Friday, January 11, 2008

Still Here!

We are around, just busy as always. The kids and I enjoyed a nice break from school, and after a short transition are settling back into the normal routine. I am proud of the kiddos for hanging in there and putting up with me. For all my faults as a teacher, they seem to be managing to do their work well. One of the nice things about our homeschool is the testing to help me know if they are on track. Many people don't understand how this works, so I thought I could explain it better. We buy our curriculum all from the same place, A Beka Book. It is all integrated well and I don't have to do much thinking or worrying about if all the requirements for each grade level are being met. This has put my mind to rest in many ways, especially with this being our first year ever of homeschooling. The A Beka curriculum is used by thousands of homeschoolers all over the country, and many private Christian schools too. In fact, at the kids' school they were at before they had many subjects from A Beka--so that made the transition a little easier for them. The tests are prepared for me. Math tests are straightforward--testing of the skills they've been practicing. The other tests vary in style, just like you would expect in a traditional classroom--some mulitple choice, matching, true/false, and short answer. Of course, the tests are put together in such a way as to cover a nice sampling of the topics presented in the lessons, and an answer key is given. In this way, I can test the kids, grade the tests, and know without so much bias if their grade accurately represents their understanding of the material studied. Also, I can know with some certainty how they compare to peers, since this curriculum is so widely used. Even longer projects subject to more opinion, such as a book report, are given a ruberic by which to grade, taking the guesswork out for me. And then, I have the back-up plan of a teacher husband who has experience in the field who can give feedback on how the kids are doing, plus several teacher friends to whom I have presented the kids' works on occasion. Finally, at the end of the year the kids will each take a standardized test to see where they fall compared to kids in our area, in our state, and in the nation. So far Caleb is performing well, with great accuracy particularly in phonics and arithmetic (the two most important areas for a 1st grader). His handwriting was getting sloppy there before Christmas, but we talked about that a lot, and I've noticed a huge improvement since starting back after break. Eden excels in all her subjects, scoring in the 90s almost always. Her mom's perfectionism is rubbing off on her, however, and she can't stand to miss any problems. I'm going to have to work with her on that. Most of the time she has a wonderful spirit, but every now and then she shows a little bit of attitude. She's very imaginative, and ends up losing time daydreaming. Micah is struggling to find his foothold and what he really wants to do. He's at that point of decision where I don't think it's enough for him to work to please me. He's got a real, "What's in it for me?" attitude. Also I think the coursework is challenging for him. It requires a lot of fact-recalling, and we just don't drill the facts enough. I would love to spend time making him flashcards for every subject (particularly History and Science), but struggle to have the time. I would love even more for him to make his own flashcards, but I realize that's a discipline that most 4th graders don't have (even my brainiac self didn't pick up that habit until high school). On a high note, the work is cyclical, so the stuff he's studying this year he will revisit next year--they'll take all of this year's facts, go over them like new, and add new stuff to that. So it should be a little easier, not to mention he'll have the hs'ing thing down a little better too. He has both A and B averages in his subjects. He is working SO hard on his attitude. I am wrestling with letting go.

I'm so excited to say that we accomplished Bible class EVERY day this week! That's the first time since October, I think. :) It has been a real struggle, but I set my jaw and decided it is the most important thing we have to do and I'm not going to give up. I think the kids are catching on. I'm also trying to move very quickly through it (the more time we sit there, the greater the chance that we'll be interrupted). I have a much more realistic viewpoint now, and the goal is easily obtained. The kids learned some great attributes of God this week: God is omnipresent (everywhere), immutable (He does not change), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscient (all-knowing). I love the questions that were asked and how the topic was presented. The curriculum we use is by Summit Ministries, and it is great.

My serger had to go to the shop. :( :( :( *cry* One of my darling children was being a little curious, and broke a part inside. Thankfully, the DC came and told me, while sobbing, instead of just letting me find it. If I had been left to find it, I know for certain I would have lost my temper. Instead, I handled it rather matter-of-factly, and we all loaded up to take it to the shop to get fixed. I hope it is back sometime next week as promised. I got slammed with diaper orders (yay!), and I would love to keep my deadlines. I do have a plan in place...just barely short of taking my diapers down to the shop and saying they have to let me use the display model to complete them. :) Kristin has said I can use hers if it gets to that point. :)

Well, it's uber late here, and I have to sew what I can tomorrow. I thought I should post an update before everyone gives up on me and stops coming to check. Love you all! Steph

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