Showing posts with label Homeschooling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homeschooling. Show all posts

A Few Homeschool Finds



I am an admitted school supply nerd.  Even when I was a kid, I remember loving the feeling of holding a brand-new notebook.  Oh, the possibilities!  Usually it just ended up full of math problems or spelling words, but still.

So every late summer and fall, I get a little bit excited about shopping for school supplies, and I think being a homeschool mom makes it even a little bit more fun, because all of these supplies are things that I'll get to be using with my kids!  It's like childhood all over again.

Stores are weird now though, and the school supplies start showing up in July before the fireworks even start to fade from the sky.  I am a little bitter about constantly being rushed into the next season by retail, but at the same time, I have to snag the good stuff while it's still available, don't I?  So when I found out that Target was having a teacher discount earlier this month, I knew I better get over there and see what I could find before all the cute stuff is gone.



Here is what I bought!

Blank Books - Does anyone else remember writing and illustrating their own stories in a blank book at school?  I loved it any time I was presented with a blank book as a project.  I'm looking forward to using these to make writing a little more exciting for Wyatt this year.



Tassel Garland and Letterboard - I found a colorful tassel garland that I thought would be a cute decoration for a schoolroom, as well as a mini letter board for three bucks.  

Watercolor Pencils - We try to do a little bit of drawing instruction, and my kids also love whenever we breakout the paints, so we're going to give these a try.


Four and Three-Letter Word Spinners - These little wooden spinners will be a fun way to practice spelling and will be good for busy work when I am doing something else, like trying to get the little ones down for a nap.

Letter and Math Dice - I think these dice will be another more interesting way to practice spelling or review math facts!

I made a little video to show you guys what I found up close and share more about how I think we'll use them!





Have you found any other fun resources for the school year that I should keep an eye out for?

Doesn't have to be at Target. (I personally hate shopping at Target because I always spend more money there than I intend!  I thought I did pretty well getting out of there for only $30 this time.)

My Homeschool Mom Summer Reading List



Even thought this post is going to be about my summer reading list as a homeschool mom, this is actually the first summer since I started homeschooling my kids that I don't feel an urgency to read a bunch of books about homeschooling over the summer.  Maybe it's because I've started to settle into being a homeschool mom and have become more comfortable with my philosophy and what I'm doing - or maybe I'm just more in need of a break from homeschool stuff now that we are really in it!

Either way, I still think the summer is a great time for me to build up my internal encouragement stock, and homeschool books and talks do that for me.  These are the books that I'm looking at reading this summer.  I took June completely off from homeschool planning, and it was good for me, but I'm ready to tackle these in July and August.



The Underground History Of American Education Volume One by John Taylor Gatto - If you don't know who Gatto is, he won a big "teacher of the year" award, and then promptly quit teaching and spent the rest of his life pointing out some of the problems he saw with the public education system.  His story is always interesting because of what a sharp turnaround he appeared to make.  This particular book is about the history of our public education system in America, including a look at the methods that are used in public schools and where they came from.  I'm expecting to be fascinated.

Homeschool Bravely by Jamie Erikson - I have the opportunity to review this book on the blog (coming soon.  It's about dealing with insecurities as a homeschool mom.  I've read the first couple chapters and already feel encouraged, so I'm really looking forward to the rest of it.  Keep an eye out here for the review when I'm finished with it!

Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill - I found a planning method that I really liked and used last year, but I figure there is always room to tweak things, so I was interested to read this book about planning out the homeschool year.  I'm hoping to pick up a few tips, since I'm still fine-tuning my planning process!




Know And Tell by Karen Glass - Karen Glass has written several books that take a deep dive into different aspects of Charlotte Mason education.  This book goes into depth on narration - what it is, why it's important, and how to do it right.  I am actually not a hard-core Charlotte Mason person, but I do like several of her methods, and narration is one I try to incorporate into our homeschool.  Narration is just the practice of having your child tell you what they learned after reading aloud.  I credit our (rather pathetic) attempts at narration for improving my kids' listening skills during read alouds, so I'm hoping to finish this book and pick up a few more tips!

The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart - If you have ever heard of Brave Writer, Julie Bogart is the creator of that writing curriculum (if you can call it that?  I don't really get Brave Writer).  We don't currently use Brave Writer, but this book still looked interesting to me.  I'd say it looks like a book with general homeschool encouragement, and tips on how to make learning a joy.  I have listened to part of this already, and I'm looking forward to finishing it!



Of course if you want to know my thoughts on each of these books, follow me on Goodreads to keep up with all my reviews!  You can also check out one of my previous homeschool mom summer reading lists.

(Georgie is always following me around the house, and she plopped herself right in my picture and started shouting "cheese!" at me, ha!)

Fellow homeschool moms, what has been your favorite book about homeschooling?  Anything I should add to my "to-read" stack?

Homeschooling And Bad Attitudes (Homeschool Q&A)



Remember how a few months ago I was working on homeschool q&a posts?  Well, I dropped the ball, and the school year is over now, but I still want to go through and answer the questions I got on Instagram a few months back!  This was a really good one about handling bad attitudes.


