Homeschooling While Pregnant

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This is the first time I have attempted to homeschool during a pregnancy and I can tell you that it has been quite the challenge. During my first trimester I was plagued with severe nausea and fatigue which made it difficult getting through the day upright. At night I usually had a half hour where I was able to get things done and this is when I would print off any worksheets or activities that I wanted the kids to do the following day. This really helped and now that I have started my second trimester I am feeling more like myself and able to get back into the thick of things.

While I have been able to get back into more of a normal routine I am behind with several important tasks. I need to get all three of my kids set up for their yearly assessments (a requirement in the state of Ohio) and I need to get our 2019-2020 academic year planned. Typically by this time of year I have these things done and already have shipments of books rolling in so I am a bit anxious. My goal this week is to get everything organized and outlined so I can get all of this done before the start of the new school year.

One of the reasons it has taken more time to get my homeschool planning done is I am trying to decide what path to take. Normally, I piece together a curriculum for each of my kids so they can have a truly customized education. The only problem with this is that there is a lot more work for me and I am not sure how my health is going to hold out during this pregnancy. That is why I am currently leaning towards a boxed curriculum that is more open and go to take some of the work load off of my plate. We have used Sonlight in the past and we really enjoyed it so I am considering this as an option for this year. I just want to make sure that whatever option we choose my kids education doesn’t suffer.

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Commonly Googled: How to homeschool for free…

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I wanted to see what questions Google was being asked about homeschool so I turned to the Google search engine and typed in how to homeschool and the first thing that popped up for me was how to homeschool for free. When I first began my homeschool journey years ago the financial burden was something that had concerned me because we had very limited finances. I wanted to provide the very best in education and was worried that our budget would restrict the quality of our resources. After a great deal of research I learned that it was possible to homeschool for free without affecting the quality of the education we provided.

If you are thinking of homeschooling and wondering how to do this either with little money or no money I recommend reading Homeschool Your Child For Free by LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski. This is a great book that breaks down how to homeschool various age groups and subjects for free and where to find free resources. I found this book in my local library and loved it so much that I hunted down a used version online. Over the years I have read and reread this book countless times and have always found great advice and inspiration.

In order to homeschool your children successfully you need to provide access to books, activities and lively discussion. The first step is providing access to books and even if you don’t have an extensive home library you can accomplish this by taking advantage of your local library. Here you can find books and resources to really teach any subject or topic. The next key to success is to engage your children in activities outside of the home where they can experience new things and learn while having fun. Check with your local metro, state and national parks in your area because many times they provide free activities and events. We have done bird watches, butterfly walks, fishing, hiking and a number of other activities all for free through our park system. With a little online research you can find museums, zoos and field trip opportunities that are free for residents on certain days of the week. Finally, you can utilize lively discussion to educate your children. I love having conversations with my children discussing what we have learned and there thoughts and feelings on the situation. Recently, when discussing the American Revolution I had my kids split into Loyalist and Patriots and argue their stance from that perspective. This was a great way for them to practice what they had learned in a fun way while really gaining an understanding of the issues the colonist were dealing with during that time period.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to break the bank and you can provide a quality education at home for free. Of course you will still need to provide things like pencils, paper, glue and other craft supplies but you don’t need an expensive boxed curriculum to homeschool. Make sure you do a lot of research and read as many books as you can on how to homeschool. This will help you develop a plan for your school year which will basically be the map you need to navigate your journey as a home educator. Anyone can homeschool if they have the desire, the initiative and the willingness to provide an environment that encourages and promotes learning.

Below you will find links to some great information about homeschooling for free. If you have a specific question about homeschooling for free or in general let me know in the comments below.

 

 

Free online homeschool

 

Online Homeschool Community

 

Free Online Math Game

 

Preschool Science Curriculum

 

Education.com (access to lesson plans, worksheets and other resources for a small monthly fee)

 

The Free Reading Program

 

Starfall

 

TeachersPayTeachers (While there is a fee for some of these resources you can find free worksheets and lesson plans)

 

The Good & The Beautiful (Language Arts courses Level 1-5 can be downloaded for FREE)

 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (Free books for kids 5 and under. Not available in all zip codes)

 

 

Grocery Budget and the Bulk Store

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Today I took my monthly run to Costco to pick up my bulk items like toilet paper, paper towel and other random household items where buying in bulk makes financial sense. Over the past year I have learned what to buy and what not to buy at Costco and this has helped me avoid the trap of overspending. Unfortunately, while I was waiting to check out I witnessed a common situation where someone had attempted to do all of their grocery shopping at Costco and blew their budget. The lady in front of me had filled her basket with meats, cheeses and produce as well as some household items. When the cashier gave her the total of $400 I thought she was going to pass out right there in the line. Instead of assessing her purchases she swiped her card and left the store in what appeared to be shock.

