home school

Truth be told I don’t homeschool b/c I love teaching.  I am not that mom who stays up late looking up cool lesson plans to do with her kids.  I don’t spend my summer reading books for the next school year.  I wish I was that mom.  I often feel guilty that I am not that homeschooling mom.

Truthfully, the homeschool days are tough.  I mean we have our good moments each day, and those precious moments are what carry me through the L.I.T.E.R.A.L weeping and gnashing of teeth (both theirs and mine) as we fight through the lessons we don’t enjoy.  And as we work on heart issues and character and respect… all which truly add on to an already full day of work.  Latin with a side of Respect is often a huge pill to swallow.

But, we fight through, we persevere and I THINK we are ALL growing and learning through it all and despite our many, many flaws. 

And the reason why is right here….

June 11

We have long, long days from Sept-May…. but then we get out of school a whole month before the rest of the world.  And we play hard. This was the first year that I made us push through and work till June.  I of course was told I was “ruining their summer.”  When in actuality they still had at least a half day of free time to play Legos each day.  Normally when our tutorial is done, we are done.  This year we were done with a majority of our subjects, but still had to spend a few hours a day on math and health for the following month.  We also spent a few weeks DEEP, DEEP cleaning our house.  Because during those longs days of school from Sept-May, I can tell you there is VERY VERY little cleaning that takes place.  Just the bare minimum to keep us closed, fed, and somewhat sanitary.  But, Tuesday we met with the county and showed them our work and then it was SUMMERTIME!!!

Even the dog got in on the summer fun… whether she wanted to or not…

The extra time with my kids, most especially over summer and Christmas is the #1 reason I can make it through the homeschool year.

Sprinklers and worms…. such a fun combo!

My oldest will start middle school this fall.  The plan is to continue on with homeschooling him next year.  I don’t know how much longer we will continue, I take it one year at a time.  And so, I intend to do my best to embrace this long summer.

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I can’t believe I am more than half way through my 6th year of homeschooling.  Seriously, how did that happen?  I feel like I am learning so, so much…. and I also feel like this is the first year where I have felt truly comfortable in my skin.  Mind you, that is a FAR FAR FAR cry from feeling like I have it together or have it down.  That I do not.  But, I feel like I am now more comfortable and confident and am thus willing to think outside the box. 

I taught for 3 and a half years before becoming a stay at home mom.  And one thing that I have seen in the traditional classroom as well as the homeschool classroom, is that the third quarter is, for me at least, one of the hardest. 

I am thankful that we have one quarter left in our school year.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is starting to peek through!!!!! 

This year I had a strong desire to spend a great deal of time prior to Easter preparing my heart, my mind and those of my children.  A few years ago I bought a book called Amon’s Adventure but I never got around to reading it to the kids.  This year I pulled it out and the kids and I started our “school at home days” snuggled around the fireplace with me reading aloud to them from this book.  Reading aloud to the kids was one of those thing I knew I should make more time to do, but yet never felt like I could fit it in with all the other academic work we HAD to do.   However, I have learned it set such a sweet tone for our days… and it was a time the kids and I both cherished.  We finished the book this morning, but I have already decided read aloud is now a non negotiable start to our school at home days and I’ve already picked out our next book.  

I have known, oh I have even written over and over on THIS very blog, that my days would go smoother if I would get up BEFORE the kids and prep myself and START out school day at a set time.  And we’d do really well at this every September and January.  But then as life set in, I would often get lazy and our school days would start with a behind and frustrated Mom prepping breakfast and ordering kids to start around the table. 

This year has been the first that we have really stuck to a set start time.  And to be honest, this is because Scott has had to go in to work early and so once I am setting the alarm for him and getting up with him, it is easier to just stay up and get started.   It has been a huge difference maker for our school at home days.  One I have known I should do but haven’t felt like doing. 

Those who know me in real life, know that I am not a type A person.  And so I have fought against the notion of having a schedule for our school days.  I liked the freedom and the flexibility of the kids choosing what they wanted to do when… this resulted in my helping one with math, while another worked independently on spelling while another worked beside me on grammar…. more often than not I would find myself answering questions on 3 different subjects at the same time all while entertaining my toddler on the side.  And QUITE OFTEN I FELT LIKE I WAS GOING INSANE!  I felt like a million tabs were open in my head at once and how was I going to get through it.  Scott has over and over and over suggested I just make a schedule dictating when we do what.  And I have over and over bulked at it. 

Until about a month ago.

When I screamed, “That’s it…. I am dictating the schedule from now on.”

