The Rumley Family

Loving Jesus, Loving Life

Tag: homeschooling (page 1 of 6)

He Mends

February, though the shortest month, can feel the longest when you live in Michigan. If it’s been a cold, snowy winter, cabin fever can really kick in during this terribly-long-though-short month.

And in 2013, February was a very hard month.

I remember standing in the driveway shoveling snow and crying, because it was just hard. Not because it was cold and snowy. But because I wanted to quit…

I was at the end of my rope emotionally with one of our kids, and spending 24/7 with that child through homeschooling and just being together was making me want to quit.

I wouldn’t say it was a clash of personalities as much as it was a battle of wills. And a collision of sin natures.

It was mom vs. child, and no one was winning.

Every day, we’d fight. The emotions would escalate. I’d yell. He’d yell. We’d both cry.

And I’d end up shoveling the driveway and daydreaming of running away to a tropical place and sipping a smoothie on a beach somewhere. Alone.

Let me just say, it’s not the healthiest place to be. But those people who tell you to “enjoy EVERY moment?” They probably aren’t living in a February like that one.

That spring and summer, I seriously considered sending him to school. I was really pondering if I should quit homeschooling. I wondered, if I continued, would I sacrifice my sanity?

I realized that I could send him to a school for 7-8 hours a day, where the teachers would have to deal with him. We wouldn’t have to work through our obvious interpersonal issues, and we’d never reach the heart of those issues. It would be “easy.”

Short-term easy, anyway.

Can I just say that I’m glad that season is over? And I’m 100% confident that my decision to keep homeschooling was the right one.

The child and I had several come-to-Jesus talks. Lots of apologizing and trying to get it right. We each had to decide to act like Jesus wants us to toward each other. And we had PLENTY of practice time throughout our days together.

Our relationship, though imperfect, is sweeter than I could have guessed two years ago.

He surprised me with this painting on Valentine’s Day. I cherish it, because it reminds me that God did a great work of grace in our relationship. He mended us.

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The Silent Blogger

I’ve started and stopped so many blog posts in the last months, both in my head and in type.

I won’t call it writer’s block. But there are reasons I can’t seem to have a consistent presence here.

#1: Too much noise

I’m an introvert. I’m not really shy, and I love people. But at the end of the day, I need some quiet alone time to rejuvinate.

I’m also a homeschooling mom of four young children. Four active children. At times, loud children.

Doing math with Jaden by the fire

Doing math with Jaden by the fire

There are so many things I adore about homeschooling (seeing the lightbulb go on when they grasp a concept, learning about things together that I didn’t retain from my schooling, spending lots and lots of quality time together, teaching every subject with a worldview that begins with Jesus Christ, etc, etc). But the flip side of spending lots and lots of quality time together is that WE SPEND LOTS AND LOTS OF QUALITY TIME TOGETHER!!!

This means, that while my stay-at-home mom friends with kids in school have a few moments of quiet between school drop-off and school pick-up, I don’t.

It’s totally worth it. But my days aren’t quiet.

And I have a hard time writing when there is too much noise in my life. That’s the biggest reason.

#2: Silence looks wise

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Proverbs 17:28

I’m learning the discipline of shutting my mouth. Ask my darling husband and he could attest – I’m too opinionated at times. It’s taken me a long time to come to the conclusion that it often is truly better to be silent, even if I’m sure my opinion is right.

Don’t get me wrong. when I speak (or type), I want to only tell the truth. But I need to choose humility over making sure everyone hears me.

So, in practicing the discipline of holding my tongue, I’ve had a bit of a hard time knowing what to say on this piece of forever-archived internet. And so I’ve chosen to say very little.

#3: Prioritizing the urgent

If I was a more early-to-bed, early-to-rise, disciplined person, maybe this wouldn’t be an issue for me. But in this stage of life, with four school-aged, homeschooled children, and a very fun, attractive husband…I have many other things to do than composing blog posts. As I sit here now, the entire house needs to have a quick pick-up, the laundry needs some attention, our shower needs to be scrubbed, and I don’t even want to talk about how long it’s been since I dusted. Not to mention that I love DIY projects (crafts / sewing), and have a long to-do list for Christmas gifts.

The state of our school / sewing room last week

The state of our school / sewing room last week

I can’t seem to keep up with household chores and grocery shopping.

I most certainly can’t keep up with blogging.

However, I don’t want the blog to die.

We’ve been studying the life of Moses at Bible Study Fellowship this year, and our group has talked often about remembering what God has done in our lives. I am such a forgetful person in many ways. I need to write things down, or I certainly won’t remember them later.

May our lives be a testimony to God’s goodness and grace. May even my silence glorify Him, and when I open my mouth, may it bring Him praise!

It begins again

Rumley Family Homeschool: Year 6, Day 1

Rumley Family Homeschool: Year 6, Day 1

The older I get, the faster life flies by. I know everyone says that. But there’s a reason everyone says it; it’s because it’s true.

