Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 2

Another big advantage of homeschooling (especially in this area) is the opportunity to reinforce your lessons with field trips. We have really taken advantage of living only 35 minutes from our nation's capitol and used it to our advantage. For example...

Math SOL 1.3: The student will count backward by ones from 20.

On one of the "it-is-too-perfect-weather-to-be-inside" days this year, we headed to DC for a picnic. Since I knew we were focusing on this standard, all day long as we crossed the streets, we counted down from 20 with the streetlights. By the end of the day, this skill was mastered! And we all got a fun break from the daily grind.

Science SOL 1.5: The student will investigate and understand that animals have life needs and specific physical characteristics.

We happened to schedule this just right by going to DC's National Zoo on that gorgeous 70 degree day in February. For the first part of our time there, we discussed and pointed out habitats, coverings, defense mechanisms (no, not MINE...animal's....), and life needs.

History SOL 1.2: The student will describe the stories of American leaders (Abraham Lincoln, George Washington) and their contributions to our country.

This one was too easy. Lunch on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (complete with reading the Gettysburg Address) and the National Museum of American History where the exhibit Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life showcased many artifacts from his life including one of his top hats.

I'll stop there because I think you get the idea, but my kids have visited numerous Civil War battlefields, George Washington's home and grave, the White House, an art studio in Old Town Alexandria, and many of the Smithsonian Museums. I realize that some people don't have access to our (free!) National Museums, but I think the world is a classroom and there are many rich learning moments everywhere. A big advantage of homeschooling is getting to show them to your children yourself.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 1

As I've started "officially" homeschooling this year, I've become acutely aware of the many pros and many cons of this educational style.  I think we've all seen homeschooling gone wrong, but in an effort to look at the positive side,  my next couple of posts on the blog will be focusing on the pros of homeschooling.  In all fairness, at the end I'll share what I've found to be the cons.

Okay, today's pro will be quick:  ST. PATRICK'S DAY

I feel like I might be learning more than my kids this year.  Yes, I realize that I'm teaching kindergarten and first grade, but before today, I had never taken any time to actually find out who this guy St. Patrick was.  Today we read an article about this British-born man who was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave and his life as a missionary in Ireland.  WHO KNEW?  Today, on what is thought of to be the anniversary of this Saint's death, we prayed for missionaries we know around the world and talked about people we could share the hope of Christ with.  We hunted for three leafed clovers and discussed how St. Patrick used them as an illustration to teach the doctrine of the Trinity.  All in all, it was a pretty rich lesson found in the most unexpected place for me.  I had never been taught any of that!  Most kids will come home from school today with green pencil erasers or clover-shaped art projects, but have no clue the significance behind the man we celebrate today.  Being able to have a say in what my kids spend their day studying is definitely a pro of homeschooling.  

Christ Beside Me
Christ Before Me
Christ Behind Me
Christ Within Me
Christ Beneath Me
Christ Above Me

-Saint Patrick

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Fundraiser

When the kids were in PA for 10 days during Gracie's surgery, they spent hours doing Perler Bead Projects.  Now we have a huge zip loc bag full of these things.  Darcy came up with the idea to have a store, and I guided the entrepreneurial effort by suggesting the profits could go to the local crisis pregnancy center.  We had a speaker from CARE NET Pregnancy Resource Center come the other week and the kids have been filling up a baby bottle with change to give to this organization.  If anyone is interested in buying some of their products, let us know! We will have our "store" in the bag wherever we go the next few weeks.  The store has also expanded to include the boat Haley made at the Children's Museum, a purse Haley made from old fabric and tape, and buttons that Darcy found who-knows-where.  They're not as tasty as girl scout cookies, but we hope to fill many baby bottles with change from this fundraiser!

Monday, March 7, 2011


We started out by taking a family walk through Prince William Forest Park and doing the circuit trail with all the fun exercises.
Next on the agenda:  Fly the kite that I bought last fall for $1.00.

When I bought it, I dreamed of taking it to the DC's Kite Festival in March.  We needed a little practice first before the big day.  After trying to undo a huge knot from the previous owner, we were ready to roll....

And, we're off...


that only lasted a total of three seconds before it nose dived.

  Colby said if he was Jason Pelt or Brett Garman he would fiddle with it to fix the bearings,
but really that means....

