It’s January… thumbs up or down?

Yep, here I go stating the obvious again. I am curious though, is January going well? or is it a serious thumbs down time?

As home school moms, we all know January can go either way. I usually try to end the previous year with some down time, hoping against hope that it will renew my outlook and refresh my attitude toward my children and homeschooling. It’s tough though, it’s the middle of the year and there are a lot of issues that could get me down. Most often I’m beating myself up about not accomplishing everything that I had wanted to accomplish thus far, and that always gets me down. Over the years, I’ve tried to manage these struggles because as sure as it will rain – these struggles do come. There are a few simple things that I do that tend to help me combat those “thumbs down” times.

  1. You home school, you are the teacher and principal… a lot depends on you. No one else is going to make sure that you are ok… so YOU make sure. Take time off. No you don’t HAVE to get that project done this week, and believe it or not you can even cancel those extra music and art lessons.
  2. Do something that heals your heart. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes reading a book will help me, sometimes I need to pray, and sometimes I need to go away for a day or two. Sometimes just going to the mall alone or with a best friend will work wonders. Whatever your happy spot is, take a day or two to relish in it and allow it to feed your soul. Mom, you cannot help your children or your spouse if you are empty.
  3. Take a day to rearrange your school room. Change always brightens my perspective. I always think better in a neat and organized environment. So, I take a day or two to empty out, clean, and refit our schooling area. This really works wonders on my psyche. I find myself with my interest piqued once again, and ready to dive in.
  4. Take a day to enjoy your children without “requirements” or “being the teacher.” I know we, as parents, never truly get the day off… but take some time to just enjoy them…their smile, their laughter, their silliness… It just might be catching!
  5. Review the things that require your attention and time. Take a fresh look at your schedule. Is there anything that you really don’t need in your life? Cross it off… is there negativity that just brings you down? Cross it off. Surround yourself with things that encourage and motivate you. (Of course, we all know that life hits… and it just happens. But, the regular unnecessary negativity that we CAN do without – do without!)

Spring Ideas for Great Homeschooling

It’s tough to stay inside when the weather finally warms up! I we do try to stay in the house, I feel like I’m competing with something I’ll never overcome. The kids are distracted. Every bird that flies past the window grabs their attention. It’s crazy. So, during the spring and summer months I always try to incorporate something fun to make them still want to “keep their head in the game.”

1) Don’t fight ’em – join em… we are now studying birds. Since, the birds are so interesting and they can’t keep their eyes off them- I think we will study them. I’ve got the Apologia science book about flying creatures and we have several bird guides for our state.

2) Incorporate outside time into your daily curriculum. Some people find that reading is an easy subject to work into the outdoors. It works great for us – we have several comfy outdoor chairs and the kids find a cozy spot and get to it!

3) Use Homeschool Spring Resources – I love to pin ideas on pinterest and then get back to them when I have time.

4) Homeschool Elementary can be so much fun when you add a course or two that the kids CHOOSE!

5) Take time to do some outdoor physical education. This counts as part of your homeschooling as well!

Homeschooling and the Chair of Cheer…10 Fun Homeschooling Resources

chair of cheer tips for homeschoolingThere is this mysterious disease that my children get every year right before Christmas. It ends up being so contagious that they all come down with it, and everyone in our house is affected. In fact, some days it is so bad… that we can barely do school! Have you guessed what I am referring to?

You got it… it’s that crazy “visions of sugar plums” dancing in their heads… the general-  fever inducing excitement over Christmas! I have to admit that it really drives me nuts at times. The kids are more wiggly, more talkative, more easily distracted… just more of everything! So, at our house it really isn’t the chair of cheer – but the chair of insanity that I reign in!

In any case, what do you do during the pre-Christmas insanity? There are days when I can get a regular work load out of my kids, but some days it’s all I can do to just to get them to play “games.” So, here is my list of favorite – crazy holiday – Chair of Cheer Games!

1) Vocabulary Games and Word Search Galore!!

2) All things Geography and Social Studies related!

3) Science games and videos for loads of learning and fun!

4) Cool math games and even more fun math learning!

5) We also use you tube to look up videos on things that we are studying in science and history and watch short videos! (Mom does this job!)

6) Story starters are fun ways to get your kids writing – and laughing!

7)Bible games to get their brains thinking!!

8) Input your own spelling lists and sit back and watch them have fun!

9) Art and music learning games!

10) Learn a new language with these free online language lessons!

Keeping your Homeschool Under Control

Being an organized person and keeping your homeschool organized are two very separate things. i am an organized person, love neatness, enjoy alphabetical order ( you know all that OCD stuff!). Yet, keeping my homeschool running as a well organized machine has always been difficult for me. In the past few years I have incorporated a few tried and true principles to help me with thiss.

 1) Don’t be afraid to rely on tools… use the internet, a PDA, a cell phone, or a “little black book” to help you make your plan and keep it. My friend and I refer to these special little books,as  our “brains.”

