Monday, February 22, 2016

The 5 Stages Of Homeschooling

While chatting with some homeschooling friends the lament came up that it is so hard to help new homeschoolers.. It’s not that they don’t want help, they do, but often times the help they want is more on the level of gratification or agreement with what they are doing. This can be understandable, to a degree. 

The whole conversation reminded me of something I’d written a few weeks ago & debated sharing here. Of course I know there are those who will not fit into the categories as outlined below, it’s not a one-size fits all, but more a generalised perspective accumulated over 11 years of homeschooling..

0-3 Years Homeschool Experience: They know everything & you, regardless of how long you've been at it, are ALWAYS wrong. They are first to respond in every crisis, have the solution for the perfect homeschool year, & further have the best blog post for your every need, never mind that many times their children are only 3-5 years old.

4-5 Years Homeschool Experience: They've matured a bit & recognise that they don't have all the answers, but to beef their "stats" they start counting homeschool years from birth-forward in hopes that people will take them more seriously. They are wiser now, mostly from personal experience, & understand that there is no one-way to do it all. Over all they still have the best solution for everyone but themselves, & this scares them a bit all though they aren’t willing to admit publicly that they have rough days & need help.

6-8 Years Homeschool Experience: They've hit their groove & their biggest concern is the gaps from previous years & trying to cover too much to make up for lost time.. by "lost time" I mean all the suggestions & ideas Mamma's shared but found didn't really work in their own home. Many still have the "best blog posts" around, & sometimes they actually do now, but the newbies are unlikely to hear them so the Mamma’s in this category tend to paint the picture a little too rosy & forget those bad days they had as they talk about snuggles on the sofa during reading sessions.

9-11 Years Homeschool Experience: They've finally done the math & realise just how much time they have left which is both terrifying & exciting.. They realise that there's not enough time to do everything they want & the idea that they will no longer be "homeschooling" is a little scary, but it's equally exciting to see their children blossoming into young adults. They've stopped giving much advice because it's never headed & this is understandable, but the older Mamma's in the 6-8 year category desperately want the wisdom these Mamma's have. They yearn for it & crave it, but it’s hard for these Mamma’s to share as they find themselves on the precipice of new challenges & mountains to climb.

12+ Years Homeschool Experience: These Mamma's are just trying to make it to the finish line. Most of them have children who are independent in their studies, working, & sometimes even have children who are married or living on their own now. They are full of amazing wisdom but they aren't as quick to share it because they've been burned off by the newbie crowd. It's understandable, but the Mamma's in the 9-11 year range need to know what these Mamma's have in order to make it to the finish line themselves. 12+ year Mamma's rarely blog because they've found themselves busy with life outside of homeschool, new jobs, reawakening old passions, & discovering new hobbies. The Mamma's in the 9-11 year category wish these Mamma’s would write blog posts or a book to show them how to accumulate credits, get children out the door & into university with as little issue as possible, & to remind them that there IS life after home education. The wisdom of the Mammas in the 12+ group is phenomenal & you’ll find that Mamma’s in the 9-11 year category cling to the Mamma’s in this group.

Monday, February 15, 2016

5 Things We Love About Winter Promise LA

1. PDF Format. I love that I can obtain these in PDF format & print them out on my kids specially coloured paper. Each child needs a different shade of paper to be able to see the written words properly & with curriculum in PDF format it saves me a lot of time, headaches, & money being able to simply print them out via our home printer. For those of you opposed to ebooks, please be aware you can order them in hard copy from WP.

2. Quick & Simple. That’s not to say that each lesson is overly simplistic, they aren’t, not at all. Rather the work is broken down into bite sized bits to set children up for success. I love this, & it helps the kids to feel accomplished as well. I love it when the kids can read the instructions & dig into the work without feeling stressed & needing more information. Win-win!

3. Pre-Scheduled. Years ago I use to schedule everything we did. I made unit studies, lesson plans, & crafts. I borrowed from many resources to combine exactly what we needed. I was seriously on the verge of absolute burnout, & then we found Winter Promise. I love that the work is scheduled over 4 days leaving us with a catch-up day, if needed, or we can choose to work ahead if we want. The schedule even includes spelling, writing, & reading work too.

4. Story Lines. In LA Level 3 you met Scout the dog & followed him around. In LA 4 you solved mysteries with a Cliff, the fun Detective. In LA 5 you meet up with Scout again, & in LA 6 you’re back to solving mysteries. The material, presented in a story form, is far less dry then working from a typical text book, but it’s just as informative & educational.

5. Levels. I mentioned this in my more detailed review over on The Curriculum Choice last year, but I seriously love that WP refers to their LA in levels vs Grades. My children both have Visual Processing Disorder which means they may not be up to par with their spelling or writing. Allowing them to work at a level vs a grade is awesome.

