What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homeschooling Q&A


In which I (try to) answer questions relating to educating at our home...

I'd love to know where you got the colored pencils (in this post)! 

I've been eyeballing colored pencils like these for many years.  I found them originally in the Magic Cabin catalog for sale, but never sprung for them.  Then one day, I was out shopping at Home Goods and they were there!  $5.00 bought the box and NO shipping!  (Good things come to those who wait!)

 I love the reclaimed barn wood (in this post) - it's all the rage right now! Who's idea was it?

You know, I *THINK* it was mine.  But it might have been Matt's too.  Our wave lengths cross often, so I am not sure.  

 Do you also have a written record of what was done which day? If so, when do you fill that in? And do you use a planner?   and
I know you have a lesson plan book, and I'm interested in knowing where you got it.  It isn't a lesson plan book per se, but just a calendar/organizer book that I am using to plan to school year.  I just got it in the calendar/organizer section of Target.  It will be interesting to see if it is what I need or if I will have to come up with something different. 

Having the laminated child-work pages helps tremendously .  I don't feel like I need to write down every single subject/every single lesson( Saxon, page 20)- but more the things I need to accomplish (like get library books on ____________.  Do this science experiment. Laminate poster.  Etc.)

I fill it in monthly (with composer/artist/poet of the months) but my big goal is to set aside a portion of each week (an hour or so on Fridays, perhaps?) to look over the work for the next week and fill out anything that needs to be done/printed/requested/prepared in advance.  This has been a goal of mine for too long, without coming to fruition but this year, I hope to finally implement it.  I am certain it would help me tremendously.

What made you decide to teach your children Latin?  

Matt did.  I'll be frank with you here- I am not looking forward to it.  I don't know it myself so it will be one of those things I will have to learn alongside.  But it is a pretty common thing to learn within the classical community and I have read articles about how valuable it can be....but mostly, I am just doing it for Matt.  :-)

How serendipitous that the barn chairs match your theme- or did they inspire it? 

Ahhhhh, the proverbial, which came first- the chicken or the egg question.  I think it was serendipitous- since I already had the "map" color scheme going. 

What do you have to do as far as reporting to the school district?

Too much.  PA is one of the top five (maybe even top TWO) worst states for homeschooling freedoms and I hate that.   Here are the requirements for our state.

Do you ever worry about the "social" aspects they may miss?

You know, it's funny.  I worry more about the social aspects that they imbibe when NOT homeschooling than the other way around (like when we go to a park and there are a bunch of crazy kids there).

 I think that people often define socialization as having contact with people of the same peer group when in fact, socialization speaks of being able to participate and be comfortable with....people.  In general.  NOT peers, specifically.

I laughed the other day with Matt because, the road on which we live houses many an old-person.  I don't know of any children at all.  We are surrounded by retired people, often in failing health.  And those retired people, often in failing health, are very often visited by my children.  In fact, this summer, it was hard not to become frustrated that the children were always off "visiting" when they should have been home HELPING.

We laughed because I was grumbling that our children were TOO socialized.  (I thought we were HOMESCHOOLERS.)  I always comfort myself, though, that it is not only important for my children to learn to socialize with other people but to have kind and compassionate hearts.  I know the visits mean a great deal to the cooped up elderly on our road. 

Also- I have a large family with lots of little children running around all the time so the children have many friends that way AND we attend a church where the children outnumber the adults by a lot...so my children do not lack opportunity to visit with even their own peers. 

I am going to go on a bit of a soapbox here (but it will be a short one) to say that children who are unsocialized are often taught to be that way by their parents...not by their circumstances.  I better stop there though, or this post will get MIGHTY long!

Do your kids participate in team/group sports or other activities?

One thing I am adament about is that I not become one of those chauffeur moms.  It is important to me that our lives not be a juggling act...but ones in which we have time to pursue our own interests and have time to ENJOY them while not letting them master us or stress us out.  We are only given so much time in a day-I don't want to waste a second of it being frazzled by a hectic and harried schedule.  So I try and avoid too many activities that have us committed throughout the week.

 That said, I'd love to see my children participate in a theater group of some sort down the road-but they are a bit young still for that.

We aren't big sports people here and wouldn't want to participate in games that happen on Sundays- so we don't have the same sports issues as some do.  We choose to be that way.  We play sports as a family and our goal is to eventually have enough for a team anyway (I kid, I kid.  sortof.) so it really isn't an issue for us.

I guess what I am saying is this- if the right thing came along (something that added to our lives, not took away from it) we would be all for it.  At this point though,nothing has really tickled our fancy.

