Friday, February 20, 2009

Life Lessons

There are so many posts just waiting to be written...I had a great time at our Mini Conference last Saturday and I will be posting my handout on here in the very near future...I wanted to write one on love for Valentine's Day (kind of late, but better late than never)...I have a fun story about friend's children who are ready to move in with us to be homeschooled...our schedule...but what I'm going to write about is some wisdom of my past teachers. Please, excuse my rambling, run on sentence, I like to write the way I think; which is not necessarily the proper way to write. I have a BA in English, so I do know how to write. I choose to write the way I think.

I read an article from The Heart of the Matter today that got me thinking about two of the best lessons I've learned outside of my parents and the Bible. The first that I usually think of is from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. McVey, who taught me that "You are responsible for your own actions." We have a written list of house rules, and that one is on the top of the list. I think that is an especially bad problem of the generations after my own (not to mention many in my generation)...blaming others for our own actions. I even have to remind myself at times that I am responsible for my own actions!

The other lesson is one that I can't quite remember who taught me, but I'm fairly certain I learned this gem of wisdom sometime in my teenage years. I was told that mistakes, failures, and the like should be looked upon as "Learning experiences". If we don't have any troubles or difficulties, how can we learn from them? That has served me well through the years. The article I read today especially reminded me of this one.

My daughter began "offical" homeschooling (you know, when we start calling it school and keeping records and such) with a great fear of failure. She didn't want to try for fear of giving the wrong answer or sounding out a word wrong. Part of her fear may have been my tone of voice or feeling my frustration in those early days (I felt we were on trial in my husband's eyes.). I have have worked on myself a lot in those areas. Thankfully, I realized the other day that I felt strange raising my voice. So much time had gone by that I have not raised my voice. Thank you, God, for helping me. The Lord does answer prayers.

I do feel that at least part of her fear was just that of failing. After explaining to her multiple times that I am glad for her to make mistakes so that she can learn from them, she approaches most things without fear, sometimes even reminding me about learning experiences. I believe I have even heard her give the advice to others. I think that learning from failure is such an important lesson to learn. I am glad to pass that one on, too.

I'm sure that some version of these lessons could be found in the Bible, that is just not where I first learned them. I do believe God provided for us in all ways when writing the Bible. As I child, I remember the story of King Solomon and how he asked God for wisdom. That story etched itself on my brain and heart. I knew that God answered prayers, with the right answer, all I had to do was ask. My mother's testimony led my to my own relationship with Christ. I will write some other days (for future generations) about the wonderful examples of my immediate and extended family.

I was not homeschooled, but my parents were wonderful part-time homeschoolers (meaning I went to public school, but they taught me plenty at home). Mom was, and is, full of imagination. She passed on her love of reading to me. She is a very patient teacher. I did not learn how to find answers in public school, but my Mother taught me how. She taught me how to write my name in cursive and how to teach myself typing, both before I learned in school. My Father is skillful in woodworking. I took Shop class not only to learn, but to be closer to my Dad. I can look at my projects and remember the help and advice he gave me. There are so many wonderful things both my parents taught me, but the most important lesson was to let my children know that I not only love them because they are my children, but I value them as people. I enjoy talking with them, hearing their opinions, and I choose to be with them more often than not. I knew my parents valued me as a person, not just because I was their child. I chose my parents more often than not, because I not only love my parents, but I really like them. Thank you, God, for my parents.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Learning Should Be Fun!

I am the Field Trip Chair for our Co-op. I have been wanting to take the kids to a CYT (Christian Youth Theater) production for at least a couple of years now. When I saw that our local CYT was putting on School House Rock!, I knew we had to arrange a field trip.

As a kid, School House Rock was one of my favorite cartoons on Saturday mornings. I love music. I love music and learning put together. How can you go wrong with a combination like that? Music makes learning fun and makes facts easier to remember. I don't think I ever wouldn't passed the states test if we hadn't learned Fifty Nifty United States for the Spring Pageant at school.

I really enjoyed the "Live! Junior" version of School House Rock!. The play starts as a new teacher is waking up early to prepare for his first day of teaching. He turns on the TV and there is School House Rock...which comes to life in his Rec' Room. About half way through the play he says how great the songs are and how they are reminding him: of what you don't learn in school about teaching: "That learning should be fun!"

That's another reason why I was first interested in homeschooling. I believe that learning should be fun. Schooling should instill a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge in a child. I had many wonderful teachers in my school time, but I also had some who were not so wonderful. A teacher can excite a student about learning, or make learning a chore, or even a bore. I know that my brother, sister, and husband were bored many times in school. They were not challenged to their full capabilities. I did not want that for my children.

