A Reflection of Christ

I have been conforming to the world rather than the Word.

I obsess over society specific standards of beauty rather than the beauty of my soul. I have cares more about pleasing the world than pleasing my husband. I have focused on my looks (weight, fashion etc) more than on God.

I believe in charity, in Christ’s call to give to the poor. But lately I have not given enough. I am well past due for a donation to one of my favorite organizations – St Jude’s.

I have not been a good steward of the time that God has granted me. I fritter away my time on social media.

This past weekend I fast it again from social media like I used to, and I think it was good for me. Social media is still good for many things, and as a housewife it can be an important way for me to connect to others around me. But too much time spent on social media is a waste. It could be put to better use educating my child, cleaning my house, reading a good book, or creating poetry. There’s so much more I could do than scroll Facebook or Instagram.

I need to be open and comfortable with how I look. I need to fully adjust dressing modestly because it’s what makes God happy and what makes my husband happy. And I think it reminds me to die to the flesh a little bit. I need to give more, whether it is of my time or money. With mental issues being the way they are it can be difficult to donate time just because it’s hard to make a long-term commitment. But I need to find some way to give of myself to my community.

Busy School Day

Today was packed with homeschooling activities. Angelica had tutoring for English and for math. Things seem to be going really well with her teacher. Angelica is dyslexic, so learning to read and do numbers is not easy for her. She is making progress though, and I’ve been really happy with her tutor.

We also did a whole lot of science. We read about cloud formation. We talked about rainbows and the colors of light. We talked about earthquakes, and watched lots of videos of earthquakes. Angelica was impressed! She has also been watching a ton of educational videos from an illustrated Youtube series. I’ve got a playlist going right now and she is loving it.

If the day wasn’t so busy and I wasn’t so tired, we would do more. I read her a story and she thoroughly enjoyed that. If I can muster the energy I will read her another before bed.

This has been a crazy week between two speech appointments, an OT evaluation, and two tutoring sessions. To be fair, we usually have two speech appointments and at least two tutoring appointments. But add that to my own appointments this week and being down for the count on Thursday and things just feel dizzying.

I am so glad that Angelica seems to like homeschooling. I really enjoy teaching her and spending that time together. I would hate to send her off to some government school for 8 hours a day. I would rather be with her – and I can give her an education more suited to her needs at home.

Math and English

We had been determined to wait until after Angelica’s learning evaluation in Denver at the end of January to start any form of tutoring to help her with math and English. However, I found a tutor who came recommended on a board by parents who have children with learning disorders. I decided to call her and get a feel for what she does. Ultimately we decided to go ahead and start the tutoring. Already this teacher is making some progress with Angelica. I’m sure it’ll be quite a while before we start seeing anything major, but it’s still really good to see her getting in there and learning something. This is a licensed teacher and she uses a special curricula and really works on the level of the child.

Angelica really likes her, as do Craig and I. I really hope that this works out well. We need help teaching her to read and do basic math. From there hopefully we can take it ourselves, but I want her to start building on these basics now. Science, History, and Bible are going absolutely wonderfully. Angelica is so smart and she’s so curious and there’s always something new to learn. I have bought her over 20 of those DK Discovery books and I have more on the way and even more I’m going to order in January. We have enough material to take us through for years. And of course there’s always more scripture to learn. We watch documentaries regularly.

I feel so blessed and privileged to be able to stay home and homeschool Angelica. It’s wonderful to see her learn new things and to let her pick what interest her for the day and start going over that material. It’s always a joy as a mother when you get to see your child happy. This time together is so special.

Interesting Homeschooling

Homeschooling has been fun lately. Other than some counting review, we have left math and English alone. That evaluation is 2 months away, and we are going to get down to business with reading, writing, and math after that. I have been talking to a tutor I think I am going to hire.

Meanwhile, it’s all about geography, science, social studies, art, and art history. I have bought tons of books for her to explore, and there are at least fifteen more coming in the mail. I want to introduce her to the world and help her find the things she is passionate about. I believe in a liberal arts education. I am going to give her the best education that I can.

Craig gave me that really cool book about Hieronymus Bosch for my birthday, and Angelica and I have dissected a painting, St John on the Island of Patmos, and talked about what it means. She loved it. She asked so many questions. We’ve gone through more Bosch paintings as well. He’s my favorite Medieval painter. 

Naturally, I am not looking for a thesis from her. She’s five. I just want to introduce her to some artists so that she can identify their work if she sees it. At the very least I want to expose her to a lot of art to give her an appreciation of it and to stoke her imagination. I’m pleased that she has been enjoying it so much.

Science has been all over the place. We have talked a lot about the solar system. Pluto has been a focus of discussion, as have Mercury and Venus. We have also been learning about caves. There’s so much to discover in the books I have bought her. She’s in Kindergarten, so if she absorbs just some of it I’ll be happy. Angelica has so much curiosity and so many questions. It is a joy to teach her.

