Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pre-K plans

I've been thinking about Alex's school plans for the fall, and how to balance my desire to do lots of structured learning activities with his need and desire for lots of play.  I want to go at a pace we are both comfortable with, especially since we will also be participating in a formal co-op this year.  After much prayer and reading about different methods, I definitely want to provide our children with a classical education.  I like the philosophy of Charlotte Mason as well, and would love to incorporate some of her methods into our curriculum here and there.  I  think for this year we will mainly focus on the 4 R's (religion, reading, writing and arithmetic). I have tossed around the idea of loosely following the Mother of Divine Grace kindergarten syllabus, but I may just use the recommended books and not the daily lesson plans.

We will continue with our little co-op that we have been with for the last year.  We thought about making it a more formal once-a-week thing, but everyone's schedule is too busy, so we will get together when we can.  Alex will also be participating in a Catholic co-op on Tuesdays for kids ages 4-12 that uses a memory work program called Classically Catholic Memory.  Memory work is done in Religion, Latin, History, Science, Math, Timeline, Geography and Poetry.  They also do public speaking a few times a year, and have art class the first semester and music class the second semester.

I think we will do school in the morning three days a week. We will continue to do things from our Little Saints program, and I am going to start "Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" for our reading program.  I have a preschool religion workbook called "Image of God" and we will read Bible stories, books about saints, and celebrate feast days.  And I found a virtue study program called "Virtues in Practice" that we can use in conjunction with our study of the saints.   I don't want to buy a formal handwriting program so I guess we will just practice tracing with printable worksheets.  And for math we will start with simple addition and subtraction since he can identify numbers and count to 100 (sometimes). Not sure I want a formal curriculum for math at this point, and there are several resources online.

That should be plenty for a 4 year old.  I am sure there will be a lot of trial and error to figure out what works for us, but these are my initial thoughts.  I think my biggest concern is trying to keep Mary and Lucy busy while I work with Alex.  Pray for us!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

July 2013

For some reason I didn't take many pictures in July :(  Most of them are from the 4th of July.  Enjoy!

We had a fun play date at the Wildlife Experience museum.  There were a lot of areas we didn't get a chance to visit so we will have to go back!

 Not sure why this picture is sideways, but I can't seem to fix it.  We had a fun 4th of July dressing up in festive attire.  Here is Lucy in her stars diaper :)

Our neighbors had a waffle breakfast in their backyard, and a bounce house for the kids.

After naps, we headed to my parents house for a bbq.  It was such a beautiful evening.

Some of Lucy's many expressions while she was rolling around on the blanket in the backyard.

She is fascinated by Howie :)

When it got dark we made S'mores and let the kids throw those little popper things on the ground.  Then we went out front and enjoyed some homemade vanilla ice cream while waiting for the fireworks to start.  The kids were SUPER excited when the fireworks started, but lots interest quickly.  They actually wanted to go in the house before the show was over :)

Here is Lucy with her godmother and (godbrother?) Ethan.

This girl is so flexible.  I am surprised she can do the splits like this with those chubby legs of hers!

1st swing ride at the park :)

8 months already!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Backyard Fun

All the kids LOVE to be outside.  It has been a really mild summer with the temps in the low 80's most days.  I don't know what we are going to do when the weather get cold!

Mary is such a bug girl.  She is always picking up ants and carrying them around. She says, "I love him. He is my best friend" whenever she is holding one :)  Alex loves to run around like a maniac.  He is always asking me to come run with him.  No wonder he is so skinny. He is also always on the lookout for "spider ribbons" (spiderwebs).  And Lucy is content to roll around on the blanket I put out (and eat grass if I am not watching her!).

