Saturday, November 6, 2010

Home Schooling Check In

This is a home schooling update for anyone who may be interested.  I've had a few requests for an update on the boys, so here goes...

We've started the new year off with a bang.  If there were any doubts whatsoever about homeschooling being the right choice, all doubt has been put to rest.  The boys are doing so well and are enjoying the year immensely.  I never thought I'd say this, but I am, as well.  I look forward to beginning our work most days and it's a good feeling.

A little bit of back story for any newcomers...  Jake was born almost exactly six months before 'Nic who are brothers through marriage.  'Nic was "held back" by the school system here because of his age (missed the cutoff by two weeks), which is a major factor in why we're home schooling.  He had been in an academic setting since he was a baby and was, quite frankly, more ready for school than Jake was.  We "dealt" with it his preschool and kindergarten year and tried to just go with the flow, but 'Nic, being the precocious kid he is, started um...occupying his time in ways that got him sent home on a sometimes daily basis.  Typical story...the kid was bored and understandably so!  He was the oldest in his class, he was beyond what they were teaching, and the teacher was teaching at the youngest child's level.  So, a few months before the end of the school year, we just bit the bullet and pulled him out.  He was falling behind in every aspect of his development.  It was heart breaking.  Anyway, at that point, he all but refused to read.  He hated it, felt embarrassed by it, and swore that when he had children, his wife would be the ones to read their bedtime stories (no joke).  Within two weeks, he was reading Harry Potter (5th grade level)...and telling us all about the story with a beaming smile.  Over the next couple of months and part of the summer, we caught him up to where we thought his true level should be (it was nearly effortless, so we're confident in this) and this year...he's learning the same 2nd grade level work as his brother.  The crappy behavior he was learning at school has been nipped in the bud and he's one happy go lucky little boy again.

Jake had a great first grade teacher, but after home schooling 'Nic independently for a couple of months, I realized that Jake could be learning so much more if he was getting more one on one education.  Not only that, but we were teaching 'Nic things that I know Jake wasn't learning and I felt he was missing out and I just couldn't bring myself to school him at home after he'd already been in school all day.  He began asking if I could be his teacher, too, so, out he came, too, and he's been growing by leaps and bounds mentally, as well.  His reading has also catapulted to around the 5th grade level).  No question that it was the right choice for him.  :)

For anyone interested, our curriculum is based on the book, The Well-Trained Mind, though we do quite a bit more than recommended because the boys are so eager for it and I'm really enjoying it, as well.

We study:

*The Bible
*Reading (currently, Jake's reading the Percy Jackson series and Nic's reading the My Side of the Mountain Trilogy)
*Spelling (Spelling Power)
*Writing & Penmanship (Writing with Ease)
*Grammar & Memorization (First Language Lessons)
*History, Geography & Mapping Skills (Story of the World)
*Math (Math-U-See)
Science (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding in addition to learning about their new pet, a Texas Spiny Lizard named Grace that they caught in the backyard)
*Classical Music (listening to and/or stories about composers - I will begin teaching them Suzuki Piano shortly)
Swimming 2x week
Western and English Horse Riding 2x week

* = done daily

The boys are moving though their math books at a rapid fire pace, as they both LOVE Mr. Steve's videos that come with the Math-U-See program.  Their writing and narration abilities are improving noticeably each day.  They LOVE ancient history (they cheer when I grab the book every day LOL) and are fascinated by the things they're learning about geography and map reading, too.  They're still very much into science and take in MythBusters episodes like they're water (usually on the weekends when we have some "down time").  In the past eight weeks in swimming, 'Nic has gone from being TERRIFIED around water (like, climbing up us like a cat and screaming bloody murder) to literally jumping in and "hangin' out" under water to explore the bottom of the pool - AND they've both just started swimming on their own.  They love their horse riding lessons and while they get frustrated at times, trying to control such a big animal, 'Nic is clearly becoming more self-assured (as I'd hoped) and Jake is learning to temper his explosive energy a bit (also as I'd hoped).

And that's it in a (rather large) nutshell!  Good stuff!


Kim @ This Belle Rocks said...

