Free Write Friday – Via Our Homeschooler

I love Free Write Friday (FWF) and have not done it in a while!  Kellie Elmore is an amazing writer and has a weekly writing tool for those that want to have as much fun as she does. Each week it is a different prompt and this week it is this…

This house has a story…what is it?

Image Credit: We Heart It

Our daughter saw the prompt this time and wanted to write something.  We are a homeschool family and love any new challenges she is willing to take.  So I told her if she did it, I would post it.  She wrote this in 20 minutes. So here is my 9 year old daughters take on this old house.  Thanks Kellie for inspiring even our daughter!  She hopes to have a book published soon (she has written several chapter books) and it makes this mom’s heart glad.

A  Magical Thing

Cloe and Justen jumped into the magic tree house and they sat down and waited for their next mission.  The tree house started to spin and it shook then everything went black!  Finally the black faded off and there was light.  The tree house stop spinning and shaking

Justen and Cloe climbed out.  The magic tree house disappeared.  Justen and Cloe looked around and there was a white house that was a little broken down.

“Does anybody live here?” Cloe asked.

“I don’t know but maybe that’s what we’re here for.  We are detectives you know?” Justen replied.  They climbed over the fence and hid behind a tree.  “Let’s sneak inside and find out if anyone lives here,” Justen said.  “Well,…ok.” Cloe replied.

They snuck up to the porch and Cloe looked in the window but it was too dark to see inside.  Justen creaked open the door, the wind blew and it was a little scary but Cloe and Justen kept going and went inside.  “It looks more beat down in here, “ Justen whispered. “Yeah,” Cloe replied.

They looked around and a sound came from upstairs, it sounded like a knock. “Knock, Knock!”   The sound came. “Hey, Cloe did you hear the knock.  Let’s go see what it is,” Justen said as he pulled out his flashlight and turned it on.  All that came from Cloe was a nod.  So they snuck upstairs.  There was  a long hallway and they walked down it.  At the end of the hall was door with a poster hanging on it.  The poster was so thick that it sounded like a rock banging up against the door in the wind.  Cloe and Justen walked up to it and held their flashlight to it.

It said, “Gold! Don’t come in! Gold!”  Cloe and Justen almost screamed at the same time, they opened the door.  There was a chest with a key laying on top of it.  Cloe and Justen grabbed it together and unlocked the chest.  The chest was full of gold.

Justen and Cloe’s eye’s were wide, they were speechless.  The room started to glow and a man walked in from the light and said, “I’m am awarding you with this gold.  You are one of my helpers, but I warn you.  Use it wisely,…”  He stopped for a minute then said, “I love you!”

The room glowed again and he was gone.  Cloe squealed.  They carried the chest outside, the magic tree house appeared.  They put the chest in and climbed in it.  And as the tree house started to leave, they saw the same man standing next to the house smiling.  They waved to him and he waved back.

~Muppin Schutter ©March 2014

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Homeschool Freedom – Beware of Shiny Things!

How many times have I tried to veer from the course that has been laid ahead of me?  Homeschooling is that course and sometimes I feel like there are a million different avenues that sit before me that can “help” me homeschool my child.  There is always a new book, new method, new computer program, new teaching philosophy, a new something.

charis horse studyOne can get caught up in all the bright shiny new things that continually come along and before you know it you feel terrible because you didn’t buy this or that and you feel completely confused.  You feel you lost out because you didn’t see that new method before you started the one you have.  Before long you “think” you  have done it all wrong and your child is now going to suffer because that new curriculum you purchased last year to help her through her learning isn’t good enough. It isn’t as awesome as the new one that you are looking at right now that just popped up in your email for only $399.00!

It is so easy for us as parents to see all the bells and whistles of the new and improved things out there and think they are better than what we have, and you know what??? Who cares!!!!  Our children learned quite well for thousands of years without iPads, iphones and brightly colored curriculum.  Our kids thrived and learned while lying on a blanket outside in the grass drawing what they saw.  We need to remember that we found good things in what we purchased for our kids in the first place and those things will do their job and everyone will be happy.  We need not stress over all the shiny new stuff that is thrown at us each and every day.

