Tomorrow will wrap up our first official week of homeschool. We’ve run the gamut of emotions from delighted midday dancing in our pjs to my realization after only four days that the curriculum for one of our subjects was no longer welcome in our house. Here is a look at our first week as homeschoolers in Seven Quick Takes:
I think one of the most important opinions regarding this whole wild adventure is that of the student herself. We took Li’l E out for dinner tonight and about half way through the meal, Eric asked her what she thought about homeschool. She jumped to her knees in the chair to give herself a little more height and exclaimed, “It’s fun!” while bouncing up and down. I asked her why she thought it was fun, and here was her enthusiastic list:
I love doing everything with YOU, Mama! (melt my heart!)
I like making breakfast together and cracking eggs.
I like not getting up when I’m too sleepy.
I love having my sissy play with us.
I like the history and science. I want to do more projects!
I love cursive, because I am so good and I am already on letter C.
I like getting done at lunch, and I like working extras when I want to.
I like getting to play with my sissy and my friends in the afternoon. (I’m not entirely sure that is homeschool, but I think she was getting at having thing entire afternoon open to enjoy, so I included it, too)
Reasons this Mama is loving homeschool so far:
I love getting to be with my girls all day.
I love watching how excited Li’l E gets about learning.
I love watching the baby mimic her big sister, whether reading a book or “writing” on paper.
I love knowing exactly what level she is at in every subject on any given day.
I love seeing both girls minds work as they learn and develop and grow.
I love that I don’t spend five days a week waking kids up earlier than they want to get up and then arguing and fussing at them to get out the door on time.
I love watching the amazing relationship my girls have continue to grow.
I love the cute little group of homeschool and public school kids from our street that appear on our doorstep every afternoon like clockwork to play; I love the joy Li’l E gets from getting out and exploring with friends and the joyful way she returns to our home.
I love relearning and sharing and exploring the world again with my curious kids and without pressure.
I’m kind of glad that the “Science Debacle of 2013” happened this week. In my normal fashion, I was becoming anxious that things were going “too well.” It’s kind of like when I was a competitive horseback rider. There was something about falling off for the first time that made you feel initiated, no longer a green beginner. Having to completely change my choice of curriculum for a subject feels like earning my first homeschool stripes!
We had heard such great things about the science curriculum that we chose, and I was really excited about focusing on a specific topic that I knew Li’l E was very excited about. In general, I was enjoying the layout and the way the material was presented. Then we were reading a paragraph that just made me feel… uncomfortable. Right in the pit of my discerning stomach. It involved a specific list of modern day creatures (creatures that exist in our world after a VERY long process of fossil-evidence-backed evolution) being created as fully formed adults right from the beginning of the world. I tried to shove it aside because "maybe it was just a fluke, a fit of enthusiasm. This is supposed to be a great curriculum! You read all the reviews. You picked it. Everyone loves it!", but several pages later, we came across this paragraph:
"Okay. I’m done."
Mostly, I’m just thankful that my mind reads faster than my mouth, so the content hit my brain before I actually spoke the words, and I was able to call it a day on the science before having to pitch an academic tantrum and force my seven year old to listen my personal diatribe on the lack of respect for the evolutionary process.
Maybe you are huge on very literal biblical creation. I have no opinion on what you choose to teach. Despite being a papered liberal arts girl, I have cold hard science in my blood. I come from a family full of doctors and health care practitioners, science teachers, and engineers. I’m married to a physicist. My first 17 years of life were spent planning to be a veterinarian, and my first four years of college were either in or preparing for nursing school. Science has been a huge and important part of my life.
That said, I love God. Yay, God! Pass me some pom-poms! I don’t think that science and God need to be mutually exclusive. One of my favorite quotes from Blessed Pope John Paul II is:
“Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.”
Gorgeous. Get me a tattoo artist. God is good. Science is good. Twisting solid science to fit into a story that was written as midrash and metaphor, not good. (I reiterate: For me; For my family.) The Good Lord is big enough for the Big Bang! So, the books were returned, within the hour actually, and I found a plethora of fun science books with which I’m going to quickly cobble together a new curriculum for the year. So, Earth Science and Astronomy it is!
Morals of the story:
1) When it comes to curriculum, just because everyone loves it, doesn’t mean it will work for your family.
2) There is no shame in jumping ship, and finding something new that works for you!
3) Keep your receipts. All of them. That stuff is pricey and returns are budget-saving.
I also love that we have such an awesome and growing community of homeschoolers in the ATX. There are so many wonderful people, groups, and support! Not to mention opportunities at museums and other venues for discounted days with groups of homeschoolers. We get to explore, save money, and hang out with fun folks. Very exciting!
I completely agree with Li’l E, who makes daily proclamations that history is the best subject we study. (My minors in college were history and religious studies, so I may or may not be a bit biased). We are still really enjoying The Story of the World series. I love revisiting all of this knowledge, but this time getting to impart it to my inquisitive little scholar. When we were “trying it out” over the summer, I had already decided that whether or not we homeschooled, I was buying the rest of the series for us to read together. It’s so well done! Perfect for her age, but also great for her reading level. I love reading SotW together and then supplementing each section with the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History. It has vibrant pictures and phenomenal kid-friendly layout. Plus, we had such a fantastic time learning about the Egyptians and then visiting the touring exhibit at the Museum of Natural Science in Houston. I’m anxious to find other museum exhibits to complement our readings!
Strangely, I feel like my time with both girls is more focused and quality, and I feel so much more on top of running the house. I’ve always done better with the pressure of deadlines. Knowing that we have a specific amount of learning to accomplish for the day helps me to be fully present, and teaching Li’l E reminds me to give that kind of quality attention to the baby while I entertain her as Li’l E works on some of the more self-guided portions of her assignments. Knowing that my morning or even more of the day will be committed to teaching, I find myself getting laundry done or dishes put away or rooms tidied immediately. I know that I can’t put it off, because I won’t have a wide open schedule to get it done “later.” I love feeling this focused and organized. I know that we are still in the honeymoon period of this adventure, but I’m seeing such positive fruits from it already that I can’t help but feel affirmed in our decision and encouraged to continue as enthusiastically as we’ve begun!
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