Enough is Enough – The Flip to Fun-Schooling

When I began my homeschooling journey two years ago, I honestly had no idea of what homeschooling should look like. I had not witnessed in any real fashion, what homeschooling truly was. I had heard talk of curriculums and Co-ops. I had met friends who homeschooled and their children seemed full of life and excited about their education. I had a lot of preconceived ideas and images in my mind but none of them have truly been accurate.

I, like so many others who have gone before me, became obsessed with making sure that I was giving my child the best education he could possibly  have. Never once asking some very valid and important questions in the beginning. Questions such as: How does my son learn? What does my son love to learn about? What are my sons strengths and weaknesses? What does my son envision doing with his life? What are my sons passions? These are all wonderful questions to ask but in kindergarten I did not think that these questions would apply. After all, he was only five years old. How was he supposed to know what he loves to learn about or what he is passionate about? He hadn’t even yet come to understand such words as passion or learning styles.

How very wrong I was.

Had I taken the time to really look at my son and watch as his life taught him, I might have been able to catch glimpses of some very valuable and important hints that answered these questions. Hints like the way he could sit for hours and watch and learn about anything pertaining to space, how he loved to play Minecraft even though he was still learning to navigate such a game, how he loved for me to read to him, how he loved books in general for that matter. In addition to these things, my son had a great attention span but he would also get restless if he sat for too long doing one thing. While watching television, he also needed to have something in his hands whether it was crayons drawing a story image from his mind, the trains he would chug along the wooden tracks, or legos to build towers with. His mind never stopped working and wondering and questioning.

What exactly led me to believe that my creative and explorative sweet boy would be satisfied sitting at a desk for 5+ hours a day doing worksheet after worksheet and tests and special writing projects I honestly have no idea. Perhaps it was my images of the classrooms I grew up in – the very classrooms that in so many ways made me feel inferior and often snuffed out my creative sparks. Perhaps it was the need to mold to what the world around me deemed as the right kind of education for my child – the very mold that has often and in many ways forgotten that my child doesn’t learn the same way that 25-30 other students do. Perhaps it was the need to  prove to my terrified self that I would not fail – the need to prove I was good enough, worthy enough to truly educate my son. Perhaps it was all the above and so much more. Whatever led me to this very wrong assumption, it was certainly from a place of my own insecurity rather than the confidence in understanding my son and the calling God had given me to homeschool.

in just two years time, I had taken my sweet and incredibly smart boy who created his very own goals for kindergarten, who loved to learn and explore, who couldn’t wait to start school with Mommy and I had begun to transform him into a child who just wanted to get the worksheets done so he didn’t have to think about them anymore, who wanted to just stay in his room to avoid having to do another boring and long day of the exact same work he had been doing for weeks on end. He lost his desire to explore the world around him, he lost the excitement of new lessons. The only time I would even see a spark of joy was when we sat aside his regular work and did just a fun Science Day or we watched an educational video or just spent time reading. He would retain information like a sponge and his questions and his reasoning blew me away. Then once we returned back to our regular work, all the light was gone. There was only a dim expression from a small boy who just wanted to LIVE his education. He just wanted to learn about things that he could use in his every day life. He wanted to learn Math but not the same concepts over and over that he already knew. He would beg with me to do something different but I refused because we had a curriculum and he was a “Straight A” student. We were showing our family, friends and community that homeschool works.

Except for when it wasn’t. Which was basically every day.

Even as I type these words, my heart grieves. You see, I was homeschooling to prove I could do it. I was homeschooling to make sure my son met the world’s standards of intelligent and educated. I was homeschooling the very opposite way that God had intended and I had failed my son and forgotten him amidst my daily lesson plans and test planning and extra writing assignments. I was literally killing my son’s creative vision and joy for learning. I was taking from him his spirit and passion. All to fit a mold. All to fit my own need to be enough.

Over the last few months, I have spend many nights in tears, exhausted from the overwhelming struggle to get anything done. The stress of balancing my son’s school work load, an infant, two dogs, my household chores and all the other responsibilities I had resting upon me. I kept asking God for help and all I kept hearing was, “Let it all go.”

“Let it all go? Are you kidding me? I have worked SO HARD to hold this all together”, I told the Lord with desperation and disgust in my voice. “I have spent hours planning, I have bought this incredible curriculum, I have worked endlessly to make sure he gets every last bit of it done and I kill myself to catch up when he falls behind. You want me to just LET GO?!?!?!?!?!”

And His reply: “Yes. Just like that. LET IT ALL GO.”

Either God had lost His mind or I had and I think we all know the answer here. So, after months and weeks of arguing, constantly struggling with throwing our curriculum to the wind and then running back to gather it up again and try to figure out how we could catch up, I found myself again on my knees this past weekend. Tearfully, I laid in my bed and listened as my mind told me I was a failure. Wept as I convinced myself that I was not enough. I was not adequate. That the problem was me.

And suddenly I heard, “The problem IS you. You refuse to listen to me and  just let go. My child…just let go. I promise you I have a plan.”

In mostly desperation mixed with a lot of exhaustion and anger I finally agreed and I fell asleep. I slept so soundly that night and that one night only might I add. (Thanks Little Miss M.) When I awoke Monday morning, I felt this determination to change. I felt this need to give my homeschool back to God. So I did and then I walked into our homeschool room that morning, walked over to our shelf with ALL of our curriculum and teacher texts and I gathered them all up (minus Arithmetic and Handwriting) and I packed them up.

