the Home School option

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by Angela

I have soo enjoyed following along with Laura and her family as they have started out their homeschooling journey. The colorful school room, centers, calendar time. I would like to go be a student for the day. As I was reading Laura’s post- I knew it was time to share our families home school journey.

Laura wasn’t sure she wanted to home school. I on the other hand always thought that I would, but then when the time came for Rachel to register for Kindergarten God led our family a different direction.  One Sunday after service we were chatting with a pastor friend at our church. He had some wise thoughts on the schooling dilemma every parent faces. He said, “Some parents love their kids SO much, they send them to public school. Other parents love their kids SO much and send their kids to private school. Some parents love their kids SO much they home school their kids”. It was wonderful insight that their are many schooling options. I had seen many parents/ families compare their choice, but it caused a lot of division and hurt feelings on all sides. Each family needs to come to a conclusion for their school options in how God is leading and moving them. John and I continued to pray and decided to send Rachel to public school. In AZ, where we lived at the time, the school we were zoned for was one of the oldest in the district. The teachers had been their for years and they were dedicated to their students. John and I knew God had directed us in the right decision immediately as we meet many new neighbor families and  got to know several families better that we went to church with too whose kids went to the same school. I quickly got involved in a Moms In Prayer Group (Formally called Moms In Touch). (Moms in Prayer International is a ministry where Mom’s of students of all ages get together once a week to pray for their children, teachers and school! What a special group of Moms I had the opportunity to pray with. I still keep in touch with a few of them today.)

Rachel Sr and Kindergarten

One of Rachel’s Senior Pics holding her Kindergarten School Picture!

Looking back I see God’s hand in directing us into public school not only was it a good school option for Rachel and our family but would be a huge support in the speech help that Josiah needed! (Read about Josiah’s Speech Story here)

FIrst day of School pic In LV 2

Every teenage sister loves first day of school hugs!

We moved out of state when Rachel was in 6th Grade and Josiah was in 2nd. Once again we were in a place where we needed to consider our school options. We decided to continue to stay in public school. We learned that not two schools are exactly alike. There were some things we liked and some things we didn’t like. 

Two years later, God was stirring us into a new direction. The influence of the other students was taking a toll on Rachel and Josiah. And Josiah was struggling with some of the academics in the classroom setting, yet excelling with a friend who was tutoring him one-on-one in a speed that Josiah could dictate. God was beginning to reveal it was time for us to try something new. So on a Monday in March of 2010, John and I went and un-enrolled our kids from public school and began to home school. We were eager to get started, yet overwhelmed with the choice of home school curriculum out there. Since we had just a few more weeks of school left at this point and a family trip to Washington DC  at the beginning of summer, we jumped into learning all about the things we would see and do there and the history behind them. We also had several home school families share some curriculum books, worksheets and such and we finished out the year. John works from home and being a natural teacher took a huge role and lead in what the kids were learning/doing.

Famliy Pic at White House 2

Field Trips take on a whole new meaning!

During our time in the Washington DC area we spent some time with my cousin and their family who had been on the home school adventure for several years with kids similar ages to ours. I said to my cousin Caroline, “There is way too much curriculum options to even know where to begin, what are you doing and how do I get some?” She was using Sonlight. We got that and it has been a good fit for our family. We also got Josiah started in Singapore Math, as I had heard if kids were struggling with Math, to try it. So we did and it was a joy to watch him grasp and understand the concepts!!

Rachel Grad

It’s a happy celebration to graduate.

Rachel continued homeschooling completing her Junior year of high school. She finished her Senior year at a charter school where her last high school credits were taken in college classes. Rachel was ready for the college level and this was a great option for her. She is now about to start her last year of college. Josiah is about to start his Senior year of high school as a home schooler. We have been very happy at our choice to home school. Because we never knew any different, we just jumped in with where are kids were at. My kids could read, and write and spell and do many of those fundamental things on their own. I don’t even know what it is like to teach littles how to read. I know in some ways we have a different home school story. We have learned so many things. Too many to share. But I am going to attempt to narrow them down to the most hopeful for you.

