Saturday, October 02, 2010


Yes, I said it...homeschooling. On August 11, 2010, after nearly two years of prayer and research, I began the journey of homeschooling. Not sure how long this journey is going to last...but it has begun...and I actually like it so far.

For those who care, most of my influence to homeschool came from reading the book The Well Trained Mind. I was also intrigued with some homeschooling families on staff with Campus Crusade in Orlando. They were the first families we had ever seen homeschool, and I really liked what I saw. Their kids were normal, a joy to be around, and their family unit was so tight.

Anyway, I really don't want to take the time explaining myself (which is what I often feel like I need to do). I just want to say...I am glad I am doing it, and I really like it already. I love having the time with Hunter, and I love Millie and Hunter having more time together. I am also looking forward to Hunter being home in February when this new baby blesses our home. I am looking forward to giving him and Millie every opportunity to love on and care for their little brother or sister, and having him home for school will give him that extra time.

It's not easy...but it's not awful either. Actually, there are parts that seem easy and are delightful (like when Hunter reads on his own without being prompted and when he shows proficiency way beyond what I am teaching him), but there are parts that are awful (like doing a math lesson with money and having to sit through the clanging coins while I have a throbbing headache). My patience is tried everyday, but I also cling to the Lord for that patience in a way that is new and so good for my heart and sanctification.

And...I love seeing him (and Millie) learn. He seems to pick up reading really well. I was a decoder as a kid, and I think he has some decoding skills as well. As I am writing, he just came in to ask me a question and read "Blogger" on the top of my computer screen. We haven't talked about the "er" ending yet, but we have talked about all the other rules that form that word...and he just figured out the rest. It's really fun watching him get excited about figuring that stuff out.

So...what do we do? Bible, Math and Reading...that's about it. We're pretty simple around here. We start the day reading Scripture. By reading the same passage over and over, the kids start to learn it. We have been working on Psalm 139 for most of September, and it is so sweet to hear those words everyday as we read of being knit together in my mother's womb and being fearfully and wonderfully made. I pray that God is using those verses to teach their hearts about his careful workmanship on them and on their new baby brother or sister. Then we always sing a song or two and pray for our day. No real Bible curriculum...just the Word, song and prayer...and it's a good start for me as well.

Math. We use Saxon Math which was passed on to me by my sister when she did a little homeschooling with her oldest before he entered Kindergarten. I began to use their Kindergarten program last year just to dabble in it with Hunter a little, so we began our year finishing Saxon K. We will finish it up in a few weeks and then move on to Saxon 1.

Reading. Confession: I am not a reader. I haven't read to my kids very much through the years. I only read what I am required for the few seminary classes I have taken/am taking. I don't like to read. BUT...guess what my favorite part of school is? Can you believe it? Reading.

I have "snack time" with them between math and our formal reading lesson. To start the year, I read them "Stuart Little" which showed me immediately that my kids needed to learn the discipline of sitting and just listening to the reading of a good book (without pictures). Once we finished "Stuart Little," I felt indecisive about what book to pick up next (because it is quite a commitment for me...since I don't like to read), so I started on page one of their Jesus Storybook Bible and started reading...and they love it (and so do I). I'll probably go back to a more traditional piece of literature once we finish, but I just love their attentiveness and their requests for more when I read their story Bible to them. Sometimes I feel fanatical about having Bible time and then reading to them from their story Bible later in the morning...but isn't that what school is about anyway? Math, reading, all is about the one true God who made the world and ordered the world and how we learn so that he could reveal himself and his glory to us. That's what I pray with the kids every morning during our prayer time: that as we learn different pieces of information that we would learn about the God who put those things into place.

Back to reading. I am fading now, so I'll finish with highly praising the reading primer I am using. It's The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, and it is wonderful. Again, no major curriculum...just a very simple, methodical way to teach basic phonics in which the rules build on each other day by day. Millie has done a lot of our reading lessons with us, and she (almost 3 1/2) can recognize all the letters and tell you the primary sound for all the consonants and the short sound of all the vowels. We even do a "spelling bee" at the end of our reading lessons, and I have Millie tell me the first letter of the word and then have Hunter finish the spelling. I don't tell you this to brag on my daughter. I tell you because I have been so impressed with the quality of this book and its methods.

If you know Hunter at all, you know that he loves to make things...especially books. I feel for the kid. His mom (and teacher) neither reads nor does crafts. He has asked me every few days since school began when we are going to do a craft or make something, and my response has been the same every time: "No, not today. Maybe sometime in the future Mommy will plan a craft." It's been 6 weeks or so. No crafts. So there are some definite deficiencies to my home education program. He still makes his books...which has shown me the need to begin a more formal handwriting curriculum. So that is next on my list of things to add to our day.

Ok, I'm done. If you have stuck with me this far, kudos to you. Since school began in August, I just haven't gotten a chance to process my life now as a home educator, so this was helpful for me. For the skeptic, I hope you are intrigued by something (even if you are revolted by other things). For the inquirer, I hope you are inspired to consider it (although I absolutely know it's not for everyone). For anyone else, I don't know why you read this far, but I hope you have gained a little peek into my days. It's nice to feel known, and you are known sometimes by what you spend your time doing...and this fills my mornings. And they are treasured hours...often trying...but always treasured.

First Day of School Smiles.
Our "classroom" is set up in our entryway from our front door to our kitchen.

Hunter during a math lesson on covering a shape in different ways.

A family dinner of green eggs after Hunter read "Green Eggs and Ham."