Saturday, April 14, 2007

Home schooling family

So since there seems to be a little "curiosity" about how and why we do home school I thought I'd share how we do things. Although a certain anonymous commenter was quite rude about the whole thing I can see how one might be curious about our schedule. It doesn't bother me at all to share our life choices when asked nicely!! :0) So I want to share with you what we are doing as a family.

When we were in the process of adopting our sweet Zoe I was a little obsessed about the best choice of school for her. I was so nervous about making sure she would be able to catch up with the other children and not feel like she wasn't smart just because she was a little behind the other kids. I researched DOZENS of options. I visited quite a few schools. Finally we went through an interview process and enrolled Zoe in a spectacular Christian school. She was supposed to come home sometime between April-July of 2006. We just knew she would have several months to learn English and bond with us then she would start a part time schedule. JUST PERFECT RIGHT??? Well.... as many of you know that is NOT how things turned out. It took us 5 months of waiting to finally get DNA because of slow lawyers and complications at the US embassy.We passed through April, May, June and their was no sign of Zoe coming home. In June we found out we had been kicked out of PGN and thrown into a rectification process for a minor clerical error. When we were kicked out we were told that because of these complications we should not even expect our Zoe home for Christmas. For weeks I was devastated. All my visions of Zoe home for the summer and Thanksgiving and Christmas were melting away. I was worn thin emotionally and financially. The thought of another Christmas in the Marriott in Guatemala just "playing" family almost broke me. I called Zoe's school and literally broke down crying as I explained to the unfortunate soul answering phones that Zoe would not be there in the fall. They were amazing and supportive and told us they would welcome Zoe when we were all ready.
As we prepared to go on a long awaited 2 week trip to Disney World in Oct 06 our hearts were breaking. We had planned this trip for Zoe and Kaitlyn. We had booked it when we just knew July was a worst case scenario. ALL the grandparents were going. It was supposed to be a special bonding time with all of them. Now here we were 3 months past our supposed worst case scenario and no end in sight. Then without warning we received a call that our Zoe had been released from PGN! It was crazy and unexpected and WOW! We were only two weeks from Disney and we really thought there was no way she would make it but we had to be ready. All of a sudden things started FLYING! We got the birth certificate and final signature within a couple of days. We got everything ready for pink and took it with us to Florida. Sure enough... we were walking through Epcot when we received the call to come pick up our daughter. Her pink appointment was in 3 days!!!! I jumped on a plane and got our girl and brought her back to Orlando on Nov 1st. Her first night in the US was spent in the Magic Kingdom. We didn't do much. Just the carousal and seeing some princesses were enough for Zoe at that point!! Yet just the gift of her being there- of seeing her hugging Mickey Mouse- it was more than we could have hoped for a month before that.
I called the Christian school and enrolled Zoe for the next semester. As we got to know Zoe better I realized that a classroom setting was more than Zoe was ready for at that point. She is so smart but was deathly afraid of making mistakes. She would literally break down weeping if she thought she was about to get a wrong answer. She had never even set foot into a school and hadn't even learned how to even spell her name till she was in foster care. I realized that putting her in a group setting in that fragile state could be a huge mistake for our little one. I was an ESL (English Second Language) teacher before I became a stay-at-home mommy. I felt confident in my ability to teach her what she needed to know. I talked to our social worker and she whole heartedly agreed with our decision.
Learning to function in a safe family has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to speak English has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to not be afraid to make mistakes has been huge. Being allowed (and forced) to think for herself has been a huge thing for Zoe. Learning to read in English, learning to write in English, learning Math at an advanced rate.... these things were going to be so much anyway. We had to be careful not to overwhelm her. The most important thing for Zoe was to BOND with us. Learning to be a part of our family is infinitely more important than her multiplication tables. We know that each child is different and respect each family's decisions for their children. Parents know their children better than anyone. It was our job to know Zoe.

