Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homeschool Diaries


Where do I begin?

Thoughts race through my mind a mile a minute, pretty fitting since that's how I feel homeschooling is moving, a mile a minute while I try to sort through a sea of thoughts.

Another year with CC is coming to an end. I am very thankful for this community and the support it offers. I am thankful how the Lord is using my role to stretch me as I continually find myself out of my comfort zone, the best place to be, it seems, to reveal my inadequacies and my need for Him. I am thankful for the grace He gives me to lead in spite of myself.

I find myself growing even more committed to the classical, Christian model. Actually, I'm pretty pumped about it. And, I may just come off a bit over zealous and weird if you ask me to talk about it. I am most thankful that it is training my children how to think and learn and eventually how to articulately defend what they believe, whether it be about a perspective on a piece of literature or about their faith. The classical model makes sense to me, likely because it complements our natural tendancies in learning.

And some people have asked me lately, why do I homeschool. And my answer to that has been refined over the past two years. My focus was very blurry to begin with as I was uncertain as to what my goals and reasons were in homeschooling. But lately, my focus is more clear and I move foward with much more purpose and confidence. I know many people assume (and possibly a good reason to) that folks homeschool out of fear, fear of what that big dark world will do to their kids. And that's partially true. But I don't homeschool out of fear, it's out of hope. Because, yes, I do want to shelter my kids. I said it. But what's wrong with that? I want to shelter them from an overstimulation of ideas that young impressionable minds are unable to sort through at a young age. I think of homeschooling as a greenhouse, an environment that prepares my kids for the world they will be thrust into.  My kids will be faced with some big stuff (for lack of a better word) and I think it's our job as parents to prepare them for it. I'm not saying therefore every parent should homeschool because I don't think that's true either. But for us, I see homeschooling as the best way to prepare our kids for the world that awaits them. Instead of shielding them from the world, we are preparing them for the world. And as Christians, we are called to teach our kids diligently about the Lord and His world. I find it such a priviledge to get to do that every day with my kids as we learn about His world whether it's through the order of math, the science of His creation, or the beauty of words. For us, the goal of education is to know God and to make Him known (also the mission of Classical Conversations). Lord willing my children will come to know the Lord and I want them to be prepared to defend their faith and engage the culture that grows more hostile toward the Christian faith. Overall, I see this journey as the best way John and I can be good stewards of our children. That perspective has grown vividly sharp over the past several months and has given me greater confidence as I press on in this journey.

On a much lighter note, I've found myself at a crossroads regarding curriculum. I wanted to be that homeschool mom who didn't switch curriculum. Well, cross me off that list. After much debating, I decided to end The Writing Road to Reading primarily because the next step, the spelling notebook, was so confusing and required a lot of brain power to decipher and "ain't nobody got time for that" when you've got a house to run and three kids to oversee. And while I am thankful for the year we invested in that program (and I'll likely supplement Grant's phonics program next year with it), it's time to move to a more simple plan. Thus, thanks to my sister in law's wisdom, Hannah is moving to SRA phonics as well as doing Storytime Treasures through Memoria Press to work on literary skills, spelling, and copywork. Hannah loves it so far. She's starting to read classic books like Little Bear and already I see a confidence growing in her with reading. We'll continue with Saxon math for both kids next year. I like it. I like it alot (thanks Forrest Gump). And buddy Grant will be doing Saxon phonics next year thanks to an awesome deal I grabbed at the local consignment store. He is.fired.up. Grant will be an official kindergartener next year. I can't believe it.

So, those are my very RANDOM homeschool thoughts. I know, all over the board. Homeschool life is plugging along. It's hard. It's tiring. It's demanding. But I do enjoy it. My biggest struggle right now is how to stay awake during read aloud time after lunch. It's bad. Even when I taught in public school I struggled to stay awake. Now that I'm no longer employed in the public school system I can tell you that I dozed off smack dab in the middle of reading a chapter book to my kids. I mean, it was like a 2 second doze. But I did. AND when I was in a reading conference with one of my students right after lunch, I dozed off for a split second. And he caught me. He caught me red handed. He said, "Miss Harman, were you asleep?" And, now, my own kids ask the same thing during read aloud time, "Mom, are your eyes closed?" It's a problem I can't seem to get rid of. I don't drive to see my parents anymore (or try not to) right after lunch because I can't hardly keep my eyes open (it's a three hour drive). I've had to pull off the road before and close my eyes with all three kids staring at me.

So, that's a LONG digression. Look at these pictures of our awesome homeschool days while I close my eyes for a minute. 

To work on Grant's fine motor skills I found some great ideas on Pinterest, like picking up small beads and putting them one by one in an egg carton. I must say, he's doing much better with his pencil grip. Hooray!

Hannah working on identifying syllables via Post It notes.

Picture sort by identifying pictures that start with certain letters.

A conflict of interest, can you spot it in the picture above?

Some of us in CC got together and took a trip to the local fire station.

Again, I'm really proud of Grant sharpening his motor skills and working on writing letters. He's proud too.