Snow Days

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Last week, we experienced record lows, as did pretty much everyone else on the Eastern side of the US… Along with the below freezing temps came snow and ice… Kids everywhere celebrated because they got almost another week out from school, after only just finishing the Christmas or Winter break.

Well maybe not all kids. As we were still trying to ease back into our home school routine after the break, we hadn’t really gotten back into the swing of things when the snow started to fall. I have to admit, I was torn between trudging on the path of learning or joining our neighbors in a day of no school! That first day, the cold won out and as I snuggled deeper into my covers, thankful I didn’t have to go anywhere, I relished in not having to pull out a lesson plan or look at school work for one more day. (I was having just as much of a struggle as Kaira was in the getting back to school department.)

But then, there was no school again and I knew we couldn’t go another day of mind numbing nothingness, plus Kaira was starting to show signs of boredom, in the form of irritability. We had to do something. However, as the kids in the apartment above us seemed content to run up and down the hallway- ALL DAY, it didn’t seem like we would be able to get in a full day. It didn’t seem worth it to pull out the computer and the notebook if we weren’t really going to do anything with them.

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I wrote a book! It’s called Journey to Forgiveness .

Now that I am doing all things author (in addition to everything I was doing before), I have been spending a large amount of time in various author groups on Facebook. During a visit into one such group (read procrastinating on starting school), I stumbled upon an awesome gem!

A book for Kaira. I came up with the great idea of having Kaira read this book- her school for the duration of the snow days- and when she finished, she had to write a book review. This was an absolute win/win, because it gave me more time to get other things done and she wasn’t moping because ‘all the other kids didn’t have to go to school’ (even though they went countless times when she didn’t do school).

Without further adieu, here is Kaira’s Book Review

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Connect with the author or get purchase info here.

 

Did you like the book? Why or Why not?

Yes, I liked this book because it had adventure and funny moments in it. It also made me feel like I was one of the characters. My favorite character was Runa. She taught the rats how to be rats and she was one of the heroes. If this book is part of a series, I would love to read the other books.

Would you read other books by this author?

I definitely want to read all the books by this author.

Who should read this book?

I think tweens and teens who like adventures and animals should read this book. They will like this book because, [like me] they will feel like they are in the book and they will care for the characters, also.

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She loved it so much, she told the Gram about it!

Clearly, she loved this book and thinks you will too! I think the next thing I will have her do is come up with some interview questions and have her contact the author. I love the flexibility homeschooling has given us and the opportunity to experience the many different things she has experienced these last couple of months.

Did you guys have any snow days? Do you take them when it does snow? What do you do on snow days? Leave us a comment down below telling us all about your snow days! And as always, please be generous with those likes and sharing is caring- so share everywhere!

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Torn

worry Torn… that’s how I’ve been feeling these last couple of days, as a homeschool mom and teacher. Don’t get me wrong; this is not a post about me lamenting about how I am questioning our homeschool adventure decision. We have crossed that bridge and overcome those troubles and we are homeschooling with no regrets.

As many of you know, I love ‘our’ curriculum. I shout its praises fairly often- if you haven’t seen any of this praise shouting, stick around for a few and I am sure you’ll catch it. But, here I am torn between the curriculum we love and what exactly? We are fairly fortunate to live in a state that does not require us to keep track of days or hours homeschooled, but our beloved and CHOSEN curriculum is set up to accommodate the strictest of states. This means that there are 180 days of school provided within this wonderful resource. This is great, except for it isn’t, because those numbers have a tendancy to make me feel like we are behind schedule or that we aren’t doing or haven’t done enough.

For example, according to the school tracker, we are on day 48 of school. Public schools around here were on Day 61, before they broke for Winter Break…

We’ve been schooling since mid-August. In my mind’s eye (which admittedly, sometimes forgets that I am no longer a pre-school teacher in a highly structured facility), we have not been doing enough, we are behind and I am failing my child.  Do I insist my child double down, in order to ‘catch up’? How do I combat the feelings of being insufficient? What do I do? For a moment, I was torn with indecision and didn’t do anything.

 

In the end, I had a come to Jesus talk with myself. Homeschooling is not a numbers game. It isn’t a game at all. I am not competing against anyone- and neither are you, if you’re on your own homeschool jaunt.

It’s true, we’ve been schooling since mid August, but all of those days were not spent dedicated to a planned out curriculum. All of those days, however, contributed to who Kaira is and will be and her overall growth as a human being; and yes, learning was happening.

not all about books

All learning doesn’t come from books

Anyone can have a conversation with Kaira and know that she is learning. She can tell you what the inside of a horse’s mouth feels like; how the teeth are supposed to feel; how to tell if a horse has an infection or someother foot problem- all of this will help her as she persues a career as a veterinarian. She can tell you all about Penrod and Sam; she can tell you in glorious detail about most of our bodily systems and functions. Want to know about eye surgery on a cow? She can explain it to you. We will soon be taking a trip to see the Terracota Army and you guessed it, she could be the tour guide.

public speaking     This doesn’t even begin to uncover everything Kaira has experienced since mid-August, when our official journey began… She has been exposed to public speaking (of sorts) through Home School Open Mic and singing the National Anthem; she is active in her community through 4H and the list goes on and on.

It may not be education like most of us are used to or have experienced with public school, but it is education none-the-less. It was silly of me to have been tempted to relinquish our curriculum, because of a number. It seems rather fooloish to have wasted so much time on being torn between what to do about Kaira being behind, because clearly, she is not.

