Friday, December 27, 2013

Homeschool week 3

It's now two days after Christmas and I am just now getting to blogging about our week of school before vacation started.  It was actually hard to take a break after only having three weeks in!  

Since we've started homeschooling, I have been trying to wrap my mind around exactly what it is that makes me enjoy this so much.  There are many things that I could list that we both enjoy about having him home, but as I was putting the kids to bed one night last week I think I figured out exactly what it is that I LOVE about it.  

When I put my kids to bed at night we say our "good nights", pray, and give hugs and kisses.  It never fails that while putting them to bed, I have feelings of guilt and worry about not really getting a whole lot of time to spend with each of them individually.  I send them to bed realizing that I haven't really spent much time with them at all and feel badly about it.  I have felt this way for years, in fact, I can't really remember NOT feeling this way.  I just chalked it up to being "normal" and that every parent (especially parents to lots of kids) must feel this way.  I would tell myself that "I did my best" and move on.  

It wasn't until this experience with home schooling Luke when I realized that I didn't HAVE to feel that way!  As I put Jessalyn, Ethan and Owen to bed I realized that it was with that same feeling of wishing I could have done more with them and then kissed Luke and had this feeling of complete contentment about our day together.  It is such an amazing that I've never really experienced before.  

I definitely see homeschooling in Owen's future.  I'm still trying to figure out the logistics of it all.  I honestly look back and wish that I'd done it this way with all of them! 

So..onto the recap of the week.  

Bible:  Luke has continued reading in his Bible and I have continued reading to him from Luke (NSV)...Luke 5-6:49.  He has also been learning about the Powhatan tribe (Pocahantas)  in the American Indian prayer guide.  He finished up the memorization of Psalm 8, although we will spend the next week refining it to make sure he really has it down!  

History/Geography:  He has done more reading about the early explorations from the Children's Encyclopedia of American History.  He is also focusing on many different tribes from all over America in the readings of the books "North American Indians" and "The Very First Americans".  Learning what the different tribes hunted, ate, built, wore etc.  

Reading:  Luke finished up the book "Walk The Worlds Rim".  This was the challenging book for him but in the end he finished up all the reading on his own (reading aloud to me).  It was a great story with a sad ending.   He also read 3 chapters of "Lawn Boy"...learning more about building a business and earning money!  This week was the start of a new book "Pocahontas and the Strangers".  He's really enjoying this one!

Handwriting:  He worked through lessons 11-15.

Spelling:  He went through lesson 3 and aced the test on Friday:)

Science:  We started learning about the Sun in science.  He had some fun practical exercises and visuals to help him understand.  We used a basketball compared to a peppercorn to get a visual of how much bigger the sun is compared to the moon.  He learned many fascinating facts about the sun.  We also used Luke, Josh and myself to mimic the earths rotation around the sun and the moon's rotation around the earth.  That's actually kind of tricky to do:)  He had to write a speech about why we should not look directly at the sun.  He needs to work on it a bit more before he can present it...we will work on that next week!  

Language Arts:  He learned about Similes and did a few exercises making up his own examples and then revising his story about the Christmas tree using similes.  He also worked on the dictation passage and wrote a letter to Mark and Cindy.  I honestly feel like he could use more in the way of language arts.  I'll be researching that in the near future.  

Math:  I realized that I didn't include math in last weeks update!  Rest assured..he IS doing math.  He's actually doing a LOT of math!  He is still doing an entire lesson per day.  Soon he will be caught up to the point of being challenged by the work and I won't expect him to get through as much in a day.  This math program uses "skip counting" as the base of all multiplication.  It seem to be a great way to memorize and I think it will be helpful when it comes to division and fractions and future math.  Its helpful to know the products first.  

He is learning which things that he can do independently and is quick to get started in the morning.  He can go straight to his handwriting book then read his Bible and also work on spelling without me.  He get's these things done very quickly each morning.  We seem to spend quite a bit of time with scripture memorization.  His language arts work is time consuming as well.  Most days we are done by 1:30 but there were a couple days when we were completely done before lunch!  I'm trying to remind Luke that it is not all about what time we finish in a day though, as he can get caught up in trying to finish quickly over doing his work well!  

I didn't take many pics during this week of school...but I do have a couple:)  

This is his Psalm 8 puzzle.  

Working on his bathrobe because it was "jamma day" for the other kids so we had jamma day too!

