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

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?


How We Celebrated Reformation Day (And Why)

(Some affiliate links in this post!  Just on the books you know, so I can buy more books...)

A few weeks ago, we were working through a history lesson, and somehow I got onto the topic of the Reformation.

"So Martin Luther nailed his 95 points to the church door, and there is a thing called Reformation Day now."

"Reformation Day?" Wyatt asked.

"Yes, and it's actually on the same day as Halloween."

Gwen looked thoughtful for a moment.  "Mom, can we celebrate Reformation Day this year?"

And just like that, we were celebrating Reformation Day this year.

---

I already explained a few weeks ago why we choose not to celebrate Halloween in our family, so I am not sure why it hasn't occurred to me to celebrate Reformation Day.  Reformation Day is on October 31st, which is the day that Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenburg.  He was mostly arguing against the practice of indulgences at that time, but he came to realize through this process of studying the Bible that our salvation is purely by the grace of God.  We contribute nothing to our salvation, because we have no righteousness of our own with which to approach God.  Christ took the punishment for our sin and gives us His righteousness when we put our trust in Him, and our salvation is completely through His sacrifice and apart from our own works.

You can read more about the Reformation on your own (that was a very surface-y explanation above), but the bottom line is that if you are part of any Protestant Christian denomination, it all started right here.  With Martin Luther and other Reformers, who studied the Bible, through their study rediscovered the truth of the good news of the Gospel, and brought the church back to the firm foundation of the Word Of God.

This is YOUR history, and you are still reaping the benefits of the work the Reformers did in bringing the truth of the Gospel to light. 

I think that is worth celebrating for sure!

As a mom, I really want my kids to know Christian history, and the heritage that has been passed down to us through the sacrifices of people like the Reformers, who fought and died for the truth of God's Word.  I think in Protestant circles, we tend to get a little disconnected from our history, and I'd really like my kids to have a sense of the history and heroes of the faith between the end of the Bible (around 96 AD) until today. I explain these things to them, but I think making a celebration of this part of our history is a wonderful way to help personalize it for my kids.  As I was thinking about how to celebrate Reformation Day, I was trying to think of some ways to have a little fun while we remember our Christian history too.  Here is how we celebrated this year!



1. Reformation Day Shirts 

Several months ago, I stumbled across Diet Of Worms apparel, which makes clothing for "little (and big) reformers".  I laughed out loud at their "It's Hammer Time" t-shirt, and I ordered one for Wyatt and a "Sola Fide" t-shirt for myself.  They have since gone out of business, so I took some inspiration from them and made t-shirts for everyone else in our family myself!  A little guide:

Sola Fide - Latin for "faith alone".  This is one of the five "solas" of the Reformation.


Image via Facebook



1517 - The year Martin Luther nailed up his theses (this year was the 501st anniversary!).



"The Righteous Shall Live By Faith" - the phrase in Romans that led to Luther's epiphany that our salvation is through faith alone.



"On This I Stand, I Can Do No Other" - This is what Luther said at the "Diet Of Worms", which is actually what they called a church council/trial held in the city of Worms, when church leaders asked Luther to recant his writings.  The full quote is here:

“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason (I do not accept the authority of popes and councils because they have contradicted each other), my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me God. Amen.”

The kids loved their shirts and asked to wear them again the next day!  This was fun for me, because it was a like a little Reformation Day present/surprise I could give them.
Speaking of the Diet Of Worms...

2. Worm Pudding
As a play on the Diet Of Worms, we had a "diet of worms" in the form of gummy-worm-and-orea-pudding!  I thought this was really funny and clever of myself, ha!  My kids were a little young to get the joke I think, they just enjoyed the pudding.
3.  A Sausage Dinner
This is in honor of a different sausage dinner, and a sermon preached by a priest there, which kicked off the Reformation in Switzerland.  You can read more about that here.  (Sausage dinner not pictured, but it was really good.)

