Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kaiya's Preschool

So what does homeschool look like for a preschooler??? Well, first of all- short. :0) We try to keep it within the bounds of Kaiya's 3 year old attention span. Formal class time for her is only 20 minutes or as long as she is excited about what we are doing. We will stretch it out longer and longer over the next couple of years.

Starting at 4 years old Kaiya also gets to start going to Classical Conversations class instead of the nursery there. So HURRAY! She has already picked up quite a bit just listening to her sisters. ANYWAY... here's a peek at what school looks like for Kaiya Rain Zhen!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My Two Cents On Raising My Munchkins!

So I often get questions about how we raise our kids and why we make the choices we do. So I figure I might as well blog about it!! Please know that these are my thoughts and experiences. I do not ask anyone to agree or claim to be an expert. I'm just sharing my experience as a momma.

I completely respect everyone's right to do what they feel is best for their babies. We ALL love them and work so hard to do what's right for our children. As my wise cousey says "The only way to be a REALLY good parent is to save a lot of money for them to get counseling!" I'm just another Christian mom trying my best not to mess up my kids too much.

So here is my basic theory on raising our children.... I want to do this work WITH them.... not keep them from doing it.

When our kids learned to walk they do it by watching an adult who already knew how. They learn how to talk by mimicking every sound we make.... When they learn their ABCs we encourage them to copy each letter by how we sing it. (Or in my case how they sing it on Leap Frog Letter Factory) In all these things we "walk" with our children and teach them how to face these new challenges. I think that's what we are supposed to do.

It seems that many times, as Christian parents, after that we get confused in how we should let them learn things. I mean it's easy with things that don't scare us like how to say "Mama." What about the things that are more frightening to deal with in life? What about when kids say mean things? What about when the lyrics of songs aren't the nicest? What about S-E-X? What about when an adult makes wrong choices and our kids are involved?

Some Christian parents have a situation where their home is an extremely loving, safe and PROTECTED environment. Then the kiddos face many of these things on their own in a school or child care environment. Parents hope that the safe place at home has prepared them to face the ugliness in the world. They encourage their precious little ones to come to them if they face these challenges so they can help them steer through it in a Godly way.

Some Christian parents feel they want to shelter their children from all the ugly that is out there. They keep their kids home or put them in a "safer" school environment. Things that are not Christian are not permitted into the child's life in an effort to protect their precious little hearts.

Then there's the way we do things which I admit doesn't usually fit into the norm. I find that many moms consider me way too liberal in the things I let my children watch, do, read and experience. I can understand that view since there is so much garbage out there. I spent a lot of time attending public school, private school and teaching both. I've seen what our kids face. I totally get the temptation to shield.

Other moms think homeschool for my children will cause them to be far too sheltered. I completely get that view too. I was homeschooled from 7th-12th grade. I know some homeschooled kids that went wild once they were let loose cause they didn't know how to handle freedom. I knew some that were.... frankly... just weird. Then I knew a lot that were cool people!!

I guess for me it comes down to my agenda. My goal is not to protect my children. My goal is to prepare them to be Godly women in a wild world. I have just chosen to prepare them by walking WITH them through everything I possibly can in an attempt to teach them to handle life well. I ask myself... is this something my kids will be exposed to in the world on a regular basis? If the answer is yes I want to expose them to it FIRST and teach them how to handle it.

I don't expose them to EVERYTHING of course!! If there are things that are NOT SAFE for them then we will stay far away. For instance, I don't expect that they will need to know how to handle mass murder on a daily basis so I see no need to expose them to violent horror movies. We will not watch graphic sex scenes as I don't expect them to see that in daily life. However, we won't avoid movies or shows where the topic of sex before marriage and living together is brought up. Bring it ON! They WILL face those issues EVERY DAY! Let's talk about how we feel on those subjects.

The basic deal is I want my kids to know how to make wise decisions and deal with difficult situations. I also want them to know that if I say they can't do something or see something it's for a very good reason and not because I'm being too sheltering.

We listen to pop music, rock music, you name it! We watch shows where the kids are disrespectful to their parents or the parents aren't around AT ALL! We don't forbid the words dumb and stupid. We watch movies that the family reviews don't recommend even if they have cuss words or magic. We study different religions and what they believe. We read books that other Christian parents may be tempted to burn.

This isn't cause I'm not paying attention. It's because I AM! We talk about what we see. We decide what we agree with and what we don't. We discuss it- learn to balance- learn to decide what to do if we face that. We use so many things we see to show kids a picture of what life without Christ looks like. We stay relevant and in touch with what's going on... we just don't BECOME it!

I can't say I am doing this all right. NO, I can say with certainty that I am NOT doing it all right. All I can hope is that, with God's grace, when my kids go off on their own they will face decisions equipped to handle it. I hope this world won't knock them for a loop right off the bat because they'll feel they've walked this road before... with Mom and Dad. Just like when our kids take those first wobbly steps watching us carefully to see how to do it. Before we know it they are off running.