His spelling test.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Home School Week 2

We had another great week!  We settled into more of a routine this week, although, our "routine" is very flexible!  The amount of reading that he does with the Sonlight Core curriculum is crazy, but I have already seen an improvement in his reading and comprehension.  Last week while reading the book "Walk the Worlds Rim", Luke was getting a big overwhelmed.  It's a 'wordy' book, with longer chapters and the story is somewhat hard to follow for him.  This week he did more of the reading from that book and was not as overwhelmed and bogged down by it.  It has turned into one of his favorites!

We had one day this week that had us both struggling.  At first I couldn't figure out what was going on and was chalking it up to the "honeymoon" period being over.  Luke was frustrated and having a hard time paying attention and I was impatient with his lack of focus.  It was about half way through the day when I realized that I hadn't started the day out in prayer!  Every morning up to that point, I had been diligent with prayer during my morning devotion/scripture reading time.  I would read and pray.  This particular morning, I had read...but for some reason forgot the prayer part!  There was an easy solution to that, and the next half of the day went much better!  It sure is proof that I can NOT do this on my own!

I am finding that we are still not getting everything done until 1:30 at the earliest.  He starts at around 8:15 and takes minimal breaks and we still aren't able to get through everything any sooner.  I'm not sure if we are doing too much, or spending too much time on certain things.  It turns out to be 5 hours of pretty intense work.

With all of that said, I still feel like we are doing exactly what we should be and I can't wait to add Owen to the mix!  (I have NO idea how I would be able to teach two of them, but I'm not going to let that stop me:)

This is the breakdown of what our week looked like.

~He read several chapters from Genesis (1 each morning) from his Adventure Bible.  These chapters included the Tower of Bable, God leading Abram to Egypt, God's promise to Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham and Isaac.  A couple days he drew a picture relating to what he read.

~I read to him from Luke (NSV)...chapter 2:21-4:44.

~He read five days of the American Indian Prayer Guide...this week learning about the Taino's and Arawaks. Each day praying that these tribes would find Jesus.

~He has done really well memorizing Psalm 8.  He has 5 of the 9 verses down...but verse 9 is a repeat of the first verse so he only has 3 more to learn.  He enjoys this process.


~He finished up Pedro's Journal.  He really loved this book and it was a great way to learn about Columbus' journey to America.

~He started a book called "A light and the Glory".  This week was reinforcement of Columbus journey.

Luke has learned a pretty accurate version of the story of Columbus.  He realizes why it is significant that Columbus lead this journey, but also realizes that Columbus became greedy and hungry for fame and did terrible things to the natives.  The readings that he has done has painted a real picture from the perspective of the Indians.

He has been following these journey's on the map and marking significant events on the timeline.


He has been reading the book "Walk the Worlds Rim"...more about American Indians and also "Lawn Boy", a great story about economics!  He finished up the book "A Lion To Guard Us" today..and he was bummed because that was his favorite of all the current books.  I liked that one too!


Luke has worked through a new letter each day in Cursive.  This still proves to be his least favorite, but he gets it done.


He worked with a new list of 20 words and at the today aced the spelling test, no problem.

Language Arts:

He worked on a few different exercises that included more noun and adjectives but this week added verbs and adverbs.  He had a few different writing projects that utilized these concepts.

He also worked on another letter that he completed today and put in the mailbox.  This week's letter was sent to his best buddy Andrew.  He likes writing letters!

He also worked on the dictation passage.


We did science on Tuesday and Thursday and it was a continuation of lesson 1 from last week.  He had some worksheets in his Science Journal that reinforced the concepts he had learned from last week.  I realized that the project with the balloons that we did last week was actually supposed to happen this week:)  It just meant that we didn't have a project to do today.

This is the condensed version of what went on here this week.  Just a few minutes ago he was looking at the book he will start next week (that will take the place of  "A Lion to Guard Us"'s about Pocahontas.  He realized that tomorrow is Saturday and was bummed because he's eager to start it!

Here are a few pics (from Instagram) from this week...

We have been using different techniques for memorizing.  This is one of his favorite.  I wrote the verses on the foam type paper and cut them apart.  This is been the most useful tool for him and he enjoys doing it.  Today he put together the first 4 verses of Psalm 8!

He also writes it on the chalkboard when he has it mastered.  I will try to take a pic of every one!  

We do most of our reading at the dining room table, but we save his favorite for the the last thing we do in the day which happens as Truett naps.  It's usually a nice relaxing time of the day.  

