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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How we choose our curriculum

I have only been officially home schooling for two years. The first year we started, Maddie was in preschool and I didn't use a curriculum. I figured I could help her learn her letters, numbers, shapes, colors, etc. without the use of a curriculum. Preschool went just fine without someone holding my hand. Then, we approached Kindergarten, this time I wanted a curriculum, I wanted to make sure we would not miss any holes in her education. This is when I got overwhelmed.

My head was swarming with every kind and type of curriculum. There were unit studies, text books, online classes. There was Abeca, Horizon, Alpha and Omega, there is My Father's World and LOTS, LOTS more companies and families who are selling curriculum to choose from. One family says they absolutely LOVES their curriculum, another family who has a completely different one says they love theirs too! Equally confusing! Then I have a friend who uses four or five different companies for each different study they are doing. Ufta! How was I to know which direction to go. Then I had the fear of starting a curriculum and it NOT fitting our family or maybe needing to do something different. Thus, spending money on something that wouldn't work.

Thankfully, my husband and I had sat down and talked and written out what we wanted in an education. We knew we wanted a classical style of education, we knew we wanted it to be hands on and applicable, we wanted it to be affordable. We wanted it to be able to teach to our Kindergartner-first grader, as well as be able to fit our soon to be preschoolers. We wanted culture in our education. We wanted our kids to explore not only the places around the world, but the people in those places. Matching faces with the places! Sitting down with your spouse would be the first place I would start! Make out a list of things you want in an education and things you might have in mind you do NOT want to do. This will help you narrow your choices as you look at all your options.

The second thing I did was sit down and have a heart to heart chat with the Lord. I shared my overwhelming feelings, I asked for his guidance and direction in choosing a curriculum. I asked for a neon sign in which direction to go. Literally the next day, a brochure came in the mail from a company called My Father's World. As I was reading through the kindergarten curriculum it had a biblical basis, check. It had lesson plans all planned out for me, ready to use, another check. It is based on unit studies, which means I could water it down for my preschoolers, check. It came with a classical cd and we were to learn composes as well as the pieces, another qualification from our list. As I checked off each one, I prayed about this curriculum. If we bought the deluxe package we would then have all the science experiments we would need too. Which meant I would not have to go looking for other things to piece with our curriculum. I could if I had time, but it wasn't a requirement. Another check! After showing the brochure to my husband, he and I prayed about it, and we knew this was what we were suppose to use.

We are in the middle of our Kindergarten year and I am so thankful we choose this curriculum. I am so thankful I didn't try to pick it on my own and invited God in the process. I can easily incorporate my preschoolers into each lesson, while helping them understand it at their level. The activities and biblical concepts are fantastic. Each reading lesson, math lesson, etc. flows into the other.

We choose our curriculum with prayer, careful consideration of our desires for educating our children, and by doing our homework. Requesting brochures from different companies, talking with friends who home school, and trusting the Lord.

Heart Surgery, the healing of the inner woman.

The Lord has been leading my husband and I in heart surgery. He has been showing us to that if we are to live passionately, then He, the great I AM, Yahweh MUST be apart of our lives. We must live him, breath him, speak of him when we lie down and when we stand. We must eat, sleep, and breath him.

When I was in my twenties I moved every two to three years. I always felt unsettled, I always felt the need to look for something or someone more. I started praying for wisdom, asking the Lord what it was I was running from, what it was I was looking for. The answer shocked me. The Lord told me it was HE I was looking for. In all of my running, it was the thing I already had, that I wanted. I wanted passion, an adventure, I wanted to be loved. For some reason, I felt the need to look outside of Christ for my answers. Which, by the way, is never a good idea. Scripture tells me that if I am not abiding in the vine I am NOTHING. John 15:5, I am the vine, you are the branches he who abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit, apart from me you can do nothing. Which means there is not an adventure, a person, a circumstance that can fill me with the passion, love, and romance I am craving...none BUT the power of Christ!The song "In Christ alone", says it well "In Christ alone my hope is found, he is my light, my strength, my song"!

I was molested when I was 8 years old by my grandpa. A man who was suppose to protect me with his life. A man who was suppose to love me, but didn't. It is amazing the destruction one man cause. It is amazing the generational hurt one man can cause. I have so much anger I feel like I will explode. It is not a matter of forgiving, I choose to forgive, but it is an inner battle at times to forgive, to move past the hurting. I am learning as Mark and I uncover our hearts that my heart is more wounded than I had thought. The scab is coming off my heart and the Lord is removing some gangrene that has sprouted there. The gangrene could kill me if I wanted it to, I could become bitter, filled with hatred. I could let myself burro into a pit that is slimy and nasty. No one would blame me. But, there is life outside the pit. There is a life of forgiveness, that forgiveness allows me a life more potent, stronger than hatred or unforgiveness.

I am a hurting being right now. The hurt, the gangrene is deep, and it's going to take tears and some poking and prodding of my Saviour. But, I trust my Savior, I trust my heart surgeon  You see, he too, was rejected and abandoned. My Saviour, he knows my pain and suffering. He with his Abba Father's help was able and did forgive the men who hurt him. I was one of those men who hurt him and he loves me anyways. I know that my God, the great redeemer and lover of my soul, will heal me.

