Monday, May 26, 2008

Owning My Own Homeschooling

I've been homeschooling now for four official years. Each year, I learn more and more about myself, let alone the subject matter we're studying and my son Ben! We've just had our homeschool review for our 3rd grade year, and although we're not done with 3rd grade (still have a few things to finish up, plus we don't ever really "end" school since we do it year round), mentally, I am looking forward to being responsible for teaching two kids in the fall. Yes, I've been "playing" school with Luke, but not with much enthusiasm or consistency in the past two months, poor guy. Come the fall, much will need to change around here for me to be successful with both children's educations and Levi's continuing development.

  • Ben will need to be more responsible for walking through his independent work and keeping himself on track with his work. The assignment calendar is so incredibly important to us, but there needs to also be targeted time goals, too, I think, to keep him focused.

  • Ben and I will need to pow-wow together for several subjects every day: history, science, Bible, grammar and spelling. We'll need to find a slot in the morning and afternoon to work through these.

  • I need something more structured for Luke than 100EZ lessons and Singapore Earlybird (EB). EB just doesn't inspire me (didn't with Ben either), and I feel like I'm leaving holes in his education by teaching with this program. I'm seriously considering purchasing Horizons Math K for him, because there will be more structure (defined lessons) for him and for me, and I won't feel like I"m leaving something out. For phonics, I'm considering using their phonics and reading program too. Looking at Abeka, a solid phonics program, just makes my stomach lurch with all their school-directed materials. Too many accessories for me. I'll need to talk to DH about it, but I think this will make me more directed in my schooling with Luke. But, I will come back to Singapore for Luke when we finish K.

  • One of the thins I talked about with our portfolio assessor was the Sonlight readers and read alouds. I'm beginning to see where waiting to read some of them (The Witch of Blackbird Pond, for example) would be most beneficial for my kids. some of the secondary themes get in the way for my boys -- the love story that is apart of the above mentioned book. Do the boys need to know about how people courted back in the 1700s to understand US history? No. I don't think they do. As I told Sue, our evaluator, I am seeing that our switch in the second half to TOG will be good, because the books are keyed to the child's developmental stage (grammar, logic, rhetoric). She encouraged me to take more leadership in using our curriculum to meet the boys' needs vs. just opening up the books and reading "because the guide says so." I've always loved the literature rich study Sonlight provides. But, I guess I'm being to evaluate their appropriateness for my boys at this stage in their education. So, for the rest of our SL Core 3 studies, I'll be evaluating the read aloud books for their appropriateness and seeking out others if there is something better for them.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Annual Review Complete: We Passed!

I didn't shed any tears this year as I drove to our portfolio reviewer's house. I took that to mean we had a good year.

Last year, we moved in December, which basically shot November out of the water (packing, driving for house inspections, lots of telephone time with realtors, mortgage loan people, etc.), December and January (unpacking, finding Christmas stuff, having Christmas, putting it all away, unpacking more stuff....). We had gotten off schedule with SOTW, math progressed, but sloooowly, we all but stopped Latin. I felt like such a complete failure. (Thus, the tears.) God bless Sue, our evaluator, for encouraging me and showing me that I had provided a good education for Ben (he learned, he made progress, etc.) and reminding me that it was a season -- just a moment in time -- and we would recover from it all.

Fast forward to this year. For the most part, we accomplished what we needed to, we exceeding some of my goals, and I am feeling more comfortable in making decisions and choices for my kids and their education.

As I spoke with Sue about our educational choices, she encouraged me to continue to pursue the plans I had laid out for Ben -- using Susan Wise Bauer's writing model as a guide, following through with First Langauge Lessons and All About Spelling. I felt validated in my new-found opinion about our history/ literature plan for the coming year. It was an excellent couple hours talking with this great lady about where we are in homeschooling and life in general.

Ben "passed" third grade, and I did, too. As we finish up these next couple weeks (We officially start 4th grade in July), I look forward to preparing for Luke's official kindergarten year and continuing on our educational journey with Ben. I love homeschooling!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Triple Play

I can't just pick one for the week so here's all my favorite guys:

Daddy and Ben at the Red Sox game!

When does a 5 year old boy sit still? When its his turn to be catcher at tee ball.
He's getting faster and sneakier, and it is getting harder to catch him:

Life is good, and I am richly blessed!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why we are schooling lightly this week

Ben was asked to go to a Red Sox game on Thursday (5/22) -- it will be his first. We had a couple other things going on that day, so I checked with Daddy at work.

"I wanted to take him to his first game. It's a father- son thing."

Me: "Well, you've got a week to take him."

Last night, not only did Dave and Ben get to take in Ben's first game, but they also got to experience a piece of history -- John Lester's first no-hitter; #18 for the Red Sox in their 100+ year history. They came home tired but excited and smiling from ear to ear. Go Sox!