We have to get Truett's bath and bathroom cleaning in at some point, so Luke read to me while we got these things done.  Multitasking.  

Truett is enjoying Cars, popcorn and a blanket..a very specific request from him this morning!  

This was one of the language arts writing assignments.  Last week he had to choose an object and use adjectives (according to his 5 senses) to describe it.  This week he had to write a crazy story about the object he chose last week.  He had fun being creative here and I look forward to more of this type of writing!  

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Home School Week 1 (Dec 1-6)

I'm not entirely sure that I will be able to keep up with this, but I'm going to follow my SIL's idea of using the blog as a sort of journal for what we did each week.  I realize that this is probably not going to be very interesting for most, but it may be helpful to some..and maybe even interesting to a couple:)  

Let me start by saying that this week was AMAZING.  Of course, I do realize that we are in the "honeymoon phase" of home schooling and that I only have one kid that I'm teaching and that every week won't be all daisies and roses....but this week sure felt that way!  Like I said in the previous post, I do believe that God has my back on this one.  What seemed so totally overwhelming only a few short weeks ago came together nicely and ultimately became the most natural feeling transition.  

The benefits of home schooling have become apparent very quickly.  There are SO many reasons why I am loving this already.  I love the time that I am spending with him.  I love that I know exactly what he is learning.  I love that I know if he is actually "getting" it and can go over something until he does.  I love that we can alter his schedule each day according to how other things need to fit in.  I love that he is able to do stuff that he hates (handwriting) right get it over with, but also to get it done when he is fresh.  I love that I can reinforce what he has learned at different points of the day..because I know exactly what he is learning.  I love that he can take breaks and do pull ups or run around with Truett or go outside and shoot hoops for a bit.  I love how much reading he is doing and I love how every part of his curriculum ties into scripture!  

I could go on and on about the things I love.  

This week, my biggest concern was the question "are we doing enough?".  I mean, we are doing the entire curriculum and he's doing the work, but because we can get through so much in such a short amount of time it leaves me questioning myself a bit.  

One of this week's projects was to write a letter to his classroom (his teacher suggested that he do this every so often).  When I was checking over his final draft it became obvious that I did not need to worry about whether we were doing enough!  In the letter he talked a bit about what he has been learning this week and seeing it written out like that made me realize that he (we) learned a TON!  

So with that said, I will share what it is that we are using for curriculum and just a tidbit of what he worked on this week.  

We are using Sonlight (Core D) "Intro to American History)  for his core subjects...History, Geography, Bible, Language Arts and Reading.  

Bible:  He has read Genesis 1-7 in his Adventure Bible and I have read to him Luke 1-2:20 from the NSV. We read together chapters 1-5 in the American Indian Prayer Guide.  This week we learned about the Mayans and prayed for them "that they would come to know Jesus so that Jesus would be their ruler".  Luke has also been working on memorizing Psalm 8..but this will take him more than a week:)  

History/Geography/Reading:  Luke is reading several books that cover all of these subjects. (and when I say that Luke is reading them..he is either reading them to me or I might read some to him....but we are reading them together) 
     "Pedro's Journal" (Luke's favorite)- this week he read Aug 3rd-Nov25th from the book. 
     "Walk the Worlds Rim" (a little more of a challenge for him)- preface-ch 4
     "Lawn Boy"- forward -chapter 3
     "A Lion to Guard us" - chapter 1-11
Throughout the reading of these books we are learning a bunch about American History.  We have a timeline book with stickers that we use as we go along.  This is a great visual for him.  We spend a lot of time consulting the maps to get a better understanding of the world!  

While he is doing all of this reading, we create a list of vocabulary words as he comes up on words that he doesn't understand.  By the end of this week he had around 20 words including words like "covenant", "rudder", "dinghy" and many, many more.  We created a little quiz using the app "Quizlet", but honestly, after he writes a word that he doesn't know and then looks it up in the dictionary, he usually gets a handle on it and doesn't really need to be quizzed on it.  He comes to an understanding of the word because it's usually one that is used several times throughout the reading that he is doing.  

Language Arts:  We work through different paragraphs (given to me in the curriculum).  We search out the different parts of the sentences..finding punctuation and capitalization etc.  There have been several different exercises each day.  This week we were working on nouns and adjectives.  At the end of the week I had to dictate a paragraph for him to write with the hopes that he would use the correct spelling, punctuation and capitalization.  We also worked on the letter to his class at school that he was able to finish and put in the mailbox on Friday before the mail lady came!  

