Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Homeschool = Life

More and more, homeschooling is becoming just our life.  Sure, we use workbooks and curriculum.  But we work that into our normal, everyday, family life.

We do not have "school time" and "regular time" -- it is all scrambled together. 
And it makes life with a large-than-average-sized family so much smoother than it was when we went to traditional school.

For example, many times we do our reading practice at bed time.  Because, this is when all the kids actually want to read.  They are tired out and they are not fighting their impulse to move, as they are during the daytime.

I really love homeschooling this way.
It feels organic. Integrated. Natural.
(and also chaotic, cluttered, and loud!)

Sometimes it looks like the little kids in the sink so I can read aloud to the older kids.

Sometimes it looks like getting some reading in while your siblings have swimming lessons.

Or games on the kitchen floor (in our pj's) while I make lunch

Or painting with Ms. Julie in our living room.

A lot of the time, it means playing outside.

 And, even though we are not structured in the traditional sense, the kids are learning so much.  I think it is the combination of homeschooling being so time efficient (no lining up, managing the classroom, time-filler activities), our excellent curriculum (Sonlight plus a few tutors), and the fact that our kids' stress levels are low.  My kids -- I think most kids -- learn better when their cortisol levels are under control.

I also love how the kids get to learn by doing things that are interesting and important to them.  Here, Nicholas practicing his writing by writing (and drawing) about Star Wars.

And Elijah learns to sit and concentrate during school time by making a scrapbook of his baby pictures.


Of course, the kids also need to learn that they have to do things they don't love sometimes (like math -- sorry, John), but we try to spend most of our time doing things that are immediately meaningful to them.

We are now planning what we are going to do next year.  We are definitely homeschooling again, but still deciding what books to buy, and what activities to schedule.  For example, none of the kids took musical instrumental lessons this year and we think we should add it.

Also, we want to make sure we add more hands-on science.

We take each year as it comes, when it comes to deciding upon what to do about our kids' educations.  Personally, I hope the kids homeschool through high school, but I can't make that decision now.  Each of our children are so different and have different learning styles and needs.  I will have to just enjoy each moment that I have them home and not get too attached to my idea of what is "best."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

What?! He's 9?!

 Really, the years fly by.

How can it be that my little guy is 9?

Meeting him and bringing him home from China seems like yesterday.

Nicholas is one of the best gifts I have ever received.  After losing many pregnancies and waiting through the big change in China adoptions back in 2006 (it went from a 6-months wait to, what is now, a 7- year wait), I have never been happier than when I finally wrapped my arms around his little body.

He was so scared and he needed a family so badly.  Nicholas is a sensitive guy who really felt the trauma of neglect.

He has come SO far.

He is such a good big brother.  A protector and a leader.

He needs to be needed.  And, boy, is he ever.

We celebrated his birthday by starting the day with our birthday-present-hunt (Mom's way to get out of wrapping present!), followed by a day of building Legos and having army-guy wars, and playing World War II outside in his new army fatigues.

Then, we had dinner at his favorite Korean restaurant.  

And then, cake!

 I am so proud of the responsible, honorable, funny guy that Nicholas is becoming.

He was such a good travel companion, and that trip will always be one of my most special memories.

Nick, you have a special piece of my heart.

Happy Birthday, my love!