I was back in kindergarten today till lunch time. It reminded me that I wanted to take a step back and report on how things are going.
I'm going to use a pro and con format to keep it simple since it's rather random information anyway.
What's been hard?
1- Last week was a rough week with Princess's attitudes. I was tempted to be discouraged. "Lord, this is what I was afraid of, the bad attitudes wearing off on my all ready dramatic daughter!" He reminded me quite truthfully that his purpose for her right now was to bring up these things so that we as her parents can shepherd her through them. I wanted to just get mad and return to the sheltering she had in homeschool because it was exhausting to deal with it. He convicted me to pray, and for my husband and I to disciple her. It meant explaining to Rick what was going on, and having some talks with her. Leading her back to the Lord. I told her that she is in a situation where she can do one of two things: (1) she can let the world dull her spirit and character or (2) she can reconcile to God and let this sharpen her. It was a good talk and I realized that in homeschooling, we would never have had to work through that. She may have walked away from home and years of sheltering to be totally unable to filter influence. Only God knows that. I just want to walk in the way He shows me for now.
She is making straight A's, and lots of friends. Kids come up to me and say "(her name) rocks!". "Well, I'm thankful you are making friends, and I'm thankful you are making great grades, but Princess, I want you to score in your character first. If you fail in grades, and have no friends but your heart is set on Christ and your character firm, you are shining in my eyes. When you can come home and speak to your parents and siblings the way God would have you , you are in great victory."
It was hard to deal with , it was uncomfortable. I wanted to go back to hiding. God used it to lead our daughter. I thank Him.
2-Lilo sprouted the same sort of thing with her character last week (must have been a bad week). She is normally very easy going. She was yelling when she got frustrated with her brother and sister.
Again, prayer, fight the temptation to hide them away, and deal with her character. Daddy talked to her. Things have been great since.
3-Through this I've recognized the bad thing that tries to creep in and I am alert to it. When we spend the day away from eachother from 8:20-2:20, we all can get cranky about coming back together harmoniously. Rick and I have to be family minded and relay that to the kids. We are the most important to eachother and if we cannot love eachother, we are failing even if we are out in the world being nice to everyone. Coming home and having to put up with your siblings after getting to be with kids on your own age level all day, is challenging. It is another chance to lead them to what Christ wants us to do toward eachother.
4-A little boy in Princess class who has some real anger issues at times, stood up and yelled at the whole class "I'm going to kill you all!". When she came home and told me I thought "Okay Lord, no way! Someone is going to go nuts and kill shoot my kids!!!" He reminded me like he did at the beginning that he was in control. This little boy has some real issues. He has been over to our house many times since school started, he is the one who liked Princess, and he has gone to awana with the kids once. He was born with a cleft pallet and has had lots of reconstructive surgery and braces to reform his face and mouth. His dad is in jail for DUI and his mom is raising him and his sister. I know he is not one to really do anything to these kids but it was shocking to realize how "out there" we are. God has really laid this little boy on our hearts and we hope you can join us in praying for him. His name is frank. He has been expelled from the school because of what happened and is being homeschooled by his grandma, but he comes by to play so we still see him a lot.
What has been great?
1- We all know that "no child left behind really has become "every child pushed ahead". I've seen it in my own neighborhood talking to parents of older kids. I'm thankful our kids get academics quite naturally. Still, I went into the whole public scene because God asked us to, not because I agreed with their form of education. So, I worried that my children may get caught up in this pattern.
There is a new program being implemented this year to combat this and I'm loving what I'm seeing so far. It's called "AIM" but I'm not sure yet what that stands for.
The idea is, that the kids are put into groups according to where they are. That way, if they don't have a concept, they will learn it, and if they have it, they don't have to waste their day sitting and listening to something they all ready know. This does mean that the teachers are taking different set of students so in some cases, Lilo and Princess go into another teachers room for reading or math. Yet, I think it's great because my kid is being taught right where they need to be. Every grade is doing this.
2-some people have shy away from the school my kids go to because of it's high number of Latino kids. It was 64% Hispanic last year. I am really loving this. The school does not cater to these students in the class room except in kindergarten. Yet, the kids themselves bring more to the table than people give them credit for. They don't have a lot in their lives. They are low income for sure (though here in our town, they are first generation Mexicans so they are loving how well off they are here in comparison to their country), and because of that they are not spoiled and they don't wear the latest high fashion. They don't spend most of their time playing fancy video games like most American children. They have big families and are use to babies and being unselfish because you have lots of siblings. It has been a complete joy to get to know them. They are some of the sweetest kids I've ever met, and I'm glad my kids are surrounded by them.
3-I am not a frazzled maniac anymore (well, not all of the time:). I have my plate full. There is always work to do. Yet, my being able to keep up on things and concentrate better on the home and our relationships has been an absolute joy. I'm much more relaxed as a mommy. I love seeing their faces and hearing about their day. I love our time of sharing around the table as they take turns sharing (1) what was the worst part of your day , and (2) what was the best part about your day. It's a little hairy some days to get out the door in time but that is usually when I have not done everything I should have the day before, or the kids have not. We are all learning to be more responsible and plan ahead better. Lay out clothes if needed, keep up with shoes and homework and papers that need to be signed. It's been good for us all.
My husband and I have been able to have some time together. That has been one of the best parts. We may work around the house, or run some errands, but after nearly 12 years with pregnancy or kids, it has been good to be just us a little.
4- and yes, this may be shocking to some....
The kids are excelling academically. Princess and Lilo are in the higher groups in reading and math. Lilo loves reading now and is practicing cursive on her own even though her class does not get to it till the end of the year. Her teacher is perfect for her and she loves her (yes, God knew this eh?). She loves getting her homework done early. All these things would have been pulling teeth for us at home and she was hating school.
Superkid has his test for writing numbers 1-10 up and they are absolutely perfect. He knows all his sounds and is grasping patterns wonderfully. He comes home and draws and colors which is something he did not enjoy before.
Princess is learning pre-algebra. I would have been stumped at this point. I'm so thankful she is learning from someone who knows what they are talking about. As a matter of fact, much of her math homework her daddy has to help her with. Part of my stress in homeschooling was that the older they got, the more I had to not just homeschool, but study to know what I was teaching. It's easy when they are young and you are still using blocks and paper and glue. Fourth grade and up you have to make sure your building their concepts properly or they fall behind. I could feel my load to heavy and my feet slipping. She is doing so well.
5- God is working in these kids. He is challenging them, and us as their parents. Our comfort zones are being stretched. We are having many opportunities to talk about our faith or just be loving to people and kids who don't know Christ. I love that many of the kids in my children's classes now come and say hi to me as if I were a teacher. I'm there enough that they know me. I love getting to be that involved.
The girls character is being tested and it's forcing us to be in the trenches with them. It's not fun, but it's good for us.
Princess had a poster the first few weeks of school that she was to put some things about herself. I was blessed that she said her favorite person was God and her favorite book was the bible.
Ironically, Superkids kindergartner teacher, when putting up a poster the first week of school about herself said the same thing. I was so blessed.
Oh, oh, and one other fun thing. Though it's been driving me a little nuts!
One thing the girls have missed out on through homeschooling that they are absolute loving right now are schoolyard slap games. You know, those little clap and sing games you use to play in school? I loved those and it was one of my major memories of my school years. It's amazing how those little games and songs (as well as jump rope games and songs like "teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around) get passed down through the generations there. Now they clap play and sing until mommy is going nuts from :
"my name is el-i, el-i, chick-a-lie, chick-a-lie, bom-bom beauty, x-y cutie......"