Friday, July 26, 2013

Homeschool and Mother's Journal, July 26

In my life this week:
I recently began a volunteer job at my church as a children's ministry coordinator for birth - Kindergarten. Last Sunday my week begin in a most delightful way...teaching Pre-K & K Sunday School! The age range is 3 to 6 yrs., which I enjoyed immensely, and not just because my two daughters are in there. There are two new students--a 3-year-old boy, Boaz, and his sister, Abigail, who's almost 5. Both really captured my heart.

I've been out of the classroom since 2005 and I didn't realize how much I'd missed it, though in this case there were no behavior problems (I don't miss those).

Beyond that excitement, we went to Beth's rheumatology appointment today. Tomorrow we go to the dentist, then the ophthalmologist on Monday, to make sure the arthritis-associated eye inflammation hasn't returned for my Beth.

I'm enjoying a new-found peace from a couple neighbor kids. One, a 10-year-old boy, did something we found shocking so we had to tell him not to come back for a month. The other child is living elsewhere for now. In both cases we've ministered to these children for over a year, but God picked the right time to take them out of our lives (at least for now). We did what we could to love them in the Lord, and it was a difficult decision, but protecting our children became more important.

In our homeschool this week:
Mary is 6 years old and still needs a lot of instruction to print her lower-case letters correctly. I'm determined not to let her "draw" them. Correct formation is important to me, but unfortunately, I find this kind of instruction incredibly tedious. It takes every ounce of discipline I have to say, "Time for printing practice."

The girls and I enjoyed some fun books this week, some of which I'd like to introduce here.

A picture book we found both hilarious and very educational, was Punctuation Takes a Vacation, by Robin Pulver.
Punctuation Takes a Vacation
Scholastic synopsis: Silliness takes over when the punctuation marks in Mr. Wright's class decide to take a vacation. Students discover how difficult life can be without punctuation, even as they enjoy the amusing postcards they receive from the vacationers. A concise list of punctuation rules is included. (Interest level K-2, grade level 2.9)

Another selection, Saving Strawberry Farm by Deborah Hopkinson, depicts small-town, rural life during the Great Depression. 
Saving Strawberry Farm
A young boy helps save a neighbor's strawberry farm by alerting neighbors about a penny auction. The illustrations by Rachel Isadora charmed us all, and the history aspect was handled expertly for young readers; just enough detail to describe how life was different then. I can't say enough good things about this book. Morally, it's just what you want to enrich your children's hearts. (Interest level grades 3-5, reading level grade 3.7)

Next, we have fun, fun, fun with Move Over, ROVER! by Karen Beaumont.

Move Over, Rover!

Scholastic Synopsis: It's raining cats and dogs! Good thing Rover is snuggled safe and dry inside his doghouse — until, one by one, a soggy menagerie of creatures shows up looking for a cozy place to sit out the storm. But who's the very unwelcome surprise visitor? Skunk, of course. Suddenly that doghouse isn't quite so crowded after all!

The rhyme is quite charming here, sure to be loved by every toddler, preschooler and K student. Even my 9-year-old boy enjoyed this book. I love, love, love rhyming books. So fun to read and wonderful to listen to.

Next up, Aunt Pitty Patty's Piggy, retold by Jim Aylesworth. We really enjoy this author's rendition of The Gingerbread Man, and this tale delights as well.

Front Cover
Google Books Synopsis: Once upon a time, Aunt Pitty Patty took her little niece Nelly to the market, and there they bought a piggy. This fresh, rhythmic version of "The Old Woman and Her Pig" begs to be read aloud again and again!

I love cumulative books because young preschoolers and K students join in the reading after a few predictable pages. Remembering the sequences helps them develop good reading comprehension.

And last but never least, is Bedtime For Frances by Russel Hoban. You'll all have a smile on your face from start to finish.

Front Cover

Google Books SynopsisFamed for her many adventures, Frances made her debut with this title over thirty years ago. In this first Frances book, the little badger adroitly delays her bedtime with requests for kisses and milk, and concerns over tigers and giants and things going bump in the night. Long a favorite for the gentle humor of its familiar going to bed ritual, Bedtime for Frances is at last available with the warmth of full color enriching Garth Williams’s original nuanced and touching art. ‘Here is the coziest, most beguiling bedtime story in many a day.’—Kirkus Reviews (pointer).

Now for the older children's schooling this week: 

Peter, my 11-year-old, has finished all of his 2012-13 Sonlight reading selections, plus some add-ins I gave him. He's now reading American Girl historical mysteries, which he's enjoying. I believe most of them are under his grade level, but I checked them out and the writing and vocabulary are excellent, so I gave the go-ahead.

My son Paul, age 9, is still enjoying the thick American history books I previously wrote about.

Front Cover

Paul's also finished this year's Sonlight books, plus some add-ins. I school the boys together, using a Sonlight core that's between both their grade levels. So far that's working extremely well; I find it easy to provide enrichment for the older one, and to scale down the more mature reading for the younger one.

We school half days from mid-June to August, and then take six week off before starting our new year.

