Friday, October 18, 2013

A Brief Introduction

I know that there are so many homeschool-based blogs out there with encouragement.  But my philosophy is that sometimes you can be an encouragement from sharing spectacular failures as well as successes.  I will make weekly submissions as the schedule allows and I will try to make them short and to the point, both for my sake and yours.  But before I start, I thought I would submit the introduction I gave to a homeschool group earlier with names changed to represent their personalities:

I have been married 15 years to my intelligent, perfectly wonderful, goofy husband, who works as a software architect.  I have four children, a 14-year old daughter, "Bananas", who started high school this year (be still my heart), a twelve-year old daughter,  "Peaches" who is two years away from high school (can you tell where my thoughts lie?), a ten-year old son, "Coconut", and an eight-year old son, "Raspberries".  My kids love reading, watching movies and LEGOs as a group.  Bananas is my artistic one and loves all things Tolkien, and is even learning Elf and Dwarf printing as well as calligraphy.  She volunteers in the church nursery twice a month and is really enjoying her "full time" volunteer job at the Mesa Public Library.  Peaches is my musical talent (guitar and piano), pet and kids lover and lover of languages, learning Spanish and French.  She also volunteers at the church nursery twice a month.  Coconut is my baseball and history lover and a "just the facts" kind of guy.  Raspberries is my comedian, storymaker extrordinaire and involved in tae kwon do.  Both girls take aeriels through a church-based arts program as part of their PE.  Both boys are involved in cub scouts, with my older one about to venture into boy scouts this spring.

As far as my hobbies, my husband and I have taken up running together,though he has been sidelined with knee injuries.  I just committed an act of insanity and signed up for the Phoenix Marathon in March and have started my training.  I also try to knit, though I have taken on bigger projects lately that seem to take forever.  Of course, they would take less time if I didn't lay them down in frustration when realizing that YET AGAIN, I have to rip out some of my knitting because of mistakes.  These, of course, are done in our spare time, which is created by using one of those time travel clocks that Hermione Granger used to double up on classes in Harry Potter.

My kids have never been in a public day care setting ever, though they have taken classes through park districts and co-ops and private art lessons.  I put them in a paid sports program when we first moved and even though it was great, the expense became too much, especially when my kids started getting involved in other sports.

I laugh when talking to non-homeschooling moms about homeschooling if  they tell me , "I couldn't do homeschooling because I don't have the patience" or "my kids would drive me crazy" .  The truth is, I haven't had the patience to homeschool either and I am more than halfway there to "crazy."  Patience is a muscle that God has been and is continuing to sculpt in me over the past  fourteen years of totally, spectacularly losing my patience with my kids, asking forgiveness from them and from God, receiving God's wisdom for future conflicts and having to let go of the dream of becoming Ma Ingalls.  Through homeschooling, God is also developing my self-discipline muscle and my organization muscle, too.  He has sculpted these muscles through two wonderful kids who are "very strong willed" and extremely strong willed" and two more wonderful kids who are more easygoing but have difficulty with focusing on tasks.  

I have always desired to have homeschooling prepare my kids for life tests, not for paper tests and to that end, I usually have some sort of character trait that I want to develop in my kids and/or some life skill (cleaning house, handling money, etc).  This year's life skill is showing respect and grace even if the other person is not being respectful or kind, because there are THOSE type of people in the world.  Heck, in my house, on any given day, any one of us can be one of THOSE kind of people, which is why we are focusing on this trait.  It started with a desire to help my kids learn basic etiquette and realize that we (notice that I include myself in this?) have a heart issue behind etiquette that needs to be the focus as we learn basic etiquette.  And I know it is a heart issue because the past two weeks have been tempestuous as we work on it and as we learn new patterns.  Two of my kids (guess which ones?) are resisting the lesson.  But through it, God is developing my apparently weak and flabby "grace" muscle, too.  I will be SO spiritually buff by the time my homeschool journey is over, even if my body shape looks more like an overripe peach.  

And this is why I homeschool, so that my kids can see that living and loving involves spectacular triumphs and failures, that God's grace and love cover a multitude of sins and that we work together to get things done, whether the job is spiritual, emotional or physical.  I have a wonderful work-out partner/principal in my husband, who keeps encouraging me when I am discouraged at how tough it seems to accomplish these things and who reminds the kids to be kind and helpful to their poor, worn out mom.

My curriculum is:
  • Tapestry of Grace for history, literature, geography, and writing.  I also use their vocabulary lists.
  • Math-U-See for everything except Geometry (which is as far as we have gone so far)
  • Teaching Textbooks for Geometry (which might persuade me to use it for advanced math, too)
  • Duolingo for languages (this is something new), along with help from our native Spanish speakers for practical tips.  We attend a Spanish-English language church, in which every part of the adult church--worship, prayer, and sermon are spoken in both English and Spanish.
  • For grammar, I use the schoolhouse rock for the younger kids along with online worksheets.  I have a high school grammar book for my high schooler.