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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A 1200 lb. pet? Yikes!

I did it.  I'm a horse owner.  Well, we had Cinnamon, our mini horse.  (I knew I wanted a riding horse, so we got the mini a few months back.)  Anyway, I found a nice trail horse.  I have to say, I prayed, and prayed, and prayed for the perfect horse for me.  I wanted the 1200 lb. animal to be the right fit for me.  My order wasn't small either.  I wanted a good trail horse.  A mare with a huge amount of patience and well behaved.  I wanted no bad habits. One who was trained and gaited.  I wanted a horse that would bond with me and our personalities match.  Well, my prayers were answered!  

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She really only has one bad habit and that's is that she reaches over our fence to eat the grass in our yard.  The grass is literally greener on the other side of the fence.  Due to the low amount of rain, our grass isn't that great anymore.  I've been feeding her grain, minerals, salt and of course hay.  LOTS of hay. 

Took her trail riding several times and she is doing great!  She is gaited and she even knows how to beg.   Which I didn't know she was begging until our Farrier told me what she was doing.  Someone spent some time with her.  She's 12 years old and she is gentle and I love her already!  

Cinnamon gets along with her very well.  They had it out a few times in the beginning, but it's all good.

I am new to all this horse ownership stuff, but I do have a great mentor.  My friend Marilyn has helped me with choosing a horse, trail riding, safety tips, health tips, etc.  She is an angel.  :)   I would highly suggest that anyone wanting to buy a horse to first find a mentor.  There is a lot of responsibility that goes into this beautiful creature (and well worth it I may add), and it wouldn't be fair to the animal to get into horse ownership without being prepared. 

So, this bad habit she has (reaching over the fence for greener grass), any suggestions on how to correct it?  My husband is planning on putting electric fence on the top.  The fencing we have now is goat/sheep fence, which is very strong, good fencing. We have sheep and goats so we already had this type of fencing and knew it was strong.  Well,........not strong enough to hold a 1200 lb. horse from bending the top over.  lol.    Any suggestions?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What made me decide to homeschool?

I think some parents decide to homeschool because they are called to.  I personally was told by the Lord to homeschool my boys, so I did.  But at first I was scared, confused and uneducated about it.  I pushed the thought aside for a bit and went on with life.  Our oldest son just started third grade, our middle son just started the K4 program and my youngest was just a few months old.  We had just recently made the decision for me to be a stay at home mom full time.

One day while picking up my two older boys at the private Christian school they attended, the teacher (also principle and pastors wife) met me at the door.   She told me that she had an issue with my oldest son.  I was shocked because he was the quiet, calm, did as he was told, son.  (Not that the younger one was not, he was just more of the 'class clown'.)  She began to explain how he sat in her classroom all day and didn't do any of his work for that day.  On the way home I questioned my son about this issue.  Nothing was said to him until right before I got there.  At first I was irritated but I began to think 'I pay really good money for the boys to attend that school.  How is it that she was in the same room all day with him and didn't notice him not doing his work?'  (Especially when there was only about 20 children in that room.)  The more I pondered this, the more irritated I became.  The school uses aBeka curriculum.  I've seen the curriculum and thought to myself that I could teach this to my boys.  I could teach them the same material they were learning at this expensive private school.  (Which money wasn't the issue at this point.  Remember, I was called by the Lord to homeschool so I believe this was his way of opening my eyes.)  

I started to research homeschooling.  I was shocked to see that there were several homeschool groups right here in my county!  Really?  Where were they all?  lol.  I've never noticed.  I heard that the local homeschool group was holding a meeting about homeschooling, so I decided to go.  I was a fish out of water.  Do people really do this, educate their own children at home?  They get to spend all day, everyday with their children?  Where do I start?  I don't need a degree?  What would my husband think?  How in the world do they organize, give grades, chose curricula?  I had so many questions.  I tried to ask a few, but again, I was a fish out of water and felt so overwhelmed.

