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October 30, 2007

The "unofficial years"...so far

Since most kids go to school at 5 and by our State law the compulsory school age is 7, I joke about us being in the unofficial years of homeschooling.

Last year I did preschool with Caleb using literature-based unit studies- Before Five in a Row (BFIAR). We read some of the best children's book of the 20th century. He learned so much and all in a very gentle approach (reading books, acting out stories, talking about the books, etc.).
We loved it so much that this year we are reading all those books again and I've added them into our topical studies (we have a theme for the week and all activities, books, crafts, etc. are related to it). Noah joins in everything we do.


Next year I am planning to do it...again...yes, it's that good....so that Noah can benefit from it even more. And we will start Five in A Row (the school age curriculum that follows BFIAR).



What's made a difference?

  • Having realistic expectations: I don't expect my 2 preschoolers to do hours of academic work. We only do "school" 3 days a week for about 30 minutes. We do devotionals and phonic games everyday. The boys always look forward to our school time. I wrote more about this here.
  • Being Informed: I've spend a lot of time reading about homeschooling, the good and the bad, the research, the different philosophies of education, visiting homeschooled families, attend homeschool convention.
  • Encouragement: Having other homeschooled families to talk to and share with it's a great blessing to me and encourages me to press on.
  • Activities: The boys go to gym class, mid-week program at church, Awana and story time at the library. I admit it's probably a lot of activities but since they are at home the rest of the time, it's great for them and for me to have these as part of our week. If I was driving them back and forth from school everyday we would not be able to do this. ;-)
  • My Husband: Brad is very supportive and he's already practicing keeping the boys accountable by asking question like "what did you learn today?" when he comes home from school.
  • Trusting God: Homeschooling is not for a "certain type of person". At least, I hope so because I recognize I often lack patience and organization at home. But I believe by faith the Lord will supply and help me grow in those areas.

October 29, 2007

SO....WHY Homeschooling??

Here are my reasons (in no specific order after the top 2).

  • To give our children a Christ-centered education and train them to think biblically.
  • To prioritize the family bond that is so easily lost with the busy lifestyle of our days.
  • To release our children from the burden of excessive and hurtful peer pressure at an early age.
  • To allow their minds, body & soul to mature at their own rate and not at the government standards.
  • To have an individualized education, based on each child's needs and interests.
  • To have more time to build their character. Identify their learning style and build upon them.
  • To have more time to further develop their God-given abilities and talents and work on their weaknesses as well.
  • To develop a heat of compassion and a love for all nations as a result of personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep understanding of His Word.
  • More time to do social activities and pursue the arts and sports.
  • To save money that it will cost us to send them to private school for their future education, family vacations, enrichment classes, college fund & mortgage.
  • Allow more playtime, reading time, discovery time and less time doing worksheets.
  • To develop a love for learning and train independent learners.
  • To integrate academics with everyday life.

I just noticed how much of it has to do with time. Homeschooling gives you time to build into your children and family. It gives them time for things that are good and profitable and of eternal value.

October 28, 2007

Biblical convictions vs. Personal Convictions

2 Timothy 3:14 "Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

On Wednesday mornings I attend an excellent Biblical Study on Parenting (check it out here) at church and our topic for the past few week has been on Biblical Convictions and Personal convictions and their importance at home.

I wanted to share some notes from the class here because they've given me new insight about our family values and the courage to be clear about why we want to home educate.

It's difficult for me sometimes to share why we want to homeschool our kids. This topic seems to create all kinds of feelings in people. ;-) So, I try not to bring up the topic unless someone inquires. But even when asked I find myself giving different reasons for homeschooling...but why??....Is it because I don't want to be judged? Is it because I don't want to hear another person telling me I will ruin my kids forever? Is it because I don't want to offend anyone with my reply? Who am I trying to please? Am I looking for everyone to agree with me?

I've come to understand that if this is something that we truly believe in and have been convicted about for our family, then I must share it with all honesty...in love and grace.

