Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lessons From The Classroom - Teacher Evaluations

I have been questioning my ability to adequately teach my children over the past few months.

I know where the problem started, though.

I planned out my fall.  We had so much fun.  We learned a lot and the kids actually looked forward to school every day.

And then the New Year came...and I had nothing.  I never took the time to plan out the rest of the year.  We were just trying to get through 3 reading lessons a week.  But it was becoming an uphill battle.

We LOVED our curriculum at first, but poor Rainy was getting bored with it and her lesson was ending up taking WAY.MORE.TIME. than it should, and by that time we were both out of motivation to work on anything else fun, no matter how exciting and knowledgeable it might be.  We have heard this from a few friends that have used this book.  Some have divided a single lesson into 2 parts.  We have opted to do the first part and then Areyna can choose her own book to read.

I always said that my focus was to just get Areyna reading.

We have done that...and more.  I know.

But for some reason, I felt compelled to make an appointment at the Elementary school behind our house.  It would be Zeke and Rainy's base school.  It's a year-round school.  We could actually walk their from our back yard.  I thought it was worth taking a look into, just to see what our options are.

To us, we don't believe that homeschooling is the ONLY way.  We also don't feel like formal schooling is the ONLY way, either!

In order to evaluate this next year appropriately we have to step back, assess what each child in our family needs in this particular season in our lives.

For us, right now, our adoption is pretty far up on the priority list, which doesn't belittle our need for excellent education, but it does limit our options.  Since we feel like we need our biological children to be a part of this process overseas, that means that a lot of days would be missed from school.  As a matter of fact, it could mean that the kids would have to repeat a grade, since we aren't exactly sure when we are traveling, or exactly how long we will have to be in Uganda.

Here is a list of ... well, I don't exactly know what this list is, but I know I DO like lists and they make me feel better:)
  • I am pretty sure Zeke is not academically ready for Kindergarten.  We will be working on ABC school and he is very excited!  I found an excellent sight with FREE downloadable material and games.  Areyna and I have already been working hard on getting it ready!
  • Areyna wants desperately to stay at home.  She went to Pre-school so she understands "school", and she would prefer to stay home.
  • It has been a battle to get her reading done.  This is an easy fix!  Find a new curriculum.  Josh and I took a trip to The Homeschool Gathering Place.  Although it was a bit overwhelming, I mean, really?  A store FULL of options?  Anyway, we went, we conquered found several good starting points and I am anxious to get back there and pick something and go with it!
  • I visited the site that was the base for my teacher planning last fall.  I was pleasantly surprised at all the things I realized Areyna DID know and now know the few things we can work on to get every point checked off the list.
  • I went back and read several of my own entries about why on earth we decided to homeschool in the first place.  It was really encouraging to see that all the "reasons" still apply, and to remember just what was going through our heads, when this decision was made, ha!
  • For me, I know that homeschooling will not always come as naturally to me as it seems to come to others.  I know that I probably will not "enjoy" teaching my children about all 50 states and the reasons why a pill dissolves better in soda than milk, or does it?  I don't believe that the path we choose will always be the easy one, but I do believe that the Lord will give us exactly what we need to accomplish His goal!  
  •  I do believe that for us, this next year we will be homeschooling again.  We will re-evaluate our family and the season of life we are in and decide, yet again, which direction we will go next.
  • FYI - A lot can get accomplished through bribery positive incentives such as sticker charts and Dollar Store trips:) 
Final Comments:
I believe that the teacher has done a fair job at accomplishing the goal she set for the year.  I also feel as though the teacher may be too hard on herself and must continually remind herself that she must be who God has made her to be, not who He made someone else to be.  That she must encourage her students to be who God has made them to be, not who God has made others to be.  If the teacher decides to do workbooks, and that is what the students enjoy, then by golly, they will do workbooks, and if the teacher sees that another student learns better through playing games, then by golly, let the games begin!
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