So, when our homeschool year ended nigh unto Memorial Day, the whole glorious summer stretched out before us. I envisioned lazy days on the lawn, reading The Secret Garden to the children and eating picnics in the sun. We would fill our days with trips to Frederik Meijer Gardens and Lake Michigan and my parents’ house.

And here we are, on the very first day of the next school year, and all I can remember of the summer months is painting the living room / kitchen / dining room. And coordinating and enjoying Base Camp. I know there was more, but that is all I can remember in my current state of delirium.

I am now a teacher of four students: 5th grade, 3rd grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten. I’ve never taught four ages before, so that’s a bit overwhelming. The scheduling of this thing called school is trickier. The amount of curriculum has increased. The older kids will not only have more schoolwork to do for themselves, but they’ll be helping me educate the youngers.

I’m just holding on for dear life until all four of them are fluent readers, and then I expect the load to lighten. I celebrate the fact that I don’t have to wipe their tooshies when they use the bathroom anymore; the next step to independence (theirs) and freedom (mine) is for them to be able to read their own stinking math worksheets. πŸ™‚

Our first day didn’t start out quite as I’d planned…I had a late night last night getting ready for our educational debut, instead of going early to bed. I set my alarm for 7am, but was awoken by a barfing child at 6am. I got up to read God’s Word after she fell back asleep, and did read a chapter…and promptly fell asleep in the chair until at least 9am.

Welp, if that’s not a sign of how the year is about to go, I don’t know what is. But I repeat, I am hanging on to the Rock of Ages, and not letting go until my kiddos are God-fearing, Jesus-serving, well-educated, funny, fun, productive members of the church. Ah, scratch that, I won’t be able to let Him go anytime after that either. I’m in it for the long haul.

So here we are, standing at the edge of a new year. Every time I turn around, my kids are learning new things and getting taller and more mature. Why don’t more people talk about how FUN parenting is? Sure, it’s a lot of work, but these little people are just so dadgum delighful.

Now, dear readers, have YOU started school yet? Have your children barfed lately? Did you paint your kitchen this summer? These are all things I would like to have answers to. Tell me!

Spell to Write and Read vs. All About Spelling

I’ll admit it up front: This is a homeschool mom post, through and through. If that makes you yawn, don’t feel bad about closing this tab. πŸ˜‰

We’re nearing the end of our 5th year of homeschooling, and in all five years, one thing has not changed: There are bazillions of curriculum choices out there.

When we started, I took advice from a couple of homeschooling friends, and made some decisions on curriculum, and off we went! It doesn’t help that I was planning to send Gracie girl off to public school until about 3 weeks before the start of the semester. Not much time to prepare! Quick decisions had to be made!

The way I see it, the two main things we teach in kindergarten (which is where we started) are (1) phonemic awareness / phonics / reading and (2) math concepts (time, counting, recognizing numbers, money, simple addition and subtraction, etc). So the language component is very important!

I was a Language Arts major in college. I like language. I love grammar. I am a firm believer in the necessity of phonics in learning to read. (I’m sorry, but sight words and whole language learning do not help a child know how to decode a word he or she has never seen before!!!)

So, with that background, I started off with a program called Spell to Write and Read, which I will hereafter refer to as “SWR.” Once a child understands that oral language and written words are connected, the program starts by helping the child to learn the 70 basic phonogram sounds (i.e. the sounds of the letters of the alphabet, for instance, “A” says different sounds in the words cat, ace, and lava). This is done with flashcards and lots of repetition.

Then they learn to write their numbers and letters. For this part of the program, we opted to use the companion curriculum called Cursive First. I still use this and HIGHLY recommend it. Cursive, because of its curves and connectedness (you don’t pick up your pencil until the end of the entire word), is easier for small brains to learn to write. And it’s a beautiful dying art!

Once these two steps are complete, students are ready to start their spelling lists!

I was floored when Grace wrote this list, only a couple of months into the program:
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That was with me sounding it out with her, but not telling her which letters to write. And isn’t her cursive beautiful for a child who has not quite reached her 5th birthday?!

So, all that was fine and dandy. From there, the program was based on learning new phonograms (th, ch, sh…) and writing spelling lists solely from dictation. They also had some spelling rules thrown in there, but I was never very good at remembering to teach them or review them.

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Honestly? It went really well the first 2-3 years, and then it became boring. I dreaded teaching that subject and would often skip it if the day was going long. It gave the kids a nice foundation in phonics, and yet it bored me to death. (And remember, I like this stuff.)

SO! Here’s the happy news about homeschooling! If a particular curriculum isn’t working out for you…CHANGE IT!!!

And we did. I had seen a homeschooling blogger I respected mention the All About Spelling and All About Reading programs. So I researched them, read some other bloggers’ opinions about them, watched some vlogs about them, and decided to give All About Spelling a try!