To learn more about Winter Promise Language Arts programmes check out their online conference videos. If you’re interesting in trying out Winter Promise Language Arts I urge you to check out the evaluation at the bottom of the page to see which level is right for your family. You can also check out Scout's Mini Unit on Verbs Free

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Planners Week 7

Another week in my little planner. I was given this particular lovely set of Penny Black stamps for Christmas & have been eager to use them. The little girls in the stamps are quite large & after the beach spread I opted to just stick with one of the girls at a time so that I still had more functional space to work with. Extra notes, to-do's, or the likes can end up in the space under the heart banner & music notes.

For those curious I used:
Penny Black's Mimi In Pairs {also available at Amazon}
Ms Kimm's Weekend Banner Set {also available through her etsy shop}
KaiserCraft Save The Date Pennant Set {I found mine at my local Spotlight a while back}
Lawn Fawn's Baaaah Humbug & Holiday Party Animal, Wheelie Like You {some available through Craftie Cafe or Dawn Lewis}
Sweet Stamp Shop's Plan Everyday, Plan Work, Plan School, Plan fitness, Plan to Eat, Plan Home {some available through Kerry's Crafty Cards & Cut}
I used Versa Fine Onyx & Versa Colour Heliotrope {Some Versa inks also available at CraftOnline}
The borders have no name on them, so I'm not sure who made them.
The Sweets Washi, I bought it a year or two ago at a local cheap shop, no name on it either; the smaller purple "washi" are actually homemade labels.

Our school planner is far more simplistic with some cute little ladybird/lovebug stickers on it. Yes, I know that Valentine's Day is today, but that fell, in my planner, on the same week as our boys birthday. So I opted to put the lovebugs on this week instead.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

2016 Week In Review: Week 5

This week marked the official halfway point of our term! I made that nifty little announcement one evening over dinner which caused cheers from the peanut gallery & a strangled, "No way!" from Mr S.

Yep, we've officially marked off half a term all ready, which has gone by rather quickly & with very few hiccups. It's always nice when the weeks fly by without hiccups, isn't it?

It can be hard falling back into a routine, at times, but with address stress & frustrations it can make it seem a mountain to climb. I'm always grateful when reentry is slow, steady, & incredibly calm.

It was a slower week around here with a birthday falling in the middle of the week, company visiting, & the craziness that accompanies all of that. But a good week all the same.

We continued our study of John this week, we are enjoying it but we still stand by the statement made in previous weeks that it's a little be weaker in depth compared to our last study. Never mind though, we'll continue forward & see if it picks up anywhere or not.

We're still reading from each of these books, all though we are nearly done with Do Hard Things. The book is a fantastic read & filled with much wisdom to inspire your teens to rise up above low standards & expectations & do thinks of worth & value. I've noticed some interesting results from the kids as we read this together, & will be curious where it takes them in the end.


Math was reasonably uninteresting this week all though the kids now have 1.5 lessons to go before they are done with their current books.. very exciting times. I pulled this lovely book off the shelf this week when someone was confusing a couple of Roman Numerals. It's a fun little book complete with hidden pictures & funny scenes as you learn the various symbols for each Roman Numeral.

Language Arts:

Onward Ho! with spelling, as normal. Yes, I put all our spelling lessons from Sequential Spelling on the computer. The premise with Sequential Spelling is that after you call out a word & your student spells it, then you spell it. Generally people use a white board, but considering the fact that both my children wear glasses to filter out white... Instead I use Keynote on my Macbook. I take & put in a Term's worth of spelling lessons at a go. I do not turn them into actual slide shows, but manually move through it after calling out each word. It works for us.

Morgan finished writing a 300 word essay that was lagging from last week. His ability to write is amazing, but he was overwhelmed by the check-list he had to follow for last weeks writing assignment, & I urged him to pause & give himself room to breathe. He wrapped it up Monday & exceeded his word count learning the hard lesson of having to remove a portion of your writing, regardless of how attached you are to it.

While I have no photos of it they are each still reading from assigned books each day. Both are enjoying their stories & nearing the end of their books. Here's hoping the next book for Jayde arrives before he finishes his current story.


We've been using the Chemistry from BookShark for science here & while it's pretty quick to use I looked over on Monday & saw Jayde half asleep with a glazed over look on his face. I asked him if he was feeling well & his response was, "Not to be rude, but I couldn't understand anything you read so I was debating taking a nap." I realised that keeping him in the higher science was a poor idea because he'd end up hating the subject{s} & have no knowledge in it to boot.

I asked him if he'd finished his Weather Unit from last year, & we pulled it out to see that he had a week or two left in it. We'd been waiting for a humid day to run an experiment & got a little side tracked. We pulled out his books & threw them in the book basket & got back to business with it this week. Needless to say I'll be finishing the Earth Science Unit I'd been working on last year, but I'll share more about that later.


We had a half week with history & read from each of the selections above. We're back into religious wars & issues in our European History book which has caused a few exasperated sighs of, "Really, do you people never learn?" ahh, but there is nothing new under the sun. We should wrap up Myles story in the next week or two,  & sadly there was an international shipping order with our next biography so I'm not sure what we'll do there.

Still more filling in of our Mark-Able Map this week. We noticed that many of the places called to mark this week were all ready on our map from earlier readings, but we still had a few to throw on there. I promise you, the child on the sofa is not picking his nose! He ended up with blisters on his face from either sunburn or a reaction to the sunscreen he used & his poor face was an absolute mess from the scabbing over.

We wrapped up Master Cornhill & started a bit of The Ghost In The Tokaido, Inn this week. Master Cornhill ended on a good note & it was fun seeing many of the events we'd read about come to life in the book, but it was odd that a few of the questions set for in the beginning weren't answered in the end, all be it the Author's note does explain why some of it was mentioned.

The Ghost In The Tokadio, Inn is a mystery set in 1600 in Japan. It takes place during the time that the Japanese banished outside religions from their country. This is one I pre-read earlier this year so it'll be interesting to see what the kids think of it as we read through.

Fun Times:

Our eldest turned 15 this past week. I have no idea where the time has gone. He was delighted, as always, to wake up & find that despite how old he's getting I still pulled out our traditional party cloth, banners, & placemats to celebrate his special day. Thanks to cleaning out the junk drawer over the summer I also found the balloon sticks & threw a bunch of those around the house too...until Little Brother ran off with half of them.


Morgan got an email on his birthday to inform him he'd passed the online course he'd been taking about Game Design. He was honestly taken aback that he'd passed. He sets crazy high standards for himself, & as far as he was concered not getting 100s on all his assessments led him to believe he'd be unlikely to pass the course. Needless to say it was a great surprise for him.

Rather then jump into another course right away he's taking time to programme with his Raspberry Pi, continue work on a game he's building via Scratch, & an assortment of other things which all include some type of computer gibberish or robotic parts.

Morgan spends a great deal of time working on his art while we're reading our books or listening to audios & Jayde decided he'd like to give it a go as well. Unfortunately all his sketch books were filled up, so I had to get him a new one. Without checking the weight of the paper I grabbed a StarWars one for him knowing he'd love the cover. Yeah, crazy crazy thin paper. However, he quickly set to work drawing a storm trooper. I'll have to snap a photo of the finished project because he did a great job with it.

A semi-light week for us, but still a fair amount accomplished.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Planners Week 6

I'm a bit slow with posting planners this week, something about birthdays & all that combined with a busy week prior. However, I didn't put together a weekly spread that represents a bit of birthday fun. It's a bit whimsical considering the "child" turned 15, but it's my planner not his so it's all good. I'd actually flagged an entirely different set of stamps to use, but after waiting 3 months they never came back in stock so I gave up. The birthday stamps are from the Lawn Fawn Party Animals & Year 2 series. I loved that bear & wanted to put a few more on, but he was designed to be looking to the left instead of straight ahead which made it difficult to fit more on. I should have tried masking his tail & seeing if I could have worked with it, but I don't mind because I loved the birds & turtles. Once upon a time our boy wanted a turtle, but as it turns out it's very hard to obtain one in our state... you need a turtle license for a start, & it doesn't get much easier after that!

Our school planner reflected a birthday this week too. Those were some birthday stickers we purchased last year to help Nana mark her calendar so she wouldn't forget birthdays. Not that we minded if she forgot, but she would get terribly upset at the idea & she absolutely loved flipping each new month over & having birthdays written with a special sticker reminder to help her out. I didn't end up adding a quote or a verse to the top of my pages this week & did not fill in my book basket either, but it's late enough int he week to disclose that this week has been a bit of a slog for us. We're officially halfway through our term & will end up with a bit of work left over to wrap up in week 10, which is exactly why I only schedule 9 solid weeks of academics in our 10 week terms!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

15 Things

So, this kid turned 15 yesterday. It totally blows ones mind to wake up one day & realise just how old their child is. 1 year until he can legally apply for his L plate, 3 years until he's legally an adult in this country, 5 years until he turns 20. All this rushes through my mind while I'm putting childish characters on a birthday cake for him. Where does the time go?

I remember the old man watching me in Sears one day while we were looking at baby gear. He came up & said, rather quietly, "You need that rocking chair. You'll want to feed your child in it, read him stories, & when he's gone you'll sit in it & remember all those beautiful moments." He's right, you know. I did need that rocking chair.

This boy of ours, who's more man then boy, is pretty amazing. Let me count the ways:

He’s amazingly kind. I’m not just talking holding doors open & picking up things you drop, I’m talking offering a comforting word when you need it, apologising even if he wasn’t in the wrong, & the deep desire to make sure a person feels included, needed, & loved.

