Browsing Category

Homeschooling

Homeschooling

Homeschooling Thoughts (&Questions)

We started our homeschooling year early because of how busy we knew fall was going to be, so we are already a few months in. We’ve been using the Bob Jones curriculum that’s on DVD, and there are a lot of things I really like about it. The videos (for the most part) are really interesting and the kids like them. Here are a couple of the downsides and then I’m going to ask for your advice/experience.

The DVD’s were really expensive. Like, way more than we have ever spent before on homeschooling stuff, so I feel a need to salvage it. The way it was in our heads, in case there were days that we were traveling there would still be consistency as far as their lessons and we could bring it on the road with us. I imagined them being able to do it in the hotel, on the bus, car, or whatever. That sounded good but it isn’t really working out the way we pictured it (that’s never happened to you, has it?)  It’s also hard because they are in the third (A&E) and first (K) grades and with the baby I thought it would be easier to have them in two rooms doing their own thing and I could go back and forth and check in, but if I wasn’t available they wouldn’t get behind.

Here’s the thing, though. They aren’t really able to do it as independently as I was hoping, and what I think was supposed to be a 4 hour school day actually turns out to be much (MUCH) longer, because Todd and I are having to stay with them the whole time and really process things. We take turns on who we are with but neither side is able to get very far without us present. It’s gotten frustrating for all of us and I’m trying to figure out a new game plan for the rest of the year.

We bought the stuff and I don’t want it to go to waste, but I think the bottom line is that it isn’t as literature based as I would like for it to be and my kids just aren’t at a point where they can do it without quite a bit of help. And that’s fine. But if we are going to be putting in that kind of time I would much rather do a curriculum that I feel like is more “us.” For the record, there isn’t a thing wrong with the actual curriculum-I think in a few years mine would absolutely love it. Like any other, I think it just depends on the way you teach and the way your kids learn and I’m not 100% sure this is a fit with our lifestyle.

I’m not really sure what I’m asking, but I would love some thoughts from you home-schoolers out there. I have never “piecemealed” curriculum because I’m so stinking paranoid that I might be missing something they need to be learning, but I really feel like this isn’t working. Right now I’m tempted to let them keep watching some of the videos and then supplement. Has anyone out there done anything like that?

I know there are lots of other home-schoolers who have these same questions because I get them all the time in my email, so please share any thoughts here from what you have learned about curriculum. What has worked for your family? Do you switch it up every year? Do you have “non-negotiables” that you always go back to? Does it depend completely on the kid? HOW DO YOU KEEP A 16 MONTH OLD BUSY FOR THAT LONG?!?!?!

Today we spent the day on blankets outside and I feel like we got a lot done, but most of it was off the cuff and not really driven by any book or text. I know lots of people do this but I want to feel freedom and also know I’m keeping them on track. So just jump in and tell us what has worked/not worked for your family throughout the years.

PLEASE feel free to link to your blog if this is something you have addressed so that we can just click over and you won’t have to re-write anything here. I promise I’m not going to sit by the computer and await your comments.

That last part was a lie.

:)

A

creativity, Family, Homeschooling

Learning On A Quilt

Well the Smith family is about to go on another school-year adventure. I’m so excited to dig in to the new stuff we got this year and also to invite you all to share your classrooms with us! I have gotten so many emails through the past few years asking about my homeschooling and I haven’t done a great job of sharing on here, so I’ll just tell you a little about where we are now.

I started Kindergarten with Abby and Ellie and used Sonlight. I liked it a lot but was still on the hunt. As a first time teacher I was so nervous I was going to leave something out that would completely ruin my child’s future. I needed to order the whole kit and kaboodle. And an extra couple kaboodles just in case. Everything had to be in neat folders, perfectly arranged, classroom poised and ready for the learning to happen.

I’ve swayed away from that a little bit, although I am still a complete sucker for back to school supplies. And don’t get me started on Curriculum Fairs. I am a dangerous woman at one of those. And despite the fact that they are better for the environment, I must say I miss the white Crayola markers. Have you seen the new ones? Anyway. I love the gear.

Last year we did Calvert, which I also liked. At this point I was starting to find my style of teaching and their style of learning and I don’t think that was the best curriculum for us. I think it would have helped if I could have let it go when we didn’t finish everything we were supposed to for each day.

What you’ll find is that there isn’t one magical curriculum you can order and have it all be perfect for every child. So, you have to do the hard thing (gulp) and start to piecemeal. I don’t really do piecemeal well. I would like it in a box, with my instructions inside, perfectly arranged so that nothing can be left up to me because I will certainly fail them…

With that said, I have grown stronger in my teaching and am trusting my instincts a little more. We are going to be altering this next year to fit the season we’ll be in. I chose *after much obsessing* “My Father’s World” as our main curriculum because it will allow me to easily include Kate in Abby and Ellie’s work, and also because they send a person to your house to care for your baby while you teach. No? That one would get my vote.

If you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, you should be. She was an incredible woman with some amazing ideas about children and the way they learn. I just adore her, and honestly, it’s probably why the name Charlotte was one of my favorites. To me, it brings me to a time in life where children did their lessons outside while they explored. I love this idea, and we are going to be incorporating it more this year than we have in the past. One of her strongest beliefs is that children should not be read “twaddle.” In other words, read original, unabridged, masterpieces of literature and you will be brought up to that level. During the past few years I have seen that happen with my kids, and I love the natural way they ask about words they don’t understand and concepts they aren’t familiar with as we read.

A lot of people asked about curriculum and scheduling so I wanted to touch on them. In addition to My Father’s World, we are using Math-U-See for math and Apologia science (we are doing astronomy this year). I like this program because it does a great job of blending science and Christian beliefs. And, they threw in a denim jumper. That’s a lie. I bought it. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.

For spelling, MFW recommends a Rod and Staff program called “Spelling By Sound and Structure,” and also “Primary Language Lessons“by Emma Serl.  I love Rod and Staff…we have used their preschool stuff in the past as well and really liked it.

I tend to gravitate towards learning which is simple, classic, and inspiring. It may go back to my love of Little House, but I just think that we tend to complicate things sometimes. Literature saturated days, clean basics, and room for some outside time is the plan for this year.

The way we will structure our days is to start in the morning and finish up with formal lessons before lunch. We’ll take a short break to milk the cows and grind some wheat, and then we’ll pick up with nature study and art. Charlotte Mason also put a heavy emphasis on the role of nature study and I haven’t done a great job of this in the past. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the mosquitos and the heat, but let’s just say it hasn’t always gone according to plan. I have tried to plan these elaborate things and it just ends up being stressful, so we’re throwing down the big quilt and going with it. I guess that’s the theme this year :)

A friend of mine (and newbie homeschooler this year!) Kelly (Faithful Provisions) is meeting with a wonderful homeschool mom and author we heard speak a few weeks ago and we are going to try and have her set up a workshop for our readers. Once I get the scoop I’ll pass it along and if you’re interested we would love to have you come!

This is a really basic sketch of a couple things we are planning, but this is my favorite part. I’m going to put a Linky on here and I would love for you to put your site on here if you homeschool and want to share the way you do things. It’s so great to be inspired by other people’s creativity :) Feel free to leave comments too…I’m not really familiar with the Linky but I think you can do either one.

Talk to you all soon…

A

P.S. Please leave any homeschool advice, tips, pictures, or anything else you want to share. I am seriously so excited to read them all! Does this make me a dufus? Don’t answer that.

Family, Homeschooling

One of Wonderful Reasons I Blog infrequently…


I have loved homeschooling my girls. We’re praying about what to do next year with Kate starting and having a new baby around, but my heart hasn’t given it up yet. It is such a special time for us to be creative, think outside the box, get our hands dirty, and laugh until we’re crying. These girls, I tell you what. They bless me every day with their sweet spirits and genuine love and appreciation for all the Lord has given. I realize I still haven’t done a formal post about homeschooling yet but I wanted to share a few pictures with you so you could see some of our typical school day. We do a lot of prayer time, art time, math, reading, science, spelling, a bit of history, music etc. We kind of let their interests dictate exactly how we do it, so if Abby is playing with something she likes, we try to make a game out of it, like, “Oh Abby I see you like those little piggies. Why don’t you bring them over here and we can count them and give them names! After that, we will write a story and you can illustrate it however you want.” It’s a great way to use things they are already drawn to in order to pull them into activities they aren’t as inclined to pursue. We talk about everything, it seems. And we aren’t afraid of chasing a little bunny trail here and there…we’ve found they lead to some of the best conversations and quality time we have had.

Homeschooling is not for everyone, and I don’t even have a soapbox I would stand on in the event that I was trying to persuade you to do it :) Every family is different and as with many other decisions, here’s my motto: “Love your God. Love your children intentionally and well.”Pray about the situation and ask God to give you wisdom with any choice you are facing. When you feel confident about what He has revealed, take a couple brave steps in the direction of His voice and just keep listening :)

Here are a couple pictures of us on a school day…welcome to the class!!! :)

                 









Kate did not approve of the food-colored spaghetti.
If you want to, ask some homeschooling questions in your responses and I will do my best to answer all of them. I am working on a little series chronicling my live and loves so that you all will get to see what takes me away from the computer all day :) I think it will be fun!
So, this is the first one. I homeschool my kids. It takes a lot of time and hard work, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Questions?
Next up…SEWING! See y’all soon :)
Happy, happy New Year to you and yours…
Ang


Faith, Homeschooling, Lisa Leonard

Beautiful.Simple.Creative.Inspiring.

Updated to say that you all are listing AMAZING ideas, books, etc…I can’t wait to visit these cool blogs and track down these songs!!!! Seriously, if you have a couple minutes, scroll through and make some notes! Blessings…
(original post follows)

This is kind of a weird post because I don’t usually write when I don’t have something specific to say, but I want to today.  We have had a hard few days, and I would love to write more about it later, when the kiddos are in bed. I am going to teach and head to the park in a bit…they are really in need of a “full-time mommy” after being at yet another funeral this week.  For those of you who don’t follow me on twitter, my dear aunt Fran passed away early Sunday morning and we have been in Georgia since Tuesday.  I have so many thoughts that I am trying to process about the heaviness of life right now…

When I feel like I am getting discouraged, I seek beauty and peace through scripture and prayer, and it may sound silly to some of you (and that’s okay! please keep reading :)), but it really does help.  I may be quiet for a few days because I sense that the Lord is asking me to pull back from the blog and really be focused on the kids. I don’t really spend that much time on here, but I can just sense that they are a little off and I need to be more deliberate with my time.  We have been having some intense discussions about death and hurt and I feel like they are in a place of seeking.  It is really hard to watch them go through the process.
A precious friend of mine (thank you, Hollie!) made dresses for the girls, and as I dressed them for the funeral, I told them that my friend Hollie had made them for them, and I showed them the way the piping went along the collars and the seams, and told them how hard it was to sew like that and how grateful we should be to have these dresses. They are, by far, the most exquisite dresses they have ever had, and her talent is incredible. Ellie looked at me and said, “Is she alive, still, mommy?”  I told her yes, Ms. Hollie is alive and she said, “Oh good. I am so glad.”
Ouch.
The fact that they think to ask questions like that has really affected me and challenged me to make sure that I am responding fully to what they are walking through. Please pray for that, and that they will be able to see the Lord in all of this, and that death will not permeate their thinking. We try, and I think we are successful for the most part, but if you are a mommy who has walked through this, will you email me any suggestions you have on the subject? I would love to hear from you…I know there are a community of us who are trying to raise our children to face difficult situations with the Lord as our strength.
When I have a bit more time, I am going to post a bit about Aunt Fran and I am going to post a picture of the beautiful quilt she made for Audrey. Several of you tweeted me and suggested that, and I think it is a great idea.
For now (and I know this is random), I was wondering if you all would play along with me.
I realized last night as I skimmed through some of my favorite blogs that I am drawn to things that are beautiful in their simplicity, and just through images and words, I find great peace. One of those blogs is Lisa Leonard’s, a woman who has a beautiful heart, story, and incredible gift. She was kind enough to send me a necklace with my daughter’s initials on them after Audrey passed away. I didn’t know about her then, but I just love reading her blog because it is so pure and beautiful…if you need something inspiring, please click on over. It is so beautiful…to see her store of jewelry, just click on Lisa’s Store in the top right corner.
Another blog I love to read is the NieNie Dialogues, which tells the story of a sweet woman and her husband-they were involved in a private plane crash last year that took the life of the pilot, and while her husband Christian escaped with about 30% of his body burned, she had much more serious burns (85% I think?) and is still walking a very, very difficult road in her recovery. She has the most amazing outlook, and I am so drawn to her irrepressible hope. She is also insanely creative and infectious in her approach to love and life. Our theological backgrounds and beliefs are very different, but she is a true inspiration and I love the way she loves her family and her role as a mommy. Please join me in praying for her…she has never posted images of herself after her plane crash, and recently put the first one up.  You can see her eyes and the marks that this horrific crash has had on her, but the beauty is the same…
Another one I love is Amanda Soule’s. She inspires me in creativity and I could spend hours looking at her creative projects and ideas. I have her book, and if you are a mommy (or daddy!) who is looking for a great book of projects to do with your kids, I would highly recommend it. Mine is tattered and covered in post-it notes. I wish I had HALF of her creativity!!!! Love it. She has another book coming out soon, and you can be sure I will be talking about it :)
I could list many, many more, but today these come to mind and I wanted to share them with you in the event that you don’t know them…in the event that you need a happy place to drift off to for a bit, here are some tidbits :)
Random, right. I know. I warned you.
But I do hope you enjoy :) And as a sidebar, none of these people know that I am linking to them, and I don’t think Stephanie knows I exist :)
So, there’s a bit of beauty for the day.
(Switching gears)
I am going to write a post on homeschooling because a bunch of people have asked me questions about it. Keep in mind that I have only done it for one year so I am a total novice, but I would love to share my experiences with you all.  If you have any specific questions for me, could you put them in the comments section of this post or email me so I can try to address them? I also have some online and IRL friends that are way ahead of me in the process and I would love to have them chime in with their knowledge as well if you have questions about being “further down the road.”
So, in summary, today I am in processing mode and looking for inspiration and beauty in life. It comes in the form of music, art, books, nature, all of that. SO, this isn’t a contest, but I would love for you all to tell me where you go to seek solace from this crazy world. A song? A favorite place you go? A fun movie? A book you read and reread? A blog that inspires you? (And don’t any of you turkeys list mine! I am bored with myself :)) Anything!!!
Make sure and read through the comments, because people say the coolest things. That’s my FAVORITE part of having a blog. I absolutely love what you all wrote when I asked about being “Her, here.”  I am printing them out for myself and have already used several!!! I have the coolest readers on the planet.
I love our friendship…
OK, off to teach. It may be an “on-the-lawn” day…the weather is gorgeous. I’ll stop back later tonight to read your thoughts.
Love to all of you, friends.
Angie