August 23, 2011

This Year's Theme

It took me a long time to decide what to organize our homeschool around this year. I usually do history and the children like that, but last year I did science and the children loved that--but I like history more than science and if the teacher ain't happy . . .. I wanted to combine history and science but wasn't sure exactly how to do it.

Then it hit me--careers. Not necessarily careers I want my children to pursue, but just interesting careers in general. Think about it--all careers have a history, interesting people who started doing whatever it is, and almost all careers have some science aspects to them. Plus, a career is easy to research and organize into one month (or two-week) segments.

This month we are studying paleontology. My children are thrilled. They found some library books hidden in my room a few weeks ago and have been talking dinosaurs non-stop since. Little Eli went outside a few days before school and on his way out said, "Mom, I'm going shoot dinosaur bones." Yep, a lot of excitement can be generated by not allowing children to read certain books until school starts.

The first day of school we had devotional. Then we read two books about fossils. My children were fascinated. Our new wall chart has two sections, one for people and another for vocabulary. We added a bunch of words to the vocabulary section, and had fun looking through the books to remind ourselves of what trilobites and ammonites look like.

Then a beautiful thing happened. My daughter read the definition for "mineral replacement" but couldn't explain it because she didn't know what dissolve meant. I pulled out a bowl, warmed up some water in the microwave, and had my kids stir some salt into the water. They quickly understood dissolve when they watched the salt disappear but could still taste it in the water. Then we put the bowl outside and by the time Dad came home from work, the water was gone, but the salt was back. I love accidental lessons so much more than planned ones. It just feels so much like kismet or serendipity or whatever you want to call it. Makes me happy.

After the lesson on dissolving we had lunch and I put the four younger kids to bed or in their rooms for quiet time. Miriam pulled out her scriptures and scripture study binder (I'm using the Discover the Scriptures/Discover the Book of Mormon program). The scriptures are brand new--a baptism present--and Miriam has been anxious to use them. She was a little flustered by the difficult vocabulary in the Joseph Smith history, so I read the whole thing to her. It was pretty amazing to read it out loud and chat with Miriam about parts of it. At one point Joseph writes about receiving the priesthood so I went and got out our Book of Remembrance and showed Miriam her dad's priesthood line of authority document. If you don't have one of these for the priesthood leader in your home, you should get one. It starts with the person holding the priesthood--so my husband--and then says who ordained him, and who ordained the person who ordained that person, and who ordained that person, back to Joseph and Oliver, and then to the Savior through Peter, James, and John. Miriam was impressed. We had a great discussion about proper authority.

After quiet time, the kids pulled out their new math books and handwriting books. They loved it. I'm always amazed at how much my children enjoy worksheet type learning. Miriam started her new spelling program (Rod and Staff--I'll tell you what I think of it after we've used it for awhile), and Emeline played with her new maze book--proud as punch that the other kids were falling all over themselves to please her so she'd share with them.

My children were so excited to have school again. Thrilled.

I had designated this morning to go to the lake, but I needed to finish canning some beans (33 quarts from my garden, yeah!), so we worked in the morning and just did our afternoon school. All morning my kids whined, "Why aren't we doing school, Mom?"

And I wondered to myself--is this worth it? All the prep time and the follow-through efforts, and the whining, and the wanting to pull my hair out, and the working all other activities around homeschool. Is it worth it for the reasons that I love homeschooling? Yes, my children have fantastic relationships with each other. Yes, I get to *enjoy* their company all day. Yes, I get to move at their pace so they always feel successful and love learning. Yes, my children get to move around and not sit all day. Yes, my children get to have the gospel incorporated into their school all the time. Yes, I learn a ton.

But it is hard, so I still wonder sometimes if it is worth it all. Maybe it isn't--I really don't know. I do know, though, that watching my daughter pore over the priesthood line of authority sheet while reading Joseph Smith's own words describing his experiences was pretty amazing. My kids' yells of excitement when they saw the bowl of salt without the water were pretty cool too.

Worth it? I can't say. I just know that I keep doing it--and can't imagine stopping.

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