Monday, March 31, 2008

Profiling Home Educators

    Profiling Home Educators Monday, March 31
    Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?

I am a fairly young mom who will be 33 in a couple of weeks, I have been married since I was 19 to the same man;) We have 6 children. 3 boys aged 13, 10, and 4. One daughter who was stillborn almost 6 years ago and 1 living daughter who is 2.5. We are expecting number six at the beginning of September.
I met my husband in Bible college and we were married within the year. We have lived in northern BC and all over Alberta. I have traveled to a few European countries as well as to Guatemala, the Bahamas and the western United States.
I love to write, love to read even more and I adore digital scrapbooking. It fulfills my need for artistic pursuits as well as documents our life as a family.
When we started our home educating journey, 5 years ago, I really had no idea what to expect and it seems that we are always making it up as we go along. We tend to try to get our book work done in the mornings, but it is always an adventure with 2 preschoolers running around and climbing on the boys backs.
I think our favorite times are field trips and afternoons with friends. We are starting to incorporate a tea time which has been a lot of fun and a needed break from mom nagging and kids slacking. We read books and check out interesting things on the internet. I would love to add some art appreciation to this time and we have already added music.
We are Christians, so that really affects our home education. We all love to start our day with bible reading and prayer. The boys love to pick their own passages to read and are always eager to do some memorization. I am loving this opportunity to fill their hearts with the things of God.
The little kids are often a big distraction but they are learning so much from their brothers and their brothers are learning patience and problem solving and tons of valuable people skills. I am so proud of my children's sibling relationships, they are all very close and I wonder if that would be so if they all went their own ways each day.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Home Education Week: Looking Back

Looking Back Sunday, March 30
    Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.

Well before I was a mother, I was a student. Before I was a home educator, I was seriously considering becoming a student again. We had 2 boys in kindergarten and grade 3 in our local public school. I spent most of that year in my boys' school, in their classrooms and in the library volunteering. I helped 3 grade 3 boys with severe literacy issues, shelved books in the library and hung out with the 5 year olds. It was a ton of fun and kept me busy.

Every day, someone would tell me that I should either go back to school and get my teaching degree or take some courses and get a job as an aide in the school. I did not want to be a teacher. At all.

I enjoyed the daily interactions with the other parents and teachers. I hung out on the playground after kindy and made a big effort to befriend other moms. Sunny days were the best, there were always lots of us watching the kids and commiserating about our parenting experiences.

I had been working the year before at the gym, but it was in our old neighbourhood and I decided it was too big a deal to go that far anymore.
One thing we didn't have a lot of time for was socializing with our best friends, our weeks were packed. And my dh was often out of town, so our evenings and weekends were often lonely.

I had always considered homeschooling as a possibility. I had felt that when B went to grade one, I should have pulled him out of school. He was already growing bored in the classroom, though he thrived on the social aspects. By grade three, he had become a bit sullen and had an attitude about school. It wasn't worth his effort anymore, he figured. He had experienced some bullying the years previous and I am sure that contributed to his attitude.

R loved kindergarten, though the idea of it and the first couple months caused a nervous habit that he has kept to this day. Nail biting. ick.

My best friend was a home educator already and she worked on me for months, we wanted more time to hang out! She told me about all the cool activities her kids were involved with, I was jealous. When spring came and I found out I was pregnant, it seemed like the perfect time to start. I wasn't going to be going back to university if I had a new baby, so we decided to start home educating that fall.

That first year was wonderful. I loved the freedom. We got to spend our days doing what we liked. We had activities with home school friends 2 days a week and did schooly stuff 2 or 3 mornings a week. We got to hang out with our bestest friends 3 or 4 days a week. In the spring when my husband had to go up north to work, we all went with him. Freedom!
After Christmas, when we had our new baby, we were able to take things easy and not bundle him up every morning to take the boys to class. We did what we were able to, without a lot of pressure or worry.

