Tuesday, January 29, 2013

5 Things to Consider Before You Homeschool

 For me homeschooling has been an absolute joy! Quite frankly it has been a joy from the very start, what was not enjoyable was the preliminary deluge of should I's or shouldn't I's. While I am still very new at homeschooling compared to my close friends and my favorite bloggers, being sort of a "newbie" has its advantages. One of which is the fact that I am still very acquainted with what "beginning" to home school feels like. That's not a quip to the more experienced homeschooling moms, their information, blogs and experience have all been and continues to be a huge support and comfort to me and thousands of other homeschooling families I'm sure!

All of that being said, I woke up about 4 mornings ago and thought to write a post on 10 things to consider before you homeschool. After atetmpting to organize my thoughts on the subject, I've cut the list in half (grin). It's not that there aren't 10 things that you could considered, honestly depending on who you are, your circumstances and your child(ren) there may even be more than 10. I don't advise going overboard in all of the "beforehand" drama of making the decision to home school. However, it does take an equitable amount of forethought.

The list that I've complied though, I've taken from my very own experience and whittled it down to what was most pressing or important during that time of transition. So here goes...

1. The time commitment. Homeschooling is indeed serious business. It can be fun and I hope yours is. In my experience all work and no play makes for cranky kids and burnt out mommy. Essentially you are saying I volunteer to be responsible for teaching my child(ren) everything that they need to know for whatever age level your children are. That is honorable, in my opinion but also a big responsibility and commitment. On average a home school day could range from 2 to 4 hours. Do you have that kind of time? While it is true that most home schooling parents are also stay-at-home parents, I know several moms who work full-time in the home, moms who work outside of the home part-time and I've recently met a mom who still holds down her full-time job at Bank of America who also home schools. In each of these cases though, a serious look at what sort of time you have available is a prerequisite if you are earnestly looking at homeschooling. There are regulations in place that  specify from state to state what is expected time-wise for home schools. Which leads me to number two on my list...

2. Your State's home school laws. You will find this listed on every single home school website and blog that deals with entertaining the possibility of homeschooling. You absolutely must find out what is expected of you legally before jumping into the warm, sometimes hot waters of homeschooling. While some view the government's involvement with education an overstep...I think it should not only be important to parents but to our Nation's Leaders also how educated out kids are. The kids will one day run our Nation or start vital companies within our economy, etc. and how sad would it be if they could not read, add and subtract, think critically and objectively, and a whole host of other things that it takes to be a productive part of society? While I may differ in opinion with our National Leaders on just how involved they should be in the educating of our kids...concerned and involved and I think they should be. So, check out those laws by going to the Board of Education website for your City and State. Check out the Homeschool Legal Defense's website (you'll read about this organization on almost every home school website or blog as well, and rightfully so).

3. Financial commitment. As I read once, homeschooling isn't free! It can be very nearly close to free but it is not 100% cost prohibitive. Whether you will be purchasing curriculum every year or faithfully searching for and printing out information, worksheets, creating binders and so forth...there will be a level of cost that is strictly related to your home school so consider that. It may not necessarily be for curricula, you will probably buy more supplies than you normally would if your children were going away for school. You now have to think about Teacher supplies. Where you might have opted out of the class field trip given at school you will most definitely want to take your home school student on field trips to get you both out of the house once in a while. And yes, you can do field trips sometimes for little to no money but there will still be some cost associated with it that wouldn't be there if your child was in public school. I have heard of a website about home schooling on a shoe string budget. That being said, there is information out there on how to do it inexpensively so don't allow the fact that it will cost you something to be a deterrent from homeschooling.

4. Drive and passion. Do you have the drive that it takes? Some may view home schooling idealistically. Meaning, they envision, getting up, having breakfast, getting dressed, sitting down to a school day filled with fun activities, productive teaching, enthusiastic learning, intermittent breaks, healthy lunches, enriching projects, well organized lesson plans, trust me the list of what is "ideal" goes on. Instead you may find, like I did our first school year, that your kid needs LOTS of help focusing and you, like me, will have to spend most of your school time, calling him or her back to attention. Not at all what homeschooling dreams are made of but definitely what a home school day is. During those time you will have to dig deep to find the strength not to slip your hand in the air and say "oops, my mistake, public school is what I was thinking of, not home school" (lol). Trust me it happens! Especially around 2:45 or 3:00 when the big yellow bus is pulling up dropping the kids off from school. So considered your level of passion and drive. What is important to you as it relates to your child's education and is that enough to keep you going when the times get rough? 

5. Do you have a tinge of control-freak-ness in you. LOL! Believe me when I say that I believe the vast majority of home schooling parents (moms especially) have just a tinge of the desire to control things. And in balance, that's not bad. It could actually make for a very productive home school because you will more or less make sure your child knows what, if not more, than the kids his or her age with whom they interact. And then too, why wouldn't you want to know what's going into your kid each day? I know for me, I always had thoughts of "is Madison being pushed hard enough in this area or that." "Is she being pushed too hard in this area or that one." I had these thoughts because after staying home with her for 5 years, I had a pretty good handle on her strengths and weaknesses. See...control freak. I could say more, but I'll play it safely and stop number 5 right here. You get the idea. ::wink::

Bonus. Consider that there will be other things to consider should you definitely decide to home school. Nothing too big though! 

Thanks for reading...hope it helps you.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Water Cycle Song

This week was full. I'd consider among our best moments...visiting my grandmother who is ill but amazingly strong. Looking at her, anyone might say that she is living her final days. But then you look in her eyes and you see a strength that seems to be in direct contrast to what's going on with her body.

Born in 1928, on the cusp of The Great Depression to a family of 10 children, she has seen and lived through a lot of societal changes.

She has been a phenomenal grandmother. The kind that would keep the grandkids every weekend, always had a smorgasbord of food on the table for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and who seemed to always be on her feet, cleaning.

 In fact, I remember watching her as she finished cleaning her kitchen for the second or third time that day. She was looking out of her kitchen window past the acre of land that was her backyard to the wood line of evergreen trees and she said, "a woman's work is never done...a woman works from sun to sun." I was about 12 years old and that was my first time hearing those words but she was that statement personified.

And even now, at the the ripe age of 84, she's still working. She's still got a fight in her eyes and voice. I would rather that she'd go ahead and leave this world behind but when I look into her eyes and/or hear her speak, it becomes evident rather quickly that there is still so much life in her. This is my first time this close to someone who is ailing and it has proven to be baffling to my brain. I told my mom that it's very strange how looking at Granny's body you'd be convinced that it was time to call hospice, but then at the very same time her spirit is just as vibrant and feisty as it was at 54! That has been a brain buster for me this week like never before. I, for the first time, can see the separation of the spirit and body. So many people believe that when you die, that's it, its over...no after life to speak of. Well, I stand even more convinced now that we are not simply bodies...we are spirit beings dwelling in a body and even when these bodies fail...there is a life beyond what we see. Thanks Granny.
A bit of our lives in picture

Now, to lighten this post, I had no intentions of sharing that much about Granny...oh well...that's why I love blogging...you just kind of follow your thoughts sometimes.

Also this week, we had Monday off from co-op and we literally did nothing. I have those days where I go and go and go than I stop the presses! I may very well hang out in my PJ's or some sweats all day, never go out of the house just really rest hard and so goes the whole family. My husband though, would be in PJ's and never leave the house but would still be working feverishly with school or the business...so I don't know if he ever really rests.

Although we had Monday off, we had three really great school days this week. We got all of our subjects done and the girls did one day of school at their friends' house and their friends came here for one day and we each did a day at home. Very productive. Madison finished her diorama of the Daniel Boone Days. Chelsea completed an entire sheet of Saxon 2 math problems using counting bears.

 In fact, if you have a preschooler that you need to keep busy but productive while you are teaching an older child, give them some counting bears or any type of manipulative to help them count and give them a sheet of addition or subtraction problems to do. That will occupy them and sharpen their math skills for at least 30 minutes or more. And it will derail any guilt you may have about your youngest child not getting the attention or the education of the older kid(s).