I PACKED THEM UP! Put them away in the closet and then I turned to my son who was now standing behind me with wide eyes and said, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”

Confusion was definitely very apparent at this point. He had a lot of questions. Was he in trouble? Was I sick? Was he having to go to public school (I must admit that the gasp and look of horror when he asked this had me laughing for a good 10 minutes.) Was I in trouble? Was I going crazy? What was happening? Each question received the same answer of no with a giggle.

I told him we were going to build something for school work. He looked at me shocked but ran to get his blocks before I changed my mind. We built a whole cabin. Then I told him he could play in his room for bit. He again, looked at me with this strange look of shock surely thinking something was going on but again, darted up the stairs before I changed my mind. After that we did one sheet of Math which he finished in just under 10 minutes front and back and then I told him he could pick a book to read.

The freedom to read a book he enjoyed rather than from the assigned readers lit his face up with delight. He read for almost 45 minutes. I had to STOP him to get ready for us to go to the store. He was sorely disappointed.

We had a very relaxed and minimal day of school and we spent the night watching Christmas movies and laughing together. It was glorious. Right up until, I tucked my son in bed and went down to the homeschool room to respond to some emails. As soon as I walked in, the closet seemed to be all I could focus on and my mind was racing. What was I thinking? I couldn’t just not use the curriculum we paid for! I couldn’t just throw it aside and be done with it! Had I lost my mind? Yes. I had lost my mind. I literally got up from my chair and darted to the closet to reach up and grab the basket of curriculum but instead I got smacked, literally, in the head with a Fun-Schooling Journal I had tucked away in the closet for “fun time”. I rubbed my head and then started to grab it to toss it back up into the closet and then I stopped.

See, over the last few months I had become obsessed with this Fun-Schooling method. I spent hours researching it, reading the reviews, and scouring over the endless amounts of journals I found on Amazon. I secretly dreamed of this method of schooling in our own home. I thought it must be heaven to be able to just teach your child that way with no guilt. How I envied the author of these journals. She seemed to teach her children with ease because they were in essence, teaching themselves. How could she school this way and be confident in it? Again, tears began to well up in my eyes as I heard my Father speak to me, “My child. When will you learn that you are enough? You asked for a plan, a way and here it is.”

I sat in the middle of my floor and began to scour over the journal. I thought about the things that Mister M might explore with this small, fun journal. I thought about the things I had been seeing online and the review I had recently given on my homeschool group page encouraging others to use them. Why was I not fully using it myself? And then I flipped to the beginning of the book and there scrawled on the page was a list of things Maximus had written that he wanted to learn about:

  1. Who were the 10 generations of the Bible that came after Jubal and Tubal-Cain?
  2. Small dinosaurs.
  3. How the human body works.
  4. Volcanoes.

And I was instantly certain this was God. No looking back. I closed the closet and said, “God, I am giving you my homeschool. Every detail. I am taking a HUGE risk here. I am not even consulting my husband so please forgive me but I am trusting you and I am going to do this. No more full ABeka. No more hours on end of insanely repetitive work. I am going to let you show me how to teach my son. I am letting go. Completely.”

And I did.

Now, I cannot tell you how this story ends because, well, it is just beginning but I can tell you that when we let go and just let God work through us, the ending is usually pretty stellar. I can’t tell you I am not going to struggle along the way but I can tell you that I serve a God who is already in that struggle waiting to help us walk through it with grace and mercy.

And, so begins our Fun-Schooling journey. We will keep only our Arithmetic workbook and writing workbook as he was learning to write cursive but that too will be replaced with the Fun-Schooling “Creative Comic Book Cursive and Spelling: Do It Yourself Journal” as soon as I am able to purchase it.

I am going to take back my homeschool for God and for my sanity. I am going to let my son be the creative, outside the box learner he is and I am going to stop trying to meet a standard I was never meant to chase after. That cycle stops here for me and my children. We are all enough and this is OUR journey. Just as I tell my homeschool group every single week almost, “The curriculum doesn’t rule me, I rule the curriculum”.

I can’t wait to share our journey with you more regularly and I cannot wait to encourage other Moms to just let go and let their children learn and explore outside the confines of what the world says is best. This is our home, this is our school, these are our children and we can choose to say enough is enough and do it the better way. The fun way. The Fun-Schooling way.

It’s never too late to flip your homeschool upside down and start fresh. Never.

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy Delgado, The newest member of the Fun-Schooling Moms Club ❤

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Learning to Breathe

We have been in a season. (Then again, who hasn’t been lately right?)

It’s been so tiring and at times I have found myself questioning so many things about our homeschool journey, about all the changes we have been experiencing, and well, just  about LIFE.

To say I am tired is an incredible understatement and yet through all that exhaustion and strain, I feel so incredibly blessed.

The last few months with Mister M have been such a very difficult navigation in regards to our homeschool. Between Mister O leaving for 30 days in February and then him coming home just as we are preparing our house to move and then us actually making that big move to a whole new state, city and life, our son has had a tremendously difficult time adjusting.

I should have anticipated it. I should have prepared myself for it. I should have been interceding in advance for it but I didn’t. I was consumed. I was overwhelmingly consumed with packing and planning and traveling and moving and adjusting all on my own. I was struggling physically, emotionally; I forgot all about the littlest member of my family and all that he was going to have to leave behind this time during a season of his life that he could actually understand and would remember. The impacts of that were profound. For the first time, he had developed real friendships. He had real communities of involvement. All of his known memories were from the place we had to leave behind and his heart was struggling and this Type A Mamma, in the midst of all she had to do and take care of, missed it.

