Iced In (Theoretically)

IMG_1572

IMG_1597

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the kids’ therapy was cancelled today due to an ice storm hitting Missouri… although we haven’t seen any ice as of yet.  I know they were hit by the storm down south, but we woke up to sunny skies and the most threatening thing that’s happened are a bit of gloomy clouds.  I’m totally ok with it, however.  I’ve been so productive today!  Having a day off from therapy has been just what I needed to get my energy back apparently, and Jacob’s PT said she could add a couple days on to the end of the program, so we aren’t actually losing any of our really important therapies!

I feel like we have “started school again” about a million times this school year, but we are off of our Christmas break officially and starting slow with Bible memory work, reading and math.  The kids are responding really well to the added structure.  I’ve also got a load of laundry done today, did some paperwork and we have been doing our therapy homework with Jacob.  He took another step for me today!!! I was so excited.  Hopefully I can get one on video one of these days!

Hope has homework to do also, but she went back home with Daddy this weekend so I’m not in charge of that.  He went home early for fear of being iced in so far away from church.  So we miss him a lot, but hopefully without all of our distracting selves he is getting a lot done. :)

I am still feeling really positive about therapy.  I’m mostly excited about what we are doing with Jacob in physical therapy and I’m mostly excited about what Hope is doing in speech and occupational therapy.  Her therapists yesterday suggested some interesting approaches to therapy with her, and we are going to try those out next week (stay tuned!!).

For Jacob, they ordered quad canes (with four points) for him to try and also single canes to try.  His tripod canes are just so big and bulky at the bottom that it’s hard to walk without him running into the base.  And an added bonus is, if we move to a smaller base it will be another step in the direction of independent walking – which is what we are shooting for!  We get to use them in therapy for a few days and decide if we want them before we buy them, which is super helpful.

And now I have a really grumpy baby… toddler… I know, I know.  But I’ll still call her the baby anyway, and she’s grumpy, so I’m going to sign off for the day.  Stay warm and safe everyone!

 

Learning to Read!

For a while I have thought that I would probably not “teach” Evangeline how to read.  “I’ll just let it happen,”  I said to myself.  “We read books all the time.  She’ll make the connections on her own!  And when she really wants to, she’ll figure it out and ask for help if she needs it.”  Sure there are lots of other people who have done it that way, and who have been successful.  But let’s face it.  I am not equipped to sit back and just wait for her to learn it herself.  I simply don’t have the patience.

I see it in her!  I know she’s ready!  And at the ripe old age of four, if she doesn’t learn now she never will!  Right?  Well ok… not really.  It’s not a race, and we’re not in a hurry, but she seems interested and I think it will be fun!  So we started today.  I was initially going to start with just teaching her letters and their sounds, we did that in the fall and she knew all of them.  (Has since forgotten most of it…)  But not then or now has she ever been super interested in learning what a bunch of random letters say.

What she does like, however is learning what the words in her stories are.  So we are going to go with that.  I know there are lots of great reading programs with helpful steps and progressions, but I enjoy reinventing the wheel sometimes, and I still can’t bring myself to pay for a program to teach her something she’ll learn on her own anyway.  So what’s a good way to gently speed up the process while keeping her interest?  Here’s what I started trying today…

Word of the Day

Every evening before bed I will ask Evie to pick out a book she wants to read in the morning for her reading lesson.  That way I know it will be something she likes and it gives her a fun anticipation for our time together.  After the kids are in bed I will look through the book and pick a word that appears relatively frequently in the text and make it our “Word of the Day”.  I generate a handwriting worksheet for that word and make a flash card for it.  Today’s word was “Mossy” from her favorite book of the same title.

IMG_3827

I can just hear you saying HOLD UP!!  Handwriting!?!  At four!? Waaaaay to young.  And I would probably agree with you if it wasn’t Evangeline we were talking about.  She has always been more interested in writing words than reading them herself, and she has been copying letter shapes since she was one and a half (legibly copying them…)  Getting to write the letters and words keeps her interested in actually learning about them, how they sound, and what they mean.

I might never teach another child to read this way, but I think that this is what’s going to work well for her.  And Day 1 certainly went smashingly!  I chose the book this time, and the word, because she already knew how to read the word “Mossy” and I thought it would be easy to start with something she already knew.  We read the book, then did the worksheet.

