Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading for homeschool group meeting 10/30/06

Our homeschool group meetings usually begin with a devotional reading. Now that I am the leader, I guess it's my job. So I searched and searched for something but nothing seemed right. Then I came across these verses in someone's blog (wish I could remember who's) and this pretty much wrote itself. Why did I think I needed to search for something someone else had written?

But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load. – Galatians 6:4-5

The context of these verses has nothing to do with homeschooling, really. But like most everything in the Bible, it has applications to homeschooling and all of family life.

I participate in a few online homeschooling communities, and I see a lot of moms struggling with comparisons. I see it sometimes in real life too. Maybe none of you ever feel anxiety when you compare your kids with someone else’s, or compare your curriculum or methods with something others are using or doing. But maybe you sometimes feel a little pang and think “should I be doing that too?” “Would my boy have his math facts down if I used that program?”

I fall into this sometimes. Sometimes I question the validity of my methods, which do not fit into any easy box of “classical,” “Charlotte Mason” or “Sonlight.” This happens most often when I see someone whose kids have memorized more of the Bible than mine, or are “ahead” of my kids in math, or better readers, or…

But we have to remember that we have been given our children, our lives, our challenges, our work. And the work you have been given may be very different from mine. Each of us (along with our husbands – definitely our husbands) will be called to account for the work we do with our children.

And our children are very different, with different talents, skills, needs, desires… and a future already ordained by God.

There seems to be nothing homeschool moms enjoy talking about more than curriculum. “What are you using for _____??” “What are you doing about _____??” It’s fun and often helpful to find out about new stuff. We love stuff! But don’t think that because one person does something one way, and is having success, that you have to do it too.

[Example: Alpha-phonics. Most people loved it. Boy hated it and wasn’t successful at it. Research. Phonics don’t work for him. Oh no! He’s a sight reader! Let him read books. Take away the phonics. Success.]

But what of Paul’s use of the word “boast?” Whenever Paul uses this word, he is making a point. When may we boast? When we have achieved the standard. And what is the standard? Or better yet, who sets the standard? Of course it’s God’s standard. It’s not Charlotte Mason’s, or Bob Jones University’s or Susan Wise Bauer’s standards we are to reach for. We are not to look up to – or down on – anyone else because their standards don’t matter. God’s standards do.

Be confident, yet humble, as you seek to educate your children, to prepare them for adulthood, to bring them up as children of God. Don’t watch too carefully what others do with their children. You have your own children. You have been given your own work.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Week of 10/24 or so

You know it's been a "lost" week when you don't even care to figure out what the date was on Monday.

Actually it wasn't so bad, just not very productive. J was sick and so we didn't get much done, academically. Progressed slightly in math, copywork, etc. The kids are really getting into those Spectrum test prep books; they ask to do those first every day. So some skill advancement happened. Not much.

We did a lot of reading - finished Peter Duck and got well into Pigeon Post, the next in the Swallows and Amazons series. Read the rest of Wings Like a Dove, about Queen Jeanne d'Albret of Navarre (Huguenot history), and a little nonfiction about her and Renee of Ferrara in Trial and Triumph. Started reading Stars, Mosquitos and Crocodiles: The American Travels of Alexander von Humboldt.

Once again I felt validation or vindication, or something for our homeschooling method of a little skill work, a lot of education. The settings of most of Peter Duck and some of Stars, Mosquitos... are the same place. Over and over I see these opportunities to make connections. This is the stuff of real learning. Yes, yes, learning to write and read and do sums is important, no denying that. But I can see these kids really learning when I am reading to them, or they are reading on their own (now that they know how to) and they can make connections about their world!

Today is Reformation Preparation day. Back to the sewing machine!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Week of 10/16

A sick week, and an errand week. Both kids had minor sore throat/colds, very sluggish and tired. So we did minimal table work and minimal thinking work - mainly stayed with Bible and catechism, a little workbook work (Mathematical Reasoning, some test prep) to "wake up our brains."

J buried himself in the audio Narnia books. I read more in Peter Duck and have almost finished Wings Like A Dove, fictionalized history of Jeanne d'Albret, Huguenot queen of Navarre. E read a "Secret Seven" book by Enid Blyton. Watched a lot of baseball! But our team didn't make it through the playoffs.

Tomorrow will be a baby shower here so we had to spend time shopping and cleaning for that. Ugh. Picked up paper placemats from Loaves and Fishes for the kids to color and return.

My own reading: hahahaha.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Week of Oct 9

This was not our best or most productive week. We progressed a bit in all areas, but nothing spectacular. I'm not even going to log it. Just more of the same. Enjoyed the book Galen and the Gateway to Medicine, and mapping Galen's travels. Continued reading about Pilgrims but did not do any real work in history, ie. the History Pockets project. Continued reading Peter Duck, that's the current obsession anyway, so...