When we decided it was time to move to a different city, I have to say there were things that I really missed about my kids being in school. I missed the daily opportunities for adult interactions. I was very lonely. It took me a long time to become connected in our new town. I still haven't gotten hugely involved in the home educating community here, but I do have a small core of friends.

I also felt bad that the boys didn't have that school environment to meet new kids. Luckily there are some boys in our cul-de-sac that they immediately made a connections to. Unfortunately they don't see much of them in the winter months as everyone is in school and activities.
The last few years I have often felt that the academics were suffering as we kept adding to our family. We now have a 4 year old and a 2.5 year old, so things are getting easier, just in time to welcome our next bundle in September. Yikes!

Although there are ups and downs, and I feel like a failure as a home educator more often than not, I wouldn't trade our life now for anything. I love having my children in my home. I love that they have retained so much innocence and child-likeness for so much longer than many of their peers. I am glad that they have so little awareness of so many things that are so important to others their age. Like fashion and coolness and being 'in'. I am so thankful that they are best friends who care about each other and look out for each other and are terrific older siblings.
I love that we can pick up and go whenever we like, without having to worry about 'school'. We get to go to the pool and zoo and wherever else we like, when there are no crowds.

And I know my kids. I don't have to send them off each day, not knowing what they are doing and what has been said to them. I may not have a lot of free time on my hands, I may miss my quiet mornings on my own, but I have my kids in my heart and my home. My house may be a mess, but I now know myself better than ever and have real hobbies and interests of my own to pursue. Like blogging;)

Friday, March 28, 2008

Apparently my boys LOVE poetry. Love! I gave them an assignment to pick out a poem to memorize and present next Thursday. Last night they kept running into my room to tell me about the poems they were picking. At one point, R. had 3 poems pretty much memorized already and kept coming to tell me them.
Not only do they love to read poems, they love to write them. Their journals for the last few weeks have been full of poetry. It is kind of funny because I have never formally taught them poetry. When they show an interest in a type of poetry I will explain it. Like on St Patty's I told them the rhyme scheme of Limericks. They have done a ton of Haiku, but for the most part they do free verse and couplets. And they are happy as clams. I need to keep out of it for them to love it, it seems.

Today's freewrite topic was to describe a ride in an airplane. My bloodthirsty boys both decided to write about plane crashes instead. They are quite into that idea! I am interested to see how much mayhem they can create in one story.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday teatime

We did our first official tea time today. Other than some wrestling between the 13 year old and the 4 year old, it went well.
We started off reading The Royal Canadian Mounted Police by Marc Tetro. It is a picture book for 4-8 year olds I would think and has amusing drawings that all the kids enjoyed. Then we started The Jungle Book, an illustrated one that I bought years ago and never read. All 3 boys seemed to be really into it and the older style of writing doesn't seem to be an issue. We stopped at page 26, just after the wolves accept Mowgli as part of the pack.
The children then each chose a poem from Favorite Poems Old and New selected by Helen Ferris to read and I read Written in March by William Wordsworth. I gave the older boys an assignment to pick a poem to memorize for next week.
Monkey Boy and I did some Hershey Kisses Math before the big boys joined us, Monkey's choice. It is a multiplication and division book, but he was really into it and seemed to at least grasp the basics of the multiplication part. I would like to find a similar addition book.
Next we opened the laptop and went to the Classics for Kids website where we listened to 4 shows about Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the composer of the Flight of the Bumblebee. I think next time we will just do one show, even though they are just 6 minutes long, we were all restless by the end.
We headed on over to News Flash Five, a news for kids site I found on PBS. I am gonna go through some of the lesson plans and maybe incorporate some of them into our weeks.
I thought we would spend some time looking at some art books, but we were all tired of sitting by then and I gave the kids their poetry assignment and told them that they could actually have their computers back today to blog. I can't wait to read them, I have missed their blogging.
Oh, biggest brother read a really cute version of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and Monkey has been reciting it all day.

I can't wait to try this again next week. It is nice to just relax together, read and talk.
If anyone has some good art appreciation websites, would you please share?

