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"The end of learning is to repair the ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him." - John Milton, Puritan Poet

Sunday, April 25, 2010

When Will I Ever Learn???

This week the Lord had to remind me (AGAIN) that I am the one that needs to LEARN the most in our homeschool.  What is it that I need to learn?

Trust...Patience...How to actually walk by faith...

Homeschooling can be so tough, because I am so indoctrinated in the standards of the world!  It is so hard for me sometimes to stop focusing on what the "state" would require for my kids to know.  And because of that, my kids can suffer under the pressure of me and my standards!!!

So, now I am going back to focus on God's standards for education.  I should have been doing that all along, but thanks to God's grace, He is leading me back to what is important!!

I am including here a blog post from another site that I did last year.  As you can see, I didn't do what I said I was going to do...obviously!!!  What happened?????  But, thankfully, it's not too late to go back and learn from my mistakes.

VISION


I lost it! Now the question is, can I get it back? I lost my vision for our homeschool this past year, and I stumbled in the dark, groping around like a blind person. While I was groping in the dark, I stubbed some toes, hit some walls, and got pretty bruised up. My kids got bruised up, as well! My next question is this: WHY? Why did I lose my vision? Was my world around me so dark that I couldn't see? NO! Were the circumstances of our HS so dark that I couldn't see any light? NO! So, what was it that caused me to be so blind? I CLOSED MY EYES!!! My eyes of FAITH!! I stopped walking by faith! When I stopped walking by faith, I completely lost my vision. I no longer "saw" things from FAITH'S perspective, GOD'S perspective. I started looking at our problems and focusing on them instead of focusing on my vision, God's vision. And when I did that, I went completely blind!!

So, can I get my vision back? Yes, I can and the Lord is helping me do that. I know what our vision is for our family, our kids and our HS. Now how do I keep it? Habakkuk 2: 2-4 says, The Lord said, "Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may be able to read it easily and quickly as he hastens by. For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait earnestly for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behind on its appointed day. Look at the proud; his soul is not right within him, but the just shall live by faith." The Lord was speaking to Habakkuk about hard days coming. And during those hard days, He wants His people to REMEMBER the VISION!!!! To walk with their EYES OF FAITH!!! So much so, that He wants the vision written out in a way that will get the people's attention during all the chaos. Wow! How simple, but yet so profound!!

What is FAITH? Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." What am I hoping for in our HS? What is my vision? Faith is the ASSURANCE of those things!!!! Hebrews 12: 1-2 (amplified) says, '... let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance and that sin that so readily and cleverly clings to and entangles us, and let us run with PATIENT endurance and STEADY and ACTIVE PERSISTENCE the APPOINTED COURSE of the race that is set before us, LOOKING AWAY FROM ALL THAT WILL DISTRACT, TO JESUS, the Author and Finisher of our FAITH." That is how I lost it. I was distracted by all the setbacks, by all of MY standards not being met, etc., etc., etc. I took my eyes of faith off of my Savior, and put them on the god of academia. Oh Lord, please forgive me!!! Why am I so easily distracted? Why do I tend to forget the vision so easily? These are the questions that I'm going to have to get in the habit of asking myself on a regular basis. And I must remember that, "Without faith it is impossible to please God..." (Hebrews 11:6) Every time I lose my vision, I'm not pleasing the Lord. And all because I close my eyes of faith!

VISION! I've got to have it! I will have it and I will keep it, in JESUS NAME!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My UnProfessional Reviews...Of What We Haved Used in the Past & What We Are Using Now

Of course, this will be a post that will be added to as I go...

As the post is titled, this is my UNprofessional reviews of all of the eclectic things we have used and are using today, according to the subjects being taught.  And hopefully I can remember everything that we have used.  LOL!  We've tried a lot of different things, so bear with me. 

And also, please leave me a comment if you have used these, too.  I love to hear what other moms have to say about this stuff.  Another perspective can be refreshing at times.  So, I will be starting out with...

Math


Systematic Mathematics :  My 13yr old uses this and he says that he really likes it.  Thankfully for me I don't need to teach him anything in math anymore.  It comes with 4 or 5 units on DVD and printable worksheets.  I have to say that it is very challenging, though.  I am glad for that because when I was teaching him, he was not being challenged enough.  So, what does that say about me and math??  Anyway, this curriculum is written by a man who used to teach public school 6th grade math, but did not like the curriculum the school was using, so he ended up writing his own.  When he retired, he wrote this curriculum for homeschoolers. 
Pros:  It's affordable, the DVD classes are short and sweet, and its challenging for those who need a push into a deeper study of math. 
Cons:  The biggest thing with me and my husband is that the answer key can sometimes be WRONG.  So, if you don't know how to work the problems yourself, you are in a heap of trouble.  Well, at least I am.  But thankfully my husband is good at this stuff, so he can be the one to check for mistakes.  Otherwise, this is a great math program.