How do you find time/logistics for the occasional "play date" or friendship fostering?

Hmmmm.  I am going to sound really weird here (brace yourselves) but we don't do "playdates".  If we do anything, I get together with women I enjoy spending time with and my children play with their children, whomever they may be, as we adults chat away .  I usually get along best with women who HAVE children so usually, my children have plenty of playmates.  (Here again- a good way to get your children properly socialized is to force them to get along with other children who (gasp!) may not be their own age!)

The end result becomes my friendships with other women often initiates my childrens' friendships with other children.  Generational friendships, if you will.  One of my closest local friends has children my own childrens' ages and her children are some of my own childrens' closest friends too.  We also happen to go to church together.  In fact, after church tomorrow, they are having a sleepover at their house- I should pack their bags.

When we get together with other people, it is only occasionally and usually during the week (so we can be with Matt as often as possible when he is home on the weekends) so we try to make up for our schoolwork in the afternoon and/or double up the next day.  It works, but it can be a hassle, which is why our visits are only occasional.

I'd love to know what you use for/how you go about teaching spelling.

Last year I used Spelling Workout books and internet lists of words that such-and-such-graders should know.  I printed lots of spelling sheets from edhelper.com.  This year, for the first year ever, I bought the books Wordly Wise 3000.  It is actually a vocabulary workbook not a spelling book.  It introduces new vocabulary words which I will use also as practice for spelling simply by having them write the words a couple of times.

Also, if I see consistent misspellings in writings/dictation/copywork/journals...those words will become spelling words.

 Just wondering what grammar program do you use? 

So far, I have used printed worksheets from edhelper.com.  I had a few Shurley books given to me so I might try them out too.  Apparently, they are supposed to be the cats' meooooow.

What phonics program do you use?

Veritas Press' Phonics Museum.  Pretty big initial investment, but when it can spread to all of your children it isn't so bad.  It has great beginning readers that are about REAL things like Benjamin Franklin (Ben and his Pen) or the Wright Brothers.  It comes with awesome phonics puzzle pieces that can help the child put sounds together in a tangible way.  And we read a lot of Bob books.  ;-)

 I would love to know how YOU get everything done in a day! (Miranda~who are you KIDDING?  You are just LIKE me!  Likely, a whole lot more productive!)  Do you follow a routine to your day or have a schedule? Do you have it written out like the kids?

 I don't really have a schedule (outside of breakfast, lunch, rest time for children, snack and supper- those things all happen around the same time.) and I don't follow a routine for my housework.   Mainly because, my life changes so dramatically from day to day.  I have to do applesauce when I have apples.  I have to do laundry when the weather is nice.  I have to mop when Judah decides to dump his entire milk cup.  (That sort of thing.)

 What I usually do is make to-do lists at night before I go to bed, listing all the things I have to do AND want to do- and putting stars next to the HAVE TO's.  Sometimes I don't even get all of those done.  But lists help me stay on track and help me accomplish a whole lot more than if I didn't have them.

What do the littles do while you help the others?  and Do you have a "schedule" for your preschoolers? How do you keep them occupied while you work with Corynn and Andrew? 

The depressing answer:  Ugh.  It can be really hard.  They, of course, want to be right with us in the school room (which is small, by the way) and it can be very distracting. 

The less depressing answer: 

Adele' really enjoys coloring and can color/draw for long periods of time so she often does that and those times are really helpful.  I have certain "secret weapons" like Play-Doh, puzzles, shaving cream and stickers that come out only at school time.  I might revert to Letter Factory movies occasionally, when we are working on difficult concepts with the older two....just so that we can get through them.

The truth is, it varies from day to day.  Some days are incredible, when the littles play nicely in the other room and the biggles get loads of work done.  Other days, it is incredible that we get any school work accomplished at all. 

There you have it. 

I hope I answered all your questions. 
I also hope that you can see that I don't HAVE all the answers. 

Homeschooling is a process- one that you can mold and shape and make your own in order to meet the needs of your own family.  And that is precisely why homeschooling is just.so.cool.


Leah S said...

You weren't kidding about PA being so bad in homeschooling requirements. The one thing that really gets me? You need to vaccinate your children. Is there any way around this, or are you truly stuck in giving them shots?

(Sorry... I'm really anti-vaccination after discovering my deafness was likely caused by shots. I passed the infant hearing test, but now I'm nearly profoundly deaf.)

Leah T. said...

