What My Kids Think About Homeschooling

In keeping with the Blog Hop theme for this week I did what any homeschool mom would do; I assigned a writing assignment on homeschooling.

Here are the highlights from my youngest son:

  • I love having a flexible schedule.
  • I don’t have to worry about bullies.
  • I can listen to music while I do my work.

My second son wrote a beautiful essay on “Why I like Homeschooling.” 

Here are few excerpts:

  • One of the fun parts of being schooled at home is the chance to pick interesting classes. For example, I completed a Forensic science for my freshman year. This year I will be taking a murder mystery class for my English! There are many other options for classes that you can tailor to your career needs.
  • Most importantly I have become a much different and better person because of homeschooling; making homeschooling the right choice for me.

The most amazing thing is the joy of witnessing my kids reach educational milestones. When I assigned this assignment I expected my son to give me a sloppy run-on page of sentences. When he handed me a rough draft of 6 paragraphs in an essay format; joy filled my heart.

All the anguish of teaching writing lessons, the struggles of learning to organize thoughts and sentences, the long days of forming paragraphs just faded away in the moment. He just demonstrated mastery of a new skill!

Now to bottle up and cherish that moment because sometimes you wait a long time for the next milestone.

My graduates thoughts:

Then I sent an email early in the morning asking my college students if there was anything they wanted to say. It was more of a begging plea since they like to keep things to themselves. I am the mother of introverts.

  • My daughter loved the ability to study her passions in high school. She loved her literature classes and cooking classes. She thinks having beach days instead of snow days is the best homeschooling schedule.
  • My oldest son remembers the ability to go on a field trip somewhere exciting and not worring about the book side of school was nice. Being able to work in my own room with music and a space conducive to my studying style was very beneficial. Overall the fact that I learned science from a Christian perspective helped me the most given that I went to a secular University for Geography and Atmospheric Science.

What a great chance to get a glimpse that the hard work from the last 18 years of homeschooling was totally worth it. 

No Space for a Homeschool Room

Homeschool Room, More like Homeschool Space

I have homeschooled in the same small house for the last 18 years. We have never had a homeschool room. Sometimes Pinterest does make it hard to not covet having one. Although a few years ago I wrote about Hiding Homeschool Supplies in our small house.

Since I am not a book lover the only book cases in my house belong to my children. Yes my youngest 3 love books and have their own book cases in their bedroom and an app on their phone to keep track of what books they own.

The only thing I need is a bin to hold my teacher books and a table for grading and teaching.

Ikea solved my small space living problems. Their drop leaf table fits in the corner of my living room and allows me to have moments of my house not looking like a school room.

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Our Curriculum Choices for 2017-2018

Our Curriculum Choices for this school year.

Each year I stand amazed that I still agonize over selecting curriculum. But I was not blessed with children who learned the same way or could use the same curriculum over again.

The changes in my life have slowly changed my methods of homeschooling. You will notice I have outsourced and sought out help to juggle homeschooling, working full time, and managing my home. My husband’s health prevents him from helping in most areas.

11th Grade Curriculum Choices

My son is planning on trade school so we continue to strive for the best academics that fit his needs and abilities. While he may never attend college I still strive to expose him to subjects and prepare him for whatever choices he decides to make.

  • Algebra 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press. We have spent the first 2 years of high school solidifying his math skills. We are going to be stretching ourselves to complete this class. Next year we will switch gears and do business math and personal finance.
  • Spanish 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: We have tried for 2 years to complete Spanish. My hope of having accountability with another teacher will get this subject completed.
  • All American History: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: I had planned on teaching this class but when an opportunity to switch classes opened up I found myself putting both boys in this history class. The history teacher raps, my boys are impressed with her.
  • English: Who Dun It: My daughter has agreed to teach English to her brother this year. She has a passion for literature. Recently her college was attempting to recruit her for tutoring for English, I am very thankful she has agreed to help me. I am going to attend their monthly book club meetings and I look forward to the discussions.
  • Physical Science: Advanced Physical Science: I found this at a recent homeschool convention. The project based learning really appealed to me. I am excited to spend Friday mornings doing labs with the boys.
  • Mime: Louder Than Words: Every Wednesday afternoon my children have attended Louder Than Words. This group provides mentorship, bible study, leadership, volunteering, and performing arts.
  • Music: Guitar and Piano Lessons: He loves his weekly lessons for piano and guitar. He loves playing guitar for worship time at mime and youth group.

