Category Archives: Homeschool

“Hours” in your main job = mothering

I’ve been a working-outside-the-home mom for most of my mothering years. Each of my kids was blessed to go to the best preschool, The Rise School of Houston, at 1 year old, & I could go to work while they were there 8:30-2:30.

Paying jobs require a certain “commitment”. If it’s an hourly job, it’s a set of hours to receive pay. If it’s a project-based job, like my business Adaptive Communication Devices, it’s setting aside time to do whatever is due this week.

Mothering seems to have a much more “flexible” commitment. It’s harder to measure if you get more return on your investment (the lives of your kids) if you put in 40 hours of dishes, or skip it all to read a book… It’s an endless project without a due date, and you aren’t told exactly how your “compensation” will be adjusted for each neglected or added task

So, honestly, I’ve never been near as good at, or faithful to do my mothering as I am my case management job or my business.
I never settled on a list of tasks to hold myself to.

Then I decided to homeschool Holden. And I have a mark to exceed: the education he was receiving at Veritas. I didn’t keep him home to save money or waste his time. I kept him home to shape him, to teach him in specialized way designed for him.

This has been so GOOD for my mothering overall. It has given me a standard for what I do with him. And since I love all 3 kids, it’s given me a standard for Arabella & Darin, too.

Sometimes it’s hard to not do all I want with Redeemed or meet up with friends like I had the freedom to during the day. But it definitely feels like this is a job I can do well if I make a commitment to do the tasks I know are needed each week.

Walking in another person’s shoes

As part of homeschooling, Holden and I just enjoyed Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I really enjoyed one topic it helped us to contemplate: beauty & comparison.

Several times in the narrative, discussions of the preference for blonde hair (Laura’s sisters hair color) vs brown hair (Laura’s hair color) came up, and Laura was clearly made to feel inferior. Each time, it was intriguing to see Holden get angry at the feelings of rejection this made Laura feel. He immediately focused these feelings on Mary. Then we talked through this – did Mary chose to be blonde? Was she actually doing anything hurtful to Laura?

Later in the week, Holden came out of the library and mention the librarian helping him had been a lady who he though originally was a man. We talked about how it would feel to have people perceive you differently from how you wish they saw you. I could see that relating to Laura had prepared him to relate to this librarian.

I love learning this stuff with him!

Homeschooling

2013 has found me in a new stage of life.

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Where did it begin
It started in December, when I heard someone say how they didn’t continue to do something that wasn’t working. I thought, “Me neither.”
But at the same time, I thought, “Except Holden’s school.”

I was very discouraged with the fall semester at Veritas Christian Academy. It seemed like the curriculum was lousy, a bad fit for Holden, and the routine wasn’t fitting our family. The only thing it really had going was a nice environment full of nice kids.

So in December, I started dreaming of schooling Holden – having lots of time with him, doing the things differently that I was discouraged with his teacher for, etc. But I wasn’t really sure if I could juggle everything. And I didn’t want to force this on Holden, since he may be facing HUGE changes at the end of the year if Joel gets a pastoral position not in Houston.

I gave Holden the choice. And he picked Veritas. I was really bummed, but decided to pray instead of nag. I completely dropped the subject and all discussions of homeschooling for this Spring.

Then our family took a trip to Maine. Joel preached for 2 Sundays at a church in search of a pastor. And on the trip, Holden repeated his desire to homeschool for 3 days in a row.

Jumping right in

After withdrawing Holden from school, I decided not to stress and rush. We could survive with no formal school for January.

And I started emailing all my homeschool friends to see what they were doing for school. NONE of them do the same thing. Even the friends that are close friends.

This was actually really encouraging: There was no pressure to conform to anything.

I put together my best guess for curriculum preferences on a long Saturday of planning, and we jumped right in 3 weeks ago.

An aside: as I research curriculum, I felt like I was retracing a journey my mom took 25 yrs ago when homeschooling me – following a workbook-based curriculum for my 2nd grade, Christian Liberty Academy for another year, classical textbooks for another. This “journey” reinforced how similar mom & I are, as I can remember her making changes if something wasn’t a fit.

An about face

When emailing my friend, Alicia Taylor, I thought she was schooling her children in a way I wanted to… which I thought resembled closely Charlotte Mason’s style. I was drawn to Charlotte’s ideas of:

  • learning from living books that communicate a topic through the author’s personal experience & passion
  • learning spelling, grammar, & vocabulary by lots of exposure to these living books
  • creative “writing” done by oral narration, so the writing & syntax skills don’t limit the expression of thoughts

But Alicia directed me to a seminar by Carole Joy Seid called A Literature Based Approach to Education. I was excited because my original interest had been in classical education, which was described to me as reading whole books instead of textbooks, but I found it to be a lot of curriculum and workbooks anyway. This method seemed to meet my original expectations.
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This seminar was affirmation of everything my heart longed to do with Holden, but was second guessing as a non-educator who didn’t read very many good books as part of my schooling. I am a reader, but I’ve always read whatever was popular for my age at the time.

