As I was going to sleep last night, I started thinking about everything that has happened to us since we started homeschooling. Each year has it's own set of unique trials and experiences. This (our 5th year) has been the mildest so far and we are actually fairly on track. Yea!! :) I had this picture of homeschooling paradise and while I would call it a paradise, it certainly has not been the scheduled, done by noon with plenty of field trips and experiments splattered throughout that I had imagined! (At this point every homeschool mom reading this is laughing!) :) So I thought I would share a little about each year so far.
Homeschool year #1 - Kirsten/3rd grade, Chris/1st grade, Cayden/2 yrs, Keegan/still baking and being born
I get ready to start the year with complete A Beka curriculum sets, a teacher planner full of plans for everyday, a school room and a schedule. I've got this! Let's go! Two or three weeks in and I'm already calling Honey in tears, that's it, I can't do it, put them back in school!! (2 hour math lessons and tears everyday from my daughter was NOT fun! We eventually figured out, A Beka was too aggressive of a math for her and I was requiring her to do everything on every page and it was just too much! Took some seasoned homeschool moms reminding me who the teacher was and that it was ok to skip repetitious items.) My Honey, who was already completely in love with homeschooling, very calmly talked me out my tears, assuring me I could indeed get through all this and then had a talk with his daughter. Crisis averted. Sept comes with hurricane Ike making his way up into our area. Knocked our power out for 2 weeks! We schooled outside quite a bit, or by open doors and windows. Dec brought us a new baby 2 days after Christmas, I had already planned to take all of Jan off for our adjustment period. Hello Keegan, welcome to our family! :) Then hits Feb. '09 I dutifully start school back up. Let me aside here, Feb. 7, 2008 I had a miscarriage. So here I am, postpartum, trying to start school back and then hits the one year mark of my miscarriage. Also, I don't handle change well and we had a lot of changes that normally wouldn't have bothered me but bc of the other things already going on in my head, they did. Like a new, bigger than I wanted, flat screen TV, all the pine trees being cut down on our property. I felt like I went crazy! One day I drove in to meet Honey for lunch and my daddy (who just happened to be in longview that day) had to drive me home bc my panic attacks were so strong and non stop! That was a scary, scary time. Honey had to take care of the house, we missed 2 weeks (at least) of school, it was crazy! Somewhere after all that, I realized, we had to throw our schedule out the window, I had to readjust all my plans just to try to get through what they needed to for the year. In spite of everything, we managed to get most if not all of every book done and felt that we were able to declare our first year a success while also realizing that some changes in curriculum would be necessary for the coming year.
Homeschool year #2 - KED/4th, CDD/2nd, CMD/3 yrs, KSD/just a baby
So I gathered curriculum, deciding to make math easy and just bought the total math books from Sam's. Other curriculum was gathered at used book sales mostly. So we started the year. Nov. brought Glenn's dad being hospitalized. That began a several month long journey of hospitals, surgery and nursing home, during which time we were in Shreveport what seemed like more than we were home and Glenn used up all his sick/comp/vacation time to be close to his dad. Several times we didn't know if he would make it or not, every time he did. Sometimes he was in ICU and the babies couldn't see him. There were many tears. We home/car/hotel/hospital schooled that year! We did a lot of worksheets. I would hand them a small stack of worksheets from various subjects, stapled together each morning for them to do that day. When they were done with those, they were finished for the day. Thus began the use of packets in our homeschool which we still implement (although modified) today. I discovered how invaluable the Comprehensive Curriculum books (which I had bought at Sam's also) can be in a pinch! We didn't even have a Thanksgiving that year, our Thanksgiving dinner was spent at Golden Corral in Shreveport so we could be close to the hospital. Christmas Day was spent at My FIL's bedside at the hospital. He was waiting for open heart surgery would happen in Jan. Even Chris' bday party in May that year was held at the nursing home where my FIL was getting rehab so he could be there too. Late Jan or early Feb of that year we also found out Kayson was on his way! I was so worried maybe the babies weren't learning all the things they needed to, especially since mostly all they did this year was worksheets. We got them tested. They were above their grade levels! WooHoo, somehow we could label the second year of homeschooling a success!
