Thursday, November 27, 2008

Our First Lapbook...

Even though we will not officially begin homeschooling until January, we couldn't wait to try lapbooking. So we made a Thanksgiving one. The kids and I both really enjoyed it. They also had a blast making the video so you will probably be seeing lots more of these! Enjoy...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pros and Cons...

So, as we gear up to start our fun homeschooling journey I am trying to think of the pros and cons for each of my children and myself.

First, there is my wonderful 7 year old son. He is a learner by nature. He is interested in lots of things, especially science and math.

PROS: 1. He loves to learn and will be really into it if its something he's interested in.

2. He's really good in math and will benefit from individualized instruction and especially how Saxon teaches.

3. He loves science and will enjoy as many hand on activities as I can throw at him.

CONS: 1. He can be hard to get moving and get started.

2. He can talk down to his sister when she doesn't know something or try to be helpful but end up just telling her the answer.

3. His interest can jump from thing to thing so I need to make sure he focuses enough to master one topic.

Secondly, there is my lovely 5 year old daughter. She is very eager and loves arts and crafts.

PROS: 1. She will love me working one-on-one with her and will be eager to please and do well.

2. She actually already asks if we can start homeschooling, even on a snow day from regular school!

3. She is very creative and will come up with her own ways to learn things.

CONS: 1. She always wants my attention and will be unhappy when I am working with her brothers.

2. It will never be enough with her. If she is into it she will want to do more and more and more.

3. She cannot handle criticism and gets her feelings hurt if I correct her at all.

Thirdly, there are the 17 month old twins. I am really motivated to involve them in organized learning in their own Tot School.

PROS: 1. They are so smart and love having our attention to show them new things.

2. It will make me be sure to spend time with them individually which I sometimes get too busy to do.

3. They usually take a 3 hour nap!

CONS: 1. I have to make sure all 4 kids are getting enough attention from Mommy-yikes!

2. Making sure the big kids have fun involving them without being too rough or overbearing.

3. They will be upset if the big kids and I are working in the kitchen and they are stuck behind the gate in the living room.

Last but not least there is me: teacher/mommy! I am very passionate about curriculum and planning so having complete control of this is a dream come true for me, but I am realistic about my shortcomings too.

PROS: 1. I feel like I am very creative and determined to find fun ways to teach them.

2. I am truly passionate about teaching and learning and am looking forward to learning new things along with them.

3. My kids, along with my wonderful husband, are truly my best friends. I am so excited about just having all this time to spend with them.

CONS: 1. I tend to rebel at being locked into a schedule. It will be hard for me to be disciplined in that way, but I know for the kids' sake I need to be.

2. I am an overachiever. I will probably bite off more than I can chew. I want to teach them about everything and stress myself out about fitting it all in.

3. I am by nature an introvert and will have to work hard to go to get together and network with other homeschoolers so my kids will get the socialization they need. I tend to want to be a homebody but will have to make myself get out and be active.

I said I was the last, but I have to include my great husband. I can't do this without him, obviously! He swore we would never homeschool but came to agree that it was something we were being called to do. He will be an amazing asset and a realist to keep us on track!

PROS: 1. He has already listened to be talk about curriculum for hours and hours and always manages to give me great feedback.

2. He is Mr. Science and is very excited about doing experiments and exploring things like weather with the kids.

3. He is the active one. I am really counting on him to be the P.E. teacher since that is so not my forte. We are really blessed with his work schedule so he can be home by 3 to get them out and active.

CONS: 1. He's too easy on me and won't use tough love to keep me disciplined!

2. I will probably be ready for some alone time when he gets home and will want him to take over!

3. This one is for both of us. I have told him that if I'm homeschooling it will be like I'm working full time. I will need a lot of time to both teach and prepare which will take time away from household chores which are already overtaking me! Somehow, we will both have to figure out how to balance this.

So, there's our family; the good and the bad! I know there will be lots of ups and downs as we undertake this journey. It, like anything, will be filled with challenges and successes. We will just have to cover it in prayer and push on!

Monday, November 10, 2008

THE Decision...

So, I hope to try to explain the journey God carried me on to finally arrive at the place that has me homeschooling my 2 children. I in no way think that I have all the answers. I know that I don't even have the right answer in that I no longer believe there is one right answer for everyone. Yet, through prayer, Godly counsel, and circumstances I believe I have made the right decision for my family.

