Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal, 4/19/13

In my life this week…

It's all good....or mostly. My Mary fell sick with a stomach bug on Tuesday morning. This will be the third time she's come down with an intestinal virus and the rest of us have not contracted it; twice it involved a fever so food poisoning is unlikely.

Sometimes I wonder if childhood illnesses aren't God's design for a particular child to get extra attention? I do know I've held my Mary much these past couple days, praying over her heart and her life and her body.

In our homeschool this week…

1.  Peter is reading Bruchko, a missionary story of incredible emotional and spiritual impact. My boys, and later my girls, will never be the same for having read it.

 Bruchko   -     
        By: Bruce Olson

Synopsis info. from

Publisher's Description

What happens when a nineteen-year-old boy leaves home and heads into the jungles to evangelize a murderous tribe of South American Indians? For Bruce Olson, it meant capture, disease, terror, loneliness, and torture. But what he discovered by trial and error has revolutionized the world of missions.

Bruchko, which has sold more than 300,000 copies worldwide, has been called "more fantastic and harrowing than anything Hollywood could concoct." Living with the Motilone Indians since 1961, Olson won the friendship of four presidents of Colombia and has made appearances before the United Nations because of his efforts.

Bruchko includes the story of his 1988 kidnapping by communist guerrillas and the nine months of captivity that followed. This revised version of Olson’s story will amaze you and remind you that simple faith in Christ can make anything possible. "[Bruchko is] an all-time missionary classic. Bruce Olson is a modern missionary hero who has modeled for us in our time the reaching of the unreached tribes." —Loren Cunningham Co-founder, Youth With A Mission

 2. Another homeschool mentionable is a writing book the boys started with me called Writing With Ease by Susan Wise Bauer. You probably recognize Susan as the author of the widely-read Story of the World history series. She also runs The Well-Trained Mind website, alone with her friend, Jessie Wise, who also writes curriculum. Together they run Peace Hill Press, a curriculum publishing company, but take my advice and buy their products from (far cheaper I came to find out).

First, read the sample pages provided on the Peace Hill Press site (for all their products). Many pages are available to peruse for free and you'll know exactly what you're getting when you buy the product.

 Writing with Ease Level 3 Workbook   -     
        By: Susan Wise Bauer

Writing With Ease is followed by Writing With Skill for students 6th grade and higher. Although if you haven't done much dictation in the past with your child, I recommend acquiring a lower book first. If necessary just double up on the assignments. The passages are all good literature and they won't be babyish by any means if you buy a lower grade level.

Narration assignments are also included and those take practice, which is another reason to start lower if you haven't used this method. Orally retelling a story is a skill that comes with practice. The unpracticed student often doesn't know where to start and frustration sets in. Pray through the frustration and stick with it, understanding that this, along with dictation, is a tried-and-true method lost in the world of public schooling.

The more students we added to the one-room schoolhouse model of old, the more we lost in efficiency. Older students helped younger ones one-on-one...when we lost that, we lost much. An eighth-grade education from the old, one-room schoolhouse was years above what the nation can provide for today's eighth grader.

Getting back to the featured resource...Tear-out lined paper is included in the Writing With Ease workbooks for student use, but we strictly use journal books here. I hate loose papers running around; putting them in notebooks isn't the best solution, since over time the loose-leaf binder holes don't hold up. Journal books become a priceless piece of history for you and your child...a true slice of life and proof that progress comes with hard work and diligence, over time.

Walmart (online) sells elementary journal books with varying line sizes, with a space for pictures included for 2nd grade and under.

 Publisher Synopsis:
Take the guesswork out of teaching writing! Used along with the core text, Writing With Ease, this workbook provides every dictation assignment, comprehension question, and reading passage that you'll need for a full year of study.
Using passages and sentences from classic children's literature, Workbook: Level 4 allows young writers to practice their skills while absorbing the style and grace of great authors. Charming illustrations by Jeff West add a visual element that will spark your child's imagination.

Writing With Ease and Workbook: Level 4 are the only materials you'll need to provide your student with a complete year of writing instruction.

I'm very impressed with this resource and along with me, the boys look forward to it each day. How many writing programs can you say that about? Ha! We've been through our share and I expect most homeschooling families would say the same.

There are good things about every program, but what strikes me about this one in particular is the meticulous nature the author used as she conceived and developed it. But don't relate that word meticulous with hard-to-use. Quite the opposite is true! A college writing and literature instructor, Susan was appalled at the essays her students turned in. She wanted change for our nation's young people and this program is her educational vision, realized.