After the meeting I went home and told my husband all about what I found out.  I then looked up the Florida homeschooling laws, (we lived in FL at the time), discussed and went over it with my husband.  He was ok with me doing this, so I then joined HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), gave the private school and county Notice of Intent, and I found a mentor.  :)

So some are called to homeschool, some are just not happy with the public school statistics, and some want to be with their kids.  For whatever reason, it's good to know that we as parents have the right to decide what kind of education our children receive.  Because the government is funding our public schools, we as parents have less and less control and say on how they are run and what they are teaching the next generation.  I used to say that I am not anti-pubic school, but I feel my opinion shifting.  They are not getting better.  Our safety for our public school children is diminishing as well.  I have great concern for our public schools here in America.  Do I think homeschooling is for everyone?  No.  But if you aren't happy with the education your child is receiving, you can do something about it.  You do have choices.  YOU are responsible for your child's education, not the government.  YOU should decide what kind of education they should receive.  Pray about it.  Ask God to show you the answer and help you decide what educational path you should take for your family.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

BEFORE you start homeschooling, you should..............

#1  Know your state laws!

This seems a little scary.....the word 'law', yikes! There are laws with homeschooling?  Yes.  Each state has their own homeschooling laws and requirements.  You can go to (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) and click on your state to see what your state laws are.  There are only 5 states that have high regulation, some with low to moderate regulation and there are also a few that have no notice requirement at all!  The few that have no notice requirements (meaning, you do not have to notify them at all that you are homeschooling) are MI, IN, IL, IA, MO, OK, TX, AK, NJ, ID and CT. (Guam & Puerto Rico are in this group as well.)  Some of these may require a certain number of days or hours to be schooled, or different compulsory age requirements, some want log books and portfolio's to be kept, but there is no notice to be filed and I don't believe any assessments are required to be turned in.  So please check your state before you start to homeschool to make sure you are compliant with the laws!  Our veteran homeschoolers fought to preserve these rights for us so we don't want to infringe on them.

#2   Plug into your local homeschool groups!

If you don't think your community has a homeschool group, think again.  We are out there!  (We are everywhere!  hahaha)  Homeschooling is growing at a ridiculous rate this past decade.  There are over 2 million homeschooled children in the US alone!
Just Google 'homeschool groups' or find your state under-
HSLDA also has groups listed.  However, keep in mind that these groups will need to register with these websites.  So if you cannot find a group using these websites, that doesn't mean they don't exist.  Our local homeschool group has over 120 families in a rural area of northwest WV and we aren't on these sites.  (Not sure why now that I'm thinking about this.  Hmmmm.)  Your public library is another great place to ask about homeschooling groups.  Most homeschooling parents utilize the library.  Also, there are several homeschooling groups on Facebook now.  So they are out there, you just need to look.  :)

#3   Ask for help!

Don't be afraid to ask for help!  Don't be afraid to ask what you might think is a silly question.  But do NOT ask your local pubic school questions!  They do NOT know the homeschool laws and may give you wrong info.  Also, they are more than likely losing money on those being homeschooled so their goal is to get your child(ren) back into the public school system.  You see the picture.  (By the way, don't feel bad about the local schools losing money on your child(ren), they still receive some money for them and you still pay school taxes even though your child isn't attending.)  Anyway, please ask someone who knows the laws.  A homeschool coordinator, a veteran homeschool mom or dad, HSLDA, etc.  These are the people you want to ask because they are knowledgeable about homeschooling all the way around.

Before I end this blog post, I want to take a minute to explain HSDLA.  

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HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Assoc.) is a group of Christian attorneys who fight and help preserve our homeschooling rights.  Not just here in the US, but all over the world.  They are wonderful.  There is a membership fee of $120 per year.  This fee includes any questions you may have, advice, shopping perks, etc.  You will get a teacher ID card with membership so you can use it at certain stores for discounts just like the public school teachers do.  (After all, you will be an educator.)  The best part of this membership is peace of mind.  If the school board contacts and asks for something that isn't required by law, you call HSLDA and ask for advice.  Our local school board started calling parents a few years back asking for information (why we are homeschooling?  what can they do to get our kids back in to the public school system?).  A few of us called HSDLA.  They wrote a letter to the board explaining that they are not to contact us for things that are not required by law.  The phone calls stopped.  But it goes beyond that.  I've read articles on homeschool parents getting charged with Truancy.  (Maybe their paperwork got lost or they were still on the public school roster.)  HSLDA will go to court for you and defend your homeschooling rights.  No fees are paid to them except your membership fee.  I've been to court before and lawyers are not cheap!  HSLDA has been my peace of mind for many years.  They have monthly plans (of $10) or you can buy 5 years for $500 or even a LIFETIME membership for $1000.  I wish I would have purchased the lifetime membership.  I am going on my 13'th year of homeschooling and I've paid by year.  hahaha.  But it is worth every penny!  To view the membership options or to join, click HERE.