Stores like Costco, Sams Club and other bulk stores are a great way to save money on household items and random groceries but you have to be strategic when shopping these stores. First never attempt to do all of your grocery shopping at a bulk store because this is a great way to overspend. Second make sure you know the unit cost of items that you buy on a regular basis because this will help you make an informed decision. Unless you have a very large family that can consume bulk produce before it goes bad do not purchase produce from a bulk store. My last tip is to avoid impulse buys if it isn’t on your list walk away and take a day or two to think it over. The seasonal department is the best place to encounter items you feel you must have so either avoid this section all together or practice will power. If you see something that appears to be a great deal take the time to investigate other stores and make sure it’s the best deal first. You can always go back and grab the deal later in the week.

I love Costco and often refer to it as “Disney World for adults” because it really is in my opinion the most wonderful place in the world. While I enjoy my Costco membership I have learned that not everything in a bulk store is a great deal and you have to be pretty choosy if you are working with a tight budget. It’s so very easy to overspend in bulk stores because you could purchase your entire shopping list in one convenient place but you will pay for that convenience. When it comes to items like paper goods, trash bags, laundry soap, dish soap and pet supplies you can find amazing deals in bulk stores.I have even snagged some pretty awesome deals on clothes, shoes and books at Costco.  You can find additional deals within the grocery aisles but you really have to hunt for them. Remember just because a deal is advertised as a “deal” doesn’t necessarily make it so. Things like cookies, crackers, cereal, chips and other snack items are often over priced and would be best purchased at your local grocery store.

If you often find yourself overspending at the bulk stores take a look at the things you are buying to see if you are really getting the deals. Take a notebook and jot down prices at your local store as well as the unit price so you can really compare the prices. I know it sounds like a lot of work but make it fun. Leave the kids at home with your spouse or a babysitter, grab something from your local coffee shop and stroll down the aisles at your local grocery store writing down prices. You don’t need to record every price in the store just on the items you buy weekly. Whenever you are out shopping this little record will help you determine if you have found a deal or if you should pass it by.

They say the one place American’s spend the most money is on their grocery budgets and I believe it. Life is hectic and we often find ourselves overworked and tired so a simple run through the grocery store never feels like a simple endeavor. This is why it is so important to plan your shopping in advance with a meal plan and a shopping list. When you do shop stay focused, stick to your list and really pay attention to prices. You will be surprised how a few simple steps can save you money in the short term and how it can really add up in the long term.

 

 

Hollywood College Admission Drama

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It was recently made public that a number of parents including two very well known actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman used their position and power to manipulate the college admission process. Now I believe that parents should invest in their children’s education but this is going to extremes. What bothers me most about this entire situation is that these individuals have the wealth to purchase educational materials, tutors and other resources to help their children excel. They should have been investing their time and resources into making sure that their children received a quality education from day one. Instead, it appears that they waited until the last minute and decided it was best to pay people off to make it appear that their children had received a proper education.

A parents job is to love,  nurture, and educate their children while preparing them for a future where they can be productive and independent. When parents choose to make life easier for their children they make life harder for them when they become adults. I have a great deal of compassion for the children involved in this situation and while they might have been complicit they were simply following the path their parents laid out for them. They will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the fallout from this situation while dealing with the pressures of living a publicized life. It’s ironic that these parents invested so much money in creating a facade of academic success when in the long wrong they were destroying their children’s chances to be successful.

As a homeschooling parent, I work very hard to make sure that my kids have educational resources and opportunities available to them.  When they struggle I provide love and support and help them figure things out. I do not “do” things for my children I teach my children “how” to do things. We may not have a lot of money but my children are receiving an education that will allow them to become life long learners who value education. They are learning how to be accountable, respectable, and compassionate individuals. They are learning to walk alongside people instead of walking over people.