Math Mammoth:  I have to say that I LOVE this one!!  My 10yr. old son is a different learner.  He has to have me with him to help him understand the instructions to lessons.  That will have to be another post, of course.  But this math is written in a way that your child should be able to read the explanations and understand it enough to do all alone.  That's right!  I personally LOVE the way the author explains the concepts and shows examples of how it is done.  LOTS of Mental Math... ways to learn math and calculate in your head without so much having to write it out.  I wish I had been taught math this way.  I am learning to think things through in ways I've never really thought about.  And the word problems can be challenging, but she teaches how to figure them out.  They come as PDF workbooks divided by Grade Level or Concepts.  You can even order extra worksheets, but these are mostly duplicates from the workbooks.  BUT, you can print free worksheets from her website for extra practice.  I personally like to use the Concepts workbooks, which are the Blue Series.  These are different from the Grade levels because they do not jump around from concept to concept in each grade.  My son can't handle the jumping around from one new thing to another, so we stick with only one concept being learned until he gets a good grasp of it... then if he is solidly grounded in that concept, then we move on to the next.  So his math is not based on grade level, but that's okay.  That's what homeschooling is about, right?  Mastery!!
Pros:  Very affordable!!!  Extremely affordable!!!  I just really love this math for many reasons.  She also includes some useful links for online games that reinforce the lessons being learned.  That comes in handy if you want a day away from worksheets.  And her newsletter is great, too.
Cons:  The only two things I can think of to consider as cons would be that there isn't enough practice problems.  There is enough if your child easily learns and remembers math, but for mine, there just isn't enough practice problems.  Since my son tends to forget from day to day...remember he learns differently... I have to make up extra practice pages for him.  I just use the lessons as guides and I write out practice pages for him.  I personally don't mind doing this, its just what I need to do to help him.  The other con would be that you have to have a printer available to print out the pages.

IXL Math:  We have used this site the last couple of years just to get more practice without worksheets.  You have to sign up for a year or monthly.  But the yearly plan is cheaper.  Not cheap, but cheaper than the monthly payments.  Each grade level gets an award page that reveals the secret award per concept mastered.  Plus you can print out certificates, too.  And you get an overall visual of what your child has mastered and what he needs to work on, including a pie chart, bar graphs, and other lists that you can print out for your records.  This is NOT a game site... Just practice problems that they have to do in there heads!!  I like it because it gives my son extra practice without worksheets.  He tends to get tired of it, but who cares!  Not everything has to  be "fun" for him to do it. 
Pros:  Extra practice for any grade level.  If you sign up for one grade, you can also go to the other grades and practice the concepts there.  Since we learn by each concept instead of grade level, my son works on many grade levels per whatever concept he is learning.  So, there is some variety with it for him.  And you do not have to finish one grade to go to the next.  My son has a lot of unfinished or unused concepts in many of the grades, but lots of concepts mastered in many of the different grades.  This comes in handy for him, because it shows him that he's NOT stupid or dumb, but he just learns in a different order than ordinary "grade levels". 
Cons:  It's a bit pricey.  For homeschoolers, it can be a bit too much.  And since it's not a game, but only practice problems, your child could get bored with it.  But like I said, not everything has to be fun!!

Mathletics:  I signed my son up for this one simply for the motivation!!  They can actually compete with other students, be it homeschool kids or public school kids, from around the world, LIVE!!  It's pretty neat because they log in to be timed on specific math facts.  They are competing against other kids and they can see who won.  For some, I know, may not like seeing that someone else beat them, but I think its a great motivator to keep working on memorizing those facts!!!  And when they do come in first place, which happens a lot, it helps them to see that memorizing the facts CAN be rewarding.  PLUS, there are games that they can play on the site that gives them extra practice.  They earn points in the Lessons that they can "spend" for their avatar.  Which that can be fun, too.  ANYTHING to motivate!!!!
Pros:  Its pretty fun for them and motivating.  The graphics are good and the fact that they get rewarded is good.  Plus, you as the parent, can print certificates for your records. 
Cons:  Its a bit pricey.  But if it motivates, then I think its worth it. 

TimezAttack:  This is a downloadable game that teaches the multiplication facts.  My son loves it!!!  You can download the free game... But I must warn you, when they get to a certain point in the game, they get a choice to download another "monster" .  Now before you think, "Monster?", I will assure you that I haven't been able to find anything wrong with it.  We are very strict about what our kids play, especially when it comes to monsters, so I was wary at first.  Very watchful to find anything that I would consider bad, but I can't find anything.  But don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.  Now, when he comes to the level to download another monster, then that is when you have to pay for the NON-free game.  The game is teaching a certain fact or facts, then they are quizzed when they are defeating the monster.  Nothing gory or bloody, just knocking them down, basically.  What I like about it is that there is A LOT of reinforcement!!!  And it recognizes when there is a fact that needs extra practice to memorize.  Of course, my son needs lots of reinforcement, and I've been very surprised at how much this game gives that extra practice!  He really likes it!!  And that's what I like about it. 
Pros:  It's fun and lots of reinforcement.
Cons:  You'll ultimately end up paying for it!!  Its $40, so if you can't afford it, then your kid will be disappointed that he can't defeat the dragon!!  And I wish they had a version for Addition and Subtraction and Division!!!

