Monday, September 23, 2013

Dear Fran....

....and others who wonder what this homeschooling thing is all about....

Today when you came over to capture my family in a day of homeschooling to do a special for your program "Features", there was so much more I wanted to share.  So much more I wanted to show.  Homeschooling is a "way of life".  It is almost impossible to even get a taste of what it "is" in just a couple of hours.  Goodness me, I am still learning!  And, little by little, every day, God is forming me into the teacher and mother and wife I am meant to be.  Same with my little students, my children.  Here a some things I wanted to share a bit more on....

**my sweet Mario, who was nervous as can be when the camera was inches from him, while working on his most hardest subject...  Math.  This momma messed up and should have known and planned better.  This is the subject that has caused many tears, it is a lot of work, a lot of teaching, a lot of practice, a lot of hand-holding, a lot of love, a lot of patience to get through this one.  I should have let him draw you a picture.  How amazed I am whenever he puts pencil to paper and lets his creativity, one of his many God-given gifts, flow and come out.  See, his daddy and I are not artists by any means...  we know his gift of creativity comes from His Other Father.  He has also expressed interest in being on tv someday.  Poor guy – was crushed when *he* wasn’t interviewed.  He’s the one who would have loved the “practice”, and probably would have shined.  Who knows if he’ll be a movie star or may even take over for you when you are done at the newstation?  God does!  And, I can’t wait to see where he goes!

**about the socialization thing....  our kids socialize very well with their siblings, their 18 cousins, their grandparents, great-grandma and her friends (other residents at her nursing home), other children and teachers (at piano, choir, TKD, speech, gymnastics, ConQuest and Little Flowers, co-op every other week), librarians, clerks at the grocery store, neighbors, and many more.  Often if we are at a playground, my kids are known to go up to complete strangers, kids they have never met, and within minutes are running around playing tag.  Most importantly, we know and trust that God gave them each other - each one of our children has 6 best friends, their brothers and sisters.  Who am *I* most socialized with, having had gone to public school?  My husband (obviously!), but then it's with my 3 sisters, their husbands, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and my mother-in-law and father-in-law.  They are the ones I'm closest to, and then it's those who support me in my faith - my church and homeschooling friends (like the two of them who showed up to answer questions and be interviewed as well, which time could not allow for, but prayed us through our time with you).

**and then the "sheltered" question you asked my sweet 9 year old, Melody, while interviewing.  Thank God that she has such a sweet bubbly personality and really had no clue what you meant, since it was asked out context.  You see, most fourth graders, would need to hear the word in a sentence to understand what it meant.  Anyhoo ---  she only knows what she's experienced and is around.  She has no clue what the public school is like.  She knows more about world events probably sooner than most of her public-school and private-school friends, especially since when a tragedy happens we let the kids know immediately and ask to offer up their school, their frustrations and pray *right now* for what is going on.  We did this just last week with the shootings in Washington DC.  If they are sheltered, it is in the light of faith, as we teach them about all that happens - good and bad.

**our very serious and goofey, Fone, hasn't been to real "school" since he's four years old, and that was only preschool.  So, when he was asked, "what do you like best about homeschooling, as opposed to public or parochial school", he really has no clue.  I couldn't help but giggle when he said "free bathroom breaks", because I joke with them all the time, how lucky they are that they can get up to go to the bathroom when they need to.  They get to sleep in a little bit when they need to and had a rough night's sleep.  They can grab a bite to eat when their little bellies are hungry.  They can walk over to momma or the baby and get a hug or a smooch when they need to be lifted up.   Our kids even get to chew "school gum" as a funny little incentive for staying in their seats and working hard in school, because their own momma got a detention in middle school for doing so.  Us rebel homeschoolers, we let our children chew gum.  NOTE again - only at the table when they are WORKING on school.  We don't do gum in carpet or couch or beds or hair. We once had gum on the bathroom towels and rugs though with a very inexperienced gum-chewing preschooler though.... 

**how the trips we make to the nursing home, to visit and play BINGO with my wonderful Grandma, teaches our kids compassion and a respect for elders.  They get to walk around and say "hi" and shake hands with all their friends there.  They walk around proudly now as they truly enjoy spending this special time there.

