Saturday, May 31, 2014

Word of Warning

When seeking advice about homeschooling, don't blindly trust someone just because they have been doing it a year or two longer than yourself.  Go to the moms who have graduated children. Go to the veterans whose children got into college and were well adjusted enough to stay. Go to the ones who tell you hard things, like "have them tested", "be consistent", and"every day matters". Look to and seek out the ones whose children shared the same struggles as your own.

There is a place for discussing things with your peers, absolutely. There should be weekly or monthly times to share information and encourage each other. Be open. Be kind. But don't neglect the wisdom of those much further along in the process. I wish I hadn't.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beautiful Moments

Homeschooling has such beautiful moments. Right now, my oldest is with her two youngest siblings at the park. She's reading them Shakespeare in the sunshine.

My heart is moved and I'm so grateful that I have been able to enjoy my children in this manner. To see them enjoy one another (and Shakespeare) takes it to a whole other level.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Homeschooling a Junior and Senior

Homeschooling through high school...

The thought always scared the pants off me. Daunting. When my oldest started 9th grade, I latched on to every friend I had who had homeschooled all the way through high school. How do you keep up with credits? How many hours makes up a credit? How many maths? How many sciences? Did you teach all the courses? What about transcripts? When do you test? Where do you test? What qualifies as an elective? On and on and on and on...

Now, we are 8 weeks from my daughter's graduation. She has finished all her math curriculum for the year after spending a solid week doing nothing but math for 7 hours a day. She's set to be done with the rest of her work by the end of April. We've bought the prom dress. Yes, homeschoolers can have proms! We've paid the graduation fee. We've submitted the photos for the graduation slide show. We've got her transcript in order. We haven't had to do much with colleges yet because she's going overseas for a year. She's going as a missionary intern to Ireland and England. Instead of college visits and applications, we're working to raise support.

My oldest son is a junior this year. He wants to be an international commercial airline pilot. I've done a lot of googling and praying. I didn't even know where to start. Thankfully, God sends people into my life to help me. He's scheduled to take his first ACT in two weeks. In hindsight, I should have made him take it in February, to give him more opportunities to take it. He's been doing lots of ACT prep stuff, where, it was discovered, he had an enormous hole in education concerning English. We've been working hard in that area. We have a campus visit scheduled next week at his first choice school and hopefully will get to meet with the RUF director there.

My recommendation to anyone homeschooling or thinking about homeschooling or maybe wanting to homeschool in the future: don't halfway do it or give in to mediocrity. Don't kid yourself that there's always time to catch up. Do it well. Do it even when you don't want to do it. Push them just a little bit more that you want to. Do the hard stuff as well as the fun stuff. Be persistent. Resist the urge to hop from curriculum to curriculum during the school year. Some things are just NOT FUN.

My oldest daughter has always struggled in math. My oldest son has always struggled in writing. The only way they found any freedom, any victory, in those areas was for me to push them through with gentleness and patience. I endured tears and fits. I held them when they wanted to give up. I yelled at them when they need a metaphorical kick in the butt. And when it became too much for me, I passed them off to different teachers. My husband took over math duties and my English-teacher friend took over English duties this year. I have seen sooooo much improvement. It's okay to ask for help.

My other big piece of advice for homeschooling through high school is DO NOT ABDICATE YOUR ROLE. Teenagers are absolutely capable of independent study. They can listen to the DVD lectures and work the problems. They can finish their work. But you are still their teacher. Make them get up in the morning. Be the bad guy and make them turn off their phones. Check their work at the end of every day. You are still in charge. So many people move away from their teens during this time, reasoning that the teen knows what to do and is capable of doing it. BUT when it comes to education, you always need a teacher. They don't know how to stretch themselves. They don't know what they are capable of. It's our job as their teachers to push when they don't want to be pushed. Of course, we do it gently and lovingly, but we push nonetheless. They won't ever thank you for not pushing them. They will hold it against you.

Homeschooling through high school is hard work. It can be daunting, but it's very doable. I think it's the most rewarding part of the entire journey. I will do my best to document my successes and failures so you don't have to muddle through the way I've had to do.

Ramble On...

I am the worst blogger in the world. I haven't posted to my homeschool blog since school started. That's rough.  I think it shows that some people can teach their children at home and maintain a million other activities. I'm not so sure that I can.

Homeschooling takes an enormous amount of time and effort. It requires very deliberate use of time. Our day starts early and finishes early afternoon. Some days, school runs into the evening. When I'm done actively schooling the kids, then it is time to work on grades, lesson plans, worksheets and projects.

I'm making this sound impossible, aren't I? It's not. I still have time to be very active in church, spend a good amount of time with my friends and work a part time job. It's not all consuming, and if I find it becoming all consuming, it's probably slipped into the realm of idolatry and I need to reevaluate.

