Browsing the archives for the Homeschooling category.

The kids and I are in love with one another – And Minecraft

Homeschooling, I am blessed, My kids, Parenting, Unschooling

I learned a new favorite saying from my friend and fellow veteran, unschooling/ homeschooling mom, Heidi:
“Cleaning and scrubbing can wait til tomorrow for babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow”

Along with “My hands are full but my heart is overflowing.” (thanks Maggie Mackay)

These two saying are basically my mothering style. I mess this up but this is the goal.

And yes, I’m feeling pretty emotional today because I’ve realized, my children have been at home with me 24/7 for 14 weeks and I have gotten over the hump. The only way I can explain what “hump” I mean is we’ve all had kids home all summer long and at the end of the summer you are so ready to be away from your kids. You are arguing, not getting along, etc. You are simply counting own the days to be separate from one another.  Well, with homeschooling, for me, I got to that point but didn’t send them to school and our relationships suffered, no learning was happening, and everyone was miserable.

This new approach to parenting and homeschooling has given me back my relationship with my kids. I don’t yell anymore! OK – I have a few times the last several weeks but this is a GREAT improvement to where we were.  They are not throwing fits. We are having fun together again. I am reveling in their joys, new explorations, hobbies and interests. They are my little BFF’s. I’m still their mother – make no mistake about that – but we are also happy to spend the day together.

Only if you walked this journey with me could you fully understand what I’m saying. Of course, I’ve always loved my children and they’ve always loved me.  I would have died for them at any stage of this process.  But, we have falling in love all over again with each other. I compare what happens to parents, (well what happened with ME, I can’t speak for others) is when you have that new baby it’s like a new boyfriend/girlfriend. You are so in love with them and find everything they do amazing. If they have a hobby or interest you learn to love it as well because if it brings your love joy, you love it.

Then you get married, the honeymoon phase is over, and you sort of get into a lull and your focus shifts just a bit. That football obsession you once thought was “cute” is now not quite so cool and gets in the way of the things you need him to do for YOU. You find yourself rolling your eyes when he excitedly talks about an amazing play he saw. Before long he no longer comes to you to share those moments because he feels you belittle it.

For my kids, this happened as well. Minecraft (right now) is their obsession. I didn’t know the first thing about this “silly” game.  I didn’t try to get it. But, after reading blogs, books, essays, and forums about unschooling/deschooling they ALL say the FIRST step is: “Just start enjoying life with your kids. If they are in to something GET INVOLVED IN IT WITH THEM. Don’t just allow them to play it, encourage it, play with them, help them find new information about this obsession, dive into it WITH THEM.” I took this to heart. I sat down with the kids one day as they were playing Minecraft and said, “Can I play with you guys?” They looked at me like I had grown three heads and then excitedly brought me a tablet and they talked over themselves trying to tell me what to do. We laughed together (well they laughed at me mostly 😉 ) and spent two hours on this “silly” game that I now LOVE! I get it now! And I didn’t play it with them with the “teacher” glasses. I just played it like a friend with them. OK, I can’t say I didn’t find myself every ONCE in a while thinking, “He just did math.” and then stopping myself. Just enjoy the game, the time, the laughter and the joy.

As soon as I post this blog I am going to join with my kids again. They are waiting patiently on either side of me laughing and talking and planning what they are doing. I can’t wait to join. The dishes are still in the sink and that’s so very OK with me.

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I’m being punked right? Where are the cameras?

Homeschooling, Unschooling

The morning after the last blog post, I sat my children down on the couch and told them we needed to have a talk.  I had told them the day before the decision had been made:  Mommy is quitting homeschooling.  There was no talking to be done.  My mind could not be changed.  So, I could see the fear in their eyes as I was about to start talking.  They were waiting for the dreaded “back to public school” talk.  I started with, “Yesterday I told you Mommy is quitting homeschooling and that is still the case.”  They talked over one another about how they will do better, listen more, argue less, etc.  I told to quiet down and just listen.  As I began to explain to them what unschooling was, how our day, our lives, their education, our home would run I saw the hope, doubt and then confusion paint their faces.  Alex, my daughter (6), was just sort of staring at me.  Jackson (7) jumped up off the couch and had the biggest confused smile on his face.
When I finished my lecture, I asked them if they had any questions.  Alex said, “Um…..it sounds cool but….I don’t get it.  We learn when we play?”  Funny, since that’s the same thing most adults say when they first hear about unschooling (the same thing I thought).  Jackson’s question was, “Are you………..really sure you are ok with this?”  So funny because my son knows me.  Knows my need for structure and control in this house.  I explained to them that this is a learning process for all of us but that now we both share in the responsibility for making sure they get an education.  Also, (and this is something I tell anyone who is confused about my choice to unschool) unschooling does NOT mean unparenting.  Rules, a schedule, chores – all these things are still happening in this house.  We just don’t follow a schedule for when we learn.  There is no “ok, now we are going to sit down and do math” going on.  It’s life learning.  Because – that’s what it is!

