A Glimpse Into Our Homeschool…

In which we take a break from the cliff-hanger Home Management Binder Series to give a glimpse into our homeschool…Binder tips will resume when the desktop gets out of the hospital. (Good news – diagnosis has been made and parts are in the mail!)

Our School Day I look forward to 10 am every day, for that is when I leave my chores, call the kids from their play, and we cuddle on the couch with a pile of books to read. I get to ask questions of my boy that make him screw up his lips in thought, or point things out that cause his face light up with understanding and wonder.

After a page of this and a chapter of that and “one more story, please, mommy?” we head to the kitchen table where I dole out fun activity pages to each of them, passing out scissors and an open a box of markers. They cut and past and trace the letter of the week and, thanks to the colorful Kumon books, it’s all like a wonderful game.

By 11 Jesse is in full creativity mode, and Claire has wandered off to check on her favorite doll, “Sophie-Baby” so I leave them to start lunch or tend to Seth. Our ‘Formal’ schooling is done, but all through the day we dialogue and refer to things we’ve been learning. We know Jessse’s little mind is in full Seek and Learn mode as he continually surprises us with random questions and statements…

“How many Fruits of the Spirit ARE there?”

“It’s bedtime for Africa right now.”

“Are there dog fish? Are they bigger than catfish?”

“Will we still have this house in heaven?”

“Mom, does one of the ten commandments say, ‘no worshiping idols’?”

I knew I’d love homeschooling, but I never thought it would be this fun.

After reading about the biggest animal, a blue whale, we went out in the snow and paced out the size of the whale in the backyard. Wow, they are really big! Mommy got a good workout. Note: I am not this creative every day. LOL

Claire making a snow angel.

Our Routine We love us a good routine around here. It changes frequently as the needs of the kids change, but right now our mornings usually look like this…

8:00 – we eat breakfast and get dressed. If I have slept well, I get up before the kids, but otherwise, not much happens around here before 8.

Geometry in the kitchen…Jesse makes a house out of a square and a triangle cut from purple cabbage leaves. He’s also learning knife safety. :)

9:00 I call the kids from play into the kitchen and we do our chores. They clear their breakfast dishes then empty the dishwasher. Claire does the utensils and Jesse everything else. Then we may do some food prep (this morning I attempted sauerkraut for the third time) and usually have a load of laundry to wash or fold. Once we’ve done the chores we can do together, I release them to play and I finish tidying the kitchen.

The sauerkraut Mommy was working on next to him.

10:00 I call the kids to the couch for school. I put Seth in his play pen with a new-from-the-cupboard toy and he is right next to us while we read on the couch. He’s usually happy in there until we move to the diningroom for ‘table school’, then I transfer him to the johnny-jump-up with some good ‘Jumping Music’ so the kids can do their writing and cutting without Seth eating their markers (Literally)

Seth’s favorite school activity.

The kids respond well to the routine, and are learning to tell time because each of our morning activities starts with the chime of the clock. You may notice our morning involves a good measure of free play time, too, because we feel that is so important for this age.

A Robin’s nest Jesse made during an afternoon with playdough.

Our afternoons go many different ways, and I’m still working on my tendency to get caught up in a project and leaving them to their own devices till dinner time. I’m asking the Lord to help turn my heart toward my children and away from other passions that steal my attention from them. Revamping my binder yesterday morning in prep for the next post on that subject reminded me how little time I can afford to spend on other things (computer, sewing, pleasure reading) if my goal is to invest well in my children in this most formative season in their lives.

sprouting avocado seeds for science

The Kids’ Books The curriculum we’re loving this year is Sonlight’s Preschool 4/5 Core. It includes lots of story books to grow attention span, tales from around the world (geography), books about animals (science), jobs people do, and the world we live in. We’re reading through the Bible with”The DK Children’s Everyday Bible”, and have a short weekly memory verse. We’re also using the “Get Ready for the Code” workbooks. Our focus right now is letter recognition, counting, and increased awareness of the big world around them. Claire is tagging along, enjoying  the stories and proudly saying her verse each day. Jesse is 5 1/2 and Claire is 3 1/4 years.

The Teacher’s Books My homeschool philosophy is being greatly impacted by the books of Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Right now I’m reading “Home Grown Kids” – the book that inspired both my parents and my in-laws to begin homeschooling almost 30 years ago – before the word ‘homeschooling’ was even in use. Their writing is giving me confidence and joy as I embrace the privelidge of teaching my own children at home. This quote is both convicting and inspiring to me…

“The unqualified parent or teacher is one whose attitude is indifferent to a youngster’s real needs, or whose motives place his or her own freedoms above those of the child. We firmly believe that the greatest teaching talent in the world lies in the warm, responsive and consistent parent whose love makes the needs of his children his highest concern…Parents’ daily on-to-one example amounts to master teaching at the highest level.” – “Home-Grown Kids”

 I also recommend “Educating the Whole Hearted Child” by the Clarksons, and “A Charlotte Mason Companion“, both on the list in the “Mother” tab of my Home Management Book, waiting to be read. (Note: the only thing I can’t recommend about the Moores’ books is their health advice. It’s very dated and doesn’t encourage good fats!:()

What are your favorite homeschool or parenting resources?

Relevant Highlight #1

Laura Booz was my favorite speaker, handsdown, at Relevant.  With Ann Voskamp, Amy Andrews, Lisa Jo, and so many others, how was Laura my top pick?

  • Because she was the most relevant to me. She’s a homeschool mommy of 3, and FULL of passion!
  • Her enthusiasm and joy made her talks some of the most memorable of the weekend.
  • She’s incredibly practical in her approach to teaching and inspiring other moms and bloggers. 
  • She gave me a free copy of her new ebook, Blogger Behave (but that’s another post)

Imagine my delight upon returning home and finding she’s launched a brand new blog, Homschool Baby. And she’s having a party over there with a whole week of giveaways!

If you’re a new homeschooler, your gonna want to come hang out over there with me. Trust me.

Telling the Story of Easter to My Kids (and my first vlog!)

It’s a busy week – especially when I suddenly remembered my desire to make Easter as meaningful to our children as our celebration of Christmas. So, added to the business in the studio (working on 5 Easter dresses, between mine and my sewing girls’), I decided I wanted to celebrate Passover with a Messianic Seder dinner in our home, plus hot crossed buns for Sunday and trying to get to see a Passion Play before the week is out.

Yeah. I need to plan better next year.

Meanwhile, we postponed Seder till next week (totally un-authentic but it will still be meaningful) and I’m not making myself a new Easter dress. With that simplified list of activities, I did make a few moments this morning to tell the story of the Triumphal Entry to my kids. We read the story in our favorite Bible Story Book, then acted it out…

(Let me just apologize right here that Mary’s bad hair day!)

(Please note – this is my first ever vlog – I know it leaves much to be desired, but I felt like I’d never start if I waited till I could  make a ‘perfect’ video! Laura, and her “I can learn from this” attitude was my inspiration! Check out her blog for some really great vlogs she does with her kids!)

Why I Don’t Have Time For Facebook

I told you about my affair with facebook. I told you about my facebook fast. Next week I’m gonna tell you how I have brought more balance into my computer time and broken the addiction to facebook.

But this week I just wanted to share with you the awesomeness that has left me with little or no time for facebook or other time-wasters online.

Congrats to all you people who have used facebook as a ministry tool or formed deep friendships as a result of your time there. But me – I’ve realized I personally can’t afford to be on Facebook. I feel it is one of the cheapest forms of interaction on the web, with the lowest quality content. Think about it -  the easier it is to post something, the less time it takes (and facebook is all about small, short, easy bits of whatever) the lower the quality. Unless your Emily Dickenson or somebody who can spell a life in 3 short lines. Which I am not. In case you hadn’t noticed.

