Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Write Stuff

When I was a junior in high school, I decided then and there that I wanted to be an English teacher when I grew up. I was taking American Lit at the time and I had an amazing teacher. That year I learned that not only did I have a love for reading and writing, but I had a talent. When I was in college, taking all of my education classes and my "how to teach writing in public schools" classes, I never imagined that the best teaching I would do would be at home with my kids. Back then I never thought that my education in English and teaching would be best served with my own kids and not in a classroom. When I think about the different paths I took back then in high school and in college, I can see now that everything was planned out for a reason. These talents of mine, this love I have for reading and writing weren't just an accident. I got them for a reason, for my kids. When Trevor was in 4th grade and struggling in school it was in reading and writing. When I brought him home to work with him, I used what I had learned in college and being an English teacher and I taught him how to write. He is a wonderful writer. He is funny and thoughtful, his words come out organized and interesting. When we started homeschooling this year, I knew Colin would be my biggest challenge. The first time he wrote something for me this year, I cried after I read it. I cried after I read the second and third things he wrote for me. I felt unprepared for how far behind he was and I felt like I wasn't qualified to teach him what he needed to know. But my husband reminded me that I went to school for teaching and specifically for teaching writing. So I started to think back to what I knew, to what I had learned. I did research on dyslexia and how to teach kids with learning disabilities how to write. I'm not a special ed expert and I only took one of those classes in college, but I knew I could figure it out. And this week, after starting a new writing program with Colin, one I pieced together from things I have done before and new things I have just learned, I feel like we are on the right track. When he wrote his 8 sentence paragraph his week, after I read it I cried. This time, instead of all of the mistakes, I saw all of the progress he's made and the new confidence he has in his abilities. And that was when I finally realized that my education and my joy for reading and writing didn't come because I was meant to be an English teacher, but because I was meant to be a homeschool mom.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

First Quarter Down

Next Friday is the end of our first quarter of homeschool! We started a couple weeks before the school district here and so far it's been a great experience for us. Lots of people keep asking me how school is going and what we do and how do I get things done. Here are some of my favorite things from home school so far:

 I love seeing the boys hard at work! Lots of time when they are doing an art project or working on a writing assignment I will turn on classical or instrumental music. The kids love it! The music is relaxing and I think it helps them think and be more creative. It's been fun giving hem an assignment and then watching them get to work and seeing what they can do with it. I've been learning a lot about their strengths and their interests and how to plan lessons more around what they need and what will interest and engage them.
 I love Pinterest for Homeschool ideas. I got the idea for their Assignment Books on this blog. I am loving their assignment books! It keeps me organized, makes daily planning easier and keeps the boys busy and on task when I am working one on one with their brother. These checklists also teach the boys how to be responsible and how to manage their time. If they goof off and don't get things done they end up having a longer school day. They don't get their computer or TV privileges until their check list is complete. I think I might start adding chores to the list!
I've been trying to find lessons and activities that really engage and interest the boys. Logan loves crafts and building things so this paper replica of Jamestown for our American History Unit was perfect for him. They boys colored the pieces while I read to them about the Pilgrims. On Friday this week we'll start making the town and then learn all about the people who settled there. I know when we do this activity, Logan will become an expert on Jamestown and the early settlers.
 Colin loves to draw so I try and incorporate a lot of art into our lessons. I try and have an art project ever Monday that they can work on throughout the week. When we learned about Columbus I had the kids go out back and pretend they were explorers on a new land and they had to draw pictures of their new surroundings to show their families back home. For this art piece, we read a Cherokee story called "The Legend of the Cedar Tree" and I had the boys create a picture that went along with the store. I love how Colin took the story and took the parts that to him were the most important and created this picture.

Every Friday we try and do a science project or experiment. This is one of the things I love about homeschool. It's been a lot of fun finding projects for the boys to do. We've made it rain in a jar, made a cloud, did some experiments with apples and chicken bones. The boys love doing science experiments and it's usually what they remember most about the week.

We can't leave out Trevor! I LOVE Trevor's online charter school. He is doing so well. This is the first time he's had straight A's in his classes and he is working really hard. I love all of the hand on projects and activities his teachers have him do. In Humanities he made a salt dough model of Brazil, for STEM he has a Pen Pal who has a brain tumor. He's been researching his Pen Pal's disease and learning more about what his Pen Pal is going through. For one assignment, when they were learning about meditation, exercise and other things that help our health, Trevor had to plan an outdoor family activity. We spent the afternoon at Mt. Charleston hiking and enjoying the cooler weather. Last week Trevor made a "floating garden" modeled after what the Aztecs did. We're still waiting to see if the seeds he planted will start to grow.
So there's a little look at how our first quarter has gone. I love having the kids home and teaching them and working with them, It's been a great experience for our family. It's not always easy and they don't always do what I ask, but I wouldn't change anything. I love the time the boys have to play more, we're not rushed in the mornings, or evenings and I have been enjoying the extra family time.