Home educating…but not homeschooling

Completely unrelated photo from a field trip this month. Just thought it was pretty!

I have long desired to have the opportunity to homeschool my children, but God has clearly said NO (perhaps He is really saying “wait”, but only time will tell…). The irony of this is that both of my husband’s siblings homeschool their children and my own sister homeschools her own. To further the irony, out of all of them, I am the only one who was actually homeschooled! I was homeschooled from seventh grade through graduation. When I met and married my husband, we didn’t really discuss education plans for future children, though if we did, I probably didn’t really have an opinion. Honestly, I was so head over heels for him that I would have moved to Timbuktu if he said so (and I still love him that much!). Fortunately, he was clear in informing me that he never wanted to live anywhere other than Texas…but I digress.

This desire has been on my heart for a long time, and I’ve spent a lot of time praying about it – that God would somehow change hearts so that I can do it. However, I sometimes wonder what I’m really desiring – a chance to teach my children or just something other than what I have right now?

A few months ago as I was praying about this (or rather, complaining to God about it), I could clearly hear God speak. Not an audible voice, but a clear voice inside my mind:

 Me: O Lord, please let me homeschool!

Voice: WHY do you want to be able to homeschool?

Me: I want to be able to teach my children, Lord! Is that not a good desire?

Voice: Then teach your children.

Me: What? I asked to be able to homeschool my kids…oh, wait.

After that brief exchange, I remembered what is often said “You are your child’s first teacher“. Yes, I had them with me for the first five or so years, and I was their first teacher. My role as their teacher didn’t end just because they have now started attending school. I began to be convicted that I had neglected this responsibility. That snarky attitude that my son has developed? It is not just from the influence of kids at school. It is my responsibility to teach him how to interact with others and respect those in authority. The violence and disregard for human life that has become evident in their imaginative play? I need to consider how they are spending their time after school each day – who let them have so much exposure to media that promotes those ideas? I wish I could say that I immediately came up with a plan and began to address issues I noticed in my parenting. Instead, I’ve spent most of the time making a plan. I’ve made a few changes here and there, but nothing of really to speak.

I’m not sure who first introduced me to Charlotte Mason, but I was quickly enamored with her ideas. I mean, who cannot love a woman who emphasized reading books, spending time in nature, and keeping journals??? I searched high and low for someone who had walked the path before me – someone who had taken Miss Mason’s ideas and applied them to their life, with kids attending the local public school (that does not follow CM principles). I struggled with what I should do, and focused on gathering information rather than taking any real steps.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the Charlotte Mason Boot Camp (CMBC) that Brandy Vencel from Afterthoughts runs a couple times a year.  At first, I worried about how it would go since I’m not a real “homeschooler”. However, it gave me a good introduction to Miss Mason, and each week has focused on key areas of her methods and principles. It was the first time I’ve read large chunks of her writing. I began to understand what her ideas and principles really mean, and it’s given me a chance to figure out what changes I need to make with my children. I am so thankful that I had a chance to complete CMBC, and I’m looking forward to studying Miss Mason’s 20 Principles further with my CMBC group this summer.

I’m still figuring out exactly what this looks like for us, but I can now say that I am home educating my children…but not homeschooling. I hope I can share more about what this looks like – my plans as well as how it actually works out – sometime soon!

From Rachael: Welcome, sweet sister in all kinds of ways. I enjoy what you write, and look forward to reading more!

Long Time, No See!

I’m not at fickle at life as I am at blogging. Luckily.

Life got busy, as it does, and its slowing down a bit now, as it does. So, I thought I might give it a try again, blogging on a regular basis. And I’ve got a lot to share with all y’all!

Youngerandson.net

Y&S-logo-alt

Our home business has a blog now! And I’m one of the two bloggers. It’s been an adjustment, as I blog here as I’m inspired. But there, we are blogging on a schedule.

Co-op is done until August

Our last day was April 27. I was glad to be done, but sad that we are done. Does that make any sense? And next year I’m teaching Physical Science, which I’ve taught before, and When Einstein Dines, which is a class of my own creation. It’s basically science in the kitchen, a practical application of biology and chemistry. I’m super excited, but I’ve got a lot of planning to do for it. Since I’m teaching Physical Science for a 2nd time, I’m excited to organize it better.

