Inside: Five Secrets to Homeschooling During the Holidays.
My boys will be thrilled that I am reminding you that there are only 12 days until Christmas.
But there aren’t.
There are actually almost 24.75 days until Christmas.
But who’s counting?
Homeschooling takes all I’ve got and then some, and there are weeks when I just feel like throwing in the towel.
Years ago, during an especially difficult season of life, my husband
and I agreed that there would never be another option for us regarding
educating our children. Homeschooling is a conviction for our family,
and we’re sticking with it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
So what do I do when I feel like I’m absolutely the wrong mom for the job?
Well, after I’ve drank a few cups of coffee, sneaked into the bag of
chocolate chips, put the kids down for a nap and escaped to a quiet
place with my laptop…
1. Am I getting enough sleep?
The answer to this one is almost always no. I am a chronic
overachiever, and sleep is usually the first thing to go when I feel
like I don’t have time to tackle one of my beloved projects.
Plain and simple, I’m an ogre when I’m sleep deprived. If you don’t
believe me, ask my kids. (On second thought, please don’t.)
It’s amazing how much better I handle stress (yes, homeschooling can
feel stressful at times) when I’m leaving enough margin in my day for
2. Am I trying to do too much?
The answer to this question is almost always yes. It’s hard for us moms to admit it, but we really can’t do it all. Something has to go.
For me, the first things I “let go” when the going gets tough are my expectations of a perfect house and my blogging projects. I can’t be a career blogger and a career mother. I just can’t. I have to let go.
3. Why am I homeschooling in the first place?
This may seem like a strange question to ask when I’m feeling low,
but it’s amazing what a little honest evaluation can do for my resolve.
I’m not homeschooling because it’s easy.
I’m not homeschooling because I’m cut out for it.
I’m not homeschooling because I have a fancy education and I feel smart.
I’m not homeschooling because it fits so well with my schedule and personal goals.
I’ve chosen life as a homeschool mom because I believe God has called me to it. And since He called me, He will equip me. He will. And He does.
I believe that God is bigger than my mistakes. Wiser than my weaknesses. Stronger than my inconsistencies.
I believe that He knows and loves my children infinitely more than I could ever know and love them.
I believe that He gave them to ME, and me to them, with an eternal purpose in mind.
I believe that I can do this, and do it well. Not because of anything good within me, but because I am equipped by God Almighty himself.
So is there ever really a time when I’m ready to say, “I quit?”
Sure. I say it.
And when I reach the end of myself is when I find Him. Holding me. Cheering me on. Giving grace for another day.
Thank you Kristy, for your wisdom and heart!
Were you blessed? Take a minute to let Kristy know by clicking here.
This past week our son had minor surgery. We were sitting in the waiting room for hours waiting for his turn. The doctors were running behind. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad waiting. He is 15 now, so he no longer complains. (Don’t laugh, he really does not complain)
Everyone in the waiting room was happily entertained with their electronic devices. The 8 year old, the teenager, and the 3 elderly patients waiting for surgery or loved ones all quietly played on their ipads, computers or phones.
After my son was called in, the time went much slower. I finally put down my ipad and said aloud, “I was wondering how people survived waiting rooms before technology. I bet they actually talked to one another…”
All of the “patients” were now in surgery. It was just we few parents who remained behind. Suddenly, we all put our toys away and shared our stories. One mom said her son was having surgery because after his cancer, her son had developed an infection. She was more than eager to share their story. Time flew by and the nurses came to call her to recovery.
I looked at the last mom in the room and said, “I am going to be nosey and ask you about your son too.” She laughed and shared that he had trauma to his eye from a football injury and then went into the details of how they were going to repair his eye.
We chatted for a long time. Just as she was sharing her sons ambitions to join the Navy, and elderly man walked into the room and overhearing her comment said, “The Navy is a great choice!”
I asked him of he was a former sailor like my husband, and he went on to chat our ears off about his tour. He was delightful, and we both were able to thank this veteran for his service to our country.