I school the girls together the best I can, ages 6 and 4, but Mary's reading time is separate; she's sounding words out well now--Beth still needs more blending work.

They work together for Daily News, which is a 3x weekly modeled writing I do on chart paper, eliciting sentences and beginning and ending sounds from them as I write, and going over new sounds (blends and digraphs) and punctuation rules.

Helpful Homeschooling Tips and Advice to Share:
If you find a certain subject particularly taxing, such as I do handwriting, reward yourself for every day you do it consistently, even if the reward's just 10 minutes of blog reading, or novel reading, or a handful of chocolate chips. This will push you to practice consistency, which is the hallmark of any successful homeschool.

And of course, pray. The Lord will help with consistency and every other aspect of your homeschooling endeavor. He wants you to do this; you're perfect for it because He's equipping you.

My Favorite Thing This Week...
...The beautiful sunshine and dryer weather northeast Ohio enjoyed the last three days. Nature hasn't been kind in July, so we're thrilled with this heavenly change.

My Kiddos Favorite Thing...
...I haven't provided them with any kind of pool or new sprinkler, and we haven't signed up for anything this summer, except for VBS. Nevertheless, they're having a blast with all their made-up games.  Today they giggled so after making an obstacle course on the driveway for their bikes and their wagon. They only need their imaginations and boredom is the key to ignite them.

Peter caught a dragonfly with his bare hand, then fed it a grasshopper, which he found thrilling. It actually ate right out of his hand for about 5 minutes! Then he let it go, saying, "God really blessed me, didn't he Mommy?"

Peter's thrilled with the praying mantis Daddy brought home for him. It's a young one but it already molted this week, just as Peter predicted after it stopped eating. This is his 4th year of caring for praying mantises, so he's quite the expert.

Peter was also thrilled to find a gray tree frog in our backyard, to keep his green tree frog company. He researched whether they can be housed together and found that it works fine. The green tree frog has been with us over a year and we're all thrilled he has a friend now. Today at a garage sale Peter found a beautiful, large tank that came with a heating pad built in which the frogs need in winter. He was ecstatic to say the least.

Mary keeps finding tinier toads than the day before, thinking that smaller is cuter. She keeps letting them go as she finds replacements. And still, she finds at least one cicada a day.

Things I'm Working On:
I have a goal of teaching all four children the most popular, significant Bible stories from both the Old and New Testaments, to the point that any one of them would be able to retell the stories accurately from memory. The older boys, ages 9 and 11, know many Bible stories, but they can't recount all of them correctly. The stories in the Bible are placed there for memorization, I believe, so that when life becomes challenging, we can draw strength from the lessons provided for us. The Holy Spirit will bring the appropriate story to mind, depending on our needs each day. There's a wealth of faith-building in these stories!

Each day I read another story and review the ones from the previous week. I'll use a few different Bible story books to accomplish this goal, so we don't miss anything significant.

The boys continue to read the Bible on their own each day, so this goal is in addition to their private study. Most nights, we also continue to read Proverbs or Psalms at the dinner table.

I'm also working on prereading all the Core F Sonlight books we'll use next year. Born in the Year of Courage by Emily Crofford is a thrilling story I thoroughly enjoyed about a Japanese boy from the 1800's who learns about life in American and then returns as an adult to his own country to fight Japanese isolationism.

Sonlight SynopsisFascinating historical fiction that closely follows the truth about a brave 15-year-old Japanese fisherman, Manjiro Nakahama, who is shipwrecked far off the coast of Japan, is brought to the United States, and, upon returning home, paves the way for Commodore Perry's successful "opening of Japan" to the United States in 1853.

I'm Grateful For...
...each of my children, whom I enjoy for different reasons. They enrich my life and fill my heart to the brim, even on the bad days. husband, who's a hard-working, solid family man.

...our Compassion children, who fill us with joy through their letters and prayers for us. One of the best things you can do for your family is to sponsor a child. The child needs you, and you need him or her, desperately. Your life and your worldview will never be the same, in a good way.

...grace, grace, and more grace. I couldn't do without the Lord's grace. There are behavior issues, health issues, learning issues, financial issues--issues galore that could drive me absolutely nuts and make me never want to get out of bed, but God never lets that happen. He softens every blow, every hardship. Every single issue becomes an avenue for whole heart, my whole life, laid down for my Jesus.

If it weren't for hardship, I wouldn't be this close to my Savior. Count it all joy! God knows what we need.

A photo, link, or quote:

1 Peter 5: 6,7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Psalm 103: 1-5 “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

HMJ Logo Landscape 500x337


Lisa said...

Congratulations on the volunteer position! It sounds wonderful and so much fun! :-) I'm sure you will be a great inspiration to those children and help them learn even more about our Lord. I love all of the books you are reading with your kids. I find that even though my children are older, that reading together time can be SO special. Hope you have a great rest of your weekend. Many blessings, Lisa (coming over to visit from THMJ)

Christine said...

Thank you, Lisa, for stopping by here and leaving such warmth. :)