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This weekend my extended family celebrated my youngest sister’s graduation from high school.

My parents began homeschooling way back in the fall of 1988. I was starting 8th grade and I had 4 younger siblings starting in their respective grades. As the oldest of 9 kids, we had attended a private christian school up to this point but for a variety of reasons homeschooling was the way my parents decided to go at that time. It didn’t take too long before they realized this was a wonderful decision and in my opinion probably one of the best parenting decisions they ever made. I was homeschooled from 8th grade thru high school graduation. My sister that is #5 in birth order was the first to homeschool all the way from Kindergarten through high school.

So, over the past 24 years, my parents have homeschooled. It’s become a way of life. You know, where school and home life interchange till you aren’t really sure which is which ๐Ÿ˜‰ And trips anywhere become a field trip. And field trips become family vacations. Life in a home where the dining room is the school room and any spare wall is filled with either a bookshelf or a map. And now, this year, they are graduating their last child. The little girl who was born the year after I graduated from high school. That makes me feel old, thank you very much.

So, as part of my sister’s graduation, we snuck in a little surprise for my parents and put together a “slide show” highlighting the 24 years of schooling. It was fun to go back through the gazillions of photos we have. And picking out just a few was a challenge. Actually, we ended up with about 10 minutes worth of pictures at about 5 seconds a picture!….. and I think we might have a little gap in the years between the actual film photos that are sorted and put away and the beginning of the digital age of photos…… but hopefully it wasn’t too noticeable ๐Ÿ˜‰

When the “middle child” – #5 – graduated back in 2001, we gave Mom a little train car figurine. It was symbolic of the “little engine that could” reaching the top of the mountain and the fact that with 5 kids graduated and just 4 kids to go, it was the “it’s all downhill” from here idea. So, earlier this year, my youngest sister started looking for a similar figurine to give mom at her graduation, but this time, a train pulling into the station. The end of the train had arrived. She found the perfect one on Ebay ๐Ÿ˜‰

My thoughts as I began this post was to acknowledge and share a little bit of my own homeschool background and to share the celebration of the completion of a homeschool journey. But really, the journey isn’t over for my parents. The road is just taking a noticeable turn and change. They may not have any more children they are schooling and raising at home, but they have 15 grandkids, with 2 on the way (and 4 siblings haven’t even gotten started yet!), there is another whole generation coming up. A generation, each in their own families, but with a shared history of this family, their homeschool experience and values that have been passed down. A generation that has grandparents that are thrilled to hear the details of a school child’s day, that can be so impressed at the sharing of the mummification process or the recitation of a poem memorized. Or, as my oldest said once in reply to my “I don’t know the answer to that”, “well, we can just call grammie then, she would know”.

As I think about homeschooling for the next (at least) 18 years with my soon-to-be 6 children, it seems like a long road. A long time. A lot of information and learning I want to pass on to my children. But it is a journey. I don’t have to do it all this year. Or even next year. Training up a child is a long process and it takes time. It takes many years of building little by little till at the end of the journey, Lord willing, a Godly, competent, well-rounded man or lady is beginning their “adult life”. I want to build into my children, not only a good and well-rounded education, but more importantly, a person of character, one who loves God and shows wisdom in their life. I keep coming back to this verse as I think about these things.

Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:7b-8

And I am reminded of the sign that hangs in our dining room/school room ;-)……

“The highest goal of learning is to know God”

And knowing myself and my siblings the way I do, I would say my parents were successful, we may not all remember the presidents in order or be able to recite back the list of prepositions perfectly, but we do all know God and continue to increase in His wisdom, knowledge and understanding.

Well done, mom and dad, thank you for many years of sacrificial giving and teaching.

I loved this quote and wanted to share, the blog post that went with it was excellent as well and you can read it here!

This post is linked with Modest Mom’s Monday Link Up and Heavenly Homemakers Gratituesday and iHomeschool Network’s Blog Hop

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my oldest and youngest on the first day of school

We started school last week, so we have one full week under our belts! WhoHoo ๐Ÿ˜‰ As much as I would have maybe waited a few more weeks before starting, I know that starting now is going to give me more room to relax and be able to be looser with our schooling around the time Baby is born in November. Plus, I was feeling we needed some stronger structure to our days anyway right now to help keep the boys busy and out of trouble, so it really made sense to start sooner than later.