While it's based on the philosophies you read about from Charlotte Mason, Ruth Beechick and Sonlight, it's better organized and as I said, meticulously thought out....each lesson having specific objectives. Think "open and go". Every thing you need is right there in the workbook for each level. You don't need to buy the core text unless you want to learn more about the theory or have alternate passages to choose from.

I incorrectly bought level 3 before I saw a grade-level label (level 3 is designed for 3rd grade). Level 4 covers grades 4-5 (my boys are 3rd and 5th currently but the 3rd grader is advanced). What I'm doing is going through 2 lessons a day and we'll start Level 4 when it feels like they're no longer learning from this one.

Each day brings a new treat in this workbook, in terms of the literature piece involved, and we love that here. In fact, one huge perk is that your student will learn about great literary works as you use this resource. Only the best of the best literature is included. I've even come across a mini-lesson on the different rhythms of poetry (something sadly lacking in my own education).

My boys, whom I school together, have been doing dictation of high-quality literature passages for over a year as part of the novel-support materials Sonlight provides...Sonlight being a Ruth Beechick-loving company. I've seen the dictation method work wonders for their writing, grammar and spelling.

Possibly, the only reason you don't see dictation in the public schools is that it's not a method conducive to large groups.  Believe me, I know that of which I speak; I used to dictate spelling words every week to first graders, all of whom wrote at their own speed.

If you peruse the Well-Trained Mind website, just please, forget about Jessie's baby-scheduling ideas, which this nursing-advocate mother finds objectionable. To ensure a good milk supply don't schedule your baby. Every mother has a unique milk-storage capacity, so not every baby can go the same amount of time between feedings. And baby's needs change frequently too. Be in tune to your baby and pray much for God's grace and divine assistance.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Has spring fever arrived at your house? Trying schooling from 11:00 AM to 2 or 3ish, depending on your workload. The kids will be out of the sun when its rays are most damaging and their eager hearts won't be distracted so much by the beautiful day.

Don't forget the nature walks...something people from non-snow climates can do anytime, but a real treat for us Ohioans.

Unless you rise very early, try doing the schooling first, then the chores. The children can tidy their rooms while you prepare breakfast, but save the bulk of your chores for after the teacher-directed learning segments. You'll avoid getting distracted by the desire for neatness and cleanliness--a desire that can take you straight up to dinner prep if you're not careful.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Last night was the AWANA car derby, something which, you might remember, we embarrassed ourselves at last year. Previously we knew nothing about derby cars or how seriously people take these races. This year we arrived well prepared, with the help of our artist friend Dean, who has helped with many AWANA derbies. The cars were impressive to say the least, but I find it a shame that so little of the work is actually done by the children. That was the case across the board. Even Paul himself said, "Mommy, did I really deserve a trophy? Dean helped with the painting."

Pictures to follow, but Paul won 1st Place in design and 2nd Place in speed. Peter won 2nd Place in design. Dean also prepared our neighbor boy's car, who goes to AWANA with us, because the child took little interest in it. It was equally impressive but didn't win anything (design awards are up to a panel of judges, and who knows what impresses them). The neighbor boy took it hard and I pray his disappointment is short-lived and that his parents (non-Christians) do not assume any favoritism.

What we learned last year, and continue learning, is that disappointment is a catalyst for effort and progress. It hurts now, but reaps benefits later.

My favorite thing this week was…

..loving on Mary while she ailed. She's better today, eating all but dairy and fat.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was…

...the AWANA derby and using their new Adventure Bibles in their studies this week.

NIV Adventure Bible, Italian Duo-Tone, Electric blue/Ocean blue  -     
        By: Lawrence O. Richards

Things I’m working on…

Still working on the spring clothing switch and walking in His grace.

I’m cooking…

Taco bake, baked ziti, crockpot ham and potatoes, tacos, roast chicken

I’m grateful for…

the Lord's wisdom. As I look around I'm astounded at what a gift biblical wisdom is. It goes without saying, but we live with so much more peace when we avail ourselves of it daily...nothing else compares.

I'm also grateful that we've held our ground in not filling up our weeks with extra-curricular activities. AWANA night is the only night we can't have a family dinner. The dinner hour has anchored and bonded families for generations and our sports-obsessed society has given it the detriment of our nation's young people. They've lost any moral compass, as evidenced by young girls and boys getting into serious trouble in high school. The news has been so hard to read lately. So heartbreaking watching our young people chase after all the wrong things..