One of her new books for history and social studies profiles kids from different cultures and time periods. I think filtering things from the perspective of a child will help keep her interest and help her retain the information. It is a good introduction. I have other books too, but that’s the new focus. We’ve gone over some basic structural elements of castles as well, but I think we need to review that.

Art itself has been a regular focal point. Angelica uses a variety of materials, from paint to fabric. She really enjoys being creative with everything she can find. I want to encourage this as much as I can. In a few years, when she is more mature and responsible, I look forward to buying her a camera. For now it’s stickers galore. 

Homeschool Values

Why has our family chosen to homeschool? What values and priorities have led my husband and I to take on the vital, heavy job of educating our daughter ourselves? I have begun reading a wonderful book on homeschooling, and one of the first questions it poses is what our values are that have led us to make this choice.

Our values are numerous. Here are the top 5.

  1. We want to be able to customize our daughter’s education to provide her extra help in areas that she struggles, and to allow her to push forward at high speed in the areas in which she excels. The customization and endless possibilities of homeschooling really appeal to us. Homeschooling is a major task, but we are undertaking this task in the hopes of providing our daughter a better education.
  2. Faith. Obviously, public schools do not teach our Christian faith. We want to incorporate the Bible into our daily lessons. We do not want public schools teaching her things that are contrary to scripture. Incorporating our faith in God and our walk with Jesus into academic life is important to us. However, you might wonder why this isn’t number one on our list of why we homeschool. Well, if teaching the faith was our only issue or even the most predominant issue, we could send her to a Christian private school. One of the best benefits of homeschooling is being able to incorporate our religious beliefs into academic life, but it is not nearly the only reason. There are plenty of good Christian schools to send Angelica to. But homeschooling we think will offer her a better education and fit our family better. Although homeschooling is often thought of as a Christian thing, there are many secular parents who are choosing to homeschool their children. I think that that alone attests to the fact that there is a value in homeschooling beyond the religious.
  3. Homeschooling allows for travel. In September we took a two-week vacation. If our daughter was in school we couldn’t have decided to just take a two-week road trip around the Northwest in September. It would be the beginning of her school year and aside from the attendance policies the school would undoubtedly have, it would put her behind if we took a vacation in September. We went to New Mexico to visit my uncle for a few days in October. We are hoping to do Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite national parks in the next year or two, and we don’t intend to go to every single one of those in the busy summer season. Homeschooling allows our family to travel when we want and for as long as we want. In exchange we have to do school year-round of course, but with plenty of breaks during the year to travel or spend time with family we have decided that that doesn’t matter. And if we take a really long trip at some point, we can make the choice to bring school on the road with us. Homeschooling is totally flexible and easy to tailor to our lifestyle.
  4. I really want to spend the time with my daughter, this year and every year until she grows up. I like a break just like any other mother does. I have a babysitter for a reason. But I don’t want to miss out on being with my daughter 5 days a week. I would rather share in the joy of discovery that is school with my daughter. Childhood is so short and I just don’t want to part with precious time. I want to have lots of memories of these years and to spend the extra time with Angelica. I am fortunate to be able to homeschool, and I want to make the most of that opportunity to be close to my daughter and make extra memories with her that I wouldn’t be able to make if she was out of the house 30 to 40 hours a week. Of course if I thought it was truly in my daughter’s best interest to spend those 30 or 40 hours a week away from home in a school, I would send her to school. But I don’t think that that would be in her best interest, so this is another one of my homeschooling values.
  5. Homeschooling really works with the military lifestyle. In the military you pack up and leave every two to three years. We’re hoping to be able to homestead at some point, but that is not guaranteed to happen. So every couple of years a military child switches school districts and ends up with a completely different curriculum in a new place with new people and new expectations. Sometimes the’ll wind up in a place with more opportunity, and sometimes they’ll end up in a place with less. This is true whether you send your child to public school or private school. By homeschooling her we ensure that her education doesn’t flip flop every couple of years. She will have continuity and I think that’s very valuable for a child. The content of her education will vary depending on her interests and skills, rather than on geography.

It’s All About Science and Geography!

Since English and Math are a no go until we get a diagnosis and some professional help for Angelica, I’ve decided to take a different tack. Her curriculum did primarily just math and language arts (with a small smattering of social studies) for Kindergarten. They didn’t really do science and geography, or even history, until later grades. Angelica simply can’t do the math and language arts right now (see previous post). But I see no reason to waste time that could be used to give her a valuable education. To that end, I went out and bought two science books for kids and one geography book. All of them are full of amazing photos that interest Angelica. The two science books are picture encyclopedias of sorts, but they cover different subjects. These books give us so much to dive into and so far she really likes them. Angelica chose to start with her geography book. That book, although it covers continents and oceans and everything like that, also covers space and the magnetosphere and tectonic plates etc. We are starting at the very beginning of the book, which in fact is the very beginning – space. We have been reading about the order of the planets and watching documentaries on Mercury and Venus. I’m going to use these very engaging books and any videos I can find to teach her. When she gets a couple of grades ahead I want to get her the DK books. They have ones for history, art history, music,  and some for other subjects too. These books can be basic textbooks and supplemental materials until she gets older and needs to really dive in deep.

