“I Can’t Homeschool.”

If I had a dollar every time I heard this, I’d be close to having $1000.

And you’re right.  With that attitude, you can’t do anything let alone homeschool.

I’ve been speaking to a mom who is very frustrated with the public school system.  She is complaining her kindergarten child is learning his colors.  This he has known since he was three.  The teacher is ambivalent to her concerns.  She says school will get harder as it goes along.

I told her to homeschool and this was her response.  “I can’t homeschool.”  She also said, “I need me time.”

That’s the crux of the problem.  Selfishness.

150 years ago, there was no “me time”.  There was no time for anything luxurious.  Between making food from scratch, planting and attending crops, raising your kids, keeping your home, and struggling to survive, no time was left.  150 years ago, there were no discipline problems in school either.  Because kids were extremely blessed if they had the privilege to go to school.

At my church, the pastor actually got up in front of the congregation and praised how school started so parents could rid themselves of their kids.  When did shipping your kids off to school where some other adult could influence them become a celebration?  Was I the only one dreading the start of school and relinquishing my children?  Apparently.

Just what do these moms do with their “me time”?  Meet their friends for Starbucks?  Go to the gym and hang out?  Do laundry?  Cook dinner?  Clean house?  Do nothing?  Some of the work is admirable like cooking dinner but how much of this “me time” is frittered away?

Our job as Christians is to raise His kids for Him.  And believe it or not that takes time, effort, and a lot of hard work.  There is no “me time” built in when you decided to have kids.  There’s just not.  You give up your life for your children.  At least in my world you do.  Until the day they are on their own.  Then your world can be about you again if you wish (although I’m sure God wants it about Him).

If you don’t like the public school system, take your kids out.  Can you imagine if everyone did that?  I’m pretty sure there would be real change in the public school system if parents did.  Imagine the political power if homeschooling became the rage.

Don’t complain to me about your frustrations if you’re unwilling to do anything about it.  I told her to supplement at home.  Again, a balk.

“I can’t.  What about me?”

What about you?

More importantly, what about your son?

Why Is It We NEVER Give Ourselves Enough Credit?

I just applied for a homeschool writing position with another blog.  They asked for a brief list of credentials and three writing samples related to homeschooling.  They offer a bit of compensation so I thought “Why not?”

So I list my resume per se:  I am almost done with my YA edit.  I write novels.  I wrote a newspaper column.  I blog.  I homeschool my kids.  Used to be a public school teacher.

Then I begin a search for my writings on homeschool.  I have a few here on this blog but they are old.  Then I suddenly remembered my newspaper columns I wrote.  I wrote a ton of homeschool stuff then.  So I drag all those up and copy and paste.

While I am copying and pasting, I am reading them.  I think, “Wow, these are pretty good!”  Then I think, “Actually, these are REALLY good.”

It made me realize:  I can write.  I am good at something in this world besides changing diapers and chauffeuring kids to soccer practice, music classes, swim lessons, etc.  I do have something to say that’s not kid-related.  And I have something important to say that doesn’t begin with a negative i.e. “No!” or “Don’t!” or “Stop!”

I think we as women and moms get so caught up in the outside world validating us that we forget that we don’t need validation from the outside world.  We forget God has stamped us as His from the moment we were born.  We forget we have everything if we have Him.  And we forget that we are enough; we are good; we are important.

God knows this.  So why don’t we?

Easy:  It all comes back to Him.

I forget this every day of my life.  I have to constantly remind myself of Him and the Cross.  And when I do, when I acknowledge Him in my mind, then I can acknowledge myself in my mind and it becomes a little easier to believe I am important after all.  I stand a bit taller.  I believe in myself a bit more.  And I give myself credit where credit is due.

Whether or not the outside world ever recognizes me is unimportant.  It would be nice, don’t get me wrong.  But in the end, it doesn’t matter.  All that does matter is Him.  I work for Him, through Him, and by Him.  Period.

Every Day I Feel Like a Failure…

when I drop my kids off at school.

I put my kids in school this year because I thought that was what I wanted and what God wanted.

I thought I was called to teach other children.

Turns out, it may be just mine I was called to teach.

My girls have tested way beyond their peers.  One of my girls has skipped a grade level.  The other could if she so desires.

My son is “bored” with school and continually asks me if he can be homeschooled.

My daughter who skipped the grade mentions it occasionally how she wants to be homeschooled.

Only my older daughter (the more social one) is resisting.

