Car Rides Tell All

car ride Yesterday, Kaira and I were riding in the car, taking care of some errands- when I turned the radio down, thinking it would be a great time for us to connect with each other. Normally, when I do this, I get a typical pre-teen eye roll, an exaggerated Mooooom, an attempt to readjust the volume- with an attitude to follow for good measure. Yesterday, though, God had mercy on me and non of that happened.

You know what did happen? We talked. We had genuine- more than yes or no/one word answer- conversation. It was a real treasure for me. The topic of conversation? School. Again, under ‘normal’ circumstances, this alone would have been cause for attitude. God was really blessing me, because there was no attitude, no eye roll, no nothing. Only us conversing.

Here are the questions I asked Kaira and her responses. (Yes, I know it reads like an interview. I typed it that way, so Kaira could type her answers.)

How are you liking school so far and what is your favorite thing about school so far?

Surprisingly, I am actually mostly liking school. My favorite thing is getting to wear my pajamas to school. Except on Tuesday when we have our breakfast with all the other home school people. I like that I school can be mobile, like if I have an appointment, I can just take the computer and my notebook with us and turn on the hot spot and do work. But if I was in public school still, it would be an absence and I wouldn’t be able to take it with me like that.

***the breakfast, she is referring to is The Not Back to School Breakfast for home schooling families in the RVA area. If you are in the area and want to come, please shoot me an email  and I will make sure you get all the details!***

What do you mean, mostly liking school?

Well, I do really like it, except sometimes I feel rushed. But I know I’m not really rushed, it’s just sometimes I feel like I am. But I know it is my fault I am feeling rushed. If I would just do my work when I get up, instead of at night-time, then I wouldn’t feel rushed.

So, what do you think should be done about this?

I think I should start getting up and just doing my work instead of keep on putting it off and then I have to do it when I am tired.

What have you learned so far, that you like the most/least?

[laughing] Poetry and the embalming! Wait, can I say the embalming is my least favorite and history is my favorite? [A nod from me] But also science is my favorite some too. I really like making a skin model. And I am even getting pretty good at math, even though I wasn’t that great at it in public school. I actually like everything about school, really.

I didn’t get video of her response to watching the embalming, but I did get video of her watching a real knee surgery for science, which is just as fantastic!

Do you like it better when you sit and do math with me, so I can kind of tell if you are getting frustrated or do you like doing it by yourself?

I like doing it with you. I like how you don’t yell at me and tell me I have to hurry up and that I can take my time and we don’t rush and we don’t move on until I get it.

Cool.

I’m sure we talked about other things, but those were the things that stuck out in my head, and grabbed hold of my mom brain. She is learning and retaining things and it is so awesome to see happening right in front of me.

This wasn’t a part of out car ride conversation, but it was another moment that made me proud to be her mom and since it fit in with today’s post, I wanted to share it with you all. As a part of her Bible lesson, she had to read Mathew 8 and then answer the question, “would you rather be poor or rich?” and then identify what she believed the most important lesson from the reading was.

This was her response-

Yep. I am blessed to have her as a daughter.

 

What ‘ah-ha’ moments- as Oprah calls them- have you had? We would love to hear about them! If this post encouraged you or made you smile or chuckle, please share and like this also!

Advertisements

Is This Really a Good Idea???

Every. Single. Day. I have asked myself if homeschooling was really a good idea. I have worried that I have bitten off pounds more than I can carry. I think I gained 50 more prominent grey hairs. There have been tears- lots of them. I mean big fat tears, the result of which can only come from hard, ugly crying. This week has not been the yellow brick road of adventure it is supposed to be.

Obviously, I thought about scrapping this adventure entirely. I think I uttered the words, “you will go back to public school”- no less than one hundred times. I do not jest or exaggerate. Nothing seemed to go as planned (at least not to my very need to have and be in control mind).

I talked to God several times about this mission. Thankfully, He would not allow me to abort. I am also really grateful to the many home school groups I belong to on social media, because that is definitely a supportive tribe. An important note here: if you are homeschooling, you’ve got to get yourself a tribe. Your tribe will be more valuable than silver, gold or frankincense, I guarantee it.

