Saturday, February 17, 2018

Losing Homeschooling

I am not going to go into the details, but my whole life got turned upside down this fall.  I had everything I had desired.  I had my three boys, I was staying home and homeschooling.  We had the best schedule and the best set up.  Spanish class at a local co-op, support from a teacher through a local homeschool charter school and a network of homeschooling families that are just amazing.  My kids had tons of wonderful friends and a well balanced day to day life.  Best of all, I got to spend so much wonderful time with them.

And then I faced a choice, save my family or hold onto homeschooling.  Of course, my greatest desire, is for my family to stay whole.  So I had to let go of the dream and hang on to Christ.  There were too many fears and unknowns for me to try to carry.  I just couldn't do it on my own.

Step one, get my boys established at school.  If we weren't going to be homeschooling I really wanted them to go to school at our church's school.  I knew they would be surrounded by amazing people because I have gone to church with many of them for years.  I knew they would be surrounded by prayer and Christ's love through a challenging time in our lives.  So I reached out and we were beyond blessed with a wonderful scholarship.

Next we set up a time to come visit their classrooms while I talk with the principal.  I pick them up from recess a little while later and the boys were BEAMING.  "Mom, sign me up!" Lachlan exclaims.  My heart smiles, just a little.

Now here comes the big day.  One of my biggest anxieties going into this day was what to pack for their lunches!  No kidding.  Food is not my strongest asset and having them home I could just grab anything.  But cold lunches, everyday, filled with stuff they will actually eat!! What!?!?!  It literally sent me over the edge.  I got that fear figured out by picking up a cool lunch Tupperware container thing.  :)  If I filled each section everyday, they should be good.  Not only that, but I had friends stock up on boxes of grab and go items from Costco.  I have the best community of friends.  Okay, lunches packed.

Up next, the waking up early part.  Suck.  It's still dark when we have to get up.  I tried to prepare us by setting an alarm and slowly moving up the time to the actual time in which we would have to get up.  When the day came, it wasn't so bad.  But they were also super excited.

We are up, we have our lunches packed and our backpacks on.
 Lachlan, ready for his first day!

One thing that really helped with this transition is that they were already attending the morning program at our homeschool charter school two days a week.  So the classroom environment and having to get out the door in the morning wasn't too big of a shock.

And then, I drove away, from MY boys.  I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed all day.

People, I missed them.

The first day the time moved slowly.  The second day, I still cried, but the time they were away went a little faster and then a little faster.

I had many people surround me and my family and pray for us.  And that is what got us through.

I had one person tell me, this change doesn't have to last forever, maybe you will be able to homeschool again.  That helped.  The same person told me that fears and anxieties are not of the Lord.  From that day forward, every time I had those feelings creep up I prayed and I let go.  This happened every hour for a while.  Maybe more often.

I was able to experience what another friend called "stupid peace".  Peace during a time when there should have been no peace in my heart.

We have had a few hiccups.  The boys weren't where they needed to be in their writing skills specifically.  Third grade seemed like a little bit too much for my oldest so we adjusted a few weeks in and tried second grade, where he is thriving.  We've had backpacks left in the car and one day it took an hour and a half to convince my oldest son to go to school.  There were some behaviors and disobedience to work through.  But God is good, all the time, God is good.

I was able to attend the first chapel the boys attended at school and a young boy in Peter's class got up in front and said he wanted to pray for the new kids at school, that they feel comfortable and love school.  It melted. my. heart.  It also turns out that school is a better place for Lachlan right now.  He really didn't see any reason why he needed to learn the things his Mother was trying to teach him and we were frequently butting heads.  I was beginning to feel like it was holding him back.  But he is a competitive boy, and seeing what his peers are doing has really motivated him, not defeated him as I feared.

But through another rocky patch the boys had consistency, and that is what I had hoped school would bring.

I still miss them.  And I often find myself in moments of despair wondering what's the point of this life.  I mean, is this what society wants of us, to never be together as a family?  It sucks.  I get my family on evenings and weekends.  My whole life consists of "getting through the week".

I just keep praying for God to give me a new perspective.  For him to continually refresh my spirit.

If you are in a time in your life where you also may lose homeschooling or have already lost it, you are not alone.  It's HARD, really hard.  But there can be good mixed in too.   I pray that God will carry you through, as he has for me.

Next up, going back to work and finding childcare!!!  Ack.

Dinosaur Fossils with Mother Goose Time - a reflection.

The last time we were able to squeeze in any Mother Goose Time was January 8th.  Before I went back to work.  I have to tell you, adjusting to working full time with three children is HARD.  I do hope to write about that more in another post.  And hopefully you won't mind if I am frank with my thoughts.  I am not sure if many people talk about all the little hard things, and how much it really sucks. 