(In the future, I will tell her the word of the day before we read our story, so she can look for the word and help me read it as we go through the pages.)  For every letter on the worksheet we talked about what the letter is, she knew all of them of course.  And then we talked about the sounds they made (she didn’t know all of those).

Once we learned the sound of the new letter on the line, we sounded the letters out together.  “…….M says mmmm and O says ahhhhhhh, in this word.  Put them together and that says?? Right!  Mahhhhh.  Ok, what’s the next letter?  Right, it’s an s!  What sound does the letter s make?……”  We did that through each line, and by the end she knew all the sounds for all four letters and she could sound out the word and recognize it.

Next I presented her with her very own “Reading Box” and as a celebration for learning a new word we put her Mossy flashcard in the box!  She can keep it with her and look at her words anytime she likes.  Not only did we have fun with the exercise, but the benefits of it have been following us throughout the rest of our day too.  Later on she asked to read “Cat in the Hat”, and after I finished reading one page she stopped me and pointed to the word “Mess”.  She said “Mommy, that word looks like Mossy.”  (Notice she knew it wasn’t quite the same word!)

I responded, “Yes!  It does, doesn’t it?  Except which letter is different in this word?”  She said that the “e” was different, and I enthusiastically agreed :)  I then told her that “e” can make an “ehhhhhh” sound or an “eeeeee” sound and in this word it makes the “ehhhhhhh” sound.  Next I prompted her to sound out the word using the new letter.  Which she did with minimal assistance!  She figured out what the word was and I was (of course) just totally giddy about that.

Later on in the day I showed her some moss on a tree, as I wasn’t sure if she had ever really looked at moss before knowingly.  And we talked more about the word “mossy” and how we can use it in sentences.  She so enjoyed seeing real moss that she went around the yard looking for it and showing me more mossy patches!  It was great fun and, dare I say, nature study?!  So all in all it has been a fabulous start and I’m really excited to see where she is at a week from now!  I know I’m not a certified teacher, and I’ll admit, teaching reading isn’t something I have greatly educated myself on.  I know a little about teaching reading and a lot about my sweet girl.  And I think that will be enough for us to figure this out together!

Church for School

Homeschool!  Love it.  Especially right now.  Well… my oldest is only three, so when you read “school” read it loosely.  But I do try to set up our days to be most effective for teaching my children about the important things in life, and what is more important than raising them in the faith?  So the other week when we “started homeschool” again after our summer move and break, I decided that the first routine we were going to initiate was daily church, Matins to be precise.  Church for school?  Gasp!  That is as crazy as breakfast for dinner!  Mmmm…. pancakes…

Anyway, back to the story, after two very difficult weeks in church flying solo with the children I told my dear pastor husband, “You may not be able to sit in church and help me with this kids, but my house is right next door to the church and we will practice every single day until they figure this out!”  And that is what we did.  I am pleased to say that after just two days of fighting me (read screaming during the service) my sweet, year old son finally figured it out.  Mommy is not going to take you out just because you’re crying.  Sit still and be sweetly quiet.  Now, would I want to do that with pews full of people?  No… but it worked just fine for us and our empty church.

They are doing much better on Sundays now, although service cuts right in the middle of nap time, but we have been able to make do.  And we are actually growing quite fond of early morning Matins in the sanctuary before Daddy has to work.  They say that being a pastor’s wife has many hardships, but many more blessings.  I would have to say this is most certainly true.  Go to church?  Every day?  And you don’t even have to drive there?  Yes please!

Not quite sure what our next homeschool routine to add will be, probably chores.  Chores are good…

In the spirit of doing what I say I’m going to do…

So, at the beginning of the year I posted all of my resolutions and promised that I’d keep you updated on the progress.  Umm… sorry about that.  So, in the spirit of doing what I say I’m going to do – here’s an update!
  1. Post a Series on Headcoverings… Haha… haha… ha. Ahem.  I have been working on this just about as often as I’ve been working on my other blog posts… if that tells you anything…  Although, I did read a wonderful blog post on the topic recently which I would highly recommend: http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/headcoverings.aspx  There, now you have something thoughtful to read while I drag my feet.  I do feel better, thank you for asking :)
  2. Clean the Kitchen and do the laundry – Every Day… Actually, progress in this resolution is the reason why I’m blogging today!  I finally got myself into a routine after the craziness of March.  I have a loose schedule I have been working from this week and it’s going very well!  Today is the second day in the row I’ve done EVERYTHING I planned to do – and I have some free time left over to blog!  Routines are a beautiful thing…  And, in case you were wondering, yes I did fold the laundry before I sat down to type :)
  3. Do Homeschool with Evangeline… Yeah, that went out the window for a few months.  Hopefully she’s not too terribly behind her peers now 😉  I have missed it though, and I am so glad we are restarting it now.  She turned two on the 31st (my baby is growing up!! And yes I still need to post about that!!) so we are starting a new school routine for her that’s a little more advanced.  I can’t wait to share with you!  We are only doing a few things at the moment – not the full-blown school day.  I knew I needed to start slow in order to make it successful.  So I picked out the things that were most important to me, and we’ve been doing very well with those!  I will put it on my list of things to blog about soon.
  4. Have a Baby… Steadily making good progress here!  Baby is very healthy, kicking lots and had a strong heartbeat at our midwife appointment last week.  My placenta is also very healthy and very loud!  We changed my due date from July 25th to July 20th because I am measuring about 3.5 weeks ahead.  We only moved it up one week, but my midwife said not to be surprised if I go one or two weeks earlier than that!
  5. Drink More Water… We haven’t been doing as well in this area as I would like.  Fortunately, my heartburn has forced me to be drinking lime water throughout the day – so I have been very hydrated the last few days.  I was eating tums like candy, and then my midwife told me since your body doesn’t actually absorb the calcium from tums (I know, what’s the point, right?!) it all goes into the placenta which deadens and calcifies parts of it.  Hmm… not good… no more tums for me.  Bring on the lime water!
  6. Eat Healthier… Although I haven’t kept you updated, we were doing great on our healthier grains resolution.  Until a couple weeks ago, and then we lost our resolve.  But we are back on the wagon again, mostly, and officially free of improperly prepared grains in our home.  It’s a real challenge making everything from scratch, but so worth it!  I wrote up a weekly and monthly “chore” list for cooking and baking so that we won’t run out of food.  Now that we’re in a more regular routine it actually hasn’t been too overwhelming!  This is something else on my blogging list; I need to update you on all the new recipes and ways of eating we’re trying out!
  7. Memorize Scripture… Thankfully, this is one resolution that we are still keeping!  I’ll admit, we got out of the routine the last couple of months and had a few days of really cramming to get in our memory work – but we’re doing it!  We have Matthew 3, 1 Corinthians 1 and 1 Corinthians 5 memorized and we will be starting on Matthew 4 for April!  I will have to write on our memory program so you all know how we’re doing it!  We have already seen benefits of memorizing Scripture together, and we are very much enjoying it.  Evie loves it too!  She will regularly ask for “bible zerses”, which means she wants to recite the passages with us!  She actually does try and say them with us, her favorite phrase is “grace to you and peace”.  Super cute…  And often times at night she will crawl into daddy’s arms and ask him to say bible verses.  For no other reason – it’s worth it.
  8. Add More Resolutions… Haha… yeah… we’ll work on that later.  Although we really should start packing….

Old Years Resolutions

I suppose it seems sort of boring, but I am rather relieved not to have New Years Resolutions for 2012.  New resolutions are so exhausting!  They take a lot of time consuming effort, thought, planning, preparation (well at least for my meticulous schedule-chart-list happy self).  You see, if I’m going to resolve to do something better in my life I am going to make sure I have a plan of attack… I don’t always follow through with my plan, but at least I have one!

So yes, I am glad I don’t have any new resolutions this January.  It’s not that I don’t want to work on anything this year, quite the contrary; I have lots to do.  It’s just that all of my resolutions this year are hand-me-downs from last year.  That means all the charting and planning is done and now it’s just time to implement (or continue implementing) what I have already been doing or planning on doing for quite some time now.