Anyway, back to this week… I had planned on starting pre pre-school with the boys Monday. Except, I never finished my lesson plan. Now, I know they are just barely almost two and don’t need a full day of structure. BUT. I need a plan. Lesson plans are for me like GPS is for you… So, I NEED them. Even if they are just a quick at a glance look at the things I want the boys to know. Here it is Friday and I still haven’t finished them or even really looked at them, since Sunday. Hopefully, this weekend will yield some time to get this done and we will really start on Monday.

We might not have had everything planned out and I was probably pulling things out more for this will entertain you value and less for this is going to help you learn this specific thing. but we made it through. And believe it or not, they had fun, didn’t pick up on my stresses and learned some things! Imagine that.

They played in the water tub on my kitchen floor- so they were learning math (weights and pouring, as well as sinking and floating); since they are not quite two, they also had lots of fun splashing the water everywhere, including onto each other and the entire floor. Which of course means they learned how to clean up spills with towels. Another time, I sat them in their respective chairs and they colored… (so they learned to be creative, use those fine motor skills and more, I’m sure). We went outside and drew with chalk and kicked and threw some balls. They were able to run around (gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, etc.). Finally, we read books. lots and lots of books. We are building book lovers and language usage.

Another helpful tidbit: you are doing enough, so stop doubting yourself. You got this home school thing, I promise!

As for Kaira, I was convinced that we had to stay on this schedule (one that lives only in the recesses of my brain), a perfect timeline if you will. (Learned this pretty quickly: there is no such thing as a perfect time line.) Except, I’m pretty sure Kaira never got that memo and if she did, she hardly cared. It was definitely a rough and rocky start, as I may have already mentioned…

When I asked her today, how she thought it went, her response was, “it was actually, fairly good.” Hmmph. Next time I will take pictures of her crocodile tears… But, like with the boys, we somehow pulled through. I am not a night owl. I would much rather be up early and in bed early… You just know God is a jokester, when I tell you Kaira is a night owl and doesn’t do very well with early wake up calls… The first few nights of this week, we did school at night; very near to midnight and beyond, actually. I am not built for that lifestyle, I promise. So, I imposed a bed time of sorts… Instead of laying down the long arm of the law, I simply informed Kaira that she needed to be ready to start school by 9:30 every day. Telling her this was great, because she still has control over what time she goes to bed, but also makes her aware of the expectation. (I also had to set everyone else in the house straight- just because Kaira is here, doesn’t mean that it is play time all day, everyday. School needs to be respected. Doing that, eliminated some of the grumpiness and complaints, also. Here is yet another tip for you: it is okay to compromise. Set the expectation and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

Again, this was a process and I am convinced pulling teeth might have been easier, initially. We aren’t quitters, so we kept plugging away. (This is kind of what we do in life, anyway, right? Keep going when it gets tough.)

I am so glad we did. We had great fun. (By we, you must know that Kaira did the work and I enjoyed her enthusiasm.) We did not go out to view the solar eclipse, but we did watch NASA TV for no less than four hours- resulting in Kaira already planning out her trip when she is 19 to see totality. (There is a lesson in this, also, my good people. All TV isn’t bad.) Kaira made a skin model. She created AND designed it. She made papyrus-like paper. (It stinks to high heaven during the drying process, by the way.) She created art on canvas. (I didn’t even know she liked art and here again, she hand drew something and then painted it, with absolutely zero instruction from me.) She painted a rock and she watched a video on the ancient Egyptian’s embalming process. As if that weren’t enough fun, she ASKED for a science project to do once she finishes the bone/muscle unit. This was truly an exciting development. The lesson in all of this? Allow your child/children to be creative. They just might surprise you!

We also knew when to throw in the towel- one assignment had us go to the store and try to see if the store’s unit pricing was the same price we came up with. It was marked as a challenge… As for the challenge, itself- we failed. But, we gave it a valient effort and are proud of the teamwork we put in. We didn’t stress over not getting it and we didn’t keep trying to beat a dead horse. We just moved on. You guessed it, another tip: it is okay to fail; it is okay to move on and trying is learning.

All in all, our week was hugely successful despite what we (read: I) believed were major disasters during our journey….