To truly begin you need to understand that I am a public school teacher, and typically we public school teachers are not in favor of homeschooling. It could be that we see it as a knock against what we do, but for me it was that when I received a student who had previously been home schooled they were horribly behind the other kids academically. Of course, now I am much wiser and realize that that is certainly not the case for the incredible majority of homeschoolers. In fact, I believe it to be the opposite.

I was also caught up on the major reason most people list for objecting. That's right the 'S' word most homeschoolers are sick of hearing: socialization. I worried how my kids could be properly socialized being at home. After much reading and pondering I came to understand that sitting in a room with 20 other kids your age isn't exactly real-life socialization. Plus, I loved the point many people made about the fact that homeschooled children are able to socialize with people of all ages which is what I want for my children. Not to mention the obvious church friends, baseball teammates, ballet friends and hopefully fellow homechoolers we will meet.

There you have the reasons I was opposed to homeschooling in a former life (actually about up until about a year ago). I started thinking about homeschooling last spring when I started thinking about my sweet baby girl starting kindergarten in the fall. It just didn't seem right that my barely 5 year old would be away from me more than with me.

Still, I sent them this fall. I was very happy with the teachers they were given and their school. My decision is not a reaction to a negative situation in any way. They love their school. Yet, after being at school all day then coming home to homework, dinner, baths and bedtime we were all exhausted and not able to fit in having fun together. Most of all, I felt like I had no time to impart my faith to them. We said our nightly prayers, talked about moral decisions when they came up and attended church on Sunday mornings and nights. Yet, considering the world they will be living in when they grow up those things just didn't seem like enough. I felt like I needed to do a much better job equipping them for God's purposes. In fact, I came to realize that that is really my only job as a parent. We get so caught up in giving them the opportunities to become a baseball player, ballerina or doctor when we really need to give them the tools they need to be effectively used for God's kingdom.

Happy or not, I still was haunted by a belief that God was calling me to homeschool. In constantly thinking on it, He allowed me to have a few "light bulb" moments:

1. I don't have to answer the huge debate: which is better public school or homeschool. I just have to decide which would be better for my 2 (eventually 4) kids. Last January I took an amazing Bible study by Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God. I learned about how the Holy Spirit convicts different people of different things. Therefore, He could be calling me to homeschool and my friends to send theirs to public school.

2. Homeschooling would allow me to spend time with my kids doing things we're never able to do. The most important one that excited me when this light bulb went off was to spend more time with family. We are blessed to have all of our family living within miles of us yet we never seem to have time to visit with them, especially my 2 grandmothers. It struck me how much our family alone could teach them about the important things of life and faith if given the chance.

3. In a public school my kids are getting part of the things they need to learn then in Sunday School they get the other part. Our prayer is that they put the two together in order to see how the goodness of God carries over to all aspects of life. I was perusing a homeschool curriculum book and was brought to tears seeing Bible verses interspersed with facts about science. How amazing is that?!!! I love one curriculum's motto "Teach them the way you wished you'd been taught." I would love to have known God's thoughts on science and learn history from a Biblical perspective to see how God has moved in all times.

4. I took a temporary position teaching at my kids' school. Being back into teaching after staying home for 6 years was amazing and exhausting. Again, I saw great things in the school, but it made me realize I could do a great job at home as well. With every challenge I was faced with as a teacher like not enough time to delve into subjects or trying to help students individually while there are 20 others needing you, I was further convicted that homeschooling was the right choice.

So, here I am at "Homeschool or Bust". I honestly just thought that was a funny title. Despite my confidence that this is God's will for us right now, I still have lots of fears and trepidations that I could bust! I worry that I'll try to do too much, that I won't be organized enough, that I won't have time for housework, that I'll neglect my 1 year old twins, that the kids will become bored or lazy, that they'll get sick of one another or me, that I'll never have any time for myself, that I'll be up all night planning for the next day, that I'll be too controlling, that they'll fall into watching too much TV, that we'll become hermits, that they'll miss out on fun school experiences, that it will become a financial burden...

I could go on and on, but here is my decision. We are going to face this as a season of life. God wants us to homeschool right now. I don't know where we'll be in 6 months let alone 6 years, but God does. I will rest in that, sit back and enjoy the ride- homeschool or bust!!!