I still have some planning I would like to, well I guess NEED to get done in the next couple weeks. But I didn’t want to plan our weeks out too far till I saw how things are working. I am also still considering a couple of options in 2 subjects… mainly do I need to include them at this stage of the boys education or should I wait another year or two and add them in ๐Ÿ˜‰

I took one evening a couple of weeks ago and planned out our daily routine and schedule. I do like a nice schedule, though with many young children living here, it usually becomes more like a basic routine as we move from one thing to another. About the only consistent factor in our days is meals and naptime! And yes, even after just a week, there are a couple of things I am finding I need to tweak. But, I am liking our routine overall, spreading out school a little more and getting consistent in bedtimes. I have also planned very simple meals this month to help ease our way into the school year. Watch for the menu post later this week!

When I planned our day, I planned it out 3 different ways. One is “normal school day”, where we are home all day and able to do school and housework accordingly. The second is a “modified school day” for the days when I would like to plan to go a ladies Bible study in the morning or we end up needing to do work stuff for my husband, but I am still home the second half of the day and want to try to get school accomplished those days. The last is an “Off day”, I am only planning our school weeks for 4 days of schooling and 1 day for errands or bigger household tasks or catch up. So, I planned out a day that still has some structure, but gives me freedom to not do school and be flexible in what needs done.

2012 school routine

(Hopefully this link works if you would like to see the routines I am currently working off of!)

 

This years curriculum…..

I have a 7-year-old 1st grader and a 5 1/2-year-old Kindergartener that are formally in school this year. Bothย  boys.ย  I also have an almost 4-year-old girl I am doing preschool work with as she has the desire a couple of times a week. Other than that she sits and colors or plays nearby while I do school with the boys. I also have a just turned 2-year-old boy and a little girl who will be 1 in September and then the baby boy who is coming in early November.ย  It’s quite a challenging age range now, as none of them are exactly “self-starting” or able to do much, if anything, on their own or without close supervision.

We are starting with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum this year. I was drawn to it for its strong Biblical and christian emphasis as well as it’s conducive-ness to teaching multiple levels easily using the same core and having the kids do work at their own level. I can see it being a good core curriculum for our family for a long time since I will have many children at close, but differing levels of schooling and TOG seems to be very geared for this. I am really excited about what I have seen and read in TOG thus far and am looking forward to it.

For my 1st grader we are doing:

History, Literature, Geography & Writing:ย Tapestry of Grace

Math: Rod and StaffMath Level 1, Book 2 (we did book 1 last yr)

Bible: 24 Family Ways and Awana verses at church

Memory Work: Veritas Press Timeline Cards

Reading/Phonics: First Language Lessons andย I am working with him to be reading aloud at least 15 minutes a day (combination of school reading, Bible and science books) plus working on him beginning to spend time reading to himself (Bible, science books and some classics at his level)

Science: I will include many science based books in his reading list or stack I get from the library for him to read through.

For my Kindergartener we are doing:

History, Literature, Geography & Writing:ย Tapestry of Grace

Math: Rod & Staffย  Math Level 1, book 1

Bible: 24 Family Ways and Awana verses at church

Reading/Phonics: Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading

For the Preschool ages we are doing:

Many workbooks, coloring books and such gathered from sales and the $1 store, Puzzles, Leapfrog DVD’s and I got these 123/abc books from Rod & Staff

The kids also all have a “quiet box” with age appropriate items to play, color, etc with either while I am doing school with other kids or during naptime for the older boys. These include some flash cards and fun workbooks, coloring books, reading books, and some quiet play things like magnet letters, etc.

So, that’s what I have now. I am looking at some handwriting options and seeing what we will do there and honestly, probably won’t start anything too formal till after Christmas. I am also looking at some different math options, but at the moment we have the Rod & Staff workbooks for them to work through at their pace.

A couple of cute quotes from our first few days:

My boys asked when we were going to take a field trip to Egypt. (We are currently studying Ancient Egypt, so he wanted to go see the pyramids!) I told him that a trip to Egypt wasn’t real feasible and I didn’t really have plans to go there ๐Ÿ˜‰ That Egypt is quite far away and it would take a long time, a lot of money and all to visit there. I told him, “Plus, remember on your world map, how far Egypt is from where we are? There’s a huge big ocean in between us that we would have to cross”. His reply to that was “Well, we could ask God to help us walk on water, you know nothing is impossible with Him”. Oh the faith and innocence of a child ;-)How do you reply to THAT? We decided that we would visit the library and try to find some nice DVD’s that showed the pyramids for now.

Also, as we were discussing the various subjects and matter for this year,my oldest suggested we learn Gaelic sign language. Uh, yeah…. wasn’t on my list…. don’t exactly know American Sign Language yet….. any idea if Signing Time comes in Gaelic? ๐Ÿ™‚

This post is linked to Modest Mom’s Modest Monday’s and iHomeschool Network’s Not Back to School Blog Hop

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