Friday, March 28, 2008

Home School Blessings Abound

Our family is not new to homeschooling. On the contrary, we are what some would call veterans. We homeschooled for 8 years. But for the last 4 years the kids have either been in public school or the Christian private school they are attending now. Public school was a nightmare for my two boys. The school my kids go to now was an answer to prayer. They teach more like homeschool than public or private. My children are not given a "grade" but learn the concepts and then move on. They use hands on experiences to make the lessons come alive! They use the Charlotte Mason way of teaching and all the teachers have gone to the workshops to learn that style. Yes, just like homeschool.

As other things in our lives are changing it opens up changes for our younger two children's education. Nick will not be going to that school so my younger children will not either. His education is another story for another time. For now, this is about JC and Jenni. Since I was homeschooling when they were born you could say that they were homeschooled from birth until they entered another school. I taught Jenni to read before she entered the private school kindergarten. I did the same for JC. They will finish out this school year and have the month of June "off" from official school. Then we will start back up in July. We usually start that early because we use our vacations over the summer as field trips. And we take the whole month of December off of the basics and focus solely on Christ and His birth.

As I was visiting some friend's blogs this morning I found that one of my friends is starting her homeschool journey and it inspired me to start blogging about ours. On her blog she had the reasons for homeschooling, her reasons. That got me to thinking about a list of my own. I used her headings and put my own thoughts under them.

CHOICE---We are choosing to teach our children “at home” instead of having someone else teach them. There are many options out there, as I am finding out by taking my education classes for my degree in Elementary Education. But we have chosen this path. One of the reasons we chose it is because our adventures in Homeschool are not limited to HOME. Simply because we have chosen this path does not mean we feel your choice is wrong, only different if it is not homeschooling.

LEARNING AS A LIFESTYLE---From the moment my children were born began the road of learning, for all of us. I have had to learn, continue on a daily basis, to understand each child’s needs and work with them to teach them our values. We learn everywhere we go in everything we do. That pretty much sums it up. Everything is a learning experience. From teaching them life skills to playing outside.

EDUCATIONAL STYLE---We are able to teach to each child’s needs according to their learning style. Both of my younger children have slight dyslexia so I will use techniques to help them learn to correct it. I have found a math program called Touchmath that works with that issue. I will also use Math-U-See until they get older and then we may or may not move on to Saxon Math. We will do many book studies from our favorite books and find some new favorites, I am sure. We will learn lots of math through cooking and shopping together. And our favorite way of learning is games. The kids love board games and other types of games and those are filled with math and thinking skills. We will do gardening as part of our science. John loves to do science experiments with them so I know they won’t be lacking in that area. We will use our vacations as field trips and learn history of the states and visit museums. Their computer skills will grow because we will continue to play educational games as well as teach them how to send emails to friends and family. All of these things are just a part of everyday living and will be so fun. I love the fact that they are so close in age that we can do so many things the same with minimal adjustments.

INDIVIDUAL INSTRUCTION---In a world of so many differences it is not hard to understand that even each child in the same family can have differences, including learning differences. Although both of my children have that one similarity there are still others that are different. At the private school they went to each child was able to learn at their own pace and in the style they needed. That is what we will do here as well. And I will be the one to see the joy in their eyes as they “get it”. Since I know my children so well, or attempt to, I can understand how to help them get past a road block in their understanding.

SOCIALIZATION---Everyone worries that homeschoolers can’t get enough socialization. That has never been a problem for my kids. They have been in numerous church activities all of their lives: choir, missions, Bible study, VBS, summer music day camp, summer camps and more. Also, we have a great Homeschool group that has sports and monthly meetings where the kids do activities. They have small groups inside the large one that meet weekly and/or bi-weekly. We also have the daycare children that are in our home every day of the week. In this way my kids get to be with children of all different ages and learn to interact with them in a positive way. There is something to be said for protecting our children from socializing with those who hold different values and morals. Until my son went to public school he did not use foul language. It is almost as if because the children he was around did it that gave him permission to do it. I don’t think so! I would like to protect my children from learning that what God says is immoral is an accepted practice and taught in public schools. I want them to know God’s truths really well before they are bombarded with the worlds view.

FLEXIBILITY---I have always loved the flexibility of homeschooling. We work at our own pace, fast or slow, we work anywhere we are at any time of the day (or night). We can go places when we need to or want to. Since John is going to seminary and we know we were called to missions many years ago we never know where God will want us to serve or for how long. We know we have a calling to Colorado, as well. So in this we will be prepared to go wherever God calls us to go and never miss a beat.