Well, it’s day four of unschooling.  And – what is happening?  I am going to do my best to remember everything that has happened in the last four days that are what I see as indications that this is working for us but I know I’m missing things.  These are things I can actually see and noticed.  TOTALLY child-lead.  I’m certain what they have learned using this method will stay with them for the long haul.  It’s really quite insane that this is happening and I am almost convinced I’m being punked.  I DO NOT DILUTE MYSELF TO THINK THIS WILL HAPPEN EVERY DAY ALWAYS.  We will have our bad days I am 100% sure.  But, this is definitely a great first impression of unschooling!

Since that day the following things have happened:

  • The kids have read more in the last 3 days than they ever did when we when we were using a curriculum.  Jackson especially.  I went to the library on day one and got as many books and movies as my Large Utility tote and my back could handle.  Which turned out to be 27.  I just went through and picked up both nonfiction and fiction in areas of interest that I know they have and a few that I though they would like and some random others.  I then put them up on display around the living room.  Yes, it looks like we have a book store but it worked!  And we always have gone to the library at least once a week to get books but since I started using a curriculum and getting books in the “area of topic” that week and a few others their love of learning was stiffed.  Glad to report – IT’S BACK!0109142253

  • We are all in such better moods. I don’t need to explain this other than to say I love having my kids home with me once again.  We laugh more.  We hug more.  We are learning together.  There are no words to describe how profound, important and how much we needed this change.

  • Alex did her very own optical illusion “magic trick” from a (library) book she was reading completely on her own without any prompting or coercion from me.  She called me into the kitchen and said she wanted to show me a magic trick but that she needed a clear glass, a small piece of paper and something to cover the glass.  Then she told me to record her and post it on Facebook.  I had no idea what she was going to show me and I was dumbfounded at her doing this.  Not because she hasn’t always been creative and a camera ham.  It’s just that when we would do experiments from the curriculum she was not all that excited about them and I had sort of chalked it up to “science might not be her thing.”  I do not think that is the case.

  • Jackson wrote a complete correct sentence with correct spelling and punctuation completely without my prompting.  I know picture below might not impress anyone but you haven’t lived with us for the past several months.  This boy, like most, hates to write. But, he wrote about something he was interested in (I hate Spongebob but I think he’s here to stay).  He brought it to me to show me the picture he had drawn and when I saw the writing I seriously scanned the corners of the room for a hidden camera.  What is going on right now?!  A week ago I tried to get him to write a sentence about this long and there were tears, a fit, name calling and Jackson was upset too.  And the sentence never got gone.  And this was while I was drinking my coffee playing on Pinterst.  

  • 0109141400Alex learned she loves cartooning.  She read an adorable (library) book called “Adventures in Cartooning” and began creating her own comic book characters.  This was her first go at a scene but she told me about panels and “gutters” which evidently are the spaces between panels and how speech and thought bubbles work.  She hasn’t started actually working with panels yet but her “doodles” as she called them are really adorable :)  Will she return to it or was it a fleeting interest.  Time will tell.

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  • They watched a 45 minute documentary on the history of computer games.  But….This was easy and I expected them to like it.  What I didn’t expect was after the video was over for us to sit and have a discussion about Japanese vs. American gameplay,  the inception of a cartoon character in a game and why that was so successful, the social backlash that video games got (and still get) from media and moms who say video games will warp a child’s mind, the amount of bravery and faith an entrepreneur has to have when starting a company especially when their product is a revolutionary technology people don’t understand, and the type of engineering degrees best for video game creators.   The thought they put into what they were saying and question they were asking are the quintessential ingredients to raw, unencumbered creativity and learning.  It was a moment I enjoyed and wanted to remember so it deserved a spot here.

  • We went swimming – TWICE!  And Alex conquered a challenge that has been out of her reach until today. She dove to the bottom of the deep end of the pool to retrieve a diving ring.  To see her struggle, listen intently to the lifeguard when he gave her a couple of tips, do a few false starts, then grit her teeth and come up with that ring was just one of those Mommy moments where you just are so happy for your child.  You know how she feels inside having conquered a fear and you are feeling it WITH her.  Joy, pure joy.

  • Jackson made good decisions in his Minecraft Homeschool class.  Yes, you read that right.  There is a Minecraft Homeschool out there and my son is in it.  Look into it.  We are about to wrap up our first week and so far I am extremely please with what the kids are getting out of it.  The quality of the instruction,  the organization of assignments, the monitoring they do, the topics – it’s all just done very well.  It’s not just a video game.  It’s learning about structures around the world and recreating them (This week – next week it’s ships through history).  It’s learning to share.  It’s speaking kindly to others in “Team Speak” where the children can talk to one another.   It’s learning spelling when chatting with members who aren’t in “Team Speak.”  It’s respecting the admins and game masters who are monitoring it.  It’s working together with teammates toward a common goal. It’s problem solving.  It’s making friends.  Resolving personality conflicts.  Taking constructive criticism from someone when they see a way to improve your monument.  Call me crazy but when he spent 3 hours on this yesterday and I could hear an see the things he was learning and could tick them off in my head as I saw what was happening and also hear the laughter in his voice I did not feel like I was ruining my child AT ALL!  Jackson has a hard time not just taking what he wants.  He is academically ahead of his peers but emotionally he’s very far behind.  He is still in the “mine” mindset and takes things he wants because, well, he wants them, with no regard to anyone else.  He got reported once for stealing another person’s house and locking other people’s chests.  We had a talk, I explained the consequences (getting kicked out of class if he keeps it up) and 3 days later he has yet to have anther report about bad behavior.  I’ve seen him struggle with his decisions as I am usually within ear and eye shot of him playing but I’ve seen him make the right choice time and time again.  I love me some Minecraft Homeschool.  (this is not a paid advertisement!)

