How in the WORLD do you homeschool FOUR children while telecommuting? Love, patience and a TON of coffee... Just in case you wanted it, here's a glimpse inside Mrs. Kastner's Klass.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Benefits of homeschooling

There are so many benefits to homeschooling. Some are solid, backed up by fact. Some are fuzzy, warm intangibles. But all combine to make homeschooling a valid (and in my humble opinion), superior educational choice.

1. Small student-teacher ratio -- Even in VERY large homeschooling families, the student-teacher ratio is MUCH smaller than in the average traditional school. According to the IES National Center for Educational Statistics in this nation's schools, the average student-teacher ratio in 2009 - 2010 was 15.38 students to 1 teacher. The student-teacher ratio in the Kastner household -- 4 to 1. The Kastner children are getting nearly four times more teacher attention at home than they would in a traditional school. This means that they cannot get off task as much. They cannot daydream and zone out. They cannot write a note instead of listening to their math lesson. They cannot sneak a novel inside their science textbook and read during science class (YUPS! this book nerd DID that!) Bare bones: they get MORE time from their teacher, which I believe translates into higher quality education.

2. Individualized curriculum -- In a traditional school, the curriculum is standardized by a curriculum committee that dependent upon your district could take into consideration the needs of all children in a given grade for your entire school, district or even state. This makes some people very comfortable... knowing that all fourth graders in this school, district or state are learning ______________. However, this mom doesn't want her kids getting a one-size-fits-all education. One size DOESN'T fit all in this house. Noah is very interested in history, studying wars, and learning about weapons. Jeremiah has such a strong creative bone... devising stories, role playing, and pretending are all his forte. Elijah is a math WHIZ! He LOVES a great math lesson. Hannah just loves everything about Kindergarten so it is hard to say what her "leanings" are towards. By intimately knowing these children, I am able to individualize their curriculum so that while Noah is researching Pearl Harbor (HIS chosen research paper topic by the way) he doesn't even realize he is learning to research, form sentences properly, make an outline, organize a research paper. He is so excited to learn about Pearl Harbor I can sneak in all sorts of English lessons. And when something EXCITING happens around here I can use it as a learning experience. Most importantly I am able to incorporate our faith and our morals into every single lesson I teach. We start each morning by pledging our allegiance to our country, our Savior and the Word. We rattle through the books of the Bible next. We memorize LARGE portions of scripture. Every subject is taught from a Biblical worldview. Being able to individualize our curriculum choices to our family and our children delivers a superior educational experience for them.

3. Flexibility -- This one is a little more intangible, and it has been touched on in previous blogs. Homeschooling allows the flexibility to decide what will be taught, when it will be taught, where it will be taught. A homeschooling schedule allows children to go to dentist appointments without missing instructional time. It allows parents to take off on educational tangents that interest THEIR children. It allows learning to take place at home, in the car, even on vacation. Many homeschooling families educate year round. We in the Kastner household do an abbreviated schedule in the summers and around holidays, but we have VERY few times of complete and total abstaining from school. The flexibility of homeschooling allows me to give my children not only MORE educational time but higher quality time as well.

4. Learning Struggles -- There is no teacher in this world who loves Noah, Jeremiah, Elijah and Hannah as much as I do. [Please note that I say this as a teacher who LOVED her students as if they were her own. I CARED about those children A LOT, but still I know that there is NO WAY I cared about any of them more than their mom did.] There is no person in this world who is more committed to their educational success. There is no one who will more doggedly pursue solutions to their struggle, who will more passionately run after the tools needed to make them succeed, who will work as hard as I will work to make sure that these four children grow into functioning adults who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind and being. This being said, I don't believe I am an island. I employ the instructors at the TAG Center to teach my children swim lessons because they have an expertise in it. I will likely outsource other parts of their education as well: foreign language, musical instruments, geometry (AH! I hated geometry! Thank you Bob Miller and Mr. Welborn... I would have NEVER made it through geometry without YOU!) My point is with ME on the case these children will get through their learning struggles because it is INTENSELY important to me that they do. The fact that the teacher is the mom works to a child's advantage providing them with an intensely devoted educational program that helps them navigate the tough parts of their education.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all of YOU have to choose to homeschool. I'm just laying out the benefits of homeschooling as I see them.... I welcome your thoughts, realizing that if non-homeschoolers stumble upon this blog, it could become a bit hot in here.

