Monday, August 26, 2013

A Day In The Life...

We are beginning our third week of our 2013-2014 homeschool year.  I wanted to share with you all a little about what a typical day in our homeschool "looks" like.

After we have breakfast, we have our Bible time.  During this time, the children all sit on the couch and I sit in a chair facing them.  I tell them what portion of Scripture we will be reading that day, and they all find it in their Bibles.  We usually take turns reading, verse by verse, and after we are finished, I will go over it a little and try to break it down so that they understand it better.  Then, I might ask them questions about the passage we read, if they don't have questions for me.  We then have prayer together.  (If there is a time of the day when we get "caught up," this is usually it.  I don't mind it though.  If they want to spend longer with questions about God's Word, then I feel like that's more important that math, science, and social studies anyway.)

After our Bible time, we have exercise time.  I have always felt that I needed to incorporate more physical activity into our homeschool days...especially at the times when our kids are not involved in sports.  During the "off season" or if we just simply didn't get to sign up during a certain season, I wanted something to get them "active."  So, I found a homeschool P.E. program that goes through the age levels and grade it can be used for many years to come and with multiple age levels.  It is called Family Time Fitness.  I try to do "exercise" early to get the "wiggles" out before we do any seat work. 

The rest of the day would probably look like chaos to anyone who isn't with us every day.  After exercise time, I go with my oldest boy to teach him his math lesson for the day.  During this time, his younger brother and younger sister do their reading.  After the oldest boy is finished with math, we all meet together at the couch again for language.  After that, the middle child goes to his room with me to do his math lesson while the oldest does reading and my little girl has free time.  After the boys are finished with math, I do math with my daughter while the boys have some free time.  Once everyone is finished with the two "r's," we come together for the final "r"...writing...which is done as we study our spelling words. 

After all of this, we finally have lunch!  It seems like a busy morning, and it is...but I like to get them while they are "fresh."  :) 

After lunch, we work on one of a few "projects" that I'm hoping to finish this year.  Our first one is to learn all 50 states in alphabetical order!  After they have this "mastered," I have a list of things that I thought of over the summer that I have in our plan book. 

I then do language, phonics, and science with my daughter.  Then I do science with my boys.  After that, we all come together again for vocabulary...and our ideal plan is to do read-alouds after that, but after 2 full weeks of school, we still have not implemented it!  :(  So, hopefully, I can fit that in there somewhere sometime as well. 

By the time we have all of that done, it's time for their Daddy to get home from work, so I switch from teaching to cooking...and try to get supper on the table shortly after he gets home. 

Like I said, this is our typical day...but sometimes things don't go as planned, and I just try to get back on plan as quickly as I can.  Sometimes I can get us back on track quickly, other times, not-so-quickly. 

I would love for you to share with me about your typical homeschool day!!!

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Why Homeschool? {Part Four}

Today’s post will be the final one in a series that I have been writing here about the reasons that my husband and I chose homeschooling as the best option for our family.  There are definitely so many reasons that it would take me a long time to cover them, so I touched a little one the ones that were in the forefront of my mind, leading up to our number which is what I am sharing today…

To begin with, I would like to share a little about myself, and what initially and most importantly led me to choose to homeschool my children.  I grew up wanting to be a teacher.  My answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” (even as a 4 year old, having no experience in a school), was “a teacher.”  When I graduated from high school, I received a scholarship from the local retired teachers association that they gave each year to a student wanting to pursue a career in education.  I completed four years of college, got my degree, and began teaching in the public school.  My professors in college, and my experience with my colleagues in the school, left a bad impression of homeschooling overall.  I did not like it, I did not want it, and I did not “believe” it could be done.  I was against it as much as I could be against it.  That being said, there were others, who had been teaching much longer than I had, who were much more verbal about and stronger in their anti-homeschooling beliefs than I.  I had never met one child who had been homeschooled, yet I was against it.  I had the opportunity to meet some homeschooled children one day…when I met the man who would later become my husband.  I met my future nephew and nieces.  At that time, they  were 5, 9, and 10.  They were the most well-mannered, respectful children that I had ever met, and being a teacher, I had met a lot of children.  They were not anti-social as I expected that they would be.  The 10 year old filled me in on just about the whole 10 years of his life previous to our meeting!  The 9 year old smiled and chatted with me as if she were an adult.  The 5 year old, being a bit shy, smiled her sweet smile, and played just like all other 5 year old girls that I knew at the time.  I was impressed, to say the least.  As my future husband and I got to know one another better, he expressed his desire to have his children (if he were blessed with them in the future) homeschooled.  I was still resistant to the idea, but he told me to “just pray about it.”  I did just that, and through my time with God, He led me to know that this was the right direction for me and my future family, before I even had a family of my own!  My husband and I married and have been blessed with three children.  At present, they are 10, 9, and 7 years old…and I do not regret one day of being here with them, homeschooling them, or the decision I made so long ago.

