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Saturday, May 11, 2013

Home educating

I know I haven't blogged much about my first year of home educating, so I thought I'd share a few things I learned this year:
1. You can't force someone to learn if they aren't ready. For the first 2 weeks of school, I had this idea in my head of what I would do for both Jeremiah and Simon. I had a curriculum I had chosen, I was excited to get going and they were excited as well. However, it became very apparent early on that Simon was not ready to just sit and learn like Jeremiah was. After 2 weeks of both of us being VERY frustrated because he wasn't learning as quickly as I thought he should, it occurred to me that he doesn't HAVE to be in preschool this year and there was no reason for me to force it. I changed tactics and even though I wasn't actively working with Simon, he was still learning quite a bit by just listening to what Jeremiah was learning AND he could come and go as he pleased. When he was sitting at the table with us, I would have activities for him to work on if he wanted. He actually was around quite a bit anyway because he doesn't really like to play by himself. :-) Also, by around March of this year, he was actively wanting me to work with him by himself so I knew that he was ready to start "formal" preschool.

2.  Sometimes the curriculum you thought was going to be the best, turns out NOT to be the best. OK, I admit it. I was VERY sure that the curriculum I purchased last spring would be perfect. It had bright colors and good activities and it was a "curriculum in a box" so I didn't think I'd have to do much in the way of lesson planning. And, for the most part, that was true. In the beginning of school Jeremiah was very excited to have school and was very interested in learning. However, when he began getting bored with the projects and didn't really like the material, I knew it was time for a change. Financially speaking, I couldn't just go out and buy another curriculum. I also didn't want to choose the wrong one again and spend all that money on something else that we wouldn't really end up using. So, I had to get creative. I started focusing mainly on reading, writing, and arithmetic and found activities online that would help me with those 3 subjects. Since we were outside a lot, we also would learn about the bugs, trees, grass, etc. that we encountered and things the boys asked me about. Friday was also our science day and we would have experiments and talk about them. I then scoured the internet and found various websites that gave free or discounted homeschool products, which I have listed below.

Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Nebraska Christian Home Educator's Association
Homeschool Central
TLS Books
Hubbard's Cupboard
In the Hands of a Child
Homeschool Freebie
Education.com
ABC Mouse
I Can Teach My Child
Among others.....

3.  Teachable moments happen everywhere, all the time. The simple question of, "Mommy, why can you put a bunch of yucky stuff together and then put it in the oven you come out with delicious cookies?" can start a science lesson (how the "yucky" ingredients join together to taste yummy), reading (a recipe), math (measuring ingredients), and even spelling the ingredients.You can start teaching fractions when you are eating a pizza. You can work on counting when cleaning up toys by counting them as you put them away, etc.

4.  When a child loves a subject, doing that can be a reward...and they are still learning! Jeremiah LOVES, LOVES, LOVES math. Seriously. He definitely did NOT get that trait from me.  :-) So when I realized that he loved it and was really GOOD at it, doing math because the fun thing to do as a reward after doing things that he doesn't like as well. He has done addition, subtraction, and even multiplication up through 7. You can even turn spelling into math! The other day Jeremiah learned how to spell "Druckenmiller" so he wanted to call his grandparents to share it with them. When he was talking with Grandma Kelley, she asked him how many letters were in Druckenmiller (13). Then she asked how many letters were in Jeremiah (8) and then asked how many letters there were total. He started to count on his fingers and then stopped and said "Oh, it's 21 because 14 + 7 is 21 so 8 + 13 is also 21." We were both VERY impressed.

5.  Home educating doesn't HAVE to be at home. When I have errands to run, I like to do them during the day when it isn't as busy so we are driving in the car typically 2-3 times a week to various places. When I know that we are going to be gone at appointments or things like that for a period of time, I'll bring our work with us and we'll have school wherever we are at! We have had school at doctor's offices, Burger King Play Place (yes, it is possible), at the auto body repair shop during oil changes, at your grandparent's house, and even in the car! While driving, we will often do both spelling and math and sometimes reading (no, I'M not reading). We will also include activities like finding things outside that start with certain letters or going through the alphabet and naming things that start with each letter, etc. We will also sing songs and tell stories. One thing that we have greatly enjoyed in the last month is a Boogie Board from C R Toys. No, it isn't something to wipe your nose on or go surfing with. It is a very thin LCD board that you can write on with a stylus (that attaches to the top of the board so you *hopefully* don't lose it), draw on, whatever and when you are finished you push a button at the top and it is all erased. It is so small that it will fit almost anywhere and the boys LOVE it. Now we can take it places and we can have our spelling tests on it, math lessons, or the boys can draw on it to pass the time. We couldn't be happier with it. 

Overall, we had a really great year and we will continue home educating the boys until either they are finished with high school or until we feel that another option would be better for them. The best part of home educating is seeing that light bulb in their heads turn on when they figure something out. It makes those hard days all worth it to know that you are teaching your kids the skills they will need as they grow up.

If you are thinking about home educating or would like to talk to someone about it, I'd be happy to talk to you. I will be brutally honest with you and promise not to "sugar coat" it. Home educating is NOT for everyone and not everyone SHOULD do it but if you feel like you are supposed to homeschool, then I would love to talk to you. Also, since I try to have a picture with my posts, here is a recent picture of the boys. Aren't they the most handsome boys ever?

The injera and tibs at the Interntional Cafe in Omaha are finger-licking good. 

2 comments:

  1. I commend you for all the wonderful contributions you are making. Adoption is a wonderful thing. You also must have the patience of an Angel, as I assume there would be alot of adjusting on everyone's part - to become the family unit. Although I am not "next door" I would always be glad to talk with you if you needed to bounce ideas off someone, or just someone to sit and listen while you just talk and rattle on. Again, I commend you and your husband for having such wonderful open hearts and open arms.

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  2. I'm so glad homeschooling is working out for you now for both kids. You have found out one of the most important things about homeschooling...the ability to change mid-stream if necessary to personalize and make the best learning environment for each child.
    As far as a curriculum, have you considered online learning? Sometimes it works wonders to just let them jump in and do something at their own pace. We like Time4Learning (Time4Learning.com) because my daughter can choose her subjects and move at her own pace. She completed the science work the 2 years in advance because she loves science so much! Anyway, one of T4L's greatest traits is that it plans the lessons for me so that I spend time with my child, not planning to teach.
    Happy Mother's Day!

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Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman