Homeschool Fun

Just wanted to share some photos from yesterday and today.  We're enjoying our week so far.  :)
Our first field trip with FCHE.  

Her sweet friend from church is in the same home school group.

She wanted to write Thank You notes to the fire fighters and her science teacher.  I thought it was a great way to practice her writing since she is so resistant to it.  

And she drew pictures on the back. =)

Fun times this morning.  We spent almost all day in pj's.  

Sweet girls hard at work.  =)

Homeschool Feedback

Many of you have asked how "homeschooling is going", so here goes.  We've learned some things, changed some things, and are continuing to seek out what is best for our family.  The first semester is over and we're a couple of weeks into the second semester.  We're doing some things a little differently to make it "work" for us.  For example, I love the "homeschool room" in our home we created, but we're taking a break from it.  We've moved to the kitchen table and cuddling on the couch.  Seems to help on the "off" days.

I finally realized that Math U See was not working for us.  She was bored!  It was just videos and worksheets (and D was not a big fan of the manipulatives).  So, for now we are doing just a fun workbook - and she's doing really well.  It is not just worksheet after worksheet, but math games that incorporate several different skills.  We just started adding 2 digit numbers and she "got it" quicker than a lot of the concepts in MUS.  Maybe that method will work with Maddie later?!  Anyway, Audrey's reading has progressed wonderfully!  She has just recently started reading books "for fun" on her own.  (Yay!!)  She's reading some pretty big words, too.  She's mastered the level 1 books, doing very well with level 2, and we're moving on to level 3. She'll be reading to her sister's class again next month.  Her comprehension is still through the roof.  She's a smart kid, but lacks serious motivation.  She absolutely does not like to write (still), so we started cursive writing.  She CAN print - and when she takes her time, does a nice job.  But, she has been asking for some time to learn cursive so I just said, "Why not?"  If she wants to learn, by all means, I'm gonna teach her!  Believe it or not, her cursive is stronger than her printing.  It's that whole have to versus want to mentality.

This semester we put Audrey in some enrichment classes through a homeschool program at a local church.  She only goes one day a week.  She is taking Science (the same curriculum we were doing at home that got left behind a lot), Art, Spelling, and World Cultures.  I love that she has the freedom to do these kinds of things.  How many 1st graders get to take a World Cultures class - learning about different countries, their cultures, taste their food, etc.?  We also joined a Homeschool group that I'm excited about.  We have a few upcoming field trips - Harry's Farmers Market, Fire Station, V'Day party, & Father/Daughter Dance.  So cool!

OK, so what are the pros and cons I'm seeing so far?  First of all, it is a huge commitment!  It takes time and planning.  I am so guilty of being unprepared some days and it just makes it tough on both of us.  This responsibility falls directly on me and I will continue to work on this.  Of course, I do worry sometimes that she isn't "getting enough".  But, I am seeing and hearing from other parents that she really is getting more than I think.  We don't have to get through every single thing that's planned.  There are days when she wants to read more, so something else has to wait until tomorrow.  She's getting lots of hands-on that she wouldn't necessarily get otherwise.

I do love the flexibility of it.  We had no one to report to when we went to Disney while everyone else had to go back to school.  When she's not feeling well, we just stay in pj's and do our work.  Field trips are awesome.  We didn't do as many as I would have liked the first semester, but this semester is filling up FAST!

Everything is one on one.  When she is struggling with something, we just take it slow and work on it more.        She doesn't get left behind nor does she get held back!  I also love that when she asks questions and the lesson goes in a different direction - great!  She's just learning that much more!  It is amazing to get to be there with her as she learns and seeing the accomplishment in her face when she realizes something new.

I love that we get to read our Bible stories every day.  We say our blessing before every meal.  And, most importantly I get to teach christian morals every day, all day.  She is not being negatively influenced by other kids whose parents have questionable morals (ouch - strong words, I know but I speak from experience).  I can equip her at home for when she's older and can handle herself better.

And, the cons...

Because she is in her most comfortable place being at home she is becoming more and more lax.  I feel like she is getting lazy and losing her motivation.  I know that she loves to learn, but she does not put a great deal of effort into it.  She has become sloppy with her work.  This causes a lot of friction between the two of us and makes for some very long, stressful, emotional days.  My sanity and patience are tested daily.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm helping or hurting our relationship long term.  Would she do better for someone else?  This really is our major issue.  But it is a HUGE one.

Sacrifice!  Time & finances are a major sacrifice in this world of homeschooling.  Would it be easier to put her on a bus every day and send her to school?  Heck yeah!  To have 3 days a week to myself sounds dreamy (Maddie goes to preschool 3 mornings a week).  My house would be cleaner(er).  I could go to the gym every morning.    I could go to the grocery store or run errands alone.  Homeschooling is an added expense.  We have to buy our own curriculum (another pro also) while our tax dollars go to pay for public education (stinks).  But, at least I know WHAT she's learning and not learning things I don't want her to know yet!

What's easiest isn't always best.  Homeschooling IS HARD!  In exchange, I get to see her every day, all day.  I don't just see her for a few crazy, chaotic minutes in the morning and a few hours before she goes to bed in the evening.  I am a part of the process, as painful as it is at times.

Will we homeschool forever?  I honestly do not know.  Right now, I still feel this is what we're suppose to do.  We do have some other options for next year that include a hybrid school and private school.  But, we'll finish out this semester and take it from there!  Thanks for tagging along this journey!

Our Family - 2011 Update

Hi, friends!  Remember me?  =)  Several have asked where I went so I thought I better check in before you give up on me.  Thanks for hanging around!  Here's our update:

Cheerleading - Audrey's group had a fantastic year winning all 3 local competitions, were Georgia state champs, and 2nd place at Nationals.  Pretty impressive if you ask me!  More importantly, Audrey was happy.  She loved it!  She has some new skills.  Her shyness dropped at least one notch.  :)  She even won the "Blossom" award this year.  Both her coaches spoke highly of her and the changes in skill and personality she made through the season.  She wouldn't speak to anyone in the beginning, but by the end she was leading and helping other girls.  So proud!  She couldn't do a cartwheel at the beginning of the season and now she has a beautiful one, a spectacular round off, and working on a back walk over.  Both girls are currently in a gymnastics/tumbling class and love it!

Disney - Cheerleading Nationals were in Orlando this year, so we made it a full blown family vacation.  We were there seven nights.  We stayed in a beautiful resort.  When the team commitments and competition was over, it was time to play!  This was, after all, the girls' first visit to Disney!  We had a 4 day hopper pass and we wore it out!  Day #1 was Magic Kingdom.  The girls really enjoyed meeting the characters (starting with Rapunzel) and all the cool rides.  Love some animatronics (is that a word?)!!  Day #2 was Animal Kingdom which I like to refer to as a zoo on steroids.  This was my first time there and although we didn't get to do everything we wanted, we were exhausted by the end of the day.  (Maddie fell asleep at 6:30 on the shuttle ride back to the resort and didn't wake up until 7:30 the next morning!)  I LOVED the Lion King show.  And, Maddie got chosen to be in the show, which was adorable!   Derek got me on a crazy roller coaster, but I survived.  lol  Day #3 was to Epcot.  First time I've ever been there, too.    Loved all the countries.  Again, lots of characters to meet (aka lots of standing in line).  Great shows!  We all loved the Spaceship Earth (?) ride.  I was totally impressed with how intrigued Audrey was and how as we went through the different time periods, she remembered (and was excited) at all she knew that we had studied.  She asked questions through the whole ride.  Day #4 was Hollywood Studios.  I really enjoyed this one (Hello, Tower of Terror is there!).  We had some rain that day, but nothing terrible.  All in all, we had a fantastic time.  The 8 hour trip was not bad at all.  The kids did really well.  But, I seriously needed a vacation to rest from my vacation of fun when we got home.  LOL

Derek is sooo loving his job!  He is traveling a lot more than he was, but he is so happy.  And, they are really pleased with his work.  He's a smart dude!  =)  Silly boy has put himself in the running to go to Singapore for a year, so stay tuned!  He's still active in his culinary group, as well.  We've found a new Bible Fellowship at church that we both like and he's had some activities with the guys there.  Other than that, he works a lot.  And, he's trying to re-enroll at UT to finish his PhD.

I am still very active in singing at church with the WOW group.  LOVE, love, love it!  The ladies are amazing and the ministry opportunities are fantastic.  I'm also getting to do some more choreography through the church.  Our Children's spring musical is coming up soon and I'll be doing a flag number, ballet number, and cheer routine.  Fun!!  I'm doing a couple of songs with the Conservatory of Music for their spring production.  I'll also be helping with some other programs in the coming months, but will wait to elaborate on that later.  =)

I will do a separate post for homeschool for all those interested in how that's going.

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