Two things that have made my heart happy this week:
1) I love teaching my kids. Love it. Best job ever.
2) I was chatting with Henry on Sunday about his feelings about the things he’s learning and asking about what kinds of things he wanted to learn, etc., and he spontaneously offered, “I love doing school at home, Mom.”
After taking a two-week break (one for prepping for a vacation and the other taking the vacation), I think I just might be a proponent of year-round homeschooling. I have been astounded that it’s taken us a full month to get back to a normal routine with our schoolwork. Last week was the first week where I planned and executed the plan and we got everything done that I wanted us to do.
We’ve added a few more components to our curriculum since we started a mere four months ago.
Since being called as a Primary chorister at church, I’ve realized that sometimes it’s easier to remember things if you can sing them. So we’ve been tackling the Articles of Faith in song form vs. rote memorization. I think it’s made a world of difference in how Henry and Sam are able to grasp new vocabulary. It’s easier to sing “privilege,” “dictates” or “conscience.” Sometimes when they’re playing with their Legos or drawing, I’ll walk through the room and casually hum the first line of the song and then pause while I exit the room. Without fail, they will start singing the Article of Faith to themselves as they play. (Heh, heh! How’s that for incorporating memorization?)
We’ve started the Getty and Dubay program for handwriting. The thing that I liked about this program was how they group letters into family groups, so that letters that have similar strokes are learned together. This week, we’re working on lower-case h, m, n and r. It makes so much more sense to me to learn it this way instead of alphabetically.
This handwriting program has also illustrated just how much perfectionism resides within Henry (curse of the oldest child). Today, he scribbled all over his page in frustration and left the table in a huff because he couldn’t make the lines in his m’s straight enough. I certainly sympathize. I cried during more than one piano lesson in my younger days because I didn’t play my piece perfectly.
Finally, I’ve started reading books aloud to the kids. We made short work of “James and the Giant Peach,” enjoyed “Squanto, Friend to the Pilgrims,” are almost through “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” and have simultaneously started “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” I’ve been surprised by how quickly we make it through each of these books. But I confess to loving it when the clamors for “more!” begin as I end each chapter. Oh, all right, twist my arm!
Still loving this journey!
Iâ€™ve spent a lot of the last week engaged in mental conversations with myself. Most of them are made up of defending and refuting homeschooling and my reasons for doing so. I havenâ€™t had any direct confrontations; rather, Iâ€™ve heard ghosts of conversations past whisper through my memory and Iâ€™ve felt a need to end the conversation better than I did in person.
Through this process, I stumbled on an epiphany and it was simply that regardless of the mode of delivery of an individualâ€™s education, everyone still gets to learn the same life lessons. When those lessons are learned is more dependent on mode of delivery.
For example, by homeschooling my children, they may not be exposed to bullying or dishonest behavior or pornographic material on the playground at recess when theyâ€™re six or eight or ten. But guaranteed, they will be exposed to these things at some point in their lives. They may not confront a bully until theyÂ join a Boy Scout troop, or encounter cheating, stealing, or lying until theyÂ enter the workforce. You just donâ€™t get through life without these lessons because unfortunately, life is full of this stuff.
Conversely, by homeschooling my children, they may be able to develop the ability to think and rationalize and create, and they may do it earlier than their peers. As a product of public education, I donâ€™t feel like I gained these skills until I was halfway through my college education and had some wonderful life experiences outside of the classroom. Iâ€™ve always felt a little sorry that my ability to do well in school had more to do with my ability to â€œplay the gameâ€ rather than my ability to think things through for myself and arrive at my own conclusion, ready to defend it. I hope homeschooling will provide a place for my kids to develop these skills. And whether or not it does, I am assured that my kids will come to these things in their own time.
I felt better after thinking through this little epiphany. It made the arguments echoing in my head seem more flimsy.
What do you get when you give birth to four babies in three years?
The Fearsome Foursome.
The oldest is five but the four of them are already pretty tight. They generate creative energy that feeds off each other.
Case in point: I sent them outside to play in the backyard. While doing dishes, I did a visual check to see if everyone was okay. They had dragged their little red wagon to the back corner of the yard and were loading all of the fallen lemons from our lemon tree into it. I smiled to myself and thought, â€œHow great that theyâ€™re finding things to keep themselves occupied!â€
A few minutes later, I moved to the window to do another visual check. They had dragged the wagon to the opposite side of the yard, up against the fence. I did a double take. All four were doing their valiant best to chuck those lemons over the fence into the neighborâ€™s back yard. The reason I did a double take was because some of those rotting lemons were actually making it over the fence, which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing feat when youâ€™re three feet tall.
I ran outside to redirect their energies, and then spent the next ten minutes drying dishes and having visions of the four of them terrorizing the neighborhood together.