Monday, April 04, 2011

LaJoy World School

Joshie this week "Mommy, it's too bad every kid can't have as much interesting stuff in school as we do!"

We HAVE had an interesting week, and homeschooling IS interesting for students and teacher alike!  As mentioned before, we have begun a very brief overview of world religions as part of our history studies.  The kids have all been assigned a major world religion to study, and in some ways this project is more about learning how to use reference materials and introducing research to  them than it is about religion.  But we are all learning so much, and have been fortunate to have guest teachers visit with us.

We started off the week with an old friend, Miss Jane and our new friend (and Jane's) Miss Pat who spent an entire morning with us in deep discussion about Judaism.  Miss Pat is Jewish and a retired librarian who kindly offered to share her knowledge with us, and we learned so much!  She brought books, and plates and intelligence to the table :-) After spending a couple of hours being bombarded with questions, our friends still had the strength to move forward with a hands on demonstration of how to make a traditional Jewish food item, potato latkes! 








It is days like these when I am just so happy that we made the choice to homeschool.  I'll be the first to admit that we have been blessed with an abundance of wonderful folks willing to give of their time and share their knowledge with the kids.  I am not sure why we are so lucky in this regard, as I am sure that being around five busy kids can be quite overwhelming to many, but we are surely grateful for every single person who is willing to spend time with our children to help them learn and grow.  God has surrounded us with extraordinary people!

Later in the week, Kenny spent time with Jane's husband, the infamous Mr. Steve, who greeted him at the door looking quite Arab-like in traditional garb, then proceeded to spend over an hour explaining Islam to Kenny, talking about the 5 Pillars of the Muslim faith, teaching him about how they say their prayers, and even letting him borrow a prayer rug to bring home to show the other kids.  Kenny had already done some research, but this helped bring it all to life for him.

Olesya had a special treat this week as well, as she went to her first gathering of quilters with Miss Jane, who is teaching her sewing (and sneaking in math along the way...shhhh...don't tell Olesya!).  There she had the honor of working beside a 94 year old quilter, and also was greeted warmly by another close family friend, "Grammy Marge", Joshie's best buddy's grandma!  Olesya spent the morning feeling very grown up, and completed a pot holder for me.  She already finished a baby blanket that will be sent to Papau, New Guinea as part of a mission project, and I think we have stumbled upon something that she can call all her own and an area where she can shine.  Already Matthew and Joshua asked her if she could repair their jackets, which she did.  Olesya badly needs a way to move out from under Angela's very long shadow.  There are so many complicated emotions and experiences that weigh upon Olesya's opinion of herself, and I am thrilled she is finding her own way, tentatively, and she is now being labeled "The Crafty One" in our house! 




While I have no pictures, Matthew is being growing in new ways as well now, as he has jumped into his first real job working on a farm for one of the most decent, good men we know.  Someone from our church approached us to ask if  Matt would be interested in doing a little work around his place, as he needed some help and always hired help in the spring.  He said he noticed Matthew had grown a lot this year and he wondered if we felt it would be appropriate despite his young age of only 11 years old.  We knew Matthew would leap at the chance, especially because he likes this gentleman a lot and it would be a good opportunity for him to earn money on his own, aside from his work with Dominick during the winter.  

While his work with Dominick has always been a "real job", and we have expected all the kids to take their work even for us seriously, it is totally different and more pride inducing to earn money from someone other than your parents. His employer has been mighty pleased with him, and even spoke to Dominick today about having Matthew do even more work for him someday when he is able to drive! Haha!  A few years down the road (thankfully!) but it was wonderful to hear from our friend this morning that the groundwork we have laid with Matt is paying off, and at 11 years old he is already seen as a diligent, strong, respectful employee whose work is worth the pay he receives.