Thank you for reading my blog!  I hope this information has helped those who are currently homeschooling and are new to it. 

 God Bless & Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Where do I start with Homeschooling? What do I need to buy?

Getting started with homeschooling seems to be a struggle for some.  "Where do I start?", "What do I do?" and "What do I need to buy?"  These are the questions you may be asking yourself.  

"Where do I start?" -
Well, first ask yourself what does your child want to learn?  What are they interested in?  Then use your resources!  Your library is your #1 resource in homeschooling!  It's free and I'm sure it's not that far away.  Whether you child wants to learn about electricity, frogs, crocheting, Italy, cooking, trees or dragons, the library has information on it.  Anything your child wants to learn about can be found at your local library.  Can't find it, ask the librarian.  Your #2 resource is the internet.  There are literally thousands of websites for homeschoolers.  You can find a homeschool friendly website or just Google what you are looking for.  (You know how this works.)

"What do I do?" -
Let your child learn.  Some children like sitting at the table to do their work, some (like my son) love to sit upside down on the couch.

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Learn where the child feels relaxed and the most attentive.  My son doesn't like to sit still at a desk or table.  He even does his writing on the couch, (quick, call the school police!)  along with all his other schooling.  

You just observe and of course offer help, if needed.  Kids are smart.  If they really want to know something, they'll find the information.  You are just there to help them get to a place where they can find it.  I think our main goal as homeschoolers are not to teach our kids everything, but to teach them how and where to find everything they want to learn.  For example, my youngest (starting 8'th grade this fall) doesn't want to go to college so we are not teaching Algebra.  And if that bothers you, he is excellent in math!  Some may think that it's dumb not to teach something a child is good at, however, it's wasted time.  Don't believe me?  When is the last time you used Algebra in your adult life?  Exactly.  If he changes his mind and decides to go to college, guess what?  He'll learn it.  My youngest wasn't interested in Pre-Algebra when we did it last year.  He didn't like it at all, so why go on if he isn't going to apply it in his everyday adult life?  He doesn't like to write either, however he won't be able to support himself in life if he can't write.  There are some things we must teach that they don't like, you just have to find a way to make it fun.  

Some school days we like to just play with bait and fish.  ;)

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Learning to fish, baiting hook, removing fish, knowing the laws and regulations.....these things are all learning!

"What do I need to buy?" -
It really depends what you are going to be learning about, but there are some basic supplies that you should keep on hand during the schoolyear.  Here's a list:

manila folders for lapbooking and filing
colored pencils
gel pens 
tape or glue
staples and stapler
lined writing paper
clear typing paper
one 3 ring binder (for mom) 
a few spiral notebooks

Yep, that's it.  All of these things on this list can be found at the Dollar Tree or Dollar General.  Your homeschooling supplies don't have to cost very much.  Even grocery stores have big 'back to school' sales with notebooks selling for 50 cents per book.  

I hope this helps with these basic questions.  I'll be blogging more on the new to homeschooling theme in the near future.  :)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Encouragement for new homeschoolers

I am so excited because my BFF in Florida has decided to homeschool.  :)  (Dancing in my PJ's right now.)

So I wanted to blog some advice for all the newbies.  Here it goes.

#6  Do NOT compare your child to other homeschooled (or non homeschooled) children.  This may seem like a no brainer, but it is something that I have recently stopped doing after years of homeschooling and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, seriously.  It's not easy to stop comparing, it's in our nature and it's very easily done.  When you are out at homeschool events, you'll hear moms bragging about what their children are doing (and that's ok by the way).  Don't be discouraged if your child isn't doing what everyone else is doing.  They don't have to.  