 

Thoughts/ Things that Surprised Us about Home Schooling

  • We were surprised at how much we liked organizing our school day schedule. We really liked not having to be involved in the daily school and drop off and pick up activities. We liked not having the rush of getting out the door each morning. It worked best for our family to use a Monday- Thursday School week schedule. It meant the kids days were a bit longer, but we liked having Fridays off.  We liked to decide when to start school for the year, take what weeks off and end at what time. We found it best to work ahead in our schedule when we needed to take a day or week off.  We liked taking our summers off. But we worked through some of the national holidays that the school district takes off. And sick days didn’t always mean you had to miss out on reading or working on some math.
  • The home school option does allow you to help your child learn best according to their personality. It’s harder in a classroom setting with one teacher and 20 students.  Rachel and Josiah learn differently. We adjusted to ways they learned best. Rachel worked better with a more flexible schedule. Josiah needed more structure and regular daily routine. Both Rachel and Josiah added in jobs to their day and we liked how home schooling gave them more flexible time schedules than just after school.
  • We used tutors! We have always had a math tutor. Especially for high school math. And we have used them some in science. Don’t be afraid to get help from others and be creative to how it can work with your child and tutor.
Homeschool Space

Josiah’s home schooling space. My kids often used their desks, beds and floors in their room too. So this central place in the landing in our upstairs area works well.

  • In our school district home schoolers are allowed to join in the extra curricular activities offered at the high school we are zoned for. Rachel was in the marching and concert band and Josiah has been in Cross Country and Track. It has been great for us. Some schools allow home schoolers to join in on certain classes too. I would consider it for a foreign language or upper level math or science. 
  • We had to add a line into our budget for home schooling. It had costs that we had to figure out. From curriculum mainly. To help with our initial costs, we got the bare bones of our curriculum and then checked out books from the library. Ordered used books on Amazon. Borrowed books from other families who had them. It helped a lot. But did take some extra finagling.
  • When we started home schooling, we were surprised at how many current home school families responded like we finally saw the light. We didn’t see home schooling like that. We were not in the wrong during our kids years in public school. Over the years our kids had many good teachers, friends, and experiences. We are thankful for those. Even the harder things taught them to persevere, make good choices and learn to get along with all sorts of personalities.  We know many wonderful teachers who teach in a public school and families whose kids go to public, charter or private school. Just like our pastor friend said years ago, I know many parents who love their kids so much they choose their schooling options.
  • I have also had several people ask me, “If I am a better Mom, since I home school?”. Oh, if it was only that easy! Every Mom would run to sign up to home school. I am the best Mom when I am in prayer for myself and my kids. When I am humbly learning the things God has to personally show me daily in His Word. And when I am overflowing with His grace so that it sloshes over to my kids. Those things are the same no matter what ages, stages, and schooling my kids have been in.

I hope our story will help some families who might be considering making a change in their school option. Either in home schooling if that is how God is leading you. Or in what is best for your child/children or family. Don’t be afraid to follow how God is leading. Give it a try. You won’t ruin your kids if you make a change and don’t like it. I know God will guide you in just where He is leading. You might be surprised and you will be blessed for being obedient.

 

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A Girl, A Marine & A Long Line of History

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by Angela

I can turn a bit sappy when it comes to anything patriotic.

One of my favorite play lists on my Google Play- is my Patriotic Music one.  “From the mountains, to the prairies, to the the ocean white with foam” don’t you picture all the places across America this song is describing? And just the opening chords of  “Proud to be an American” make my eyes get a bit teary!

Flags grace my home in pictures, coffee table tops, and decorating items. And you can spot some red, white and blue outfits in my closet capsule wardrobe.

I need a handful of kleenex when I come across any military homecoming video posted on fb too! Don’t you?

So today I want to share with you my favorite patriotic story. One that is like yesterday in my memory, but over 20 years away. When I was 18 years old, I fell in love with a Marine. (It is true what they say- there is something about a man in a uniform.) We started dating and filled up 5 months with phone calls, dinner, walks at the beach, talking and just seeing each other as often as we could.  And on a cloudy May day, off the Navy docks in San Diego, CA., he left for 6 months on a West-Pac Tour. John on Ship 2

We stood on a the docks. Holding hands, hugging, talking about nothing, kissing, committing to write and call. We watched the sights around us, heard the music, saw the anchors and the ships. We laughed, we cried and we promised our love to each other until his return. 

