Tag Archives: Back to Homeschool

To All Who Are Reading This Post ~ Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

To You letter of encouragement

To: You
From: Me

Dear You,


Today was a good day. Even if it was hard, it was good. Why? You ask? Because we had today. We don’t know about tomorrow.

We were blessed today. We breathed through it. We saw sunshine or rain or shadow or storm. We say hope and hurt and health and hunger. We saw joy and sorrow and help and so many other things today.

We were blessed. We got to live today. Let us revel in that. Let us rejoice that we were given today and pray that we will have tomorrow. Let us pray that tomorrow our influence with those around us will be a good, Godly one. Let us pray that we will love our family, our friends, and those we come into contact with strongly. Let us pray that the hope we have in Christ will flow out through the words and actions we take each day.

And as you close each day, may you look back on the little moments of joy and hope and gladness and find strength in each one of those for the coming day. May God bless you and strengthen you daily.

At Home.

little victory great joy

This is the final day of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017. Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew blog to catch all of the great posts or you can start right here. The following bloggers are participating this week and have been sharing great posts. Head their way for encouragement.

Rebecca – Our Life ~ Home and School

Rebekah – There Will Be a $5 Charge For Whining

Sabrina – Kids, Crunch, and Christ

Sheila – troutwife

Stephanie – Swinging On Small Hinges

Susan – My Happy Homeschool

Yvie – Gypsy Road


Outside Opportunities ~ Back To Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

Outside Opportunities

Know your limits. This is the first rule of venturing outside the home for educational opportunities. There are so many wonderful one that you can easily become overwhelmed and not get in those “basics” that you deem necessary for education. So, know you schedule, make a plan, and set a limit. With this in mind, let’s explore some options that our family uses to further education.

  • Sign Language – A wonderful lady from the church we attend offers sign language classes to homeschool students. The cost is reasonable and the teaching is outstanding! Miss E has really enjoyed the classes and will continue them this year. This takes her out of the house two days a week for an hour but since it is just up the road, I don’t have to disrupt everyone’s schoolwork to take her to class or pick her up. With the quality of training, level of the class, expected practice, interpreting opportunities, and number of hours, this will be counting towards her high school credits.
  • Dance – All three of the girls enjoy dance and want to continue with this excercise and strengthening program. We take them to a local dance studio where they have excellent instruction. We do not do anything competitive and the girls are getting a firm foundation in classical ballet, jazz, and tap. With a formal recital at the end of each school year, this is perfect for us. My only wish is that there were classes during the day time so we didn’t have to always have evening and/or night classes. This year, it will take us out of the home two afternoons per week. But, knowing that, I took it into consideration when creating expectations and scheduling.
  • Violin – While I know my music education, I do not have a good string foundation. So, we are able to take advantage of a program at Baylor that offers string instruction to 4th grade students and up. Miss L has benefitted greatly from this program and we will continue it. They offer very reasonable prices for twice a week instruction and their music education students get classroom experience in teaching. Win-win. Again, I wish there were other time options but I will gladly go for their times when it is quality instruction for a very good cost.
  • Volunteering – Miss E is old enough this year to be able to volunteer at the library and we are considering this for her. She loved helping out in the church office but the hours of the secretary just are not good for our schedule so we have been unable to continue that. She would be able to do this while we are at violin lessons so it would hit two birds with one stone. I like that idea.
  • Church based program – We have several classes that the girls will be taking part in through our church’s Lads to Leaders program. From Bible Bowl, to teacher training, to leading singing in a ladies’ setting, to reading scripture in children’s and ladies’ classes, to learning to be a woman of God, there are many programs that the girls will be able to participate in and grow from. We consider all of these programs part of their education.

These are by no means the extent of the educational opportunities outside of the house. We have scheduled a Texas history trip in a couple of months where we will visit some historic sites. There are parks and museums that we visit. We are not too far from the big, big cities of Fort Worth, Dallas, and Austin so we will probably visit them for some opportunities. Field trips of all sorts count towards learning and we try to take advantage of those as often as is reasonable. During the summer we are able to add mission trips, camps, and time spent outdoors with new adventures.

Even with all of this, there is more that we could access. And we might. But this is a lot and it fits the delight-directed learning that we strive for – while requiring certain things for the girls, we allow them to stretch themselves in ways that they find interesting.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017From co-ops to National Parks to distance learning to dual-enrollment, visit the rest of the bloggers participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017 to see what they have to share about homeschooling opportunities outside the home. Here are a few to get you started:

Kym – Homeschool Coffee Break

Linda  – Apron Strings & other things

Lisa – Farm Fresh Adventures

Meghan – Quiet In The Chaos

Melanie – Tree Valley Academy 

Michele – Family Faith and Fridays

Missica – Through The Open Window

Monique – Mountain of Grace Homeschooling

Doing What is Next (planning/record keeping) ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

Doing What Is Next record keeping and planning

Today’s topic: planning. I am a minimalist planner. Part is me rebelling from when I had to write music education lesson plans on a general classroom format every week. Part of the reason is that when I plan, I overplan. Part is that we follow rabbit trails so often and so easily that I hate having to mark things out in my planner and rewrite it with what we actually did. Minimalist planning is definitely where my groove is for planning.