But I am an aspiring writer. A busy homemaker. A child of God who yearns for more – more life, more grace, more joy, more God, and more chances to tell of Him. That’s why I don’t have time for Facebook. Because I’m feeding my passions and my soul with things more worthy.

I’m so excited – I’ve been gathering this list of links and books for two months in preparation for this post! Here’s what I’m doing, where I’m hanging out online and what I’m reading when I’m not.

I had an epiphany last month. I thought, if I want to be a better mother, I should get myself some mentors in that area. If I want to improve my writing, I should read good writers. It occurred to me that, just as Passionate Homemaking is my inspiration blog for all things nourishing in my kitchen and home, there might be blogs out there that could feed my other passions. Then one of my readers mentioned the Relevant Conference. I went on the site to fantasize about going and saw the list of speakers. And all their blogs. I immediately added every one of them to my RSS feed. The weeks since have been a slow digging through the rich content on these blogs and deciding which ones are custom fit for me and that I will keep in my feed.

If you’re not sure you could spend less time on facebook, I challenge you to find some higher quality content in an area of personal interest and then see if you run out of time for facebook like I did.

These are some of my favorite blogs (both new discoveries and old favorites). I wish I had time to read all the archives, they’re that good.

Passionate Homemaking – My favorite Nourishing Living blog ’cause I can relate to Lindsay so much.
Pleasant View Schoolhouse -  She quit blogging over the summer but she’s back!
Gypsy Mama -Writing Inspiration (Five Min. Fridays), Relevant Speaker
A Holy Experience -Author of “One Thousand Gifts” and Relevant Conference Speaker
Pioneer Woman – Eye candy and a good laugh
Modern Alternative Mamma – For well-researched info on all things alternative.
Resolved2Worship Beauty, Inspiration

Books.Then, there’s the books. Oh, my, the books! Have you been spending so much time online that you don’t read books anymore? I had forgotten my goal of being a lover of good books. On a recent Amazon Spending Spree, I added some delicious titles to my to-be-read pile. Seriously, people. Facebook can’t hold a candle to the content here…

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons - My first official curriculum perchase. My sis-in-law has taught all her kids with this book – wore out her first copy and is on her second. That and the fact that it’s phonics-based was enough recommendation for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

When the Hurt Runs Deep – I received a free copy of this book to review from Blogging for Books. I’m half way through – review coming when I finish!

The Lost Mission - I love Athol Dickson! And this was my favorite of his works so far – the best novel I’ve read this year.

Confessions of a Transformed Heart – It’s been a while since I’ve read a missionary biography. These things ought not so to be! I knew I needed to read this when Alyssa mentioned it and how Nancy writes of her affirmation addiction and how she learned to live for Christ alone. Workin’ on that. Yeah.

One Thousand Gifts – Totally stayed up too late reading this last night. It’s like chocolate. No – Coconut oil for the soul (those who know me know mow much I love coconut oil!)! Buy this book asap and read it in every spare moment and experience spring in your heart. All the hubub about this book is valid – it really is awesome.

For the Children’s Sake – Haven’t started this one yet – but I can hardly wait. It’s a favorite of my mother’s, though she loaned her copy and never got it back so I hadn’t read it yet.

When You Rise Up – One of my readers recommended this one to me (thanks, Jessica!). Only one chapter so far – it’s deep. It’s good. I’m reading it to Jeremy when we are in the car together. This book is going to help shape our family’s approach to education.

ESV Bible – My husband picked up this portable little edition of the ESV Bible. After reading KJV all my life, it’s like the Bible has come alive again. Don’t get me wrong – I love my KJV. But I’m really getting a lot out of this version, and it’s a translation I trust. I highly recommend it.

Letters. Last, but not least, I don’t have time for Facebook because I’m writing letters. Another lost art. Don’t let it be. It had been a long time since I wrote a letter – I write thank you notes and little notes of encouragement (and that not often enough) but a letter? I wrote one this week to this handsome man…

My brother…joined the Marines and entered Boot camp this month. “Letters are a life line for recruits” the information letter said. I’m trying to be a faithful letter writer to someone who needs encouragement. Some one I’m very proud of. Have you written a letter lately?

