Tough times? Don’t Despair!

The beauty of fall is here! I’m loving it, how about you? Cooler days, beautiful sunshine, and lovely leaves all make for one of the best seasons…  if it wasn’t for the frustration with some of our homeschool curricula.  How about you? Does the fall often bring with it a little disenchantment with the new homeschool curricula you thought was going to solve all your problems? Yeah, that happens here too!

It’s easy to get desperate when things seem to be an uphill battle every day, but don’t despair. There are solutions out there that will help you get out of the rut you’re in and on the road to enjoying this amazing fall!

  1. Take inventory. Don’t let another day pass you by without checking into “Why” you are frustrated. Take a few minutes to write everything down. Then take another few minutes to write down the things that would make you happy right now.
  2. Look at that list – is there anything on it that you can change now? Is there anything that you don’t have to live with? Is there any way to incorporate the things on your “happy” list? There are times when it’s the curricula that is the source of frustration.  Don’t hesitate to make an adjustment. So often we believe the lie that we have to live with a bad choice simply because it cost a lot of money. If this is the source of your despair – ditch that bad choice and move on to greener pastures. Are you worried about the cost? Ah, dear friend  -please don’t! Enduring every day with stress and frustration is much more costly in the long run.
  3. Look at other options. There are so many great resources out there for homeschoolers, it’s often surreal. If you’ve spent all your budget on a curriculum that just didn’t work – explore free or low-cost homeschool alternatives. Downside: free often involves a lot of planning and organizing.
  4. Lighten your load. If you’ve been stressed and are about to give up homeschooling completely, it may be time to find a way to lighten your load. Each homeschool curricula require some level of parental time investment. That time requirement can range from a few minutes a week to hours each day. If you’ve been stressed, it may be best to consider options that are less of a time investment. Don’t worry, you’re children will not suffer. That’s another misconception we parents tend to believe… if we aren’t loaded down teaching our children every aspect of their schooling something will suffer. Not true! There are good online homeschool curriculum options that take a load of grading and record keeping off of your shoulders so you can enjoy discovery, learning, and all of the joyful things that come from being a homeschool parent.
  5. Find joy.  Find something every day that causes you joy and relish in that moment. Remember, it’s the little things that mean so much. Savor the goodness of that thing and take it one step further  – say it out loud. “This is such a beautiful day!” “Chloe you’ve done so well today on your spelling – let’s go take a walk together and enjoy the sunshine.” Relish those moments, and you’ll feel the despair begin to lift.
Practical Tips for Back to School

Practical Tips for a Great Back to School

School is pretty much underway across the United States and with all of us trying to get into the new routine there’s alot to be said for getting things to run smooth. I know, some days you just need a “do over”, but most of the time there are things you can put into practice that will help the day work better.

I’ve learned over the years with my six children that if I want things to go smoothly, then I need to be proactive. Easy – smooth flowing days don’t just happen. But, if I’ve put a few things into practice before the day starts then most often (notice – I didn’t say always!) our day ends up great!

Make a Check List for both you and the kids. We love the curriculum that we use currently. It offers a weekly planner that I can create for the entire year that pulls vacations and weekly breaks. It brings together everything they need to do for the day to complete their assignments, and then I add a check sheet for additional items such as timed reading, online geography, and even their online spelling assignments.Practical Tips for Back to School

Plan Ahead the night before. I know sometimes you don’t feel like it. But, take a minute before you head to bed and make sure everything is ready to roll for the next day!

Get into the routine of each day. Your check sheets that you’ve made will help with this. Instead of answering the “what do I do now?” question a hundred times a day, your kids will follow the check sheet and soon it will become habit. Make yourself a check list too – be sure to include work, home, and homeschool tasks.

Get enough rest. I know everyone says “get your 8.” Well, listen to them. Your kids need at least 8 hours, maybe more if they are growing fast. I know I need 8 or I get a headache. So, listen to your body, get the rest you need. You’ll find it gives you a bit more patience when you hit that terrible math lesson! BUT, the hard part is going to bed. I find that I love the quiet after the kids are in bed… but I can stay up half the night enjoying that quiet. So, for me it takes extra work to shut everything off and head to bed in time to get my 8 hours.

Question your time. Sometimes we lose time on silly things, often it’s social media, email, or even TV.  Cut back on all those time wasters, and limit yourself especially during the school day. Limit your email inbox checking to about 5-10 minutes each day. I try to avoid social media  – even though my work requires some time on social media channels I try to remind myself frequently to stay on task and FOCUS!

Some of these may seem so simple, but they can be life changing! Take one at a time and add them to your day. If you need help with a daily check sheet. Here’s a copy of our check sheet.

 

 

 

Back to School?

Is it really time for school… again?

