Category Archives: Homeschooling

The Week That Was

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Wow, the first week of the year was a busy one!!!!  So busy in fact, all the planned blog posts fell into the polar vortex that was a big part of last week.  We literally dove right in to the week with an out of the house activity everyday.  So, yes, even on those frigid days – we left the house.  This is far from typical – on average we do leave the house 3 days out of the week .  So, what were we doing, you might ask…….let me tell you.

Monday – our speech club resumed from holiday break.  So, we schooled in the morning and then speech club for the afternoon.  I teach the juniors and being our second semester – we gently introduce them to speech categories like extemporaneous and apologetics.  We also delve into debate as the semester continues.  For many, this is their first introduction to these categories, so we aren’t hard and fast with the rules like NCFCA is for the competitors.

Tuesday – this was a c-o-l-d day but piano practice beckoned.  I dropped the kids off and did some grocery shopping since I was already out of the house.  Returning home and sitting in front of the fire was a treat.

Wednesday – this is our co-op day.  We started our winter session so that meant new classes.  I am teaching a math class based on Math Counts and I still have the little ones for PE/Health.  I knew that I wasn’t scheduled for anything for our 3rd hour so I thought it was nap free time.  This is one of the reasons reading is important boys and girls….once I finally read the entire class schedule, I realized I was scheduled for Moms in Prayer.  I had no idea what this was but went off to meet up with the 2 other moms.  God knows what we need and this hour spend in prayer for our children, the children of the other moms, our co-op, and others was truly a blessing.  I am excited that this session, I can stand in the gap with the other moms. (If you have never heard of this group, it is international, click the link to learn more.  We adapted it for homeschool purposes)

Thursday – this was our first meeting day for our 4-H Trailblazers club.  It is a homeschool club and we are excited about the opportunities ahead.  There were a few other new members that were welcomed and the installation of new officers.  The kids participated in a geospatial teach back done by the older kids and engaged in planning for this year.  I continue to pray that this will be a nice fit for our family.

Friday – we headed off to the Microsoft store for another class via the 4-H program.  It was a movie making class and the kids had a great time.  They allowed them to take the Surface tablets and go around the store and take pics or video and they used MovieMaker to edit the movie, add special effects, music and more.  All of the kids did a great job and were given flash drives to put their movies on and take home.  We played ours on the tv for hubby when we returned home.  He was amazed at what they had done.  🙂
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Whew!  The weekend had more to-do items and Friday night included dropping off/picking up the Princess at a birthday party.  All in all, I am thankful and grateful for the opportunities, safe traveling mercies and the relationships that were nurtured during the course of the week.  Hopefully, I can adjust to our new schedule quickly and develop a nice rhythm for our family.

I’ve also been reading up more on my thyroid condition – more to come on that later.

Happy Monday!!!

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Homeschooling – The Mid Year Review

January marks that mid year point in our homeschooling journey where we take a moment to look back and see what is working, what hasn’t worked, what can be tweaked, and what needs to be tossed out the window.  This is our 7th year and trust me, there have been lots of evaluations and things changed mid-stream.  So, during my most recent look back, I was once again amazed at what God showed me about what we are doing and what we should be doing.

Bible/Character

We started this school year using the KONOS Obedience unit study for Bible and Character.  We thoroughly enjoyed it and when we were nearing completion, I wondered what we were going to use next.  I decided to continue with KONOS and purchased Volume II on Ebay.  We are going to start with Responsibility because honestly, I see some holes in that area.  The holes exist not only in schoolwork but also in other areas of their lives.  If they don’t learn responsibility they will be irresponsible and frankly, there are more than enough irresponsible folks in the world, so I don’t need to add two more.  😉  As a part of learning responsibility, I will create charts on the skills that we want them to learn and gauge whether how well they are doing them until they can do them proficiently.

Math

The funny thing about homeschooling is that homeschoolers often say that one of the reasons that we chose homeschooling is because we realize all children are different and learn in different ways.  Now what is funnier than that – when we forget that and continue with a curriculum/program with another child because it was such a good fit with another child.  Yes, my son and daughter have been using the same math curriculum and quite frankly, it was working for both of them for awhile.  Now my son hit a bump in the program – knew how to do the problems but just wasn’t interested.  He was going through the motions and being that my  husband and I (& others) feel he is gifted in math, I didn’t want his flame to burn out.  He & I had a chat and he indicated that he would like to do math on his own.  After my initial shock, I delved further and told him I would think about it.  A few days later, while at the local thrift store aka homeschooler hang out area (seriously ran into 2 families that day), God gave me the epiphany that I was trying to ram my square peg (son) into a round hole (the math program).  This epiphany came after son figured out the cost of an item dealing with percentages (it was a sale day) rather quickly and could it explain it so well that the other mom asked me what I was doing with him for math and I had to admit that he likes to go off on Khan Academy and tinker around with things beyond his grade level.  Hubby and I have decided that since he is ahead of his grade level in math that we are going to let him try his hand at using Khan Academy for his math program.  I am listed as his coach so I will assign him work with a due date and he will be responsible for completing it.  We shall see how this works out for him and for me.