Chelsea's work (my 4 year old)
Lastly, you may notice that we've released (I use the term lightly...very lightly smile) another Silly School Song for your listening and learning pleasure. It is The Water Cycle Song. We had great fun creating this song. Hubby and I make a great team if I should say so myself. Our collaboration is effortless, we really compliment each other's thought process very well. We run into trouble however, when I want him to finish "producing" the song but he's either too busy (which I am sensitive to) or he just doesn't have the passion that I may have about getting it finished. Anyway, today all of that is water under the bridge. We finished it and we like it very much. We hope you do to.

I never mentioned where you can find the lyrics to the songs but if you want to add any of our songs to your school day, the lyrics are found at Reverbnation or by clicking the "lyrics" link in this paragraph.

Thanks for reading about our lives this week. Please comment if you like the new song! Also check out the blogs where I'm linking up this week. Homeschool Creations, Collage Friday, Mom Moments and WUH.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun, Family, Educational Time

This week Phil and I decided to have mandatory family time. We have a Friday family fun night most Friday nights in our living room where we watch a movie, put together a puzzle, work on a class project together, make a dessert together and/or play a game together (usually Candyland).

Well we'd been feeling that the girls needed to get out and go to a museum or on a family road trip or something to just get out of our normal surroundings. So we did a little searching and decided on the Tennessee Aquarium.

I wanted to go to Tellus Science Museum here in GA since we are studying Matter right now but the idea of combining a little road trip with an educational experience won out. And I'm glad it did. A two to four hour road trip has become an epic event for this clan. We sing karaoke, the kids do activities, of course we take an abundance of snacks and treats, we try to get as many truck drivers to honk their horns as possible, we count cars or buses or whatever might get our attention and we read. So it's some of the best family time that we have.

Anyway, we had a glorious time in Chattanooga. We saw some of the most amazing and beautiful creatures God has made.The jellyfish was everybody's favorite.

I learned that my girls know more about marine life than my husband and I put together and we have not even studied marine life in school yet. When my four year old stood at this one particular aquarium and said it's an anemone! Look! An anemone! Phillip and I were like...what is she saying? LOL and then we looked at the plaque beside the tank and sure enough, it was a hairless anemone! She said that she got that from Finding Nemo. I'm thinking who watched Finding Nemo and learned what an anemone was? Same with Madison, she recognized this special type of jellyfish from watching Octonauts on the Disney channel. Thankfully I haven't been one of those no t.v. moms because they've certainly learned a lot by watching. T.V.

In school, we are still singing the three states of matter song. The girls finally know all of the words and are still having a lot of fun with it. They look forward to singing it everyday. Their little friends that come over for school one day each week are loving it too and they've learned soooo much about matter in so little time and it has been a blast for all of us!
Stayed tuned... we will be loading a new song this weekend or early next week!

We talked solely about the properties of each state of matter and their molecular structure, we did a different worksheet each day and ended the week with the most fun experiment that I found on the Two Posh Little Divas blog; creating a gas to blow up a balloon! My. Girls. Loved. It. We are going to do it again tonight at Friday family fun night so Daddy can join in the fun! If you plan on doing this, my tip is to buy a large bottle of vinegar so that you can do the experiment over and over again! Also, if it has been years since you've worked with vinegar and baking soda (like me)...be ready, the chemicals react fast to each other and it will startle the kids (to excitement)!

The Gas Experiment (our second go at it)

Thank you for reading my blog! Leave a comment if you feel so inclined and check out the blogs that I'm linking up to today! Preschool Creations, Homeschool Village, Collage Friday and WUH.

Favorite pic of the week...

Room full of Jellyfish. This was a jellyfish aquarium in a dark room with mirrors so they look like thousands of glow lights.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Are Your Children Arrows in Your Quiver

I bet when you decided to have children, you didn't think of them as arrows. I know I certainly didn't. Everyone enters into parenthood either by mistake or on purpose. Whether you planned your pregnancies or happened upon them...the Bible says that children are a heritage of the Lord. It doesn't say that if you planned your children, they are a heritage of the Lord, it simply says children are a heritage.

