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

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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

Reading Shouldn’t Be A Chore

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When I first began my homeschool journey with my oldest son we continued a practice from his public school days which involved reading for 20 mins a day. It sounds like a great way to inspire literacy but I quickly began to realize that by forcing my kids to read 20 mins a day I was killing their desire to read. Every time I would say it’s time for you to sit down and read my kids would start to groan and complain. I love reading and I couldn’t understand why my kids weren’t enjoying a hobby that has given me hours of pleasure. I began to notice that they were complaining the same way they would when I would ask them to clean their rooms; I had inadvertently made reading a chore.

I didn’t want reading to be a chore. I wanted my kids to find reading an exciting activity that would whisk them away to far away places where they would have grand adventures. I decided to do away with the 20 mins of reading and I was worried at first that they just wouldn’t read and for a few weeks this did occur. I of course continued to read to them and they were reading their school work but not one of them cracked a book independently. Just when I was about to give up and add reading back to their chore list the most miraculous thing happened, they began to read independently. At first it was just my oldest who came down with the reading bug but within a few days my other two children had also caught the bug. Now it is a common occurrence to stumble across them not only reading a book but enjoying the experience.

Not all kids are created equal and what works for mine may not work for your’s but if you find reading has become a chore it might be time to try a different approach. Here are a few suggestions that have worked for my kids….

  • provide access to a large variety of books
  • do away with scheduled reading times
  • seek out content that you know will interest your kids
  • read as a family and share what you reading at dinner time

Even though I no longer assign reading I do take an interest in what they are reading and always make time to answer questions or help them with a word’s meaning. I often read through the books in advance and will ask questions to see if they are understanding the context of the story. While I have taken a more hands off approach with independent reading I am always ready to jump in when they need me and it is really working. The last tip I have for encouraging literacy is to read to your kids even when they are able to read chapter books independently. There is nothing better than curling up together and reading through a beloved classic and your kids are never too old to hear a story.

 

Are they socialized?

 

Oh, you homeschool... are they socialized_ _They haven't peed on the floor and nobody has been bitten so yeah they are socialized_ (1)

Ugh, the dreaded socialization question. While I enjoy talking about homeschooling the one question I abhor is whether or not I socialize my kids. The answer to this question is always a polite yes and I explain how we are engaged in community activities and that we attend church where the kids belong to a youth group. The response I often want to give is not as polite and sounds something more like “well they haven’t peed on the floor recently and nobody has been bitten so I think they are okay”.  I swear one of these days this will be the response that accidentally slips out when asked this frustrating question.

What exactly is socialization? The definition from Merriam Webster basically states that it is a process where individuals learn how to interact in society observing societal norms. Why do people think that the only way to achieve this process in children is to have them immersed in a traditional brick and mortar institution? I agree that children need to learn how to act appropriately in society. This is why we take our kids out into the community to learn how to behave in a variety of different venues and how to communicate with not only their peers but with all people. I disagree that “schools” are the only place where children can receive this type of education. In fact I am not sure how well schools do in this area but you won’t catch me asking a public school mom if her child is socialized.

All parents not just homeschooler’s need to take an active role in teaching their children how to interact and communicate in society. I have had moms ask me the question about socialization while their “socialized public schooler” has her face buried in a phone in an attempt to avoid any and all interaction. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to behave through dialouge and by modeling the correct behavior. The issue of socialization needs to be addressed by all parents not just those who homeschool which is why I find this question so frustrating. Perhaps, the reason today’s society struggles so much with “appropriate” behavior is because the vast majority of children are not being taught by their parents how to behave and communicate.

I am confident that my children are learning how to behave in society and that they will one day be productive adults. Each one of my children is able to make friends, communicate with people of all ages and they all behave well in public. To be honest this is a realtively easy thing to instill in children who are homeschooled because we do not have the issue of peer pressure to deal with and thank goodness. Are homeschoolers unsocialized? No they are not, this is simply a misconception and a negative stereotype often used to undermine the decision to break away and take a different path in educating our children. Instead of undermining eachother lets have a real dialouge where we discuss and learn from eachother how to raise children into productive members of society. That is a conversation worth having!

 

 

 

 

 

My kids are in the slime business

 

Message_1544283394928Recently, my kids took one of their favorite past times and turned it into a money making business. They played around with a slime recipe until they found one that made a slime that wasn’t too slimy and not too rubbery. One of the issues they discovered is that while slime is fun to play with it doesn’t smell good so they added scents, foam balls and a variety of glitter to make it extra special. I was pretty impressed with the product they had created and I hate to admit this but I found myself playing with their slime on more than one occasion.

They decided that they wanted to sell the slime so they could earn some spending money so I found a local craft show where they could set up shop. My role in all of this was simply that of an investor. I invested about $45 for supplies and their spot in the craft show with the understanding that they would need to pay back the loan with their profits. It was pretty exciting watching my 6, 8 and 12-year-old figure out the best way to run their business. In the beginning, they started out trying to make slime in large batches but eventually adopted an assembly line. One person would make the slime, the next person would knead it until it was no longer sticky and the last person packaged the slime. In a week they had made about 100 4-oz containers of slime and then they began to work on their sales pitch.

Yesterday, we loaded the car up with slime and took it down to their first ever craft show. I was so impressed by how well they did not only did they do a great job setting up their table but they were active salespeople. Whenever someone passed the table they would invite that person over to touch or smell the slime. We heard a lot of parents say absolutely not stating that “slime” had been banned in their household because it was too messy. My oldest began countering back that the messy part had already been taken care of and that their kids could enjoy a finished slime product. This ended up being the winning sales pitch as many parents double backed and purchased a few containers to take home. Many kids also stopped by the table on their own to buy slime and other vendors and crafters began to take notice. By the end of the day they had sold most of their product and after paying me back had a profit of $90 to split between themselves.

It is truly amazing what kids can do when you encourage creativity and give them a little freedom to experiment. From this experience, they have learned firsthand how to run a business, market, and sell a product. I know that these skills will serve them well in their future endeavors. I am truly blessed with wonderful kids and I am one proud mama.

 

 

The Grinch v.s Ebeneezer Scrooge

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It is a family tradition in our house to read both The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I love both of these stories and I am very proud to have both books in my personal library. These are two books that in my opinion should be a part of every parent’s personal library because they teach important life lessons. If you don’t have these on hand but want to incorporate this lesson with your kids check out the resources below to find the stories online for free.

Typically, we read and discuss these stories separately but this year we are doing things a bit different. This year we are going to tackle these books together comparing and contrasting the books as a whole, the main character, and lessons taught by each story. Below you will find a list of questions I will be asking of each of my children to answer. I think that these questions will help them flush out both stories and really dig into the transformations taken by both of these incredible characters.

The Assignment: My oldest will be answering these questions and turning it into a five paragraph essay while my youngest two will be creating a story plot worksheet for each of the books.

 

How are Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch similar? How are they different?

 

How is the setting of each story similar? How are they different?

 

How does the Grinch change in the story and what caused that change to occur?

 

How does Ebeneezer Scrooge change in the story and what caused his transformation?

 

How are the life lessons in both stories similar and/or different?

 

Which story do you personally feel did a  better job teaching the lesson?

 

What did these stories teach you?

 

Additional Resources:

https://www.education.com/worksheet/article/story-plot/

http://web.mit.edu/tere/www/text/grinch.txt

https://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Charles_Dickens/A_Christmas_Carol/