His love for God grows daily, & it’s reflected in what he does. This kid not only made it a goal to read his Bible every day, he followed through with it even when he had days where reading was nearly impossible. “Just one verse,” he’d say. And we’d say, “Sometimes 1 verse is all you really need.”

He can draw like he was born with a pencil in his hand. He may not like every thing he draws & work for weeks on perfecting it, but everything he draws puts me in awe. Sometimes, just to amuse myself, I flip through his sketch book… I’m drawn more to the the half-finished items, the practice sheets, & the fractions of drawings where he was practicing different ideas. I dream of drawing like that, but settle for stick-figures instead.

He can make something out of nothing. Give this kid a pile of trash & he’ll create something amazing out of it leaving you wondering why you didn’t think of it yourself. For years I’ve had a photo on the fridge of a “robot” that always gets Oo’s & Ah’s when it’s seen, he built it when he was 6. It was suppose to be a prototype for a robot who might be able to help him invent a variety of items. These days, he creates board games complete with rules, playing pieces, & step by step pictures to get you started.

He sees from the inside out, & I’m not talking about his VPD. Rather, I’m speaking of how he sees other people, letting their actions & words speak to tell him what kind of person they are. He’s walked away from a few situations because he felt that the people involved weren’t going to lead him anyplace good, & fretted over friends he was worried might get caught up in that crowd.

He has this insanely silly fake laugh. I don’t know if he knows that we know about it, but it cracks me up every time I hear it. It’s a nervous laugh that says to me, “I know this is actually really cool/funny, but I’m not sure how you’ll take it so I’m just testing the waters.” He’d hate to offend.

He’s insanely inquisitive. This kid has asked big powerful questions from a young age & there are times when I honestly have no answers for him. These days, his questions are more facts or, “Do you thinks..” and I’m still generally blown away by the connections he’s drawn that seem so obvious once they are pointed out.

He’s always cheering for the underdog. I’m not speaking sports, I’m speaking in life. He can spot out a struggling person & his desire for them to end well is sincere. His favourite sports team didn’t do so great this year, but his only concern was for a player who’d lost a loved one during the season. He’s first to offer a kind word to the child who thinks they stink in whatever game is being played, & he never expects one in return. 

He’s pretty inseparable from his brother, or maybe it’s the other way around? Who knows. They’ve been mistaken for twins for the past 12 years. He may have his moments of frustration with his brother, but he’s there for him no matter what. The old saying, “No one can pick on my brother but me..” is so very true in this house.

He looks for the good in every situation. Yes, he does, & when it can’t be found he creates some good. A secret note to lift your spirits, a helping hand, or a kind word. 

He’s not afraid of hard work. Perhaps it’s because he’s had to work harder at pretty mundane things all his life, who knows, but he’s not afraid to tackle projects that leave many of us breathless. That’s not to say he’s never felt overwhelmed about those projects, but to say that it’s never stopped him tackling them.

This kid, he can build anything out of lego. Ice cream trucks, cities, castles, movies, you name it he’s probably built it before… yet, he always finds something new to build! 

He struggles, deeply, to pick a favourite anything. It’s not that he might not feel favourably towards one thing over another as much as he truly cares about everything. This is a great trait when it comes to helping people, but it can make shoe-shopping an incredibly long ordeal. 

He loves hockey. I’m not talking ice hockey, which he’s never played, I’m talking Aussie Hockey {ie field hockey} in which he had a brief encounter last year that, as far as he was concerned, should have lasted forever. Never mind the sport is, generally, played with a white ball. The kids he played with were amazing & super keen to pull out a blue ball if it meant it would help him! I’m pretty sure he & his specialist talked longer about hockey than they did about anything else.

He’s the first one to step forward, often without being asked, to offer help. From opening doors & putting away groceries, to wiping down bathrooms & washing dishes. He may not like each task that needs doing, but he’ll offer to do them & follow through on his offer.

Yeah, we considered ourselves pretty blessed to call this boy our son.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

20016 Week In Review: Week 4

We wrapped up our fourth week of school here this week & admittedly it was so much calmer then Week 3. We like calm weeks, it makes for a lot more ease in getting things accomplished.

The boys also found a routine, set by themselves, that has them finishing their work nice & early in the day. This contributes to our smooth days because they are keen to stick to the path they've forged in order to meet their own personal goals & end our term/year where they want to be.

Needless to say we enjoyed a full week of solid work & everyone walked away feeling very accomplished.
History & Geography:

Lots of reading again this week in SOTW as we traveled through Asia & learned about the various leadership issues those countries were going through while Europe dealt with it's own problems & the beginning colonies of America were underway.

We learned more about European Explorers in our European History book, & covered a bit of each in our Encyclopedia. We continued on with our Myles Standish book & are about halfway or so through it. Again, it ties in so beautifully with our European History book that it's a fantastic read.

