August Means Back to School or ..

Back to School pictures, at least!

This past Monday the public schools in our area cranked up the big yellow buses, teachers decorated bulletin boards, and kiddos grabbed their backpacks full of fresh school supplies. Here with the Tribe the big red van is in the shop, the little people decorated their arms with red ink pens, and a huge dent has already been made in new school supplies.

We have chosen to homeschool year round and it has worked out well for us over the years. It is a flex and flow style that I love.  However, August is the unofficial start to a “new school year” and the perfect time for me to snap a picture or two of my children. Nothing fancy, of course. I do, however, require a clean shirt and for hair to be brushed. High standards, I know.

First up is the Younger Crew:

Ezra, two, always adds an element of fun and energy to our days. Why sit and play quietly when there can be sword fights, block demolition, and trying to climb everywhere? But if you bring out a stack of picture books, he will happily sit and listen to you read. He is a joy and delight and thankfully has quite a few more years of learning with dirt and sticks.

Martha is four and not officially starting kindergarten until later. She enjoys being my Baby Girl and is a self-proclaimed princess. When she grows up she says that she will still be a princess. The girl is focused! She is silly, sweet, and smart. Throw in a bit of sassy and that is Martha Ann.

Sam, six, is working hard on building his reading and math skills. He joins his older siblings for history readings and science but always balanced with plenty of time in the great outdoors. Sam loves to talk and talk and talk. He also enjoys read alouds and that is about the only time he is quiet. He was planning on being a movie theater owner and a bounty hunter. However, archaeology has now captured his interest and he thinks digging up fossils would be really cool.

Sarah, eight, is my right hand gal in training. She loves to be busy and loves to have a to do list to check off.  Reading has finally started clicking for her and she is taking off with her books. Math is still fun but her siblings informed her that wouldn’t last. Her future? She wants to do something that allows her to be outside. But working in a museum dusting artifacts would be cool, too. Perhaps Sam and Sarah will work together?

Hannah, ten, would happily avoid not only school but the camera. Ha! Just let her outside to enjoy a good climbing tree and all is well. Hiking in the woods, collecting cicada shells, and playing with our cats are favorite activities. She hopes to one day be a zoologist as she loves all kinds of animals. Hannah also loves to read and one days hopes to have her own library. Sounds like a great plan to me!

This younger crew keeps me laughing. These years are precious and I love watching them grow and learn so quickly. Next up? The Teens!

Systematic Theology and Ferdinand

My oldest child is heading into her senior year of high school.  While we always knew we were going to homeschool, I never imagined how quickly it would go by. This year I have seven children that are official “school age”. We quite easily cover grades from preschool to high school.

I suppose because as my older ones are getting, well, older, it makes days like today all the more precious to me. It is also a beautiful reminder to me on those challenging days why it is worth every sacrifice made to homeschool my children.

After the normal morning things that must be done like the making of beds and taking of showers, we all settled in the living room to read and discuss a bit on systematic theology. Yes, even the four year old was cuddled with me on the couch learning the importance and value of systematic theology.

But not only do the younger ones sit in on the older kiddos’ readings and discussions, it flips in the other direction as well. I gather up my little ones to enjoy The Story of Ferdinand and do a little craft. And who jumps in the mix? My 10 year old and 12 year old daughters. Yes, they were right on the floor with us. Why? Because who can pass the opportunity to sit with Ferdinand and smell the flowers? Of course there was glue involved. Even at my mature age, I do love using glue.

It goes deeper than just listening and gluing. It truly does. While a lot of what we read on systematic theology was too complicated for my four or six year old, they are hearing and understanding the importance of scripture. Of reading all of scripture, seeking to understand the Word, and knowing God better. Each and every day that we sit, read, and discuss, this truth sinks a bit deeper into their hearts.

And relationships, memories, and connections are being strengthened each day between my children that will stand against time. I see my little ones cuddled up beside my older ones sharing favorite picture books or gathered at the table all drawing and creating together. They garden together, knit together, explore the woods together with no thought to age segregation.

It is by far one of the greatest rewards of this homeschooling journey. Do not let me be deceptive. We deal with grumbling and complaining. People need quiet and space and a break from the chaos that is family. No rose colored glasses here, folks. But at the end of the day, I savor the moments with systematic theology and Ferdinand.

Our Favorite Read Alouds – 2015

Since read alouds are a family affair, I sought my children’s thoughts on what their favorite read aloud of the year was. Pointless. It would have been more productive to ask which parent was their favorite. Even with each of the children naming three or four books among their favorites, I noticed a book or two that was favored across the board.

100 Cupboards – N. D. Wilson

Dandelion Fire – N. D. Wilson

The Chestnut King – N. D. Wilson

This trilogy was a family favorite. If you have not read it, you must add it to your list for 2016. Highly recommend. Excellent read aloud.

 

Boys of Blur N. D. Wilson – Notice a theme here? N. D. Wilson was a popular author in our home this year.  While this served as a read aloud and the younger ones enjoyed it, the story was much more engaging for my older ones. I would not have read it aloud if I only had younger kiddos.

The Green Ember – S D Smith –  This was on everyone’s list; young and old.

The Black Star of Kingston S. D. Smith

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes – Jonathan Auxier – Jonathan Auxier  – Such a fun, exciting read. Don’t miss it.

The Night Gardener – Jonathan Auxier

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques PapierMichelle Cuevas – This selection was a surprise read aloud success. My older ones were skeptical; thinking it was for the younger ones. Beautiful story. You want to meet Jacques.

Rascal Sterling North – A boy and his pet racoon. Do read alouds get any better than the classic “boy and dog” story?

The Westing GameEllen Raskin – If I had to do it over, this would not be a read aloud. The writing style is challenging as a read aloud. However, a couple of kiddos mentioned it as a favorite so there you have it.

It was truly a fabulous year of read alouds. To see all the books we shared as a family, go to Read Alouds 2015.