Category Archives: homeschool

This Shouldn’t Have To Have to Happen to a Homeschooling Momma!


(but FIRST…let me reassure you about the news flash you might have heard online or on TV about the sudden sickness that our female sugar glider barely conquered the other day! giggle
But…after Jim, Zane, and I hand-fed and watered her, rubbed her belly until she was conscious again, and Zane and Jim held quite a vigil for her….she came around! Phew.
Tell me that that last picture doesn’t scream “LOVE!”. My animal-luvin Zane has the sick female sugar glider sitting on his shoulder and the male one inside the “pouch” around his neck so she “feels better with him around.”  Adorable I think …. !!!)

Well. Anyways….

MERCY!

My shoulders are knotted.

My knuckles are still white.

My eyes crossed.

Finger’s crossed.

Still sitting on the edge of my seat even.

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING…for my ‘STUDENTS’. Yup. That’s the reason.

I am SURE it took 15 years off the end of my life today.

If the ‘students’ don’t do well…the finger isn’t necessarily pointed at THEM…but QUICKLY at the ‘teacher’ in a homeschooling situation. (thus the knotted stomach, creased brow, and finger drumming today).

Because…I mean…really….how could “Andrea, a Mom who isn’t trained as a “Teacher”, actually teach her kids successfully?  If the kids’ test scores are not up to “par”… the reflection in that is MINE.  (pressure anyone?)

I understand traditionally-schooled kidlets have standardized and/or diagnostic testing yearly. But, if the results do not come back as good as expected, entire teaching methods are not questioned as it can be by those monitoring a homeschooling family.  
No, unhappy results for a traditionally-schooled kiddos, though upsetting, do not usually result in one person being singled out as “in error”.
As a result, even though it was Trey & Chase who were being tested, it felt ALOT like it was ME, the teacher, on the hot seat. And, in all honesty, it sorta was and, truthfully, sorta should be.  But it was NOT a fun spot to sit in.

I did not want to ‘stress’ the boys out….though I have to admit that a slight part of me, “the loud and cray part” DID want to sorta get in their cute little faces and MAKE SURE they knew how IMPORTANT it was to FOCUS and REALLY TRY HARD…like REALLY HARD BOYS! smile

I managed to control the inner “Crazy Andrea” and refrain from terrifying them about this testing process; however, I did let them know the seriousness of the testing but it was because “if you don’t try as hard as you can on these tests, you will be stuck relearning things you might really already understand and you will be oh so bored!” 

Some of you are wondering “What’s the big deal? Kids are tested every year, if not every semester. Everyone is used to this.”

Hmmmnnn…Well, not in our school. (nor does Indiana state law require that we do.)

In fact, we purposefully do NOT “test” our kids (in the traditional sense) until they hit the higher grade levels…such as 6th and over.

I have given the boys tests to see where there are ‘gaps’ in their understanding (IE in their reading abilities, comprehension, etc) but it is never a ‘stressful’ time. 
Those tests are used more for my purposes to see where the kids’ strengths and weaknesses are and address them accordingly.
(For instance, several years ago, Chase, after a diagnostic reading test that was only seen by me, scored low in some areas. As a result, I got him some private tutoring in that area to get him caught up. However, he never knew he scored “low”. He just knew that I wanted him to read with more ease.)

Jim and I, in regards to our kids’ educations, want the ‘love of learning’ to be STRESSED not “test-taking”.  
I do not ‘teach to the test’.  
I do not grade every assignment (in the early years). 
I stress enjoyable moments during learning…. not meeting broad-scale benchmarks set by large institutions that may or may not reflect my kids’ abilities.

HOWEVER, the real world DOES invade my perfectly- little-sealed-box of educating sometimes :)

I realize the VALUE of, once they reach a reasonable age, having some additional accountability and documentation of their education so that, upon graduation, my ‘students’ are equipped, not only via experience and knowledge, but all via degrees and transcripts to do whatever they may be led to do!

Enter testing :)   
Testing that “others” see.  
Testing scores that are submitted for record-keeping purposes to a private, long distance learning institution that will issue transcripts, diplomas, etc.  (scream EEK!)

Which brings us back to why I was so white-knuckled as the boys tested today.

What if, even though Chase has enhanced his leadership skills in continuous yet intangible ways and he can function very well in a different culture, he scores at the fourth grade level for Spelling?  

What if, even though Trey has conquered his tendency towards “shyness” via various life skills and is now quite confident in front of a group and in meeting new people,  he tests at the second grade level in regards to Math?

