Saturday, September 7, 2013

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
-Frederick Douglass, "West India Emancipation," 1857


As I sat down to type out this post, wrapping up our first week of kindergarten homeschool, I couldn't think of anything positive to say.  I got through three paragraphs of drama, and decided to just delete it.  We have had a REALLY bad week.  There has been a lot of explaining "why" school is mandatory from k-12, a lot of fighting/arguing, a lot of tears (from both SC and I), and I am just drained, both emotionally and physically.  

We only made it through 1/3 of our schedule for the week, and that bothers me to no end.  However, I still have hope that things will get better.  Much of the arguing has given me some real insight into how SC's brain works (and why there have been such major bumps in this road), and though things might have to go on a bit differently than I had originally anticipated, I still have hope that this will work out.  I keep coming back to the fact that God has led AC and I to choose this as the best choice for her this year.  Cliche, I know, but as Jeremiah 29:11 states "For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."  There is a reason He has led us down this path for now.   

So, I really didn't want to look back on our first week a few months, or even years, from now and read how horrible it has all been, even if we eventually stop homeschooling.  I don't need to rehash the gory details (and they are, believe me).  I do want to remember it has been hard, but so is any major change.  And I want to publicly remind myself to be faithful to Him who knows the plan, and not lose hope.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"I have no notion of loving people by halves,
it is not my nature."


“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. 
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” 

― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey


Just last night, AC and I were talking about how I seem to have more than one good friend whom I regularly spend time with.   I also have a few good friends who do not live nearby anymore, but I chat with on a regular basis.  This is an anomaly for me, as I am fairly introverted and don't deal well in most social situations.   In fact, typically having just one good friend is difficult, stressful and exhausting for me.  As well as being introverted, the Austen quote above is very true for me, and contributes to my difficulties with friendship.

This week, I am enormously thankful that God has placed this handful of women in my life, and that even through my awkwardness or sometimes inappropriate comments, they continue to be faithful.  I hope you all know who you are, and I love you.

What are you thankful for this week? Leave a comment below, and then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:


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Monday, August 26, 2013

"There cannot be a crisis next week.
My schedule is already full."


"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."
Henry Kissinger, quoted in The New York Times Magazine, June 1969


We are only one week away from our official first day of kindergarten, and I have been working on lesson plans and making sure I have a schedule that (1) will fit in everything comfortably, and (2) is doable.  A few weeks ago I thought I had the schedule down, but then SC met a new friend whom we really want to spend time with weekly, so I adjusted everything and was able to clear an entire afternoon.  



I am linking up this post for the final week with iHomeschool Network's "Not Back to School" Blog Hop, and while it is supposed to be a post that details a "day in the life" at our homeschool, since we won't actually be starting until next week, I will instead be focusing on what the ideal week would look like, based on my latest version of the schedule.  On this year's curriculum post, I mentioned the times I had planned, but did not go into any detail about what specifically we will be doing during those times.  So, here is what I hope things will look like during our upcoming days.

Monday, Wednesday and Fridays will look very similar in the mornings, as will Tuesdays and Thursdays.  SC will be going to a "bridge" kindergarten twice a week at the same church she has been at for the past few years for Mother's Day Out.  I just cannot compete with the monthly themed activities.  Every weekday SC will need to complete one activity from A Reason for Handwriting level A, as well as a few pages from Explode the Code for phonics reinforcement.  This will happen in the evenings, before free time is allowed.  


M/W/F

7:00-8:00am:  Wake up, walk the dog, eat breakfast

8:00-8:10am:  Warm-Up [either listening activity or short reading passage/questions]

8:10-8:40am:  Bible

8:40-9:00am:  All About Spelling OR All About Reading [I have two separate sessions set up each day for AAR/AAR, but I am going to try to do them simultaneously, so some days we may do two sessions of AAS (NOT two lessons, but I have planned for much reviewing), or two AAR, or one of each.]

9:00-9:30am:  Junior Great Books 
[language arts]

9:30-9:50am:  Grammar [Language Smarts B]

9:50-10:30am:  Math [Singapore]

10:30-11:10am:  History

11:10-11:30am:  All About Spelling OR All About Reading

11:30am-12:00pm:  Spanish

12:00-12:30pm:  LUNCH


Mondays, after lunch, we will be traveling to a friend's house, and be listening to an audiobook on the way.  We also have gymnastics in the evening.