Have you started school? What bumps in the road, if any, have you run into? How did you get over them them? Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear it all! Leave us a comment with all the “gory” details and if it’s not to much trouble, please hit those like and share buttons for us!

The First Week of School

back to school

We know everyone has been anxiously waiting to hear all about our first day of school and we are excited to share it with you- so your waiting is over!

Enjoy the adventure!

Monday

kaira school 2.jpg

It is the first day of school! Things could not have gone any smoother! (By the end of the week, I would look back on Monday and wonder if it was a dream or if it had really happened…)

Kaira woke up (ON HER OWN) around 9. a.m- as planned and wanted to get started right away. As excited as I was at her energy, I wanted to sort of establish a quazi routine, so I marched her off to eat breakfast and take care of her hygiene before we started school. (Rest assured, though, I am fairly certain that there will be more days than not where school happens in our pajamas, but for today, she needed real, going outside clothes on.)

After all this, we got to work. Kaira did school and I cleaned the house. When she finished her work, she came to me and we talked about the things she had either read or learned about. She had to write her own poem; we discussed the meaning of a poem; she read the Bible and discovered the lineage of Joseph… It was great to relate this to the genealogy/family history work I do within our own family (if you are interested in reading about that, you can do so, here) and we may have even went off on a slight tangent, that I may be writing about on my other Blog, soon- but that is the awesomeness of homeschooling! You have time to explore the tangents and things that really interest your child, all while learning!

Monday’s ‘school day came to a close a mere two and a half hours after it had began… I can’t believe we learned/covered so much in that amount of time! It was awesome and Kaira enjoyed having the rest of the day to do and explore whatever she desired. She went to an appointment and when she came home, she was eager to practice the piano- a new skill she is learning!

Tuesday

I should have told Kaira that just because she was not going to public school didn’t mean that she didn’t have a respectable bed time. BUT. I didn’t. Instead, I told her that she had to get up in the morning to do do school, because she had things to do with 4 H at noon  and yet another appointment in the afternoon. I thought that was enough… that is what I get for thinking, though. Kaira had great fun staying up on Monday night (I think I woke up around 2 am and told her to take her behind to bed), so she didn’t wake up early, bushy tailed and bright eyed- as she had the day before. She woke up around 10:45, grumpy, because the babies were actually the ones who woke her. She was cranky and she definitely was not in the mood for school. My suggestion? Eat breakfast and do some math while she ate- that way she wouldn’t have to do it later on in the evening… This worked and she eventually came out from under the cloud of grumpiness. We made it to her 4 H activity and her afternoon appointment. But we still had babies running around, so it wasn’t calm until 8 or 9 and that is when Kaira finished the rest of her school for the day. She wasn’t to upset about it at first, but then she decided she was tired and that she didn’t want to do anymore work… She skipped out on her science (which I discovered later) and may have only just skimmed over other parts of school for the day. Hmmm… This was definitely something I would have to think on in the future in order to keep this from happening again…

Wednesday

kairachool4

 

NO SCHOOL TODAY!!! Well, school in the traditional sense that you are thinking, anyway. Today, Kaira went to a behind the scenes day camp at the Richmond Metro Zoo,  where she was able to learn about the care of the animals and other things about zoo operation and of course- she also had some fun!

This is another benefit of homeschooling. Kaira has decided that she wants to be a veterinarian, so as a homeschool student, we are able to find activities and lessons that will help her reach her goal of being a veterinarian, WHILE she is learning, having fun and doing ‘normal’ school things.

In Kaira’s words…

We fed the rhinos, well not actually fed them, because they are dangerous. We just put the hay out for them. I touched a snake and an iguana and the giraffes and goats and penguins. We got to see the baby animals and the birds that are walking around can’t fly away because their wings are clipped. We did the zip line and I was scared at first, but I just took a deep breath and told myself “you can do this” and I did it. I’m glad I did it, because it was fun. I can’t wait to go back next year! Oh and I got to touch a parrot and feed the birds and some kids sat on the tortoise, but I didn’t. Next year, I am going to take a picture with the parrot.