How about you? What’s your favorite place online? What books have you been reading lately? Please share in the comments!

"Thank goodness I was never sent to school…"

How refreshing it was to find this quote as I slogged through reviews and websites looking for just the right combination of resources for Jesse for kindergarten. Reminds me of why I am doing what I’m doing…And makes me so grateful that my mother paved the way for my approach my children’s education by homeschooling me way before it was in vogue or any one really even knew what it was…I’m close to making a decision with my curriculum choices and will share what I find and how it works in the future…

“Thank goodness I was never sent to school…”

How refreshing it was to find this quote as I slogged through reviews and websites looking for just the right combination of resources for Jesse for kindergarten. Reminds me of why I am doing what I’m doing…And makes me so grateful that my mother paved the way for my approach my children’s education by homeschooling me way before it was in vogue or any one really even knew what it was…I’m close to making a decision with my curriculum choices and will share what I find and how it works in the future…

In Which We Begin Preschool and Discover That We LOVE It.

I told you a while back how I was literally sitting on my hands to keep from starting school too early with Jesse. I want, above all, to teach him to love learning so I didn’t want to push him too soon. It was hard when a lot of my friends were starting their first year of school with their eldest, and I was still waiting until I felt Jesse was ready – maybe next year sometime.

Then two – no, three – things happened.

1. Life began to gain some routine and predictablitity after Seth’s birth.
2. Jesse began daily complaining of being bored, and
3. I found free online preschool curriculum!

That’s it, I said. We’re starting school.

And we are having so much fun. This site has a curriculum with weekly themes, learning a shape, a color, a number, and a letter each week. (So, “A”, “square”, “Green” and “1″ for the first week, with a theme of “cows”.) There are links to printable coloring pages and fun cut and paste projects, as well as poems and some recommended books to go with each week’s theme. At this site I found a more extensive collection of coloring pages and printouts to choose from.

We start the week introducing our theme and a new vocabulary word or two. Then I just look around the house for activities, songs, books, puzzles, toys, and objects that go with the theme. We usually do a coloring page each day, maybe the letter of the week, or something to do with the theme. I might find a YouTube video to illustrate something (Like, “how to milk a cow”)

Our second week the theme was “Jungle”. I was amazed at how much stuff I found among toys and puzzles that went with the them!. We made a Jungle Animal Parade, and talked about the different features God gave the animals to hide and hunt and climb and eat in the jungle -like spots, long necks, and trunks and tails – while we colored our coloring page.

Of course, Claire loves being a part of it all and always wants a coloring page when I print one for Brother.

On Tuesdays we visit the Library and I scan the shelves for books that match the “theme”. This is so fun and easy! Then we go home and have a pile of fun, exciting new books to read that reinforce the new vocabulary words and inspire creative artwork and imaginative play.

 Jesse loves his Melissa and Doug Jungle Puzzle, and it went with the theme!

I’m so grateful for the resources free online and at the library so I can start school with Jesse without spending  a dime on curriculum. My personal opinion on preschool is that you don’t need curriculum at this age – the stuff they learn in preschool can be absorbed through everyday-interaction if the parents are aware and involved. But I wanted to practice fitting in a scheduled learning time in my day, so I wouldn’t be so intimidated by the idea of making time in my schedule when we start kindergarten next year. We now spend 30 min. to an hour each morning with our focused learning time – as long as our attention spans last – as well as talking about the concepts and theme all through the day.

And Jesse loves it. I no longer hear “Mom, me not know what to do – me bored!” thanks to the focused activities and attention he receives during school. He starts each day asking “What we gonna do for school?” and at least once a day we hear, from a satistfied little boy, “Me LIKE school!”

That’s the goal, and that’s my boy.