Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
She responded that she wasn’t a model and looked genuinely confused by my comment. I let her know that as the eldest sister in the house, she was a model always now. Little eyes were watching. I could tell by her eyes that she took this comment to heart.
How do I know that my little girl is becoming a woman? By not only her acknowledgement of this duty, but the fact that she has taken it seriously and changed her behavior to be a better model.
I must tell you that this experience of foster parenting has strengthened my belief in my own parenting and my pride in my own children. They have been amazingly patient, truly kind, very responsible, and a great support to DH and I. We are not foster parents, but a foster family.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
What makes a homeschool curriculum? Do you buy it? Create it? Plan it? Evolve it? Ignore it? I think that if you asked a myriad of homeschoolers, you would get a myriad of responses. In our case, we are what is known as eclectic. We aren’t strict school at home people. We aren’t unschoolers. We kind of live our life in the middle. I have a plan of attack and we use Alpha Omega LifePac’s as our core, but I am willing to stretch, change, omit, or add as needed. I look around to see what is going on in the world. I try to use the kid’s interests as jumping off points. I try to become visibly excited about information I find to see if it might be contagious.
This is one of the many great freedoms that homeschooling can offer. I always think it is such a shame when there is something wonderfully curious going on and yet the school system is stuck getting through their curriculum. What else can they do though? 30 kids may have 30 different interests. What interests one may not another. Plus the hours alone prevent some of the excitement. It is very hard for me to get excited about anything when I have to get up at 6 am. Plus, did you ever realize how interesting things could be at 2 am? How would / could a class adapt if a student became fascinated with a subject for weeks at a time to the exclusion of his other learning? But as homeschoolers, we are free to do this.
Plus, as homeschoolers, I am not confined to judging my children’s accomplishments strictly by standard assessments of their knowledge. DD can write a blog. DS1 can draw a picture. DS1 may do his reading by pouring through cookbooks, creating a masterpiece, and then teaching another child to do the same. Frankly, that is about as tasty a final exam on technical reading that one can get. DD, on the other hand, may work in reverse and beg to learn how to create an PowerPoint with an embedded graph to show the growth of patrons at her library so that she can argue for additional funding.
Homeschooling, also, may include a far broader reaching curriculum than a traditional school. In addition to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, I consider:
And other such virtues that are very difficult to quantify. I consider the growth in these areas to be a better gauge of how we are doing than the grade level on their books (I still can’t quite figure out why we insist on putting them there in the first place) or the grades they receive on their tests.
One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to monitor and adjust. In my job as the site facilitator for a program which teaches teachers, I often hear the phrase “monitor and adjust” used by the instructors. The phrase is used to explain how the future teachers how to show proceed in presenting their lesson plans if things are not going just as they had planned, but how far can they realistically adjust? When you homeschool, the ability to monitor and adjust is almost endless. I think of it like an old fashioned stage coach heading across country during the Western Expansion. If you were on a definitive path that you could not veer from, what obstacles might stop you from continuing your journey? What amazing sights might you miss? How many wagons would be able to finish the journey? But if you had endless abilities to “monitor and adjust” based on the needs of the horses, the stage, the road, the passengers, how might the journey be different?
So needless to say my advice for choosing a homeschool curriculum is fluid. Chose one if you wish. If it doesn’t work, try another. If something new or different catches your eye, don’t be afraid to try it. Think of assessment in a completely different way. What does it mean to be successful? And most importantly of all is have fun and find the joy in learning. Remember you chose to move away from the traditional methods for a reason: Rejoice in the freedom that you now have.
Helpful websites: Enchanted Learning ; Alpha Omega ; Calendar of Events ;
Monday, January 25, 2010
Some of the time constraints are of my own doing as we opted to maintain his therapist and other mental care in a city which is 45 minutes away, but I felt the poor child had had enough transition without taking away more people that he had built relationships with. I do find it funny though that people who chose to work with children only seem to be available during the day. Doesn’t it seem odd that we would want to take a child who is already struggling at school and make it basically mandatory to take him out of school in order to get proper mental and physical care?
Funny homeschooling moment related to this: Although DS2 is in public school, I am still homeschooling our other two children and among all these crazy time constraints, I am trying desperately to stay on top of their studies. The other day when we were waiting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, DS1 and I ended up having an impromptu art appreciation lesson. As any homeschooler can attest, the best curriculum plan is to use what is around you.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
While I work on this issue on an individual basis, I think that it is imperative that we look at this issue on a more global basis. What will a child like this become without a nurturing home? What will the affect be on society? What is the later cost vs the costs we may expend earlier on? How do you encourage cultural knowledge when a child can’t rely on their most basic needs being met? What does it say about a country that cannot properly care for those that most need its care? How can we improve the system? How can we prevent another child from being so starved?
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I must say that the school has been very accommodating to DS2's issues and I appreciate that they have been working to strengthen the home / school connection, but I still feel very disconnected. Especially with a child with so many issues, it would be helpful to have a mother hen overlooking him more. I can understand the state's desire to use the public school: to maintain their own system, to maintain consistency in case of another move, to provide another set of eyes to ensure the safety of the child; but with so many other "eyes" available (therapists, social workers, court appointed observers) and other ways to asses progress, you would think that perhaps there would be ways around this rule. Although I do appreciate the break right now to regroup myself and have time with my two biological kids, I think if any children were to benefit from homeschooling it would be DS2 and the many other foster children in the system who would thrive in a 1 on 1 (or 2 or 3) setting.
On the positive side, this foray back into public schooling has reminded my children, my husband, and myself what we have to be thankful for.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
It is so easy to think of others when we are a mom, but DS2 reminds us that without us there is no family. His request of God is a somewhat selfish (but very appreciated one). He wants me to stay healthy so that he can finally have a Mom.
As you care take everyone else in your family this year, remember this prayer and take a few extra minutes to care for yourself so that you will always be there to answer their prayers.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
We have found in general that the calmer we can be and the more laughter and game-like atmosphere that we can interject into a situation the easier the day goes. . . Mind you we are very early in the fostering process, so I wouldn't just take my word for it, but this was great advice that we got from other more experienced foster parents and it has been working well for us as well. I just hope that we continue along this path and don't find out that we are just in a honeymoon period.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
Some of the lessons that I have learned over the last week are:
- Life would not be the same without DH.
- Laughter can dispel even the worst temper.
- A smile is contagious.
- The answer to WWJD is help a child.
- When two things battle for the same time slot on your calendar it is not a conflict but a matter of prioritization.
- Wording matters.
- DD and DS1 have been delightful children and DH and I are very lucky people.
- God's plans for your lives are bigger and brighter than anything you could have ever thought of.
- Dishes can wait.
- 2 kids + 1 kid = way less time, way more laundry & more dishes, and way, way more groceries.
- That being loved consistently without reservation is a right that all children deserve.
- When you are frustrated, take a breathe.
- I need a way bigger calendar!
- Being a mom is the most important job in the world.
and to steal a phrase from one of my favorite childhood songs:
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Here is a prime example of our new mixed up life, DH and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary tomorrow, but between getting DS2 set up back at school, a therapist visit, basketball practice, and a book club, I don't think we are going to have a whole lot of celebrating time. So tonight, DH took me to the restaurant that we had our rehearsal dinner in 18 years ago today.
Of course who is taking the picture but the kids, who are happily eating their meal on the other side of the isle trying to be inconspicuous.