Recently I’ve had a lot of people asking me about why we homeschool, what is our method, how on earth do I manage? To be honest, it’s been a real challenge this year. With an almost two-year old in tow, life gets pretty noisy around here! We are Exploring Countries and Cultures, traveling the world in our imaginations and through books. I absolutely love reading biographies to the kids, and our favorite so far has been Nate Saint. Now we are reading about George Muller, as we are in Europe, and Germany is a part of Europe! If we had the means, we would be hopping on an airplane so we could actually touch and feel and smell the places we are reading about. In addition to Geography, we do independent reading, write letters, do math on the computer (I am relieved not to teach that this year), and grammar. In Science, we’re learning about the world’s biomes, or ecosystems. As to the why we are schooling at home… God wants us to, which equals the fact that He also equips us to follow through with His desire. So, it is not me having or not having the ability, strength, patience, etc. to perform this overwhelming task. It is God working through me and giving me what I need. The days where I fly off the handle (yes, this happens) are most certainly the days where I am depending on my own means and strength to do what’s at hand. Even in the last couple of weeks, my mindset has changed a lot as to why and how I do this. I’m learning, daily, to let go of my own agenda, and surrender to the Lord’s plan for our day. I know I do things a lot differently than many homeschool moms, but I’m a work in progress. As a friend so encouragingly told me this week, being a planner is something that can be learned! I’m so thankful for that, because it is something I need to learn more efficiently.
Here is a sneak peek into a typical day at our school:
Betty, our ever-present babbler, has been calling Elsie, Abby, Abby, Abby! for a while now. Elsie says, She loves brothers and sisters! She loves to sing and say, The B-I-B-I-B, Bible! Often I have one of the older kids watch her upstairs while we do one-on-one stuff at the school table. A lot of the times, Elsie is very capable of keeping her entertained. Sometimes she just sits on my lap, colors, or plays with play dough at the table.
Elsie has been wearing the same outfit she got from a friend… for three days straight. Yesterday we sat on the couch and she read four short stories to me. Just like that. I think she surprised herself! She and Jack are both doing the same phonics program. She shows an earlier readiness than he did, and they work well together.
Jack has turned a corner in reading and small light bulbs are starting to go off in his mind as he unlocks the code of letters and sounds. He is easily frustrated, so we take many breaks, but he now wants to read, which helps so much in the learning. My goal was never to push him until he showed a real desire to read. I really love the books we’re using for phonics. They are called First Start Reading, by Cheryl Lowe, and I couldn’t say better things about this method. Each sound is mastered and built upon, not in the order of the alphabet, but rather in the order of how the sound is made. For instance, since “M, N, P, C, F, S, G, and T” are all sounds made without adding any extra sounds, they are learned first, so there is no confusion. The approach is vowel-consonant blended with word families. This means, in the second lesson, they are reading the words “I am…” and fill in the blank with their name. It’s exciting for them to start reading right away, but words are never introduced that aren’t sounds they have already learned. I highly recommend it.
Elijah has been feverishly building an intricate crane with his new Erector set. For two days now, whenever there is a break in school, in meals, or in sleep, he has been at it. I look at it and wonder how on earth he figured it out. So many pieces, so intricate, and it actually works! His strengths are memory-work, science and art.
Nadine sparkles around horses. She dreams about what she will do with them one day, and wants to help people with the skills she is learning. We don’t know what that will be, but we love to encourage our children’s dreams. During the hours she is not in the saddle, she works hard on school. Her strengths are reading and math.
Today, being Pearl Harbor Day, we stepped out of our regular studies of Europe and delved 71 years ago into history. They became acquainted with the day that lives in infamy, and were sobered by the reality that is war. I love this aspect of home-schooling, which allows us the freedom to study pertinent dates and important historical events. Jack whispered to me during the documentary we were watching, Mom, is this for real? Yes, it really happened. I think it’s so very important for our generation of children to know the heroes of their past, to understand there is more to their world than i-pods, video games, and drama. There were and are real men and women who are fighting for our freedoms. There is an entire generation who has passed from their view, and with them their memories and experiences. I really don’t want to forget.
So, that is a small glance at what we are doing. I am no expert, but I’m working hard to do my best and instill a love of learning to our children.