Maybe next year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

1 John 4:18

It all started when I read Haley's writing assignment for Thanksgiving:  Tell me something that you're thankful for A-Z.  Most kids would happily write of apples, balloons, cats, and ducks.  Not my Haley Jane.

Listen to letter A: I am thankful that Aligatrs are not in are howse.
Letter B:   I am thankful that nuthing Bit me.
Fast forward to Letter X:  I am thankful I nevr so a fox.

Haley is acutely aware of all the traumatic things that could possibly occur in this world, and this Thanksgiving, she is just thankful that none of them have happened to her yet.

Today as we were having a picnic lunch out on the patio, a black bug the size of a molecule landed on Haley's shoulder and she began to cry...uncontrollably.  She started to bring her lunch inside where she could eat in peace, but I intercepted her before she got to the door.

"Haley, you are NOT going inside;  this is RIDICULOUS."  I was firm.

"MOM..."  she wined, "Almost EVERYONE in our family has been stung by a bee (Only Colby and I have ever been stung), and I DON'T want to get stung."

"Okay, you know what?"  I was starting to come up with a plan.  "Come here.  Sit on my lap."

I had to pick her up and carry her stiff little body over to my patio chair because she wouldn't comply.

"Now, I want to talk to you about this.  What's your BIGGEST FEAR?"

She didn't even take a moment to think about it, "Getting stung, getting bit, getting run over by a car, getting our house burned down, earthquakes..."  I had to cut her off.

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down...."

Pause for a second.  Okay, before you write me off as an insensitive mother, I think it's called cognitive restructuring therapy and I read about it during my class COUNSELING METHODS.  We all have fears, and as you can probably tell by my offspring, I struggle with many of them.   I guess since it's one of my weaknesses, I've had to learn how to manage them.

When Gracie was getting ready for her second surgery, I was going through--what I can now look back and see to be--major stress:  inability to accomplish small tasks, numbness in my face, and trouble sleeping.  As I was talking to Eileen, it became clear what my main fear was.  I kept envisioning sitting in the waiting room  during her surgery and seeing the doctor walk grimly and apologetically into the room with the worst news a parent can hear.  I thought that I was doing myself a favor, preparing myself for this scene.  Almost as if...if it did happen, I would be ready because I had already practiced my response.  My husband says that I do this as a way of trying to control my environment, and I can't really disagree with his assessment.  However, in my attempt to control the future and prepare myself for the worst, I didn't take away any of my stress.  I only added to it.

My friend's advice was simple, yet profound.  GO THERE.  Go to the waiting room that is laced with darkness and anxiety, fear and trepidation and watch the doctor walk in with tears running down his face.  Imagine that you are sitting there and your biggest fear happens.  Now picture Jesus there in the waiting room with you, holding you while you get the news.

Back to the conversation on the deck:

"Okay, let's just go there.  Let's just SAY that it your fears ACTUALLY came true.  Let's pretend that you were getting stung by a swarm of bees during an earthquake while your house was burning down....AND Jesus was right there with you, comforting you.  Would that be so bad?"

She leaned her head on my chest as I continued, smiling as if she liked this exercise.

"I mean, think about it.  Bethanee's house burned down to the ground.  And, when you saw her last night, was she still crying about it?  Your worst fear HAPPENED to her...and she's fine."

"Yeah...I guess,"  she admitted, rather sheepishly.  

I guess this is what Paul is trying to communicate in Philippians chapter four.  "The LORD is AT HAND.  BE ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING, but in everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known to God."  We don't have to worry about the future because God is with us (in the present and the future) and will send His peace to guard our hearts and minds like a soldier faithfully standing watch.  

As I look back at Haley's Thankful journal, a theme emerges:  she is afraid of pain.  I think that's the common denominator for all of us.  Losing a loved one is scary for us because we don't want to experience the pain of loneliness and grief.  Interestingly enough, dying is not one of the things Haley is afraid of.  As she was listing off her fears, she caught herself before adding death and said, "Well, dying is not so bad because then I don't have to even WORRY about bees or fires or earthquakes or getting run over."

It was at that moment that Darcy looked up from her water experiment on the ground and added, "Are there CARS in heaven?  Cause I know there's streets of GOLD."

I'm not sure, Darcy.  All I know is that it is a place where there is no fear.

Because Perfect Love casts out Fear (I John 4:18).