Homeschool Blogs

I have noticed that there are not many homeschool blogs dedicated to talking about routines and learning strategies for older kids.

Our family started homeschooling when the twins were transitioning from public school out of third grade and our oldest out of sixth. There was a ton of information for pre-schoolers and kids under the fourth-grade level. I get it, most people begin homeschooling when their children are very young and make that decision early on and have a routine established. However, there are a few of us who get into the game late.

Homeschool has always been on my radar but I also felt the kids needed to get out there in the world and learn from other people. It turns out that while public school certainly did accomplish them being exposed to learning from other people it didn’t give them the quality I was looking for.

My kids love homeschool and at times they can be lazy and I have to get after them to do their work but that’s not uncommon in any setting.

I am hoping to add more blog posts around what a homeschool day is like for older kids. It’s not all cuddling on the couch with a book as you would with a four-year-old. It’s about keeping them engaged and excited to learn. Making sure they put their full effort into learning the material and to stay motivated.

My hope is that for any parents who are making that transition from public school to homeschooling older kids is that they know that it’s not going to be easy in the beginning and there will be struggles. But with the bad comes the good. Being present with your pre-teen or teenager will help forge new bonds and as a family, you will be surprised to see how much you can really learn from them as they become more comfortable sharing their hopes and dreams with you.

As you help them define their interests, you are setting them up on a path that could lead to a career that they will love and put their heart into.

Bri has decided she wanted to share her routine for the blog coming soon. So, look for that!

 

 

 

Year Three Begins

The Summer was full of fun and a lot of relaxation.

Recently, our daily home routine underwent a bit of change when I returned to work. It was a necessary move for the good of the family and thankfully it has been working out. My Husband has been able to be home with the kids until I get home from work before leaving for his shift.  That means he is the main one making sure they do all of their work!

All of this has created a different tone in the house and it is a process that has taken some time to get used to.  I am still the main one prepping all of the assignments and grading but my husband is ensuring the kids get the work done. A bit of teamwork going on more than before when I was solely handling the homeschooling.

A few updates as to what is going on with the kids and their progress:

Bri is now learning at a ninth-grade level and she is super excited about all of the new things she is learning. She even got her own Notebook to complete her work on. It is just a starter device to see how responsible she will be with it. I have to admit that the high school work is fun and even I have learned some new things.  We both particularity enjoy the Oceanography class. Currently I am having to refresh my brain concerning Algebra, a subject I never thought I would encounter again. Yet, here I am trying to teach it to my child so she gains a good grasp on it in a way that I never did.

Mav has really improved this year with his writing. I have struggled a lot with getting him to write in complete sentences and fully forming his thoughts on paper. This year seems to be different in that he is taking more pride in his work. Although the length of the subject I have him writing about needs some work, he is putting forth the effort and that is what makes me proud. So far he does not have a favorite subject but he seems to be enjoying to classes more this year.

Audy is taking this year more seriously than she did last. Her alarm is always set to wake up on time and she is chipper and excited to get the work done. She has greatly improved her penmanship. It used to be like pulling teeth to get her to write anything. Thankfully this struggle is over and she is also very proud of her work. She is most interested in Science is always looking for extra work to do outside of what is assigned to her.

When I began homeschooling I had this nagging doubt in my head that I was not doing a good job. This is our third year and the first year where I feel completely confident in the direction we are going.  I feel like homeschooling is one of the best choices I could have ever made. It really gives me a sense of satisfaction that I can allow my kids to explore their interests but I can make sure they get the quality education that I felt I never really had.

Cheers to the beginning of a new school year that is already off to a great start!

Staying Busy Over Summer Break

The kids have been enjoying their summer break and honestly so am I. This school year had some bumps in the road but we were able to pull through. We appreciate this break!

Since the beginning of the summer break, we pretty much let loose and did not keep a schedule or work on any busy work.

However, after a few weeks, it seemed as if we were losing our minds a bit. Aside from visiting the beach and family time, it was boring around the house.

The kids and I sat down to create a loose schedule of how each day would work. It has been a welcomed change. The schedule allows for sleeping in, tidying the house, light school work and most importantly free time!

Here is the very loose Summer schedule the kids follow:

  • 9:30 am: Morning routine begins
  • 10:00 am: Breakfast
  • 10:30 am: Reading and then writing a small summary of what was learned
  • 11:00 am: P.E. using available equipment or Youtube videos
  • 12:00 pm: Lunchtime
  • 1:00 pm: Math Worksheets or videos
  • 2:00 pm: Free time

What are some ways you keep your kids busy during summer?