Here’s my take away and a lesson for you, if you’re new to homeschooloing or whatever. It isn’t a race to the finish. It is a journey and you and your child need to finish it however works for you guys- not how the world thinks or dictates you should. Also, everyone feels insecure at some point about their homeschooling decision and especially in reguards to whether or not they are failig their children. (And unless you have your child(ren) sit in complete silence without any stimulation, no one is failing their children.)

You’ve got this and so do I!     success

We would love to hear from you all about a time you felt torn in your homeschooling journey or even about all the things you have learned through a curriculum or not! Hit the like button ( especially if you sympahize with me about being torn…) And we are always appreciative of thsoe shares and follows!+

A Quick Trip to Ancient Egypt

A few weeks into our adventure, Kaira ‘discovered’ Ancient Egypt… Prior to our trip to Ancient Egypt, I had only seen a literal change in Kaira’s learning briefly- when relearning some math skills. This adventure was different, though. It wasn’t just the dawn of understanding finally happening after struggling for so long to grasp a concept… This was actual interest and a desire to learn something she had not previously been exposed to.

I loved every minute of seeing this exploration.

You guys already know, we are following the Easy Peasy curriculum, which I highly recommend and where our journey began. If you have visited the EP site, then you know things like science, history, Bible and Art are divided into Years… Ancient Egypt can be found in Year One. As I have said before, EP does not have to be used as a whole curriculum and can be used as individual courses, so if Ancient Egypt is on your radar, you should definitely check it out.

The only thing I did not like, as we were learning about Ancient Egypt was a video, which if memeory serves me correctly, was TWO HOURS LONG. This video was not a part of the EP curricula, but it was on one of the sites we visited for EP and because Kaira was so into learning about Ancient Egypt, she wanted to watch the video. When I got bored, about halfway through, and suggested we didn’t need to finish watching, she insisted we finish it, because she needed to know what happened.

I struggled through that video and didn’t fall asleep, because when you are the teacher and you arer invested in your child and you want to foster true learning and spend time with your kid- that’s what you do.

Ancient Egyptians are credited for being one of the first civilalizations to use a written language. Kaira had lots of fun learning about hieroglyphics. She especially liked writing ‘secret’ messages to family members via email and seeing if they could decipher them. (I can’t remember if this activity was in the EP lessons or if I added it as something extra, so if I added it as extra, now I’ve shared it with you and if I didn’t, well now you know that this activity was loads of fun!) Family memebers liked being included in Kaira’s learning process and were thrilled to learn along with her- as they had to study the hieroglyphics in order to communicate with her. Added bonus, this activity gave Kaira something to talk to older members of our family about, which fostered some always welcome communication among the generations. Yay.

Along with learning the written language, Kaira learned the process the Ancient Egyptians went through to make paper. Because obviously, you can’t have a written language with nothing to write it on, right? The paper making activity took a few days to fully make, but it was definitely worth it. I suggest you break out the newspaper and old clothes for this one. (This was when I realized that even in homeschool or maybe moreso in homeschool, an art shirt is necesasry, lol.)

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Be forewarned though- this stuff STINKS when it is drying! Also, I had to keep going back and peeling the paper off of the newspaper and paper towel so it wouldn’t stick to those things… This was a tedius process because you had to be extremely careful, otherwise you would rip the paper… I can’t even fathom the patience Ancient Egyptians had, having to do this over and over again.

After Kaira had completed EP’s unit on Ancient Egypt, I had a special project awaiting her. She mummified Barbie. I was able to expand the mummification of Barbie even further by having Kaira create Barbie’s tomb room (the inside of a pyramid), based on what she had learned and by having her come up with a story about the person in the sarcophagus. Kaira really showed how much she had learned- as opposed to the standard regirgitation of facts she had demonstrated for testing purposes during her pre home school years-  during the process of these activities. Weeks after beginning the Ancient Egypt unit and she was able to tell you ALL about Ancient Egypt and the Egyptians- without testing. In fact, for this project, the only time Kaira utilized Google or other research methods was to recall very specific details about how something looked or the specific details of a fact, but not the fact itself.

Unfortunately, our mummified Barbie began to mold after about a week of laying in her final resting place, so we had to throw her and the pyramid out. I am not sure if this is because we layed her on the sarcophagus before she was completely dry or if this is what happens in general, so take lots of pictures for memory’s sake. Also, everything purchased to use in these projects was purchased at the Dollar Tree (except for the shoebox, which we already had), so kudos to Dollar Tree, who  have quickly become my go to store when it comes to our homeschool adventure and the various projects we have completed thus far. I think I spent a total of $10, and I over bought items, due to being unsure of what exactly we would need, so this is really an affordable learning experience, as well as, a fun one!

THE STORY OF QUEEN EMERALD

                                        by Kaira

Queen Emerald worked on the mummies with her parents, but she they weren’t slaves, they were just really good at doing mummy things. When Emerald was a young girl, she fell in love with the Pharoah’s son. He noticed her and decided to marry her. A littel while after that, his parents died and he became Pharoah and she was Queen. Other countries wanted to control their land, so Pharoah had to go to war with them and he died in battle. Queen Emerald was still alive, so she took over ruling the land. She lived from 533 BC until her death in 300 BC.

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We had another activity to go along with this one, but we failed miserably at it. We believe learning happens all around us- in our successes and our failures, so we will include it here and encourage you to give it a try! We would also love to see pictures of your attempts on this or any of the projects we share with you!