Science:  We are using a curriculum called "Aplogia" and he chose the Astronomy textbook for this year.  He LOVES this.  In order to get through all of the lessons, we only have to do science twice each week.  He loves to talk about what he has learned this week.  He can tell you about Capernicus and Galileo and about NASA and, because of the sentence he created, he can list the names of the planets in order from the Sun to Pluto.  His sentence:  "My Very Earthly Mother Just Sat Until Neverland Pirates".  Of course, this is taking into consideration the question of Pluto's planet status:)  On Friday we made a solar system using balloons that were blown up in ratio with each other according to size.  This was a good project and visual for him.  

Math:  We are using the curriculum "Math U See".  So far I love this!  The idea is not to just memorize math facts, but to understand them AND memorize them.  The use of blocks to help visualize really helps with the overall understanding.  Because Luke has already been learning multiplication in school we are flying through the first part of this book.  I could just skip ahead but I want him to learn from the beginning using this style of teaching.  Each lesson in this book is supposed to take a week with several worksheets of practice for each day.  Right now, Luke is flying through a lesson PER DAY...but I am confident (because I looked ahead) that we will reach a point in the book when it starts to challenge him.  We are working quickly to get there so that he doesn't get bored!  I did have him take a placement test and he is in the curriculum that he needs to be in.  So..long story short, he's working on multiplication:)

Spelling:  He is working through a workbook called "Spelling Workout".  He is in the 4th grade book because at public school he was already working through the 4th grade list.  We really like this book with different lessons each day using his spelling words.  He aced the test at the end of the week....20/20:)  

Handwriting:  "A reason for Handwriting" uses scripture as the practice for cursive writing.  Right now he is just working on individual letters, but will soon get to writing (and memorizing) a verse each week.  He does not enjoy handwriting and chooses to do this first thing in the morning to get it over with.  He actually has great handwriting, especially for a lefty, but he just doesn't like the practice!

Phew!  So that was our week and now that I write it out myself, I certainly don't think he is slacking!  It's amazing to me how quickly we get through all of this and how completely relaxed we both are doing it!  

Each day he spends from around 8:30am-1:30 doing school work.  He gets several breaks in there including lunch.  This was also with me fumbling around a bit trying to figure out what I'm doing!  I think that we can make this time even shorter as we both settle into a routine.  

I consider week one a SUCCESS!!  :)  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Giant leap of faith...or at least it feels like one!

After much prayer, discussion, seeking wisdom and ultimately begging and pleading and more prayers from Luke, we have decided to go ahead and home school him.

I can't even believe that I'm saying that.

We are absolutely NOT against home schooling.  In fact, I have always envied the families who do it and do it well.  Before Jessalyn started school, I remember having several discussions about whether or not we should go that route.  We (obviously) eventually decided that she and the boys would go to public school...a decision that we do not regret.  All four of the school aged kids have gone to public school and have done very well.  We have a good relationship with the school, the staff loves on our kids, the kids excel in their academics and they have all made great friendships!

So why decide to home school now?

Since the day Jessalyn started kindergarten, I have always said that they would be in public school until I felt lead (or called) to teach them at home.  I said that we were going to take it year by year, and kid by kid....and see how it went.  And so far, it has gone wonderfully for everyone...except Luke.

Luke does not enjoy school, which is weird, because you would NEVER know it if you saw him there.  His teachers RAVE about him and his leadership qualities and the example that he sets for other kids socially.   He goes to school each day and puts a smile on his face and sucks up the fact that he has a pit in his stomach the entire time and spends every night before at the point of tears not wanting to go back and praying, praying and praying that he can be home schooled.  You would think that something is going on at school..but there is nothing.  Like I said above...he has great friends, is well liked, doesn't struggle with academics etc.

The boy just does not like to be in a group of 20 people all day.  I think that he's an introvert:)

Josh and I spent a long time discussing this.  Do you take a kid out of school just because he hates it?  Nobody really wants to be in school.  I hated school and made it through.  Eventually he's gonna have to go to work and deal.  All of these thoughts were on our mind.

The one thing that I kept coming back to is that Luke IS capable of handling it.  He has proven it for the last 4 years that he has been in school.  He CAN suck it up and manage a day being social when he doesn't want to be...and he does it well.  If he was not capable of doing these things then we would actually be more likely to make him continue in school.