My favorite planner

I am a paper planner person (say that 3 times fast!). I like my printed planner so that I can jot things down and don’t have to have access to the computer to know what to do or what comes next. I create a general schedule and then we go for it. I expect us to do “the next thing” in whatever curriculum we are working on. In math – next lesson. In science – read to the next set of questions. In history – the next project. Just do what is next. For me, that means I don’t need to write out detail-by-detail what lesson comes on what day. We just do what is next.

weekly plan page

And I write it down after we do it. When the math lesson is completed, I write it down in my planner that it was done. When the story is shared, I note it. When the project is presented, I write it. Each child has a color and I write their completed assignments in their color. And red or green means it was a family activity/project. Easy-peasy.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t read ahead or look at the curriculum or decide what we student checklist with explanationare going to do. It just means I don’t schedule each lesson out. And, it means that I am placing more responsibility on the girls to know and do what they are supposed to. Each year, they are a bit more responsible for their own learning. Miss E and Miss J each want their own person checklist for their week, so we use a simple chart in a spiral for that.

I am adding a bit of a twist for myself this year, though. Miss E is in 8th grade and some of the work she is doing will count towards her high school credits – sign language 3 and Fascinating Chemistry are two courses that will be going on her high school transcript. So, I am keeping tabs a bit closer on those, noting hours/time spent and grading the work and making her take all scheduled tests.

We are in Texas, which does not require any reporting for each year, so while I do grade projects and math assignments and such, I do not keep strict grades for the girls. I keep their work from year to year and I keep my planner as documentation of what was completed. For us, this is a good balance and documentation.

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017Looking for more ideas? Visit the others participating in the Homeschool Review Crew  Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017.

Jennifer – Dear Homeschooler

Jodi – Insane in the Mombrain

Karen – Tots and Me…Growing Up Together

Kelly – God’s Writer Girl

Kellyann – Walking Home …

Kemi  – Homemaking Organized

Kirsten – Doodle Mom’s Homeschooling Life

Kristi – Classically Quirky Learning

Gotta Have the Right Stuff (school supplies) ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017

Gotta Have The Right Stuff

I could so easily spend a fortune on school supplies. I love the feel of a new crayon. Pencils and pens. Notecards. Paper. Notebooks. It just has an appeal to me, maybe because it represents the possibility of the education and learning. It represents potential. And that is so hopeful!

We have greatly benefited over the years from the generosity of others. We have plenty of colored pencils and dry erase markers. We have notecards and sticky notes. I have found wonderful sales in years past where we got notebook paper for a penny, so I stocked up. But, there are a few things that we buy new each year, to encourage the girls and to share that potential with them that pointy crayons and new markers and click pencils embody.

You probably caught a couple of them there – crayons, markers, and click pencils. I also bought them colored pencils and colored pens this year. I found these all for between 50 cents and a dollar a pack. Made me not feel bad about buying for each of the girls. I also found them personal pencil sharpeners (for those colored pencils). While I was poking around the sale that I found, I saw 3 prong/2 pocket folders for 10 cents each so I bought three of each color they had. I also bought composition notebooks in fun colors (50 cents each) and spirals in their signature colors (25 cents each). My big purchase was graph paper for the child who is working in pre-algebra and that was about $3. (Of course, our local dollar store now has it for $1.50 – oh well.)

All of this and I spent around $15 dollars on school supplies this year. I worked hard to talk myself out of some other neat things I saw. But, this begs the question of how do we store these things.

Places at the table

We do have a communal holder for a set of Sharpies, colored pencils, dry erase markers, and markers/highlighters. It also has our family scissors, a couple of magnifying glasses and odds/ends. I need to find another holder for it, though, because this one cracked a couple of weeks ago and I can’t just pick it up and move it to the table now. (The new one has not been high priority.)

Each girl also has a pencil box, though, that she keeps with her materials. She is responsible for having a pen, pencils, erasers, crayons, colored pencils, and a ruler. Each girl organizes her own box, deciding what else is desired in her storage area. One packs it full; another goes minimal. As long as they have what they need and can find it easily, I don’t care how it looks (though it does look nice when they put it up like the picture shows). We store their boxes and books under a buffet table/side table in the living room area.

where things go

As for the rest of our supplies – well we have art supplies hanging out in several places, a rolling cart for our paper supplies (scrap paper, lined notebook paper, construction paper, card stock, colored copy paper, colored lined paper – on the right in the picture above), a shelf above the washer for extras of everything we have extras of, and, well, hopefully I have remembered where everything is. 🙂

What is your favorite school supply? Mine? probably colored paper! Which I didn’t have to buy this year because back in May when Office Max was going out of business (boo – I still don’t like going to that other place!), I was able to buy a huge pack of colored copy paper for incredibly cheap. Happy dance!

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Be sure to visit the others who are sharing about school supplies today for the Homeschool Review Crew Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017. Here are some of my friends to get you started reading about School Supplies.

