You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2007.

Serrefina was the winning word in the 80th Scripts National Spelling Bee. I love to watch this each year and love the prime time showing of the finals – great way to award academics and the combo of ABC/ESPN gives it a true competition feel. How funny to see Mike and Mike as commentators.

The winner was 11 year-old Evan O’Dorney and he was hilarious in that he finds the spelling bee “just a bunch of memorization” and he doesn’t like the spelling bee as much as math and music. Bright and funny, what a combination.

For many this can be a loaded topic, but I do not think that it has to be. 🙂 My friend over at 5 Kids and A Dog, created a meme based on homeschooling. It started with a post from another friend MLBAH and that was prompted by MommyZabs. MommyZabs has also posted a few questions addressing the subject. In the meantime, OnlySometimesClever (I think she is quite clever more than just sometimes) took the topic and ran with it and then Just Enough has linked to that and Bloggerings has added her insight. I share all of that so that if you are remotely considered homeschooling that you will have several wise references in which to start your investigative journey.

Now back to moi….I will combine the meme and questions from MZ into one post.

I have 2 children and the eldest is almost 5 (in July) and the youngest is 3. I always knew that I wanted to stay home until my kids were 5 and then I would return to work. My dh, then fiance, was not keen on stay-at-home moms but God specializes in miracles and now he encourages others to figure out how to live off of 1 income as he thinks it is the next best thing since sliced bread. 😀 I have been home for 5 years and it all started with some health issues with our dd that arose 3.5 months after her birth.

1. Did you always know you would home-school?

Education is very valuable to me and more valuable is learning how to learn. My parents did not go to college yet at the time we were capable of a solidly middle class lifestyle. My grandfather didn’t go to college but he read the newspaper everyday and instilled that in me when I was knee high to a grasshopper. While my parents didn’t go to college they both had common sense and they used that to seek out the best for me. I went to public school but because of my parents and their involvement, I was encouraged to try anything and everything and told that I could be anything that I wanted and I believed it. That drove me and still does as I do not think that anything is too hard or impossible. God did bless me with a brain that took in information like a sponge and as a result I was in honors classes and was exposed to things that other kids weren’t because they were merit based. I had a full ride to college and my parents were very proud and still are and while not initial proponents of homeschooling they both now readily admit how well behaved and smart my kids are, of course some of that needs to be run through the Nana/Pop-Pop filter of they are so cute and can’t do anything wrong. 🙂

2. What led you to the decision to home-school?

As my dh and I looked at the schools in our community, we knew that we were not going to send our babies to public school. Our church had a lot of homeschooling families and I started researching the topic when dd turned 3. I was an eager beaver at that point and would buy all sorts of things that people recommended – good things but things that didn’t work for me. I really started praying that if God wanted us to do this that He would just show us the way. I love reading and had been doing storytime with the kids at the library and decided one day to see what kind of books they had on homeschooling. I was pleasantly surpised that they had a nice selection and I took out a few on learning styles (Cynthia Tobias) and started researching. I figured I needed to know how they learned and how I learned to figure all of this out.

During the same time, my church started a classical education structured school and it pretty much decimated the homeschooling family network at our church as well as the stay-at-home mom network because many of the moms were recruited to work at the school. 😦 The school averages over $6,000 and I told my dh that I thought that was ridiculous for the 3 r’s of reading, writing and arithmetic and they started at the age of 2. I saw a schedule of their day for the 3 year old class and 2 hours was nap/quiet time and then there was 45 minutes for lunch so 3 hours were spent not doing any learning. I really thought about that and how much fun I had being home with my kids and watching their new discoveries and just their inquisitive nature that I really didn’t want to ship them off for 7 hours.

Very important component to homeschooling – husband and wife being on same page if not husband willing to be supportive of wife until without a word wife wins him over. My husband is my biggest supporter. He knows that no matter the current trends that I have researched and prayed and researched and prayed about our purchases before coming to him and he is always wanting to know what I need to make it a success. I think that is very important.

