Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Taking a Step Back to Look at the *Big* Picture...Homeshool Edition

When it comes to school, I tend to be short sighted at times.  I think it is something that may plague us homeschoolin' want to know in your head {and heart} that what you are doing is working and it would be really nice if you could always see results when you are looking for them!

We changed things up a bit this year.  This is our sixth {WOW} year of homeschooling and usually we have been very workbook oriented until I stopped and looked around last year and thought...all I am teaching my children really is how to efficiently fill in the blank with the right answer.

I wanted more for them.  When we began our journey six years ago, a big reason we chose to venture down the homeschooling highway was because I did not want my boys to be bored sitting at a desk for six hours a day.  That made me really sad just thinking about it.  I wanted more for be stimulated, interested and excited about learning.

Well, there is nothing more boring than spending hours looking at a bunch of workbooks and filling in the blanks because that is what is expected of you.

So...this year we still used some workbooks for things like spelling and math, but, more of our subjects came alive with living books and it has been wonderful.  We've been spending much of the day reading.  We have a family read aloud each day after lunch and the boys have really enjoyed that as much as I have.  We've read wonderful books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and the Treasury of Beatrix Potter.  Now we are working on a wonderful book called A Nest for Celeste.  It is a charming little book about a mouse and has the most gorgeous illustrations.

We also changed the boys cursive writing books from HWOT to the Zaner-Bloser method.  I wish I had done this years ago as their cursive skills really have taken off with it! 

We have spent a good amount of time exploring history this year too and have used Elizabeth Foss' Along the American History Trail.  We stretched the two units, Colonial and Revolutionary Times, out to two weeks for each and have tied in the appropriate US geography for each unit as well.  The books we've read have been exciting and engaging and my boys have really learned so much!  We've been fortunate to tie in a few field trips too to a few landmarks mentioned.

Math has always been a toughie for me.  I have one child that really excels in math as it comes quite easily to him and one who try as he might, still struggles with it.  We've been with Saxon math since grade one and although it is a long haul, it does show results.  Over the past year I have been doing some research into other programs and this week have purchased Teaching Textbooks for the son who is struggling with math confidence.  I can't say that I feel all that great being more hands off, but, I have my fingers crossed as I have heard such rave reviews about it.  We will still continue daily reviews with the use of it.
One of my favorite finds for the year is the FlashMaster.  I cannot say enough wonderful things about this.  My kids love it and it shows great results!!!  They are enjoying learning their tables and I get a kick out of my third grader trying to show his five year old brother how to do multiplication! 

For my littlest man I tried using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  We got into it and neither of us really enjoyed it.  I have had this book since before my oldest son taught himself to read.  My second son was definitely not a good fit for it and I thought I would give it a go with my littlest, but, I cannot say I am a big fan.  I know lots of people love it, but, we are going back to working with the BOB books that we have always loved and really they will achieve the same goal.  He and his older brother {third grader} each have a really cool daily learning notebook that they both love using in the morning that I discovered at Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I am trying to come up with a similar notebook for my oldest, but, with things more geared towards a pre-teen.

This year we have added narration into the picture and with the exception of the onset of "Mom, am I going to have to narrate this?" whenever I crack open a book, it has been going very well!  My oldest son is able to narrate very descriptively and his skills have come a long way since last September.  He has been working very diligently and I am so proud of him!  He seems excited to narrate now and is enthused about reading and I LOVE THAT!

That is something that I have always wanted to instill in my sons...a life long love of reading.  My mother was an avid reader and could devour a 300 page book in a few days.  Books were our friends growing up.  We treated them well, never dog eared the pages and NEVER tossed a book on the floor {gasp...that would break the spine!}.  I want them to know that reading is knowledge and with knowledge the world holds unlimited opportunity for anything you can dream!

That is why I need to keep my eyes on the *big* picture, not just what we are doing for the week of January 21, 2013.  I need to keep doing what we are doing, because really what we are doing is working.  Sometimes when you are in the trenches of homeschooling and have little people fighting with you, or an almost 11 year old who would much rather spend his day building Lego creations or a dog who barks incessantly or {all three simultaneously}it can cloud your vision to seeing that whole picture.

And let me tell you it really does because there are weeks days when you try as you might, don't feel like you are achieving anything....NADA.  On those days you actually feel like you have taken huge steps backwards and away from those goals and those days can really do a number if you let them.

You are the key...if YOU let them.  You have to remember that YOU are the one who is in control.  You are the one who makes the decisions and you are the on who sets the tone.  If YOU are discouraged, then they become discouraged.  If YOU are uplifting, them they will follow suit {usually}. 

There will be those gray, ugly, discouraging days.  I would be lying if I said it was all sunshine and butterflies {OH how I wish}, but, the crazy days are much fewer than the good and productive days and for that I am thankful!

I have been working on our curriculum choices for the upcoming year and am VERY excited about even more things we are hoping to add!!!
Homeschooling mommas are kind of like a kid in a candy store this time of year.  Way too much to look at and it all looks great!


  1. Thank you for this (found your link on Suscipio). I have definitely been having a clouded week as my young daughter absolutely balks when I mention maths... so I had her making the bread (measuring and science!) Then later she dug out a book to read to her little 3 yr old brother ... Pizza math! I definitely have to step back and find different approaches. The loaf turned out well too.

    Becky :)

  2. Hi Becky! Glad my words comforted you! I know how it can be on those days. I hope your week ended well! The pizza math sounds like fun too. Glad to see you here. Isn't Suscipio a wonderful place? Love it there! Take care.