I am fighting the urge every day to pull them out.  To “re-claim” them so to speak.  Especially if the school teaches to the Common Core, I will have to.

I thought I’d get a job in education.  But no such luck.

I’m torn in two over the whole thing.

I’m just trying to do what is best for them and at this point I don’t know.  So I’m trying to give it time, but it’s killing me.  Every day it’s killing me.  Me and time are not best friends.

I’m praying fervently over it.  Trying to hear from God what He wants me to do.  I just feel like I could go in so many directions right now that I have no idea which one I should.

I could homeschool.  I could teach.  I could return to banking.  I could wait a year and try to get a teaching job again when schools are hiring again.  Or get a full-time banking job once my son is in first grade.  Or I could write (which I’m still doing but am uninspired at the moment so am taking a break).

All I know is how I feel every day.  I feel selfish.  I feel I’m letting my kids down (failing them) by sending them to school and them being bored a lot.

I thought I’d have a job by now doing something, but I don’t.  Hence, I feel useless.  My “teaching” job of teaching my kids is gone so I do feel like I’m not living up to my potential.  I feel lost.  Un-normal.  Out of routine.  Lackadaisical.  And all washed up.

I haven’t worked in 10 years and I’m not getting any younger.  I feel like now’s the time to go back to work but so far all the doors have been fervently slammed shut.

I’m just not sure I know what God wants my life to look like and that is unsettling, disconcerting, and nerve-wracking to say the least.

Yep, I’ve got problems…

Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.

Review of Latin for Children Activity Book

Latin For Children Activity Book
Latin For Children Activity Book

In the beginning, the Latin for Children Activity Book that we purchased for Primer A put out by Classical Academic Press was the favorite part of Latin for my kids.  It was word puzzles and crosswords and mix and match and all relatively simple.

At about chapter 20, the activity book became tedious due to the repetitiveness of the activities and the increasing complexity and by chapter 23 the workbook was abandoned all together.

The main reason is it is full of complicated crossword puzzles and if you’re not a crossword fan, you won’t like them.  My kids I think are a bit too young (9 & 7) and both just don’t want to spend the time on it.

Furthermore, some of the other activities require you to draw lines and match and the graphics are just too big so the lines become entangled and you can’t tell what is matched to what.

Lastly, it’s all in black and white.  For my young kids, they’d prefer some color graphics every now and then to spice it up.

I love Classical Academic Press and I hate writing this review that may be construed as negative but it’s my honest opinion.  I rely on homeschool reviews when I purchase items and as homeschoolers every penny counts since the government doesn’t give us $10,000/child for education.

We are about to purchase Latin for Children Primer B and we will be skipping the workbook this time around.

If you like crossword puzzles, then this is for you.  Otherwise, save your money.

Drive Thru History

Drive Thru History is a video series that teaches history and how God’s word fits into it. The Series is broken down into:  Holy Land, Ancient History, and American History.

We got the entire Ancient History series from our local library, which includes “East Meets West…”, “Greece and the Word…”, “Turkish Delight”, and “Rome if You Want To…” from our local library.

Drive Thru History
Drive Thru History

We follow the host, Dave Stotts, on location to where history actually happened.  Each video has 3 episodes each approximately 30-40 minutes in length.  We see the underground caves in Cappadocia where Christians hid in order to worship.  We learn all about Paul and see how he fits into history. We visit the Colosseum in Rome and the Temple of Delphi in Greece.

He took us into the Hagia Sophia, an ancient church that is now a museum.  I loved this part because when we studied this in history I searched the library for pictures of the Hagia Sophia and came up empty.  In this video, he actually goes inside the church and shows us an early mosaic of Jesus that scholars speculate may have been the model of what Jesus looks like in art for centuries to come.

We get to visit Biblical locations without actually “visiting” them.  Great stuff!

The host, Dave Stotts, does a superb job of mixing the facts with funny antics my kids enjoy.  He makes fun of his rental cars, picks a fight with the pretend Roman soldiers at the Colosseum, and talks to turkeys and camels.  My kids love the outtakes at the end. Hilarious!

This is a great series I would highly recommend to bring a visual aspect to history.  Visit their site http://www.drivethruhistory.com/ for detailed descriptions of the videos as well as clips.

You can also order on Amazon and read reviews (all were 5 stars–that’s the first I’ve seen on Amazon!).  I cannot say enough about this series that is sure to entertain and teach–something us homeschooling parents constantly strive for!

