Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Almost Done "Officially"

I realize this post is entirely for my benefit. But, as I begin the exciting and rewarding journey of homeschooling I want to be sure to capture some of the small milestones along the way.

According to my calendar we have only 36 more days of "official" school left this year. Official, meaning that the Department of Education says we've logged enough days to count this school year as being complete. But, that's their standard and not mine. Because, really, learning is a day-in and day-out sort of thing. True, math books and science textbooks don't get opened everyday, but we have ample time for discussion and questions and reading and discovering and playing and character building and, well, all those things are a part of learning that extend beyond the 180 days of "official" school.
The boys are nearing the end of their Math curriculum: Grady Lee is on workbook nine out of 10; Micah is on workbook seven out of 10. The whole concept of carrying a one when doing double-digit addition has thrown Grady Lee for a whirl, but he's catching on. I think, though, it may have more to do with my inability to communicate anything with ease and simplicity when it comes to numbers! Micah has his basic addition and subtraction facts down and, much to his brother's dismay, is actually quicker at recalling them during speed drills or with flashcards. Healthy competition is what I like to call it.

Together, we've learned some science basics and have completed a book that taught us how to investigate, observe, communicate, make and use definitions, measure and estimate, and how to group and classify. Along the way we conducted some experiments - making an occasional mess, accidentally breaking a couple of things, enduring some bad smells, and definitely having fun. We've explored basic anatomy and have a good understanding of the roles for the five senses.

The boys have one section left in their world geography workbooks: Antarctica. My quick scan of those pages indicates there's not a lot of exciting information or maps so I'll have to search YouTube for some clips that will bring more life to the last chapter. Studying geography and learning the basics about reading maps has been really fun - more so than I thought it would be. Even little Micah is able to understand various map legends and locate things fairly quickly, despite his limited reading skills.

We have taken our time in studying history this year. Like, really, really taken our time. Mostly that's because I didn't push the subject and hold to a schedule that kept us tracking to finish the book. For this year, I was most focused on getting both boys to become proficient readers because I think that once they can read information for themselves learning with take on a whole new (even more exciting!) dimension. Many days I extended reading and phonics at the cost of not doing a history lesson. And, there were some days where their interests and questions about what we were learning took us on side trails and tangents far removed from the content of the actual history lesson. Until I have multiple kids studying multiple topics, though, this doesn't bother me. I appreciate the flexibility.
The list of books I've read to them and that they've read to me is longer than probably anyone cares to know. But, it makes my heart smile really big when I look over the book log we've been making. Each book read is a new lesson learned, a new opportunity to collect and digest information, a new experience with which to communicate, a new world to imagine, and a new way to process language and make decisions. We've run out of bookshelves to hold all our books, we know some of our local librarians by name, and if you ask my boys what their favorite part of school is they'll tell you its reading. Whoa - how'd that happen?

Language arts and spelling are the weaker areas, for both the boys, and are likely what we'll keep working on this summer before the next "official" school year begins. 

And there's Bible. This is sort of an all-day everyday kind of thing. The intentional open-God's-Word-to-read-it-and-study-it; along with the countless conversations during every other subject to correlate how and why the Bible is relevant to what's being learned; along with the myriad of stop-what-we're-doing-and-focus-on-character-and-heart-issues kind of Bible teaching; along with learning their AWANA verses and Champs Soccer verses; along with our Proverbs devotions each morning and reading the Gospel of Luke each evening. I have some fantastic apologetics materials I'm anxious to use, but rather than make it just another subject to work through, I opted to table it until later. I wanted both boys to be better readers so they could explore and process the material somewhat on their own as we discuss developing a biblical worldview.

We've done a lot of crafts, but nothing of substantive art. I'm hoping to learn some basics of drawing together over the summer, as well as visit some art museums and read some books about great artists of the past.
The strange thing, the thing I have the hardest time accepting, is that we've accomplished so much with seemingly so little effort. In other words, most days involved a short two hours of actual "school." Other days we were busy travelling or sightseeing and the boys didn't even realize it was "school."

Since I know Annalyse is right behind the boys with wanting to learn and be a part of everything, I know my time will be spread differently in the coming years. For now, though, first grade and kindergarten have been a delight. It's been an experience of joy to teach my boys and watch them learn. It's been a pleasure to spend so much time with them and understand how they think and communicate. 

So, for the remaining handful of days of "official" school, here's to thanking God for the privilege of being a mom and the privilege of teaching my kids, as well as a plea for discernment and wisdom in shepherding their hearts and minds in all we do so that they desire only to know, love, and serve Jesus. 

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