Love, Angel :0)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why I Love Classical Conversations!

My last post told what Classical Conversations is all about. This post will cover why I LOVE it!

The people there are TOTALLY normal!! They are just mom's like me who are trying do this home school thing. I will admit to being GREATLY relieved when I met the moms at CC and found them to be down-to-earth and not all wearing jumpers with apples while wearing stern looks on their faces. :o)

I'm NOT alone! Sometimes being on this home school journey can feel lonely if you don't know how to go about. Classical Conversations has given me a community of loving mommas who support each other! On days when I feel like maybe I'm the only one who.... these moms never fail to help me get back on track.

We don't learn, test then forget! That drives me absolutely INSANE!!!! I can't stand seeing my kids work crazy hard on something only to have them take a test and never cover it again. Are you kidding me? Their time is too valuable for that. If I am going to ask my kids to learn something I want them to KNOW it is valuable. At Classical Conversations Foundations information is narrowed down into 3 cycles of info that children will need to know their ENTIRE lives and they focus on learning that information until middle school. CC also plays to their strengths and sets them up for success because the program is built around where they are in their cognitive development. They don't feel frustrated anymore and they BELIEVE that what they are learning is important. No more learn, test and forget it! Oh happy day!

I am still the teacher. Classical Conversations gives me structure, support and motivation but when it comes down to it I AM THE TEACHER! I love that. If I say this week we are not working on our memory work because we have other priorities no one gives me trouble or threatens to fail my kid. ;o) They are here to help me- not take over my job.

It is very flexible. I adore the lifestyle we have with Classical Conversations. CC for the younger kids meets once a week for approx 24 weeks a year. We hang out much more than that but having only that many classes gives us plenty of freedom to do our own thing.

CC does art projects and science projects that I find valuable. They don't just color something... they learn about a particular artist and mimic their style of art. They don't just talk about orchestra... they become a "part" of it. PLUS! Let's get real- I am NOT good about working those cool things in at home.

CC is more than a school. It's a community. Each CC campus is different and has it's own personality which I love. The curriculum is ALWAYS identical at every campus but the way they run things varies according to the desires and needs of the campus moms and director. The one I will be in next year is going to be EXTREMELY community oriented. We will work, play, serve and pray together! We will have science classes, field trips, play groups, mom's nights outs- even a family retreat. What a blessing to become a part of a community of people so dedicated to raising their children to be Godly, educated adults!

I appreciate the highly involved parents. A parent/guardian is required to be in the classes with their children. Their are so many great things about this... Behavior is usually very good. Productivity is high. Parents know what the children are learning. Tutors are not overwhelmed and feel very supported. Moms really get to know one another and become a community.

FINAL REASON! MY KIDS AND I ARE THRIVING! I am nothing short of AMAZED when I see what all these children are capable of learning. When I first saw the materials I really thought, "NO WAY! That is way too hard for my kids." Guess what??? Not by a long shot. NORMAL kids are learning extraordinary things. I am so thankful for CC that I can't shut up about it.

I'm sure there are more reasons I am forgetting... those are the ones I thought of off the top of my head. I guess I'll have to do a second installment if there are too many I have forgotten.

I hope that helps those of you who are exploring this option. Are there any questions anyone has that I didn't address?? :0) HAPPY HOMESCHOOLING! Angel

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Classical Conversations With Kaitlyn Elise

This is our first year in a group called Classical Conversations for homeschooling families. It's our first but it DEFINITELY won't be our last. I am so BLOWN AWAY by all that my kids are learning. I AM THRILLED!

One of the things I love MOST is that in CC we don't teach something only to test and have it be forgotten. The curriculum is narrowed down to 3 Cycles of information that students will need to use their entire lives. They start at 4 years old to about 12 or 13 making sure they know that info back and forth. There are games, chants and songs we use to make it fun to learn. It's remarkable how much more my children are retaining. Frankly, it's amazing how much I AM LEARNING!!! :0)

I want to do a blog post on what Classical Conversations IS but for now here is a video of Kaitlyn practicing what she has learned. We are 2/3rds of the way through the school year right now. This video is JUST History Sentences for 2/3rds of 1 year-Cycle 1. We also do History Timeline, Science, English, Latin and Geography. Are you as blown away as me????

I plan to record both the girls in all their subjects during the summer to show what they are learning. Very cool! Thank you Classical Conversations. We are SUPER SIZED grateful for your organization. Angel

Monday, March 01, 2010

So much to say... nothing to say...

Sometimes I have so much to say that I don't know what to say... Does that happen to anyone else? I really do have so much in my head. I'd like to write it down. Well, for that matter I would like to be able to process it AT ALL!