We need to teach our kids to stay the course, not because we said so, but because we did so ourselves.  Our kids watch everything we do and repeat it.  Let’s teach them to repeat good things!  Our kids will thrive and flourish with what we have to offer and if we don’t offer them the new and improved method, it is not going to rob them one bit.  Our kids are learners without our help.  And if we stop putting so much emphasis on a particular method and instead make the journey interesting, informative and even fun (you know, the process of learning)… they will see that when they stay with something, no matter what that something is… there is value and they will go far.

A great way to connect with your kids!

In today’s day and age it is very easy to lose connection with our kids.  Alarmingly, it happening at younger and younger ages.  God has put this on my heart and I have thought about it a lot.  I have a 8 year old daughter and the thought that we may someday be separated by silence is heart wrenching and quite frankly it scares me.

So, with that thought and much prayer I set out to come up with a way to keep us connected in some small way.  Something that would strengthen the bond we already have and I think it is a fun one at that.  Can you see me smiling?!

Journaling!  Now, to some this may originally sound boring.  I know some people do not like to journal for many different reasons but hear me out.  This is not just any journal it is something that will be fun for both you and your kids.  It will also give your kids a way to say the things they would never say out loud!

If you do this set out to make something special.  You could choose to go and buy a journal.  If you did make it fun by making it a date and pick something out together that really speaks to the heart of your child.  My daughter is super crafty and creative.  UNLIKE ME!  I am not.  So I decided that I would create her journal even though it would be a challenge for me.  I made it for a couple reasons.  First I needed cheep, we are on a budget like many families and sometimes you have to do with what you have.   A novel concept anymore I know but a good one none-the-less.  And second because I knew it would mean a lot to her and that is what mattered most.

mommy charis 6

So here is what I did, first I took a small notebook I had and since I didn’t want that white paper on the front that looks so boring I decided to add a cardboard front too it using rubber cement.  I forgot how stinky that stuff was!

After bonding the cover over the original I decided to put a name on it so Muppin would know what it was to be used for.  It was a journal for us so I put our names on it.  She helped me decide where the flowers and hearts went and decided when we were done drawing.  She had an incredible time doing this but still didn’t know what it was going to be used for, it was a surprise!

Before I put the cover on and before she knew what I was up to I wrote a note inside the journal.  The note started out, “My dearest Muppin! I love you so much…” and went on to explain what this journal was for and why I was doing it and then finally how to use it (we will get to that in a moment).

I can’t explain to you the excitement in my daughters eyes when she read the words on those pages.  You could see that she was feeling really loved and cherished.  She was feeling like she was super important and that she was going to be heard and really listened to.  Now she is only  8 but being heard and understood is still important to her.

My heart soared with excitement knowing that she was going to be sharing with me and I with her all the things that are important too us.  We were on our way to strengthening our bond we already have, making it unbreakable.

As for the practical use of the journal here is how you use it.  You give it to your child and after you read to them, do their devotionals, cuddle or talk… you know, all those bedtime things we do together?!!  When those are done and you have kissed them good night it is their time to write.  See, a lot has happened in their little day and this helps them get it off their chest.  They can write about what happened with friends, what happened with you, the family or the dog.  They can also write about what has upset them, made them happy or things that confuse them.  They can ask questions about God, boys, friends, or your family relationships.

Most importantly when there is something that is too difficult to say out loud, they can write it here and not fear what will happen.  It gives them a sense of release and the sense of an open door.  They know they will be listened too.  Now when they go to sleep they put it on their side table, dresser or book shelf and go off to slumber land.  The next morning it is up to you to go get it, take it to a private place and read it.

The most important thing you will need to remember I believe was something the Holy Spirit really wanted me to convey and it is this… never act shocked, shaken, angry or freaked out over what you read!!!  I repeat, remain calm no matter what!  Or you have lost them.  This must always be and remain a safe place remember?!