So from February until the beginning of this month, we were barely able to get ANY school work done. We had to adjust our school calendar and add days. I know. I know. Most of you are saying, “You don’t have to do that. Just give him a break.” And the truth is, we did have a break. Almost two months of break. I couldn’t do it. He couldn’t do it. We were in burnout mode without either of us really understanding that was what it was. As we came into May, I was determined for us to be back on routine. I was determined for us to prevail and go back to life and all that we do. I was naive enough to think it was that simple.

So I dove head first; back to the grind and to all the worksheets, the projects, the reading. All of our rigid routines. I forced him into that classroom and I said, “We ARE doing this. No more excuses. Huge and pregnant and out of breath or not, we are FINISHING all of our school work and we will do it with determination.”

I am sure at this point, inside my sweet 7 year old’s mind, he was thinking, “Ughhhhh. Mommy, I need you. Can’t you see I need you to see that I literally cannot do this? I literally cannot handle one more thing? Don’t you see that I am hurting Mommy? You aren’t the only one who misses friends and feels lost and displaced. I miss my whole world. Why can’t you see that Mommy?”

But he didn’t speak those words out loud so I naively thought he was fine. After all, they say kids are resilient right?

WRONG.

They can be. They sometimes are but life affects them just as much as they do us and yes they are resilient over time but sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they also hurt and feel and grieve just as we do. Sometimes they experience the same types of struggles and frustrations that we do so how is it we so easily forget and overlook that and just expect them to adapt and adjust without question or struggle?

So, with my determination we dove in and it was ROUGH. Every day was an exhausting struggle. We were schooling ALL day long because I, in my stubborn ways, refused to let him not complete EVERYTHING that was outlined for him to do. Some days I cried. Some days he probably cried too. It was bad. I mean REALLY bad.

And then it happened. He woke up one Friday morning that first week of May and everything came flowing from out of his mind, through his mouth and into my shocked world.

My precious little man woke up with tears and began to tell me how much he had been hurting. He missed his best friend. He missed our old house. He missed our old Co-op. He missed our life. Why did we have to move here? Why couldn’t we just have stayed and why, WHY, WHY, WHY did we have to have another baby and why did I have to have a GIRL!!!!!!!

And then it hit me like a tidal wave.

I had failed to see the single most important detail of them all. In the  midst of already overwhelming situations and transitions, we were adding an entirely more intense change: we were bringing a little sister into this family.

Until this point, Mister M has been the baby and with his sisters staying in Arkansas, he has been an only child from age 3 to now. All of his memories are mostly compiled of him being the entire center of the universe. Every activity, every thing we do has been centered around his little world. How on earth had I not paused to think that while he said he was excited for a baby that he might also be so terrified of a baby coming?

I felt like such a failure in that moment. I was stunned and unsure of how to speak so instead, I sat down on the bed, I pulled him close and I let him cry for a moment. I let him get out all his thoughts which included asking me, “Will you still love me the same? Will you still have time for me? Do you still want me to be a part of the family?”

My heart was crushing a little more with each question and I lovingly and calmly shed some of my own tears as we talked about what bringing Little Miss M into the family would be like. We talked about fears. We talked about changes. We talked about what might happen and what to expect. We also talked about how hard it might be but how good it would be. And then I did something I never do. I did what I honestly never thought I would be able to do given my issue with needing routines and plans and schedules.

I looked at my little guy and said, “How about we set aside school today and we just spend some time doing whatever it is YOU want to do today.”

His look of total shock said it all. “Really?? But what about  my worksheets? What about my reading? Won’t Daddy get mad at me?” To which I shockingly (to both myself and him) responded, “It all can wait. Today, we just need to enjoy being together.”

So, that’s exactly what we did. I put aside my routine and our schedule and we spent the day curled up under blankets watching movies and reading together and playing Uno. We laughed and we talked about lots of things and we got through the meltdown and by the end of the day, I had a different little guy.

The next week, we went back to homeschool but I approached it all with a different mindset. I approached it from the  mindset of what does my SON need to take from today and how does he need to take it in his current season. I tweaked how we are doing our schedule and began to incorporate breaks where we pause and play games or watch an educational show. I began to evaluate all his busy work because honestly, my son was doing SO much written work and worksheets that he made public school homework and classwork look like nothing. I asked myself what is most important? I shifted my focus and BAM.

It happened.

We overcame and we began to flow into our beautiful routine again. Don’t get me wrong, he still has a workload because that’s just how we work things, what his curriculum requires and he does so well with it. But we changed HOW we are doing the work and HOW we approach it and it has been so freeing. Some days we do his writing worksheets while other days I have him write letters to a friend or family member or write a story of his choosing in his writing journal. We did away with our Arithmetic Speed Drill worksheets and started doing flashcards together instead. Trust me when I tell you this made a big difference. He does two sheets of Math a day for his lessons and then when you add a 60 second timed Speed Drill worksheet on top of it, you find yourself with a kid who isn’t so much loving Math that day. We started doing reading first thing in the mornings because he loves to read and I changed the order of what we do when and it has been so refreshing.

While I know deep down, this won’t mean that he isn’t feeling the sting of his homesickness still, I know that he sees that I can recognize when he needs a time out. He knows I see that he isn’t just some robot that can handle and do whatever we say without any emotion or feeling. I know he knows how much I care because I cared enough to finally say, “Okay. Maybe I need to change things. Maybe you need a MOM right now, more than a teacher.” And suddenly, he is back to loving his learning experiences and being determined to keep his “straight A” status.

