Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I had a long and tearful discussion with Maid Marian tonight. She wants to go to public school for first grade. She was afraid to tell me because she loves me and didn't want to hurt my feelings. She says she loves doing school with me and is learning lots, but that she really wants to try "big girl" school and see what it's like.

My knee jerk reaction is to say no way, you're staying here with me. I don't know how much of that is selfish though. I would miss her! There are lots of reasons why we decided to homeschool, and I knew I wanted to before she was even born. Her favorite subject is Bible, and she wouldn't get that in public. I know that there would be lots of good things that could come from her going too though. I don't want to make a decision without exploring every option.

One big fear I have is that this could be a very short-lived idea. She wants to see what it's like because she's never been. If we decide to do it, and after a week she hates it and wants to come home, then what? I'm not going to be pulling her in and out of school on her whim. She is not the boss of this. I want God to be the boss of this. But my other big fear is that I will not be able to listen to His voice because what I want is so loud. I want her here. And I want her to WANT to be here.

She cried for so long. She was so upset about it. She was afraid that it would make me sad for her to tell me and that I would be angry at her. I hope I was able to reassure her that she can always talk to me about anything.

I am glad she mentioned it before I buy first grade curriculum. But I'm not going to stop looking at it either. We still have a few months before a final decision has to be made. And I just can't get past... what would I do without my girl home with me? She'll be barely six. I know everybody else sends their kids off to school. But I wasn't going to have to. I don't want to. We just finished reading The Voyages of Dr. Doolittle this afternoon. She's learning to subtract. She can count by 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, and 10s. Her handwriting is improving by leaps and bounds. She can sound out words and read books to herself. And we did that together. The thought of somebody else seeing those moments and being her teacher makes me want to cry.

How much should a kindergartener/first grader be involved in the decision? Is it too heavy-handed to just say, "this is what we're doing and it's not up for discussion" ? And for all I know, she could totally forget about this by tomorrow morning and I'll have stayed up late agonizing for nothing.

Argh. Prayers appreciated.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Heavy Bedtime Reading

We finished Mary on Horseback tonight, which is a biography about Mary Breckinridge. She founded the Frontier Nursing Service in the 1920s to help people in the Appalachians. I didn't preview it- I guess I figured it would be fine. And it is- I want her to know about stuff like that. The first two stories were ones where people got hurt and she made them better, or got them vaccines when they were sick. I didn't count on a mama AND a little girl dying in the last story and having my five year old cry herself to sleep and ask how she can help people and WHY did Lily die? She is so sensitive. I love that about her, but it was hard to get her settled down for bed. I had to do a lot of reassurance about how I am not going to die soon and she doesn't need to be worried about me dying if we have another brother or sister. And it's highly unlikely her dress will go up in flames while she's tending the cooking fire. She just has such a vivid imagination, and such empathy.

The next novel better be some fluffy stuff, let me tell you what. After this one and Twenty And Ten (about hiding Jewish kids during WWII), we're ready for a break from the hard topics!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Hard, But Ultimately Satisfying Day

We had kind of a rocky morning. I took the kids to the park and we had a great time. There was another homeschooling family there with a kindergartener- the first girl homeschooler we've ever really spent any time with. The girls seemed to get along well, the way you do when you're five and saying hi means you're new friends before you even know each other's names. Things got crazy though and they were having a picnic and we were leaving and I didn't get to exchange information with the mom. So Maid Marian was sad walking home because we didn't know how to get in touch with her new friend.

Then we walked by the elementary school she would be going to if we weren't homeschooling, right as the recess bell rang and all the kindergarteners ran out to play. Five of her Sunday school friends go there and I felt so miserable as I watched her with her little face pressed up to the fence. She started crying and told me she didn't want to homeschool anymore- that she wanted to go to public school and get to have all those friends.

When we got home she curled up on the couch and just looked completely beaten down. It was awful. I went and snuggled with her and asked her to tell me what she was feeling. She said her tummy hurt and she didn't know how to explain it. I said I thought the word she was thinking of was "lonely" and she burst into tears and said yes, she is so lonely, and WHY aren't there any other five year old girls who homeschool?

We had a really good talk. I told her that her daddy and I are convinced this is what God wants us to do this year, but that we would pray about it and if she wanted to try public school next year we would see where He leads us. I told her all the things I love about her, and how much fun it is to be her teacher, and how much I would miss her if she went to school all day. She wouldn't get to do Bible anymore, and it's not like going to public school means you automatically have lots of friends. I told her about hard times I had in school where people teased me or I felt lonely too.

After she settled down and thought about it some more, she started getting worried that I actually might send her to school, and telling me how much she would miss her brother, and that she wants to stay home and do school together. We're finishing book one of her math program this week- she's halfway there and she's so proud of everything she's learned.

Tonight we watched Because of Winn-Dixie, which I had bought on impulse a year ago when it was on sale cheap. I didn't even know what it was about, but it was a girl who was lonely, and it seemed to go along perfectly with some of the things we had discussed. Now she wants to check the book out of the library and read it so we can see if it's different from the movie, and she's excited that it's another Newbery book. She's bouncing back, and I've promised her that I'm going to try to see if we can somehow join a group for her to meet other five year olds "like me". Ones who homeschool, Mama, and love God...

