Weekdays with Dad as the Sub for our Homeschool

This week, I became very sick. I had just made a new schedule and new expectations, which really were just small changes to the old, to accommodate for the new weather and the new requirements of baseball little league games. My husband took two days off work to fill in.

I was very grateful to him, but did not expect what happened. He was amazing. He got the kids to do half of to what is on their lists, which is more than I have been able to get them to do since I started nursing our newbie. It was very inspiring, a glimpse into the future of what life may hold for us when newbie increases his baby food intake, allowing me to be up and moving more often.

What did he get them to do with his help the first day? (Nothing short of miraculous):

Groovy Grooming
Leave No Trace Breakfast
Beautiful Bedrooms
Lovely Living Room
Devotional
Discover the Book of Mormon
Spelling City on iPad 15 minutes each
Math on iPad 15 minutes each
Reading history half hour
Leave No Trace Lunch
In Evening, Dinner and ball games for multiple kids

The second day, mind you, I felt better but did not feel recovered enough, so with a clean house, he worked on the budget a week later than we usually do, and I did the child care, housework, and recovery. This is what we did:

Groovy grooming, which took all day for some kids
One kid cleaned dining room alone
Two kids did spelling and math o the iPad
Softball practice outside for one
Reading the Hobbit Outside, for another
Cleaning the Living room, for one child
Making beds
Discover the Book of Mormon for one child
Devotional for one child
Lunch, which was cleaned up a couple hours later
Softball practice with team for one kid
A visit from grandpa for all kids
The reconciling of the old budget by dad
The creation of the new budget by dad
Going to bank to get cash by dad
Grocery shopping by dad
Mom and dad date time with the eldest watching the kids

I must give a shout out to thank all the awesome fathers of homeschooled kids out there. You can do it, you are great at it. You are part of the learning these kids are up to. Thank you! You do a lot more than people know. You are needed, very helpful, indispensable and amazing!

On “De-schooling” and Me

My friend posted a link on a local homeschool group board. It has really made me think, a lot. Here is the link. It is an article by Leo Babauta. You’ll have to read it, before you’ll understand my blog post today.

http://unschoolery.com/de-schooling

It includes 8 bullet points for beliefs we carry with us, given us by our society and culture. These are:
“Kids should get up early and start learning as soon as possible.
“Students should learn reading, writing, science, math, history, etc.
“Students should be learning at the same pace as others their age.
“They need to learn certain things by the end of high school.
“They need to focus hard and really study and be tested to make sure they’re really learning.
“We need to force them to learn because otherwise they’ll just watch TV and play video games.
“They need to go to college.
“We know what’s best for them.”
I will modify them to what my current beliefs are. They are:

1) Kids can learn without the kind of “focus” school requires, though they will have an even greater focus, when learning things they want to learn. When they are focused in this way, internally motivated, they learn at an exponential rate. I do believe that when in this mode, the “really study” is there, but it is not forced. It is the child’s choice. There are academic subjects that the children will not “really study,” but will learn more slowly, with their own learning style. but they will not remember it well because they simply do not care. I do not believe in “testing.” I do notice, though, when my child wants to understand, but is frustrated. I do notice when their eyes light up, hear them say, “Oh, I get it,” and see that they can do it quickly with little effort. This is how a homeschool mom knows whether their child “really understands it.” It does not, however, necessarily mean they will retain that knowledge. If they don’t use the skills in real life, they will lose them. This has happened to me, with many things my school teachers think I “learned” by “proving it” with a “test.”

2) Kids should get up before noon and we should do the personal, family and homeschool routine, before bedtime. The daily routine includes personal health and grooming, household chores, the learning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, my reading aloud to them and reading to themselves. It also includes 2 additional weekly academic subjects of the day (chosen by me). If they do not do these aforementioned, then every day, at least during the same calendar week, I will push them to “catch up” before they can have “just for fun” (not for learning) technology time, or play with friends.

