Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Dumbo

Last weekend, The Boy had an out-of-town tournament. Sassy Pants went with us. She brought her pillow, quilt, and Dumbo with her. When we got back to the hotel Saturday afternoon, we found that the housekeeper had made up the bed like this. Dumbo with the remote - absolutely adorable!

I Live in a Zoo

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, wlecome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

I can't believe this is my final A to Z post. I can't believe I actually made it through the whole challenge. I can't believe how many great new-to-me blogs I've discovered.

I want to thank all of you who have visited me throughout April. I've loved getting to know you through the comments you've left for me.

Z is for Zoo

Every post I've written for this challenge related to homeschooling, but that's not the only thing in my life. With 5 small people who are active in sports, scouts, and dance, there are many days that I feel as if I live in a zoo. It provides me with many more things to blog about than just homeschooling.

So I hope you'll stick around.

Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 29, 2013

They're Only Young Once

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**


I lovingly refer to my children as "the small people." While they all have their own interests and personalities, they have one thing in common - they are all young. Although in my head I know that they're only young for a short time, I just recently actually REALIZED that they're only young for a short while.

Y is for Young

I have been homeschooling since The Boy was 3. The twins were infants. Little Red and Sassy Pants weren't even blips on my radar screen. When I first began homeschooling, my focus was on teaching them so that they would be advanced academically.

I've since changed my focus. I don't want to rush my children's childhood anymore. I want them to enjoy it, not feel pressured. want to enjoy it! Don't get me wrong; I still want my children to do well academically, but I'm no longer solely focused on them being "ahead." I'm more concerned with shaping character. I believe that will help them more in the future than being "advanced."

The Boy will be 13 next week. I can't believe I'm going to be the mother of a teenager. I only have a few short years left with him before he will be an adult.

Why, oh why, can't they stay young forever?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X Is for What?

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

I thought it was difficult trying to decide what to write about for W, but X was even harder. I did, however, discover that there are actually a TON of words that begin with X.

X is for Xanthippe

Do you know w hat this means? Yeah, I didn't either when I saw it. Xanthippe (pronounced zan-tip-ee) means "an ill-tempered woman."

When I meet new people and they find out that I homeschool, I usually hear "You must have more patience than I do." Oh, how I wish that were true!! Unfortunately, there are times when I am a Xanthippe. I lose my temper just like anyone else.

There are times when it is extremely frustrating to teach the same concept time after time without the small people grasping it. (Kind of like beating my head against a wall.)

One of the most frustrating times for me is when one of the small people ask me, "Are we having school today?" We have school Monday through Friday for most of the year, just like brick and mortar schools. I'm not sure why they ask, but it is definitely frustrating.

So, are you a Xanthippe? Do you know a Xanthippe?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Where?

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

This is the first letter that I really struggled to think of what to write. I thought of plenty of W words but had a lot of trouble deciding on which word to use and what to share about it. I actually started this post several different times with several different words. I finally settled on one.

W is for Where

Where do I homeschool?

We turned our sun room into a school room, but mostly it just houses the books and computers. Schoolwork is done in there occasionally, mostly just the work that needs to be done on the computer.

Otherwise you can find small people in just about any room of the house working on their schoolwork. We sit on the living room floor to have Bible and history time. There are desks in 2 of the upstairs bedroom where they like to work. I like to do one-on-one teaching at the kitchen table.

You can find them in all kinds of strange places. On the floor under the Foosball table. Tucked in a little corner between a table and the wall. Hanging upside down from the couch.

I love that they get to learn in places where they feel comfortable.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Growing our Veggies

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

I know I've mentioned before that I am not the stereotypical homeschooler. I don't bake my own bread, I don't wear long denim skirts, I don't wear my hair in a braid. I do have a garden, though.

V is for Vegetables 
(and Fruits)

I do not have a green thumb. This is my 3rd year trying to grow a garden. The first year, I planted much too late. Then we had a drought that summer, and everything shriveled up. I was really discouraged, but because I want to set a good example for my children, I decided to try again.

Last year, I planted seeds the small people bought for me. They chose some strange things that none of them would eat, like beets. We had a few cucumbers and carrots that they ate, but the squirrels ate everything else.

This year, I planted seeds for things I knew the small people would eat. Everything was planted the first week of April, which was ideal here since we had freezing temps right up until the week before. Since then we've had nice warm weather and a good amount of rain. I'm looking forward to harvest time. We should have carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and watermelons.

We also have some berries taking shape on our blueberry bushes. I can't wait for those either!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unit Studies

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

I've been trying to decide what I'm going to use to teach Sassy Pants next year since she's finished the kindergarten curriculum, but I don't think she's ready for first grade. I think I might do some unit studies.