Hitting a Wall and Getting Help

We plugged away at BJU Press for as long as we could, but we just hit a wall. It’s actually a very good video curriculum taught by experienced teachers, and with accompanying review material. The problems we ran into were numerous. Angelica did not grasp phonics at all. They were teaching how to sound out basic words like sin and tin. Nothing worked. Phonics cards didn’t work. The teacher’s lessons didn’t work. Our explanations didn’t work. She wasn’t catching on and would cry with frustration.

Then there was the issue with math. She did finally count to ten by using this curriculum, which was great. But Angelica didn’t always connect numbers to actual objects, and getting higher than ten just wasn’t happening. Lesser and greater were difficult for her. And comparing ordinal and cardinal numbers, forget it. Tallying did not go well either.

We took her to a developmental pediatrician twice and what she determined is that Angelica probably has dyslexia and dyscalculia. She doesn’t handle those disorders though, so we have scheduled a full evaluation and diagnostic session at a literacy center in Denver. They were booked out until January. The Colorado Springs location, where we live, was booked out until April. The center will test for dyscalculia, dyslexia, and pretty much every other learning and developmental disorder. It’s expensive, but we need to do it. Something is clearly wrong, and we can’t seem to overcome it. We need to find out what Angelica has so we can learn how to teach her in a way she will understand. Hopefully we can also find a tutor with experience in whatever disorders she has who can come and do math and language arts lessons with her each week.

BJU Press

We have decided to go another direction in our home schooling. I have ordered the BJU online curriculum. She will watch videos online everyday that cover math and language arts, and through the subject of language arts science and social studies will be studied as well. There are corresponding worksheets to do and little projects. I am excited to get started on this with her. We showed her a sample video of the kindergarten math and she seemed to like it and get into it.

I actually looked into this curriculum months ago. Actually years ago even, as I was beginning to ponder exactly how I was going to homeschool Angelica. I was worried that videos might bore her, and I wondered if she would need me teaching and if the videos would be too much of an easy way out. But as I have found out from having her do the Time4Learning Subscription Service, she loves videos. Or at the very least she loves those. And doing pure workbook assignments with nothing else to go with it, like we did with Christian Light Education, is something she hates. She likes to have audio and visual and colors and possibly to do a little kinesthetic movement. These videos seem to encourage some of that. And it’s a more well-rounded education than what we were using because kindergarten covers science and social studies, even if they don’t have their own videos devoted to those subjects. I watched a sample language arts video and was impressed. I hope that the worksheets are well designed and that Angelica really get something out of them. And I like the fact that each day I have to lay out her work for her and we follow along with the videos and then we do the work that’s assigned in the parent guide each day. I can enter grades for her online through the parent portal. Starting in fifth grade I think students take their tests and quizzes online, but until then I will be grading them, which I think I like just as well.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but I really think that at the very least this will go much better than the last curriculum. I will have so much more help teaching because it won’t be just me and my methodology. She’ll be watching an actual professional teacher teach the first time she hears the lesson and then I will just be reinforcing the lesson. Between laying out her work for her each day, pulling up the videos and being ready to stop them at the appropriate time for her to do activities, and grading her assignments, I will still be heavily involved in her education. But she will have the audio visual stimulation that seems to keep her interested in school, and I will have the assistance of having a professional teacher give her her lessons. So please dear Lord let this work out.

Time4Learning

A few weeks ago I signed Angelica up for a monthly subscription service called Time4Learning. It covers language arts and math, with an optional science curriculum.

It is kind of cool because it covers things that we hadn’t even thought to do, but are expected of Kindergartners now, like solid shapes, what an author and illustrator are, table of contents and other parts of a book etc. It reinforces other things, like letter sounds and prepositions. Today we reached a lesson with listening comprehension, and practicing that might be especially good for her receptive language issues, even if those issues make it harder for her to do the activities. It has begun teaching her rhyming, which we hadn’t gone over yet. So it is keeping her education well rounded and giving us ideas on what to teach outside the workbook curriculum. There are quizzes after every few lessons, and it keeps a record of grades that I can see at the parent portal. She actually asks to do these videos sometimes, whereas it has been awhile since she has asked to do the workbooks. She likes the interactivity of it I think. They aren’t the most compelling videos, but she likes having something to watch and listen to.

I am realizing that maybe instead of Christian Light Education workbooks, or in addition to them since they are so inexpensive, I probably should have gone with my instincts and paid for the video series put out by BJU. Videos seem to be her thing. I think there are still workbooks that go with it, which is good since she needs to practice writing. But maybe she would rather watch a video than listen to me teach the whole time. I am going to look into a computer game curriculum. I don’t know if there are any, but something engaging like that with lots of teaching and clicking might be good for her. Every one has their own learning style, and on top of that she is not exactly a traditional learner. So anything I can find that she can at least mostly follow along with, will enjoy, and will hold her attention is worth investigating.