Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What worked, what didnt and what I did about it...

Its one month in to the 2015/2016 school year and its been a rocky one! I've grown to expect poor attitudes, forgotten material and general chaos from the first few weeks of school but this one seems exceptionally difficult. I feel a bit of our coming unto our own this school week and found I can definitly cut out a few things to make my life easier.

Now before you think I have it all together I do not! I've defintily been dealing with some heart issues of my own! Coping with a longer school day, some learning challenges and a lack of free time has been very very hard on me. I like to put things in a positive perspective for myself and others..

What Worked...

1. School Planners. I have loved my older three childrens homeschool planners. They have worked very nicely at keeping us all on track. I've loved them enough that I added a student assignment sheet to my 2nd and 3rd graders binders to help us all keep on track.

2. My Fathers World! Of course! No really I've loved having everything laid out for me in advance and i can add or take away as needed.

3. Math Mammoth and Saxon math. I've loved this addition this school year as well. Its been awesome that all our math is contained in those little worksheets with no extra manipulatives or books needed. I love how colorful MM is and how simple to use. I also love the independence Im seeing with our Saxon math users.

4. Binders. I have a white binder for each of the kids with a weeks worth of worksheets, student sheets, extra paper, ect. I love how if we need to move locations we can just grab those book and be out the door fairly quickly. I also enjoy prepping them for the week and closing them out for the week. It shows me what we need to do ahead of time and helps me to see the progress we have made each week.

What hasnt worked...and what I did about it.
1. Just Write. This program for my 3rd grader is a little too hard. We are going to stick with copywork for "writing" for him for awhile. He just struggles a little with the concepts. Just Write ha been great for my 5th grader.

2. Schoolroom. We have really struggled having grades 9 thru K in one room! So the K thru 5th crowd moved to the dining room table and we gave the school room for quiet work space for the older two children. This works nicely because the bulk of our school things are downstairs and I check in on them often because of it.

3. Doing it all. That has definitely not worked! I've struggled with some of the titles in ECC this year and had to substitute with You Tube videos and internet activities for the younger ones. That hasnt been too difficult. ECC is a great backbone to what we are doing though and I wouldnt change it.

4. The Schedule! Everything is taking longer than Im used to so I've had to adjust my predetermined schedule quite a bit. Even our start date changed! But that's ok, Im learning to be flexible.

5. Workboxes.. They were terribly cumbersome and not everything fit properly. We ditched them for totes and binders :)

Over all we are having a very productive year and Im sure we will come out on top and get into a groove in the end.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Tips for a Horrible Homeschool Day..


     Monday morning was met with groans and moans about the first day of school, not at all what I expected! I prepared all summer for a perfect first day! It was bumped up two weeks early because of some changes in our schedule. I prepared the children the best I could, but they just weren't ready. All summer long I had made schedules, changed plans, and organized every inch of our curriculum but I never could have planned for grumpy attitudes. My horrible no good very bad day sent me back to the drawing board and through some prayer and advice of friends I came to these conclusions.

#1 Go back and read the Teaching Tips. You've probably over complicated something.
     I sat down at the table Tuesday afternoon and talked with my good friend trying to disect what I did wrong. Surely I needed to change some curriculum. Its possible that the children are at fault in some way. I've just GOT to figure this out! Then God whispered gently to me, "Go back to the the Guide". Oh!! Im supposed to READ those teaching tips! They were designed for me by the Authors and if you dont follow them you will miss something.

#2 do as many lessons orally as you can. It shouldn't be a struggle. 
      Sometimes I just need to take my own child into consideration. As Charlotte Mason says "Do not put before the child anything that can not be done with perfection." This kind of learning model helps the child to see success. Just because they can not do the lesson in written form doesnt mean that they can not glean from the information in an oral sense. Just like the Lord never puts anything before you that He is not there to help you through. If God lead you to it, He will help you through it. Same with my children, if I lead them in a lesson I need to labor with them to understand it.