U is for Unit Studies

A unit study involves learning about one topic in depth across a variety of subjects. For example, rather than segmenting learning about the ocean into history, science, art, etc., a unit study has the child learning about the ocean in a way that makes it all united. This can be done through the use of "real" books as opposed to textbooks, science experiments, hands-on activities, and art projects.

Now I just have to decide what topics would be fun to study. Space, oceans, dogs, and soccer are just a few I've thought of.

Do you have any topics you think would be fun to learn about in kindergarten?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Meeting a State Senator

When we took our field trip to the state capital, we were lucky enough to run into our state senator, Hugh Leatherman. He was kind enough to stop and chat with the small people.

Link up your Wordless Wednesday below. I love to see your photos!

Thankfulness

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

There are many people and circumstances that either allow me to homeschool or help me to homeschool. I would be remiss not to express my thanks for them.

T is for Thankfulness

1. I'm thankful for my wonderful husband. He works really hard so that we can afford for me to stay home and homeschool the small people. He also is incredibly supportive. He handles any discipline issues that arise during the day on an as needed basis. (I try not to take advantage of that.) He also helps out as much as possible on the weekends when he's home. On Saturday night, he either grills or he takes us out to dinner so that I can have a night off.

2. I'm thankful that I live in a country where I am free to homeschool my children. When I see news reports like the ones about the Romeike family who are unable to homeschool in their home country, it just makes me even more grateful for my freedoms!

3. I'm thankful for my homeschool support group. I absolutely adore these ladies and gentlemen who make up this group. We have a weekly co-op, where we gather to allow our children to take classes. I wrote about my thankfulness for our co-op back in November.

These are just a few of the people and things for which I'm thankful. For what are you thankful?

Monday, April 22, 2013

In the Good Ol' Summertime

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

The end of the school year will be here very soon. In fact, we'll be ending in the middle of May. Then it will be my favorite time of the year.

S is for Summer

Last year was the first summer we didn't do any school at all. We all needed a complete break. Usually, though, I have the small people do a little bit of math and reading each day, giving half days of credit. It's amazing how quickly those half days add up, which gives us a little more flexibility throughout the year. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to have the small people do some school this summer or not.

Last summer I came up with a list of Summer Fun Activities. We had a great time going through these during our time off from school. One thing I learned is that I should go ahead and have the craft supplies on hand. It's a real fun killer to choose an activity and then realize that we can't do it until I've gone to the store.

What are some of your favorite summertime activities?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Relationships

**For those of you visiting me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

One of the main reasons I homeschool is because I want to spend as much time as possible building relationships with my children.

R is for Relationships

Having 5 children can make it difficult to find time to spend with each of them individually. One thing Robb and I did to help with that was to institute special weekends. Each weekend is someone's special weekend with Robb and someone's with me, on a rotating basis. For example, this weekend would be Sassy Pants's weekend with me and Little Red's weekend with Robb. During the weekend, that child goes wherever Robb/I go, and we also set aside time to do something special with that child - playing a game, going for ice cream, etc.

Another thing I've done is to establish a journal with each of them as a part of our school day. In it is a running conversation between that child and me. Right now, it's just surface stuff, but I've started it while they are young so that when they're older and have things they don't feel comfortable talking about face to face, they can write it in their journal and I can respond. Both Soccer Girl and Ballerina have used it to ask me things about my childhood also.

Not only do I want to build strong relationships with my children, but I want them to build them with each other. I firmly believe that one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the time we get to spend together as a family. While my children are normal and have their fair share of sibling squabbles, for the most part, they get along very well. I love watching them work together on projects, helping each other with their schoolwork when it's needed, and play together when school time is over.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quiet

**For those of you visiting me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Although I have learned to be more outgoing, in reality, I am an introvert. There is nothing I like more than to slip away by myself somewhere quiet.

Q is for Quiet

Homeschooling 5 small people all day means there is usually at least 1 person talking ALL. DAY. LONG. There are times when I seek quiet. I can always tell when I need to find a quiet place because I can feel myself getting anxious and starting to snap at the small people. In the past we've had a "quiet time" as part of the daily schedule. The little ones would nap. Those too old to nap would read or do some other quiet activity.

For some unknown reason, this has been dropped from my schedule for the past 2 years. I think I'm going to need to add it back soon. I know the twins would like to learn to do needlepoint/cross stitch/etc. This would be a great activity for them during a quiet time.

Do you need quiet time?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Importance of Planning

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Back when I decided to do the April A to Z challenge, I asked for suggestions on my Facebook page. One of the suggestions was planning.

P is for Planning

One of the keys to successful homeschooling is good planning.

The first thing I have to plan each year is what curriculum I'm going to use. I map out what subjects I need/want to cover for each of the small people, and then I research which curriculum would be the best for each subject.

