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.

Good Day So Far

Today has been amazing. It started with some cuddles with Craig when he got home from his mid.

After that I jumped in the shower and enjoyed the steam and clean feel. Sometimes I don’t feel well enough to shower, so that made me happy.

Afterward I started some laundry, mopped the floors, did the dishes, took out the recycling, took out the trash, and ran the roomba.

I then did some photography experiments.

I used text and video to teach Angelica a lesson about volcanoes.

I spent time in a devotional.

Completely unrelated, I enjoyed part of a volume of erotic poetry.

Then, to top a perfect morning off, I got to spend time catching up with my friend L over the phone.

Such a successful morning! I hope to feel this good and be this productive the rest of the day.

Dyslexia

We got Angelica’s scores and evaluation back. We don’t discuss it with the evaluator until Monday.

We were right to suspect dyslexia. I am sending a copy of the report to her tutor to keep her informed.

Now we just need to work with her. Her tutor has been using some of the Orton Gillingham methods and has had some success.

We continue to do Bible, science, history, and social studies as we go. Lots of good books and videos!

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.

Housewifing

This morning we ran over to Home Depot. Craig was helping me choose wood for my newest creative adventure – watercolor on wood. When we got home I did a test run. The way the colors spread through the grain is lovely, and the colors stay so vibrant.

After we ate lunch, it was time for school. We did a lesson in reading. It was her first lesson in reading for the curriculum, so there were no actual words in her little reader for the day. It was just sort of an introduction to books, although coming from this house she doesn’t really need that! We fell on a review day for math today, so we will be doing some review, but went on ahead and did the next lesson.

Craig has been working all afternoon and he won’t be home until bedtime. So I am flying solo for the pm hours. And I’ve been trying hard to get things done! After Angelica’s school day was over, I started cleaning the house. I reorganized the homeschool supplies, cleared off the dining room table (which had become a storage space for school supplies and little toys that had been brought downstairs by little hands), reorganized the kitchen to the best of my ability (and I did a lot of organizing…took about two hours), did dishes, took out trash, took out recycling, cleaned out the refrigerator, and began organizing Angelica’s clothes for the trip. In between, I painted with Angelica, took her to the park for over an hour, helped her mail something to her grandparents, made her dinner, and after all that was through I took a hot shower. Now I have some laundry to do, some sweeping, and some mopping. I’d also like to put away my second, though small, round of clean dishes. I am really going to push myself.

Exhaustion is setting in though. I hate this overused analogy, but I only get so many spoons per day. I normally breakup my housework and activity into smaller, shorter chunks. I am just now sitting down after my shower. It is almost seven and I’ve been going at it since before noon. I guess that isn’t a lot, but it feels like it. The shower felt good, but even that took a spoon.

Truly, I love my job. I love being a housewife, and I love being a mom. And I get tremendous satisfaction from a good day of work.  I just run out of energy and stability….quickly a lot of the time. But I’m so glad I’ve done what I’ve done. The kitchen took the longest time. It was in need of a massive organize. We just have a lot of stuff. And I have more to do that I am really going to try to get done before bed.

Tomorrow is my sixth wedding anniversary. We celebrated last week by going to a little french restaurant, and hanging out just the two of us. Tomorrow I’ll be with Craig for our anniversary (and the holiday) in the morning, but he will be working all afternoon and evening. It will be just me and Angelica. I’m not sure what we are going to do – probably have a quiet day.

Okay, well that was my day so far. Now it is time to review Angelica’s speech therapy lesson with her, sweep up, mop, run laundry, and put away dishes!