#3 Charlotte Mason praised the concept of short and varied lessons, see tip #2.
    "Where there are many words transgression is unavoidable." Forward motion is the goal, not quantity of lessons accomplished in one school year. Slow and steady progress means quality lessons learned and materials mastered. Its not a race, its a marathon.

#4 Set a timer, see tip #3.
     A timer! I find that setting a timer during lessons keeps not only the child doing the lesson on task but also the interrupters at bay. If anyone has a question they can usually hold on to them until the timer beeps at which I ask around the room who needs help before moving on to the next child or lesson. Also this habit of using a timer helps because Flylady says we can do anything for fifteen minutes! This is especially useful in the Spelling Power curriculum. I will get interrupted several times and the speller will get frustrated and I will be focused on finishing that list of words making the quiz take 30 min instead of 5. Mulitply THAT by 4 or 5 and imagine the time wasted on spelling alone! The same goes with other subjects. Just because we spend a long period of time on a topic that is hard for them to understand doesnt make it easier for them. But to spend 15-20  minutes of focused attention on the task at hand we can finish the lesson another day with out their minds being labored.

#5 Spend time with the baby first! Than work your way up, youngest to oldest.
     Its so easy to neglect toddlers and babies when homeschooling. Make a notebook and group them with the kindergarteners, read a story, or do a short activity. Their attention spans are very short, it takes just a few minutes to make them feel included. Usually working from Youngest to Oldest is a smart move. An older child can usually begin more of their subjects independently, while the youngest are getting help. Its best to work in one room schoolhouse model where everyone is working on the same subject at the same time. 

#6 Have you Added something?
    Sometimes when I hit a home school speed bump I find that I have added too many irons to the fire and when that happens someone is going to get burnt out. Participate in less extra curriculars. Drop an extra workbook or program. (You know the one you added to be like Mrs. Jones awesome homeschool mom) Stream-line your morning with a good evening routine. Simplify the meal plan. Use Mothers Helpers like the dishwasher, crockpot, paper diapers and paper plates! Keep It Simple Sally "KISS"

#7 Last but not least, pray! Remember why you choose your curriculum in the first place.. (this should be tip #1)
    The most important tip of all! Pray, ask, seek, knock and the Holy Spirit will guide you. Mostly in my situation I was dealing with a heart issue on MY part! I had stepped out of some wisdom I discovered last school year to mimic another Mothers home school. While bouncing ideas off each other can be priceless in some instances but always pray about those things. Remember God gave her a plan for HER children and YOUR children are very unique and different.  And when you do have a horrible, no good, very bad, day go back to the Lord and seek His Wisdom on the situation. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The End of Summer

Our oldest also turned 14!!

 Our second oldest son turned 10!

Our family had a fabulous summer vacation! We visited friends in Indiana, spent loads of time at summer camp, had 2 birthdays and had a fabulous Vacation Bible School while hosting students from the Vision Tour from South Korea. 

Vixthemom leading Music at Bible school

Lily with her ship and bird friend backstage at the Korean Ballet performance

The Vision Tour was an amazing experience for my children. These sweet little Korean girls just loved their host families and possibly spent more time with the Host families than they do regularly with their own families. One of the mothers said she worked two years solid, 6 days a week, 12 hours a day! She was on her 1 year break and enjoying time with her little girls. The sweet little girls were so pleased to spend time with a Grandfather and Grandmother that would (or could) actually play with them.

 Korean Children at the Art Museum

Korean Children taught my 3yo to eat Spicy Ramyn Noodles with chopsticks

Jesus Birth

Christ's Ascension

While the Vision Tour was here they spent time viewing some of Kansas City's finest attractions. They were indulging in Cheese Burgers and Watermelon all rare foods in their country. Four of the Korean girls were baptized during our Sunday morning services. The biggest gift of all, for our family,  was their performance of Christs life through Ballet! This is where we got to learn our youngest daughters passion for dance!

Our church was sad to see them go. We loved those sweet little girls and the zest for life they brought to us. I can not wait to host them again!

The Grand Finale

And life is starting to look a little normal! We started high school this week!! More on that to come!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Buddy Camp

This week my 3 oldest children went off to Basket Ball Camp with their Dad. They were having a blast! My younger 4 all know the fun of camp and were not only missing Daddy and the "Big" kids they were jealous of the fun they were most likely having!

So Mommy got creative! When my older kids were little we spent a lot of time at the library, the zoo, science centers and going to McDonalds play lands. Now that they are all grown they prefer the movies, amusement parks, and trips to Sonic for milkshakes. The little ones dont get the same experiences, so I invinted Buddy Camp for them! We had many adventures during Buddy camp!

First we had to run some errands for the week. So I asked the kids what kind of food should I serve at Buddy Camp and of course they said french fries and corn dogs! So we picked those up at the store. We also visited the Dollar Store and they got to spend their "own" dollar on whatever they wanted! A valuable lesson was learned about gum, and it not being stored behind your ear! We also went to the library, picked out books and turned in our Summer Reading Program charts and got our coupons for Pizza Hut! It was then that I formulated the plan for the next few days!

The next day we went to a Farmstead with a petting zoo, old schoolhouse, Indian homes, and nature walk. Then we took our Summer Reading program coupons to Pizza Hut for dinner.

Visiting an old school house

Listening to stories about the invention of the safe for Banks.

 Listening to a black smith explain his trade.

On day three we were able to meet with Daddy for lunch at a McDonalds and we went to a local Hallmark museum and hands on art center. After that we went to another fairy tale display. I didnt get many pictures of this one as we were in a big city and I was a little nervous keeping track of everyone. We came home that evening and had a simple dinner and watched a movie.

On the last day of Buddy Camp we went to the city pool with some good friends. I didnt get many pictures of that either! Having 4 kids, 8 and under is hard work! We came home and had those Corn Dogs and French Fries for dinner with Bomb Pops for dessert!

I had so much fun making memories with these little people that I have decided to have a Buddy Camp every year for the ones who are left behind on camp week. :)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Preschool and Kindergarten Curriculum 2015/2016

For the Preschooler 

  • Laurie Puzzles
  • Preschool workbooks including Rod and Staff  Beginning 3
  • Playdough
  • And lots of free printables

My goal for our 3 year old is a gentle introduction the alphabet, learning colors and shapes more acurately, fine motor skills like pencil holding, cutting, and pasting. I also would like to develope a larger vocabulary and work on potty training.

For the Kindergardener:
  • My Fathers World Kindergarten
  • Dollar Store workbooks with Mazes, Dot-to-Dot, and handwriting practice
  • Rod and Staff ABC Series finishing up with C-D-E-F-G
  • Math U See Primer
  • And light Exploring Countries and Cultures with his siblings.

2015-2016 2nd Grade Curriculum choices

I've already talked about our family school and our organization process, now I want to talk about curriculum choices for the grades I'm teaching this school year! Second grade is such a fun year as my kids start to feel more like the "big" kids having their own workbooks and such. Here is a run down of what my 2nd Grade daughter will have in her workdrawers this year!

Workdrawer #1:Morning Work

  1. Calendar notebook
  2. A Reason for Handwriting A
  3. Any additional review she can do on her own 
Workdrawer #2: English

  1. Rod and Staff Spelling by Sound and Structure grade 2
  2. Language Lessons for Today grade 2
  3. Spectrum Writing Grade 2
Workdrawer #3: Math
  1. Math Mammoth Level 1
Workdrawer #4:Reading
  1. Sonlight Reader
Workdrawer #5: Science and MFW items
  1. Complete Book of Animals
  2. Usborne Sticker Dolly dressing around the world
  3. Dollar Tree Maps Coloring books
  4. Any MFW Notebooking pages for that week

2015-2016 5th Grade Curriculum Choices

For my 5th grader in preparation for middle school I choose to allow more independent learning and accountability. He will begin to grade his own math homework, and have several other independent assignments. I will be monitoring him heavily. He will also be keeping up with his work in his own student assignment book. This independence allows me to work with my younger 4 children in the early part of our schedule and check back with him periodically.

