Help me. It’s bath time!
Greta has a special affection for soft cuddly blankets, Estella and stuffed animals.
Piggie snoozing & snoring.
Worn out from the afternoon ordeal.
Many people ask about my decision to homeschool. Those who don’t ask, assume a lot of things.
Here are a few of my thoughts on homeschooling.
- I find it completely remarkable that I am able to birth children, raise them as I please, and choose to school them at home where I, an educated mother, can teach them. The entire process is beyond comprehension and a complete blessing.
- I am not the type of person that believes everyone should homeschool. It is a matter of where your child will receive the best education and upbringing. If you are not educated, motivated or have the available time, then homeschooling is not for you. Public school offers many great possibilities and I personally had an overall good experience growing up in the public school system.
- This is a big one. Everyone assumes that homeschooling is exactly what I am passionate about and love to spend my days doing. This is a completely bogus assumption. Keep in mind that I said that I would never homeschool before I had kids. I made a decision for my family that is currently the best choice for us. I don’t love to sit home and make crafts with my kids. Actually, most days I think, if I skip this craft, we will finish school much faster. But, those hands-on activities are what help my kids learn the most. I do them because I want my kids to learn and receive the best education I can give them.
- Homeschooling is not easy. I don’t sit home and fold laundry or surf Facebook while my kids do their work. I choose to be a teacher and completely invested in their learning. I have given up a lot of things because of this choice to homeschool. I have given up a 2nd income in our family and temporarily given up a nursing profession that I enjoy. I have given up a lot of freedom. The hours that my school age children would be in class, I spend teaching. I’ve given up a lot of free time in preparation in the evenings and on the weekends. I give up a clean organized home on a daily basis and also my involvement in many things that I care about. But, I don’t regret the choice to homeschool at all. For me, the sacrifices are worth it.
- I love that our learning is not limited. We take classes in a classroom atmosphere with teachers and students just like public school kids. But, we also get to be a part of many great activities. We visit business, museums, orchards, do outreaches, etc. We do all this on group field trips with our friends! Also, I get to buy those extra supplies that teachers can’t often afford to do science experiments, artwork and history projects!!
- I don’t have to worry about cultural issues like homosexuality being addressed by other teachers. My children will be exposed to culture. They are pastor’s kids! Trust me, they get a lot of culture! But, I will be the one who will explain these important topics.
- If we are having a productive day, we finish school by lunchtime and have the rest of the day to do what we please!
- I know exactly what level of learning my children are at. We can move ahead on topics they know and slow down for the ones they struggle with. I don’t cut any slack though! I’m a tough Momma teacher! Trust me, you can ask them. We can test regularly to make sure we are up to state standards just like public school! Most of the time we are well beyond state standards.
- We can go on vacation whenever we want. We are on our own schedule!
- My kids get to be a big part of the family. We spend our days together! They help me do everything and they learn a lot of life skills. They get to go to work with their Dad and learn from him too! They cook, imagine, create, plant gardens and anything else we desire. Our possibilities are endless.
- Our conversations are priceless. All those days we spend discussing science and history drives us towards many deep topics about God and our world. I feel I have much more control over their influences in the homeschool setting. Keep in mind, I’m not trying to brainwash my kids! Seriously, I let them think and figure things out on their own. I give them the facts and then we talk about them. For example, we were just discussing the Muslim religion and where it originated. I let them form an opinion. Of course, it is influenced by our family’s core beliefs, but it is better that they discover rather than be told.
- New doors are opening every day for homeschoolers. They can now join public school sports teams and apply for the same scholarships that public school students can.
- I learn a lot of interesting things! I must have either slept through elementary school or wasn’t taught much of anything. Regardless, I do find myself asking “How did I not know that?” on a regular basis!
I’m sure I could go on and write a book. I did not include all the things I appreciate about homeschooling. These topics I’ve addressed seem to be the most controversial. These are answers to many of the questions or assumptions I’ve encountered since beginning this journey. I did not list the cons to homeschooling. There are those too. Nothing is perfect. But, for me, in my current situation, homeschooling is the best choice for my family. We may not do it forever. Regardless, we take every decision to God in prayer and follow His guidance.
I’ve been watching a bird, the same one for days, trying to fly through a window in my house. Repeatedly, it comes towards it, slowly as if it knows there is a barrier, feet first, grabbing and flapping at he window. It’s quite odd. I keep wondering what it sees. Why the same window over and over? God made those birds. Is he trying to tell me something? Yes – my mind goes there. I believe God is deeply connected to everything. No way are we all here counting on good luck and circumstance to get us by!
God told me it was the Holy Spirit wanting so much to move freely, in and out of my soul, without all the restrictions I keep placing on Him. Most of those restrictions are rooted in selfishness. My heart’s walls close in, leaving only the smallest space for Him. I’m mostly too busy. Sometimes, I’m too frustrated with God. I am 100% sure that nothing will EVER go the way I want it to without Him. Even the dreamiest dreams that come true are no good without Him. But, every ordinary thing is ridiculously fantastic with Him close-by! I KNOW these things. Yet, again and again, I loose sight and move on with my own things. Regardless, His spirit awaits, inside my heart, trying to make room, trying to pass through my walls. He tries to move past my barriers, grabbing and flapping, hoping I’ll let Him out again.
