Who Do I Follow?

images-1I like math.  Specifically, I like Algebra. I like its absolutes. I like its formulas. I like its predictability. I know if I follow a particular formula, I will get the correct answer (as long as the formula I am using is the correct one). Once I understood algebra, all of its rules became comforting to me. It was fool-proof.  I couldn’t go wrong as long as I followed the formula.

I tried to apply a formula to God once.  Needless to say, it failed miserably.  I had to learn to really walk by faith and not by formula sight. Praise be to God I have steadily learned how to do that in my married years. However, I still find myself wanting to emulate someone. I would like a pattern to follow.  I would like to see someone who does it well, whom I can follow, and get the same results: a husband who has no complaints and spiritually obedient and successful children.

Because I am prone to attaching myself to something successful and riding it like a rocket, I am often distracted by the success of others. I used to drop everything I was doing, well and poorly alike, and totally change to be just like the newest superstar in my book. That behavior became a serious detriment to my household.

I have since learned to glean. Glean the good that I see emulated and put into practice any truths that person possesses.  I don’t necessarily have to put those truths into practice the same exact way but the kernel of truth that supports their practice is what I am after. For example, I’ve struggled with being consistent with outdoor physical activities with my girls.  The basic truth that I’ve heard over and over is that I need to incorporate my children in my physical activities. When I go for a walk, I use that walk as alone time instead of making my girls go with me. I need to incorporate my girls with me for more things. I need to make more statements about what we are going to do for physical exercise instead of asking and hoping I hear the response I am looking for.

I have learned to glean from others while fully leaning on the Lord.  No one person is going to meet all the areas I’d like to see emulated. No one person gets it all right, even on their best days. The only wifommy in my specific family dynamic is me. I am the right person for the job because God said so. He wouldn’t have put me here otherwise.

So who do I follow? I follow Christ first, and I follow others as they follow Christ. 

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Homeschool Jealousies

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In the culture of homeschooling, there is no “right” way to do it.  It is all based on what is needed, wanted, and works for your family.  As  long as you meet the requirements of education set forth by your state, you can get there as creatively as you please. That is a beautiful part of homeschooling.

On of the subsets within the culture is not pretty, biblically or otherwise. Homeschool jealousies. Homeschool jealousies can arise in almost any aspect of homeschooling. curriculum used, activities attended, activities completed, co-op group choices, child development, etc. etc. I have found myself wrapped up in homeschool jealousies at one time or another. It’s not pretty, it’s not fun, and it wars on your family.  God prepared me for this most recent bout.

Kelly is a very dear friend of mine and I’ve had the privilege of watching her children grow up. When her eldest was in elementary school, she had a very best friend.  They were in the same class and all the same activities.  Kelly stayed home so the very best friend was often over after school.  One day while I was there after a school day ended, the girls were doing their homework.  Kelly told me that the very best friend was very behind in her education.  I sat down to work with the her to try to assess where the disconnect was and offer encouragement. The very best friend was SEVERELY behind. Not because she wasn’t capable or didn’t want to learn.  She was behind because she needed more help in getting the lessons. I recognized it in how she tried to get the right answer just so she could be seen as keeping up even though she had no understanding. Kelly talked to the mother of the very best friend about this and the mother said she and Kelly’s daughter were the same and her child could keep up just fine without any additional support.  This did not address the issue and years later, it is not better.

My Jazmine has a very best friend. They are the same in many ways and participate in many of the same activities.  However, in this case, my Jazmine, though not behind, is on par (if not slightly advanced) in her second grade education. My Jazmine’s very best friend however, is advanced. Most recently, and this is often a occurance in homeschooling, her very best friend moved up in grade level. At my first hearing this from my Jazmine, I was taken aback. My initial Mommy reaction (thought in my head not said out of my mouth) was, ‘how is she moved up? You both are the same? She can’t out learn you!’ Immediately, in my mind, I was trying to decipher ways my Jazmine could keep up. After all, she’s not incapable.  Perhaps she could be challenged more? Perhaps she could benefit from an increased workload? Perhaps I could move her curriculum up a grade level too? Perhaps we could add more educational activities/opportunities to allow her to further flourish? Perhaps…perhaps I could get a dag-on grip!

I could have smacked myself.  I IMMEDIATELY remembered the mother of the very best friend. I sounded just_like_her! NO FREAKING WAY! Children can remain friends regardless of educational prowess. Activities may change but, especially in homeschooling families, as long as parents make the effort for the child to be with their friends, that friendship can flourish! My Jazmine’s very best friend will remain her very best friend because all parents involved are committed to that happening!  All parents involved in this situation are actual adults, not children pretending to be adults.

So to my Jazmine’s very best friend, fly baby fly! achieve! We support you!

To my Jazmine, your Mommy is not going to move hell and high water to keep up with ANYBODY! You move and grow at your own pace and your father and I will be here to support you always!  Fly and soar sweetheart!  We remain proud of you!

