Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to School

Yesterday, we started school after a 2 week break. It was crazy! I don't know if it was because of the long break or if I just attempted to do to much. I had a repairman come to fix our washer at 8 am (who finally figured out the problem on this relatively NEW machine that has given us nothing but problems!), Anna had her piano lesson (her teacher comes to our house), I made bread, oatmeal balls, facilitated chores, homeschooled, made lunch and fed the kids, took Ruthie to the dentist, and got home in time for Jonas to go to a homeschool highschool basketball game with a friend, made dinner and then we got the kids to bed at 8 pm. What a day! Even though I accomplished a lot, I felt like I was fighting some bad attitudes and that some bad habits had creeped up on us. I was so busy yesterday that I didn't have time to check chores or to make sure the children put their toys away in the family room and their bedrooms. At bedtime, it was clear that the children were not doing what we asked of them--which is to put things away when they are done playing with them. I know they are going to need reminders, but this was ridiculous! We had dress up clothes everywhere, playmobil dumped out, legos scattered, play kitchen items strewn, dirty clothes laying out, and books stacked. I vacillate between letting the mess remain since it is just going to get played with and messy again, and it is contained downstairs, and going on a cleaning rampage. I prefer it clean. I am a bit of a neat freak and I know that I have to let things go, but I also want to teach my children good habits.

So . . . that is how we started our week. However, this morning was much better. We had a talk with the children about not dragging their feet for homeschool and it will get done much quicker and they will have more time to play and pursue their own endeavors. I tweaked our schedule and it seemed to work much better. We are still trying to figure out how to do things now that Jerome is no longer with us. We had to do things a certain way when he was here, staggering chores and schooltime, but now we have more flexibility to do things altogether. Today, everyone sat down promptly at 9 and we were done in record time! Granted, I am in the midst of waiting on some new curriculum and it hasn't arrived so I don't have all my subjects, but I was still able to accomplish quite a bit. The children used the remainder of their morning to create lapbooks. Anna is making one on birds, and Jonas chose firefighters. Ruth, Katria and Elyse cut out and colored princess pictures.

Regarding curriculum: I hesitate to even post about our choices since it is based on everyone's own personality, family dynamics and schedule. However, I guess it is helpful to know what another large family uses. It became clear this year that My Father's World, Exploring Countries and Cultures was not working. I really enjoyed Adventures--a year in American history--and so did Anna because it was a lot more reading. There were activities, but I only had 4 children then, 2 of which napped in the afternoon for 2-3 hours. Now, I am homeschooling 4, with 2 little ones running around. I honestly don't have time for the projects and I don't like them. It just isn't me. I would much rather gather everyone around me and read, read, read. So, we are heading back to Sonlight, Core 1, World History. I am able to school Anna and Jonas together this way. We already have most of the books and I won't feel that I have to make my own pyramid out of sugar cubes and such (just kidding). I am still sticking with Saxon Math, Rod and Staff English for Anna, and Spelling Power. Both Anna and Jonas also do copy work from Queen Homeschool and Jonas uses their workbooks for spelling and English (they are Charlotte Mason in their approach).

You know, if we had a smaller family, if that is what God led us to, if my children were older, (if I was a different person!) there are so many curriculums that I would love to try. Maybe something else would be my first choice. However, when you have a large family, when you have lots of little ones with more on the way, when you have to manage a house, chores, errands, food prep, you need to do what works for your family. I have some friends who love textbooks and workbooks, some who love reading to their children massive amounts, some follow Charlotte Mason, some do classical education, some do unit studies and some "unschool" and no one way is right or wrong. They are all good and they all work differently in different families.

Ruthie has made huge progress developmentally as of late. All of a sudden, she knows all of her letters and their sounds, like out of the blue. I never sat down and taught her (Anna taught her and Kati their letters) because she just wasn't ready. Now, she knows them and and wants to learn to read! Amazing. I don't know if other adoptive parents experienced this, but she has also slowed down somewhat in her eating. She now tells us when she is full and will often not ask for seconds. Before, we had to tell her when she had had enough. Could she have plateaued in her weight gain? (she weighs more than Jonas now!). She is also able to skip, knows her colors, can zip her coat, buckle her seat belt, and is speaking using more correct language--such as "Will you tie my shoes?" instead of "Ah tie my shoe?" and "Where is the book?" instead of "Ah the book?" We had to teach her to use "Who, what, where, when, will, do, is, are, can" and a host of other words. She is finally starting to use these without reminders! She is also starting to tell Cameron and me that she loves us without us saying it first. She has verbalized to both of us that she is glad that we are her parents, that she likes it here, and that she never wants to leave, unprompted. This has JUST started, after a whole year. She will come up and hug my legs and say "I love you mommy!" I have to be honest, the attachment process has been slow, but there has been much progress and great gains. Each step forward in this process called attachment, not only for her, but for us too, has been such sweet victory because of the struggle.

I hope your week back to school, whatever that looks like for your family, went well!

In Christ, Laura


Wife to the Rockstar said...

Yes, they do slow down with the eating and learn when they are full.

And I agree... you have to do what works for your family! I have found each year I have to make changes to our schooling in order to make it work for our family.

Tereasa said...

I'm glad you decided to post about your curriculum. We are in Adventures right now, but I've considered not doing C and C next year. It is nice to hear what someone else thinks.

Renee said...

You are doing a GREAT job!

I always find the after Christmas back to school time the hardest for some reason.

3 for Me! said...

ohh... so that explains my Monday!!

I always enjoy hearing what other parents are using for schooling... thanks for sharing your curriculum:)

Rachel Marie said...

Could you explain what a lapbook is?

laura mouro said...

Rachel Marie,

A lapbook is basically a book children make with pictures and such that they either color or you print off and they write a report on a topic--sort of like a book report. They can be simple or elaborate. Wife to the Rockstar blogged about it the other day and posted pictures. You can google it and there is so much info.

Sorry for not explaining!


Jen said...


I'm so glad you posted this update! I've been wondering how things were going. We have totally experienced the sudden "jumps" in understanding, readiness, and attachment with our adopted children (and our bio. son too!). Isn't it such a blessing to hear the unprompted and heartfelt "I love you, mama"'s?!?! What a wonderful blessing for you and Cameron!

We love Sonlight too. Although I've become much more eclectic the longer we homeschool, Sonlight books still make up the bulk of our reading list. QHS copywork is great too. We only have 4 children so far, but I would agree that with everything needing to be done in a day, we just don't seem to find the time to do lots of projects for every lesson and we love to cuddle up and read, read, read!