Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dawn's Intro

Kind of late here, sorry. We're in the middle of a move so I've put off getting on here a whole day. I'm excited and more relaxed this year. I'm not sure what is so different to make me feel that way, but something IS, and I'm grateful!

Curtis and I have 6 kids. We are celebrating our 10th anniversary next month. It hasn't seemed that long. Our kids are Isaac (9), Jesse (8), Hannah (almost 6), Simeon (4), Joshua (2) and Ammon (6 mo.). We are going into our 4th year of homeschooling. I'm very much conveyor belt minded, I loved school, I loved the discipline of it, I loved reorganizing all my crayons by color and in order of the rainbow, with the exception of the odd gold, silver and copper at the end. I also grew up with only one sister and no brothers, so going into homeschooling, with mostly boys and one very headstrong and stubborn daughter was a bit of a challenge as our ideas of homeschooling clashed. Hannah thought it was just an annoying wrench thrown in her day. The boys thought it was great they didn't have to "go to school" and could play all day. Simeon thought it was wonderful fun to climb onto the table and sharpen dozens of pencils. I was all excited to sit down and do worksheets and textbooks (YAWN: from my kids). Growing up, I had no idea anything like homeschooling existed. I think I would have loved to have been a homeschooled child! We had a lot to learn and a lot of tears to shed.

My personal motto: I just don't know any better. So, I take on something I have no idea about and just do it, learning along the way, because I have not completed the thought process all they way to the end and may have picked up on some kind of crucial clues that this might be more difficult than I thought.

In the time since we have started homeschooling there are some important things that have come to light. Isaac has some major ADHD (possibly Asperger's syndrome, but that has yet to be finally determined). Jesse is gifted and super intelligent, so he works a grade above his skills. Hannah is probably dyslexic (runs in my family), so I'm having to take a different approach with her. Susanna, we are working on Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for the 3rd year in a row with Hannah and it's not getting any easier. Hannah doesn't want to go to school unless some kind of creative lunch is involved. Simeon has had two brain injuries (viral meningitis and concussion followed by seizures), so he is about 2 years behind schedule. They also suspect Asperger's with Simeon, but he has made huge leaps and bounds in his development this year, so we are taking a watch and see approach. Joshua is 2, need I say more. We might be having a good day with school, but it will interrupted 90% of the time with the mass destruction Joshua causes. Having an infant always presents a challenge with homeschooling, but we are evening out on the schedule, and just on time.

When I first started, and which carried on into the 2nd year, we used workbooks and texts. I pieced together history/social studies and science, but still felt something was lacking. In the 2nd year, I took on another little girl and did Pre-K and K with her and Hannah. I was burnt out by about February. I got pregnant in June, we moved in August, by October, we finally got a Charlotte Mason curriculum and sat down to work. I felt guilty because of our late start, but the new curriculum, while I liked the idea and the romance of learning everything through nature, was just not working, especially for Isaac. After Christmas, I went back to our workbooks. Then Shiloah sent me a Thomas Jefferson book, the Home Companion. Then, THEN, I finally got what she had been talking about for over a year. Over the summer I reread the book, listened to some talks by Oliver DeMille, and decided, I really can do this. I did buy a classical curriculum: A2: Accelerated Achievement for 100.00 that had all the grades on it, all the classic books listed and on CD and a schedule written out for each grade. I do understand that TJ Ed goes by a different system, but this helped me figure out where to start. So far, combining these methods is working very well for us. The kids are getting somewhere. They like the time we read together. Hannah is pressuring me to teach her to read (I'm still sort of half heartedly working with her on that, so we focus on sounds and rhyming). I'm trying not to be so strict on our schedule, and this has been a big adjustment for me, but I'm learning to be more patient and compassionate for my kids. The lessons are short and sweet, but they get enough to venture off on their own with ideas for stuff. Even Simeon is learning his letters, their sounds, the numbers, shapes, colors. Most of all, I have tried to accommodate Isaac and his needs (standing up, wiggling around, taking 3 hours to finish a lesson) and this helps relieve a lot of guilt I would feel otherwise.

