Friday, June 25, 2010

Reviewing The Past Year And Looking To The Next

The school year is officially finished.  Today, I turned in the evaluations for Rachel and Emily and the required 5th grade testing scores for Rachel.  They did well.

I don't know about you, but at the end of every school year I like to take some time to review how the year went and to spend time planning for next year.

This year was a weird year to me - it seemed so often like we weren't working as diligently as we should and yet the kids learned and grew both academically and spiritually.

Sarah, had been struggling with her reading and was getting frustrated.  So we set it aside for a time.  I know that may be shocking to many of you but in my 16 years of experience teaching my children, I have found that it works!  By the end of the year it was all starting to come together for her.  She was bored with her math this last year, so we are going to try Teaching Textbooks for her this next school year.  She also wanted to improve her drawing skills and so she worked at it, asking Lindsay for help now and then, and we all could see a big improvement!

Rachel, who reads so well, struggles with her math, but I got smart this year and set aside what she had been using and tried a different workbook with more variety and then also did Teaching Textbooks for her and she started to take off!  Why is it that we cling to the old thing that is not working?  Lesson relearned for me!

She also grew in her ability to work on her own.  This is a wonderful thing for students!

Emily doesn't love academics but before this past year started she realized that she hadn't been trying very hard and wanted to stretch herself this year, and she did!  Biology, Advanced Literary Analysis, British Literature...this on top of doing some intermediate level sewing, creating Fraktur art, and working a summer/autumn job at a local adventure farm.

The longer I home educate my children, the less curriculum I use.  Oh, I use a math curriculum and science books as well, but for real learning of history, and language arts and government etc., I use real books - living books.  Ones that have been written by someone who loves the subject they are writing about.  Books that can capture my children's attention and get them thinking.  Then we do a lot of discussion, and processing and relating the information to our lives.  

I believe this teaches them more than anything how to be life long learners.

This next year, I will be starting Kyle on a bit of formal education and am now responsible for Sarah to the state.  But we will continue to learn together as we have always done.  Always our goal is that of discipling our children, to love the Lord and to walk with Him always.  

What a terrible thing it would be if we taught academics and college preparation and yet the hearts of our children were far from the Lord!  So as this next year of learning starts, I hope to encourage you to focus on the eternal things, gain the hearts of your children first and foremost.  The rest will all fall into place.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Learning Doesn't Stop

The great thing about learning is that it is a 24/7 kind of gift.
While we can put the books down and stop recording every
little thing we do for "school" we can have the most fun and 
find the most interesting of things all around us.

Our chickens are a hoot.
We have learned valuable lessons about diligence,
motherhood and protectiveness as we have a new
chick.  We have observed the little one learn to drink
by carefully watching the hens and then mimicking their 
actions.  Such bright little eyes and a happy dance after
the very first drink.  Mikey wondered if the water acted
like an energy drink to the chick. It was very funny.

It makes me aware that always the kids' eyes are watching
and learning from my actions and attitudes.  This week
I found out that when we had last been at Sight and Sound
Theatre to see the drama about Joseph,
one of our sons had spent a lot of time watching me for my 
reactions because I had told him that there were many parts
that made me cry.  He was curious as to which ones.
Good grief!  
Now we have to take him back so he can 
actually watch the show.  It is just an example...but one I 
know to be so very true.  They are designed to watch and 
learn...just like the little chick.

What are your children observing in you?

You are teaching them just as much, if not more
from your life than you do from all of that nifty
curriculum you hope to re-sell someday.

Well, two other little eyes are watching me
at the moment.
Little Bandit needs to go outside...
desperately she thinks!
So, since I have learned from her past 
actions...I'll be taking care of that right now!

Happy Learning!