And since you are my dear bloggy friends you get to follow along in all my escapades as I try to accomplish the goals I have set for myself and those we have set as a family.  I will keep you up-to-date over the coming year on how all of my Old Years Resolutions are progressing.  What old resolutions are you recycling from 2011?  Here are mine:

Old Years Resolutions

  1. Post a Series on Headcoverings… So I think that about a year ago I said I would try and get this series up last January.  It never happened.  I have had requests for such a series and I really haven’t forgotten about it!  In fact, I have a Word document that’s currently 12 pages long dedicated to this very topic.  It’s taking such a long time because I am not a Greek scholar and I want to be very careful with my exegesis of the 1 Corinthians text in order to do this topic justice.  So, I plan to finish it sometime this year and begin that series, just please know I haven’t forgotten about my promise!
  2. Clean the Kitchen and do the laundry – Every Day… Sad that this needs to actually be a goal for me to get it done isn’t it?  Well, that’s just the reality of it all.  And I tell you it was going great until November and the Holidays rolled around!  But last Autumn, after a few months of a slightly less chaotic house, I realized that these daily chores were, in fact, doable and also quite helpful.  I hope I can have another good streak starting now!
  3. Do Homeschool with Evangeline… I posted before about Evie’s Baby School.  It was going wonderfully for a while (about the same time my kitchen and laundry chores were going well, hmm…)  When we have several little things to do together during the day there is more of a routine and Evie and I are both so much more relaxed.  I definitely want that routine back now that she’s become an eating machine; seriously, every other minute it’s “Eat?”  Sigh…  Hopefully if we have scheduled meals and snacks and fun activities to do in between it will be a better situation than staring at the pantry every ten minutes wondering what else in the world I have to feed her.
  4. Have a Baby… Yeah, I’m pretty excited about that one.  I’m thinking Julyish is my goal for completing this resolution.  😀
  5. Drink More Water… Drinking water is GREAT.  Seriously, I don’t do this often enough.  We were doing wonderful for a while, but now our chapped lips and dry skin are back.  No longer!  Starting tomorrow I am re-implementing the water rules (no juice, tea or soda until you’ve had at least half your intake of water for the day) that were so helpful in the beginning.  Hmm, I don’t know if I told Jake that yet; he’ll probably want to know…
  6. Eat Healthier… Yes, this was the main goal that “drink more water” actually falls under.  We didn’t really get a good start on it last year, but now we are ready to take that plunge.  We will be beginning our new diet by eating healthier grains.  This week we are working on oats and we will work through beans, wheat, rice, nuts, corn and all those great things.  Stay tuned to learn how to make grains healthy; this should be an interesting challenge!
  7. Memorize Scripture… This is something that has been in the works for over a year now.  My desire to hide more of God’s Word in my heart has been long lived.  We have tried a couple times before doing this as a couple, but I have perfected the plan and the scheduling of it.  (Haha… yeah right, but at least I think I have a workable program now.)  We have been prepping ourselves to begin for a few months, so I think we’re mentally up to the task.  I will write a more detailed post about this later, but suffice it to say that we are starting off with memorizing Matthew 3 this month.  Yup… all 17 verses.
  8. Add More Resolutions… After we have all these well in progress I hope to continue adding to my list.  There are so many things I want to improve on in my life, and these are just a few.  I realize I can’t change everything at once, and you’ve got to start somewhere, but I hope to move on to make more changes as the year progresses!

img_0993

And that’s about all!  I hope you keep coming back as I will be blogging about all of these resolutions in the weeks and months to come.  Blessings on your New Year!

Baby School

img_0864The new American fad seems to be start your kid in school as early as possible.  The new phenomenon of “pre-preschool” is just… well laughable really.  Or is it?  As I sit here with a frame entitled “Evangeline’s School” (aka my almost 18 month old daughter) hanging on the wall opposite me – I find myself reevaluating my presuppositions about school for very young children.

I have gone through a lot of inner searching during my time preparing for homeschooling.  I knew that every school had a philosophy and I wanted to be sure that I knew what mine was before beginning to delve into any particular curriculum.  I wanted to teach with a purpose in mind, not just for the sake of school in and of itself.  So I began to inwardly digest all the education oriented material I was reading, meditating on teaching and raising children in light of what the Scriptures gives us and considering it all in the context of broader humanity – that is to start from the beginning of Creation rather than at my tiny point on the timeline.

I feel that worldviews are very important in making life decisions and even decisions such as whether to use this or that curriculum.  My “whys” for doing things have always been very important to me.  The worldview I started with in building my homeschool philosophy was that “school” has never been a required element per se in raising children or teaching them what they need to know to thrive in society.  Teaching and educating, however, have always been a requirement of good parenting (and even bad parenting) from the very beginning.

