The first 10 weeks of 2014.... We Survived!
I know, "surviving" doesn't sound much like it was a stroll in the park or like I really enjoyed and thrived in our new homeschool arrangements. But, yeah, I think I'm blessed that due to certain saving graces provided by the Lord, I didn't go berserk from the maddness.
Our homeschool is constantly changing, year by year, even month by month, as the younger ones grow and develop new skills and the older ones explore new boundaries of learning.
In 2014, to date, our homeschool looks like this. We have:
- a highly motivated 14 year old high schooler who is recently freed from his PSLE obligations (end of 2013) and is now embracing his high school years with excitment, grabbing every opportunity to learn with gusto.
- a 12 year old who is preparing for PSLE. She's going slow and steady. She just completed her piano exam last wednesday too!
- a 10 year old (in his P5 year) who is transitioning from ACE to PSLE prep.
- an 8 yr old who is in ACE grade level and also doing SG maths and chinese
- an almost 5 yr old who is doing her reading readiness course with ACE. She can read simple words already!
- an 18 mth old who is constantly asking to be nursed.
I think I can only describe our school day as Intense. From the time the children wake up till the end of the day, it is a series of seemingly random events one after another and I just have to try to be on top of it all. Multi-tasking all the way. I can't seem to get even 10 minutes helping one child with his fractions without being interrupted three or four times.... the baby wants help in opening a toy, another child is asking where is the stapler, the washing machine is done with one cycle and needs to be reloaded with the next, baby comes again and announces she has a poopy diaper... Yes, it is a very different environment than school, but we have all learned to take it all in. Somehow, the children learn and get their school work done.
Having said that, No. 1 (14 yrs) will guard his school work time and not allow anyone to distract him and no. 3 has been getting up at 7 am before everyone else to get his work done in quietness, so that he can complete his work earlier in the day and play.
How are we going to survive this madness???? ponder ponder ponder
Well, to be brutally honest, I DON'T KNOW how it will all pan out. But I DO know....
GOD's grace will be sufficient for me and my family.
Saving Graces~ Quiet Time in Bible Reading and Prayer
I am sleep deprived. And I am one who doesn't function very well on little sleep. Yet, we have an 18 mth old who still stirs (for no particular reason other than habit) at least 3 times a night and pesters for some milk. As such, I take a mid-day nap while the children are in the thick of their seat work. Whatever questions they have, they can either ask each other or ask mama when she gets up. But meanwhile, if you see mama horizontal... DON'T BUG HER!!!! *grouchy sleep deprived mama bear*
Still, I have been making it a point to wake earlier in the morning, when the children havn't woken up yet, to do my personal Bible Time with the Lord. It has become a precious time of spending time with my Lord Jesus, re-aligning my thoughts, re-focusing my goals, but more importantly, it is knowing what God wants me to be, not in the doing but in the "being" - a living sacrifice for His service.
The number of students and the amount of "school" we have to tackle has increased over the years. Thank God the number of teachers in this homeschool has also increased! Last year, no. 2 was helping to teach no. 5 pre-school, teaching her the alphabet and phonics, with guidance by me on the side. She is a good and patient teacher!
This year, as no. 2 needs to focus on her PSLE prep, some of the teaching load has gone to no. 1. It's so nice to hear him reading the animal stories to his little sister and instructing her how to join the sounds of a small word or how to do her workbook.
I did hear that in some large homeschooling families, this kind of arrangment did work out very well (older ones teaching the younger). Either the older ones were resentful of giving up time for the younger ones, or the younger ones weren't being instructed well. So thankfully, we did talk to our older children and they have the heart to serve and help. And it springs from a love for the family and their younger siblings. I will tell no. 1 what are the lessons learning objectives and he will teach his sister. And I am always near by keeping half an eye on how the lesson is going.
Also, I get quite a bit of help with household chores. Laundry duty is taken by the kids these days but on occassion, I help them. Packing the house, dishes, washing and cleaning, these are all divided up. We believe these are really good opportunities to teach the children good character and even team work.