But back to these precious memories.  We got out the day on fossils where we dumped a bag of sand in a tray.  The letter we are working on is L, which is great because it's brother's letter.  I put the Ls in the sand and he used the paint brush to write L along side the hands-on letters.
So proud of his accomplishment.  He really just started getting great at writing over night!
Next he tried his own letter, A is for Adam. 
We had a little friend that I happened to be babysitting on this day and I gave her all the dinos and two containers to move the dinos from one to the other.  She also opened and closed the lids and was happy for quite a long time.
By now I had the paper dino bones all cut out and I buried them in the sand on the tray.  We talked about how paleontologists use brushes to uncover bones because the bones are fragile.  Talk about some great vocabulary.
 Piece by piece he found and slowly uncovered the bones. 
 Taking each one and placing it on the paper next to him. 

Then he covered the paper in glue and we put the bones together like a puzzle.  Next I had him pinch some of the sand from the tray and sprinkle it over the exposed glue on the paper. 
 He learned so many wonderful things on this day.  Some great vocabulary.  Practiced some spacial awareness by putting the puzzle of bones together and did some awesome writing practice.  All while having a ton of fun! 

Now that we have settled a little bit more into our routine, I really should, at the very least, pull out some Mother Goose Time every Saturday, just to spend some amazing one on one time with my little man. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Day One of Our Rainforest Adventures

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Day 1 was all about Jaguars.  I set the J is for Jaguar Make & Play craft up at the table for Adam.  But later that day we had a whole bunch of kids over and it started to get kind of loud, so I asked if anyone wanted to make a Jaguar.  Even though they were older kids, they were super excited and soon, it got a lot quieter in my house as they happily worked on their Jaguars.

I also got out the I Can Read book so that Adam and I can read through it all month long.  He often hears me tell his brothers they have to do their reading and he LOVES having his own reading assignment.
Every new theme with Mother Goose Time means they get a new name tag and every month on the first day we write our names.  I write Adam's name with a yellow marker and he traces over it. He was quick to finish his name this month so he decided to flip it over and try his hand at some free hand As.
The older boys were at the other end of the table doing an old fashioned spelling test.  I put a divider up between them, dictated words for them to spell and then we graded it together after.  They were both upset that they didn't get them all correct because that's what we are used to with homeschooling.  I quickly explained to them that getting only one or two wrong is really good!! Mommy used to miss a lot more.  This brought them a lot of relief.
The next lesson was called Circle Spots and the idea was to cover a large paper in circle's like the spots on a Jaguar.  They recommend we cover a tables surface in large pieces of paper and then provide cups and other circle objects to trace. I grabbed what I had handy and used that old printer paper that's all attached in one long sheet.  My husbands previous employer found a case of it in an old office storage area.  Jackpot!
I was very nervous to present this activity to Adam.  I knew he would like it and want to do it but I thought he might get really frustrated by the items sliding as he was tracing.
But here's the thing.  He surprised me again and he was successfully able to hold the items in place as he traced.  If he did have a little hiccup, he didn't get angry, just fixed it and kept going.
These are huge signs of development for Adam.  The social and emotional development to shrug off frustration, and the physical ability to hold an item in place while tracing.

Observing Adam as he works through a project is called Authentic Assessment. I have observed Adam enough times doing various activities using a variety of skills that when he "surprises me", I am actually observing and assessing a leap in his skills and abilities.  As a homeschool Mother in a state where no documentation of work is required for a preschooler I can do this assessing very informally.  But if I were in a state that required documentation, Mother Goose Time would make it so easy!!

In fact, I could look at the developmental continuum under Self Concept and see that under 1.3 Identifies and manages feelings Adam would be right at Benchmark D "Recognizes personal feelings.  Controls impulses with reminders."   Although, this time, he didn't need a reminder and was able to control those emotions on his own.  So maybe he's on his way to Benchmark E!!
Over the last few years I have been taping Adam's name tags to the back of our Circle Time display board.  This is another fun way of assessing Adam's growth.  And not to worry, if you don't know where to start with collecting work samples, Mother Goose Time will take you step by step through that as well.

But if you look closely, the name tags at the top have his name, written by me, and then scribbles all over the place.  As they get towards the bottom you begin to see mostly his name with very few scribbles because he has started to trace directly over the lines. Except of course on the rainforest one.  He seemed to have some fun drawing a few extra lines on that one, maybe they are vines in the jungle.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into a "day" with Mother Goose Time.  We have incorporated it in so many avenues of our life.  Whether it be neighbors coming over to play or serious Preschool learning and work for my little guy so he can be like his big brothers.

I love to use this blog to document Adam's learning adventures.  I feel so blessed to have a record of all that he has done.  But it's also fun to sit down and reflect.  It was in this reflection that I realized these moments when Adam "surprises me" aren't surprises at all, but assessments in disguise.  The only reason I am surprised is because it's a skill or ability Adam was not capable of before, but now he is!  They are in fact observations of skills gained and growth made!