Monday, June 21, 2010

Homeschooling Q & A ... Part 2

***The bold & highlighted words are links***

We are preparing for a big visit from our very special *friendslikefamily* this week and we plan on spending the next two weeks cramming as many memories as possible into each day and night.

I will still try and answer questions every couple of days and today I will answer a few from the comments in my original blog post.

Point of Rocks Park - Nature Walk
The questions were:

1.) Are our kids tested to make sure they are where they are supposed to be?
2.) Who monitors the testing?
3.) Is it a requirement?

The no-frills answer is:
1.) Yes - but not the typical standardized test
2.) Me :)
3.) Yes and No

The HEAV website has almost every bit of information about testing requirements.

Morefield Mines

To elaborate:

There are three statutes under which you may choose to homeschool in the state of Virginia.

Certified-Tutor Statue - no testing required

Homeschooling Statue (Notice of Intent) - testing required

We filed the Notice of Intent to Homeschool our children the first two years, before we were familiar with the Religious Exemption Statue and completed the required testing those years.

Religious Exemption Statue - no testing required

This is how we homeschool now.

I am not in complete agreement with the way HEAV interprets this statute because I do not believe that being "conscientiously opposed" as it states below, must equate to sin. Without question, Chris and I are convicted to homeschool and give our children a Christian education. And while that personal conviction does come from scripture, it does not extend to sin.

The actual statute § 22.1-254 (B)(1) states: A school board shall excuse from attendance at school: any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school. For purposes of this subdivision, "bona fide religious training or belief" does not include essentially political, sociological or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers has a bit more information about this statue.

So as I am STILL elaborating on Question Numero Uno ... we do *not* have our children tested to measure their grade level aptitude (as required by the State of VA if filing a Notice of Intent) but they are most certainly tested on the subjects that they are taking that year. I trust myself enough at this point as both their mother and their teacher to recognize deficits in their comprehension or even gaps in the curriculum.

Point of Rocks - "Snakes Are Our Friend"

However, I am not at all opposed to others who choose to do a standardized test to "see where their kids are at" or even establish good test-taking skills. I suppose all those elementary years in public school, with my girls acing the SOL's (after serious year-long memorizing studying) and then realizing that little of that information took root ... well, I guess I sort of lost my faith in that method of measuring success.

If at some point, I am asked to test my children and give an account of what they are learning, I will willingly concede. Once a child is a willing learner, I have found it is not difficult at all to study the given material (ie: teach to the test) and provide more than adequate results.

To complete the Q & A portion of this very-long winded post, here is a link for the testing options in Virginia. Some tests have restrictions for who can give them and others do not.

And FYI, because I found it interesting, here is a link for some of the requirements in other states. If the state is not listed it is because there are no requirements at all.

Colonial Williamsburg

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Homeschooling Q & A ... Part 1

I love the questions! I love to talk homeschooling but I usually am not asked these sorts of questions in the right situation or with the time to deliberate and answer with care.

I think the best way to approach this is one bite at a time ... especially if I am aiming for consistency. And since brevity is not my gift, I think one question will more than take up precious time! Grab something caffeinated because I can feel the words multiplying.

Homeschooling girlfriends (or any of my girlfriends!) who want to chime in, please do so in the comments! It makes this whole process way more interesting and engaging :)

And be forewarned if you are new to my wordy blog. I get to the point, but I always go the long way ...

A young mom from our church, asked this question on Facebook about her daughter, who is almost three years old:

"How do I get started? Do I jump in and buy a preschool/kindergarten curriculum?"

Well first let me say, you've already jumped the biggest hurdle! Standing in the sea of indecision about whether to homeschool or not can be quite daunting. Being confident about how you will educate your children is crucial in moving forward towards the challenging but exciting part ... choosing curriculum!

Now that you are committed, the options are endless and overwhelming if you consider all that is available to homeschoolers today. I am not seasoned enough to tell anyone what the best method is but I would love to tell you what my method was.

