Wednesday, December 22, 2010

accountability and accomplishment

The two truly go hand in hand.

When our homeschool journey began Parker was in second grade and reading around a fifth grade level. We hit the ground running and it was so easy. Parker is a sponge and if I taught it , he learned. No frustration, for real......

The day I started homeschooling Parker I always knew that the day would come when I had to make a decision about Kindergarden with Paxton, and Piper. That was such a hard choice for me. I already knew the benefits of homeschool and how wonderful it can be but there were still two major issues holding me back.

1. That first day = Parker didn't miss his so this was a difficult decision to me. what a special day and I just couldn't bare to miss it.

2. reading=  I believed wholeheartedly that only someone with an education degree could teach a child to read. To me this was simply an insurmountable task.

As the day approached I started to panic a bit. I was hugely pregnant and had a WILD toddler at home in addition to a preschool princess who refused to set foot in a preschool and throw in an ailing anorexic great dane whom i was preparing and hand feeding three meals a day. Oh yeah, toss in an epileptic mastiff...we do not have great luck with dogs. I just didn't think i could handle two homeschoolers.

We were attending a small Baptist church at the time and that church had a small private school as well. We received a partial scholarship and so self-doubt + great christian school opportunity= 2 kids in school asap.
So Paxton got that first day, and I realized that I had truly built this day up in my mind. There was no first day magic, Paxton could have cared less, he simply went right into the same class he has Sunday School in and that was that...hmmm. We truly had a wonderful experience at the Christian school but by second semester the scholarship was out and i had stopped looking for the amazing Kindergarden magic dust. I had the baby, got the toddler to stop stealing my coffee creamer and potty trained him, went down to 1 special needs dog , so I was thinking I could do it. The kids were coming home :)

It was great! Parker did well and kindergarden homeschool really doesn't take much time. Both were thriving and we finished off the year with a bang. Paxton had half learned to read and was doing pretty well so I got a little taste but it wasn't all on my shoulders........unfortunately I would face the very same situation the next year. Paxton and Piper are 17mos apart so they started Kinder one after the other. This summer I started having the same anxieties. We also live next door to Piper's bff who was starting Kindergarden as well and how fun for them to ride the bus together etc..........but this time, I knew how it would play out. I stuck to my guns and we began our homeschool journey with a  Kindergardener :)

Our first day was pretty special, we talked about it for weeks and she knew the day she started Kindergarden homeschool she would be a big girl! She was so excited. It went wonderfully and I was so glad i did it!!!!!!.........but there was still that reading issue.

I had researched it a little with Paxton and quite a bit more to prepare for this year. There were basically two schools of thought on how to teach reading, of course there are a few mixes here and there but Phonics or Sight Words are the biggest two. I quickly  made the decision that Sight Words are simply memorization and not true learning. I learned through phonics and have always been a great reader so i threw out the sight words option and we leaped into phonics....and we struggled, and we got frustrated, and all those self doubting thoughts kept popping up. She wasn't reading and it just wasn't going so great, and then I came across a sight words book at the dollar store. I figured I'd give it a try......a week into it Piper was thriving. Knowing a few words gave her self confidence and the ability to make new words out of them. It was amazing! and so, i was wrong. My new opinion on sight words vs phonics is that each child is different and what works for one does not work for all. My boys are phonics readers as am I but Piper is doing a great job learning with sight words. I am still doing phonics with her but with her new found confidence it goes alot better.

I also belong to the school of thought that teaches reading is a developmental skill. All children will not and can not learn to read in Kindergarden. All children should be taught, and taught and taught but ultimately they will reach a maturity with the right instruction and the reading switch will flip to on. This will NOT happen at the same age for every child.

Now that I'm on the other side, Piper is reading, there was no first day lost it is such a great feeling. I have accomplished a goal as a teacher and mother. I'm proud of my daughter for working hard and doing a great job. Any parent knows how exciting it is to have a child begin to read. It  is  a great moment and such an achievement. The hardest part about homeschool for me is the accountability, all of these achievements are on our shoulders..not a teachers, or a school system,....if they fail, if they lack a skill etc it will be my fault. But man when they meet a goal its even ten times better knowing I took a major role in the process. I feel so blessed to be able to stay home with my children and take part in this experience.

I want to encourage everyone, even if you are not homeschooling, to take a major roll in your child's education. There will be few greater joys given to you :)

and yes, she homeschools in a tutu.....she says its the best thing about homeschool !

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Neglected


I have been playing the facebook numbers game. If you don't know what that is , its when you ask all your friends to send you a message with a number. You then post the number and all your thoughts about this person. Only you and the person know who they are. At first I found this intimidating but quickly once the game began I realized that every single person has something I value. I have over 400 facebook friends. One would assume I cannot possibly know them all or care for them all, but after playing this game I'm thinking that perhaps i do. for every person I clicked "accept".  I am a very real and honest and transparent person on facebook, and even more so on this blog which is then linked to my facebook so everyone i friend has the opportunity to know me intimately. That was a decision I made a long time ago. Be honest, or do not take the time away from family, teaching, learning, or laundry. If I could not be real then there was no reason to be present here. Recently I have been considering clearing out some of my friends but now i am pondering why i accepted their friendship in the first place. for each person there was a connection, there was a past or a present or perhaps i saw a future. As the game forces me to think about my true feelings for many of these friends I realize that there is a reason each and every one came into my life. I thank you all for being there and for sharing your lives with me on some small level. what a blessing :)

Out of those 400 there are some that i really am close friends with. Many i share a special connection with and even some are family (or should be). As I started to get lots of numbers in my inbox i realized that this game is alot of work. I considered not participating anymore and just forgetting the whole thing. but then i thought , what about that person who messaged me and never hears back. What will they think, will their feelings be hurt, will they be angry, will they forever wonder if i simply had nothing nice to say about them. I realized at that point that this game is alot like real life friendship. It is a commitment and sometimes it is hard work. Sometimes you may step away because you don't have time, but you can always come back and nurture those friendships. If you don't, there will be hurt feelings, or anger, or perhaps it will simply fade away.

My life is so busy, friendships are one thing i truly neglect. I have found the friends closest to me are the ones who know my chaos and reach out to me, at which point i will stop and share a moment with them. This simply should not be. Friendships are important, they are a gift from God. They are essential and they help maintain who we are besides just mom, cook, employee etc. I want my children to see a better example in me. I want them to see outwardly how much i cherish my friendships on the inside. I want them to grow up and do the same. Recently i have been doing better, Ive been setting aside Friday's after gymnastics just to sit and be with friends. Im so thankful to these ladies for setting this example for me. Im doing my best to extend it to my far away friends as well, a phone call, a note, even an email just to know that i do think of you and miss you. The game also helped me realize that I need to take the time to nurture my "sapling" friendships. Not to let the blessing of a kind woman pass me by simply because i was too busy.

Often I am content in my own little shell, our  happy little home full of beautiful children and sometimes i think i could just stay there forever. the truth is that God saw fit to cross my path with many special and wonderful people. Aside from the Bible I learned everything I know that is worth knowing, from friendship. I promise to do better and return the favor. Thank you  to everyone who has spent time maintaining a friendship with me, even when i haven't done the same.