3) I think my children need to learn the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to have good values and character traits. I think they should love books and enjoy their parents reading to them. I think they should do their part in and learn how to clean the house, cook, and care for their family members. I think they should learn to spell well. I think they should have a regular habit of, and enjoy, reading on their own. I think they need to learn math in order that they might avoid debt and so that, with the entrepreneurial hearts they have, they’ll be able to do well in their future businesses. I think they need to learn science, as it is a part of us everywhere. I think that they need to learn to write and to draw, because knowing how to do these will be essential in their lives and will help them a lot. I think they need to know about their world (geography) and about what has happened in the world in the past (history). I think they need to understand freedom and how to keep it.

4) I would like my kids to have the desire to constantly learn and to progress. I do not believe that others their age learn at “the same pace.” I think all people learn at different paces, depending on their abilities and intrinsic interest levels in each area. I do enjoy instructing my kids and giving them the opportunity, should they want it, to learn all of the things that were required of kids at their “grade level” in public school in Utah from 2003 to 2011 (before the Common Core).

5) I want my kids to learn certain things by the time they reach adulthood. I do not have the same goals that the school system has, but I do have goals for them. I hope they will gradually improve themselves so that by the time they are adults, they will know:
a) To have lifetime habits that will help them keep themselves as healthy and well-groomed as possible
b) To be kind, considerate, good listeners, Christlike, wise, thoughtful, polite, honest, true, chaste, virtuous and to have wonderful manners.
c) To have strong testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ
d) To be able to see and understand boundaries in relationships and decision-making; To be able to “stand up” for themselves and their own beliefs and decisions
e) To be “responsible” for their own actions and decisions: To know they are accountable for their own decisions and actions; To understand that there will be natural consequences for their actions and decisions in life.
f) To be hard workers. To be determined. To set their own pace and their own goals. To learn from failure rather than give up because of it.
g) To have been given the “opportunity” (meaning, as stated above, that I “offer it” continuously until age 18, but if they choose not to learn it, that is fine. At least they were given the chance) to be instructed in, all of the things that were required of kids at each “grade level,” in Utah, before Common Core.

h) To be enabled to make and reach their own personal goals as they are on each given day and moment.

6) I believe I need to offer the learning aforementioned, each academic or calendar year, so that if it is that child’s desire (which desire some of my kids have), then they will be at least as instructed as their public-schooled peers. I have promised this to these children, and I must deliver on that promise. I know I will have kids “just goofing off” (with non-instructional stuff) some days, even when I am “offering” instruction. Some days, they will have the eagerness to learn that cannot be held back. On these days, I must give them those opportunities to learn, as well as I am able.

7) I do not believe people need to go to college. I do have the desire to offer them that chance, should they desire it. If that child desires to be ready to enter college by a certain time, I will do my best to give them that opportunity which they desire.

8) I do not think I am “better than” any of my kids, and therefore, do not think “I know what is best for them” in every aspect of life. However, I know I have gained much wisdom and experience in this life which can help my kids have happy lives. I will impart my wisdom when they ask for it. I will offer it but will not force it upon them.

Writing, Reading, Spelling and Math

I have decided we need to focus more on Spelling and Math in our home education. I think they are so important. I am not going to go into detail about which kids are behind their grade levels, or where I want them to be, but I am going to tell you that I have made yet another new schedule, one which includes more reading, writing, spelling and math than did the previous one. 

I am really hyped up about it and so are the kids. My kids have known they needed to work on these subjects more. We just haven’t, because I have tried to fit in every single thing I want them to learn before they are adults, into each homeschool year, which is just not possible.

I really DO want my kids to know how to be an adult. I am just slowing it down. They can’t know it all now. We are not superhuman and cannot fit more into a day than other people can. I have to humble myself and focus on the small things, in order that I may get big results over time.

For now, these are our focuses. One thing I like about homeschooling is how flexible it is. It wasn’t until my kids made me lose my patience, go outside and read the newspaper on the back porch for 5 minutes to “cool off” my anger and re-gain a heavenly perspective, while reading it, that it dawned on me, TODAY IS SEPTEMBER 11th. WHY AM I NOT MAKING THIS A DAY OF REMEMBRANCE? I went inside and had a new plan. Today would be PATRIOT DAY in our home. I asked the kids what September 11th was. They were clueless. This was unacceptable. My plans for the lessons of the day went in the trash, so to speak, and we watched things about September 11th. No child of mine would be unknowledgeable about this day. Not while I am in charge.

