The benefits of home education for the kids are many; individualized instruction, less peer distractions (although there are three teens so it's not compltely eliminated), personalized lesson plans, less time doing school, increased time for volunteer work, increased time for money making ventures, no dreaded late nights for busy-work projects, etc.
The benefits for Mom are less obvious. Afterall, I had eight solid hours of alone time prior to our home education adventure. I do sleep in about an hour longer since the kiddos came home and I no longer write huge checks for; tuition, nasty (according to some but not all of the kids) lunches, book fees, sports programs, etc., but for the most part I've added a great load to my house management responsibilities.
This leads me to the greatest benefit of home education for this Mom. Are you thinking I might say "endless time with my precious sweethearts"? No, that's not it. We really seek to find ways for all of us to have the alone time that keeps us sain. "No more driving fifty miles and an hour-and-a half a day?" Nope, that's not it, but oh-my goodness the gas savings is HUGE and I love that I'm not seen as a permanent part of my van any longer.
No, a huge benefit of having the kids home is that they are motivated and hard workers. Some more than others, but really they are all pretty awesome! Valerie, for example, does not look like a hard worker. On the contrary, she sometimes can look impossible to motivate, but that girl does ALL and I mean ALL of our family's laundry. This is how she gives back for not wanting anything to do with outside work. Do you know how much laundry a family of six (and sometimes seven) can generate? A LOT! Before starting this post I walked into the utility room to help her fold a load and was smacked in the face with the reality that I hadn't folded a load of laundry in a long time. Two weeks or more!
Kari & Kevin keep the outside going. They do all of the grass, weeding, help Dad with pool work, etc. On top of that, our hard working Kari works inside the house every single day. She is ALWAYS working hard. Someday this beautiful girl is going to make an amazing wife, mother and she will run a top notch clean home.
Very proud of these kiddos and all that they are to our family. They are far more than the work that they do, but oh, how grateful we are for the work that they do.
God, thank you for leading us to bring the kids home and we ask that you continue to give us the wisdom and strength to grow them into the beautiful men and women of God that you desire them to be.
I love you, Sweet Kiddos!
Thank you for all of your help ~ it does not go unnoticed and is deeply appreciated!
What is true for each of our kids?
1. He is an auditory learner. Big time. Material delivered in any other way will not get in. (And I say that with confidence after years of working with him.)
2. He is bright and does not want any (and I mean ANY) unnecessary work.
3. Kev' has a mechanical/logical/engineering brain.
4. He is an early to bed/early to rise kinda' guy. Always.
5. He likes to be alone for at least 30-45 minutes in the morning before anyone else wakes. It is the only alone time he craves all day. (Ju is an early riser and can sometimes mess up his plan.)
6. Would do all school work through discussion if possible.
7. Writing by pen & paper is painful to Kevin. However, he has learned to write and express himself through Word.
1. Kari is a visual learner.
2. She needs to physically move often.
3. She is extremely extrovert and needs to leave the house at least every other day, but every day would be best.
4. She is a hard worker that loves to serve her family through acts of service.
5. She loves children and the elderly and desires to serve them.
6. Kari needs academics to be clear and uncomplicated.
7. Kari is a fluent reader and likes to read out loud.
8. Kari likes happy stories and struggles with the pain associated with deep/difficult material.
9. Friends are very important and for very good reasons.
10. She recognizes and appreciates the benefits of homeschooling and it's my job to ensure that her extrovert personality is stimulated outside of our house.
11. Kari has the ability to sell an idea/thought/herself to anyone. She could be an evangelist if God so directs this part of her, because He sure gave her that skill.
1. Visual learner
2. Quick to understand concepts
3. Auditory work is somewhat annoying to her.
4. Easy to educate
5. Likes to do busy work through worksheets (I even bought her Abeka grammar to add to her curriculum so that she could do worksheets. :)
6. Likes to memorize poems, Bible verses, & language helpers.
1. Prefers to work independently
3. Visual learner
4. Prefers question/answer sheets over discussion
5. Would avoid most human contact/social situations if she could.
6. HUGE READER but prefers to read teen things over interesting history novels (Sonlight type literature.)
7. She just said that she would rather go to her room and answer the discussion questions on paper rather than sit in the living room and talk about what we just read. Thankfully, she does desire to sit with us while we read ~ that's a plus! :)
Update on last post: Summer school...letting go for a few weeks.
They need a break; even if I don't. They were in school for nine months and I wasn't. It makes sense.
Recently I've been reading and found this blog post and this long conversation on the Well Trained Mind forums (WTMF.) Interesting reads that make sense to me. During most of the reads I heard this question in my head: Isn't this all very intuititve? Maybe it's my age that makes this more intuitive for me. I remember myself as a younger mom/wife. NOTHING was intuititve. Well, almost nothing anyway.