Roman, my 7 year old, began today with a smile.
The morning was strangely quiet. So quiet, in fact, that David and I slept until almost 9am! Seriously, that has not happened since Roman was born. He and his brother, Jude, had been up since 7am. It seemed quite dreamlike to wake up after the sun had begun to shine, our boys quietly and happily playing, Estella still snoozing.
By noon, David and I began making comments to Roman about his unusual demeanor.
Tranquil: free from agitation of mind or spirit.
Oh yes, that would be the word to describe it.
You see, we’ve been praying for changes in this little one’s spirit.
He is an unbelievably wise child, understanding things beyond his years. Very observant, never missing a beat and very headstrong.
We have noticed him recently feeling very defeated. He has been in trouble, on average, 5-10 times every day for various things like yelling or throwing or pushing or saying hurtful words. If things haven’t gone as he wanted, an outburst almost always followed. He has felt very guilty after these outburst and had convinced himself that he could never be better. He comes up with the craziest ideas about growing up and becoming a bad guy or having a “bad” heart. Completely aware that these outburst are wrong, he said things like never being able to stop, that he can’t be better.
I can never stand to hear him so down on himself because, of course, I know the goodness that really abides in his heart. I know that he truly wants to show love and not anger. But, I will not be disrespected nor will I let my other children be treated poorly. There is that great parental responsibility to show love through discipline. So, no matter how much I’ve wanted to just tip-toe around him, I’ve, instead, put on my armor and stood my ground
I’ve worried about him feeling very overwhelmed at not being able to control things. I’ve seen frustration rise up in his eyes and a complete change come over him when things didn’t go his way. Had there been something deeper I was missing? It has taken solitude and time to find his way to other side of these episodes.
We’ve tried everything and we have prayed our hearts out. I’ve wanted, more than anything, for him to feel loved and to be able to show love. I’ve wanted him to feel like he had control over his emotions. I’ve wanted him to know that he can call out to God and that God will help him. It has been heartbreaking to see such turmoil inside this little boy’s heart.
Sometimes, though, when you feel like NOTHING is working, God is doing the work.
The entire day today was drastically different. I couldn’t believe the way he was responding when I asked him to do things. He was speaking very softly to his brother and sister. He was stopping in his tracks to assist them. He was pleasant. I hadn’t seen this side of Roman in a very long time, months even. Honestly, throughout the day, I was waiting for the everything to change, waiting for another complete breakdown. That moment never came.
Tonight, just before our nightly reading, I asked Roman why he had acted so different today.
This is what he said. “I was praying alone in my room a couple nights ago before bed. I asked God to please help me to be good. I told him I didn’t want to be bad anymore. Today, God gave me a New Year’s present. The present was courage. I feel like He changed me. I feel like a brand new person. I’m a brand new Roman. I’m so excited! I can’t wait to be better! Now, I understand what I need to do. I feel good in my heart. I mean, look at me, I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy.”
As he said these words, he was smiling and tears literally came to his eyes. He leaned over to embrace me as if the most wonderful thing in the world has just happened.
He was looking at me with these big contented eyes and I could see down to his soul. It was like he was saying, “Mom, everything you’ve been telling me about Jesus is true! He really is with me always. He really does come to help me when I call out to Him. His spirit really does live inside me.”
This boy has had his first God experience. I know exactly what he was feeling. I had forgotten but now I remember. The burning warmth behind the eyes as they well up with tears. An aura. A sort of giddiness.
God had always been with Roman, but now he senses His presence. I know the future for us all will be full of mistakes, full of learning. Nevertheless, progress comes when we are changing, when we are allowing God to teach us, when we are asking and listening and feeling.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19
What would I like this year to be?
This is not about resolutions. It’s just about hopes and dreams.
My 30′s have caused me to think much more about passing moments and time standing still.
I’ve become more likely to do things I’ve dreamed of doing.
I find myself asking, “why not do that?” and realizing the risks are much lower that previously assumed.
Moments stand apart from others – like the green crispy lettuce on my sandwich this morning.
Just that one, simple & organic detail made it taste so much better.
Like mixing batter in vintage ceramic bowels is more beautiful than mixing in those ugly plastic ones.
It makes me feel like I’m creating something wonderful that will fill my children’s tummies.
Like walking outside in the early morning cold to care for my chickens.
I take a deep breath and the coolness expands my lungs full.
It is quiet. The air is crisp. The sun is rising. The squirrels play.
I am not alone here in this world. God is with me always.
Like the sound of the stream running behind my home in the dark woods.
Though it looks desolate out there, it is not.
There is the sound of water flowing, moving across the ground, carrying things here and there.
