One Change that Transformed Our Homeschool Year


One change that transformed our homeschool year
We have reached the end of 3rd and 4th grade! We have completed our 5th year of homeschooling and friends – it just keeps getting better. I LOVE homeschooling!

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The first day of school!

I have one tip to share with you that has transformed our entire school year to make it the best yet –but first I want to speak to all the moms of littles who have only just begun homeschooling.

This is hard isn’t it? Really hard. The amount of patience it takes somedays is unbearable – I know. Please do not hear me say that I LOVE homeschooling and equate that in your mind as me calling this EASY. I want to encourage you with this.

Pre-school, Kindergarten and first grade are the hardest years to homeschool. During these little years, your children are 100% dependent on mommy to teach them everything – from reading to math, to history and science. They need you at their side teaching them. This is draining.

But friends – 3rd and 4th grade look NOTHING like that. Independence has begun and my children’s reading abilities are soaring and taking them beyond where I can take them myself.

My son reads on average 4 hours a day. He devours every book we buy him or get at the library. That’s 4 hours a day that he is not bouncing off the walls, playing mind numbing video games (don’t get me wrong, he does play video games), or bothering his sister. Lol!

As a result, he is able to read and comprehend all of his own science, history, literature and yes, even his math. He is extremely independent and this is a huge load off of me as the teacher. It has become more about me directing him to rich literature or helping him solve difficult equations or drilling him on memory work – than it is me teaching.

My daughter –has come a long way and is half-independent. She does not love reading like her brother therefore, I have to be at her side a bit more. Somedays she wants space and says she can do it herself and so I give her space.  I let her lead on how much independence she can handle. One thing I have found is I might think she is comprehending something because she is doing it on her own…but then I find that she isn’t on the right track, which can be frustrating for her. She wants to keep up with her brother but she is two years younger and that makes a big difference in her learning abilities.

Alexis spends a lot of her free-time making crafts, playing Minecraft (did I just admit that? Yes…yes I did), jumping on the trampoline or begging me to play games. Lol! And I do play the games but well – I can only do so much of that. Her crafts used to be a mess but at this age, she is capable of cleaning up after herself – bonus!

So, before I share my wondrous tip that transformed our homeschool year, I just want to say that ages 9 and 11 are fantastic years to homeschool.  And you might be thinking – what about their attitudes? They are kids – so of course we have our rough days – but they are far out numbered by our good days. I talk about this in a 5 part homeschool video series  here.

Some things in the past year that have helped my journey are:

1.) Our Classical Conversations homeschool group. This group has enriched our learning and provided wonderful friendships.

CC Foundations Class

Lexi’s class – 9 and 10 year old girls

CC Essentials Class

Alex’s Afternoon Class – 4th-6th grade boys and girls

Homeschool entire group

The Entire Homeschool Group ages 4-12

2.) Grandpa comes on Fridays and eats lunch with us and does Science and History. I *{blush}* when I share this because I know that so many do not have a helping hand. I know this is a huge blessing in my life and I don’t take that for granted.

homeschooling wiht dad

Dad and kids

3.) We love our curriculum:

Classical Conversations provides our History, Science, Geography, Grammar, Latin, Art and some Music.  This is a class we attend with other homeschool students on Tuesdays from 9am-3pm.  We LOVE this group!

For Math, we used Saxon.

For Language Arts, we used Sonlight.

For Writing we used Essentials of the English Language.

For Handwriting, we used Classical Conversations Pre-Scripts (cursive).

For Bible, we read out of the  Family Reading Bible and the kids memorize verses and do daily devotions through the Olympians Program at our church.

And on Fridays, my father comes to my house and helps me out and he usesApologia Science and The Story of Our World History .

And the one change that transformed our homeschool year…drum roll…

Post-it Notes on the breakfast table!

homeschooling morning post-it notes

Yep!

Every night before I go to bed, I put out for the children their Bibles, devotionals, a book they need to be reading and some math or phonics worksheets.  I put post-it messages to them, telling them what I want them to do. When they wake they are not allowed to use any electronics until they have completed the morning table work (it’s usually about 45 minutes of work).

homeschool morning

Would you believe they actually do all the work I put out without complaining 98% of the time?

There is NO one more surprised than me — that this worked! I suppose they are fresh in the morning and ready to get some work out of the way. And so they have a habit of coming to the table with their bushy hair and smudged red cheeks from sleeping and in a trance – they work work work.  Hooray!

homeschooling morning 2

I have no idea if this could work in your house or if somehow I just randomly hit the lottery.  But having 45 minutes of work done before 9am —rocks!  They usually break from there and we don’t start again until closer to 10am. Then they work until lunch.  After lunch they do one more hour of work and then they have an hour in their rooms for reading and that’s their day.

The kids have been involved in lots of activities – Alex played tackle football on the public school team and his team made the championship.  Then he played basketball for Upwards and his team lost all their games (good life lessons right?) and he achieved his purple belt in Karate.

