Homeschooling: Trying Something New

I wrote about my easy-going preschool at home approach with Sprout. The method worked and Sprout was happy to “do school” most days until she got through the first of the dollar store workbooks she was using. That book was all about shapes and colors. The other three books were about numbers, letters, and handwriting… and were basically all writing practice. That’s where we hit a wall.

Sprout can write several letters on her own, but she struggles writing in a confined space. She doesn’t have the fine motor skills for that just yet. She became frustrated having to write on every single page, and began to protest school.

Curriculum Change

That was my clue to evaluate what we were doing and make a change. I bought an “official” preschool curriculum for 3-4 year olds. I knew it would begin with pages she could complete very easily, but I wanted the slow skill-building that such a curriculum offers. The dollar store workbook approach had no progression of skills.

We intend to use this publisher for most of our kids’ schooling (of course, being mindful if things aren’t going well or if it doesn’t suit a particular child), so it was the logical choice for preschool. There is a kindergarten (preschool for 4-5 year olds), and then it begins with first grade. According to current education laws in my state, Sprout will need to start kindergarten at age 5, which will be in 2019. So, I’m kind of starting her a year “early,” but I’m doing so with the plan to stop and evaluate with each set of books she completes. Maybe at 5 she will be ready for first grade work. Or maybe she will need another year of kindergarten work. I’m comfortable with either option and am in no rush to get her beginning first grade early.

Other Changes

Since we would begin a new curriculum, I considered it a great time to implement some other changes, too.

More Structure

I have always let Sprout decide whether we would do any school work each day. That works great when the school work is fun, but less so when it is challenging or new. My goal is to complete at least 3 pages per day, 3 days per week.

Also, we will begin our school time with prayer. I introduced Sprout to a simple prayer structure some time ago, which we will use for school time. I ask her to think of one thing she is thankful to God for and one thing for God to help her with. I sometimes feed her ideas, if she is struggling to think of something.

Bible Memory

I have wanted to introduce Bible memory work to Sprout for a long time. She has, like most children, an excellent memory. She remembers scripts from entire cartoon episodes, and she knows several kids’ songs and hymns. I know she is capable. It seemed natural to use before-school-time to work on this.

Then, I wasn’t sure where in the Bible to start. She doesn’t have the comprehension skills to memorize single verses of a broader story — it wouldn’t make any sense to her. Where can one find short, 1-2 verse sentences that are mostly single ideas? Proverbs, of course! So we are beginning in Proverbs. For now, I’m going to see if she can memorize one verse per week.

Record Keeping

Record keeping isn’t required in my state, for now, and especially not at this point when her schooling is optional. However, I considered it would be a good habit to begin. I will keep her daily records until she learns to read and write, then she can keep her own. This also provides us with some accountability to Nate and makes recalling our school day much easier.

I chose a small day planner. In each daily box, I write her praise and prayer request, which Bible verse we worked on, and which workbook pages she completed. On the monthly overview page, she puts a sticker on the day we have done school work.


Occupying Myself

Finally, I needed an occupation for myself during her schooling. I can’t work on house chores because she needs frequent assistance; and don’t want to work on house chores because the kids enjoy helping me. I found that being unoccupied while helping her with school caused me to over-praise her and to hover over her, giving too many reminders.

My solution is to do my own studying of the Bible during that time. I can be near her and ready to help when she needs me, but while she works on each page, I can read and busy my own mind. It worked wonderfully today, kept us all happy and calm, and I’m looking forward to the study time.


Fun Activities

Doing school work 3 days per week leaves one day for grocery shopping and, eventually, a library visit, and one day for something fun. I want to use our fun day for crafts or even some low-gear science “projects.” Having the time built into our schedule should help me feel less overwhelmed, I think.

Final Thoughts

This was our first day with this new approach, but I feel very encouraged by how well things went. I will try to give a progress report in a few weeks and let you know how it is working out!

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Progress and Plans

I am giddy with excitement today because a package came in the mail:

box o' yarn!

box o’ yarn!

It is a box of yarn! I spent some birthday money last week on skeins for several projects plus a few knitting tools/accessories. I love getting yarn in the mail, sorting through it, feeling it all, seeing if the colors look as great in person as they did on the screen (they do!). Much as I wanted to cast on a new project right away, I am using this box of goodies as encouragement and motivation to finish up one last gift project for this year. I still can’t give any details on it, but I can say that it is roughly 55% complete. I have about another month to finish it, but would really, really love to finish it before Thanksgiving.

As another motivator, I am sharing my baby-knit plans for this lovely yarn. ūüôā

sweater and pants

sweater and pants

The first project I plan to cast on is the Puerperium Cardigan¬†(Ravelry link). I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce the name, but the puerperium period is the first 6 weeks post-birth, which is the age this adorable cardigan is sized to fit. I am planning to knit it in a 100% superwash wool with the colorway name Dove Heather. Just as it sounds, it is a lovely, heathered gray. And because a spring baby won’t be very warm with just a short-sleeved sweater, I’m going to knit these “Cozy and Cute” Pants¬†to go with it. This pair of pants will be knit in superwash merino wool/nylon blend with a colorway name Rainforest Heather. It is a difficult-to-photograph very dark green yarn with flecks of maroon. At left is a photo of those two yarns together.

romper!

romper!

