July 24, 2012

10 Things about Me and Homeschool

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


1. I told myself and my husband, when I became pregnant with my first child, that I would NEVER homeschool. I wanted my kids to "be normal" and "go through everything that I went through" and "see the real world." Yes, those were my own thoughts and words when thinking about taking my kids to school. My husband then told me "Never say never!" Boy, was he right! And it wasn't like he came from a homeschooling family! I would have never known that my life would consist of an homeschooling journey but I'm happy the way it worked out!


2. I don't think that I am a better person than you because I homeschool. I don't homeschool because I think I'm a better mom or teacher than you. I'm simply doing what I think is best for MY kids. I'm sure you will do what is best for your kids as well. I know every family and child is different. Please don't be intimidated because of the fact that I homeschool.


3. I consider myself very organized.


4. BUT that still doesn't mean that everything always goes my way! I have some "just go with it" kind of days here and there and I'm OKAY with that! Yes, I am okay with not being perfect but I try to improve myself every week.


5. I would love to homeschool my kiddos through high school but I will always follow the Lord as he directs me and my husband on how to parent our children.


6. Why I started homeschooling... When Liberty was 3 years old she was approved for preschool. During her year in preschool there were 4 events that stand out to me.

#1 She would come home with scratches on her hands and tell me that a boy scratched her. She then came home with scratches on her arm. I took pictures of the scratches and asked the teachers where it came from and they didn't know.
#2 Liberty was using a walker at this time to help her walk so she was approved to have a "helper" who followed her around the whole day and helped her do things if it consisted of using two hands or walking. When I went to her school for lunch one day I saw that she wasn't "allowed" to sit with the other kids at the table.
#3 After lunch I followed her back to the class and saw that she also sat in the back corner of the classroom with no other students at her table. When I was told that she was the only one at the table I then knew that my special needs child was being EXCLUDED from the other kids.
#4 IEP meetings. This is when the parents, teachers, therapists and principal all come together to put an Individualized Education Plan together for the special needs child. I felt that the teachers were judging my parenting (when I know I'm a good mom, if anything). I also disagreed with their decision to incorporate a keyboard for Liberty's handwriting. Let me get this straight... the staff did NOT want Liberty to WRITE! They wanted her to use a keyboard and they were underestimating her ability to write! She can use her left hand perfectly fine and since 15 months old that has been her dominate hand. Before her stroke she used both hands. This made no sense to me whatsoever.

So, let's just say that I had enough and I knew that I could teach Liberty her letters and numbers and engage her in more things that what they were allowing her to do. So, I prayed about it and read about 5 homeschooling books before pulling her out of the school. I will never regret my decision. I knew I did what Heavenly Father wanted me to do. I knew I did what was best for my daughter. Before I knew it, my son started learning right along side Liberty and as I had two more children they too started learning.


7. I have become burnt out and put my kids back into public school for a few months. This happened during a time when I wasn't living righteously or praying. I followed my own gut without asking Heavenly Father. I also believe that is why I became burnt out. I went against the "calling" that was given to me as a teacher to my kids and decided to try to make money for our family as a pet sitter. How funny that word "pet sitter" sounds, they do make good money. So, three of my four kids went to public school. Liberty was back and Noah and Harmony were experiencing it for the first time. Noah kept telling me how completely bored he was. I was afraid he would start acting dumb just to fit into his class. The staff would not allow him to move forward a grade even though his teacher wanted him to also! Harmony was also bored. She was ready to read and just learning her letters in kindergarten. She also told me that they never do math. Liberty was happy but her teacher was completely clueless. I am very glad that they were able to experience both worlds, but after we moved and came to Arizona, I asked if they wanted to be homeschooled or go to public school and they chose homeschool for many different reasons. As I started living righteously and praying again, I too knew that their decision was the right one.