#5  Don't listen to the myth that a child must learn something by a certain age or grade.  Like, you must teach a child to read at the age of 5, or do long division by 5'th grade.  Who came up with 'what every 5'th grader should know' anyway?  Someone had to set in place a guideline for the public schools.  That doesn't pertain to you or your child.  He/she isn't public schooled.  Your child can learn things in their own time, their own way, at their own pace and that is ok.  My middle child read at age 4.  My youngest is 13 and still struggles (he has Dyslexia).  Every child is different.  It's not the end of the world.  If your child isn't reading at age 7, it will be ok.  It will click and then you can praise them!   (Always encourage them to try.  If they fail, tell them that they will succeed in time!)

#4  Don't compare yourself to another homeschool mom!  Some mom's like to have detailed lesson plans and a tight schedule.  That is ok.  Some mom's like to school by the 'seat of their pants' (meaning, decide daily what they should do for school).  Both of these are ok.  You do what works for YOU and YOUR FAMILY!  If your little one likes to sleep in and is more energetic in the evening, then homeschool in the evening and let her sleep in.  We sleep in.  We start our homeschool around 10 am and school until about 2 with a lunch break.  Yep, that's it, approx. 3.5 hours a day for my middle schooler.  We can get a lot accomplished in those few hours, trust me.   If you are night owls like us, school at night and sleep until noon!  Yes, there will always be someone judging you.  Who cares?  (Family members are good for this.)  Let them judge, you can ignore it or address it.   To address it, politely tell them, "This is what works best for our family, but thanks for your concern".  

#3  Don't let "LIFE" get you down.  There will be interruptions!  The phone will ring, you'll get a UPS delivery during spelling, you'll have to run to the store for something in the middle of a math lesson, etc.  Life happens.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  There are some days when I have good intentions for a productive day, but I wake up feeling like I haven't slept, I'm out of coffee creamer (big deal!  call 911), and then my hubby calls and needs me to do an errand. Sigh.  It's ok.  Take a breath, there is always tomorrow.  Kids in public school have movie days, snow days, hurricane days, free time, even electronics day (yes, this is true).  So don't lose any sleep over your homeschool day getting messed up.  This too shall pass.  And don't be afraid to say 'no'.  If someone needs something and it can wait, tell them no.  When you are finished with schooling, then take care of it for them.  ;)  You can do it!

Also, depending on your state laws, don't try to keep up with the public school days.  For example, most public schools go for 180 days per year.  In FL and WV, we don't have a set amount of school days.  We don't have to put a certain amount of hours in per day either.  So again, don't sweat the small stuff.  ;)

#2  RELAX & HAVE FUN!  Seems like another no brainer, but it's harder to do than you think.  Teach your kids what they are interested in.  Not interested in reading or math?  Then find a subject they ARE interested in, and go with it.  For example, your daughter loves horses?  Do a unit study or lapbook on horses.  Create spelling, history, science, reading and even math that revolves around horses.  How?  Lapbooks, research, books, movies, color pages, documentaries, workbook pages, crossword/find a word puzzles, math problem with horses, etc.  All of this is school.  You get the picture.  A wonderful math game for children is the grocery shopping. Yep.  Give them a few items on a list and tell them that they need to find these items in the store (supervised of course) and give them a budget to stick to.  

#1  Think outside the box!  If you child loves animals, go to the library and get some books on certain animals.  Read about them,  color them, draw them, have him/her tell you a story about them.  Take your kids to the zoo and then have them tell you what he/she seen and learned that day, then draw a picture of it.   Having trouble with addition?  Use candy!  Take skittles an have him/her group all the colors together and then count them.  Be creative and encourage!  Don't make learning harder than it has to be.  

Enjoy, Relax and have fun!  Any comments to add or questions, feel free to post/ask.  :)  

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, July 18, 2016

5 Top Reasons Why You Couldn't Possibly Teach Your Own Children at Home

Warning:  This blog post is filled with Sarcasm!  Reading beyond this point could make you laugh, cry or get angry!  Read at your own risk!

5 top reasons why you couldn't possibly teach your own high school children at home.

#1.  You'd have to put together a plan.  An educational plan.  A plan to educate.  At home.  Your children.   Hmmmmm, I bet you organize and have a plan now right, you just don't realize it.  Your current plan includes taking them to soccer, baseball, basketball, whatever activity they are in, right?  You probably also help them with their homework or school schedules?   Let's see, you did teach them to use the bathroom right?  You did teach them to feed themselves?  How did you manage that?  All by yourself?  Wow.  Impressive.  How did you find the time?  