Back to School?Okay – I have to admit that I look forward to vacation breaks from school just as much as the children do.  I have always looked forward to the breaks – even when I was a teacher.  I can remember feeling almost giddy after sending home all those wild first graders on the last day of school.  I have relished every moment of this summer vacation. Well, today it hit me – –  time is almost up.  I know, I really don’t want to remind myself.  Yet, in the back of my mind I have purposed that in this new year we will get a new start and hopefully a better go at things.

I am proud of the distance that the children have come in the last year, but know that we have gotten slack in some areas.  I guess my new  resolution would be to improve the “slack” areas, make sure Chloe really “gets” her multiplication tables, help Jordan get over the hump in Algebra I, show Slater how to write a research paper for the first time, and go on MORE field trips. I don’t know – maybe I shouldn’t make it such a tall order, but I have always been one for making big goals.

The new year is always a great time for a fresh start, especially when things seem to be too difficult to manage.  Homeschooling is no different. So often, by the end of summer, we feel like we are being dragged in to work.  I am sure that many of you feel the same way. Well, take heart! Look at the new year as an opportunity – a new book with no writing – – yet!  Start over – do whatever it takes to renew your outlook and encourage yourself and the children.  In other years I have been so discouraged with how the curriculum went that I completely changed what we were doing.  If you are feeling desperate – do something drastic.  I have found that a drastic change really perks the kids up too!

Personally, this past year went pretty well so for us so we will just tweak our program a bit and perhaps change our schedule.  Just a little “new” makes it more exciting to the children as well. I look forward to the fresh start – and new outlook.  Wherever you are on your homeschooling  journey – take advantage of the new beginning. It may make all the difference in the world, and by the way Monday morning will be here before we know it!

Where’s Your Summer Bucket List?

Summer Bucket List How to!I know we’ve heard a lot about bucket lists… but you’ve got to admit kids love making them. It’s almost like a wish list for doing things with your family and you can’t get much better than that! We’re suggesting you use the bucket list as a summertime way to get your kiddos writing and thinking. Here are ideas for making that creative bucket list for summer learning fun!

  1. Start by making the bucket list a way to have your kiddos use their writing and language skills. (sneaking it in!)
  2. Have some paper and colorful markers or pencils and stickers. (It’s gotta be fun!)
  3. Start by giving them 3 different sheets of paper. Tell them to make a list of crafts or things to do at home (watercolor, make cards), things to do away from home (feed the ducks), and places to visit (the kid’s museum in the next town over). Encourage them to make it as realistic as possible.
  4. Once they’ve made their 3 lists, have them review it and make sure it’s all things that mom and dad would actually do. Then have them compile their list onto one sheet with check boxes beside each item.
  5. Once they finish, have them decorate their bucket list!

For more bucket list ideas visit this cool collection of summer bucket lists.

Play fun summer vocabulary games!

Superheroes come in all sizes

Superheroes come in all sizes!

We all know how much children love super heroes. They are symbols of strength, justice, and good in an otherwise decrepit world. Superheroes can be much more than just a cartoon or a movie. Since superheroes are an awesome motivational tool why not use them to get your kiddos learning? Here’s a collection of some of our favorite superhero resources.

How Superheroes can inspire student to write

Superhero Writing

 

 

 

 

Be A Superhero with Spelling City Games

Game List

 

 

 

 

You Don’t Always Have to Be A Superhero

No Superhero Moms

 

 

 

 

 

Superheros Myths

Play Learning Games to Be a Smart Superhero

 

3 Things You Can’t Miss This Summer

3 Things You Can't Miss this Summer!For a long time summer learning was associated with punishment. Those who didn’t do well in school had to attend. But, today the education community at large is realizing that summer learning is far from a punishment but more of a necessity.

Research over the past 100 years proves the fact that summer slide exists and typically takes approximately 2 months of math skills and for lower income students 2 months of reading skills from their overall achievement. This in turn causes the teacher or parent to do a review every fall.  What if we changed that up and did something to keep from sliding at all?

What if I told you it only took about 30 minutes a day 5 days a week to keep away that “summer slide?” It’s true, that’s all it takes…and finding a few no cost ways to do it is like icing on the cake!

  1. Read.Read. READ. Most research suggests 6 books read during the summer will keep a struggling reader from falling behind. Remember not too hard and not too easy.
  2. Read ever day. Do something at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  3. Review what your student is reading each day to help them process and understand.

Sometimes, our kiddos need a little more than reading to maintain or catch up to where they need to be. We’ve found that summer is a great time to give specific attention to bridge gaps that have been widening during the course of the year. Whether you’ve been struggling with kindergarten math or need some help with standardized test practice for 8th grade or just a general drill and practice summer’s a great time to take care of it!

How to Train for Independence

How to Train for IndependenceWhen I started out on the parenting journey over 2o years ago, I didn’t realize that my goal would be to train my children for independence. Now that my oldest is about to get married, I’m a little sad that I did such a good job.

Why Train for Independence?

