Monday, February 04, 2013

Homeschool - God, Help Me (Literally)!

I'll admit it... not in a million years did I think I would be homeschooling.  There was a time in my life that I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn't finish school, and I got married instead.  My greatest desire was to be a mom, so I went to work for my family's business until that happened.

There was a point in life that I did consider homeschooling.  Devon had just finished kindergarten and he hated school.  He had had a horrible year, and I couldn't imagine what the next twelve years would be like getting him through school.  I told God that I would home school if that was what was best for Devon.  We never thought we got a clear answer, so we went ahead and sent him to first grade at the same school.  Best decision ever!  He had an amazing teacher who made learning fun for him!  He started first grade reading below his grade level and finished the year reading at a fifth-grade level.

We've also always liked the fact that the boys were in an environment where they were having to deal with a world that didn't always hold our same beliefs and morals.  They have made friends of all races and religions.  I see this as a good thing.  I pray everyday for them to be a light in their schools.

Then the girls came along and I felt completely different when it came to school for them.  When we first arrived back in the States we couldn't have put them in school even if we wanted to.  They were here only on a travel visa, not a student visa.  Plus, we arrived two days before school started and I couldn't even imagine throwing them into that kind of an environment.  They had spent their first five (very important) years in an institution bonding to no one and learning how to survive by themselves.  We have one girl who is overly confident and self-assured, and one girl who is a follower and has never been encouraged to think for herself.  She has learned the art of blending in.

Their first five months here we just focused on learning English, learning what it means to be in a family, and learning about Jesus.  I always said I would start "real" school with them in January.  During Christmas break I realized January was right around the corner and I didn't have anything ready to start school!  We found a curriculum that looked promising and ordered it.  I felt like I needed something to show me step-by-step what I should be teaching.

So, I have been doing school with the girls just about every day since the beginning of the year.  Some days are pretty easy and we get through it with no problems, and some days I want to scream and pull my hair out in frustration.  You see, my personality is, I would rather do it myself than teach you how to do it.  This is why my 14- and 12-year old boys still don't know how to do laundry... but that is another story.  Today was one of those frustrating days.

The overly confident one rushes through her work (all the while telling me how easy school is), though she doesn't follow directions and does extremely sloppy work.  The follower, meanwhile, sits in an almost-comatose state and refuses to give me any kind of answer.  She has had five years of waiting for someone else to speak for her or answer a question first, after which she will just follow along.  I truly think she doesn't know how to stimulate her brain to work when she is asked a question.  It took me 45 minutes to get one answer out of her today.  She gets discouraged and starts to disappear into herself.  We really have to work to keep her engaged.  The frustrating thing is that she is so smart!  She just has no confidence in herself.  All over again my heart breaks.

I have seen victories.  Both girls know the alphabet and what sound each letter makes.  They are learning to count to 100 and learning how to rhyme words.  With each thing that I see them learn, my confidence also grows as a teacher.  God has been growing my patience as well - which is also a good thing! :)  To be good at anything takes practice, right?  I try to remember they have only been here five months and are still dealing with lots of junk.  I am proud of both of them; they are making great strides!

So, what will school look like next year?  I am hoping that with hard work (through the summer), they will be ready to start first grade in the fall.  For now I am committed to homeschool them for the long haul.  They have had five years of being unprotected in the world and I think a little wise sheltering and lots of nurturing is just what they need!  Prayers are always appreciated!