Thursday, January 9, 2014

Same curriculum, different kids

I know I've realized this before (and probably wrote it before) but just because one curriculum works for one child doesn't mean it will work for the next child.  Or maybe it will work but not in the same way.  Maybe I liked one curriculum for one child because he was more independent and he would read through each lesson and then do the exercises and occasionally ask for help.  But when a different child uses that same curriculum, she has a different learning style and wants me to actually teach the lesson or go over it with her.  That's great but when I have to go through the curriculum, suddenly I don't like that curriculum as much.  It's not as teacher-friendly.  And then I'm searching on-line, asking friends, looking for something else that will both our styles better.

It's not that I get bored or am wanting to find the best one - it's that each year is different with different learning styles.  I'm even a different teacher, depending on the child.  Brendan prefers to figure things out on his own with little input from me - but he does need a schedule and he does need to know what I expect him to do every day because he won't do extra.

Tori learns best if someone explains it to her or if she can manipulate objects to see the answer.  She will quickly put up road blocks if she feels something is too difficult so I have to be patient and not get frustrated.  This is not a strong suit of mine but I am working on it.

Rachel and Owen are a whole new ball game.  They are more of a "class" and I have to make sure they're both learning things and not just copying each other.  They're also very competitive with each other and I have to be careful of that, too.  One will try to finish faster but then be sloppier or make a silly mistake.

Sometimes I feel like I'm just looking for the easy way out when I keep trying different curriculums.  It helps to realize there is a reason behind what I'm feeling and it's more than a whim.  I have to learn to trust my instincts more with my kids - that's one of the benefits of homeschooling.  Who knows these kids and how they learn better than me?  Another benefit - I can pray for wisdom.  I don't always think about it but I know God cares about our homeschooling and their education.  That should be the first thing I do before I open a curriculum catalog or attend a homeschool convention.  It's somewhat discouraging that Brendan is in 8th grade and I'm still figuring this out.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Still figuring out what homeschooling looks like for us

I said before that I've been reading through old posts.  The ones that I've been most interested in have been the ones about our homeschooling days.  It's been interesting to read about what I liked doing and what worked and what was frustrating.  I often look at our curriculum (especially in November, February and May) and wonder what I should do differently next year.  I want our learning experience to not be boring or frustrating and if the curriculum can help with that, I'm all for trying new things.

One website that seemed really interesting is called Easy Peasy homeschool.  A homeschool mom decided to create her own curriculum for her kids using free on-line resources and then wrote out each assignment.  Everything is included and you just need a few basic supplies, besides a computer with internet and a printer.  I decided to try it after Christmas break with Rachel and Owen.  I didn't want to stop our language arts or math but we weren't doing a structured science or history course so I started with that.  It's been good and I'm very impressed with the website but I don't know that it's one I want to use next year.  I don't like having to have a laptop in front of me all the time when we're doing school.  I like turning pages, not scrolling.  I did start having all the kids practice their math facts on XtraMath, a web site that is used with her curriculum.  I've realized I need to utilize technology more but I don't want to rely on it entirely.

Another question that came up for me when I was looking at this website was the idea of our Pioneers co-op.  The curriculum on this website was for 180 days.  If we do Pioneers, we meet about 27 days during the school year so we would either have to go longer in the summer to finish this curriculum or double up on some days or not do Pioneers.  There have also been some classes that have been difficult for Brendan and Tori at Pioneers for various reasons.  I started contemplating what it would like if we didn't do Pioneers.

We started school this Monday after Christmas break and everything went great.  Honestly, it was such a good day of learning.  Tuesday was the same.  Then Tuesday night we found out that Pioneers was canceled and I was relieved and thought, yup, maybe I need to rethink being a part of a co-op.  Then today dragged on.  We did our normal school work and then took the afternoon off.  Instead of feeling like a break, it felt like a prison.  I know part of that is because we've already been off for 2 1/2 weeks.  But I think the co-op is good for us - it gets us around people, gives us a day off from our normal routine, and I think it's good for the kids to figure out what other teacher's expectations.

So, after reading through past blogs and trying out a few different things the past couple days, I am getting ideas about next year.  I want to look for a structured science book for Rachel and Owen.  We are definitely planning to do Pioneers again.  And I want to look for ways to incorporate technology more.

Now to set some goals for my kids for this year . . .

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Looking back

This past week, I read through all my old posts on here.  It was such a great experience!  I had written so many funny stories about the kids that I had forgotten about.  I loved looking back at the old pictures.    I hadn't realized before how much I would treasure my previous posts.  I'm disappointed that I haven't kept up with this the last few years.  I found a website that would create a book with all my posts for just $90.  This becomes a journal of our life that I can share with our kids.  It was good for me to look back and remember how I felt at different times of our homeschooling journey and different things I was going through.

Josh and I celebrated our 17th anniversary yesterday.  We had the kids with us this year so we didn't have any big plans.  Because they're getting older, we were going to leave them at home while we went out for dinner and a movie.  A big snowstorm was coming our way and I started to wonder if maybe we should go out earlier in the day.  There were also some things I wanted to get at the store.  And the movie I wanted to see was only playing at 9 pm.  So, we changed our plans a bit and went out for lunch and then got a few groceries, wandered through the used bookstore and came home.  We ordered pizza for supper and then I made Rice Krispy houses (using a mold) and let the kids decorate that with candy.

At one point, I started thinking about how it wasn't really a typical way to spend an anniversary.  But you know what?  I loved it.  Because it was relaxed and we were all home safe and these 4 kids have brought so much joy and happiness to our marriage.  I thought about what life was like for us 17 years ago and I'm so happy to be where I am right now.

And I am also planning our next kid-free weekend.  :)  But that will have to wait until after basketball season.