And after several attempts we have kinda worked out a system that works for the kids and I.  It is kind of a combination of both worlds.  I have a set start time and a set end time.  We do school from 8:30-3 with an hour to hour and a half break for lunch and recess.  Some days we go until 3:30 and some days we may finish around 2:30.  But typically we are 8:30-3. Each day I write out my plan for what we will do when, but I have built in flexibility as well.  For example, there are some subjects such as spelling, handwriting, flashcards, and typing, which the kids do not need me for.  I have set an hour where I work with one kid on grammar while the other two work through those subjects.  I get one on one time during that hour with each kid to work on grammar, but they also get the independence to pick what they do when of those 4 free subjects during that time.  And we bang through 5 subjects in that hour!!! 

I don’t do the same order each day.  Other than the fact that I start every day with a read aloud and then quiet reading…. after that it switches up day to day.  I have a pulse of how many subjects we need to do before lunch and definitely try not to save all the hard or heavy subjects for afternoon.  But, by switching up the order day to day it keeps things changing and flexible like I wanted.   There are still a few times where I have them working on different subjects at the same time… this is so we can space out one using the computer for writing while the other does Latin and I do my best to help both at the same time. 

I have found recess to be a necessary part of our homeschool day.  It allows us to have a fresh start, a natural do over, which is so important on days when we have had a rough  morning.  Often times we return refreshed and with new attitudes after a time away from the books and away from each other for a bit.  The kids and I need a breath of fresh air, or time to play and or create (even if all I create is dinner in the crock pot).  Some days we will still return to rotten attitudes and battles of the will, sometimes no amount of fresh air can releave us of those as we tackle the task at hand… and on those days, I am still thankful for recess b/c at least we had a temporary reprieve which is vital to making it through the day.  Since we live very close to Scott’s work, he tries hard to make it home for lunch.  It isn’t always doable and sometimes it is really just a quick stop in to grab food and head out, but other times it is a nice sit down meal together as a family in the middle of the day.  I love those times.  And because of this, I need prep time for lunch so we try to break around 11:30-11:45 so I have time to prep lunch and we get back to the books by 1:00. 

So, with the end in sight…. I say I have learned that getting up early, starting at a set time, having a schedule set in writing, having read aloud time together and RECESS have all been HUGE HUGE game changers to our homeschool days.   

I will also say that just today I sent an email to Scott venting about a huge battle with one of my children.  Sometimes no amount of scheduling or read alouds can rid us from the inevitable battle of wills, and we must just work through them.  And I am so so thankful for a loving and gracious heavenly Father whom I call out to day after day in repentance for my shortcomings as their mother, for wisdom in discipling them, for guidance and comfort.  And I have found…. He is always there.  And He shows me glimpses of the work He is doing in my heart and in theirs.

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I feel like we are off to a pretty good start this school year and we are settling into a routine.

The hardest part for me about home schooling and the part I like the LEAST is the juggling act of wearing both the hat of mom and the hat of teacher.  The kids don’t understand that my making them do a subject they don’t like doesn’t make me a mean mom, it makes me their teacher.  That is a struggle.  I am just hoping and praying that these struggles will produce character… godly character in all of us. 

I think my favorite part of homeschooling is the actual  mom part… getting to be with my kids more and them getting to be with each other.  As I write this my oldest and youngest are playing football in the backyard for recess.  If my 10 year old was away at school they would not have this time together… nor would they have the moments of talking around the lunch table.  These are the moments I cherish… these are the ones I have to hold on tight to when we are crying over wrong math problems and struggling to recall declensions and arguing over who gets to use the computer first.

These moments…

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Always, always when they work on jingles or recitations or memorizing, they are upside down… not sure if it helps them sink in better to their brains or not. 

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As part of art (something that I am SOOOOO guilty of neglecting) this year I bought some cards which are so so cool.  They have pictures from several paintings at the National Gallery of Art.  Each picture has a set of 2, one that is a close up of the painting and the other has the whole painting and the title and artist.  On Fridays we play Old Maid, or Go Fish, or matching using these cards and it is helping us get face time with these famous paintings.  Then I plan to use these cards on a field trip later this year where we will go on a scavenger hunt to find them.  This has been fun.

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His favorite subjects are history, literature and writing.  He loves working on his writing projects, especially when he gets to type on his computer. 

 

 

IMG_5775And her subject of choice is and always has been math.  This girl LOVES numbers like I love words.    Nothing starts her day off better than jumping in on some math.

Science this year is AWESOME!  There are TONS, TONS of labs to choose from each week.   I really, really hope I can keep up with this, b/c I think these will prove to be the moments we all savor the most from school this year.

We made and experienced an amorphous solid this week using cornstarch and water.  (it was so so cool)

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And we learned about freezing points and even lowered the freezing point of water by using salt and making frozen apple juice.

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This was fun and tasty and something everyone could participate in.

