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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The Terrible Teen Stage

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My oldest is almost 13 years old and he is a crazy, funny, unique individual but recently the terrible teen disease has begun to plague him. If you have a child between the ages of 11-13 who is exhibiting the following symptoms your child might also have this obnoxious disease.

  • Moodiness
  • Suddenly knows everything under the sun
  • Argumentative
  • Clumsy
  • Forgetful
  • Accident-prone
  • Strange odors emitting from body
  • Refuses to change clothing
  • Eyes rolling

 

In all honesty the terrible teen stage is not that different from the terrible twos with the exception of temper tantrums. So far I haven’t seen any signs that my 12 year will fling himself to the floor in fits of emotion but I will keep you updated on that situation. I survived the terrible twos so I am pretty confident that I can handle the terrible teen stage too but only time will tell.

This is such an awkward time for kids because they are in between childhood and adulthood and everything in life seems dire. It’s equally painful for us parents because we have to come to grips with the fact that our children are no longer little caterpillars. In fact they are going through the final metamorphosis to become full-fledged butterfly’s ready to make their way in the world. It’s a beautiful, awkward, and painful transition for both parties.

 

 

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Toddlers afflicted with the terrible twos act out because they are learning how to communicate and understand the world around them. Pre-teens and teenagers are attempting to do the same thing they are learning how to communicate, understand and participate in a world of adults all while dealing with the physical and hormonal changes brought on by puberty. I remember living through this stage of life and I wouldn’t go back if you paid me a million bucks.

Whenever the eye rolling or moodiness gets to me I do my best to remind myself of my own teen years. I draw on empathy, patience and my abundance of love for him to help me through the trying times. If your child is also going through the terrible teen stage remember to…

  • be patient
  • pick your battles
  • follow through on punishment
  • keep open lines of communication
  • help them set short term and long term goals
  • keep life simple when they are feeling overwhelmed
  • remember to tell them you love them often
  • keep an arsenal of room freshner on hand and a window cracked for fresh air

 

The terrible teen stage doesn’t last forever and with faith, love and family on our side we can get through any challenge life might throw our way.

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If you have survived the terrible teen stage let us know how you made it through!

 

 

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.

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?

 

Puberty Stinks!

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Puberty stinks literally and figuratively! It all started back around Christmas time my husband and I noticed that an odd odor was coming from our oldest child who had just turned twelve. We purchased him his own supply of deodorant and explained the importance of personal hygiene. We expected the odor to go away but it only got worse this is when my husband took our son down to the health and beauty aisle a Walmart to purchase additional tools to battle the stench. They came home armed with manly soap, a large scrubby brush and a loofah. During their outing my husband again went over the basics of hygiene and we crossed our fingers and pinched our noses hopeful that we had won the battle. Unfortunately, we were not victorious and the stench continued in fact it seemed to get worse.

I really didn’t know what to do and I could tell that it was really beginning to bother him as well. Luckily, we didn’t have to worry about kids bullying him at school since he is homeschooled. Still this was a difficult situation for the entire family and it made simple things like car trips almost impossible. Finally, after months of battling this atrocious smell my father suggested that we try an antiperspirant instead of deodorant and he recommended a brand that he liked. I wasn’t super hopeful because at this point we had tried pretty much every product sold over the counter but I decided it wouldn’t hurt to try one more product.

At first it didn’t seem to be working but now I can say with confidence that after several days of use my son now smells human. I can give him a hug without my nose and eyes watering and we can ride in the car without having to crack a window. This is why it takes a village to raise a child. It is so important to have people around you that you can trust to provide sound judgement especially in moments like these when your own judgement is being addled by a gruesome stench.

If you happen to have a pre-teen that is being followed by a similar odor I am here to tell you that it is normal and there is hope. Sometimes you just have to keep trying different soaps and deodorants/antiperspirants until you find the one that works best for your child’s personal chemistry. Just remember to keep air circulating at all times and never I repeat never turn on the heater in the car without cracking the window first!

 

 

A Homeschooling Mom’s Stance on Abortion

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Many women like to argue that abortion is their right because they have the right to do what they want with their own bodies. Some argue that abortions are necessary to help women who have been victims of rape and incest. Others think that it is some sort of rite of passage and that all women should experience an abortion at least once in their lifetime. I find this not only troubling but down right horrifying that so many people are okay with women aborting their babies. In fact the state of New York just signed The Reproductive Health Act into law which allows women to abort their babies up to 24 weeks for any reason and up to the baby’s due date if the mother expresses a health issue like stress. I don’t care what the circumstances are abortion is murder and murder should be illegal.

Abortion statistics from the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute show that the largest number of abortions occur among unmarried women in their 20s. Less than 1% of women who underwent abortions reported being a victim of rape or incest as their reason for receiving the procedure. In fact most women who received the procedure reported that they were making the decision because the baby would impact their life path in what they felt was a negative way. Basically, they made a mistake and instead of taking on the challenge of motherhood they instead want to erase their actions with an abortion.

I believe that women have the right to make choices with their own body but abortion is not a choice it is an immoral act. If you are not ready for children for one reason or another then don’t engage in sexual activity abstinence won’t kill you I promise. Whenever you engage in sexual activity there is a possibility that you will get pregnant and you have a responsibility to carry that child to viability. If you don’t want to be a parent you can place your child up for adoption there are so many wonderful people out there who want to be parents.

I don’t believe that children are consequences. I believe that children are blessings from God. As a society we should be finding ways to help young people find the support they need to make good choices. Women need to set good examples for their daughters so their daughters can make good decisions about sexual relationships. Men need to set good examples for their sons and teach their sons that they have responsibilities as well. Hollywood actresses shouting their abortions shouldn’t be role models for our children instead they should be cautionary tales uses to teach life lessons. We need to teach our children that life is not a video game where you can just hit reset and start fresh. In life OUR CHOICES determine the path we take in life and we have a responsibility to accept the path and learn how to navigate the rough patches.

