School is in full swing around here and going pretty well. I still haven't found exactly what I want to use for language arts this year, so I am just winging it until I do a little more research (and until Ronnie's new job is official and money isn't as tight). For now we are focusing on history, science, math, and spelling. We are also increasing our read-alouds, so I am not too worried as of yet. We have plenty to keep us busy.
LB is in 6th grade this year ... there, I said it. I've been in denial about having a 6th grader, but I have to come to terms with it! Our focus this year for her is getting her caught up in math. She struggled in math when she was younger and I made the decision to go back and make sure she got a better foundation before moving on. I still believe that it was the right decision, but she is very sensitive to the fact that she is not back to where she would have been if we hadn't changed (and is not doing the same work as her friends). It is hard for her to understand, but having struggled all the way through highschool and college myself because of a weak foundation in math, I am much more concerned about her academic success, but I know it is rough to be teased about something completely out of your hands. On a high note, she has finally decided that she loves to read and is reading all the time now. We are exploring different genres of literature (historical fiction, biography, mystery) and so far historical fiction seems to be her favorite. Like mother, like daughter! I am hoping to use her new-found love of reading to
JW is in 4th grade this year and moving right along. He is doing fine in school, but he is also the only one of my kids who asks, on a regular basis, why do we homeschool? He also asks if he can go to public school and I have to explain to him (again and again) why we made the decision to homeschool* and why we will stick by that decision. I can't say that he fully understands, but one day he will (at least that is my prayer) and then maybe he'll come to know that this is not some strange lifestyle chosen simply to torture him. One thing that has been bothering me about JW is that his normally sensitive nature seems to be at war with a desire to appear tough. My kids have never really had to deal with a bully so we've never even talked about their existence. It upsets me to see some of those characteristics coming out in him, especially when it is almost always directed toward his own siblings, though I have recently seen it aimed at a younger girl at church who didn't want to play a game the way the other kids always play it. I don't want to give the impression that he is going around demanding little kids give up their milk money. For the most part, he is still his normal easy-going self with most people (outside of our house, anyway), but this is a new twist and we want to help him navigate through this little identity crisis safely. As for this year in school, my main goal is to help him gain confidence in his own abilities to read and write. It may just be that a boost in confidence may be the answer to the other problems we are having, too.
D is now in school for real, which still only amounts to a couple of hours a day. If he were in normal school, he would be in 5 year old kindergarten this year. I started doing kindergarten work with him last spring, but then things kind of fell apart when Mama was in the hospital and had to have surgery and we really didn't get very far with him. So, I just picked up this year where I left off with his kindergarten materials and let me tell you, he is bored! I think we are going to combine his basic phonics with a first grade math program and see if that keeps him busy enough. He is still learning that school is not something that he can just say, okay I am done for the day and have that fly. I love teaching this age, though and seeing the light come on as he learns to sound out words and begins doing math. Back when I thought I was going to be a teacher, I never thought I wanted to teach young children and in truth I probably don't have the patience or the personality for it, but I do find few things more thrilling than seeing a child learn to read. I am looking forward to a good year with D, but I won't know until we get to the end if I will be promoting him to 1st or 2nd grade.
*Ronnie and I made the decision to homeschool before we were even married. I was a secondary education major at Delta State and it became clear to me that this was not what God wanted for my life. Most of the classes seemed to be more directed at saving students from their parents rather than teaching me how to teach them literature and writing. When I chose to change my focus just be an English major without the education part, Ronnie and I began to talk about education options for the children we hoped to have one day and even then we agreed that homeschooling was the best choice. We believed then, and still believe now, that this is the life that God has ordained for our family. Those of you who homeschool know that this isn't just an educational choice, it is a lifestyle and no part of your life is untouched by this decision. It would be a lie for me to tell you that I don't have days when I wish I could oblige my son and just let him go to real school (his words), I have no doubt that it would be easier for us both in some respects, but it just isn't an option if we want to be obedient to the call God has placed on our lives.
I didn't really intend this post to be only about school, but since I must get the kids up and going if we are going to get anything accomplished today and since I am now almost finished with my 2nd cup of coffee, I think it is time for me to get on with my day. So talking about our fair projects, the salamander in my muffin tin, and the plans for our relay center's 2011 countdown to collection week (for Operation Christmas Child) will have to wait for another day, except for me to say that I am so very excited about our speaker for the event!