Saturday, May 19, 2012

The arts and how they teach life lessons

Even though we are on break from school the learning always continues.

K and O are involved with the arts through music classes and theater. K also like to dabble with photography and has a great eye for it. I LOVE the fact that my kids are creative. There is no other way to describe them. :-) They get it honestly as their momma is a flute player and also teaches the flute.  The arts add so much to the education of young children. It fosters creativity, multi-tasking skills, self confidence, and also music helps with math!

But, the arts also bring a big lesson in "real life". The kids learn quickly everything is not always fair and based on skills or talent. It's hard on us as parents to explain why this part went to that person or why the part was taken away even though they earned it. I have seen this many times over this year with my flute kids. One child had a blind audition for her chair placements in her high school band. As a sophomore she was placed in first chair through this audition process. Eventually the band director made her relinquish several solos to the senior because the senior was older. Yes... not because she was better but because she was older. Another student was penalized because the director believed her vibrato wasn't good enough. As a trumpet player he may not get what a flute player's vibrato should be. But, due to preconceptions about flute sounds he penalizes the better players for this. Once again not the kid's fault.

K has heard no a couple of times this year about roles in plays. One in particular really crushed her and she thought that she wasn't good enough. This role was one she had dreamed and prayed for for several weeks. Several peers and parents built K up to think she was a good fit for the role. The director chose another child. When K read the cast list it was like watching a flower wilt and wither. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "Well I guess I am not good enough....". Oh how that breaks a mom's heart. I can honestly tell you it's probably harder on me as the mom than her as the child. Next year I add O into all of this.

Now... all that being said would I ever keep my kids out of music or theater? NO! NO! NO! What they gain is all too valuable. I watched K audition today, and for the first time she was not nervous at all. There was no tugging on the hem of her shirt! Woo hoo! This confidence will translate into all areas of her life. She is poised beyond all belief and not afraid of situations that require interaction with large groups. Her music classes are teaching her so much too. Seeing fractions for the first time this year she recognized them to be like the time signatures in her music! So fractions became a lot less scary! Yay for that one. O has also benefited. He was recommended for speech therapy classes last year. After a year in drama class he has learned many vocal exercises, and practiced diction enough that he can now be understood by everyone around him 98% of the time! What an improvement!!!

Then there's the benefit of watching your child on stage. They blossom! There's no other description. Both of my kids are so happy to be performing. You can see it on their faces. There has not been one performance to date that I have not had to hide tears. (I don't even know if my husband knows if I become a weepy mess at these performances.) These are the tears of joy for my kids and their happiness. For when they blossom it is worth all of the heartache they may have endured to reach that part. All of the music, dance and drama mommas out there know this. It's breathtaking to see your child so happy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Re-cap of the week!

This week went by super fast! I cannot believe it's Friday already.

This week O finished a map on Reading Eggs and read some more Dick and Jane. He also counted to 100 this week with almost no help from mommy (he still likes to skip 13 and 16)! Yesterday I referenced the state performance standards website, and realized he had a good understanding of all topics presented, and had met each of the benchmarks! My baby is done with Kindy! I will print a certificate for him and hubby and I will present him with a Kindergarten Graduation Bible. We did the same for K when she was his age.

This benchmark crept up on me very quietly. O learns in a very different way than K. He is a sponge and picks up on things just by listening in on her lessons. This is one reason I am combining the two kids with science and history next year. He will listen in no matter what and wants to do all of the projects with her. Makes life simple for me as the mom and teacher. :-)

K finished up through Quiz 5 in Teaching Textbooks 4. This is the goal I had given her as a stopping point for the next 6 weeks. She still has some reading to do in her geography binder. However, she considers that fun as that also entails crafts and cooking. In her eyes school is done. Yipee. She met all the standards for 3rd grade and will progress into 4th (she will be working on spelling at a remedial level though and is OK with that).

Today marks our 180th day of school this year. WOW!! I cannot believe we made it through another year and my kids are doing OK with their learning. Seriously!! I stress beyond all belief about their education. It may sound like fun and games when we talk about schooling in our PJs or playing a game to learn about math. The reality is I stress that my kids are getting a quality education. The end of the year bring trepidation to me. But, when I look at what they have learned... I'm awed. I'm beyond blessed to have the kids I have. They may gripe and groan about school, they may make faces at the "boring" things; but they excel at what they do (both are working a grade level ahead!). I love them with all my might and wouldn't change a thing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rundown of 2011-2012

So we are just about done with the year. I have K completing five more lessons and one more quiz in math, and finishing her geography notebook. Other than that we are DONE!!! Woo hoo!!