#2.  You have to keep them on the right track.  Forget it, too much work.  Really, you have to make sure he/she completes the work given each week.  No can do. 

#3.  You would have to teach them the basic life skills yourself.  Yikes!  That means balancing a checkbook, banking, how interest works, how to pay household bills on time, and how to be responsible!  No way.

#4.  You would have to give them a diploma!  EEEEKKKK!  You would actually have to order a nice diploma online that comes in a nice case, all printed out with YOU under the educators signature!  Holy cow.

#5.  You would have to hear all the negative homeschool comments from your friends an neighbors on how you have become one of 'those weird homeschool families'.  Talk about pressure!  

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So as you can see, you couldn't possibly do it: teach your children at home.  So forget about it.  It would be too hard.  Go ahead and send them to the government run schools so they can teach them what you don't want them to learn and expose them to things they will never find beneficial in life.  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Loop Scheduling? What's that?

I've about to start my 13'th year of homeschooling and I just heard about Loop Scheduling.  What is Loop Scheduling?  Good question. But first let's have a chat.

Your weekly schedule isn't getting completed?  You ask yourself, why do I put together a schedule and then not stick to it?  Why in the world do I do this to myself?  Maybe I'm asking too much out of my children.  I work so hard to put together a weekly, monthly and / or yearly schedule and then I don't stick to it or don't get everything finished? When IS the last time we did science anyway?  

Does any of this sound familiar?  It does to me.  I try to have a weekly plan in my head, get it down on my lesson plans and then we don't accomplish it so I erase and basically write in what we did.  So instead of a 'lesson plan', I should call it a 'what we accomplished this week' log.  lol.  

Well, Loop Scheduling can help.  This is what a Loop Schedule looks like:

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(Sorry about the quality of the ink.  My printer was on the fritz when I printed this.)

So, on the top I have written down what I want my son to accomplish on a daily basis.  So Math & Unschooling Journal are the only two things that he must do daily.  Now down below, on my Loop schedule, is what I need his accomplish with no time frame.  For example, we will on Monday, start at the top of my Loop.  Map / Geography is first, so we will (after his daily work is finished), start on this subject.  He will work for 45 minutes (or whatever time frame you choose for your child).  When that time is up, he will go to the next on the list which is science.  Now, if he doesn't have time for science, he will start there on Tuesday.  So if Tuesday morning comes and we have to be away from the home and he doesn't get to science, it's ok.  He will start on it the next available day.  The goal is to make it through the entire Loop.  Once you made it through, you start from the top and repeat.  

I chose to use this because I had our weekly schedule as Monday and Wednesday science and then Tues. and Thursday for history.  Well, if our homeschool group has a co-op or event on the next 3 Tuesdays, we will be getting behind in history and not where I want to be as far as his accomplishments.  

Let's face it, life gets in the way.  Last year we went a whole entire month without doing any history.  Every day I had it scheduled, something came up and we didn't get to it.  With this Loop Schedule, you will ALWAYS get it.  You won't miss out on any subject.

I found this Loop schedule idea from a homeschool mom, Sarah Mackenzie.  She has a web site with the idea and how she uses it in her life.  She also has a Quickstart Guide to Loop Scheduling on Youtube that you can watch.  It shows you in detail on how to create your own. 

The great thing about this Loop Schedule is that you will never forget about something as long as it's on that Loop and you can add, remove or tweak it anytime.  One of the recommendations she makes is not to put too many on the Loop when you start.  You don't want 10 items on the Loop because it will overwhelm you and you will feel like you'll never get through the Loop.

As you can see, I only have 4 things on my Loop. (Note:  Our history is in our unschooling journal.)

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I laminated this so my son could make a check mark next to the finished subjects in the Loop.  He will know exactly where to start the next day.  Once he is through the Loop, he'll erase those checks and start over the next day.  I also put it on a clip board so it will be easy assess for him and won't be misplaced.

So there you have it, Loop Scheduling.  You can use this for Looping your housework as well.  You can Loop just about anything in your schedule to make sure things get done.  

Pretty cool hey?