My dad built the kids a sandbox earlier in June.  It has been a hit!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


I have been thinking about our home education plans lately.  A lot of people wonder why we are choosing to homeschool and live this counter-cultural lifestyle.  I thought I would share our reasons, and explain why we believe it is the best fit for our family.  And it will be good for me to be able to look back on this and remember my reasons on days when I want to quit and send them for a ride on the yellow bus :)

The primary reason we are choosing to homeschool is to give the kids a thoroughly Catholic education and to help them cultivate a strong relationship with Christ. God entrusted these precious souls to us, and it is our job to return them to Him.  Therefore, we need to do everything we can to keep our children on the path to heaven (an increasingly difficult task in today's world). Strong catechesis and a faith-filled and Christ-centered family life are the best ways to provide a solid foundation for our children so they can go out in the world and be the people God wants them to be. My children are the only thing of eternal value that I get to help create and mold.  At home they will be taught by the person (me) who loves them, knows the weaknesses they needs to overcome, the strengths that need to be encouraged and praised, and whose deepest desire is for them to become all they are capable of becoming, both in intellectual and spiritual development.

The most common question/objection is, of course, about socialization.  The thing is, socialization doesn't mean a bunch of kids hanging out together.  It is about learning how to function in society, and I would rather have my kids model themselves after virtuous people like the saints and mature adults, rather than their peers.  And if the typical problems in public schools (cliques/peer pressure, violence, bullying, drug use, etc.) weren't scary enough, I read two stories last week that made my stomach churn.  One was about a case here in CO where a young transgender boy won the right to start using the girls bathroom at school.  Imagine the implications....you could potentially have a teenage boy sharing a restroom with a young girl if the school was K-12.  Yikes!  The other story was about a school district that was teaching homosexuality to kindergartners. One of the titles on the booklist was "Karen Has Two Mommies" or something like that. And I am sure sex education in the older grades, along with the advocation (or at least acceptance of) pre-marital marriage and contraception, is becoming a political promotion of homosexuality.  Things are only going to get worse and worse as society becomes more liberal.  Plus, I just don't see how segregating children by age is going to help prepare them for adult life where they will work and live with different types of people of varying ages. I'd rather have them develop strong relationships with their siblings.  Of course, friends are important, and one of the benefits of homeschooling is all the extra free time that can be spent doing lots of (supervised) extra-curricular activities with other families.  We are blessed with a large and active Catholic homeschool group in the Denver area with lots opportunities for the children as they get older.

One of most attractive features of homeschooling for me is the flexibility in everything.  Most importantly in the curriculum choices and methods of teaching.  What can be better than one-on-one tutoring where each child's learning style can be taken into account, and the schedule and pace tailored to the needs of each child?  Perhaps Alex will excel at reading.  We would be able to move at a quicker pace than in a school setting and he won't be left sitting around while other children learn to read.  Or maybe he will struggle with math.  I will be able to adjust our schedule to give lots of extra time and attention to make sure he understands what he needs to.  Because of the efficiency and the lack of wasted time (spent going to/coming from school, busy work, waiting while the teacher spends time dealing with difficult kids, for example), our "school time" will probably take no more than two to three hours a day up until high school.  This means the afternoon will be free time to play and explore other interests, go on nature walks and field trips, and do household chores.   I want them to be learning all day though, and to really develop a passion for learning.  A lot of teachers are only concerned with test scores these days, and with socialized education (aka Common Core) creeping into schools it will be harder for the teachers that do want their students to develop a love for learning to do anything because their hands will be tied with all the rigid standards and inflexibility in how and what they can teach.   There is also flexibility with the way the year can be scheduled. We can do year-round schooling so some things don't have to be re-learned at the start of the school year, or move ahead of schedule and take several months off when a new baby comes or other things come up.  Family vacations can be taken during off-peak times to save on costs, and field trip destinations will be less busy during the week.  We can also start late some mornings so that we can go to daily Mass at least once a week.

Lots of family time is another big benefit. I know some people can't wait for summer vacation to end so they can send their kids back to school, but I don't want to be away from my kids all day.  I want to be the one to experience the joy of watching them grow and learn.  And homeschooled kids don't have homework to do in the evening, so that means more time with daddy :)  I look forward to relaxed days relishing the short time that they are children.

 I just want my kids to have a wholesome, decent education where they learn and grow and are happy and nurtured, without negative influences that try and chip away at the values we are trying to instill. Church teachings will be a part of our every day school life... with everything based around LOVE :)