What I’ve Missed

The saying always goes that you don’t know what good you have until it’s gone. That’s all too true.

Jordyn starts school tomorrow. Yes, she is starting kindergarten well behind the time that most kids start. The thing is, I’ve been homeschooling her for the past year and a half, but doing a poor job of it. The time has come to put her into “the system” and let her begin to make her way in the world. I have plans to go back to school and I am comfortable with this decision, though it is a huge reversal for me. Now all I have to get through is the fear and regret.

Yes, regret. I have had my daughter for six very precious years. She has been mine to hold and comfort and she has been mine, alone. I was anticipating having her home for a long time to come, teaching her to be a Godly woman, training her to run a household, and guiding her education. That has suddenly changed. What I realized tonight (as I watched George C. Scott’s version of A Christmas Carol) is that I’ve not been taking advantage of the time I had. Suddenly, I think of baking Christmas cookies during the day with regret. My time management with a hole in it where I was scheduled to school my daughter. With making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (herself) as an opportunity that will be missed from now on.

Why didn’t I realize how valuable my time with her was going to be? Perhaps this is the lesson that the Lord is teaching me. That my children are truly an inheritance, not just to watch grow up, but to nurture and to train. To invest time in. I’m not saying that you can’t do that if your children are in school, I intend to do just that. But think of all the hours I’ve wasted in my own selfish pursuits, watching a TV program with my dinner while my children sit at the table, requiring them to play in their rooms instead of reading a book together on the couch, having endless hours of “play quietly in your room” time because Mommy’s too busy for you. What waste!!!

For the longest time I’ve looked to elite gymnasts for their ability to schedule so much time in their day and here I’ve had all day, every day, and I’ve done nothing with it! Perhaps this change is a good one for me, for it will force me to realize what I’ve been missing and it will force me to make better use of the time I’ve squandered. Maybe I can redeem the time yet.

They’re Here!!!

Yeah, those wonderful books all got here today. Amazon even pulled through and delivered the books EARLY!!! So now I am really in deep with the planning work. I’m excited too. Next step is deciding how much of this material I need to take over to Office Max to make copies of. Wishing I had a commercial copier right about now. Sorry about the Facebook-length entry, but I’m busy…

A Schooling Update

I have finally ordered my school supplies!!!

I got everything on my list and then some so we are all set. I don’t even think I will need to buy anything mid-year, with the only possibly exception being the next Spelling Workout book if Jordyn goes quickly enough through this one. The goal is to complete 8 books in 6-7 years, but the easiest book is the first one, so getting a head start is a good thing. I think I have to wait a little bit for her reading level to improve, it is currently her weakest subject.

After reading quite a bit on the Simply Charlotte Mason website, I found a lot of helpful information. See, Charlotte Mason is very similar to classical education in many ways, so they combine nicely together. Despite the fact that a classical education would like me to tie my literature/reading selections to my history timeline, I am thinking that there are a lot of really good books out there that I would much rather read to Jordyn than children’s versions of myth and folklore. Those will eventually be read, when her logic and comprehension levels are much more stable. So here is Jordyn’s first grade reading list (these books will be read TO her, not by her):

The Lion Storyteller Bedtime Book (selections)

Stories From Around the World (selections)

Summer with the Moodys

Autumn with the Moodys

Winter with the Moodys

Spring with the Moodys

Summer Days with the Moodys

Charlotte’s Web

Stuart Little

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Complete Collection of Winnie-the-Pooh

Peter Pan and

The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook

I will let her select which one she wants to read next, except the seasonal Moody books. We probably won’t make it all the way through this list, but that is okay. I will also (likely) be reading more than one book at a time for variety, maybe not…we’ll see.

I did manage to find some beginning readers that I think I’ll like, also recommendations from the SCM website. They are the Phonics Pathways Readers and they can be purchased through Rainbow Resource Center. I got the first three, which all look to be above her current reading level, which is fine. She is progressing nicely through her reading primer, BUT, lately, she has developed a complete aversion to reading off the page. The only way that we can make it through her reading lesson is for me to write the words on our white board for her to read. Suddenly, all her reading problems go away…it’s like magic!

I am into scheduling out our school year in earnest now, waiting impatiently for my books to come in the mail. I’m starting with history, since I already have the history book. It’s going to be good!!!