Over the years I have figured out who I am and I function within that knowledge. I'm not interested in pleasing anyone but God and Scott and I'm quite sure that God is disappointed often. Scott, well, he's just too good to be true and loves me in spite of who I am.
With that said, what I'm about to write might make one think that I lack confidence in teaching my children when, in fact, for me, I don't purpose that I can teach math the same way someone who has taught for years and who holds a degree as a mathmetician can. Period. Now, when we get around to biology, human biology, etc., everyone should get out of my way because I am ON IT!
Math ~ I want a math curriculum with a teacher on a DVD. I know that if I have to spend time reading and figuring the lesson out on my own and then teach it, it won't get done. Except perhaps Algebra. For me, doing Algebra is like eating chocolate. So.Much.Fun!
Language ~ My strength is not grammar (understatement!) or writing and, therefore, I need to outsource some of my language teaching. Not all, but some. One of the problems that I have is that I will use far too many words to try and teach something and will lose my kids. Someone who is good at teaching a subject matter will use minimal words to make their point in a clear and concise manner. I, on the other hand, would add ten words for every one needed. This is part of who I am that must be recognized and addressed. It serves me well for subects that are discussed, but not math and the like.
Science ~ Friendly and with a conversational style is a must! Also, I will never try to teach Geology. EVER! I have to find value in a topic in order to teach it. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I do not care a rip about geology. Take a college course if you want it kids.
History ~ LOVE it, but I know that I must teach it in the way that I wish I had been taught. Tell me the stories of what happened. PLEASE! I don't feel inclinced to have a "teacher" (DVD or outsourced teacher) help me with this because I believe that the information is all there in great books and documentaries.
Also, unschooling or being too relaxed does NOT work for me. Because I know myself, I am aware that if we are too relaxed nothing will get done! PERIOD. My kids would leave here completely uneducated. I know that some dear friends think I'm being over the top by worrying about checkboxes, but the truth is that if I don't check off boxes then we will watch Good Luck, Charlie! for four years. I don't say that as a joke ~ we really would.
Reading thoughts from the ladies on WTMF makes me know that it's just as unnatural for those Moms to use a pre-designed curriculum/plan as it is for me to reinvent the wheel. Designing their own is what works for their family just as much as what I do works for our family.
With all of that said, I do struggle somewhat in knowing how to meet individual learning styles in our home. For the most part I think I do okay. We have many of our texts (science/history/some read alouds) on CD so that Kevin can have them read to him because he is a HUGE auditory learner. In addition, I buy those same books for Kari & Valerie so that they can follow along in the book as the CD plays because they need to see it.
The other side of their learning styles has to do with my love for discussion; science, literature, and history are all read and discussed while snuggled up in the living room. Science is tested but the others are not. This works for three out of four of us. Valerie would probably prefer to be given the text and then sent to her room to read and complete questions related to the material. She doesn't necessarily ask for this but I know her. It is my job to balance her need to go and do everything alone in her room with her need to engage with other life forms. :) On the other hand, she learns well when writing everything out and not so much through discussion. Hmmmm......
I'm going to have Valerie sit with me to discuss what works and what doesn't and see what she says about all of this.
That brings up another point. I love that we brought the kids home 4th quarter of last school year. It has given us a heads up on what works, what doesn't and what we all like and don't like. It has primed us for beginning next year. I write about it here so that I can sort it all out and develop what works for us. I am not of the opinion that I am over thinking, but rather, analyzing in order to make things work as well as possible for our family.
Oh, and one more thing. I feel that I must say this "out loud" so that I can deal with my feelings about it. When I hear people talk about not bringing "school" home, I cringe inside. In some respect I know what they're saying; I get it, but in other respects I really don't. Because our goal is to:
1. Give our kids a strong academic foundation so that:
a. They have the skills that they need to be successful in collge.
b. They have the skills that they need to go out and serve God well in their community.
We don't see how that can be accomplished without hard work. Besides, what if they decide NOT to go to college? (They have that option - although I never talk about it being an option.) If they choose not to go to college then this is it and I want to provide them with a quality high school education. So, for us high school looks like a really cool & relaxed "school". You will never find me outside digging in the creek bed with them (EVER!) but you will find me curled up on the couch with them reading really great books and talking about really interesting topics.
Part II from Valerie & I up next.
I had a plan for the summer and I was confident in my plan.
And now I'm not.
My plan was to do school year round. Maybe lighten it enough to be done by 1:00, but it's not looking good. I'm losing their focus as the days warm.
