Thursday, January 13, 2011

Schooling and Learning at Home.

Well, it's been a year since we started homeschooling Selah again. Bryce has been home for his 1st grade year, and Charis does school right along with us. We have had a wonderful journey so far, and haven't looked back. As a whole, we all love it.
Dont get me wrong.... There are days I hear myself griping and yelling way more than I wish, there are too many times that I say "go get the phone!!! I'm calling the school and you're going back if you don't straighten UP!". (is it bad to threaten my kids with 'school'? Ha! ha! Oh well. I never claimed to be a perfect Mom!) But most days are spent learning, playing, creating, cooking, building, cleaning and sharing home responsibilities. Also participating in sports, dance, art classes, Co-op activities with Heritage, and going on various field trips. And, also playing Wii. Selah has just started blogging on her own blogspot, so that is a fun for her, and great incentive to get schoolwork done so she can write and blog. In fact, just this morning by the time I woke up at 7:55, she had already written in her journal, and finished her math and English workbook pages, and was anxious to write a new post.

Selah likes history most of all. We are studying early American Hstory. The early settlers, the Patriots vs. Loyalists, breaking away from the King, and the early life for the colonists. Much of this has been done through our Amerian Girl reading and studies. We have also learned the various freedoms the people in the US have rights to. We have studied the symbols that represent our country, coins and money, and much more.
She also really likes science and English. She finds science very interesting, and she enjoys English and is good at it. Any time I say "it's time for science!" Or "English!" Or "History!" she yells "Yayyyy!!!"
Math, however, does not evoke the same response. At all. The first half of the year she spent "hating math" (to use her exact words). It would take her an hour to do a page or two in her workbook. Last year in school she aced math and had no problems at all. Those were the days of patterns, story problems, etc. She does great at that. But this year, there has been lots of math facts - addition and subtraction. That has come harder to her. So much so that she doesn't even want to do it. I've tried a few different approaches to help her in learning the math facts, and it seems to be getting better. Since Thanksgiving it hasn't been as much of a struggle, and her confidence and ability has improved, so it has been going much better. Other than that, learning is good. She proclaims to LOVE learning at home.

Bryce is soaring through his studies too. He does the 2nd grade English, Science, History, and Reading curriculum right along with her, and doesn't miss a beat. In math, I started him with a 1st grade book. Last year at the end of kindergarten he tested at almost a 4th grade math level, but I still chose to give him a first grade curriculum since math builds on itself so much. I don't want him to miss out on fundamentals and then be lost somewhere down the road. He is almost finished with 1st grade, and I will be buying 2nd grade for him in a few weeks. Math and spelling are his thing. He's good at it and loves it. He wants to play math and spelling games in his spare time - ha!
He is also really likes science and history, just like Selah does. We do all this learning together as a family. Charis learns right along with them. Hs least favorite is English. While he does it and does fine at it, he does not enjoy it. Its the one he groans about when I say "time for some English."

Charis is my "unschooling" experiment for the time being. She has never been to school, so her experience of learning is what we do here at home. However, she is very driven to learn. Well, she is driven in anything and everything she does - it's part of who she is. Part of what she inherited from me, my mom, and my Grandmas. She wants to learn to read, and she will often bring me books and want to work on it. The other two kids were reading very well at 5 years old, but Charis is still working on it. She can spell any 3 or 4 letter word I ask her to, and she can sound out words and read 3 and 4 letter words, but she still has to sound them all out. She will get it, but I'm kind-of letting it be on her terms. While she can read and sound out words, the reading doesn't 'flow' just yet. However, next year she is kindergarten age, so I think she's doing pretty good! As for the science, history, even English, she sits and learns and answers questions and participates as much as she wants. Which is usually the whole time. She learns right along with them, and she GETS it. While the other two sometimes get antsy and wanna be done, she sits and enjoys whatever learning is going on. I'm glad she loves to learn, and loves to be with us at the table or on the couch or at the library or in the kitchen. She's So fun!

As for me, I really really do love getting to be home with the kids and getting to guide them along in their education. Of course, I spend many hours wondering if I'm doing the right thing.... Wondering if Bryce is challenged as much as he should be.... Wondering if he would end up better off down the road if he were being stretched to his level of IQ and beyond. I wonder if Selah having misspelled words is totally normal for her age and am I expecting too much... I wonder if I should let them play computer less or if its fine... Just let them enjoy it. Its like, when you're a mom, you sometimes 2nd guess and hope you've made the right decision in the ways you parent. Likewise, I also have those same thoughts and doubts with schooling. But then, after prayer, much analyzation and hours laying awake at night, I find a spot to "land" and we do life. And so far, it has been good. Very good. I'm proud of the kids and who they are turning out to be. I'm proud of their abilities, their heart, their service, and their participation in activities and in the lives of people. And I'm proud that they like being kids and having fun.

I often say that having kids this close together wasn't my plan - but there are benefits that go along with it. One benefit relating to school is that they learn together. And maybe most important - they are not bored. They love each other, they are best buddies, and they have a great time each and every day. Lucky me - I get to be a part of it and watch it all take place.

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