Jim and I see our kids from a 365 degree view….but a test only sees them from one, very small, angle.

But, again, it is a necessary requirement in our western society and we needed to step up to the plate and introduce these types of measuring sticks into our kids’ learning environment.

The testing took most of today…and it will take alot of tomorrow.  

During the testing today, at the kitchen table, via an online resource, we three, the two students and the teacher, experienced confusion/relief/tears/smiles/happiness. The tears were NOT mine btw…but experienced by a hungry 6th grader who needed lunch :)

It was EXHAUSTING (for me!)

And for the boys….I suppose. (ha)

HOWEVER…so far…so good!  

Someone give me a big ol’ SHEW & PHEW !  
I think tomorrow will be less stressful as I have already seen some of the grades and told the boys they are doing fabulous and a lot of the “pressure” is off.

They are not testing at second grade levels :P    
They are both (pretty much) right on target (with some areas being slightly below, some average, some a little high).  Happily….that seems pretty normal to me. Who knew? We ARE NORMAL!?!
Holy heck what a relief for THIS teachin’ Momma.  

However, I am not sure I will ever get those years back that the testing experience took from me today! 

We are entering our 10th year of homeschooling…..How? I have NO idea :)  
Never expected my life to go this way but am certainly thrilled beyond measure that it has….

Okay..Okay..One more thing!
SORTA a MAJOR life moment for me last weekend…
I had my FIRST “GALLERY ART SHOW” !!
The whole thing came together really quick…just before the gallery’s grand opening (happily for me!).
Here are some pics of the event…
And, AGAIN, this was an experience that I muddled through with more white knuckles and tense shoulders but was glad I sucked it up and went for it….
Was I nervous having the gallery owner audit my creations and decide if they fit with the gallery idea? OH MY YES. 
Was I nervous as he “picked through” my art for the pieces that he felt compelled towards? What do YOU think? 
(really…though…the guy was SOOOO incredibly nice and kind…I could NOT have asked for a better ‘first’ gallery show experience….)

But…Just like the dang testing…I was happy to have muddled through it when it was all over!



I didn’t know what to do with myself as people came to the opening…looked at my art…talked about it in front of me (without knowing I was the artist of those pieces most of the time) etc…but, with the help of my hubby, friends, and family supporting me…I survived :)

So, my ‘students’ and I have all been duly ‘evaluated’ lately :)  

And, as a result, since I blogged last Thursday…I have SURELY lost at LEAST 20 years of my life via nerves…but…it’s all been worth it :)

Andrea

My incredibly serious video about how hard it is to research homeschool curriculum. (um. Jim..really? And "Icon" the bird? Really?)

Seriously this is what I deal with day in and day out people!!!  (okay…they are pretty fun..but..we don’t get alot accomplished when we are in ‘these’ moods!)

To be serious about what is involved in ramping up a homeschool semester…here are some of the things a homeschooling family needs to do:

1. Audit their curriculum choices. Are they still appropriate for your child’s new quirks and talents? Do you need to adapt a new curriculum to new needs or life situations? 
[this is what we are doing this year. It is, honestly, a monumental task to be sure that we are making the correct choices, that the curriculum chosen will be money well spent, that it will be a FUN way of learning for our students...]

2. Just like everyone else in the US, homeschoolers have a “List” of “Needed School Supplies”. The difference? Ours is not issued all at once.  It happens almost every ‘week’ versus once/semester. 
“Oh, we are doing a science lab on evaporation next week, need to be sure and snag an empty 2 liter. ” or “We are into the area of Math where a algebraic calculator is needed. Need to look for one of those.” See the difference? It is ongoing. 
My eyes are always peeled for a “Sale” on supplies I think we “might” need. 
[which is one of the reasons so many homeschooling families have supplies coming out of their ears! We buy it cuz we ‘might’ need it and don’t want to ruin a day of school because we did not have the right supply.}

3. Prepping our students!  Not as easy as you might think.  Some think it looks like this….”Trey, it’s 3:00pm. You’d better at least get a chapter of reading in today before you go to Tae Kwon Doe.”  
OR 
“Okay kids. We have our new homeschool uniforms hand-sewn and ready! They are laid out on your bed. We want you to be dressed, at the breakfast table by 7:30am where we will do devotions then you each have your pre-printed lessons for the day. Today’s work will only be about 8 hours of study! After that, however, you all have violin lessons with Dad.”  