Contemplating the transformation

It took me a week & a half to go through this seminar, after I got 3/5 of the way through and realized I needed to be taking notes.

As I worked through it, I was evaluating what I had set out to do with Holden, and how the tasks I had planned 3 weeks ago matched. And I started making changes.
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It feels like I live in a different house, with THREE different children (not just Holden) who are thriving in a way they didn’t before. It has caused me to slow down, unplug devices, and fill “bored” spaces with either (1) reading out loud to 1-2-or-3 kids, or (2) sending them outside and letting them create.
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As I went back through my notes yesterday, I made a simple list of the statements from A Literature Based Approach to Education that are my tips to follow:

  • Do school quickly, tutorial method.
  • Be outside by noon.
  • Encourage your kids for their WORK ETHIC.
  • Teach kids to love books and how to work.
  • The way we teach a child to WANT to read is by reading to them, and NEVER requiring them to read themselves.
  • Reading is a treat. You don’t have to read – you GET to read.
  • Keep a nature journal.
  • Cover your house in maps.
  • Don’t prepare ahead – learn together.
  • Create a history timeline.

Why this is profound & refreshing
This is not my first time to set out at homeschooling. In 2008, I started Kindergarten with Arabella & Holden.

And the biggest difference, and what I think is the reason I failed, was that I tried to “do school” at home. By 2 weeks in, Holden enrolled in public school, & Arabella and I struggled through to Christmas.

At that time, I was going against the research into Waldorf, a system I admire, and pushing reading with a developmentally immature girl.

One of the most amazing parts of Carole Joy Seid’s seminar is research she shares about skills built by being read to and to support late learning of skills as being better, not worse, for a child.

Balancing

I am going back and forth on educating Arabella and Holden.
One day I am set on homeschooling, looking forward to the time together, the opportunity to teach them, and uncomplicate our life.
The next day, I think, "who am I kidding!" I'll never be organized enough to teach them. Their lifes will be chaotic.

Last week, I planned to go on Thursday to just talk to my local school (in a district know for excelling in Special Ed) about Arabella. But I knew there were factors they could not guarantee: mainly, how good of an Aide she would have.
Then Wed, her Speech Therapist invite Arabella to join a 3-day per week class with 5 other kids @ her center, to supplement her homeschooling. It sounds like it will offer just what I was looking for at school – a routine, consistent interactions with other kids, and obedience to another teacher.
I am so thankful for this super-affordable option, 1/2-way between homeschool and school. I'll still do the academics, pick the curriculum, but I'll have some time to reorganize between our at-home school days.

So that just leaves Holden. My sweet Holden. I have lots of guilt about last year. I pulled him out of The Rise School for Pre-K, to try the public Montessori magnet in our old school district, Wilson Elementary. It was a fine arts school, so I thought it would be good for him, but the timing was really about checking it out for Arabella for this coming year.
He missed Rise a lot. Then at the end of the 2nd semester, we moved him to Veritas Christian Academy. He wanted to learn about God, we wanted him to be trained in righteousness, and we knew by then that Wilson Elementary was not going to be a good fit for Arabella.
Holden did great @ Veritas. It was a great little school.

But now that we moved, Veritas is not an option. It's in Bellaire….
We are in Deer Park. It has an 8am arrival with $5 tardies…. We would have to leave home @ 7am to be on time.

So, no matter what, Holden's doing something new. And he doesn't even turn 5 until August 23rd.
At the end of the school year, he was excited about homeschooling….
Now he's asking for school. But he's not the Boss, so I have to decide.

Yikes!

Homeschooling

God has laid it on my heart to homeschool Arabella and Holden next year.
It’s kinda weird because, when I felt like homeschooling might be my only option for Holden (at Christmas time), I didn’t want to do it. Then we found Veritas Christian Academy for Holden, and I started talking with them about Arabella attending there.
I remember feeling like I’d be devastated if Veritas didn’t let Arabella attend there.
Then Arabella started her 3 visitation days at Veritas. And I began to realize that I wanted the privilege I was trying to convince them they wanted – to teach my angel. And I realized that I am looking forward to spending lots of time with Bella as best girls in the post-school years… And I don’t want to get there and find her life has been wasted and she has been hurt.
Then I started getting excited. I almost didn’t send her to her 3rd visit to Veritas, except that I hadn’t worked out logistics.
So when last Monday Veritas told me they did not think they are a good fit for Arabella, I said, “I agree!”

SIMPLIFY
I’ve been wanting to simplify my life for awhile, mainly, so I can be better at the important things:

  • Being Joel’s wife
  • training my children
  • ministering through Basilica

While I think I will be busy homeschooling, I will not be fitting training the children into the last 3, tired, hours of the day.