3. What age were your children when you decided to take the home-school plunge?

I started homeschooling with dd was about 3.5 with some easy basic stuff like colors, alphabet recognition and the like. We played, did storytime and took it easy. When she turned 4, we created a bit more structure (if I have none, I am capable of getting nothing done), and started using The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading and other things that I was finding on the internet. I came up with different scripture for memorization and off we went. Storytime was still 1x a week and we would load up with books at the library. I still didn’t feel completely at peace that I was not doing them a disservice being that I hadn’t purchased a box curriculum set and the like. So, I read Home Sweet Homeschool by Sue Maakestad. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone considering homeschooling.

Now,mind you the whole time I am teaching dd, ds is right there so when he was 2 he knew all of his colors, alphabet/number recognition, scripture verses, etc. so he caused me to do some re-thinking once again. Yes, re-thinking/retooling is a key part to homeschooling. Homeschooling for us is not a thing that we do, it is how we live. I can now turn just about anything into a learning opportunity. That has rubbed off on my dh and he does the same thing. It rubs off on our kids that they immediately start to think about something and then come the questions. At this stage they are naturally inquisitive so encourage that and don’t try to squash it.

4. Did you have any fears? What were they? Were they realized? 6. If you could name one thing that inspired you most to home-school, what was it? 8. Are some of your children easier to home-school than the others? 9. Lastly. Do you feel anyone is capeable of home-schooling? And do you feel every child is capeable of home-schooling? What would be an exception?

I still have fears about homeschooling but I don’t live with a spirit of fear. God has moved me to a place in which I can rest in that this is what He has called me to do and therefore know that He will give me what I need to get it done. This is my inspiration for homeschooling – knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do. It is a sacrifice but as in the Word – obedience is better than a sacrifice. I think that any mom who is led to homeschool can homeschool no matter what her educational background. I say led because if you are not led to homeschool it is like anything else in life, you will not enjoy what you are doing and you will not give it your all. Half-stepping at work will still get you a paycheck but half-stepping at home with the education of your children can have generational impacts far beyond what the eye can see.

As for children, I think all children can be homeschooled because at the core of anything and everything in life is obedience. I have a SIL that was an elementary principal and she would comment how her teachers had to spend 15-20 minutes calming children down. If your child does not obey you at home then he/she will not obey their teacher in school. It is really that simple! Teaching obedience, respect for others and their property, is the responsibility of the parents not teachers.

In terms of some children being easier to homeschool, I would think that if you have a child that has the same learning style as you do then it is easier to teach them because they learn like you and thus your job is easier. However, like Jesse Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, Ruth Beechick and Susan Schaeffer Macauley, we should strive to teach via all learning styles not just the dominant. My ds is very auditory, like me, so even if he isn’t looking like he is paying attention, he hears everything that you say and can repeat it back to you. Whereas my dd is more visual/kinetic in how she gathers information and I love how God uses her to stretch me outside of my comfort zone because I want to make sure that she undersands. Is it frustrating, at times, but when she gets it, all the frustrating moments are gone. 🙂

5. Do you know a lot of other home-schoolers in your real-life community? (cyberworld does not count for this question!)

As mentioned earlier, the homeschooling community at my church was decimated but there are few women that still homeschool and I consider them dear friends. Their children are older than mine but they still provide good counsel and serve as great sounding boards. Also, I attend a monthly support group jsut for moms, kiddies are left at home, and our group is on summer break. It is a group of all Christian women and there is a different topic each week. There are quite a few homeschool groups in the area and co-ops and the like and we are in prayer about joining a co-op this upcoming year.

7. How do you choose your curriculum?

Research is key to homeschooling. You will find that homeschool is not as narrowly defined as some would think and that their are anomalies within all of the subsets. I recently went to a homeschool fair for my state and while there were Mennonites, Catholics, Baptists, and a host of others and we all looked different. Nonetheless we were all there with the common goal of giving our children the best. There are choices upon choices for homeschooling and I think defining your educational goals and seeing where they line up (classical, CM, literature based, etc.) will help define your curriculum choices. My advice is to not be swayed that the grass is greener at someone else’s school because of this and that. Each of us is uniquely made as are our children, so keep the uniqueness that is a joy to homeschooling.