How do you handle the frustrating days when they lack focus or don't want to work?

This year in particular I've had to deal with more attitudes about school than I've had to up to this point, and we have definitely experienced days where things just aren't clicking and nobody seems to be focused.  My kids are still fairly young, so I'm sure that I'll be learning alot more about how to handle this in the future (especially when my kids reach the dreaded middle school years).  But these are a few things that have helped me at this stage.

Take a break.  My kids sometimes lose focus because I am asking them to do too much schoolwork all in a row.  Young kids especially need time to let their brain rest in between lessons, so if I know I am trying to cram too much in, I'll give them time to play and rest before we come back to whatever we were doing.

Skip a subject.  Sometimes kids just have an unfocused, off day (kind of like we do, right?).  Maybe they didn't get enough sleep, or have alot on their minds.  Often my kids are even distracted by good things, like a project they want to work on outside.  On those days, I use my discretion and sometimes we call it a day early or do a review day instead of trying to struggle through learning a new concept.  We can always catch back up later, when everything is clicking and flowing smoothly (there are those days too!).

Give a little encouragement.  My kids will occasionally have a bad attitude because they think something is "too hard".  Sometimes a little encouragement is in order.  I point out the things they are doing well, and remind them that the more we do this type of work, the easier it will get.  Then I try to keep the lesson that day simple and short, to remind them it's not so difficult after all.



Realize that sometimes it's a discipline issue.  Many times my kids are not focusing for an innocent reason, but sometimes they are actually having a sinful attitude about their schoolwork.  To me, homeschooling is not just about doing school, it's about training my children.  Training them to be obedient when I tell them to do something is part of it, and if the attitude is an obedience issue, then I might have to do some discipline.

If I do have to discipline them for a poor attitude, I also try to take some time to explain the why of schoolwork.  As Christians, we are learning these things so we can glorify God with our minds, learn more about Him and His world, and serve Him better.  (This can be said of any subject, not just Bible studies, and if you haven't thought of things that way before, I'd encourage you to put some thought into how different subject areas glorify God so you can encourage your kids!)  They also need to obey when it comes to their schoolwork, not because it will be easier for me, but because they need to honor their father and mother (Eph. 6:1-3) and do everything to the glory of God (Col. 3:23).  It might seem like alot to explain to a 7 year old, but it's an important concept, and through consistency and repetition I'm hoping they will eventually accept these things as their own.

Finally, I might need to check my attitude.  I'm not going to lie, sometimes it's ME that's having the bad attitude about schoolwork!  I rush sometimes.  I get frustrated when a concept is harder to teach than I thought it would be.  I am distracted and have other things on my mind than the task at hand.  I don't always set a good example, and sometimes their bad attitude might be sprouting from my poor attitude!  This is something I'm trying to keep in mind and improve in myself.

That's all I've got!



Moms, how do you handle it when your child gives you a hard time about schoolwork/homework?


Stuff I Like | May 2019



May was rather a dry month - in terms of finding things I liked, not in terms of moisture.  If we are referring to actual precipitation, it snowed here in May, a couple times!  Maybe the snow put a damper on my enthusiasm for finding stuff I like, because this month's post is a bit sparse on actual recommendations and a bit heavy on chattiness.  I'll do better in June.

The Trees

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that our trees finally flowered in May!  For about two weeks.  Before the snow made all the flowers turn black.  But I was happy that we got to enjoy them for a little while at least, and I did get some flowery pictures, so all is not lost!  All our trees are just late this year.




By Dawn's Early Light, Adventures In Odyssey

One of my favorite moments from this school year was when we learned about the war of 1812 this month.  While I love Beautiful Feet Books for history, this particular book was a little dry, and was not holding my kids' attention, so I put the book down and told them in my own words the story of how The Star Spangled Banner was written.  They were fascinated.  I've always loved that story from American history, and it was such a joy to me to pass on that inspiration I've always found in our national anthem and it's history.  The look on my kids' faces was priceless to me.

Anyway, I will never forget the Adventures In Odyssey episode on The Star Spangled Banner, and I played it for my kids after we finished our lesson.  They spent the rest of the evening drawing pictures to illustrate, and Gwen got especially detailed with hers.

I didn't realize it before, but there are a lot of free Adventures In Odyssey episodes online!  But absolutely listen to By Dawn's Early Light with your kids, it's one of my favorites.

Lancome Skincare

After limping along on nearly-empty skincare bottles for months, Derek bought me my favorite Lancome moisturizer for Mother's Day!  I also squeezed the Creme Confort Cleanser and Tonique Radiance Toner back into my budget.  I've tried quite a few skincare lines in the past few years, and Lancome is still my favorite - I haven't found another line that gives my skin a "glowy" look even when I'm not pregnant.  My skin is happy going into summer!