As a home schooling parent I truly enjoy and cherish the time that I have to spend with my kids. Don't get me wrong, they are not easy on some days and they are not perfect on most days, but being able to watch them grow day in and day out and being able to slow time down just a bit by home schooling them, has been a thrill and an absolute enjoyment more than anything else. For that, I am eternally grateful.

However, no matter how passionate I am about raising my kids, teaching them and spending time with them, the days are steadily approaching where they will leave my nest and expected to be strong, mature, productive adults in our society. I home school and train them with this in mind daily.

Accompanying that reality is the thought that they will leave me one day. In fact according to an analogy found in the Bible in Psalms 127 versus 3-5, they are like arrows in a quiver. An arrow is symbolic of protection in this verse but also entertain the idea that an arrow has only one action of purpose...to be shot or aimed and released to a specific place or destination or destiny.

Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
5  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:

When I consider this analogy I cant help but to compare my responsibility as a parent to the actions of an arrowed man. I believe that my children are to be taught, trained and then aimed and released into the world. I like to think that our great  merciful God knew that this would be hard and therefore found it suitable for Psalms 112:2 (NLT) to be written which encourages us saying:

Their children will be successful everywhere;
    an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.

So while the temptation to coddle them too long and keep them tightly tucked in my proverbial bosom is in me. I must keep in mind that they belong to God and that He has a purpose for their lives. That purpose will undoubtedly lead them away from the safety and security that I provide for them day after day, year after year.

However through this verse of scripture I find peace. Peace knowing that as I raise my children to honor God, they will prosper where ever they go, once my job is done. I find peace in the fact that they don't unaccountably fall out of my nest but that they are very purposefully trained, aimed and released for God's will and His glory.

This all goes hand in hand with my final scripture reference for this post...Proverbs 22:6 in the NLT and Message translations respectively.

Direct your children onto the right path,
    and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Point your kids in the right direction—
    when they’re old they won’t be lost.

Arrows they are my friends...

God bless and thanks for reading...linking up here.

*For our family's FREE Educational music...visit our YouTube channel here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A New Look at Home School Socialization

As a few of you know, I started home schooling last January. My biggest concern like most newbie home schooling parents was...will my child know how to interact with other human beings if I decide to home school her.

Madison was in public school for about 5 months before we felt that we undoubtedly needed to consider an alternate choice of education. Although we'd said we were sure we were going to home school our kids, when the time came to "put up or shut up" it was sort of a big deal.

There I was staring changing the course of my child's life in the face. The confidence that I'd read on home schooling blogs, heard in the voices of parents who were already home schooling, and read about in books was just not so present in my mind and heart when the time came to fill out the withdrawal form that I'd picked up at the office of the Department of Education.

My Thoughts Then
I was convinced that this was the best choice for us but then I just wasn't 100% sure that it was the right choice for her future. You know? I was heart-thumpingly concerned about whether or not she'd turn out "weird."

As much as I wanted her to have the very  best education that we could provide for her, and as much as I wanted to be the one to give it to her, and no matter how adequate I felt at taking on that task knowing that with this one decision, on this one day, I was not simply taking her out of the only choice for education that I'd ever experienced (believe me that was huge enough); I felt that I was changing the course of her life.

That on this one hand, she'd have tons of friends, regular exercise, music class, art class, and sports and clubs to be a part of and turn out "normal" like most people. It didn't help that she'd entered a poetry recitation contest at her school and won for her grade level either!

Then there was my other hand where I was aware that she'd be home with me and her "younger" sister everyday. I was thinking, 'that's good for Chelsea but how could this be good for Madison'. She'd get all of her idea of what's right or wrong from one person...me! She wont be able to go to the cafeteria, pick up her tray, stop by the condiment bar, fix her little food and walk to her table like a big girl anymore (o.k. that's not so important but it was sooo cute to see her do that). One of the biggest though was that I wouldn't get any feedback on how she was doing. She wouldn't be at the top of her reading class and if she turned out to be gifted, no one would know (pride, I know, but true). She wouldn't be moved to the gifted class (again, pride). Another big concern was that since I'm a home-body, she'd be a home-body. These thoughts bombarded my mind with reckless abandonment.