For Zoe we knew that her first year she needed to be with us as much as possible. Just like a newborn she needed to learn that we would take care of her and she could trust us. We knew that she needed that kind of security before she could have the courage to take off on her own. So we decided I would home school for this semester and she would go to school next school year if she was emotionally ready. Again the school was completely supportive and wonderful. (did I mention I adore them???)
We decided these were our goals.... Zoe would do two years of Math curriculum in 8 months. She would be fluent in English. She would be able to read on a beginner first grade level in 8 months. She would be able to write simple sentences independently. She would be able to receive instruction and correction without weeping. She would be able to fail without fear. She would be securely bonded to our family and confident in herself.
Doing all this is easier than it sounds. Anyone who has taught knows that there is a LOT of time spent in the school day shuffling and waiting and so on. If you have only one child to teach you can get things done 10 times faster. There is no extra review because some of the kids don't get it yet. There is no 20 minute bathroom breaks before lunch while you referee fights in the bathroom and make sure everyone has washed their hands. We don't have to take attendance or file through lunch lines. So you can see that our school does not take near as much time as a traditional classroom setting. It usually takes us 2-3 hours a day to do her seat work. Then we do the art, music, PE and so on in lots of fun ways after we are done with our busy work. Recess is whenever we get done... PE is bike riding together to do school in the park or playing basketball or jumping on the trampoline. Yes, PE is also climbing all over the huge nets and bridges at Sea World or swimming.
We are also doing a year round school schedule. We do not usually take traditional holidays. She did not take a spring break and will not take a traditional summer. We take breaks whenever we need them as a family. We do school every week. We just don't do it in the same way. We do two longer days together each week. On those days I instruct and help Zoe in learning new skills. Then two days a week Zoe does her independent work with my help if she needs it. (she practices her reading, writing and math games) Usually one day a week we do a field trip and she does some work in the car. The car is actually a great place to do school. I just ask lots of math questions or she reads to me. It works out great!
Zoe has been in school for just 4 months. Next week she will complete her first YEAR of math!!! She can count to 100 by ones, 2s, 5s and 10s. She can count backwards from 20. She is learning to tell time and count money. She can add and do simple algebra. (10=6+x) She can communicate almost anything she needs to in English and understands 90% of what we say. She can read on a kindergarten level. She can write simple sentences with a little bit of help. She has gained so much confidence that sometimes she doesn't seem like the same child! She is becoming more secure in our family. I just love seeing the process!!! What a few months can do...
So NOW Zoe is enrolled for next year. She will start school in the fall!!! YAY! This time she is really going to be ready. This school is what is called a university model. That means that you take classes just like you do at college. Elementary students take classes 2 days a week. Middle and High school students take classes 3 days a week. You enroll your child in whatever classes you would like them to be in. You have the option to let them take some at home and just test out of them to get credit in older grades. Classes are offered by level- not just by grade. So if your child excels in math they can take a higher level of math. If your child struggles in reading they can take a lower level. The children are not all the same age in each class similar to college. (of course many of the kiddos will end up together in the traditional 1st class or 2nd class) On off days the elementary children do their busy work at home with a parent. Their school time is spent on the core teaching and major projects. This schedule also allows the school to use one facility for all their students which cuts cost in half! Zoe's tuition is less than half of what it would be at a traditional private school. Great news for us!! Plus, I think it's great that Zoe will get to have a school experience and friends but we will still get to spend extra time with her. I plan on sending all of my kiddos to school there.

Here is Zoe's school schedule.... She will be taking most classes on the second grade level. She will take Grammar 1st grade level.
This course will be individual unit studies with students learning about geography, Indians, Texas History, and ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, the Romans, and the Greeks.

The course will introduce students to different forms of writing and provide strategies for developing effective reading, speaking, listening, and learning skills. It will also introduce the six traits of effective writing, prewriting, and drafting guidelines. Course offered contingent on enrollment.


Music students will have an opportunity to experience an active involvement in exploring the fun of music. Students will learn the elements of music and connect to different music styles through the development of skills. These skills will include singing, playing instruments, creative movement, music reading, and listening. Students will also be introduced to composers of different music periods and various families of instruments. There will be performance at the end of each semester. Course offered contingent on enrollment.
Art students will be introduced to the fundamentals of art. They will explore art appreciation by identifying how art functions within our environment such as home, school and other places. Art history will be introduced to enable them to see the progression of art through the ages. The student will produce art in both 2-Dimensional and 3-Dimensional forms, using mixed medium of pencil, watercolor, tempra paints, oil pastels, collages, ceramics and printmaking. Some supplies will be provided by student. Course offered contingent on enrollment.

We will continue doing Math at home because I am so excited about the math program we are doing together. It's called Right Start Math. It's great!! OK well that's it. I've blabbered on enough and I am sure you all quite reading a long time ago!!!! Hee hee.... More than you ever wanted to know. :0) Angel


Home sweet home said...

I cannot get over how BEAUTIFUL both of your girls are -- CONGRATS !! :)

Julie said...

Your schedule is AWESOME! No wonder Zoe is thriving and Kaitlyn is such a smart sweetie! That school looks fantastic!

Nichole, Mia's Mommy said...

Don't worry about what those nay sayers say. You are doing WONDERFUL things with Zoe and you know what is best for her, no one else can see her day to day to know. I have had criticism for having Mia in school so soon. But she needs it for her braille learning and cane walking. You are doing wonderful Angel. Don't ever forget that. Most everyone who reads this blog knows exactly how much you love Zoe, it shines through in your words and pictures.


