Friday, May 3, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal (May 3, 2013)

In my life this week…
The four kids are recovering from colds and mom and dad are beginning them (spring allergies complicate the health landscape). William Wordsworth made his way into my life this week. I ordered several art books from Homeschool Classifieds and the woman selling them had long lists of additional $.50 and $1.00 books for sale. One of the books I picked out was a compilation of the top 29 Wordsworth poems. His work represents true brilliance in words and thought. I actually took it into the bathroom with me twice and found it a welcome break from mundane household tasks.(When your youngest is 4 years old you can finally read about 2 pages in the bathroom before someone comes knocking).

What I'm thinking about...
Overwhelmed by the amount of work mothers do with no break even on the weekends, I began to think about what God wants in terms of workload. Does He agree with all work and no play for mothers? When I play I get behind and when I get behind we all get stressed, so it doesn't pay to play. Are you with me?

It occurred to me once again that a big part of my job as a mother and homemaker is training the children to pull their weight (not just make their bed). A veteran homeschooling mother said to me several years ago that if I didn't train my children to clean up their messes, than the teenage years would be no different for me, in terms of work. Certainly it's true that my kids need to see me engaged in relationships, not just in tasks.

When things are going smoothly here, I do well with the training. When I'm stressed however, I forget to fully involve the children. My emotional state compels me to isolate myself rather than engage them. The Lord helped me see this unfortunate pattern today.

A good reason to be a consistent manager is that a household in which one person does all the work is not healthy or desirable for anyone involved. A mother should be happy and grateful to have a family to serve, but should she be a martyr? Doesn't our worst come out when we aren't physically and mentally resting enough? (I don't work hard because I want a perfect house. No, our house is never picture worthy. I strive for containing the chaos most days and on Bible study day, having everything in its place with dusted surfaces and vacuumed and mopped floors.)

Side note on my husband: He's gone from 7 to 7 Mon - Fri.and another 5 hours on Saturday, so I don't expect anything from him. But he does help with the kids at night and before the dishwasher broke he helped load it.

In our homeschool this week…
We finished our Sonlight Core E books early so I ordered some from old Core E lists and some from the new Core E list, one of which was Half Magic by Edward Eager. We'll definitely be reading all that Edward Eager wrote. The boys thoroughly enjoyed this hilarious book and needed the lighter reading after Bruchko. Four siblings find a magic coin that allows them different adventures, including going back in time to the days of Camelot. Each adventure is short and laugh-out-loud funny. A great read aloud for the whole family, though it's listed as a reader.

I'm reading Cheaper By the Dozen by Frank Gilbreath aloud to the boys, one of the old Core E read alouds I ordered. It's also hilarious but my 4- and 6-year-old girls aren't into it. I plan on reading another Little House book to them.

Half Magic

 Front Cover

 The boys are also reading The Story of Inventions for history, which I found on e-bay, listed as an older Core E book (Core E teaches history from 1850 -1950). My boys are grateful to have this book. Publisher synopsis: Great inventions, historical biographies, strong morals, and the godly character traits necessary for success are highlighted in this collection of stories. From the steam engine and the printing press to television and computers, a wide range of inventions is covered in short chapters that include reading comprehension questions. For older elementary students. 354 pages, softcover from Christian Liberty Press.

For science they finished up the Usborne Complete Book of the Microscope and will start See & Explore: Space, Stars, Planets and Spacecraft. We love, love, love Sonlight Science!

My girls continue to enjoy their Sing, Spell, Read, Write K-1 combo reading program. Mom still loves it too--something I can't always say after using something two months (this was an excellent curriculum choice).

I'm not using any other formal learning program with them, other than a K math book. We have plenty of social studies and science and art trade books on hand to share with them.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
 Trust good-quality books to impart knowledge, spark the imagination, and put your children on a lifetime learning path. Don't worry about assigning worksheets to prove that you did something in science or social studies. Seek out and trust good literature. Just because a child didn't produce something doesn't mean her mind didn't expand and make important connections. The more worksheets you assign your kids, the less time they'll have to fill their heads with real knowledge. 

Believing this is a bigger leap if you haven't been an avid reader yourself, and especially if you haven't been a non-fiction reader. My boys have been as interested in their non-fiction selections as in their fiction.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
The kids skipped church last Sunday because of colds, but they were better by Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed AWANA's last hurrah (a carnival-like fair). We have an awards assembly next Wednesday but then no more AWANA until September.

I was politely encouraged to help with Vacation Bible School at this AWANA church, working with the preschoolers again. (I worked with Cubbies for AWANA). Preschoolers are exhausting and they aren't good listeners yet, but I do love the funny things they say. I'm sure I'll enjoy the VBS preschool experience.

I did learn something about how preschoolers learn while working with the Cubbies this year. I don't have a background in early childhood education but I didn't need it to discover that preschoolers need to play to learn. As parents we read that all the time, including warnings not to choose an academic preschool. Now I know first hand that it's true. They don't have the listening skills to sit and drink in what a teacher is saying about a topic, but when they can use their hands to discover and manipulate, they learn.

