Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Lessons Behind Us

Though the private Christian school that B16 and BC18 attended has been out for two weeks, B12, Chicklet8 and I have been pushing hard to complete their end-of-year projects and assignments for the virtual schools they attended this year...and we are DONE!

Ahhhh, it feels so good.

Overall, I really liked the virtual charter school option that we have here in Wisconsin.  It's been great for B12, especially, to report to someone else besides Mom and receive "for real" grades.  With Mom, it's an A every time because she works with you until you understand the concept (not a bad thing, but the burden is on Mom).  With a teacher, if you miss a lot of problems, you get a bad grade or even fail...then it's up to you to get the help you need, or fall further behind--a needed "reality motivator" for B12.  He did a great job of tackling the assignments on his own and completing his work with hardly any help--I was so proud of him!  He often needed help with time management, since his deadlines were rarely hard and fast, but it was a great opportunity for him to begin to develop those skills that many of us adults struggle with.  (Like what happens when you procrastinate, and how it's better to tackle the unknown assignment early in the week.)

For Chicklet8, I appreciated the accountability more for myself than for her.  I just don't enjoy teaching these early skills, like math facts and handwriting and sounding out words.  When I feel stretched thin by time pressures, as I have these last couple years, it's just so hard for me to find the patience for these kinds of lessons!  So it was good for us both to be pushed along by the school's assignments, and she ended up learning so much this year.  I was very pleased.

For inquiring minds, B12 was enrolled in iQ Academy, through the Waukesha public school district, and I really recommend this program.  In addition to interactive material to absorb, he had a wide variety of assignments that require higher-level thinking than just memorizing for the test, and his teachers were accessible and accommodating.  Chicklet was using the Little Lincoln Interactive curriculum through Wisconsin Virtual Learning, a charter school of the Northern Ozaukee School District.  (I think Little Lincoln is available to anyone, though--maybe not for free, as it was to us.)  Every day there were online lessons in entertaining video form from Mrs. Walden, the writing teacher, Mr. Reed Moore, the reading teacher, Ms. Triggle, the math teacher, and Chicklet's favorite, Dr. Algae, the science teacher. There were also optional games online, at the end of each five-minute video lesson, and workbook pages, as well as art and science activities. You didn't have to turn in everything, just certain assignments, so often we didn't complete every single activity, but I thought that overall, it was a fantastic program.

B6 was my one purely homeschooled student, in kindergarten, and he was done about 3 months ago, I hate to say.  We're still doing a lesson here and a lesson there in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but that's been about it for formal education lately. Lots of unschooling going on for him, though, as he spent hours drawing, then began writing strings of letters and numbers, and eventually began phonetically spelling out words and teaching himself simple math facts.  Not every day, mind you, but I was thrilled to see him being his own teacher!

As I've been thinking and praying about next year, I feel great peace about the decision at which we've arrived.  We are going to put B6 and Chicklet8 in public school for a year or so--we'll see how it goes.  I'm calling it a sabbatical, after 14 straight years of homeschooling!  Chicklet went there for half a year last year, you may recall, and we both really liked it.  It was just a long day for a sweet little girl who missed her family, and I didn't make her go back after Christmas break.  But she's so excited about going back as a third grader, and B6 will hopefully get the same Christian teacher that Chicklet had for first grade.  He's ready for more structure and mental challenge, and I think he'll get it better there than from me.  As I said, I just don't enjoy these early lessons, creating motivational challenges for me.

I also long to give Chicklet the lessons she is begging for--cooking, sewing, and art.  I hope if someone else is in charge of the essentials, I'll have more energy for the extras!  But I am realistic.  They will be gone from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an earlier bedtime than we are used to, plus they will have homework and piano practice, and AWANA and theater will start back up again...and I'm afraid I won't get much time in the evenings with my little ones, unless I am creative and intentional, which is something I can't wait to think more about.  I just know that the rest of my family needs me too, Mom has been stretched too thin these last couple years, and the younger ones' education is something I can delegate next year, at least.  This plan just feels right, and I feel peace from the Lord about it.

Only B12 will be at home, and he'll do iQ Academy again, since he's able to work so independently and it was such a good experience.  We don't feel that the public middle school would be a good option for him, and the Christian school is a big expense.  So it'll be just him and me next year, unless B16 decides to do iQ Academy instead of the Christian high school--unlikely, but a possibility he's praying about.  It would give him more time to focus on guitar, voice, song-writing, and brushing off his piano knowledge--all things he's really desiring to do--but he wouldn't be able to play sports or see his friends as often, so it's his call.  He's got the summer to decide.

Blondechick will be at Trinity International University, we are nearly certain.  Still financial details to work out, and in two weeks she has an audition to see if they will give her a music scholarship for voice.  We've been told that there is still money there, if they need her in one of their vocal groups, and she doesn't have to major in music, so she might as well see what happens, eh?

B20, Lord willing, will be working.  The job search has been progressing at a snail's pace so far.  Prayers appreciated!

For now, it's just great to have the school year behind us and the summer looming.  Ahhhhhh.....   Bring it on!


Jessica said...

Sounds like you've got a good road map in front of you for the kids next year! I admire how you look at each of their situations individually and figure out what's best for them. I also admire how you're able to realize that you can get stretched too thin too, and actually do something about it! Kids need their moms, but they need sane ones. :) (Ask me how I know! I'm so there with you.)

Julie Leischner said...

Great blog, Jeanne! I can relate to what you're saying. I completely understand letting someone else do the teaching in certain essentials...and then you're not completely spent. Then you can spend time on other things with the kids. Granted, CYT and such keep you busy...but in some ways you can really embrace the time chunks they are home if you get a break at other times.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Jessica and Julie--

Thanks for the comments! It's nice to hear that my reasoning resonates. :)

I think God does give us a lot of leeway on these decisions, and what's "right" for ourselves, our kids and our families.



At A Hen's Pace said...
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