Surprisingly, our other items are remaining the same and the kids have given them the thumbs up.  We are adding in 4-H which should prove interesting.  It is a homeschool club so the kids know most of the kids in the program but we will see how it fits into our schedule and lives.

The not so surprising part is that this week being the first week of the year means that we will be out of the day everyday because of one of the activities that they are involved in – it is all good stuff but let’s just say that I will be tickled pink when Friday evening arrives.

So, what has your mid year review revealed?

Ch-ch-changes

Fall is in the air and there is change all around us.

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This year a change came about in our homeschooling – we joined a co-op. The timing was right and the group is a nice fit being that we knew a few of the families from other homeschool functions. So far, things are going well. The kids are taking a math enrichment class, PE, and Apologia Human Anatomy & Physiology. I teach PE to the K-3 and a spelling class for this first term. The PE is interesting in that I forgot how it is to keep little ones entertained. 😉

Of course, joining this co-op has made our schedule change. Piano already occupied Tuesday afternoons and speech club takes up every other Monday and now co-op is Wednesday afternoons weekly. Did I mention that Wednesday evenings are AWANA? Yes, a tight timeframe exists when we arrive home from co-op before we are out the door heading to AWANA. Pre-planning meals for Monday through Wednesday helps me keep my sanity.

I remember Deb Bell saying at the last Real Refreshment Retreat, that co-ops are a good way to motivate the often unmotivated and I must say there is some truth in it. :-). The Princess has responded well to the co-op environment. She is finding herself and my prayer is that God will help me in this process as we seek to raise a godly young lady.

So, what changes are happening in your neck of the woods?

A Time of Real Refreshment

Over the weekend, I was blessed to attend the Real Refreshment homeschool mom’s retreat in Baltimore. This event is sponsored by Apologia, yes the makers of some awesome curricula, BUT it is not about hawking their wares – it is about equipping moms with the spiritual tools needed for homeschooling. Women travel from Massachusetts, New York, West Virginia, there was even a lady I met from South Dakota to attend this retreat as they are primarily held in Baltimore and Atlanta. Knowing of the large contingent of Christian homeschoolers just in the Maryland, DC, Virginia area, I am surprised that the event is not bursting at the seams. In the end, the women that were present were the women that God intended to be there and being one of them, I can say it was fantastic!

This is my second year attending and when I went last year, I was in a desperate place. I have homeschooled from the beginning but some things were not working with my then 3rd and 4th graders. Despite realizing that they weren’t working there was a part of me holding on to these not working items for.dear.life. Just like a kid trying to put a square peg in a round hole, I was forcing myself and my kids to suffer through some bad times. There was little to no joy in our homeschool and momma was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e and we all know that old saying……suffice it to say, things weren’t pretty. When I read about the retreat, I quickly sent hubby an email, saying momma needs to go to this and he so quickly responded with “yes, please register”. Yes, he was desperate as well for some change. On the first day of the retreat, the truths shared shed light into the dark places and just broke me down. On the second day, the truths served to build me back up but in a better way and when I left, I was free of some of those things that had me shackled. Hallelujah!!

Fast forward to this year and I was in a different place. I wasn’t desperate and at my wit’s end. I had seen how God had been changing me over the past year but I knew I wasn’t where He would have me to be. I didn’t know what to expect this year but I expected to be changed, in a good way. I arrived Friday morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the Nuts & Bolts section. I sat with some amazing women and bumped into a friend from the previous year. For the break-out sessions, I listened to Debra Bell. I absolutely adore this woman. She is so practical and shares insights that always speak to me. Her planners revolutionized things in our house after the last retreat. :). By the time evening rolled around for our main sessions, I was amped even though I knew there was going to be a time of soul searching and probably tears. At least this year, they included packets of tissues in the goody bag. I was right, the prayer session did lead to tears and became a serious point of reflection for me. As I drove home, I was deep in thought about a lot of things not just homeschool related but also friendships with other women related due to a talk by Deb Bell.

Saturday was another day full of God’s new mercies and grace and as I kissed hubby goodbye (kids were at my parents) and headed back to the retreat, I was ready for more. Saturday’s speakers didn’t disappoint! However, the last speaker, Heidi St. John, really cut to the core about the state of Christianity and how easily some of us are being deceived. I know not exactly homeschool related but it was in that as moms we are shepherdesses of the next generation. Not only our own children, but even their friends. We must always be on guard to the ways of the devil because he is out to kill, steal and destroy our marriages, our children, our families, and more. She showed a beautiful painting of a shepherdess and her sheep and the image really hit home for me.