Abortion doesn’t stop you from being a parent it makes you a parent who decided that you were too selfish and scared to allow your child the right to life.
Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/ss/ss6713a1.htm

https://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/

https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/tables/370305/3711005t3.pdf

https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46994583

 

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.

The One Thing They Forgot…

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Last night Northwest Ohio was gifted several inches of fresh snow and my kids were itching to try out their new sleds they received at Christmas time. This afternoon with the sun shining above we set out to our local metro park to test out the sleds. We weren’t the only ones inspired to try out the sled hill and found ourselves surrounded by dozens of families outfitted for some winter fun. These parents took great care to prepare their kids for the winter weather so that they could stay safe and warm. Each child had on a nice winter coat, a cozy hat, mittens and snow boots. Some had fancy snowboards and some had old fashioned flying saucer sleds like my own three and a few had some homemade sleds that were quite impressive. Everyone was having a great time but then I began to notice that something had been forgotten. Something very important had been forgotten a lesson that all parents should teach their children so that they can participate in society productively….consideration.

When we initially arrived at the sled hill I reminded my children to pay attention to those around them. I advised them to walk up the side of the hill and stay out of the way as others were sledding downhill. We also discussed how to handle a situation in case they accidentally bumped into someone. Our discussion wasn’t new and to be honest I really don’t need to remind them at this point because over the years they have caught on how to behave in public (at home is a different story), but as a parent I feel obligated to remind them before setting them free on the public just in case memory fails them. Apparently, I was the only parent who had this conversation with their children as we saw children walking up the hill and even stopping in front of others who were attempting to sled downhill. We saw kids purposely aiming for other kids and unfortunately there was a group of young teens who decided that yelling expletives downhill was appropriate. I looked around at the smiling parents who seemed to be oblivious to how this type of behavior could cause injury. The only time I heard parents call out to their kids was to remind them to zip up or put their gloves back on not once commenting on their actual behavior.

As I was pondering whether I was over reacting or not I saw the most horrific incident. A teenager on a sled aimed himself at a three year old who was trying to get up from her sled. He hit the toddler’s sled in such a way that the three year old literally went airborne flipping up and over her sled and landing on her face. As I am running and inquiring if she is okay I hear the strangest noise behind me, laughter. Not only was the teen laughing but most of the parents and teens at the bottom of the hill were laughing as well talking about how funny it was that this little girl went flying up in the air. One 13 year old girl started yelling that it was worthy of “Funniest Home Videos”. The teen who had hit the young girl was busy getting high fives from his friends and parents yet never once stopped to find out if the little girl was okay. Luckily she was bundled up pretty good so despite the face full of snow she received she is okay but I can’t even imagine how scary that had to have been and then to have so many people laughing adding insult to injury.

My kids made me very proud when they rushed down the sled hill to see if the little girl was okay. Maybe I am over reacting but watching young and old delight in an accident that could have ended very badly was troubling. Parents take so much care making sure their kids are dressed warmly and that they are fully stocked with hot chocolate and snacks but never once thought to outfit their kids with kindness, compassion and consideration. I find it more than troubling that we live in a society where people are forgetting to be kind, compassionate and considerate. That we live in a society where parents model inappropriate responses to real life situations. As parents we have a duty to society to raise our children to be the productive members who will positively impact the world we live in.

What do you think? Am I over reacting? How would you have reacted if your child laughed while another child was injured? Let me know in the comments below because I would love to have others chime in on this issue.

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Math: A Review of CTC Math

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Recently, we started using a new math curriculum and after using it for a little over two months I decided to give it a review. Before I continue with my review I do want to state that I am not being sponsored by CTC Math and this is a completely unbiased review. For the past few years, we have bounced around through a few different math programs primarily using Modern Curriculum Press workbooks and other supplementary worksheets. This has worked pretty well but now that my oldest son is getting into pre-algebra I wanted to find something that would allow him to work independently and at his own pace.

Originally I wanted to set him up with Teaching Textbooks but after doing their free trial realized that this particular program wouldn’t work well for our family. First, the cost was much higher than I could afford and my son really struggled through the content not because it was too hard simply because it was not engaging enough. Looking for an alternative I stumbled across CTC Math and we signed up for the free trial. Not only did my oldest son love it my youngest two wanted to try it out as well. That day I signed up for the family homeschool membership which is $15.97 a month and now all three of my kids are enjoying this curriculum.

I highly recommend CTC Math because not only is it affordable, my kids can work through the lessons independently, but the content is amazing too. When they log in they click on the next available topic and watch a short lesson. The video lessons are short and concise and then they have questions to complete. When you set up your students profile you can choose how many questions they have to answer as well as what percentage they need to score to pass the topic. Once a week I receive an email from CTC Math with a look at their scores and an overview of what they worked on throughout the week. I can also log in at any time to see how they are doing and I can also print off additional worksheets for them to complete.

If you’re looking for a math program that is affordable and allows your children to work independently then I recommend that you take a look at CTC Math. Teaching Textbooks is an awesome program as well and while it didn’t work for my kids it may be a great option for your family. I love programs that allow you to test drive the material before investing so you can determine if it will work for your family.

 

CTC Math

https://www.ctcmath.com/trial

Teaching Textbooks

https://www.teachingtextbooks.com/v/vspfiles/tt/free_trial.html

 

**Disclaimer- This post reflects my own experience and opinions and is not being sponsored by anyone.

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.