Even Bible stories are better taught with things they can manipulate, rather than with just a storybook. I watched 13 preschoolers squirm their way through every oral and visual lesson, not gleaning much at all. Around 5.5 years old they seem more capable of learning through hearing and seeing and need less doing (except those who go on to have a tactile-kinesthetic learning style).

My favorite thing this week was…
...reading aloud to my kids and watching spring truly arrive. Color is everywhere. Also, watching my 4-year-old daughter play dress up and carry around hardbound chapter books. She will be quite the scholar I think. Always wants to carry a chapter book with her everywhere we go, and she keeps asking me if she's ready to read yet. Her Sing, Spell, Read, Write phonics song tells her if she learns the sounds, she'll be ready to read. She's learned them all rapidly thanks to this excellent program, but I've found over the years that going from learning sounds to blending sounds isn't always a quick transition. Each of my children has been unique in this.

My kiddos favorite thing this week was… 
AWANA fair, and catching frogs and crayfish and snakes. Peter, the oldest, also researched snakes quite a bit this week and Paul researched the states on our new 2010 World Book DVD ROM (purchased to go with Sonlight Core F for next year). Paul is very interested in everything about America.

Things I’m working on… 
I'm finally done with the spring clothing switch after one month of having a disheveled, clothes-filled living room. We kept transferring it all into the master bedroom before our Saturday Children's Bible Studies (3 to 4 kids now attend), but otherwise the clothes and storage boxes took up space in our living room so I could work on the project as I had time.

My kids love this house and never want to move, and yes, we do have nice living spaces. But there's no garage or basement and too little storage space makes my homemaking life a little different than what other women experience. I try to remind myself of that frequently when feelings of failure set in.

Next week we'll begin to tag all our Sonlight books. We have Core D & E (American History parts 1 and 2) and Core F books (Eastern Hemisphere) that need a small colored spine sticker so they'll be kept together in the shelves.

I’m cooking…
They probably put in this feature for the gourmet cooks in the bunch, but I stick to the same basic 10 - 12 dishes. Sorry it's so boring to read this. Only one of my kids isn't picky and I buy a lot of lean ground turkey to make different things. On taco night everyone eats everything so we have tacos weekly, as you might have noticed if you ever get down this far in the reading. Hopefully hubby will get the grill up and running soon.

Dinner this week so far: crockpot chicken, pizza, sloppy joes, tacos, baked ziti

I’m grateful for…
~ finding 2 jean skirts and a cotton dress at thrift stores so I can look and feel more feminine

~ the women I work with in children's ministry

~ that four seasons really exist in Ohio (not so where I lived in So.Cal for years)

~ my husband's hugs and appreciation

~ the Lord speaking to me about how to make things go smoother

~ the Lord giving me mental and spiritual rest as I pray

~ having a house that the kids love. Believe me, it's modest...we only owe $84,000 if that gives you any idea...but it's home to them and that makes me happy. It's much more than our Compassion children have to call home and I'm glad my kids realize that. Perspective is everything and helps tremendously with true gratitude. We need only as much as God gives and wanting more is really ingratitude. We can trust Him in all things, including in how many and of what quality our possessions are. Trusting him in this means we can stop wishing for more or better...and just smile and give thanks for what's before us. And not only that, but when extra comes in we can give it away!

I’m praying for…
...beyond the usual supplication prayers I'm praying especially for my husband, who needs encouragement from the Lord.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…quote found in this Desiring God blog post
Many people describe marriage as the laboratory where our spiritual growth is fostered and developed. I find it to be equally true of parenting as well. God has used parenting in my life to refine and change me in ways I had not anticipated. He’s given me a child who requires more than I was trained to handle so that I would depend on him and not my own strength. I’ve also learned things about myself I never knew and have seen things in my heart I never wanted to see. I’ve come face to face with sins I didn’t know were buried deep inside, sins like impatience, selfishness, irritability, and discontent. While uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful, the sanctifying work of parenthood has been necessary and good. (Christina Fox)
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Thank you for visiting Glory to God and have a blessed weekend, friends!


Lora @ my blessed life said...

I agree, it is quite the challenge to take the time to train your children to help around the house. Sometimes it's just easier to do it yourself, but when I do take the time to ask/let them help it's always such a blessing. And hopefully soon I won't always have to ask/remind them and they'll begin to remember and do it on their own as it becomes a habit.

Christine said...

Lora, thank you for stopping by. I too, hope that a servant heart becomes a habit for my children.

Meghan Carver said...

I love William Wordsworth! I used to memorize his poems in college.

I know exactly what you mean on the lack of storage space. I'm about to delve into changing our seasonal clothing, and I'm afraid our bedroom may be overwhelmed for a while. Onward and upward! Have a terrific weekend, Christine!