2)Make long range goals. Don’t be afraid to look at all your weaknesses then make a plan that addresses them as well as the other things that you should be learning. Write out your objectives in a “The learner will…” format. Go back at the end of the year and comment on each whether or not you met the goal.

3) Make daily and weekly goals. This has become a beneficial part of our daily homeschool. We have finally hit pay dirt with this one! Each of our children have their own little notebook that has their current schedule or more acurately their daily “to do” list. This helps them focus, and then if I am called away from the, they can still move on.

4) Make sure your policies and procedures are well understood and established. In other words, get the whole family on the same page. Make sure everyone knows what to do and when. Your routine will help to keep you going even when you are weary!

5) Have your supplies and workbooks readily available. If you keep your workbooks, writing worksheets, online homeschool printables, and writing utensils in easy reach and organized… your children will be without excuse for staying on task.

Making Time for Yourself

Hello homeschooling friend… how has the past few weeks of the “new” school term gone for you? I hope that all is going great, and your children are learning and achieving. You have organized your homeschool, ordered curriculum, made a schedule, and given your time to your children. All of these segmented activities can really wear you down. Yet, my real question for you is… are you making time for yourself?

I know for us the past few weeks have been crazy. Getting used to a packed homeschool day and trying to get older children acclimated to dual credit courses has been hectic. I have felt overwhelmed most of the time. I really haven’t spoken much to my husband, haven’t had time to do much else, and I am beginning to feel like I am in a fog.

When I get this way – my advice for myself (haha!) is to take some “me” time. No, I am not saying that I am going to lock my children outside for the afternoon. I mean just an hour or two of going somewhere alone or with an adult, or sitting in a bubble bath (with the door locked of course) with a good book. Just take some time to do something that you particularly enjoy.

I have found if I am careful in doing this when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I can take that “me” time, get refreshed, and then get back to what needs doing. It’s like a mini-vacation without spending any money!

Making Independent Learners

In this day and age when children are accustomed to being spoon fed entertainment, knowledge, and even life… it’s hard to make independent learners. Yet, it is possible to establish a few routines in your homeschool day to turn a dependent crowd to independence. Since we are going back to school, and starting a fresh new year, let’s talk about it.

Yes, I know- I am the mom. But that means different things to different people. To some, being the mom means that you are catering to every miniscule need that your children have, answering every homeschool question they run across, and even teaching them each subject in school. Personally, I find that I am not Wonder Woman and just can’t keep up with those demands. Instead, I am attempting to get all of my children into a state of independent learning.  I say attempting, because it is a work in progress. My two oldest are just about there, while my two youngest are still pretty needy.  From homeschool language arts to mathematics and every subject in between – you can adapt it to be conducive to indepedent learning. I am teaching them- along with all of the other things they are learning- how to gain knowledge without my help. This involves a few simple guidelines.

  • I am trying to choose only curriculum that promotes self learning. By this, I don’t mean that I leave my children alone to take care of their own education, but instead I am instilling in them skills that ENABLE them to learn without aid.
  • We have a simple rule, If you have a question about something in your school material  – look it up. Find the answer in the book, in another book, or online. Knowledge is at your fingertips – simply look for it!
  • Facilitate abundant reading! Have great books available to your children at all times. Foster a love for reading by showing them the example of a good reader in yourself!

Teaching them to be independent learners will not just help them here and now… it will ENABLE their future!

10 Homeschool Organization Tips… part 1

Wow… I can’t believe that it is already the middle of July. This summer is flying by… hmmm… Time flies when you’re having fun is sooo true!

But the stark truth is that school  IS around the corner, and even though we have the right to determine when we go back… it will come eventually. That’s why every good homeschooler knows to use the summer as a preparation time. Time to research new curriculum, time to gather supplies, and even time to reorganize. Yes, I am trying to enjoy my summer, get refocused, and inspired during our family’s summer hiatus… but I know I also have to use my time wisely. Here are a few tips for getting your homeschool organized and ready to roll come fall…

1) Go through your existing curriculum… if there is some you know you won’t ever use, sell it on ebay. This is great for making room for curriculum that you will use and benefit from!

2) Go through your supplies and your children’s schooling area. In our family we use “tubs” like little lockers for all their “stuff.” Needless to say, these tubs get very disorganized and well… filled with plain old junk! I go through them and see what supplies the kids have that are useful and what I need to buy for fall.

3) Organize your school area to maximize learning. Think about how your family learns. Are they visual learners, auditory learners… set up your school room to reflect this. Also, it is a proven fact that children learn better in rooms that are NOT CLUTTERED. Clutter is a distraction and as we all know – children do not need to be distracted! 😉

4) Review last year, take a look at how the children achieved, review what worked what didn’t, and map out a plan of improvement for the coming year. Did your kids struggle with homeschool math or math vocabulary? Begin a search for a better curriculum. Do they have any gaps? Find a means of filling those gaps, and make a list of what you need to do that.

5) Begin to purchase any “new curriculum” you need from the list you made. Amazon, ebay, and other used book websites are super for gathering homeschool texts at a discounted price!