So, as you can see – This is working for us so far.  I know my biggest hurtle will be my own fear and the competitive freak out in me that is going to happen when they do fall behind their peers for a while.  In my research about unschooling they all say that will happen initially because, for example, we won’t be memorizing times tables just because we are 9 years old.  We will do them when something they want to do will require they know how to multiply.  Then we will sit down and in a few days they will know it.  Instead of the months it takes in public school.  But, I am devoted to this method and I truly do think it will work.  I just have to remind myself of that when a neighborhood boy asks Jackson what 6X9 is and he doesn’t know and then looks at me disapprovingly LOL.  I’ll be doing all sort of inner dialog like, “He’s going to go home and tell his mom and they are all going to think we doing nothing around here but play video games and watch TV.”  But, I am going to have to deal with that day when it comes and know that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO WORK OUT.

One thing I know we will continue as far as “curriculum” is concerned, every morning to start our day with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and read our Bible verse/study for that day.  I feel that is something we need to create a habit of doing, regardless of our homeschooling style.  :)  We all need some joy and grace to face the day, right?

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Radical Unschooling…here we come (*drinks more wine)

Homeschooling, My kids, The Anti-super Mom, Unschooling

If you read my previous blog post you saw where I was having a come-to-Jesus meeting with myself over this whole homeschooling quandary in which I find myself.  Jackson has pretty much began to reject anything that can even remotely be called “educational.”  It’s like he can be doing something he really enjoys but when he catches even a whiff of  me trying to get him to learn something and he says, “Nope.  Not happening.”  For a woman who needs checklists and finds the curriculum EXTREMELY COMFORTABLE this is hell, for all of us.  I seriously would be OK to do like the curriculum teacher’s guide says and do the “Say the following to your child…..” type of teaching.  But, it doesn’t work.  Ever.  With any child.  OK – I have no idea what will work with someone else’s children nor do I have the inclination to give a rats anus but I do know, it doesn’t work with my children.

Case in point:

Today was our first day back after our holiday 2 week break.  I attempted to “loosen up” my curriculum schedule.  Gave the kids the choice of what subjects they did and when and how.  I felt really proud that I was giving away some control but still felt that I had a hold of the reins.  Until Alex (my darling, always ready to please, happy-go-lucky angel) crumpled up her spelling list, threw it across the table, folded her arms and said, “I’m not doing this.”  And Jackson started his math worksheet, got 3 questions into it, put his pencil down and looked me in the eye with all the anger of Beelzebub himself and said, “I hate this.  Do you hear me?!  I. HATE.THIS!”  The shit storm that hit after these two incidents is something I would like to soon forget.

Today our local public schools were closed due to the extreme cold we are having.  If that had not been the case, I can not guarantee that I would not have loaded them up in my car, drove by the school and pushed them out as I rolled by.  It was that bad people.


Jim, God bless that man, told me to get them bundled up and he’d be by to get them to take a drive.  I was curious if he too was ready to drop them off for someone else to deal with but I kept my mouth shut.  He gave me a kiss ,took the kids and I didn’t hear from anyone for almost 2 hours.  I sat with my mother and vented and worried and freaked and moaned for the entire time saying things like, “I am quitting.  I can’t do this any more.”  “What am I doing wrong?”  “I’ve never failed at anything I wanted this badly.”  etc etc etc.  My dear mother listened to everything I had to say and encouraged me the best she could but, like everyone else, couldn’t really give me any ideas on what I could do to fix this pickle I found myself in.  The pickle of I WANT TO HOMESCHOOL SO BADLY and I AM FAILING MISERABLY AT IT.

When Jim got home with the kids I learned that he had taken them to a local doughnut shop (gee – thanks Dad – rewards for being hellions LOL) and talked with them explaining that “Mommy has quit.  She is throwing in the towel.”  And trying to get an idea of what was going on, why it wasn’t working etc.  At this little meeting he learned very little except that they desperately want to remain homeschooled and do not want to go to public school.  Outside of that, he had nothing.  Being the awesome partner he is he told me he will not allow me to homeschool under these conditions.  He understand, more than anyone else on this planet, that Jackson is not only a special needs child but also a force of nature that only the mightiest of souls could handle and Alex was beginning to find her “independent streak” and these two things combined would scare many-a man.  He believes I am smart, strong and able enough to do the job successfully but that at this current time, that is not happening so he was ready to pull the plug as well.

I cried for close to 3 hours coming to terms with the idea that I will be sending them off to school and admitting that something I so dearly want to do I simply am unable to do.  I got out of bed and sat in silence and prayed to Jesus for wisdom and guidance.  He knows my heart.  He knows my strengths.  He knows my weaknesses and also knows my children.  Then I posted on a local homeschool co-op we are members of asking for any advice from veteran, SUCCESSFUL homeschool mom’s could give me.  I got a lot of words of support and encouragement.  But, of course, no answers because that’s impossible.  This is my family, my children, and my problem.  I have to figure it out myself.