CONTROL---That is a big one for both us and the kids. While they will be free to explore more of the things that they love most, I will be in control of the things I want them to learn and not learn at this point. Or at least steer them in the right direction on some of the topics that are not in line with God’s Word. PL loves to draw so in order to help him in that area I can get him some drawing materials and set up a special place for him to draw whenever he feels like it. I can get out the MANY drawing books for children that I have acquired over the years that I have homeschooled. Also I will give him lots of opportunities to draw in project for different books and field trips. If at some point he loses interest in that and wants to focus on something else, we can do that very easily. What a joy to be able to explore wherever their imagination takes them.

FAMILY---In today’s world I am not sure our family is the “normal” American family anymore. John and I have been married (to each other only) for 25 years and are still happily married, enough to be renewing our vows next week and going on a honeymoon! We have four children. We have never been married before and our children are both of ours. Most families today have a much different “makeup”. Which is great, God made us all different. Although we have had our problems we are close and take our responsibilities as a family very seriously. It is our job as parents to show our children God’s love for them through our actions. As we move forward in this adventure of Homeschool I know that our bonds as a family will grow stronger as we spend time learning together through life.

PERSONAL GROWTH---They say that the teacher always learns more than the student. As a Homeschool mom I can attest to that. Even though the kids are learning so much we are learning not only a review of the information we are teaching but also as we find the right way to explain it to our child so they grasp it, we are learning more about our child. That process is a most amazing thing. When we are able to learn about our children that will help so much in the years to come. I know that I have grown so much over the years that I have taught my children and look forward to much more in the sweet years to come as I watch my younger children go through elementary and head into high school and sooner than I care to think about, into adulthood on their own. But I know that it is a wonderful experience because I have one that has already gone down that road. She is a wonderful, strong adult who I am so proud of. I know that while she didn’t always like being at home, she learned so much that she has taken with her in her life and she is a stronger adult for it.

DELIGHT---I want my children to learn to delight themselves in the Lord as they learn all He has for them to explore in this world He created. I know all to well the struggles of homeschooling. Things don’t always go the way you picture in your mind. That is the time to step back and evaluate what they are learning and if there is joy. If there is, relax and enjoy that feeling. I want to instill in my kids that they can learn their whole lives and never need to stop learning while they are still on this earth.

So while homeschooling does have good and bad, I can see more good coming from our adventures ahead than bad. Thanks for letting me share!

Until next time...blessings to you.

Monday, March 3, 2008

My Weekend

I had a pretty great weekend. I didn't know it was going to be so great. I just knew it was probaby going to be pretty busy, as most weekends are. When I got up that morning I jumped into the shower and got ready for a full day. Make-up and all, which I usually don't worry about if I am not doing anything important. That day was kind of important for make-up.

I went to my Weight Watcher weigh in, although I haven't been following WW in about 12 weeks. I have been doing the Perfect Weight America "diet" but have gone to WW to weigh in and because I have started going with a friend and didn't want to just stop going. She told me on Friday she couldn't do the WW anymore because of the cost but was going to do the PWA! Yeah! That is fine with me. Since I have 4 weeks until my vow renewal I am going to keep going the rest of this month since it is already paid for and I don't have a scale.
I lost 2.8 pounds for a total of 25 POUNDS!!!!! Isn't that amazing? 25 pounds in 16 weeks! I have been flying high ever since. That is so big! I went to the mall to find some new jeans because we were going to have couple pictures made that afternoon. I went to NYCO, I love that store. I took in two pairs of 8's and two pair of 10's because I just wanted to try on the 8's to see how close I was but didn't really think I would fit in them. BUT I DID!!!!!! I was again just amazed! I honestly haven't had size 8 jeans in over 17 years, if not more. I couldn't get down past the 10's. 
We met a friend who was going to take the pics at the park at 2 and after we did that we went to eat with the kids. On Sunday I ended up with no daycare kids so I did some major shopping for groceries! I am going to do my very best to cook this week and not do ANY eating out at all! I sure hope I can succeed at that. I am not the one that eats out but I buy stuff for them. I don't want them eating it either! And I really want to make healthy food for my family.

So here is one of the pictures that was taken on Saturday. Some of them didn't turn out because somehow the lens got dirty after it was cleaned. But we were able to salvage a few. See my size 8 jeans?!? I am so excited! I still have a bit to go, around 20 more. But I am happy at this point. And I am looking forward to our trip in a month! We are going to have a great time.

Until next time...blessings to you.