Time flew by once we all put out toys away. We became vested in each other’s stories, rooting for our children (And the veterans wife).
I bet you will find yourself in a situation this week where everyone around you is engrossed in their screens. I would encourage you to be the first to put yours down and open a conversation. I bet you will be blessed!
Does the idea of teaching divisibility make you jump for joy or run for cover?
I have taught 5th and 6th grade 7 years total now, (3 years in the classroom, plus 4 of my own kids so far) and I can tell you that many kids struggle with the divisibility rules.
These rules are very important when kids need to reduce fractions, so I got creative.
I made 14 Divisibility Games and Activity Pack to help you reinforce divisibility. (I am giving a copy away to one of my lucky readers. Enter below)
My boys love the pack.
Actually, each time I pull out an activity they help me create a new one. We are now up to 14 fun activities:). You can visit my store to get your own copy. It is only on sale until 11/14/2013.
Here is my 6th grader doing the color by divisibility activity. He loved that when you colored the numbers a picture emerged.
What will you get in this 37 page activity pack? Let me share the table of content with you:
Divisibility Word Search
Divisibility Word Search-Key
Match the Vocabulary Worksheet
Match the Vocabulary Worksheet-Key
Divisibility Rules numbers 2, 5, and 10
Divisibility Rules numbers 3, 4, 9
Divisibility Rules numbers 6, 7, 8
Divisibility Tic Tac Toe
Large Color Number Cards for Tic Tac Toe and BINGO!
Large B/W Number Cards for Tic Tac Toe and BINGO!
Tic Tac Toe Board
Divisibility BINGO Boards
Small Bingo Number cards
Divisibility Quick Guide/answers for BINGO
Graphing the Winner Template-Use with Games
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 5
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 5-Key
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 9
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 9-Key
What’s the Divisibility Drill Worksheet
What’s the Divisibility Drill-Key
What’s Your Divisibility Worksheet
What’s Your Divisibility Worksheet Key
Divisibility Quick Reference
Enter to win your copy
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Can’t wait? Order your instant download at my store.
Meet Discount School Supply is a post from Bekki @ A Better Way to
Homeschool where we learn to train our children to become lifelong
learners. If you have enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Bekki on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+!
Founder Ron Elliott has the vision “to offer the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices.”
What do you need to know?
They have over 5,000 amazing products for kids. I’ll show you enough to get you started. Honestly, it is worth a trip to their website every time you need school supplies, children’s toys, or gifts.
My kids have always been really into make believe and role playing.
Look at this cool play station!
Arts and Crafts Galore!
You name it, they have it. I personally like to keep a healthy supply of arts and crafts materials on hand, but I HATE to spend top dollar for things like construction paper!
Excellerations™ Jumbo Lacing Beads – 36 Pieces
Yes. That was my first year of homeschool.
So how did I survive?
The key to my homeschooling survival was three-fold.
It’s all Attitude
When you school around toddlers and infants you have to be dedicated. There is no other way to describe it. It is exhausting to chase little ones and teach algebra simultaneously. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are committed to “Stick and Stay”. Our kids desperately need to see us model a never quit attitude. The great news is that, with a few adjustments, it is absolutely possible to do a great job!
If a plan is going to succeed, there must first be a plan; a goal. It was here in my life’s story that my husband and I focused and formed our foundational goals; our Mission Statement if you will.
I would encourage you to do the same.
Our goals were simple.
Asking for Help from Experts
I would never have survived that first year of homeschooling had I not taken the time to seek advice and ask for help. Some people have a really hard time asking for guidance, not me.
I knew I was a good teacher, but I also knew my house was a mess and I had no idea how to teach with little ones around.
Here’s what I gleaned from experts.
If I could give any advice it would be to glean this “quiet-time”/controlled environment mentality.
There are many, many, many kinds of activities to entertain and educate your toddler available online.
