Sunday, March 13, 2011

Let's Talk About Home School

Mama's PrayerOur home is more at peace when we can roll with the waves of life together rather then sailing the storm in separate ships. I pray that this continues to be so.

If you've  followed my blog very long, you may have noticed that we have suddenly taken Jakob out of "the Big school" and will be starting Home School on Tuesday. Are you wondering why?  Let me tell you all about it.

I'll try to keep the reasoning short, because the fun part is the future.

Let me set and keep the record straight, the Fredonia Kindergarten teachers are Great!! I am a critical mother who expects a lot from anyone who teaches my children. These teachers reached and exceeded my expectations. Jakob steadily progressed while in their care. He has learned the basics of reading (this is huge for me.) His math skills and knowledge are great. I am amazed at how much these teachers are able to teach the kids! I personally believe that the full-day kindergarten program is a good idea for the majority of the students that attend.  The only struggle being the added homework. It wasn't a problem at first. However, it did become an issue for us as time went on. But it wasn't THE issue. A parent can monitor and adjust their child's homework to make it work for their family, that's my opinion anyway.

THE issue was, the lack of peace within our home during the after-school hours. I began noticing a pattern that was developing. The daily routine was smooth sailing from 8A until Jakob arrived home from school. From that point on it felt like the negative energy was a winding top which was eventually released and the house was filled with a frenzy of high strung emotions.

We would ask Jakob to do his chores (gather the eggs) and then do his homework. Immediately he would collapse on the floor in a heep of overwhelmed emotions. In the meantime Snack needed to be offered, dinner needed to be prepared and cleaned up, showers should be taken, and evening clean-up fit in. Not to mention that there is still the homework issue (sit down and read, choose and print out a few pictures for a collage, find something that starts with "B", AND somehow allow Leif the time to write a 2 page paper, Oh, and on occasion there needs to be a grocery or feed store trip during that time too.

So, for some families this is just Life. They have to make it work, and they do. But fortunately, for us, it doesn't have to be. I am home, and home school works for us. Some people have been afraid that we are teaching Jakob that it's okay to "quit" when the going gets hard. The thing is, Jakob doesn't even think of this change as "quiting" or "getting out." School is school for him. Whether it is at "the Big school (public school)" or at home. He studies and learns. The main differences are the lack of a lunch room, an official recess, and extra kids. We took this decision seriously. We all prayed about it and after explaining the reality of what home school is (real reading, math, science, and history lessons, not just fun and games) We let Jakob make the final decision. We were willing to make it work either way.

Luckily, Jakob had one full week where he was sick and needed to stay home from school. He was well enough to have school at home. So I through some things together and we gave it a trial run. We all loved it. The most noticeable difference was the lack of "high strung-ness" throughout the day. We were able to follow a routine that allowed us to meet everyone's needs by the end of the day. It was great! During the week I asked Jakob if he missed his school friends. The fact that he said he didn't was surprising to me, but comforting as a mother who wants her children to enjoy each other's company. As the "sick week" came to a close I talked very openly with Jakob about the realities of home school. I told him what it would be like and what would be expected of him. I then sent him off to school with the assignment to pray about what was best for him and observe how he feels at the Big school, and make the decision. He decided to come home for school.
No Problem! Welcome Home!

Sorry, that didn't end up being very short. But if you're still with me here's what we've planned for the rest of this year and in to the summer.

I spent hours looking through the hundreds of home school options. We wanted something that didn't lean too far one way or another towards faith and studies,we didn't want to be attached to "the system", and we wanted it to feel organized, easy to implement, and EVERYTHING set out and given to us in the curriculum kit. I think we found it!!

We are using Moving Beyond the PagesThe program is a literature based curriculum. They provide all of the lesson plans, activity pages, and manuals online or in tear-out page book form (we chose online.) They also send you all of the books that they use within the year of school and any other learning tools that are needed. Their ages 5-7 program implements reading-handwriting-phonics, science, and social studies within their everyday curriculum. They have a separate recommended math program (which we will be using.) We feel like the program isn't too liberal or conservative either way. We paid $300 for the year's worth of curriculum.

The joy of home school is that we CAN talk about the gospel. So we WILL! We will have Seminary each day as well as the other studies. We have just about enough time to study one Article of Faith each week. That's the plan.

There is one little girl in our ward who was also in Jakob's school class. She only goes to school 1/2 day. So she misses the math portion of the school day. So we are thrilled to have the opportunity to do our math portion of the day with her! I'm thrilled to have support in this area as it it by far my greatest weakness in this whole experience. Awesome!

As summer arrives I hope to include more of our friends into our everyday school. Since we ordered the program in the middle of the year we have several units that we can use throughout the summer. This will make for a Great Summer School program!

If any of you (who live in our area) are thinking about homeschooling any of your children, or you know someone who is, please let us know or send them our way. We will be starting a Home School Co-Op and I hope to eventually have a few families or more that we can rotate with to bring some fun and variety to our home school experience.

Stay Tuned for the Adventure!


Sandra said...

I think that it's completely up to the family. You know whats best for your family. Whats good for your family may not be what is good for another. I personally would love to home school but I know that I couldn't give my kids enough attention with the little ones. I had a hard enough time trying to teach piano lessons with them and that was only for 10-15 min. Good luck! I hope the program works well for you guys.

Heidi Hamilton said...

:) That was good to read right now. We are looking into next year for McKinley & are looking into all the options. There is public school, a Montessori Charter School, and home school. You'd better believe we will be doing lots of praying & going to the temple. Today we went to the Kindergarten registration at the public school. Not sure...
But one this IS for sure - we're homeschooling the rest of the year - and in the summer as much as possible. I needed a boost & your cirriculum sounds great. My biggest struggle is the age-old conundrum - I don't have the TIME to PLAN & so I my TIME is wasted because I didn't PLAN. I truly believe you are doing a great thing, though - and look forward to doing some fun activities together!

Janee said...

I'm so grateful to live in an area with excellent schools, both public and charter.

I know home schooling would not be an option for me. I lack the discipline, patience, and time management required and I think my kids' learning would suffer as a result.

I'm getting nervous for Maya to start K. She's very bright. I'm not really into the public school curriculum so I've been checking out other options. But the public school in our neighborhood is ranked highly with lots of awards so we'll see...

Home schooled children do statistically perform better academically than public school kids. With that in mind, I've always wanted to do some kind of home schooling with my kids during the summers.

Let me know how it goes! The curriculum sounds great!

Lena Baron said...

So good to hear from you J! (Thanks everyone for your encouragement!) So far SO GOOD!! I'm really enjoying the curriculum so far. I'll be blogging as often as I can about it. J, I've been meaning to tell you to use my Foto Friday idea, if you want to. It's a great way to motivate me to get the pics on to the blog! Have Fun!!

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