4. Reformation Day Books
I first toyed with the idea of celebrating Reformation Day last year, for the 500th anniversary, but I was hugely pregnant, and to be honest, I wasn't sure if my kids were old enough to "get it".  This year my oldest two are 7 and 5, and I have to say, it's been really pleasantly surprising to me how much they understand about what the Reformation means!  The got an idea of what we were celebrating just through conversations together, but I wanted to find some books to drive it home.  These are the two I picked:
Reformation ABC's - This is a thorough book for kids, covering a different aspect or hero of the Reformation for each letter.  We didn't read this whole book, since it's probably geared for kids a little older than my kids, but we read several pages, about the Bible, Luther, Hiedelburg and Westminster.  my kids were excited when they recognized a catechism question on the Westminster page!
The Life Of Martin Luther: A Pop-Up Book - This is a pop-up book (obviously), and my kids asked me to read it three times!  It's the story of Martin Luther in a nutshell, and the pop-ups make it so fun.  The only thing I'd change about this book is a line on the last page that mentions Luther introducing "new ideas" - I would rephrase that "biblical ideas" - but other than that, it's just perfect!
5.  Reformation Reading For Me 
This whole celebration of Reformation Day really started with my reading challenge this year.  One of the categories was to read about church history, so I picked up a couple books about the Reformation.  I have been a Christian since I accepted Christ as a child, and I grew up in the church, and it was shocking how much of this history I DIDN'T know!  If you want to celebrate Reformation Day with your kids, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with the history too!  Not only has is been helpful in teaching the history to my kids, but it has made me pay more careful attention to different verses in my Bible reading, and really enriched my own faith this year.
The Reformation: How A Monk And A Mallet Changed The World by Stephen Nichols - This book is short and sweet, and most importantly, very readable!  I found this whole book really fascinating, and learned about how I've benefitted from the sacrifices of Reformers I'd never even heard of.  This is a must-have primer on the history of the Reformation, in my opinion.
Why The Reformation Still Matters by Michael Reeves and Tim Chester   -  If the book above is about the history of the Reformation, this book is about the nuts and bolts of what the Reformation was really about.  A lot of the theology discussed is more subtle than I originally thought, but the distinctions are so, so important.  I'm almost done listening to this one on audio, and highly recommend it!

Also a heads up - one of my favorite podcasts/websites has a free "Reformation Day Celebration" for download!  I haven't had a chance to watch it yet because our internet was out last week, but it's still available here!


Stay tuned for Reformations Days in years to come, because I have more ideas already spinning in my head for next year!

Have you heard of Reformation Day?  Have you ever celebrated it (and how)? 

I highly encourage you to give it a try next year!  We had fun with it!









Why I Don't Daily Plan In Our Homeschool




"You are a type A personality, aren't you?" my doctor asked as I packed away the papers full of information I came to discuss with him.

"Yeah, I guess so," I replied.  Everyone always pegged me as a type A, especially doctors, because I love to research subjects that are important to me, and I liked my house relatively clean.  So I always just assumed that's what I was, a classic Type A.

It was only after I had kids that I began to consider that maybe "Type A" wasn't exactly a perfect description of my personality.  I always viewed things like cooking and sewing as more art than science (not very Type-A), and I was never very into planning (also not Type-A).  But after I had kids, I realized that I had a spontaneous, let's-just-do-something-fun today side, which is far more descriptive of a Type B than a Type A.  During the baby and preschool years, I loved having my days mostly wide open, and being able to fill the hours with whatever struck my fancy.

I admit, as my kids grew older and homeschooling requirements grew more immediate, I mourned the loss of my newfound spontaneity.  Because you can't really be spontaneous when you have a list of things to be done each day, can you?

But this is my second official year of homeschooling (sort-of third year, but Kindergarten is only part time in our house), and I have learned that I still do not like to have my days planned out.  When I have a list of have-to's for each day, I feel the pressure and stress rising in my chest.  If I don't feel the freedom to run errands, grocery shop, or just declare a spontaneous field trip day, homeschooling can quickly start to feel like house arrest to me.