Homeschool Curriculum 2012-2013

Here’s my curriculum for the forthcoming school year (my kids are 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and preschool):

Math:  Singapore Math 3A and 3B and 2A and 2B and Miquon Math and Kumon Math Workbooks for Grade 2 and 3

Science:  Apologia’s Astronomy Textbook, Journal, and Lab Kit.  I do want to do an Earth Science unit but I’m seeing how long Astronomy takes us before I decide.

Writing:  IEW’s Medieval-Based Writing Lessons

Handwriting:  Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting

Grammar:  Michael Clay Thompson’s Caesar’s English, Grammar Voyage, Paragraph Town and Practice Town

Spelling:  Riggs Institute Level 2 and Level 3

History:  Story of the World Volume 2:  Medieval History and accompanying Activity Book

Bible:  BSF’s study of Genesis and leftover curriculum

Latin:  Latin for Children A

Spanish:  Spanish for Children A and Rosetta Stone Latin America

Greek: Greek for Children A

Geography: The Complete Book of Maps and Geography

Art:  Artistic Pursuits Book 2 and Art of the Middle Ages (Art in History)

Music:  Guitar Lessons and Note Study from Hirsch

Nature Journaling:  Weather Permitting

Miscellaneous purchases:

Medieval History Wall Timeline from Knowledge Quest

National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers

What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know

The Kingfisher Atlas of World History

Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations by C. E. Thompson

Note for Preschooler:  My goal is just to teach him to read, which I will start with the phonograms and then move on to The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington.  Anything else he picks up from our daily school is just an added bonus.  He won’t be Kindergarten until next school year but I’m hoping to jump start him.

Review of Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Program

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

Last year, we used Shurley English for our grammar curriculum.  We finished up Shurley English in February and March so I was stuck:  what do I do for the last 3 months of school?

I didn’t want to invest in more Shurley English.  I like what they do but it doesn’t move fast enough for me.  Plus, the material does not cover a whole school year.

So, I began the search i.e. googling and found Michael Clay Thompson’s Grammar Program.

It appeared stellar.  Rave reviews from homeschoolers.  Material difficult.  Classically-driven (my cup of tea).

So, I invested in a only couple of books because I spent A LOT of money last year on curriculum.

And I was glad I did.

This program is everything it says it is and more.  I can tell you right now I am a better writer just in the 3 months we completed this and I can’t WAIT to begin in August!

We ordered:  Grammar Town, Practice Island, and Sentence Island.  We skipped over Grammar Island because my kids already had that knowledge from Shurley Grammar.  My kids loved Sentence Island which is written using animal characters.  Here, I only ordered the Teacher’s Manuals.  I really don’t think you need the Student Manuals in a homeschool setting.

We only did this for about 3 months or so so I will update sometime later for a full write up but I wanted to get my recommendation out there.

This forthcoming year we are doing:  Caesar’s English, Grammar Voyage, Paragraph Town, Practice Town and Music of the Hemispheres

There is no recommended implementation schedule (again, my cup of tea) so you can customize it and do what you want when you want to.  I’m excited to see what we learn next!

Review of Anne Elliott’s Foundations Bible Curriculum

Introductory Note:  I purchased this on my own.  I did not receive a free copy to review.  Hence, these are my honest opinions and assessments on the curriculum.

We used Foundations 1:  Preparation for Christ by Anne Elliott last year.  I chose this one because it starts in the beginning (Genesis) and goes chronologically.  This is simple to use.  You read a bible passage, do bible drills, discuss it, and then move on–exactly what I was looking for.  She also uses Calvary Chapel’s coloring sheets for the little ones.

However, this covers the entire Old Testament so huge chunks are left out in order to squeeze it into one school year.  We often added our own when we wanted to read more. This really needs to be broken into two books.

Ms. Elliott writes two more books that cover the New Testament after this is complete.  You can preview these on her website HERE.  This looks to be a bit more thorough because it is broken into the two years.

For this year, I haven’t decided on Bible Curriculum yet.  We are doing Bible Study Fellowship’s study of Genesis and finishing up Foundations 1 when we have the chance. I’m unsure if we will continue onto this or jump over to Apologia’s What We Believe Series.  I will see how this school year goes first and maybe invest in this in December.

Any One Else Tired of Reading Homeschool Reviews?

This is me….debating.

I know I am….

I just spent the last 3 days ordering my curriculum, which I agonize over every year (future post forthcoming for my selections).  I debate and wonder if it’s a good investment or not.  Repeatedly.