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Planning All American History for High School

Planning All American History for High School

We have reached the point in my third student’s high school career that he needs his American history credit. My first son did both volumes of All American History in one year. We called it a Survey of American History and he spent a semester on each volume. My daughter completed All American history Volume II for her credit. My plan is for my second son to follow a similar path to his sister.

Since this is my third time planning All American History I thought I would share how I am making it work. With supplies on hand it should take about an hour to get things ready for your first lesson.

Planning All American History Supplies:

  • 3-book-set of All American History which includes the Reader, Student Activity Book, and Teacher Guide.
  • 3-ring binder for the Student Activity Book pages
  • The All American History High School test packet download
  • File folder for the printed tests
  • Copy of the checklist for each unit with tests added
  • 16 copies of the Weekly Work Grade Rubric (found in this post)
  • Scissors, double-sided tape, pen/pencil
  • WonderMaps

Now let’s look at what I am doing with all of these supplies.

Obviously you need the 3 book set, I am debating about getting the Reader in an ebook form to put on my son’s computer. Since he often comes with me to the office it would be nice to have one less book to carry.

My son isn’t the greatest at keeping track of multiple items so instead of having him every week remove the pages for that week’s lesson from the Student Activity Book, I had him remove them all at one time and place in a 3-ring binder. He also removed the front cover and placed it on the cover of the binder. I used a page protector to hold the pages he will be cutting images from.

Tests for All American History were created after the publishing of the curriculum. Since I don’t have time during the school year to print I have printed out the 8 tests and placed them in a file folder to be stored with the Teacher Guide.

If I don’t have a checklist of some kind to track what he has accomplished, it leads to things being forgotten. I have made copies of each unit checklist and penciled in when each test needs to be completed. This will allow me to a quick glance visual of what lesson he is currently working on. [Read more…]

Embracing Overwhelm

Why I am embracing overwhelm instead of battling overwhelm.

Overwhelm
What does overwhelm mean? The Definition of overwhelm: to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of. 
Pretty sure womanhood, motherhood, homeschoolhood, and all the “hoods” combine together to overpower my life.
I have allowed the feelings of overwhelm to beat-up my mental psyche for the past few years. I felt like I was doing something wrong in life to always feel overwhelmed.
I have stopped looking for tips and tricks to do more in my day, to keep hustling, to get up earlier as though something exists to help me accomplish more in the battle of being overwhelm. I don’t have the power to change my husband’s health, diminish the needs of my kids, or quit my job and give up homeschooling.
I will never conquer being overwhelmed and I don’t want to battle anymore!
I will carry it differently.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Strong Silent Type

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who society thinks is doing a great job despite painful situations life has given them. Do you know a woman who you think has done exceptionally well after losing her husband, or a child, or battling a nasty illness? Maybe you are that woman. 

Have you ever said, “Wow you are doing well despite (insert specific situation).” Maybe you have been told that.

I think we often assume that these strong women have somehow found a way to battle grief, depression or hard situations because we don’t see the emotional scars. We don’t see the tears shed while taking a shower. We don’t notice the broken heart hiding behind the smile.

Not that these women are trying to be deceitful, they grieve and hurt in small bursts often unnoticed. Often small bursts of emotions is all that can be handled for fear of being entirely consumed.

These women are still serving, still reaching out to help others because they are all too familiar with the pain life has given them to leave others battling alone.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battled to get out of bed today. No one witnessed the internal battle that it took to start another difficult day but it still exists.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battle their fears by showing up and doing the hard things.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who collapse silently in the pew with their battle wounds from the week craving the salve of worship and fellowship.

I want to remind all of us to take a moment and realize that the strong woman you might want to put on a pedestal for handling difficult situations while still getting dinner on the table; might just need a shoulder to cry on.