As the typical school year is beginning to wane, and I look back over this first full year of having all the kids home, I can't help but smile as I recall all the assumptions others have about homeschooling, and I foolishly had as well...how isolated kids are, how narrow their lives are, how much less they might learn than in a regular classroom.  Oh my goodness, I don't know how we possibly could have learned more in the past 10 months or so or how we could have been more engaged and involved with those around us!  Deep Breath as we review:  For the 4 younger kids we literally went through 4 years of phonics, 1.5 of grammar, 1 of spelling, 1 of math, did 3 very challenging in depth-book studies, read more books than would be possible to count...well over a couple hundred each, filled a composition book and a half of writing exercises, did 2 years of reading comprehension workbooks while Matthew also did 2 years of reading comprehension workbooks along with 1.5 years of the very challenging Reading Detective reading comp series, he wrote no less than 8 short essays in addition to daily writing practice and reading the very challenging "The Hiding Place" and doing a very intense book study on it in addition to 3 others and an Editor in Chief editing workbook, read no less than 12 Landmark History books in addition to the gazillions of other books he checked out from the library, and we all studied the continents of Africa, Australia and Antarctica and created full sized maps of each continent, completed a a full year of science curriculum and are starting year 2 now, will finish with a world religions and philosophy overview and display board in the next couple of weeks,  began guitar and violin classes and Matt and Kenny continued with piano, took outside art classes all year studying no less than 6 different artists and replicating their work as they learned about their styles, 2 of the kids took pottery class, all advanced two times in TaeKwonDo where Matt and Kenny both broke boards for the first time and Matthew is now 1 step away from a red belt test which is the last one before black belt, visited the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver, saw the Body Works exhibit in Denver, dissected ducks, frogs, worms and other disgusting things, made baby quilts and learned how to sew, made African masks and did detective work on a dead animal skeleton, grew from NO English to fluent English, grew from reading ZERO in English to reading 4th grade level in English, Kenny more than doubled his reading speed and FINALLY FINALLY learned the months of the year...and remembered them...at least for today :-), Joshie discovered a love of biographies and read about Hitler, Marco Polo, Daniel Boone and Neil Armstrong, we all watched the entire series of Roots, Colonial House and Frontier House along with bios of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin, are going to finish the entire Liberty Kids 40 episode series, Hotel Rwanda, the Lost Boys of Sudan, The Pianist, The Hiding Place, and several National Geographic documentaries on various countries all taking at least 2 times as long to watch as we stopped to explain everything we could, did a lap book study of the White House and will complete one about Colonial Times which will take several weeks...let's see....did I forget anything??? HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Ahhh...if we look outside our academics we helped others in many ways this year by volunteering for highway cleanup, working in the yard at church, visiting the senior shut in members of our church, prayed for many folks in Japan, in Kyrgyzstan, in Haiti, donated food to the local food bank, were Secret Santa's to a man in town, spent hours creating handmade soaps and chocolates for our church's Women's Union for a Valentine's Day surprise, served the younger children in our Explorers Youth Group and helped with childcare here and there as we could (the kids) with the younger ones, spent time helping our adopted Grandpa put up his Christmas tree in a new found tradition, pulled a fun loving 12 day Christmas prank on a friend to brighten her holiday, raked leaves for someone who had a huge task ahead of them...and I think that may be it for now.

Oh yes...and Angela now realizes that she lives on planet Earth :-)

Man oh man, have we come a looooooong way, Baby!!

We were trying to see if we could afford to get TShirts made for our trip, a way to easily identify us from a distance should we get separated, and a way to formalize our educational field trip for what we have had called "Seven in Eleven" by a dear friend we can't wait to meet in person on our trip.  Seven LaJoy's in 2011.."7 in 11"!!  We were all sitting around the craps table (yes, we are playing craps many evenings to help the kids with odds and multiplication...FUN way to learn it!) and the Dealer...I mean Dominick...and I were trying to come up with a name for our little school.  We all tried on a few names and then realized the one that fit best was "LaJoy World School", for it has double meaning for us.  The most obvious is that our kids are from the other side of the world.  The main reason though is that we are not trapped behind the walls of an institution, our kids have had ENOUGH of that!  Years of lack of contact with the outside world, lack of understanding of their own culture because they were never really a part of it, years of...well...for heaven's sake, Angela not even realizing she lived on planet Earth!!! 