What prompted this posting is my agony over Bible curriculum.  We are doing Bible Study Fellowship’s Genesis but I also like to do a bit more especially since my girls are not too thrilled about this study since they know every story in Genesis (in our church experience the kids’ programs do tend to emphasize the well-known Bible stories a lot).  However, I did tell them BSF was different and I’m sure they will glean much more out of this.

Last year, we did Anne Elliott’s Foundations series (forthcoming review as well).  We didn’t finish it due to BSF.  My criticism here is Book 1, which covers the Old Testament, tried to cram the OT into one year and it skipped around a lot and the girls are like me–chronological please.  The favorite part of this was the Bible Drills.  Well, I can do Bible Drills myself to be honest.

So, I’m looking into Apologia’s What We Believe? series.  It looks fabulous–but it’s pricey for my book ($39 textbook and a student book at $24 (times two since I have two kids), which pushes $100).

Naturally, I scour the Internet for reviews.  And in this instance all I find are glowing reviews from those who received a free copy to review.  Now, I’m sorry, but I have yet to read a negative review from someone who received a free copy (in this instance there is one on Amazon from a gal who received a free copy but she seems to be nit-picking the book–see that thread here–more than criticizing its content).

I reviewed Strong Fundamentals by Susan Wise Bauer on my website and recently received a comment, saying how I must not have implemented the program correctly if I criticized it’s lack of meat and my child must be gifted. (see post HERE).  Well, this is my honest opinion and I’m gonna tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can take it or leave it.

Anyways, back to my dilemma.

Nothing useful was said about Who Am I? (the book in the series I am considering)–only how wonderful it is and how Apologia the company is great.

This is frustrating.  I’d rather not read these type of reviews (waste of my time) and I wish the companies didn’t give out free copies to such individuals.  Something about being free does make one feel obliged to say nice things (after all, it was free and we want more free stuff, right?).

In homeschooling, every penny counts.  The government doesn’t give me thousands of dollars per child like it does the public schools so I have to be prudent (by the way, this is an unabashed request if the Federal Government is reading this!).

Sigh.  Moan.  Groan.

So, here I am.  Left on my best judgment and fervent prayerful guidance.

I’m leaning towards waiting.  Seeing how the study of Genesis goes and finishing last year’s curriculum.  Then I may just invest in the textbook only as my kids do enough journaling and writing in every thing else they do.

Then I’ll do a review.  An honest, no strings attached review.  To do my best to help others find the right fit for them without wasting precious dollars in this economy.

Would you expect anything else from me?

Where is Community?

A while back the pastor in my old church (before we moved a few times ago) proclaimed community is in the schools.  School is where you meet friends, spend a good part of your life, do sports and activities, etc.

At the time, my kids were in school and I disagreed.  Sure, you meet people in school but I don’t believe it’s the center of community.

Yesterday, we went back to our old school for a book fair.  Immediately upon walking in, I didn’t feel any sense of community.  I saw some people we knew and chatted but that was about it.  We bought some books and left.  I didn’t feel any sense of belonging.

Maybe because we don’t belong any more.

Still, I was a bit surprised at the feeling.  I had wanted to go and been looking forward to returning for a while now.  I do have some great memories there as do my kids.  As a homeschooler you always wonder if you are doing the right thing. If your kids shouldn’t be in a traditional school.  If they are missing out on things.  I fear I will always wonder this and feel a tad guilty over the fact.

We drove by our old church which is near the girls’ old school and my middle child asked if we’re ever going to go back there again.

On the drive home I thought about our new church this Sunday.  We haven’t been for a couple of weeks.  My kids have been sick.  I missed both bible studies this week and it was a real bummer.  We have trips planned so will be hit and miss for the next couple of weeks.

A feeling arose, like a longing or a pull, that I didn’t have with the school.  I miss church.  I miss God there (yes, I know. God is everywhere and you don’t have to go to church to experience Him) but as most of us know coming together with believers is what we are called to do and does fulfill a spiritual need within us.  I miss the people.  The community.

I had this argument with my husband after that message that Sunday long ago.  My husband sided with the pastor.  School is the center of community.  I argued it was the church.  It should be the church as it has always been and as I believe God intended.

But, my husband said, so many don’t go to church that schools have taken over.  This fact I could not refute.

So, I guess the center of community is different for different people.  For me, it’s the church.  For others, it might be the school.  Maybe it’s their local neighborhood.  Or a community center.

Where is your community?