Did have a slight breakthrough in math, however. Thursday had a terrible day over math drills, slow, sloppy work habits, etc.. Was really feeling frantic over the lack of progress in the math facts area. Today I pulled out the flash cards (addition, subtraction, time and money), something they'd always hated and did poorly at. This morning they loved it. And did quite well - at least J, anyway. So we'll take a break from written drills and MUS and try to do two sessions of flash cards a day for the next week, and drill again next Friday.

Today was game day with the hs group. Both kids did a short "show and tell" presentation. I wish they would call it "public speaking" instead of the juvenile "show and tell." No matter. E took copies of her favorite smoothie recipe and planned to talk about it. Once she stood up she couldn't remember what to say so I had to coach her through it. She was happy to give out recipes, though. J teamed up with Z to talk about the paper airplane models they build. He did a little better, not much. But it was his first time, her 2nd. I plan to require them to do this each game day.

Oh, we watched a Schlessinger video on settlers in St. Augustine, pretty interesting. They watched some Nat'l Geo animal movie and other than some baseball playoff games, that's it. J is back to Google Earth and his Lego Mindstorms, which is good.

J and I have started something new for spelling - I am giving him word listsl so he can copy them out. I will periodically give a test based on those lists. E - not worried about her right now, would rather she spend the time reading good stuff. Need to find her some good stuff...

My own reading - more pitiful than ever. Still working my way through Marriage to a Difficult Man. Also working on Bible study. Hoping to be done with that very soon.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Week of Oct 2

A shortish week. We had company on Friday and it never fails, it takes us 2 days to get ready. Need to build more housework time and discipline into the day.

Bible: Continued with Psalms and started reading James. I'm using a Life Change Bible study book as a guide but don't really use it that much. Continuing to work on memorizing Psalm 33, though not often enough. Should have it down by now.

I am pretty dissatisfied with our Bible time. Trying to use the time efficiently and read during breakfast just doesn't work. There are too many interruptions. I pulled out The Family Worship Book for some ideas, but I know what has to be done: We need to make the commitment to have a family Bible time every morning before breakfast. I could read history or science during breakfast if I want to be efficient. Really, I feel like our priorities are just messed up in the morning and Bible is stuffed in between cereal and toast.

Catechism is going fine as always.

Math: Ugh. Still struggling with those facts. We have completed lesson 25 in MUS but it almost seems like nothing has changed since we began. We also continue to work in Mathematical Reasoning as a break and for the concepts. As J works in the test prep books, he does fine on the conceptual stuff, but can't do the operations. Oh, we have started doing more timed drills which some might think is nuts, but they are taking so long to do the problems. I am hoping they will compete with their own score and try to get a little faster. I can see that they don't work quickly or efficiently.

Handwriting: They are doing more copywork each day; J finally did a complete catechism q&a in one day - though it was a short one. They are still enjoying cursive. J has to do more writing for Sunday School so he is not fighting it quite so much. Perhaps he is maturing a bit and understanding the need for it.

Spelling: Fine for E, still a disaster for J. Need to find something else. I love AVKO but it's not helping him learn the patterns.

History: Great as always. Pilgrims.

Science: reading Galen and the Gateway to Medicine, which is not in the BF guide but we're just stopping there for a bit. Did some map work on Galen's travels so I have something for the science binder.

Grammar: Still enjoying the Daily Grams exercises.

Latin: Completed Lesson 5 and today learned the Sanctus completely.

Creative writing: Tried doing the first of the Imitation in Writing: Aesop's Fables but it didn't work too well. We worked on it quite a bit before E informed me that she had no idea what we were doing. So I did the first one as an example for them. But I will let that sit a bit longer. I think that was a waste of money. But I may try again. I really should just pull out Writing the Natural Way and use that with them. Much more... natural.

J continues with PE and E continues with Gymnastics Dance.

They are reading Nature Readers and J is reading Daugherty's Landing of the Pilgrims. But today's reading included the Mayflower Compact and he thought it was a sermon. Oh my.

Oh, they love the test prep exercises and do fine on them. The reading comprehension blows me away - doing well on that. Surprising, a bit, since J stumbles so much and doesn't seem to get it when he reads aloud. Different skills, though...

Went to the Rice Northwest Rock Museum on Saturday. Enjoyable as always. J demonstrated he remembered some things learned at the last trip - things I'd forgotten. Lots of fun in the gift shop too!

My reading: Hm. Not much. Keeping up with Bible and reading a bit in Marriage to a Difficult Man every day.