The books by Cheryl Hanes in this series have a timeline that run along the bottom of the books. They are really really lovely to look at & read through, & it's even more interesting to see the timeline that runs across the bottom of Myles story as we've learned so much about many of the items covered on the timeline at this point.

Our current Read Aloud for this area is still Master Cornhill. The crowds are still torn on liking or not liking this book with one one firmly on each side. I'm still curious to see where this book is going, but am equally torn on the kids opinions on the story.

We watched a couple more episodes of Colonial House. I have to say that while the theory behind the show is very interesting it's lacking compared to other "House" shows. I suppose that's bound to happen when a group of people are gathered together & it's not just one family working. Admittedly there were some unusual topics that came up in this weeks episodes that would not have been discussed in the 1600's.

We're still marking the places we read about in our history travels. I can't believe how much our map is filling in at this stage. We hung the second map up to help us later in the year as we hit more places in the US.

We added more timeline figures to our stash this week. These are only a couple of the ones we coloured in this week. Or rather, the kids. They take turns colouring them & then just copy it all onto sticker paper, cut them out, divvy it up & slap them in their timeline books.

We were a wee bit slack this week with our timeline review all though we did add more items to it & a new Bible verse to our Memory Box.


We're still moving through Chemistry with Bookshark Science 6. No experiments per-say this week all though was a crystal growing one in the book the boys were going to set about doing on the weekend. I'll share photos if they get it set up. It needs to be put together & left in a place where it won't be moved which is their only hesitation because things get moved like crazy around here!

Some of the content this week was a review, & less enticing then when we learned it the first time around, about the Periodic Table of Elements. We read a great book about all the elements last year that was really fun, so covering more of it this year is really just review at this point. I'm actually anxious to move out of the Chemistry section of this study merely because it feels like we've been here forever, but Morgan's enjoying it.

Language Arts:

I'm still not overly enthusiastic with our poetry book this year, but we're sticking with it. I know there will be some more familiar poets ahead as well as some lovely selections coming up. That's not to say the selections & poets thus far aren't familiar or lovely, but rather that the selections thus far just aren't our cup of tea.

We covered Week 2 in Grammar Ace. More review, this time with verbs. Most of this book will be review for the boys based on what we studied last year & I'm still not entirely certain that we won't add in something a wee bit more formal. I do have it on hand to be capable of doing that with & it would tie in really lovely with Grammar Ace. You can tell what I've been thinking about can't you? Anyway, this week we watched the Grammaropolis video on verbs: Lights Camera Verb.

We advanced forward with spelling again this week. It's amazing how smoothly spelling lessons can go when children can see the words they are spelling in order to notice the patterns & combinations we are working with.

Both boys worked through another week of their writing curriculum, which we're still very much enjoying. Some lessons are certainly more challenging then others, but they are all taught at a good pace in order for the child to really grasp what's going on.


We're still steadily working through these 2 books. Still very much enjoying the meaning & information in Do Hard Things. How fun was it to discuss this book with friends this week? I love that my boys are really starting to look at things in a different manner, which is the best proof of how much they are taking away from this book.

We continued our study of John this week hitting Chapter 2. I previously mentioned that we thought it was a little bit weak, & that remained so this week.. That's not nessecarily a bad thing. As an example what we did over the course of 3 days this week was the equivalent of what we would have done in one day with our 2 Timothy study.  We'll see if it progresses any as we continue our travels. We have all three books to study the entire book of John.


Morgan is still working away steadily with Open2Study & his Game Design class. We're still waiting for word back on one of the quiz questions which, according to the lecture, didn't add up accurately. He's not alone in his theory & while he hasn't gotten an answer yet he did run it by Mr S & who agreed that the answer in the quiz didn't fit the theory being recognised. Either way, he has one module to finish up next week & then if he passes the course he can obtain a certificate for his efforts.

We hit the pool with a group of friends on Friday, a great way to wrap up our work week. Admittedly one wasn't suppose to take photos at the pool & I had no idea until I'd all ready snapped a picture of the empty pool {minus my child's head}. In fact, it wasn't until I jumped in just before we left when my child said, "Why can't we take photos at the pool anymore?" Ooops. Admittedly, while I do obey rules {permitting I know them} the idea that I can't take a picture of my child at the pool does rather infuriate me in ways I won't bore you with.

Another week of Cricket in the bag. This season of Cricket can't end soon enough for us. It's been an absolute disgrace & disaster, but more about that later. Our boy did a smashing job bowling his overs & slugged out a few 6's & 4's, & overall proved that despite how unruly your team is you can still set the example..

My artistic boy was busy, busy, busy this week with lots of projects. He's been rather smitten with the My Little Pony show of late thanks to the little pony depicted to have Irlen. It's rare enough for anyone to understand exactly what's going on with you, but it's rarer still to find anything that incorporates a character with this issue into their show/book/etc. This week we found a video all about how to draw these crazy ponies. It inspired him to have a hand at it as he's working on a rather special one for someone's upcoming birthday.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

To Teach or To Clean..