SO...back to the title of this post....

Biblical Conviction: God given truth, through His Word that stand no matter how I feel about it or think of it or do about it. Some examples would be...
  • Forgive others
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Be thankful, don't complain.
  • Train your children in God's way
  • Share the Gospel

Personal Conviction: How we choose to carry out those biblical convictions with standards that will unify our family. Some examples...

  • Dating after turning 18
  • Rest from TV on Sundays
  • No watching R-rated movies
  • Listen only to Christian music
  • Homeschooling through 8th grade
We believe homeschooling our kids is a personal conviction that we've chosen to be part of our family. We don't believe homeschooling is the only way to educate children...but we do believe is a GREAT choice, especially for christian households.

We do not believe homeschooling is perfect...there are many challenges and sacrifices that come with it...just as there are many challenges that come with sending your kids to public school. BUT we believe by faith that the blessings and rewards of a home education will be far more than those challenges.

I have A LOT to say about this topic. So I will be sharing in the days to come our passion for homeschooling.

Feel free to leave your comments....with gracious words. ;-)

October 19, 2007

This week...

...we learned all about Homes.

Things we talked about :
  • types of homes (apartments, houses, motor homes, etc.)

  • what are houses made of and how were houses from long ago different from now
  • do animals have homes? what are they? what are their homes for?

  • what makes our home special?

  • what are the values of our home? how are we to treat each other at home? how are we to treat visitors/special guests in our home?

Books we read:

  • Anybody at Home? by H.A. Rey The boys loved this little flap book. It describes many animals homes (hive, hole, burrow, tree/nest, shell, zoo cage).

  • Homes and Houses...Then and Now This Usborne Flap book gives a great introduction to how people lived long ago. On each page double page it shows a comparison between now and then.


  • Home This is a book from the Usborne Look and Say collection. Noah loved to spot things you can find at home with this book.


  • Hush Little Ones by John Butler. This was our bedtime story for the week. Portrays many animals in their habitat getting ready to sleep. Shows were and how each animal sleeps. Beautiful illustrations.


  • If Jesus came to my house by Joan Thomas One of my favorite BFIAR titles. I included this book with the week's theme to reinforce home values such as kindness, gentleness, care, love, friendship, etc.

  • Building a House by Byron Barton This was a fun book to read and for the boys to see for the first time how much work it's involved in building a house. It introduced them to many workers too (electrician, plumber, painter, carpenter, moving crew, etc.)

Activities we enjoyed:

  • We pointed out difference in the houses/apartment buildings on our neighborhood. There's a house being remodeled in our block so we stopped by one afternoon to watch the workers.

  • We acted out ways to welcome guests into our home and being kind with others.

  • We searched for animals homes (we found a squirrel's hollow, a bird's nest, snake hole, spider's web)

  • We read and talked about John 14:2 where Jesus speaks of our heavenly home
  • We talked about the values of our home and family (obedience, truthfulness, kindness, diligence, reverence and thankfulness)
  • We built houses with our wooden blocks and lincoln logs.

October 16, 2007

Two "Proud Mama" Moments

#1

Last Friday after gymnastics we visited a nature center in the city. We were walking over a narrow wooden bridge when Caleb exclaimed "Look, mom animal tracks!" We saw 3 different kinds of tracks next to each other. Caleb identified the deer tracks correctly and another one which he insisted it was raccoon tracks and the third ones squirrel tracks.

Too bad I didn't have my camera!! :-( But I was so proud of him for not only spotting them but naming them as well.

#2

This morning I caught Noah working hard on the whiteboard. When I asked him what he was doing he said "I'm drawing fish and seals!".



Isn't this so cute! I thought it was so neat how he knew to draw 2 eyes on each of them. And these closed "shapes" are not bad for a 2 year old, right. ;-)

October 12, 2007

Loosing my voice again

So here I am again with no voice. It happens every year when the weather starts to drop. I get a cold and a few days later my throat hurts and then my voice is gone. :-(

The best remedy for laryngitis is of course don't use your voice at all. Well that doesn't really work for a stay at home mom of 2 active boys!!!! Sorry...had to vent there for a second.

