"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding." Ephesians 1:7-8

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A New School Year

It's been almost two weeks since my last post and I've been intentionally resisting so I could focus on family and school prep. Well, now I'm ready to post like crazy and for some reason blogger won't let me upload photos. Wah?!?!

Somehow I'll get it figured out, but in the meantime... we started our school year on Monday! I can't wait to share those first day of school pictures!!! If you've been reading this blog, you know that our school year last year was challenging. I spent a lot of time praying and questioning where God was leading us in regards to school. As I prayed and prayed, I slowly sensed God leading towards homeschooling... at least for another year. Darin agreed. I am confident that this is where God wants us for now, but also fully aware that we will face more challenges. Somehow, I'm okay with that. ;)

Once we committed to homeschooling by sending in our Notice of Intent, I began freaking out internally. I needed to come up with a plan for our school year that would address some of the problems we faced last year. (attitudes, resistance, little boy distractions and the biggest one... allowing space in our schedule for boys to be on the move!!!) I tried to muster up creative ideas on my own and was blank. Our summer was very full and I found myself without energy for much more then daily chores in the evening. Then I read a post on a friends blog that reminded me... why don't I just pray that God would help me? Is anything impossible for the Lord? 

And so I prayed and waited.

Then, He answered. Really! I believe whole heartedly that He was with me as I searched online about boys and school. I read a number of scientific articles about the differences between boys and girls. I read about important nutritional choices and how they affect learning. I read the accounts of numerous women who have homeschooled boys and their experiences (successes and failures). I read and read and read. And while I was reading, I think the Lord was helping me to formulate a plan based on what I know about my children and our family. (And this was only five days before I was planning to start our school year!)

Here are some things we are doing this year (some new and some old):
1) Breakfast - I will continue to make big breakfasts for the boys with no refined sugars and a serving of protein! I read lots of studies about this. One of my children is really sensitive to sugar highs and lows (even natural sugars). So, no orange juice, syrup or jelly, etc.. We started this last year and I saw a noticeable difference.

2) Bible Time - The curriculum I purchased includes a Bible component. I have found the best time to read from the Bible and discuss is during breakfast. Their hands are busy and if they engage with what I'm reading they are less likely to toss food across the table or play with their food. (Who knew food could be so entertaining!?) And yes, I have to sneak bites of my breakfast and chew in between pages. Certainly helps me to eat more slowly! :)

3) Prayer Walk - This is a fabulous new change that I found online. Now, it's only been in use 4 days so we'll see how it goes. It may be a flop long term, but for now it's working. After breakfast we brush teeth and do our kitchen jobs. Then, out the door we go. They are eager and excited. We walk for only 10 minutes. During that time we discuss what we are praying for that day and then pray. They skip and jump, but stay close by and listen to my praying out loud. Previously we had morning prayer time in the school room, but they were so wiggly that our prayer time turned into refereeing a wrestling match. You can imagine that I had a hard time not getting a wee bit angry and that was a terrible way to start our day. Praying outside gives them a chance to enjoy the fresh air and move their bodies.

On Monday's we pray for specific missionaries (I have a box with photos of Missionaries we do support or have previously supported that we pray for, as well as our church staff.) On Tuesday's we pray for Teachers -- public school teachers, cbs teachers, coaches, sunday school teachers. Wednesday we pray for Whatever is on our hearts. Thursday we spend time praising God with Thankful hearts. Lastly, on Friday we pray for friends and family. My friend Jo shared this idea with me years ago and I love it!

I'm determined to keep this up year round. They don't care what the weather is and we're keeping a record of the weather conditions for every prayer walk. Of course it will take a little more effort when we have to wear hats and scarves, but I think the fresh air will be worth it!

4) Quiet Time - As soon as we come inside from our prayer walk we gather on the couch. Ethan and Aaron are listening to "The Big Picture Bible Storybook" on CD with headphones. Luke and I are independently working on our CBS lesson. For now, this takes about 10 minutes. I'm hoping to gradually extend this time to 15-20 minutes. As soon as we're done, we quickly move to the school room and our workboxes. This quiet time has really helped in calming them and focusing them for our school day! (and me too!)

5) Breaks - We are incorporating more breaks in our schedule this year. Kind of a no-brainer, but it has taken me a couple of years to fully understand how important this is. I am very task oriented and focused. My attitude can often be "let's just get it done." However, they are children and they are boys and they need little mental breaks here and there. Of course we are doing fun hands on activities, but there is also a required amount of work that needs to be accomplished. SO... after every three boxes complete (We use a modified Sue Patrick's workbox system) the boys have a mental break.  There is a method and plan to this break. They are given a physical activity to complete: skip around the house three times, ten jumping jacks, 5 push ups, run up and down the steps two times, five cartwheels in the front yard, slide down slide three times, etc. The logistics of how this works would be better described with a picture. As soon as I figure out whats wrong with bloggers upload system I'll post some pictures.

We're off to a great start and I'm very thankful. It's not because of anything I've done but because of the Lord being gracious and kind to help me know how to implement new things. Praise be to Him!

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