Football and cheerleading

Alex purple belt

Alexis took piano for 2 1/2 years but in March she decided to quit. :(  We agreed this was the best choice for her.  She takes gymnastics and has mastered her front and back walkovers and is working on her back handspring now. In the fall, she was a cheerleader on the public school squad and cheered for her brother’s football team.

The kids were also involved in our church Sunday night program called Olympians.  They both earned gold medals, a trophy and a new Bible for memorizing verses, doing service projects, and writing book reports.

Olympians 2

So that sums up our school year — which was quite full – especially with the launch of my book!!!  I’m EXHAUSTED but we made it – Hallelujah!!!! Lol!  I feel so incredibly blessed!

**Chime In: Do you homeschool?  What worked for you this school year…and what did not work for you?

Walk with the King,

Courtney 

***Please be sure to come back next week when I have not 1, not 2, but 3 new announcements including the new summer series announcement!

The Women Living Well Book Club – Chapter 15 {School Choices}

chapter 15 school choices

Let’s Discuss Chapter 15

If you want to start disunity in the body of Christ…just talk about school choices.  Ugh. I am aware of this, so I tread very carefully into today’s blog post ;)

As chapter 15 says, I’m a product of public schools.  My parents walked alongside me, discipling me and teaching me how to be a light in darkness for 12 years and when I graduated, I was on fire for Jesus.

My parents lived out Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

I believe that school choices are not permanent choices.  I know many moms who homeschooled and then put their kids into a brick and mortar school and many moms who first sent their kids to a brick and mortar school but then pulled them out to homeschool them.  And then there are those like me, who only did public school and there are those, who are homeschool graduates.  All of us are walking with the Lord now…so it is not necessarily the school choice that determines the depth of our walk with God.

We each have our own journey – our own life puzzle and our own set of circumstances that will determine our school choices.  I do not believe in a cookie cutter – one size fits all – approach to education.

 

We are not replicas of each other

In this chapter, I share my education experience as a child, my reasons for homeschooling, the benefits and challenges of homeschooling and a day in our lives.  My conclusion in this chapter is — regardless of which school choice we make, our job as parents is to teach our children to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)

I know the drive of the culture is to try to make our kids cool, honor roll students or star athletes.  It’s the prevailing voice of today – but that is not God’s voice.

We must remind our children – you don’t have to be cool.  Be like Christ.

You don’t have to be on the honor roll.  Honor the Lord.

You don’t have to be a star athlete. Worship the one who made the stars.

And if you happen to be on the honor roll or a star athlete –do it to the glory of God!

A reminder to our children

 

My daughter wanted to join me for today’s video – it’s super short and casual – just a little over one minute…

(if you can’t see this video – click here)

Discussion Questions:

1.)  What is the puzzle God has given your family that has determined your school choice for this season?

2.)  Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9.  Are you diligently teaching your children about the Lord?  What are some practical ways you are carrying this out in the home?

For Extra Discussion go to the Forum and click on the thread that says “Chapter 15″

Walk with the King,

Courtney

New School Pictures & Our 2013-14 Homeschool Curriculum

This August we began our fifth year of homeschooling!  We’ve gone from this –

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To this!

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 My how they grow!

First Day of School - Kindergarten 005
I blinked and this happened!

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 And a little mommy tear trickles down my face as I see time passing…
I do want my children to spread their wings and leave the house someday -
but for now I am savoring every last drop of these little years.

And I must say that I am so grateful that everyday I get to wake up to these little faces
and together we experience the wonder
of Math, Reading, History, Grammar, Latin,  Science, Music, and God’s Word.

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 I am thankful for our days at home because our evenings have been full
with football and cheerleading nearly every evening.

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It’s been great because Alexis’ squad cheers for Alex’s team!

Another tradition I started for the first day of school is taking a picture of Alexis in one of my dresses and Alex in one of his Dad’s shirts – and watch them grow!

 First Day of School Mom's Dress A

 First Day of School Dad's Shirt A

 

And every year I get a lot of emails asking what curriculum I use to homeschool my children.

So here’s our full list of curriculum for 2013-2014:

Classical Conversations provides our History, Science, Geography, Grammar, Latin, Art and some Music.  This is a class we attend with other homeschool students on Tuesdays from 9am-3pm.  Here’s a picture of our group.  We LOVE this group!

 cc photo (7)

For Math, we are using Saxon.

For Language Arts, we are using Sonlight.

For Writing we are using Essentials of the English Language.

For Handwriting, we are using Classical Conversations Pre-Scripts (cursive).

For Bible, we read out of the  Family Reading Bible and the kids memorize verses and do daily devotions through the Olympians Program at our church.

And on Fridays, my father comes to my house and helps me out and he uses Apologia Science and The Story of Our World History .

 

And this is the flow of our day:

The kids wake in the morning to assignments and pink post-it notes with instructions on the kitchen table.

 am photo (8)

While I am doing my morning Blogging/Facebooking/Tweeting/Pinning – they begin their work that they can do independently.  This is about 45 minutes of work and it includes their personal devotional time in God’s word. Then we have breakfast.  Then we have another hour of school work that we do together and then a break to play.  After lunch we do another hour of school work together and then a one hour reading/piano/quiet time in the afternoon…and then –we play!