Saving Graces~ Church Brethren who Help
We are truly truly blessed to be in a good Church (Maranatha Baptist Church, we are Independent, Fundamental Baptist, if anyone out there would like to know. ;) ) Our brethren are truly loving and sacrificial whenever there is a need that arises. With around 5 other homeschool families in our church, we have a wealth of information and helps to tap into. No. 1, particularly, is a direct beneficiary from brethren who would sacrifice time to teach him.
Since losing time having to prepare for the PSLE, no. 1 is now having to double up on his maths learning. I like to tell people in homeschooling, the student-teacher ratio is 2: 1. Two teachers is to one student. heehee
He is having weekly maths lessons with one brother, Uncle Jack. And his papa also takes him for maths on another day. They each cover different topics with him. What a privilege that he can learn from two engineers who love maths!
Another brother, Uncle Conrad, has taken no. 1 under his wing to be his assistant in a robotics club which Uncle Conrad runs. It's like an apprenticeship, giving no. 1 exposure to working life. As a reward, no. 1 even gets an allowance! (For no. 1, working with robots is reward enough!) We are thankful because Conrad is a trusted brother and we know he has our son's interests at heart. We certainly value these learning opportunities but we wouldn't be comfortable if he took a part-time job anywhere else.
I also want to acknowledge family like my sis and my mom who are an invaluable help to us where the children's education are concerned! My mom paid for no. 2's piano lessons for which she sat for her grade 5 exam recently. We are thankful for that opportunity to go for lessons. :)
So in our homeschooling journey, the Lord has provided us with brethren and family who join us and walk together with us, and offer a helping hand. We are so THANKFUL!!!
Saving Graces~ Using A Student Centred Curriculum- Accelerated Christian Education (ACE)
ACE is an instructional workbook, self-paced, student-centered curriculum. This is our core curriculum to which we add SG maths and chinese. ACE has been a real blessing to me, a homeschool mom to 6 kids (5 school aged kids), as each child can get schooled without me having to actually teach them. The workbook teaches them. I am there more as a guide and help. And that frees me up to do other things (like cook lunch) or help them individually with SG maths or Chinese.
ACE has also been instrumental in training our children to be self-directed and goal oriented. As such, I don't have to monitor the older ones too much as they know what they want to achieve every day. The younger ones are still learning but they are very clear what their daily workload looks like. (4 pages a day per subject.)
Saving Graces~ Time for PLAY
We are homeschoolers and we refuse to be tied too long to a desk!!! Being freed from homework (there is no such thing as homework for a homeschooler), our time after school is packed with doing their latest hobbies or going downstairs to rollerblade, bicycle or climb a tree. (no. 3 recently found a good climbing tree and is all excited about that. )
The two little boys' latest hobby... making their own stuffies out of socks!
We recently moved house in December and we are now nearer to a swimming complex and also several lovely parks and playgrounds. (It was a tactical move, by God's grace, He helped us!) It has really been a happy change for us to be so near to so many facilities and recreational spaces.
Our eldest has become quite a sports enthusiast with cycling, jogging, rollerblading, swimming on his ever growing list of sport interests. Seriously, he has been borrowing books on jogging techniques (one called Pose Running) and also he has been researching on Youtube for how to-s. He recently attained the level 1 certificate for Sport Climbing too.
Anyway, time to play is certainly a saving grace as it is a time to relax and un-wind from the stresses and strains of the busy school day.
That's no. 3 (10yrs) with his papa. It was only his second climb! This guy is taking to rock climbing like fish to water.
Saving Graces~ Date Night
To keep our marriage relationship strong, 2 years ago, we instituted a Date Night once a week. It is the children's TV night (they will watch a DVD) and so they are very happy for us to go on our Date Night. haha
My hubby and I look forward to Date Night. We get to have dinner together, find a spot to talk. There are many issues that will crop up over the week and it is always good to hear each other's view on the matter and communicate. I get to unload my day's burdens and hear his direction and guidance. Time spent alone with my husband is really a saving Grace that the Lord has extended to me in order to cope with the demands of the household. Of course, it is a great time for me when I get to shed the "mommy" persona and just be me with my beloved.
The Lord has provided me with many helps to keep me sane and happy and thriving but I will just highlight these few.
I do hope that we will get some more of our processes nailed down in the coming weeks but I expect it to get better and less hectic. Hopefully.
Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverbs 16:3