I would like to continue on this path of progression in 2014.
I am a person who changes. My thoughts morph as I am inspired, as God speaks.
I want to pull myself together when I feel weak.
I want to feel compassion deep and always have time for another.
I want my words to mimic God’s heart.
I want to be so close that I feel His spirit envelope me.
I want to teach & inspire & love.
I want my sight to be focused and undistracted.
That is what is so special about this God I serve.
He is gracious. He is present.
And He makes my dreams come true.
What would you like your year to be?
The best things about Christmas aren’t presents at all.
They are times we see God’s Earth
through love & life & adventure.
Our steps crunch the frosty grass.
The sun cuts the cold air.
Our blood warms with each movement.
Nothing holds us down.
We are free & forgiven.
The favorite present: this baby (she hasn’t put it down since the party) We’ve given it baths, changed it’s clothes 1000 times, fed it, and taken it for a walk in her stroller.
I have to admit that my heart is broken, just a little, because she is no longer 1. I have loved every second of 1.
And 2 sounds SO much bigger!!
Have you ever loved anything so much that you didn’t want one part of it to pass by???
That is her in our family…
We all, including her brothers, ooh and awe over her so many times a day.
She melts our hearts with her batting eyes and little twirls.
My favorite part of ALL is her tiny mommy heart.
She keeps her eyes on everyone and everything, making sure things are running smoothly and everyone is obeying.
She doesn’t mind to tell her big brothers to watch for cars or to slow down when things seem dangerous.
What a precious little gift she has been since God brought her into our family!
We love you forever Miss Estella!
Mommy, Daddy, Roman & Jude
Home + School
(Kindergarten & 1st Grade Curriculum)
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan and Jessie Wise gave me a new outlook on homeschooling. I feel in love with the classical approach. I recommend it to anyone considering homeschooling. I decided to begin following the author’s curriculum suggestions, with the exception of a few personal changes.
We wake up early, have breakfast at the dining room table and read a lesson from this book. Each lesson has a provided song my kids love singing. Some days we print coloring pages that coordinate with our lesson. We place the pages in our Bible notebook so we can look back on what we’ve learned!
Some days we have quiet prayer time and journal prayer request.
2. Reading Aloud
1. We go to the library and choose educational reader books coordinating with topics we are covering in Science and History. He reads aloud to me for about 2o minutes each day.
2. A few days a week, I read aloud from chapter books. We just completed Alice and Wonderland and are now reading Treasure Island.
I used this until 2nd grade and then switched. My son struggled through writing throughout the entire time with did this. He hated it and I discovered we were missing many basic writing concepts that this curriculum was not covering. Now, that we have moved on to something new. He is flourishing in writing!
4. Structured Reading Lesson
I love this phonics approach to teaching reading. My son is flourishing from this technique. We use a magnetic marker board to accompany our lessons. He loves writing the words with markers and creating them from magnetic letters. This book is full of way to reinforce phonics.
I love this book. I was unsure about teaching grammar at his age but he has caught on very quickly with no problem. He actually enjoys this book. It has made Grammar one of his best subjects. In Kindergarten he could tell you the definition of a noun, pronoun and verb and identify them properly in a sentence! I also LOVE the memorization and reciting exercises in this book. We are about to finish up level 1 and starting level 2 a few weeks in to 1st grade.
I am LOVING this program. Wow. It seems to cover everything a child needs to know in order to be a great speller. It is broken down into very organized simple steps and doesn’t miss a thing!
8. History & Geography
We cover a chapter a week or sometimes stretch it to 2 weeks. It is very thorough and gives plenty of outside resources and projects to choose from. My son really enjoys it. We take extra time learning more about the parts of the lesson he is especially interested in like pyramids & mummies!
We are making a lap-book. With each chapter we cut, glue, and add-in several reminders of the information we covered. It has been helpful to display the information in an organized way. We are able to follow the timeline pattern in a more hands-on approach and visualize it better.
WTM suggest covering Life Science: animals, human beings and plants in 1st grade, one at a time. I like her approach. Instead of covering bits and pieces from every topic sporadically, you stay on one topic consistently for 10-20 weeks. The DK books have beautiful graphics and my son finds them very interesting. The only disadvantage is that there is a little extra work on my part preparing lessons. We read about the topic, watch videos, do experiments or related art projects and lap-book through our journey.
(We only teach one of the three Science subjects at once: animals, human body or plants)
My First 1000 Words in Spanish by Parragon Publishing
My kids LOVE learning Spanish. We take it slow and add words to our Spanish Notebook each week or two. No rush in this area. We move on when he fully understands and can use the words or phrases we are studying. We try to use the phrases every day around the house. There are a ton a great online resources with songs and poems to help with pronunciation and memorization.
This is great material. It is user friendly and full of great hands-on teaching strategies. Also, we love simple how-to draw and doodle books.
We alternate hands-on art projects with Art Appreciation.
We practice learning to read music and play the recorder. We also learn about famous composers and listen to their music.