Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our School Days

This is our first full year of homeschooling.  When the boys were younger I always worked with them- we learned our letters, numbers, colors, Bible stories, shapes, etc...  Then when Jeremiah hit K5 he went to a private Christian school where Eric taught science.  Jeremiah returned to said school for first grade.  Both years he did extremely well and we watched him just blossom in all of his subjects.  He really loves to learn and is a very independent learner.  Elijah only got one year at that school and that was his K5 year.  He, too, did well and enjoyed learning new things.  He is not so much an independent learner, but his big brother sure does cheer him on.  Then there is our Sammy.  He is only 4, so technically he would still be at home with me doing "preschool" at home.  The one thing I know for certain with this little monkey is that he needs to learn to sit long enough to actually do his work!

When Eric finished seminary he knew he was going into full-time ministry so we knew that we would be pulling the boys from their school.  We refuse to put our children into Florida public schools (they are awful!) so we knew that the best option was homeschooling.  I was thrilled as I love to be at home with my boys.  I love being involved in their learning and watching them grow each day!  Seriously, you could not pay me enough to be away from them!

So this year has been a roller coaster ride of success and failures. We have weeks where we just seem to be "on" and weeks where we are lucky if we get through everything we need to get through.  This week?  It has been an "on" week and for that I am grateful.  "Off" weeks can be depressing and discouraging for all parties involved!

We use the Abeka curriculum and so far I have been extremely pleased.  Their phonics and math are outstanding (for my boys, anyway!) and their readers are just the sweetest things ever.  The stories are emphasize Christian character and obedience.  We have supplemented with Answers in Genesis (Ken Ham) and Dr. Dino (Kent Hovind) for science since there is so real science in K4-2nd grades.  Our boys love to learn about dinosaurs, chemical reactions, and extreme weather and I am grateful that Eric has a science background!  We also allow our brains to take us on rabbit trails.  Sometimes a question will be asked about something they are learning, then another, and another, and before we know it, we have had a whole other lesson!  That is something children do not get in public OR private schools.  Their art and music are whatever I whip up and since I have a strong background in music I am able to teach basic theory and can introduce instruments and composers.  Art...well...I like art, but I am not a crafty person so we do the best we can.  As far as Physical Education the boys get that on a daily basis.  They play outside every afternoon, ride bikes, swim (when it is warm enough) and they like to jog with Eric.

A typical school day varies depending on what day of the week it is.  With Eric being a Minister, he takes Monday mornings off to be with us so we do not do school until Monday afternoons.  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays we do school throughout the day and take our time allowing ourselves to enjoy the learning process.  Fridays we attempt to get everything completed in the morning so we can have an outing or something fun in the afternoons.  Friday evening we plug the Wii back in and allow the boys to play a little bit of their video games.  Saturdays are just like any other Saturday for a school aged child, but we limit the Wii and television and try to take advantage of Eric being home.  Usually it becomes family chore day when we all pitch in to clean and organize (if needed) or to run errands.  Sundays are work days for our family.  Eric is a Minister, so Sunday is his peak work day.  We are usually at church most of the day and the boys love to see their church friends and play with the toys at church.  And while Sundays are great, and we all love to be at church, by Sunday night we are all pretty exhausted and are thankful that we can sleep in a little on Monday morning.  Thus ends our week.

As for evaluation, our boys have been taking the Standford Achievement Test which is a standardized test that shows where a child is at academically.  Both Jeremiah and Elijah took the test at the private school they attended and they both did extremely well.  They scored off the charts in all areas and I look forward to seeing where they are at at the end of this year.  We do not keep a fancy portfolio though we do keep most of the worksheets that they do to make certain that they are indeed moving forward in their studies.

The beauty of homeschooling is that it looks different for each family.  What works for us may not works for others and vice versa.  For those of you that homeschool, what materials do you use and why?  I am always keen to know what other homeschooling families like.  With that, I must get back to my little Sammy.  He is working on mastering the lower case cursive 't'!

--Jenny

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