Still doing alignment work

Someday we will be earning enough in other ways that I won’t be doing this. But for now, I continue giving a few hours each week to matching educational materials with state standards. Not exciting, and as a homeschool parent who is a bit disdainful of state standards, it’s ironic I do this work. But it pays well, so I keep at it for now.

Extended “summer” Break

1-2018-04-28 14.37.15

I’m practicing Masterly Inactivity. And the kids are having a great time.

We started our ‘summer’ break a few weeks ago. It’s nice outside and both boys want to be outside. I want to be outside. So, we are taking a break with school and will start back up when it gets HOT. I think this means we are ‘year round’ home schoolers. I’ll take the flexibility that gives us.

Embryo Adoption Update!

We started the protocol to do a transfer last fall, but then hit some paperwork snags. Those were overcome and we started the process again a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the timing didn’t work for a transfer this cycle. We will try again next cycle. The protocol this clinic uses is less invasive, but harder to schedule.

 

schedule adjustments and help sleeping

Ah, I missed getting this post up as I had scheduled in my mind. Sure, a sick baby doesn’t help, but really, I am my worst enemy on these things.

Adjusting the schedule

I realized very quickly, that although my laid out schedule was well received, due to various factors, we rarely get through one whole day’s worth of stuff. Laying it out like this made sure I got the weekly subjects in on a reasonable schedule, but we couldn’t just start at the top for the new day. Yes, Little Man might like that, but we would miss much of the feast that comes later in the list. So, Loop it, I did. This changed nothing but my own thinking on this, really. I have a little sticky arrow that I stick on where-ever we happen to stop when we do stop, and that’s where we start up the next time we start up. Yes, we want to be more consistent, but with swim parties and park playdates… and sick baby brother, life happens. This is something I love about homeschooling, and about Charlotte Mason and AmblesideOnline, if something ain’t working, adjust and try again.

Sleep

Did you know that sleep is the “little death”? I think this is a philosopher’s thing, for when we need to talk about what it is to be a person and other ethical arguments¹. But in our house, the littles seems to think that sleep is something to be avoided at nearly all costs. At least, this is what Little Man’s 6 years of life has been like. I was reading an ad-disguised-as-a-blog-post about ‘weighted blankets’, and thought this might help him sleep well (and longer). Commercially, these blankets are over $100, and I was not about to drop that much on a ‘it might help’. So, what does this mama do? She looks up how to make it! It’s not complicated but it takes a bit of finesse to stitch the rows after filling will the beads². And after 2 nights with it, Little Man slept a bit later both mornings! He says he likes it, which counts for a lot. Hubby wanted one and now I want one, too. Weighted blankets all around!

 


¹ I would be happy to talk more this, but this section wasn’t the place for it. Consider such questions: What makes someone a person? As in, they have personhood? This has impact on how we might treat them and what rights they have. Does someone in a coma have personhood? Does an embryo have personhood? Is consciousness needed for personhood? What about when you are asleep, do you still have personhood? This drastically simplifies the issue, but I am not a philosopher… I’m just married to one.

² I’d be happy to point you to where I figured these things out. Start with this link. Let me know if you have more questions.

Timelines and Schedules, CM style

I am so proud of myself! I got our timeline up and got a schedule laid out for our school time. I have felt so busy with a lot to do, and I’m struggling to keep the important separate from the merely urgent. But, in my struggle, I’m overcoming, so feeling some success.

Timeline

IMG_0639

Charlotte Mason talks about helping children gain a sense of history:

Once Intellect admits us into the realms of History, we live in a great and stirring world, full of entertainment and sometimes of regret; and at last we begin to understand that we, too, are making History, and that we are all part of the whole; that the people who went before us were all very like ourselves, or else we should not be able to understand them. (Ourselves, pg 37)

Plan to work with Little Man to create a personal timeline of a sort, but I think our timeline on the wall will help put all the various things we read about into perspective. As we come across something in our reading, I’m creating little 2 inch pictures (images gleaned via an online search… you’ll have to go find your own) that we can tape on the timeline in the appropriate spot. And I have a picture of us, as a family, to also go up in the appropriate place.

