August 3, 2015

Homeschool: Year Four

Homeschooling: Year Four

I've had so many conversations about homeschooling this summer. Quite a few with good friends asking, "Did you expect to homeshool this long?" They're pretty sure of the answer, but want to check in anyways. I always share that I didn't, that this journey has surprised me too. Every year of homeschool has been a surprise in many ways, including the incredible blessing of being home another year. And what better way to drink in these days then with these littles that I love best? Last year I began Isia's kindergarten year with trepidation, wondering if being home was the best fit for her active personality. But as we traveled the year together, there were so many instances I saw her thriving at home: 

-holding her baby sister in the middle of the school day
-running around in the yard for hours after our morning lesson
-cooking us eggs and pancakes for breakfast
-wanting to help Billy with "his schooling"
-monitoring our dog's water & taking her for walks in the yard

And the list goes on. Every time Isia got excited about a project and spent all day on it- including drawing and copying birds out of our bird books- I was happy we were homeschooling. When we had the flexibility to travel up north and help my family after my father's stroke- I was happy we were homeschooling. When I was able to give her the chance to learn at her own speed, including the basics of multiplication & division, without having to hold her back for the sake of keeping the class together. Whenever she's able to rest and snack as needed instead of on a schedule. Even during the difficult days, when I wondered what I had gotten myself into- I was happy that we were in the middle of it together. 

I'm probably most pleased with how ingrained school is into our days, and into our family too. Isia's named our school, "The Treehouse School," and always shares with people- especially complete strangers- that she gets to go to school with her mama. Schooling is just naturally something we do together; I love the cohesiveness of that. We begin a new chapter this year with a second year of preschool for Billy, and a mobile- soon to be walking!- Esther Pearl. It's going to be a full year- which is the best kind (smile).

Wishing you & yours a good start to your school year!

July 31, 2015

Create (A Moment)

"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."  (via SouleMama)

Create (A Moment)

July 28, 2015

Trees & Tornadoes

Trees & Tornadoes
(taken earlier this year)
When we first visited this house in the woods, it was the trees that enchanted me. I like water, but I am neither the sailor or the fisherman that my husband is; It is trees that speak to me most. My childhood was spent climbing them, often with a book in hand. A weeping willow witnessed our engagement, and I've discovered special trees in each place we've lived- whether stateside or abroad. So it's been hard on my tree-loving heart to see all the damage of the recent (small) tornado that came through these parts. Broken trees line our streets right now, a final chapter to our very stormy summer. Some toppled over from clinging just to mud, while others have been hit hard by lightening and wind. The strongest winds came a couple weeks ago, when a couple small tornadoes made their way through here. The first one hit a neighboring lake, so we were prepared when ours arrived a few days later. We were on our way to the basement when we heard the Crack- and weren't surprised to see the damage the next day. One of my favorite trees- a 75 feet tall, 100 year old red oak- had been hit by lightening and split down the middle. The fallen half fell towards the lake, on top of the upper deck that had been destroyed last year by another fallen tree. (Which made us happy that repairing it hasn't been higher on the list this summer!) Today the cutters came and fell the second half, artfully landing it right on top of the first half. "You'll have a lot more sunshine," they said during the process. And I agreed, nodding my head. It' true, there's a gaping space of sky where it's leaves used to be and sunshine is a nice thing to have. But- between us- I'll always prefer a tree. So I'm off to find a new special tree, perhaps even the one I photographed above earlier this summer? In the meantime there's plenty of sticks to continue to add to our fort, which has survived the storms:

Trees & Tornadoes
Which is a good thing, because little climbing legs keep disassembling what we've put together so far! They've turned the stick wall into a ladder, quite naturally, and scale up it one at a time (per Mama's request) to sit on the upper beam. And my heart goes out to my Mama, who often saw my little face peeking out from among the leaves too. I bet it caused her heart to skip a beat too- with this same sweet mixture of worry, love and pride that comes from trusting children so they can learn to trust themselves. 

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July 6, 2015

Lessons in Latency

When I was a teacher, it would show up on our evaluations- latency. The art of waiting for an answer. It was an area that I found myself growing in a lot as a teacher, as I continually coached myself to count to ten while I waited for an answer. It was a difficult skill to foster, especially on shortened days. Wanting to push through the discussion and jump right into my favorite part of making. Sometimes (internally) impatient, or ready for the day to be done. But, as I continued to mature as a teacher, I sometimes found us blooming in the latent spaces. It was then that I would hear a shy kid speak up, or watch someone else make a connection. And I would realize the beauty that space had to offer... before I forgot all over again (wink). 

It's something I've been growing in as a parent as well! For example, Isia was a late walker. Yes, there was a step here, a step there, and a lot of cruising- but she was very content with crawling. I asked our pediatrician, worriedly, at her year appointment if I should be concerned. She wisely said, "Isia will do things at her own speed. Once she decides she wants to walk, she'll be off!" And at fourteen months that is exactly what happened. So you would think, five years later, that I would have become accustomed to her doing things at her own speed. But sometimes, like I shared above, I forget. I get distracted. Or, most lethal of all, expectations! Nothing suffocates latency as quickly as an expectation. Most recently, it was the expectation for her to keep up her reading progress. 

Lessons in Latency
Isia began really taking off with her reading this spring, and I excitedly started to work out more times in our days for her to read to me. At first it was casual but then I, without really realizing it, began to pull back. I started expecting her to work through more and more of the book herself, expecting to sound out words herself- and then battling frustration when she started to pull back as well. Reading, once delightful, began to be a tug of war. This continued until summer vacation, when I finally backed away and returned to just reading to her. After regaining some patience for the situation, I asked Isia about it. And then it came out:

"I'm afraid if I can read by myself, that you'll stop reading with me."

Ah-ha! So I promised that wouldn't happen and slowly returned to her reading again. At first I just asked her about a word here or there, or (being silly) pretended to have trouble sounding out a word that she knows. Gradually we returned to trading sentences, with me still being sensitive to forgoing all expectations. Then we began trading pages. Always keeping it light, reading lots of books to her in the interim, and backing off when she had enough. Finally, this morning, while I was changing the baby's diaper, she came in and read a whole Little Bear book to us. Then, being quite pleased with herself, proceeded to read it through a second time. We applauded, she beamed, and all was right in the world.

Lessons in Latency
And I'm reminded again to take time with these little souls. A timely lesson in parenting, and fitting as I begin to plan & ready my heart for our next year of homsechooling. It will be our fourth year together, as we journey through the land of first grade together. And work together- it's a community effort!- to journey with Billy through his second year of preschool. To keep our steps small, backtrack as needed, and hold hands often along the way. In the timeless words of Pooh, whose audiobook Billy is listening to while I write this, "It's so much more friendlier with two." I think he's right!