I read.

I read books and blogs (still do) until my eyes crossed. I made consensus after consensus on the styles of homeschooling and within those styles the curriculum that followed. Because I had 3 children with a 4th on the way when we made this decision and my two oldest were 10 & 12, I had to prioritize according to the needs of my oldest two. Samuel was 4 years old and we did almost nothing that was structured academically for him that year.

Unless you count the days with him dressed as Mr. Incredible with a shovel, helping the men who built the addition to our house. I suppose that was some sort of vocational training, right?

If he was my only child or even my oldest child I am certain that I would have done things much differently. However, waiting until he was the traditional kindergarten age did not hinder him in the least bit. As a matter of fact, we started his first year of schooling at age 5 (two years ago) without the ability to recognize the complete alphabet. Last month he completed his 1st grade curriculum and is reading a couple grade levels higher than that.

No horn-tooting or back-patting here, just a reminder that the "when" is much less important than the "what". And by the "what" I mean coupling a good phonics program with an awesome amount of plain ol' reading. I have had friends use expensive programs like this and have failure and had other friends use this simple program with great success. I just have a hard time giving one particular method the thumbs up when I know that reading can be taught so many different ways.

Still, I love to talk curriculum and here is a list of what I've used over the last two years:

Sonlight - K (Language Arts)
Explode the Code
Kumon Workbooks (great for preschoolers!)
Pathway Readers
ClickN Read & ClickN Spell
(I do really love this program and the versatility of being at the computer)
Saxon Math - K
Saxon Math- 1st Grade
Handwriting Without Tears
Leading Little Ones to God
Draw to Learn - The Book of Proverbs
Draw to Learn - The Letters of Paul
*The Draw to Learn series are from the Notgrass Company

Of course I didn't use all of these at once. We are still working through the Draw to Learn books as part of our morning circle time together. We alternated Click n Kids with the Pathway Readers. I used the Kumon workbooks more during his preschool and Kindergarten years. Sonlight was my guide the first year and I really love their recommendations for reading but I have never bought the entire package.

This year we are adding the Answers in Genesis Science curriculum, Adventures in My Father's World 2nd grade (History, Music, Bible, Art, Science ... all in one!), Horizons Math (this is a change from Saxon) and Rod & Staff Grammar.

Now, if I felt like I was ready to teach a preschooler in a structured way, these are the resources where I would start:

Heart of Dakota - Little Hands to Heaven
My Father's World - Toddler & Preschool Package
Sonlight - Preschool 3/4 Core Package (even if you just looked at the book ideas and checked them out from the library)

Language and Thinking for Young Children has a lot of wonderful ideas for little folks that I wouldn't have thought of, even though they are very simple projects for all different age groups.

Find a support group in your area because the resources are plentiful and connecting with other homeschoolers is a great encouragement! I don't mind sending links to my favorite blogs but I hated to do that here and forget someone.

Stay tuned for more Q & A and please feel free to ask anything!


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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Q & A post is coming ... I promise!

Great questions so far! I plan on posting the answers in multiple posts. We have precious friends visiting today and tomorrow from out of town so I didn't want you to think I was a slacker ;)

Have a wonderful day!

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Homeschooling Q & A

I would really like to do a Q & A post about homeschooling. I have been asked a number of questions over the last few years since we began educating our children at home ... some really good questions, some really strange questions and at times even some really rude questions.

But regardless, I know that these same questions are those that many people have about homeschooling and all that goes with it. I have posted this on facebook as well so people can comment here anonymously.

My hope is to be able to talk about homeschooling in a very real way ... I was intrigued for years but never found a homeschooler that was willing to be open and address my questions, concerns, and even fears. Once we felt called to commit to this I realized how many misconceptions had already formed in my own mind!

I still have a lot to learn but I have found that the best way for me to learn anything is ask :) Here's hoping that your questions serve us both in that process! Blessings!