All of that, and I couldn't possibly come up with another excuse as to why I couldn't do it.  I am home all day and have a 9 year old boy who is begging me to teach him from home....I don't have anymore good excuses!
Luke is well aware that home schooling is not going to involve sleeping in late, wearing his pj's all day (well..that might actually happen:), playing video games etc.  I have assured him that it will be a LOT of work and it will probably be harder than what he is used to at school because I will be on top of his every move.  He seems excited about it.  He is beside himself with excitement at the thought of having "Bible" be part of his school.  He loves to learn and read...and learning and reading we will do!

I know that God is orchestrating this whole thing because I have been resisting this for a long time.  On Thursday of last week I started getting serious about putting together a curriculum (thanks to Luke's constant nagging encouragement).  With lots of great counsel from friends and 4 days of research I feel confident with what I've come up with for him.  When I started, I was absolutely overwhelmed and at the point where I thought it was impossible.  But by Friday it all started to 'click' and it just started to fall into place for me.  It was amazing.  I went from completely overwhelmed to "I can do this!" or more like "HE can help me do this!".  I actually started to enjoy the process of choosing programs that would work for Luke and have started to get excited about teaching him!  I KNOW that is God working.

There are two big reasons why I have resisted this for years....pride and fear.

Those are not good things.

The reason I say pride is because I wanted (and still have on the back of my mind) my kids to go to school....having confidence that they would do well, be liked...and ultimately be a constant "pat on the back" for myself.  Every teachers conference, every compliment from someone in the school, every good choice they made...everything.  I wanted my kids in school so the world could see how awesome they are and ultimately how awesome I am.

I'm being brutally honest here.

I read something just yesterday that helped me deal with this pride issue..

At the end of the day, what matters is whether we have pleased Jesus. When it’s all said and done, we’re going to stand before him (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not our family, not our neighbors, not our boss, not our kids, not our colleagues. We will stand before Jesus. We will see him face to face. And in that moment, the only thing that matters is what he thinks. 

....not our kids teachers, not the other parents....

The fear part speaks for itself I think.  Home schooling is a BIG job...HUGE holy wow, my kids education rests in MY lap.  ..and yet, why does that sound so crazy.  I suppose it should seem obvious.

I think God has used Luke's persistence as a kick in the pants for me and the more that I dug into everything, the less fear I have had and the more confidence I have found.

With all of that said, I am not claiming that I will rock this:)  I might actually really stink at it.  Luke might end up hating it.  I might end up hating it.  But, for now my confidence rests in the fact that God is taking care of this entire "leap of faith" and I know that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."!!!

Today I was relieved after meeting with the school principal and Luke's teacher.  Honestly, I kind of dreaded this meeting, not because I was afraid of their opinion, but because I knew that they would be sad to see Luke go.  I am loyal in general and it's hard for me to switch loyalties like this!  For example, when we first moved here I chose a dentist out of the phone book.  We ended up hating this guy.  He was mean and made my kids cry.  When the new Children's Dentistry opened up I knew it was where we needed to go and scheduled appointments right away.  When I had to go to the old jerky dentist to transfer records, I felt SO bad to tell them that we were switching.  It seems silly...he was mean and I knew I was making the right choice, but I still felt bad.

This is how I felt today, telling Luke's teacher and principal.... only I actually LIKE them!

Both of them were completely encouraging and 100% supportive.  I shared my heart with them, explained Luke to them (things that his teacher was already aware of) and explained that I was going to give this a whirl.  I was able to explain that I am not disgruntled with the school and explain that it was nothing that happened this particular year but something that he has felt since starting school.  Although his teacher was pretty sad to see him go, she understands and they both assured me that I can have access to any and all resources and that Luke is welcome to join ANYTHING he wants at the school.  If he wants to jump in on an art class or Spanish or music...he is welcome.  And they of course said they would welcome him back at anytime if we decided that home schooling was going to work out.

Since the serious discussion of home schooling Luke, there has been some other interest forming in the family.  We will see where this all leads's scary and exciting!

Tomorrow will be his last day of school at least for the time being.  I'm still sticking with the "go with the flow" method here.

Rest assured that he will still be given lots of opportunities to practice being social when he doesn't want to be!  He is already on a basketball team with several of his close friends and will be encouraged to take part in as many activities as possible!!

I hopefully will be blogging more about this journey as we go along.

...what have I done???!!!   :)