Monday, August 23, 2010

What I Know About Homeschooling, Part 3

As I said before, I only know about what we have tried and done in our homeschool through the years.  I am a huge fan of A Beka books.  I have all of the readers in our library.  I even enjoy looking at and reading the history and literature books.  But, as most homeschoolers do, we have tried other curriculums through the years.  We tried Alpha Omega and School of Tomorrow a couple of years.  I like the way they are more condensed, but we ended up going right back to A Beka.  That is what worked and works for us.  I make no bones about it, I had rather socialize in high school than be at home each night studying (like I should have been), so therefore, I didn't take the harder subjects that would have required me to study more.  I am not proud of that, but it is a fact in my life.  I panicked when Noelle was going into the ninth grade.  Algebra, Biology, and Chemistry scared the life out of me!  We even tried going back to the Christian school that year, but decided that there really is no place like home.  We ordered A Beka videos for her from then on and we had no more problems.   The videos are wonderful!   We have never had a 'school room'.   Noelle did her school in her room.  She had a TV and VCR in there and would watch the videos each day in the privacy of her own room.   Some days, I'd hear her laughing while watching a video, maybe the teacher said something funny that day.  The videos were just like being in a class room, except the teacher and students couldn't see or hear her.  We also like the idea of  being able to rewind if a second or third explanation were needed.

Cale began using DVDs in the eleventh grade.  He has a little set up in his room now where he does his school work.  The DVDs take alot of work off of the parent.  I do check his work and listen to him recite his Bible verses, but that's about it.  I get much more done during the day than I did when he was in first through tenth grade.  

That is what has worked for us through the years.   Just because we love A Beka does not mean that using a different curriculum is bad;  once again, find what works for you and your children. 

Now, I want to comment about the much heard S word!  SOCIALIZATION!   When we first began homeschooling, we knew that God was leading us in the endeavor, so I reckon we assumed that the whole world would be so happy for us!  NOT!  I would be so excited when someone ask about the children.  The first year or two of homeschooling can be very intimidating and a bit frightening to the parents.  I mean, we are talking our children's education here!  Questions come to our mind like: "What if I don't do it right?,  What if I fail my child?,  What if they grow up to be dumb as a box of rocks???"  And I am sorry to say that sometimes our friends and family can multiply those questions and make us question our calling.  Right after we began homeschooling, a dear lady asked if I was working or what; and when I told her (just beaming!) that I was at home teaching my children, she grabbed my arm and looked me straight in the face and said, "Oh Liesa!  What about when they get into the real world?  They won't know how to act.  You can't shelter them like that."  Needless to say, I was speechless for a few seconds.  Remember, I am a people pleaser.  I replied, "Well, as you know, we are not like most people anyway, and this is what we feel we should do."  That happened again the same year at the Christmas parade.  I could tell by the look on another dear ladies face and by the sound in her voice that she felt so sorry for my children.    Did those ladies reactions affect me?  You're mighty right, they did!  Tore me up!  I went home in tears questioning my ability to teach my children.  On one side of my mind, the pro side, I'd think:  I really feel like this is God's will for Noelle and Cale.  I want to raise Godly children...I want to raise my children myself...The con side of my brain would say, "Liesa, you don't know the first thing about algebra or chemistry.  Your children will be so dumb and it will be all your fault!"  Oh, how I'd struggle.  After much prayer and a good talk with Scot, I'd plant both feet back on the ground and go at my 'calling' more determined than ever.   You see, I came to the conclusion that Scot and I will answer for the way we raise our children.  We will answer to God, not to our friends and family.  And our friends and family won't answer to us for how they raise their children, so therefore, we have no other choice but to obey God in our home.   

I often kid around and say that if our children were any more sociable, we might as well sell our house and buy a motor home.   Through the years, our children have always been active in church activities, sports, and other past times.  Both children love babies, younger children, old people and all in between.  They are patient and kind, especially to younger children and older people.  Both are very considerate, mannerable, hard workers, very interested in other's, and believe it or not, both children have and practice alot of common sense at home and outside of the home.  Scot and I have many other children other than the two that are our own because we have always welcomed our children's friends into our home for wonderful times of fellowship. 

Here are some synonyms of Social:  genial, amusing, entertaining, companionable, pleasurable, civil, polite, polished, mannerly, pleasure seeking, hospitable, pleasant.     According to Webster, my children get an A+ in socialization! 