This Potpurri Recipe

Who does potpourri these days?  Well, apparently I do.  I ran across this recipe on Pinterest and realized that I had every ingredient already in my kitchen, so I gave it a try.  Guys, it scented my whole house.  And it wasn't a stale, musty potpourri smell, it was fresh and clean and just as spring-like as promised.  I definitely recommend giving the ol' potpourri a try!

Sonic Ice

Okay, if I'm honest, I've liked Sonic ice every month this year.  In April, when I accidentally announced on Instagram that I was pregnant when I wasn't pregnant (that happens to everyone, right?), I was actually just trying to muse about why I am craving that soft, crunchy Sonic ice so much these days.

My theory is that my body hasn't caught up since I was pregnant last, and I'm still somewhat iron deficient - hence the ice obsession, because I nearly always crave it when I'm a little low in iron (which has usually been when I was pregnant in the past, hence the Instagram misunderstanding). Surely my iron stores will get back to normal eventually, right?  I'm not sure whether to indulge the ice cravings, or find an iron supplement and see if that changes anything.



The End Of The School Year

We finished up our homeschool year about a week ago!  I'll try to do a homeschool year in review post soon, but honestly, I've been loving not thinking about school at all.

I read so many fiction books last week.  So many, including three from my summer hold list.  I always thought it took me so long to read books, but look at me go when I have a week off from other obligations!  It's been a reading dream, I tell you.  I finally unpacked the last box from our move.  I organized the school cabinet and ironed out my plans for summer fun with the kids.  I vacuumed the floors and washed the sheets.  I accomplished so much. It's just been lovely.

Don't get me wrong, I love homeschooling and wouldn't have it any other way.  I'm looking forward to the homeschool conference next week, and I've got a "homeschool mom reading list" for the summer (another post possibly coming soon).  But I just don't know that I could do the year-round thing and not take a summer break.  Breaks give me life.


I hope you are having a beautiful start to your summer break!  (Also, tell me your favorite skincare products and give me all your suspected-iron-deficiency advice, please!)


Just Chatting



I pour a little half and half in the bottom of a pink marble mug, and top it off with sub-par coffee because we are out of the good stuff.  The kids are eating breakfast and watching an episode of Little Bear.  There are some TV shows that wind kids up, and some that are calming to children, and thankfully Little Bear is of the calming variety in our household.

I go around the corner and settle into the homeschool room.  I set up this room so we'd have a quiet(ish) corner of the house to do work in, but I've also found it serves quite well in the morning when I am trying to sneak in some personal Bible study time.  I am working through Hebrews (again), and close my eyes to run through the first three chapters in my head.  I was hoping to have chapter four memorized by now, but I always am too optimistic on these things, no matter how hard I try to be realistic.

And now quiet time is over, the kids are starting to get bored with Little Bear, and I am still sitting down to attempt to write this chatty post.



On Being "So Busy" And Feeling Like Myself

Elizabeth wrote a similar post about hobbies recently, and she mentioned that although she would never want to poo-poo those who are single when they say they "are so busy" (because doesn't every stage feel so busy?), the difference when you have kids is that you're busy, and any time you start something there is always the possibility of being interrupted.  I fully concur with that.  There are so many things I don't try to do, or posts I don't start to write, because I know I'm going to get interrupted.  But this is me breaking the pattern and spilling out some words anyway, even though I will likely be interrupted in the next five minutes.  Something is better than nothing, right?

March is the first month this year where I've actually felt like myself again!  I don't know what it was about January and February, but I just felt somewhat lost both months, like I was running to catch up to my life.  I realized I probably had to let some things go, and cut some things out of my life that were discouraging me.  I quit Bible study because it was just too much right now, put myself on a social media diet because I was escaping to it too often, and planned a few spontaneous field trip days for me and the kids because I used to do that all the time and I miss it.  

(I didn't know what photo to put in this section, so here is me in January, before my non-burgundy roots started to grow out. Maybe I should get my hair re-done one of these days...a hair appointment has never hindered me from feeling like myself, just saying.)

On Not Hating Spring Anymore

Though I do actually enjoy the winter, seeing some signs of Spring has helped bring me out of the duldrums as well.  I took the kids to a park twice this week, and we could have been in short sleeves, it was so nice.  The grass is greening up in town, and I am keeping my eyes peeled for flowering trees to start budding so I can whip out my camera and get some spring-time pictures of the kids (the only thing I regret about living in the mountains is that we don't have flowering trees).






The kids like to bring me "flowers" from outside, even though it's really just handfuls of dead grass (don't try to tell them that though).  But I was pleased to see the other day that in the midst of the grass and dirt clods that were left on my counter, there was a small, green, fern-like plant as well.  So spring is coming, even in the mountains.  

I used to hate spring, hate it, because up here it's mostly just mud season.  Snow is melting, but nothing is growing yet, and your shoes are constantly muddy.  But somewhere in the last couple years I realized maybe my loathing of spring was based on a limited, immature view of it.  When I was young, I hated hiking too, but now I enjoy the exercise.  When I was young, I hated going on mountain drives because it seemed boring, but now I love to explore new roads in the car and find all the gorgeous views.  When I was young, I hated spring because it was muddy and dull...and it's still rather muddy and dull, but when you look closer, you can see the signs of life returning after a long winter, and there is something more refreshing about it now.  Everything starts new again.  There is a redemption to it that I never saw when I was young.