Keep it simple. I always kept my school activity time toys out of reach so they were fresh and new when needed.
Toddlers crave consistency.
Toddlers will thrive under a schedule of rotation of activities.
Toddlers need to have set boundaries for their own development and safety, as well as the sanity of your homeschool environment.
File in your Homeschool Notebook Under the Babies and Toddler Tab.
Don’t have a Homeschool Notebook? No worries!
Just click on the “Yes, I want help” button below.
I am sitting in a customer waiting room, “waiting”, for an oil change. I long for the days when I had access to a fully equipped auto shop and everything at my fingertips. I lived changing my own oil. Sounds crazy, but I thought it was fun to drive onto a lift, raise the car, empty and change the oil, change the filter, and then drive away. The “good ol’ days”. (yes, I truly did live the Navy Supplied Autoshop while my husband was serving our country!)
Now I wait for 2 hours in a not so comfortable chair thinking of you.
I am thinking through, planning, designing, and ordering my curriculum for next year right now. I am preparing to teach a workshop for mommy our Charter School in August called “How to homeschool with babies and preschoolers in tow and I am working with a gifted teacher transitioning the schools 8th grade curriculum to have a more thematic focus. It’s a safe bet to assuming I am marinating in curriculum.
You come to mind today because I figure you are one of two types of homeschool moms.
1. You’re brand new and overwhelmed at the thought of pulling together this upcoming years curriculum. If that’s you, I’d love to encourage you. You are making a huge investment in the lives of your children. Do not spend too much time worrying about which program to get. Focus on basic “core” subjects and check out project c entered learning. If I could give you any advise it would be to limit or never let yourself become bogged down by busy work. If you have any specific questions, or need any advise feel free to leave a comment or contact me through my contact page. This whole website is being designed with you, the new homeschooling mom, in mind. While I do not have everything completed yet (because I still have a family to minister to) I want you to know I am more than willing to share my heart and experiences with you!
2. You’re a veteran homeschool mom. You’ve walked the path, you’ve been through the ups and downs of homeschooling. You are an expert at schooling your own children, or like me, you are committed to give homeschooling your best for as long as you are called to continue. If this is you, I would love to pick your brain. I would love the opportunity to interview you through email in hopes that I can share a truly balanced perspective with new homeschooling moms.
Join me in reaching as many new homeschooling mamas as we can. Leave me a comment, send me an email, Facebook me, or call.
I hope to set up virtual interviews next week.
At the end of each school year, are you finding yourself swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering just what to do with it all?
Where does the organization begin?
What do you keep?
Where will you keep it?
How much should you, dare I say, throw away?
As you begin to tackle this heap, your brain recalls the many hours that went into creating this voluminous collection. You may start to wonder just how well spent those hours really were. You remember the great ambitions with which you started the school year and the many good intentions that fell to the wayside in order to finish this massive collection you are now faced with sorting. Finally, you conclude that if most, or perhaps all, of your children’s work is going to get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again, how much value can it possibly hold? Does any of this sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to anymore!
Our family has been introduced to an ageless tool of learning that keeps us from creating these questionable mounds of paper throughout the year. There is nothing left to sort. There is nothing left to pack away. There is nothing to throw away. Instead, another volume (or two or three or more) of our children’s prized work gets added to their personal library at the end of each year. No more busywork. No more second-guessing if our time has been well spent. As a matter of fact, this tool has freed me from the seemingly never-ending search for the perfect curriculum! It can literally transform the way you approach your children’s education and set afire a love of learning within each child. Spend your precious hours exploring, discovering, and capturing the knowledge that awaits you and your children each day. Make learning a journey instead of a list to be checked off at the end of the day and a pile to be sorted at the end of the year. How do you do this? Let me introduce you to the tool that has breathed new life into our homeschooling.
It’s called . . . notebooking!
Notebooking is the coined term for what one may refer to as educational journaling or scrapbooking.