We attempted to make a pyramid out of rice krispy treats… This did not work for us for two reasons: Kaira was gung ho and I was not in the moment. ( I think the babies needed my attention or maybe I was over mess making for the day…) Anyway, I wasn’t supervising the making of said treats and therefore directions weren’t followed as well as they should have been and we ended up with a giant mess- dry cereal all over the counters, stove and floor and a goopy, unedible something in the bowl…

Kaira had fun creating the mess, so I guess that counts for something, right?

Any way, after the treats are made, the idea is to form them into bricks- remember they don’t have to be perfect- and then begin to stack or construct them into a pyramid- much like the slaves would have done in ancient Egyptian times.

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Here’s a picture of the beginning of the attempt (before it became disasterous).

We hope you have enjoyed hearing about our adventure in Ancient Egypt! What has been your favorite thing to learn so far in your school? We would love to hear all about it, so leave us a comment, so we can chat! Also, we would be so appreciative if you helped us get the homeschooling adventure word out! Hit the like button AND share, share, share! See you next time!

The Percussive Effect

That’s what I’ve decided to call what the boys have been up to, also known as learning… But, I will get to that in just a second. 

I’ve been really trying to encourage Kaira to jump in and try new things, but when she asked me what new things I had tried, I had no answer to give… Now, I do. I’m trying my hand at a writing prompt. Today’s prompt is just one word. You guessed it, percussive.

According to Merrium-Webster, it is of or relating to percussion, especially; operative or operated by striking; having powerful impact. 

And that, my friends, is where the boys come in. I truly hope I am having a powerful impact on their little minds.

We have been up to a lot of fun things, like learning our ABC’s and counting- Quori refused to say any number other than 2, so the jury is still out on the success of that lesson, though, but both boys sing a song that has the tune of the ABC song, but without any recognizable letter sounds, it’s hard to tell.

I’m not worried and you shouldn’t be either, because this is what learning looks like in little two year old minds and it’s awesome!

We’ve also been working on saying our grace at meal Time. It is so neat to see them fold their tiny hands and thank God for their food, even though all they say right now is “Amen”.

Our gross motor skills are getting a workout, as well. We try to play out side EVERYDAY. Yes, even in the drizzle, I let them run around for a minute or two. If I didn’t do that, they would turn my furniture into their own personal gymnasium.

 

I try to do ‘school’ work with them once or twice a week with the boys and they seem to be really enjoying it. I’m convinced Quori will be an artist, as he loves to color and draw… 

That first picture is MY wall, courtesy of Quori, followed by other examples for his affinity for the arts…

While, I think Blue may be destined to be an architect, because he always wants to stack and build, knock down and repeat.  But, it’s early days yet, so who knows?

I have not forgotten my promise to get those lesson plans up and I hope to get them up soon… like before next year. I hope you’ve enjoyed the update on the boys and everything they have been, eagerly, I hope learning.

 Do you have any ideas to throw my way about teaching the boys? What about something we all can do and learn from (a 19 year old, 12 year old,  two 2 year olds and of course, me!) Leave a comment andet us know what you think we should study,earn or work on next. We hope that you will spread the love and share this article with your friends and on your social media pages and we’d love it if you could hit the like button for us, as well. We especially hope we are having the percussive affect on you and inspiring you to do something different in life or education!

THE LIEBSTER AWARD

A week ago, Kaira and I received the honor of being nominated for the Leibster Award by Morgan Isabella Shaw of Brains and Bodies blog. Of course, we graciously accept the nomination and want to thank Morgan, profusely. Please help us thank her by checking her out at Brains and Bodies, where you will get all kinds of insights on what it is like to live and function (especially as a college student) with a disability.

Don’t worry. We didn’t know what the Leibster Award was either. So, allow us to explain… The Leibster Award is a recognition to new bloggers, who have a following of less than 200. This provides a great opportunity for new bloggers, like us, to get some awesome exposure- with an outcome (hopefully) of building your numbers. Once a blogger received a nomination, the idea is that that person will then pick 5 to 11 new bloggers to receive the Leibster- and of course everyone nominated should be following the rules, lol. 

Thanks again, Morgan!

And now ensuring we follow the rules…

      OUR FAVORITE BLOG

Without a doubt, our favorite blogger is Shelly Sangrey, author of There’s No Place Like Home. Shelly is a momma of a bunch of kids and she is definitely who or what I would consider an expert in the field of homeschooling. Also, she is a follower and believer of Christ. When it comes to homeschooling, I trust her completely. Not to mention the awesome ideas she has. If you can’t tell, I kind of admire her- and I might secretly want to be just like her whenever I grow up. I could go on and on about the fabulous that is writer and homeschooler Shelly Sangrey, but in fear of being weird, I shall move on.

      ***TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME***

* I talk to dead people. (Not the crystal ball type of talking. More like the where do you come from, type of talking… In other words, I am a family historian/ amateur genealogist.

* I seem to collect kids- so, I don’t actually know how many I have. I have birthed 3, though.

* I am the oldest of three children.

* Even though I, myself, am an adult, I don’t think of my mom as ever getting older. So I am always amazed when I realize how old she actually is.

* I have a brain injury. I don’t remember anything, so if you tell me something and I don’t write it down, it is as good as you never told me. You’ve been warned.

* I always wanted to be a dancer in Broadway or a Rockette. (Sadly, though, I am 2.5 inches to short to even be considered for the Rockettes.)