Of course, it also helps that I can now drive to places where there are flowering trees (I love flowering trees).

On Medieval Guilds, Juggling, And Music

We are on the countdown until the end of the school year, and I have been tracking the days on our calendar and the lessons left in our curriculum book daily to make sure they are lining up.  I am not one who thinks you must finish the book before the end of the year, but I also don't want to reach our last day and realize we only have a few more lessons left.  The Type-A side of me would not be able to rest.  We are mostly on track though, and I am thinking of tripling up on our math lessons for a couple weeks so we can finish math early and take the last month of school to just focus on "fun stuff" - history and science.  I think it might be a nice way to wind down the year.

Speaking of winding down the school year, and also speaking of history, our co-op is doing our big spring event next week, a medieval "guild".  Each family is supposed to pick a trade, make some goods, and dress up in medieval garb to come barter at the marketplace.  I cannot tell you how much mental anguish I have gone through trying to figure out what to make.  I had signed us up to be weavers, but then realized how ridiculous it was to think that I could "weave" (knit) enough...something...to trade at the guild, all by myself.  Because of course my little non-knitting kids would not be a help.  I was thinking about shifting to some other simple cloth-related craft, but couldn't come up with a tight enough idea.  So after much frustration I switched us to being the jugglers.  Juggling is kind of a trade, right?  Court jesters and all that?  Okay, no, none of us can actually juggle, but we can make some pretty neat little juggling balls, and it's a lot simpler than weaving something.

And speaking of co-op, we also did a field trip the other day to an "inside the orchestra" event, and it immediately made me regret not taking up the violin in my younger days.  It also made me want to break out my flute again.  It's really tricky to learn how to make the flute actually make noise, and I already have that part down from years ago, so I'm halfway to playing it, right?  In reality I am not a very musically talented person, but I so wish I was.  Enthusiasm counts for something, I think.



On Book Clubs And Reading Too Many Books At Once

Despite never thinking I could keep up with a book club, I have found myself in two book clubs over the last year.  I get excited about book clubs because it's so nice to read a book and have someone to talk to about it.  I love reading a book at the same time as friends or family so we can discuss it later.  But I will also admit that I get a smidge stressed about book clubs or buddy reads, because I am such an ADD reader.  I can't stick with just one book!

Recently I decided enough is enough and I would just read one book at a time, and read that book clear through before picking up another one.  That idea lasted for all of one book before I was back to reading a chapter here and there from five books again.  The problem is that I am a mood reader, and my moods change so often.  I also have a terrible time deciding what I am in the mood for and feel like I have to try five books before I can decide...and then I inevitably never decide and just continue piece-mealing five books at once.

(Who am I kidding, it's more like 10-15 books at once.)

I am going to try the one book thing again, maybe with my most recent bookclub book, Far From The Madding Crowd.  Have you read that one?  PSA: It's free on Kindle.

Chime in, do you play musical instruments, enjoy or hate spring, read too many books at once, or have experience with medieval guilds?  

Tips and tricks appreciated.

How We Connect With Other Homeschoolers


How often do you connect with other homeschoolers? Are there alot in your community?

There are actually a decent amount of homeschoolers in our community, and that helps a ton, but I think connecting with other homeschoolers probably requires some effort no matter where you live.  Over the last couple years, I made the decision to get involved in a few things for the purpose of helping us meet other homeschool families.  So now there are a few ways that we connect with other homeschoolers:

1) Play dates and field trips with homeschooled friends.  I am very blessed to have so many mom-friends that have also decided to homeschool their kids.  I always knew my sister would be in the homeschooling trenches with me, and so we will always have cousins to plan things with, which is a huge blessing.  Even having one other person in your life who is also homeschooling is a huge encouragement.  And then I was pleasantly surprised when my kids reached school-age and I realized that several of my close mom-friends were also planning on homeschooling their kids!  We plan field trips and playdates with our homeschooled friends about 1-2 times a month.

 (Pictures from a hike with our friends last fall!)

2) Co-op.  This year I joined a homeschool co-op (not Classical Conversations, someone always asks that - my thoughts on CC is another post altogether).  My kids are still so young, the co-op is not something I joined for academic reasons (thankfully it's a pretty laid-back co-op!).  I joined to make connections with some of the homeschoolers in my area, and to give us opportunities to do some things that we wouldn't do by ourselves (hello, frog dissections).  It's been nice for my kids to make other friends who are also homeschoolers, and I have found so many like-minded homeschooling mamas, many who are ahead of me in their schooling journeys.  I think it's a great advantage to get to know other homeschool moms who are just a little ahead of you - they have so many tips.

