Teaching….One of the Hardest Jobs!

Being a teacher is one of the best and hardest jobs.

I remember when I graduated college and everyone asked the same question, “What are you going to do now?”  I graduated in December and was fortunate to line up my first teaching job to begin immediately—as in the last three days of the year before Christmas break began!

When you tell people you are a teacher, their first response is generally “You have to love your schedule!  I’d love to have the whole summer off and be home at 3 every day.”  You are right-teachers have a great schedule, 8-3 (or something to that sort).  And yes, teachers get the summer off, but do you realize what they do not get off or what they give up or what they really do outside of those “great working hours?”

Teachers give up the ability to clock out at 3 and leave work at work.  Do you realize how much grading, planning, and even researching a teacher does at home?  I know what you are thinking, “That’s what their planning period is for?”  Have you asked a teacher what he/she does on her planning?  MEETINGS—team planning, discipline discussions, grade level meetings, parent meetings, IEP meetings, etc.  The list can go on! What about the pre-service days before school starts or teacher workdays?  Well…let’s say, staff development, teacher-parent conferences, meetings, data collecting, workshops, etc.  You name it, teachers have to do it.  Anything but what they NEED to do.

Teachers give up the ability to be worry-free.  Teachers have a lot of kids.  And a good teacher genuinely cares about all of her students (could be as small as 15 kids or over 200).  As a middle school teacher on block scheduling, I had roughly 3 classes with 25-30 kids in each.  When I was at a school with a normal schedule, I had 6 classes with about 30 kids in each class.  Yeah….180 students that were my responsibility to teach math to every day.  Teachers (most of them) care about each student.  They genuinely want to help them learn, grow as a person, and develop character.

Teachers give up their health.  Do you know how many germs all these precious students pass around?  Not only do teachers get to enjoy these wonderful germs, but teachers are generally more stressed during the school year.  They are planning, grading, teaching, and parenting all their students.  Do I need to mention the demands of No Child Left Behind, Common Core Standards, and whatever else your state, district, or school requires you to do?  All this plus they have their families to take care of, cook for, plan for, spend time with, teach, and much more.

I taught at three different schools.  One was your high income, top-notch school with parents who gave me a $500 budget when I began mid-year and told me to pick anything I wanted for my classroom.  Every Friday, parents brought us coffee/hot chocolate and donuts to our room during announcements.  75% of my students gave me gifts for Teacher Appreciate Week and even at Christmas when they only knew me for 3 days!  Then I taught at a low-income inner-city school.  A school that the state of Maryland’s Dept. of Education took over, let all teachers go, and hired a brand new staff.  A school where over 75% of the students received free lunch, a school where fights were daily, drugs was common, and most all my students had one parent, no parents, were in and out of foster homes, and even homeless.

I remember my first day at that school it was four years ago this August.  I called my husband at my lunch break and was ready to quit.  I already had a student throw a desk across my room and three get in my face and scream every cuss word possible.  But when I left that school, I was heartbroken to receive sweet letters from students about how much I meant to them, how much I cared, how much they learned from me.  Those letters, those students, those moments, make teaching one of the best jobs.

As your children go back to school, remember how much their teachers are giving up to teach your children, care for your children, and be responsible for your children while in her care.  She is your eyes and ears for 7-8 hours every day for the next 180 days.  She is giving up a lot of personal time and family time to plan for and prepare for her daily job to teach your children.  She is stressing over who is struggling with reading, who is in 8th grade math but still can’t add 8 + 6 without counting on their fingers, she is worrying about the students in a bad home situation or with no home, she is wondering when the state is going to “let go” those teachers not meeting a high enough passing rate on the state tests that are now changing due to the new Common Core Standards, and she is wondering when the government will pass a new budget to decrease her pay or cut more jobs.

To my teacher friends–thank you for your hard work.  Thank you for caring about the kids in your classrooms and for desiring to give them the best education you are allowed to give them.  Thank you for your hard work, all the time you sacrifice, and for the passion you have about education. You do this because you care, because we all know that after you pay for gas, classroom expenses out of your own pocket, and childcare (If you have small children), you bring home little to nothing!  To my homeschooling moms–You are a teacher who may not have as many students to take care of and plan for, but you are planning, preparing, and giving up other things to have the ability to teach your own children at home.  You are learning all over again as you teach your children.  You spend time researching curriculum, finding bargain deals on them, and preparing to teach multiple grade levels in the “One Room School House.”  You are wearing many hats–wife, mother, and teacher!

