Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Homeschool

Homeschool...where to begin with this one?  It has been a great thing and an overwhelming thing.  Teaching them also teaches me a lot, and I don't mean educationally.  I am learning a lot about character, theirs and mine.  I had homeschooled Eden in the States before, but this has been a whole different story.  Before we left for China, I had done a lot of thinking, debating, weighing the pro's and cons, and lifting up of which programs to choose for the kids.  I figured once I found which ones to use, that would be the end of the choices.  Wrong.  For Ephraim I chose Horizon's kindergarten, and for Eden ABeka, the accredited program where she has a teacher on DVD.  I knew that Ephraim would need help with reading and writing.  He's my active child who doesn't like to sit still, especially with any kind of writing tool.  Horizon's was easy to understand.  I used it to teach Eden how to read and write, and it went to the basics. I knew it would give him what he would need to know, without unnecessary extra writing.  I knew that Eden needed a program that would challenge her. She loves to read and write, even if she is watching a movie, she wants to write or create art at the same time.
I  also knew she struggled in math; it does not keep her attention.  I must confess that initially I pushed them too hard, feeling the pressure of starting late, and wanting them to finish every lesson.  With the move, we started the end of September.  I should have been easier with them with all the transitions they have been going through.  Once again, my children aren't the only ones that need grace.  So, we may skip a few review lessons, so that they can still have breaks occasionally.  With Ephraim, I have learned that he needs extra attention, and lots of words of affirmation with a good routine.  Impatience with him doesn't do either of us any good, even when he pretends not to know something.  Our good days of him getting done in a timely manner are, thankfully, getting more frequent.  There are still bad days where, no matter how encouraging I am, and how simple it is, things don't go well.  With Eden's program she started initially with a class in His Word with stories, songs and memorization.  Ephraim loved it, and joined in for that part.  I have learned to put that at the end of the day.  They are always ready to take part in that, but if I start with it, their attention is gone to do other work afterwards.  I have realized that a dvd program would be great for him next year because he learns a lot by hearing Eden's even when he is doing his own work and not watching.  I changed Eden's routine to starting with math, so her initial attention would be with that.  She did not want to participate with her video class in doing arithmetic combinations out loud.  I can't blame her, but I have started rewinding her dvd, and making her do it over if she doesn't participate in that.  Her math has improved with those changes.  She is currently learning addition and subtraction combinations for the number 7.
I have shortened her seat work, because she is very good at writing, and some of it truly is "busy" work.  I have also decided not to send in her work for the accredited program because I have been reminded of her perfectionism.  She truly is her own worst critic.  When learning a new cursive letter, if she didn't do it write the first time, she would cry, being hard on herself.  I can see that she is doing well in that area, and, at this time, I don't feel she needs to be critiqued.  She needs encouragement that no one is perfect, and she doesn't have to be either. I have also learned, sometimes the hard way, that our  relationship is more important, than pressuring them to do something they will eventually get to.  They are bright and teachable, and they will learn.  My moments of frustration and impatience can be damaging to our relationship, and so not worth it.   My mom is my best friend, and I desire close relationships with my children always.
Homeschool has its' disadvantages and advantages.  Certain things they might learn better from someone else, but it also gives them more one on one time.  They are learning to be flexible, and we are all learning to priorities.  If they do well, and get 5 days worth of stickers on their card, they can get something from the treasure box or draw a paper, which includes prizes like living room slumber parties or a day off school!  They can work at their desk, table, or couch with the lap desk.  Also, we have a great coop here.  Other than their scholastic education, I have to say that my kids are learning so much in other areas.  They have had incredible "field trips": the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Changchun museum.  They participate in Taekwondo.  They are slowly learning some Chinese.  Eden babbles Chinese sounds in her room to herself all the time.  I can't help but smile.  They get to go to coop, where our lessons are currently about Africa.  And they have other opportunities like: climbing trees, riding the bus and light rail, taking the trash out by themselves, taking dinner to our teammate together without an adult, doing the dishes, creating banners, carrying the groceries, and helping with their baby brother.  Overall, I trust and believe that this time is precious and good for them.

Showers of blessing:
More insight into the hearts and minds of my children
A great coop with other like-minded families
Cool, historic places to learn from
Flexible children who are patient with overcrowded buses, cold walks, and constant changes
Opportunities for character growth for all of us
Ephraim doing better with writing, and more "good" days
Eden learning cursive and doing better with math
Xavier getting to have his brother and sister all day long
A Father who hears my concerns, and gives me grace and wisdom

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