3) Community Bible Study.  We are actually taking a break from Bible study right now, for a few reasons.  But when we do participate in Bible study it's an opportunity to meet other homeschool families because our particular CBS has a homeschool program.  The homeschooled students study the same book of the Bible as us moms.  I think more CBS and Bible Study Fellowship groups have classes for the homeschooled students these days, so it's something to check into.  When I was growing up CBS is where I made many of my homeschool friends!

4) Online homeschool friends.  We live in an amazing time, when you can make good friends not just with people who live near you, but with people around the world.  In our family this is more useful for me than the kids; I do not let them use the internet or social media at this time.  However, for myself, I have made many homeschool mom friends through this very blog! We may not get to see each other or get our kids together, but we can text each other for encouragement, pick each others' brains about curriculum, etc.  Online friendships have been a huge blessing and encouragement to me.



My Tips On Finding Homeschool Friends

1) Connect with the homeschool families you do know about.  I'm assuming you probably know at least one other homeschool family in your area, and if you do, ask the mom if you can meet for coffee to chat about homeschooling.  You can get a lot of tips for groups and resources through other moms.  Don't be intimidated if it's an older mom, she probably can still help you connect with other moms in your stage, and she'd probably love to encourage you!

2) Connect with in-person groups by searching online.  I've also found that social media and online resources have been helpful for me to find different homeschool meetings, field trips, etc.  Check out organizations that have groups across the country, like Wild + Free.  Check with your state's major homeschool organizations and umbrella schools.  See if your town has a homeschool Facebook page.  You'll probably get some tips on where to connect with other families from one of these, so see what you can find and go from there.

3) Remember, friends who are not the exact same age as your kids still count.  It's great if you can connect with other families with kids the same age.  But friendships with kids a couple years older or younger are just as great, and I think it's actually good for kids to have friends from a wide range of ages.  To me, the most important aspect is finding families who are like-minded when it comes to worldview and have kids just somewhere in the vicinity of my kids in age.  It's a beautiful thing to see a group of kids of various ages playing together, taking care of the younger ones, and learning from the older kids.



4) Finally, pray for the Lord to send you some friends!  Pray that the Lord would send some homeschool friends for you and your kids that would be a source of mutual encouragement and support.  I've prayed this myself before!

Homeschool moms, how have you been able to meet and connect with other homeschoolers in your area?  Any tips?

Why We Keep A Traditional School Schedule




Do you take frequent breaks or stick to a fairly strict schedule?  Over the year, not daily.

Since being back in the homeschool world as a mom, I've noticed alot of homeschoolers doing "year round" homeschooling.  Instead of homeschooling during the fall and winter and taking the summer off, they take smaller breaks spread out over the whole year.  I totally understand why some homeschoolers choose to do this - you can get all the good vacation spots when they are cheaper, you are less likely to get tired and burned out because you are getting more frequent breaks throughout the year.  I think it's a really good option!

For our family though, we stick to a regular, traditional school schedule, with a mid-year break at Christmas.  Here is why.



1) It's how I grew up.  I was homeschooled from 4th grade through high school, and we always stuck to the traditional school schedule, so it's just what I'm used to.  Actually I'm used to the traditional school schedule with longer winter and summer breaks (no teacher in service days or snow days makes this possible).  Since it worked for me when I was growing up, and we don't have any particular reason o change it, I just haven't.

2)  We live in a fairly cold state.  Where we live, and at the altitude we live, summer is when it's nice and you want to be outside.  Winter lasts from about November to May, with a few weeks of muddy spring in between Winter and Summer.  I figure we might as well be doing school during the months when we are all stuck inside, and keep the summer months free for all the fun stuff.  If we lived in a more temperate climate, or somewhere where the summer months are unbearably hot, we'd probably rethink this.

3) I like having my kids off when public school kids are off.  This may or may not be an actual problem, but in my head, I'd hate for my kids to see other kids off for the summer when we are still plugging away at our schoolwork.  If we actually tried year-round schooling, we might feel like having breaks during quieter times would be worth the trade off, but back to point number two, summer is when it is nice around here. I don't want my kids to think that public school families have it better off when it comes to summer break, because around here, summer is when you want to be outside.



I usually try to work it out so we have a couple extra weeks at Christmas (our Christmas break is usually around four weeks), and we try to finish up by mid-May so we have a couple extra weeks of summer.  If we have a vacation in the middle of the school year, we usually try to make it up by planning to start school a week earlier in August, or by doing school on a few Saturdays, so that way we are still able to take trips whenever we'd like.

If you homeschool, do you homeschool year-round, or follow a traditional schedule? I think there are definitely advantages to both!







How Do You Balance Homeschooling With Toddlers?



I received so many good questions about our homeschooling journey on Instagram recently that I decided to turn it into a little series!  I'm going to answer one question once or twice a week until we are done.  If you have any to add, please comment below!

How do you balance teaching one kid and managing other kids that are too young for school?

I get asked this question quite a bit.  I was honestly a little nervous myself about how to balance older kids and babies before we started homeschooling, but I've found it to be not as big of a deal as I thought it would be.  I touched on this question when I wrote about our routine in my mid-year homeschool update, but these are some things that have been helping us quite a bit.