We have to school until almost July this year and then will take our “Summer break” until the beginning of September and that’s okay. We will finish our work. We will learn and laugh and we will do it all together. Taking those months off during all those changes wasn’t something I planned, it wasn’t something I wanted but I believe with all my heart and soul it was exactly what God had planned because He knew what was coming and how it was going to affect our little guy.

Life is hard. Sometimes, we miss things but it teaches us that sometimes, we have to stop long enough to see that something isn’t quite working and we need to readjust our focus. Homeschool is a beautiful journey for so many reasons but one of the very most important ones that I can think of is that it gives us the ability to see when our children are hurting, to allow ourselves grace to say that we need a break and to take it. Right then and there. We aren’t having to pace it just like everyone else. We can and if it works we do but sometimes, life happens and we need to let ourselves deal with it.

I am so thankful for a God who always reveals in the perfect time what is needed and helps us to realign our priorities and our life. I love that He gives us teachable moments when we least expect them even if they aren’t always easy or fun but most of all,  I love that I get to have this journey. I love that I get to love my children all day every day, that I get to be both their Mom and their educator and that I get to do it in a way that impacts them in every way possible.

This journey is beautiful and it is a blessing but sometimes I just have to take a deep breath, pause and remember that I am first a Mom and second a teacher.

We all are.

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy ❤

Homeschool in the Raw…

Some days, I imagine that my homeschool must seem so blissful from the outside glancing in. All the cute images of our assignments and successful moments; posted for our family and friends to see and sometimes, here in this place, for the world to view.

It is probably unfair really because I don’t paint a fully accurate image of what homeschool is like for us. However,  I never want to do that. Rather, I want to have open and honest conversations with other homeschooling Moms doing life and homeschool and every thing in between all over the world. That’s my hope; that this little place of “sanity” and “bless” for me will become a place where women from all around the world come together to have real, open, and honest conversations about life and homeschool. No longer just glancing at each other’s highlighted moments and wishing ours looked similar.

For The Delgado Clan, homeschool is serious business. Sometimes too serious. I understand this. At times, I do very much treat our little “classroom” much like a public school classroom. There is rigorous work involved, in-depth expectations and rules and procedures that are to be strictly adhered to. This works for us. It doesn’t for everyone and we understand that but for us, it is something we do within our family because we want our children to be able to handle rules without breaking them, deadlines without missing them, and tests without panic. But there are also moments of laughter, creative learning done on our couch, or even television allowed on in the background during seat work assignments (this is a HUGELY special treat.)

It is also flexibility. It is the understanding that while I have a whole of expectations and goals in mind, some of them may turn out to be quite unrealistic or not what is best for our children or family. I have to constantly check what I am doing and ask, “Lord is this the best way?” “Father, show me how I can shape this differently. Show me what to do with this Lord.” There are many, many, many, MANY moments in which I am sitting at my desk, hands over my face, tears streaming down my cheeks, uttering the only prayer I can manage, “Lord, help me. I am overwhelmed.” Just those few words release the stress and burdens I sometimes carry as wife, mother, nurse, cook, chauffeur, cook, maid, seamstress, Child of a King, college student and so much more. I have a lot of hats. I wear them almost daily all at once and it is sometimes messy and chaotic, while other times, it is beautiful and orderly. And the truth is, I love it all regardless of which category it falls under that day.

Homeschool is serious business yes but it is also a growing experience. It is a constant learning curve in which I have to reevaluate all that I think and know about learning and teaching as a parent. It is not always pretty but most of the time it is exquisite and extraordinary. Much of the world watches those of us who homeschool and try to place us into these neat little boxes of stereotypes but bless our souls, our homeschool does not fit those stereotypes. Not even a little. And that is probably what I love most about “The Delgado Learning Academy.”

There is learning. There is love. There is faith. There is discipline. There is grace. There are tests and deadlines, work that brings out: “But I don’t LIKE school.” and there are assignments that bring perfect scores. There are moments where it seems too easy and moments when I feel I am about to pull out my hair from repeating the EXACT SAME SENTENCE 25 times in less than 10 seconds. There are lessons that go perfectly and right on schedule and lessons that drag until 2:00 in the afternoon. There is morning school and then sometimes there is afternoon school and every once in a blue moon, there is night school. (I just cringed a bit even as I typed those last two words.)

For the most part, we are extremely routine but sometimes life does not care about my routine or schedule. It throws sickness, stress, emergencies and much more at me 24-7 and yet, homeschool must go on. It is kind of similar to marriage: “In sickness and in health.” because nobody likes those treacherous makeup days. Yes. We make up days. We have sick days and vacation days and holidays but we still want to get in our correct amount of days and we want our children, just because it is our type of homeschool, to still be able to go into the world and feel like they received the same level of education as their public schooled peers.

And the truth is, they will. They will because I am giving them 100% of everything I have just like all the educators I know do. They are getting hours of planned lessons and constant care and love in the process and it’s a beautiful thing. Homeschool in the raw for us means days like today when my son just did not want to do his Writing Test. It wasn’t difficult. It wasn’t even requiring that He have to write something creative, it was a simple matter of sitting at his desk and carefully write three of each of the five vowels. Simple right? Not today. Today, my son “did not even like to write” and he “did not even think school was necessary.” and today, “school is ridiculously hard”. (Palm to forehead. Someone may have gotten their dramatic side from someone I may or may not know.)