I look forward with sharing with you the chunks of gangrene God pulls out and I look forward to sharing with you victorious freedom that awaits me. God has given me amazing family and friends that will encourage me, love on me, and let me cry. I do think it is tears that need to still come, tears that will lead to healing. Healing that will lead me to freedom!

The twins become preschoolers.

circle time is a great time for learning shapes, colors, etc. But,
it is also good for little ones to learn to sit still, sit quiet,
and to pay attention.
The twins turned three this month and are showing me signs that they are ready to move into being preschoolers. When Maddie started Kindergarten at the beginning of the year, the twins joined us durning circle time. They began to learn the alphabet, the sounds letters make, days of the weeks, months of the year. Now that the twins are showing me they are ready to learn more I have started bringing in number 1-10 flash cards, working with them on letter recognition, we are working on shapes, colors. The twins also get to be a part of Maddie's curriculum and be apart of exploding volcano's, getting in on sinking and floating objects.

A big part of the twins preschool is hands-on. Touching, tasting, seeing, hearing, and experiencing the sweetness of strawberries, the tartness of lemons. Touching rough tree bark and smooth stones by the lake. Hearing classical pieces such as "The March of the Soliders",  "The Nutcracker sweet", hearing choo-choo trains, and learning to listen to authorities voices louder than any other noise. Watching a duck land on the water with his webbed feet for skies. Watching mommy load the dishwasher, daddy mow the lawn, watching mommy and daddy interacting in kindness to one another. Watching Mommy and daddy as we are patient and loving with each kid.

Exploding volcano's!
 Does hands-on learning get better than that

The twins hands-on learning includes colored glue for painting and making things stick. Play-doh for making sculptures, pretending to roll it out and cut out cookies. Learning to string beads, pound nails into boards. Using kid size rakes to help mommy and daddy clean up the yard. Small child size shovels to learn to clear away the snow on the sidewalks.

 What are your favorite toddler/preschool activities to do with your kiddos?

Our Typical Homeschooling Day!

Mark and Maddie's Volcano 
Our day typically starts around 7 am. The kids have jobs as soon as they hop out of bed. They are to go potty, get dressed, make their beds, and make sure their rooms are picked up. We have breakfast around 8 am. Our school time begins as soon as breakfast is cleaned up. We begin with circle time, a time to come together. A time for me to pray blessings upon each one of them. A time to learn biblical concepts, a time to learn colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet. A time to learn songs. Circle time also teaches that there are times we have to sit still, times we have to wait our turn to talk, times we have to sit, listen, and learn. Even if there are monster trucks to play with, crayons to color with, or anything else close by that might be vying for our attention.

Naomi working on fine motor skills
After circle time we head to the kitchen table. Maddie begins her kindergarten sit down work. The curriculum we have chosen to go with is My Father's world. A classical education style of learning that is a unit study curriculum. 

At the beginning of this school year the twins would sit down in their chairs for their "sit down work". Because, again I am training the twins that there are times and places we have to sit and do "work". The twins started the year coloring, learning to use scissors. The twins turned three this month, with the graduation to the three year bench mark, the twins are now entering preschool. 

Titus, also working on his fine motor skills
and practicing counting
Now, while Maddie is doing her kindergarten sit down work, the twins will be doing their sit down preschool work. Their preschool work  includes picking up cotton balls with clothes pins, using syringes to pick up water and move it from one place to another, molding and shaping play-doh. Experiencing rough textures, smooth textures, experiencing the five senses. These are all very important, but just as important, the twins are learning they are to listen AND obey the FIRST time! They are learning character such as being honest, telling the truth, loving unconditionally. They are learning that there is a Lord Jesus Christ and he loves them VERY much. They are learning they are sinners in need of grace and there is ONLY one person who is able to save them from their sin. Math, reading, and science are important here on earth, our kids need to know them. But character training and biblical training are just as important
! These are eternal matters that Mark and I as parents cannot ignore.

After our work is done at the kitchen table, we either watch an educational video that goes along with what we are learning. For example since our unit this week is on rocks, we watched a video on Rocks and Minerals, we also watched a video on Volcano's. If there is not an educational video to watch, then the kids may either go play and ware off energy or they may sit quietly and read/look at books.

My dad made this for Titus to start learning how to build
After lunch time it is rest time/nap time. Rest time for Maddie is less and less about sleeping. These days she gets a bit of computer time, practices reading from her reading basket (books I know she can read by herself). Her and I play learning games or sometimes games just for fun. This is also a rest time for me! A time for me to finish laundry, watch a movie, take a nap, etc. The twins at three years old still need naps to function till bedtime. They do ok without naps from time to time, but it's not a good idea long term.

After nap time is usually considered free time. They are encouraged to play downstairs in the basement were we have our toy room. We often cuddle and read books, have snack time.
This is a typical day, a glimpse into what we shoot for our day to look like. This does not mean this is what we always do. There are times when one of the kids is sick or I'm sick. Times were my husband has a day off, so we take the day off to enjoy our time with him. There are also times when Maddie needs a mental break from sit down work. We take breaks to go ice skating with our homeschool group. We take time to go bowling, be a part of 4-H. Which requires constant schedule changes. Our schedule works for us, we don't work for our schedule. Which means there are times when we have to adjust our schedule for everyone"s sanity! There are times we need to adjust our schedule because God has brought something into our day we cannot ignore. Flexibility is the name of the home schooler's schedule.