I would love to see one of my kids make it into an ivy league school but only if it is truly what they want and they do the work to get there. It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether any one of my children goes to college. All I want for my children is to be happy, balanced individuals with the confidence and drive to go after their dreams. I have faith that they will be successful because we are helping them build strong work ethics with good character. Parents all over the world are doing the same thing with their children and it doesn’t take a monetary investment just love and time.

I hope that Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman and the other parents involved in this situation learn a powerful lesson. I pray that their children will also learn a lesson and that this situation will propel them forward to do good with their lives. I pray that those who had their college spots stolen will get another shot at admissions and find forgiveness in their hearts. This is a teachable moment for us all and we should share this with our children so they can understand that while their path won’t be made easy in the end the bumps along the way will help shape them into the people God wants them to be and the people that we can be proud of.

 

“In all the toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”

            -Proverbs 14:23

 

Planning 2019-2020 School Year

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I know we are a ways off from the start of the  new school year but this is the time of year that I begin to plan. I gather my curriculum catalogs together along with my trusty notebook so that I can plan out what materials I need for next year and where our journey will take us. I love this process because it allows me to recharge, gain motivation and let’s face it I get to buy books so of course it is my favorite time of year.

Before I begin the process of planning I like to sit down with each of my kids and go over where they are and how they are feeling about their progress. I think it is important to have these conversations with my kids because it’s the best way to keep them on track and involved in their education. During these conversations I like to find out if there is anything in particular they are interested in learning or adding to their curriculum. For instance, my oldest this year has told me that he is really interested in aviation and would like to learn all about flying. When I am planning next year’s curriculum I will be looking for aviation themed books and resources for him to explore this interest. During these conversations I like to take notes that I can refer back to during the planning phase.

Once I have had a conversation with each of my kids I then like to review what we have done over the past year. This is a great time to get rid of what doesn’t work and find replacements. Starting this far in advance with my planning allows me to research and read reviews so that I can make an educated decision on what to try next. Of course things that are working well will be continued into the next year. This past year we have had great success with CTC Math so we will continue this program next year. Again I record these notes in my notebook so that I can reference back to them.

Over the next few weeks I will peruse through my catalogs (my favorite is the Rainbow Resource Catalog) and conduct online research. I usually do this after the kids have gone to bed so I can relax with a cup of coffee while I read uninterrupted. When I find books that interest me or materials I want to try I will write down the information in my notebook. By the time I am done my notebook will be pretty filled in but it will become a valuable tool when I finally write out my scope and sequence for next year.

When the research part is done this is when the real fun begins I like to take myself out for a parent teacher conference. I go to a cafe where I can sit down with my books and my laptop so I can work for a few hours uninterrupted and I can keep the coffee coming along with a delicious lunch. I will use my notebook to fill in what we will be learning next year in Bible, English, Math, Science and History and a list of materials for each subject. I will also determine what extra curricular subjects or activities will be covered. Each of my kids will have an outline created and I will create my short term goals for the year and re-address our long term goals to ensure we are on track. I will then create a homeschool budget and create a game plan to stay within that budget.

Once I have everything figured out on paper and typed up I print up a materials list. Since I plan in advance this allows me several months to purchase materials and gives me the opporutnity to get the best price. I love ordering books through sites like abebooks because I often find gently used books for a few dollars a piece. I keep this materials list on me whenever I am out because I have found resources at used bookstores, thrift shops and even garage sales.

Over the years I have found that this approach to homeschool planning works best for me but what works for me may not work for others. However you plan your homeschool curriculum make sure you make it fun, use it as a way to invigorate your homeschool and find out what your children think about their education and what they might be interested in learning.

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Best Catalogs for curriculum:

https://rainbowresource.com/catalog

https://www.bookshark.com/request-a-catalog/

https://www.sonlight.com/about/catalog/

https://timberdoodle.com/pages/free-catalog

https://www.nature-watch.com/online_catalog.php

https://www.christianbook.com/apps/catalog-request

https://www.libraryanded.com/request_catalog.html

It’s Never Too Early!

