Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Back-to-School Post, And It's as Wordy as the School Day is Long

School's been going on strong from my four little scholars for the past three weeks.

This is the first year in six years of homeschooling that we "officially" started school before Labor Day. What was the difference this year? I don't know. Often the seat of my pants flies before me, and I just follow along.

Actually, the local public schools started on the 23rd, two of our close homeschooling family friends decided to start up, and it's just too bloomin' hot here right now to do much else.

I don't have any cute pictures of them climbing on the bus or dressed up with their oversized backpacks and squeaky new shoes.

But perhaps a few candids from inside our classroom might stir-up some nostalgic back-to-school feelings.

So this is what it looked like in front of my chair for the three weeks prior to school:

Every year our school changes flavor a little bit to match our family. Or because something we did last year didn't quite work, or because one kid has this weakness, or because another kid as that strength. Or because our family has this schedule. Homeschool brings new, glorious meaning to the Individualized Education that public school routinely fails to deliver. It's hard enough in my class with one teacher and four kids, absolutely impossible with one teacher and 30 kids. This is not to say that every family should homeschool their kids. This is what God has asked us to do at this time, and we humbly and prayerfully accept the monumental task of laying a rock solid spiritual and academic foundation for our precious kids so that they can be the best at who God created them to be. I am NOT critical of those families who choose to the public education system for their families. My husband and I are both products of the public school system, and we're okay...sometimes!

This is the first year that all four kids are doing school together at the same time, Seth in Kindergarten, Lily in first grade, Gabe in fourth and Caleb in fifth. In case you're wondering, we use the classical approach, with a large smattering of Charlotte Mason thrown in for fun. (Well, I think it's fun anyway.)

And back to the tour. Here's our main classroom, with students:

I would LOVE to have a school room, but for now, the dining room table is it. I do love seeing all four kids hard at work, together. Our dining room has ditched the normal dining-roomness, and has become the backdrop for this:

and this:

and this:

and this:

(which is our verictal timeline of the Medieval Age using the AMAZING resources found on the yahoo group Hannah's Homeschool Helps . Love her stuff, which correlates perfectly with the history component we are using.)

And in our classroom, you will see a whole lotta this:

Who knew our dining room could hold so much stuff? There is a downside to this arrangement. Do I have any volunteers to be my classroom aid who cleans up the dining room each afternoon so that we can use it for dinner? Anyone? Anyone?

Seth's very first day of Kindergarten:

What a cute little student he is! And I couldn't resist one picture of his busy feet, momentarily stilled in study:

Let the awwwwwww's commence.

And because our week is filled with appointments for speech therapy and doctor's visits...mostly for Lily, we're gettin' pretty good at schoolin' on the go.

In the car:

and various waiting rooms:

This is only a sampling of our school, and a small one, though if you've made it this far in today's post, you may be shaking your head in disagreement.

But really, my favorite classroom exists outside these four walls.

Take the ocean. We are blessed to be live ten minutes from the Gulf of Mexico. You can read stories and poems and articles about the ocean. You can watch documentaries about it on the Discovery Channel. But a week of reading and watching will not give you nearly as many clear lessons as standing on the sandy shore and feeling the cool water lap your ankles and the waves steal away the sand right from beneath your feet. And in what book can you taste the salt from the water and hear the rhythm of the waves as they stir up wonder and awe along with sand and hermit crabs. Can you imagine Jesus walking right on top of those waves? And then commanding them to be still...and they obeyed? God is...BIG. And He cares for you and me. And he has orchestrated the details of history and created order and beauty. That's worth spending a lifetime studying.

And I hope to plant those seeds of wonder and love of learning in my kids hearts that they can take with them far into childhood and adulthood so that they will never stop learning and loving the God who created it all.

So that's our school. For now. Time to prepare lessons for tomorrow...


jeny said...

I want to come have school with you . . . or maybe send my kids to your academy? No, just kidding. I LOVE your approach to schooling and your precious children are a shining example that its working. I thank God for the ability to homeschool. Yes it is challenging but soooo worth it!
Since we can't school together, the kids and I thought we would do something across the miles together. Would you mind if we memorized the Bible verses with your kiddos? We've already learned last weeks, Matt 11:28. What's up for "D?" (And while we're at it, we'll back up and catch A, and B too.)
Lots and lots of love to you Teach <3

Keep on keeping on!

Irishmommy said...

Love hearing about your days as well as sharing them with you!
Blessings on your year!

Kristie Cerling said...

Your post made me smile. I loved the picture of the still feet and the studying on the go. Beautiful.Being a stay at home mom is a challenge, a gift, and the hardest job ever. You are amazing! Keep up the good work!

Summer said...

This "Often the seat of my pants flies before me, and I just follow along." just became my new favorite quote.

I am glad you put the disclaimer in there regarding public education. Considering I too, am a product of public education, feel that I did not turn out too badly. Also considering my Dad, Aunt and Brother are all working hard in the public education system. Just glad you had the disclaimer :)

Hope you find the table clearing classroom volunteer.

Pamm said...

I saw on FB that you keep a blog and have loved this first post that I've read! I second Jeny's comment- I'd love to come school with you! Our years look different from each other, too and I wouldn't have it any other way!