I chose a format that has it out in the open, as opposed to in a book, as I think it’s something that will get looked at more often. We often stop and look at the maps we have out on the wall, but sometimes getting a book out to look is just too much work, or a guest might not know we have that in a book. This timeline, however, is free for anyone to inspect, and will likely start some conversations, just as our maps have. And this is for the next few years. I know I’ll want my own book of centuries and timeline book for my own use soon enough. (yeah, I’m a nerd.)

A Schedule

IMG_0644

Well, it’s not a “schedule” with times on it, but it does give an order. We found that Little Man works better have a clearly defined set of tasks, though he does argue if it’s not an ordering he likes. Having “free read” last is not something he would choose.

‘Content Read’ is a reading that varies each day, and I wasn’t sure what to call it. Today we read “The Brave 300” from Fifty Famous Stories Retold and yesterday the reading was from The Burgess Bird Book.

I wrote out, on index card, each subject for a week’s worth of school. I did this for 4 days a week, since (1) I’m not worried about finishing all of Year 1 in one year and (2) when co-op starts in Sept, we will only have the 4 days, assuming we do school every weekday. Yes, I’ll have to figure out doing our errand running and doing school both on one day. Others have figured this out, I can, too.

I color coded each subject by the ‘type’ of work it required. For example, those subjects that require oral narration*, I coded blue. I grouped all the music study, picture study, poetry and free read together (red) since they are a lot of input type work, and less output. Copy work, nature study, drawing, timeline (which has replaced recitation), and geography were grouped b/c they require some kind of hand work (writing, etc). Bob Book (phonics/reading) and Chinese are group because they are both strongly language learning focused. Recitation got moved to the bottom, and timeline was put in its place, as I feel it will happen outside of school time most weeks.

My laying out of the subjects in the order they are in is designed to separate like subjects. When I was happy with the ordering, I taped them to the poster board.  I’ve seen this type of scheduling in other places, and you can even buy cards from at least one place. I’m more happy with the index cards… I didn’t have to buy anything new to do, and it also means I didn’t feel bad when Little Man decided to draw an arrow on one in an attempt to trade 2 subjects. He wanted “Free Read” to come earlier in the line up. This affirms my thought that the free read is a motivation to get through the other, less loved things.

I like doing stuff with my own hands, so both these items were right up my alley. I hope the ideas help others figure out what will work in their homes. What ways have you done a history timeline? How do you organize your school time?


*narration, at its simplest, is telling back what you read or heard. This is a central part of the student both showing that they were paying attention and giving the student the chance to process the ideas he heard/read. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. At this age, in year 1, students do oral narration, such that they tell about what they heard or read. Later, students will begin written narrations, such that they write down about what they heard or read.

turn your back for one minute….

We are still finding our summer rhythm… 5 weeks into our ‘summer’. The Hubby finished with his teaching duties back in the beginning of May, but with moving people out of houses and apartments and just general life, we never found ‘normal’. This week is finding a ‘normal’. And its so refreshing and nice.

Apart of finding normal is figuring out our daily rhythm when we are at home all day (Little Man and I, that is. Hubby is going into school to read and write that dissertation — home stretch!). This morning, Little Man declares he wants to finger paint. I’m totally good with this — fine motor skill development, creativity, a sensory experience and who-knows what other benefit is to be found in finger painting. He started smearing the paint up his arms (yes, I can handle this…) and I decided we’d go outside to clean up. I step away for about a minute (maybe 2) and come back to find….

Look what I can do!

Look what I can do!

Paint in his hair and all over his face. :::sigh::: After I took the picture he says “I want to see it!” Its a bit scary how much he knows about how the camera and phones work.

