Tuesday, January 15

Why I Chose to Do This

The last post was a way of getting to the point of why I’m glad I decided to homeschool. It’s not one of the first reasons, just one of the first rewards.

If I were to enumerate the reasons why I decided to homeschool they would go something like this:

  1. I was a stay at home mom who wanted to do intentional learning activities with my kids. Like I’ve said before education is one of my passions and there are so many great learning activities you can do after reading a great picture book. So, we did many of those when J was two and three.
  2. J’s third year I decided to focus on things that might help him to eat. (He’s a super picky eater.) I decided to have some fun with one new food each month…stories, crafts, cooking, etc. It turned into a whole curriculum for pre-school. We had so much fun with that.
  3. J wanted to learn to read when he was four. (I mean he smacked his finger on the page of the book and said, “Mom, WHAT does this word SAY!?”). He knew all the letters and their sounds. I just needed to teach him to blend them together. Just a few weeks later, he read his first phonics reader. Essentially, he is a natural learner and I spotted that in him.
  4. Knowing how to read already, having a finely tuned memory, adding, reciting whole videos, correcting his parents’ sentences when we mis-spoke… What…was I going to put this child in Kindergarten? That would be a waste of time.
  5. I knew several homeschooling families by this time. I ENJOYED talking to their kids. Teens in other school settings had a very hard time talking to adults (and, yes, I was around them on the youth staff at a church). I also was impressed that the homeschooled Jr. High and High School kids had a good sense of who they were. They weren’t floundering with IDENTITY. These families had their quirks to be sure because we all do, but the result of their efforts was impressive to me. Plus, I found out that all the mothers actually DID have college degrees (Sheesh, I was naive about homeschoolers).
  6. By the time J was Kindergarten age it was highly evident that learning how to behave in a social situation would not happen for him within the confines of a social situation, if that makes any sense at all. Some kids can go into a class and just figure out the structure, pecking order, and expectations. Not, J. He would have demanded that the class become his. And his demand would have been loud, disruptive, obstinate and even violent. I couldn’t put a teacher through that and I couldn’t detract from the education of 15 other little children like that. He was my responsibility and I decided to keep him home and ease him into social situations as he could handle them.

So, that in a nutshell is my list of reasons for why I decided to homeschool. You might note what’s NOT there. Since beginning five years ago I have added on some other reasons. I’ve also seen some good benefits emerge, that have turned up as reasons on other people’s lists. But these were things that I didn’t know would happen, so I can’t call them a reason, because then I would be taking credit for the blessing God chose to give me.

Next: Reasons Why I’m Glad I Made This Choice

Tuesday, January 8

Something's Changed

Something’s changed in my son.

When he was 2 years old he knew all his letters and by 2.5 all their sounds. By 3.5 he was trying to read. By 4 he was asking me to teach him. And so I did. By 5 we had to stop spelling things to keep them secret. By 6 he was flawlessly reading his own birthday cards. And at 8, he reads at a 12th grade level. The world has opened up for him because of this skill. But as big as that is, something even bigger has changed.

When he was two we enjoyed time together, playing catch, building with blocks and knocking them down…and reading. He was full of life and I loved to be around him. I actually said outloud, “Why do people get down on ‘2’ so much?” We had a fabulous time. When he was two and nine months, a switch went off in him and he became a very, very difficult child. He opposed everything, fought with everyone, wallowed in his own inability to handle frustration, made poor choices because it was so, so hard to think clearly enough to pursue the right ones. He struggled with friendships, with childhood, with food, with textures, with telling the truth, with surprises, with schedules, with holidays and anything else that was out of his control. He melted down constantly and spiraled into a dark and gloomy, negative, argumentative little boy. My darkest day was the day I heard my own softspoken-kindhearted-love-enough-for-the-whole-world father say to his first and dearly anticipated grandchild, “Why do you have to be so hard to get along with?” Words he had said to me when I myself was in my sullen teenage years. What had happened to my son? And how do we help him out of it? I asked those questions often. I asked over and over. And I did it for the next FIVE years.

Something big, indeed had changed in him. But something even bigger has happened now.

Eight. My son is 8…actually 8 and a half. And we’ve been reeling from the explosions for so long now, that it’s hard to reconfigure our response to him. But we need to change our response, because he has changed his. For the past six months, he’s been trying… hard. And succeeding. I’m starting to see that this is more than just an upswing in our roller-coaster ride with him. And, dare I say it, I think we have encountered real change.