Homeschool year #3 - KED/5th, CDD/3rd, CMD/pre-k, KSD/1 yr, Kayson/just born
By this time I was learning what curriculums did and did not work for us, I discovered Bob Jones Bible Truths and this was our first year to use them, love them, still use them! This was the year Apologia science really began to click with Kirsten, we wait till 5th grade to start that series now. We also used Learning Language Arts Through Literature, loved it! We also decided to throw any schedule out the window and continue using packets. I did realize, however, that the packets had to consist of more than just worksheets so they would also contain a sheet telling what should be read out of what book, or anything else I wanted accomplished for that day. Sept brought a new addition to our family, with a longer than we wanted hospital stay. Then I was getting sick every few weeks or less and was getting worried. Right before Thanksgiving we discovered that it was my gallbladder and right after Thanksgiving I had surgery. I couldn't lift my 2 month old for almost a month per doctor's orders. Needless to say, not much work got done during this time at all! January came with Honey's knee surgery first and then the flu, once again school was put on a back burner! That spring was a whirlwind of Glenn in school, Chris in soccer and renovations on the house! Whew, makes me tired just thinking of it! We barely got through 1/2 of our books and I decided to switch to A.C.E. math mid year and that put us even farther behind in math and I am still trying to get Chris caught up. I'm not sure we were ever able to fully come to the conclusion that this year was a homeschool success but we were happy to have survived it!
Homeschool year #4 - KED/6th, CDD/4th, CMD/K, KSD/2 yrs, KPD/1 yr
I made the executive decision that we were going to start this year fresh, we were not going to worry about wasn't finished last year and start over (except for math, we really needed to lay a good foundation here and this was the only subject I was worried about them being behind in, so we were going to finish math). I figured after everything we had been through the last few years we just needed a fresh start with out worrying about the work that was left undone the previous year. This would be the first year that I was not nursing or pregnant while homeschooling. I was really hoping for a somewhat uneventful year, I kept thinking we would eventually have one that ran for the most part smoothly. This would also be the first time I had taught one to read! We started out strong but then my life fell apart. I was bullied at church of all places and the pastor chose sides against us as did my in-laws. The things that were said about me (and still being said) tore me up inside. I had never felt so much hate in my life, I never could've dreamed people could be so cruel. I do not say this to slander anyone, or to make it sound like those people have won but I say what is the truth. You cannot change what has happened. You can learn from it, you can heal, you can be strengthened but you cannot change it. This was a very difficult time emotionally for me. God is faithful and He has lifted our family up and is holding us in His hands as He heals our hearts! Yes, there is still healing happening but let me tell you, we finished school, all the books that needed to get done got done (with the exception of catching up in math). I believe the Derr Zoo is a closer family. I see my babies loving to read the Bible together, loving to sing to Jesus, still loving to go to church and I just smile! At the end of the year as I was throwing away empty workbooks and putting away the non-consumable books on the books in waiting shelf and seeing all we had accomplished in spite of people trying to rip us apart at the seams, I had to praise God and consider Homeschool year #4 a success, a complete success! Honestly, maybe the most successful year yet! :) and in the end, I can smile!
I look back over these years and wonder how we got anything done! lol Seriously, though, I look back over these and realize just what all God has brought us through, what He has carried us through. I look back on these years and see His hand everywhere bc I know there is no way we would have survived without Him! No, this homeschooling journey has yet to be my imagined paradise but maybe it has been better bc my children are learning invaluable life lessons that can't be found in books. All this leads us to this year and although it is only half done, I will leave you with a few things about it.
Homeschool year #5 - KED/7th, CDD/5th, CMD/1st, KSD/3 yrs, KPD/2 yrs
It was exciting to start this year, feeling confident in curriculum choices, having a planning system that works, a loose schedule that we can somewhat follow, knowing we are ready for the next grade bc we finished what we needed to. The two olders were still starting this year a year behind in math, we decided to catch Chris up so he is doing two years of math this year but Kirsten is just doing one this year, she won't finish school with as much math as Chris but I think that is best for her as she is not strong in math and it stresses her out. I am so excited to see Cayden reading. For the most part this year has been fairly uneventful, oh we did get behind with Christmas (no school in Dec.) and sickness right after. Glenn changing jobs is a big change for all of us but we are so proud of our future police officer! We are mostly where I wanted us at this point in the year in almost all our subjects. I love homeschooling and being able to see my babies heads light up with knowledge. We are so grateful for our homeschooling/parenting journey. We are blessed. I feel confident that we will end this year strong with the Lord by our side. Thank you, Father in Heaven for loving us and keeping us safe, In Jesus Name, Amen!