1) I include the younger kids where possible.  For things like our daily Morning Time, Bible, and History, we do those subjects all together. The little kids love to sing and memorize just as much as the big kids.  Our history curriculum is made of picture books, and the little ones enjoy hearing the stories as well (I only make the big kids narrate back to me).  And Bible time is something I always want to do all together.

2) We do all-together subjects during mealtimes.  The little kids are alot quieter when they have food to keep them occupied.  I've also considered implementing play-dough mats, coloring books, bead-stringing, and other hand-busying activities for the little ones while I read, but I actually haven't had to resort to that yet because mealtimes have worked so well.



3)  We do one-on-one instruction during the little kids' nap/quiet time.  I've tried doing reading lessons and math while the little ones play in a different room - while possible, I've found it's a little more distracting to my big kids when I do that.  They wonder what fun they are missing out on.  I've mostly done individual instruction while the little ones are napping in the afternoon.  It extends our school day longer than if we did all our work in the morning, but having a quiet house and a more focused child is a worthy trade-off to me.  I imagine this will shift as the kids all get bigger.



4)  I know we don't need a four-hour chunk of time to do school.  I think I might have a little bit of an advantage here as a homeschool graduate myself, because I knew ahead of time that one of the perks of homeschooling is that you can get the work done whenever it works best for you.  This isn't public/private school.  You aren't running a school at your home - school is just incorporated into your life.  We do history lessons during mealtimes, math lessons on the couch, reading lessons in the car.  We break subjects up into bite-size chunks, take lots of breaks in between for playing and cleaning up messes, and put subjects off to the next day if everything gets too crazy and falls apart.  You are allowed to do that!  I wrote a while back about why I do not make daily plans - I make weekly plans, and that takes a ton of pressure off.  Instead of only having this one day to finish this one thing, I know I have the whole week.  That helps alot when you are trying to homeschool with little ones underfoot.


(All five of my babies, listening to Wyatt read in the playroom.  My heart just melts.)

Homeschool moms with babies - what do YOU do about the little ones while homeschooling?

How's School Going? A Mid-Year Homeschool Update



A couple weeks ago, we hit our 100th day of school for the year.  I have seen alot of celebrations for the 100th day in public schools, in which parents are supposed to dress their children up like 100-year-olds.  It's adorable and funny and completely... something that I have no desire to do!  As an un-crafty mom, one of the perks of homeschooling to me is that I don't have to come up with themed costumes and seasonal crafts unless I want to, ha!  So I'll just do a mid-year recap to mark our 100th day instead.  Here is how it's going:


Curriculum and My Plan

I am actually very happy with all the curriculum I picked for this year, and I have no complaints!  You can read in-depth about my second grade and kindergarten plan in this post, but here is a quick summary:

Reading:  All About Reading/ All About Spelling
Writing: Institute For Excellence In Writing
Math: Rightstart
History: Beautiful Feet Books for ourselves, and Story Of The World for co-op.
Science: ? A mix, but mainly Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding
Geography/Social Studies: My Story (Master Books)

I'm going to be really honest and say we have been doing fantastic at staying on schedule with the first four subjects listed there, but Science and Geography?  Not so much.

A week before Christmas we had "Science Week" and knocked out several science lessons (lessons I had hoped to do once a week - oops).  Science Week actually worked really well for us, so I think we will be doing something similar toward the end of the year.  We are on track to finish our reading curriculum early, and I'm thinking that before I pick up the next level, we may incorporate a couple weeks where we do some science lessons in leu of formal reading instruction.  I'd also like to point out that I have a very science-y second grader, and he reads almost exclusively about science-related topics during his free time.  I totally count that.

As far as our Geography/Social Studies book, I think I'm just going to call that a casualty of the year and move on.  The kids are getting different social studies and geography lessons naturally as we discuss our history lessons, so I am okay with not making it through the book I had picked out for Wyatt this year.



Our Routine

It was difficult for us to get into a routine during the first part of this year because we had several weeks when we were packing/moving/unpacking/major remodeling, so we had to squeeze schoolwork in wherever we could.  It got done, but there was no routine.  Now that we are (mostly) settled in and there is no major remodeling going on, I have been pleasantly surprised by how we have found our rhythm.

This is how our ideal homeschool day looks.  Keep in mind this is an ideal.  Usually we end up not doing at least one of these things each day, but over the course of a week it all evens out.

-Morning Time during breakfast.  This time would include our hymn singing time, Bible reading, Bible memorization, catechism, and other memory work.

-Play time.  I let the kids get all their energy out, and they play most of the morning while I read, bake, clean, or write.

-History over lunch.  Our history curriculum uses picture books to teach American history, and my kids love it.  We read it, I have the two big kids narrate what they remember back to me, and we discuss the chapter.

-Individual instruction in the afternoon.  The little ones go down for nap/quiet time after lunch.  While I'm getting them settled, I usually have the big kids work on copywork, writing projects, or math practice.  Then I spend nap time doing bookwork with the big kids.  On a good day we knock out math for both kids, reading for both kids, and writing and spelling for Wyatt (Gwen doesn't do these subjects yet).

