Saturday, March 23, 2013

School Decisions

Christian and I would love to homeschool our girls.  Most of you may already know this. You've heard me outright mention this or maybe you gathered this from the "likes" on my Facebook page.  Maybe this is new information for some of you.
I get a wide range of responses when this comes up in conversation.  Everything from, "That's great!" to "Whoa, I don't think I could do that. . . " to "That is the worst thing you could possibly ever do to your kids. . ." People are not neutral on this topic, apparently.  But I suppose I'm not either.  I feel pretty confident that this is what we'd like to do and what would be best educationally, socially and spiritually for our kids. We do have a Plan B, C and even D in case finances don't come together or something happens that is beyond our control but right now, this is what we are planning for and working towards.   
Claire's "T"
Thus far, Claire loves all things academic and soaks it up like a sponge.  Normally, I'm not into pushing that sort of thing, especially since she's so young.  I think that only breeds kids who hate learning.  But she loves it and sometimes begs to "practice letters" before naptime instead of reading a story (she LOVES reading stories too, don't get me wrong).  So, we went with it.  She knows her letters, her letter sounds, is starting to grasp the concept that these letter sounds make up words, counts object to about 20.  It's so much fun watching her understand things.  She's great at memorizing.  She knows several questions from her Catechism and we are working on Psalm 23.  It's all so fun.  We sing, we read, we look at letter cards, we draw with chalk.  I'll never forget the day when Claire yelled, "Mommy, mommy!  I draw 'T'"! And she had! Her huge grin took up her entire little face.
I loved that moment.  That is a huge part of the reason I want to keep her home for school.  I want to be the one to teach her to sound out the letters and to read.  I want to guide her when she writes her name for the first time.  I want to introduce her to her first lines of poetry, sing with her, teach her logic and discernment and stories and ideas from the Bible and even teach her about numbers and how they fit into God's perfect order.  Of course, I can't teach her everything.  Christian will help and will guide her they way her Daddy should.  She will learn things from people in our family and outside our family who will teach her things I do not know.  I understand this.  We take her to swim lessons, are considering ballet and she will learn piano. But I don't want to send my kids away for 8 hours a day to learn inside of the walls of a classroom where the Federal Government (not merely the state government), since the adoption of Common Core Standards, is now dictating what my children should learn.  Life and learning is happening outside of all that.  Sure there are some great schools and when Claire hits kindergarten we may be sending her to one, depending out our finances and life situation (we never know what each day will bring) but our greatest desire is to give the kids in our family a love of learning, of family and and understanding that learning can, and usually does, take place just about anywhere. I'd love to give them opportunities to be with people, not just their peers in a classroom, but adults, older children, younger children in all walks of life and, most importantly to us, I want to train them in faith and teach them about the love and mercy of God and follow Deuteronomy 6:4 when it admonishes the people of God, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Claire at Fullerton college's "Joyful Parenting: Music and Art" class
So back to the issue at hand.  Claire will be 3 in May.  Many of my friends are starting to tour and register their children for preschool at various schools.  Thus far, we have not.  I take Claire to a Parent and Me Music/Art Preschool Prep Class every Thursday afternoon.  They do art projects, sing songs, learn about right and left, have a "letter of the week," play, dance, do counting and it's all so FUN.  She loves it. I love it. The lady that teaches this class is FANTASTIC.  But beyond that, we aren't considering sending her to any sort of formal preschool.  Instead, I've looked up a few preschool homeschool curriculum packs and thought about doing them.  One that's really caught my attention is Before 5 in a Row.  I love that this is literature based, that it's pretty low stress and that it has a BUNCH of cute activities you can do with each book.  A friend of mine who is sending her kiddos to preschool is planning on using it as a supplement to give her kids fun stuff to do at home.  It's great!  But I also realize I have a smarty-pants on my hands and she enjoys learning writing and reading etc.  So trying to decide how I can get that in as well.  I've been bugging my homeschooling friends and have been getting some good feedback.  I'm considering supplementing Heart of Dakota's "Little Hands to Heaven" but it focuses a LOT of letters and sounds.  I love how it teaches the Bible everyday in every lesson, but not sure I need to hammer the other.  But maybe!  Another is Covenant Home and their curriculum.  Looks promising and looks like a great fit for our family but might use them when the girls are older.  Confessions of a Homeschooler has some PreK and K4 stuff that might also work (and for cheeeeaaaap!) AND of course, there's also the dollar bin at Target, which always seems to stock prek worksheets, which Claire totally loves.  But this is what I love about the possibility of teaching her at home!  I can do this! I can sit here and consider what might be the best learning tool for HER and what we desire for her to learn.  Anywhere else has their own prescribed curriculum and she will either fit into it or she won't.  I love this freedom. So, as of March, 2013, we've decided NOT to enroll her in a formal preschool.  Maybe in September I will have changed my mind.  Maybe I'll find some fantastic Christian parent participation program and I'll blog about that then, but for now, we're planning this.  If I continue to work part-time at the school, I will be teaching her in the afternoon. It will be crazy but with a LOT of discipline and organization, I anticipate a good, albeit, stressful year. Still hoping, though, something new happens next year. But more on that later.
Someone at the school recently asked me if I was going "full time" next year.  I said "no." I've got way to much to do with the girls, if anything, I'll be scaling back.  They have a lot to learn and I have even more to learn.  Can't wait to do it together!

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