So, being completely raw and real with you right now, I gave my son a C. Yep. A 70%. (I secretly wanted to give him a BIG HUGE “F” after all that mess but chose to extend some grace because he did do the work.) Sure, I could have given him an A for effort or a B for at least getting it done but I didn’t. I gave him a C because, well, they weren’t absolutely horrible but He did not give his best effort. He did not even ATTEMPT to try to do them with his best effort. I know he is six and I know that his handwriting is going to be all over the place at this age but I just cannot settle for that lack of effort and let my son think that is okay. It’s not. Not when I KNOW he can at least try to do better.

So today looked a lot like a teacher, calling the parent for a conference when my husband came home. (Yep. We do those too. Every Progress report gets a “parent teacher conference”. I am a little over the top. I know this.) It looked a lot like a sick Momma trying to get  a small boy that has more energy than an entire planet to sit still and take one silly little writing test. It looked a lot like me repeating the same thing over and over during lesson instruction and me refusing to end the day without every single assignment complete. Finally, it looked a whole lot like me taking one huge deep breath of relief when we were done for the day.

Homeschool is a lot of things and it is raw. Every day. It’s not some picturesque scene every moment of the day but those picturesque moments are documented for nothing other than a reminder to myself that for every horrible moment of the homeschool day, there are about 5-10 beautiful moments too. If I focus on that rather than the horrible stuff, I can get up much easier and repeat it all five days a week for 185 school days a year ( at least).

I know I say this a lot but homeschool is different for everyone. Maybe you are like me or maybe you are running away from the type of homeschool I conduct cringing  with every stride. That’s okay. This is real life. This is OUR life. This is homeschool and it doesn’t look exactly the same as anything else; not even my idea of the “perfect classroom”. Most importantly it’s my homeschool and that’s my favorite part.

So today, I am popping in my thousandth cherry cough drop of the day, putting on  my pj’s at 5:00pm and putting the “C” test score away. My son so desperately wants me to let him redo it, to have another chance, and the Momma in me wants to give that to him but the teacher in me remembers that this is a life lesson. The Delgado Clan doesn’t accept half effort. We give our very best at all things just as God commands us and if we don’t, then we get the grade we earned. And as I take that in, I finally get the beauty in education and life. They interweave, one with another. Every moment is education and today was a big day of learning for me. The best part of al: I think I passed.

And you are passing too. Just take a moment to really let yourself see that. Don’t give up. Don’t cut yourself short and don’t cut corners. Stand true to your standards and your values and when it’s harder than hard, just leave the rest to God. If  you do those things every day, homeschool will never be anything but a raving success regardless of grades or work done. It will be a success because you gave it all you had and didn’t give up on your yourself or your family.

So, I will end this day with a very raw image of our homeschool today and an encouraging reminder that it won’t always be like this.

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Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” -Colossians 3:23-24

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy Delgado

 

A New School Year, A New Start

It appears that again I have taken some time to post an update. Such is how it goes when you are trying to live life and embrace every moment. There was a time in my life where not being able to be more “consistent” with my blogging made me feel like I was no good at it; that I shouldn’t be doing it at all if I couldn’t do it daily but thankfully, I serve a God who reminds me of where my successes and worth truly lie.

With that said, I find it a great joy in the moments when I AM able to blog and pay less attention to the moments when I am not. (What a beautiful thing it is when we extend grace to ourselves especially in matters that honestly do not even really need for us to extend ourselves grace!)

But I am getting off track so let me get back to where I would like to begin…

Life here in Florida has been beautiful. It has been challenging. It has been hard. It has been wonderful. It has been so full of changes and transitions the last 8 months. Where we thought we would go, we found ourselves going in the opposite direction. What we thought we would be experiencing was not even close to what we stood in the middle of.

It has been a summer and a season of CHANGE. Beautiful, amazing, God appointed changes. And it started with a phone call in May that led to one of my amazing, beautiful and talented daughters coming to live with us. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CHANGE INDEED!!!!

Sweet Miss M has been with us now since May and it has been an incredible journey of the fulfillment of another of God’s promises over our lives. Coming to Florida has been such a beautiful experience as I have watched God, one moment after the next, fulfill each and every word He spoke over me as I prepared to move three years ago. Each day, I now look at Miss M’s beautiful face and I  hear the Father say, “The restoration has only just begun.” I cling to that promise just as I have every other one He has given me and I know it too will be fulfilled.

There are not enough words to fill this page or my heart!!!

While we have been rejoicing, it has also brought a lot of change and transition that has been hard. While we are celebrating, we know she has other family back home who miss and love her just as we did while we were apart and for that we grieve. We pray for it to become easier for them day by day and that God’s faithfulness is seen around them every day just as it has been for us over these last few years.

With us now adding a TEENAGER to our home, our dynamics have shifted and we are finding ourselves being called to many new starts. Miss M has always been in a public school environment but we made the decision to homeschool her as well so that she is not moving multiple times her junior and senior year due to our transitions with the military.

With that said, our VERY first day of homeschool was yesterday and just like that, we have a 1st Grader AND a Junior in High School. How did that happen?!?!?!?! There are no words!