As for the education part of it; I do not keep up with grades in the way we did in school.  I check their work and ask questions to see if they 'get' it!  Did they understand?  Did they learn?  If not, I call for a 'do-over'.  Noelle and Cale try hard to understand their lessons and do their work correctly the first time, that way, it saves them time in the long run.  We kid around and say that they have a 'mean' teacher, but quite honestly, it's pretty simple.  The rules have been set before them many years ago, they know what we expect, the rules are the same each day, so therefore, we reap wonderful results each year. 

Noelle graduated in 2007.  She is now a full time certified teller at a very nice reputable bank.  She has been taking banking classes on line for the past two years and plans to continue doing so for as long as she can.  All of her co-workers seem to love her and enjoy working with her.  I hear alot of good remarks from many of her customers too.

Cale will graduate next Spring.  He is not sure what he will do after graduation.  I panicked when Noelle didn't know, but I am a bit more calm this time around.  I don't see Cale sitting inside behind a desk or anything, but I know he is a very hard worker and a determined young man who can accomplish anything he sets his mind at.  The most important thing I know is that God has his hand on Cale and Cale has a genuine desire to be in God's will and to be pleasing in His sight. 

I will comment a little about our schedule....I plan our school year according to what is going on in our lives.  For instance, most years, we would begin school the first week of August.  That gave us some extra 'play' days as we call it just in case something came up during the year we had to take off for.  Last year though, we were in the process of buying a house in August and was not for sure when we would be moving, so we didn't begin school until after Labor Day.  Yes, we were in school up until the first of June which had never happened before, but that is what worked for us during that time in our lives.    We do not have a set starting time each day.  Cale aims for 8 to 8:30.  We don't have a set time to do a particular subject.  He just works until he's finished with everything.  He works homework in his daily schedule which makes for free nights!

And the most popular question that has been asked, "Do you do school in your pj's?"  They didn't every day, but yes, it happens from time to time.  My children have never been allowed to sit around the house dirty and unkempt, so they know to be presentable and clean, but other than that, we are at home, and home is the most comfortable place to be! 

I know I have not covered everything about homeschooling, but I thought it would be neat to make a few points about what little I do know and about a few things that have worked for us during this wonderful journey and season of our lives.  Has every day been easy?  Goodness no!  Am I confident in what I've done?  No, I never have confidence in me, but I do have confidence in God.  And with that, I can say, All is well, and all will be well.

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.  ~Deuteronomy 6: 5-9

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

What I Know About Homeschooling, Part 2

As I said in Part 1 of What I Know About Homeschooling, all children are different.  I remember when I was in school: there were children in my class that seemed so carefree.  They just bee-bopped along all day, just happy to be there.  If the teacher raised her voice, it had no affect on them.  If they got in trouble for talking, it didn't seem to bother them; they'd quieten down for a while, but then they'd have to be reminded again.  And some of us, me in particular, wanted to curl up and die if the teacher had to correct us or scold us.  Some children seemed to catch on to reading and math the very first time it was explained, and others were still struggling after many lessons.  Does this all sound familiar?  That's the way it is in homeschool as well.  What it boils down to is EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT.  Several children may be alike in some ways, but very different in others.  

Both of my children are tender hearted, which is a blessing when it comes to discipline.  Both desire to please their daddy and I.   The biggest difference in my children are their interests.  Noelle loves books.  She doesn't just have a love for reading, but the book itself is a respected 'thing' in her life.  To this day, she'll pick up a children's book and say, "Oh, this is such a pretty book."  She had a love for letters, sounds, and words even as a toddler.  Words fascinated her!  Had I given her a choice of a doll or a new book, nine times out of ten, she would have chosen the book.  I didn't force her to love books, it was just something inside her.

Cale loved for me to read to him.  I read to him from the time he was a baby just like I did Noelle, but one or two books a day satisfied him.  He'd hop down and build huge buildings with blocks or try to climb anything that looked climbable!  He'd much rather be outside playing in the dirt with his trucks and tractors, playing with his dog, riding his bike, or exploring.  When Cale started to school, he was a good student.  He wanted to please his teacher, but school and books just were not his favorite thing in life.  There just wasn't any passion whatsoever when it came to those things.  Did that make him a bad student?  No, not at all.  He knew what was expected of him and there was no choice in the matter, so he studied and did his best, but there still wasn't a passion for it.  Cale was not being rebellious in any way, it was just his make up. 