8. Homeschool has blessed our family. Our relationships are stronger. My kids seem more calm and well behaved. Our lives aren't so stressed from homework and busy mornings. Our home is a lot more peaceful. My kids are able to learn more and learn about what they want. When the doctors told us that Liberty would never speak again, she is now talking AND reading! This journey has been wonderful to us!


9. I should do better with recording what we do everyday.


10. Because I homeschool, housework sometimes comes in last...

July 17, 2012

Top Ten Random Homeschool Thoughts

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


1. I am SO HAPPY WE GOT A NEW PENCIL SHARPENER! I don't know how many we have gone through in the past few years but it has become ridiculous. So, instead of continuing the failure by going to Target, Wal-Mart, Kmart and the military BX I decided today that we would make a trip to Office Depot. We did not get an electronic one. We got an "old school" sharpener that consists of a handle that you crank and is stabilized on a wall or table. I am SO excited and will be even more excited if it actually lasts longer than two weeks! I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

2. I am so happy that most craft and office supply stores take homeschooling into consideration with their teacher discounts! Today I got a discount at Office Depot and Michaels!

3. I love the Michaels $1.00 stuff that is right by the cash register...

4. I wish canvas bags were cheaper for our "adventure bags" (not boxes). I'm happy to have found big sturdy paper bags at Michaels anyway.

5. I can't wait to do the stuff that I mentioned before...

6. I love the Dover coloring books found on Amazon! They are very educational coloring books for a great price on every subject/topic/theme!

7. Now that Nephi is 5, he is being asked to do more during our homeschool routine. He's doing great but I have a feeling that he'll be a little bit more hard to get to do work and sit still, more-so than my other kiddos. But that is okay. :)

8. I can't get over how WONDERFUL Noah's handwriting was yesterday! What happened over night? I have no idea, but I love it!

9. I absolutely love how Liberty is starting to carry books around like the her brother and sister. It means that she's becoming more comfortable and confident with reading. She has come such a long way. I am so super proud of her accomplishments even with her lower reading level due to her stroke. She is amazing!

10. I have adored going through the kids' journals. They just started a new one yesterday, so I looked back at the past entries and I love how they write with their imagination and thoughtfulness. It's so beautiful.

July 14, 2012

Family Update: Colds, 4th of July, Visit with Grandma

We had a wonderful time celebrating America's Birthday and spending time with Grandma and Aunt Kalie. I wish we could've felt better for it all, but we took those wonderful moments and ran with them! The kids were so surprised when grandma showed up and they throughly enjoyed her visit. We had a great week even with the fevers, sore throats, coughs, ear aches, congestion and so on...




4th OF JULY


Harmony made homemade American flags to hand out to the neighbors.
A couple neighbors even gave her a tip!




The kids had a blast decorating with white whip cream, red strawberries and blue blueberries, one even made an American flag with the food!








Fancy Drinks, Board Games and a Party Dog!






Getting ready to watch the show from our trampoline in our backyard!






Everyone was pooped after the show, except Noah. So he stayed up and watched an animation show about the presidents of the United States before heading to bed.









GRANDMA AND AUNT KALIE CAME TO VISIT US!


We took grandma and aunt Kalie to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum and had a blast on a hot day while learning all about the desert!




Bird Watching by a creek...



One of our favorite things... Hummingbird Aviary! Those amazing creatures are so cute but when they fly around your head it creeps all of us out!





Then another favorite... The Beaver and River Otter!






We visited John's memorial and made sure to decorate his special wall with stickers. We miss you John. It's almost been a year since you became an angel in Heaven. I love you!



I got this idea from pinterest! We painted with ice cubes on a sheet, to make grandma and aunt kalie a picnic blanket to take home!









I know this post was short and sweet. We have been rather busy trying to get rid of this bug that keeps going around in our home. We still enjoyed ourselves during our visits with grandma and the wonderful 4th of July holiday. I just can't wait for everyone to get back to feeling normal again! Vinegar, Lysol, Bleach, Baking Soda, Apple Vinegar, Motrin and "Plenty of Fluids" have become our close friends lately and that is why this family update is so short because other than the two big things, not much has happened!