I love that homeschooling allows them to learn at their own pace. My kindergarten son is doing first grade math. I know he would be bored in regular school. He would probably finish his work early, and then get into trouble because he was bored. I know that is just speculation, my imagination, but that's the other thing about homeschooling: I know my son better than anyone, but God. So, I'm pretty sure I'm imagining fairly accurately.

My daughter is slower with math, more like her mother. I just didn't feel comfortable with math. I made good grades, but I honestly didn't "get" the ease of math until I started teaching her. Ironically, she doesn't "get" math, unless her Daddy is teaching her. We can say almost the exact same thing to her, but when he says it, it makes sense to her. That's not to say I didn't "get" formulas, etc...just use the formula and it works. Other classmates wanted to know "Why?". That never bothered me. I don't think I was ever taught math quite the right way for my learning style.

Another great thing about homeschooling is that I can use my children's learning styles to make learning easier and more fun! I can tailor their lessons to each of them. Find me another school that has such a small student to teacher ratio!

I am not a Science buff, but my kids LOVE Science. I try to follow their lead where that is concerned. For Kindergarten, Ellie was really into Outer Space and the Planets. So, although Science is usually not much of a subject, if any, in Kindergarten, we studied Astronomy! I can finally name all the planets in order! Both Ellie and Wyatt can point out the planets and name them faster than I can. Two years later, Ellie still gets SUPER excited when there is a NASA homeschooling video conference at the library! Wyatt will say Science is one of his favorite subjects, too, but Ellie does get more excited about Science.

I love when the kids say "You are the most fun Mom!"

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

One of the Many Reasons I Homeschool

Last Friday's Heart of the Matter Meme was The Goofiest Response Ever To Questions About Homeschoolers. I had a good story that a friend told me, but it wasn't necessarily goofy. I did have a cashier today at Wal-Mart that I had to write about. I've had a half dozen, probably, ask questions or make comments about homeschooling, but this one took the cake.

So, the kids and I made an 8pm run to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. As our turn comes to set our things up to pay for, the cashier is hollering to the couple who checked out before us, "Sorry, I said the a-word." Then, she turns to me and says, "I said it real quite because I saw you coming up with the kids." So, I responded, "Thank you, I appreciate that."

Then, she remarks about my daughter, "Well, she looks like she's school age; she's probably heard more than that before." To which I reply, "No, we homeschool." Then she gets one of those funny looks some people get when you tell them you homeschool. She proceeds to tell me, "My husband wanted me to do that, but I think it's good for the kids to be with other kids."

Instead of responding like I should have, with, "So, you like your kids to learn foul language, you obviously believe and know they are learning at school 'with other kids'?"...I responded with, "They have plenty of time with other kids. We belong to a co-op and other homeschool groups and activities." My darling daughter pipes with, "We play soccer and do all sorts of stuff with other kids." And between you all and me, I thank the Lord I have the privilege of homeschooling my kids. They are not learning the menial, offensive junk that I learned as a kid...not to mention what they would learn in public school in 2009! I also thank God that I have wonderful parents who made sure I knew right from wrong.

My cousin and I were talking the other day. We had such a lovely time when I went to visit her and her son (our hubby's were at work). We took a day off from school to go hang out with her. One of the wonderful perks of homeschooling year round like we do, is we can take an unscheduled day off and it is no big deal. Anyway, my cousin was nine months pregnant and miserable, needing someone to take her mind off things. I am 3 months older than my cousin and we have always been close...even fighting like sisters as children. Well, we were reminiscing about our childhood and she was remembering when my brother and I "sprayed" everything she touched with "cootie spray". Oh, I know I was such a mean child at times, but I never would have even thought of such a things...or many other mean things I did...if it were not for the children at my school. Our children are all different ages: eight(my daughter), six(my son), and four(her son), but they played so nice together and had such a good time that they were asking to play together even the next week. I can't imagine that happening if that had been socialized to believe that they were only supposed to play with other children their own age. We didn't play together the next week because her son had a new baby brother! But we will get together again soon and I know we will all enjoy each other, with our nice, clean language.

I also have to mention that woman is incredibly lucky to have a husband who would encourage her to homeschool. Many women who want to homeschool are not so blessed. My husband "allowed" me to homeschool at first, but said he wouldn't have any sympathy if/when I got overwhelmed. I am happy to say that didn't last long. He is now my solid rock, support, and homeschool advocate...he even teaches our daughter math.

I'll write another day on the many reasons we homeschool. I love that my daughter refused to play soccer until her brother was old enough to play, too, because she wouldn't play if he couldn't yet. I love that they have wonderful friends, most of which are homeschooled, but some are not. I love that they are friends with each other. I'll end with the fact that my kids tell me I am "the best mom in the world," and I wouldn't trade my time with them for anything of this world.