Knowing that the institution of “school” was not God-ordained and that many people throughout time have done just fine without it, I began rethinking what homeschooling might look like from a more organic and less cultural perspective.  Many families I know have drawn the same conclusions and prefer unschooling to any curriculum.  I briefly considered this as well, but I soon realized that intentionally educating your children is an important aspect of parenting.  Without such an intent I fear there is to much room to teach what you never meant to teach and to neglect that which you should have taught.

Indeed, I began to come to the notion that rather than no school at all I had fallen into a different category altogether: school all the time for all ages.  This goes wonderfully with the concept of fostering a lifetime of learning, and indeed that is exactly what I hope to do.  In fact, I believe that most schools of thought (no pun intended of course) encourage this particular take on life and education.  But my philosophy does differ greatly from two of the main currents, and I will explain how.

On one side of the spectrum we have those who believe that children should learn only those things which they want to learn, nothing more and nothing less.  They believe that learning is primarily building relationships and that as a child becomes interested in a topic or subject he may pursue it as long as it continues to be a pleasurable and profitable experience for him.

On the other side of the spectrum we have those who believe that education is less up to the student and more up to what is actually important.  In this method children have little say in what they must learn – education is a training and a preparation of sorts that must be gone through in order to prepare the child to enter adulthood.

The former method tends to give birth to more a more lax form of schooling while the latter tends to produce a more rigid and rigorous curriculum.  I think most of us who have considered it are somewhere in between the two.  I agree with the former on this point: that education is mainly the job of building relationships between our children and all that surrounds them in the world.  Here is where I diverge…

Some assume that since education is about relationship building between a child and nature or a child and music or what have you, they assert that you cannot force a relationship – it must be a mutual bond that grows as the two learn to get to know one another and become more acquainted.  If they do not get along then it is not up to you to continue trying to fit two unlike pieces in a puzzle, just as you would not force your child to be friends with a girl she is not interested in.  And this is sound reasoning as far as it goes.

However, I do not think it goes far enough.  Of course I would not force my child to be good friends with a child who they simply do not get along with.  What I would insist on is that they are always cordial and good-willed toward that person and that they do not make assumptions about him, but instead seek to come to a mutual understanding with one another.  This way if there are future interactions with said person, they do not have to be an unpleasant chore, but rather they will go about working together well enough to effectively and efficiently perform the needed task before moving on.

This is the backbone for my educational philosophy… or at least my philosophy in its infantile form.  I realize I am young and have much to learn, but I will learn as I go and that which I have not yet learned by experience I am leaning heavily on my worldview to supply me with wisdom.

From the very moment of conception our children begin to make connections with the world and, I believe, that our duty as educators begins at that moment, and arguably well before (as planning has proven itself to always be a better than not idea).  This is why I can empathize with those parents who have come to realize the benefits of early childhood education and consider pre-preschool as a viable option.  I think that their solution is misplaced as, especially in the earlier years, children are much better off learning about the world from their mother and father.

Rather what I have done is to begin this process in the home with what I have affectionately coined: Baby School.  Charlotte Mason would argue that a structured schooling before the age of six is inappropriate and I do tend to agree.  But the decidedly “J” part of my INFJ is horrified at the idea of not charting and scheduling everything always (just ask my poor husband).  So if you are as J as I am perhaps this idea will resonate with you as well.

I plan on closely following the Charlotte Mason model for school which starts in Year 1 and one of the curriculums I am utilizing does gives some tips for Year 0 (or kindergarten).  But what of all those years before kindergarten?? What is a person to do?  So I have developed more years for myself that I am putting in place now.  Should babies have structured school?  Probably not.  Should I have an idea of what I want their early childhood education to look like so I can be intentional about what I am teaching in these very formative years?  I think so.

And that… is how Baby School was born in our home.  It is subtle enough so that Evie doesn’t even quite know it exists.  But it is helpful enough that my brain is much more relaxed having a chart to work through every day.  Call me crazy, but it works for me, and if you think it might be helpful to you as well stay tuned.  There is much more about this philosophy that needs unpacking and lots of sorting out the hows and whats of my curriculum, so I will certainly be going into more detail about our Baby School soon!

In the meantime, what is your philosophy on education?

P.S. – Yes… the chart does say Feast Day on it because today is the day for Michael and All Angels.  Happy Michaelmas to you!  So we are taking a break from school today in order to celebrate.  How are you celebrating Michaelmas?

%d bloggers like this: