Friday, November 29, 2013

A Door Closed

We closed on our new house on Tuesday.

We also spent 6 hours at urgent care, in an ambulance, and at the hospital keeping H4 under observation for her bumped head.  It's a concussion.  It was terribly scary for a while, but she's all better now.

She bounced back from her injury faster than I did from my worry.

Then there was Thanksgiving to prepare for and celebrate (at our old home, just us, because we still have pinkeye going through the family). 

Now it is time to prepare to move.  We take possession tomorrow at noon.  The sellers have been in that house for 40 years--long enough to lose their house keys and just use the garage "clickers" as their means of entrance and exit. 

That makes me smile.

Even though it means we have to replace the locks on every exterior door on the house.

S11 came to me yesterday and asked, "Could I just try one day of public school?  Just to see what it's like?"  I explained that public schools simply don't work that way.  As I talked I realized that public school will not be an option in our new house.

We will live in a funny, eclectic neighborhood that I felt comfortable in as we explored it during our preparing-to-make-an-offer days.  But the surrounding neighborhoods are sketchy.  The school system is appalling.

I'm a former public school teacher.  I have a public school teacher brother-in-law and public school teacher friends.  I come from educator stock.  I loved public school!  I still have warm, fuzzy memories of school.  A lot of good things happen in public schools.

When I go running I pass many public schools in my current neighborhood.  They are neat and tidy and inviting.  I consider sometimes sending the kids to school.  I imagine back packs and brown bag lunches and report cards.  I imagine field trips and class parties.  I imagine best friends and inspiring teachers.  I imagine after school snacks, homework, and stories around the dinner table.

And then I pray, "Can't they go?"

In prayer I remember that Heavenly Father called me to educate my children at home.  I remember that for whatever reason He knows that I can only guess at, my particular children need to stay home with me--in spite of all of my flaws. 

I put away my imaginings, square my shoulders the best I can, and plug away--counting my blessings.  What a privilege it is to educate my children at home!

I've always answered the question, "Do you plan to homeschool the whole way?" with the answer, "Homeschooling works for now.  We'll take it one year at a time."

But now the answer has changed.

There can be no more imaginings (at least about public school).
There is no more wondering about next year.
There is no more exit clause.
There is only certainty.

Yes, we will homeschool the whole way.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sharing What Works

I've been hard on myself for the shape of our homeschool in 2013.  We've prepared our home to sell (it hasn't, yet), we've searched for and purchased a new home (we close on Nov. 26), and we took a giant vacation to see family and friends whom we haven't seen in 4 years or more.  We still have to actually pack and move!  All of these have sucked the life out of me, and the "good" parts of school have fallen by the way.

Today I read an invitation to share what works.   I'm taking that invitation as one of my Father in Heaven's tender mercies reminding me that I am not a failure.  I should take a moment to review just one thing we're doing well.

Instead of forever focusing on my failings.

What works?

Composition books.

(Image borrowed from here)

We love composition books.  I buy them by the dozen when they are on sale before school starts.  I pass them out liberally to my kids and keep quite a few for my own use. 

One for scripture journaling
One for copywork
One for a reading journal
One for writing
One for math
One for science
One for history
One for . . . anything our hearts desire!

Sometimes we make them fancy with glue and pretty paper.  Sometimes we leave them plain.  But we always fill them up with things we're learning.

My kids do their schoolwork in their composition books and then put them on the kitchen counter.  I pick them up from the counter and read what they've done.  I make notes for correction, encouragement, and congratulation in the margins and stack them back up on the counter.  The kids pick them up after breakfast the next morning, and we write again.

We need to do more science experiments.  We need more crafting and building.  We need to pick up our old ways of weekly nature walks.

In the mean time our composition books are keeping us reading and writing and curious.

And I might need to restock our supply when we do add in more of the "good" stuff!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Thing Right

We are in the middle of buying the house I wrote about before.

It is a nightmare of paperwork and hoop-jumping.

School remains minimal--the older 4 are doing their independent math, reading, and writing.  S11 and J9 continue to work on NaNoWriMo.  We attend Explorer's Club meetings, extracurricular lessons, and church activities.  Preschool is nonexistent, and A6 is teaching herself how to write in cursive (M11 gave her some lessons, and I printed a template for her to copy).  The kids read whatever they can get their hands on--E13 recently read The Great Gilly Hopkins and is currently working on The Hero and the Crown.  I read aloud at night; we finished A Wrinkle in Time, read half of The Complete Peterkin Papers before giving up because they were too silly to even be funny, and we're in the middle of Milly-Molly-Mandy for the littles and Mama's Bank Account for us all.

Scripture study and devotionals have fallen by the wayside (except for evening family prayer and Book of Mormon reading) as I've been fielding phone calls and procuring paperwork at all hours of the day and night.

But at least my General Conference issue of the Ensign is here.  I'm reading and writing about one talk a day for my personal study.  After I do that, I read one inspiring quote to the family. 

If nothing else, the words of the prophets and apostles are being read and discussed in our home.

I count that as one thing I'm doing right in spite of the chaos threatening to take over.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo Begins

November 1st has come and gone . . . already!  I did none of the hoped-for NaNoWriMo writing exercises in October that I'd kinda-sorta thought about.  I, in fact, forgot completely about NaNoWriMo.

But my children did not.

The experience of last year must have been powerful because when the medium-sized girls saw the calendar, they immediately asked for a journal. 

I let them get their own.

They set their goals:  5,000 words each. 

It is not even close to the 50,000 NaNoWriMo encourages, but this is self-motivated activity.  Who am I to argue?

S11 and J9 opened their journals after their regular school was done and wrote all day long.  They both wrote more than 1,000 words their first day. 

I suggested they set their goals a little higher.

They declined.

Today they've written and written and written.  I forced them outside into the autumn sunshine for several hours, but they've still managed a healthy several hundred words each.

I asked M11 if she was writing.

She said she was thinking.

I asked E13 if she was writing.

She snorted.

I took that for a no.

I'm satisfied.  Last year I made them do it.  This year 2 out of 4 are writing . . . and writing hard.

Self-motivated education.

That's the best.