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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In This Chair

Chair

this chair

In this chair, I rock;
My sweet baby I see.
Eyebrows, ear lobes, toes that wiggle;
A frown, a smile, and a giggle.

In this chair, I nurse;
Day, and nighttime, too.
She roots and pats and even whines;
For the comfort that I provide.

In this chair, I weep;
Such tears I’d never known.
Tired, weary, and petrified;
Yet even these things pass with time.

In this chair, I pray:
God, keep this little one.
Protect her slumber, day and night;
Reveal to her Your shining Light.

In this chair, I love;
How much? Words cannot say.
What precious moments that we share;
I rock my baby in this chair.

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?

Direction and Purpose

Visualize the following scenario: a parent lays a blanket on the floor and places his child on it. The parent wants the child to stay on the blanket because it’s the only safe place for her in the room. He gives the child some good toys to play with on the blanket. Each time the child strays from the blanket, the parent reprimands her in some way and returns her to the blanket.

There are a few things happening here. There is a loving parent and a typical child that tends to stray. There are boundaries that divide good things from bad. The child probably doesn’t understand why she can play with some things and not with others, and this may cause her to wander across the boundaries from time to time. The parent may or may not explain why something is off-limits–perhaps the explanation is too complicated for the child and she wouldn’t understand.

I am comforted knowing that my God is like the parent in this situation. My God lays out boundaries (do not covet, do not be a glutton, do not steal or murder, love your neighbor as yourself, etc) that give me a (mostly) clear line between what is acceptable and what is not. I do not always understand why something is off-limits, but I love my God and so I trust His judgment. God restricts me by placing some activities out-of-bounds, but blesses me with activities that are good (marriage, fellowship, joy, etc). When I wander beyond His boundaries, God, through the Spirit, rebukes me and sets me right again. I may stray 20 times in a day, but my God does not grow weary–He will always seek me and return me to His fold.

The most difficult part for me is trusting God’s judgment and having faith that God will bring me back to Him. Sometimes I focus too much on what I can do to return to God. Maybe if I read the Bible more or pray more fervently, I will be in fellowship with God. I always fail, though. I am never successful because the truth is, I cannot do anything in my power to be closer to God. I simply have to stop resisting His pull.

I read the Bible because God’s character is revealed in His word. I pray because God speaks through the Spirit if I am still and quiet enough to hear. I want to know God’s character. I want to hear God speak into my life. I desire fellowship with God and He answers this desire through His word and Spirit. What a blessing my God is!