I see your box of toys and raise you….

Posted On April 2, 2011

Filed under Homeschool, Life

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We’ve never shared where Grace ‘is’ as far as Achievement testing…and we don’t really intend on sharing specifics. But, she has been tested for the last 2 years and both times passing our expectations of her knowledge! Every parent wants their child to be a savant, but when it comes down to it we all just want them to be ‘average’ or at least PASSING! We went in with that mindset both times she has taken the test. We would pray “Lord, please let her at LEAST pass. All we need is for her to be in the 25% for us to continue homeschooling. I promise we’ll do better next year!” I can laugh at the now…but to have your child sit in front of someone measuring their level of understanding really puts your own beliefs on the line.

*I* chose to homeschool my child. *I’m* the teacher. *I* chose what to teach her this year. *I* decided what to focus on and what to leave out. Did *I* do a good enough job? What if *I* have failed my child by not sending her to a public school? *I* feel like we’re making progress, but will the test show that? *I* have no one else to put the blame on. No one to hold accountable for her education. It’s *me*. All *me*.  And that’s scary.

Well, needless to say for the last 2 years Grace has tested ADVANCED in all of her subjects….UH, excluding punctuation! For the life of me I had no idea that in K she needed to be able to vocalize WHAT a period/question mark/coma does. We were focusing on learning letter sounds and blending! And this year…well, she was expected to proof read a paragraph (which included adding punctuation and correcting mis-spelled words). I’d like to add that we still write most things phonetically. She can read anything and loves to write. But spelling? Not so much! But we’re working on it!

Anyway…this weekend was the Midwest Homeschool Conference and Nick and I set out (by ourselves thanks to my Mom & Grandma who stayed with the kids) to find new curriculum for Grace (and even Trey this year who starts Pre-K 4 next school year).

Our first stop was Apologia Science.

A lot of people have suggested their “Astrology’ program as a great 1st starter book in their series. Well, we looked at the Astronomy and even though I was sold, Nick wasn’t. He preferred the Anatomy book. We debated for a while and after seeing the Junior work book I was sold (the Junior Astronomy book comes out next month…I still might pick it up!)

But!

I was worried that this might be too ‘advanced’ after seeing a parent buying a child Grace’s age a ‘Science curriculum’ that had a fun kitty cat on it and included 12 ‘experiments’. The child proudly looked at his parent and exclaimed “TOYS!” I uncomfortably looked down at my cool Anatomy book and back to Nicholas who also heard the conversation in front of us.

This kid was going to be putting rubber bands around an airplane to make it ‘fly’ and our daughter was going to be learning about how she can confuse her ‘somatic nervous system’ (responsible for voluntary movements) by crossing her hands in front of her and flipping them upside down and having someone point at a finger to see if she can make her mind move that finger  (really,  it’s harder than it sounds! and fun too!). But it made me start thinking about Grace and our expectations of her.

Nicholas and I take our job of teaching our children VERY seriously. They have a lot of educational activities that they do and educational games that they play, and we have fun with our lessons (probably more fun than we should have). But,  when it comes down to it, we expect our kids to rise above their level and to learn more. 12 fun experiments that teach ‘Newton’s Law’ might be fun, but Grace learned motion, mass, force, levers, pulleys and inertia when she was in Kindergarten.

Thankfully, Nicholas was right there next to me to assure me that we were making the better choice for our daughter. We can still do fun experiments with our curriculum, like make a jell-o mold of a cell using various candy and making a model of a diaphragm with a balloon and an empty bottle AND we bought a kit that can make 70 ~messy~ Science experiments (OUTSIDE) this summer!

My fears we’re put to rest when we got home tonight. Grace was eager to see what she was going to learn and when she started flipping through her new Anatomy & Physiology book there was a lot of “Cool!”, “Neat”, “That looks like fun!” and my favorite “Can we start now!?” *heart* She even went downstairs to her work table and brought up some fresh paper and a pen so that she could copy down words like ‘Hypothesis’ and ‘Mitochondria’ and then we looked up their meaning in our new book! 🙂

In the end, we made the right choice. Would she think a box with a cat on it filled with ‘toys’ is the best thing ever? Absolutely! But at the end of the year would she be any better for it? Would she have learned something new? Something more? We chose to homeschool to better our children!

So, little boy with your box of Science Toys….I see your toys and they look like fun, but I raise you….Nothing. You’re not my child. I’m raising children who are so excited to have a new Science book that they beg to start learning at 8:30 in the evening! :o) I’m proud of their achievements and I’m proud that Nicholas and I have the sense to see the potential in each of our kids and recognize that their educational foundation is worth more than a few ‘toys’ in a box.

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