-year-old.   We could keep him here and slow down his high school progress, but I am sure that would be discouraging.    So, early indications are that he might take a gap year, in which he’ll complete any remaining high school courses and perhaps get a jump on his higher education at a local college.

3)  The youngest and her studies poses a true dilemma.    Our current methods of study with her have her longing for the yellow school bus, and leave me frustrated with her for being frustrated.   I reconciled within myself (or did I?) years ago that I can’t make every day fun for the kids.   Yet, I can remember when our older two were her age, and our homeschooling day looked markedly different.   We were far more active in a group; we cooked; we took more field trips.   We took a legitimate recess with a swing set in back and a pool.  We worked very hard to make our home kid-friendly for kids who had to spend all day there.   Now the swing set rusted, and the dog poked holes in the pool.   Even our soccer and basketballs are all deflated.   So, she will definitely be a focal area on next year.

I’ll share more as our plans begin to solidify.   How about you?    What high-level changes do you envision in your school day?    What will remain the same?

5 Considerations when a Homeschool Schedule is Just Paper

Blessed are the flexible, for they’ll never be bent out of shape.  

At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

I pride myself on spending gargantuan amounts of time each summer planning our school days–selecting curriculum, thinking through a workable schedule, ordering my own workload in order to take advantage of peaks and valleys in each child’s day, etc.   Although we have a problem with consistent interruptions (hubby’s travel schedule, which sometimes means a midday trip to the car rental agency or the airport, forgetting that one household item needed for a science project, our days have flowed seamlessly for the last several years–until this year.

Though by a homeschooler’s definition, I don’t have a big family, I am at a point where the age split between siblings means that I have one who is slowly, in baby steps, leaving our home, and one who is just beginning to settle into a “big girl” routine.   Our son is somewhere in between, thankfully flourishing in his ability to work independently.   Add to that my single parent-like state while hubby’s often on the road, and you have what I consider to be a mess.

Here is our daily schedule as it has been for this semester:

~ 8-ish:  Wake up the oldest (the kids insist on using “their” bathroom, so oldest wakes up son once she leaves the bathroom at ~8:45-9–she really enjoys the bathroom)

~9-ish:   older kids are downstairs for breakfast while I finish tie-ing up loose ends (including computer time)

~9:30:    I wake up the youngest

~9:30-1 p.m., Tues., Thurs., and Fri.:   the kids are somewhere between breakfast and school work, with the youngest taking a break after a couple of subjects

~11:45-2 p.m., Mon. and Weds.:   taking the oldest to college, plus travel time.

~1 p.m. (or after returning home) – 4 p.m.: lunch and school

On paper, we look great.   The problem is, more often than I care to admit, we aren’t finished at four; we just have to quit in order for the kids to meet their evening commitments–mostly dance commitments.   This leaves us reading often at 9 p.m. or later, after the kids have returned home and debriefed about their class, who was in it, what they did, what everyone said, blah, blah, blah.   The funny part of this debrief is that, at least with my older two, they are in the same classes, with one exception!   To hear them, you’d think they went to two separate studios!

There is value in nighttime reading.   Sally Clarkson of I Take Joy and my homeschooling “bible,”  Educating the Whole-Hearted Child, lists as a part of her schedule having a family time to read both during the day and in the evenings.   When I began homeschooling with a 3rd grader and a kindergartner, we read in the evenings as an integral part of our day.   It kept, and still keeps, the kids from running toward the television.   However, now the reading feels more like a chore, or a bullet to check off on a to-do list.   Not the content of the reading, mind you, but the act of getting everyone to put aside their other activities, momentarily stop all the discussions that seem so critical at the time, and focus in on a book seems like a Herculean effort on all parts.   Of course, the fact that I’m generally winding down at this hour (mentally, if not physically) doesn’t help, and I’m sure my attitude passes down through the kids when it’s time to gather together at night.

What to do?   The part of me that is inflexible in terms of school and requirements (laid down primarily by moi, of course) has to step aside and let a less structured sister take over.   Ugh.   

Here are some thoughts that have crossed my mind as I navigate these waters:

1) Pray.   Always pray, in this case about priorities (who says I need to do all of this “stuff,” and if not this stuff, what stuff am I supposed to do right now?).   Philippians 4:6 is one passage that shows us the appropriate attitude to have as we seek answers from the Father.   If the worst of my home education issues is that I cannot juggle well a daughter who is between home and college, a husband who’s working (albeit far away), and the other assignments God has given me, I am blessed. 

2) Re-evaluate my pockets of free time.  Free time looks very different now than it looked even last semester, and that’s a part of the frustration.   Just as I developed a flow, the semester line-up changed, and now the oldest doesn’t have to be in class until 12 noon–too late to forego school altogether, but early enough that it disrupts the flow of the day, especially for the youngest.   But when I looked at it, Mondays and Thursdays are great days for grading, and I will perhaps change the schedule of the youngest as well so that I don’t return home with that 2:30 p.m. feeling and still have half the day left with her, plus reading to/ with the older two.

