Tag Archives: Back to Homeschool

Are We Having Fun Yet?

are we having fun yet

A favorite expression from my family growing up:

Are we having fun yet?

My mom loved to ask this of us when we were going through something hard: camping in the rain and can’t get a fire started or struggling to get up a mountain or just trying to get all the laundry folded.

Are we having fun yet?

This phrase would come at us at the strangest of times. When we were grumpy. When we were fighting with siblings. When we just didn’t want to.

Are we having fun yet?

I have been asking myself this these past few days as we struggle to get back into a routine for the school year. Because fun is a big part of what we want to do. After all, learning is fun. Strengthening our relationships or our brains or our limbs should be fun. We should enjoy what we are doing.

We have already struggled with sleepy days because we are incorporating the Olympics into our learning and they run late into the nights. We already have one who has succumbed to a high fever and not being able to focus to do any school work or participate in our fun activities like making a solar system model or art work. I have struggled with poor attitudes from girls who are struggling with growth spurts and heat-induced tiredness.

But, when I ask myself

Are we having fun yet?

I am reminding myself that everything will pass. Eventually. And that the girls are where they should be because who can take care of them better than their parents? And when they are struggling to want to learn, we can just change the plans and start “having fun.”

Fun is knowing that you don’t have to write those answers to show you know. Fun is painting on the sidewalk or running in the sprinkler to show your math or spelling or geography. Fun is getting to stay up late a write out an alphabetical list of all almost 300 countries that walked in the Opening Ceremonies because you want to and not because Mom made you. (Not kidding you – her choice!)

So, when something begins to grate on your very last nerve, I challenge you to ask yourself

Are we having fun yet?

If the answer is no, maybe the plans needs to change.

At Home.

This is the final post of the Review Crew’s 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 Blog Hop.

5 Days of Homeschool 101Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday – Planning
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

Some of my blogging friends participating in this blog hop are:
Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Annette @ A Net In Time
Becky @ For This Season
Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal

To read more please visit the Review Crew post or the link up to read more on planning and to get a whole bucket full of idea to help you plan. If the linky doesn’t show up below, please just head over to the Review Crew post to find the link up.

http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=271512

Chores? or Contributing?

chores or contributing

No one likes chores. I don’t like chores. Why would I expect my children to like chores? It is such a hard word. Required, no fun, almost like punishment.

So, why not try – contributing?

We ask our girls to contribute to the household in the ways that they can. They are not old enough to earn money with an outside job but they can fold the clothes. They are not all old enough (or really tall enough) to reach to the bottom of the washer to get the clothes out but they can all fold. They may not be able to sweet the grass outside due to allergies but they can all sweep the floors inside.

My point is this: everyone can do something. And shouldn’t they? Aren’t they all benefitting by being a part of the family?

My mom recently reminded me of a great way to handle the dishes. If you cook, you don’t have to clean. So, we have been using that instead of assigned nights and guess what? I not only have help cooking most nights, I don’t have to do hardly any dishes at night! I do still have the occasional one that gets missed or the nights where we don’t get them done before church so I do them after the girls are in bed. But, I am doing a whole lot less in the kitchen than I used to because I have willing helpers. Most of the time.

We are implementing a new schedule this fall and as part of their morning routines, each girl will be completing a chore. I ended up writing it as chore on the schedule because I couldn’t come up with a better word for it. Job really isn’t better. But, when we discussed our schedules, they all understood and so far so good. Everyone is contributing and things are getting done.

As for the contributing they do? Bathrooms gets cleaned. Laundry gets washed, dried and folded. Floors gets swept. Windows gets washed. Trash gets taken out. Dust is wiped away. And we don’t have too many days where we have to do a huge clean of the whole house.

Is it perfect? No. But nothing is. Does it work well for us for now? Yes. And I’ll take that.

At Home.

