Though we've been doing school intermittently this summer to make up for the lost days surrounding our big move, I'm calling this our first official week of school. Here's how it's going:
Liam, our "school hater" is in better spirits these days because he's "not the only one doing school now." He grins and bears it because he doesn't like the consequences when he torments his mother with his attitude and antics.
That child is an extremely smart boy. He just resents being forced to sit and learn stuff that even smells like it could be "school." I have no idea where he gets that from. His parents aren't rebellious like that at all (a sarcasm font would be useful right about now).
Doing school with Liam has improved drastically since moving to FL. We used to get so frustrated with each other and we hated that. I knew what was creating some of it, but I couldn't improve it much while living in the "Communist Republic of NY" as Ralph so affectionately calls it.
In FL, we don't HAVE to do "x" amount of required subjects and complete 80% of all of them before "y" date. The student just needs to be progressing. Though we are doing most of what we did in NY, I no longer have the added stress of having to keep in touch with the local school multiple times a year. The photo below describes how I felt about that.
Devin, being the loyal and faithful brother that he is to Liam, was approaching school the same way. He would give me a hard time about starting school. However, once he was doing it, I saw a noticeable difference in his attitude towards learning. He liked it, but didn't realize it yet.
Recently, while doing his "Ready to Read" Gather Round curriculum, he said to me, "mom, aren't you glad I'm not giving you a hard time? That's because I actually like this!" And he told Liam another time, "I don't mind school. I want to learn how to read." Praise the Lord.
Maybe you caught that he's not reading yet. That's because my focus last school year with Devin was not on teaching him how to read. My priority was his speech. His older brother talks so well and fast, that Devin was just trying to keep up, but was compromising on how to pronounce letters and words correctly. I knew the older he got, the harder it would be for him to correct it.
I never sat him down or set aside time to do speech time. My method was simple. When Devin talked, I would stop him to correct him. Every time. It was tiring for both of us, but it did the trick. We focused on only one thing until he almost had it mastered. I didn't overwhelm him with every thing that he was saying wrong. We did this for at least nine months and his speech has improved dramatically.
And Connor. Our funny little spitfire of a toddler usually plays with sand at the table while I'm doing school with his older brothers. Recently though, he started pulling on me and said, "Mom, I want to do school! I want to do letters! I want to do cutting and pasting!" I was so surprised. I've got one ASKING to do school! So we bought him a pre-k and cutting and pasting book for “school."
That one is a little sponge. The other day, I asked Liam, "now was that comparing or contrasting?" Before Liam could even answer, Connor shouted, "CONTRASTING!" and he was right. Probably a lucky guess, but the point is how much that little man is listening.
He definitely has his numbers down and can identify most of the capital letters. I feel like we haven't taken that much time teaching him these things for him to know them so well already. He has obviously been listening to me teaching his brothers and wants to learn, too. I'll take it.
My priority has been and will continue to be teaching them the Word of God. Why? Because it's through the studying of The Bible that they will understand who God is, what his heart is, his purpose for them and for the world. They learn why they’re made and gifted the way that they are. They learn how to deeply love people, including the people in their own household and those that look or act different from us.
Through reading the Word with them, they see what honesty and dishonesty looks like and the consequences of both. They learn how NOT to be lazy or act foolish. They will be able to discern both the activity of God and Satan in the world. They see that everything is not about them, that they aren't supposed to get everything they've ever hoped for, and how to be at peace with that. They learn about forgiveness and how not to harbor bitterness or envy.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that the world needs more of all of that. If our boys can learn those things well and apply them, they will have much success no matter what direction they choose to go in as adults. And I will probably look back on this season grateful that I took more time to teach on forgiveness than on linking verbs (though I did make up a fun song and dance about those to help them remember it).
"School" in our home is important, but not as important as our children souls.
(Unbeknownst to me, my sister captured this on Easter morning while visiting. When it comes to parenting, nothing brings me more joy than teaching my children about Jesus).