While I was wholly convinced of the benefits of home schooling (there are soooo many), I was also well aware of the perceived down-side of it as well: socialization or the lack thereof.

My Thoughts Now
Now that I've been at this for a solid year and have experienced some growing pains, learning experiences, ups and downs, ins and outs, all arounds and what abouts. I'd like to pen some thoughts to paper or key them to screen, as it were. (smile)

I've actually noticed the opposite with my girls. When we are out at the Library or a Museum or the park; I notice that my girls are just as likely if not more likely to approach another child or start up a conversation. I'm not exactly sure why that is, but the concern that I had has been debunked so seriously hard that it shocks me.

My brother is weird. He went to public school and he still marches to the beat of his own drummer. He always has and that didn't change although he endured 13 years of public education. He's bright, plays 3 instruments, flies huge model air planes (as a hobby), served in the Air Force aboard the AWACS which is a surveillance aircraft for the Military. He works in IT.  He's a father. But he's quirky. That brings me to what I think was the most eye-opening truth about socialization. If a child is shy, they will most likely be whether they are home schooled or public schooled. If they are "quirky" that may just be who they are and has nothing to do with the type of education that they are privy to. One of my best friends is majorly quirky! She was public schooled, she home schooled her children and they seem more "normal" than she is. (smile)

There are so many groups to get involved in academically or just for extra curricular activities.The idea of an unsocialized home school kid is all but a relic of the past. As one of the ladies at our co-op put it, "that's so old school."  So for the many, many moms who will begin your journey this year, don't let the idea that your child will somehow turn out to be weird, socially inept, or in some way crippled by your decision to home school him or her to stop you. It's a farce! Take it from a Mom who was terrified of the thought. My children have had more than enough wonderful opportunities to meet and interact with wonderful kids. And we did not have to join every group in town, do every activity under the sun, live at the library or go on a field trip everyday in order for that to happen. We simply live our lives expecting God to order our steps and this year has been a phenomenal year for me as well as the girls.

Home schooling ROCKS!

Thanks for reading...hope you were encouraged! Linking up at Hip Homeschool Moms.


Friday, January 11, 2013

First Official Week Back

We've had a very good school week this week. Notice the big black square with my profile picture and a song title???  {smile}

My husband and I came up with this little song in about 2 or 3 days to help me teach Matter to the kids. Everything that I found on the web was a little lyric-heavy or dove a little too deeply into the subject for my little early elementary minds. So I tapped into the wonderful musical resource that is my husband and this is what we've created. The Three States of Matter Song. Stay tuned for more!!!!! (wink) 
The Three States of Matter Music Icon

We had so much fun doing this and my Phillip is sooooo great with making silly lyrics that make sense. You should see some of the hand-made anniversary cards that I've gotten over the years.

My lesson plan for Matter included singing the song at the beginning of science class and to end the class with it. We tackled one state of Matter each day, did a work sheet for each state and ended the week with an experiment. The girls drew what they understood from the experiment on the white board. It was fun and they've learned so much. I'd planned to start the water cycle next week but we are going to plow into the three states of matter a little while longer, there are so many ways to teach it and drive the point home.

Like next week we are going to focus solely on the properties of each. Do more experiments and draw the atom structure of each state to compare and contrast. Which this week, we did more of a physical illustration (using our bodies) for understanding the atomic structure. So fun!

A mom-friend at our co-op expressed a need for "time" and suggested that we swop teaching duties once a week to give each other a day to do other needful things. She runs a business here in town that takes a lot of preparation and planning week to week. I just needed to catch up on some cleaning and laundry so it worked out great for us both. Our girls are the same age and grade which makes sharing teaching duties pretty easy. I don't know how long we will do this but for this week, it was a God send! Because of this though, Madison worked her Saxon Math book, which she hadn't done in months and thanks to her regular Abeka Math, she could jump in there with no problem!

Working with Saxon flash cards
Chelsea, this week has been working on a math worksheet using counting bears.