For now, that is what we are using.  I will add to this as I can remember what we have used in the past.  Honestly, we haven't used much more than this.  Other than Library readers for math, which can be fun.  I will look back to see exactly what those books were.  So, until then, I hope this helps.  If anyone has used any of these, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

The Reasons We Homeschool

I feel as if I need to explain the WHY's along with the How's with this blog.  The Why's will always lead us to the How's in our homeschool...even when it is done imperfectly.  So, just as I will be adding to my list of learnings, I will be adding to this!  We are so passionate about homeschooling that this list could go on forever.  So that is why I will be adding to it along and along.  Hopefully it will be an encouragement for those who want to give up and for those who need some motivation.  I know that it will actually help me to stay focused and motivated just by adding to it.  What a thought... Motivating myself with my own posting!!  LOL!

So, here it goes... Why we chose to homeschool our kids:

1.  To be honest, in the beginning we felt as if we were called to homeschool.  But now we know that we are commanded to home educate our kids!  Why?
" Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.  And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."  Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Now, let's be honest.  If our kids were going to school somewhere else other than home, when would we be able to obey this command???  If we are to diligently teach the things of God to our kids and educate them according to God's Standards and His Word, then they have to be with us all of the time!!!  Think about what this verse is saying.  God was very specific about when we are to teach our kids...All Day!!!  You can't do that if they are in school somewhere else all day!!!

So, education at home began with God!!!  He is the One Who commands us to teach our own children!  Not the state...Not someone else who really doesn't know our kids... Not someone who doesn't love God...

But we are the ones who are to educate them.  To the glory of God!!

2.  to be continued...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Homeschooling Has Taught Me!~ And Is Still Teaching Me!

Before my hubby and I even started having kids, we knew that we wanted to homeschool.  We had an idea of what would be expected of us, what we needed to do, what the costs would be.  You see, we had it all figured out!  At least we thought we did!!!  ONLY God knew what was going to happen and what was going to be learned... on a daily basis!

As a way of offering encouragement to any homeschool moms and dads out there, I am going to compile a list of the things I have learned, so far, in this journey.  The list will be simple, but yet profound in many ways.  At least, for me!  I will occasionally add to the list, since I know I will always be learning something.

So, here it goes...

1.  I'm in need of a Savior everyday!!! 

2.  Education is just that...Education!  Learning new things is going to take effort and time.  Getting it on the first try is usually not going to happen!!  Who would of thought??

3.  I tend to expect perfectionism when I say that I don't!!  How awful of me to be that way!!  I know that I'm not perfect, so why do I expect my kids to be that way.  I know that I didn't learn perfectly, so why am I expecting my kids to learn something perfectly on the first try???  Shame on me!

4.  Planning ahead is extremely important!  "Winging it" is not for me.  Do I want chaos or structure?  Plans are the building blocks of structure!!  Structure is good.

5.  I must be willing to give my plans to God everyday!  Even though I have all my plans laid out, that may not be what God has planned for us!!!  Boy, this one is a hard one for me to learn!!!!

6.  Buying all of the curriculum and other "needs and wants" at the beginning of the school year is usually not a good idea.  It's not easy going to curriculum fairs and used book sales without spending too much money on things that you just gotta have!!  Sometimes waiting can be the best way to "plan" our year!!

7.  We still don't use everything we buy!  When will I ever learn?

8.  Interruptions are just a part of life.  Unfortunately!

9.  Turning the answering machine on is priceless!  Screening calls is crucial to a fruitful day.

10.  VISION!  You gotta have it.  You must revisit it throughout the year and revise it, if necessary, at the beginning of each year.  VISION!!

11.  ...to be continued...

Welcome to Our Homeschool Happenings!!!

Well , this is it!  Our new homeschool blog!  I say "our" because this isn't just about me, but about my boys!!  They are the students being educated, but I'M the one who is being taught the most...about MYSELF!  What a journey it is to be in God's "school". 

My hopes for this blog is for visitors to feel welcomed and encouraged, knowing that imperfection doesn't mean failure.  I am learning this just about everyday!  Imperfection can lead to many aspects of growth and learning.  No matter what we "use" for our education, LIFE is the ultimate curriculum.

I will share what has worked for us and, yes, what has not worked.  What we have tried, and what we want to try.  The list is endless.  So much to tell and share.  So much to confess and give up.  So much to be proud of and so much to be humble about.

An Imperfect Homeschool... to Glorify a Perfect God!!