The picture that I have included in this article is of my son.  It is a little difficult to see, but he is “preaching” from his children’s Bible.  He often “played” preacher, and his message was always about Jonah.  He would say, “God told Jonah to go THIS way, but Jonah went THAT way!”  Had I decided against homeschooling my children, it would have been the same concept as the story of Jonah as my son so simply understood it.  God told me to the homeschooling way.  Any other direction would have been disobedient to His will for me and my family.  My main reason, the most important reason, that I chose to homeschool my children is because God told me to.  I cannot think of a better, more important reason than that.

Here is the links to the other posts in this series:
Why Homeschool?  (Part One)
Why Homeschool?  (Part Two)
Why Homeschool?  (Part Three)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Why Homeschool? {Part Three}

I am sharing reasons that my husband and I chose homeschooling as the best option for our family in a series of posts.  There are definitely so many reasons that it would take me a long time to cover them, so I am touching on the points that are most important to us at this time, leading up to our number one reason that we chose homeschooling.  Today, in part three, I am sharing one that can be quite controversial.

• “I can regulate what is being taught to my children.”  “I can teach moral values that are not allowed to be taught in public schools.  We can have prayer together.  We can read our Bibles aloud together.  We do not have to teach that things like homosexuality are acceptable because Biblically it is not!  We can teach that abortion is not an option because it is murder.”   One of the main reasons that I chose to teach my children at home was because of what I saw happening in the public schools  (I was a public school teacher for a couple of years before my husband and I got married…more on that next time).  Subject matter that should have been left to parents to teach in their own way and own time became part of the curriculum taught at whatever grade that the “people in charge” decided.  The “people in charge” know nothing about my child, so I do not understand how they can decide which age my child should learn certain things.  Subjects such as sex education should be something that parents deal with, not a teacher who does not my child the way that I do.  The main teaching that goes on in the “sex ed” classroom is “safe sex.”  Sex before marriage is not safe.  The only “safe sex” is no sex.  So, children are taught to go ahead and have sex, just do it “safely.”  “If you do end up getting pregnant, it is okay too because WE can take you (without your parents’ permission or knowledge) and let you get an abortion.”  This is not how I want my children to be taught. 

Teaching that homosexuality is acceptable is also something that the public schools have begun to do.  Homosexuality is wrong Biblically and even “naturally” because we all know that a man and a woman are needed for reproduction.  Even as young as Kindergarten, where students are anywhere from age 4-6, some of the stories that they were to read would deal with the homosexual lifestyle being “okay.”  This is something that again needs to be left to the parents to discuss with their children and not for our public schools to do.  Evolution is another thing that is taught in public schools.  The alternative (creation) is rarely mentioned, if at all.  I can teach my children how the world and its inhabitants were really created, and about Who created all of it.  I do tell them that some do not believe that this is true, and give them an overview of what they believe happened.  These are the things that I really want my children to “get.”  I want them to grow up to be the man or woman that God wants them to be; one who loves Him and desires to do His will.  I believe that the more time I can spend with them, instilling these values and morals, the better their chances to become Godly men and women when they are grown-up.  “Teach a child the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  I was told many times to “be careful” about the true, Biblical things that I said in my public school classroom because I would “get in trouble.”  I can teach true, Biblical principles and morals to my children at home.

Stay next post will finish the series and include our number one reason for choosing homeschool.

Here is the links to Part One and Part Two of this series:
Why Homeschool?  (Part One)
Why Homeschool?  (Part Two)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Homeschool? {Part Two}

As part of an ongoing series, I am sharing some reasons why my husband and I chose to homeschool our children.  I shared a couple of those reasons in last yesterday’s post and would like to share a couple more with you today.

*  "Being at home with my children and teaching them creates a greater bond between family members.”  My children are at home with me all day, pretty much every day.  I do not feel that I need to say much about this because we all know that the more time we are able to spend with other people, the greater the bond with those people.  My heart has been filled to overflowing many times when I see my children come to me with questions, with confusions they have, with just a random hug or kiss, or to say, “I love you,” out of the blue.  I only have my children for a short time, and they are only this age for a very short time.  I want to be able to form bonds with them that will last well beyond these years!

