One step at a time

Creating an enjoyable journey for myself and my family.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Do Your Research: 10 books you should read if you're thinking about homeschooling

When I was trying to decide if I was going to homeschool I read a lot of books. I feel like that process really prepared me for what was coming. I talked with a few people I know who are homeschooling, and read a few blogs, but I felt like I needed to know a lot more in order to make the best decision for me and my family. Each family is different, each child is different, and each homeschooling parent is different so coming to a conclusion is a very individual process.

If you want to understand more about homeschooling I recommend taking a look at the following books:

1. Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto
2. To the Shore of a Child's Ocean series by Chris Manning
3. How Children Learn by John Caldwell Holt
4. The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
5. Learning All the Time by John Holt
6. The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith
7. Unschooling Rules by Clark Aldrich
8. The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by Raymond S. Moore
9. Homegrown Kids by Raymond S. Moore
10. The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole

Saturday, October 11, 2014

First 30 Days of Homeschooling

I'm not going to lie, I'm loving homeschooling. In the first 30 days of this experiment our life and family have taken on a whole new rhythm. Here is what our typical homeschool day looks like.

Up at 7.
Breakfast and Religious Studies around 8.
Gym at 9:15, Mommy time and kids work on writing and french assignments
10:45 Home for Reading, Art and Lunch
12 Riding bikes and taking a walk together
1:30 Quiet reading time
2:30 Piano or Unit Studies (for example Jellyfish or Washington State or Yoga)

After that everyone kinda does their own thing for a while until it is time to make dinner, which the girls help me with so they can learn to cook.

Each day is a little different, but usually awesome. In the last 30 days my biggest challenge has been homeschooling in spite of my teething baby. But even that hasn't been too terrible.

For me, homeschooling rocks because:

My kids are gaining knowledge and experience in a variety of subject areas.
I've had more opportunities to shape their character than I did when they were gone for eight hours a day.
It feels like we're making the most of everyday.
We spend time doing things that we enjoy, activities that bring us joy everyday.

I'm not saying every minute of every day is blissful, but it is satisfying and fun. I'm adding a few highlight photos from our first month as home schoolers.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yes, I'm going to try home schooling

Wow, it's been six months since I've written a post. Time flies when you're having fun! I'm not interested in writing a long recap of the last six months, but I will say it's been memorable. Baby David is now 23 pounds, and in the 99 percentile for height and weight. He is happy, healthy and doing great. We took the girls to Disneyland for the first time in August along with David and our Japanese homestay guest, Mai. Adam and I both received new assignments at church that are keeping us busy. We love our congregation, so we're looking forward to serving.

And the big news; I decided to homeschool. This is something I've been thinking about and researching for a long time. I've considered it before, but at this point it finally feels right. Adam and I discussed the endeavor at length and then came to a consensus that we would give  "the experiment" a year. We'll evaluate the viability of our plans next June.

So why am I doing this? I don't have a problem with the schools in Kent per se. I wasn't upset with their school teachers. I don't plan on teaching them about Jesus all day long. I actually enjoyed having free time to myself while they were at school, so have I lost my mind? This is what some of my friends have questioned me about. :) And I don't blame anyone for thinking I'm crazy.

It all started getting real on the last day of school. Teryn came home from Kindergarten with a stack of papers to work on over the summer that represented her curriculum for first grade. Reading, math, sight words. I decided I wanted to find out what she could do with these assignments and sat her right down to test her. Out of 86 sight words she could read 79. She finished three pages of math within 5 minutes and didn't make a single mistake. I asked her to read a few pages from the readings, no problem again, no mistakes. That's when I realized she was capable of progressing in a timeframe different than what the public schools would expect of her.

I'm practical. I'm not going to expect the system to change for my child. She's not "gifted" or "highly capable" from the school district's perspective. So I decided that if I wanted Teryn to do more than just review the stuff she already knew I was going to have to teach her myself. I recognize that not everyone can do this, for a variety of reasons. I can, and I'm going to try. I may fail. But for this year my children are going to learn in our home from me. We'll see what happens and I will happily share what I find on this blog.

I have one week of experience. Just one. So far I feel pretty great about how things are going. We are reading, writing, adding, subtracting, studying French, cooking, cleaning, harvesting our garden, sculpting with play dough, learning to play the piano, and having great discussions throughout the day. My kids are delightful to me. They seem genuinely interested in everything I've tried to teach them so far. My days seem to have a fluid, natural flow. We rest, we eat, we talk, we learn from books and CD's and DVD's. So far, it's really actually, unbelievably working.

The kids are happy. On our second day of class their aunt and uncle came to town from Idaho and they got to go fishing in the middle of the perfectly sunny Seattle afternoon. It was lovely.

I am happy. I feel a sense of satisfaction I hadn't anticipated. I expected this to feel more like torture, but I'm finding it feels totally pleasant.

I'll keep you posted, but, so far, so good. Tres bien, tres tres bien.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

David Hollister Shumway

My son, David was born on December 27, 2013. It's been two months since he was born and those have simultaneously been the shortest and longest two months of my life. This time around I have opted to stay home and focus on raising my baby rather than working and employing a nanny to fill in at home. The first few weeks I barely slept and felt like a zombie some days, but that resolved itself quickly as David began to sleep better and eat more. At this point, I'm only getting up with him for a feeding at 3 AM most nights. He is a great little sleeper, and he loves to cuddle. I love devoting my time to him. I don't take anything he does for granted. I pay attention to everything and find that I've never enjoyed my life as much as I do right now. The phase he's in now is characterized by cuddles, kisses and cooing. What's not to love? These are a few photos from the day we came home from the hospital.

When I got home from the hospital my daughter was playing around with my camera and lost it. It wasn't until tonight that I found it. I get the feeling I'll be updating my blog much more regularly now that I have use of my camera again. 

My Uncle Stephan recently came to town and I took this photo of him holding David.  

I'm sure there will be many more posts about motherhood, babies and raising a boy. Tonight, I'm going to get some sleep while I can.

Family Portraits

Every year during the Fall we try and take family portraits. These priceless photographs not only document our family journey, but they also come in handy when I'm putting together Christmas cards. This year a good friend of mine with a photography business took them for us. I was nervous about taking them while seven months pregnant, but they turned out to be my favorites. I look forward to future years which will include David, but in the Fall of 2013 it was just us four.