Workdrawer #1: Morning Work

  1. Student assignment book
  2. A Reason for Handwriting T
Workdrawer #2: English
  1. Spelling Power Student Record book
  2. Intermediate Language Lessons Part 2
  3. Just Write book 1, maybe on to book 2 later in the year.
  4. He will complete a 5 paragraph essay project this year as well.
Workdrawer #3: Math
  1. Saxon Math 65 with Dive CD
Workdrawer #4: Reading
  1. Progeny Press Study Guides for Upper Elementary (I will choose 2)
  2. Any book basket books that seem appropriate 
Workdrawer #5: My Fathers World
  1. Weekly My Fathers World notebooking pages
  2. World Geography Workbook 
  3. Properties of Eco Systems (we will do this together with out the younger ones)
  4. Any applicable assignments to our cycle year.

2015-2016 Jr High and Highschool Curriculum

7th grade is a big year in our homeschool! I expect much more independent work than years prior. They continue to keep track of assignments in their assignment book and grade thier own math homework. This is the year they begin to teach themselves subjects like science, literature and writing while always being under my direct supervision. Mom, as teacher, becomes more of a tutor helping out in these subjects when needed. 7th graders are still required to be a part of family school but get to opt out of some of the hands on and lower level work so they can work independently.

7th Grade Work Crate:

  1. Assignment notebook
  2. Applications in Grammar
  3. Writing with Skill Level 1
  4. Saxon Math 76
  5. Apologia General Science
  6. Spelling Power Student Record book
  7. Progeny Press Study Guide and reader
  8. Empty file for any MFW Student sheets for that week
  9. 3 Ring Binder 

This is my first year to have an official highschooler! Its bitter sweet to think of how far we have come in such a short time! Im very proud of my daughter and where she is going. My Freshman is a very motivated learner. She really dives into a subject! We are following My Fathers World guidelines for highschool and she cant wait to dive in!

Freshman Workcrate

  1. Vocabulary Cartoons (Moms add on for ACT/SAT prep)
  2. Easy Grammar Plus (another add on for extra review, plan to use it over the 4 years)
  3. Spanish from Rosetta Stone and Easy Peasy Highschool as assigned by her Spanish Tutor
  4. Logic: the Fallacy Detective
  5. Saxon Algebra 1
  6. My Fathers World Ancient History and Literature: too many books to list!!
  7. Homemade Assignment planner

2015-2016 3rd Grade Curriculum Choices

Third grade is such a fun year for us! Learning cursive, taking even more responsiblity for your school work, reading chapter books! 3rd grade can be a very exciting and stretching time for my children.

Workdrawer #1: Morning Work

  1. Calendar Notebook
  2. Kumon book of Cursive Writing Letters
  3. Cursive connections after the Kumon book is finished
  4. Any other additional work that he can complete on his own.
Workdrawer #2: English
  1. Spelling Power Student Record Book
  2. Language Lessons for Today grade 3
  3. Just Write book 1
Workdrawer #3: Math
  1. Math Mammoth Level 2
Workdrawer #4: Reading
  1. Sonlight Readers for Grade 3
Workdrawer #5: My Fathers World
  1. Student sheets for the week
  2. Complete Book of Animals
  3. Books about Insects (my 3rd grader LOVES Bugs!)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Organizing our MFW year 2015-2016

When you open that big My Fathers World box the first thing you think about is what to do with all those goodies? The first thing I like to do is to label all my book spines with the current year. This year we are doing Exploring Countries and Cultures so I labeled my books with "ECC" and we are also using the high school program Ancient History and Literuature so I labeled those books with "AHL". You can use a label maker or avery labels pre-printed or just some clear packing tape and paper. Whatever works for you.

The next thing I like to do is read my Teachers Guide. I will make a shopping list of needed items and underline anything I need to remember from the teachers tips.


Then I start to plan how I will keep track of everyones work! This school year we are going to try workboxes again. We did use them last year but switched to bags sometimes for portability. I put a label on each box for the subjects we will study independently. Everything they need to do that subject is in the box. That is the extent of our use of workboxes, they are storage drawers for subjects. For my Kindergardener and 3yo I also mixed in some activities for them to do at the school table.