Once I've decided on a curriculum and purchased it, I spend my summer planning out how I will teach it for the year. I use Homeschool Tracker Plus software. I input each lesson so that during the year, it just takes a few clicks to schedule them for the week. Even though this is a huge undertaking and quite time consuming, it is definitely worth it throughout the year. I can easily do my weekly plans in just a matter of minutes.

I know there are homeschool mamas who can get up each morning, pull out the books, and just teach from the seat of their pants, but I am not one of them. I'm willing to put in the hours of planning so that my days run smoothly.

Even if you aren't a homeschooler, do you plan out your day or do you fly by the seat of your pants?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Organized (or not)

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through alphabet.**

Upon hearing that I homeschool my 5 small people, most people say something like this: "You must be so organized."

O is for Organization

Oh, if they only knew! I'm really bad at organization. I have good intentions; really, I do. Nevertheless, I still end up with piles of papers on the school table and around the school room. Most school days I have to get up super early to finish grading the work from the previous day before I can prepare the assignments for that day.

I do have some organization going on. Even in all of the piles of paper, I usually know exactly where things are. I also spend the better part of my summers getting all of my lesson planning done for the year so that's organized before we start the school year. My books are organized on the shelves - teacher guides on one shelf, history books on one, textbooks on another, notebooks on yet another.

I've also been blesssed that The Boy seems to be a natural organizer. I can usually con him into  helping convince him to help organize things when they get too out of control

How organized are you?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - It's Spring!

Spring is finally here!

I'd love to see your Wordless Wednesday! Link up here!

Netflix

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

I've mentioned books and the Internet as homeschooling materials. Another valuable asset to homeschooling is Netflix.

N is for Netflix

Being able to watch documentaries about whatever topic we're studying is great for helping my children remember. For instance, when we were studying the Revolutionary War, I was able to find movies about Paul Revere, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson.

Another reason I love Netflix is that there is never a reason for my children to have a sick day. While they may not feel well enough to do bookwork, they usually can focus on some educational show on Netflix.

On a non-educational note, my children have discovered some of the older TV shows. My girls love watching Leave It to Beaver. The Boy has watched all of The A-Team episodes.

What is your favorite thing to watch on Netflix?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Myths (about Homeschooling)

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

There is A LOT of misinformation out there about homeschooling. I'm hoping to answer some of the myths today.

M is for Myth

Myth 1: Homeschooled children have no socialization skills. This is quite simply, just plain wrong. There are many, many more places to learn and practice socialization skills outside of the classroom. In fact, when I was teaching in brick and mortar schools, there wasn't time for students to socialize at school outside of lunch and recess. My small people have the opportunity to interact with many other people - children and adults - in the course of our daily lives. Homeschooling families also have many opportunities to take advantage of cultural events and personal activities because their school day is typically shorter than a traditionally schooled student with the added bonus of not having homework to do in the afternoons.

Myth 2: Very few people homeschool their children. According to the US Census Bureau, an estimate of as many as 2 million American children are homeschooled, and that number is growing 15 to 20 per cent each year.

Myth 3: Homeschooling parents aren't qualified to teach their children. Parents who homeschool represent a range of education levels. While it is helpful to have a basic knowledge of core subjects, it isn't necessary to be a rocket scientist or to know everything about every subject. I am learning so much right alongside my children. Truth be told, many teachers in public schools didn't get teaching certification with their education. Due to shortages in certain subjects, many schools are giving out-of-area certifications.

Myth 4: It's difficult for homeschooled students to get into college. Many homeschool students are actually taking college courses before graduating from high school. Also colleges and universities are actively seeking homeschooled students because of their independent study and critical thinking skills.

What homeschooling myth have you heard that I haven't addressed here?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Using the Library

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z Challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

The other day I shared about how pivotal books are in homeschooling. Bookstores, real world and on-line, are a great source, but one of the most important places to find books is the library.

L is for Library

The library is one of my favorite places ever! How can you not love a place with an unlimited number of books to read - for free! (Well, almost free. Unfortunately, I tend to have overdue fines often.)

One of the best features of our library is the interlibrary loan program. If our local library doesn't have a book I want or need, I can request the book from the other libraries which participate in the SC Lends program, and they send it to our library. All I have to do is show up at the desk with my library card and pick it up. It can't get any more convenient that that. Well, actually, they could deliver them straight to my house, but that would be asking a bit much, right?

How often do you use your local library?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kindergarten

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Each grade level my small people have been through has had its own positive qualities, but I think my favorite to teach is kindergarten.

K is for Kindergarten

There are so many fun things about kindergarten. I love that most of kindergarten can be taught simply through living life. Unfortunately, I learned that lesson too late for my oldest. When he was small, I pushed him way too much, and school became a chore. I've since realized that there's plenty of time for "schoolwork" later. It's important to let them be children when they are small.