This post is the third in a series for 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 and is part of the TOS Review Crew Blog Hop.5 Days of Homeschool 101
Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday – Planning
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

Some of my blogging friends participating in this blog hop are:
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Karen @ Tots and Me…Growing Up Together
Katie @ Katie’s Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary

To read more please visit the Review Crew post or the link up to read more on planning and to get a whole bucket full of idea to help you plan. If the linky doesn’t show up below, please just head over to the Review Crew post to find the link up.


http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=271510

Planning? or Tracking? – Our Way

I enjoy planning. Well, I enjoy planning for unit studies and finding curriculum. I really like unit studies and all the research and reading I get to do to prepare.

But the day-to-day school stuff? Yea. Not so much. Sometimes I feel like I am writing the same thing over. And over. And over.

I do our day-to-day planning stuff a whole lot differently than most people seem to who write about it. I don’t do the whole “sit down for a couple of day and plan out your whole year for every student and every subject.” Number one – I am not that organized. Number two – we change things to fit the girls or the subject or the attitude way too often for that to work for us. Number three – I just don’t want to!

So what do I do?

This year, I spent a lot of time thinking. Pondering schedules and subjects and curriculum. All of this was done without any pencil or paper and without sitting surrounded by curriculum books. I just thought. About what has worked. About what has not worked. About each of the girls and their personalities. About where I wanted to push harder and where I wanted to back off.

Then, At Home Dad and I spent a comfortable Sunday afternoon sitting on the porch and discussing our plans and goals and ideas. I jotted down ideas while we talked and we sketched out weekly schedules for each of the girls. (You can find those here.) We also did some planning for the next 5 years – yes 5 years, from the lady who hates day-to-day planning – for Miss E. We wanted to make sure we had covered the initial thought process for her as she enters high school levels in the next couple of years.

weekly plan page

Days of the week go across the top; subjects go down the side; each day will have the list of what is to be done for each subject and I’ll put a check next to what gets accomplished with each girls’ color (Miss E is blue, Miss L is pink, and Miss J is purple).

 

Once we had our weekly schedule in place, it helps me know what to do for a day-to-day basis. I am going to be writing out weekly plans and those will be pretty easy to do since I have our schedules. I will be writing down on each day and subject how much will get done but it will be written in pencil so it can change as things actually happen. Because, you know, life happens and that means we don’t follow a script. I allow lots of flexibility in the plan.

When we reviewed the Hey Mama! Planner a bit ago, I shared about how I keep track of our day-to-day stuff at the monthly level. I keep track of read-alouds, audiobooks, videos that pertain to studies, volunteer work, and field trips. I also keep track of school days and other activities that we do on a monthly calendar. We are not required in our state to track or report these things but it is always good to do so, even when not legally required.

And, since life is learning, don’t forget to track Bible classes, worship services, dance or other sports, library visits, art projects or classes,  camps, and all those other things that happen to enhance life experiences. These are all important learning opportunities that help shape and guide our children to become who God has designed them to be.

We consider anything worthy of our time to be a learning opportunity. Learning is a lifestyle and as such, many of the moments when learning happens are unplanned. So don’t forget to go back and keep track. When you have a lifestyle of learning, planning is not always proactive. And that is okay. Many times it is a reactive activity, pulling out the planner (maybe a better name is tracker!) and writing down what has already happened.

Remember, keep track and plan for what is legally required but more importantly, do what works for your family. Know what YOU need and find the way that it works best.

At Home.

 

This post is the second in a series for 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 and is part of the TOS Review Crew Blog Hop.5 Days of Homeschool 101
Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday – Planning
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

 Some of my blogging friends participating in this blog hop are:
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Linsey @ Lille Punkin’
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Margaret @ Creative Madness Mama
Megan @ My Full Heart
Meghan @ Quiet In the Chaos

To read more please visit the Review Crew post or the link up to read more on planning and to get a whole bucket full of idea to help you plan. If the linky doesn’t show up below, please just head over to the Review Crew post to find the link up.


http://www.linkytools.com/thumbnail_linky_include.aspx?id=271509

Choosing Curriculum – Our Way

Homeschooling 101 Blog Hop week is here! We will be talking about the various aspects of homeschooling this week from curriculum to home management to just plain ol’ encouragement. I hope you join me each day!