I came to the obvious conclusion that what I am doing is not working and therefore I need to do something different.  Radically different.  The most radically different method I could think of was unschooling.  So, I began researching.  This was not a new concept to me.  I had heard about this for a long time.  Honestly, I thought the unschooling famlies were nuts, freaks, off the grid hippies, and crazy liberals.  Sorry, but it’s true.  I really have to apologize for that little admission because I have friends who do or have unschooled but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it as being a viable option.  How can child lead learning result in anything but a 45 year old, unmotivated man child who plays W.o.W. while living in my basement?

I’ve been researching, reading blogs, reading testimonials, and learning exactly what is unschooling and envisioning my children doing this.   This young lady really hit the nail on the head with her answers to all the things I was thinking were reasons NOT to unschool.  She is a 19 year old woman who has unschooled herself and dang, she impressed me.  Could it be true that a human being will educate itself if given the opportunity, guidance, and the availability of information?  I think, knowing my children, their personalities, learning styles, IQ’s, my own drive to see them HAPPY (FIRST AND FOREMOST) and educated, it just might work!

So a decision has been made.

We will begin radically unschooling, effective immediately.  I have until August, when the public school reconvenes after summer break, to see if we can all agree that this is something that is sustainable and commendable.   I think that even if right now, this second, we stopped reading, or doing anything education wise they would still be at grade level when they returned to school in August so, this is the perfect time to try this.

I know my tendency will be to try to coerce the type, style, and way of learning that I know from public school.  I have read several times that where the unschooling model fails is when the parent tries to get too involved in what is being learned.  I will do my best to simply be a facilitator, to strew great books, movies, TV shows, links, and field trips around them.  Making them available…but  it will be up to them what they pick up, and what they don’t.  If they get an interest in something, I will do my best to encourage them, help them find more way to learn about that topic or interest and try hard not to limit things simply because it doesn’t fit in my trained public school box.  This will be hard as letting go of control is NEVER something I am comfortable with but I have to say I tried everything before I decide to stop.  Otherwise, my whole life I wonder, “What if.”

So, friends, family, and acquaintances – I would love it if you could pray for us, maybe encourage us and the no judging thing would be awesome but hey, I used to judge these whack jobs so I know that last one is a stretch.  I’ll meet you on the other side.  If on the other side I look like this I apologize. hippie

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End of First Semester – Overhaul of Curriculum for next Semester

Homeschooling

I sat down with the kids this morning and asked them to help me create a school that THEY want to go to. A fun school where no one is fighting or arguing with me about what we have to do. We went book by book. Subject by subject and I had them tell me what they liked and didn’t like. They gave me fantastic feedback.

Turns out, they love the history, bible and science part of our curriculum.  This was great news because that means “My Father’s World” was not a waste of money and was the most expensive part of our curriculum budget.  They do, however, hate the Math and English curriculum..more specificially the “busy work.” I sorta knew this. We also are going to tweek spelling, music and art.

Jackson had some FANTASTIC ideas on pretty much every subject on how to change it up and make it more fun. For instance in math he suggested math games.  Specific example he used was Math Bingo.  I give them math problems, they look for the answer on their game board and first one with a line across wins a “prize.”  I don’t know if this is a game he’s played before or he just came up with it but either way, I’m impressed.

I agreed with the kids on the English.  “Primary Language Lessons” is very dry and a bunch of drill.  I’m back to the drawing board to find an English curriculum but that’s ok.  We were all ready to see that little book go away.

They both agreed that they are totally fine with having a spelling list every week but the “busy sheets” that come with the list are unncessary.  Also, they would like to do spelling practice and tests in different ways.  Sometimes the standard writing of the words, sometimes typing on the computer (sidenote here Jackson even said, “If you let us do the spelling tests on the computer you won’t even have to grade them.  Just do spell check and it’s done!  Bam!” LOL), oral tests or blocks with letters on them.  Just to change it up.  All good suggestions.

One thing he complained in the area of art and music about is how we are always studying about “classic’ composers and artist.  They want to learn about modern artists as well. So (totally Jackson’s idea) we are going to impliment “Modern Monday” where we study an artist from 1979 to present day. No idea where he came up with the year especially since many of the artists he’s interested in are from before that time but whatever LOL.  On Monday’s we will learn about “The Beatles” or “Paul Simon”, “Bob Dylan” or (Jackson’s request -ugh) “Miley Cirus.” On Wednesday we will do “Wayback Wednesday” when we will study about the classic composers and artists.  How awesome of an idea is this?!  And Jim has started toying with the idea of teaching one to two days a week just to change up things and he said he’d like to do “”Psychedelic Saturdays.”

I’m hoping with implimenting their ideas they will take ownership in our little schoolhouse and cause us to have more fun and learn more!  I’ll post an updated report later next semester.  This is definetley a dynamic environment.  I will do whatever it takes to make it work.  Not that I won’t have my moments of giving up…but I will keep on keeping on.  I’m learning more and more that I need to GET OUT OF THE WAY.  The kids no best how to teach themselves.  I have to let go of control and the standardized thinking that was instilled in me in the 17 years I spent in public school and college.  Each day is a new lesson.  FOR ME!