Our first and second days of school were both challenging and successful and I am loving all the precious moments we are building as a family. Mister M is using the entire ABeka curriculum again this year and so far we are loving it and the things it is going to teach him this year. Coming alongside her brother, Miss M is using the ABeka Academy curriculum. It looks so phenomenal but it is a LOT of work and we have been so proud of how hard she is working and how well she is able to keep up with it all. It is a HUGE change for her and she is seriously ROCKING it. We love this because they monitor her credits and grades and help us to be sure she gets everything she needs to get that high school diploma next year and to be on track for college! (What a huge relief as I had to instantly go from navigating elementary school grades to HIGH SCHOOL. Ya’ll I had some  moments where I cried in panic! Thank you for ABeka dear Lord.)

So now, I find my days filled with early mornings, breakfast rituals, two homeschool routines all while I find ways to get the house done, manage to do my own school work and find time to Grade Miss M’s school work.

As for my college pursuit, I will be starting my Fall Semester in just another week and am winding down the last of my summer term. With all of the changes and adjustments, it has been challenging to keep up but God’s grace has been so sufficient and He has continued to give me hope in the hard moments.

I am hoping I can better spend time here with those who join me in this little corner of my world. I will do my best to post updates and share sweet and fun moments with my precious family as often as I can this school year.

To all those who are still waiting on a promise to be fulfilled: Hold on. Don’t give up. He WILL fulfill it. There is not a promise  made by our Father that is not fulfilled. Your tears, your laughter, your sorrows, your joy…they all matter to the Father. He is moving behind the scenes. In His perfect timing. In His perfect way. He will come on the scene and MOVE mountains for you.

Hold on.

Until tomorrow,

Kristy ❤

Trial Run

I have decided that Semester One of the Delgado Learning Academy was our Trial Run. It was the period in which I would try to do a WHOLE lot of things only to realize that we needed to scale it back a WHOLE lot.

Last semester our schedule consisted of the following:

Bible Lessons

Calendar Time

Math

Phonics

Reading

Writing

Science – twice a week

Geography – twice a week

Art – once a week

While, I know my son could do all this and he did, he was not falling in love with learning so I took the mistakes of our Trial Run and have modified this semester of homeschool.

We will of course continue our Pledge of Allegiance and Bible Lessons, though for now, I am going to set aside our Heroes of the Bibles Curriculum. While I love teaching the stories of these characters, the biggest thing I want my son to learn is to store the Word of God in his heart. So we will be doing a short devotional and doing a Memory Verse for the week. He will learn to say it and to write it. I want him to store these treasures in his heart. While I do want Him to come to know these mighty men and women of God, I first and foremost want him to learn to apply these verses to his daily life and his own situations. He loves to learn the verses but tends to get very sidetracked when we are trying to tell the Bible Story Lessons. So we will save those for Family Evenings and start doing those together then with a fun activity.

From there he will move the calendar clip each day, change the weather and fill out his Calendar Worksheet where he fills in the date, etc.

And then each day we will do:

Math

Phonics

Reading

Writing

Twice a Week we will do:

Art

Twice a week we will:

Take a trip to the Library

This scales our day back a LOT but the beauty in this? Mister M will be more eager to learn and I will have a lot more time to focus on reading which is one of our biggest goals for this year. There must be a reason our Homeschool Curriculum Kit didn’t include Science and Geography or come with a big set of Bible Curriculum. Maybe that should have been the first clue?

While my intentions are good, I sometimes try to do too  much. I am not too proud to admit that. It’s a flaw I am always working on.

Today was our first day to see how this went and my son was MUCH more motivated, MUCH more attentive, and MUCH more willing to get his work done. He excitedly went from Math to Phonics without asking to “take a  break” and when we were done with all our work for the day, asked if we could do more tomorrow!!!

WHAT??????

I am usually pretty hard headed sometimes but I am so thankful I was willing to let our first semester be our trial run. I am glad I overdid it so that I could learn how to scale it back. This past semester taught me a lot about my son and a lot about myself. It has given me some great wisdom and it has been an incredible journey bumps and all.

Something tells me the best is yet to come.

For all of you homeschoolers out there, don’t be afraid to change things. Don’t be afraid to admit if you over do it. Nothing is beyond correction and tomorrow is always a new day with new mercies.

2016 will be a GREAT year for us. I just know it!

Blessings and Love,

Kristy Delgado ❤

We Know the Pledge Wednesday!!!

Before I begin showing you some of the fun and creative things we did today for homeschool, I just have to take a moment to say that I am so very proud and happy for my son as today he was able to say the ENTIRE Pledge of Allegiance all by himself INCLUDING the word indivisible!!!

I know. I know.

It’s probably NOT that big of a deal to you but it was huge deal to us and we were so excited to video it and post on Facebook for Nana and Grandma to see.

Once we got over our excitement of that little part of our day, we moved onto our Bible Lesson. This week we are learning about Saul becoming King. I usually break my lessons down to spread over the entire week, doing a different activity each day while reviewing the story over and over so that Mister M really learns and takes in each Hero of the Bible and what made them so significant and special. So on Monday, we did the lesson and then a coloring sheet to go with it. Yesterday we reviewed the lesson again and played a review game giving him points for each question he was able to answer correctly and today we made a crown just like Saul was given when He became King, only we made sure to let the whole world know who deserves to be King! 🙂 I found the pattern for this crown over at Ministry-to-Children.

Max in his crown

You will have to excuse his poor red and swollen little self. He went duck hunting location scouting with his Dad and in spite of best prevention efforts made, he was eaten alive all over his poor face 😦 He is still smiling and quite the trooper!

Today’s Math lesson was all about Graphing. So we did some fun examples on the board using some items from Max’s table and worked on the board first:

Graphing for Math

Once we were done with practice, Max started on his assignments and ROCKED them! I was so proud of his diligence and excitement!