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I started Ava (1st grade) in Level 1. And because it was a new program and I didn’t want the older two to miss anything they needed to know, I started both Grace (4th grade) and Caleb (2nd grade) in Level 2. {Grace has advanced to Level 4, which she will finish by the end of the year. Caleb will complete Level 3 by the end of the year. And Ava recently started Level 2.}

The beginning of the program is similar to SWR. Students must learn the phonogram sounds. Thankfully, Ava already knew all of hers from SWR in kindergarten. Once those are mastered, they move on.

There are many things I love about All About Spelling (AAS)…

  • No prep for me. The lessons are laid out in a very easy-to-understand way. The beginning of each lesson details what materials I need, and the rest of the lesson is scripted. Of course I don’t have to follow the script word-for-word, but it takes the guesswork out of it for mama!
  • Repetition. Key concepts are taught in the lesson, reinforced by flashcards, and practiced in spelling lists.

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  • Logical teaching of spelling rules. This is a huge one for me. I really struggled with teaching the spelling rules in SWR. But the AAS lessons really focus on a clear teaching (and review) of each spelling rule (such as “C says /s/ before e, i, and y.”). Β Once a rule is taught, it is put into context, and the child practices applying it. Key concept cards (the blue ones in the picture above) are reviewed regularly so students remember the rules. And they continue to apply the rules in subsequent lessons.
  • Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning…All three learning styles are satisfied in this program. Along with mama’s teaching (auditory) and flashcards (visual), a large part of each lesson is spent manipulating phonogram magnets (kinesthetic / visual). The kids love this part.
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  • A quick pace…SWR took us a lot longer each day than this program does. Or maybe this one is more fun, so it doesn’t seem like it takes as long? Each level has 25+ lessons, which can be done as quickly or as slowly as is right for each student. Our kids have progressed through their lessons fairly quickly, and it seems to boost their morale and help them to enjoy the subject even more.

The end of each lesson consists of lists of words, phrases, and/or sentences. I dictate these to the kiddo, and the kiddo writes the words/phrases/sentences in his or her notebook, figuring out how to spell each word by using their knowledge of phonogram sounds as well as applying each concept he or she has learned.

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In addition, “Writing Station” is added to the end of each lesson in Levels 3 and on, where students are given 5 words and must write a paragraph with all 5 words. Grace loves this part and has been very creative, even linking her short stories from one day to the next. Caleb complains that he doesn’t like this part, but I think his stories are also creative and often make me chuckle.

Honestly? I would not tell you NOT to use SWR. It’s a solid program that gave Grace and Caleb a good foundation in phonics and reading. However, I would more HIGHLY recommend the All About Spelling program for the reasons listed above. We have thoroughly enjoyed the switch to this new curriculum, and we’re thankful for the way it has changed our dread of spelling to delight!

Why “Bible” is not a part of our homeschool curriculum

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I love homeschooling.

Don’t get me wrong. Some days it’s grueling, hard work to push through and finish what needs to be done. It’s difficult to focus when I have dishes and laundry to do, on top of teaching history, science, math, English, etc, etc.

But the light bulb moments, when our kids really understand what they’ve been studying, are priceless.

The time we can spend snuggling by the fire, reading a good book, is priceless.

The fact that I can teach my kiddos to cook, because they’re around for all three meals each day…priceless.

Homeschooling is great. And a major part of the reason we do it is to maximize the time we have with our children to influence them for good, to help them understand God’s plan for life.

But we do not do “Bible” as a part of our schooling, and I think it’s an important distinction to make.

We read the Bible every day as a family. At the end of this year, Grace and Caleb will have read/heard the entire Bible at least once. That’s so exciting to me. I didn’t get the full “big picture” of Scripture until I was in my 20’s. Our kids will be way ahead of that!

We talk a lot about the world with a Christ-centered perspective. So, that means that when we’re learning about a historical figure, we can talk about whether his actions were pleasing to God or not. Or why the world considers that figure a hero, when in reality he was completely missing the mark by not possessing any godly wisdom.

But we do not have a time during our school day for “Bible,” and that is because the Bible is not just a school subject. I want my kids to know that during the summer, during winter break, after graduation from high school and college, the Bible is STILL going to be their guidebook for life, every day.The Bible is a whole lot MORE than just a school subject. It is the basis for EVERY school subject, the foundation by which we evaluate EVERYTHING we learn.

It’s extremely important for our kiddos to know what’s in the Bible, which is why we read it together. But I also think it’s very important for our kids to have their daddy be a part of those discussions, which is why we do it as a family, together. Luke is the spiritual leader of our home, and he’s teaching our boys to rise up and be the men God created them to be, and giving our girls a great example of what a godly husband looks like.

Hopefully, as the years pass and our kids mature, our family studies of the Scriptures will go much deeper. I envision great theological discussions one day with these kiddos, who already ask some pretty great questions.

So you see, “Bible” is not a school subject at the Rumley ranch. It’s the MAIN subject. πŸ™‚

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