 

Fall Scavenger Hunt

The kids and I finally got around to doing that scavenger hunt we planned for back in October.

 

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I can never get a serious picture with these three 🙂

 

In many places, the weather is still warm, so there is still time to go out and play this activity. You can find the scavenger list we created here at our printable shop on Etsy to download. Thank you 😉

Down here in Southeast Texas it does not get cold very often and when the temperature does drop, it only lasts for a short time. So, that leaves us with very nice “winter” weather. Any time it is not hot and muggy is a win for everyone!

Our list was simple! By keeping it easy, the kids did not get bored. While they found some things quickly, others required they look past the obvious to find. We went to a nice little park near our house so we could find a variety of things.

Here is our list:

  1. A bug
  2. Something Colorful
  3. One piece of litter
  4. A smooth rock
  5. Something Fuzzy
  6. A chewed leaf
  7. Something beautiful
  8. Two different leaves
  9. A flower
  10. Something rough
  11. A stick

 

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1. A bug – A ladybug chilling on a table. 

 

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2. Something Colorful – This confetti on the ground.

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3. One piece of litter – This looked a bit too nasty to pick up and throw away.

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4. A smooth rock – A group of smooth rocks.

 

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5. Something fuzzy – These oak galls. 

 

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6. A chewed leaf – These leaves look like they were gnawed on.

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7. Something beautiful – The kids thought the reflection of the sun on the water was beautiful.

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8. Two different leaves – We counted the blade of grass as a leaf.

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9. A flower – One the few flowers that were still thriving.

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10. Something rough – The fence was pretty rough.

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11. A stick – He found the biggest one he could.

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Bri checking out something she found the base of this tree.

It was a bit chilly outside and the kids were eager to get back into the car. Once we made it home we sipped on hot chocolate and talked about all the cool things we saw.


 

What are some fall/winter outdoor activities you like to do with your family where you live?

 

 

 

 

Pizza Muffins

What a great recipe to get the kids involved with!

In Dianes Kitchen

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These Pizza Muffins make a great grab and go snack or a meal! I made these as a meal with the Grandkids but my husband is the one that loved them the most! I made these with pizza dough, a lot of pepperoni, cheese and a little sauce. I left the rest of the sauce to dip the muffins in after they were baked. YUM!

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Ingredients – (I ended up not using the butter)

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Cut the pizza dough in half making two equal pieces.

Unroll each piece.

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Sprinkle the chopped up Pepperoni evenly on both pieces of

dough keeping it away from the edges.

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Sprinkle cheese on top of pepperoni.

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Use a spoon and put a thin line of sauce over the cheese.

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Roll up both pieces of the dough starting at the

short end and going to the other short end.

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Using your hand gently squeeze and make the

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Having It All Together

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As a new homeschool mom, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how the kids are getting a proper education. In the past, I would immediately put my guard up because it felt like an attack on my personal ability to be able to fully educate my children. Then I learned that education can mean different things to different people.

To some, it’s important for children to be in a classroom all day learning with a teacher and dealing with their peers. And I totally get why this is “normal” to them. It’s a safe way to make sure your kids are getting their education and they don’t somehow fall through the cracks of society. Afterall, most parents have demanding work schedules and who has time to even help with homework after a long day? I know that struggle we lived it for years. That’s when we finally decided enough was enough with the rat race.

In my opinion, the benefits of homeschooling are just enormous. The kids are free to pursue what their interests are and have time to develop them. Core subjects can be discussed at length and broken down to suit the needs of each child. The field trips can be designed around which subject we’re studying, which causes the subject to become real. Here is an example of our Sea Turtle field trip. This trip made a lasting impression on the kids and they became more sympathetic to not just the delicate balance of marine life but of animals all over the world.

I used to dislike homeschooling families. I thought they looked down on us parents who put our kids in public school. They seemed to have a perfect little life spending time with their kids and creating memories, while I was stuck in an office all day wishing I could be at home. But once we became a homeschooling family I learned that it’s a not a perfect life. It’s a real struggle every day to provide all three meals, keep on task with school work, making sure the kids help with housework, keep them socialized and on and on. It can be tough but the benefits outweigh the negatives by far.

We have become closer as a family. I have learned so many things about my children that I probably would not have discovered if we held to our old way of life just to have that extra income. I know Audy is really into science and engineering. Bri loves art and wants to make video games. Mavi wants to work with animals. These are things we never talked about before because we were too busy. If you’re thinking of homeschooling don’t let self-doubt creep in. Talk to your kids about it and see where they stand. It took us a full year to decide if we were ready.