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A day in the life of a homeschool family.

Homeschooling

Back when I was beginning to think about homeschooling I wondered, “What exactly do home school kids, and (more importantly) their moms, do all day?”  I just wished I had the view of a fly on the wall to see exactly what and how it is done.  Well, now that I’ve been at this for 10+ weeks, I thought it might be helpful to someone out there to have what I wished I had had.

Now remember, this is one house, one set of kids, on one day.  Every day, family, child, curriculum, and style is unique.  Some days I have cramps. Some days the kids are sick.  Some days Mom says, “Piss on it.” and we go to a museum or watch a documentary instead of our scheduled curriculum.  This is merely one example, of one day, from one family, who do it one way.  I don’t pretend to imagine I have the end-all, be-all way to successfully homeschool as I have personally talked to women who have successfully homeschooled for years and their days look nothing like this .  I simply hope it is helpful to those who really just want to see how one real person does it…for real.

For those who care or want to know, the curriculum we use is as follows:

My Father’s World – Adventures in US History.  This covers (of course) History, Bible, Science, and provides the overall organization of my entire class. I.LOVE.THIS.CURRICULUM!

For Math we use Math U See and are in the Beta section of their products.  The kids really enjoy this and I love that the lessons are taught on a short DVD lesson by a guy who my kids just love.  They use tactile blocks to really grasp the concepts and my kids have yet to see the DVD and not instantly get what he’s teaching after using the blocks.

For Spelling we use Rod and Staff’s Spelling by Sound and Structure – Grade 3.  It’s simple, easy to use, and effective.  Love it.

English we use a combination of Primary Language Lessons and practice sheets I find on the internet.  PLL is just a small, simple little book full of drills to do with your kids but dang they are perfect!  Sometimes, when I don’t feel my kids totally understand something (like too, to, and two) I might find more sheets online for added practice.

For reading we were using an OLD Christian School 3rd grade Reading curriculum.  It was given to me and I’m not even going to try to find it online to link.  Over the last couple weeks, I have began picking a classic book for us to read, taking turns reading out loud, and find a study guide with questions online.  Recently we finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  We have now moved on to The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.  Study guides for classics such as these are plentiful on the internet as well as fun activities.  Plus, My Father’s World suggests books and we do those (unless the books are not to our liking).  Also, the kids do 30 mins of “Book Basket” every day (this is usually when I shower).  The basket is full of books from the library on that weeks’ given topics.  I get the books on Friday and don’t show them until Monday so they are new and fresh.  This week – Revolutionary War and Water

For Art we are so lucky to be borrowing How Great Thou ART: Feed my Sheep curriculum from a friend.  Although, this curriculum is supposed to be for 10+ my 6 and 7 year old do enjoy it.  I don’t do this every day but every other and also intersperse in there once a week a study about one great, classic artist.   I just randomly pick a classic artists and print out topics, find a slideshow online of his or her work, and then the kids make a piece of art “inspired” by that artist. My kids LOVE the artists studies I think more than actually doing the art.  I’m not really sure why exactly but they ask for it every single day.

Music – as of right now we just listen to classical music while doing art and I tell them who the composer or artist is and now and again do a study on a classic musician similar to how we do for art.  After the first of the year, once our co-op classes have ended, both the kids will be taking piano and voice lessons so that will help us cover this area.

Our foreign language study is done completely online at www.duolingo.com.  It is a free site published by the great folks who give us Rosetta Stone.  We just added a foreign language to our studies this past couple of weeks.  My kids really enjoy it and are learning fast!

Ok – on to what our day looks like

  • 6:30am – Kids wake.  Jim is already up so he gets them breakfast and settled while I blissfully remain asleep (Thank God for Daddy!)  The kids have screen time in the morning while Daddy is getting showered and ready for work.

  • 7:30am – Jim comes and wakes me up and says he’s off to work.  I stagger out of bed, head straight for the coffee pot (once again, thank God for Daddy!) and pour me a cup, grab my laptop and go back to bed.  I spend 30-45 mins checking Facebook, emails, forums, and groups.  Kids are watching TV, playing Wii or Minecraft.

  • 8:30am – The kids are told to get dressed and teeth brushed and be in at the kitchen table no later than 9am.  I set a timer for 15 mins so they will have warning.  During this time, I look at my curriculum teachers guide and prep for my morning.  I have all the items I need as I prepare all supplies by Friday for the following week.  It sounds more impressive than it is – my curriculum tells me what I will need. I buy/rent/prepare.  Simple as that.

  • 9:00am – Prayer and Pledge of Allegiance.  Yes, we actually do this at the start of every single school day at roughly 9am every day. Some days it’s earlier and every so often it’s later but usually no later than 9:30am.

  • 9:00-9:15am – We read a passage from the Bible about how Jesus is the “Living Water.”  We discuss it and after discussion the kids ask how they can get Jesus to live inside of them like living water.  I explain that all they have to do is ask him to come into their hearts and he will be there.  It was awesome because, they did just that!  :)  Today!