Today Caleb is upset because I can't read him stories and Noah keeps telling me "no talk like that mama!".

It's a good thing that they both know sign language (thank you Alex and Leia!!) and LOVE TV because that's what saved my day...well at least part of it. And did I mention I am supposed to sing at our church's 4 services this weekend?

Every time I loose my voice I think about how I should be slow to speak and slow to get angry. Hum...maybe God is trying to get my attention today. It's only when I don't have a voice that I realize how much I do talk! IT IS SO HARD TO KEEP QUIET!!! :-)

I still have so much to learn and grow in this area. Even today while whispering around our home, I noticed how most of what I want/try to say it's not necessarily wise or prudent. So that's my prayer today...that once I do get my voice back I will use it to praise and lift up others and not tear them down.

Thank you God for my voice...that I will get back in your perfect timing. May my heart always be filled with praise and rejoice in you, even when my voice cannot.

October 11, 2007

Rain, rain did go away...

This week we read books about rain. We had storms in the forecast so I thought this would be perfect. However, we got very cold weather instead of rain! But we still read the books since they are so good. ;-)



Our "rain" books....






October 10, 2007

Books I am Reading



And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers




Love, love Francine Rivers and everything she writes. This one it's the story of a young pastor called to shepherd a congregation of a dying church with 60 members all over 60 years old. So far, it's a great story and reflects a lot what's going on in the evangelical church in America...a lot of horizontal approaches for ministry and very little vertical.





Think Biblically by John MacArthur and other Master's College professors


This one I've been reading for a while. Mostly because each chapter is very thought-provoking and I like to meditate and go back and re-read each chapter. Even when I've been a believer for many years, I grew up in a very secular environment and was never thought what it means to have a Biblical worldview. Only in the past 4 years I've come to learn what that looks like. Highly recommend this book if you want to check what worldview you are living by.

October 01, 2007

Alphabet Fun

We are planning a fun week of reviewing our Alphabet and here's some of what we will be reading and doing.


Our Favorite ABC books

Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables from A to Z by Louis Ehlert

After reading this book we are going to the local international market to spot all the fruits and veggies from A-Z!


Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson

Caldecott Award. I'm going to have my 4 year old spot the letters on this book and trace them with his finger. Great photos. Great book concept.

Dr. Seuss ABC

we couldn't do an alphabet week without reading this one, right? ;-)


Chicka, chicka, Boom! Boom!

Another favorite at our home. Meet "skinned-knee D", "loose tooth T"

Curious George ABC's

Great little book for any Curious George lover. Many familiar characters, including "K is for a kangaroo named Katy" from Katy No-Pocket (BFIAR title).

Alphabet Book from the Usborne Farmyard Tales series

We love the Farmyard Tales and this one is great for learning additional words that start with each letter.


L is for Loving by Ken Wilson Max

I found this title at our library and can't wait to share it with the boys. It has an emotion or feeling for each letter of the alphabet, all describing situations very common with preschoolers.


Special Games/Activities


  • Making Letters with playdough

  • Draw letters with fingers on finger paint

  • Cards & Magnets Matching Game:

I took pictures from an alphabet(preschool) workbook and taped them to index cards. I made lots of cards and placed them in a ziploc bag along with a set of magnet letters. The boys will take turn picking a card and finding the magnet letter that indicates the beginning sound and place them on the refrigerator. Here's a sample.....



Other Fun Stuff

  • Starfall.com learn letters, sounds and games online.
  • Signing Time- ABC Signs We love Signing Time and this video is one of our favorites.
  • Preschool Express check out their "Alphabet Station" for LOTS of ABC ideas and printouts.

  • Letter of the Week free online curriculum using books, games, poems and more for each letter of the alphabet.

  • Homeschoolshare has a great unit study for Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom.