Classroom Set-Up: Back to Relaxed Mormon Homeschool

It is that time of year again. School teachers and Homeschool moms are very busy right now. It is time to plan for the upcoming academic year of 2017-18. It will be another new and exciting academic year for all of us. It is a very exciting time of year. It is a time to start fresh and look forward to newness and think of how things will be different this year. There is always a hope that each year will be better, easier. There is a great aspiration to have a better set-up which will make finding things easier, which will make us able to do things we do repeatedly and often, more efficiently, and which will make everyone feel in the mood to enjoy togetherness, make friends (or become closer as a family), learn and do school work.


I am well aware that public school and charter school teachers are getting ready as well as homeschool moms like me. My parents were public school teachers until they retired, and I know they were starting to prepare for the new academic year at this time. In my local school district, the first teacher contract day is in a week and a day. Generally, my mom and dad worked at least 3-4 days not on their contract, before the school year began. It is likely that this coming Monday, many Weber County School District teachers will show up at their school, unlock their classroom which has rested from teacher eyes all summer, and will sigh, stare at the walls and cabinets and wonder where they will start in setting up their classrooms.


I remember all those years helping my mom and dad set up. Even for me, as a child and as an adult, it was exciting. I loved making sure all the new pencils were sharpened, and that every desk had a name label, a spelling book, a math book, a science book, a language arts book and a social studies book, along with a new pencil, a new ruler and a new box of pencils. Now I am a homeschool mom teaching my large family of children preschool through tenth this year. I have purchased many school supplies. I have yet to purchase more needed supplies, but for the most part, I have the supplies. We have one table in the homsechool room, so I do not set books there or put name labels on for the kids. I put books and supplies in the homeschool cabinets, lined up and organized nicely, ready for what we will be studying this year.


I have switched out the science focus. Although I hired out for science, I have science books in the homeschool room for when I say that today, I want them to pick a non-fiction science, geography or history book and read it, or when, for language arts, I want them to use non-fiction books to do a research report.


When my public school teacher parents were getting ready for the new year, there was much de-junking and organizing. There wasn’t recycling. They only had garbage cans, but much went into the trash. My homeschool room has to be newly de-junked and papers filed and put away or recycled. I have one full box of school papers my mom gave me and one full blue bin of papers I put in the bin from all the years of homeschooling combined. I have to go through them. Don Aslett called it “the paper tiger” in his book about de-cluttering the office. A homeschool room is very much like an office, but we do have a separate room for the office.  It is needed for my homeschool file cabinet, homeschool workbooks I photocopy, my computer and pur 4-in-1 machine which photocopies, scans and prints. 


I am also making plans for creating more for other teachers to use in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. All of you who are reading this and who have created any tool for a teacher to use (public school teachers, charter school teachers and homeschool teachers) may wish to open a Teachers Pay Teachers store and sell the tools they have made. You can sign up here. It is free to start, (although you will make more money per item if you have a paid annual plan).


Teachers pay teachers referral link

Kayse Morris: Teachers Pay Teachers, for beginners (How to make it look good so it will 

Just make what you need for your own family or classroom 

Suggested Blogposts:

Whole House Home Ed Organization

Homeschool Dailies
LDS Homeschooling
Transgenderism and Homosexuality in Utah Schools Starting with 2017-18
Humanism is a Religion

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Springtime And Being Very Busy!

I have been so busy gardening, organizing, de-junking and cleaning the house, that I have not made a blog post in a while. This past weekend, my husband and son finished building our Shelf Reliance shelves and we loaded them up with food storage cans. I am excited about that. Lately, we have been working  lot on that. 

On Saturday, before LDS General Conference, I worked hard putting the math in its own binder. It is a red binder, so it stands out from all the white ones I have for other reasons. I went through the math checklists and evaluated, knowing full well what the kids know and don’t, where each one is in math. Then I made lesson plans. I made plans for 6 homeschool days. 

“Pirate,” by my son:

  

Right now, at 7:30 a.m., my daughter is teaching my younger boys. She uses my math checklist for the math. I love the help. One son is telling her emphatically, “I already know my numbers!” He had been stubborn, but he just now passed off an item on the math checklist without any help at all. This is big for him! I am happy. My older daughter and my older son are now enthusiastically and with dancing, teaching them. My daughter just asked me, “Mom, what does fluently mean?” We have decided the one is fluent at a certain concept. Well, it will not be long before he can do even more difficult things fluently. I am so excited.

This is something most people who homeschool understand and most who don’t, don’t: The older kids teach their siblings happily. It’s awesome! It frees me up to focus on being the leader. I am not the leader and the one who does it all. I am just the leader. I give direction and my kids help it happen. They want homeschool to work. They want mom to be happy. They enjoy teaching because it is fun. 

When it comes to teaching siblings to ride bikes, play baseball, work in the garden, cook, clean, make lunch, etcetera, they are all great! I love this about homeschooling. Sometimes, younger ones even help older ones, because maybe that is their favorite subject, or one of their favorites, so they are beyond their years in ability because they have learned so much in a certain area. For example, my son loves science. He teaches his siblings all sorts of things because he “gets it.” I am usually surprised at what he knows. It’s amazing. He has the ability to explain science concepts by jumping up and down and acting them out. It’s fun to watch him. 

My daughter is still in her pajamas but is now looking over the Montessori list of skills and asking me whether this one has learned that yet. I am so grateful for her help in keeping on top of that. I used to have to do it all myself, which after a while, meant I never got to it. It is nice to have someone who gets to it on my behalf. She will be an awesome mom someday. She will be an awesome homeschool mom someday! Whe wants to be an early childhood educator, so all of this fascinates her. It is one of the things she lives for!

My son is reading “Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers. He told me that he has 2 bookmarks. He does not like going for so long with these characters before getting back to what those ones are doing. He would rather just go one chapter with these, one chapter with those, instead of 3 chapters, then 3 chapters. Fine with me! He invents stories, too, so I would not be surprised if we get an author here! He is also still in pajamas. Oh, well. I am hoping he gets dressed by 9 a.m.!

No Slave to a Style or Method

I am in Unschooling groups, eclectic groups, montessori groups, LDS homeschooling groups, TJED groups and regular homeschooling groups on facebook. We do not fit into any style. I decided a few months ago that pretending we fit into a box “we do this style,” was just fruitless. We do what works each day, what I feel like we will do that day, and on some days, what Heavenly afather directs. Ideally, every day would be “we do as Heavenly Father directs,” but in reality, I am not perfect and I just do my best every day. Some days, my best means I took a shower and the kids are alive.

I did purchase the L.I.F.E. School LDS Homeschooling Curriculum

I love it. I won’t say we do it every day, but usually whenever we do anything formal for aademics, we include it. It is what keeps me sane. I used to have to make lesson plans for all those subjects, but now I don’t have to and I know that it is included. I don’t have to worry over what to teach, as everything is right there (every subject is included except dance and math). My kids even have a lot of past workbook material to catch up on in LIFE School, so some days, when I di not have time, ability or desire to teach a formal lesson, I just say, “Do 6 pages of Life School,” and they know that means, from past lessons which I have taught, that they have yet to do work for. It takes them anywhere from one hour to never getting it done, to do that, depending on whether they try or not.

We still use Spelling Workout sometimes, too, because my kids need extra TLC in that area. We also use God’s Design For Science as it fits in with our Science in Life School, as a supplement, because it’s the most awesome Science program ever!!! It is not LDS, but Christian, and I add in LDS stuff because I am the teacher!

For more LDS and Scripture learning, we also use Discover the Old Testament, because that is where we are on the timeline of history in LIFE School, is Old Testament and Ancient Book of Mormon Times, for which we use Discover the Book of Mormon. One uses grades 1-3. The others use grades 4-7. They finished 1-3 in a different homeschool year.

Then there is the math, of course, which is also the best math ever because I am re-inventing the wheel. I have seen homeschool moms say of facebook, things similar to, “Why Reinvent the Wheel?” Well, in my case, because I do not like the wheel that is there. It is broken, so I am fixing it so that it works. The math used in public schools is the math used in homeschool, in most cases. I have heard of lots of homeschool math programs which just do not work for homeschool moms, unless they have just one, or very few, kids. I have 6, though, so it needed to be re-thought. It is a lot of work, but I do not follow a math program. Instead, I am creating a Homeschool math program which is a one room schoolhouse approach like LIFE School, which lets me teach math to all the kids together, and when it is fully ready, we will have math lessons as a family (instead of 5 separate math lessons for 5 separate kids old enough for them).

It is not fully ready yet. It is in the works. I do some of it, but mostly, I still have to teach each child a separate math lesson (which I think is so time-consuming)!

In addition to all that, we go when my husband is off work, on field trips to museums and kids learning places. I think it is easier on me not to try to do it without my husband’s help. We also are in a bunch of facebook groups and now and then, we do things with the others in the homeschool community locally. We used to do this more often, and have even tried the Co-Op thing. The Co-Op thing has not been in the mix of late, but I am trying to start my own LDS Co-Op lately, and we will see. Right now, I just plan a get-together once a month. That is all I can do now.

Here is a related post you will want to check out, too. The Current Mix of Our Homeschool Day

What to Do if Your Friend or Loved One, is a Homeschool Mom

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I called my husband in the middle of our homeschool lesson, telling him how hard it is to make it through a lesson. I have kids pillow fighting while I call him. Already, I had solved at least 3 dozen little problems, such as:

-Telling my 10 year old son a dozen times to please not suck his thumb.
-Resolving conflicts over who gets to play with one child or sit next to whom.
-Asking my kids to please not scream loudly, step on the piano keys, hit people, fight, etc.

The list could go on, but I do not want to overwhelm you. The point I want to make is this:

Homeschooling is HARD WORK!!!

My grandmother told me on Halloween, that I need to send my kids to public school so that I can have a break. I know I need a break. I couldn’t possibly agree more. Homeschooling is hard work. She means well. I have just heard one too many times, that since it is hard, I should quit.

These are the things which make it hard:

-The bullying comes from one’s own siblings
-Mom has to remind herself to breathe in slowly, close her eyes, relax and breathe out slowly (frequently)

When a homeschool mom, Mom’s hobbies become:
-putting together the homeschool room/ homeschool areas.
-finding curriculum, worksheets, books, learning games, co-op groups which suit the family, homeschool group events, learning aids and so forth
-cleaning and organizing homeschool stuff
-filling out new schedule or routine plans, or calendars
-finding ways to escape when the husband or other big helper, is in.

I am really upset that some people tell me that because it is hard, I should stop doing it. Do people ever go up to U.S. Soldiers and say, “If it is so hard, then just stop doing it!”? No. No, they do not. They go up to them and say, “Thank you. Thank you for serving our country. Thank you for keeping our nation free.”

Public school teachers have a frustrating, difficult job, like unto mine in many ways, but different also. They are also stressed, like me, over teaching kids to have respect for the teacher. They are also stressed about kids fighting, running around the room, not listening at times, and so forth. Yet, when a public school teacher complains, do people ask them to quit, and tell them, “You really should not teach school, because it is too hard. You need a job that is less stressful.” No. People do not. They thank the teachers. Mothers gush over public school teachers and tell them things similar to: “I do not know what I would do without you. You are a great teacher. Thank you so much!”

Parents have a very tough job. It is neverending. It is very difficult. It is stressful. When parents go to others and complain about how hard it is, do we say to them, “You should not be a parent, then. Just stop being a parent. Give the parenting job to someone else. Let people in care centers do it, take lots of breaks and switch shifts. It is too stressful for you. You need to not parent that child anymore”??
Seriously? If you said that, you would have just lost a friend. He or she would think you are insane. They did not complain, wanting you to tell them to stop doing it! This is what they want. They want you to have empathy for them. They want you to be a listening ear or a sounding board. They may want a hug! They do not want to stop being the parent to their child!

Next time you feel like saying to a homeschool mom, that what they do is too hard, and she should quit, know that you are risking losing their trust in a big way. This homeschool mom will not use you as a sounding board again. She will add you to the bottom of her extremely long list of people she cannot vent to.

Know this also, that this woman truly does have a very impossibly long list of people she knows she cannot vent to, or dares not try venting to for the first time. She needs to vent. It is a healthy thing all women must do to keep their sanity. Women who homeschool are not extrahuman. They are NOT more amazing than other women. They are normal, everyday women who need listening and caring from other women. They need a sounding board. Please do not tell them to quit.

Instead, support them as a friend supports a friend. This is what we homeschool moms crave. We need badly, people who listen and empathize, but do not tell us to quit homeschooling. We need people who listen, think inside their heads, perhaps, that that is really hard, and then say aloud, “That would be really hard. Let’s go play, and get our minds off it, and help you feel like yourself again! You need a break!”

So if you are my friend and you are reading this, call me and let’s go hang out. If you are a really good friend, you will ask about homeschooling and listen, but not tell me to quit doing it.

Thanks in advance for calling me and going out to a movie or to dinner, to help me to be myself again, or for those who have done so, in the past!

Public School, Homeschool and Behavior Issues

My son used to have major behavioral and psychological issues when in public school. In a week, I noticed slight changes. In a month, I noticed more changes. After 3 months, his issues had been cut to 60% what they were when he had been in public school. After one year of homeschooling, I think the behavior issues were about 40% what they had been in public school. Now it has been almost 3 years. He is older, so, granted, that could make a difference, too, BUT I think homeschooling has made a bigger difference than age. He has behavior issues still, but they are down to about 20% what they were when he was in public school.

I wonder so often, whether they would even exist, had he never been in public school, but that does not solve anything, so I shouldn’t.

I will tell you some things that I think made a difference for my son. They are important to me. I cannot guarantee they will work for you. Every family will do different things. I am sure something here could help someone, though, so here it is.

When I began, I had already read about 6 books written by amazing author Alfie Kohn, including “Unconditional Parenting” and “The Schools Our Children Deserve,” which I recommend you start with. His books are very thick because of solid references which are in the back of the books. These take up about one third of the book. I looked at the references and used them to decide which books to read next. These were also very helpful.

I love “The NDD Book,” about how your child getting enough sleep, exercise and the right nutrition, will spfor sure affect his or her behavior. My child does get more sleep out of public school, because if, for example, we happen to stay up late on a Thursday night, visiting relatives or something, the he sleeps in the next morning (Friday). When we do an exhausting field trip, project, co-op or gathering, he eats and naps. He naps whenever he needs it and I let him, because he does not do it very often, and I have talked with him about how his body will tell him when he needs it. Usually when he has a meltdown, we feed him (that helps) and then he will go lie down for a one hour nap. When he gets up again, he is cheerful, kind, helpful, obedient, etcetera.

We have discussed what works best for him, with him. He likes this. When we forget to do this for a while, things do not work as well. He also needs regular one on one love and individual attention. Before he really “got into” reading, I used to get up in the morning and, first thing, read to him sitting in a chair in his room, to help him wake up. I read for half an hour. This helped him get out of bed cheerfully. It also helped him feel loved and helped us bond. I cannot deny that it made him love books, as well.

I teach my kids via eclectic homeschooling, and one thing included in 60 to 90% of our homeschool, depending in the day, week and month, and what is going on, is letting him learn however he wants, and whatever he wants, as long as it is within our religious standards. A lot of people call this unschooling, but I prefer to just describe it, as the “un” has such negative connotations. He learns a ton this way, and the freedom of this approach takes away a lot of behavior issues.

We also use an LDS curriculum called “L.I.F.E. School.” “L.I.F.E. Stands for Life Integrated Family Education.” The kids all get the same lesson. Then they do their work, which is similar, so they can help one another, but it is different for each grade level. I love it. It makes things so much easier for me. I do not have to do as much work to out things together for my kids to learn. The gospel is woven into every lesson. It teaches art, geography, history, science, literature, poetry, theater, reading, grammar, paleography, spelling, and many types of writing. It teaches dictionary work and research, essay

The only subject not included in this curriculum is Math. I am fine with that. I work hard at math teaching, most of the time. When I do not, I have to make up for it later.

Mom, We found this outside…

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My kids are learning all the time. They love to learn. I love that we homeschool, and I am glad my kids love learning. They seem to thrive on learning. I do not have to get them motivated, or convince them that to learn, is cool. My kids will not be finished learning at age 18, and will not have a graduation party to celebrate being finished with required learning. They will not have to wait until they are 18 or finished with required learning, to get a university degree. Homeschooling is awesome. The crazy thing is, many of you wish you could, but think you cannot. This ios untrue. You are awesome. You can do it! In fact, I will help you to see how, if you ask me!

EVERYONE Helping EVERYONE with the Housekeeping by Each Doing their Parts they Can

In my humble opinion, giving kids extra duties as punishments, is bound to make them associate housework with having done something wrong, and, is, therefore, going to make them feel as if it is a method of your “picking on” them. For this reason, I do not punish kids by giving them chores.

In addition, Don Aslett books suggest not saying simple things most moms say, which I still catch myself saying, such as, “please help me to clean…” Even having your husband refrain from saying, “We all need to help mom more,” suggests it is mom’s job and everyone in the family has to help her, since she is incapable or lazy about doing her own job. Our culture needs to change phrase by phrase.

Instead, you can replace it with something like, “Let’s all do our parts in keeping the home livable.” Your husband can even use the same phrase. “Everyone helps the family to be happy by everyone pitching in to help EVERYONE.” Just try not to say, “Help mom.”

It is not mom’s job to clean the house. It is not mom’s job to do laundry. It is not mom’s job to do yard care. It is not mom’s job to do child care (unless everyone else in house is too young). It is not mom’s job to do the grocery or clothes or any kind of shopping. It is not mom’s job to cook. It is not mom’s job to get ready to go places. Everyone pitches in with everything they can. Assigned or owned jobs, by mom or by dad, are bad ideas.