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Locks of Love

Emma decided last fall to grow her hair out for Locks of Love and after her dance recital in May she did just that!

I had become quite fond of it.

She, however, had no attachment whatsoever.

I might have started feeling sick at this point.


I think she likes watching me sweat.

She has the most amazing, silky, soft hair.
Hair to die for.
Hair to kill for.
Hair to grow to your rear-end while singing, "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue?"

I think Crystal had some nice hair, ya'll.

But now someone else has Emma's amazing, silky, soft hair.
And that makes my blue eyes fill up with tears.

My sweet mother was my age when she did not have a single hair on her head, fighting for her life. I remember shaving it myself in the hospital ... leaving long bangs in the front and nothing in the back just so we could laugh about it to keep from crying.

Then cutting the bangs and crying ... but not about her hair.
We cried a lot those days.

Oh, my heart seldom visits those moments because they elicit such a dark and sad feeling in my soul and a place that even seems like may be deeper than my soul because it doesn't even feel like part of me ... like it is so lonely and hollow that I can't even attach myself to it because it makes my chest hurt and I can't breathe.

Still, after 18 years.

But what brings me back is the miraculous work of God, who even then, knew this precious child with a head full of raven silk ... and He knew what solace she would bring to one of these dark moments.

Only God can marry moments like these and paint a picture like this ...

Emma plans on growing her hair out at the end of summer
and donating again next year :)

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Friday, June 04, 2010

Samuel's First Piano Recital

Sam had his very first recital last night ... and he did a lovely job :) After his first song he was a little confused about the sequence of events and hopped up to head back to his seat.

He still had two more pieces to play.

His teacher gently encouraged him while I hollered (with dignity) from the back of the room, "YOU'RE NOT DONE YET SAMUEL!!!"

And then I straightened my shirt, sat down, and continued to sweat profusely.

The combination of having my first boy-child play piano for a group of strangers AND the joy of sitting in a turn-of-the-century charming little home with no air conditioning was a recipe for a HEAT STROKE.

But we all survived (babies included) and enjoyed a sweet time of ice cream afterwards while our piano playing young men ran their wiggles out.

"Sweetly Sings The Donkey"
"Oh, How I Love Jesus"
"Star Wars"

Ice cream ... note the girls socializing with everyone
eating their ice cream and hoping no one notices them.

Ahhh. The beloved water feature.
Every mother-of-boys worst nightmare.

I will taunt my mother whose clothes are
already drenched with sweat and see if I can
bring about a full-on nervous breakdown.

It's that face that buys this boy more time
here on earth.

Same for this one.


Samuel & Mrs. Townsend

Wiggles Removal

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I was scrolling through my blog trying to find a picture and was overcome by how much time has passed since I started blogging. So many changes these last four years.

I have never thought about *not blogging* but it appears that is exactly what has happened. It's easy to jot down a quick note on Facebook and upload some pics for family and friends but I so miss sharing my heart and journaling our lives here.

The posts may be quick and still very inconsistent but here goes another attempt at writing down pieces of our little lives.

For now I'll leave you with this:

She is 7 -months old.

She is an incredibly fast belly-scooching machine.

Yep. She's rotten ... and we are lovin' every stinkin' minute of it.

Get back with me in another year ;)

Her hair is just about gone. I have cut it several times.

Well, I mean I have cut the 13 hairs that are 13 inches long.

Yep. She's rotten ... And it's bound to get worse.

Benjamin LOVES Pblaarah very much.

Samuel has finally gotten brave enough to hold her standing up.

Emma tried to sneak her in her bed one night (she said they were telling secrets).

Hannah gets caught rocking her to sleep or letting her fall asleep on her chest.

I'm telling ya, it's a good gig to be a Voiles baby ;)

I've got it bad, too.

I can smell her head just looking at this picture ... can't you?

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