July 12, 2012

Week 13

The Ratings:
1- What happened? Just do it already!
2- I can do a lot better
3- I can do better
4- Doing good, Keep it up!
5- Check! AWESOME! (because I like the word AWESOME)

Watch what I eat (Eat for FUEL)- 3

Watch my servings (1 cup of cereal not 2)- 4

64 oz of Water Daily (I need watered just like a flower!)- 3

1 hour of exercise (at least) M-F- 2

Move More (do more than just sit on my butt)- 3

Family Fitness (hikes and sports) -3

Take care of myself (hygiene, vitamins, medical)- 5

Calm Down (take it easy = less stress)- 5

ME time! (reading, bubble bath, friends, crafts)- 5

7 hours of sleep (sleep gives you wings, not red bull)- 5

Use time wisely (finding balance to work and play and limiting internet time)- 5

Find my information and motivation (learn and share more)- 5

Read Personal Scriptures Daily (it's the best "meditation" and brightens my day)- 5

Personal Prayer Daily (I am not in it alone and am thankful for my life)- 5

Weight- 220- Lost 1 pound. TOTAL: 19 pounds lost!
BMI Scale for my height and weight- 38 (obese)
Thighs- Once a month
Tummy- Once a month
Hips- Once a month
Arms- Once a month
Minutes Exercised- 3 hours
Minutes Moved (family activities, cleaning, other stuff)- 4 hours

July 10, 2012

Top Ten Things I can't wait to do...

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings

I'm so excited to do a lot of things! They will happen just around the corner too! Homeschooling can be so much fun!


FOUR FUN THINGS FOR TUESDAY AND THURSDAY!
(Not just Free Time, Therapy and Errand Days anymore)

1. ADVENTURE BOXES!
I am so excited to incorporate this into our Tuesday and Thursday half days! It's a great way to allow the kiddos to learn about whatever they want! Noah picked Chemistry, Nephi picked police officers, Liberty picked turtles and Harmony picked art. I got them each two different videos from the library and two different books. I also ordered them each a dover coloring book from amazon. I just need to put flash cards in all of them and a few science materials in Noah's and clay and paint in Harmony's. They should actually be called bags, not boxes, just cuz that works best for us. So happy I found this idea through many little blessings blog!

2. HANDS ON FOR READING/SPELLING AND MATH!
Along with adventure boxes on Tuesday and Thursday I am also incorporating workboxes for the older kids that will be packed with hands on ideas in an organized fashion. They already have a lot of hands on stuff but I will be adding more, such as sensory"ish" bottles found on pinterest filled with spelling words and sight words. I plan on using colored rice for different bottles with strips of card stock with words written on them. The kiddos will have to find the words and then write them. I'm planning on a couple other fun things as well, but I'm most excited about that one. Tuesday and Thursday will be lots of fun for the older kids!

3. SCHEDULED KINDERGARTEN CIRCLE TIME WITH NEPHI
Once again, another thing on Tuesday and Thursday! While the older kids are doing their hands on workboxes I'll have about an hour with Nephi to do kindergarten fun stuff and lessons. We'll be studying Nursery Rhymes, Sight Words and Classic Fairy Tales.

4. MOMMY AND ME READING
Another thing for Tuesday and Thursday. I've already started this but since I've been sick I had to take a week long break. I'm excited to get back to it! I take about 20 minutes to read with each child. They can pick whatever chapter book (Nephi will pick a picutre book) they would like and then I pick a chapter book when we are finished, and we keep taking turns. During this time is when the other kids will be diving into their adventure boxes. This gives us a good 2 1/2 - 3 hours of fun educational stuff to do on Tuesday and Thursday.

LOTS OF LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE FUN!

5. IN THE KITCHEN: MAKING OUR OWN BREAD, BUTTER, JAM AND CHEESE!
Since we are reading Little House on the Prairie, we have got to do this! We'll be doing it really soon! I'm so excited!

6. LIFE SKILLS AND CRAFTS: NATURE WEAVING, WEAVING, YARN DOLLS AND SEWING BUTTONS!
The girls especially will love this!

7. CELEBRATING PIONEER DAY AS A HOMESCHOOL FAMILY!
It goes along with Little house in the big Woods, around the same time. We will be going a while without electricity, just to see what it was like during that time and focusing on the trials that the Mormon Pioneers went through.

THE OLYMPICS FUN!


8. OLYMPICS UNIT STUDY
Filled with charts, physical fitness program, studying how it all came together and an introduction into our continent/country study for the fall.

ADDING MORE TO OUR REGULAR STUDIES ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY, FRIDAY!


9. THE ARTS: MORE NATURE JOURNALING, ARTIST STUDY AND MUSIC STUDY
I'm excited to add a little bit more of Charlotte Mason into our studies! While focusing on reading and math lessons with each child or group then the other kids will have time for the arts. This will especially be helpful for Harmony.

10. FOREIGN LANGUAGE: SIGN LANGUAGE AND SPANISH
We're going to get back into this. We used to do it and the kids caught on quick. I wish I would have never quit it.



BONUS: SCIENCE CURRICULUM

I'm thinking about using a science curriculum this coming year. I'm not sure, but it's a thought in the back of my head...

July 05, 2012

Week 12

Well, I've been sick this week which caused me not to eat more than needed or even eat every meal (I know, that's not healthy but it hurts to swallow). I've also not been exercising due to my fever and body aches. So, I lost 4 pounds! It's nothing to be totally glad about because I lost it due to being so sick but I'll take it anyway.


The Ratings:
1- What happened? Just do it already!
2- I can do a lot better
3- I can do better
4- Doing good, Keep it up!
5- Check! AWESOME! (because I like the word AWESOME)

Watch what I eat (Eat for FUEL)- 5

Watch my servings (1 cup of cereal not 2)- 4

64 oz of Water Daily (I need watered just like a flower!)- 4

1 hour of exercise (at least) M-F- 1

Move More (do more than just sit on my butt)- 1

Family Fitness (hikes and sports) - 1

Take care of myself (hygiene, vitamins, medical)- 5

Calm Down (take it easy = less stress)- 5

ME time! (reading, bubble bath, friends, crafts)- 5

7 hours of sleep (sleep gives you wings, not red bull)- 5

Use time wisely (finding balance to work and play and limiting internet time)- 5

Find my information and motivation (learn and share more)- 5

Read Personal Scriptures Daily (it's the best "meditation" and brightens my day)- 5

Personal Prayer Daily (I am not in it alone and am thankful for my life)- 5

Weight- 221- Lost 4 pounds. TOTAL: 18 pounds lost!
BMI Scale for my height and weight- 38 (obese)
Thighs- Once a month
Tummy- Once a month
Hips- Once a month
Arms- Once a month
Minutes Exercised- 1 hour
Minutes Moved (family activities, cleaning, other stuff)- 0 hours

Power of Play #7

Playdoh Play, of course!





Puppet Shows Galore!






Car Village!

July 04, 2012

Goals for July

Mission of the Month



My Goals for the Month of June!


Spirituality

R.S. Lesson
Visiting Teaching
Attend Temple
Articles of Faith Visual For Kids
Read 200 pages in Old Testament



Personal

Keep up with Exercise Schedule
Lose 10 pounds
Read 5 books
Start a gratitude journal



Marriage

Plan weekly at home dates for Saturday
Couple's Prayer every night
Plan 2 surprises




Parenting


Start up Wednesday Walk again
Visit 4 new parks
Go to Zoo for reading accomplishments
Stretch Liberty Daily
Do something spontaneous and fun
Learn how to french braid Harmony's hair
Plan a silly dinner
Give paper work to Foster Care Agency



