Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Math for Christmas?

Okay, I've only got a few minutes before my day really begins, but I want to write something positive about homeschooling so my dear friends aren't worried about me.  I don't want anyone envisioning me in a fetal position on my closet floor with bits and pieces of a well-meaning teacher's guide scattered about.  Or a math book.  Oy.

That leads me to a great thing about homeschooling...

If something's not working, we can change it!

We've been using Math-U-See with Emma & Jeffrey for the past few years.  Since it was working quite well, I don't know why I decided to switch to Teaching Textbooks this year.  I think it's because I wanted them to work more independently, and TT can be done without practically any parental involvement--in theory.  The student watches a clip from a CD-Rom and then does the practice set in the workbook.  An answer key allows the student to check his work, and another CD-Rom shows how to work each problem if the student can't find where he messed up.  Teaching Textbooks is well done, thorough, and I'd recommend it to anyone--well, anyone who benefits from a spiral approach to learning.  Unfortunately, that's not us.

So, guess what?

We're going to back to Math-U-See, which uses a mastery learning approach.  A lovely friend of mine has loaned to me the MUS Pre-Algebra DVD and Instruction Manual for the year.  (Thanks, Lily!)  I only had to purchase the workbook, and it's already on its way.  You'd think this math curriculum was a Christmas present, judging by Emma & Jeffrey's reaction.  Emma was willing to chip in for the workbook herself!  (I didn't let her.)  And as I tucked Jeffrey in bed the other night, he said, "I guess if I went to public school they wouldn't be able to change curriculum just for me.  I'd have to suffer through it, even if it wasn't really working for me."


Sunday, December 18, 2011

On Homeschooling, Part 2

Okay, one thing I really love about homeschooling is the unlimited supply of encouragement I find in my friends.  Thank you.

Kellie, you are so right.  I'm always encouraged after spending time with other homeschooling families--especially the moms.  We are a unique breed, and we need to stick together.  And though I love diagramming sentences (I really do...I know...weird), character training is more important than academics.  Knowledge is good, but it can also puff up.  Knowledge, accompanied by character, is wisdom.  How can I help my children develop godly character if they are out of my hands for 40 hours per week?  Sure, it's possible, but homeschooling sort of has that built-in to itself--whether I like it or not.  Homeschooling helps to draw out "character-building moments".  (And I'm not just talking about the kids.)   

Char, thank you for saying it was God's plan for Samuel to be a fourth child.  Among the things I listed yesterday, I obviously feel the most guilty about leaving him in the dust, and your statement really spoke to my heart.  I am so thankful he knows his siblings well.  Even through the fighting, I'm convinced they all love each other--and always will.  I also realize that Sam will have more than he wants of my attention when he's a teenager and his older siblings are (Lord willing) out of the house.  That's just so far away from right now; it's hard to see.  And if it's hard for me to see, then it's impossible for a four-year-old.  (I do have Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe.  I just need to find it.  Thanks for the offer and the suggestion.)

Rebecca, "four living books"--I like that.  And as Sue mentioned, this is my season of life right now.  Even when I look back to two years ago, I can already see how I have a little more discretionary time these days.  For example, I'm writing this blog now.  I tried that before and never kept up with it.  While I'm not as consistent as I'd like to be, the blog is not completely forgotten.  Also, Dave and I went to lunch and a movie (Hugo) this afternoon for our anniversary--and we didn't hire a sitter!  When we got home: all of the children were alive, the house was still standing, and Samuel was wearing the same outfit as when we'd left (meaning he didn't have an accident).  Yep.  I'm in a new season.  Perhaps I'm not in the this-is-the-year-I-write-that-book season, but it's nice to be heading in that direction.

Oy, Sue, I hadn't even thought about dropping off, picking up, homework and all of that when I was doing my  time-saved-by-public-schooling calculations.  Homeschooling really is much more efficient.

And Bailey, your email made me cry--sweet tears, mind you.  It was beautiful, and thoughtful, and so loving.  Thank you.  I will prayerfully consider your offer.  I love you too.

There is still more to come.  I wanted to take time to respond to my loving friends' advice and encouragement before I wrote my "Why I Really Love Homeschooling" post.  So, stay tuned.  (And don't be discouraged if it takes a few days.  We're still doing some school this week, so it might have to wait until our Christmas break begins.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

On Homeschooling

I have a love/hate relationship with homeschooling.

Sometimes I wonder why I do it.  I mean, really, why?  It truly does take a bit of time.  It's hard work--not necessarily because of the academics (for me) but in dealing with attitudes in my children and *ahem* myself.  Other areas in my life often take a back seat: reading, writing, music, exercise, outings with friends, and *gulp* lots of time with my buddy-boy, Samuel.  Don't get me wrong.  Those things are still in the mini-van, just in the back seat.

We were in Maryland for Thanksgiving.  Dave's parents and older brother (and family) live there--about 20 minutes from each other.  Tuesday morning, we three Mrs. G's went out for breakfast.  It was lovely.  I'd never been to Panera Bread before, so that part was a treat in and of itself, but the company was even sweeter than my cinnamon roll.  I came to find out that the other two Mrs. G's do this every week.  Every week?  *sigh*

I used to lead a Thursday morning Bible study--which I loved.  As homeschooling got more involved (i.e. the workload got harder and I added another student), I prayerfully decided to let that go.  I simply didn't have the time.  I really miss that.

I also have a book idea which has been rolling around in my head for a couple of years.

I'd like to spend more time practicing music--especially piano and violin.

And this last one's the kicker...poor Samuel.  I really feel like he gets the short end of the stick when it comes to my attention.

I'm often tempted at the thought of putting the kids in public school.  I know there are time commitments to that as well (PTA, fundraisers, school events, volunteering), but it can't add up to all the time I put into homeschooling.  There would be time for me to do more of the things I've listed above.  I'm especially tempted on Mondays.  Oy...Mondays.  And the Mondays after a break?  Well, I've actually had the phone book in my hand, ready to look up numbers for the elementary and middle schools.

Okay, so that's all the "hate" part of it--and honestly, that's too strong of a word for my feelings.  Frustrated is more accurate than hateful, and there are plenty of things about homeschooling which I truly love.  I'll tell you about that later; because, I'm going to steal a few minutes at the piano before everyone else gets up.