At the end of those two days, I came home renewed, refreshed, and reinvigorated. It was a blessed time and I look forward to next year. If you are a homeschooling mom, I encourage you to seek out this retreat or another because we all need to be poured into so that we can continue pouring out.

One Week Later

So, I have been 40 for 1 week now and the brain couldn’t think of a catchier blog title.   My birthday started with hubby and the kids singing to me at 5:30 a.m. and as I groggily listened they gave me my present.  I had to fumble for my glasses as my husband is parsimonious and that is actually one of the reasons I love him dearly so needless to say, I was more than a little surprised.  The kids and I set it up and stayed in my bed and in our pj’s until about 8ish.  We have downloaded lots of fun apps and would love to hear which ones you like for educational purposes for a 4th and 3rd grader.  They absolutely love Stack the States!!

The rest of my day was spent with the kids and my parents as we did a little shopping and eating.  The rest of the week was fun and I must admit that I was more than a bit lazy by taking full advantage of birthday week perks.  A friend treated me to a pedi/mani on Saturday and it was relaxing and enjoyable to just sit back but I kept thinking that the lady was extremely s-l-o-w.  Every time, I thought of how s-l-o-w she was, I kept having this nagging thought that hubby was trying to plan me a party.  But, you see, he is not big on parties and every time I pressed him about it, he had very logical explanations.  You see, about 2 months ago, my cell phone had a childhood friend’s number on the screen as if someone went through my contacts but didn’t exit completely.  I found the email address of this same friend on a piece of mail.  His explanation for contacting her wasn’t that plausible but passable enough.  My girlfriend had to return shoes after the pedi/mani and she was very slow in doing that and then we had to pick up a friend of hers that was in the opposite direction from my house.  I called my parents and they weren’t home during this time which also led me to be suspicious.  Long story short, he did throw me a surprise party on Saturday and while I had my suspicions none were ever confirmed so I was surprised.  Good thing, I went to the nail salon in a cute dress.  😉

It was a very nice affair with lots of family and friends.  If you knew my husband, you would know that this isn’t in his make-up but I am so thankful that he pushed beyond to as he put it “show me how much he loves me.”  God, I love that man!!!!

We started our new homeschooling year yesterday.  Things went well and looking forward to some new things – new piano teacher and new speech/debate club.  The kids were excited as well.  They had laid out their clothes the night before and packed their backbags.  They walked out the back door and spent some time outside before coming back in – they wanted to feel like they walked to school.  Too funny!  🙂

On paper, the schedule looks good but I know that there will be days when I feel like,

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I think that is sooooo cute!

Learning is a lifetime adventure, so we will keep learning and laughing and sometimes crying along the way.

Our July was miserably hot and August has been so full of rain, I thought I was going to have to pull out Noah’s ark building instructions.  As a result, my garden looks a hot mess!!!!  Corn and sunflowers easily 7 feet tall and growing and the weeds are not that far behind them.  I need to tackle that as well and sprinkle a few fall crop seeds as my planting window is closing quickly.  I have been putting up food but I have not canned as much this year as in year’s past.  Not sure of why – lack of time, long string of 100 degree days – may have something to do with it but hey, who knows?

Need to gather up library books and get ready for lunch.  Don’t forget to share your fave apps for the kids and some for mommy. 🙂

Scheduling and Homeschooling

It is that time of the year again when I find myself up to my eyeballs in books, paper, HST+, and more as I try to figure out our upcoming homeschool schedule. I must admit that I did drink the homeschool kool-aid and believed that we could blow through all work by 12 noon and have the rest of the day for leisure. 🙂 Making sure my little cherubs are bursting at the seams with information takes more than a few hours. Especially when you add in piano, chores and runs to the library.

We follow the classical approach as prescribed by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind. When you factor in 2 hours a day for language arts, 45-60 min for math, another 1 hour for Latin and vocabulary roots, lunch, and then history and science 2 – 3 times a week, noon has long passed us by. Oops, forgot art, music and once a month book club. Oh, and Bible and free reading. Before you think, I am complaining, I am not. I understood that taking over the responsibility for our children’s education should not be taken lightly nor should one go into thinking everyday will be a walk in the park. You can’t blame the teachers, the school system, the lack of books, too many kids in the classroom or anything else because it is on you (I mean me).

This year, I am going to do time blocks for our subject areas instead of my normal anal retentive planning down to the minute as I try to split myself between 2 children. I think this will work out better especially since the Princess has shown that she can go through some of her work without my help. Plus, that has saved us a both a few arguments, I mean fruitful learning discussions. We are changing some of our resources this year, so I am plowing through them to develop workable lessons plans and I must admit, I am excited. I do however wish that someone could plan out my schedule for me and input all of my lesson plans into HST+. 😉

How is your homeschool planning coming along?