Wednesday, December 28, 2011

When Their Love of Reading Blossoms

As a homeschooling Mom, I don't know if there is anything that touches my heart more than when my children learn to read and then eventually find their love for reading. I don't know what it is about reading that touches me so much, perhaps it is because reading is the backbone for everything else. You can't learn if you can't read.

I remember when my oldest who is now 10 discovered the joy of independent reading. It seemed like overnight he went from not picking up a book on his own to devouring everything he could get his hands on. I remember scrambling to find him books that were appropriate and on his reading level. Fortunately at that time he wasn't picky about which books he read, every subject and story line interested him.

Then along came my next son. He was my early reader so I thought for sure he would always have the love and curiosity for learning that he showed at such a young age. Just goes to show though that you can never assume anything, especially when it comes to your children. Reading has always been easy for "A" but he has never just picked up a book and started reading all on his own. Sure he will pull a picture book off of the shelf or thumb through a picture filed science book but to read a book from cover to cover all on his own hasn't ever happened. Well, I should say it hasn't happened up until very recently.

Shortly before Christmas I was in the schoolroom and found a few fiction books in a series with a science theme. The basis of the books is fiction but sprinkled throughout the story line are non-fiction facts about various animals. I showed these to "A" and he showed some interest in reading them. So we sat down together and he read a few pages here and there to me. Only later did I find out that he was also reading these books before bedtime. Each book is about 100 pages with 10 or so chapters. Once I realized I might be on to something with the science themed chapter books I set out to find another series that he might enjoy. Early chapter books with a science theme are far from common unfortunately. But I did stumble upon one series I thought he might enjoy so I ordered the first box set as a Christmas gift. Thankfully he loves them!

But I digress, what I want to stress here is the moment when you see your child reading all on his own, without your prompting, when he could otherwise be off playing and rough housing. That moment for me happened this morning. I was sitting on the couch feeding one of my twins when I looked in the kitchen and saw my son sitting at the kitchen table, knees to his chest with his nose in one of the new books I bought for him. I couldn't stop from staring. Finally I was witnessing an event that for a long time I thought would never happen. "A" had discovered his love for learning and it can only grow from here. After he was done reading his chapter he came and sat next to me on the couch and read another chapter to me out loud. My heart could not have swelled any bigger at that moment.

I am thrilled that finally together he and I discovered the key to unlocking his love for reading. Some kids will only read books on certain subjects. If the book subject does not interest them then they will have no interest in reading it thus preventing them from discovering their own love for reading. As I mentioned earlier my oldest was far from picky in the books he chose to read, any subject was fair game with him and he loved them all equally. Once I realized my next son was only excited about reading certain subjects I was a Mom on a mission. Thankfully I have succeeded in at least the early stages of my mission and prayerfully his love for reading will only continue to grow and blossom.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Time off of school or not?

Homeschoolers have the flexibility of taking time off of "school" whenever needed and at various times throughout the year. Most commonly families take time off to celebrate Christmas, Easter, family birthdays, and of course summer. Some homeschool families might also follow a regular schedule of taking time off of school after completing a certain amount of school days. For example, 6 weeks of school followed by 1 week off continued throughout the year.

But what do you do if a child or even multiple children in your family do not handle a change in routine very easily? What if something as simple as taking a week off of school causes major mental and emotional stress when you try to resume school lessons?

I wish I had a steadfast and tested answer to these questions. I don't. Why? Well because I have one of those children that just not deal well with a change in daily routines. My child is not special needs or learning disabled in any way, he just functions best when he has a set routine. Does he deserve time off of school? Of course he does, just like the rest of us. We all need time to recharge our mental batteries so that we can tackle more lessons with enthusiasm and motivation. As his Mother though I am left to deal with the question of how to give this child and myself a break from schoolwork while still maintaining a sense of learning so that when we do return to lessons in earnest the adjustment isn't such a shock to my son. I don't have a clean cut answer, I wish I did.

