Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blogging Woes and Entering the realm of 'away' school....

When I last posted I never expected to be away from the blogosphere for so long! It's not that I have a list of readers or have anything valuable to share with the sphere. These I do not. My disappointment in my absence comes from the fact that my primary use of this forum is to leave a path of journaling by which my children can get to know me better later in their lives and use it to reflect back upon their early lives, where their memories do not have access. So I plan to make it my priority this week to get this post finished, since it entails the details of one of our biggest family life changes to date - moving Jefferson to from home school to 'away' school.
Ahhhh...where to start, where to start....

Let's begin in the first week of August, after 3 weeks of home school break (from 2nd gr and K)for the kids and teacher planning for me. We dove into Core 3 of Sonlight curriculum and I was just loving it. Teaching from a history core is just such a great way to infuse the student with multiple levels of knowledge of the era being covered! The early explorer's are so interesting. I loved reading "Walk the World's Rim" (by Betty Baker) while he read "Pedro's Journal" (by Pam Conrad), a story about Christopher Columbus's first journey to the America's, by himself. Although the book started out roughly, "Walk the World's Rim" gave us many character lessons from which to learn and I was soon saying to him, "Maybe those two are just walking a different trail?" to indicate to him that the characters were not understanding each other's view on life. I pointed out examples of this in relationships around us. Little did I realize that I would soon be pointing it out to him about our teacher/student relationship!

While trying to push (and I WAS pushing, not encouraging) Jefferson to do as much of his work as he could WITHOUT coming to me every 3 seconds with unneeded questions, I was also trying to step up Reagan's lessons to include phonics (20 mins), reading (20 mins plus read aloud time), math (30mins), science (15 mins done daily with Jefferson reading it for her), and history (15 mins reading or small project), as well as one art lesson and art project per week. This was a significant work load increase from her Kindergarten lessons (phonics & math daily) and barely could fit into the workload that I was trying to accomplish with Jefferson. I couldn't seem to teach both of them at the same time as Jefferson refused to focus if another kid was in the room and as every hs mom of multiple students knows, that's practically impossible!

I soon found myself pulling my hair out in frustration as Jefferson cried when he couldn't complete something efficiently and Reagan cried because I was pushing her too hard to complete her lessons quickly. He could never attempt his work on his own and then come to be with the questions he gathered. Rather he would interrupt Reagan's lessons multiple times until I yelled at him and was then too frustrated to be patient with her (something she really, really needs in order to learn). I couldn't read her even one paragraph with focus and I could tell she wasn't processing very well the information I was reading.

I was exhausted and tried to chalk up my troubles to our normal beginning of school stress. After all, every other year was tough in the beginning. I hoped that it would work itself out as we got comfortable with our new routine and lesson load. But instead, Jefferson snapped at me all day long until I snapped back. He constantly asked me what he could do and never occupied himself (except when reading a book - believe me, I worked hard to have tons of reading available for him) while the younger two were transitioning to a lovely new stage of screaming at each other and not sharing and thus adding noise and chaos to the day as well. The assignments were getting checked off of both of their lists while I went to bed tired and feeling guilty for my lack of patience and my tone of voice. And other than the tears and perfectionism she displayed in lessons, Reagan quietly occupied herself and didn't notice that she was getting the short end of the academic stick. It's not like she was begging me to sit and read to her (read-alouds were one of the first things to get skipped each day with our time constraints). But I knew that with her learning differences, she needed more, not less time, than Jefferson received when he was in first grade!

So after a particularly bad Friday, Jefferson and I were both crying at lunch as we tried to explain to the principal Daddy just how rough it had gotten. Dh called one of the two Christian classical schools in the area to set up an appointment and get some info. Keep in mind that this was the Friday before they began their classes! We didn't know how to meet our family's needs (put Reagan in school or Jefferson or change our curriculum or get counseling or what), but knew that we needed to change something major.

It was clear and evident. And really, really, really hard for me to accept.

After the Friday meeting with Day.spring Chris.tian Academy, we prayed and prayed all weekend about what we would do for the spiritual health of our family. We talked with our closest friends and asked our FB friends to pray for us. And I cried and cried and cried. Although I hadn't meant it to happen, home schooling has become more of my identity than I realized and now I felt like I was failing or giving up my son, in some way. Even with all the struggle in our one month of home schooling, I hadn't expected the Lord to lay THIS on our lap!

But it felt like the right thing to do. Jefferson thrives in structure, excels in academics, and never talks back to adults other than his parents/grandparents. And his walk with the Lord was not being strengthened or nurtured by the frazzled, short, and impatient mother who was teaching him school. We felt that we should give academics over to this classical christian school so that we could work on tying strings of love and fellowship with him instead, as well as providing the needed time and attention for Reagan to do well in first grade.

So we enrolled him on DCA's second day of school. And I cried some more.

It was busy, busy, busy getting used to the driving routine to drop and pick up as well as extra things such as getting lunches ready and uniforms bought and washed. I had to run to the store for school supplies at the same time as the rest of the country only to find most of them gone. Reagan missed about 7 days of school amidst all the meetings with teacher's and evaluator's. And this after being a 'laid back' home school schedule for 3 years - you know, breakfast done by 9:00 and lessons started by 9:30, lunch whenever it fits and naps after that. I prayed that we would get used to the restrictive schedule and still be able to provide for the specific needs of each child. I prayed that Jefferson would fit in well and pick up the little things about school that he had missed from being educated with different curriculum.

After one week, we got an email from his 2nd grade teacher telling us that he was doing almost"too well" for 2nd grade. So I questioned our decision to have him take 2nd grade again and I prayed for direction. After another call from the school telling us that he was 'flying through his evaluation tests' and a meeting with the 3rd grade teacher (a woman highly recommended by other parents), we moved him into 3rd grade. Another adjustment for him and more fretting for me! Such little faith at a time when God's leading was so clear to us!'d think I'd learn - lol! We prayed much for him and I studied his 'new' phonics and 'new' grammar (Shurley Grammar, which I had bought but chosen not to use - go figure!) so that I could help him "catch up" after his first week in 3rd grade.

But then I got an email from his teacher telling me that he aced both his grammar and his phonics tests! In every area he was doing well!

And I praised God instead of crying anymore. He is soooo very good and lead us so clearly and has provided for Jefferson and our family so perfectly. Jefferson is so happy at school and clearly does well academically (and socially - he's never had a problem there). Reagan is getting wonderful time with all of her lessons and is actually enjoying them and learning from them. I LOVE having more time with her - she is blossoming like a sweet rose!! And I even have time to read to the younger boys - one of my favorite snuggly times. Even with the extra driving....

So all that to try to put in words the process our family has been through these past two months that has rocked our world and even my faith. I hope that when the Lord brings us a new change in direction in the future, I can say that I have learned something from this and that my faith has grown. I hope that the kids (in the future) will know how much we want for their walk with the Lord and they will understand that we are willing to give up OUR plans for them so that the Lord's will prevails and blesses them instead.

And please, if you think about it, pray for us as we continue to adjust, that our family would grow stronger in faith and in our walk with God.....