Now….let the school year begin!

2013 – 2014 Curriculum

If you follow all the wonderful Homeschool Blogs, you will know that this week is Curriculum week.  All the bloggers are posting what curriculum they are using for this school year.  The joy of homeschooling is that it can change each year and even in the middle of the year.  If something is not working, we stop, re-evaluate, and start again.  I Over the past six months, I have purchased a lot of curriculum and supplies.  However, I purchased them on sale, used, or a great prices!  Some things will be used this year and next year.  I cannot see Lenna-Grace getting through it all now. We are primarily doing Kindergarten work.  Therefore, I’m expecting us to take a year and half.  She may do well and we finish it in one school year.  Again…the joy of homeschool, if she is ready, we will do 1st grade next year!  If not, we will continue with the Kindergarten curriculum.

2013 – 2014 Curriculum
Lenna-Grace (4K/5K)
Phonics/Reading – All About Reading Level 1
Mathematics – Singapore 1A US Edition
Handwriting – A Reason for Handwriting K
Bible – Grapevine Traceable (Old Testament) and ABC Bible Verses book
Catechism Memory – Truth and Grace book
Memory Work – Classical Conversations (will post later about this)
Art – Draw Write Now
History, Science, and Geography – Sonlight P4/5 Readers (We purchased Sonlight Readers before deciding to do CC and when I thought I would be expecting another baby because of the amazing amount of literature and the ease of the Instructor’s Guide.  Instead of returning it, which I could, I opted to keep it for the reach literature and to supplement with it)

Zachary (Preschool)
Letter of the Week – Pre-Reading
Handwriting (he is my leftie) – Handwriting Without Tears My First School book

Zachary will do Bible and Art with Lenna-Grace as well.  He will also get to enjoy the Sonlight books.

I have planned our first six weeks fully.  I have also planned the Letter of the Week, Handwriting, Catechism, and Bible time for the year.  Why?  I tried to correlate them all.  I putting the Grapevine Studies with the Timeline we will be doing with CC.  Our memory verse will come from the ABC Bible Verses book and correlate with our Handwriting letter of the week and Zachary’s Letter of the Week Pre-Reading program.  Basically–we will be doing a Letter each week and the kids will be doing handwriting for that letter, a memory verse to go with it, and phonics (Zachary) for it.)

Kicking Off Our First Year!

I am super excited because August is here!  I guess technically we could have started our school year whenever we wanted; however, since Jamie goes to public school, it seemed best to tie our schedule with his.

Tomorrow is our Meet the Tutor event for Classical Conversations.  This is our first year homeschooling and we decided to join a CC community.  I was not really sure about it.  I thought it may be too early, but Lenna-Grace really wants to learn and go to school.  Going to CC once a week will be something she really enjoys.  Plus, you can never start to early with memory work I am sure!  I am also the tutor for her class.  I am very excited to be learning with her and working with the families in our class.  This will be an adventure for us both!

We are beginning our official “First Day” of school on August 19.  I plan on doing school work with Lenna-Grace at least three times a week (Monday, Thursday, and Friday).  Wednesday will be our CC days and Tuesdays I have Women’s Bible study at the church in the morning, so they will do childcare there.  The goal is to really work at her pace, but also teach her some discipline when it comes to education and learning already.  We may work for two hours straight through or we may do a couple of 30 minute intervals.

Why Start Now?

I know many homeschool families do not begin formal education at 4-years old.  I definitely do not think it is necessary.  However, Lenna-Grace is eager to learn.  Tonight while we were just sitting on the couch she brought me a book and wanted to work on “learning to read.”  Before I knew it, she was reading a sentence with little help.  She is ready to learn, wants to learn, and definitely able to learn.

What Are We Doing?

Lenna-Grace will be doing Classical Conversations (another post later) for memory work, phonics, handwriting, Catechism, Bible time, math, and then for any science and history we will be reading literature-based books together.

Zachary will be doing Letter of the Week for Pre-Reading skills, introductory handwriting concepts, and will do Bible and Catechism with us as well.

Dalton will be just enjoying whatever he can get into in the school room while we learn!  Probably throwing toys–his new favorite thing!

Why Is Jamie In Public School?

This is a great question everyone asks!  Jamie has been in public for years now!  Our goal is to homeschool him as well.  When we moved to Florida last March, he was homeschooled for about four months.  Jamie struggles with having all the little ones around while trying to work.  The noise and distractions really get to him.  And John is correct that it puts more of a strain on our relationship (mine and Jamie’s) than it did help him educationally.  However, we have been discussing homeschooling him next year when he begins high school.  I have been looking into various curriculums and options that would allow him to learn independently through reading (He is an AMAZING reader).  However, his teacher (who works with those with physical impairments) has spoken to me a lot about the local high school’s program for students similar to Jamie–where they work on more life skills and community involvement.  In fact, in 11th grade, they place in them (and take them and watch them) at a local business to learn job skills (like TJ Maxx, Public, etc).  Therefore, this is something we really have to discuss to see what is best for Jamie.

Homeschooling….let the journey begin

I am SOOO excited!  Why?  Because after researching the past year (maybe more), I have decided on my first really purchase of homeschool curriculum.  AND…it just shipped today!

Why Start Now?

I hear so many people say, “just let them play” until they are 6 or 7 years old.  While I do believe playing is a very vital part of young children’s education, I also believe structure needs to be taught early.  Children need to learn to sit and learn a little.  For Lenna-Grace, I will probably do “school” for 1.5 hours a day, but that may be broken up into three different 30 minute sessions.  PLUS…Lenna-Grace wants to “go to school” and has a passion for learning already!  So, why not now?

What Subjects and Why?

Lenna-Grace will be 4.5-years old in the fall and Zachary will be 3-years old.  I wanted to incorporate a lot of literature based learning.  My children love books and I want them to learn as much as possible by us reading together as a family  I want to be able to discuss what they are reading and dig deeper into it.  We will be doing Science, History/Geography, and Literature altogether through books.  By using books about history and science, we will explore more and do our own projects that tie in with the books.  Lenna-Grace is already great at basic math.  She can add and substract on her own.  So we will be doing math for sure!  She also knows all the sounds the letters make and can “sound out” a lot.  She writes all the letters and numbers.  So–phonics/reading/spelling and handwriting will also be covered.  And of course, we will do Bible time!

What Curriculum Did We Decide On?

I researched a lot and was torn about many things!  I loved the idea of doing my own curriculum and jusetting what was needed here and there, but this being our first “true homeschooling” year, I wanted a set  I am not a big fan of whole box sets with every subject in one company.  There’s just no way every company can get every curriculum for every subject right:)  I’m not a fan of online based schools–at least not for my children and their age.  Plus, I want to be very hands on at desk learning.  That’s not saying it is not right for some.  So–here’s our 2013-2014 Curriculum:

Sonlight Core 4/5  with K-readers- Literature, Language Arts, Science, and History/Geography
I searched a lot and debated between Sonlight and My Father’s World for a literature-based curriculum for Science and History.  I decided with Sonlight because it comse with everything—every book you need!  I liked the books in the program and that it was so heavy in literature.   I opted to do the K-readers to this Core because Lenna-Grace is beginning to learn to read already.  I thought this would simple be a great reinforcement.   Included in this core set are the following:

(6) books on World Cultures
(5) books for Science
(5) books for Language Arts
(11) books for Read-Alouds
(1) 101 Favorite Stories of The Bible
(4) Readiness Workbooks – Volume 1-4 of Developing the Early Learner
(1) Instructors Guide
(1) Language and thinking for Young Children (Basically early lang. arts workbook)
(1) My First Picture Dictionary
(1) Bingo game/cards/markers
(1) Go A to Z (Go Fish style game)
(1) Instructor Language Arts Guide
(27) Early Reader Books
(1) Explode the Code Kit (3 phonic workbooks and 1 teacher’s guide)

WOW…that’s a lot in one kit!  I can’t wait to dig into all this!