* I know every word of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Little Mermaid. Are you shocked and amazed, yet?

* I know every single dance routine to the Newsies. (The original, not the Broadway come back.)

* I have only bought one Lotto ticket in my life and someone had to show me how to play.

* All of my natural born children have names that begin with the letter K.

      11 Questions Morgan Asked Me

1.What hobby/skill do you want to learn?

I have always wanted to learn how to crochet. (But, I have so much going on in life right now that I would be crazy to take on another ANYTHING right now)

2. What is your biggest fear?

I try not to live my life with any type of fear, but if I had to name something that I am fearful of, it would be raising my boys in the environment that is the USofA right now and the possible negative outcomes that could be associated with those social engagements. (I hope I put that nice enough to not offend anyone and direct enough that I have conveyed my meaning clearly.)

3. What made you begin blogging?

 I started blogging (about homeschooling) because I am so in love with this journey that I wanted to share it with the world. I also try to find and use free or nearly free resources, especially due to my current life situation and I wanted an outlet to share with others how homeschooling is possible without spending tons and tons of money. What pushed me over to the blogging side of homeschool, ultimately, was the amount of inquiries I was getting in my Facebook inbox regarding how to get started or how to do it.

4. Who is your biggest inspiration and why?

My mom is my biggest inspiration. She has been through so much over the last 20+ years and she has soldiered onward. She has taught me how to keep going at life, even when life throws curve balls and you don’t have any bats in hand.

5. What are your three favourite films and why?

I don’t actually have favorite films… I don’t watch a whole lot of TV, including movies. I enjoy a good movie, but I’m not sure any of them rate as a favorite. Newsies, of course is up there with movies that I would watch over and over. Come to think of it, so is The Princess Bride. I don’t know that there are any others…

6. What is your biggest achievement? 

My biggest achievement, would be the right I took on a few years ago, for the children (students) of Richmond, Virginia and their well-being within that school system. During this process, I was able to meet some great people in the advocacy field and I learned how to be a true advocate for myself and others. It was on this journey that I discovered who I am on the world of advocacy. So that’s my greatest achievement, because I feel like that experience enabled me to be in the place I am in currently in this thing called life.

7. Where is on your travel list for 2018 and why?

The beach. I don’t care if I don’t get to go to any other place, as long as I can get to the beach. It is the happiest place on Earth, in my opinion.

8. Are you more of a peoples or animals person?

It depends on what day you ask me. Most of the time, I am hands down a people person. I love talking to people and finding out what makes them tick. I also love pushing and motivating people to their next level in life. Generally speaking, I LOVE PEOPLE. Except when I don’t. (Don’t act like you have never been completely peopled out.) When I have had enough of the people for a bit, I seek out my cat, TigerLilly or our horse, Buttons. They both just intuitively know how to soothe and calm my soul.

9. What do you hope to achieve from your blog? 

World Domination. 

Seriously, I wrote for the joy of writing and hopefully to encourage Kaira to write with a better grasp of the English language and how to utilize it with all of its neat little grammar rules and regulations. I would also love to have a solid group of people who read my blog and are able to take something away from our homeschool journey or add to it in some form or fashion. That would be awesome. In some recessed portion of my brain, I also think it would be spectacular if I gained this awesome following and was able to turn my blog into my income. 

10. What is your hidden talent?

I’m a mom, isn’t that talent enough? Seriously, though, I love to sing and at times am able to carry a melodic tune. *Insert sarcastic curtsy here*

11. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a blog?

DO IT. Don’t stop to overthink it or worry about the gazillion what ifs that could happen. Just jump in and START.

And now, 11 Questions for my nominees… 

1. If you could introduce your child or children to any ONE person (past or present) to learn ONE lesson, who would that person be and what would the lesson be?

2. What does your dream home look like and where is it?

3. Outside of family and your job or extra curricular activities, how do you define yourself?

4. If people only read one of your posts, what post should they read and why?

5. What is the greatest lesson you have ever learned?

6. Who is your super hero and why?

7.  Burgers or Salads?

8. Around the world in 80 days, where are your must stop destinations?

9. Why do you blog?

10. What is your passion?

11. What’s the best book you ever read and why?

NOW, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, HERE ARE THE NOMINEES! (drum roll, please 🥁)

Gemma Hartnick Tilley of Chief Squirrel 

Sarah of  Holistic Homeschooler

(Kaira’s Nomination) My Mom! Divine Ms Kim’s Time Travel

Nadine Best at Making Her Mama

Jenny, creator of Faith and Good Works

Joanna Myers and  Just the Mini Mom

KP Hari with Keralot Inspiresd

Carley, A.K.A Mrs. Pigeon’s Coop

Samantha Hughes of The Mouse Ear Life

Chelle Ramsey of Chelle Ramsey

Jennifer from Adventures in Mommy Life

The Classroom

A few weeks before we were due to start our official homeschool journey, I committed a gregarious error. That is, I made a huge mistake. I went on the internet and looked to see what other homeschools looked like- because I wanted to make sure I was ‘doing it right’. My first mistake was thinking there was a ‘right’ way to homeschool, but I didn’t comprehend or realize this right away. I became obsessed with all of the beautiful pictures of other’s homeschool classrooms. You can see some of those classroom pictures, here. There is no denying, they are beautiful- if that is your thing.