Wednesdays we will use Draw.Write.Now for some art instruction, combined with writing instruction (that I create - not handwriting).  Then we will hopefully meet some of our homeschool group at the park before heading to a short 30 minute dance class.

Fridays we will do some brief logic work before heading to piano lessons, and then have the afternoon free for a possible field trip to the zoo, one of the local museums, or more time with friends.

T/R

7:00-8:00am:  Wake up, walk the dog, eat breakfast

8:00-8:10am:  Warm-Up [either listening activity or short reading passage/questions]

8:10-8:50am:  Jacob's Ladder [language arts]


9:30am-2:30pm: away from home kindergarten class

2:30-3:10pm: listen to audiobook in the car on the way to afternoon activities (T: swim, R: dance)

Tuesday evenings SC will also have soccer practice (and I will be coaching for the first time).

Finally, as mentioned on the curriculum post, we will be doing a few homeschool activities Saturday morning, so that we can keep our afternoons mostly free for friends, park days and field trips.  

Sat

7:00-9:00am:  Wake-up, walk the dog, eat breakfast (we won't have a hard wake-up time)

9:00-9:50am: Science

9:50-10:20am: Math [Life of Fred]

10:20-10:50am:  Grammar [Grammar-land and Primary Language Lessons]

10:50-11:50am: Teatime and classical music to relax from all our hard work!

Throughout the school-week, SC will have the opportunity to earn free time, which will include watching taped PBS shows, using the computer to play games (usually pbskids.org), playing on the iPad or other electronic devices, as well as just playing with the multitude of toys we have.  However, she will have a checklist that she needs to complete some of first, during that free time period.  Here is an example of the checklist I have made:



I am hoping that this will be a baby-step in teaching her to prioritize tasks and how to manage her time.  We shall see how it works.

So, that is an ideal "day in the life" at our homeschool.  Don't forget to check back at the end of the first week of September to see how things actually went.  

What do your school days look like?  Leave a comment below, then check out all the other bloggers' posts at the iHomeschool Network 5th annual "Not Back to School" Blog Hop.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple
Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, 
and modern literature a complete impossibility!"
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I


This week I am thankful that SC successfully completed our first-ever standardized test.  I wrote previously that we had her tested just before she turned five years old for IQ and achievement, but other than a new understanding that she is gifted, asynchronous, and really needs to work on listening skills, there wasn't much we could do with the results at this point.  

What I really wanted to know was whether or not I had missed anything in planning and teaching.  In the State of Texas, the Texas Education Agency publishes a set of standards called the TEKS, and while that is helpful in directing planning, it does not tell me now, before we start, what SC really already knows.  I went through the kindergarten TEKS standards last summer, and other than a few of the science and social studies parts, in my opinion, she had already mastered most of it because of the product she was generating when we did preschool and kindergarten level work at home.  

For starting this fall, I did the same thing, looking at the first grade level TEKS, but I was more unsure.  Again, we had not done much of the science or social studies items at home, though many were taken care of at the Mother's Day Out pre-k program she went to.  However, I am not that worried about missing information in these areas for the upcoming year.  It is the math, reading and language arts skills that I really wanted to know about, especially since she is working so far ahead: what has she already mastered, what is a struggle, what does she not know at all?

I chose to go with the ITBS Level 6, which is the level for students going into 1st grade (K.7-1.7).  I did not want the test to be so difficult that she was only getting a few questions correct (what I thought might happen if I had jumped two years and chose Level 7), but I hoped that she wouldn't just blow through this one, either, and have wasted my time giving a test that she scores 100% correct answers on.  


Level 6 was a perfect test, and though I do not know the "official" results yet, because I was the test administrator (ITBS allows this, as long as you get certified, which requires a bachelor's degree), I was able to see where, when and how she made mistakes.  Most of the mistakes were made with regard to listening comprehension.  Though we knew that she struggled in this area from the previous tests, it really helped to see her make the mistakes.  I was able to see that she does fine when there is one or two pieces of information, but if there was three or four, she tends to forget the first part of what I was saying.  This held true across all the categories, both in the actual "listening" section, but also in the math area when she had to listen to word problems that had more than two numbers to manipulate.

The other problems she got wrong (other than for listening reasons) were in the vocabulary section, and specifically had to do with categorization.  Some of the words she was asked to identify (by choosing the picture that best represented the word she heard me say) were things like thick/thin and skinny.  I realized that as a family we have purposely avoided these types of categorization words due to the fact that they can be applied to people, as well as the word "fat," which is the opposite of "skinny" in this context.  AC and I have not wanted to deal with SC pointing out these specific differences in people (because she does notice and point out in a childlike manner) in public because though her intent is not to offend, sometimes the words of a child can be taken as offensive, and people can still be hurt by them.  

