Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why I Homeschool Post #1

Smart Like Daddy

I've always wanted to write a "Why I Choose to Homeschool" post, but my reasons for homeschooling are so numerous, I was afraid I would have a book by the time I was done. If that happened, then I’d have to go through that whole lengthy publishing process, find an agent, go on tour, etc. I was reluctant to embark on the whole “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” adventure. Who wants to do that when they could be teaching grammar instead?!?

However, today I was hit by a revelation … two, actually!

The first I’ll write about in a moment. The second revelation was that I could share my thoughts over the course of several posts instead of all in one! Genius!

Revelation #1

As I sat reading Renee Tougas’ article about 4 Simple Ways to Teach Elementary Science, I was hit by a revelation! I could finally put my finger on an elusive thought that’s been flitting about my brain, teasing me. “This is why you want to homeschool, you just don’t know it yet.”

First, I must tell you, I’m married to an incredibly intelligent man.

And he comes from an exceptionally smart family.

That’s not to say that I’m not smart, or that my family isn’t either.

It just suddenly occurred to me … we are “smart” in different ways. I am book smart. I am “public school smart enough.” I am a reader & can teach myself just about anything. I can memorize facts for a test. I know how to spell, write, & speak well. I can do enough math to get me through the grocery store, to find the better deal on soccer cleats, and to calculate approximately how much paint I need for the living room.

But my man? (And his family?) Whew! They KNOW so much! I can’t even begin to list the things they know, but I’ll try to give you a few examples … they know:
·        How to raise honeybees
·        How to replace a belt (or any other part) on a tractor, lawn mower, or car
·        How to do their own wiring, plumbing, & roofing
·                How to locate certain stars in the sky 
·               What the Grand Canyon is like (among other national landmarks) 
·               What household goodies to use to doctor a bee sting (my mother-in-law almost scared me   away when hubby & I were dating when she taped a slice of raw onion to my foot after I stepped on a bee & got stung) *Don’t laugh! It worked.* (AND, I now know why it worked!)
·       How to can the veggies they’ve harvested from the garden they planted
·             What kind of bug that it, what bug it's related to, whether it's dangerous or not, and if we should get rid of it or put it to work in the garden or trees
·             Speaking of trees: what kind of tree that is, if it will make it through the winter AND, oh yeah ... 
·            How to tap maple trees & turn the sap into syrup!!! 

Sure, anyone can learn these things. But here’s what I’ve discovered that makes them different from me: they learned most of these things, hands-on, while growing up.

Almost everything I’ve learned in life has come from a book, in school. And now, as an adult, I feel like I don’t know a whole lot of “useful” information.

My husband also went to school, but what impresses me is the knowledge he gained from living “in the world” … as opposed to living in novels, like I did. I’m jealous.

I want my kids to be “smart like Daddy.” I want them to know how to do things. I don’t want them to just be able to spit answers back for a test, then forget them. When my kiddos went to public school, we simply ran out of time each day for “living.” We rushed around in the morning, spent the day at school (me too, as a substitute teacher), came home to argue, fuss, & fight over meaningless homework, ate, bathed, and went to bed. Oh yeah, I allowed some playtime in there somewhere.

I’m so thankful that God has allowed us to homeschool. My kids are learning so much more now! They might not know … hmmm. I was going to compare them to what their public school peers know, but I couldn’t find anything they are lacking yet. And the things they know that those “other kids” don’t? Now that’s priceless!

I will follow this up later with more reasons why we homeschool, but today’s revelation was a real eye-opener for me. We homeschool because I want my kids to be “smart like Daddy.”

*Please be sure to read Renee's article. She has done a fabulous job of helping my mind grasp what I really am using as an elementary Science curriculum.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer is for ... #2

Summer is for ... spending time with public-schooled neighbor kids.

Today we declared a "Movie Day." (Actually, we decided this last night. I quickly made up an invitation and they ran it next door before everyone went to bed.)