You can't raise a child in the time it takes to drive him from one activity to another, and I pray the recent tragedies drive that home. We need to concentrate not so much on those pitching or dribbling or scrambling skills, but on living-with-intregrity skills. This requires strong family bonds and loving relationships between parents and children. A child's sense of belonging needs to come from family, not from peers or teachers or coaches. To earn a child's respect and trust and pass on legacy values, spend time with her. The bond of love created by family time is invaluable and irreplaceable. Kids don't know it, but they want and need their families more than their friends or activities.

Children don't know what they need...that's why we call them children.

I'm grateful the Bible keeps me legacy-minded. Not following what everyone else does can be hard and awkward at times, but when we train ourselves to ask, "Will this soccer season matter even 5 years from now?" and compare that to the foundation laid through the family-dinner hour night after night, it becomes a far easier choice. More and more sports are taking away weekend family time as well...even church. Recently one of Peter's Sunday school teachers left class early to go to a sports-team event with his son...leaving his wife to finish the class. I'm not sure I understand what he thinks he's teaching his son...but so often the church resembles the world.

I’m praying for…

...the Church and America, my friend's daughter, and my own little Beth's arthritic joints and swollen tonsils. The 0.3 milliliters/once week of chemo drug worked to lower the swelling and give her back her strength and agility, but lately I'm seeing some swelling again in the same three joints,  particularly the right knee which has always been her worst. If it continues they might raise her dose of methotrexate, which might lead to nausea problems from my injecting it into applesauce instead of subcutaneously. Please God...spare us a weekly injection into a screaming four-year-old's skin. I beg of you....

The enlarged tonsils are affecting speech and Beth's speech teacher recommends I push to have them taken out. They've been enlarged since December, causing snoring and labored breathing. Her doctor tells me it isn't related to the methotrexate (chemo drug to suppress the immune system) but she started that drug in December as well. Lots to pray about...

Having a blessed weekend, friends. I wish you a nice two days with lots of sunshine and fun.

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Tesha Papik said...

That book looks really good I am going to order it now! I love all the books books you lead me on to:) Great tips for schooling also. I find right now with the warm weather the kids need to play in the morning and get out some energy. I have been letting them outside until lunch and then schooling during Josephs nap. I agree about nursing on a schedule I tried it once....big mistake I usually nurse on demand. Oh how I hope this baby comes home and I get to nurse again! Yeaaa for the boys winning the derby!!! I SO AGREE about having evening for the family Love this quote add it to the book:) "The bond of love created by family time is invaluable and irreplaceable. Kids don't know it, but they want and need their families more than their friends or activities." Hope you have a blessed day my friend!

Christine said...

Oh, Tesha...we're praying with you about your precious baby. I believe you will be rejoicing and nursing. After my losses I found it hard to trust during pregnancy and so I'm with you in prayer and I understand. Love to you dear friend and thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know you passed by this way. I appreciate it!

Dorie said...

Bruchko is an amazing book - I read it a few years ago and it had a deep impact on me too. I look forward to sharing it with each of our children as well.

I hear ya about sports. Around here there are Sunday games for some sports. We have always avoided those leagues, but it seems like they are getting more popular.

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

Great homeschooling advice. We've slacked on the nature walks, and then with the coating of pollen everything has had the last week or so, I've put that off more. But thankfully, some rain today has washed it away so maybe we can get back into the habit again...
Blessings to you.

Christine said...

Jamie and Dorie, thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment.

Jamie, the pollen is just now starting to get to my nine-year-old. He's very cranky.... I feel for him and gave him the allergy eye drops but the itching is still driving him crazy. It's definitely tree pollen for him I think.

Mama Bird said...

Oh man, stomach bugs are the worst! I like the idea of homeschooling throughout the hours of the most damaging rays of the sun. We homeschool year round so maybe we will try that out this summer.

Judy said...

Yes, we're definitely in the throes of spring fever! It was such a let-down to get up this morning and see it snowing again. We did enjoy some beautiful weather earlier in the week, though.
And as a mom who has nursed seven babies, I totally agree that scheduling just isn't an option. So glad you pointed that out when recommending the book! :-)

~ said...

Thank you for stopping by By Quiet Waters this week. I wrote a post in response to your Compassion Sunday question.

Lifting up your sweet little ones and you in prayer this afternoon.

Andrew & Terri said...

Thanks so much for the review of Writing With Ease! We love First Language Lessons and I am glad to know that this will be there when we are ready.