I forgot to add why I homeschool. It has always been my dream to teach school. I think if I could collect little country schools, I would. I love teaching. When my kids came along, I was all prepared to send them off to school, because that is what we should do. But I missed them. And they missed me. Especially Isaac. I cannot tell you how many mornings they had to peel him off the side of the car and carry him into school after I dropped them off. By the beginning of 1st grade, Isaac had such horrible anxiety, it was keeping him awake at night, causing night terrors. He would come home telling me horrendous stories that happened during the day, but once I brought up concerns about him with the teacher, she blew me off. 6 weeks into the school year, Isaac was so distraught, he couldn't sleep anymore. Jesse was in Kindergarten and after 3 weeks of coming home with an egg traced on construction paper, again, he told me one day "If you turn the paper this way, it's a cup. If you turn it this way, it's a swimming pool". The final straw was after the school lost my boys not once, but 3 TIMES. After and hour and half, I came home to call the police (the school was not concerned at all), and here was my little 5 year old, sitting on the step crying because no one was home. That was it! I didn't feel they had the kids' best interests at hand, or their safety. It took a bit of convincing on Curtis' part, as he had many concerns based on myths. I took them out, and as far as I can tell, have rarely looked back again.

Homeschooling is my hobby, my joy. While the kids are learning stuff, I am too. I never thought this is something I would do, but I have to say that without Shiloah, I would have NEVER considered it. There is a difference I can see and almost physically touch in my kids since I started homeschooling. I don't want this to end.

So, there is my intro. Long, probably more info than you needed. I'm looking forward to posting and reading on here. I hope I will learn a lot and gain a lot, and hopefully contribute enough to be of some kind of help, even just a little.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Other Heather (Heather Mommy)

I think all Heathers have a bit of a complex about their name. I can't go anywhere without meeting another one. Two of my best friends are Heathers. Sigh.

Well, here is a little about me. I knew I would homeschool before I even got married. My oldest sister took me to homeschooling conferences with her when I was in college. My sister has been my greatest influence and mentor as far as homeschooling goes. We live in the Phoenix metropolitan area and enjoy being part of a good TJED group here, AZLAF. We have two girls (5 1/2 and almost 4). We are really excited about homeschooling and are grateful that we found it at such an early stage of the game.

I love core phase. I still struggle with the me not them thing and I am not sure what my mission is either. In fact the other day my husband told me to take the day off and do something for myself and I had no idea what to do! I'll figure it out.

My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We met at BYU and both served LDS missions in France. But different missions. I love history and have my masters in European History. I sometimes teach history classes at the University of Phoenix. I love reading, movies, dancing, exercising, and trying to eat healthy.

I am excited about this blog and the opportunity that we have to talk about TJED in our homes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And now a word from Kindredmamma

Well, I had to put my username because as usual there is more than one Heather. And I voraciously boycott being called Heather F. any more. My maiden name started with an F and so does my married name. So now you've had a little peak at my little pet peeve. Anyhow, a little bit about me. Yes, my name is Heather...Oh I know, I always wanted to have my name spelt "Heathyr." Perhaps I can live with that. =)

I have been married for 13 years and we have 4 kids. 7 y/o son, 6 y/o daughter, 3 y/o son, and 19 month-old son. We live in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. So we are a young family mostly in the Core phase, though my oldest is emerging into Love of Learning. We have been Homeschooling, since we pulled the oldest out of Kindergarten after 3 months. That's a long story.