So my solution?  I don't daily plan our homeschool.  Instead, I plan weekly.

In my homeschool planning pages, I have a spreadsheet that includes all the different subjects, and what lessons and pages should be done each week.  I don't care how much we get done in any given day, as long as we do some school each day and get everything done that I have assigned for that week.

This has been really freeing for me, and allows me to still play with our weekly schedules a little bit.  If I realize we have no food left in the house, we might go grocery shopping and only do two subjects that day - then the next day we'll catch back up.  If math lessons are humming along really well, we might do two or three lessons in one day and give ourselves a couple days off of math the rest of the week to focus on history instead.

(Or freedom to gather chicken eggs with friends?  Just trying to make the pictures work here.)

So far, this weekly planning has been working much better for our family and my personality than daily planning would.  I imagine some adjustments will be needed as the kids get bigger and their workload increases, but even then, I remember handling my own schoolwork much the same way when I was homeschooled.  If I felt like doubling up on a few subjects and giving myself a lighter workload the next day, that's what I did.

So I don't know if I'd technically be a Type A or Type B, but I know as far as daily planning goes, as long as the weekly work gets done, anything goes.  I love that I can still make homeschooling work with the side of my personality that loves freedom in my schedule.

Do any of you daily plan (in homeschooling or just in life)?  Would you consider yourself a Type B or Type A personality?





My Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2nd Grade And Kindergarten)


(Donut picture because that's how we started off our school year - with donuts!  Also note that there are some affiliate links in this post.)


Well, this has definitely been my most requested post as of late, so I thought I better get a move on and share our 2018-2019 curriculum picks!  If you would like to see our first grade curriculum picks, check out this post.  If you would like to see how that went, read this.  If you want a little more about my homeschool philosophy (and homeschool philosophies in general, which I'll be referencing), click here.

All my friends who have considered jumping into homeschooling in recent years have mentioned to me how overwhelming it is to choose curriculum, so I think people are naturally curious about what other people are using.  I love reading curriculum posts!  My love of talking curriculum has more to do with being a nerd about this sort of thing.  I haven't found myself too overwhelmed because I have my vision for homeschooling and my educational philosophy figured out pretty well at this point (I credit being a homeschool student and reading way too many books about homeschooling).  The trick for me is just learning how to pick things that fit with my homeschooling philosophy, but that also fit with my kids' learning styles.  I think we've hit on some good ones for our family (for the most part - there are still kinks to be ironed out, as you'll see below)!  Here is what we are using this year.

First, who is in school?

This year Wyatt will be entering the second grade, and Gwen will be entering kindergarten.

Wyatt has to meet our umbrella school's requirements for days and subjects, so I have curricula picked for these different subjects and we will work through it all together and include the little ones where possible.

In our family we're more casual about kindergarten, so Gwen will start reading and math instruction, and join in other subjects wherever she wants.  We do not technically even have to start doing school instruction, or keep records, or have her registered anywhere until next year.  So we'll just make it fun, because my main goal for teaching younger elementary kids is that they are enjoying what we are learning!

We do not do formal preschool at all, so if Clyde or Clarice want to join in with a subject, I have workbook pages and a few crafts at the ready, but nothing planned out.  I personally think preschool-age kids should mostly learn through play and just join in when they're interested.



Reading

What We're Using:  All About Reading
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

Halfway through our last school year we switched reading programs.  We started with Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Easy Lessons, which I think was excellent for teaching blending - however, the end of that book gets a little redundant, and Wyatt and I were both hating it by Christmas break.  So I ordered All About Reading to continue on from there, and we are definitely sticking with it this year! I have both of my kids on it now.  I am a little torn with how to start off with Gwen though - the thing is, Wyatt had a really solid start with 100 Easy Lessons, and honestly a lot of the All About Reading curriculum is really easy for him because he had a whole different reading curriculum under his belt already.  I'm curious to see how we like All About Reading when we start with it from the very beginning.