While, I could probably go on, I will end here. There are a plethora of homeschooling moms out there and while I do not want this to be a meme, I am going to name a few and if they are so inclined, I do hope that they will share their thoughts and even if they don’t, you have some sites to check out of some awesome homeschoolers – Mother Crone, MuddyBoots, Satisfied Housewife, Classical Reading and Writing (she has authored some awesome copybooks form the classical perspective), From the Narrows, and HiddenArt. There are more, lots more, so tag it and go reading.

I know some of you are wondering what the kids are learning being that I haven’t posted. Today we continued home economics by going grocery shopping. 🙂

Seriously, we have had a small lull as I have had to get a few thing together and we have been moving at a snail’s pace. I had to provide an incentive for dd to finish the Bob books and that is working. Why a 4 1/2 yo wants an umbrella is beyond me but if that is what takes to finish all 12 books than an umbrella it is. Ds wants an incentive but he is 3 so it is more of I want to be like her and get something, I told him I would think about it (that will buy me about 3 days).

MSNBC has an article about homeschooling during high school. It actually was pretty positive even with the social questions as if being social is the prime reason for high school. Quick, painless read for those that are there and those of us that are light years from there.

Yesterday we read some fun books. Animalia, Lunchtime for Purple Snake, and Hoptoad. The kids really liked Lunchtime for Purple Snake and it is one of many books that I keep sharing with them to encourage art appreciation.
Animalia Purple Snake Hoptoad

Also, we finally finished the audio version of Charlotte’s Web so they watched the video – yippee!!! It was delightful to see their expressions about Templeton and the rest of the characters.

Many are winding down their homeschool efforts and we are going to just keep on going with a lighter schedule for the summer. DD needs to read daily and copywork 3x a week to help her with handwriting and we are going to throw in lots of fun and exciting things as the outdoors continue to beckon.

Today, was the first real day of introducing skip counting via MUS. I have been introducing the concept through books (most titles are mentioned in previous posts, check the sidebar) and other items in everyday life. I made some number lines that are for skip counting by 2’s, 3’s, 5’s and 10’s.
Skip counting number lines

Also, I did a worksheet to supplement the book as a gentle introduction to skip counting.by 2’s worksheet

By happenstance, dd found another skip counting book at the library – Cat up a tree by John and Ann Hassett. It skip counts by 5’s and is a cute story that the dc both enjoyed.
Cat up a tree

We also read Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. The fornt of the book reminds me of our books growing up when your book cover was a brown paper bag. The book lets kids imaginations run wild with a rabbit and the different things that he imagines his box is even though to him it is never just a box.
Not a box

The last book that we read today was A Frog in the Bog by Karma Wilson. My ds loves rhyming books and this was perfect plus it counts from 1-5 and back again. The frog keeps eating various things while on a log in a bog until a rather unfortunate event happens with a gator in which all of the food items leave the frog’s stomach (it was rather tight in there) and he no longer sits on a log. Great illustrations and a nice read.
A frog in the bog

I also liked these books because dd can read the titles and it enforces her reading skills.

After being inspired by another MUS user, I went to Wal-Mart and purchased a fishing tackle box to store all of our blocks. Now, they are all organized and it is compact and portable in case the beach or the park calls us. 🙂
MUS Blocks

Okay, so all week is Teacher Appreciation Week and as a tribute, Learning Page has opened a site a day for free after you fill out a quick form. I didn’t find much to download the first 2 days but today I downloaded a bunch of awesome level readers for the dc from Reading A-Z. Most of the readers are also available in French and Spanish so that furthers dd desire to learn Spanish and now I have some readers that are also level appropriate as we head down that road. If you hurry, you still have until 11:59 p.m. EST to download to your hearts desire and tomorrow they are opening Writing A-Z and on Friday Vocabulary A-Z where you can generate your own vocab lists and more. Don’t cha just love free stuff.