Thank you for answering my questions, Rebecca. :) It's always fun to hear how other families go about their home education. And it has been far too long since I've had someone to talk and share with. I'm really excited to implement some of the ideas you've shared here into our own home learning!

Charity said...

I love your pictures. Which camera do you use?

Ab said...

Please keep your children home. If you are as anti-vaccination a you claim, you are puttin everyone else's children at risk.

Megan @ Purple Dancing Dahlias said...

Thank you for sharing! Your days are much like ours, always busy and forever changing.

Leah S. - MS and WV are the only states that only have medical exemptions, all other states of medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions. You simply fill out the form and send it to the state. No one can ever force you to vaccinate your kids.

With all do respect Ab, children who are vaccinated carry around the disease with them, often shedding and giving the disease to others. The CDC fully admits that it is the vaccinated population that is spreading whooping cough. When my son had cancer last year we had to be very careful who we were around because anyone who was recently vaccinated was a threat to him.

Leah T. said...

Ab, if you believe vaccinations work to protect children/people from disease then there should be no risk to them in exposure, right?

Anonymous said...

I can't find where Rebecca actually claimed to be "anti-vaccination". She said that she didn't like her state homeschool laws. Now get back to you knitting and give Rebecca a pleasant Lord's day!

Leah T. said...

Anonymous, you are right. Rebecca did not say what her position was on the vaccination issue but I'm not sure why you feel the need to reprimand. Megan and I were simply and kindly, I might add, pointing out the truth about vaccines and the inconsistency of Ab's comment. At least she added a name to which we could respond. And I trust Rebecca *is* having a very pleasant Lord's Day with her precious family and probably won't even see these comments until tomorrow.

Charity said...

I apoligize, Leah. I wasn't trying to reprimand you or Megan and don't know why you took it that way. I was bothered by Ab's comment and told her to go knit or in other words mind her own business when it comes to vaccination choices. I was actually going to comment in the same manner as you did but you beat me to it. I guess that I am fed up with people who want to sniff out all the anti-vaccination people and give them a hard time when really they need to do their own research rather than repeating CDC claims. My name is Charity if that helps you with further comments.

Elisabeth said...

Sounds like you are very well-organized and really enjoy teaching and learning with your children. I bring a different perspective, as unmarried Christian who's also a teacher. As you point out, socialization depends on the parenting, so "home-schooling" could be an umbrella term just like "school"... the quality of the experience depends on the quality of the teacher, the values underlying the curriculum, the time spent in learning, etc...

I think your children are so blessed to be getting a wonderful education in your home.

I teach in an urban school where only 3 of my students have a mom & dad at home. For them, public school is a "bubble" - the only place where they see good role modelling, are encouraged, experience learning, and thus probably the only way they will ever have to choose a different path than their parents.

So, I struggle with both sides of the issue. If I am ever blessed with a husband or children, I would seriously consider home-schooling for the reasons you give, especially the moral values. But don't we need Christians in public schools, we need to be modelling and letting our lights shine to others? Not to sacrifice our children's innocence or moral compasses, but to impact others around us? Or is that the calling of those without families? I don't know.

Pardon the long comment. You have got me thinking.

Rebecca said...

Thanks, all, for the commenting!

Leah S~ you already got your answer with another kind commenter but I will say that you are not unjustly disgruntled at the requirements for vaccinations simply because it is not the duty of a democratic government to control things like that. When government dictates personal decisions, we end up in a very dangerous game.

Whether or not we believe vaccinations are harmful or helpful is not really the point at all.

The vaccination debate is a heated one, that is for sure. It always makes me happy to see Christians working things out in kind and respectful ways~ so you girls did me proud!

And thank you Charity~ I did have a happy Lords day and hope the same for you!

Elisabeth~ if you were to ask Matt, you would find out I struggle with the same thoughts about how to reach children in public schools who may or may not have any access to Truth otherwise. In fact, we just had this conversation (again) last week or so!

I don't believe sending children to be the salt and light is ever productive (unless by God's endless mercy) because I think it is unfair (and dangerous) to give babies in the faith that responsibility or put them in that position.

Also~ I can not see how a teacher can, under submission to the state, teach their faith freely, thus bringing Truth that way. But I admit, I am not a teacher in a public school system and you would know more about this than I. So I should ask you- Do you feel able and free to proclaim the gospel in your school room?

I was heartened in a recent issue of World magazine to see that it is legal (and is in place in various areas) to create a Faith-based evangelistic after-school program (like a club, I assume) and how Christians are evangelizing the children in public school systems in that way. In fact, I told Matt I would be interested in finding out more about them in my area so that I might be of service-if not now, in the future.