Years & years ago, when I was homeschooled, at one of our end of year ceremonies each family handed {Dad’s & kids} Mom’s roses & thanked them or told them a reason they were grateful for their Mom/wife.

One particular husband got up & made a compelling speech that he use to get annoyed that the house wasn’t perfectly clean when he came home from work, but then he realised that his children were perfectly educated & if he could only have one of those options he’d take the educated children any day.

At the time it made quite a buzz amongst the group because those words hit the hearts of many Mamma’s who realised quite a few things that evening, the biggest being that they weren’t alone in their quest to try & do it all, but fall short. It’s a pretty big myth that any person can do it all, much less on their own. Yet many of us still hold ourselves to such insane lofty goals.

All those years ago I was a teenager & while I was very aware of the buzz that was created by this mini speech I’ve never forgotten how much it meant to so many Mammas who were giving their all to their own special families, my own mother included.

Yet, when we first started homeschooling I still saw to it that my home was clean before we began lessons, & let’s face it when you have young children in the home a clean house is sorta like looking for Bigfoot, it eludes you constantly. Our days were fraught with an imbalance of cleanliness over education, but more importantly undue stress heaped upon my own shoulders.

My husband has never once complained about the condition of our home. No matter how dirty it was he’s never said anything. So the guilt & stress that I was feeling was 100% made up guilt on my own behalf. And why?

I get it, I get that many of us, including myself, thrive in a beautifully tidy home. Everyone loves seeing a sparkling kitchen, a clean floor, & an empty laundry hamper. But here’s the thing, my kids aren’t going to remember how clean the kitchen was, or how empty the laundry hamper is. They might remember the drudgery of it all, & that, my friends was a thought that hit me square in the face one day.

Did I really want my children’s biggest memory of childhood to be the fact that Mom was a raving lunatic unless the house was clean, the laundry folded, & the dishes done? No, no I did not. It scared me. It scared me that my children might never come home to visit me for fear they’d muss something up & I’d make them fix it. I feared that if I’m ever blessed with grandchildren my children wouldn’t bring them to visit for fear I’d flip out about the toys on the floor. 

But you know, I also realised that I wasn’t teaching my children while I was busy fussing over the tidiness of my home. Which made me remember the words spoken all those years ago, & made me realise that I too would prefer my children to be educated than that my home was immaculate.

Now don’t get me wrong, we don’t wallow in filth. We all have chores we attend to each day, generally in the evening after school & hobbies have been attended to. We have spaces that aren’t picked up daily so that creativity can flow.. 

There’s often a desk covered with art supplies, half drawn pictures, markers, & half built games. Our rumpus room is often covered with lego projects, random lego pieces, half built puzzles, musical instruments, & countless paper projects. The main rooms of the home are tidied each day, but these other spaces where creativity flows are left alone until the projects are completed & then we clean things up before beginning another one. We work together to deal with dishes, bathrooms, & vacuuming. Everyone is responsible for their own laundry & bedrooms.

I no longer feel that I have to choose between educating my children or cleaning my home, but if I falter I only have to remind myself that I’d prefer well educated children to a clean home.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Easing Back Into A Routine

Did you ever notice how many people are spent, to the max, after the first day or even week of starting back to school? I do, & I admit, I’ve been there before. I use to make the crazy mistake of starting back to school all chipper & gung-ho for the new material & the great year ahead, only to find 5 minutes into our day we were so far behind schedule it was unlikely we’d finish half of what we’d hoped to accomplish in the day.

It’s hard to put in words, but I feel really bad when I read comments about how gutted people are after their first day back, or week, or month. It’s a true struggle & for some it takes even longer to get back into the swing of things.

Something I learned many years ago was that starting back at a very slow pace eliminates that craziness. It goes against the grain, to some degree, to not jump into everything & march boldly forward, but here’s the deal Friends: Your kids aren’t ready.

They’ve spent weeks, or months in some cases, playing hard. Sleeping in, spending hours reading the books of their own choosing, writing crazy funny stories, creating games, making movies, swimming, biking, watching videos, & having fun long late nights where they stay up well past normal telling stories & reliving everything they’ve done.

Getting them to bed a little early the weekend before you start back to business & prepping them with countless reminders isn’t going to really change the fact that snapping out of vacation mode is hard work. I mean, let’s face it, how many times have you gone on vacation & realised you suddenly need a vacation from your vacation! 

Instead of starting back with all our studies in one go we break it down so that it can take 3-4 weeks before we are back at things full-force. Now, I’m not going to lie it’s a struggle for this Type-A planner gal who wants to tick boxes & march steadily forward seeing certain things accomplished each week, but here’s the secret most people aren’t aware of: starting back slowly means you’ll make more progress far more quickly then jumping in face first.