Kerry said...

I missed the anonymous comment, but whatever it was, I'm sure it was posted by someone who doesn't have the strength or courage to do what you are doing. I realized soon after we decided to adopt that people criticize you when they are jealous, or don't have the courage to do what you are doing themselves.

Anonymous...none of us are fit to judge anyone. You may owe Angel an apology after this post...ya think?

Lou said...

I taught elementary school for 12 years......I just "retired" in December. You made the best choice for your child. I remember seeing students come in from other countries into the school system and placed in the grade they "should" be in based upon their age. To see them struggle with fear and confusion was heart breaking. I commend your decision, and it's evident that Zoe is coming into her own with YOUR love, support, and guidance! YOU are giving her what she needs and laying the groundwork, so she will be able to attend school when your family is ready. People who leave stupid comments probably don't read us often and know us like we know each other. It just makes me mad! Just know that you have TONS of people who love and support you and look up to you. You my friend, are a FABULOUS mother!

Love and hugs!

Natalie said...

I am in awe. It is evident that you have things planned out and know what is best for your family! It is just amazing. You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry for coming off so rude. You are doing a wonderful job raising your two daughters. I didn't mean to sound so blunt, but with all the information that you put on your blog I just wondered how you home schooled. You have a wonderful schedule and I wish you the best

Angel said...

I just recieved the above comment from "anonymous." It takes a LOT of courage to admit being wrong. I really respect "anonymous." We all say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing sometimes. Not all of us have the guts to make it right. That is very cool. Thank you. You are welcome back here anytime. Just know this blog is like a snapshot of my life and not all of me. You are totally forgiven. Don't think another thought about it. I really appreciate you doing that. When I mess up I hope I am as brave and humble as you have been to make it right! A hug to you. :0) Angel

Anonymous said...

am a fellow adoptive, homeschooling mom. Your girls are beautiful and you seem to be doing a fantastic job with them!! Sometimes our "school" days include spelling or books on tape in the car, trips to a museum or collecting salamanders in grandpa's woods. Like yours my kids are thriving! You don't have to justify or explain your parenting choices to anyone! God knew you were the best mom for YOUR children! You dont need anyone else's approval! Having said all that I have one concern about info you posted on your blog. You included where/when Zoe will go to school and her schedule. It would be so easy for some sick individual to find/identify your child at her school based on the info you gave.
I know most people-like myself- visit this blog to learn and feel encouraged in our own adoption experiences. However there are always a few rotton apples(lurkers) . Please remove any specific identifying info about Zoes school and wherabouts. Just in case.......

Angel said...

OH MY WORD! Thanks so much for pointing that out! Please everybody point out to me if I accidently put on last names or addresses. I try to stay very non specific. I wrote that at like 2 am cause I couldn't sleep. Guess I wasn't thinking very straight. I really appreciate your concern and immediately removed the offending info!!! :0)

Thanks for your encouragement and advise. YIKES! Good catch.


Anonymous said...

I am truly sorry for coming across so rude. That was not my intent. You are a wonderful person, mother and wife. You have beautiful children, and you are doing what is best for them. I was just wondering how you manage to keep up such a beautiful blog, take absolutely beautiful pictures, keep up your housework, and be a mother and a teacher. You must be a super women, I couldn't do it. Keep up the wonderful things you do, and please accept my apology. God Bless all of you.

Angel said...

Thank you so much "anonymous." I can see you have a great heart. Your apology has already been accepted and I am uber impressed with you for offering it. SOOO awesome.

I truly am not a super woman!!!! Not even CLOSE! I do things by what is most important to our family. How do I keep a beautiful blog, take absolutely beautiful pictures, keep up my housework, and be a mother and a teacher?

Beautiful blog- I quit scrapbooking and I don't journal. I don't even have any pictures put in ALBUMS!!!! KK's baby book may never get completed. Who knows?? This is where I do that. I'm going to have them made into books for the girls in place of scrapbooks.

Beautiful Pics- Doesn't take long- anyone of you could do that in your backyard today in 30 minutes. Seriously!!! It's easy. Just read those tips I wrote. Hee hee

Housework- Right now I am pretty sure I have 4 loads of clean laundry sitting on my couch in the other room waiting to be put up. It may not happen till next week! :0) BUT if anbyody needs a clean towel or shirt they know they can just stop by the couch. I don't have a gym membership so that I can afford to keep a twice monthly maid service. I'd rather spend time with the kiddos than scrub toilets. Plus my kids and hubby help with the straightening and everyday stuff.Everybody works around this casa. Some weeks my house is sparkling clean, some weeks it looks like a tornado came through!