I love her so much. It's so hard sometimes to be sure we're making the right choice, and that I'm giving her what she needs, especially on days like this. But the thing is, I can't imagine doing anything else.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And Then Crickets Chirped...

because I ignored this pathetic little blog for weeks on end....

I'm still kind of struggling with the purpose of writing it in the first place. I guess in my shiny naivete I had hoped there would be a-ha moments every day and I could showcase her fabulous skillz or something. I don't know. And instead I find myself thinking about every 4-6 weeks, oh... I should write something. And all I can think to say is the same old stuff. She likes Bible. She doesn't like much else. Reading to her gets old for both of us. I wish she was learning to read faster. She is making lots of progress though. We discovered a series about fairies that she likes, and I've been reading her a bunch of that. Even though it's not official curriculum, I'm pleased that she still wants me to read to her outside of schoolwork stuff.

We never did make it to the zoo. However, I worked with Robin Hood and he is the king of animal sounds now. He knows so many that it makes me laugh. We're also working on colors and shapes, and I'm trying to do a bunch of counting stuff with him too because right now he looks at me like I'm crazy when I ask him to do it. Randomly, he'll throw the next number in the series in though, so I know he understands at least something about the process. Maid Marian was counting to 9 for something the other day and he was running after her yelling TEN! TEN!

She's really good at counting by tens now and has finally mastered fives as well. We're having a good time. I need to stop stressing. We're on Christmas break this week but I didn't tell her that, so we're catching up on some of the stuff we're behind on. It's working out nicely.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Focus On Science

I have next week scheduled off for Thanksgiving break, so I'm not stressing too much about school this week either. I figure we can catch up a bit during the holiday. We're planning a trip to the zoo this Saturday and we're doing tons of pre-zoo science work. We got this book, The Complete Zoo Adventure, and we're really enjoying it. It's got three sections: Before the Zoo, At the Zoo, and After the Zoo. For a week beforehand you do a daily devotional, and each one talks about the animals and their adaptations and habitats and mannerisms and how God's universe works together. It tells some of the theory of evolution and talks about how it doesn't stand up to the truth. A lot of it is way over her head, but we're having a good time discussing it, and even if she doesn't get all the creationist vs. evolution stuff, she's remembering words like adaptation and habitat.

Then there's a field journal, which she loves the idea of, since Diego keeps one too. She was annoyed that it doesn't talk and look exactly like his, but hey, it's a twelve dollar book. There are sections for each kind of animal and a little scavenger hunt type thing where you fill in spaces with information about each critter as you walk around and see them. Or, if you don't live near a zoo they call this a "field trip in a book", and you can read about all the animals and fill out the journal at home, which is cool.

Then there are word finds and mazes and questions and coloring sheets and all kinds of stuff to do after you get home.

We're all really excited about the trip and I love that we're doing so much prep work. The meerkats were her favorite animal anyway, and now that she knows one of their adaptations is their social life and the way they work in groups, I think she's going to have even more fun watching them.

Robin Hood is excited too. He's learning the names of all the animals and the sounds they make. I can't wait to see the look on his face when he realizes how BIG lions and elephants really are!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And A Month Has Gone By?

Wow. Things are flying by. I haven't blogged because there hasn't been anything really new or fascinating to say. We're on week 11. Same as usual- doing great on math and Bible, reading plenty of novels, behind on social studies/science...

Most, actually *all* of the other families I know who homeschool do it a few days a week and then do some kind of enrichment program. We're not able to do that right now, so I'm really feeling the burden of making sure she gets EVERYTHING from me. There are more and more days that I feel overwhelmed with trying to get different things discussed or read, and also more and more days that it's like pulling teeth to get her to sit down and listen.

I helped out in her Sunday school class last week and she seems to be right on schedule- there are four kids in there that attend the school we're zoned for, and they were counting by tens and writing their names and talking about a lot of the same things we've been doing. So I don't really feel behind right now. I just worry that I'm not instilling a good work ethic or love of learning. I do want her to really value education and feel that it's always exciting to learn new things. On the one hand, if 3 out of 5 days a week we blow off part of school just because she (or I!) am not in the mood, I don't feel like that's sending a good message. On the other hand, we talk constantly and she asks probing questions and makes connections. We're learning about choices and housework and cooking. I know she's learning from the world around her. And we do at least some daily schoolwork most days, even if we don't get through all of it.

I'm just not sure if it's enough. Sometimes I feel like I'm just not doing a very good job. I suppose it's normal to second guess yourself as a mom, no matter what choices you make. I just wish we knew somebody else around here that we could get together with so that we didn't feel so alone. I want some reassurance that things are going well.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reading Good Stuff

Well, we finished My Father's Dragon in 24 hours. We both loved it, and last night we went to the library and got the sequel, as well as the second Boxcar Children book and a few stories about Moses and Exodus. We need to sit down and work on catching up with the children's encyclopedia- we're behind on social studies. So far though, it's been really fun to just READ. I had such a good time last night showing here where the information desk was and coaching her to ask for help, and finding the books on the shelves. I really wish that we could go to the library during the day where it would be obvious we were homeschooling and there wouldn't be a billion kids there. Maybe someday.

We're already on chapter 4 of Elmer and the Dragon. I'm so glad she loves to be read to- I love to do it!