Friday, July 22, 2011

Homeschooling 2011-2012

In the midst of summer heat and children's boredom I started digging through my homeschooling supplies to try to gather what I will be using this year and sort through what I will not be.  It has been interesting to see what we have accumulated, either from my mom or myself.  I wanted to give some insight as to what is brewing in my mind about this school year for each child.

Last year, Nora and I started Hands on Homeschooling.  We enjoyed it very much but a couple months into it, and I could tell that she was already bored.  Nora is advanced in some areas and needs special attention in others, at this point.  What I loved about Hands on Homeschooling was that she got Bible every day and we focused on one verse for a long period of time, allowing her to memorize it and incorporate it into other areas.  We also learned and focused alot on her letters, which she already knew but I believe it helped bridge the gap between her knowledge of letters and the sounds they make to finally learning how to connect them in phonics.  Half way through the year, we stopped using the curriculum and we focused more on reading.  We purchased and used a program called Reading Eggs, which she enjoyed and will continue to use for some computer time during this school year.

My goal is to start Braden in Hands on Homeschooling during the mornings (while Nora the princess sleeps in) and hopefully that will be a good introduction into schooling for the wild man inside our boy. 

When it became evident to me that this process with Mabel was long term, I debated about sending the kids to our Christian school.  I have prayed about it and tossed the idea around to Daniel, Rachel and a few other people.  It was one day a couple months back when Katie said to me, "I think when things start to settle and feel normal again, you'll be able to do it all.  I think you can teach them both just fine at home..." that I felt the motivation to keep at it.  I wrote and thanked her later for that little bit of encouragement but I wanted to publicly do so now because this is truly what is in my heart for our children--to teach them at home, a curriculum that I believe suits their individual learning needs while focusing on Jesus and expanding their knowledge of the Word.  It's vital, crucial and I am eager to start up this school year in full confidence that we can accomplish big things in our home for these children!  I want to add, however, that at if at any point things are not going the way we planned, I have never been and will never be against sending them to our Christian school to learn.  I am confident in the education that our school would provide them but I am also confident and excited for the calling that God has placed in mine and Daniel's hearts to teach the kids right here, at home.

We are aware that homeschooling is not 'it' for every family.  But we are thankful that God has gifted us with the opportunity and passion to try.  And we will do that until we feel like the kids would learn better elsewhere.  I know God has prepared our home and our hearts for this journey...

Without further delay--
So far for this school year I have a couple of things planned for Nora.  I believe that I am going to start with "Five in a Row" for at least Social Studies (relationships, geography, culture), Literature, some of her Art and Science.  I like the approach that this curriculum takes by focusing on one book for five days.  The books are rich and full of ideas to expand on through each lesson and I believe Nora will enjoy this.  She is very articulate and artistic so I think she will enjoy the repetitive nature of the curriculum yet the diversity that each lesson brings.

There are a few books from "The Learning Company" that we have already started reading.  I think we will continue to work through these until school starts in September but at this point I will be supplementing quite a few of her subjects with My Father's World.  I am still researching some of this curriculum but believe it will be great for reading, Bible, and Math.
Between now and school time, I have also been gathering my supplies which include a handful of amazing homeschooling books.  I have read through some and parts of others and would have a whole list to recommend to anyone who is interested in starting down this path with their child (or children.)
I am thankful for the ability and the freedom to make these choices for our family based on what we believe to be true and right.  Again, I know that this is not the choice that alot of families make.  Some want to pursue homeschooling and cannot for multiple reasons.  I understand that and want to be sensitive to that.

I also want to say that this will truly be our first year as an official homeschooling "family."  I only have a plan in mind but I am aware that my plans can become vapor rather quickly...
For now, the idea is that both kids will be schooling at different times of the day and when Daniel isn't working he'll be joining in on the teaching efforts.  What is most important to us at this particular time in our children's lives is knowing that their hearts are being molded for Jesus.  We want them to feel enriched with the Word and confident to speak about God freely.  We want them to be molded for Jesus first and our world second.  By saying this, I am in no way saying that we do not value their education.  I am simply saying that it falls second to our King.  His Word, we feel, is the most vital part of their growth and learning. 
What we also believe is important (at ages 4 & 5) is being able to learn about life while living it.  That is why I love the idea of homeschooling.  I watch my son struggle everyday to sit down long enough even to eat, let alone to write words over and over on a worksheet.  It's not going to happen.  I recognized that long ago and I believe that I will be able to teach him effectively based on what he needs in order to learn. 
With Braden, I plan on living life with him and teaching him as we go.  And I know he will gather information and store it that way.  He is good like that.

Nora?  Nora will need to write.  Draw.  Color.  Paint. 
Nora will need to be me 21 years ago. 
Seriously, the girl is into it like I was.  And I cannot wait to dive into the school books with her while she learns about a world she didn't know existed inside of books and freshly cut paper.
I am a teacher at heart.  I have always taught and always loved to learn.  I can't wait to instill those same passions and insights into my children because I know they will value them as much as their dad and I do.  I can see inside of them a desire to grow and learn.  They are curious and driven. 
It excites me!

What also excites me is knowing that my children will learn so much from living this new life with Mabel.  They will learn lessons that other children may never know.  Some may be difficult but I know they will grow in grace and mercy for others.  And for that I am thankful. 

I am looking forward to this school year!  I have so much to get ready and plan but I know that by prayer and dedication to His purpose, God will gift us with days that we will cherish for our lifetime! 
These days are the greatest of our lives and I can't wait to see what we will all learn...

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