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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?  


Monday, July 11, 2016

Review: Science Handbook and Portfolio, The Thinking Tree

The Thinking Tree's Science Handbook and Portfolio can be found for purchase on Amazon.  The book is now on sale for $18.45, but hurry.  This sale will be ending tomorrow (I believe).  The regular price for this journal is $34.50 so hurry!  This book is for all ages.

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I was introducted to the The Thinking Tree books & Journals a few months ago and I was totally impressed.  I was recently given the opportunity to review the Science Handbook and Portfolio journal.  This book/journal is new from the author Sarah Janisse Brown. 

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The book/journal contains 199 pages.  

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The first page opens up the child to learn about what he or she wants to learn about science.  They write down 5 things they want to learn about.

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They go to the library (or bookstore) and bring home a stack of books on topics that they chose to learn about.  It instructs them to watch tutorials and do their own research and experiments.  I think this is great!  With the internet booming the way it is, my son loves to get on youtube and look for stuff that interests him or find videos to help solve something he's been working on.  Whether it is a video game he needs help with or how to help his poison oak, youtube is where to find it.  (Yes, he really did research the poison oak.)  So having the kids self direct is a wonderful idea!

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 There is also a place to list the books they chose, like the other journals have.  It also has a place to put science tools that they will use.

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The next section is for research & reading time.  They list the name of the book, the topic, date, chapter, page number and title.  This is great because some may only use a certain chapter of a book and not use the entire book.  There is a place to the right of this page to draw pictures and/or make notes as well.  There are several of these pages.

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The next section is for the experiments, observation and discoveries.

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They can tape or draw their experiments here.  You could even tape a picture of the experiment here if you'd like.

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This next section is pure genius in my opinion!  The biography of a scientist page is a great way to get your kids to not only learn the scientific concept and do the experiment, but it's purpose is to learn about the scientist himself (or herself)!  Maybe his/her life, history, hometown, parents, etc.  

Then there is a section called science stories.  This is a creative writing page.  They can imagine discovering or inventing something, then write and draw about it.

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Next brings us to the Who? What? When? How? pages.  The kids can decide who to study and answer these questions.  There is a page to the right of this for drawings, photos and images as well.

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 photo 20160711_133752.jpgThat brings us to the vocabulary and spelling section.  The child must look up and define 5 words, then choose 10 spelling words related to science.  This is so creative!  This makes the child think instead of just copying or writing 10 spelling words that don't pertain to anything in discussion or topic for the day.

This next one is my favorite.  It's the science films and tutorials page.  We use Netflix quite a bit in our homeschool.  My son is more attentive if he's listening or watching something rather than reading himself.  This will be great for those documentaries!

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Next section is about science projects.  There are pages where the child can list the projects they have completed and a list the materials used, results and add photos, drawings, etc.

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Records keeping, charts & graphs is in the next section of this book/journal.  Great place for young scientist to document the great experiments they are doing and/or data they are collecting!

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Here is a research, essay and creative writing section.  There are several pages of these in here with different pictures for creativity.

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Some are 1/2 page with a picture and a box below to draw in.  Some are full picture on one side and to the right is a place for writing.  There are several of them though.  There is a place to write a title and date on each.

The next section of this journal is a list of the Periodic Table of Elements.

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And how great is this?  They can make up their own Periodic Table of Elements!  There are several of these for the kids to be creative.  

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The last section of this book has a place to list/draw extra books that you are reading or using with this journal.  

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These book/journals from The Thinking Tree and pure genius. They let the child be creative and learn about what they want to. 

One of the many many reasons why we homeschool is so we can be creative and learn about the things that interest us and do so outside the box.  Let's face it, kids get bored sitting at a desk, reading a lesson and answering questions about what they have read.  This brings that explosive imagination that is inside of them to life!  

Our homeschool year doesn't start up until after Labor Day, but I just know that my 13 yr. old son will love this!  We are using other Sarah Janisse Brown funschooling journals this fall as well.  

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Here (to the right) is my collection of fun schooling journals.  I just started and I expect my small pile to grow!  The next book on my list to purchase is Picturing the Past.  It is a book full of paintings to learn about and their creators.  I can't wait!  To see a list of her funschooling books, just click on my picture.

Sarah Janisse Brown also chooses a book to go on sale for a few days.  Not just a tiny 10% off, but really on sale!  For example, this book, Science Handbook and Portfolio, is one of those on sale now for $18.45 from $34.50!!  That is some savings!  

There are over 200 funschooling books offered for ages 3 -adult. They have math, spelling, devotionals and even mom journals! 

The web site is

Click HERE to learn a little about the author, Sarah Janisse Brown, read her blog, and see some of her funschooling journals.  Her blog is filled with their homeschooling experience and life story which is amazing!

So bottom line, I give this book a 2 thumbs up, 5 stars, A+ and highly recommended for all ages!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I Failed at Growing out my Pixie

I did it.  I failed.  I got my hair cut.  I couldn't stand the humidity and curls.  I was wearing a bandanna in my hair every day!  So I decided to get it cut.  This is what I chose.

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Cute right?  Sassy, wispy, not too short, shaggy.  I showed the stylist what I wanted, discuss the 'wispiness' in the picture and well, this is what I got.

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Now, the lady did a nice job on the cut............ but it isn't the cut or style I wanted, or asked for.  Really, does it even look like the picture at all?  Where is the wispy, sassy pieces?  And where is the back? Anyway, I'm not mad, just disappointed because I didn't get what I ask for.  I wasn't expecting miracles or too resemble Sharon Stone in any way, shape or form.  But I did expect it to be similar in some way!

Sigh.  So I'm back to square one.  On the flip side, I do love a pixie cut on me.  It's easy, fun and cool for the summer.  I don't know if I really want to grow my hair out long anymore, but I still do want to aim for the Sharon Stone style above.  Shouldn't take too long to grow out.

So if you are growing out your pixie, STAY STRONG and don't let anyone give you a hair cut.  lol.