Monday, October 22

Cooperation is...

...the attitude which I get maybe 50% of the time from my kiddos. favorite part of marriage we all make it through and instill in our kids the education and character they need.

I am not one to fully endorse the "It takes a village" mentality of raising children. I am more in the camp of "It takes two parents." But I do see the merits of and benefit from having a village around me. A community: A whole bunch of interested and intentional helpers.

  • One of my communities is my church. I have never, never, never had anyone in my worship community (i.e. church) respond negatively to me because I homeschool. A big, "THANK YOU" to all my people who show their love to me and my kids just by saying, "That's cool," and occasionally asking them what they are learning. (Love that question, by the way. Keep putting it in front of them!)

  • One of my communities is my family. My parents have really supported us in this endeavor. My mother worked in the school system for years and she truly understands that all of life is a learning experience. When traveling in the car with the boys she’ll do math problems with them (how is it that Grandma’s make math seem so fun?). She’ll send them postcards from her travels with interesting facts about where they are visiting. She even waits to call us until the afternoon when we are more likely to be done with school. The way she (and my dad too) give me blessing and support is awesome. My brother and his wife have a 3-year-old daughter and they decided to homeschool her before she was even born. So, I don’t feel like I have to justify myself at all with my family. I accept this for the huge blessing that it is.

  • A third community I have around me are my neighbors. Again, many homeschoolers have to justify their choices to their skeptical neighbors. I live in a circle of eight houses in which live a pair of grandparents whose children homeschool; a family with three boys who homeschooled them until 6th grade and the father teaches some classes for the homelink program in our school district; a family with a son my middle son’s age (1st grade) who has become my homeschooling buddy as they have decided to educate him at home as well. Everyone else is just nice. How cool is that?!

  • My fourth community is my co-op group. We love, love, love this group. Every Friday for 8 weeks each semester we gather to teach each other’s kids and help one another along. There are about 45 families involved. When I walk in each week I feel like I’m among people who understand me even if I don’t know their name and even though every household does it differently. It is essential for this homeschooler to know that she isn’t alone and to be able to share the struggles of the day to day or at least roll her eyes and sigh a bit and get away with it. This is what happens at “Friday School”. It is a good, good thing.

So, while I don’t want to hand my children over to others to do the teaching and the raising, I DO want to put myself into supportive communities who can encourage me as their teacher and them as life learners.

Monday, October 8

Show and Tell

In line with my invitation to feel free to ask us about our day, I also issue an invitation to come to what I hope will be our more-frequent "open house" days. We just started them today. My parents were the guests of honor (on their way out of state) and I think we knocked their socks off.

We showed them all the big projects we've completed in six weeks of dinosaur/creation study:

4 dinos made out of clay
3 sketches on the wall
1 4-line poem
2 newspaper/feature stories
1 greenhouse
1 rough draft paragraph about dino teeth
1 final paragraph about Styracosaurus
2 handmade fossil books
1 homemade dinosaur game with 20 trading cards on 10 different dinos
1 "fossil" of the baby's hands
4 creation scientist biographies
A bunch of clay dinosaur bones to find in the sand
2 Powerpoint presentations contrasting creation and evolution
Some memorized Bible verses
And a whole bunch of decorated dinosaur sugar cookies

This is a great way to give the boys a chance to teach some of what they've learned. It's all a part of the learning process. And we all know that we really learn stuff once we've taught it.

And if you don't come for anything else, come for the cookies.

Thursday, October 4

What We Did Today

When people discover I am a homeschooler they usually respond with, "I could never do that." (It makes me want to reach out and hug them and say, "Yes, you can!") It's very rare that the conversation continues and if it does it never moves into the structure of our day. It's sad because I love to talk about what we do.

One of the only people (who is not a homeschooling mom) who has ever asked me, "So, what does your day look like ?" Is my friend, Katie. She is in her second year as a teacher (of high school drama). I don't get many chances, but talking to classroom teachers is something I love to do to. Afterwards I feel encouraged, enlightened and totally ready to keep doing what I'm doing. When I find out someone is a classroom teacher my first thought is actually, "Oh, I could never do that!" So, when a teacher asks me about our day I actually feel honored.