Essentially, the idea is to take your planned school subjects and activities as well as the areas of your child’s interests and create notebooks, compilations of created pages collected in binders.
Your child will fill his notebooks throughout the year with what he has learned about these topics. Written narrations, drawings, maps, and photographs are just a few of the items he may include.
The pages of his notebooks will capture both the new knowledge he has discovered as well as his own personal reflections of what he has learned.
Through the process of creating a notebook, you will likely watch him become a storyteller, a teacher, and most undoubtedly, an expert in some of the topics he studies.
Unlike some of the more traditional tools of learning, like worksheets and tests, notebooking allows your child to develop a deeper relationship with what he is learning. Instead of finding out what he doesn’t know about a topic or study, which is what a worksheet or test usually reveals, he is given an opportunity to express everything he does know. By cutting out the busywork that is involved in some of these more traditional methods, you open a window of time and opportunity for your children to dig deeper into topics, to really get to know the people, the places, the events, the concepts, the ideas, and so on of what they are studying. Then, they take this information, digest it, and produce a notebook that tells all about what they have learned.
After following this process, there will not be that sudden “unlearning” phenomena that usually takes place after the traditional chapter or unit test. The knowledge that your child gains during his notebooking experience will stick! Most importantly this process fuels a love of learning as your child begins to discover how exciting and fun it is to learn with notebooking!
As your children become more experienced with notebooking, you will begin to see the evident benefits of this great tool. The richness of what they are learning will be apparent as their notebooks become filled to the brim with stories, pictures, maps, quotes, and photographs of the people, places, and events encountered. The depth of what they are learning will be told as new layers are added each year to certain notebooks, such as their language arts and math notebooks.
The process of learning they have experienced will be unveiled as you note the ways they organize and choose the material they include for their notebooks. You will begin to see certain notebooks take on your children’s personalities as they learn to express themselves in the variety of ways they have been gifted. It is an amazing joy to sit down with your child while they lovingly and passionately share all that they have learned through the process of creating their notebook. Their hearts and hard work have been poured into this notebook and they beam with confidence at the turn of each page.
Each year, as you take time to look back through the increasing volumes of notebooks being added to the shelves, you will see that notebooking has become an amazing “living” record of your children’s journey of learning. Instead of tossing the year’s work into a box in the back of the closet, you’ll be looking for ways to add more bookshelves to house these treasures!
So how do you begin notebooking with your family? Start simple. Start with one topic or one study for each child or for the whole family. Perhaps the easiest way to start is to let each child begin a notebook of one of their favorite hobbies or passions. Do you have a child that loves dinosaurs? I do! My youngest son would find spare moments throughout the day to notebook his knowledge of dinosaurs. His head would be stuck in any number of books from the library trying to gather information. That’s where it began for him! Today, he is our leading expert when it comes to dinosaurs.
Perhaps the easiest place to start notebooking with the entire family is with any history or science topic because there are so many ways to dig into these subjects. You could start very simply by asking your children to give a short narration of what was read on a particular day either during your read aloud time or their independent reading time. If they give you a blank stare, ask them what they found to be most important or interesting about what was studied and encourage them to write about that. If you have younger children, you may need to write down their narrations for them until they are more proficient with the physical skill of writing. For children who are accustomed to giving short fill-in-the-blank type answers to questions, narration will take some practice to develop. I highly suggest researching the topic of narration for more help in this area. Narration is an invaluable skill that will prove most beneficial in their notebooking studies.
As your family or child continues to dig deeper, add new material to the notebook. The notebook may include any number of pages and collections including, but definitely not limited to:
Ready to get started? Grab a few essential supplies: binders (or a binding tool), paper, your favorite arts and crafts supplies and a selection of writing utensils and dig in! You may also want to invest in some notebooking templates. These templates made notebooking a reality for my family, especially in the early days of our notebooking experiences. Notebooking templates are pages that have been designed with a variety of preprinted lines, frames, borders, and clipart that provide a quickstart to the notebooking process. Use the preprinted lines for your children’s narrations, copywork and other written work. Use the empty frames to add maps, drawings, pictures, and other items. I became so hooked on using the templates that I began creating my own. Then, after realizing how helpful these templates were to my children, I began to share them with others online. You can now visit our website, www.NotebookingPages.com, to find our growing collection of free and affordable sets of notebooking templates available for a variety of subjects, studies, and activities.