The clocked ticked on and the inevitable came. It was time. He leaned forward and took me in his arms, saying, “Keep your eyes upward” then gently kissed me good bye. He waved and he walked away, stopped and turned back and waved again. One last wave once he got on ship. And I waited until I saw him on the top deck of the ship looking over at where I stood. More waves and blown kisses. The ship began to slowly move away from the dock and we watched each other until we couldn’t see each other anymore.John on Ship

It was like being a part of history. Both past and future. Borrowing a few minutes of shared experiences with women of hundreds of generations who have been left with heavy hearts and tears in their eyes. Some have seen off their servicemen leaving in a time of war and others in a time of peace with hope that war won’t come again soon. 

John coming home

This picture has fallen victim to the 90’s overcropping scrapbook trend!! But too good not to include!

Some have seen their loves returned in a joyous homecoming, while others will only have those last kisses and hugs to remember him by.  The defense of the “land that we love” is costly.

My Marine did return 6 months later and a month later proposed. Over the years of marriage the memories of a nostalgic goodbye has faded, yet there is still remembrance and celebration of both past and future.

We hope you have the most delightful 4th of July with your loved ones, service men and women or not. Take a few minutes and pray for those who are missing their loved ones who are serving!

 

 

 

 

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Homeschooling Week One: 10 Lessons Learned

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This week has been so wonderful I can hardly wonder what I was thinking a few months ago about Homeschool Hell.  Homeschool Hell was a reality show I made up in my mind about what this experience would be like.  Remember back to when I was kicking and screaming and almost such a baby I needed a diaper about not wanting to Homeschool?  I remember.  Well, like a kid before Christmas Eva I went to bed giddy on Sunday and woke up counting down the hours until 1:00.  

IMG_2284

I grew in my knowledge of myself, the kids, our routine, and what works and what does not.  The kids learned and had a ball this week too.  It is all rainbows and unicorns this post so if you are struggling with homeschooling, I apologize, but there’s a permanent grin on my face as I write this so you might want to get a large bowl of ice cream while you read.  

Now of course, if I had wanted to be a homeschool mom, this week would have been a disaster, and I would be abandoning ship on this post, but, that’s not the way it turned out.  

I know many people who were enthralled with Homeschooling and poured so much into it but turned out to be a horrible time for their family. I know others who don’t want to send their kids to public school, but baulk at the thought of the organization and work it takes to school, and then I know mom’s who Homeschool because they feel it is right, but they are exhausted and cranky about the whole deal.  So please know that I am attuned to different feelings surrounding this lifestyle.  Anyway…

What did we do this week?  

Our main Homeschooling Curriculum is called Five in a Row.  The learning, centers around a book and then Five subjects stemming from the book.  So this week we read Lentil every day, and then had Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Math, and today we’ll do Science.  We made a lap book out of a file folder to remind us what we learned about the subject matter.  FIAR doesn’t include handwriting, phonics, or as much math as I would like, so I added those things as well as telling time, and counting money.  

Monday we learned about Ohio.  In the lap book you can see a book about Ohio that has facts in it. I had no idea the Buckeye State was named that because of the seeds on a tree look like Buck’s Eyes!  Eva found it on a map, and we had two books from the library about Ohio to look through.  Eva loved that the state bird was the cardinal since we have so many in our backyard.  

social studies

Tuesday we did Language Arts.  Using new vocabulary from Lentil, Eva and I made a small book with some new words in it.  She has already been using them in her every-day life.  Today after she was done cleaning she said, “I am an expert cleaner”.  And then when we were pulling through a street she asked if it was an alley.  

language arts

Wednesday was art!  Robert McCloskey, the author of Lentil, (As well as Blueberries for Sal and Make way for Ducklings…), uses Charcoal for his illustrations so we tried it out as well.  The kids were fascinated by soft and hard charcoal making dark and light lines, and the shading techniques were fun to try as well.  Eva and I tried our hand at copying the shutters on the windows in the book.  

art

Thursday we had a math lesson using music as fractions.  In Lentil, he plays the harmonica and there are music notes scattered on the page.  We learned Whole, Half, and Quarter by scooping our dry beans, and then by cutting an apple.  

math

After our Five in a Row time we do Handwriting, Phonics, Math/Time/Money, and then she reads a Bob Book to close out the day.  

time and sound match

Here she is filling in the time on the clocks, and we played a game where she matched an object on the circle with the correct letter it starts with on a popsicle stick.  

school work

Malachi is working on coloring in his apples with the correct color, and Eva is playing a game to match lower case to uppercase.  

