"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

Saturday, September 7, 2013

3 down, 33 to go!

I had good intentions of updating the blog once a week, if not more, but alas... I haven't found my blogging rhythm yet. (And I'm still so bothered that I haven't caught up on all our June, July and August happenings!!) (Warning: this post is LONG! sorry!)

In our 5th year of homeschooling, each start to our school year is another reminder that I seriously can't do this on my own or in my own strength. Around every turn, I have the opportunity to taste failure. Seriously. I have to choose to get back up, call out to my Lord and try again. Homeschooling is not easy for me. It is hard. Plain and simple. "Why do it?" you ask. I certainly don't do it to be a martyr or because I'm such a good girl. I don't do it out of some sense of superiority. After the end of last school year (particularly the last 5 months), I was daily questioning whether I could continue. We sought out the Lord. We prayed. We asked. We prayed some more and decided that in light of the upcoming adoption, we would continue for one more year and then re-evaluate. Maybe some will go to school and some will stay home next year? Who knows? Ultimately, we are continuing because we sense the Lord leading in that direction. Period. I've talked about my view on homeschooling before HERE, and I don't think anyone has a right to question or judge other people's schooling choices. For now, this is our HARD thing that God is leading us to walk through and lean on Him at each step. Maybe you have a different hard thing?
You have to know that any time I am tempted to be prideful about my clever plans or my organizational system, I get knocked down a couple pegs by a terrible school day (particularly the way I handle them!). If anyone is still reading this blog (ha!), I hope you sense humility and honesty. If it seems like I paint a perfect picture, then please know that I have double the stories that are not so pretty. Who wants to read about that and listen to my whining and complaining? Plus, do I really want to preserve those memories out in the blogosphere that could possibly haunt my children in their adulthood?
typing instructor

SO, that being said, I think it is valuable for me to stop and assess what is working so far and what I need to improve on.

1) Having a mission statement and Bible verse for our year has already been so good for us. When those hard days hit, it is so good to remember WHY we are doing this. Our family verse for the year is this:

Jesus replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39

Each week we are discussing a character trait that helps us to love God and love others. We are journalling, memorizing scripture, acting out different scenarios, and drawing pictures. I found these free printables HERE that I hung on the wall in the school room.  So far we've been working on being peacemakers and being obedient. I'm not sure we'll ever need to stop working on that, but hopefully we'll add some more in each week and constantly review.
See them on the wall above Ethan's cart? I have two binder rings attaching them and hung on hooks.
2) We planned to have Luke do his school work in his bedroom like last spring. However, he was feeling lonely, so we have relocated him to the desk in the kitchen. Keeps me on my toes to have that space cleared and ready for him each morning, because it tends to collect piles. Sometimes he sits down and sometimes he just stands. Notice the picture of Irina. He likes to have that on his desk while he is working. super sweet!

3) Workboxes, workboxes, workboxes! I cannot tell you enough how this has made our days better. I formed my plan after searching online and reading a bunch HERE.  Since this is our third year using this organizational plan, the boys know exactly what is expected. Aaron is a champ at this! I load the boxes each day and then they just work through them. I'll have to teach Irina how to use them when she arrives, but I have her boxes all ready. 

In the picture on the right, you see the grid where she'll move the numbers as she completes her workboxes. She will work with mom one-on-one for two boxes and I'll probably assign the boys to work with her too (play a game, do a alphabet puzzle, etc.). Not sure if I have the energy or time to explain how we use it, but if you have questions leave a comment or send me an email.

4) Positive Reinforcement: So, I'm a little slow with technology around here, but I'm beginning to embrace it's usefulness. Since this is new for the boys they are happy and even thrilled with small opportunities to play a game on my iPod touch. (I don't have an iPhone or iPad like most of the world.)

Here is what we're doing. Each day they have an opportunity to earn 15 minutes of iPod time. I created a folder for each of them with educational apps that I bought for either $.99 or found for free. In the chart, each boy has two columns. (I erased their names for this post.) If they earn iPod touch time, I color in a rectangle on the chart. Once they have used their 15 minutes, I put a sticker on the colored rectangle. Last year I was notorious for saying they earned iPod touch time and then never giving them the opportunity to use it. This is working much better. Luke likes to save his up and use 30 minutes in one stretch. They are VERY motivated by this system. You could modify it to suit whatever would motivate your kiddos. 

Okay... maybe next week I'll get around to posting FOUR things that are NOT working and that I need to improve. For now, this is long enough. Here are a few more first three weeks photos.
listening to Big Picture Bible Story book on audio


Obviously shirts are optional. ;) So proud of Aaron's coloring skills in the soccer picture above. 

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