It’s homestretch for us for Homeschool Year 2011-2012.  WHEW!!! This year has been, by far, the most challenging year for me.  A lot of questions went through my mind, which gave me a chockful of doubts as a teacher and as a mom.  It was a roller coaster ride with dips of frustrations, rises of joy and sense of accomplishment, and a whirl of all sorts of emotions. 

As I always do at the end of a schoolyear, I look back at what we’ve done, learned, and accomplished. Did we finish the book from cover to cover?  Did we miss out on adverbs or clauses?  How about atoms and compounds?  Angles, triangles, parallelograms?  Then, I realize that I’m beginning to fall into the trap again.  I’m thinking like the “traditional school.”  

So, I try to wake myself up to reality: 

I homeschool our kids.  We are not within the bounds of some institution’s stringent rules and policies.  It’s a lifestyle where each family is unique and different.  As for our family, we are particular on SKILLS and not just on pure knowledge.  We try always to spend more time on opportunities where our children’s skills are sharpened. Mike and I believe that it is SKILLS which would differentiate the success of a person and his ability to rise above a situation and prove himself worthy.

Here’s an article listing down nine skills which I believe will help our children adapt to and survive in our rapid-changing world.  I believe these will equip them to be better prepared for the future, which we are all uncertain of. 

9 Essential Skills Every Child Should Learn

I included here as well another article I kept on 15 life skills that are more on the practical side.  These should be taught to our children as well!

15 Life Essential Skills for my Children

If you’re like me who goes through those moments of worry when some lessons in the books have not been learned during the schoolyear, ask yourself again the question “What do I ultimately want my kids to learn and master?”



I’m going to be a liar, a hypocrite, if I tell people that the thought of quitting homeschooling never EVER entered my mind!  I grew up in a traditional school setup and a structured home and so, the flexible, out-of-the-box, unschooling, and other unconventional approaches of homeschooling are still something I struggle with, even after embarking on this journey 5 years ago.

To be honest with you, I’ve been feeling exhausted, unmotivated, and burnt out these past days…weeks…months!  It’s the last quarter, the homestretch phase of the schoolyear that’s making me want to end the routines, planning, scheduling, advance reading, checking of papers, punching, filing, organizing, portfolio-making, grading, re-teaching, etc, etc, etc.  To be quite candid about it, I want the world to stop for a while (a longer while) to give me some time to slow down, breathe, and keep up with what feels like our “normal” lives once again.

But last night, just when I was about to go to bed, I got a surprise in my email inbox.  The subject title was short but they were MY words.  Title was: I Want to Give Up.

The article was a bit longer than usual AND written in a letter format, starting off with “Dear Racquel,” I really felt it was God speaking to me!  It was His personal letter to ME!  I read it and as I was reading every word, trying to put the pieces together and understand the entire message, I reached the portion where there were 25 reasons listed down, numbered 1 to 25, NOT to give up homeschooling.  It felt like having earphones plugged in my ears and God’s voice audibly saying every single word.

I Want to Give Up (But I Won’t)
Dear Racquel,
Deborah's  Picture
Deborah Wuehler and family
  
Before you say, “I quit,” I want to encourage you to think otherwise. Let me just say that there is probably at least one day a month or more that I want to say, “I quit!” to something in my life, whether it be teaching, cleaning, cooking, transporting, or disciplining a child. We all share the same thoughts and feelings. I think those feelings stem from a lack of peace. Because of the difficult, mundane, or tiring circumstances in our life, we lose our peace and therefore feel that if we quit, we will find that peace. Peace won’t magically come in a change of circumstance, but I know just the place to find it! Here is what the living Word of God says:
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. Isaiah 26:3, 4
  1. Our MINDs need to be stayed: focused, kept, continued on HIM. Take your mind off your circumstances and put it on HIM. Magnify Him and not your difficulty.
  2. Our minds are able to stay on HIM because we TRUST in HIM. Do not trust in what you see or feel. Trust in your God forever-he is the only unchanging thing in your life!
  3. In HIM is everlasting strength! Tired, weary, discouraged? You need strength, and you don’t have it in yourself. In the Lord alone is everlasting strength.
Think about and memorize that Scripture in Isaiah; start putting it into practice and you will find peace. Don’t put more things into practice until you put this into practice. In other words, don’t try to find solutions to your problems until you find peace in HIM. Let me encourage you with 25 reasons not to give up:
  1. God’s grace is sufficient.
  2. God gives us everything we need for life and godliness.
  3. God’s mercy endures forever.
  4. It is God who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
  5. Our children need godly parent mentors and teachers.
  6. Our children need their questions answered from a biblical worldview.
  7. Our children need and are permitted room to grow and time for creativity.
  8. Our children need and receive godly socialization.
  9. Our children learn to be unselfish and to serve others.
  10. Our children retain their innocence.
  11. Our children will have a lasting legacy of love and commitment.
  12. Our children and our children’s children will be spared worldly indoctrination.
  13. We know where our children are at all times.
  14. We know what our children are being taught at all times.
  15. We know who our children’s friends are and who their parents are.
  16. We retain our God-given right to educate our own children.
  17. Our children receive a superior education no matter what philosophy or curriculum we use.
  18. Homeschooled children receive one-on-one attention and specialized training.
  19. Homeschooled children can see and experience the world around them regularly.
  20. Homeschooling permits the teaching of important life skills.
  21. Homeschooling builds strong character and strong relationships.
  22. Our children will not have to walk in the counsel of the ungodly.
  23. Our children will not have to stand in the path of sinners.
  24. Our delight will be in the law of the Lord, and everything we do will prosper.
  25. Our God never gives up, and He gives us His strength to continue the journey.

