Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Homeschool Challenge

I have been accused of not taking my children's education seriously. I have also been accused of not using nationally approved curriculum, ignoring national and state core standards. My answer? GOOD.

So CoM went to her dad's for Spring Break. He asked for an extra week because she doesn't attend a "real" classroom. I prepared her work, staying up the night before she left to check the lessons against the standards for 2nd grade. I had ordered the BrainQuest for 2nd Grade, copyright 2008, and wanted to send something that would not be a hassle for her grandmother and aunt to use for her.
While she was gone, I utilized my time researching state and national standards, comparing curriculum, verifying that I already use 3rd grade math with CoM, often staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning just to discover new and exciting methods of instruction. I learned A LOT.
LB was still home with me, so she would stay up as late as she could, watching the Goodnight Show, and being Mommy's little helper. Now, since LB is a tactile learner, we played a lot of games. We stacked blocks for math, we played in homemade sand (thanks, Pinterest!), we worked on jewelry, we read books, studied letters, and I even introduced her to my computer. She learned how to navigate really well. Oh, and we have been working on our rhyming words. We did coloring sheets, painting, building, reading and we even spent a couple days where I worked on the computer and she learned how to work the Roku remote and watch "her shows" on Netflix. I took her swimming and to the playground to get her heart moving and my dad and I took her to the mall to get some walking exercise and practice her manners.
While I was doing all this research, teaching my child, I also had to maintain the house/apartment, tend to my family's needs (including the dog), and I managed to make several pieces of jewelry to go in our Etsy store. New material came in so LB helped me cut it out and prep it for stitching. I reorganized the school room, finally laminated my wall boards, threw up a manuscript sheet (which gave LB another opportunity to work on her letters - one for which she volunteered!). I probably have logged the same amount of time developing this week's lessons as any other (public/private) school teacher. I have my dad's experience, familiarity working with my mom, and the 16 years I've spent as a teacher's aide or a substitute teacher. And now, in my new position, I am researching and developing curriculum for a virtual academy. All the research must meet CORE Standards. (Did I mention this as part of my busy 2 weeks?)

I have researched AOP, CLP, R&S, TGHTGW, etc. I've compared items through, buying what looks informative and easy to apply. We are gearing up to go in many directions with work and I grow excited by the prospects. But then I get told that I'm not good enough because I'm not a teacher and that my daughter's education is lacking. Could I have finished my education degree? Yes. But that's not the direction in which God has led me. Instead, I have my business management degree that will come in handy in operating another branch of the ministry/charity. I have my psychology degree in Christian counseling. I start the masters program for Licensed Professional Counseling in the fall and I will begin my specialization in Child Mental Health with techniques in Play Therapy at the same time. I am blessed to be able to implement what I learn into our lives and have happier, more inquisitive and expressive children as a result. We're learning 2 foreign languages, music, dance, art, science, reading and language arts (okay, I could do more with the grammar and CoM will be surprised when she reviews her lessons for the week), and we're starting a session on ancient civilizations. We learn through manipulatives and books, arts and crafts, computer and just spending time with each other.
In the end, I am satisfied with my daughter. I've been reassured that next year I can have her tested in the public school system but not to worry or stress overmuch. I'm encouraged by friends and HSLDA attorneys to continue pressing on for the prize. What prize? A child who is excited to learn and does so, actually remembering that which she has experienced. So what if she doesn't rank "gifted" by national education standards? So what if she's not a "prodigy" according to their definition? So what if she's limited by time constraints and test anxiety in the public school policy? We know the truth of her performance in school because we're here with her, encouraging her and working with her. The same for LB - so what if she has a "developmental delay"? I've seen her blossom these last few weeks. Yes, in some ways she's regressing. In others, she's progressing. I can compromise with her because I'm thrilled to just have her for my daughter.
My little blooms are blossoming and my garden is beautiful!

What are some ways you encourage your children to learn and experience the world around them?

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