Last summer, we spent a lot of time out under the trees. These are huge Live Oak trees and they tend to sprawl outwards as much as upwards. And they cast a deep, deep shadow on the area underneath, which can easily be 5 to 10 degrees cooler than the areas in the sun. After the rain we got on Sunday morning and 2 cool nights, the breeze is still cool, which makes sitting out under the trees a very enjoyable experience.

Summer days

Summer days

I’m thinking through what ‘science’ activity we might do this week. Maybe we will just focus on the general experience and less on any sort of discovery. I picked up to browse “The Well-trained Mind: A guide to classical education at home”. Its been good to read and remind myself of what is come and general expectations (knowing it could easily be a year or two off for any one child). At the same time, I picked up Natural Born Learners (free from amazon kindle last week. $3.99 now), which is a series of essays on unschooling. I’m philosophically attracted to both theories, and there seems to be one, very important, underlying assumption that is different between the two. In fact, I think its the assumption that sets unschooling apart from every other educational philosophy. The assumption is about how children learn (of course!), unschooling assumes that a child will learn. You put the information out there, you provide some interesting question and a child will learn. No teaching needed, no special methods needed, no formal sit-down-and-work needed. Children will learn whether you want them to or not. Every other philosophy assumes that if you (or someone) doesn’t “teach” it, the child won’t learn it. How you “teach” it varies from theory to theory. I put ‘teach’ in quotes because in some theories, its not what we imagine when we use the word ‘teach’, but its some form of active presentation of the material to the child. I suspect that I’m drastically simplifying the assumptions here and it might be that this basic assumption creates a continuum along which philosophies lie — some at extreme ends of you have to beat it into a child and the other end of not being intentional about presenting any new material. As I explore this, I hope to write about it. I feel like there is plenty written about all these things so I don’t need to add it, but I have this quite voice in my mind saying I can present a different view point which might help someone. Who knows… though we will find out!

Of course, the book I’m currently devouring is ‘The History of the Renaissance World’, but S.W. Bauer (same author as well-trained mind). I totally plan on purchasing all her history books… Ancient, Medievel and Renaissance is out. I’m hoping “modern” or some version is to be out soonish. Though it will take me a while to get through these three. The Renaissance book is *fat* at about 2 inches thick and 688 pages of text. The last 1/2 inch is notes, works cited and index.

And, if you are on goodreads.com, look for me (https://www.goodreads.com/friend/i?i=LTM2MDQ2MTUzNTg6MzY1) and if you aren’t on goodreads.com — you should be as its a great way to keep track of what you’ve read, what you want to read and what you are currently reading.

Early Day

Due to weather (which is actually getting better), I came home early from school. I was done with classes, Hubby was done (the uni cancelled everything b/c of the weather), so home we came.

And what do I do?

I’m grading. I figured I should get as much done as possible. My stack for Biology is nearly an inch thick…..  blah. The hard part of teaching is the paper work/administration part. 

crazy weeks

This last week was crazy, but in a fun-sort-of way. It was the local Mock Trial competition. This is a competition for high schoolers that is a sort-of trial where each team provides advocates and witnesses and lots of direct examination and cross examination goes on. I agreed to be faculty sponsor, as it sounded interesting and something I might enjoy doing. But, as the semester advanced, I struggled to get my mind around what the trial looked like and how I could help the students prepare. I did a lot of making copies, checking grammar and encouraging the students, but little direct involvement.

But now I have seen it in action. On Monday, we had 2 rounds: 415 pm and 615 pm. It was a looooooonnnnnnng day, with a normal school day topped with adrenaline filled competition. But for our first ever time to compete, we did pretty good. We certainly gave the first team, Midway, a run for their money and made them work. The second round wasn’t as much fun, but we did well.  (BTW, I don’t know what rounds we won and what we lost, though I hope to find out at some point). Tuesday was less busy with only 1 round at 615, and Wednesday had only 1 round at 6 pm. There was a pizza party Wednesday evening at 8 pm where they announced the finalists who competed Thursday evening.  The two schools who advanced, Midway and Waco High, we excellent teams and certainly deserved the chance to go to the state competition. But, in getting to compete with both at some point, I have a much better idea of how to help our students become even better. I had a ton of fun and am totally on fire to do this again next year if I can (schedule wise, etc). Add to a good performance that two of our students were nominated for “Best Witness” and another received “Best Advocate”, and we feel we did the best we could of done.