  • “My children do not have to deal with peer pressure, gangs, or cliques.”  Having been a student in public school myself, and then a teacher in the public school, I have seen more than my fair share of this.  I think we can all agree that these things have terrible effects on our children.  Peer pressure in and of itself is the cause of many young people beginning to drink, smoke, and do drugs.  Even before those things, children in younger grades are pressured to do something that they know that they should not by their “friends.”  Gangs are usually made up of people who meet up at school, decide that they don’t like one thing or another, and will do whatever necessary to stop it.  Cliques, while not as dangerous as gangs, are also very damaging to children of all ages.  I am sure that we all know how the cliques treat others who are not like them.  My children have not had to deal with any of this.  You may say, “Well, they will have to at some point.  Why not now?”  True.  They will have to deal with it someday.  Today is not the day, though.  It is not the time because it is not the right time.  They need to be trained at home on how to deal with things before they actually have to deal with them.  After all, you would not send a person into the mission field without having been trained and taught in the Word, would you?  My children are still “in training.”  Dealing with these things will come soon enough, and my job right now is to prepare them to respond in the right way.

  • As I continue to share our reasons for choosing homeschool, I am leading up to our number one reason.  Stay tuned.  We are almost to that number one reason!

    Here is the link to Part One of this series:
    Why Homeschool?  (Part One)

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    Why Homeschool? {Part One}

    When people discover that we have chosen to homeschool our children, they often ask “why” we made that choice for our family.  There are many reasons; some that are more important than others.  I know that I will never touch on all of the reasons that people choose to homeschool, but I will share with you through the coming weeks about most of our whys” in choosing to homeschool.

    “I am able to teach to my child’s interests.”  This is one of the best things about homeschooling, in my opinion.  My child might not be interested in a story about flowers and gardening, but he would love to read a story about dinosaurs and reptiles.  Will he have to learn about flowers and gardening?   Yes, to some extent, but when we want something for “reading,” we can choose the topic most appealing to each child.  We could incorporate dinosaurs into every subject to grab his interest easily.  The regular public school classroom will not be able to cater to each child’s individual interests.

    “I am able to schedule our ‘off days’ to coincide with my husband’s ‘off days’ so that we have more time together as a family.  I love the flexibility of scheduling with homeschooling!”  Because we homeschool our children, we are able to go to my husband’s workplace for lunch from time to time.   When my husband wants to use his vacation days, we can take a family vacation, whether it is summer, winter, spring, or fall.  Since I am scheduling their school days, we can take time off when my husband takes time off.  My children are also able to take advantage of time with other family members who live in other states when they come to visit.  If they were in school, they might get to see these family members only after school hours, and then they would have to make sure to get their homework done, and get ready for an early bedtime so that they would be able to get up early for school the next day.  Since I am the one directing their schedule, we can take time off to spend with our family that we do not get to see very often!

    This is the first in a four-part series.  In the last post of this series, I will share our most important reason for choosing to homeschool.  I hope that you will check back as the series continues...

    Tuesday, August 13, 2013

    Our little corner of the world...

    I have always wanted to have a room totally dedicated to homeschooling...our desks, our books, our materials...  I want it all in one place and not in the "way" of other things in our house.  BUT we don't have the ability to do that right now...for many reasons, so we make do with what we have.  I have typically kept the books in a closet that we don't use or on a table in the corner of the kitchen that we don't use, and just pull them out whenever...  That has always been okay, but it always looked a little cluttered.  This year, we got desks!  My parents in Tennessee "found" some desks at a good price, cleaned them up, and hauled them all the way to us here in South Carolina.  :)  So, this year, we have a designated place for all of our school materials.  His goes in his desk, his goes in his desk, and hers goes in her desk.  It really has made for an easier time finding things and keeping everyone's materials together. 

    We don't have a lot of space.  We designated a corner of the boys room (the bigger bedroom between theirs and their sister's) for school "stuff."  My daughter keeps her desk in her room for most of the time, but we do move it to the boys room for subjects such as spelling where the white board comes in handy.  :)  Here is a picture of the room without the kids, and then with the kids!

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    Monday, August 5, 2013

    2013-2014 Curriculum Choices: The Year of Change

    The  year before my oldest son was to begin "officially" homeschooling, I searched and researched curriculum choices.  I have to say that across the board, more families have difficulty with choosing curriculum than any other homeschooling decision, at least in my observation.  My decision-making was made easy when my husband told me that he wanted to use the curriculum that he used when he was homeschooled (from 6th grade up), which was Abeka.  I was fine with that.  I hadn't read anything "bad" about it, so we ordered Abeka curriculum.  Things went and have gone well with Abeka...and as you will see, we are still using it for some subjects.  