  • 9:15-10:00 – Math. (Math usually takes only about 20 minutes but today had some bumps in the road. ) Alex started a new section so she watched the DVD lesson of it.  Jackson did two practice sheets on the section he was still working on from Friday.  The kids began to fight a bit about not wanting to do their math.  I told them if they did their math we would go to Wal-Mart later in the day and play something we would call, “The Price is Right.”  Each child gets $3 to spend on anything in the store but if they go over $3 (not worrying about taxes just yet) they lose everything.   Each child would have a pad of paper and pencil to do the math.  Jackson had a meltdown saying he would mess up, lose all his money, and I was mean.  Alex wanted to go, ‘RIGHT NOW” and when I pointed to the chalkboard and told her we had to get through the other subjects first, she threw her pencil across the room and stormed off into her room.  A spanking, lots of tears, two tissues, some hugs and apologies later we were back on task.

  • 10:00-10:15 – Spelling.   Gave new spelling list and did one worksheet from the list.  Easy enough.

  • 10:15-10:20 – US History.  Listened to “Yankee Doodle” on our Patriotic Songs CD and had planned to make “hasty pudding” like in verse 2 but after digging for 10 mins realized we had no cornmeal.  Put that on the list of things to go on Thursday.

  • 10:20-11:00 – History and English.  Kids colored a map of the 13 colonies.  Coloring each one a different color while we talked and named them.  While they colored we went over English and learned about proper usage of “was” and “were.”  Two birds one stone – booya!

  • 11:00-11:20 – Spanish – online.

  • 11:20 – 12:20  – Ate in living room with TV trays and watched an animated movie from the library called Heros of the Revolutionary War.  I showered, got ready, changed the sheets on our bed, started a load of laundry, and should have done the dishes but I started watching the movie with the kids and got side-tracked 😉

  • 12:30-1:30pm We left the house and went to a local nursing home where the kids and I volunteer.  Basically what that means is the kids color and paint pictures all week long and we save them up to deliver to the residents along with some smiles.  We do this every other week.  The kids really look forward to this and the residence have begun recognizing and looking forward to the kids’ visits :)  (side note here – on the drive today we listened to an audiobook from the library that’s an historical fiction about the Revolutionary War -this week it was from the Magic Treehouse collection – this saves my sanity as my kids can be yelling and fighting and I put an audiobook on and BAM they are helpless to do anything but listen.  Works wonders!)

  • 1:30-2:30pm Wal-Mart to do “Price is Right” game – they loved it and passed with flying colors.  Jackson got 2 Hot Wheels cars and a dollar to use in the arcade.  Alex got a wooden birdhouse to paint, a pair of pink, heart earrings and a dollar for the arcade.

  • 3:00-4:15pm We went to the local park where one of my best friends met us and the kids played while we chatted.

  • 4:30-7:00pm  Took the kids to a local Christian youth center where I usually help in the kitchen to serve the food.  Tonight they had plenty of help and didn’t need me so I dropped the kids off so they could stay and play, sing, make crafts, play games, color and have fun while Jim and I went out to supper at a local Mexican restaurant.  Sans children.  It was lovely.

So, that was our day today.  Just so you know, this is a LONG day for us.  We do NOT do this much every single day but usually one day a week looks like this. Did you notice we were actually done with “school” at 11:20?  Pretty cool huh?  On Mondays, co-op days, all we do is Math and Reading, they go to co-op where someone else teaches them Bible focused crafts, tumbling and stage skills. Then we come home and no nothing else really.

Remember, studies have shown that public school kids get an average, if they are lucky, of 3 hours of ACTUAL instruction every day.  So, if you are doing that, you are golden!!

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My kids FIT! Halloween Homeschool Party

Homeschooling

Today was one of those days I never saw coming.  It was a day, however, that helped me tremendously.  The kids and I went to a Halloween party hosted by a local homeschooling family in conjunction with a homeschool co-op of which the kids and I have become a part.  On the drive home, I felt as if I received a divine intervention, if you will.  An “ah-ha” while driving and listening to my kids talking about the pet turkeys that they played with at the party (side note – my kids loved these turkeys and begged no less than 10 times before bed that we get some).
This was the first “school related activity” (before this all I had had experience with was public school activities) where my kids FIT! And I mean, truly fit.  Not once did I feel my face flush because Jackson was being…well….Jackson.  Once, as a reflex, I started to grab Jackson’s arm when he zoomed past me on a razor scooter inside the house/shelter area and then noticed the homeowner’s son and another child on their own scooters and everyone was fine and no one was upset about it.  The kids were being kids.  They weren’t being destructive or disruptive so no one batted an eye.  Alex was off in la-la land talking to the rooster and catching willy worms and had another girl along side of her doing the same thing.  I could tell she was immensely happy and content.  Jackson was equally happy and I could see he was loving playing with the boys pretending to be spies, knights or some other such daring people.

