A summer roundup!

The last bit of vacation is winding down and this post is going to be a little bit  of everything!

Ds9 went to day camp for the first time this year and loved it.  Not surprisingly, he brought home ‘Best Camper’ award – he had a lot of camp spirit!  He’s now participating in a week long science camp which he’s also enjoying; a side benefit is that he comes home and teaches everyone else what he learned!  Ds7 was also signed up for this but got cold feet when I took him the first morning, and refused to continue even when I told him I was going to have him moved to an older group that would be a better fit for him.

I’m sorry ds7  isn’t continuing since I think he would have loved it if he would have gotten past the discomfort of being in a new and uncomfortable situation, but I also think you have to honor your child’s feelings and give them a chance to make decisions of their own.  We can’t expect our kids to make good decisions without giving them opportunities as they’re growing up to have a say in decisions that relate to them.

I’m gearing up for my fifteenth year of homeschooling – though I have my general educational philosophy that underpins everything I do, I keep my eyes open for new resources that will enhance our learning experience.  It’s important not to fall into a rut.  Every child has his own needs and this preparatory process isn’t automatic at all.  It’s about thinking about who your child is and what his needs are.  It’s so gratifying to see the groundedness and intrinsic motivation that homeschooling has given our children a chance to develop.

Last week I attended the yearly exhibit for dd’s industrial design college.  It was impressive and fascinating to see what the students have created and designed, and the quality of their work.  It was also nice to hear dd’s fellow students and teachers tell me that dd19 is considered the best student in her class (despite being the youngest).  One teacher said a number of very positive things which made dd uncomfortable, and she jokingly said her teacher was exaggerating.  Her teacher was quick to correct her and said, “I have lots more to say and I’m not even saying half of it!”

The teacher then said to me, “I’ve never seen a student like this and I truly want to know, how in the world did you raise her to be like this?”  Of course the teacher doesn’t know she was homeschooled, but home education is a huge part of their success.  Every single child is a genius in some way – we unfortunately don’t get to see that in most children because most kids don’t ever have the chance to recognize their gifts, let alone develop them.  If our kids are unusual, it’s only in the opportunities they had.

Ds7 has just started reading, which is exciting to see!  I don’t teach reading as much as I support reading readiness; this is our eighth child to teach himself to read.  Ds7 is gifted spatially and mathematically but when I saw that his auditory processing was weak I expected his reading would come later.  It’s when your child seems to be learning skills later than the typical academic curve that you really have to trust their ability and desire to learn.

I love that he can learn to read when he’s really ready without comparing himself to others and viewing himself as stupid.  Because of course, he’s not.  We each learn different skills at different times and the child who learns to read at 5 is not necessarily brighter than the child who learns to read at 9.  What really affects a child’s long term success isn’t how early or late he  but if he has an intact sense of who he is.

On a different note (no pun intended :)), dd14 just picked up the clarinet and is starting to teach herself to play.  Ds13 plays the harmonica and native American flute, dd14 plays the native American flute and started learning guitar at the beginning of the summer, ds16 plays the guitar and dd19 plays the classic flute – dd19 had six flute lessons to get started but other than that, none of them have had any lessons.  They just picked up instruments and kept spending time on it.  I’m glad they enjoy their music and find pleasure in playing.   The beauty of seeing our children learn when they’re ready and have an internal interest never fails to move me.

I finally ordered tiles for the kitchen backsplash and they arrived this morning.  Today I sent dd19 and dd14 to the hardware store to buy the supplies so we can get started tiling – I wanted to do this in the summer when the older boys were also home but I wasn’t able to get down to the store to choose the tiles.  So despite their willingness we weren’t able to start until now.  That’s not a bad things since the older four kids have done tiling in the past so now the younger kids will have a chance to learn how to do it.  It’s empowering when kids learn life skills!

We did get some other things done during vacation, though.  A nice benefit of our kids having a wide skill set is that we don’t have to do everything ourselves and this helped my husband and I shorten our ‘to do’ list at a time we were very busy.  For example, ds22 and ds16 installed light fixtures in the living room and kitchen, and dd19 recovered a couple of chairs and fixed two dining room chairs that were wobbly.  Nice not to need to hire people for this!

When we moved we changed to a different health insurance that went into affect July 1.  I started the process to get Yirmiyahu’s surgery rescheduled and last week got a surgery date (end of October) and even a pre-op date!   The last time we were supposed to have this surgery no one told me anything about what to expect and definitely never scheduled a pre-op meeting; then we arrived for the surgery and found out they had scheduled ds3 for the wrong operation!

I’m really pleased so far with the doctors here and how things are being handled.  Our new pediatrician is American and I like her a lot; when I took Yirmiyahu for an ultrasound, the technician from a friend from Baltimore!  So, so nice.  It was worth going through all the frustrations with medical professionals in the north just to be able to appreciate the difference when living in a place like this.

We had a nice mellow summer staying close to home and enjoying our time together.  It’s never long enough but I loved having everyone home for an extended period!

I hope each of you had a relaxing, summer and you’re feeling renewed and recharged for the year to come!


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