Today we are talking curriculum. There are as many options as there are people it seems.

choosing curriculum our way

The beauty of homeschooling is that you can choose the curriculum and approach that fits your student, you, and your family. There is no single right answer. Even within a family there are any number of different items that might works for a single student with a single subject.

So, how do you choose? I don’t know but I will share what our family does and how decisions get made here.

1 – We use what we have.

We have been blessed in a number of ways with curriculum options. Whether it be from the amazing reviews we get to participate in through the Review Crew or  curriculum being gifted to use or just a good find at a garage sale or used book store, we look first through what we already have available. Having to pay for something does not always mean that it is the best and the most expensive is, in our experience, often NOT the best. I don’t get rid of something just because it doesn’t work now. Because it might work in the future and I might can use some small part of it that will be just perfect for a unit study.

2 – We use what has worked. And the correlation of this is to not use what didn’t work.

When we find something that works well, we do try to stick with it. We enjoy unit studies that focus on a lot of books. So we do that. We found out a few months ago that the girls, especially Miss E, absolutely adore creating notebooking pages. We much of her curriculum will be showing up in her notebooking notebook rather than a workbook. We don’t use computer or online math programs. They don’t work for our girls, who need the concepts explained in more than one way. So, we don’t bother with them.

3 – We talk with the girls and get their opinions.

The girls have to spend a lot of time with their curriculum. Therefore, we feel it is a good idea for them to at least have a small bit of input on the choices. We give them some options and then listen to what they have to say. This has made a huge difference in our math choices and literature adventures. For math, we took them to the local education store and gave them several choices to look through. We asked what they liked, didn’t like, what appealed or not, etc.  Their opinion was taken into consideration for the final decision. For literature, Miss E was able to clearly express that she did not like answering someone else’s questions about what she was reading. She wanted to tell about what she got out of the book, what impact it had on her, what she found fascinating. So, notebooking pages it is for her.

When we are able to show the girls that they are important in the process, much of it goes smoother.

4 – We are not afraid to change what is obviously not working.

We make mistakes. We all do. It is okay to admit that a mistake was made, hopefully it was not too expensive, and then move on. Choose something different and try again. Not everything will be a good fit and that is okay. Isn’t that part of why we wanted to educate them ourselves? I know it was for our family – what the public schools were doing for the girls did not fit them and was not in their best interest. So, when something needs to change, don’t be afraid to change it. The sooner you find what does work, the better.

5 – We work with the concept of “progress, not perfection.”

Some of you will disagree with me on this one and that is okay. But this is a really important concept. Perfection is not attainable so we strive for making good progress. If we strive for perfection in their work, we may lose the joy of learning in the process and that is just not acceptable. We want our girls to be lifelong learners, not ones who check off the list and call it enough. By allowing them to work hard and make progress, we place the value on the effort rather than the grade.

It isn’t about doing more and doing it better. It is about each child as an individual, getting what they need to move forward in their understanding of life and how to be a productive part of it, honoring God through all they say and do.

At Home.

5 Days of Homeschool 101 

This post is the first in a series for 5 Days of Homeschooling 101 and is part of the TOS Review Crew Blog Hop.
Monday – Curriculum
Tuesday – Planning
Wednesday – Home Management
Thursday – Traditions
Friday – Encouragement

Some of my blogging friends participating in this blog hop are:
Melissa @ Mom’s Plans
Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Steph @ Indy Homeschool
TaMara @ Tales of a Pee Dee Mama

Looking for more information on curriculum – whether it be advice for choosing it or looking for a specific grade level, please visit the blog hop linkup.
LinkyTools is acting up for me but please visit the Review Crew post that anchors the curriculum discussion today. You can see all the linkups from there. 🙂

 

Teacher Discounts – Back to Homeschool

Teacher Discounts

For most homeschoolers, there are no financial perks – no tax breaks, no tax credits, nothing to help with the cost of educating our families. There is a small perk, though, that I hope every one of you are aware of – teacher discounts. If you don’t know about them, keep reading.