You are exactly right- that those children deserve the gospel as much as any of us and it is our job to send forth the message- even in the hard places. You have a good heart and more of us should emulate it.

Leah T. said...

Charity, thank you so much for your kind clarification. I completely understand you being fed up. I guess the reason I thought you were speaking to Megan and me was because you didn't specify who you were talking to. Please forgive me for assuming instead of asking first. Again, I greatly appreciate your clarification. :)

And Rebecca, I'm sorry if my comment above was "out of turn". :/

Leah T. said...

Should our goal be to reach whole families, though, and not just the children? The parents often need to hear the Truth also, families reaching out to families.

Elisabeth said...

Rebecca, thank you for your follow-up. I agree about not letting children be the "salt and the light" - two of my own siblings rejected their faith and I believe a major factor was their peer pressure in late highschool and university.

I teach science to six, seventh and eighth grade and, no, I am not allowed to explicitly teach a christian message. However, I put forth evidence for design as explicitly as possible, and have had several conversations outside of class, and given books to students. Last year I gave "Who Made God?" (a great read for everyone, by Edgar Andrews - he even responds to his amazon comments) to four students last year, after calling their parents to check.

More than 'explicit' gospel teaching though, I am able to model values - to think of others first, the Golden Rule, to be kind, and I say things like, "This is how God made us," and no one has ever had a problem with that.

One vegan/atheist family had a child who told me he had a book that would prove evolution to me, and I gladly invited him to bring it in so we could discuss...but of course he never did.

I have a poster with the verse Ecclesiastes 9:10 up, and no one has ever questioned that.

If I am ever called upon to go against my faith, I have to be prepared to give up my job. I know this is a distinct possibility some day with the homosexual agenda. Also, I have declined to participate in union rallies and so far have only received respectful permission in return.

So thank you for asking... I don't know the answers obviously, and like you, I try to think them through. It has bothered me in the past to hear people assume that home-schooling is "the best" or "the only" way of educating, just because it's home-school. Or because they look down on other people.

Rebecca said...

Leah~ Of course everyone is in need of the gospel...no one disputes you there. Only that, clearly it is impossible to reach everyone at every moment. I see nothing wrong with seeking out, with wise discernment, the times and places and people that will most heavily be impacted by your efforts. In some cases (church outreach), families will be most affected. In some places (schools), children; in other places (Crisis Pregnancy Centers), women...etc.

Naturally, different people have different spheres of influence- that does not mean that one is more important than another or one is more deserving.

I know you know this of course, but
taking small steps where you as a person are able, (helping the single mother down the road, participating in an evagelistic-club for children in the public schools, encouraging the contrary, bitter old man down the road) is more productive than worrying about the needs of an entire nation hypothetically.

Elisabeth~ wow. I am impressed (and surprised by!) by all you are able to accomplish within the bounds of the school system. Most especially by the poster that you are able to, without hindrance, hang up. My experiences being public-educated have been entirely opposite of that. That may have had something to do with the science teacher writing the science textbook though. ;-)

Homeschooling, like vaccinations (see above comments!), can really spark heated debates, harsh judgements and hurt feelings. Especially for us women. :-( I hope that it was just because of these things that homeschoolers ended up sounding like theirs was the only way.

I think we ought to be passionate and uncompromising about the right things. We should be passionate about providing a Godly education to our charges. THAT is the best thing. THAT is the only option.

Praise God for people like you, in the public school system, who are uncompromising of their faith and who can impact the lives of these children when others couldn't. However, not all teachers are like you- the vast majority are nothing like you. (That you would quit your job if ever you had to go against your faith? It speaks volumes of who you are. Wonderful. Also-unheard of almost entirely nowadays!)

And the "system" is definitely NOT like you.

Homeschooling isn't the only way or the best way to provide a godly education to covenantal children; that is a decision to be left up to the individual.

But the ONLY (and best!) option for Christians is to give their children a godly education and upbringing.

I hope that homeschoolers AND Christian educators know the difference between what is the only choice and what isn't; what deserves passionate and uncompromising statements and what doesn't.

It isn't about the place (home versus school), it is entirely about the worldview.

Leah T. said...

Rebecca, I understand what you are saying and I agree. I guess what I was trying to say is that our outreach shouldn't extend the children or women and then stop there. We should ultimately, in my opinion, take the extra steps toward reaching whole families with the Good News as often as we can. :)

Renata said...

Thanks for a great post Rebecca. I am much like you when it comes to homeschooling.
Have a wonderful day