Writing

What We're Using: Institute For Excellence In Writing
How I'm Teaching It: We're doing this subject for the older two together.

Last year was mostly handwriting practice and copywork for us - this year I wanted to start getting into different writing concepts with Wyatt, but also to fit in some handwriting and copywork with Gwen.  Enter IEW!  I looked up their K-2 curriculum online and was so impressed.  I really like Andrew Pudawa and his approach for teaching writing, and this curriculum is going to work really well for us this year.  It starts with the basics, like learning to properly form letters, and moves into writing short paragraphs by the end of the year.  The first part of the year is going to be brand-new for Gwen and review for Wyatt, and then the second part of the year will be more stretching for Wyatt and maybe just a preview for Gwen.

Math

What We're Using: Rightstart Math
How I'm Teaching It: Separate levels for Wyatt and Gwen.

I completely loved Rightstart last year, and we are continuing with it this year!  It is a math curriculum that uses manipulatives, but also has a heavy emphasis on learning to do math problems in your head, and learning through games.  I think to teach math, it is important for you to find a curriculum that approaches numbers in a way that feels natural to you, and that's how I feel about Rightstart - it teaches math the way I already think about math.  I also love that it's a spiral curriculum, meaning it circles back to concepts throughout the curriculum and approaches them in different ways.

History

What We're Using: Beautiful Feet Books - Early American History
How I'm Teaching It:  All together, including little kids.

We used Beautiful Feet Books for history last year, and I love it.  To me it is the perfect curriculum for elementary history for several reasons - first, it teaches through real books ("living" books, which is a Charlotte Mason concept), and many of the books for this grade are colorful picture books, which even the little ones enjoy.  It's important to me to let my kids learn history through reading actual books, instead of slogging through dry textbooks.

Second, I love how flexible this curriculum is - it comes with the books and a study guide.  Last year we needed school to be really gentle (hello, I had a baby in the middle of the year!), and BFB was perfect for that.  We went through half the curriculum last year, and will finish the other half this year (this particular level can be used over one year or two).  Since I don't expect to be having a baby this year (ha!), I'm excited to put a little more effort into history and find more supplementary resources, maybe even squeeze in a couple for-fun projects.  This curriculum is totally conducive to that - you can do as much as you want, or the bare minimum, and your kids are still going to learn something!

On the side, we'll be reading/listening to Story of The World: Middle Ages, because that is what our co-op is covering this year.  We will just listen to this in the car or read it in the margins to keep up with co-op, at least until we figure out if we should be doing more co-op prep work.  We may be picking up more living books from the library that coordinate with this time period to read during morning time as well.



Science

What We're Using: Who The Heck Knows! (not a real curriculum)
How I'm Teaching It:  It will be all together, when I choose which of the four (yes, FOUR) curricula will take priority.

Guys, I am hanging my head in shame right now for how overboard I go on science.  There are so many good curricula out there!  I love all science topics and don't know how to choose! Part of the problem is that I have a hard time picking because I love it all, and part of the problem is that we joined a homeschool co-op this year (more about that later), and the co-op is doing two, count 'em, TWO science curricula in one year.  What is going on???

Okay, sorry for my little freakout; this is what I'm working with.  Get ready for a long section.

Our co-op usually uses Apologia elementary science books, which I am all for because I absolutely love Apologia for science.  Apologia approaches each scientific subject from a young earth, biblical perspective, the books are written with a Charlotte Mason style, they are fun to read, and they emphasize giving kids practice in the scientific method.  I love them.  What I don't love is that the co-op is doing Apologia Physics and Chemistry and Apologia Human Anatomy for science this year.