There is no such thing as having it all together. We take each day one at a time. Each moment as it comes. Why not the next time you encounter a homeschooling family ask questions of course, but also give the kids some words of encouragement?

Because honestly the best thing any of us can do in our lives is just hold it together.

What about you? Have you had to defend your decision to homeschool?

Being Present Doesn’t Mean You’re There

My children have been asking me to spend more time with them more recently. I thought this was an odd request due to the fact that we are always around each other. Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Our kids will not be so little forever and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Children are only young once and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

I told my husband that the kids mentioned they wanted more time with me. He suggested that perhaps I was not as present as I thought I was. Turns out he was right.

The kids and I held a meeting the next day in order to determine what the real problem was. Their number one complaint, drum roll please, was me spending too much time on my phone. The second was not really listening when we are having a conversation.

OK, what parent is not guilty of one of these or both? Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or

Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or a type of escape from the mundane things around the house. However, I never have it out during school hours. The time we spend learning is very important and the kids and I both respect that boundary.

It is the rest of the day where we all seem to go our separate ways, right through dinner and until bedtime.  I do in fact get my “me” time by carving it out. The early morning hours is my time to focus on myself. This includes workout, meditation and Bible reading. I am by no means a morning person but I found this was the best time to focus on me.

So after our meeting, we decided to put a few things into practice:

  • Absolutely no electronics at meal times.
  • If someone is speaking, put down the phone and be engaged and give a thoughtful answer.
  • Understand that at times we may not be heard and that is OK.

Kids need to know the world does not revolve around them. So, naturally, there will be boundaries in place that are aimed to help them understand that nagging is not tolerated. If I said no once then don’t ask me another million times in an attempt to try and wear me down.

Also, they understand that not every moment of the day can and will be spent with them. They need to use their imagination to play and create moments for themselves.

I am confident that moving forward that I will be able to be more present and not just merely there.

Have you had to overcome a similar challenge? Sound off in the comments!

School’s Out For Summer But Not Foreva

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That’s right! School is out! We get to be lazy and lounge around the house. Who doesn’t like that?!

When we started the school year, as a family we agreed that our homeschool structure would be year round. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In May of this year when we were gearing up for the next round the kids told me they wanted to have the summer off.

We sat down and discussed why they felt having the summer off would be a good idea. I was hesitant to accept this route but decided to listen to their thoughts.

All three kids said they worked so hard during the year they wanted time off to spend with their cousins and friends. They just wanted to relax and celebrate their hard work and the end of our first year of homeschool. It was that simple!

How could I say no to that? The kids expressed their opinion and wanted to modify our previous plan. After all, isn’t this what homeschool is about? Having the freedom to change your schedule and meet your child’s needs? Why are we doing this if we aren’t listening to each other?

So, I expressed my concern to the kids about them possibly being bored and they brought up the point that when they were in public school they had the summer off and things were just fine.

Point taken so we changed to a “traditional” school year and the kids are really happy. We have more freedom to play around or be lazy. Having the summer off will also help with not feeling burned out.

That doesn’t mean the kids don’t have any work to do. They still need to read 15 mins a day and do XtraMath two times a week to keep their skills sharp.

We are a little over half a month into our vacation from school. Not having a scheuled day was really killing me and I decided to do something about it.

Each morning during the school year I write our schedule on the dry erase board. It isn’t rigid but mainly a guideline to make sure our work gets done. This guideline has a two-fold purpose. One is to help the kids to be independent in reading the schedule and get the task down without me asking.The second reason is so the day makes “sense” in my head.

The first couple of weeks we didn’t have this schedule was driving me crazy. This week I made a loose schedule and it has worked so well!

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The “Did you know” fact is changed out twice a week.  This is an example of our summer day.  It changes from day-to-day depending on what activities we have planned.

Initially, I thought having the summer off would be a bad idea but as it turns out I love it and so do the kids.

If you homeschool or send your kids to public school what activities do you have for them to keep busy? Share in the comments!

Done! On To The Next One!

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We began our first year of homeschool in August of 2016.

It has been an incredible ride! There have been many ups, downs, good days and bad days.

I always wanted to homeschool. However, many people were telling me that our children would be better off in public school in order for them to make friends and to learn how to stand up for themselves. My husband and I tossed the idea around for a couple of years before our oldest was school aged.

Here is a little bit of background on us.