All About Reading/All About Spelling – Phonics Program
I have read amazing reviews about this program.  I debated between this and Sing, Spell, Read, Write.  I opted with this because I truly just liked the setup.  It was laid out well for the parent.  It seemed well-organized.  We purchased this about two months ago when I saw a coupon for it.  Here’s what we will be using:

  • All About Reading Level 1 – Lenna-Grace
  • All About Reading Pre-Reading – Zachary (this basic letter introduction and I just purchased the workbook, not the whole kit)
  • All About Spelling Level 1 – Lenna-Grace for Spring 2014

Handwriting Without Tears and A Reason for Handwriting
Yes, I did get both!  Why?  Well, HWOT is highly recommended for those not writing well and lefties!  We purchased this in January and have been using a lot of the resources in it.  I enjoy it a lot.  But Lenna-Grace may not need such structure as it has; therefore, I wanted to try the other because it is more traditional.  What do we have:

  • Handwriting Without Tears K – Lenna-Grace
    We have the matman, wooden letter pieces, K workbook, Wooden piece cards, mini chalkboards, little hands chalk, little hands crayons, little hands pencils, and the instructor guide.
  • Handwriting Without Tears My Frist School book – Zachary
  • A Reason for Handwriting Book K – Lenna-Grace

Here’s a great picture to see the different handwriting styles.  The one of the left is HWOT style (they teach with two lines instead of three to begin).  The one on the right is A Reason for Handwriting

withouttears  areason

handwriting3-line-handwriting-sample

Singapore Mathematics 1a/1b
Singapore has always been my choice for math!  Students in Asia rank we above American students and they must be doing something right!  I like the way Singapore teaches and it’s structure.  Of course, I amy find later on that it is not a good fit for Lenna-Grace.  We will see.  I picked the US Edition vs. the Standard Ed.  In the Standard Ed., the curriculum is aligned with California state standards and the infamous new Common Core Standards that many (and I am one) oppose.  This is more in line with how typical US students now learn.  The US edition is basically the Singapore edition because with our needs such as measurements and such.  And example would be this.  In the Standard Ed. (and in US school), students learn multiplication facts and all there is to it at one time.  Later, usually the next great, but sometimes a different chapter or semester, they learn division.  In the US Edition, the two are taught together.  After all, they go hand-in-hand.  If you learn what multiplication is, you are also learning division!

Why 1a/1b and not Kindergarten-Premath KA/KB?
Simple–it was not offered in the US Edition!  Basically, that is it.  I’m that against the Common Core Standards that I skip it!  And, I looked over the standards for both KA and 1A and I felt Lenna-Grace knew 75% that was taught in KA and KB.  So…why do it!

  • Singapore 1A
  • Singapore 1B (if she does well, we will do B.  If we go slow, she may just do 1A the first year and 1B for Kindergarten)
  • Addition, Substraction and Multiplication Memorization Music

Bible Time

I opted for a few things here.

  1. Truth and Grace – I have always known we would do the Catechism with our kids.  With True and Grace books, the kids will learn to memorize the Catechism, scripture, and hymns.
  2. Grapevine Studies – I am purchasing some of the Traceables to use for Art and Bible, which the kids will love!
  3. Family Time Bible – This has 128 stories from Scripture!
  4. Music CDs-Seeds of Courage and Seeds of Faith–these teach scripture through songs!  I love it!  Thanks, Jenny for recommended this!
  5. Poems and Prayers for Very Young
  6. ABC Bible

Physical Education-Family Time Fitness

What?  You are teaching PE?  Well, not exactly, but yes! Family Time Fitness has a great program to teach your children the important of moving!  It has a great set up and MANY activities to get your kids moving in structured activities.  I thought this was great.  Again, I had TWO coupons when I got this!  This will give us a lot of ideas of fun play time outside or inside.  Instead of just–go run around, we can do games and activities to get us moving!

What About Zachary?

While most the main learning will be for Lenna-Grace, Zachary will participate in school  Lenna-Grace did a lot of Letter of the Week curriculum that I will do with him.  He will work with shapes, colors, and numbers to get a better understanding.  I will be working with him on writing and basic motor skills (cutting, tracing, glueing, lasing, beading, etc.).  He will also learn with us with the literature books, calendar activities, etc.

Overall, I’m super excited and can’t wait!!