Can’t you just hear the excitement in her writing voice? I am excited for next year already, as well. I am already looking for other things she can do also (both now and in the future)- especially because I think after next year, she will age out of the camp… Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Thursday

 

I woke up sick as five dogs. Bless her heart, Kaira jumped in and watched the babies for me so I could stay in bed. She is wonderful in this way. Unfortunately, it also meant that she didn’t get any school done in the morning, as we had planned. This was okay, though, because babies take a nap, right? To my sick and weary mind, this was a great plan… To Kaira, it meant nap time for her, too. I guess my words, “Now that the babies are sleeping, go ahead and get your school done” were muddled or lost in translation… Needless to say, not much got done. Actually, NOTHING got done and I had a bit of a public school moment; where I freaked out because Kaira hadn’t done her school work. It wasn’t pretty and it ended in me having to apologize to her afterwards… Learn from my experience folks- just keep your mouth shut and let it go, sometimes, because it is okay.

Anyway, that’s how Thursday ended. So much for great laid plans, huh?

Friday

I still wasn’t feeling the best, but we both woke up ready to tackle this day of school work. As I mentioned previously, we are following a curriculum- but it isn’t a very rigid, set in stone curriculum. It is a 180 days worth of school, so we have the freedom to school whenever… However, I know me and I need to stick to some sort of routine or it will never get done, because it will always be pushed to the back burner…

So, school it was. Kind of. It was the dentist, first. Then by the time we got home, I was drained and I needed a nap. And Kaira ‘enjoyed’ the babies for me… Then we were ready for school around 3 in the afternoon. With Kaira sitting on my bed and the babies playing all around us, we got to school stuff…

We managed to finish and catch up on a lot of the things Kaira had skipped or not done. It was great. I decided that when she came back from camp (she comes back on Thursday) we would finish what we hadn’t gotten to and then move on. Another pro for homeschooling.

It isn’t always pros, though… Math. Ugh. We got stuck on her math. We had to call in reinforcements. I have taken it to Facebook and I will take it to the math wiz at church… I am determined to find the solution and know how to teach it to her when she comes back. I guess, homeschooling isn’t always the child learning. Sometimes, it is parent and child learning together. The great thing that did come out of this was that Kaira was able to see me not know something and as frustrated as I was at not grasping it, thankfully- this time- I handled it right and now she knows that you don’t have to let it get the best of you and that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help; it is also perfectly alright to take a break and come back to something that is frustrating you. Which is what we did. We are taking a week long break from math- well, at least she is. I am still here trying to figure it out. I would love your insight! Here is the video we watched. (Keep in mind that we DO UNDERSTAND cross multiplying. It is all the other stuff he did that we had the deer in the headlights look with.)

math problem

And this is the problem that has seemingly outwitted us… along with the response we were given when we entered what we thought was the obvious answer.

On the other side of this coin, she was really into the history and we spent 45 minutes watching a video on the pyramids and how engineers were on a race to save the oldest pyramid in Egypt fro m falling to the ground. (Spoiler alert- it didn’t fall)

So, all in all, this was a pretty good first week of school. We learned a bunch of new things- and we are excited to see what comes next! I, especially, have learned that Kaira needs to be on some kinds of routine and as much as I want to leave the formal school structure behind us, some of that isn’t necessarily a  bad thing. I also learned how to start a Facebook group and did for my fellow African American home schoolers in Central VA and surrounding areas… Please join us if you’d like.

So, how did you spend your week? Have you started school? How is school going? We can’t wait to hear all about your own home school adventures! We want to hear from you and we would love it if you gave us a like, share or even a follow!

 

Pushing Past The FEAR

I am starting to feel like I am already behind in this homeschooling adventure and we haven’t even actually started school yet. Oye! When we last talked, I told you that Kaira was going to camp next week and we would start school the following week. Whelp, as things tend to do in all things life related- our plans have changed.

I mixed up the camp dates… Thank goodness I needed to call the camp, otherwise I would probably be telling you all about how we packed EVERYTHING up and drove up there only to find out I had messed up. Anyway… camp is the week that we had originally planned on starting school. So, we have decided to start on Monday (yes, as in two days hence time) and then have a break for camp and then get back to it after camp. A lot of you may be thinking that we should just wait until she gets back from camp and plunge in, but this way actually works for us, because we are able to ease into it without all the full on pressure… Or maybe we are just ready for school… At any rate, it is starting Monday.