Many businesses, local and/or national, offer discounts to teachers. And most of those companies consider homeschooler, appropriately, teachers or educators. Most of what I know of are national chains. I’m going to share them with you. My friends over at the Review Crew also helped me by brainstorming a few that we don’t have in this area of the country. So, without further ado, here are the teacher discounts that I use or have been told about.

saving money

  • Barnes & Noble – Their benefit is listed as “20% off the list price of most hardcover and paperback books, toys, and games, for use in the classroom, unless otherwise noted. Periodic special promotions.” I asked at the desk about it and the customer service member helped me. I have used this one a lot.
  • Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts – Their discount is listed on the website as “15% off every purchase, every day.” I know there are exclusions to this so be sure you know what to expect with them. This is another one I use a lot. I enjoy sewing and crafts and so do all three of the giggly girls.
  • Michael’s – This is listed as a “15% off entire purchase everyday.” I imagine there are some exclusions to this but I don’t know for sure. I don’t go into our Michael’s all that much, honestly. I always buy too much when I do, though.
  • Hancock Fabrics – Hancock’s is pretty new here so I don’t know all the ins and outs of getting on their educator discount program. I understand they have one called the Red Apple Card that you have to get at the store. I haven’t found a link online for it at all.
  • Half-Price Books – There is a link on their site to apply for an Educator’s Discount Card. This will allow you a 10% discount year-round, according to their site.
  • Staples – There is a benefit to signing up as a teacher with the Staples Rewards Program. This is not one I am a member of (we don’t have a Staples here) so I don’t really understand it all. There is a link in the middle of the page I have linked for the Teacher Rewards Program.
  • Hobby Lobby – I have heard they have an educator’s discount but cannot locate it online. I will certainly be checking into this next time I go in. It may be a store by store decision to offer it.
  • A.C. Moore – This is another I didn’t know about until I asked some blogging friends. We don’t have an A.C. Moore. However, according to the graphic on their website, they offer teachers a 15% discount off regular AND sale prices. Pretty impressive!
  • Ollie’s Bargain Outlet – Again, I don’t know this store but it sounds pretty neat. There are stores in AL, GA, TN, KY, SC, NC, VA, OH, WV, IN, MD, MI, PA, DE, NY, and NJ, from what I could tell. Evidently, one a store-by-store and event-by-event basis, they offer discounts to educators. If you have one nearby, check it out.
  • Apple – Can’t forget this big one. There are educator discounts available for Apple purchases. There are also classes offered in their stores if you are lucky enough to live nearby.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but every time I see a list like this, there is at least one store on it that I didn’t know had an educator discount. So I wanted to share. Every little bit saved is a big help in the long run.

Do you know of any other stores or companies that offer discounts? If so, please leave a note in the comments. We’d love to find every bargain available.

This is the final post in the Back to Homeschool series. Thank you for joining me. A list of all posts related to the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2015 came be found under the Back to Homeschool page.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

This post is part of the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop, sponsored by School House Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. There are over 50 bloggers participating in the blog hop so you have lots of reading to do! Click on the picture to be taken to the listing of all participating bloggers and find something to encourage you today.

The Giggly Girls’ Perspective – Back to Homeschool

Giggly Girls' Perspective

I decided this year, I would give you a little bit of insight into the giggly girls’ perspectives on homeschooling.

E, age 11

E – age 11

What I like about Homeschool:

  • We don’t have an exact schedule.
  • We get breaks whenever we want.
  • We get fun field trips even when we’re older.
  • We’re on a review crew so we do most of our school on those products.
  • I only have 2 teachers! Yay!
  • I can learn things like sewing and cooking.
  • We can watch TV.

What I don’t like about Homeschool:

  • Everything is harder!
  • Reviewing math programs!

L, age 9

L – age 9

I think homeschooling is really fun. I like it a lot, and for a lot of reasons. One reason is because we, well, I, get to learn cursive. My mom says that public schools don’t teach cursive anymore, which I think is wrong. I also like it because while I do my writing, cursive, memory work, history, art, science, and math, I never feel pressured, like I sometimes did at public school. There it sometimes felt like it was about finishing your work, not learning. And, in first grade, my teacher only taught me half of telling time! I like homeschooling much better, and here, we add in God!

J, age 6

J – age 6

What I like about homeschool is the math and the writing.