I Am Not Afraid Of Tomorrow’s Homeschool Day!

 

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Last year, because my pregnancy was so taxing, we used Time4Learning, an online curriculum, as a supplemental and then primary curriculum for Language Arts (LA), Social Studies, and Science.  It was such a God send. It was easy to do.  Jazmine learned how to log-in herself.  It taught her computer skills while she was learning other things. It was super engaging. School was as it should be after we started using it; FUN instead of this necessary evil we had to complete.

Because of our great success with it during the Spring semester of our school year, I chose it as a go to for this school year. I didn’t even look at the lessons for the next grade.  I assumed it would be much of the same delivery just filled with the next grades material.

I was wrong!

The amount of LA that needed to be completed in order to finish the school year was WAY too much for us.  The pace of the concepts was too much for one day. For example, she can put things in alphabetical order but one lesson for A-B-C order included exercises in proper names (remember to use the last name first), entry words in a dictionary, and numerical order.  Plus, they were referencing the Dewey Decimal System! It just wasn’t for us this year. After speaking to a fellow friend and homeschooling mom, it was clear the curriculum was too advanced for us. After reading a blog with another mom’s opinion, we switched to BJU Press for LA and have been enjoying it ever since!

The Time4Learning history and science was just as disappointing. It was not engaging and required materials to do each lesson.  That was very different than last year.  I wasn’t prepared for that.  I did not see a Thinking Ahead section to know that I needed supplemental books (from the library) or materials to do a science lesson. The science materials needed for the one lesson we did complete was doable. We looked at the three states of matter so I needed some ice and an ice-cube tray. Not hard but when I sit down to do a lesson, I need to be prepared up front, not floundering around. It didn’t work for us. We returned to our K-2 Geography book for Social Studies and Nancy Larson for Science. Everything needed for science is in the box which is right up my alley!

I purchased Horizons health curriculum. I thought all I would need was the student book and student workbook.  They offer a teacher’s guide but I was thinking that the two student books should be sufficient.  The student book had coordinating lessons in the workbook so I assumed it would be easy to follow; read from the student book and do the lesson in the workbook.  Nope! The student book had no reference to activities to do in the workbook. The workbook had coordinating lesson numbers on the pages but the information they were reinforcing weren’t wholly explained in the workbook.  I decided to purchase the teacher’s guide thinking that would tie everything together. NOT. In order to complete a health lesson with real learning occurring and no parent frustration, I review it the day before and star the information that needs to be taught and any activies that need to be done in the teachers guide and piece together what needs to be read from the student book and/or activies in the workbook.  Its more work then I bargained for and I will NOT be purchasing this curriculum again.

All other subjects not mentioned were seemless from the start. When there is no subject area that stresses you, school is so much more enjoyable! A concept may be hard and take longer for Jazmine to understand but that is the richness of learning and the beauty of homeschooling. A difficult curriculum is a different matter entirely!

Determined Not To Lose

With the end of the school year fast approaching, inevitable changes are on the horizon. A chid gets older, matures more, and spends the summer preparing to enter the next grade level. We take this time, between now and the beginning of the new school year, to critique our calendars. We look at all the activities we are already committed to, new activities we are deciding on, the interest of our child(ren), time commitment, money commitment, family time etc etc etc to see what can or needs to be cut or added to our calendars.

 

As the sun sets on one part of life, it simultaneously begins anew.

As the sun sets on one part of life, it simultaneously begins anew.

I was with a group of homeschooling moms yesterday at a rare night out without children.  (Yes, I do get out but it is hard to wrangle a group of homeschooling moms together without children.)  I heard a variety of summer plans and school plans for the following year.  Each family has been and continues to go in the direction that works for their family. I admit, it was hard to hear.

My little group of ladies, whom I was introduced to at the very beginning of our homeschooling journey, was parting ways. Some of those I was closest too, I will not see on a regular basis through shared activities. This exciting time, this relaxing time, this winding down time, this time of planning for next year, has come with some sadness. Jazmine and I will be going into new directions alone.  I started to feel so left behind.

My initial internal response was to pull back. I was readying myself to take the if-everybody-else-is-parting-ways-then-I-will-to.  I will leave them alone while we each pursue other directions. Quite frankly, I was pouting.  I remembered another time when I pouted.  I had a good friend in college.  She graduated before me and I pulled back from our friendship internally citing not wanting to take way from the new direction she was going in. That was the wrong move and I am determined NOT to make the same mistake again.

I will not pull back my friendship.  I will push forward into whatever direction the Lord has for me to go into without unnecessarily losing any friends in the process. I will be open to meeting new homeschooling families, not to replace, but to add to my current village.  I am excited for the other families and their journeys and I am also excited for ours and however it will look like for us…the Lee’s.