Monday, June 22, 2015

Meet Melissa!

Melissa with RyleyAnn and Ruben
Today we are going to be chatting with Melissa, an eight-year veteran of home schooling! She is going to be going through our new Modern American and World History study over the next months and will be sharing her experience at her blog, Reflections from Drywood Creek.

She has already reviewed our History of California and our History of the Horse. You can read those reviews here and here.  She also just reviewed our Western Expansion guide - read that review here. Melissa also writes about using the Charlotte Mason method and I know many of our readers will thoroughly enjoy her thought-provoking entries on the philosophy behind the educational philosophy. Check those entries out here.

BFB: What originally drew you to homeschooling?
Melissa: Right from the time RileyAnn was in my womb, our first birth child, I knew I didn't want to send her to public school. I felt fortunate to have a parochial school education through 8th grade in our rural farming community. I felt strongly about small class sizes and one on one instruction. I also felt strongly about parental involvement and less government control. We weren't sure we would send our kids to a parochial school, but I hoped for some other option aside from public school.

When our older girls, Jennifer and Angel, came to us as foster kids, they attended public school because that's the nature of the beast here in WI. You cannot homeschool foster kids. Theirs was not initially an adoptive placement so I had not thought a lot about other educational options for them. However, once the adoption was finalized, as time went on, I started to wonder if public school was the best place for them. Jennifer was in special education and Angel struggled socially right from day one. So much so, that by the time she reached 6th grade, it was unbearable. A month into the school year, I decided to pull Angel from public school. It felt like a rash decision at the time because I had no plan B. I was also a member of our public school board, which was more than a little awkward.

That week, I met with teachers at the parochial school and even borrowed their books to take home and study. I made some phone calls to teaching friends and homeschool acquaintances. After a week's worth of prayer, study, and networking, it was decided I would homeschool Angel for the rest of that year. Jennifer was just starting public high school. She was a gifted athlete who did OK academically and wasn't struggling socially so she stayed and eventually graduated from public school.

At this same time, RileyAnn was attending a Christian preschool two mornings per week. It felt like I had a foot in every door. Because Riley has a early September birthday, she was almost a whole year older than most kids at preschool giving her an edge in every area. At the semester change, with mixed feelings, it was decided to move her up to the 4K room, which was two full days per week. I will never forget the end of the first week, when I picked her up and asked the teacher how it went. She stated Riley did better than most of the kids that had been there all year. Part of me was flattered and part of me was saddened, seeing a huge red flag go up.

Many days I remember dropping her off and seeing wild chaos. Little boys running and wrestling. Kids crying in the corner. After a short time, Riley also began crying every morning that I dropped her off. She just wanted to stay home with me. Though it broke my heart, I've always been of the mind that you should finish what you start. I struggled greatly with this because I already had Angel home and technically Riley didn't belong in school yet anyway. The only thing she learned that year was bad behavior. We were both miserable. Long story short, by the end of the school year, we decided it was in Angel and Riley's best interest to proceed with homeschooling.

I have learned a great deal over the years of homeschooling and continue to learn daily. At this point, I LOVE homeschooling and can't imagine it any other way! I enjoy being with our kids on a regular basis. It's a gift to watch them grow and learn!

BFB: How long have you been homeschooling? What ages are you children?
Melissa: I am just finishing up our 8th year of homeschooling. Jennifer is now an adult public school graduate, Angel is an adult homeschool graduate, RileyAnn is an 11-year old 5th grader, Ruben is a 10-year old 4th grader, and Levi is soon to be 3 years old.

BFB: How did you discover Beautiful Feet Books? Has the philosophy behind BFB influenced how you teach other subjects?
Melissa: I've always been a huge educational junkie so as soon as the homeschool ball was in motion, I started researching curricula. During our second year, I stopped at a thrift sale in which a veteran homeschooling mom was selling her books. She had the complete set of D'Aulaire books and the BF Early American Primary guide for sale, which she told me was one of her favorite programs. I thought the picture books were absolutely beautiful so I bought them and set them on the shelf.

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, I networked with other homeschooling moms, one of which, mentioned Beautiful Feet. This led me to further research, particularly in our 3rd year, as it was decided Angel would continue homeschooling through high school. I had acquired a couple other BF guides and started asking questions on our local homeschool forum about the program. Of course, there were a couple of moms who thought it would be a great supplement, but not "rigorous" enough for high school. Initially, their comments overruled the one mom who used BF for high school and loved it, so we started homeschooling high school with another program. However, after Angel's 9th grade year, I started looking at BF more seriously and decided to give it a try as a supplement to her 10th grade world history study.

Angel actually really enjoyed BF, slightly better than the other program we initially started with. She felt the BF guide questions were more thought provoking than what she'd been using. From there, we continued her 11th and 12th grade years with BF and I've since been using other guides with our younger children. At this point, I'm utterly convinced that BF is more than a supplement and is definitely rigorous enough. Beautiful Feet's philosophy fits nicely with the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, which is our preferred method.

BFB: What has been the greatest joy of homeschooling? The greatest challenge?
Melissa: The greatest joy of homeschooling is seeing our kids learn and grow on a day to day basis. You know the euphoria you feel when your child takes their first step or says their first word, I'm blessed to experience that feeling with many more firsts on a regular basis. I also treasure my relationship with my children as well as their relationship with each other. The time we spend together has created an extra special bond.

My greatest challenge in homeschooling is modifying curricula to meet each child's need. Our children have dyslexia, so finding methods to help them learn and retain has taken extra effort on my part.

Thank you Melissa for letting us peak in to your homeschool world. We are looking forward to hearing about your family's experience in using our Modern American and World History program. For more info on our newest guide, click here.

Our new 2015-2016 catalog is now available! If you want to view it right now it's available
online here. And if you would like to request a hardcopy, click here.

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