I had to use my imagination much more with Cale in school than I did Noelle.  I would look for books about things he enjoyed.  We read alot about baseball, farming, adventurous people, and animals.  I would read a page, he'd read a page.  At an early age, he began collecting baseball cards.  When I say he began, I don't mean just buying them and throwing them in a shoe box; he bought an album with card slits and organized his cards.  He'd sit for hours organizing his cards and reading them.  Awww, did you catch that?  He READ the cards.  He could tell us anything about the players.  So, we encouraged that hobby.  As he got older, he even thought of it in a business like manner.  He would look for cards that had great potential of being worth money someday.  He even made the remark one day that when he grew up, he could sell his cards to help pay for the log home he one day hoped to build.  

That is what you do to help the students who dislike reading and books:  you study your student.  You find what they like and help them pursue their interest.  You introduce books to them that pertain to the things they are interested in.  You do not have to buy the books.  The library is full of good books about different subjects that your child might like. 

Noelle likes fiction.  Cale likes non-fiction.  As he has gotten older, he chooses books about real people.  If he has a book report, he usually chooses a book about a missionary.   His daddy is like that.  I myself had rather read to escape the real world for a while, so I am more apt to pick up a fiction book.

Studying your child and accepting their uniqueness will make for a better homeschool experience.  This does not mean that you look over bad behavior or bad attitudes when it comes to that child's schooling.  Cale knows that his education is very important and he knows that there are days that he has to read about things that do not interest him.  There is always school work that he'd rather not have to sit and do, but through DAILY training through the years, he understands that life is like that.  Every day of our life is not full of things we enjoy and like, but God still expects our best.  Scot often gives the example of meals:  We love the cookies, cakes, and pies, but if that were all we ate each day, they wouldn't be as special, plus we'd get very fat!  We need the vegetables and fruits too.  They help us grow.  But, if we only ate vegetables and fruits every day, we'd get really bored and burned out, so we do need those sweets every now and then to add some excitement and fun to our lives!  That is the way it is with school and our jobs.  If all I did was laundry every single moment of every day, it would get old, very old!   There is a balance there....we just have to be willing to find it.   I guess my advise is to talk to your child.  Train your child according to God's Word.  Whatever our hand finds to do, we are to do it with all our might.  The Bible tells us to do it as unto the Lord.  Children are very sensible people.  Their understanding is much deeper than we sometimes give them credit for. 

I may have chased a few rabbits on this part of my Homeschool series of posts, but I pray it has helped in some small way. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

What I Know About Homeschooling, Part 1

Well, our first week of our last year of homeschooling went well.  It's hard to believe that the little boy who used to want me to sit next to him all day long is in his room working independently and is a senior in high school.   Time has flown.  I say that alot, don't I?   Moments make up and hour, hours make up a day, days make up a week, weeks make up months...Well, you get the picture!   Back to homeschooling...  I do not claim to be an expert in homeschooling; I am just a mother trying to follow the plan that Scot and I felt the Lord called us to follow.  I do deeply care about other children, but God has not called me to teach other children; I am responsible for mine.  I will stand before God and give an account for how I raised my daughter and my son. 

I do get asked questions about homeschooling from time to time, and the odd thing about it is last week, I was asked a question that the answer had already been on my heart to share here at Life By George, but just hadn't taken the time to post.  It was on my mind and in my heart, just not in writing. 

As you know, I have two children, one daughter, Noelle, who graduated from homeschool in 2007, and one son, Cale, who will graduate from homeschool in 2011.   My children are much alike in some areas, but NOT when it comes to school.   Before I elaborate, for the record, I did ask Cale last week if it was ok for me to publicly discuss this subject.  Two or three years ago, he may have said no, but my more mature and understanding senior immediately said that he was fine with me sharing this, in hopes that it would help other mothers.

I can't give you examples or any knowledge about homeschooling other than what I know from homeschooling my own children.  When asked questions about homeschooling multiple children, if it's more than two, I always send that person on to another mother who would know the answer, or if it's about a curriculum or homeschool 'style' that I have not used, I do the same, send them to someone with experience in that.   I rarely act like I know something that I don't....from experience, I know that I usually flop when I do that!     What I Know About Homeschooling will take more than one post due to time and me carefully thinking about each part before I post...

Now, for what I do know about homeschooling, Part 1.