Each time I take a little time off of our daily lessons, the break for my son who struggles looks a little different. Sometimes I think (or hope and pray) he will be ok with taking a break "cold turkey". In other words simply not doing any work for up to a week, sometimes more during the summer. Then there are other attempts at a school work hiatus when I know he still needs a tad bit of schoolwork everyday to keep his toes wet with the school routine. I haven't found the perfect fit for this child and breaks from daily schoolwork. Perhaps I never will because he is ever changing, maturing, and growing just like the rest of us. I know enough about this child though to know that what works one week will not necessarily work the next. All I can do is pray for wisdom, seek the counsel of my husband, and do my best daily.

We are on a modified schedule this week. My husband requested that the kids have a bit of a break this week from school but he agreed that our child who struggles with changes in routine will still need a bit of school work everyday to keep him at least partially in the mental game of doing school. Thankfully this child doesn't balk or complain at doing a bit of work everyday. Today was reading out loud and a lesson in math, nothing taxing or mentally draining. Just a bit to keep his mind in the school mode.

Obviously we can't do school year round without days or even weeks off of school. When I deliver in just 6 short weeks we will have to take at least a week if not more off of school so I can recover and we can all adjust to our new routines. I suppose that is the beauty of homeschooling. Even though my son struggles with a change in his daily routine, this fact doesn't detract from his long term learning. Eventually we all get back on track and learning resumes in earnest.

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Gratitude challenge 2011 Days 21-30

As I mentioned in my last Gratitude Challenge post, I am not good at everyday routines. :) Never the less, this challenge has been on my mind everyday and it has helped me be more aware of those little things in life that too easily get overlooked and unappreciated.

November 21 - Being that today is the first annual National Prematurity Awareness day, I am thankful for my micro preemie twins who have overcome more obstacles in their 9 months of life than perhaps I have in my entire 34 years. These two girls have taught me more than I could have ever imagined this past year and everyday I am thankful for their precious little lives.

November 22 - Today I am thankful for something simple and something that I at times take for granted, but today I give thanks for a reliable car that accommodates my growing family. A car that I know will start when I need it, keeps us warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.

November 23 - As my belly continues to grow and my energy continues to decrease I am more and more dependent on my husband for help. Today he was a tremendous amount of help in getting our house cleaned up for tomorrow. I couldn't have gotten half of the things accomplished today without him, he is a huge blessing to our family.

November 24 - Happy Thanksgiving!! As my family and I celebrated and gave thanks today I couldn't help but feel an overwhelming sense of blessing and I looked upon my family and all that we have thankful for, especially considering the events of this year.

November 25 - Can I be thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers today? Well good because I am. I purposely didn't eat them for lunch so I could enjoy all the yummy fixings for dinner. Sometimes it is the little things in life.

November 26- Today we put up our Christmas tree and the kids decorated it. As I sorted through ornaments I looked at my twins watching all the comings and goings from their high chair and was immediately struck with the emotions of this season. My girls are home and healthy, they will be at home to celebrate their first Christmas, I couldn't ask for anything more.

November 27 - I can't go all month without at least one mention of how grateful I am that I am able to stay home with my children and homeschool them. Neither of which I could do without the support of my husband. It isn't always easy but I can't imagine life any other way.

November 28 - Today I am struggling with pregnancy aches and pains but despite the discomfort I am thankful for the blessing that continues to grow within me. For numerous reasons above and beyond the normal "every child is a blessing and gift" the little boy that will arrive early next year is a special gift and I can't wait to see what God has in store for this little one. His life would not be possible is his twin sisters hadn't of arrived as early as they did.

November 29 - With the outside temperature hovering around freezing, I am so thankful to be able to come home to a nice warm house. A warm house where my family and I can be safe and protected from the cold just outside our windows is greatly appreciated today.

November 30 - Today, the last day of this challenge, I am simply thankful for this challenge. I have thought more about the blessings that surround me this past month than I have in a long time. I found myself saying more prayers throughout my day giving thanks and praise to God for all that He has provided for my family and I.

Everyday is a good day to give thanks for your blessings!

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