University Life!

Well, I moved out and have been living in a university residence for four weeks now. The homeschooler is alive and in fact, thriving! I’ve certainly learned a lot in the past few weeks, about myself, my family, school, city life, and people in general.

#1.  Homeschooling can prepare you for life ‘in the real world’.

September 7th dawned bright and sunny, and the whole of creation seemed cheerful that morning. I was feeling anxious, though. It was my first day of school. Ever. With the exceptions of a driver’s ed course and giving a presentation to some fourth graders on composting, I had never even set foot in a classroom before. So as I left the residence, I recalled Julie Andrews singing “I Have Confidence” in The Sound of Music and by the time I reached my first class, I was feeling much better. This ‘real school’ thing is not as hard as I thought it would be, and all 6 of my courses are going very well now.

Because I have some dietary restrictions I opted not to eat at the cafeteria. So that means buying my own groceries and cooking for myself on top of school. Good thing I have lots of practice in this area! Cooking for the family over the past four years has certainly paid off. Grocery shopping and budgeting are not new to me, but I am still learning to check flyers for savings, use the store rewards card, and avoid impulse buys. The nearest grocery store is a 15 minute walk from my residence, so I can combine exercise and errands into one trip.

Learning to manage my time throughout my high school years was the biggest blessing in disguise. Although it was difficult at the time, it prepared me for living on my own and university life. In high school I used a study technique called the Pomodoro technique. I do 25 minutes of studying/writing/reading, take a 5 minute break, and repeat. A few hours of studying go by very quickly this way. I can complete projects way before the deadline if I manage my time and exercise self-control. Weekends are my time to catch up on laundry, cook for myself, or spend some time with friends, which leads to my next point…

#2.  Have a support system.

There is no way I would be coping so well if it weren’t for the support of my friends here in the city. My family lives 3 hours away, so Mom has been texting me often to make sure I’m doing alright and sometimes the fam-jam will call me or Skype message me because they miss me quite a bit. This contact with them is great, but it doesn’t replace real life contact. Thankfully, I’ve got friends here in the city and in the past few weeks, we’ve gone for walks, had coffee at various shops, gone swing dancing, went for a beer after Adoration, and sat on a park bench watching the sun set and the city lights come on. This support system has kept me optimistic and I know that no matter what struggles I face, I am not alone. 

#3.  Prayer life is vital.

vital:  adj, essential to or supporting life; necessary to existence. From the Latin vita meaning life. 

Indeed it is. When planning out my day, I set aside 45 minutes for prayer in the morning. Angelus, morning offering, Rosary, and some time in silence can be fit into this block. I find that this time in prayer is a good way of preparing for the day and fortifying myself through God’s grace. I feel WAY better when I start my day like this. Because of my class schedule, I can’t make it to daily Mass, but I try to go to Mass or Adoration at some point between Monday and Friday. I need to recharge and be filled by my Savior.

That’s all I have for reflection now. Praise God for all the blessings He has given me! Not everything has been perfect, but His love endures and overcomes even the greatest sorrows. Remember that He loves you and nothing can separate you from that love!

 

Life right now

Ah, fall.

I hoped to spend it reading philosophy, sipping hot chocolate, and musing over the meaning of life (or how to spin the Pope’s latest words into something Catholic).

However, like any other homeschooling grade 12 student, I had a lot of other things with which I filled my schedule.

A little rest and relaxation is important though, so I did pick up A Midsummer Night’s Dream in my spare time. Yes, I read Shakespeare for fun. My voice teacher also lent me a short book called William Shakespeare’s Star Wars:  Verily, a New Hope by Ian Doescher.  It basically tells the story of Star Wars IV (or I, of original trilogy) in the style of Shakespeare. Quite amusing it is.

I wish I could say I’ve picked up a load of piano pieces for fun, but right now I need to focus on learning exam pieces for June. My latest piece is J.S. Bach’s Prelude & Fugue in B flat major. I thought the Prelude would be difficult, but it’s all wrist rotation in the right hand. Bazinga. Still getting started on the Fugue. Only 3 voices in it; lucky break.

Until next time, God bless!

End of the Homeschool year

We are done. So very done.

Well, maybe its just me, but I think we’ve done enough organised book-work for the 2014-2015 school year. 😉

The kids all worked hard and pulled together in a couple of difficult situations throughout this year. They have all matured in their own special ways, and all of them have learned something. Here is a re-cap:

 

THE FOOTBALL PLAYER

Dad taught him how to weld this year, and the two of them are rebuilding a car from a Model A frame that Dad bought before us kids were born. The football player is also working on beginning algebra and English vocabulary expansion via reading. He finished spring season football two weeks ago, and after a few weeks of camp, he is playing during the regular season starting in late August.

THE TWEEN HIPPY-DIPLOMAT

Math, phonics, music, and science were non-issues for her this year. However, she started the school year doing grade 3 spelling, and she is twelve. (Disclaimer: if anyone is wanting to use this as a case against homeschooling, first go and test any publicly schooled twelve-year-old’s spelling.) We have been focusing on that as our main point. Over the past few years, Mom and I wanted her to read more, and in turn, improve her spelling. In January, she read White Fang by Jack London. That did it for her! There was enough action and use of adjectives to draw her into the story and keep her excited. She went on to read the Silver Chief books and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Her spelling is coming along, and she can keep working on it over the summer.

THE TYPE-A INTROVERT

The industrious, little Cinderella of the family continues to struggle with math and reading. Last summer, she and The Debater did the 100 Days of Reading challenge (Mom’s idea). It meant that for 100 days, each kid would read aloud to Mom, Dad, The Football Player, or myself. If they completed the challenge, each of them would get twenty dollars. It went well, and their reading improved steadily! After a hiatus though, she forgot a few sight words, and has difficulty shaping her sentences at all. She works at it, but it doesn’t come to her as easily as it does to The Debater. She is starting to understand more of the missing number problems in math, her piano skills are coming along, and reading–well, it will come. . .

THE DEBATER

This kid could argue any person to the point of insanity. He is a math and music wizard, and like the tween, has discovered a love of reading (Lego idea books especially). He started the year in grade 1 spelling and phonics, and grade 2 math. He is now doing grade 2 spelling and grade 3 phonics and math. His struggle? Listening to directions! 😛

THE PRINCESS

The youngest child in the family is only preschool age, so this year she mostly played with Barbie and her Lego set. She is starting to draw figures that make some sense. Last September I looked over her shoulder once and said, “What’s this you’re drawing? Oh, of course its a kitty, how silly of me!” She is drawing pictures of her siblings and making Lego figures of everyone in the family. Over the summer I’ll be teaching her the alphabet and counting to 30 or so.

 

As for myself, I am still working on algebra (blech), music history, and an English course. Over the school year I took a Latin course, and it was awesome! I can hardly wait to return to it in the fall. After a few weeks of summer camp, I will be organising the kids’ school books for one final year of teaching before I leave for university in fall 2016. I am continuing to practice piano over the summer, and I have a list of over a dozen grade 9/10 pieces which I would like to tackle. For now, the garden needs weeding, the kids still need supper, laundry still needs to be folded, the kitchen needs to be cleaned, and the world still burns. Am I discouraged? Nope. Its all part of working towards sainthood and growing in love, for God and neighbor!