 So, I would say that overall, this was a great testing experience.  AC and I both wanted SC to have some experience with taking a standardized test, and though the State of Texas does not require that we test or submit scores, we think the information we can learn from the testing (as long as it is analyzed in way that is not simply "did she score X" or "did she pass") will be a great help to us going forward.

Have you had experience with testing young elementary students at home?  What do you think about the ITBS test specifically?  Let me know, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Any glimpse into the life of an animal ..."

"Any glimpse into the life of an animal 
quickens our own and makes it 
so much the larger and better in every way."
-John Muir


A few weeks ago SC and I had the opportunity to tag along with AC on a trip to New York City, and one of the things we did was visit the Bronx Zoo.  As I was planning this zoo visit, I realized that in SC's five short years of life, we have visited quite a few zoos in the US already.  For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I want to highlight the zoos we have been to, as well as a few we have yet to get to.

Zoos We Have ALREADY Visited:



*I think I would have loved The Bronx Zoo much more if we had not gone on "pay what you will" day.  There were so many people, including many large summer camp groups, that it was unmanageable for SC, and we didn't get to see even half the zoo before she insisted we leave and refused to look at any animals on our way out.


6. Point Defiance Zoo (Tacoma, WA)

Zoos We Have YET TO Visit:
7. Smithsonian's National Zoo (Washington, D.C.)


9. Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle, WA)

10. Audubon Zoo (New Orleans, LA)

PLUS, two foreign zoos I would love to visit:
Edinburgh Zoo

Toronto Zoo


What is your favorite zoo to visit?  Leave a comment below, then check out other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

Monday, August 19, 2013

"... and he only holds the key to his own secret."
[Not Quite] First Day of School Pictures 2013/2014

"It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. 
It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Education," Lectures and Biographical Sketches


Though we will not start homeschool until the first week of September, I managed to get SC bathed in the morning (rather than the evening) and her hair fixed, and the weather wasn't too hot, so we took some time to take a few commemorative photos for the start of her kindergarten year.  So, here are our [Not Quite] First Day of School Pictures for 2013/2014.




Have you taken your yearly "back to school" photos yet?  Let me know how it went below, and then check out some other 2013/2014 pictures at the 5th Annual "Not Back to School" Blog Hop:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"The only tolerable state is having just written."
Happy 1st Blogiversary!

“It's hell writing and it's hell not writing. 
The only tolerable state is having just written.”
-Robert Hass


Today marks the first "blogiversary" of Proverbs 2 Pursuit :: Wisdom.  As I look back on the last year and some of the posts I have made, I realize that I have grown in ways I did not expect.  Initially, the goal of this blog was to focus on my breakdown and learning about education, specifically as it relates to SC, and to chronicle our baby steps into homeschooling.  However, though we have done some of this, it has also been a place to talk about struggles with SC, to share the blessings God has bestowed upon our family, and a place to hash out what being a parent to SC really should look like, considering the uniqueness God created within her.  

I love what the blog has become, and while when I first started I was consumed with posting regularly in blog hops and getting my voice out there, I am much less stressed if I miss an "appointment," because I just don't have anything of quality to contribute that day.  I am okay if I don't post for a week because we were busy, or on vacation, or if my post is mostly pictures, or a brief bit of thankfulness.  I think over the past year, the blog has become less about "having a blog" and more a representation of me and our life, which is exactly what I want it to be.

So, in looking back today (which is Top Ten Tuesday), I wanted to highlight ten of my most-read/commented-upon posts, and I hope you enjoy them.


2. Thankful Thursday: 
"How Not to Have to [Wash] the Dishes"

3. Top Ten Tuesday:
PBS Kids Shows

4. Top Ten Tuesday:
"Home is home, though it be never so homely."

5. Top Ten Tuesday:
"Books and movies are like apples and oranges."

6. 2013-2014: K5/1st Curriculum:
"Look what a lot of things there are to learn..."

7. What 2 Read Wednesday:
"She was expecting something empowering."
Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
stories by Nathan Englander

8. What 2 Read Wednesday:
"is the fleeting jolt of meaning that art gives us valuable?"
Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green



Which of these posts was your favorite to read, or is it one that I have not listed?  Leave a comment below, then check out some other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

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