Children at kindergarten age are natural learners. They want to learn about everything. They ask "why?" about EVERYTHING.

This year Sassy Pants would have been in 4K if she had gone to school. Because her birthday is in October, she turned 5 right after we started school in the fall. She wanted to "do school" like the older ones so we used My Father's World Kindergarten this year. She's done well, but is nowhere close to being ready for 1st grade in the fall. So I'm thinking about doing some unit studies with her for her "official" 5K year.

Any suggestions on what topics we should cover next year?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

It's a Juggling Act

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Homeschooling multiple children isn't easy. You have to make sure you spend the right amount of time teaching each one the necessary subjects.

J is for Juggling

Sometimes homeschooling feels more like a juggling act than teaching. I'm trying to keep all the balls in the air. Some days I'm successful, but there are many days when one (or sometimes ALL) of the balls come crashing down around me.

I've found that the best thing to do when I drop a ball (or two or ten) is to stop for a minute to collect my thoughts. Otherwise it's really easy for me to become overwhelmed, stressed out, and not fun to be around.

How do you handle juggling many things during your daily life?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Internet

**For those of you visiting me from the A to Z challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

The other day I mentioned that homeschool isn't just books, pencils, and paper. In addition to games, the Internet can be a great asset.

I is for Internet

I'm so thankful for the Internet. To be perfectly honest, I'm not really sure if I could homeschool without it!
  • Don't know the answer to one of my small people's questions? Just Google it.
  • Need an idea for an art project? Check out Pinterest. (By the way, you can find me on Pinterest here.)
  • Sassy Pants needs to practice phonics while I work with the older ones? Reading Eggs to the rescue.
  • Want to chat with other homeschooling moms without leaving the house? Facebook is perfect!
Where is your favorite place to go on the Internet?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Softball

Softball season has started, and Little Red had her first scrimmage. She did a great job playing in the field and had a solid hit on her first pitch.

I'd love to see your pics! Share your Wordless Wednesday posts!

History

**For those of you joining me from the A to Z Challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Reading and 'Riting and 'Rithmetic. These might be considered the basics, but my favorite subject to teach is history.

H is for History

I've been blessed to find a curriculum that I love to teach history. Three years ago, I started using My Father's World for history. This was the best curriculum change I've ever made.

  • My Father's World is designed to be used with a range of ages simultaneously for grades 2 to 8. Any curriculum that allows me to teach all of my children together gets my vote.
  • My Father's World combines the use of living books (instead of textbooks) with hands-on activities. I'm grateful for their inclusion of hands-on projects because I don't have time to come up with them on my own most of the time.
  • My Father's World presents material with a Biblical worldview.
  • My Father's World provides easy-to-follow daily lesson plans. It's already done the hard part for me!
  • My Father's World gives a portion of its profits toward mission work.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Playing Games

**For those of you joining me from the AtoZ Challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

When you think school - homeschool or brick and mortar - you probably think books, paper, pencils. There's much more to learning than books, though. Any time you can bring fun into the learning process, the small people are much more engaged.

G is for Games

Board games. Card games. Computer games. Games are a great way to have the small people practice skills they are learning or review content they have learned. Games also provide opportunities for children to utilize critical thinking skills that will benefit them outside of the classroom or homeschool setting. Another important quality that may be acquired through the use of games is good sportsmanship. Of course, as adults, we have to model this.

Here are some games we love to play:  

Ticket to Ride - This is a great game to work on critical thinking skills. Players build railway routes across the United States, trying to gain the most points.

Settlers of Catan - Another great game for critical thinking skills. Players collect resources in order to build roads, settlements, and cities.
Word on the Street Junior - This game helps build vocabulary and spelling skills. Teams try to collect letters by spelling words for specific categories.
Apples to Apples - Building vocabulary skills, players make comparisons between various things, which can get really funny.

Pharaoh's Phonics - This game builds reading and spelling skills. Players fill their pyramids with words that contain their vowel sound.
What is your favorite game?

All images from Amazon.com.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Field Trip

**For those of you joining me from the AtoZ Challenge, welcome! I'm homeschooling through the alphabet.**

Homeschooling doesn't always have to be done IN the home. Some of the best learning takes place on field trips, out in the real world.

F is for Field Trips

Local farms, zoos, aquariums, and historical landmarks are all wonderful opportunities for learning. Also, many times local businesses are willing to allow a homeschooling family to visit to learn more about the business.

Some of our favorite field trips have been to the zoo (in fact, The Boy has requested another trip to the zoo for his birthday this year), the state museum, the local Revolutionary War site, Krispy Kreme, and the local sheep farm. 

What is your favorite field trip?
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