So this week, we are doing math (we'll finish SM 3A this week), FLL 3 (only 8 more lessons to go!), our readers (Mr. Revere and I), our read-aloud (Johnny Tremain), review our Latin vocabulary so it doesn't get forgotten, and piano. Besides TWO major league baseball games, I've got a doctor's appointment, Ben had an orthodontist appointment and I've got Ben's annual review to prepare for. Oh, and it is one of our busy baseball weeks -- I think between the boys we've got 5 games.

But, this is why I love homeschooling, and in partibular homeschoooling year round. We've got plenty of time.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I-don't-even-know-what-week Report

I'm so off on my weekly reports. Since it has finally turned spring, I find that it is harder to make the time to summarize what we've been up to. Nights are still cool, and I've enjoyed cuddling up to my husband to watch a baseball game. The Celtics have been doing well, so I've been sitting with DH while he watches those games.

We are making progress in all our subjects. Last week we read our science book about plastics. This coming week we are learning about recycling; I'm hoping to set up a field trip to the landfill to learn more about recycling and waste. We've gotten much better about recycling since we moved to this house, and I'd like to boys to begin thinking about it for themselves.

We've taken a week off of spelling - basically I just forgot to schedule it. So, next week, we'll work through step 12, meaning we're almost 1/2 way through All About Spelling level 3.

We're reading Johnny Tremain right now. Everyone is really liking it (I read a bunch last night before I feel asleep. Shh! don't tell Ben!) and I am looking forward to taking some Boston field trips in June to explore some of the sites we've been reading about.

Ben is almost done with SM 3a; we'll start the unit on money, which is the last section in this book. He is doing well, but still making some careless mistakes with his facts or copying. I know this will work itself out with practice, and I think we'll spend much of June just working through the intensive practice 3A book that I have and the challenging word problem books, but making up multi-digit multiplication and division problem pages for him to do. The topics in 3B seem pretty light compared with what we've just done, and I know that will give him a chance to use his facts in other contexts plus just let them percolate and solidify in his little head.

We did some great art projects this week; I'll have to scan them and post them later.

One thing I learned about myself and homeschooling last week is that I've become very reliant on my HST assignment calendars! I didn't get around to making one for last week until Wednesday or Thursday, and it sure showed in what we accomplished (or didn't)! I'm really, really thankful for this tool!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

God Spotting - Knowing my calling

This is a label under which I write about the ways I see God working in my life. Sometimes, in the midst of a busy day -- or week -- or year, it is hard to remember when the Lord touches and directs my life. So, I am using a portion of this blog to record those moments when I can see God so clearly directing my path. Then, I can share with my children (with clear memories versus vague recollections) how God went before me and directed my path.

About three weeks ago I received a call from a leader in the children's ministries at CBS. She called to ask me to pray about being involved in a children's ministry roll next year. Funny thing is, just the week before, I'd felt comfortable with my decision to not be at CBS next year. And, just one or two days before the call, I'd felt like God was calling me to be more responsible in my roll of administration with our children's sunday school program and to pray about volunteering in the monthly Moppets program at our church. Seemed like God had a bunch for me to do next year already, and I was just sure CBS wasn't a part of it.

I explained my decision, but told her I'd pray about it (they only ask after the leadership team prays about it, so I thought it wise to also reconsider and pray about it). So, I did pray about it, talked to my wonderful dh about it (briefly), and considered it as I did my own morning devotional (spotty, at best, but at least I got it in a few times!). I also received a (much appreciated) letter which more fully explained the time committment required for this type of job I was being asked to do.

Really, until I'd received that letter I was thinking, "wow, if a whole bunch of people had been praying about this and felt that God was telling them to ask me to pray about it, I sure better do it!" But, then I got the letter and realized that this position involved not just attending the weekly CBS meetings, but also leadership training monthly (during school hours) and other trainings and retreats, my heart just sank. One of the reasons I wanted to stop attending CBS next year was because it will be Luke's official K year, Ben's 4th grader year....and I just feel like it is an important year for us -- for me -- to get my feet wet hsing more than one student. Oh! to committ to something like this just felt -- weightly and burdensome.

But, I prayed some more.

Then, two weeks ago, I spoke with Dave about it. He encouraged me to stick with my first decision and not attend CBS -- and not help out in leadership. "If you've been praying about this, then stick to your first decision.... Do what is best for our family...."

"OK, then I'm not going to do it." Turn off the light. Go to bed.

For the next week, I "tried on" this decision. Guess what? It felt sooooo right. No regrets. And,the conviction that participating in MOPPETS next year became more strong.

Last Friday, at our last CBS, I spoke with one of the leaders and explained my decision. She was elated that I'd prayed about it, and received confirmation through a gift of peace from God. I am elated, too.