Tag Archives: education

Busy School Day

Today was packed with homeschooling activities. Angelica had tutoring for English and for math. Things seem to be going really well with her teacher. Angelica is dyslexic, so learning to read and do numbers is not easy for her. She is making progress though, and I’ve been really happy with her tutor.

We also did a whole lot of science. We read about cloud formation. We talked about rainbows and the colors of light. We talked about earthquakes, and watched lots of videos of earthquakes. Angelica was impressed! She has also been watching a ton of educational videos from an illustrated Youtube series. I’ve got a playlist going right now and she is loving it.

If the day wasn’t so busy and I wasn’t so tired, we would do more. I read her a story and she thoroughly enjoyed that. If I can muster the energy I will read her another before bed.

This has been a crazy week between two speech appointments, an OT evaluation, and two tutoring sessions. To be fair, we usually have two speech appointments and at least two tutoring appointments. But add that to my own appointments this week and being down for the count on Thursday and things just feel dizzying.

I am so glad that Angelica seems to like homeschooling. I really enjoy teaching her and spending that time together. I would hate to send her off to some government school for 8 hours a day. I would rather be with her – and I can give her an education more suited to her needs at home.

Interesting Homeschooling

Homeschooling has been fun lately. Other than some counting review, we have left math and English alone. That evaluation is 2 months away, and we are going to get down to business with reading, writing, and math after that. I have been talking to a tutor I think I am going to hire.

Meanwhile, it’s all about geography, science, social studies, art, and art history. I have bought tons of books for her to explore, and there are at least fifteen more coming in the mail. I want to introduce her to the world and help her find the things she is passionate about. I believe in a liberal arts education. I am going to give her the best education that I can.

Craig gave me that really cool book about Hieronymus Bosch for my birthday, and Angelica and I have dissected a painting, St John on the Island of Patmos, and talked about what it means. She loved it. She asked so many questions. We’ve gone through more Bosch paintings as well. He’s my favorite Medieval painter. 

Naturally, I am not looking for a thesis from her. She’s five. I just want to introduce her to some artists so that she can identify their work if she sees it. At the very least I want to expose her to a lot of art to give her an appreciation of it and to stoke her imagination. I’m pleased that she has been enjoying it so much.

Science has been all over the place. We have talked a lot about the solar system. Pluto has been a focus of discussion, as have Mercury and Venus. We have also been learning about caves. There’s so much to discover in the books I have bought her. She’s in Kindergarten, so if she absorbs just some of it I’ll be happy. Angelica has so much curiosity and so many questions. It is a joy to teach her.

One of her new books for history and social studies profiles kids from different cultures and time periods. I think filtering things from the perspective of a child will help keep her interest and help her retain the information. It is a good introduction. I have other books too, but that’s the new focus. We’ve gone over some basic structural elements of castles as well, but I think we need to review that.

Art itself has been a regular focal point. Angelica uses a variety of materials, from paint to fabric. She really enjoys being creative with everything she can find. I want to encourage this as much as I can. In a few years, when she is more mature and responsible, I look forward to buying her a camera. For now it’s stickers galore. 

Homeschool Values

Why has our family chosen to homeschool? What values and priorities have led my husband and I to take on the vital, heavy job of educating our daughter ourselves? I have begun reading a wonderful book on homeschooling, and one of the first questions it poses is what our values are that have led us to make this choice.

Our values are numerous. Here are the top 5.