Immediately after deciding we would start Monday, my body began to revolt… I have had no energy and I am functioning at the most basic of levels right now… (for those of you not in the know, I had a head/brain trauma a few years ago and some times, the side affects rear its ugly head and this just happens to be one of those times).

And the panic began to creep in. I looked around at my house. It is a DISASTER zone. I fretted that we would be starting in a mess and that would breed chaos in our learning environment. Thoughts of being a horrible educator for my child started to eat away at my confidence… I seriously started to wonder if I was up for this adventure.

Next, I received some information about something totally unrelated to homeschooling Kaira, but still had me jittery and in a state of unrest, because in my mind, this news had the potential to interfere with the homeschool adventure and therefore shut it down. I thought about whether now was a good time to homeschool or if perhaps we should get through the hurdles this news presented BEFORE we started this journey.

I was becoming sick with stress… which is not good for anybody at any time, but is especially not healthy if you are JUST starting out on what is supposed to be the adventure of the century.

Then, I agreed, as a new homeschool Blogger, to participate in a blogging event with other bloggers- which means on or before a specific date, I will need to write about a specific topic. This is not a big deal, really, because I was actually planning on writing about the given topic, anyway; I just wasn’t planning on writing about this particular topic so soon… The topic is “homeschool rooms”. I know previously, I showed you a picture of how we get down most days, but I really want to address this for people who have tiny spaces. (More on that in the future.) The problem right now? I shall refer you back to the first point in this list: MY HOUSE IS A DISASTER ZONE.

The  madness is going to drive me bonkers. Have I mentioned that we are also getting back into a more strict riding/farm regimen? There is a state competition in about 6 weeks that we both are doing a bit of stressing over, which I am sure is adding to this not fun mixture of fear, self-doubt and anxiousness.

All of this on top of what I am trying to do within my life. I seriously asked myself why I ‘agreed’ to this in the first place. And as my brain and body seeped further and further into rebellion, I became completely afraid that someone would notice me on a totally bad, horrible day and question my ability to educate Kaira at home and get all kinds of ‘men in suits’ involved and whisk my right and privilege to homeschool her away.

Thank God for a mid afternoon nap and a homeschool support group. Just before I drifted off to sleep, I happened upon a discussion in one of my homeschool support groups where everyone was addressing their ‘greatest homeschool fear’. While no one had my specific fear related to my brain injury, a few people (who suffer from other physical ailments) were concerned about not being able to meet the challenge of homeschooling, some were afraid of dying and having no one to carry the homeschool torch and yet, others still were afraid of big government taking away or interrupting our right to educate our children as we see fit within our homes.

Just knowing I was not the only homeschool parent with fears, began to make my concerns seem less than the impossible mountains I thought they were. And having people encourage you; tell you that you can do it or that in having fear and concerns it showed that you truly cared about your child and would give the best that they needed was a balm to my soul and helped me rest easy.

Having some rest under my belt, also helps me put things in perspective. I can do this. Kaira can do this. We can do this.

Kaira did not readily admit to having any fears or worries about homeschool. That is, until I opened up to her about my biggest fear and concern. She looked at me and said, “now mom, don’t get angry or anything, but I am afraid you are gonna get to teachery and start yelling if I don’t understand something right away.” Oh, the damage public school has done to my poor sweet girl.

In that moment, I am reassured that homeschooling is the absolute most right thing in the world for her and I. Thank God for giving us the things we need, when we need them and in ways we can understand and process them.

We would love to hear from you! Are you a homeschooler who has faced these same fears or others, we would love for you to tell us about them and how you overcame them. Are you considering homeschooling and fear has kept you just on the other side of the proverbial homeschool fence? Maybe you are in public school and having fears about public education- but with no desire to homeschool? We want to hear from you, too! Please leave us a comment, give us a like and a share! We would be totally blessed if you followed us, as well! (We’re trying to get new content up at the beginning and end of the week!)

Finally, Kaira wants you to know that when you leave a comment, she is the one responding 😉

See you next time!