For awhile, I was pretty bummed. We live in an apartment and we don’t have the room to have a dedicated school classroom and call it selfish or whatever, but I was also not willing to restructure either the dining room or the living room into a school room. I’ve done that before, when I did in-home pre-school… I dedicated what should have been the master bedroom to our pre-school room and it was fabulous and great. Truthfully, if I had the room now, I am not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing- especially for the boys. What can I say? The Early Childhood Educator in me loves a well set up and functioning classroom.

But we’re talking about our homeschool classroom, aren’t we? Thankfully, God placed someone in my path to get me off of that rack fairly quickly. She reminded me through a facebook post to not get envious of what other people are doing. Duh. One of the many reasons we are homeschooling is to get away from the one size fits all type of education public school was giving Kaira. So, why was I so concerned about what other people were doing? Also, from the beginning I have been pretty adamant about staying away from anything that screamed school. So, why was I obsessed with how a classroom should look?

We do not have a classroom. You may recall me sharing a few pictures of how we homeschool in The First Week of School. Here are a few more to show how we keep track of things…

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As you can see, I back tracked slightly on the turning the dining room into a classroom. It has always acted as central office- with the printer homed there, but now, it also includes the school/art supplies, too. On the secretary desk, we have all of the pencils/pens/crayons, notebooks and small art/craft supplies. The globe is also there (because it won’t stay hung in the air, as we would prefer it to do.) Also sitting on the desk are rulers, hole punch (3 punch and single punch). In the pink basket is the boy’s ‘work’ for the week and coordinating lapbook. (Currently, there is only one lapbook, bear with us, we are just starting out- it should eventually be filled with pre preschool lapbooks.) Hidden in the drawers of the desk are things like stamps, thumb tacks, staples, dry erase markers, paper clips/clamps and labels. Underneath of the desk, is a 3 drawer plastic container, which houses tissue paper/paper bags/ plastic cups and other decorative art supplies in the first drawer; glue ( we have tons of glue, from glue sticks to rubber glue to spray on glue, we’ve got it all) in the second drawer and paint in the bottom drawer. The printer station, is now home to all of the paper- construction, foam, print, sparkle, card stock, laminating, graphing, etc. ( I am amazed at how much paper we have and yet I can ALWAYS use more… for something…) The cabinet under the printer is designated for our important files as well as extra folders and binders we have collected over the years. Beside the printer, you will find our laminator and wood writing tools. Next to the printer cabinet (also under the desk), is the sensory bucket- it is currently empty, but has already housed water for water play and will house rice and other materials in the coming months. Finally, there is a box in front of the white plastic drawers that is where we place all of those newspapers and advertisements that come to us in the mail ( we’ve got to keep my table looking pretty, somehow!) The wall (only one) has also become a part of our homeschool. BUT, it isn’t a takeover. We find it to be a happy medium. Hopefully, as we progress into the year, it will remain as such. Especially since I can tend to be a hoarder when it comes to school work or art displays… The living room definitely doubles as a playroom, lol! (I have always been particular about the toys in my home, so everything presents an opportunity for learning, in some way or another. There are things for gross motor skills and cognitive awareness and so forth… Hidden by the lamp is our sidewalk chalk and on the white bookshelf are our games- and the overflow of books from the hallway. The bookshelf in the hallway houses books and pictures (of course) AND it is home to all of the school things we have collected over the years (when Kaira, Kayla and Kyle were in public school and people would give the/me things to help them over the summer, or what have you). We use those things from time to time, but not as frequently as those things on or near the desk… Finally, there is the kitchen…. Surprised to find that I included a picture of my kitchen in pictures about my homeschool set up? You shouldn’t be. Lots of learning takes place there! Whether it is water play, a cooking activity or simply doing the dishes- someone is learning in there!

But don’t get caught up in what our homeschool looks like! One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can tailor it to the specific needs of your child or children. There isn’t a this is how it should be done rule/handbook.

Here are a few things that I think are handy to remember when homeschooling, but these are for practicality reasons and NOT because you have to do them. (In fact, I am sure others would take from or add to this list!)

  • Know where your school things are (this cuts down on the stress associated with not being able to find something)
  • Have a plan ( it doesn’t have to be written out in a beautiful planner or in a notebook and it can be as simple as knowing what you want to teach or have your kids learn over a given period of time- day/week/month/year; at the bare minimum, I would suggest a check list)
  • Be flexible. (Nothing ever goes according to plan. Being fluid and going with the flow cuts down on stress for both you and your child/children and actually helps lessons to be learned more quickly than if the signs of stress or feelings of being rushed were present)
  • Enjoy every moment of it. (This is a great time between you and your little people, even though it doesn’t always seem that way. And why would you do anything, if you didn’t enjoy what you are doing?)
  • Messes are okay. (This is something you should get used to- especially if you have a tiny apartment and creative brain like me. I have learned to live with the mess during the day, because I know lots of learning is happening and then clean things up at night to start all over again in the morning…)

So, that’s it. I hope these homeschool tips will help you on your own homeschool journey- whether you have been on it for a while or are just starting out! Let us know if you have any this works best tips or this failed miserably for us stories in the comments! We can’t wait to hear them! We would also love to see pictures of your homeschool set up! Why does it work for you? Has it always been this way or do you change it up from time to time?

I recently joined a fabulous group of women, who are sharing some wonderful advice on homeschool organization. I would love for you to join me in checking each of them out!

blog party

It’s not to late for you to join the party!

Check out these great blog stories on homeschool organization!