I know a lot of weary moms who are handling situations most of us can’t even begin to understand how they are doing it.

Maybe send them a text with a smiley face and random emojis for a laugh.

Maybe send them some dinner just because you know they could use a moment to themselves.

Maybe just remember that the”strong woman” needs help and compassion just like the damsel in distress.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends 🙂

Happy Mother's Day

 

 

Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling; While Staying Frugal

After 17 years of homeschooling, the biggest change has been homeschooling while being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling while being an employed mom; all while trying to live a frugal lifestyle.

In the early years of homeschooling my 4 children; my goal was their education and finding every economical way I could save money.

  • Since that was schooling before Pinterest, I would spend time creating lesson plans from scratch.
  • I would organize co-ops to keep costs down on group activities.
  • I spent my Saturday mornings scouring yard sales for books and educational items.
  • I would barter with friends for babysitting.
  • I would coupon shop and read The Complete Tightwad Gazette into the wee hours of the night.

Over the past few years, the reality of our situation changed with the diagnosis of my husband with COPD. Keeping up with the medical bills and expenses of kids in college has proven too much for a single income.

At first I worked part-time to keep my self in the job market ready to go full-time when my husband could no longer work. But in order to keep current with the needs of the family I have increased my hours to almost full-time.

My biggest goal is to strive toward my income going toward the budget and not for convenience items because now I don’t have the time for every frugal idea. 

  • I now buy curriculum that can be easily planned or online classes.
  • My kids still enjoy group activities but instead of being present I offer support to the group in other ways.
  • I spend my Saturday mornings homeschooling and my afternoons working.
  • I shop thrift stores instead of going to yard sales.
  • There is not a lot of time for bartering these days, but occasionally it works.
  • I shop at Aldis instead of coupon shopping.

While most of our expenses to homeschool have increased because of being employed, I feel I have done my best to get the most out of the situation. You just have to crunch the numbers.

For example an online class can cost $500 for year, divided by 32 weeks, you are paying $16 a week. I know each on-line class saves me 3 hours a week in planning, teaching and grading.

I know our biggest budget buster is groceries. I focus all my time on this one area. My kids help me every 6 weeks prep 30 freezer meals. We rarely eat out or buy convenience food. Thankfully my kids know the biggest challenge for me is to have dinner on the table after putting in a 12 hour day with jobs and homeschooling.

I love to hang clothes on the line but if I get behind on the laundry I will use the dryer. I try to let some of the little frugal things slide. Instead of beating myself up over using the drying I focus on the 4 loads that did make it to the clothes line.

It is a constant juggling act and evaluating of frugal choices with how much time I have in a day. 

Are you working and homeschooling? Do you have a great tip to share on getting things done?

 

Ultimate Guide for Teaching The Mystery of History Vol I

Teaching The Mystery of History Volume I

I would imagine if you are interested in reading this post you must be in planning mode for teaching The Mystery of History. Those days when you are scouring the internet looking for resources and ideas. I hope you find my post a useful timesaver.

Do to copyright you will find material from Bright Ideas Press to be lesson specific but freebies will be topic related. You can read more at the FAQ section on copyright at Bright Ideas Press.

Teaching with The Mystery of History Vol. I

First thing you need to decide are which components of The Mystery of History are you going to complete. Yes, that means you are not expected to do everything mentioned in the book. No, this is not an exhaustive list but it should keep you busy planning for awhile.

If you are brand new I suggest watching this 10 minute video on What Do I Need to Teach The Mystery of History.

Please note: the difference between the 1st and 2nd Edition includes date changes, spelling of Chinese names, updated activities and some lessons have additional information. 

You can always ask your questions live at The Mystery of History Facebook group!

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Atlases

If you are going to do the map work assigned at the end of each week a good atlas can help students complete the assignments.

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Activities

Each lesson in the book has an activity for younger, middle and older students but if you are looking for more hands-on fun…then the following list will help you plan more.

