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

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Retrospective: the good, the bad, and the beautiful

As the end of the school year approaches, my thought have turned toward some retrospection. For several weeks now I have really been considering how this school year has gone~ where my weaknesses (they are many!) are, what needs to change all the while actively giving thanks for those things that are really going well.

My conclusion to all this retrospect is...I STINK at this whole homeschooling thing! ha, ha (I think.)

But seriously.

I just found a notebook I had prepared for myself in 2005, when Corynn was three. In it, I had carefully outlined my goals for her entire kindergarten/first grade experiences. I had typed out memorization exercises, poems and stories all recommended by A Well-Trained Mind and from Veritas Press.

It was laughable how far I am from that list. Well, laughable in the sense that if I didn't laugh I might cry.

Though my plans for this year included lots of memorization, science experiments, an art/craft program, a study of famous artists and painters, the beginning of the Story of the World history program, and a plethora of nature readers/projects, my focus has been so intent on math and reading this year that I am sorry to say most of all that wonderful "fluff" never even happened. Or happened very inconsistently.

Sure we did craft projects and there was PLENTY of drawing on a daily basis---but what about studying Rembrandt?! Sure we listened to Mozart---but WHAT ABOUT making his biography?!? Sure, the children know all about our current president---but WHY do they not have the first 15 memorized?! I am, of course, being a bit facetious, but I truly *DO* find value in these "extraordinary" things and know my children could be happily challenged with subjects OTHER than math and reading. Truth is, I have fallen short in those areas.

But for each evening dimmed by failures, a morning arises of fresh mercies.

For a few weeks now, I have been diligently trying to broaden my scope of teaching and we are all the better for it. I feel more capable of picking up the slack and working determinedly these last few months of school.

Though I can not muster schooling through the summer in the same capacity as educating in the winter (impossible with my gardening/harvesting/preserving chores that keep me in the kitchen or garden all day), I do hope to implement a more consistent, relaxed approach during this summer to feature some of the wonderful bits I missed out on these last few months. Not tedious book work, but truly inspiring education.

That is my goal. For the next few weeks I will be scratching out plans and trying to discover ways to do just that in a way that will be both probable to achieve and delightful to enact.

Lest all this talk of "not enough" is giving the wrong impression~ all is not failure!

Corynn started out the year struggling over itty bitty Bob books. I remember closing my eyes and counting just to keep my sanity as she stared blankly (and indefinitely) at the sounds we had just been working on, trying to figure out how to say them. I remember biting my tongue while thinking "WHY are you not GETTING this?!? We have been over this 100 times!." and wondering (silently) which of us was the incompetant.

I knew it had to be me. I knew I just had to be an awful teacher. I just KNEW I was NOT cut out for this whole homeschooling thing.

Problem is...it's the only option for our family. If I was a bad teacher, well then, I had better buck up and learn how to be a good one, because this is the (excellent) plan that is going to be carried out for our children. Ready or not.

So I swallowed my tongue, sat on my hands, and plastered a smile on my face while I internalized my fears and just kept trudging through.

I am happy to report those little leaves that began with titles like Mat the Cat have evolved into books about Anne Bradstreet, The Black Plague, the Wright Brothers, Cyrus the Archer, Queen Elizabeth and the like.

5 page books with approximately 1.3 words per page, those books that nearly made me lose my MIND with impatience, are now replaced with chapter books like Magic Tree House.

My girl is six, not impressively young for learning to read. I know several three year olds who are already reading (pshaw!) which doesn't exactly help with the feelings of inadequacy and some six year olds who are reading 6th grade material (double pshaw!!), but what I see when I stop looking at everyone else and start looking at my girl is this:

  • A girl who is curling up throughout the day to read her own books on her own time, just because she wants to.

  • A girl who can add voices and inflection to her reading, really becoming a PART of the story.

  • A girl who will read to brother and sister in the backseat of the car and have them rivoted.

  • A girl whose wardrobe of imagination as been opened, and her mind is being ignited at the possibilities bound between pages . The magic is HAPPENING. My goal is being FOUND.

  • A girl who asks a question then finds a book to answer it.

  • I have discovered a girl who has a *LOVE* of reading, a PASSION for learning, and ultimately, that has been my hope all along.

SO-even though Mozart didn't get his biography and the children haven't built replica's of the Nile, I won't be too hard on myself. I feel success.

Home education for us has never been about having the most intelligent child on the planet. It has been about instilling a LOVE and passion for learning the TRUTH (and being inspired by it); a philosophy that will endure a lifetime.

And I see these things happening despite my own inadequacies. Praise God.


Bonnie said...