Madison is learning more about proper nouns from her Rod & Staff English book. In History, we're learning about the French/Indian War so we watched some YouTube videos on how to speak French. I'd planned on making a French dessert (Riz au Lait) but we ran out of time and my husband did not pick up the bag of rice!

We did end our hard work week with a Friday Family Fun Night where we made your own parfait...Hey...isn't parfait French????

Favorite picture of the week...Chelsea leaving ballet class.

Thanks for reading. Linking up at Collage Friday, A Mama's Story, We are that Family, Preschool Creations and WUH! Have a happy weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Not So Much School


 My first born is SEVEN!!!!!!!!!

Oh my!! Last night I kept pretending to cry that she was turning seven today and she and her sister laughed but then Chelsea says, "why don't you want us to grow up Mom?" (She's 4). 
Realizing that she was serious I said, "oh, honey, I'm just playing, I do want you to grow up."

Chelsea: "Daddy doesn't want us to grow up because he doesn't want us to go to heaven."

Me: (swirling my head around so fast that I almost sprang my neck) "Honey, Daddy and Mommy do want you guys to grow up, we are just having so much fun with you at this age that  we want to enjoy it as long as possible."

She was referring to dying  when she said that Daddy didn't want them to go to heaven. He's never said that to her, that's just her little 4 year old brain trying to figure out why Mommy and Daddy want them to stay little. So she concluded that it was about dying and going to heaven when you're old-er. That's just one of those times where you get the most surprising peek into your child's little mind that has the opportunity to knock you speechless for a second or two.

So anyway, yes, our Madison is 7 today! She's asked for birthday pancakes for which I ran out to the store to grab candles. We took her bowling with a couple of her friends then for pizza at Upscale Pizza (a Truett Cathy joint) and will probably have cake and ice cream tomorrow with family and friends here at the house.

As for school, I'd attempted to start school back on Wednesday since Phil was going back to work and the break was officially over.  This is how much we got done this week.
Needless to say, it was harder getting back in the swing of things than I thought it would be. Therefore I told myself, as I was planning our science lesson, "Christmas break isn't officially over until Monday!" {grin} I came to my senses and succumbed to the final three days of vacation. {nice}

 A little bit of  our lives over Christmas break!

Thank you for reading! Linking up at Collage Friday!


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Break does the Mind and Body Good

This break has been Ah-MAZING! We just hung out at home as a family. My husband had the holidays off from Christmas Eve and we relaxed to the 10th power! I now feel energized and ready to get back to schooling!!!!!

My Dad went home from the hospital on Christmas Eve...Praise God for that!

My Mother had us over on Christmas Eve for dinner and for her grandkids to trim her tree! That was fun!

We had our traditional (4th annual) Christmas morning breakfast here at home. That was delicious:
Turkey Sausage
Cheese grits (a southern thing)
Hashbrown Casserole
Pumpkin Spice and Vanilla Pancakes
Fresh Fruit
Orange Juice
Toast with Jelly
Cinnamon Bread

I think that was it! It was so much fun to have family and friends over after the kids had open their gifts.

My Dad's side of the family had their Christmas gathering on the Sunday after Christmas where the girls got the chance to feed a sty of pigs! I didn't get any pictures of that but we definitely have the stories and memories! They LOVE going to the "family home" for that side of the family because it is seriously in the "country". My grandfather bought land nearly his whole adult life in that part of the GA and they enjoy the freedom to run and climb trees and feed pigs and climb on tractor equipment...the whole nine! It's always a great time.

And lastly, we had some dear friends over last night for dinner. So we got the chance to celebrate New Year's with great people!

God has truly been good to our family, blessing us with great family, wonderful friends, the opportunity to home school (which I most certainly consider a blessing), a growing, thriving business, a pretty awesome marriage and I think most of all, His mercy. That "stuff" that sees us through this life even when we don't get it all right. God's grace, His mercy and His love is there to catch us, lift us up, keep us afloat, mend any brokeness, to heal us, to set us free, to remind us that it's gonna be alright...yeah, I think that's the biggest of the blessings...His mercy.

Thank you so much for reading and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
Numbers 6:24-26

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