The 2010/2011 School Year

This year is the year I have been looking forward to for the last 4 or 5 years…seriously! And yet, my failures from last year are still glaring at me in the face: lack of consistency, lack of involvement, lack of a spiritual emphasis, etc. Earlier this year, when I realized that Jordyn was woefully behind, we bought the complete A Beka Kindergarten package despite knowing that Jordyn would likely be very advanced for the first half and not know the second half. The problem was that A Beka teaches Kindergarten students cursive handwriting. Without that, the plan would have been perfect. However, I decided (based on a friend’s recommendation) to go ahead with it, though Jordyn had already learned to print her capital letters (Handwriting without Tears teaches those first) and a few of the lowercase letters. Jordyn still writes her name JORDYN, which I think is due to the early learning of capital letters and the lack of follow-through with lower-case. Instead, we switched programs that taught a whole new think, which was lowercase cursive letters! How confused she must be!!! As the time wore on, I began to realize that we were “doing” school…and that wasn’t really a positive thing. See, A Beka is a traditional program and, like most traditional programs, it centers around a small teaching segment and then filling out worksheets. I think this enabled me to feel like we were accomplishing something because a pile of completed papers had been piling up, but it quickly became drudgery and then… I got pregnant… and sick… and we stopped even “doing” school. Now, we are back where we started, behind, and in need of some changes that will, no doubt, confuse and frustrate, at least for a time.

My plan for this upcoming year is to basically go back to what I had originally planned, because I can see now that the problems weren’t with the programs, but with my consistency in using them. A Beka did teach me that if I keep doing something everyday, learning will happen. Even if it feels like I accomplished nothing because no paperwork got filed or no tests were taken. Even if all we did was sit on the couch and read stories one after another. So, I chose some materials for the upcoming year that require less “doing” and more “sharing” because I need to be more involved in the school day, and not just as teacher, but as Mommy too.

Jordyn:

Math: Saxon 1 (she should be comfortable at this level, even though she won’t finish her A Beka K book)…Saxon advances faster.

Reading: The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. We will continue working through this book until she finishes it. However the problem I seem to continually encounter with ALL reading programs is finding material for my child to read outside of the primer. I get frustrated easily with this, but I’m going to keep plucking along and write down (and/or buy) titles that I really enjoy. (Maybe I’ll write my own books!)

Handwriting: Zaner-Bloser Manuscript. A big change for Jordyn, but we asked her if she wanted to keep doing cursive (which she likes) or try printing this year and she chose printing. In this day and age, you type and your “please print on this form.” Surely, it is still important to learn cursive, but I think we all learn our own “fonts” and most adults write in a form of hybrid printing-cursive that allows them to go fast, and the writing is (I think) more legible than fancy cursive. Perhaps in third grade we will go back to cursive with the Spencerian method which transitions nicely to calligraphy (you use a dipping pen to do it. FUN!)

Grammar: First Language Lessons. Many of these lessons are oral, but the basics are covered at this early level. This guide seems more like a “learn-with-me” book rather than a “teach-it-to-me” book, though obviously the parent has the answers! It is a gentle introduction to grammar that I think is ESSENTIAL in a young person’s education, just like logic and Latin!

Writing: In addition to actual penmanship, we will use an outside curriculum that starts first graders on basics like copying good sentences and narration. It should be a simple thing to do.

Spelling: Later on in the year, probably a month or two in, we will add a formal Spelling program, Spelling Workout. Since we already play “spelling games” in the car, I think this will be a breeze for her.

History: Story of the World, Volume I: Ancient Times. This is a read to me type of book and with the additional activity guide, it also provides coloring pages, crafts, and mapwork along with book suggestions for historical reading and literature. I am also purchasing a children’s World History Encyclopedia. The library will be essential in this subject.

Science: Following the same “theme” as history, we are using two different encyclopedias, one on Animals and the other on the Human Body. In the spring, we will use the book Green Thumbs to learn about plants and gardening. As with history, the library will be essential as we research books on things that are interesting. This is somewhat structured, somewhat “delight-centered” meaning that if Jordyn is interested in reading every book the library has on spiders, we might attempt it, even if we were supposed to move on to ants.

Finer Things: I am hoping to include art projects in the other subjects. Draw a spider is a perfectly appropriate science task. However, I will be ordering the book Drawing with Children, by Mona Brookes and I hope to learn a lot from it.

Bible: I have already purchased “character study” books for both children and I think we will simply read passages from the Bible that pertain to one of those qualities. Otherwise, we are beginning a family devotion time in the morning. Keeping it simple at this stage is just fine. Formal Bible Study can come later. My children should be getting familiar with the language of the Bible and the applications of the Bible at this point.

Noah:

Reading: Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading…slowly but surely.

Math: Saxon K

Writing: Zaner-Bloser K

I imagine that he will willingly listen in and participate in Jordyn’s Science and History lessons, though I won’t expect it of him. I will evaluate at the end of the year whether to progress him forward in those subjects to stay with Jordyn. He will still do first grade work in the new material, but his chronology will be askew. No biggie.

Whew! Hopefully it will be easier to apply than it was to explain!!!

Titus 2 Shipment

Hooray!!!

I just got my books from Titus2.com, a website that I am coming to love. I had already ordered their two books, Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores last year, when I was ordering homeschool curriculum. I use them both, still, in planning out my day and the chores and other work that my children will do. I am getting into the swing of a new routine and once I have the kinks worked out, I’ll let you know what I’m up to.