Mother and Teacher- THAT is my real job along with being a happy loving wife. This part is the only part I completely throw myself into.

I truly believe that anyone can make their life exactly what they want it to be. I love where I am but I have to let a lot of things go and pick my priorities carefully. I am FAAAAARRRR from super woman. I make huge mistakes all the time. I learn a little more about how little I actually know every day!! I am just a woman who knows what is important to me.

Sending a hug to you "anonymous." None of us is perfect... just helping each other make it through the good parts and hard parts! If you'd seen what a wreck I was during the adoption- SHEEESH! It was UGLY! :0) Angel

Anonymous said...

Thanks for accepting my apology, I truly meant it, and thank you for taking the time to type in about your home school. That expalined so many questions that I or others may had. I sure hope I didn't cause you being up till 2 in the morning.

Tricia said...

Angel, I firmly believe that God knew you were the best mom for YOUR children! And YOU know what is the very best thing for them when it comes to all parts of their lives!!!! Home schooling IS NOT EASY and I appreciate you sharing the details!!!

Crystal said...

Angel--hey you--you are so so so so awesome!!! --You will never know how much I needed the Max Lucado --He moves Stones--I am going to go buy the book tommorrow! I needed what you wrote so badly --more than I can expres on a comment!!!! I was catching up and I read that and the tears fell!!! Thank you my friend Thank you!!!!!!!!

Jami said...

Angel - I am impressed. I too think your girls are JUST BEAUTIFUL! You are a GREAT mommy!!

God's blessings to you!!!!

Kim said...

Everything sounds wonderful! What a blessed girl to have you investing so much into her life! You have a beautiful family! We homeschool,too and are expecting a baby girl through adoption this year! (from China)

Looking forward to learning about your adoption of an older child! I would love for this to be in our future!


Polkadot/Momma said... I like how this is going you my angel face,

Ellie Puls said...

Oh, PISS on that An. person... If they don't have the balls to leave their name, they are just blowing air up their....

Opps... Sorry about that Angel... It just drives me nuts when things like that happen....

You are doing a wonderful thing for Zoe, K, You and your HUBBY... YOU ALL NEED THIS...Bonding, School, Love, Assurance, and ZOE

Trust me, you have ALL your friends, BLOG BUDDY FRIENDS, Schools, Social Worker, and I am sure your Church Behind you... How dare anyone try to question this, when they don't know you or your complete situation!



Anonymous said...

I am so sorry you feel I should have left my name, it wouldn't matter as I don't live in your state, and I don't know any one on this message board. I am glad that Angel was as understanding as
she was, I will no longer leave messages as I seem to have caused quite a problem. Angel God Bless you and your family and good luck in your future adoptions. A Lurker from Oklahoma

Angel said...

Hello Again! First... "Oklahoma" don't worry about my late night blogging. I am a notorious night owl!! Most of my posts are written very late.

Also, I just wanted to say that I hope you don't get scared off. I have friends who are very protective. They just don't want me to have hurt feelings. I'm sure you have friends who would react that way for you too. I am scary mean if I think my friends are being hurt. :0)

The reason people get bugged about the name thing is that typically commenters with negative comments won't leave names or blogs so that you can respond.

BUT that said... don't let it scare you off permanently. It shouldn't stop me from blogging when I face a little controversy. I hope you won't stop participating because of it either.

You and I have come to an understanding and so we're good.

I am really fine everyone. You are so wonderful the way you stuck up for me. Let's give "Oklahoma" girl a break now. :0) She's been really up front and brave about the whole deal.


Michelle said...

I just came across your blog today and am amazed by you. Your story is such an inspiration and I look forward to following you and your family. BTW Zoe and Kaitlyn are beautiful! God Bless.

Oklahoma Lurker said...

Angel :)

Carrie said...


You are an amazing mom and teacher. You have made such intelligent choices and know what is right in your heart. Zoe's progress is amazing and you should be so proud. You are wonderful!

Carrie :)

Kya Blu's Mommy Candy...aka KiKi said...

Who ever is leaving you RUDE comments need to give it have me crying again...I am going to have to get the klennexx box before I read you BLOG from now on. I LOVE what you are doing with ZOE...I think her bonding is the most important thing too!!! I love the School you spoke of...I want to move to THE WOODLANDS TX because they have a school like that too.

GDS said...

You shouldn't have to explain yourself.
But, since you did, I must say - that was a very good explanation of your plans and reasoning. Your doing the right thing for your kids. I'm sure it's hard work, but what wonderful bonding time you have!
Best wishes and God Bless!