Friday we will have Science, learning about taste.  Lentil has a character in it called Old Sneep who sucks on a lemon, and at the end of the story everyone gets ice cream cones so we’ll experience the areas of taste on our tongue and we’ll make homemade lemonade.  Eva has one more week of Alphabet review before we start on phonics.  What a great week!  

What did I learn? 

5 Things I Learned Work Great:

  1. One thing that I didn’t realize was how nice it was to include our chore payment in Circle Time.  We’ve always struggled with remembering to give the kids money so they can start learning how to save, spend and give it, but now it’s a part of our daily routine.  allowance

  2. The organization of the entire day made ME equipped for meal times, chores, and even a built in rest for me each day.  I appreciate our daily routine and I plan to blog about how HSing works into our entire day, and then what our school schedule looks like.
  3. The curriculum.  Now was the time to see if the kids would be as hooked as I was on the Five In A Row material I had prepared.  They adore it.  
  4. Malachi has structured school for 30 minutes, 15 of Circle time, and then 15 with me.  I was worried about him being bored, distracting Eva, or feeling left out.  That didn’t happen.  I have a few toys that only come out during school time, some matching, and lacing cards that I can play with him on the floor for a few minutes if Eva is doing a worksheet, I can hide his Letter of the Week around the basement for him to find, and sometimes he enjoys being a part of what we are doing.  

    dried beans are a wonderful 15 minute break

    dried beans are a wonderful 15 minute break

  5. I set a challenge for myself to not go upstairs at all during the Homeschooling time, I didn’t want to be distracted.  That also meant I leave my phone upstairs so I’m fully devoted to the kids.  How freeing to be without it!  

5 Things I’m Surprised to Learn:

  1. It has been great for my relationship with the kids.  This was a big worry of mine.  I thought Eva and I would frustrate each other, (and there’s still time for that), but she has been SO sweet this whole week.  That special time I’ve devoted to them is paying off.  There is so much tenderness in our home toward me, toward each other and even Eric is experiencing the new bond we have.

    Apparently we need jackets because it is too cold to concentrate.

    Apparently we need jackets because it is too cold to concentrate.

  2.  Eva asked me for a snack an hour before I had planned, but I knew I wanted to make the schedule very flexible the entire first month so I modified immediately. Plus also, it is freezing in the basement so we needed to add jackets on our hooks.  Then, I tried to make the schedule alternate between active and inactive lessons, but she needed a play break between something, so again, I altered and it’s been better.  

    Field Trip to see a Monument, just like in Lentil!

    Field Trip to see a Monument, just like in Lentil!

  3. We don’t just homeschool from 1-3:30, we homeschool all day.  Because I know what they are learning, if we see something from our lessons, we talk about it.  We incorporate meals that correspond with the lessons, field trips, and choose books at the library that enhance our study.  
  4. Even though a large part of my day is taken up, I am still able to get my tasks done because I am forced to be super organized.  I like that I know what I’m supposed to do and when I’m supposed to do it.  7:30 Read my Bible, 8:00 Chores, 8:30 Kids go outside…going very well so far.  
  5. Malachi is learning SO much through observation.  I knew it would happen, but on day four when I called out a letter for Eva to find on her worksheet.  I said, “U for…” and Malachi piped up and said, “Uniform”.  
  6. Learning minds are tired minds.  Both mama and Eva and Malachi have been tired this week.  We built in an hour of rest time after lunch every day and we all need it.  Books on CD from the Library have been awesome.  The kids have to be on their beds for the hour, and they listen to Frog and Toad, Junie B. Jones, or Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  I often have 30 minutes to myself and then I take a 30 minute couch nap!  

 

Our first week is done!  Ready to keep learning, modifying, and teaching again next week!  

 

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