I wanted a place on my blog that focused on our Homeschool because a lot of people ask me about our journey. This is a bit of a “play-by-play” for those interested:
So, let’s debrief the last 12 years.
1998-1999 – Ev’s “pre” kindergarten year… we just read books that interested him, played and I used “Teach your child to read in 100 Easy Lessons“… that’s it… no formal anything really. We had never planned to homeschool, in fact, Ev was IN Junior Kindergarten, and then Senior Kindergarten when we moved back to Quebec where he was “too young” for school (ironically, I now agree that no child of 4 years old should be in full time school… no how, no where, but at the time I had him “derogated into the schools… which ended disastrously at the hands of a teacher who was already overburdened and openly resentful that this EXTRA child was put in her classroom. We had him there for 3 weeks before removing him and starting this long journey called Homeschooling.)
1999-2000 – Ev was in public school for official kindergarten. Kenzi and I just read stories and played all day. I still wasn’t convinced that I was supposed to homeschool my children.
2000-2001 – Ev was back home. We did a BIG unit study (took almost half a year, but though we followed WAY too many rabbit trails and had a blast!) that I created called “God Created Dinosaurs” (hmm… business opp? I should probably write up the “curriculum” of our unit study.. LOL!). It was also the year that Kenzi BEGGED me to do 100 Easy Lessons with her too… so I did.
2001-2002 – our first year in our First House. That year we were more of school at home-rs… we were doing Bob Jones University Press, but it wasn’t the best fit… or at least I don’t think I understood it quite as well as I needed to to be successful. Greyson was born at the end of the year, so we ended the year in a reading/playing with Baby mode.
2002-2003 – this year I put both Ev and Kenzi in school… but pulled them out a few months later. It was a one room schoolhouse, which I believed would be a blessing to them, but instead had a Mafia-style “play” ground… and my son ended up the being the one constantly in threat of being “whacked”… it got so bad that my daughter was manipulated by fear of even acknowledging his existence (remember, she was only 7… and was under constant pressure and threat… most of which never even “came out” till months after we’d pulled them out of there for Ev’s sake.) After a couple months off, we started a new unit based on the Heart of Wisdom‘s Ancient Egypt curriculum… we made salt dough maps, baked cookies shaped like lotus tiles, made cartouches (sp?) and read lots of books about Ancient Egypt. When we were done, an evaluation was done on the kids schooling, and we received words of praise for how we were “running” our homeschool. Her notes said things like “the children’s LOVE OF LEARNING is apparent, and their RICHLY EDUCATIONAL environment is ideal to foster their educational development.” I was on my biggest “high”.
2003-2004 – we stumbled though this year, not sure why… I had (maybe mistakenly) left the Heart of Wisdom approach behind, and seeking something more “academic” (I had certain pressures to “perform” at that time… which I’ll leave unexplained here, sorry) and turned to Ambleside Online. CLASSIC Charlotte Mason. I loved her principles and her philosophy… I loved reading her series and being “enlightened”. We did that year, despite my daughter’s boredom and acting out (more boredom?), stuck it out… but towards the end of it, out of exhaustion and frustration I guess, we let started to loosen our grip on the principles and regime that Ambleside prescribed.
2004-2005 – Due to an unexpected high risk pregnancy, we put both Ev and Kenzi into public school yet again. Greyson stayed home and played (he was only two years old, after all.) I chose carefully and fought to put them into a school outside my “district” because I’d heard it was a better school. It wasn’t. Chaeli was born with serious medical needs… so despite being worried for my older children, I left them in that place far too long. This time it was both of them that were being bullied. Ev was being physically beat up on an almost daily basis and the psychological warfare was even worse… the reason? He was a writer and artist… and would rather draw pictures and write stories at lunch hour than play physical games like football and dodge-ball. Even a prior homeschool friend eventually succumbed to the pressure of the other kids and started to turn on him as well. His heart was broken that year. Kenzi did “okay” that first year, but the following year…
2005-2006 – Kenzi started being bullied for her choice of friends and because she was slowly falling behind. Ev continued to be bullied almost constantly and even when I asked for help from the principal (not a prince who was any kind of pal, let me assure you), he basically said, “too bad, he needs to learn to suck it up… maybe he should stop writing his stories here at school and play the boys’ games and then he’ll fit in better” (okay, note: you couldn’t get Ev to stop writing no matter what you did… there is no way… believe me. The kid “writes” in his sleep!).