How I came to TJed. Well my closest homeschooling friends "made me do it!" Well, not really. But I love being with them, and they rarely lead me astray. It just felt right in my heart. I am a big believer in listening to your mothering instinct. That and it also spiritually felt right. I still have many days of conveyor belt mentality. I struggle at times in trusting the process. Since my kids are young I do not have the experience under my belt, it is sometimes hard not to worry about the long term. So right now, I am trying to get the "you, not them" down and I actively try to find ways to inspire my children. So I am blest with a small circle of mothers whom I do a monthly Women's Colloquium. They also have some kids groups too, but my third child has a severe speech disorder and due to his therapy and therapy preschool we are not able to participate. Hopefully in two years when we take over homeschooling him, we can jump in with that. That too, is another long story.

My biggest thing is that, aside from giving them Inspiration, I am unsure of my mission. So I am trying to gain my only love of learning and scholar phase, so I hope to gain that when the time is right.
Well that is a little for now.


The Why Question, and How TJed Found Me

Hmmm... an intro. I feel weird sometimes doing these Shiloah... everyone else's intros are so short and sweet. I'm too complicated. lol!

I guess I should start with the basics, huh?

I'm Aine, and I've been married for 17 yrs to the funnest guy ever. We have 7 kids: 14 yr old girl, 11 yr old girl, 7 yr old girl, 4 yr old son, 4 yr old nephew (that we want to adopt), and twin boys, 2. We have a scholar, a practice scholar - the practice scholar is newly developed, a love of learner, and all my boys are, of course, core. We moved 5 yrs ago in Sept. from Texas to Idaho. I started a blog back then, and have blogged ever since. My family laughs and says I'm addicted - I have so many interests (poetry, short stories, novels, homeschooling/TJed, family, adoption, etc.) I share them all on separate blogs so that I don't overwhelm my in-laws who just want to see cute pics of the kids. It's a running joke. I am a writer - it's part of my mission.

Why do I homeschool?

There are so many, many answers to that. Maybe someday I'll write them all down. The most important reason I guess is the one that I go back to when I start to feel ineffective - because I feel like it's part of why I'm here on earth. This is my calling - to give my children a great education and childhood without turning them into mindless zombies that can't think for themselves. Sometimes I wonder if I've failed in that last part, but I always remind myself that hormones are stronger than my good intentions. :P

I know that sounds harsh. I was stifled all my growing up years, trying to be who people wanted me to be, instead of learning who I was. Until recently, I wasn't even sure of my mission. I have spent the better part of my life denying it. I still feel inadequate at times as I seek to understand it, develop it, and embrace it. I homeschool in hopes that as I help my children find their missions and embrace them, that they will not be in their 30's, 40's, even 50's saying "Gosh, I hate doing this." I want secure, happy adult children who are excited about their lives and what they're doing. That's why I homeschool.

Ah, so how TJed found me.

I am a native Texan - I consider Montgomery to be my hometown (my family moved there in 1979). We had a group in Houston (I think it's still down there) called CTR Beacons of Light. When my oldest daughter (now 14) was 4, I decided it was time to find out about this homeschooling stuff. That way I would *know* what I was doing when it really mattered a year later (go ahead and laugh at my naivety - I do!). So I stopped by our library in the church and asked the only other mom that I knew who homeschooled how she did it. She looked at me and said, "Aine, I don't think you want to do it my way. But here's a brochure. I can't go, but maybe you'd like to."

It was the first conference Jolene had ever put on, and they invited Glenn Kimber (Love of Learning Curriculum available at GWC bookstore) to speak. The rooms were small and I sat literally under him while he spoke, and I had a glow in my heart I hadn't known for a long time. What he said was right for me. For several years I came to hear him over and over. I wanted my kids to enjoy his schools when they got older. I couldn't understand the waning interest of the women around me - they wandered back to the conveyor belt way of doing things, because it was "safe". I was frustrated.

Now, I've always been Internet savvy. So one day I'm looking over some emails from a yahoo group on homemaking, and a woman named Donna Goff had sent some emails talking about family rhythms. I was intrigued. So I started emailing her, asking her questions. She sent me to her Mentoring Our Own yahoo group (about half the size it is now) and told me about TJed. As I read her archives, I thought, "Geez. This sounds a lot like Dr. Kimber's stuff, with different lingo."