I think homeschooling is such a wonderful opportunity for your child(ren). I wish I'd been in more of a position to offer that to mine when they were younger.

Just here via SITS; I'm going to look around and read a while.

FranticMommy said...

You are so lucky to be able to homeschool. Our 2nd grader struggles with school. I wonder sometimes if it would be better for him if we homeschooled. Great blog. Found you via Blog Frog. The bnest way I have found to get traffic to your blog is to just comment on other blogs. If you have a Facebook profile, link your posts there too. Don't be frustrated with lack of commenters. On my "other blog" (local business blog) I have fabulous readership...but hardly any followers or virtually no commenters. But as long as I know people are reading..I'm happy!

Stephanie said...

Kim, it really has been a wonderful opportunity for us and I'm incredibly thankful that my husband is on board with this, as I know many families struggle with the decision (one wanting to, one not, or for financial reasons). I will admit, though, it was scary to start! It's funny that we spend so much time confidently nurturing our children in every other way, but tackling their education is so scary to us! Anyway, I don't know what your situation was, but there are things every mother wishes she could have done differently, as you already know. You have my empathy as there are certainly things I wish I couldn't have done differently, too.

Frantic, thank you. Everyone has to do what is right for them, regardless of what that is. If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to talk or set you up with some links. You know, if you haven't thought about this already, there are some excellent websites out there that have some FUN worksheets that might help boost some understanding...?

beelady said...

Hey babe. Glad to hear the schooling is going well, that was one of the things I had wondered about when I was asking you how you are doing. I loved "My Side of the Mountain", it was a class book when I was a little older than the boys I think. We are starting to contemplate nursery education for SmallGirl for next year but the choices are limited (the nearest one, oversubscribed and we're out of catchment, the catchment one is 45 minutes walk away, meaning I would be at home about an hour before having to set back out to collect her!)although I strongly feel that she needs the social environment and stimulation from other kids. My gut instinct is that she will do ok in state ed here. I still pray we'll be out of our current hell hole before it's time for big school......

Stephanie said...

Bees, just something to think about regarding socialization... Who and what do you want your child acting like or emulating? You, with your values, or others with their (unknown) values? If the class is full, it doesn't matter how excellent the teacher is, there's only so much they can catch and correct behavior wise. Both boys have had great teachers in public and private school. But homeschooling in this short amount of time has done more for their emotional and social development than all of their time in childcare, private school, and public school combined. Our experience may not be your experience, but it's worth mentioning as many people cite the socialization aspect as a reason for not homeschooling. Ultimately, to us, the end result was the most important (happy, well-adjusted, independent-thinking adults who had a fulfilling childhood).

Staying home with mom isn't going to make them little adults and take away their childhood. Nor will they be lonely (so much to do and little girls do emulate their mothers!). We as parents often project these adult feelings onto our little ones who have yet to experience the crush of extreme hoards of other little ones their size. I went to public school my entire life, and I loved school for the most part, but I hated the insanity of the classroom. I also learned some rather unwholesome things that I feel I would have been far better off learning later in life or through my parents. Anyway, there are also play dates and other activities to be found for a more communal interaction environment, for home schoolers.

Bees, I don't know what it's like to home school over there and what kind of resources you have available to you, but in my very humble opinion, I would start by making a list of what's important to YOU for your daughters development. Then, decide whether or not she's going to get all of that from her options and whether or not you feel it's worth it - or if you could, in fact, do a better job (which, knowing you, would be my guess). For what it's worth, all but a couple of my resources are Internet based and not local. That would be swimming lessons and the horse riding lessons.

Honestly, if there's any part of you that is interested in home schooling, I'd at least do the research! You don't have to make a choice immediately and it's not ever "set in stone," so to speak. You have so many options. You can just do the public school thing, or you can do the home school thing. OR, you can combine them, which, honestly, you'll already be doing because everything she does...she's learning whether at school or at home, intentional or not. Learning doesn't have to be structured 9:00-5:00.

Bees, you're a wonderfully nurturing, *smart* woman and an amazing mother, I'm sure. Whatever your choice is, that doesn't change who you are. Just remember that and be confident in whatever you choose, state education or home. *love* And for what it's worth...there's no judgement from me.

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