Max graphing

From there we took a 10 minute break and then to just change up our routines, we dove into our art project for today. Since it is December and the holidays, we will be doing a craft or art project every day this month. I love crafts so this is always just as exciting for me as it is for Mister M! I found these awesome paper strip Christmas Tree Art projects on Pinterest and dove in to make them ours. We used some cotton balls at the end to add some “snow”. I think he did excellent!!

This was a great way to break up the monotony of going from one core subject to the next. After this we took another break to have lunch and give MisterM some free time. I have learned that trying to just sit and do it all at once can be very tedious even if we are doing fun hands on things. His mind needs a break and he needs time to just be five. Taking these extra breaks the last few weeks was wonderful. It mostly started because I just needed extra time from surgery recovery but it quickly become a new routine for us.

After lunch, we dove into our phonics, reading and writing! To start off our phonics lesson, I wanted to really take time to focus on working on reviewing the letters and sounds we have learned all the way up to date. I notice Mister M struggles hearing the letter sounds if they aren’t at the beginning of the words so this past weekend, I took to Pinterest in search of a fun and creative tool we could use to practice this and I came across the cutest and most awesome Phonics Game EVER!

This adorable ice cream themed pack comes with your vowels, consonants, the Capital and lowercase letters and additional scoops of ice cream with images to help your child hear the letter sounds for each letter. These are intended to be for the letter sound they start with but I actually went through and used them to identify letter sounds in the entire word. For example Apple is of course for A because we hear that sound but Mix could be for both the M or the I because it has the I sound in it as well! We worked to review our vowels today and tomorrow we will be working on our consonant sounds we have learned so far 🙂

I got this via one of my subscription emails from Free Home School Deals. I get some of the most amazing FREE printable worksheets and activities from them.

Our handwriting sheet came from some adorable Christmas Tracing Pages I found over at TotSchooling. There were 7 different sheets in the set. I like it because it gives Max just enough work to practice his handwriting but also gives him something cute to do along with it so it is not just the same old handwriting work.

Christmas Tracing Sheets

and finally our reading assignment came from Heidi Songs. It is an adorable easy emergent reader, “Pete’s Christmas”. With it there were also some other downloadable activities that I thought Mister M would like so I snagged them too. I use printable emergent readers because they tend to be easier for him at this stage and are both creative and the perfect levels for Mister M.  We do the same one all week long then move to a new one. This allows him to not only practice his phonics but to also learn word recognition. Plus he loves that he can color them! 😉

Pete's Christmas

This is just the first page of the book’s printable sheets but I thought it would give  you an idea.

We ended our day attempting to do our Geography lesson but Mister M was too excited about our guests for the day so we worked on just going over the documents for Connecticut and then we will finish the booklet tomorrow.

It was a busy and fun day and I am all set for tomorrow! I hope your homeschool day was just as successful!!

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy Delgado

 

 

What I would say to a New/Contemplating Homeschool Momma

I am starting to get to have really profound conversations with friends I cherish who are feeling pulled to this journey we all call Homeschool. Though I like to think of it as so much more than just Homeschool. For us, for me, it has been a journey of obedience, of faith, of growth and of trust. It has taught me things about myself, my God and my son that I might never have come to learn had we not answered this mighty call upon our family.

It has taken a lot of hard work and as I approach my one year mark in just a matter of weeks now, I feel like we have come so very far from where we were when I so nervously said, “We are homeschooling our son.”

The last few nights, I have thought a lot about the things I  most would like to pass onto the mothers who are coming along behind us to start their own homeschool journeys. While this journey can be wonderful, it can also be a storm and it is important that we cling to others before us who can help us through those cloudy days so we keep walking until we see the sunshine again.

So, with that in mind, I want to share some of the things I think will most help those who have made the decision to homeschool or maybe even just those who might be on the fence about it. I hope that these lessons and truths that I have learned along the way will somehow help you to start your journey with less anxiety and fear and that it will be a reminder of what you can do when you feel you can’t do anything at all.

So without Further Adieu….

I. It’s a journey not a race.

One of the biggest mistakes I think that we make sometimes in homeschool is trying to hurry our children along. We have this schedule of how we wanted things done or how we believe it should be done. We race to finish that lesson so we can check it off our list. “YES! Another Concept Down!!! WOOHOO! GO ME!” But this journey isn’t about you or me, it’s about those little heads who are trying to learn and experience and take everything in to the very best of their ability. Your child might zoom through lesson after lesson absorbing everything like a sponge or he/she might have to go slowly, stopping to have hands on demonstrations and more detailed lessons before they truly begin to understand and are ready to move on. Take your time Momma. Let them learn at their pace. Don’t rush them and don’t slow them down. God made them who they are for a reason and how they learn is all a part of His design for their lives. It’s not a race. The finish line won’t arrive any sooner if you push them. Let them enjoy the experience and learn to love the journey for yourself. You’ve got this. No matter what the pace looks like…you are doing just fine!