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It’s never too early to start home education, in fact, the best thing you can do for your little ones is to begin their education early. Even if you intend to enroll your children in a traditional brick and mortar institution you should still start them off with old fashioned home education. Many parents engage in home education without realizing that this is what they are doing but recently I have come across a large number of moms and dads who are passively raising their children. Instead of interacting with their children and teaching them ABCs, 123s, colors, shapes and other basic skills they are plopping their children in front of televisions and electronic devices. I know that this is the electronic age and I appreciate what technology provides us but I am disheartened that so many people are using technology to raise their children. Young children are the most receptive to learning new skills and this includes social skills. Sure you can download an App that will sing the alphabet to your child but this doesn’t provide the same level of education and it’s missing the social element. Children flourish only when they are being nurtured. Electronic devices can’t nurture and they do not provide the love and support that young children need and desire.

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Passively parenting your children not only hurts children but it hurts the parents as well. It prevents parents from making the deep connections with their children and as their children grow they will find it difficult to bond and to parent. We want our children to grow up in happy, healthy families where they feel love and are connected to their parents. This is the best way to secure a future of young people who are able to be compassionate, empathetic, and productive.

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You should be educating your children from day one in the early days this means simply holding them, singing to them and reading them stories. Talk to your little ones and tell them what you are doing and what your plans for the day are. They may not be able to communicate verbally but they are learning how to communicate. As your children grow they will be able to participate for instance when reading a story help them find objects on the page. Another fun activity for little ones is to give them a ball and an empty laundry basket to shoot hoops. Get out the bubbles and finger paint and let them make a mess and then show them how to clean up the mess. A lot of parents are nervous about kids making a mess but kids should be allowed to get messy.  I know that this sounds a lot like play but this is the best way to teach kids of any age. If you can make learning fun they will enjoy learning.

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In regards to the electronics, I am not completely against their use but I feel like they should be used rarely especially with very young children. My kids enjoyed Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse when they were little but I wouldn’t just sit them in front of the television and walk away. Instead, I would sit down and watch the shows with them while singing the songs and doing the silly dances. These weren’t just moments to educate these were moments to bond and make memories.

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My favorite people to hang out with are my children and I enjoy spending time with them and learning with them. If you are passively parenting you are missing out on so many opportunities to make memories and bond with your children. You are also missing out on an opportunity to start your children off on the right path towards education. Children grow so quickly so it is important to be as present as possible and to teach them the skills they need to be independent, productive and loving individuals.

Check out my Early Homeschool board on Pinterest for fun ideas for your little ones!

 

***Quick Safety Reminder***

When planning activities for young children make sure that they are age appropriate and keep choking hazards up and out of reach.

Homeschooling on the Run!

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Have you ever had one of those days where you have your day planned out and then something happens and everything gets flipped upside down? Well, I have those days quite a bit, I feel like I am always on the go and sometimes this creates issues with my homeschool routine. Luckily over the years I have learned the value in flexibility and have learned how to homeschool on the run. This skill came in to play the other day when my brother needed a last minute babysitter for his little ones. I packed up my three kids and grabbed a couple of resources that I could use to finish out our homeschool lessons for the day.

I find that the best way to be ready for last minute emergencies or general routine upsets is to have a basket with resources that I can quickly grab. For instance, we are working on the American Revolution so I keep several books and handouts in the basket in case I need them. This basket is kept updated with books and resources that correspond to the topics we are studying. I also keep a few pencils and pads of paper in the car for moments when homeschooling on the run is necessary.

Another great resource for homeschooling on the run is YouTube. On YouTube, you can find a number of documentaries for free that cover a wide range of topics. You can also find educational cartoons, songs and you can even listen to books. I keep a playlist titled homeschool and whenever I find content that I know my kids will enjoy I add it to that playlist. Most cars these days allow you to connect your phone through the speakers via Bluetooth but if your car doesn’t have this feature you can invest in a wireless Bluetooth speaker that will play content from your phone or tablet. This is truly a great way to homeschool on the run and not only are your kids learning but they are being entertained as well.

I also like to engage my kids in lively discussion as we homeschool on the run.  This is a great way to see how much information they are retaining and to review pertinent information. You can also practice math facts and spelling words and trivia as you are going down the road. One day we were in the car for an extended period of time and I had the kids making up silly poems about random nouns. This was a lot of fun and we created some very interesting poems that day.

