Back to school, back to life

“The giving of love is an education in itself.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Second grade and Kindergarten!

We recently kicked off the new school year and I’m still in shock that I’m officially teaching not just Ella in second grade this year, but Gavin now in kindergarten. Three years into this already and it feels like yesterday that it all began.

I jumped into homeschooling not really knowing how to swim, but I never imagined the rewarding and truly incredible experience that treading through with faith would bring from it. I just feel grateful to have the opportunity to continue another year with it.

Though it isn’t the usual hustle and bustle normally found on a first day of school, which I fondly remember. I still like to treat it specially. A few new outfits, and setting up the desk for them to discover on the first day are a couple of ways to keep a sense of excitement about the new year! Ella also wanted her first day of school hair and we had the rare apple fritter and blueberry breakfast! 🙂

Preschooler!!

This is a glimpse of what our school/learning area consists of. They are enjoying the shared space now but in time I see us growing out of it. For now it works though and Grant definitely wants to be a part of it. Of course this is where the ‘official’ yet unofficial work gets done when it comes to workbooks and specific lessons. Still a lot of our learning happens in the kitchen, around town, or snuggled in a bed with books, to name a few of the unique learning opportunities which are what I so love about all of this!

And really these school days are not so much about me knowing exactly what a perfect education means, or possessing all the skills as the perfect teacher. What I do know is that the love I have feeds through my desire to play the biggest role in their learning at this age. Hopefully it fosters a love of learning in them that continues throughout their entire education, no matter what direction it takes in the future!

I thought I would share this post this morning. I remember having such a love/hate relationship with the bubble sheet on those tests in school… You want to love them because they don’t require a written answer or true knowledge on the question at hand. I could essentially get away with the ‘best educated guess’ if it was something I wasn’t sure of. Or the opposite, which was hate it because the answers were so similiar that I’d end up stewing on that one answer, and over thinking it. And how much of that stewing and stressing was over something relevant in life today…that’s the real question!

Cooperative Catalyst

We know bubble sheets are unrelated to “real life”.

I think we made the “education thing” up by constructing much nonsense about the written word being the supreme method of sharing ideas and information.

I think we have forgotten that sharing experiences and doing things together are matters that (1) allow us to learn and (2) make us human.

I began asking a question of Paramedic and EMT students (HS grads/GED) to kick-start discussions about medical-legal issues. I ask them to write down the first word that comes to mind when asked “What Are You?” I ask that question three more times, and request they again write their answer down.

The answers generally deal with biological sex, sex/gender/family roles and issues, race/ethnicity, nationality and intellectual capabilities. We discuss how the answers frame their current worldviews and how their worldviews will affect their future work as EMTs and Paramedics. We then consider…

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Nourishing my Homeschool heart <3

❤

It was a discussion I was having with my daughter Ella last night, as I was cleaning up dinner and it followed us into our recently re-established nighttime routine.

By the end of the conversation she had her arms wrapped tightly around my waist, telling me “Thank-you Mommy for being my teacher and letting me homeschool.”

It was something my heart has yearned to hear recently. The path of our life has gone through so many changes, so many crazy corners and new roads I have not imagined having to navigate in my life. But that I am finding my way on somehow, step by step…day by day. Though life itself does not seem to be very consistent many times, my biggest concern is the consistency for my kids. Homeschooling has evolved into our most unchanging, grounded thing throughout our past 2 years doing so.

That is probably why I really hold tightly to it. It’s the part of the kids’ and my life that we share, which goes wherever we go, that grows however we grow, and evolves in a way that even in moments where I question my abilities or efforts,  I am somehow always re-affirmed.

It is just like my faith. And further more why I do feel very called to do this for my children now in their young lives. Ella did give me the affirmation last night. Believe me, it was SO needed. This little 6 (six and three-quarters she will tell you) year old and I have had many frustrating and many beautiful moments throughout this homeschool journey, it hasn’t been easy of course. Our conversation revolved around her recent growth in learning to read, as she has been on the slower end with it and it is FINALLY clicking!! She chimed in that it was brought to her attention that her cousin of the same age (who’s in public school) is reading “second grade level” already. She was very matter-of-fact with this information, it didn’t seem to bother her at all. She was really rationalizing it all to me in a way. Being that we are the only homeschoolers in all of our immediate family, comparisons are bound to happen of course. Especially from those of the family that might not fully understand what this whole homeschool thing is about, or why I even decided to go this route.