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It was good for me to stop and reflect on the good moments at the end of this week, because to be honest, the moments aren’t all good.  It’s messy… messy b/c we are living life while doing school… and messy b/c we are shaping character while doing school.  There is disrespect, and disobedience, and selfishness and fighting, and laziness… there is a short tempered Momma wearing her pjs’s reheating her coffee and desperately yearning for a few moments of peace…

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Lessons Learned

September 12, 2014

in home school,homeschool,mess

This week in Science the kids learned about matter, mass, volume, and density.

This week in Science Mom learned that if your going to do an experiment involving food coloring, you should do it OUTSIDE.

Everything was moving along nicely.  The kids had finished all of their morning assignments and we still had about 20 minutes before recess.  Perfect, I thought, we’ll do our science lab.  I was feeling so on top of things because I had even looked ahead earlier in the week and made sure we had all the ingredients we needed… I made a run to Target yesterday morning for the necessary alka seltzer to make it all fizzle.

Our goal:  to make “lava lamps” 

The purpose was to discuss density. 

Ingredients needed:  water bottles, oil, vinegar, food coloring, and alka seltzer

I even raided the recycling can at the gym yesterday for empty plastic water bottles. 

Things were going great.  It worked just like it should and we were all enjoying it greatly. 

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I was so excited.  I snapped a quick pic to post of our fun science class.

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The book said you could put more than one tablet in, once the bubbling had settled down.  The kids were having so much fun, I went ahead and let them put in another one.  I was being careful and even put paper towels under the water bottles incase they leaked a little.  The book also said you could shake the bottle.

Well the next thing I know, my 4 year old is holding the bottle to shake it when suddenly the lid pops and we have an explosion. 

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Oil, plus vinegar, plus BLUE food coloring is everywhere

the floor

the ceiling

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Pictures don’t do it justice. 

We quickly take our clothes off and run them to the wash and then start scrubbing.

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…. just when I think we have it all, I see another little blue dot way over by the back door… or on the chairs at the school table at the other side of the room.  The bottle exploded between the kitchen island and our stove

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I had to scrub oily dye from the chairs at the table, the floor by the door, the dishwasher, the window behind the sink… all the cabinets….

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The kids were champs.  The all jumped in and helped where they could. 

Mopping the floors has been on my to do list for 2 weeks now and kept getting moved… I had officially taken it off the list until next Sat… but then science class happened.  I had to scrub up the oil.  At least the kitchen floor got mopped… and I finally tackled those dust bunnies on the wall above the stove.

Our ceiling has a nice oily blue spackled pattern on it, that I have a feeling will be there until we try to sell our house years from now.

Whew!  All I can say, is that is a science experiment I am sure we won’t forget anytime soon. AND, I am so glad it is Friday… bring on the weekend folks!

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And so a new year begins… this morning was our first day back at the tutorial.  I can’t believe it marks our 6th year of homeschooling.  What a blessing this community had been to our family. 

Here we are starting 2nd, 3rd, and 5th grades!

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“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  Philippians 1:9-11

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Nesting

September 4, 2014

in home school,homeschool

I feel like the month of August is much like the 9th month of pregnancy.  I go into crazy nesting mode as I gear up for another school year.   There is the ordering of curriculum… then the purchasing of school supplies… then the organizing of the binders… and cracking open that homeschool cabinet which ALWAYS turns into the junk closet over the summer.  Ya know, the “Company is coming and I need a place to hide all these papers and misc junk from the kitchen counters,”  place….

Then in addition to all of the school prep, I go into crazy nesting mode on the house… deep cleaning and purging and organizing… b/c much like in pregnancy, I know free time is going to come to an end soon and it will be ALL I can do to keep dishes washed, clothes washed and groceries bought… scrubbing the bath tub and mopping the floor typically fall to the wayside until the next school break.

And so I clean and organize and do all I can to prep for the new year.

This year I have spent a GREAT amount of time and thought into changes I want to incorporate into the new year.  I intend to be way more structured this school year than in years past and I’ve been trying to work out the best system for that.  I think I have it figured out.. it will take a few weeks to see if I need to adjust the schedule any. 

We started back with school at home this week.  We did math, spelling, handwriting, memory verse, typing, flashcards, reading and art.  It’s been kind of nice to have a week of adjusting back to school without our FULL back to school schedule.  It has helped iron out some kinks and give me some time to do more prep work.  Next week the tutorial starts back officially and we will add Latin, History, Science, Grammar, and Writing to our school day assignments.  I am both excited and nervous.  I will have a 5th, 3rd, and 2nd grader this year.   I also have a “very eager to start learning”preschooler.  I think this will be my hardest year yet of homeschooling, which is why I have spent weeks trying to plan and organize and set things in place.

Our first day was rough.  There was literal weeping and gnashing of teeth.   But, we plowed through and day 2 was MUCH better. 

I think I will need to take it one day at a time… and I think I am going to need to bathe the year and each day in prayer.  Patience and discipline and perseverance are going to be needed… and I know I can’t rely on my own strength for any of that.

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