II. Beware the spirit of comparison.

It will be tempting, very tempting to look at everyone’s homeschool around you. Whether it be your best friend or somewhere on the blogosphere, you will encounter other homeschool families. You will most likely see their classrooms and their curriculum choices and you will be flooded with images and videos of their field trips and what their children are learning and you will at some point, begin to look at what they are doing and compare it to your own. This is a dangerous thing Momma because we often tend to see everyone else’s homeschool as being more extraordinary than our own. At some point, you might find yourself trying to use their schedule or their crafts because you think if you just do that then you will have a better more awesome homeschool like them. This is a lie. The truth is…your homeschool is ALREADY as awesome as theirs. You are already doing amazing things that fit your own family’s needs and desires. I too have sat at my computer and thought, “Man. I am just not doing enough! They are building the Great Wall of China and Mister M is just building a house out of legos. UGHH!!!” But then I remember that he is five. He can’t possibly understand The Great Wall of China just yet and that Lego House was pretty amazing considering he is still so small. He did it on his own and that’s what makes it so amazing! I used to sit for hours and wonder what everyone else’s schedules were like and I even tried to tweak mine to see if Mister M doing that other routine would be easier and smoother but it wasn’t. It was too relaxed or too chaotic and he would not be able to focus at all. I very quickly learned that our homeschool is AWESOME to us and that is THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. Mister M is smart. He is learning. Nothing is more awesome than that. So take a deep breath. Fall in love with your own homeschool style and remember that this is your family. It’s all about them and nothing else.

III. There is NO right or wrong way to Homeschool.

As I type this I already can hear some people choking on their water. Those people are probably just like me. They like to plan. To organize and they are determined to not let their child down. All of those things are so amazing to have when homeschooling but they can also get us into this pattern of thinking that there is a right way and a wrong way and we must find that one right way. The truth is, the only right way is what works best for YOUR family. (Are you noticing a similar trend of wisdom here?) Your right way might be another family’s wrong way. There are SO many ways to homeschool. Some treat it like a classroom, some treat it like a field trip every day. I have seen homeschooling families who learn through traveling the world (If only my checkbook were bigger!) and other families who learn by doing nothing but reading and writing in notebooks with every subject they learn. I have seen so many different ways that families teach and disciple their children and all of them are right because their children are flourishing, they are learning and they are loving their journey. If you want to know the measure of success, ask your child how much they love getting to learn with you and how much they love to learn new things. They  may not be able to name all the elements of a Chemistry Chart but they might tell you that you gave them a love of reading. That’s so remarkable. Reading is the key to learning. What a wonderful gift Momma. Don’t keep searching for the RIGHT formula. Just ask God to show you what will help your child fall in love with learning. That’s the most important thing you can give your child outside of teaching them about Christ.

IV. Be flexible.

Schedules are a wonderful thing. It is good to have a plan. Without a plan, we might get too lazy or just not be able to have some ounce of control over getting our children to do their necessary work. You should have a goal for what you want your children to learn each day. That’s a great thing to know so that it will give you a bit more confidence in yourself and give you some direction with your children; but don’t get so focused on your schedule that you burn out your children and yourself. When I came into this journey,  I had a LOT of plans and a LOT of schedules. I had this idea of what homeschool was going to look like and that was that. The Lord quickly, without any hesitation, taught me to be flexible. My schedule, though put together with the best intentions, was just too much for my son. I had to learn early on it was good to have that schedule for us so as to have a mapping point for our lessons and our day but also, that it was not law. It was okay if we deviated and changed our day up as we went. It was even okay if we didn’t finish EVERYTHING I had planned for that day. If we were having a hard time, I stuck to the core subjects giving Mister M long breaks in between to play and just be a kid. Some days, we had a great time doing every single thing I planned. I have learned that just like our purpose in Christ, homeschool is HIS plan. It’s okay to make my own but I need to take a step back and be willing to be flexible and listen if the Holy  Spirit says, “Give him a break.” Remember that whole it’s a journey not a race thing. It’s good to remember that when planning your days. It’s usually the schedule that sets the pace but rather than that being your dictator, ask the Holy Spirit to be your compass. He will take you where you need to go, show you how long to stay there and tell you when it’s time to take a break. Homeschool success is not based on a plan or a schedule. It is based on your ability to learn what is best for you family and to let that be enough. It’s based on your ability to do it the way that God has designed for you.

V. You will win some. You will lose some. You will survive.

Some days you will lose the battles that come with homeschooling but you won’t lose the war. Some days you will win the battle but the war will seem a defeat. At the end of whatever the day brings, you WILL survive. Take your journey minute by minute. Then hour by hour until you eventually work your way to day by day. No day will look alike. You will want to quit some days and other days you will want not want to stop homeschooling. You will feel like a victor and then sometimes you will feel defeated but you are NEVER alone. We all wage those same battles and we all face the same war within ourselves. It’s a spiritual battle more than a physical one. The enemy knows that God called you to this precious journey and he will use whatever weapons he can to deter you but do not give in. Do not raise the white flag. Take a deep breath. Grab your Bible. Pour another cup of coffee. Call your homeschooling best friend or just find someone else who can encourage you. You won’t win every battle you face but you will keep getting up and fighting again and again and again because you are mighty Momma. You are courageous and you have been entrusted with the extreme honor of discipling your child in faith, in academics, and in life. God would not have called you to this journey if you were not meant to travel down it. When it feels like you just can’t win, fight one more battle. You will see victory just ahead. Give your fears, your anxieties, your expectations all to God and trust that if He called you to it, He will equip you to finish it. You will survive this. I promise. But even more than that, you will be successful and blessed that you chose to be obedient to this calling. You’ve got this. You really do.

So go ahead. Take that step of faith. Do what God is calling you to do and don’t allow all these overwhelming details take away the joy of the journey. It’s going to be an incredible one. I promise and YOU CAN DO THIS!

In Christ’s Love,

Kristy Delgado ❤

Philippians 4:13, “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me.”