So, the WORLD is our school, literally and in every sense.  Oh, we won't be taking any trips around the world or anything, but we are going to soak up as much of our world as we can during these school years.  We are going to experience it, touch it, hear the music of it, explore it and CLAIM it!!!  It's OUR world, for better or worse, and we will not let anyone limit us in our learning.  Want to learn how to fly a plane, Matt?  Let's look at ground school...who cares if you are only 11!!  Angela, still dreaming of being a nurse?  Let's go shadow one and see what it is like!  Kenny, want to start a business?  Give me time, we'll work on that one too!  Olesya, want to learn the craftOlesya, want to learn the craft of sewing?  You got it, girlfriend!  Joshie, want to do experiments on human bodies?  Whoooooaaaa....we might have to rethink that one :-)  Hahaha!  Well, certainly there is a morgue or coroner nearby who could help us out with that one someday, right?  Ugh!

Now tell me, how can I NOT be having fun with this?  After all, I have the best class ever to teach!!

And now, the teacher needs to get to sleep rather than thinking up more crazy learning hijinks!


8 comments:

Dee said...

This is such an inspiring post, Cindy! I am so impressed. I have sent links to your post to some other homeschooling moms I know.

I am doing a Giveaway over on my blog. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Ms. LaJoy,

Kudos for LaJoy World School! You are teacher of the year, and the kids are each and every one students of the year. Whew, when do you sleep. Oh, yeah, looking at the time you wrote this, I have to conclude that you don't sleep.

Here are a few more resources for your school. There is a Buddhist group here in Montrose. They sometimes even have a visiting monk.

I can provide dead prairie dogs for Josh to dissect.

Nancy is ready to do a geology lesson with rocks, pictures, etc. in April or May. It will help her get a certification she is working toward.

There will be two art exhibits this month, one for Montrose high schools, one for Delta high schools.

And in your spare time there are African stories to tell, paleontology hunts to accomplish, and I'll bring the Diet Coke.

LOL
Lael

anne k said...

Such an inspirational post. Proof that with dedication and good will, anything is possible no matter what anyone else might think. Bravo !!

Lindsay said...

It has to be working when the teacher loves school as much as the kids :)

Hilary Marquis said...

I want to go to school at the Lajoy World School too!!! I can come close to doubling your classroom ;) My mom would LOOVVE to get her hands on Olesya...she is a quilt additct, and very talented! If you ever end up near NE I can hook you up. NE...fun field trip destination...cows & corn! Hahahah!

Anonymous said...

Yes, your post is inspiring, Cindy...and I don't even homeschool! So many ways you've shown your kids how to be life long learners. And to be having fun with Mom and Dad while they learn? Priceless for your family.

All your serving reminds me of a program they have at our school to try to encourage students to be involved in serving our communities here. They call it "Silver Cord", and those who earn 100hrs of community service in the course of 4yrs of high school get to wear a braided silver cord at graduation.

Not sure what Lajoy Homeschool Graduation ceremonies will look like, but you might want to log your many community services hours and honor your graduates by recognizing all they will have done by them to serve others.

I know it should be just that we teach our kids to give, but I do think it helps kids in our community (and our own) to remember to do so. In your family, you don't need reminding, as it's a way of life!

I know...I shouldn't even be mentioning "graduation" to you! You've still got lots of years to continue to bless your kids and yourselves with thousands more learning experiences. You have captured your kids' hearts and are teaching the true meaning of the words "learning" and "education", Cindy.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

Yes, your post is inspiring, Cindy...and I don't even homeschool! So many ways you've shown your kids how to be life long learners. And to be having fun with Mom and Dad while they learn? Priceless for your family.

All your serving reminds me of a program they have at our school to try to encourage students to be involved in serving our communities here. They call it "Silver Cord", and those who earn 100hrs of community service in the course of 4yrs of high school get to wear a braided silver cord at graduation.

Not sure what Lajoy Homeschool Graduation ceremonies will look like, but you might want to log your many community services hours and honor your graduates by recognizing all they will have done by them to serve others.

I know it should be just that we teach our kids to give, but I do think it helps kids in our community (and our own) to remember to do so. In your family, you don't need reminding, as it's a way of life!

I know...I shouldn't even be mentioning "graduation" to you! You've still got lots of years to continue to bless your kids and yourselves with thousands more learning experiences. You have captured your kids' hearts and are teaching the true meaning of the words "learning" and "education", Cindy.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

oops...delete me at least once!
Nancy

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