Homeschooling

Organize School Papers
Finish letter of the week with Nephi
Finish 50 States
Perfect Addition Facts with Liberty, Noah, Harmony (Faster)
Accomplish Library Reading Program
Continue Little House on the Prairie
Start Olympics Unit Study
Start Physical Fitness Program



Homemaking

Keep up with my chore chart/list every day (which means put laundry away!)
Hang up kids collections
Make Conversation Starter Jar for Dinner
Give Belle a Bath
Organize Filling Cabinet
Update Will



Friends/Extended Family

Call Sisters
Call Mom and Dad every Sunday
Write Brother
Call 3 far away friends
Invite a couple/family over for board games
Try to start a babysitting/swapping group



Financial

Stay within budget



Blog/Online Activity

Stay off of pinterest and facebook!
Blog at least four times a week for family history and self motivation

July 03, 2012

Top Ten: Advice for New Homeschoolers

Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings


#1 Don't forget to have FUN! Make it fun for you and the kids! It's always great when learning can be fun for the whole family.

#2 Every family is different! Don't worry about what other people are using for their methods or curriculum or even schedule. Just focus on your family and study out what your family needs. You are the mom and you know best so trust that intuition!

#3 Pray for direction, patience, strength, teaching skills and more. Never underestimate the power of prayer. You may even want to add it into your daily school routine. We pray before our lessons and after our lessons.

#4 Read lots of books! They will give you ideas as to methods, curriculum, learning and teaching styles and lead you towards a homeschool that best suits your family. I've listed my favorites below

"So you're thinking about homeschooling" by Lisa Whelchel
"Mary Pride's complete guide to getting started in homeschooling: a practical homeschooling book" by Mary Pride
"A Charlotte Mason Companion: personal reflections on the gentle art of learning" by Karen Andreola
"Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series" by Charlotte Mason
"How children learn" by John Holt
"Honey for a child's heart" by Gladys Hunt
"Dumbing us down: the hidden curriculum of compulsory education" by Taylor Gato
"Learning all the time" by John Holt
"The well adjusted child: the social benefits of homeschooling" by Rachel Gathercole
"Family matters: why homeschooling makes sense" by David Guterson
"A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver Van DeMille
"Educating the wholehearted child" by Clay and Sally Clarkson
"Last child in the woods" by Richard Louv
"The well trained mind" by Susan Wise Bauer
"The Three R's" by Ruth Beechick

#5 Avoid Burn-out by taking care of yourself and taking breaks when you or the kids need them! Exercising and making time for yourself makes a huge difference! If you or your kids could use a break then use a day to just reading or just science or just going to the museum. It's okay to do that.

#6 If your child is under the age of 5 you do not need a curriculum. Preschoolers will learn plenty by doing art, playing, cooking in the kitchen, reading books and doing some workbooks that focus on letters, numbers and shapes and doing a very simple letter of the week curriculum. Young kids will let you know when they are ready to take it to the next learning level.

#7 Homeschooling does NOT need to be expensive! In fact, it can be cheap! There are dozens of online curriculum and resources. Use the Library! It will become your best friend!

#8 If anything, focus on the three R's every day along with what they want to learn about! You may not be able to fit every subject in every day but you can focus on the main subjects every day! Which are arithmetic (math), reading, and writing! If you can fit those in every day you are doing great! I also like to add a little bit of what they like to learn about to keep it fun and to encourage future career minded goals.

#9 Don't be scared to change things up a bit. You will find that when you start you may not have found the exact method or known the exact learning style of your children. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can change things up a bit. Don't feel guilty that it didn't work as planned. Trust me, we've all been there!

#10 Remember, you are now known as the "odd ball" or "black sheep" so get used to it! You will have several people try to question your abilities and decision to homeschool. You will have some people think that you think you are better than them because you homeschool. You will have numerous amounts of strangers question you and your kids about socialization. Be strong and stand your ground, you can do it! It will get annoying but you will eventually get used to it sooner or later.

Good Luck! Have Fun!