2006-2007 – Ev moved on to “Junior High” (a horrible bully school … everyone knew it… I hesitated putting him in, but my husband convinced me that it might be different as it was a bigger “pond” and there was an art program, so maybe he’d find kids in art that would be “like minded”. He did well there, but continued to be bullied physically and psychologically. Kenzi on the other hand was going through torture… she was being bullied not only by “mean girls” who made her feel ugly, fat (she wasn’t at all, even LOW on the growth charts weight wise), stupid and a “Loser”, but also by the teachers who called her “lazy”, “disorganized” and “slow”… and even hinted that she was “inappropriate” because she was friendly with a male lunch monitor that she knew from the year before (who incidentally looked and acted VERY much like her god-brother, Andrew… who she loves very much.) During the middle of that year, she was diagnosed with a condition called Morphea Scleroderma… and when word got out, no one would play with her, and treated her like a leper… even telling her she WAS a leper… she was demoralized and depressed. I pulled her out again. AS IT TURNS OUT… she had another “condition” called Dysgraphia… which explains the “SLOW” and the “DISORGANIZED” and even what they perceived as “LAZY”… she wasn’t… she was battling a learning challenge. When we had her assessed by a Neuropsychologist specializing in learning challenges… she told us that she was on the serious side of that particular disorder and it would require a lot of occupational therapy (which we did) and a lot of repetition with the expectation of slow progress. (I’d like to note that the next two years were full of that, and it is considerably better… but you can still see signs of it in her penmanship, she definitely doesn’t write “like a girl”! LOL!)
2007-2008 – to be relaxed for Kenzi, I splurged and bought a SonlightCore… core 5, to be precise. That was kind of back to a unit study approach, but unfortunately it was too “all over the place” to create a sense of order for her. She got frustrated and although we plodded on, it wasn’t our best year. Therapy was a big part of the year as well… she made slow improvements. Ev had a better year this year… finding his “niche” in the arts and other writers… but we had serious concerns about the following year when he would be moving up with everyone to a reknowned “drug school”.
2008-2009 – We decided to bring Ev home too this year… and won’t be putting either of them back in the public system again. We continued ith Sonlight, buying Cores 6 & 200. I started a very “gentle classical” education based on The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer with the Littles which included Greyson in Kindergarten and Chaeli basically doing the same work, but with less expectations on her… they had a good year… lots of fun, no pressures. Ev and Kenzi on the other hand had a tough year. We started a massive renovation to our home, and ended up listing it in the spring of 2009… everything, every minute seemed to revolve around the house… finishing renovations, decorating, staging, selling, buying, moving. It was a bad, bad year academically… we were all (the Big people in the family, that is) exhausted, and discouraged.
2009-2010 – We tried to backtrack and start over what we’d been doing the year before… but it was obvious by Christmas that Sonlight wasn’t going to work for Ev, and Kenzi needed more … hmmm … something. So, again, we switched gears to something a little different. Ev started Switched On Schoolhouse, and Kenzi finished up the year doing unit studies. That inspired her again, she liked learning about a topic… we used the Brandenburgunits (btw, I absolutely love these.. they have something for everyone, and I love their format!) on Cell Biology and Robin Hood & the Crusades (explanation… the Bigs went to England and saw Nottingham and all that jazz just after Christmas, so I felt it would be more “real” as they’d seen some of the places discussed. The Cell Biology was because KENZI expressed an interest in it… cool!) It wasn’t a bad year… but it didn’t go as planned.
2010–2011 - Ev and Kenzi started out working through Switched on Schoolhouse … but they found it very dry and they had a hard time not being bored. YES, I know.. sometimes you have to do boring things in life, so Suck It Up… but I also believe that when we’re bored, we’re not really learning – so what *is* the point? I should mention that I hate the concept of Busy Work. The Littles spent the year focused on imaginative play and the 3 Rs and that is about it so far this year. Greys is in grade 2, reading pretty well, and Chaeli’s “officially” in Kindergarten, although I’d probably say her skills are that of a Grade 1 student… she is also starting to read real books.
2011-2012 – We’re making up our own studies as we go… but they will all center around the Medieval Times. My plan is for us to have a “family time” of learning each morning and then branch off into our individual studies with me helping the Littles along. Ev and Kenzi will be using Khan Academy for math, various sources for history and geography, will be required to keep a timeline and map notebook, and will be studying Astronomy with (maybe) Signs and Seasons. Greys and Chae will be using MOH 2 and SOTW 2 plus the activity book for the core of their history/geography/notebooking (writing) school,along with Ann Voskamp’s A Child’s Geography. For science we’ll be using the Astronomy from Apologia, AND of course some related lapbook stuff to put it out learning notebooks. For language arts, we’ll be continuing with Explode the Code plus we’ll be reading GrammarLand and doing the worksheets we found online.
We started homeschooling “under duress” – but over time I’ve come to realize it is what the Lord had planned for us all along. When I look back I see homeschoolers popping up all over the place, even when I was a teenager – and I remember thinking how amazing it would be if *I* could have homeschooled. But instead of dwelling on the past, I move forward with my Heavenly Father leading the way. And I pray that when my children are grown, they will look back on their years of homeschooling and be thankful that they were “subjected” to it.