Lately, homeschooling has been on my mind. I am facing first grade this year for Jordyn and it is becoming obvious to me that “incidental” homeschooling is going to be ineffectual for that year. I am pleased with Jordyn’s knowledge, but I know that she could be at a much higher level if I had applied myself to teaching her. Still, she knows most of what she needs to know to transition successfully into a first grade curriculum (I have used the placement tests, that’s not just me guessing). The big deal for me is what to do next. I had such high plans for a Christian, classical education and staying as far away from textbooks as I could, but lately, I’ve begun to rethink that position. When looking for different methods to homeschool, I ran across (again) the book by the Maxwells of Titus 2 called Managers of Their Schools. The reason I had never thought about this book before is that they are decidedly PRO-TEXTBOOK learning. They use Christian textbooks exclusively and I thought that was an interesting stand, but originally I was set again textbooks, so I discredited the book. I now own it.

Today, it came, along with Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit and the Study Guide, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts: Our Vital Priority, and finally a children’s book series called The Moody’s. It is a set a chapter readers about a large(ish), Christian, homeschooling family, so the children should be able to relate to the positive images portrayed a lot easier than having to read through the secular, man-bashing, God-trashing “literature” out there.

I’m excited to begin to read through these books, I’ll post reviews when I’m done with them!

Can I Have it All?

The money that I would make by going back to school is just too good to pass up. But homeschooling our children is incredibly important to Eric and me. Is it possible to not decide between the two and instead, have it all?

Here is the situation. Jordyn is only going into first grade (which actually puts her a year ahead of her peers because of her August birthday and the June cut-off for kindergarten) and Noah would technically be in preschool but at this point needs to take some speech therapy. (Anybody know of a good way to do speech therapy from home?) My goal for him in the upcoming year is mostly character related- learn to sit still and not whine when all the attention is not on him. I will start him up on The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading as soon as I know that he is capable of following directions. I plan on buying their combo pack which you can get through Peace Hill Press and offers a magnetic letter board to play the optional games and the flashcards. For Noah, those are essential.

Here is our plan goal hope shot-in-the-dark. We are going to try to purchase our full curriculum over this summer and begin school in August so that we can have a few good weeks established before we try to take Mom away with her own schooling. What am I going to do with the kids while I am in school? I have no idea! One option includes swapping out childcare with my sister who has three children and is also pursuing her degree this fall, that is, if she decided to make Pueblo her home town and attend the university here with me. If she doesn’t, one option is for me to schedule school around some crazy hours, namely one early morning class, one late class, and one online class. That only allows for three classes a semester, which is not the fast approach, but that is likely all I’ll be able to manage if I’m actively homeschooling though. Our third option is my least favorite because it means the kids will be going off to school, like I swore they wouldn’t. If they do have to go to school, I will take as many classes as I can and I will “afterschool” my children according to The Well-Trained Mind because I am confident that they won’t be getting a great education in their public schools.

At least, those are the things we are hoping for. It would be great if I could just swap out childcare because then I will know that my kids are cared for. Eric will then be responsible for taking charge with some of the schooling when he is home. After I finish my degree, if I finish my degree, then will be an English teacher at the high school level. At that point, we would consider trying to continue our mash-up of educational plans or we will enroll them into a private school.

I have been excited about homeschooling since the first time I heard about it and I have been passionate about classical education for almost as long. It makes the most sense and provides a rigorous education for these children of mine. However, there are so many variables right now that there is almost no telling what will happen over the next fews weeks and months.

Guilt Tripping

Its the age-old debate in my house all over again.

It all started with my sister talking about a school in Kentucky that she wanted to attend. My mom jumped on that bandwagon and decided that she would also like to be a sonographer when she grows up. That sparked the entire conversation about education and income, jobs and the future.

Somewhere along the way I got swept up and now am in the middle of planning my return to college and sending my children off the public school system and any potential children into the day care system. I am looking at studying to be a teacher which is a noble, even child-friendly career for women. My family needs the money because we have handled our money so poorly in the past that we have gotten into an incredibly bad position.

My issue is that I really like the idea of going back to school and putting my children into school. I like knowing that I can help out the family financially and still be present when necessary. As a teacher, my hours are going to be quite convenient as a mother except that I wouldn’t be able to homeschool my children. So, the guilt that I am feeling is that I thought that I NEED to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother in order to fulfill the Biblical definition of “keeper at home,” after all, how can you keep something if you’re not there.

I am terrified of making the wrong decision, of becoming an independent feminist, of loving money more than my children, of ruining the lives of my children. I am struggling with this issue SO MUCH!!! I hear that God gives you peace when you are on the right track, but apparently, I can deceive myself because I have felt peace about things that have turned out to be a clear error in judgement.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill, here? Is working outside the home the worst thing ever? Are my kids going to be Christians if they go to a public school? Will they succeed academically? Moreover, what about the children my husband and I have been praying over? Am I going to have more children, only to place them in someone else’s care so that I can attend school and eventually teach all day long?

I feel like my very right to call myself a conservative Christian woman is up for debate.