So re-reading the first paragraph, I think it is more apt to say that social media, of all types, is pretty far down my list of priorities. I enjoy doing it, but it can only come after everything else is finished.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer 2013

As you can tell from my lack of posting, we had quite the busy summer. We had a friend come from England and stay with us for six weeks. Then Brody and I participated in our local community theater; I was art and he had a small part. The summer was wonderful. We traveled, hung out, made new friends, enjoyed our local atmosphere. It was restful and fun.

One thing I did not do this summer was obsess over school. I gave myself permission to ignore it. At least until a certain date. And that's what I did. I put it out of my mind. I did that for ONE GOOD REASON: I wanted to live my life. It is immeasurably important to live your life. That means not letting life bump me from one activity to another, but to be fully invested in each moment. If you find it impossible to do that, you may need to reevaluate some things.

This is not to say that you don't gather materials and ideas as you go. If you're choosing to homeschool, you know, it is always in the back of you mind. I went to a used book sale. I purged my bookshelves one afternoon. I chose my topics before last school year was done. The planning is always there, but it is possible to not obsess.

On August 4th, I buckled up and hunkered down and got to planning. I found fun places for my kids to be for three straight days. They were having a great time. I gathered all my supplies, cooked some food to put in the fridge and got down to it. In those three, uninterrupted days I was able to read the materials, write outlines for the classes, created spreadsheets and write worksheets and study questions. I didn't finish it all. I worked four more days with the kids home, but those three days were invaluable. I was ready for the year!

I suppose my purpose for writing this post is this: do what you do. Don't obsess over things to the point that you lose interest before you ever start. If you have the chance to do theater, enjoy it. If you can visit the sights, go! When it comes time to plan, plan hard. Get it done. Don't let the panic set it. Do not fear; you can get it done without killing yourself!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Reading List 2012-13

I just realized after reviewing the blog that I never listed the Reading List from this year.

Animal Farm
Fahrenheit 451
Lord of the Flies
The Hobbit
The Old Man and the Sea
Daughter of Mercy
Heart of Darkness
The Hiding Place
The Great Gatsby

The hubs said I should tell you about the transition and teaching that took place between The Hiding Place and The Great Gatsby. We read those books, in that order, on purpose. We read The Hiding Place with an eye to Corrie ten Boom's definition of suffering, love and hope. We discussed the depth and hopefulness of the book. Then we moved on to The Great Gatsby.

The kids in my class immediately commented on the hopelessness and shallowness of the book. The setting of TGG is the Roaring Twenties, between the Great War and the Great Depression and in the middle of Prohibition. This was a time of massive wealth and prosperity. No one in the book is starving or ripped away from their families, and yet, it is a very hopeless book. THP is a book set during World War 2 and involves death and starvation and concentration camps. Yet, it is full of hope and love.

Our co-op class to the time to dissect and contrast. We discussed values and eternity. We read scripture and talked of possible applications in the future. We openly confronted our fears of suffering and were reminded of God's faithfulness. What a great topic!

Overall, the lit class was one of the highlights of my year. I've received emails and even a gift from the kids involved. They can see the value of dissecting worldviews now. God is good!

End of the Year 2012-13

The year is coming to a close. We only have a week and a half left. The year has gone very well. In fact, I think it might be the best year we've had so far. Our mornings have been more consistent; Bible, Latin and Health have happened every morning. Score! Because Math has happened very consistently, their learning curve is tremendous. Our afternoons have been free for the most part, allowing for more play time with friends.
High School English Co-op

We were involved in 2 co-ops this year, plus the Olders had another class. The Olders had one of the co-ops on Monday for the purpose of English Grammar and Literature. The Youngers had one co-op on Fridays for the purpose of History, Science, Geography, Current Events and Missions. The extra class was Anatomy.

These two co-ops took up most of our Mondays and Fridays. We still had time for Bible, Latin, Health and Math. (usually!) On Mondays we also had piano and ballet. Mondays have been hectic.

Overall, this year has been a success. I am pleased. We met most of the goals we set for the year. The Olders are better prepared for college. They have read a LOT more this year than last and were completely able to keep up and dialogue. The Youngers are ready for the next year. I feel like their critical thinking skills are more developed. Their ability to follow a syllabus is better defined. Their time management skills are improving.

I can see where I pushed too hard (Latin grammar) and where I didn't push hard enough (writing time, as usual). I have lots of ideas for next year and have already made an outline. History of Art is on the table thanks to a wonderful friend who wants to invest her time and energy in my kids. Yay! Math is purchased already. Science curriculum is bought as well. Trying to decide about the English Co-op.

Beginning of the year goals are crucial! End of the year evaluation is equally as important!

Sit down with your younger kids and together, lay out all the work they've done this year. Watch their confidence swell when they realize what they've accomplished. Sit down with your older kids and discuss your beginning of the year goals. Ask for their input for next year.

Homeschooling when done consistently and enthusiastically will teach your kids far more than simple reading, writing and arithmetic. It teaches them how to function in society. It teaches them to first work hard and then get their reward. It teaches them to push through when they want to give up. So many great lessons!

I'm looking forward to a few weeks OFF! No researching or scheduled planning days. I'm sure I'll be thinking and letting ideas form though.