I tell you this because I don’t want you to think that because we are going to focus more on Writing, Reading, Spelling and Math, that we do only those, or that we can’t just grab any day we want to, and do something completely off of the regular plan that day. I do have the other subjects in my schedule plan, and I do allow us to do unscheduled, impromptu things, as needed. I have added more time to the subjects mentioned here, though, and I think that is needful now.

If my children were having a hard time with these subjects in public school, the teacher would not change the plan, or the schedule, or the curriculum, for my child. I can, though, and that is a beautiful thing about homeschooling!

Flexible Homeschool Schedule (not calendar-based)

Our Home learning schedule is pretty unique. I have it based on a “Loop Schedule,” and I like it.

I thought you might like to see my complex yet simple homeschool schedule. I have perfected it over time. I found that doing math and Language arts daily, gives me little time and only leaves time for a quick worksheet. I have found that having fewer subjects per day gives me more time with each, enabling us to do more and get into it more. I also found that putting a specific day, such as every Monday and every Wednesday, we do this, or even every fourth Tuesday, we do that, or even every 6 weeks, we do this or that, does not work, because then, inevitably, we skip something the kids have been looking forward to, like “Cooking,” or “Sewing,” because it is a sick day or a field trip day. This also has no scheduled field trips, because I don’t usually know whether we are truly going, until the morning of.

I made sure that I prioritized the subjects the way I think is best for our family. I put in specifics for mornings, afternoons and evenings, because they are so important to the Homeschool days. Cleaning at night and having the kids shower the afternoon before, assure us that we won’t have to do those during the homeschool days.

This is flexible with which days we do them as well as which hours we do them. I like that. It makes it so that we’ll never skip a subject. We won’t move off of that shape & color day until we have completed the items included on the paper for that shape & color. It is possible that we could do them on Saturdays. It is possible we could take 2 days to do one, and it is also possible to complete 2 or 3 colored shapes in one day on some days when we want to get a lot done.

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Homeschool Day Boxes and How They Work!

I tried this day boxes system, based on the system called, “work boxes,” which I did not like, as I am an Alfie Kohn fan, and it worked well. It works well as long as I have time to get the day boxes ready that morning early, or the night before.

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I found that the kids like new and different things in there. They despise having very similar things, day after day. I found that even a toddler has to have things, because he wants to be like the others and have something made for him to do, so he can work, too. He did get bored fast, so I must have always had very boring things in there for him. I tried to get something from each subject we were doing that day. I also put the book they are currently reading for fun, in there.

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I also put the ruler, the scissors, the glue stick, the markers, the pencil and the paper they needed for that day’s stuff, in their box. This makes it so nobody has to go look for something they need, giving them about a 100% chance of getting distracted and not coming back for quite some time!

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They really liked them and they made my job much easier during the homeschool day! One thing I did not like was that the boxes took up so much space on the table that it does not give them much space to work. I solved that by getting out a card table, but then they fought over which table they wanted to sit at. Oh, my! That’s the way kids are!

 

 

End of the Summer Observations of a Homeschooling Mom

I am expecting a baby in January and my mother-in-law came over and gave my husband a big lecture about how impossible it will be to homeschool when there is a new baby, and can’t we at least send our 4 year old to preschool and our older two to school so that I only have to homeschool one child; And do we realize that we cannot start at 10:30–We have to start at 8:30, and that we have to do it 180 days? I am not having doubts. I’m just feeling frustrated that after nearly 2 years of homeschooling, there are still the lectures. Is there a cure for the after-effects of such lecturing? I need one.

I found these articles online:

http://www.lovetolearn.net/most-important-homeschool-lesson

http://www.mormonmommyblogs.com/2010/11/baby-is-lesson.html

They were very helpful. Also, I have read much about unschooling and, although I do not always use that, there are days when I think that, due to a pregnancy & morning sickness, today is unschooling. I am always surprised how much they do and learn on those days.

I had planned to school year round, but before this summer, my plan was not to unschool all summer. But so it has gone. I have unschooled all summer, and to my happy surprise, they have learned a ton this way. My kids recently became really into the game on the computer, “Times Attack,” by BigBrainz. It’s great because I knew my son really needs to learn to multiply. I did not even suggest it to him. In the middle of the school year, I remember him saying he was sick of multiplication, and wanted to do other math. I taught him probability by playing a fun game, which the kids then wanted to play at every second for a while.