 3) Re-frame my thinking about reading at night.   As I said, this isn’t so bad, especially right now while I have little or no class load.   In keeping with #1 listed above, who is to say that these adjustments aren’t happening so that I can get back to where we started several years ago?   As I stated earlier, reading with them is a time of coziness and family intimacy for us, and for the youngest, time away from plugged-in recreation, and away from some of the mischief that increasingly finds her idle hands.

4)  Get the kids informed and involved.   After sharing my concern with the family during our prayer time, the kids came up with a couple of good ideas.  Listening to them helped me realize how much I needed their understanding and buy-in to make the necessary adjustments.   As one example of the shape of things to come, I will speak/ be a vendor at 3 conferences in April.  Add travel time to that, and we are basically here two days of any given week.   I loved hearing them say that we should take off in April and then school in June.  

5) Seek the wisdom of those who’ve been there, done that,and now own the t-shirt.   My blog buddy Dawn is a very special mom to some very special kids.   From her posts, I gather she spends as much time schooling at the doctors’ offices as she perhaps does at home.   I was able to draw from that, and now we pack books and school while waiting for the oldest, either in the car or at the nearby city library.   It was the wisdom of a couple of friends who’ve learned to go with the flow of life rather than attempt to swim upstream (as I do) that made me think about taking an extended spring break to meet travel demands and use the summer to educate, when it’s too hot to be outdoors anyway.   I really stopped to take in the moment when the kids suggested it.   It wasn’t too long ago when I suggested such a schedule and the kids balked vehemently at the thought that they’d be “trapped” inside when their public school peers were free to roam.   I guess we’re all growing up.

January ’12 Homeschool Highlights

With all the popularity of my green smoothie and natural hair journey posts, along with my own preoccupation with a new year and new refreshed attitude, I’ve missed the opportunity to blog about the reason I started a blog—homeschooling!

There were a number of planning activities that I wanted to accomplish during the Christmas break:

 

  1. Updating of planners for all three kids
  2. Update/ print high school transcripts for the older kids
  3. Develop 2nd semester economics lesson plans
  4. Make significant progress on the high school curriculum
  5. Review science curriculum and secure all needed resources
  6. Secure all resources for 2nd semester’s composer study

 

Most of these plans fell by the wayside, although I did complete #s 1 (for two kids, not three), and #4 (though significant is relative).   What I did primarily is rest.   Though I’m now upset that I didn’t have more boxes checked on my “to do” list, I know that I just needed a break, and that’s what I got.

Given all the items that didn’t fall in line, we are actually are in a good place.  (There’s a lesson about what can happen when you don’t plan in there somewhere).    Here are some highlights of our semester so far:

 

  • We are slowly moving into the early American years, while still focusing on the rest of the world as well, with both girls at different levels, obviously.   We completed our read-aloud, Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, but as we learned more about Dickens and his writing style thanks to Invitation to the Classics, the kids actually looked forward to delving into more of his work.  Besides, I’ve not seen the day yet when the kids turned down the chance to watch television for school (smile).   First, we watched “Great Expectations,” then “David Copperfield.”    What I loved most was hearing all of their conversation, first with one another, then with me, regarding their thoughts on the stories, and on Dickens.   It was the rare Socratic dialogue that is a homeschool parent’s dream.   Not to be outdone, the youngest is watching the Bee Movie and a little Magic School Bus as we discuss bees and ants as social insects.
  • The oldest is tackling new challenges with an online modality for one of her college courses.   But in the meantime, our school began a week before the local community college.   The end result was that, for a number of days, she had very little to do.   In addition, I ordered her science materials later than planned (the last of what I needed just arrived yesterday), so she had a lot of time on her hands—so much that she actually thanked me for such light days.   I suppose I could have basked in the glow of her gratitude, but I went for the teachable moment instead, talking with her about time management, and getting ahead when you have the opportunity rather than being content to take it easy.
  • Speaking of the oldest, we wrapped up chemistry studies, and we are now using Connect the Thoughts to study Meteorology, based upon the oldest’s interests.    Our journey through science—the fits and (mostly) misfits, given a child who genuinely enjoys science—is a post all its own.   I plan to write it soon.
  • It’s our son’s turn to travel through Homer’s Odyssey.   Greek mythology is one of his passions, and it occurs to me in reading through this now for the 2nd time how much difference the audience makes.

 

Not too many years ago, I would have been far too flustered to even write that I had this many holes in my preparation and to be sure, it’s not the norm for me.    But experience has taught me that if I have enough raw materials to get the kids going, they will craft marvelously their own learning, and that’s what school at home is really all about, right?    Praise God for growth, and for the ability to have faith in a plan and a process that isn’t always my own.

 

At some point, we’re going to learn about Chopin, but in the meantime, homeschool is grand.