Monday, August 18, 2014

On the topic of education for my boys

Andrew, Micah and Benjamin started school recently.  This is Micah's second year at Dominion Classical Christian Academy.  He was home schooled through 4th grade.  This is Andrew's first year, having been home schooled for K, 1st, and 2nd grade.  Benjamin started their 3 day kindergarten.  He has two days home with me!  Yippee!

Andrew was not hesitant in the least to plop down in his chair and join his class!

We have known his teacher since Andrew was a baby.  They went to our old church and she and her husband were one of the first families to introduce themselves to us and ask us over to their home for dinner.  It was red beans and rice, I'll not forget---it was so yummy!  And they were so kind.

The M/W/F format for Benjamin's kindergarten seems to be working out perfectly.  He loves his Dominion days but he is also ready for his "home school" days.  I am having fun doing little projects with them that have fallen to the wayside in years past.

 Micah's teacher is delightful.  She is very enthusiastic, peaceful, kind, yet also firm and maintains good order in her classroom.  She said Micah is a very eager learner.  She said when he asks a question his is typically the first hand to shoot up in the air, straight and firm like an arrow---not wiggling and demanding to be chosen---just excited to participate.  I'd like to think his home school years helped to develop in him a love for learning. Although I can't say for sure.  I love to learn---maybe that alone was contagious?

Some mornings it's just Jacob, Samuel and I.  It's quiet.  It's calm.  It's lovely.  It's rejuvenating.  It's really hard to teach multiple grades while simultaneously either being pregnant, taking care of an infant, toddler or preschooler or some combination of all those things.  I've been doing it for 10 years.  It was time for a break for me.

Samuel and I drink tea---it's a calming ritual.  Him peppermint, me green.

We find time now for story books and crafts.  We read my favorite book this morning, "The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree", by Gail Gibbons.    And then sat at the table and made trees of the seasons. I didn't fuss and insist he do things correctly.  It was for fun.  Purely.

While we have delegated a large portion of our children's education to Dominion, I still want to continue to teach them and disciple them through various means when they are home.  This book we started over the summer and we read it whenever we find a free moment.

Dominion upper grades start school at 8 am and end at 3pm.  5th grade and younger start at 9 am and end at 3 pm as well.  Last year school started for everyone at 8:30.  We had to leave the house by 8:15.  For some reason the extra half hour makes all the difference in the morning.  Most mornings Steve is able to take Micah, leaving at 7:40.  Me and the other boys have a leisurely breakfast, complete a  few chores (the only things that really need to get done are back packs filled with lunches, snacks and water bottles, Sunny needs to be exercised and fed, and cleaning up the kitchen after lunch---Micah unloads the dishwasher before he leaves....lunches are mostly prepped the night before)  I typically even have time for a quick shower these mornings!  And I picked a delightful storybook called Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John to read a chapter each morning.  I love having time for this and Andrew enjoys it as well.

Spiritual discipleship for my boys is also strongly on my heart.  We have started a tradition of family bible first thing in the morning.  At 7 am, all the boys meet in our bed, everyone plops down somewhere and Steve reads from Teaching Hearts, Training Minds by Starr Meade.    It goes through the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  One question per week and it gives six days worth of very short teachings that flesh out the catechism question.  It gives additional Scripture passages to read that are the basis of the answer to each question.  Wee typically spend 10 minutes or so, and it is perfect.  It's little nuggets of deep truth and the boys are memorizing the catechism as well.

 (Andrew's---he is 8 1/2)

In addition to our family Bible time, we want to help our boys learn the habit of regular time spent with God alone.  Micah and Andrew both have surrendered their lives to the Lord and each desire to grow in their Christian walks.  I decided this year to help them structure their own "quiet time".  It's not a requirement that they do it, I put it together as a help to them.  Their quiet times are optional.  For each month they have goals and at the end of the month I take them out for dinner or dessert (or both!) and they share with me what the Lord taught them as well as recite their memory work to me.  Steve's goal is to take them out at the beginning of the month and explore their memory verses with them.  It's been neat to hear from Micah who says his faith is really deepening and these structured quiet times have helped.

 (Micah's---he is 11 1/2)

This is the outside of Andrew's folder---he decorated it and we talked through Psalm 1 as a basis of why we want to be in God's Word! 

Their materials are stored all together in this one spot, so they always know where to find them.  I taught them to gather their materials and go find a "quiet" place!  Which isn't always easy in our house!  Micah gets up at 6:40 for school, gets dressed, and heads downstairs for his quiet time.  He spends about 15 minutes.  Andrew has his after we eat breakfast, somewhere around 7:45.

In the afternoons, we are about to begin a study of the Bible, using a this timeline, and reproducing the pictures in the timeline book below.  I am not sure yet, exactly how we are going to do it, but I want my boys (and me!) to have a grasp on the "big picture" of the Bible, and then break it down incrementally in parts.  We have studied the geography of the cities and regions of the Bible, and I want to include that as well again.

I'm so thankful to God for taking care of me and my family.  I'm thankful for Dominion, a school that is an extension of our family.  Where the teachers love the Lord, love learning, love teaching, love my children.  I sat on the deck on a recent morning, Jacob was napping, Samuel was down below playing in the sand box, and I was just watching the leaves tumble down here and there, a swallowtail butterfly flutter by occasionally, the birds chirping all around going about their merry business, and I breathed in deeply and exhaled in gratefulness.  God truly knows our needs better than we do.  He's a good daddy.

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