They Call Me Blessed 

The Musings of Mum

Lit Mama Homeschool

Thrive Homeschooling

Deliberate Homeschooling

Ranching with Kids

Making her Mama

Plum Cheeky Solutions

Unhurried Home

Ana Willis

Bethany Ishee

Kingdom First Homeschool

 

Car Rides Tell All

car ride Yesterday, Kaira and I were riding in the car, taking care of some errands- when I turned the radio down, thinking it would be a great time for us to connect with each other. Normally, when I do this, I get a typical pre-teen eye roll, an exaggerated Mooooom, an attempt to readjust the volume- with an attitude to follow for good measure. Yesterday, though, God had mercy on me and non of that happened.

You know what did happen? We talked. We had genuine- more than yes or no/one word answer- conversation. It was a real treasure for me. The topic of conversation? School. Again, under ‘normal’ circumstances, this alone would have been cause for attitude. God was really blessing me, because there was no attitude, no eye roll, no nothing. Only us conversing.

Here are the questions I asked Kaira and her responses. (Yes, I know it reads like an interview. I typed it that way, so Kaira could type her answers.)

How are you liking school so far and what is your favorite thing about school so far?

Surprisingly, I am actually mostly liking school. My favorite thing is getting to wear my pajamas to school. Except on Tuesday when we have our breakfast with all the other home school people. I like that I school can be mobile, like if I have an appointment, I can just take the computer and my notebook with us and turn on the hot spot and do work. But if I was in public school still, it would be an absence and I wouldn’t be able to take it with me like that.

***the breakfast, she is referring to is The Not Back to School Breakfast for home schooling families in the RVA area. If you are in the area and want to come, please shoot me an email  and I will make sure you get all the details!***

What do you mean, mostly liking school?

Well, I do really like it, except sometimes I feel rushed. But I know I’m not really rushed, it’s just sometimes I feel like I am. But I know it is my fault I am feeling rushed. If I would just do my work when I get up, instead of at night-time, then I wouldn’t feel rushed.

So, what do you think should be done about this?

I think I should start getting up and just doing my work instead of keep on putting it off and then I have to do it when I am tired.

What have you learned so far, that you like the most/least?

[laughing] Poetry and the embalming! Wait, can I say the embalming is my least favorite and history is my favorite? [A nod from me] But also science is my favorite some too. I really like making a skin model. And I am even getting pretty good at math, even though I wasn’t that great at it in public school. I actually like everything about school, really.

I didn’t get video of her response to watching the embalming, but I did get video of her watching a real knee surgery for science, which is just as fantastic!

Do you like it better when you sit and do math with me, so I can kind of tell if you are getting frustrated or do you like doing it by yourself?

I like doing it with you. I like how you don’t yell at me and tell me I have to hurry up and that I can take my time and we don’t rush and we don’t move on until I get it.

Cool.

I’m sure we talked about other things, but those were the things that stuck out in my head, and grabbed hold of my mom brain. She is learning and retaining things and it is so awesome to see happening right in front of me.

This wasn’t a part of out car ride conversation, but it was another moment that made me proud to be her mom and since it fit in with today’s post, I wanted to share it with you all. As a part of her Bible lesson, she had to read Mathew 8 and then answer the question, “would you rather be poor or rich?” and then identify what she believed the most important lesson from the reading was.

This was her response-

Yep. I am blessed to have her as a daughter.

 

What ‘ah-ha’ moments- as Oprah calls them- have you had? We would love to hear about them! If this post encouraged you or made you smile or chuckle, please share and like this also!

Is This Really a Good Idea???

Every. Single. Day. I have asked myself if homeschooling was really a good idea. I have worried that I have bitten off pounds more than I can carry. I think I gained 50 more prominent grey hairs. There have been tears- lots of them. I mean big fat tears, the result of which can only come from hard, ugly crying. This week has not been the yellow brick road of adventure it is supposed to be.

Obviously, I thought about scrapping this adventure entirely. I think I uttered the words, “you will go back to public school”- no less than one hundred times. I do not jest or exaggerate. Nothing seemed to go as planned (at least not to my very need to have and be in control mind).

I talked to God several times about this mission. Thankfully, He would not allow me to abort. I am also really grateful to the many home school groups I belong to on social media, because that is definitely a supportive tribe. An important note here: if you are homeschooling, you’ve got to get yourself a tribe. Your tribe will be more valuable than silver, gold or frankincense, I guarantee it.

Anyway, back to this week… I had planned on starting pre pre-school with the boys Monday. Except, I never finished my lesson plan. Now, I know they are just barely almost two and don’t need a full day of structure. BUT. I need a plan. Lesson plans are for me like GPS is for you… So, I NEED them. Even if they are just a quick at a glance look at the things I want the boys to know. Here it is Friday and I still haven’t finished them or even really looked at them, since Sunday. Hopefully, this weekend will yield some time to get this done and we will really start on Monday.

We might not have had everything planned out and I was probably pulling things out more for this will entertain you value and less for this is going to help you learn this specific thing. but we made it through. And believe it or not, they had fun, didn’t pick up on my stresses and learned some things! Imagine that.

They played in the water tub on my kitchen floor- so they were learning math (weights and pouring, as well as sinking and floating); since they are not quite two, they also had lots of fun splashing the water everywhere, including onto each other and the entire floor. Which of course means they learned how to clean up spills with towels. Another time, I sat them in their respective chairs and they colored… (so they learned to be creative, use those fine motor skills and more, I’m sure). We went outside and drew with chalk and kicked and threw some balls. They were able to run around (gross motor skills, hand eye coordination, etc.). Finally, we read books. lots and lots of books. We are building book lovers and language usage.