We have always "done school" through the summer and so I know that we will continue with reading, writing and arithmatic, but I had hoped for much more. Mostly because I love the flexibility that would come the rest of the year if we put in 8-10 solid weeks in the summer. But, they're distracted and who can blame them? Heck, I want to be outside.
August will be hot and miserable and we will undoubtedly school then, but now, during the most beautiful days of the year? Yea, no one is really interested - including me.
But, but, but.......I have so many plans.
Plans. We've addressed this already, haven't we?
As I seek to adjust my summer plan I have some unshakable demands:
Literature reading - 4 days
Math tutoring Kari - 4-5 days
Writing/Grammar tutoring Kari - 4-5 days
Math review Valerie & Kevin - 3-4 days
Grammar work V & K - 3 days
Writing SWB all bigs - 3 days
Jaden full curriculum - 4 days
Jaden's curriculum only takes us a couple of hours (or less) a day and if I keep her going through the summer then I can lay off of her periodically during the school year to focus on the bigs. She's also doing late second and third grade work, so I'm feeling confident. She's 1/2 way through her 2nd grade math curriculum and I do want to finish that before summer is over. That means she'll start multiplication in the fall. I think she'll be able to handle that okay, but if it's just too much developmentally then I can step back and chill for a bit.
The kids wonder if this will be a lot of summer work (literature takes some time), but I know that this isn't much really. Especially for V & K. Kari's tutoring is essential and, thankfully, it's not too painful for Kari. She's actually doing very well. My heart desperately wants to get her caught up so that she will not have to suffer long term from the mistakes of adults that made selfish decisions. Maybe I won't be able to fill in all the holes, but I sure am going to try and, from the looks of things, she's going to do her best too!
Tweeking the plan......
Kari Michele Gaier
What happened to that little girl that I use to hold on my lap and love on?
She's a big girl now and doing very well for herself.
Kari will be heading to Paris in September to enjoy a year abroad.
She graduated with a degree in French and desires to teach French here in the states, but first she will immerse herself in the French language and culture.
We're so proud of you Bug.
Go and enjoy Paris and the beautiful life that you've created.
What a great week we've had.
I'm calling it a successful week!
Learning how to be a homeschooling family reminds me of when our sweet Kari came home; we honeymooned and then our world fell apart. After our home blew up and we all fell apart, we had to figure out how to pick ourselves up and put "us" back together.
It's the same now. We honemooned, fell apart and now we're putting ourselves back together. Each morning since my babies came home I would wake and try a new approach, fail, try again, fail, and then try again. What we didn't do was quit. We put one foot in front of the other and did the next thing in each subject area - even when it was painful. This week we are finding our groove. We've figured out a system that meets everyone's needs and it feels good.
Thankfully, I have very willing kids that wake each day ready to attack the list and learn. Each of these kids are gifts to their Dad & I.
Another piece of the puzzle that proved difficult those first couple of weeks had to do with the changes in our lives; for the me the kids were now home 24/7 and to them they were now under my wing 24/7. They were glad to be home but they missed the old routine. They were glad to be home but they feared that they made a mistake coming home. They were glad to be home but they missed the daily contact with their friends. Now, we've been home long enough that we are enjoying the benefits of life spent together.
I'm thankful and thrilled to have this experience with our kids.
UPDATE: It is now 9:45 AM and I am fully awake and can clearly see how stupid silly this post is. I doubt seriously that I'll die anytime soon. Drama Queen at her best. Have a great day friends.
Go ahead and laugh at me, but this is how I feel and I'm sticking with it! (Said with my arms folded over my chest and my tongue stuck out.)
It is 3:44 AM and I have been up since 1:20. I took NyQuil at 9 PM and was sleeping just fine until I woke to go to the bathroom. And that's when the coughing resumed. Some people really are dying . . . I just feel as though I might.
If this feels like a pointless post to you then you were definitely not up at 3:46 AM coughing a lung up.
Seeking to be more productive with my time . . .
I love homeschooling and spending all of my time with my kids. We are reading some pretty cool books and enjoying the discussions. I have no idea how much of what I'm reading is reaching my newest girl. The vocabulary is over her head . . . praying she catches it. (I'm using way too many elipses. I learned that those dots are called elipses because I homeschool. But I digress . . . sorry.)
Last week I instructed the three olders to write a paper giving two perspectives on the exact same experience. Valerie chose a horse topic, Kev' chose soccer and Kari chose a foster vs. adopted child in the same home. All papers were well thought out and interesting. I knew nothing of Valerie's topic and she taught me about the government's desire to round up and adopt out wild horses. She gave the perspective of the government and that of the horses. She even did research to ensure that her beliefs were accurate.