Ready to make learning a more memorable and meaningful experience for your family? Get started with notebooking today! Visit us at NotebookingPages.com for more notebooking information, freebies, products, articles, and tips, as well as for a variety of other free homeschooling charts and printables.
(Reprinted with permission from Debra Reed, NotebookingPages.com)
Love of learning. What does that phrase mean to you?
When I began homeschooling, I figured my children would naturally love to learn. I would not need to teach them how to do this. Instead, my goal was to fill their minds with as much knowledge as I could possibly pour upon them.
My experiences as a public school student and teacher taught me that children could easily make it from K-12 and beyond attaining titles such as “top of their class” without truly learning anything more than how to study, memorize, and regurgitate facts. I was one of those types of kids and I definitely wanted my children to get more than this from their education.
Determined to set a full plate before them, I scoured over homeschooling magazines, catalogs, and websites and purchased more books and curriculums in those first couple of years than I have the last six combined. It soon became apparent that we would need to add extra hours to our day in order to finish all of the prescribed scopes and sequences. With schedules and assignment sheets in hand, we began to plow our way through our curriculums. Now, obviously, we hit a few bumps in the road. Who doesn’t? During those years though, all skeptical eyes were upon us from family to friends to the local social worker that paid regular visits to our home (we were fostering at the time). All bumps were neatly swept under the rug and we kept right on plowing. From the outside looking in and according to the standardized tests, everything was great.
Eventually though, the pace and the bumps began to wear on me and I became restless about our homeschooling. The kids, on the other hand, had adjusted fairly well. They had grown accustomed to the long hours, the lack of playtime, and mom’s perfectionist tendencies. However, when I finally took stock one day in what we were doing, I realized that instead of helping my children to rise above my own educational background, I had trained them to be just like me.
They were pro’s at marking off their little check boxes, filling in the blanks, and regurgitating information in nice little pre-packaged amounts. Additionally, they had sacrificed their own interests and desires so much to this point that they really did not know how to “just be a kid”.
This was not what homeschooling was supposed to be like for our family! What happened?
In retrospect, I know that my mistake was not in having high aspirations nor was it my perfectionist tendencies or the pressure from our skeptical audience. The problem was I began building my children’s education without first laying a proper foundation. I continued to add layer upon layer to our educational structure with the goal to build it as tall as possible. Therefore, when the building became too heavy and burdensome, it all came crashing down without much more than the materials to show for all of the labor. This is the point where those in my situation begin selling off all of the “materials” in exchange for new ones thinking that will somehow fix the problem. Instead, we should focus our time and attention on laying that proper foundation.
So how does one go about this? First, give yourself permission to break whatever mold your family is currently conforming to and let go of whatever is entangling you. (Unfortunately, it took me about three years to really do this and to let go.)
Then, invest some time to research “homeschooling philosophy” online or at the library and begin writing your own philosophy of education.
This will be your foundation.
Seek ideas that will preserve the unique personalities, desires, and interests of your children as well as remain true to your family’s vision. Define what “love of learning” means to you. Weave this into your foundation. You may find that your philosophy is a hodge-podge of some of the popular homeschooling philosophies floating around out there. Perfect! Take the best points from those that really mesh with your family and make it your own. Having defined this for my family has freed me from my own misconceptions about education as well those from outside sources and “experts”. It has freed my children to be kids again, opening the doors of discovery and ushering in a true love of learning that will build larger storehouses of information and wisdom than I could have ever hoped of building!
(Reprinted with permission from Debra Reed, NotebookingPages.com)