Friday, March 14, 2008

I have been feeling uninspired and overwhelmed both as a teacher and as a mother. Today I decided to do something about it.
I actually sat with the children while they ate breakfast today and then I stayed at the table with them for the whole morning. We did our bible reading together and prayed, really prayed. I wrote down our prayer list on the calendar so we would have a visual reminder. I had each child at least make a prayer of thanksgiving if nothing else. I had fallen out of these habits and allowed myself to be lazy and selfish, spending more and more time doing my own things during the school day and less time with the boys.
The boys then did their math and spelling and are now completing their English smart and limericks, R will do his science and social worksheets too. I just caught R with his hand in the back of the workbook holding the answer page, so I cut out the answer keys. ugh.
I have discovered that R really responds well to worksheets. I have tried so hard to stay away from worksheets, but he really loves the feeling of accomplishment he gets by finishing them. I may have to look at ACE for next year for him and maybe supplimenting unit studies with tons of books like my bff does. B is the one I am really concerned about, we need to make decisions about high school for him and I feel a bit overwhelmed by the options and the future. Praying for God's guidance.
I think I will run downstairs and get Juju' kindy stuff and organize it so that he and I can work together while I supervise the others. The 2 little guys are very distracting to the older ones with all the running around and yelling! I am also gonna make some more play dough, it is a great distraction for half an hour. A also loves to paint so I need to make a real effort to do those things with them on school mornings. Oh! And reading aloud for when the bigger boys don't need my help.
I would like to read all of the children The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland in the next couple of months. I have actually never read them myself and I think we can all enjoy them. We will also be concentrating on poetry during our tea-times. Fun!
Because the boys neglected their school and household chores this week, we need to do school tomorrow. I don't imagine that will go over well.
Lots of extra-curriculars happening around here. We went to the zoo on the weekend with my sister and niece, it was interesting to see the animals starting to shed their winter coats and others still pure white like the arctic timber wolves. So beautiful. We discovered that camels grow a very shaggy, thick coat in winter and it is falling off in clumps now. Spring and fall are my favourite times to visit the zoo. The animals are much more active than in the heat of summer. Of course you run the risk of being a voyeur to animal mating in spring. I can't tell you how many times we had to explain to our very small children that no the daddy lion was not hurting the lady lions... I do think that animal reproduction and mortality are wonderful ways of broaching those subjects with children. It is so matter-of-fact and easy to see from a scientific viewpoint.
On Wed. the boys both had bible study and we had a homeschool get-together with 4 other families. The mommy's try to learn a bit and share, while the kids play together. There could be up to 23 kids (so far I think the most we have had was 15) ranging in age from my youngest at 2 to my oldest at 13 and 3-5 girls and the rest are boys. For all that energy, we barely hear from them and there are surprisingly few altercations.
Both boys are going to be testing for their green belts at approximately their 1 year anniversary of taekwondo. I am so proud of them, they have worked very hard at it. They also are both in hockey playoffs and tournaments from now into April. So lots going on here.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Home Education Outlawed in California???

I am absolutely appalled that these judges in California are taking away parents rights to teach their own children, to decide what is right for their own children.
Check out this Dr. Dobson episode for all the details.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Not much has changed.

Wow, I can't believe that I have neglected writing here for so long. There is not a lot to tell. I am still feeling frustrated often with my children's lack of motivation and drive. I don't get it. But I do know that I need to make more of an effort to be completely present to them as opposed to being distracted with other things. Like blogging:)
A girlfriend gave me an idea last week that she has started with her kids. If they do not finish their book work by noon they have to pay a fine. I told my kids that the fine is $2. For each hour after that the fine is an additional dollar. Last week, in 2 days I collected $15 dollars. Not good. They seriously need to learn to just get down to business. We will see how this week goes. Either they will figure out how to use their time wisely or I will be going for a really nice dinner with my husband.
Here is a pic of my son blogging. It was my tricky way of getting them writing this year, they both really like it. Unfortunately I had to take away their computers after New Year's because they were cruising the internet when they were supposed to be blogging. ugh. Maybe we will be able to try it again by the end of this week.