Kevin's setting was the soccer field. He was the protaganist in the story. The referee on the field made a call against him that he believed to be wrong. His paper described in detail his perspective as well as that of the ref. Kevin brought into the story the personal history of the ref and how that history affected his response to criticism and how Kevin took the opportunity to teach him of the freedom that can be found in God's word.
Kari, our dear Kari that loves to write and process her feelings through her writing. She wrote about two boys; both living with the same family. One boy had been adopted by the family and the other was living with the family as a foster child. She beautifully articulated the two perspectives that these two children feel as a result of their status differences in the family. She chose to bring a terrible accident upon the foster father in order to help the foster child see how important this man had become in his life. Every single time she puts pencil to paper she teaches us and I am grateful.
The three olders are doing the same high school core with me. We are reading some pretty heavy books to go along with this core. Currently we are reading Peace Child by Don Richardson. Youza' ~ heavy stuff. Mr. Richardson tells of a people group in Papau New Guinea called the Sawi. These are cannabalistic headhunters and Mr. Richardson's description of their stone-age-type existance can make your skin crawl. The first two chapters almost made me put the book down, but Mr. Richardson's intent was clear. We had to know the extent at which satan had a hold of these people in order to see the mighty work that Christ could do in their lives. We are only to chapter seven, maybe only 1/3 through, but we are starting to learn how God used Mr. Richardson and others to bring light to this very dark jungle.
Mr. Richarson and the other missionaries had to be able to see the Sawi culture through the eyes of their people before they could bring God to them. It is important that we open our eyes to other perspectives and understand the differences in cultures and lifestyles while showing them Christ's light.
How often do we as Christians mess this up?!
Look around you. Could you write a perspective paper (even if only in your head) telling two sides of a situation? One from your perspective and one from the perspective of someone who sees it completely different than you?
That was one of our exercises this week and we found it interesting.
Sure wish I could sleep ~ 4:15 AM and still coughing.
This always makes me think of that terrible illness nine years ago.
So grateful that it is only a virus and hopeful that we will all be healthy again very soon.
Praying you had a peaceful night's rest.
Love to you friends!!
Structure is good!
Structure is bad!
So which is it already?!
Much of what we attempted yesterday went well.
Much of what we attempted yeseterday went terribly wrong.
Told you it would take awhile.
How much is enough in one day?
How much is too much?
I brought the kids home this time with a satisfied feeling that I had a handle on satan screaming in my ear and inticing me to be afraid. I felt confident that I understood the balance necessary to make us successful. And then they came home and the overwhelming responsibility hit.
Here is what I know to be true:
Structure is a good thing.
Sticking with that.....
Structure is only good if it is implemented with plenty of love, grace and laughter.
And right there is where I get tripped up.
For me structure means having routines and a plan.
And a plan means a list of check boxes.
Checkboxes that Mom is absolutely determined to check off are a sure way to sink your home-educated-kiddo's ship.
Hold on. Don't shake your head yet. Remember that I already said that structure is good, that structure includes a plan and that a plan includes check boxes. Stick with me.
The problem comes when Mom, aka teacher, is inflexible with her checkboxes. There was a very good reason why we did not complete our checkboxes yesterday and yet all that my heart wanted from the day was a list of checked off check boxes.
I didn't have it in the schedule that we were introducing a totally new algebraic concept that would take more time to grasp and implement. Had I figured that in and planned for it, we may not have lost steam. Add to that the fact that I was starting to get sick (but didn't realize that was the problem until later in the afternoon) and our struggles yesterday come into focus.
Our crew sat down last night and evaluated what went right with the new plan and what went wrong. The kids were asked two questions:
1. What worked for today?
2. What didn't work?
#1 answer from all of the kids for question #2?
You're being mean as you try to get everything done and we are working hard.
True that.....as they say.
Checkboxes. Those dreaded checkboxes. Fear. What if I'm not doing enough? What if I fail them.
"Go away, satan, Christ lives in me and you have no place here!!"
Guess what the #1 answer was to question #1?
"The new schedule is great, Mom, and we should stick with it."
So, in review, this is where we are.
Continue to have a plan - checkboxes.
Continue to order the day.
Add to the mix:
grace, love, laughter, flexibility within the plan
ENJOY YOUR KIDDOS, TRACI, AND THEY WILL GROW IN....
Their knowledge of what is good and right.
Their love for each other.
Their love of family and togetherness.
I confess that yesterday blew up because of me. Because of fear from satan. Because I am not naturally structured and when I try to get in that box I become rigid and hard. Simply stated, because I blew it.
Today is a new day and we have a plan.
A flexible plan.
Time to wake the kiddos that are still sleeping.