As if it wasn’t enough, the letter ends with a link giving MORE ENCOURAGEMENT TO GO ON (probably knowing how I am really feeling these days that I wouldn’t be convinced enough with the 25 reasons) 

So, am I quitting?  Let’s just put it this way.  I find myself saying quite often I want to, but always end up going on. Whenever the quitting game starts building up, I instantly receive all sorts of messages (emails, subscriptions, Bible passages, words from friends, speakers, workshops, etc.) telling me to continue this calling, this purpose.  God surely knows when to pick me up each time my spirits are down.  Just like in the past, I’ll take it one day at a time and see where each day will take me.  Perhaps, another 5 years? 

 

 


Teaching concepts to your kids in ways that they would really grasp, understand, and see them in real life can sometimes really put you in a dead-end spot, not knowing what to do when you see their blank faces or when they give you those “Uh-huh” look when you ask them repeatedly the question “Do you understand?”  That’s how I oftentimes feel when our girls and I are doing Math or Science.

Arielle and Kayla are both currently on the broad topic of geometry.  Kayla started off with the basics on the different kinds of angles and later moved on to the different kinds of triangles, while Arielle’s on the topic of areas of triangles and parallelograms.  As they were working on their exercises, I was already starting to think of what they would or could do for their portfolio.  It’s our last quarter and we all seem to be slowing down in our pace, running out of unique ideas to wrap up our learnings.

Then, an idea hit me.

Something that would take nothing else but pulling it out of the box, literally.  Why don’t we use the gingerbread kit that their Tita Lyndee, my good friend, gave us last Christmas to further learn more and apply their geometry concepts and at the same time, exercise some creativity?  After all, I didn’t want to throw away the gift just because it was already out of season.  I  was just waiting for the right time to work on it.  It was also a way to teach the girls to appreciate things given to them by other people.  So, that’s what we exactly did!  Last Saturday, the girls  worked on our gingerbread mini village kit and they started “building houses”.  Doing it may seem really off-season since making gingerbread houses or people is an American tradition done during Christmas.  But I think it was God’s perfect timing for us to open this gift and work on it in February!  We were too busy anyway over the Holidays that doing it then was simply impossible.

Our gingerbread mini village kit

How did we incorporate geometry in these gingerbread houses?  Arielle and Kayla took a few pieces of the houses, measured the lengths of the sides to be able to solve the areas of the figures, and measured the angles to identify what kind of angle or triangle the figures are.

The different pieces of the gingerbread houses where you can see
mostly triangles, squares, rectangles.

Angles were measured in this triangle and the kind of angle and triangle
were identified as well.

 

Here, Arielle solved the area of this parallelogram.

 

Arielle tried to find the area of this shape while Kayla also measured
the angles of the window.

 

Kayla was patiently and carefully sticking the parts of the house together.

 

The gingerbread house assembled and decorated by Kayla.

 

Arielle working on her chalet.

 

The girls and one of their finished gingerbread houses!

It was the girls’ first time to try doing a gingerbread kit and so, the whole exercise of building different kinds of houses was new to them.  The challenge really was to be able to make sure that the different parts or pieces would hold up, not slide down or have the whole house collapse. To end this activity, another simple but real life lesson connection made here was that in constructing real houses or buildings,  exact and precise measurements are needed to make the structure stable.  Right lengths, right angles, even the use of the right materials are necessary. We need to follow strict building codes to ensure safety.

What I first thought as a way to finally open up the box and use the Christmas gift given by my friend became a hands-on learning opportunity on math (geometry, measurements), science (weight, technology, safety) and character (appreciation, patience, creativity).  It was the perfect time after all to build gingerbread houses in February 🙂