As a young mother desiring my children to learn independence seemed like the natural thing to do. I couldn’t do everything for them all the time, so to keep my sanity I began to teach them. I really didn’t realize at first what I was doing. I was just trying to survive. So, I taught my 4 year old how to operate the microwave, wash dishes, and carry laundry to the laundry room.  It seemed to work well… she was able to do far above what I expected from her and actually thought it was great fun to work like mommy. Boy, I had stumbled onto something!

Fast forward a few years, and jump into our homeschool life of learning with 6 children. It was hard for me to be there every minute trying to teach in the traditional style. (I learned real quick that didn’t work with 5 different grade levels.)  I had to once again teach my children to be independent in their approach to learning. It worked great. Many years ago I began to print out a weekly check sheet for each of my children. On the check sheet were all the things that were required of them each day. They simply had to do it, and check it off. No need for mom to holler, or get frustrated (unless they just ignored the check sheet – which happens sometimes!)

Each child had an individual set of assignments that they completed each day. Still today they have online lessons, but complete their other work independently unless they have questions about the material or particular problems. Independence!!

We are now in the process of building a house. With six children, there are alot of things that they can help with. Again, we come to the foundational idea of teaching them “how” to do something which in turn will enable to them to work independently now and in the future.

Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Chinese Proverb

How to Train for Independence

  1. Teach your child HOW to do the desired task.
  2. Expect more from them than you think they can do… and they’ll surprise you!
  3. Treat them with respect and encourage them to think and act independently.
  4. Make sure to give them plenty of love!!
Beauty and the Beast Learning Ideas

Beauty and the Beast Learning Resources

There has been a lot of hype about the Beauty and the Beast Movie, both for and against. Yet, with or without this new movie, the “Beauty and the Beast” story line is one that spans the ages. It’s an age old classic that has not lost it’s appeal… movie or not… it’s a good story and one that our kiddos enjoy! The original story was written in 1740 by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve. It was rather lengthy, so it was abridged by Beaumont in 1756 and later by Andrew Lang in 1889. These latest versions most closely represents today’s story line.

An interesting twist is that some believe the story was inspired by a man in the 1500’s named Pedro Gonzalez. He had a condition called hypertrichosis which causes an unusual amount of facial hair to grow. He was brought to royal courts across Europe as a novelty and ended up marrying a Lady. Interestingly enough, many of his children also inherited his condition.

 

 

Up for a challenge? Read the original version translated to English. 

 

 

Ready to incorporate this into your regular learning? Try this Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit.

Beauty and the Beast Writing Unit

Looking for a writing prompt and spelling list to go with your book study? Homeschool Literature has a Beauty and the Beast Interactive Book Review with both of those.

Finally, if you love those fairy tale endings and want more books that are similar to Beauty and the Beast, here’s a great list of Beauty and the Beast Inspired Books you’ll love.

Beauty & the Beast Book List

 

February Freebies

Freebie February Top 5One of my favorite months is February… and not just because of Valentine’s Day. I love the Freebies that are floating around everywhere. So, to join the amazing efforts of Freebie February, we’re sharing our all time faves!

  1. Ultimate Classical Literature Unit Study Resource

This is an awesome resource for studying the classics. It has the free ebook, study notes, writing prompts, etc.

2. Free Printables on Earth and Space

These free printables are great! They would be perfect paired with a few books on earth and space making a nice little unit study!

3. Free Printables for High School Homeschool

These printables and downloads are pretty much everything that you would need to keep up with homeschooling high school.

4. Free Games for Drill and Practice

These are games are a great resource for practicing what your kiddos have been learning. With videos and games for almost every subject it’s one of our go-to resources.

5. Get a Free Spelling Resource 

This is my all time favorite resource. I used to teach 5 different levels of spelling to my kiddos. Now, I use this and spelling is a breeze.

Stressed out schooling?

oefk-stressedoutschool-1

STRESS. BURN OUT. I’ve been there… Have you? Homeschooling can be so rewarding – but it can also require alot. Commitment. Time. Energy. Finances. Each of these facets of homeschooling can cause stress and eventually burnout. Most often I find the fact that my kids “just don’t get it” the most frustrating.  Sometimes it seems like we aren’t even speaking the same language as our children. We teach them, instruct them, help them, and it appears to be echoing off of their cute little heads. What is the key to getting it to “sink in?”

…Speaking their language…  Each person is created with their own unique way they learn.  Some are concrete learners, some are abstract learners, some are sequential learners, and some are random learners. If we try to educate our children in a form that they can’t understand… they just won’t get it.

…finding their “learning style”…The key to learning is for us to determine what type of learners our children are, and to accommodate their learning styles. We need to build on how they learn to get them to learn. Most children respond differently to each type of schooling (traditional, individualized, online, textbook, Charlotte Mason, etc)

There are multitudes of great resources out there, definitely something for every learning style.  From organized textbook learning, to online learning, learning games, and even online writing courses there is  no need for our children to be stressed about learning.  Learning can be fun, and exciting… we just need to find the miracle key that allows all of that knowledge to “sink in.”