We pretty much did the whole road trip thing last week so I did wake up this morning with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. Usually if time is skipped, the dc have brain fog and whew it can be thick like pea soup. 🙂 Today was different – hallelujah! I eased into some things and both did great and dd did wonderful on her addition. There was a mini-meltdown before dinner when I had the audacity to ask her to actually think about reading a rookie reader book by herself. I let her know I was there to help while I cooked but after 3 pages of her only, then 3 pages of us, she just decided that crying would get her out of it. I just let her put it down and later when dh came home, I asked him to go through it with her. Of course, he does it his way (read not mindful of the phonics rules and the like) so I just let the 2 of them be and she finished the book. After finishing she and ds were doodling so she spells the word smile which had caused the meltdown. What in the world?!?!? 😮

Tomorrow will be another light day as I have to tackle some things in the house and grocery shopping since we were gone for like a week. All in all, it was a good day.

Dh had to go to Durham for work and like last year, we tagged along. Unlike last year, we added another destination – Winston Salem to see his brother and wife. I like to keep the dc busy while on these trips so I planned our day and I also overpacked other activities like library books, books on cd, educational videos and the like to make the car ride more enjoyable for the adults. 🙂

While in Durham, we visited the Museum of Life and Science. We went to this museum last year but were a bit rushed so this time around the goal was spend all day and take our time. My mom accompanied us on this trip so we started off going to Wal-mart Supercenter (oh, how I wish there was one of these near me 😦 ). After purchases of lunch products and other items it was off to the museum.

If you are ever in Durham, you must check this place out. They have a butterfly conservatory that my dc have talked about for a year and they were quite excited to go back. We started off with a train ride and here is the princess next to the train.
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Of course, we went to check out the insects which are in the building with the butterflies. Here is an African Horned beetle – he was huge!
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For some reason, maybe it is just because he is 3 and a boy, ds was in his usual ornery mood.
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Magic Wings – the butterfly house – is just great. Here is a beautiful butterfly that when he is in flight, his wings are a brilliant turquoise blue and a picture of one of the little birdies running around…this one bumped into my feet.
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The museum has added a small nature park that has bears, wolves, and lemurs.
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We were only able to get these pictures once the school groups went away as the kids were way to loud to encourage the animals to come close so I was so thankful that I was not on a schedule. 🙂

They are in the process of adding 2 more exhibits that look really cool. One is about wind and how it makes things moves and the other is on dinosaurs. Overall, we were totally pleased with our time there and the kids had a great time.

We journeyed to Winston-Salem and while dh played golf with his brother and SIL went to work we were left to our own devices. Based on some recommendations, we ventured to SciWorks. Once again, lunch was packed so we were ready for a visit that could last all day. Once again, the school children were present as it was raining in Winston-Salem but I can outlast them so I endured them until 1 p.m. and then just like magic they all vanished. I have nothing against school children, my issue is with the chaperones who think their job is something besides the children.

Anyhoo, SciWorks was a new experience for all of us but it was fun. A lot of different exhibits ranging from North Carolina wetlands, the human body, energy, sound, animals, and more. The princess took a picture with one of the stuffed animals, in this case a cheetah.
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One of the most exciting places for the children (and my mom and I) was the folk toys area. There was a track set up where the kids had to exert energy by swivel action of the handlebars on these little carts and my dc took to it and had the track to themselves and I even got out there and was Jeff Gordon and won. 🙂 Other kids joined in and there were only a few crashes. The wooden toys really captivated my attention especially when I saw the joy the kids (mine and others) had from playing with them. The key to these toys is their simplicity. I took some pictures and I am actually toying with the idea of making some myself.
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We had a great time and it was hands-on school as we didn’t fit in much more *formal* schooling while we were away so next week should prove interesting.

Our Scripture

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. ~Psalm 1:3

Something to think about…

"I never teach my pupils: I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." ~ Albert Einstein
May 2007
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