In REALITY..it is more like:  “Guys…We are starting school next week. If you need to sleep in that is fine but you are expected to get all of your work done before have ‘freedom’ to do anything else. I will be working with the little kids from 1pm-3pm. I am available for questions and help after that.” 

Yep…it doesn’t have to be super-complicated. Our kids are used to “just getting back into the groove of ‘school’” with a big deal or hoopla.  Sure, we have some “first day of school” treats and take pictures but…after that hour or so..it is really just back to ‘normal’.

We find that our kids are MUCH happier once school is “back”.  
Do they complain? Sure.  
Do they wonder if public school is easier? Sure.  
However, they are getting old enough to compare notes with their friends and are beginning to realize that homeschool is a pretty sweet gig if you let it be.

4.  The Teacher’s Life. Ha.  It’s sorta “gone” in a way.  It always takes me a few weeks to “find myself” again after formally starting a new semester.  
I think it’s really just my personality because I jump from one thing to the next and don’t really “settle” until after some time has passed. 

I do not feel ‘bitter’ that I am ‘stuck at home with my kids’.  Honestly, I would be miserable without them.  
As much as my husband is ‘supposed’ to love earning an income and enjoying his career, I -too- am earning an income (it is just not in dollars but in memories and moments) and I enjoy my ‘career’.

I NEVER EVER expected to be a homeschooling Momma.  

This is our 11th year. It still seems odd to me.  However, I also feel proud of myself because I’ve somehow managed to do this.

5.  Addressing Special Needs.  If you have a Special Needs student and you are in the public school system, you have already or soon will meet with his teachers, school social worker, school therapist and set up “goals” for the year.

Instead of having all those people at our meeting, my husband, myself, and God figure out what is needed for our kids with Special Needs. 

We have therapists, social workers, and experienced special needs teachers whom we rely on and have access too. 
But we do it at our own rate, at our child’s timing, and within our family calendar. We are most always present during any therapies so we can continue that therapy at home.  

6.  Organization. Oh my! I have tried EVERYTHING! From a “one room schoolhouse” kinda thing to each kid has their own folder to work out of to sitting at kitchen table while schooling.

It was nice, until recently, to have “school” in ONE room. In fact, that is, over the years, what had worked best for us.

Everything was kept there, including my ‘master control station’ of a desk, the kids’ desks, all the bookshelves, etc.  

This way I could ‘keep track’ of the kids, if they were staying on task, if they had questions I was right there.

However…being ‘at my desk’ during school hours got to be a smidge trying when I was / am dealing with Post Traumatic Stress. The noise, clutter, etc made me feel completely overwhelmed.

This year, we have remodeled our downstairs to include an enclosed “Library”. (a remodel we’ve talked about for awhile)

This is where all the homeschool stuff will be held, organized, etc but there will no desks, etc., in there. Just “books” and necessary supplies. 


My “master control station desk” (it is purple by the way :) will be placed in front of the library. I will be ‘available’ to the older kids as they work but they are no longer going to be working right in front of me.

They are old enough, now, to pick their own, private spot…and focus on their work. I think they will really enjoy this.  It will also spread out the noise!

Having this set-up will also allow me to have school with Aven without interrupting her brothers’ concentration.  To school Tye without him feeling like everyone is ‘listening’ to him and making him feel shy.

I hope this works!  

Well…


I think that is enough for now…yes?!!

It, truly, is a large under-taking each August (or whenever we ‘start’ school that year) to make sure all of our “ducks are in a row”.

It is, as you see, still an adventure as is the traditional “Back To School” journey. Just a little bit different.


We take homeschool very seriously (don’t let the video fool ya ;) and feel that, since we feel this is best for our kids, have a duty to – in fact – make it the best option for them!

Open to any and all questions….about HOMESCHOOL that is ;)


Andrea
yes..I laugh obnoxiously whilst on video and in real life. whatever!

A fun video Trey did awhile back….Boy got some technie skillz!

(THESE ARE TOY GUNS. NO CHILD WAS HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS VIDEO. SNORT.)

I haven’t a CLUE where this child gets his inner-drama from?!! huh? weird! 

I will be back here talking about what it feels like, as a homeschooling Momma, getting everything together to start a new semester.


The good…The bad…The ugly…The funny!

It ain’t all peaches-n-creme people! I, you know me…I will tell you how it REALLY is.  


Andrea

Oh. I am supposed to tell you that ZANE held the camera AND THE BROOM some of the time for this video *wink*