Another helpful tidbit: you are doing enough, so stop doubting yourself. You got this home school thing, I promise!

As for Kaira, I was convinced that we had to stay on this schedule (one that lives only in the recesses of my brain), a perfect timeline if you will. (Learned this pretty quickly: there is no such thing as a perfect time line.) Except, I’m pretty sure Kaira never got that memo and if she did, she hardly cared. It was definitely a rough and rocky start, as I may have already mentioned…

When I asked her today, how she thought it went, her response was, “it was actually, fairly good.” Hmmph. Next time I will take pictures of her crocodile tears… But, like with the boys, we somehow pulled through. I am not a night owl. I would much rather be up early and in bed early… You just know God is a jokester, when I tell you Kaira is a night owl and doesn’t do very well with early wake up calls… The first few nights of this week, we did school at night; very near to midnight and beyond, actually. I am not built for that lifestyle, I promise. So, I imposed a bed time of sorts… Instead of laying down the long arm of the law, I simply informed Kaira that she needed to be ready to start school by 9:30 every day. Telling her this was great, because she still has control over what time she goes to bed, but also makes her aware of the expectation. (I also had to set everyone else in the house straight- just because Kaira is here, doesn’t mean that it is play time all day, everyday. School needs to be respected. Doing that, eliminated some of the grumpiness and complaints, also. Here is yet another tip for you: it is okay to compromise. Set the expectation and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.

Again, this was a process and I am convinced pulling teeth might have been easier, initially. We aren’t quitters, so we kept plugging away. (This is kind of what we do in life, anyway, right? Keep going when it gets tough.)

I am so glad we did. We had great fun. (By we, you must know that Kaira did the work and I enjoyed her enthusiasm.) We did not go out to view the solar eclipse, but we did watch NASA TV for no less than four hours- resulting in Kaira already planning out her trip when she is 19 to see totality. (There is a lesson in this, also, my good people. All TV isn’t bad.) Kaira made a skin model. She created AND designed it. She made papyrus-like paper. (It stinks to high heaven during the drying process, by the way.) She created art on canvas. (I didn’t even know she liked art and here again, she hand drew something and then painted it, with absolutely zero instruction from me.) She painted a rock and she watched a video on the ancient Egyptian’s embalming process. As if that weren’t enough fun, she ASKED for a science project to do once she finishes the bone/muscle unit. This was truly an exciting development. The lesson in all of this? Allow your child/children to be creative. They just might surprise you!

We also knew when to throw in the towel- one assignment had us go to the store and try to see if the store’s unit pricing was the same price we came up with. It was marked as a challenge… As for the challenge, itself- we failed. But, we gave it a valient effort and are proud of the teamwork we put in. We didn’t stress over not getting it and we didn’t keep trying to beat a dead horse. We just moved on. You guessed it, another tip: it is okay to fail; it is okay to move on and trying is learning.

All in all, our week was hugely successful despite what we (read: I) believed were major disasters during our journey….

Have you started school? What bumps in the road, if any, have you run into? How did you get over them them? Do you have any tips to share? We’d love to hear it all! Leave us a comment with all the “gory” details and if it’s not to much trouble, please hit those like and share buttons for us!

The First Week of School

back to school

We know everyone has been anxiously waiting to hear all about our first day of school and we are excited to share it with you- so your waiting is over!

Enjoy the adventure!

Monday

kaira school 2.jpg

It is the first day of school! Things could not have gone any smoother! (By the end of the week, I would look back on Monday and wonder if it was a dream or if it had really happened…)

Kaira woke up (ON HER OWN) around 9. a.m- as planned and wanted to get started right away. As excited as I was at her energy, I wanted to sort of establish a quazi routine, so I marched her off to eat breakfast and take care of her hygiene before we started school. (Rest assured, though, I am fairly certain that there will be more days than not where school happens in our pajamas, but for today, she needed real, going outside clothes on.)

After all this, we got to work. Kaira did school and I cleaned the house. When she finished her work, she came to me and we talked about the things she had either read or learned about. She had to write her own poem; we discussed the meaning of a poem; she read the Bible and discovered the lineage of Joseph… It was great to relate this to the genealogy/family history work I do within our own family (if you are interested in reading about that, you can do so, here) and we may have even went off on a slight tangent, that I may be writing about on my other Blog, soon- but that is the awesomeness of homeschooling! You have time to explore the tangents and things that really interest your child, all while learning!

Monday’s ‘school day came to a close a mere two and a half hours after it had began… I can’t believe we learned/covered so much in that amount of time! It was awesome and Kaira enjoyed having the rest of the day to do and explore whatever she desired. She went to an appointment and when she came home, she was eager to practice the piano- a new skill she is learning!