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Audio/E-book

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How to Teach Literary Genres with a Library Scavenger Hunt

First I should confess that in the hustle and bustle of getting school started I did not read all the details in the teacher book for WriteShop Junior Book E. About half-way through the year I stumbled upon a section in the teacher book that recommend teaching literary genres to your student. I realized that would be beneficial for my son.

How to Teach Literary Genres with a Library Scavenger Hunt

We had a free afternoon coming up, and I wanted to change our reviewing routine. So I created a notebooking page with the literary genres from WriteShop Junior Book E. My main goal was to expose him to different books from the literary genres from his writing lessons.

I explained how I wanted him to find a book in the library that represented the literary genres we had studied this year in WriteShop.

I gave him the notebook page Genre Scavenger Hunt and had him define the word genre. I read him the list of literature genres and asked him which one was his favorite, which one had he never heard before, and were there any he thought sounded interesting.

Since we happened to be sitting next to the poetry section in the library, my son thought that would be a great place to start finding his book selections.

Decision making has been a challenge for my son, so selecting a starting point in the library was an added bonus for this genre challenge.

He selected a volume of poetry titled Carver: A Life in Poems. The poem he selected to read happened to remind me of a song. So I took a moment to discuss genres in music, using the song Aint’ Nobody Here But Us Chickens. It provided proof to him that his mom was a tad crazy, but it was worth the giggles.

literary genre poetry

Finding books on the other genres required extra leg work, so we Googled book lists for adventure, mystery, science fiction, and humor.

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Lost and Found, A Book Review

Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace by Kendra Fletcher


My friends just lifted an eyebrow and took notice of this blog title. I am not a book reader, I prefer hands-on learning over books any day. I wrestle with words and grammar to connect and share my thoughts with my friends and hope to leave them encouraged. So me writing a book review will be a few steps out of my comfort zone.

I met Kendra Fletcher a few years ago at a blogging conference. I was coming to the dinner hour late and most of the spots at the tables had been filled, so I was eager to find an empty area to quietly slip into and eat. Kendra, her husband Fletch, and Carol-Ann took notice of my choosing to eat alone and quickly invited me to join them. I am always grateful for people who invite others to join them.

Over the years at other blogging conference I would get the honor to sit with Kendra and hear bits and pieces of her story. She would share stories of her son, Mighty Joe. She would share her heart as she struggled to be a godly mom. 

Last summer when Kendra announced her book would be published I made a mental note for 2017 to be the year I would read a few books and Lost and Found: Losing Religion, Finding Grace found the number one position on my list.

What I didn’t know was that I would read her book while sitting in PACU waiting for a doctor to give me information about my own son. While my heart bonded to her medical stories and I related to the fear of when the ER staff begins reviewing past trips and questioning your ability to care for your children…I was grateful for her reminders that God has my back.

Even more important than sharing the medical details of her life…were the details of how God changed her heart and reminded her of  her identity in Christ. 

The one paragraph from her book that I loved…We had to have Jesus plus our Reformed theology. Jesus plus our choice to homeschool our children. Jesus plus my decision to be a stay-at-home mom. Jesus plus giving our family size over to God. Jesus plus supporting missions, giving to our church, attending Bible studies. Again, we believed wholeheartedly that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but we just continued on, wanting to do something. Surely Jesus hadn’t paid it all. (Excerpt from Lost and Found) 

Often as moms we need that reminder, while we desire to do our best job raising our kids…ultimately we are not the ones in control of the outcome…our kids have free will and God has a plan. I am not a great parent if all my children stay in the faith, I am not a bad parent if all my children walk away from the faith…but I am the parent in the trenches fighting for their hearts and pointing them to the truth.

Grab a copy of Lost and Found and a cup of tea or coffee and take a moment to refuel your mind and soul.

I was thankful that day sitting in PACU alone that I had this book as a reminder that while I might have been physically alone, Jesus still had my back, still cares for my situation, and always loves me.

After you read the book you might want to know the rest of story of what happened after Kendra found her infant son near death, ran over her daughter with the family van and almost lost her daughter to a ruptured appendix. Good news, Kendra will be blogging about those details, just follow the link to her website and sign-up at KendraFletcher.com