If you are in a season of life where you feel like you are constantly on the go and feel like your homeschool is suffering give homeschooling on the run a try. Find resources, games and audio content and keep them readily available for those days when life gets hectic. The greatest perk of homeschooling is that you can homeschool anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t matter if the learning happens at the kitchen table, in the car, on the beach or at the home of a friend. The only thing that matters is that you keep those kids learning even on the run.

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Additional ideas for homeschooling on the run…

*listen to a podcast

*hear a book with audible or another audio book service

*madlibs

*educational dvds/cds

*listen to music… classical, jazz, big band etc.

*listen to theatrical plays

*learn a foreign language

 

There are so many great resources out there and most of them can be found for free. Have you found a great resource that would help others homeschool on the run? If so please share in the comments below.

We Love Amelia Bedelia!

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As a homeschooling family we do a ton of reading and I am always on the hunt for books that will not only inspire literacy but a love for reading as well. I don’t want my kids to just be able to read I want them to adore reading as much as I do. Recently, my daughter started reading the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish and I have had the opportunity to revisit these wonderful books. I have to say that they are still a favorite of mine and Amelia Bedelia will always hold a special place in my heart. It is so much fun watching my daughter devour these books and I love when she reads them to me  because our reading sessions are filled with laughter. These reading sessions remind me of when I was a little girl reading these books with my own mom laughing at Amelia Bedelia’s silly antics. I hope one day Madeline will share these books with her children and remember the hours of enjoyment we shared.

If you have never heard of Amelia Bedelia I encourage you to hit up your local library or bookstore. There are so many different stories in the series and each and every book is truly wonderful. I was excited to see that a set of chapter books has now been added to the series. Herman Parish is the nephew of Peggy Parish and he has continued the legacy of Amelia Bedelia for future generations to enjoy. While my daughter has really taken to these books my sons have also enjoyed the stories so these are great books for both boys and girls. The reading levels vary from easy to challenging and with the stories being so funny and unique my kids have challenged themselves just to see what she will do next.

I would love to hear what stories from your childhood you have shared with your own children? Did they enjoy the stories as much as you did?

 

I Made Cheese!

I love to learn new kitchen skills and I have been wanting to make cheese forever and finally found a simple recipe to start with. I was watching YouTube and one of the channels I subscribe to “Living Traditions Homestead” had a video on how to make farm cheese with three ingredients. In this video she uses raw milk to make her cheese but I ran to the store and grabbed a gallon of whole milk and her recipe still worked out perfectly. With three ingredients milk, vinegar or lemon juice, and salt you can make homemade farm cheese that is so tasty. I am going to link her video here if your interested in giving this a try, this is a great skill to have.

Even if cheese making isn’t your passion this would still be a great activity to do with your homeschool. Hands on experiences like these are invaluable.

** Helpful Note**

In her video she uses 1/2 cup of vinegar and I noticed after using the 1/2 cup of vinegar that my whey hadn’t fully separated from the curds. I did a quick search on the internet and found that you need to keep adding a little vinegar at a time letting it sit a little at a time until you see the whey fully separate. I ended up using a full cup of vinegar to make this happen.

Mother Nature Gave Us A Pop Quiz

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I can’t believe that we had 50 degree weather in Northwest Ohio in January but that is what we were blessed with today. I’m not complaining I am enjoying our unseasonably warm weather because I know that snow is soon to come. Anyways we were enjoying this lovely weather when the clouds began to move in and the wind picked up and the sounds of thunder rumbled across the sky. The kids were pretty tickled that we had a thunderstorm in January when we typically have snow storms. They began to watch the clouds move across the sky and mother nature showed us every variety of cloud over the course of a few minutes. The kids were naming off the different types of clouds we were seeing and we double checked them with a cloud chart to see if they were correctly identifying them. My kids did a pretty good job and all passed the impromptu pop quiz provided by Mother Nature.

This is one of the things I love about homeschooling we have the flexibility to stop working on something to watch the sky and discuss the weather. I love just living in the moment and watching my children delight in the world around them. Next time Mother Nature rolls through town see if your kids can identify the different clouds they see. Below you will find a link to a cloud chart provided by the National Weather Service. This is a great way to talk about a variety of weather topics including weather safety.

NWS Cloud Chart

https://www.weather.gov/jetstream/cloudchart