Diana – Homeschool Review

Elyse – Oiralinde: Eternal Song

Felicia – Homeschool 4 Life

Hillary – Walking Fruitfully

Jacqui  – Homestead Bounty Blessings

Jacquelin – A Stable Beginning

Jenn – Treasuring Life’s Blessings

Using what works and working what we use (curriculum) ~ Back to Homeschool Blog Hop 2017


As is common, we have rethought seriously the plans for this coming school year. While we are keeping our focus the same (faith, family, fun – with lots of books thrown in), we are trying to simplify and hone down.

This is mainly my problem – not the kids. It is so easy to look at programs, say “it only takes five minutes” and then end up with so many things that you feel burdened. Even though most of them only take a few minutes a day – thinking spelling and poetry specifically. So, I kicked those to the curb (holding onto the right to retrieve them in the future).

We are focusing on core this year: Bible, math, literature/writing, history, and science. There will be some music, languages, and dance in there as well. These lessons are four days a week, Monday to Thursday. So, what exactly are we doing with each?

Oh, and for reference, these are for:

  • Miss E, 8th grade
  • Miss L, 6th grade
  • Miss J, 3rd grade

Bible studies

Bible – I and II Corinthians will be our focus this year. We will be using our Bible bowl materials, Bible Road Trip, and various other videos, worksheets, and games to go with it. The girls are expected to read some each day and we will have Bible bowl meetings once or twice a month. We use Quizlet to do online drills, as well.

math studies

Math – This is broken down by grade. Miss E, in 8th, will be using UnLock Math‘s pre-algebra program. We reviewed it a while back and she still likes it! She actually got upset when she heard me comment that I needed to go buy math workbooks and she thought I was taking her off UnLock Math! Win-win! I did go buy Horizons workbooks, though. Miss J is starting level 3 and Miss L is finishing up level 4.


Literature/writing – You may have seen my post about Story Spiels. This is our literature curriculum for the year. Each girl has a book list to choose from and must make measurable progress in her book from week to week. (Not that I expect this to be a problem – two of them may fly through the entire book list this year and we will have to find more.) On Fridays, we will have a time where the girls will take turns presenting what was read that week and hosting a discussion about the topics and ideas of the book. They will also either do a notebooking page or a project about their book. If a project is chosen, we may relax the reading requirement for one week while the project is completed. Miss E may also be adding a fairy tales based literature program if it comes through but it is still in the works, so I am not counting on it at this point.

history studies

History – Miss J is going to be doing Let’s Go Geography. This is a new product and we will have a review of it up in about 6 weeks. I am really excited about this simple curriculum to take us around the world. Miss L is going to be combining her history and science as she is studying some books about women in various fields. Right now she is working on women in meteorology.  Next she will be doing women in architecture. These are books from Nomad Press and are in a series. I think we will probably purchase some more following these two if her interest holds. Miss E is working on finishing up her study on Ancient Greece. We had some things come up late in the spring and she didn’t get to finish it so she is tackling it again this fall since she enjoys it so much.

science studies

Science – Miss J is going to start with a study of birds. Her fascination has remained so we will study them using the Memoria Press program What’s That Bird? Our library has most of the literature books from it and I have the teacher’s guide. It is technically for an older student but we are going to adapt. After that we will tackle the Apologia Young Explorer’s program on Flying Creatures. Miss L is working with the books I mentioned above, completing notebooking pages to show what she is learning. The books do a great job of combining some history and science together. Miss E is going to do Friendly Chemistry from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. She is interested in the chemical structure of things, as best we can decide after much discussion. Nothing is clear cut in what interests her but she was able to state some things she did not want. So, we’ll give these lessons a try and see what she can do with them. After that, I am hoping she will feel like taking the geology course from SchoolhouseTeachers.com.

Electives –

  • Dance – all three are taking dance again
  • Sign Language – Miss is taking year 3 of sign language classes
  • Music – Miss E is working on recorder this year. Miss L is continuing violin. Miss J is learning piano.
  • Other? Probably but they are not strictly scheduled in as are these others. I would love to see Miss L and Miss J continue working on Spanish. We will throw some poetry in on Fridays. There will be some cursive work for Miss J and we will do art on Fridays. Miss L asked for a copywork packet so I printed one off for her with poetry. Things like this come up and I am more than happy to accommodate. 🙂

Fun Fridays – I am hoping to schedule some fun things for Fridays, such as art lessons and STEM building projects. Perhaps an inventors workshop or a DEAR day (Drop Everything And Read). We will still do a family devotional and our Story Spiels will fall on Fridays.

All in all, I am shooting for less stress, fewer structured programs, and more time for rabbit trails and interest led activities. Any suggestions and encouragement is appreciated, as I am really struggling to not include more (and more and more).

At Home.

Back to Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

This is the first day of the Back To Homeschool Blog Hop with the Homeschool Review Crew. Be sure to visit the other bloggers, too. Here are a few for you to start with.

Annette – A Net in Time

Ashley  – Gift of Chaos

Betty – Let’s Get Real

Chareen – Every Bed of Roses

Christy  – Unexpected Homeschool

Crystal – Living Abundantly

Desiree  – Our Homeschool Notebook

There are about 30 more so don’t stop here! Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find the rest. 🙂

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.


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.


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