So, for those who wonder what our day is like, here you go (By the way, I am teaching a 4th grade level student and a K/1st level student):

6:00 Up with baby, put him back to sleep and go back to bed

7:00 Older boys wake up and argue over something. Their dad breaks it up and takes a shower.

7:40 Baby wakes up happy so he's done sleeping and so am I

8:00 My husband feeds the boys breakfast while I get ready for the day

8:15 I eat breakfast

9:00 We do Bible study together. Read the verses, answer some questions from the Explorer's Bible Study. We're doing Luke and Acts this year. We all take turns praying. This is new for us. It was time to do it as a family.

Today is our last day of our 6 week unit on dinosaurs/creation, etc.

9:30 Read our last page from D is for Dinosaur by Ken Ham (I'm teaching them a pretty strong young earth creation viewpoint, and telling them how evolutionist viewpoint differs) and talk about the word “zeal” as well as how to talk respectfully to people who are different from us. The boys are squirrly for this.

Then we make some dinosaurs out of clay and bake them. Ben chose the Kronosaurus and Jake did the Quetzocoatolus. Tomorrow they will write something about that dino. The baby went down for a nap while my husband helped the boys finish.

We forget to do Math.

10:30 They take a break and build a fort out of blankets and the card table

11:00 We begin what we call "stations."

J's are: penmanship, how to address a formal letter (to a Senator, attorney, physician, etc.), reading, memory verse (bean bag game today), vocabulary (match 50 words on index cards to their spoken definition as a review), and studying a creation scientist from the past (today it was Linnaeus).

B's are: Creative drawing (draw someone you could speak respectfully to and use word bubbles), Phonics worksheet, reading aloud to me (practicing words with the long U sound), memory verse game with J, word review (categorizing words on his word wall), and copying a greenhouse explanation to go with the greenhouse we planted 6 weeks ago.

Baby wakes up. It was a good nap today.

12:15 lunchtime

12:45 They each finished up their last station and then they played I Spy on the computer… because it hadn’t dawned on me that we hadn’t done Math.

1:30 The neighborhood boys, being on early release today, came looking for them and they went off on their bikes to “socialize” while I did laundry with the baby in tow.

Normally in that first block of time I alternate doing Math with each boy while the other one plays on his own, or does a chore for the day. But they both have done more than enough Math for the week, so I'm not worried about it.

It was a pretty good day. Sometimes I have to pull J along if he's in a negative attitude, but today he managed pretty well. B is usually always excited to do everything. They are both feeling the beginnings of a cold today, but the beauty of homeschooling is they can still get at least some of their work done and they don't have to miss. We do as much as they feel up to doing on days like this.

So, that's a glimpse.

Tuesday, October 2

Time to Speak

I'm tired of the stereotypes. I realize that stereotypes come from ignorance and that I, too, stereotype people frequently enough. But I understand my own ignorance and I'm willing to own up to it.

People homeschool for different reasons and in different ways. I do not fit into the mold of homeschooling the way you, dear reader, may think of homeschooling. (See there, I just stereotyped you)
1. I do not homeschool my kids to isolate them or shelter them from society. We attend our weekly worship in a beer pub for Pete's sake.
2. I do not homeschool my kids so I can teach them that global warming is just a scam, that Republicans are God's chosen party, or even that the male is the head of the household. I teach them the opinions and knowledge on all sides whenever I can educate myself enough to do it proper justice. I try to vocalize the phrase, "That's a good question," quite a bit.
3. I do not homeschool my kids because I am anti-public school. It's just that in reality a classroom-based school doesn't have the capacity to customize and teach to the strengths of the child while building up their weaknesses. And I have one child in particular who requires customizing.
4. I do not homeschool my kids so they can think they are better than other kids. I teach them that we are to be servants of all. (Hopefully they'll actually catch on one day)
5. I do not homeschool my kids so that I can think I am better than any other mother. We all take our own path. Parenting is one huge experiment and I am inspired by many, but I learn from all.

I cannot speak for other homeschoolers. We are all trying to do good work, but we are all different. Please don't put us all in a box together.

I have tried to find a homeschooler's blog out there that comes from a woman operating in a missional context. I haven't found it. So, I guess this is it.

I don't have time for this. But I've been pushed over the edge.
It's time to speak.