halloween party
I stood there watching the scene around me.  Kids were EVERYWHERE.  Inside, outside, in trees, in the woods, on the trampoline, on the jungle gym, roasting marshmellows, in groups of two’s or threes.  All of them in Halloween costumes (even scary ones like Jackson – Jason Vorhees) and the parents were calm, aware at all times where their kids were, and and laughing.  This is what real kids and real Moms look like.  There were some organized games but for the most part the kids chose what they wanted to do.  A pumpkin painting station.  A tub of water outside full of apples for bobbing.  A picnic table by the fire full of all the fixings for “gourmet” s’mores.  A kettle over the fire with water for making hot chocolate (parents helped).  It was the first time I sat down at a school function without fear my kids (OK – Jackson) was doing something outside the box and getting in trouble or making some other parent or teacher mad.
I want to reiterate – this was not a case of kids allowed to just run amok with no rules or discipline.  This was simply a group of kids allowed to be who they were.  I feel I’m not able to properly put in words what I mean but if you’ve ever gone to a public school party and felt it was one planned activity after another where the kids stood in a constant line to wait for the next activity to be spoon fed to them and had your child grow bored of this, lose their mind, and just want OUT of the line then maybe you’ll know what I mean.

The “ah ha” was that my kids would never have fit in to public school.  Could they have made it through, gotten good enough grades and graduated?  Of course. But to really fit somewhere there is an awareness of self, of finding acceptance.  Could they have done that?  Possibly.  If they were lucky. Alex, being the sensitive person she is, would probably found herself crying a lot for feeling left out, not listened to, and misunderstood.  Although she is much like me, a social butterfly, she is much more shy and self-conscious than I ever was at her age.  Already in kindergarten she was asking me to not tell her teacher she knew how to read.  Dumbing herself down had already began because she wanted desperately to fit in.    Jackson would have become a pissed off teenager who thought school was stupid and rebelled at some point (I still see rebellion in his future but hopefully at a healthier more manageable level – GOD WILLING)  But now….now that they are able to be who they are and not only that accepted and liked for who they are…who knows how much fuller their childhood and therefore their adulthood will be.

Thank you God for giving me the courage and patience to do this.  For allowing me to live in a country and state in which this is legal and allowed.  For putting me with this group of great people who accept me and my children for who we are.  We are blessed.  I am motivated now to keep on keeping on.

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This doesn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it would!

Homeschooling

I know that isn’t a rave review but seriously, going in to this whole home schooling thing I was convinced my kids would fight me, I’d lose my temper on a daily basis and they wouldn’t learn anything.  I would miss my quiet time at home alone.  I would be pulling my hair out.  I had terrible visions of my kids refusing to do something and me screaming and everyone crying.   The scene was something out of a horror movie where in the end one child is in prison, the other is still at home with no skill, no job and no future and I am laying in my bed, fetal position,  bald, with a bottle of whiskey next to me.

I am comparing this whole process to getting on a big roller coaster as a child.  The anxiety you have in the line is gut wrenching.  You see other people going on the ride, smiling, wailing and screaming.  You can tell it’s taxing on their bodies but they seem to be surviving it.  Then you see the people just exiting the ride.  They are laughing and beaming with adrenaline and saying things like, “that was awesome.” Yet, you stand in line, doubting the truth of their words.  I know many people who currently home school or did home school their kids, and did so successfully, and loved it.

Then there’s the strapping in.  You pray you have prepared yourself for this, spending countless hours at conventions, listening to seminars, researching curriculum, teaching styles and making what you hope are the best decisions for your family and children.  As you sit in the queue waiting to take off, you hope that the attendant really did tighten that belt enough so you aren’t the first person to die on this ride.  I lost sleep the day before our first day running through everything in my mind over and over again that I needed to do, say and not say.

As the car makes it’s way to the first hill climb you start panicking.  This was a bad idea but no way to get out!!    Then that climb…oh that long, painstaking, jaw-dropping climb.  This is much like what I felt like as I waited for classes to actually start.  Other kids have been sent to school.  My kids are still home.  It’s too late to turn back now.  The waiting is torture.  Then that first drop comes at break-neck speed.  Your stomach is in your throat.

Then, a strange thing happens.  By the second and third drop and turn you start to realize why all those people were laughing and staggering with adrenaline when they exited.  It really isn’t that bad and even more to the point, this is fun!  I am now to the point where I’m having fun.  I’m not ready to raise my hands.  I am still white knuckling the bar in front of me but my face no longer painted with a look of sheer terror.  I look forward to the time when I can really let go and just let the car take me.  But, this really doesn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it would.

If you are someone about to start home schooling, or someone who wants to but have the same fears I have had, please take heart!  It really doesn’t suck as bad as you think it will.  And you can do it!!!  From one scared, unsure Mom to another.  It can actually be fun!

Here are some pictures of today’s hands-on art activity we did.  Learning the color wheel, about primary and secondary colors and how they are made never tasted so good!  This was after learning about the birth of Jesus and why He was named “Jesus”, Christopher Columbus, practicing our spelling list, and practicing writing “C” and “D.”

colorwheel4

We learned about primary and secondary colors, the color wheel and how secondary colors are made.

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We used white icing. The kids and I used food coloring to dye tree of the bowls the primary colors. Then we mixed the two colors to make the secondary colors. They loved it!

colorwheel

Then they smeared their “colors” on gram crackers and we had a yummy snack!