Have a GREAT day everyone!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Asphalt Project

There are SO many different reasons I love homeschooling, but one of them is FOR SURE this... I want my kids to learn to be LEARNERS. All of their life I want them to keep on learning. I love to turn everyday things into lessons because I want them to be the kind of people who see lessons EVERYWHERE.

Yesterday we got a new driveway!  If you want to read about it in proper order do it like this:

It was such an exciting experience for our family and on Friday morning I decided to turn it into a project... [we're still in the midst of that... final versions expected some time next week] Our project is CHOCK full of lessons, subjects, and experiences. By the time we are done, it will have included scientific hypotheses, creative writing, careful observation, photography, English, research, picture selection, caption writing and portfolio assembly. This project is the definition of AWESOME!  

We started around the kitchen table. We discussed our hypotheses of what we would see, hear, smell and touch during this project. [We discussed the fact that while taste is our fifth sense, we wouldn't really taste anything in this project.... yet STILL at the end of the day the kids BEGGED me to let them taste the driveway... NO! I didn't let them! I'm not THAT crazy!]

When we finished our conjectures we waited for the men. Every time a truck came down our road the kids RAN to the window. The excitement was so thick you could feel it. The kids wrote their blogs about what this driveway would mean for our family as they waited. 

When they arrived the kids ran outside clipboards in hand to begin checking off the items on their lists of things they would hear, see, smell and touch.

We took turns taking pictures of the event.

After at least a good hour of observation, we headed inside where we started writing out our observations. What we heard, smelled, and felt. We took time later in the day to go and FEEL the driveway, which ended with them barrel rolling down the driveway as the landlord arrived to check it out.

Today we are finishing up our writing, choosing pictures, sending them to be printed, and then starts the portfolio assembly. We plan to send one completed portfolio to our landlord so he can take part in the fun too!

And here's the best part.... the kids hardly realize that I snuck in grammar, science, creative writing, photography, and a myriad of other lessons! woohoo! That's what I call a homeschooling victory!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Vocational Break

This week we took a short Fall Vocational Break... It was inspired by our NEED for John to finish up the bedroom he is remodeling for his niece, but it turned out to be a different kind of "school." See that's one of the things I love MOST about homeschooling! The classroom NEVER closes!  Here are the vocational courses completed this week during our "break" from school:

Noah... Having a Job 101... Noah arose at 6 a.m. each day of "break" and headed off to work with dad. He worked a full day, hanging, mudding, sanding (and other things I can't begin to understand) drywall. He measured, cut and nailed. He worked HARD! The first day he slept all the way home in the van.

Jeremiah.. Big Brother 101... Jeremiah typically gets to hang out in the background. Being ultra responsible and reliable, doing his thing, but not having as much on his shoulders because he is second in line. This week, he learned how to be THE big brother. He stepped up and took Noah's place while he was off working away and it was a great learning experience for Jeremiah.

Elijah... Prayer 101... Elijah's vocational course was COMPLETELY unintentional... instigated by waking a little too early... he went on a prayer walk with me... it was DIVINE seriously it WAS... as we walked I would tell him what/who I was praying for and then we would walk in silence a little, each praying silently to ourselves... when I told him I was praying for him, he asked, "For what?" I said I was praying that he would love Jesus all the days of his life. He said, "I'm gonna mom! I'm gonna be a pastor you know." with a little exasperation in his voice, like how could I NOT know that??? (baby book moment... hope I remember to write that in there when I find his baby book)

Hannah... Princess 101... seriously is there any other course for this one? She did step it up a bit in the area of chores... REALLY loves getting the chance to do other people's chores, but refuses to do her own... true princess material.

So Fall Vocation Break was a SUCCESS with some intended and some unintentional victories...  I'm glad we did it, but I'm also glad that today is BACK TO SCHOOL for the Kastners!
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