I know that sounds crazy & completely backwards, but it’s not. Think about it, you can gradually move your child back to a normal waking hour because you’re only adding in a few subjects at a time. You can accomplish two goals at one time & still be marching forward at a pace that works for your family.

In our home, the first week of school is all about getting back into routine. I have one child who wakes up at the same hour regardless, He can stay up until midnight on NYE & his wake-up time generally only changes by 5-30 minutes. The only time that kid sleeps in longer is if he’s sick & even then it’s not more then an extra hour. Our other child’s sleep time has always varied & as he’s going through a growth spurt, hormonal changes, & anxiety issues there are days his body needs extra sleep. Add long summer nights to the list & it gets kinda crazy with his sleep patterns.

In our first week back to business we work on getting anyone who’s been sleeping in up at a nominal time. In our home that’s between 830 & 840 when Mr S is about to head out the door to work. We tend to start school after we’ve waved him off & he’s out of sight. I accept that it’s a high chance my child will be pretty groggy on this day, & that’s totally cool because he only has to sit there & listen to me read a book & then attend to his math lesson. Depending on how much we read it can take an hour of time, maybe more maybe less.

By our second week we’re adding back in all our Language Arts components: Writing, Spelling, Assigned reading, & Grammar. Nothing flashy there, depending on how long the writing assignments are & how much time they devout to reading their new books it can add another 60-90 minutes to our day. 
In our third week we tend to add back history or science. History can take longer because we tend to spend a bit of time reading from various sources, but still we keep it to no more then an hour. Science is far quicker in our home so it tends to take 20-30 minutes on non-experiment days.

This particular year we added history in the first week alongside our math & it worked for us, & at the end of each of our first weeks back to school my youngest would ask what we were adding in next week & how much longer it would make his days. He was quite shocked to realise that his days didn’t get any longer despite adding more studies into them.

It’s really that simple.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2016 Week In Review: Week 3

We wrapped up our third week of school this past week & with that the end of the month of January. It was a bit shocking to peep at the calendar this weekend & realise the end of the month had rolled in.

It's been a crazy January for us between bush fires & ragingly wild storms, but we've weathered it. We were encased in smoke again Monday, Tuesday some cooler air blew in & pushed the smoke away,  Wednesday we had thunder & a meagre amount of rain, & on Thursday the skies opened & with it came lightening. One bolt of it hit so close to our home I honestly thought it hit our backyard.. talk about a lovely fright!  It took out our power, but not entirely which resulted in a 25 minute wait with the electric company in which the end result was to see if someone was available to check our area & see if the fault they were after was closer to our home.  We ended up without power for about 5 hours, which wasn't too bad considering Nana, who only lives 3 blocks away, was without power for 12.5 hours!!

We started a new read aloud this week entitled Master Cornhill, this is one of the very few books for the year that I didn't pre-read so I'm quite curious to see where this story will take us. It takes place during 1665 after a summer of The Plague ravaged London.

We're still reading through Myles Standish & have only just reached Captain Myles himself. The first chapter or two of the book gave some background information on why people opted to leave England during the Reformation. It made for some lovely tie-in chapters to our European History book.

We've finished chapter 7 in European History this week after reading about the many persecutions & beliefs various people had. We're not quite through with some of that chaoticness yet, but it'll be a breath of fresh air to read through some of the Explorers for a while... & I'm not generally a fan of the Exploration years!

We're on track with Story Of The World & traveled through Holland, Africa, the New World, England, & Japan this week as we read various stories around the world. We followed each one up with a few pages from our Encyclopedia. I know that Kingfisher doesn't always get rave reviews, but we rather enjoy it. Both my kids have always really enjoyed looking things up & this just feeds that love. It's also interesting to see pictures of what we're reading about in other books so it ties in beautifully.

We took Tuesday off for Australia Day as Mr S was home & it was a public holiday. It was a quieter Australia Day for us, all though we did have a small BBQ & there were a few sword fights with the crazy air-sticks in the photo above. Mister-Someone was going to make muffins to celebrate the day, but he had a lovely long sleep-in, so we made a quick batch of mint-choc ice cream instead.

Back to work on Wednesday for us & the boys were having a mad dash to find various locations I called out from our history book. The map Jayden is looking at is labeled & one we've had for years upon years. He was calling out the letters for the markable map to be properly labeled. Our Markable Map is filling in really quickly this year. We've decided to pull our second one out & hang it above that for making locations in the USA to help us along some.

Yes, he's eating pizza while watching his math lecture, & here you thought homeschoolers only did school in their pjs! Ha! He lamented that he was, "starving & not going to be able to concentrate too well!" I told him there was left over pizza in the oven & he was welcome to eat it while he watched his lecture. He's so close to the end of his math book there's much excitement growing over it!