  1. We want to be able to customize our daughter’s education to provide her extra help in areas that she struggles, and to allow her to push forward at high speed in the areas in which she excels. The customization and endless possibilities of homeschooling really appeal to us. Homeschooling is a major task, but we are undertaking this task in the hopes of providing our daughter a better education.
  2. Faith. Obviously, public schools do not teach our Christian faith. We want to incorporate the Bible into our daily lessons. We do not want public schools teaching her things that are contrary to scripture. Incorporating our faith in God and our walk with Jesus into academic life is important to us. However, you might wonder why this isn’t number one on our list of why we homeschool. Well, if teaching the faith was our only issue or even the most predominant issue, we could send her to a Christian private school. One of the best benefits of homeschooling is being able to incorporate our religious beliefs into academic life, but it is not nearly the only reason. There are plenty of good Christian schools to send Angelica to. But homeschooling we think will offer her a better education and fit our family better. Although homeschooling is often thought of as a Christian thing, there are many secular parents who are choosing to homeschool their children. I think that that alone attests to the fact that there is a value in homeschooling beyond the religious.
  3. Homeschooling allows for travel. In September we took a two-week vacation. If our daughter was in school we couldn’t have decided to just take a two-week road trip around the Northwest in September. It would be the beginning of her school year and aside from the attendance policies the school would undoubtedly have, it would put her behind if we took a vacation in September. We went to New Mexico to visit my uncle for a few days in October. We are hoping to do Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite national parks in the next year or two, and we don’t intend to go to every single one of those in the busy summer season. Homeschooling allows our family to travel when we want and for as long as we want. In exchange we have to do school year-round of course, but with plenty of breaks during the year to travel or spend time with family we have decided that that doesn’t matter. And if we take a really long trip at some point, we can make the choice to bring school on the road with us. Homeschooling is totally flexible and easy to tailor to our lifestyle.
  4. I really want to spend the time with my daughter, this year and every year until she grows up. I like a break just like any other mother does. I have a babysitter for a reason. But I don’t want to miss out on being with my daughter 5 days a week. I would rather share in the joy of discovery that is school with my daughter. Childhood is so short and I just don’t want to part with precious time. I want to have lots of memories of these years and to spend the extra time with Angelica. I am fortunate to be able to homeschool, and I want to make the most of that opportunity to be close to my daughter and make extra memories with her that I wouldn’t be able to make if she was out of the house 30 to 40 hours a week. Of course if I thought it was truly in my daughter’s best interest to spend those 30 or 40 hours a week away from home in a school, I would send her to school. But I don’t think that that would be in her best interest, so this is another one of my homeschooling values.
  5. Homeschooling really works with the military lifestyle. In the military you pack up and leave every two to three years. We’re hoping to be able to homestead at some point, but that is not guaranteed to happen. So every couple of years a military child switches school districts and ends up with a completely different curriculum in a new place with new people and new expectations. Sometimes the’ll wind up in a place with more opportunity, and sometimes they’ll end up in a place with less. This is true whether you send your child to public school or private school. By homeschooling her we ensure that her education doesn’t flip flop every couple of years. She will have continuity and I think that’s very valuable for a child. The content of her education will vary depending on her interests and skills, rather than on geography.

It’s All About Science and Geography!

Since English and Math are a no go until we get a diagnosis and some professional help for Angelica, I’ve decided to take a different tack. Her curriculum did primarily just math and language arts (with a small smattering of social studies) for Kindergarten. They didn’t really do science and geography, or even history, until later grades. Angelica simply can’t do the math and language arts right now (see previous post). But I see no reason to waste time that could be used to give her a valuable education. To that end, I went out and bought two science books for kids and one geography book. All of them are full of amazing photos that interest Angelica. The two science books are picture encyclopedias of sorts, but they cover different subjects. These books give us so much to dive into and so far she really likes them. Angelica chose to start with her geography book. That book, although it covers continents and oceans and everything like that, also covers space and the magnetosphere and tectonic plates etc. We are starting at the very beginning of the book, which in fact is the very beginning – space. We have been reading about the order of the planets and watching documentaries on Mercury and Venus. I’m going to use these very engaging books and any videos I can find to teach her. When she gets a couple of grades ahead I want to get her the DK books. They have ones for history, art history, music,  and some for other subjects too. These books can be basic textbooks and supplemental materials until she gets older and needs to really dive in deep.