Once you are done reading what they have written you then write back to them, answering all their questions, giving them advice kindly, and most of all telling them how much you love them no matter what they let you know.

I have told my daughter that I might come talk to her about some things once in a while, but that it will always be out of love.  And if it doesn’t sound like I am being loving she has my permission to tell me so.

Her heart was so filled with excitement.  She is ready to communicate and to connect.  This will be a lot of fluff for a while I am sure.  She is only 8 you know.   But as she gets older, and this tradition continues… How much more valuable will this be?

I would love to see your thoughts on this… and pictures of yours.  Share your blog links and pictures and how things are working out for you.  Most of all… may your relationships with your kids always be blessed!

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School With a View!

school with a viewSchool has gone much smoother since we moved Muppin’s desk in front of the window!  She now has school with a view!  Instead of dark rooms lit with light-bulbs (it is dark in the Pacific Northwest when it is the rainy season) she now gets natural light and she gets to stare out at our beautiful yard and watch birds, our dog and the weather!  She has several acres of country to look at and even though there is a lot to see, she is more eager to do her work and will do it for a longer period.  She adores seeing God’s beauty while she learns.

Who knew all one needed to do was give a child beauty to help them learn!?  Oh, I guess Charlotte Mason and John Holt might have.. hehe…

If your kids are having trouble learning or staying focused try something like it yourself.  Her desk may now be in the kitchen which is not the most attractive place for it, but most definitely the best place.

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool! (part 2)

Yesterday I wrote about how we came to the point where we felt we needed to do something different than school.  During the time of wondering how I could possibly help my daughter I was pouring my heart out to someone and they mentioned homeschooling.  I must admit when I first heard her speak of homeschooling fear overcame me.  “I am not qualified to teach daughter… I don’t even know how to start… My daughter would drive me crazy or I would drive her crazy… What in the world will happen to my daughter if I choose to do it?.. Won’t my daughter be scarred for life?..”  On and on the fear-filled questions went.  And I must also admit that those questions still come from time to time.

But as I researched the subject, literally spending hundreds of hours going to dozens of blogs, dozens of websites that were for and against homeschooling, and dozens of curriculum websites, not to mention speaking to people in person, I have found that everyone who makes this decision goes through the same kind of stress and worries when trying to come up with the right decision for their child and family.  That was a comfort.  What has been more comfort are the statistics I have found while doing my research.

Homeschooling with a View!

Homeschooling with a View!

If you look at the education aspect alone, homeschoolers test much higher on average than traditional school kids.  They transition into the non-school world much better and high ranked colleges are now recruiting homeschoolers because they work better on their own, have more original ideas and are more self-motivated.  They know how to learn and love it.  That was enough to get me to thinking more earnestly.

Then the next thing that I researched was how it would affect my family and its dynamics.  Would we get closer or would it drive a wedge between us.  That was exciting to read about as well because blog after blog, story after story, book after book all I found was that the bond between children and parents and siblings was strengthened and sealed on a deeper level than ever before.  It was a lifestyle, not just school.   I wanted that too!

Then there was the social aspect.  I have been asked many times, “How do you socialize your kids?”  Asking as if I have my daughter locked in the closet until it is time for school then shove her back in there after it is over.  Most homeschoolers are very social and very active, quite a bit more than the normal family.  And their activities revolve around kids of all ages as well as adults and people of all different lifestyle backgrounds.  In regular school, kids are stuck in a class of kids all the same age from the same area of town… homeschooling seemed to be better at teaching your child how to communicate and have fun in all kinds of situations (unless you of course locked them in the closet all day except when homeschooling).  😉

My daughter has learned how to play nice not only with kids her own age but older kids and younger ones.  She has learned how to have fun with seniors and adults of all ages.  She has helped feed the poor and do other kind things for people.  Not saying that kids in school don’t learn these things as well, just that homeschoolers do too and it can often be the focus.

When I started to see all the opportunities and possibilities, far more than I could share here, I started to get excited… very excited!  It wasn’t how I ever expected to feel when the word homeschooling was ever mentioned.

