Friday, September 11, 2015

Memoria

The day is here again. September 11. Each time the world whirls around the sun to this point in time, I return to that day, fourteen years ago. A rush of memories and sensations washes over me, and I'm back there again. I remember the sonic booms of the military aircraft racing in the air above me as I resolutely pushed my almost two-year-old in our backyard swing set. I was pregnant. My belly was huge; my due date was the next month. The baby jumped in my womb at the explosive sound. My heart stuttered within me.

Later, when I went back inside the house I banished the television until the children were in bed. When the house was silent, my husband and I couldn't resist. We turned it on and watched in horror, and I cried. Doomed planes, toppling towers, falling ashes dominated the television for months afterward. We realized in that time that our world would never be the same again, and our children would grow up in what remained.

The years have since slowly passed. "Normal" life has resumed. At times it's easy to forget what it was like "before." This morning when I greeted my oldest son he remarked that his very first memory was of September 11, 2001. It was his first day of 3-day preschool, and class was cut short because of the tragedy that unfolded that day. He was four years old. I compared his first memory to my own first, receiving a doll buggy on Christmas morning. I felt so excited to put my own real baby sister in it and push her around! The contrast was sobering.

Yet it is good to remember, for by remembering we honor those who sacrificed everything that day. By remembering we continue to be vigilant. By remembering we love more deeply. I pray we always remember and carry those memories with us, sacred ashes to enrich the soil of our unwavering country. I pray we never forget.
"Remember the things of old:  for I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me..." Isaiah 46:9 NKV

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Learning the Latin Language

My love for grammar was late blooming. Truth be told, I didn't see much use in all those funky bracket looking things that had words dangling from various and sundry locations. Diagramming was a bore. It all magically came together, though, when I enrolled in an honor's Latin course at the University of Kansas. Because it's an inflected language, suddenly all those parts of speech had supreme significance. Objects of the preposition? Genetive case? Verb tense? It all mattered, and I thanked God I had paid attention to all that grammar mumbo jumbo in grade school.

That was a lifetime ago, but I carried my strengthened appreciation for grammar forward in my homeschooling and cheerfully doled out sentences filled with complex diagramming. The kids learned all about concepts like predicate nominatives and predicate adjectives, main clauses, verbals, and prepositions. They groaned. Repeatedly. But now, my middle guy is starting to see what all the hubbub is all about. You see, he enrolled in Florida Virtual's Latin I!

I didn't expect this, honestly. My oldest wanted to study German, and we had a dickens of a time finding a program that would be accepted by the schools he wanted to apply to for college. Eventually we found Oklahoma State's German Online. It was a perfect solution, but I decided to encourage my younger boy to choose a language that would have Florida Virtual support to make it easier to use for college applications. I thought his only choices would be French and Spanish. I still had nightmares from the 2.5 weeks I spent in French back in my university days, so his options seemed limited to only Spanish. We logged on to select the course and were surprised to discover Latin was also available.

I put the question to him, and he immediately asked to study Latin. When I asked him why, he asserted that it would help him with vocabulary building for the SAT. He's right. It will. So we duly clicked the selection and he's off and running. It's not an easy class, but we have found that making flashcards helps immensely. We started a set for him over at Quizlet. It has also been helpful that the course focuses on the Classical pronunciation of the vocabulary, so I can help him with it. I would be lost in the Ecclesiastical pronunciations.

While my middle guy is working hard at Latin I, my youngest is also getting her fair exposure. I've incorporated English From the Roots Up in the essay and literature class I'm teaching at co-op, and she is really enjoying all the root study. While it's not a formal Latin or Greek course, it is packed full with wonderful roots and derivatives based on those roots. We are tackling three roots a week, and by the end of the year will have covered one hundred. I taught this to my oldest when he was the ripe old age of eight, but it works for all ages; you just have to adjust it according to a child's level.
It's refreshing to get back to the study of Latin. It's a language that I have grown to appreciate, and I know that students who study it faithfully have much larger vocabularies. If your child needs to study a foreign language in order to be able to enter a certain college or university, don't shy away from it. It can be a lot of fun to learn and will bless you with better comprehension and an appreciation for the logic of it. Go for it!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Journeying

I came to my profession accidentally on purpose. By declaring it a profession, I realize that indicates I am paid for it, and I am, albeit poorly in pecuniary matters. If, however, you define it as payment in accomplished students of all stripes and abilities, then I am richly rewarded.

Way back when I was in college, I briefly considered a double major in English and Education. Even then, though, I realized that what I wanted to do wouldn't fit within the mainstream model of education. I wanted wiggle room. Freedom to respond to my students. To meet them where they were and bring them along further in their journey of self-education. And I wanted to be able to choose my own means and materials to accomplish that. The English degree won out, and the Education degree was forgotten. This was 1990. I had just begun to hear of homeschooling.

Fast forward now to 1997. My husband and I welcomed our first child into the world in Dayton, OH. Almost immediately I began to picture his future and what I would like it to look like. Homeschooling sounded like an attractive idea. I began to devour books by John Taylor Gatto, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and Ruth Beechick. Mary Hood's book, The Joyful Homeschooler, became dogeared with frequent use. I haunted The Elijah Catalog* and combed it's pages of useful articles. We began to homeschool.

Homeschooling my tiny family of three was my entire focus for many years. I learned quickly that one child in a family does not necessarily indicate how the following children will behave or learn, and I adapted. I learned about gifted education, special needs, and especially dyslexia. The journey was oftentimes challenging and painful, but through it all I persevered. And our family also persevered. Slowly, by degrees too slight to measure, the kids grew and blossomed.

Now that I have older children, I have had leisure to share the bits and bobs that I've learned along the way. Much has been gathered by the school of hard knocks, and I am known to joke with my kids about how they are my "mulligans." I am now tutoring outside the home, teaching literature and writing classes in a local co-op, critiquing and advising students remotely, and designing my own classes. It's exhilarating! My students range anywhere in age from nine to eighteen years old, and they have a wide range of abilities. Each one is a joy and a delight.

The road from where I started to where I am presently is filled with switchbacks, bumps, and valleys with a few mountain top moments to keep me motivated. It hasn't been easy. In truth, I will admit there were long periods of doubt, especially when my daughter and I were addressing her severe dyslexia early on. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, though, and I can see the finish line. When my own kids are on their own journey after homeschooling, I am excited to consider I can continue sharing my gleanings, my excitement, and my time with future students. My training in education has been a process defined through many years of hard work and prayer. You might call it nontraditional, but it has been the adventure of a lifetime, and I'm so glad I had the courage to take the first step. It has made all the difference.

* The Elijah Catalog is sadly no more, although many of the wonderful articles Chris Davis wrote for it were included in one volume called I Saw the Angel in the Marble. A further volume, I Carved the Angel in the Marble, is also available.