Here’s the scene at our house as it stands now.

  • Today I did math with my son who on so many occasions would simply refuse and even sit for as many as two hours continuing to refuse to even try it. Today, he multiplied sixty four times three thousand and something.Came up with the right answer and pressed on to the next problem.We got through a page of math, (10 little problems) in 15 minutes and we were still friends.In fact, we were closer.
  • Today I trusted him enough to let him ride down the street to a friend's house to play… trusted him enough to be safe…trusted him enough to take his little brother with him… trusted him enough to come home when the street lights came on… trusted him enough to not spend media time there because he’d just spent an hour on the computer. A year ago, I’d have never done that. Trusted him, that is. And when he came home, he said, “Mom, I’m sorry I have bad news to report to you.” And he calmly and truthfully, told me that he had watched his friend play a computer game because that is all the friend wanted to do. After a “What should you have done instead?” discussion, I simply told him that he made a choice and there would be a consequence for that choice. He calmly said, “O.K. Mom.” I calmly said, “Good job.” And there was peace in our house because we were calm. Because we trusted one another…even though he had failed in one thing, he had succeeded so well in all the other things. And he (and I) recognizes his success.
  • Today I handed him his devotional to think through, taught him a new skill in cursive writing, asked him to read aloud to me, listened to him work with his brother, told him to wait, saw that he ate his whole lunch, reminded him that he needed to finish schoolwork before he played on the computer, turned on a timer, asked him to wear a coat, denied him a couple things, made a couple suggestions, saw him share, asked him to put his bike away, gave him glue to work with, heard him say, “I’m sorry, Mom” when unprovoked to do so, told him to wash his hair and get out of the tub, saw him relent to his brother’s wishes when we played a game together, saw him lose with grace, and put him to bed contented and calm. Every single one of these things just six months ago would have triggered an explosion of mammoth proportions. Every single one.

Today we did school, yes. But we did so much more. I can’t tell you how tremendous this change is for him…for us. But I just had to tell someone. Something has changed in my son.

He is full of life and I love to be around him.

Sunday, January 6

Thanks for stopping by, Christmas Break.

Time goes waaay too fast. I'm not ready for the week quite yet. Was up until 1 a.m. getting my ducks in a row last night and will probably do the same tonight, though I hope not because a tired mama is not the best mama.

We'll be tackling How People Grow for the next four weeks.
The Bible Base for our unit is Luke 2:52
  • We'll integrate all the gospels together, but for the most part we'll be dealing with Jesus' baptism, temptation, calling the disciples, early Judean ministry, the Samaritan woman, preaching in Galilee and Judea and cleansing the temple.
Science: Human body (skin, skeletal, muscular, digestive, respiratory, circulatory, urinary, endocrine, and nervous systems)

Social Studies: Decision making skills (lots of games we can play for this one), making friends, manners and customs.

Math: J- More multiplication with products up to 10,000. B- telling time to the quarter hour, adding and subtracting numbers up to 60, money and fraction reviews.

Language Arts: J - Responding to a scripture journal, using good reasoning, and writing a persuasive paragraph. B- grade 1 phonics activities, drawing pictures related to our study.

Reading: J - Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. B - Continue to work through Phonics for the New Reader by Harriet Fields and reading his phonics readers.

Vocab: J's words for the week -- physical, skeleton, muscle, breathe, nutrition, vitamin, protein, spiritual, mental, social. B's words for the week -- grow, skin, bone, food, lung, leg, arm, head, water, body.

Memory Verses (for the whole unit this time): 2 Peter 1: 3-8

Topical Studies: Nutrition, Meal planning and preparation, critical thinking puzzles, and something to do with friendship that I haven't fleshed out yet.

The boys are at each other today. They were supposed to play with a friend but one decided to tell an untruth about the fact that the other wasn't invited, etc. So, they are both home, and walking around bored as if they didn't just get the world on a stick for Christmas. As if I didn't just spend 5 hours yesterday cleaning and organizing their room so they can FIND all the pieces to all the things they already owned.

So, we will begin tomorrow a.m. -- ready or not. Because kids need structure and they need to sit and read together again, and they need to know what is going to happen next. At least mine do.