During this whole time we asked the Lord to weigh in on the subject.  Because without His leading where would we be? We knew that if we listen to God, researched wisely, made no rash decisions that we would be able to come to the right decision for our family.  God knows what is best for us, and He will guide our every path during this decision.  God has also given us very strong command to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.  It is our responsibility to make sure our kids learn, even and especially if they go to public school.  Homeschooling puts that responsibility square in your lap, and that can be a very good thing for our kids.

We have been homeschooling for just over a year now.  It was the best decision we ever made.  Our daughter is flourishing in school, she loves it!  She has friends, family and faith to fill her life.  And she can play in the snow all she wants, because I am the teacher and when I say schools over, it is!  Even if it is only 10:00am  😉

If you are thinking of homeschooling, remember that other people’s experiences are vital.  Research is a must.

Knowing your family is imperative.  But if you do not consult the Lord through it all, then you are flying by the seat of your pants.  You may end up doing the right thing, but not without a lot of stress, heartache and bumps that could have been avoided along the way.  I pray you are able to make the right decision for your family with God’s help.  If I can ever answer any questions I am more than happy to do my best.

Thank you for listening to our story.  God bless and have a wonderful New Year!!!

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool (part 1)

Wow, life brings us to strange places, places we would never have expected to be.  Some are good and some… not so much.  We have a beautiful eight year old daughter and if you would have asked me 8 years ago if I would ever consider homeschooling the answer would have been a resounding NO!  Be careful, because those things you say no to could end up being maybes, then they might just turn into a great big old yes.   And that yes just might come to you louder than the before-mentioned NO.

I have often been asked why we chose to homeschool.  And if I am not asked why when they find out I get this sideways look as if I am one of the strangest creatures on earth.  What is going through their head???  Do they think I am crazy for homeschooling or are they fascinated and just too afraid to ask?  I will never know and just smile and move on.

Well, some things did happen to urge me and my husband to consider homeschooling.  First, it was incredibly painful for me to leave my daughter all day long at school with someone else.  I love my daughter, surely I was meant to have more time with her!  Right???  I remember crying daily after I dropped her off wondering if I would be able to handle her being gone every single day.  It took years to get pregnant, and I felt as if I was already being forced to give her to someone else.  It was painful, as most parents, I love my daughter deeply.

She loved school to begin with and had no problems for the first couple of months.  Then it started, she went through a lot of teasing for being small, which is of course something you can help your child work through even though it is painful to see their tears.  Then came the bullying.  Two boys got physically abusive with her.  One was a minor situation that was handled and taken care of immediately never to happen again.  But the other boy caused much more trouble than the first one.  He was choking her on a regular basis and ended up picking her up throwing her down on the ground on her head which resulted in a neck injury.

Now through all this we were “working” with the school to get the situation resolved and were assured more than once that it was being handled.  The boy was being watched and wasn’t going to be allowed anywhere near her without supervision.  But clearly that was not happening.  By the third semester when I would pick my daughter up from school she would get migraines and as we would drive home she would scream, cry and hold her head because it would hurt so much.  The joy of going to school and learning was gone.  She didn’t love learning anymore, or being at school.  My baby was miserable all day, everyday… except on the weekends when she would let her guard down and feel free.

And before you ask, yes we did take her to the doctor and his diagnosis was stress related migraines.  Remove the stress, they will leave.  How do you remove a stress when you are not there to make sure it doesn’t happen?  It was all I could do to take her to school and drop her off and often I sat in the parking lot waiting and praying for her until the day was over.  Many prayers went to heaven over this situation!

Like many other parents though, I felt I had no other choice.  Children HAVE to go to school.  It is the law.  Many tears flowed.  And that is when my search began … what was I going to do to protect my child and get her to love learning again?  What was I allowed to do???  Check back tomorrow to see more of our journey!

What was your journey to homeschooling?  How did you come to the decision to take your child’s education and happiness into your own hands?