 Just today, I was thinking about my mother-in-law’s opinion, and about the baby coming. The articles helped, but I also realized that, just like the unschooling philosophy says, life IS the lesson. When I have morning sickness, that is life. Keeping care of mom and helping her feel better is sometimes the lesson. Housework is sometimes the lesson. Making sure mom does not forget to eat and learning childcare are sometimes the lesson. Making your own meals and entertaining yourselves is sometimes the lesson.

It’s crazy how great it is just to know the unschooling philosophy, so that when my mother in law, or anyone else, reminds me about how “you have to do it 180 days- It’s the LAW!” I can remember how 365 days a year, my kids are constantly learning, so it is laughable to think that for the majority of the world, thinking that learning 180 days is all that kids need, is normal and acceptable. For me, it’s 365 days a year. They are always learning. It is not always formal, and is never “like public school,” as they’d wish it to be, but for me, it is just great.

Over the summer, I have seen many children, families and women who do public school during the school year, and I have noticed things which have reminded me why I like my decision to home educate the way I do. Here are some of my mental notes for you. These are just things I have noticed from the SUMMER months!

“I can’t believe (that child) is (that old) and mom is still doing that for (the child)! i am glad my children, by that age and much younger, learn to do that for themselves.”

“These public-schooled kids are so pressured all the time! It is unhealthy and insane that the world treats kids this way!”

“Those kids have to be entertained. Those poor moms think it is their job to entertain the kids, and those kids think it is mom’s job to entertain them. How crazy is that? My kids entertain themselves. That is not my job!”

“I cannot believe how many moms don’t look for a solution to a problem with a child, or do not address a child’s needs, because, oh, well, thank goodness, he/she is only here a few months, and school starts again soon, and then he/ she will be back in school. Does she honestly think that is O.K.? Is that not just a way to ignore her child and said child’s needs or problem, because in the school year, mom won’t have to “deal with it” anymore? That is horrible. So many moms feel that way. They just don’t care to deal with it, and are just glad they won’t have to anymore, once the school year starts. That is so sad for the child and for their relationship. Child needs mom. Why has she abandoned the child in this way? The child will still have the same needs and hurts when school starts. Mom will just not have to “see” the needs anymore, and, therefore, will be in the ignorant bliss in which she likes to be. How sad! That child is crying out for help. Why is she not desiring to help?”

 “I cannot believe how, during the summer, these moms think they have to soak up their child and enjoy it all really fast by going on trips and to events constantly, because they know that once the public school year starts, their child will no longer be with them. They have to “speed date” their child, almost, during the summer. How sad. They could keep the child year round, and enjoy the child slowly, day by day, all year round! If only they knew that!”

In conclusion, I’d like to say that I don’t think these things just to judge others, but to confirm MY reasons for home educating my kids, in my mind. I need this, because the barrage of insults, lectures and observations about what I do WILL come and will always be coming, from relatives and many others, and I need these observations to help me to stay strong in my decision to home educate my kids.

It is like the tree that became stronger because it constantly fought the wind. I have to constantly strengthen myself mentally & emotionally in these ways, in order to stay strong in my decision, despite extreme opposition from other people around me.

Montessori Pink words set 2

Montessori Pink words set 2

I made this 2nd set because my daughter had mastered the 1st set I made. She did very well and I am afraid she will breeze through it, soon. I went to thehelpfulgarden.blogspot.com to find out what to do next. I printed a bunch of stuff. I cut some of it out. I need more white printer cardstock now. I use so much for montessori stuff. I love the montessori method. It seems to work, even though I don’t follow it fully.

I also decided we’ll do 2 pages in our Discover The Book of Mormon Books, each day, instead of 1. I feel we are moving too slowly through it. I love it. It teaches the kids so much and teaches me so much, too. It rocks. I highly recommend it.

I have decided to stop posting homeschool stuff on Facebook, except for other homeschool families to see. I think people get the wrong impressions about homeschool, and I’d rather give them no impressions at all, than the wrong ones.