Even though it wasn’t that she presented this information in a competitive way, I still found myself wanting to reassure her that everyone reads and learns at their own pace, and their own level. I reminded her that the beauty of our homeschool is that Mommy is here to make sure she has all the right tools to learn and can do it on her own time. I want her to know “IT’S OKAY!!” Even though this is another reason I choose to homeschool. So that my kids are not constantly measured up, but it seems they will still be regardless. Everyone wants to know “what level this” and “how advanced that” these days, that choosing to do school a different route is still in that spotlight. I’m learning for myself how to not let it bother me. I don’t want my children always feeling that they need to measure up, nor do I want to be measured up as a parent.

Every parent chooses what is right for their own child and I know obviously homeschooling is not the right fit for everyone, nor is public the right fit for all, or private. I never even imagined myself as a homeschool kind of mom before it turned out that way anyway. It did have an initial stereotype, even I had associated it with, but I came to find out it is a varying and discretely popular community growing within us. I often hear the argument presented, “I survived” public school so how bad could it really be? Well I did survive it too, a lot of us did, but I didn’t thrive in it either. I know many kids that do thrive in school, maybe it was just my personality, who knows.

My social personality didn’t care too much about my education. I was that student that was more into the friends and after school happenings, than doing anything to enhance my true potential as a student. It’s not that I regret that about myself, after all it was who I was and part of who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I loved school because I had “fun” being involved in everything besides trying to keep a grade point average higher than the least acceptable to take part in the rally’s with my dance team or cheer squad. The one subject that I loved and always did well with was English/language arts. It was my favorite subject and my best. At one point I even considered going to school to become an English teacher. But even the thought of school long enough to do that was too much for me to fathom. I did love to learn, but the learning I wanted was not in a textbook. I thrived on the hands-on, creative learning which was not always an option.

My wish is that I might help give a solid foundation enough to encourage strong academics over a popular social life for my kids. I know by the time they reach the teenage years, they will face many social distractions, and I can only hope they stay grounded. It is not to say that they need to be bubble kids, sheltered or anything but everything in due time!!

I have no idea what the future holds of course, I can only control part of what presents itself to me here and now. Homeschooling is the right fit for us right now. Will it always be? I don’t have that answer. The answer I do have is my beautiful little girl looking me in the eyes, telling me how much she loves doing this and thanking me for “letting” her. As if she views homeschooling as really a privilege for her to have, and she knows that she may not always have it.

Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Homeschooling is our journey, not our destination. It is our experience together while it is able to be. I am trying my hardest to protect it from the other parts of our life that don’t always seem to flow the way I want them.

It isn’t a black and white answer for us forever. It’s a colorful means for my children’s education to sprout at this early age and I am planting the seeds. I don’t take any day for granted around here.

I remember always feeling that I would be doing things “different” so to say, for my kids. I’ve done that in many ways over the years.

Homeschooling is different. Beautifully different.

Nothing lasts forever though and as I pray that I can continue on this journey for them, I remain hopeful as every so often my heart becomes nourished enough to continue on. Reminded to stay strongly grounded on why I am on this path for them.

Hey Boy. Stop it with your charm and let me focus on my day…

Thank you to my sister for sharing this on Pinterest, I’ve now discovered a treasure trove of  Ryan Gosling homeschool memes. Check out this site for its dedication to the whole concept.

 I was seriously laughing out loud to some of these because of how amazingly true they are not just from a homeschool frame of mind, but also just getting a little lost in the idea of Ryan Gosling expressing it.

So my confession is I wouldn’t mind a “Ryan” to discuss curriculum thoughts with or joining us on a field trip.  Apparently he  homeschooled for a period of time during his youth. He was having trouble in school, so his mom decided to homeschool him instead. He says it gave him “a sense of autonomy that I’ve never really lost.”  Sweet.

Ok so maybe homeschooling for a year doesn’t exactly qualify him as the expert on math manipulatives, and unit studies, but it sure makes for a good laugh…and a little welcomed distraction in my day haha.

Alright just a couple more of my fav’s… if you can handle it lol.

Okay now kids, let’s get back to work...  🙂