1.  ALL children are different.

2.  What works for one child may or may not work for another child.

3.  Just because a subject comes easy for one, it may be Greek to another.

4.  We all have different learning styles.  For instance, I always dread when my Bible gets old and worn and have to break in a new one.  When looking for particular verses, I can almost tell you every time if the passage is on the left or right page of my Bible.  When spelling a word, I see that word in my mind, etc.  I listened closely to my teachers, but had I not taken notes, I would have made terrible grades.  I need to SEE things!    I am a Show me learner.

5.  DO NOT COMPARE CHILDREN!  Example:  "Your brother can do this, why can't you?"  They hear, "Your brother is smarter than you."

6.  Every day will NOT be a good day.

Note:  I will do my best to post Part 2 this week.

Happy schooling!  There is no place like home!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Will NOT Cry...I Will NOT Cry...I Will NOT Cry

The time has arrived, what time is that you may ask.  My last chapter in Homeschooling.  It's bitter/sweet; if there is such a thing.  Bitter for me...Sweet for Cale.  He is so anxious to be finished with school.  Cale has been an excellent student, obedient, hard working, BUT books, writing, and times spent inside is not his idea of a fun day.   Noelle was right the opposite.  She ADORED and still ADORES books, writing, and time spent inside.  When Noelle graduated in 2007, I didn't have this hard of a time.  She was planning to take some time off from school and just continue working as a part time nanny and waitress until she figured out what she wanted to do.  She had put some applications in at banks and a library, but was still uncertain as to what she would do.  I knew she'd still be around; we could still share our love of books, homemaking, movies, etc.  I was a bit emotional due to it seeming as if it were just yesterday that she was beginning school, but other than that, I was good.   I AM NOT GOOD this time around!  IT is over, done with, ca put!  Homeschooling is nearing a past life for me, history!  My great love is coming to an end.  I'm sure I will be blogging a good bit about homeschooling and my love for it and the love I have for being a stay at home mother with my children.  ( Writing about it is CHEAP THERAPY!)  I am well aware of all the advise that is out there:  1.  This time comes to us all.  2.  You are still their mother.  3.  They will still need you.  4.  Now, you can do things YOU want to do.  5.  You won't be tied down.  6.  Go back to school.  7.  Get a job.  8.  This is just a part of life.  9.  You should feel accomplished and thankful. 10.  You HAVE to let go!   I do not need advise; I know all of those 10 facts I listed; I just need my babies back!  I don't live in La La land.  I know that is NOT going to happen.  You see, I felt a calling from God to be a wife and mother.  It's not popular anymore to JUST be a wife and mother, but I feel like in God's eyes, I have done what I could.  I have run my race, I am about to finish my this chapter of it.  Being a stay at home wife and mother has never ever been a burden or drudgery.  It has been a calling in this life. Even when people have tried to discourage me and make me feel inadequate to other women with educations and well paid jobs, I have tried to stand firm and keep my focus on God's will for me and my family.  I have said many times that I'd have to step down to be First Lady of this great country.  I know I am not going to curl up and die or anything. I know I will not be bored.  I know there are many things for me to continue to do as a pastor's wife, mother, daughter, friend, citizen, etc.  I just can't imagine loving anything more.  I apologize if I'm sounding pitiful.  I'm not pitiful, just very emotional at this present time.  I won't be crying my eyes out, at least for a while. I don't foresee time to do that until after May of 2011.  School begins Monday morning, Cross Country begins Tuesday afternoon.  Church activities, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, Senior portraits, graduation invitations, laundry, cooking, cleaning, and those unexpected activities will keep us all quite busy the next nine months.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fun In The Sun

Thursday, July 29th, two of Cale's best bud's, Logan and Marshall came to our house for a time of fellowship and fun.  The boys just roamed outside and played basketball Thursday evening until supper time.  I made a big pot of spaghetti, corn on the cob, and french bread for supper.  Noelle had baked a chocolate cake the night before....and later Thursday night, we cut a big juicy watermelon.
Friday morning after breakfast, the boys and I went swimming at the Georges. 
Each one did all sorts of funny dives and such off the diving board.
Cale, Logan, Marshall, and our nephew Tristen
Pa Pa G grilled hot dogs for lunch.  Ma Ma G made homemade vanilla ice cream and we all enjoyed watermelon.   Thanks to Pa Pa and Ma Ma for a wonderful day.
Tristen REALLY enjoyed the watermelon.
Pa Pa G, Tristen, Logan, Cale, and Marshall
Great friends=Great times!