All the together subjects, teachers manuels, and extra manipulatives go on my shelf.

Next I like to go through all the student sheets and put them either into a file box by week along with any other printed materials or I will sort them and put them into our history binders ahead of time. Last year I filed them by week because there were a lot of extra printables. This year I chose the binder method and used my file box to store extra paper work and printables that we will more than likely use this year. As I was sorting the student sheets I used postit tabs to section off the different countries and continents studied in ECC. I also added the printables from Mama Jenn's blog so that all my student sheets and printables for each kid were in their binders ready to go for the year.

For my 9th and 7th graders I am giving more grades and tests and I needed a place for them to turn in work so I created this little station by my desk. In it are 3 files one for grading, one for pages I've graded but need to be filed in their portfolio's and one for copy's I need to make.

This year being so much different than others as we are using the My Fathers World Kindergarten, Exploring Countries and Cultures and Ancient History and Literature I needed to rethink my planner plan! So my friend gave me the great idea of creating and customizing my own plan book! My oldest will keep track of her own work but my 7th grader down to Kindergarteners assignments are in this book. I also created assignment notebooks for my 5th, 7th and 9th graders.

Another new addition is a Calendar notebook to practice Math, Telling time and money and some calendaring for my Kindergardener, 2nd grader and 3rd grader.

I also needed to think of the 3 year old who wants everything like big siblings so I also printed him a little binder of color pages that match his Kindergarten brothers worksheets.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Curriculum 2015/2016: Family School

Family Learning Cycle

Exploring Countries and Cultures
grades 1 thru 7
Homeschool Curriculum Package for ECC
(click image for link)

My Fathers World Kindergarten
3 year old and almost 5 year old

Homeschool Curriculum Package for Kindergarten
click image for link

My FAthers World Ancient History and Literature
Homeschool Curriculum Package for AHL
click image for link

  • Apologia Biology
  • Saxon Algebra 1
  • Easy Grammar Plus for Review
  • The Fallacy Detective and Thinking Toolbox
  • Vocabulary Cartoons
  • Spanish with a Tutor
  • Co-op Art Class and Speech and Debate

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Prepping for the School Room for the new school year 2015/2016

This next school year we will have a 7th, 5th, 3rd, and 2nd  grader(s) doing My Fathers World Exploring Countries and Cultures, a Kindergartner doing My Fathers World A to Z, and a freshman using My Fathers World Ancient History and Literature. That's a lot of kids! And a lot of organizing! After I closed out 2014/2015 I began to organize for the new school year..
 I began with my school shelf! I took everything off from last year and labeled all our books and restocked the shelf for next school year. Here we have 4 magazine file organizers for separate Teachers Manuals for our school year, a shelf just for our "core" for the year, a shelf for manipulatives and that big white box is just the kids new school books for the following year!

 Then I cleaned out the kids binders and bags (2 shown) and restocked with summer workbooks! This year we have handwriting, math and a reader. Also some of the kids have a few more English lessons, and few lessons in Writing Strands to complete.

 I filed all the excess papers like the Geography Game, handwriting printables, hour logs, National Geographic and other things that stretch across the years.

Then I set up a file system for the older two children's tests. It says "Copy" for things that need to be copied, "Grade" for tests they complete that I need to grade and "File" for tests that have been graded but now need to be filed.
And we cant forget the smallest ones in our house! Here I've cleaned up dry erase workbooks, purchased a few new preschool books and games and loaded these Workboxes for them! To the right is our supply box which will be restocked during back to school sales this Fall

I'm currently working on organizing and scheduling my year this year and getting ready for HIGHSCHOOL!!
I've found some awesome printables that I'm printing ahead of time and adding to the kids binders, like this sheet which is perfect for those Singapore Math textbook reviews. And these copywork pages from Mama Jenn's blog. And I've also been looking through my pinterest Board for ideas. So now our binders are all prepped and ready to go.

I've even made some of my own printables for this coming year..
  1. Assignment Sheet for 2nd-8th graders.
  2. Tentative schedule for the year

And I haven't even begun prepping for Kindergarten!!