Truly, these are their own words. We edited spelling and some of the grammar together. But, I did not edit their sentiments at all. Ya’ll, kids get the difference. I felt really, really happy when I read what L wrote about the pressure. She was 6 at the time. 6! And feeling the stress and pressure of completion, but not learning. It just makes my heart sing all the more that we brought them home.

When you start looking at research, there are so many reasons to bring them home. As E gets into her teen years, I see the difference that sleep makes. She is able to get the sleep she needs, which makes her attitude and ability to learn better. There is research being shared more often now that shows that the accumulation of lack of sleep is detrimental to young people. I am so glad that we can allow them the sleep they need, the learning the yearn for, and the enjoyment of subjects that “float their boat.”

I am not knocking public schools but I understand their hands are tied. My children are worth the investment of my time, effort, and money (yes, money – homeschooling is not cheap, though there are plenty of ways to cut costs – check out this post for some of my ideas). Not parenting them, of which overseeing their education is a part, has much, much too high a cost – our children.

I am so thrilled at the joy my girls are finding in education at home. Not school at home but education and learning. We are looking forward to a fun, enjoyable year filled with a variety of Review Crew products and delight led learning. Bring on the horses, sewing, cooking, writing, and math.

A list of all posts related to the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2015 came be found under the Back to Homeschool page.
At Home.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

This post is part of the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop, sponsored by School House Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. There are over 50 bloggers participating in the blog hop so you have lots of reading to do! Click on the picture to be taken to the listing of all participating bloggers and find something to encourage you today.

Organization: Workspace – Back to Homeschool

Organization workspace

The debate goes back and forth in my mind as to whether we need a dedicated homeschool room or if a planned use of space is good. For another year, or at least day, I am sticking with the planned use of space.

What I mean is . . .

we are using the dining room table.

Each child has a space at the table. Their materials fit within their designated space. The girls know what to grab, where to put it, and where their area is. And it works.

I like it because they know what to do. But even better is that we are all together. Yes, sometimes there is bickering. Yes, sometimes we are cramped. But, we are able to work together easily and the girls often jump in a help each other when there is a problem. Peer tutoring is build right in. Homeschool happiness, right?

So what does it actually look like? This…

workspace

And, I’ll bet you want to know more about the boxes. Those are the boxes that they decided to organize last week in order to get school moving. Blue, pink, and purple – those are the colors I try to buy anything in that is related to school supplies. Doesn’t always work so the girl with purple sometimes gets green but she’s okay with that. The large, flat boxes are big enough to hold most workbooks, spirals, papers, and a few other things. The girls put their notebooks (book logs, journals), workbooks (Spelling You See, Dynamic Literacy, Horizons, etc.), rulers, colored pencils, and whatever else they might need. Each girl also has a pencil box of the same color. Those hold crayons, pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, pencil sharpener, and a few other odds or ends depending on the girl.

workspace boxes

We have just recently added this dresser to the space. It has our paper tray on the top, along with the carrier that has dry erase markers, colored pencils, markers, and more. The drawers will be used to hold teacher materials and Bible Bowl materials. It is going to be getting a facelift very, very soon.

storage

We keep our additional curriculum, supplies, and books elsewhere through out the house. These are things we need each day and so we keep them within easy reach. That is quick tour of the workspace organization of our homeschool.

Some quick tips for you:

  • Evaluated your space. It isn’t feasible for everyone to have a dedicated school room. What makes sense for you?
  • If you don’t have a dedicated room, how much space do you actually need? This will vary depending on how you school, the age of your children, and the style of curriculum you have chosen.
  • Once you know where you’ll be working, mostly, work on space for holding materials. If you are using a multipurpose space, try to choose something that is easy to get out and put away at the end of the school time.

Do you have a dedicated room or do you use a space, as we do?

A list of all posts related to the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2015 came be found under the Back to Homeschool page.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop

This post is part of the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop, sponsored by School House Review Crew and Homeschool Blogging Connection. There are over 50 bloggers participating in the blog hop so you have lots of reading to do! Click on the picture to be taken to the listing of all participating bloggers and find something to encourage you today.

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