-Fun stuff after nap.  If I have a good amount of energy, then after the little kids wake up we might do an extra "fun" subject, like a drawing tutorial or a nature walk.

I know this is kind of unusual for a homeschool schedule - most homeschoolers like to finish school in the morning and have free time in the afternoon.  However, with the little ones, it really works better for us right now to do schoolwork during their nap time.  I thought I would really miss having nap time to myself, but I don't.  My kids keep each other so occupied with play, that most mornings I still have time for things I want to accomplish, and often time to relax and read too.  I think I actually get more "me time" with this schedule than if I reversed it, because my big kids don't nap anymore anyway and they get bored during nap time if we don't have schoolwork to do.


My Developing Philosophy

As a homeschool mom, I've grown and changed alot this year.  I'll probably write a full post at the end of the year with lessons I've learned about homeschooling and some of the philosophies I'm developing for our family, but as a quick preview/recap, these are some things that teaching each subject has taught me this year.

Reading:  It's amazing how much your child can improve in reading skills when you quit giving them reading lessons over break.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I'm amazed every time.

Writing/Spelling: I have never worried about adding in writing (as in composition/creative writing) and spelling until my child has some solid reading skills under their belt, and it's worked really well for us thus far.  Formal writing and spelling has been no big deal with Wyatt so far this year (aside from complaining about copywork, but I'm pretty sure that's normal).

History: The biggest struggle with history has been helping the kids remember what we read, which is why I have them narrate back to me (read more about narration here).  We were getting a little sloppy about narration until I gave Wyatt and Gwen a talk and told them I'm serious about it and there would be consequences for them if they did not pay attention and have a reasonable narration to give me after our readings (I have no idea what the consequence would be, I just said that, ha!).  It's amazing how many details they have been remembering since then.  Note To My Future Self: Do not slack off on narration!  It's worth it to do it right.

Science: You do not have to do science every day, or even every week.  You can cram it all into two weeks at the end of the year if you want.  It makes no difference in the end.

Math: I purposely planned for Gwen to only make it through one half of our math curriculum in her kindergarten year, and it was absolutely a good decision.  This year I've really been ironing out my math philosophy for my particular kids, and if I had to sum it up I'd say it's "slow and steady wins the race".  If a kid is specially gifted at math and can get ahead of grade level easily, that's great!  But at this elementary stage, my main goal is that they progress, they like it (as much as can be reasonably expected), and they feel like they are fairly good at it.  Sometimes maintaining those three things means choosing to take it slow instead of pushing ahead.  I think sometimes the difference between a high schooler who is good at math and one who isn't is a matter of their attitude toward math.  I'd like to build a foundation of a good attitude toward math now.

Geography/Social Studies: I sort of understand why these are separate subjects, but sort of not.  Aren't these things incorporated into history lessons?  That's how we are approaching it anyway.

As I was preparing to write this post, I asked some of my Instagram buddies (follow me here) if there were any topics they'd like me to cover in this mid-year post.  I got so many good questions!  I touched on some of those topics in this post, but I decided to actually turn some of those questions into their own posts.  So stay tuned!

(My munchkins, minus Georgie.)

How is the school year going for all of you? (Homeschool or private/public schoolers, feel free to comment!)

Dear Candy Hearts | Little Letters Vol.1



Dear Candy Hearts, I love you.  I love you too much, especially with tea.  This has become a really unhealthy relationship.  I'm thinking of breaking it off on Valentine's Day.

Dear Galentine's Day, Are you actually a thing?  Like, do people actually get together with their girlfriends on Galentine's Day?  How do I get in on that?

Dear Husband, Why is it so hard to buy you presents?

Dear Snow, It's time for your mid-year performance review, and I have to say, your results are above average.  You've beautified the landscape, and you haven't melted off right away.  Keep up the good work.



Dear Red Rising Series, Why are you so hard to put down?  You are vulgar.  You are violent.  You killed off alot of the characters I liked.  You are everything I don't like in books.  If you were a human, we would not be friends.  So why can't I stop reading??

Dear Birds, Just sit.  Sit still.  Just for a minute, so my bird-crazy boy can get a picture of one of you. Please and thank you.




Dear Homeschooling,  You are so much more fun than I thought you would be when we first met.  And I thought you would be pretty fun.  Those days when I cried because I thought we weren't getting along, they were just a phase.  I didn't mean what I said.  If it happens again, just disregard.  In my saner moments (like now) I think there is something special here, and I know you can handle my crazy.  This relationship is worth fighting for.

Dear Churches Everywhere,  At the risk of being shouted down for dipping my toes into the broiling controversy of church music - my friend, it shouldn't be that hard to get the music volume level right.  It's not that complicated - I need to be able to hear the words and I need to feel like I can sing along.  If I can't hear the words or sing along, I fail to see the point of getting to you in time for the music.  If the music is too quiet, I hear myself sing too much, and realize I'd be one of those people that are laughed off the stage on American Idol, which is not fun for me or anyone around me.  If the music is too loud, I can't understand a word those people up front are saying, and I can't hear myself sing, and I can't hear anyone else sing, and I start to wonder what the point of all this noise is anyway, and I fear my eardrums may bleed when I leave.  Let's just try to avoid both these things, please.