    However, this past year, I thought about how "fast" Abeka moves through things...and I wondered if things were being covered too quickly.  My son definitely struggled with how quickly the multiplication was taught, and so I knew that we were going to have to make a change in the math department.  Then, as I thought about my own experiences, I thought about the language arts...and how we knew what a noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, preposition, etc. was by the time I was the age of my boys.  Abeka covered some of those, but I felt that it was still done too quickly for my kids to really grasp it.  So, I decided to make a change in that area too.  Also, I was putting a lot of work into their spelling program.  The "activities" that they gave to go along with the words were very short, so my children would have them completed in a day.  So, I would have to make up stuff to go with the words for the other days of the week...which meant more time spent at the computer, making my own "worksheets," and printing them off.  In the earlier grades of Abeka spelling, I liked how all of the words were, sun, pat, sat, mat, etc., so that the children were learning, "If I can spell 'at,' I can also spell 'mat,' 'sat,' and 'pat.'"  However, in the higher elementary grades, I felt like the words didn't really relate to one another at all or build upon each other.  I missed that a lot.  So, a homeschool friend of mine told me about the curriculum that she uses that does just that...all of the words are related and build upon one, we are also changing our spelling curriculum!

    I want to say before I move on that I am very glad that we used Abeka and that we will continue to use Abeka for some subjects.  It does move too quickly on some things, in my opinion, but they do have a very solid Christian base for their curriculum, and my children have learned so much by us using Abeka in their beginning years.  BUT without further are our curriculum choices for this year...

    2nd Grade
    My youngest child, and only daughter, is going into second grade this year.  As you can see, she is using Abeka for most everything.  Here you can see her Language, Letters and Sounds, Our America (social studies), Enjoying God's World (science), and Health, Safety, and Manners books.  She will be doing some subjects with the boys...for the first time ever!  (More to come on that...)
    4th Grade
    My youngest son will be fourth grade this year.  He is still using Abeka for science (Understanding God's World), social studies (My State Notebook and another social studies text not pictured), and health (Developing Good Health).  He will be using Math-U-See Beta this year.  The first time we've used anything except Abeka for math.  So, this will be very new for all of us!
    5th Grade
    My oldest oldest child...will be going into fifth grade.  He is doing several subjects with his some of the books pictured above are the ones that he and his brother will share.  They will be doing science, social studies, and health together (as well as some other subjects that he will be doing with his brother and his sister, which I'm coming to...).  He will also be using Math-U-See this year...the Gamma edition.  Again, this is the first that he has had anything except Abeka, so he is very excited about doing something new!
    All Three

    Language:  We will be using First Language Lessons this year.  My daughter will be doing her Language Workbook in addition to this, and my sons will also be doing worksheets from time to time to go along with this.  The lessons in here are short, but very effective in teaching a child exactly WHAT a noun, pronoun, adjective, and other valid things that I believe they need to know but wasn't focused on as much in their Abeka Language.

    Vocabulary:  We began working with Wordly Wise last year, and I liked it so much that we are going to continue this year. 

    Spelling:  This is the spelling curriculum that my friend told me about where the words relate to one another and build upon each other.  It's called Sequential Spelling.  I'm very excited about trying it this year!

    Our first day of school is August week from today.  So, I am using this week to get prepared!!  Are you making some big changes in your curriculum this year?  Did you have a year in the past where you make some major changes?  If so, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.  I feel like I'm stepping onto new ground, and am a little nervous about it all!

    Linking up at:


    Thursday, August 1, 2013

    Learning to Speak Life Review and Giveaway!

    As a Christian mom, I am always looking for new ideas to help my children learn God’s Word.  My sweet blogging friend, Carlie Kercheval, and her husband, Michael, have written the first book in a series of Bible studies for children!  She was so kind to allow me to have a copy to review for you all!  She is also giving away a copy to one of my readers! 

    The series that Michael and Carlie are working on is called, “Learning to Speak Life.”  The focus of each book will be speaking words of life to those in our lives.  The first book is a 9-week family Bible study geared for families with young children ages 3-9. This first book is about the “Fruit of the Spirit.” 
    This book includes nine sections, one to examine each fruit of the Spirit.  Each section includes everything from scripture references which can be committed to memory and an explanation of what each fruit is to family projects and suggestions for digging deeper, and much more in between!  You will find valuable resources to use in your “Bible time” with your kids.  This study also gets the children involved instead of just reading the verses.

    My children recently memorized the “Fruits of the Spirit” for their Sunday school class.  I am going to use this book to help them not just be able to simply recite, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” but to know and to put those things into practice in their lives.  As these concepts are sometimes hard for children to understand and hard for parents to explain, I know that it will be a blessing to have this book as part of our Bible study time.  I think it will be a blessing to your family as well.

    Enter to win your copy of “Learning to Speak Life: Fruit of the Spirit” below!  If you simply can’t wait to find out who wins the giveaway, go ahead and purchase your own copy.  It’s available on Amazon right now!  You can order your copy by clicking here!

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