What an awesome year we are finishing up. This past year we sent Drew to a private Christian part time school in our area. It was a costly but priceless opportunity that I wouldn't trade. I had this idea that homeschooling was just another option like public school - you pick a route and go with it. God had some very out of the box ideas for us this year. In my mind we would enroll Drew, love it and send all our kids there. Now, that would be great if it were free, but its not. If we sent all our kids we're looking at 15K per year! I truly expected to send the kids there this next year, but God in his wisdom reminded me that we're taking things year by year, child by child. They are all so different and the unique opportunity to be the sole person responsible for their education allows for outside the box teaching!
I learned some valuable lessons this year!
1. I wasn't a half bad teacher, Drew's reading didn't have much to do with me - not even a sweet lady with a doctorate in reading could "fix him!"
2. A weekly plan/routine is a must and Drew can do more work I thought! I just re-created the plan from Drew's current school, fit the lessons in 30 minutes on a Sunday night the whole week is planned!
3. Drew works great in the mornings, no breaks, and we're done by 11:30 - the rest of the day is for play and exploration! Then whatever is left - mostly Math (read #4) Drew finishes at night before bed when the house is quiet and he can think. Yea - no more school all day long until I want to pull my hair out!
4. John is a great math teacher and doesn't mind managing this one subject - he gets to help out and set up what needs to be done and mommy gets a little help!
5. Drew is like the little bunny in the book "Josh and the Woo Woo" - crazy I know. My kid loves learning but has issues with too much noise. He loves working at night when the house is quiet and he can think!
6. I never had any formal training in teaching so looking at all the curriculum overwhelmed me. I'm such a perfectionist that I'd have Drew do every problem, read every page perfectly, do every activity and every project. We'd be burnt out two weeks into school. How novel - this year I saw them pick a few projects, work through some problems but not all of them. They created manageable yet difficult lessons that pushed the kids but didn't overwhelm. Wow - what freedom! I totally should have realized this sooner.
7. I love having all my kids home, I love teaching them and being the one who knows all about there days because I was right there encountering it with them.
8. We missed Math U See! We're heading back to this Math curriculum - in fact Drew didn't have much Math this week so he has already started!
In January I began freaking out because the information meeting for the 2013-2014 school year was already set, the deposits were due on Valentines day to save Drew's spot, there was also the question of Gabe who starts kinder this next year. Oi! So John and I prayed and prayed on what we should do. I was shocked on how the Lord changed my heart, when we first started praying we both intended to send Drew back to this school, then as the week went on my heart began to change and God revealed to me how much I love our home days, how much I enjoy teaching my kids. Then he sent a director from Drew's school to observe and help adjust some of our day so we didn't struggle so much with the length of time it took. She pointed out some great ideas and methods for spelling and encouraged Drew that "his work is his worship!" I also saw how hard it is to entertain Abby and redirect her every 5 minutes!
By Valentines Day we had decided to homeschool full time once school ends in May, its not a hard and fast thing though - we love the curriculum selections at the school Drew is at now and plan to keep up in case God changes things up again! The main reason for this decision is the whole reason we began schooling at home - outside the box kids don't want to be boxed in! Now this school is awesome and they really accommodate the outside the box kids, but the hard and fast deal is that a child must read well to go into second grade. Drew has made huge strides this year - huge! I'm so proud of that boy, reading does not come easy for him yet he perseveres and tries to not let himself get down. This year was hard for him, watching kids who were reading like him at the beginning of the year take off and now read chapter books has been a hard reality. Yet, he is coming along so well. Drew is so dang smart that he truly doesn't know what its like to struggle and struggle - this is a good lesson on humility and perseverance.
John reminded me one evening that he didn't read well until he was 10-12 year old. His mother pulled him out of school and homeschooled him for two years. She took him back to phonics and he did learn to read - but it came at a price. John and his sweet mother spent a lot of time on reading and John did learn to read, but to this day he hates reading. There was such a push for him to learn; albeit he was 11 so I'd be that mom too, yet the outcome wasn't what I want for Drew. I want him to be allowed to develop in his timing with a little push from mom, enough to get the job done but not enough to spend all day on it. So I'm praying that between our nightly reading and the tutor he will find that reading is so much fun once the hard part of learning to read is over.
So this year we're going to step back, have a tutor come and work on reading 2x a week, and enjoy school with some small modifications! Sweet Abby will also get her turn - finally - at preschool 2 days a week. I think she will love the independence and the boys and I will enjoy getting some work done!
So in May, Drew's 1st grade year will come to an end and a week later we'll grab our books and head into second grade at home full time. I'm so excited, I love to see my children light up with a desire for learning. It is such a blessing to know their unique abilities and push for good handwriting or quick math facts and then be able to send them outside to dig for worms when they are done.
Drew is excited to attend robot camp and Camp Invention this summer. Gabe is desperate for soccer camps and lots of trips to the Science museum.