Dear People Everywhere, Think of something more interesting to say about my five kids than "you have your hands full".  If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase, I'd never have to scrounge for coffee money again.  Preferably, pick something that is not rude, and bonus points if it's encouraging (because as you've noted EVERY DAY OF MY MOM-LIFE, yes, this is quite a job).  Comments on the cuteness of my offspring are always welcome.

P.S. People Everywhere, if you want to GIVE me a dollar each time you utter the aforementioned phrase, then please continue.  This mom needs her coffee.


(Moi on our nature hike the other day, powered by coffee.)

On Being An Extroverted Homeschool Mom (Sort Of)






Somewhere between being a teenager and an adult, I became an extrovert.

As a teen, I was always quiet in groups, and if I had an afternoon to myself with a cup of tea and a book, I couldn't ask for better than that.  But when I was newly married, I took a Myers-Briggs personality test, and was only a borderline introvert.  The next time I took it, I was a borderline extrovert.

My theory now is that I was always an extrovert, just with a well-developed introverted side.  People always have both, they always are extroverted and introverted, just to different degrees and in different ways.  As I've learned since, being quiet in groups doesn't mean you are introverted.  It may just be that you haven't found a group you've clicked with.  As I became an adult, I had more opportunity to seek out friend groups of people that I wanted to be around, and I found that I loved hanging out with other people, when they were the right people.

That was why, when I entered the very introvert-inclined phase of new motherhood, I bundled my baby up anyway and made an effort to get out of the house.  We made friends at my church's mom group.  My baby and I met up for coffee dates with friends or a trip to the zoo on my days off.  I organized parties and girl's nights out.  I embraced my extroverted side, and we had a pretty full calendar and healthy social life.

Even adding more kids didn't stop me.  When we had two, then three, and four, I still planned outings almost weekly.  I didn't like to stay home.  If we could be out doing things and seeing people, that is what we did.

Once, as I was on the brink of the school years, I had a conversation with a friend concerning whether it would be hard to be a homeschool mom as an extrovert.  Wouldn't it be soul-draining, being stuck at home?  I told her that I didn't think so.  The great part about homeschooling is that it's flexible.  We can still have coffee with a friend in the morning and do school in the afternoon.  As the kids get bigger, schoolwork can be done in the car.  And then there are all the field trip opportunities and homeschool groups and co-ops.  I was pretty confident my social life wouldn't need to suffer just because we were homeschooling.

Overall, I was right.  It's not hard to keep up on a social life while homeschooling.  There are plenty of opportunities to extrovert.

But the thing is, I've felt a shifting in my personality again over the last year or so.  I still want and need days out of the house, and time to visit with other adults.  But over the last year of homeschooling, I've felt my heart turn back toward home.

I've come to treasure and look forward to my days at home just as much as my days out.  When we stay home, I can bake cookies and read my books (my love for books never waned).  When we stay home, we can be leisurely with our schoolwork and even get ahead of schedule if we feel like it.  When we stay home, we have time to sing hymns, and memorize Bible verses and catechism, and have poetry tea time.  When we stay home, the kids have time to run and play and be imaginative and grow in their friendship with each other.  When we stay home, I have more time to blog (fancy that)!

Maybe this shift isn't too surprising, since I've always been in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale.  But I also think this is a blessing from the Lord.  Because yes, to homeschool, you do need to be at home sometimes.  It's His mercy to me that He has helped me rediscover this love for home right when I need it.  I'm still an extrovert, and I find ways to fulfill my extrovert needs as a homeschool mom.  But it's a grace that we are never all extrovert or all introvert - we are always, somehow, both.

Ways To Satisfy Your Extrovert Side While Homeschooling 

-Get involved in a co-op or Bible study (it's social time that also counts as school hours).
-Find some homeschool friends and plan regular field trips.
-Invite friends over for Poetry Tea Time.
-Be flexible (ex. shift your homeschool routine one day so you can have a playdate with friends).
-Plan at-home events with your kids (poetry tea time in the afternoon once a week, craft day, science experiment day, etc.)  Even if you stay home, it's helpful to have something different to look forward to!
-Take time to text friends or connect with other homeschool moms online on your days at home.
-Plan "mom's night out" days with friends.

Ways To Embrace Your Introvert Side While Homeschooling

-Appreciate the more leisurely pace when you stay home.
-Do something you enjoy that you can only do at home (read a book, bake, draw/paint, etc).
-Light candles.  Cuddle under blankets.  Embrace the coziness.
-Daily quiet time/silent reading hour (I don't think this will ever go away in our house).

Are you an extrovert or an introvert?  Do you ever have a hard time balancing those personality needs with your real life demands?


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