So I went back and reread the archives on the Kimber's yahoo group (I don't know if it still exists) and ran across a woman by the name of Cherie Logan, who had the year before opened up a website called "The Noble Child" (I see Shiloah has put her blog on the sidebar). This was a breaking point for me, because she incorporated BOTH Kimber and TJed together. Again, I felt that warm glow, and knew it was right for MY family. I've always known that just as no two people are alike, no two families are alike. If we aren't alike, then how could what is right for me be necessarily right for you? It might be, but it might not. One size NEVER fits all. I believe that with all my heart.

I've since then had the great blessing of moving to Idaho (that's a whole other story) and have enjoyed the benefits of Mom Schools, Commonwealths, and Colloquium. I got to take the Basic Training Class from Diann Jeppson and Jody Palmer, and have been facilitating that class for other moms this past year. I've attended Oliver DeMille's Math Seminar, Analee's Hero Generation All Day Seminar, the ALYI all day conference thingy (lol - I've got a twin bouncing on me - it's hard to think) among others. We even had the pleasure of having dinner with Shannon Brooks with other Moms and Dads in the area - that was fun. Don't gasp too loud - I've never attended a Face to Face. Maybe someday I will. I'd like to. It's all about timing. My daughter is talking about attending GWC - I hope she continues to flirt with the idea.

I'm excited Shiloah has started to look to creating a colloquium in her area. I had started to look to do that in Texas, but by then it was apparent we were moving to Idaho - it was where we were supposed to be. Where we ARE supposed to be. And I am eternally grateful. I love all our new friends here, and we make new ones and increase in friendship of the old ones every year. It is an exciting time!

That's my intro., complicated, but complete. ;)

Does Inspiring Bring Tears?

I've been homeschooling for a year now, and I'm trying to teach my 4 (B) and 6 (M) yr olds to read. They keep telling and asking me to teach them how to read. I, of coarse, have a carefully laid out plan- I mean schedule, of how this is going to happen. We have the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. So this will be, well, EASY right? In 100 days the boys will be the best readers ever. When I woke up from my dream, this morning and started to put the plan in action, M and I were rhyming using the s sound. All went well until it was M's turn to say the rhymes. He only wanted to rhyme with the m sound. I kept getting frustrated, and started to take that out on him. I think I lost the inspiration somewhere. We did however stop when the tears started to flow, and put the book down. I guess the boys just aren't ready for reading just yet. Inspiring isn't the easiest, but I can tell a difference learning that goes on when one of my children have been inspired to learn something new, and when I've made them or required them to do it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Introduction, Homeschooling, and TJED

Many people shake their heads at me when they see I have seven children and homeschool. Then they always take a second look at my face and see that I'm smiling and joyful as I state this fact. It is hard for some to comprehend. This is not really the purpose of this blog or my writing. The purpose is to share my love of my children, in homeschooling them, and my passion for instilling the principles of A Thomas Jefferson Education in my home and homeschool.

Twelve years ago I knew I wanted to homeschool when my first child was born. I didn't feel ready, though until she was nine years old. By then I had six children in our home. I made the leap to homeschool and told a friend and shared with her my fears and anxieties over the journey I had begun. She knew a sister in ward (congregation) who had seven children and also homeschooled. I begged for an introduction. This woman became my mentor. She introduced me to A Thomas Jefferson Education and explained the philosophy behind it. I immediately embraced it though I hadn't read any material on it.

A year later, I was able to get my hands on the book A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century by Oliver DeMille. I was inspired. Every night as I read, I shared with my husband how I believe the principles in this book go along with the scriptures. It made so much sense to me!

By the end of the year I had in my collection the second book on how to apply the principles of TJED to our homeschool. I am a more relaxed and happy homeschooling mom. I feel confident in what I'm doing and where our family goals lead. I know that this is an inspired educational model and am thankful I was lead to begin.