To recap what worked and what didn't:

  •  MFW ECC - great concept. I just realized I am a homeschool rebel. Put a teacher manual in front of me with everything planned and I can't use it. :-) We basically ended up setting up the notebook as it said to. Then I placed all of the country pages from the Trip Around the World and Another Trip Around the World books into their respective continent section.  We also used the John 3:16 sheets for our notebook. The passports were great. The kids loved it and we did those as it said. I added in the other countries we did as well, so there are LOTS of stickers in the passport. One neat thing we did is, during our fall trip to EPCOT, we got the passport from the World Showcase. Then we got it signed in each of the countries there. When we got home, as we studied on of those countries, we would pull the passport from EPCOT out and place the stickers in there. We would also try to remember any little tidbits the people from the countries told us. It was fun and well worth the $10 for that passport. 
  • Abeka Language 3rd grade - This was very technical and gave great instruction. K loved it. Her grammar skills have come far.
  • Writing Strands - It was a bust here.
  •  Building Spelling Skills - Dropped this like a hot potato. K was just not ready for spelling. 
  •  Horizons Math 3rd grade - Great program. However, this is the one area K and I butt heads on. We struggled so hard with math this year. There was one instance when we were talking about subtraction, and I was explaining it for the 10th time; K looks at me and says "Oh! Now I get it. I should have listened sooner." Not Horizon's fault. Once we switched to Teaching Textbooks, math has become a favorite subject.
  • Song School Latin - Great  program. Even O has a grasp on basic Latin phrases and words from just listening to the songs!  
  • VP Literature Guides (Charlotte's Web, Mary Poppins, Little House in the Big Woods, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler, and Misty of Chincoteague) - LOVE these guides and can't wait to delve into Narnia this coming year with the Narnia guide.
  • MFW K - Once again a great program. However, I had to manipulate it for my child. O is not a cut and paste, color this in, put an X over that, etc. kid. He did it, but it was torture. We delved into the science part of this and had fun! 
  •  Horizons Math K - O begged me for this each and every day! We love Horizons Math!
  •  Phonics Pathways - Ditched this for the Reading Eggs program online. He likes that so much more and is now able to read the 8th Dick and Jane primer! 
  • Bible - we read this together as a family. Each morning we would start with reading a chapter and then praying together. We also loved the Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes book from the MFW program. K would pick which missionary she wanted to learn about and we would read a bit about him/her each morning.
My mommy lesson from this year? Do not use a boxed curriculum again. It ended up costing us more because I tweaked so much. For now I will stick to the method of looking at the boxed curriculum, picking which books interest me, and then piecing it all together. The next time I may try an all in one type of thing would be middle school. Unless I can be talked out of that in the next 2-3 years. ;-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Batman Band Aids = LOVE

A few days ago O (my little firecracker) was sitting with me, then ran away at full speed. Nothing new. He came barreling back with his coveted box of Batman Band Aids and then proceeded to "doctor" my boo-boo. After bandaging my paper cut, he then gave me snuggles to make it better. The thought that went into that action, the care and compassion, blew me away. He saw a hurt and he fixed it with all the love a 5 year old boy could offer.

I learned a lot that day from my sweet boy. It was a lesson I needed. As a homeschooling mom I am almost constantly around my kids, and can loose sight of how precious they can be. O can be a challenge. He's my reminder that life is not easy. He will move mountains one day with all of his energy, stamina and determination. I am sure of this. Right now? I am struggling to make sure he stays the course and I am not doing wrong by him. It's my daily fear. Whenever he toes the line or crosses it I fear for him. I fear that I am not a good momma, and that I am slacking on my job to him.

But, the day of the Batman Band Aid changed all of that. Instead of constantly focusing on the challenges my 5 year old boy presents (and I'm sure all 5 year old boys bring challenges), I started focusing on the sweetness he holds in his heart. I chose to focus on the snuggles he willing gives whenever I ask. I chose to focus on how helpful he always is when I need something done. I chose to focus on the fact that God knew O was the boy for me. God had placed this child with me because I would be just the right momma for O.

The day of the Batman Band Aid I chose love.

How am I going to love my children? As it is told in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

  •  4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Happy Mother's Day! May all of my mommy friends have a Batman Band Aid kind of day!