Oh my, how I can relate to the "bad teacher" bit. And its hard, because I realize just how stupid I really am, just trying to teach these things. I am looking forward to, and dreading the coming first official year of Kindergarten, and hoping I will have much of the summer to immerse myself in whatever we go with, to learn it MYSELF, and to put together the extra bits and pieces that will be harder to think of with a newborn.
Good, convicting post.

Bonnie said...

I don't know how I missed it before but THAT HAIR!!!!!
I LOVE it! Just adds to that little duckling appearance....

Unknown said...

You've done so well -- most important, of course, is engendering a love of learning. But I was interested in your comment that: "Problem is...(homeschooling) it's the only option for our family." I'd be very interested to hear the reasons why you would not choose to send your children to a public school (if you have the time or inclination in a further post).

Anonymous said...

Fostering the love of learning (and the love of reading) is by far more important that "what you have accomplished" based upon your goals. I thing you have done a great job. As a !st grade teacher I always feel that "there was so much more that I wanted to teach them". But they love to read and they love school when they leave my classroom! That is a blessing to me!

Crystal in Pahrump

Rebecca said...

Well, Morning...where to begin! :-)

Honestly, on the heels of such a tiresome soapbox as discipline, I don't think I have the energy to hop up on that box again anytime soon. Nevertheless, you asked a question so I will try and answer you here, as briefly as possible.

The only problem is, public schooling is not an option for us for so many reasons, it is hard to be brief! :-)

The most important reason of all is that ALL education is formed on the premise of a worldview. There is no such thing as neutrality. We don't feel as though we would be doing justice to our calling (Duet. 6) by sending our children to a setting that bases their teaching upon a decidedly anti-christian worldview.

Secondarily, I don't think public schooling is the ideal catalyst for a stimulating education. There is a better way-a way that can be tailored to suit the individual needs of a child, where a child can pursue interests and form creative outlets outside the bounds of a ringing bell every 45 minutes hauling them to a new train of thought and who can take an active part in determining their own educational goals.

It is past midnight, which is working to your advantage as I am hastily typing this up (leaving me LESS wordy than usual) but I do hope it isn't to my disadvantage by my own lack of clarity. If it is, I apologize.

I am not saying there aren't Christian teachers who work in public schools or that good children aren't in public school settings and somehow survive. I was one of the "good kids" that managed just fine.

But "just fine" doesn't seem nearly good enough for my kids.

Maybe I am just partial... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Very great post. Thanks for being transparent. I often feel right where you are. I very rarely read bloggers that become transparent and help me feel that I am not alone. Thanks.

Morgan said...

If she loves to read just because at 6 yrs of age then you are a wonderful teacher!! ( we are always so hard on ourselves) You have plenty of time for memorizing the presidents, LOL. Just have a poster or the like in a place where they can see it and you will be surprised how much they may pick up.

Michelle said...

I have been having a rough couple days with schooling, and I can totally relate to your post.

I think one thing we have to do is quit comparing ourselves with others (yeah, like that is easy to do!)... I think your post shows you're realizing that, and I am also beginning to realize that, too.

Another thing that has helped me is to stop going on forums such as The Well Trained Mind. I often feel that many women there PUSH their children way too much in the academic realm, and don't leave much time left over for being a kid!

I'm also looking at revamping our homeschool plan. I've been pushing science to the backburner because I've felt the need to push with math and handwriting/spelling. Matthew has often asked to read more, but I feel like if I sit there and just read to them, then we don't get anything else accomplished. Well, yes we would-we'd spend a lovely time reading on the couch together! Sigh.

I have horrible fleeting thoughts of sending them off to school, but I also know that it isn't an option for our family. Sticking to our convictions can be so hard sometimes, but I wholeheartedly feel we will see a wonderful payoff in the end!

Unknown said...

Love this post! :) I am *planning* on doing homeschooling posts on Thursdays...hey, sounds like you have the basics down...the important stuff! I totally understand the feelings of being a HORRIBLE teacher...I feel like that about 29748975875937 times a day! :P ;)

Psalms w guitar said...

Love the hair!!!!


Leah said...

It must be the time of year that home educating mothers take a step back and look closely at the progress towards their goals. My sister and I were just talking about this very thing the other day.

"Home education for us has never been about having the most intelligent child on the planet. It has been about instilling a LOVE and passion for learning the TRUTH (and being inspired by it); a philosophy that will endure a lifetime."

I think the above quote says it all! And that is how we feel, too. It's so good to know that if we teach our children how to learn (and to love learning) they'll be able to learn about anything they want, at any time they want to whether they're 6 or 60. I'm so thankful to my mother for instilling that desire in me!