**And, a little more about those God-given gifts, since I have already mentioned Mario….  Fone would have loved to show you how he plays the piano, and how his love for reading allowed him to breeze right through his schoolwork. I’m just amazed how he just “gets it” sometimes – his love for reading is going to take him to many places someday.  My sweet Melody, who loves and breezes through her schoolwork daily, is on cloud nine and her true colors show when she is with baby Rose.  Her motherly gift is just beautiful – she is going to be an amazing one someday.  Ariel is just sweet and cute and giggly – she brightens up all those who meet and talk to her.  I love the time of day when we snuggle on the couch and she reads to me her books and lessons – her voice alone is so uplifting and I get it all to myself in that moment.  She dreams of being a Missionary of Charity nun, and I know the JOY she has and shows us now will be such a blessing to those who are dying and poor and suffering someday.  There is no doubt they will see Your face through her smile and giggle.  Our little Max – well, he’s just fun and goofey and friendly.  He loves his math and reading, and does super at it, but we’re still learning daily about those gifts that he has been given.  He loves to be outside – running around, swinging, dribbling the ball, digging, getting dirty, riding his bike, and more.  Right now, he says he wants to be a hunter, but who knows where God will take him?  Little Pookey was the one who handed you the picture that he worked so hard on.  He waited for you by the door for 20 minutes, and asked 50 times, “when will Fran be here?”.  He just couldn’t wait til his new friend arrived.  He is so sweet, compassionate, silly and very entertaining (once he warms up).  He loves to play “Mom and Dad” with his siblings and cousins, and talks all the time about being a Dad someday.  I know he will make an amazing daddy, especially with his own daddy’s wonderful example.  Baby Rose, at ten months old, has the whole world ahead of her.  Only God knows right now what’s in store, but how blessed we are to be on this journey with her and get to watch it unfold before our very own eyes at home in our simple daily lives.  I can’t wait!!

 **Yes, we study many subjects during our week - the norms like Math, Reading, Grammar, Phonics, Handwriting, Spelling, Vocabulary, Science, History, Religion, PE, Music, and Art.  We feed our kids this knowledge through books and questions, but we know it goes far beyond the sitting-down-at-the-table-work.  Much comes from being aware of what is going on around, the things we bump in to in our lives.  This is the where the *fun* stuff happens and the kids inquire - we get to check our books on the topic, we get to look at videos on YouTube.  Field trips and exploring the outdoors have given our kids a sense of wonder.  Good 'ole playtime has allowed my kids their creativity to just blossom.  It's not uncommon at all for even our 12 year old, Fone, to waltz around the house with dress ups on as he is playing one of his favorite characters he has been reading and learning about.  I love it when the kids make the learning their *own*.  My kids were a little to shy today to show you this - but they have that freedom to do these goofey silly things in the safe-loving environment of those who love them.  I bet most 12 year olds in public schools today don't have as much playtime and are "in" to other things, much beyond their age and/or maturity can handle.  Thankfully, we are able to ..s...l...o...w... this down for our kids a bit.  They can enjoy their childhood a little bit longer.

**The family bonding and love that just *happens* in our homeschool so naturally.  Our 7 year old will lean over to her brother in Kindergarten, when he says, "Mom, I need you.  I don't know what to do next."  She will then read, "Trace and copy the following numbers".  He knows what to do, she practiced her reading and helped her little brother (because she *wanted* to), all the while the momma is changing the baby's bum in the living room.  Then, there's the 3 year old who begs for his big brothers and sisters to play with him, as he waits ever so patiently for them to finish with their school, because they will chase him, and smooch him, and play house with him, and ride bikes with him, because they *want* to and love him.  How our sweet baby girl gets greeted from her naps by her siblings (and yes, there is sometimes a fight as to who gets to grab her because they ALL want to) just because they are home to do so.  Making a meal, and there are 3 of them put out here at our house daily, becomes a home-ec lesson in minutes.  Keeping up on laundry and cleaning allows us to keep up with housework (as much as we can in a large family), while we work together and teach life skills at the same time.  Then, there's the "couch-school" -- where the kids get to sit on the couch, next to the momma, as we snuggle and take turns reading the next lesson or chapter in a book, be it a reading book, history, religion, etc....  The comprehension questions and discussion flows so naturally, in an environment where they are loved.  The don't get laughed at if they can't pronounce a word correctly or say the wrong word altogether.  I lovingly correct it or ask for it to be sounded out again. This "safe" environment our kids are in is a family.  Our world is full of brokenness, and it seems to stem from the importance of families living with one another with love and forgiveness.  Practicing and living the virtues just happens when we are together all day, and the love and bonding that comes with it is such a blessing.

We can't wait to see your "take" on homeschooling in your segment tomorrow.  We really enjoyed your time with us today, but wish it could have been longer.  We wanted to just take you in.  Have a cup of coffee.  Play a game with you.  Have YOU read a silly story to these sweet kids and giggle with them.  Their youth and their joy are truly contagious. Thank you for stopping by today!  May God bless you as you reach out to all those in our area to see the good things happening around us. 

Love and God's blessings to you,
The Youngs and young'uns  :)

Here are a few more pics - the kids greeted our special guest with a little art of their own...

Mario's rectangle

Fone's rectangle

Ariel's rectangle

Melody's rectangle

Max's rectangle

Pookey's rectangle (with momma's help)

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