Tuesday

I should have told Kaira that just because she was not going to public school didn’t mean that she didn’t have a respectable bed time. BUT. I didn’t. Instead, I told her that she had to get up in the morning to do do school, because she had things to do with 4 H at noon  and yet another appointment in the afternoon. I thought that was enough… that is what I get for thinking, though. Kaira had great fun staying up on Monday night (I think I woke up around 2 am and told her to take her behind to bed), so she didn’t wake up early, bushy tailed and bright eyed- as she had the day before. She woke up around 10:45, grumpy, because the babies were actually the ones who woke her. She was cranky and she definitely was not in the mood for school. My suggestion? Eat breakfast and do some math while she ate- that way she wouldn’t have to do it later on in the evening… This worked and she eventually came out from under the cloud of grumpiness. We made it to her 4 H activity and her afternoon appointment. But we still had babies running around, so it wasn’t calm until 8 or 9 and that is when Kaira finished the rest of her school for the day. She wasn’t to upset about it at first, but then she decided she was tired and that she didn’t want to do anymore work… She skipped out on her science (which I discovered later) and may have only just skimmed over other parts of school for the day. Hmmm… This was definitely something I would have to think on in the future in order to keep this from happening again…

Wednesday

kairachool4

 

NO SCHOOL TODAY!!! Well, school in the traditional sense that you are thinking, anyway. Today, Kaira went to a behind the scenes day camp at the Richmond Metro Zoo,  where she was able to learn about the care of the animals and other things about zoo operation and of course- she also had some fun!

This is another benefit of homeschooling. Kaira has decided that she wants to be a veterinarian, so as a homeschool student, we are able to find activities and lessons that will help her reach her goal of being a veterinarian, WHILE she is learning, having fun and doing ‘normal’ school things.

In Kaira’s words…

We fed the rhinos, well not actually fed them, because they are dangerous. We just put the hay out for them. I touched a snake and an iguana and the giraffes and goats and penguins. We got to see the baby animals and the birds that are walking around can’t fly away because their wings are clipped. We did the zip line and I was scared at first, but I just took a deep breath and told myself “you can do this” and I did it. I’m glad I did it, because it was fun. I can’t wait to go back next year! Oh and I got to touch a parrot and feed the birds and some kids sat on the tortoise, but I didn’t. Next year, I am going to take a picture with the parrot.

Can’t you just hear the excitement in her writing voice? I am excited for next year already, as well. I am already looking for other things she can do also (both now and in the future)- especially because I think after next year, she will age out of the camp… Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions!

Thursday

 

I woke up sick as five dogs. Bless her heart, Kaira jumped in and watched the babies for me so I could stay in bed. She is wonderful in this way. Unfortunately, it also meant that she didn’t get any school done in the morning, as we had planned. This was okay, though, because babies take a nap, right? To my sick and weary mind, this was a great plan… To Kaira, it meant nap time for her, too. I guess my words, “Now that the babies are sleeping, go ahead and get your school done” were muddled or lost in translation… Needless to say, not much got done. Actually, NOTHING got done and I had a bit of a public school moment; where I freaked out because Kaira hadn’t done her school work. It wasn’t pretty and it ended in me having to apologize to her afterwards… Learn from my experience folks- just keep your mouth shut and let it go, sometimes, because it is okay.

Anyway, that’s how Thursday ended. So much for great laid plans, huh?

Friday

I still wasn’t feeling the best, but we both woke up ready to tackle this day of school work. As I mentioned previously, we are following a curriculum- but it isn’t a very rigid, set in stone curriculum. It is a 180 days worth of school, so we have the freedom to school whenever… However, I know me and I need to stick to some sort of routine or it will never get done, because it will always be pushed to the back burner…

So, school it was. Kind of. It was the dentist, first. Then by the time we got home, I was drained and I needed a nap. And Kaira ‘enjoyed’ the babies for me… Then we were ready for school around 3 in the afternoon. With Kaira sitting on my bed and the babies playing all around us, we got to school stuff…

We managed to finish and catch up on a lot of the things Kaira had skipped or not done. It was great. I decided that when she came back from camp (she comes back on Thursday) we would finish what we hadn’t gotten to and then move on. Another pro for homeschooling.

It isn’t always pros, though… Math. Ugh. We got stuck on her math. We had to call in reinforcements. I have taken it to Facebook and I will take it to the math wiz at church… I am determined to find the solution and know how to teach it to her when she comes back. I guess, homeschooling isn’t always the child learning. Sometimes, it is parent and child learning together. The great thing that did come out of this was that Kaira was able to see me not know something and as frustrated as I was at not grasping it, thankfully- this time- I handled it right and now she knows that you don’t have to let it get the best of you and that it is perfectly acceptable to ask for help; it is also perfectly alright to take a break and come back to something that is frustrating you. Which is what we did. We are taking a week long break from math- well, at least she is. I am still here trying to figure it out. I would love your insight! Here is the video we watched. (Keep in mind that we DO UNDERSTAND cross multiplying. It is all the other stuff he did that we had the deer in the headlights look with.)

math problem

And this is the problem that has seemingly outwitted us… along with the response we were given when we entered what we thought was the obvious answer.

On the other side of this coin, she was really into the history and we spent 45 minutes watching a video on the pyramids and how engineers were on a race to save the oldest pyramid in Egypt fro m falling to the ground. (Spoiler alert- it didn’t fall)

So, all in all, this was a pretty good first week of school. We learned a bunch of new things- and we are excited to see what comes next! I, especially, have learned that Kaira needs to be on some kinds of routine and as much as I want to leave the formal school structure behind us, some of that isn’t necessarily a  bad thing. I also learned how to start a Facebook group and did for my fellow African American home schoolers in Central VA and surrounding areas… Please join us if you’d like.

So, how did you spend your week? Have you started school? How is school going? We can’t wait to hear all about your own home school adventures! We want to hear from you and we would love it if you gave us a like, share or even a follow!