Social Media Detox

I turned off all social media for 8 hours today, from 9 to 5. It was definitely an interesting experience because it has been so long since I have been off social media.

On one hand it kind of exhausted me and gave me some anxiety. I’m a person with a mood disorder and an anxiety disorder and the truth is I find it hard to be in the present moment all day long. The sense of hyperfocus makes me uneasy. And it’s very tiring. It turns out I’ve been using the senseless dopamine jolts of Facebook and Instagram to regulate mood and anxiety. Never a good idea.

Overall though it was quite wonderful. I got extra housework done. I painted and photographed the paintings. I blogged. I read Bible stories to my daughter, taught her about praying, played her bowling game with her, and we pretended we were sailing on a boat together. I also took her out in the yard to play some wiffle ball. In the morning we did homeschooling.

I read articles and I’m taking an interest in more blogs than I already do, and then print Publications like the Atlantic. It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Atlantic, or Creative Nonfiction, Time, Psychology Today, and others, and I miss them. I’ve been so focused on the web that I have forgotten about other things. It is time to pull away from constant web interaction in focus on reading quality content. Not just statuses.

Even when I got on the internet today, I used it more productively to focus on articles and information. I think I’m going to get into historical research again.

Tonight I am settling in for some magazines and books and I can’t wait.

Disorder

It is only a general diagnosis, but today we received Angelica’s evaluation from the speech therapist. Angelica has expressive and receptive language disorder. She is delayed. On the bell curve there are three categories of delay. Mild, moderate, and severe. She is moderately delayed. She is in about the 6th percentile for her age.

Angelica will begin speech therapy next Wednesday morning. I really hope it helps her. Last year speech therapy didn’t seem to make a lasting impact. At first it didn’t seem to help at all. Then it seems like it helped a little bit maybe. And then as soon as I had to pull her out of speech for our move, the progress was immediately lost. Overall I would say it just didn’t help her. But this speech therapist is hopefully going to do different things, and she’s going to be focusing on language rather than pronunciation, so hopefully we will see some results.

Angelica is very bright. She loves to talk to people and she loves it when I read her stories. She is actively engaged with everything around her and interested in so many things. Angelica is highly creative, compassionate, and communicative. But she just has a hard time with certain elements of communication. I have suspected that something was wrong for a while. Hence the fact I had her in speech therapy for a year back in Virginia. This confirms what I had feared. But hopefully she will get a lot of help from the speech therapist and maybe she can make great strides this year.

We also have appointments set up with a developmental pediatrician for an evaluation, and we are being referred to an OT.

Officially having it in writing that she is delayed and by how much has giving me mixed feelings. It confirms my fears, which gives me a sinking feeling. At the same time now maybe we can get people to help her and we will see some improvements. But her diagnosis is really a general diagnosis and not specific. The problem with that is that when we look up how to teach her to read or how to teach her to do math we don’t know what to put in the search engines to tell us how to teach her. If she has auditory processing disorder teaching is difficult but there are some things you can do to help. For a variety of other delays and disorders there are different things you can do to teach your child and improve their odds at a positive outcome. But without knowing what specifically it is it’s very hard to determine what to do. Hopefully the developmental pediatrician will be able to shed some light on that issue and give us a direction to go in. Homeschooling is not going well. It’s still early so I’m holding out hope, but she is definitely having a hard time and not catching on. Language arts is her strong suit, but even there she is not doing as well as I had hoped. And math is an absolute no-go.

For the next couple of months we’re going to keep pushing through as we are and reviewing the lessons in our curriculum. I’m going to do my best to teach her and encourage her to keep trying even though it is difficult. The receptive language issue is really holding her back. In a couple of months if we see no progress, we will likely hire a tutor when we get back from vacation. And hopefully by then too we will have the evaluation results from the developmental pediatrician and we’ll have more to go on in figuring out how to help Angelica. So we can maybe get a tutor who can help her and we may have some new tools in our toolbox to help her ourselves as well.

A Thorough Education

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