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Puppet Show

Crafty, Homeschooling, My kids

Although we don’t technically begin our curriculum until after Labor Day, we have been working more and more on getting our days structured and peppered with “homeschool-esque” type of activities.  Today I decided to just do completely child lead learning.  Some may call this unschooling.  I think it’s just called being a mother.  We all do this with our kids from birth practically.  Your baby points to a balloon in a book and you go on about how it’s a circle, it’s blue, it goes “pop”, etc.

I told the kids after breakfast that the TV and all screens are going off until after the school bus goes by.  So, on their own they went in their room and found some crafts to do.  First they found the sock puppet making kit (as a side note, it’s helpful to have quality books and activities laying around for them to “find on their own.”)

puppetmakingcollageThey then wrote one act of their puppet show.  Well, I physically wrote it because I was wanting to focus on creativity and learning about reading the script.  They had the script “back stage” to reference.  It was proud of myself for not laughing the whole time because it was just too dang cute.  To see the complete first act of their play (this is for Daddy basically) click the picture of my two yay-who’s below.  It’s been a good day to be a home school Mom.

puppet1

 

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Homeschooling Tryout Day

Homeschooling
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finished reports

Just to get me and the kids in the “mind” of how homeschooling will go we did a “practice homeschool” day. We did a few work sheets. About 20 mins worth. Then I had them each pick a famous person they admire. Alex picked Michael Jackson. Jackson picked James Gandolfini……yes, Tony Soprano himself.  (Side note: Did you know he was robbed of his Rolex shortly after his death?)

They had to print a picture of them, create their own version of printed picture using markers and crayons, then research and find 10 interesting facts about that person using 2 different source methods and no more then 3 facts from Wikipedia. Jackson ran into the bathroom and pulled out an “Entertainment Weekly” and flipped right to an article about him. Alex said she didn’t have anything other then internet sources BUT “I did see him in a movie. “The Wiz.” He was the scarecrow.” I told her that is a source!  Alex learned how to use the internet in this exercise because I had each kiddo on their own computer.  Usually Jackson is at the “helm” and she tells him where to go, so he can navigate the web as well as I can.  But, this FORCED her to take control of the mouse and do it herself.

They have been very receptive to this and I’m starting to think I might be able to do this. While they were researching, I told them to keep their facts secret because once they are done we are going to do a book report “in front of the class.” I decided this when every time they would find a fact they would shout it out. LOL. So, for 30 mins they were on their own computers researching while I was able to get dishes going, a load of towels washing, and their room and living room picked up felling like a freaking BOSS!

Once they started getting antsy I told them it was recess and set a timer for 15 mins and said to go play. They are in their room playing on their “car town” rug and will for 15 mins.  Then they will get back to their research.


All told they kids did around 2 hours of actual “school” with three breaks when I saw their attention waning.  Not bad!
I understand this is all new and exciting and every day won’t be like today but at least my first impression isn’t terrible.  That gives me hope that maybe this can work.

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Alex’s Micheal Jackson research paper. She numbered her facts.
Notice the little “ABC” below “123” followed by a little smiley face?
She thinks she’s cute……and she preety much IS!

So, in conclusion, today was a great day.  Off to try again on Monday!

*update: Jackson had a meltdown and said that 10 facts was too much.  After having a conversation with him, I agreed that for our first research paper that 5 is enough.  This is a BIG deal for me because I am one of those people who holds on to an idea to a fault.  But I was able to choose my battle on this one and allow the kids to do only 5 facts and they did so and loved it.  I’m more proud of myself on this then the kids.  They are totally ready to BE homeschooled.  It’s myself who I worry about actually TEACHING.

 

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Finishing Touches on the “Learning Center”

Crafty, Homeschooling

First off let me say, I have finally come to realization (again) that homeschooling is the best option for my kiddos.  So, I have started preparing to begin our home education next fall.  The kids will finish out their school year this year.  As I am preparing for this awesome (and terrifying) adventure I have began creating a “learning center” in our living room.  We have a pretty small house as we will be building our dream home in hopefully around 5 years.  Until then, we need to make this work.

After scouring the internet, papers, goodwill, and consignment stores I found the PERFECT item on craigslist.com.   Here it is:

learning center

Well, that big wall area really seemed like a waste to me so I had to come up with something to utilize that space.  Like I said, we don’t have a big house so every space needs to work!  So, I got a  7′ X 30″ piece of sheet metal, decoupaged the pages from an old book to it, created some magnets from glass rocks and ceramic magnets:

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I love how it turned out!

My next project is to get my index card box organized for memorizing Bible verses as suggested by the Charlotte Mason method found here.  What a neat way to memorize Bible verses.

Wish me luck and say a lot of prayers for us.  I will need help in the patience and wisdom area!

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  • Why I Write this Stuff

    My children called me Bobby when they were toddlers due to not being able to prounounce "Mommy." They are now 7 and 8 years old and I am Mommy. But my real name is Mandy. I just do this so I can keep in touch with the REAL me. Being a Bobby is a dream I thought I may never realize and I do not take it for granted. I homeschool (more specifically unschool) my two children and it's easy to lose yourself in the tasts of the day. I just want to make sure that after 19 or so years have passed,and my kids have moved out, I'm not stuck looking in the mirror and squinting in hopes of seeing Mandy again.