I am very, very excited about the last baby-knit, the Rhino Romper¬†that I plan to¬†knit in the 3-month size. Hopefully, the weather will be warming¬†up enough by then for Sprout to wear this comfortably. I’ll be knitting this in a very soft cotton/acrylic blend. The main body will be in a colorway called Silver Sage; as the name implies, it is a silvery-green color. The contrasting neck, arm, and leg bands will be knit in a brighter, darker green called Jalapeno. I am thrilled with how these colors look together and think this will be One Cute Knit! (photo at right) But, as it is a bigger size than the sweater and pants, it’ll have to wait until the first two are finished.

I also bought two skeins of sock yarn to knit a pair for myself, but I’m not sure what pattern I’m going to knit yet. I chose a 100% wool yarn in a colorway called Almond:

almond

almond

About That Day or Hour

There is no need to worry about when the world will end. It will not end before the Son returns. About that, Jesus said this:

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven,¬†nor the Son, but¬†only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So¬†you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come¬†at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Matthew 24: 36-44)

Jesus tells us to not worry about when He will return. We should only consider that He will and we must be ready. It is wise, therefore, to always be ready.

Do not fret about the signs of the end times (you cannot predict His coming).

Do not worry about predictions man makes (not even Jesus knows the day or the hour).

We should not worry about when it will happen. We already know that it will.

Are you ready?

The Heart: Part 2

Yesterday, I told you that from our heart, our emotions escape us (most often out of our mouths, but in other ways too).

In the same way that we can follow emotions from the heart to our outward expressions, we can trace every behavior and expression back to the heart. In this way, every sin or foolish act is a heart issue. If we want to deal with that sin or folly, we have to examine the heart.

A murderer first sins in the heart, usually by allowing anger to dwell there. An adulterer first sins in the heart, by not repenting of jealousy or lust. A thief first sins in the heart, coveting; a glutton, maybe by allowing sadness to take up residence in the heart. By not evicting negative emotions, we sin.

In fact, Jesus said that anger in the heart is akin to murder (Matt. 5:21-24); that lust in the heart is equivalent to adultery in the flesh (Matt. 5:27-28). By allowing negative emotions to reside in our hearts, we pollute our bodies and minds, and our lives become tainted with them.

However, it is not sufficient to address the behavior or sinful action (as many behavioral counselors attempt to do)–we must consider the heart. To rehabilitate a murderer, it is not enough to say “don’t murder again.”¬†That sinner¬†needs to know Jesus because only God can cure the rage in the heart. For the adulterer to have any hope at all,¬†that sinner¬†needs to know Jesus, as only God can reorient the heart back home. You cannot simply tell the glutton to stop eating so much; the glutton needs Jesus to change¬†the heart, so that the sinner seeks God instead of food, for comfort!

I struggle with sin in my life, but I know that I cannot help myself. I need Jesus in order to have a change of heart (a phrase used too loosely today). Without God, I can do nothing to save myself. But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, God’s grace covered me and gave me a new heart. Amen!

The Heart: Part 1

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”
Proverbs 4:23

I have begun a new journey of discovering who God is and how I am supposed to live my life. My textbooks? Psalms and Proverbs. The palms teach us about God, His miracles and His character. The proverbs teach us about the Christian, his nature, his sin and his purpose. I have set a new goal of reading Psalms and Proverbs daily, finishing both every month, which requires that I read 5 chapters of Psalms and 1 chapter of Proverbs each day. Some months, I will have to read more than that to finish (30-day months and February).

Today, the above proverb resounded with me and, amazingly, many verses in the¬†psalms I read coordinated with this “heart” theme.

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalms 19:14

Jesus echoed the proverb many times over in His teaching. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34); “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Matt. 15:18); “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks” (Luke 6.45). And those are probably only a few examples.

Therefore,¬†we can¬†follow every sinful thought/feeling up and out of the heart. Every thought and feeling is expressed in some way: speech, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, conduct and behavior. When your husband angers you, maybe you don’t yell at him, but you¬†withhold your affection for a while, or slam doors and cabinets, or punish him with silence. When he saddens you, maybe you don’t approach him in tears, but you¬†mope around the house or comfort yourself with food.

I am a cabinet-slamming, comfort-food-eating,¬†pout-er. That is how I usually express anger and sadness, unfortunately. But it is not healthy to allow these negative emotions to dwell in my heart. The proverb says my heart is “the wellspring” of my life! An angry or sad heart yields an angry or sad life. Surely you’ve met¬†women like this… you wonder how their heart even beats, it seems so calloused and rough. I do not want to be that woman, that complaining woman whose face is void of laugh lines, but filled with valleys from constantly crinkling her nose and eyebrows!

Where is my hope, then? In God! He can redeem my negative emotions! If I open my heart to His teaching and discipline, I can learn to be filled with joy, instead. I have seen this miracle at work in my life, when God has convicted me of pride and taught me humility. He illuminates my sin and folly and brings me to repentance.

Are you asking how this happens? The answer is prayer. When I get angry, I pray. After a few minutes of ranting to God about whatever my husband has “done to anger me,” the inevitable happens: my sin and folly is exposed before me. Oh. So it’s not his fault, but mine? So it doesn’t matter what he did–it’s my reaction that is the problem? I repent to God and ask for the strength to humble myself before my husband and ask his forgiveness, too. And when I do that, another miraculous thing happens. Usually, my husband is encouraged by my¬†humble heart to¬†also repent of his sin and folly!

Whether we want to admit it or not, our actions are usually the outbursts of our hearts. Every emotion can be followed out of the heart, and most often, out of the mouth. We can cut off this highway by erecting a barricade of prayer, and God will redirect traffic appropriately. Blessed is He!

Tomorrow: tracing actions and speech back to the heart.