Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Falling Down The Rabbit Hole

^ ^ How I feel about starting to homeschool? ^ ^

(Disclaimer: I'm about to talk at length, and at times rant, about homeschooling, which I'm sure isn't everyone's cup of tea so please feel free to just skip if you feel so inclined. ;) This post is more for my own journaling/remembering purposes than anything else, so be forewarned!)


Kind of excited.

Not sure where we're going to land, and whether or not we'll be right-side up or not when we finally hit bottom.

That's how I'm feeling about finally deciding to go ahead and begin homeschooling my oldest this year. It's a leap of faith for me.

We really prayed and thought long and hard about what to do about school for Olive. There  has always been this unspoken expectation that we would homeschool our kids, mostly since I was homeschooled all the way through highschool and it's what I know. I really enjoyed my homeschool experience, and believe it's a great way to learn, but I wanted to be really careful to check my motives and make sure a choice to homeschool my little ones came from a sincere desire to do so, and not from any strange, outside pressures telling me I had to, if you will. 

It's a long touchy subject that deserves it's own post, but growing up there seemed to be this attitude and atmosphere in my childhood homeschool experience (at home and in certain groups) that you should somehow be afraid of public and private schools if you were a more conservative, Christian family. I also always sensed this idea that the really good families, who really loved their kids and were really serious Christians should homeschool their children. 

I personally disagree with that philosophy now, and truly believe that no two families, no two children are created alike. There are so many different circumstances, personalities, and challenges to be looked at before making a decision on how to educate your children, and a family should never EVER be judged, (especially by Christians for goodness' sake,) for the choices they make in regards to homeschool or not. 

Where was I before I started this rant? Oh yes...

So, we were seriously considering sending Olive to kindergarten this year. We are blessed to live in a low-crime, family/neighborhood oriented community and the school systems are well rated, not to mention there are some very large, fairly affordable private schools in town with good pre-K/kindergarten programs. Olive is our social, outspoken, outgoing child. She loves people, she loves to compete. I know she would love being in a classroom, and would do really good work for a teacher.

And perhaps one day we will go that direction, but what really made the decision for us this year to keep her at home was the coming of the newest member of the family this January, (right in the middle of the school year!) The programs we were most interested in for Olive this year only met for half days three-to-four days a week. It would be a lot of driving for me, a lot of really early mornings, in the freezing, unpredictable Michigan winter, with a newborn. Not the best circumstances for Olive's first school year.

^ ^ Teaching this one is going to be quite an adventure! ^ ^ 

So this morning I clicked the "order" button online for a hodgepodge of curriculum. We're doing this. 

I'm not so much nervous that I'm incapable of teaching Olive the things a kindergartener should learn, as much as I'm nervous about Olive's and mine personalities clashing. We are both stubborn, and that often leads to frustration, which isn't a fun, learning-friendly situation. And I really want learning for her to be fun! So my main goal in piecing together curriculum this year was to keep the emphasis on the things that I know she enjoys most. 

The core of our plan this year is Sonlight's Kindergarten program (which isn't so much curriculum as it is literature. It teaches a wide variety of subjects simply through reading a lot of really good books aloud.) Since Olive loves to be read to, I knew this would be a good place for us to start. I'm looking forward to reading with her! Hopefully it feels more like "fun" than "work" for her.

We are going to use Saxon Math 1 to start introducing arithmetic skills, and this spelling workbook since Olive already has her letters, their sounds, and some basic phonics skills already learned.

Olive loooves art. I did a lot of research looking for a good art project guide, and I hope I landed on a winner with Art Lab for Little Kids. There's 52 projects and it has really positive reviews. I'm excited for this one.

For music, (and this is probably a little silly) I bought this CD that has famous opera arias translated into English. I studied piano and classical music for 8 years and have a great love for it that I hope to eventually share with my kids. (I'm still working on Matt, haha.) We listen to a lot of music around here, especially in the car, so I figured I'd try to sneak a little classical music appreciation into their lives in a not-too-pushy way. ;) Hoping it doesn't turn out to be super corny.

We also ordered Sing the Word From A-Z (which was recommended by Sonlight for kindergarten.) My mom taught us these same 26 alphabetical Bible verses when my siblings and I were little and I've never forgotten them. More than anything I want my kids to learn to love and revere God's word, and I hope through the form of learning the verses as songs that this will be a fun way for my kids to begin what is hopefully a lifetime of enjoying memorizing scripture. 

I'm also hoping to get the kids out (while the weather is still good, anyway) for a lot of fun little field trips and nature walks. It's so good for all of us to get out of the house and into fresh air. There will also be weekly library trips and I plan to get Olive involved in the library's fall story time program. She really enjoyed that last year. I would love to get her involved in dance or gymnastics but we're still looking into whether or not that will be feasible this year.

Anyway, that's about it. I'm excited and praying that this will be a very fun, learning filled first-time experience with homeschooling (for both Olive and me!) 

Any homeschooling moms out there with stories, tips and/or ideas on homeschooling a kindergartener for the very first time? I'd love to partake of your wisdom! 

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