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.

1 comment:

kindredmamma said...

I know what your saying about school causing anxiety issues for a child. Only 3 months into Kindergarten my oldest, was waking up at night with stomach aches, and tears. He began to wet his pants nearly daily, and regress in his abilities. He also wouldn't look his teacher in the eye or talk about her. His favorite time was lunch, though I am sure most kids are into lunch. I had lost my little boy. We talked with the school and they tried to tell us that it was normal. Anxiety issues are not normal. During a two week break (they have year round schools here) when we went off track we say a return to our little boy. Life sprang back into him and within a few days he was sleeping peacefuly at night. The school didn't seem to have any options that seemed right, so we pulled him out. Whatever happened to him, he is very afraid of that school. TO the best of our knowledge, no technical abuse was sustained, but he doesn't seem to do well in large group situations, and they used one sort of way for occupational therapy but quite a different way in the class room. So we felt like he was being let down, because he was expected to perform conflicting things within his worst learning enviroment. While ds #3 is in public preschool for Speech Therapy reasons, we do plan to take over with him in Kindergarten. Right now, it is best for him to go, so people work with is Speech disorder and I can focus on my older two.
Heather