However, it meant late nights (for me) each of three nights. For the students, as teenagers, it wasn’t so bad, but poor preggy teacher was struggling. It was 1030 Monday night before I got to bed, 10 on Tuesday and 1030 or 11 on Wednesday. Compare that to my more normal 930 bed time! No dinners were made this week, I ate tons of junk food for dinner (pizza, chick-fil-a, granola bars — none too bad in themselves, but not that good when that’s all you’re getting). And I was hardly ever home (or so it felt) this week. Its all done now, which a part of me quite glad of, and I was out cold by 9 pm last night and slept a good 10 – 10 1/2 hours.

And now that its back to a more normal schedule for me (but not Hubby, he’s at a Philosophy of Religion conference for most of today), I will make my list for Saturday/Sunday and see what I can get done! Also, I hope to think about what I want to work towards in Feb (goals and sorts) and get a post up about that, but we will see.

School back in session

Well, school starts back tomorrow. I really don’t feel prepared, and I’m already feeling behind. But, I must remember that I can keep up. I did while being so tired from first trimester fatigue and that has passed. I’m feeling much more energetic, even with a shorter night’s sleep. A good friend is in town, staying with us, and we were up late talking. She is a night owl, big time, and I love a good conversation. Bad combination when I’ve got to get up early.

I’ve been keeping my sink shiny for 2 nights now. I know this isn’t much of a habit yet, but its a start. I had my week’s menu done by Sunday, grocery run done on Monday and I’ve done well with dinner’s this week so far. A good start, I think!

Not much done on the sweater, though. Gonna have to get started, and soon, if I’m hoping to finish it by the end of the month. It odd how intertwined all of life is. To have more time to knit, I’ve got to use my time at school well and get school tasks done there. Oh, the discipline required!

In other news, I got a new pillow! Its huge! I’ll get a picture up soon, I promise.

Life, School and Stuffiness

Life continues as per normal. Hubby is stressed over those last 2 papers to write. I don’t blame him at all, I’d be wound up over them, too. Especially when the class grade is based on that one paper. Previously, during the 3 weeks of crazy paper writing time, he worked well enough that the last few days weren’t all that bad. I sure hope this round works out the same. He is quite disciplined with his time, but its still hard to get yourself to work when you are tired.

Tonight, I’m feeling pretty good. Thanksgiving was great, and I had a wonderful time with all the family in. Last minute, I discovered we only had 11 forks, so I used a plastic fork. I had 12 knives, and 12 spoons… and 12 adults! Luckily, the toddler wasn’t using silverware, nor was the newborn (6 weeks — that would be my sister’s little boy). We ended up with 12 adults, a toddler, a baby and 2 not-yet-born-babies! Quite a full house. I had a ton of fun playing house all week and was feeling great by week’s end.

Then, the week back to school was very up and down. By the end of last week, I was weary and tired and still stuffy (still am, in fact), and Saturday evening I was feeling quite miserable. I began to wonder if I was coming down with another cold! But it passed and quickly, so I think it was just the stress/tired/weary effects. Today, Monday, was pretty good. In fact, I got all the current grading done this evening while watching Dr. Who (season 5). I’ve got a biology final to write, which is the big stressful thing on my plate currently — but, as a plus — finals week makes for a much easier schedule for me at school. I’m very much looking forward to it.

A little over a week ago, I thought I might have felt baby move, but I’m not sure. There have been a few times that I wondered if it was baby, my digestive track, or my imagination moving, so who knows. Next Monday, we go for the ultrasound to check anatomy (and find out gender!), and a good MD friend said that would really help me identify if its baby moving or not. He said I’d see the baby move in the ultrasound, feel it and know what I was feeling. So, here’s to hoping!

I’m off to bed, now. I’m making for early nights these days, to see if I can make it through the day with out crashing at 230 or 3 pm. Hope all out there have a good sleep tonight and find themselves refreshed in the morning!