Andrew had requested the movie "Spiderman" from the library, but we hadn't watched it yet. I needed something to kill some summer hours because these kids were getting under my skin. So, we invited the neighbor kids to come eat popcorn and watch the movie with us.

Today, we ran to the Dollar Tree and picked up some cheap snacks, came home to tidy up the family room, and then we let the festivities begin. We had popcorn, cookies, pretzels with cheese, and Tootsie Pops.

It was fun. Everyone was happy. Including Mommy. Yay! Maybe not the dogs so much. They were stuck in their crate the whole time.

Summer is for ... #1

Summer is for ... curriculum planning.
Summer 2009 - The decision had been made to start homeschooling, using an online public school. A1 was going into 3rd grade, A2 was going into 1st.
Fall 2009 - What was I thinking?!? An online public school is still a public school! (However, I had not done due diligence when it came to educating myself about homeschooling, so how was I to know?) Let the research begin! Cancelled the online public schooling, filed the paperwork declaring ourselves homeschoolers, and started the kids on worksheets and workbooks (so they were doing something "educational") while I started bringing home armloads of books from the library. OH!!! So that's what homeschooling is all about. Ok, the picture was coming in clearer as I learned about the different styles and methods and curriculums. Now we're getting somewhere. Scrabbled together a makeshift curriculum for the 2009-2010 "school year" and kept up with my own studying ... of "How to homeschool" etc.
Summer 2010 - Discovered Classical Conversations somehow. Can't remember how, but if you saw what I do on the computer ... read an article, open a new tab each time I come across something I want to know more about, search for it in the tab, then leave the tab open and come back to it when I'm done with the first article. So, somehow I must've read about it somewhere online. Went to an informational meeting, took home the propaganda, researched it, discussed at length with hubby (dear man), and decided we'd try it for a year since we happened to have the money to afford it.
Fall 2010 - Started attending Classical Conversations (or CC, as members affectionately call it). The kids loved it. They loved making new friends, having playdates, eating lunch together. But Mom ... not so much. I like the program, for the most part. I love the curriculum. Let's say that much. What I don't like is getting up early on Monday mornings, scrambling around just like we're trying to get to school on time! No time for coffee, have to walk the dogs, brush my teeth (there were days when I forgot to brush my hair!) ... pack some breakfast because there's no time to eat! Wait ... isn't this the stuff we loved leaving behind when we started homeschooling?!? All of a sudden, my favorite day of the week became my most dreaded! Mondays are my favorite because the busy weekend, full of off-schedule activity, is put behind us and I can start out new again, refreshed and ready to tackle the world. OR, if it was a super busy weekend, we can take Monday morning off to regroup and rest before tackling the world. Either way, that wonderful Monday morning feeling went down the drain as I went back to my public-school-mom personality of trying to get everyone organized and out the door on time.
*We stuck it out for the year. Kids still loved it, although they weren't too upset the few times we had to miss it. But I couldn't wait to get back to our regular life when it was over. And that leads me up to Spring of 2011.
Spring 2011 - Mommy doesn't want to go back to CC. We set aside the money for it, but financially we're just scraping by ... why should we spend so much money on something that makes Mommy miserable? Who wants a miserable teacher-Mommy? (They can get those at public school!) So, let the research begin again!
Summer 2011 - Mommy got up the guts to talk to the Superintendent of our school (a.k.a. Daddy) about not going back to CC. Daddy says ok. I can still use the curriculum to do my best at giving my children a good education. Now the challenge is explaining to the children that we are not going back.
Someone say a prayer for me.
**P.S. We have continued very light schooling through the summer with a concentration on spelling, their weakest subject. Now it's the middle of July. We're still plugging in summertime fun, but we also hit Staples the other day for back-to-school supplies and that really put the kids in the mood for more! Mom - not so much! I'm realizing how much work I have to do to get ready to start back full-time. Ahem. Not really. We're homeschoolers after all. My goal is for us to enjoy the ride.