Now, the reason for this is that they like to pick the same science subjects for all the grade levels in the co-op, so people with large families can work on science together.  Which is great.  Just maybe not so great when your oldest is only in second grade, because I think Chemistry and Physics and Human Anatomy are pretty intense subjects for a kindergartener and a second grader.  Especially with Chemistry and Physics, it requires a level of abstract thinking that kids at this age literally do not have the mental capacity to understand yet.  The author of these two books even said in a Instagram TV video recently that these two subjects are not going to be geared toward the younger elementary ages as much, and we'll have to take these courses slower.  Except that the co-op decided to do both in one year.

I have no idea how in-depth our co-op is going to go on these subjects (it's our first year), but I decided myself that we are not going to go that in depth.  We're going to pick up some fun books at the library related to Chemistry/Physics/Human Anatomy, touch on some of the topics so we sort of keep up, and then just have fun with whatever they do at co-op.  Then we'll do our own science curriculum at home.

For our science at home, as of right now I have a multitude of curricula and resources to choose from, so we may be switching it up mid-year if what we are doing isn't working.  But I decided to go with Building Foundations Of Scientific Understanding. This isn't so much a curriculum as a guide book for teachers and parents on teaching different science subjects to K-2 grade.  I really love how the method in this book emphasizes teaching kids to observe and ask questions, and for this year, I like that it covers a variety of subjects.  I wanted to cast a little wider science net for my kids this year to see where their interests lie, and to give them some foundational knowledge in different scientific fields, before we go back to a more focused subject with Apologia next year (but not Chemistry And Physics).

The only thing I don't love about this science guide is that it's not written from a Christian perspective.  From what I've read, any problematic lessons about evolution/Big Bang theory don't come into play in this particular volume, but the author certainly is coming from a secular humanist worldview.  I feel fairly comfortable with using it for this year because as I said, this book isn't a curriculum so much as a guide book for teaching science concepts to young children.  All the information is filtered through me,  so I will certainly be pointing my kids back to their Creator through every subject we touch on.

We also picked up Exploring Nature With Children, which is our fourth science curriculum.  This is a nature study guide.  I struggle with knowing what to look for on our nature walks, and I love how this guide lays out everything for you - we just grab the pages for that day's lesson, and off we go.  This will be more of an enrichment subject, so we'll do it only once per week.  We did the first week's lesson already, and it only took about 15 minutes in the outdoors, so it's completely doable, and it was so fun!

Bible

What We're Using: Community Bible Study (group meetings once per week) and daily Bible time.
How I'll Teach It: Only Wyatt will have homework this year from our Bible study meetings.  The little kids just love learning while we're there!  We're doing a short daily study each day during morning time all together.

Last year we joined the CBS I went to as a child, and we loved it.  It was really refreshing to me to get together with women my age as well as women who are older and wiser than me and really dig into different books of the Bible.  I was also really impressed with how much even my little, tiny kids picked up from their classes, and we all love the time to get out and fellowship with other believers mid-week!  Our CBS has a homeschool program, so the older kids do the same study as the adults.  Wyatt and I will be studying the same books this year, which is really cool.  I love it.

Geography/Social Studies

What We're Using: My Story (Master Books)
How I'm Teaching It: Only Wyatt will go through the workbook this year.

This is a miscellaneous subject I threw in here.  I flipped through this book at a homeschool conference and decided I liked it for an intro to different cultures around the world.  The lessons are really short, it's written from a Christian perspective, and I just wanted to cover our bases since Geography is not my strongest subject.  I am hoping to add in the Beautiful Feet Books Geography study when I have enough money saved for it!



I'm going to write another post about the resources I'm planning on using for our Loop Schedule and Morning Time, which is a catch-all for all the things that I want to do but that we can't fit in every day.  Stay tuned for that!  But the curriculum above is our core, and overall (with the exception of science) I'm feeling really settled and happy about it!  If you have any other questions about anything I mentioned, or you want a more in-depth look at something, speak up and I'll add it to the queue of posts to write!










© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.