Public school seemed like a good idea the more we weighed the two options. Off to public school Bri went. She had a very difficult time adjusting but we made sure to be there every step of the way. Then came the bullying problem. I am a parent who knows the difference between harmless teasing and outright bullying. What Bri was experiencing was not normal and after some time we decided to take action because it did not look like the situation would resolve on its own, even after supplying Bri with the tools to try to defuse the situation. It finally died down once we stepped in and the other child’s parents were informed but it left lasting scars on Bri.

Our twins Mav and Audy had a much better time in school but it was not without challenges. Audy had a difficulty in class because of how quick her mind is and students would call her names. Mav just could not keep up with classes because he tended to day- dream. He wanted his teachers to slow down and teach him one-on-one. With classrooms as full as they are today we knew it was not possible for him to have that.

Standardized testing was another issue. Mav in particular would vomit and get really nervous when it was time for the state issued test. He would cry because he did not want to let himself or his teacher down if he received a poor score.

So, taking all of this into consideration we sat down with the kids and asked them what they really wanted. We were surprised at what they said.

They all agreed that school was not meeting their needs. Audy wanted to be challenged. Mav wanted one-on-one time and Bri wanted more art and creative time. My husband and I weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling and it took over a year to make the decision.

Decision time.

Over the summer of 2016 we sat the kids down and told them we would remove them from public school. They were excited but worried about leaving friends behind.

We made the jump and never looked back. I feel proud of the progress the kids made. Bri gets her art time, Audy gets her challenging subjects and Mav gets one-on-one time.

Are you thinking of homeschooling?

Here is a list of things we learned during our first year of homeschool:

  • Getting along is tough…in the beginning. Once homeschool started we were always with each other and the kids began to test my patience. I  had to overcome their whining, stubbornness, laziness and disrespect. It took a good three months for the kids to understand how our schedule would work, who was the teacher and what was expected of them.  Nine months later I have hardly experienced any instances of the kids acting out. They know the plan and they acted in harmony with it.
  • To schedule or not to schedule. Not every family who homeschools is on a schedule and that is O.K. In order for me not to lose my mind and for the kids to know what was expected of them I had to create a loose outline of each day. We also are very social and have lots of family and friends who we hang out with so sometimes our schedule gets thrown off. I have to plan everything so I don’t mix things up.
  • Curriculum decisions. Depending on your state’s requirements you will pick your curriculum or choose to unschool. (Unschooling is an educational method that supports learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning.) Whatever you pick do not worry! Your child will learn no matter what. Billboards on the side of the road are even opportunity to read. Grocery shopping trips can teach about budgeting or calculating pounds on produce. Don’t get so hung up on curriculum that the real world slips by.
  • What about friends?  This is important to lots of kids. Getting the kids out of the house and interacting with other kids is a must. We go to parks, museums, the beach and many other places where the kids interact with others. It is important for the kids to have some contact with other kids to play and sit and talk. We found that the park is the best place for this but it may be different for other families.  Our children have life long friends from our congregation which most certainly contributes to their happiness.
  • Supplies oh my. When the year started I bought every supply I could think of. By the end of our school year we used the pencils and sharpener more than anything. We have art supplies and books but we mostly do school work on the computer. I learned that you don’t need very many supplies to homeschool.
  • Self doubt. Yes, it crept up on me several times. I think the biggest challenge to anyone considering homeschool is overcoming self-doubt. I almost wanted to quit but I reasoned within myself that these are my kids and I am the best person to teach them. It is my right and privilege as a parent to educate my children. I stuck with it and made changes to our schedule and curriculum as needed in order to keep us happy and on track.

I am not vilifying public school at all. It is a great option for working full time parents and care givers. There are kids who love public school and that is wonderful!

However, if you’re thinking of homeschooling but doubt yourself, why not sit down and think about your strengths and weaknesses.  You don’t have to be creative or have a lot of money. But you do need to love your child and have confidence in yourself. Those two things will carry you through your homeschool journey.

Check out my other blog posts about our field trips and class projects!

Hectic!

I have not written a post in a little while. We have been really busy but I have been sick as well.

This is our first year homeschooling and it has been a wild ride. I plan on writing about the challenges we went though in the beginning and how things seemed to even out.

I hate having so little to say right now but I am going to use this post as a place holder.

Look for my blog about our homeschool experience that I will have up in a about a week or so.

Oh and the kids also took some more photos for photography class and we recently visited Louisiana to visit my Aunt and I took some great pictures! I will share those as well.

Sooooo, lots of catching up to do!

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