I seem to have no photo of Morgan working on his math. He opted to stay put this week as he was confusing some of the definitions with his math. We discovered, however, that it had more to do with misreading the information. He wrapped it up last week & will progress forward. He has 3 lessons left in his book, so there's great excitement there too.

Bible this week was more from each of these books as well as finishing off Daniel & moving into Hosea. We're still really enjoying Do Hard Things which has continued to spark many deep conversations around the house on a variety of topics from the book. It's been interesting to hear a child let out a half complaint before the other reminds him that he just needs to, "Do hard things.."

We read a few more poems from our Classic Poetry book. We covered William Wordsworth this week, & admittedly he wasn't a favourite for any of us which caused a mild discussion about it being, perhaps, the reason he struggled to make a living & provide for his family as a poet. We don't dislike our poetry book this year, but it's most certainly not of the same flavour as the book we used last year which we all loved.

We were a bit later then intended getting started with our Grammar Ace, but we got going with it this week. The first week was nouns so really it was a simple review for my gang as will many of the lessons be, but that's okay. We'll be breaking it up over the course of the weeks ahead watching the corresponding videos from Schoolhouse Rocks & playing some of the games. Short & simple.

This boy continued progress with his writing this week, he took his dedication to a whole new level when he pulled it out to do during the major storm that blew through Thursday. I was sitting on the floor using one hand to hold a flashlight for him, the other arm comforting little brother, & a foot on the dog who was in absolute distress. Most of the time he listens to an audio recording of his lesson & then pulls up a corresponding computer file to do the work.

This one ended up doing 2 lessons of writing in one day to make up for his missing lesson from the chaos of Thursday. He's coming along so well with his summaries, narrations, & dictation. It's amazing what a pair of spiffy specs can do to help you see & comprehend better. Admittedly, his narrations will still be slack if he's worried about needing to write it himself, but over all he's made huge progress & I was impressed with his own dedication to make up a missing lesson the following day.

It was back to business with science this week too. We're still in the throws of Chemistry for a few more weeks before we move on to the next scheduled topic. I'm grateful for the Bookshark Science programme because it means science gets done in our home. We really love the What's Science All About book & have owned it well before Science 6. We read a bit from it each day & find corresponding questions, crosswords, or diagrams on our worksheets that match up with our reading. Chemically active is usually scheduled on the 4th day & can sometimes have an experiment in it. We ended up doing this rather late on Thursday thanks to that crazy storm that wreaked havoc on us.

Friday we had a lovely afternoon out with friends that ended up getting cut short thanks to the storm rolling back in. Our child dealing with anxiety doesn't cope well with thunder & when you add lightening to the mix it's all he can do to hold himself together, much less in an environment that isn't home. The rain was so bad on the way home we had to pull over for 10 minutes to wait it out before making a mad dash to collect Mr S early from work because there was no way I was going out in it a second time.

Jaydie has been dying to make some lovely mini choc banana muffins from his new cookbook. What is it about mini muffins that adds so much appeal to them? My kids have always gone nuts over mini-muffins! He'd intended all week to mix these things up & things just never happened. He was so cross about the power outage on Thursday because he'd intended to make them then in order to take them to share with friends! He finally got to mix them up on Saturday afternoon & was delighted with his results. I couldn't eat them due to egg & other ingredients, but the guys all gave him 2 thumbs up & wondered when he was going to make more.


We did cover spelling this week, but we move through it fairly quickly so no photos. We're really eager to wrap up the book we are currently using & move into the next one, which is great inspiration to keep us on track.

By the time the power popped back on after it's long outage we had a very late lunch & art projects we were in the middle of. So while we ate our lunch & finished off our projects we watched Episode one of Colonial House which is very fitting considering the history lessons we had this week. We'd intended to watch more on Friday evening, but well the storm was back..

Both boys are still working through their assigned book. Jayden's progress is on target, all though he had one day that was a bit of a struggle for him. Morgan is plowing through his book reading 4-5 chapters day which is just blowing us away. This is the same kid who could barely handle a page of reading without having a headache bad enough to blind him a year ago. So grateful for our spiffy specs.

Morgan continued with his Concepts In Game Design course, & is still doing well with it. He doesn't dislike the course, & he's taken a lot of the information & applied it to some Scratch projects he's working on as well as some game board projects, but overall he wishes there'd been a bit of actual programming involved. Mr S joined him for a couple of the lessons just to have a peep & walked away with a few comments that cracked us up..

Lots of art projects unfolding around here from game boards to colouring to paper folding. It took us a good half hour to clean up the floor in the library this week due to all the bits & bobs of paper, rolling marker caps, & a vast array of other "tools" which needed to be put away. Never let it be said that homeschooling is mess free, I assure you it is not.

We're looking forward to a week with no interruptions in it, hopefully, next week!