That about sums up our day here!  If you are new to WLW or homeschooling – you can see my 5 Part video series on the benefits, challenges and my routines of homeschooling –>> here.

Chime In: Are you a homeschooler?  Share in the comment section what curriculum you are using, how your day flows or what your homeschool group is like and if you blog and have already blogged on your new homeschool year – feel free to share the link with us in the comment section!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

Pre-Launch Giveaway

Reflections on our Homeschool Year

First Day of School

Last Day of School

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As I begin to pack away the teacher’s guides and paperwork from this homeschool year –tears well up in my eyes.  A sense of relief washes over me, I made it through another year.  I can’t believe we made it.

Second and third grade are done and next year we will tackle 3rd and 4th grade and be starting our 5th year of homeschooling.  The sense of accomplishment is overwhelming only because I thought more this year about quitting than I ever have.  I’ve sat with my husband late at night discussing the local Christian school and all the benefits –including a break for me.

Running this on-line ministry mixed with homeschooling and managing my home has been an overwhelming challenge.  The days stack on top of days and my to-do list seems impossible sometimes. The kids and their education come first and as a result the guilt of not keeping up with friendships, making the time to exercise or keep the house as clean as I like, burdens me.

And then there’s all my fears…my biggest is if I’m good enough at this.  Are my kids being as well educated as their public school counterparts?  Statistics show that homeschoolers do overwhelmingly well on state tests and entrance to college exams but I’m not so sure that’s happening in my home.  I don’t want to fail my children and so I feel pressure to ride them a bit to make sure they are reading, writing and doing arithmetic to the best of their ability.  And when we hit rough spots and attitudes, I shake my head and the discussion about the local Christian school begins again.

While I found this year to be one of the most overwhelming for me in the area of time management and major lack of sleep {which led to me literally quitting blogging for two months last December and January–I thought I was going to pop from all the pressure}, I believe it has been the most fulfillng yet.

For the first time, my children made real friendships with other homeschool children and I connected on a deeper level with other homeschool moms.  I am sad to admit that I have purposely not pursued friendship within the homeschool community because I was afraid of being judged for my parenting and potentially held to a higher standard because of this blog.  My fear of new friendships have stunted our homeschool years and when I started this year with open arms –allowing myself to be “known”, I found real moms who are a total joy to talk and laugh (really hard at times) with. And this has been such a gift –a gift the Lord knew I needed this year. 

Some of Lexi’s Classmates – they really need to lighten up a little ;)

Alexis' CC 2nd grade class

Alex’s buddies

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A science experiment  –dissecting – ewwwwww:

1 homeschool dissecting

The curriculum we tackled this year was a perfect fit for us.   I have received emails asking me what we used this year —so here’s the run down.  We loved everything we used :)!

Math: Saxon –my son began the videos this year and it’s pricey but a welcomed break!

Reading, Writing, SpellingSonlight (we LOVED this change from Rod and Staff –it fit our style much better)

Phonics for Lexi (2nd grade): Explode the Code

Spelling for Alex (3rd grade): Spelling Plus and Dictation by Susan Anthony, 1,000 words towards spelling success

History, Science, Latin, Art and Music - Classical Conversations – this curriculum includes a Tuesday morning class with other homeschoolers (as seen in the pictures above).  We did science experiments, memorization work, painting, music, singing and other fun activities.  And yes – even I attended the class.  Mom’s stay with their kids during this time. We LOVE this class!  Next year Alex will attend their afternoon class where he’ll use the Excellence in Writing curriculum.

Extra Science and HistoryRod and Staff (next year we will be changing to Apologetics Science and The Story of the World for history by Susan Wise Baur)

Cursive Writing: Handwriting Without Tears

When I reflect back to September of last year and compare it to where we are today, I can see amazing growth mentally, spiritually and emotionally in both of my children.  I’d love to brag on them but I’ll spare you the details –I’ll just say that it’s enough to give me peace knowing we are on the right track and we shouldn’t change a thing.

If you have questions about our homeschooling – check out some of  my past videos here where I discuss the benefits, challenges, how we structure our day and other thoughts on homeschooling.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”~ 3 John 1:4

Chime In:  Did you homeschool this year? How did it go? What did you like and what will you change?  Share with us your favorite currriculum!

Walk with the King,

 

 

 

First Day of School Pics!

This was our first day of homeschooling – ever – 4 years ago! The beginning of our journey!  

Alexander was beginning Kindergarten and Alexis began Preschool.

Then we moved to a new home and began Kindergarten and 1st grade!

 

 

 Then last year was our 3rd year of homeschooling.  (previously our children did virtual school – as you may note the computers. But now we use a new curriculum and they attend a class with other homeschoolers once a week.) This was 1st and 2nd grade.

 

 

 

 

 

 And then this past Tuesday – our 2012-2013 homeschool year began!!!  Alex caught me in the bathroom fixing Lexi’s hair – a typical morning ritual in our household!

 

 Oh my look how grown up they are *tear!  This year they are entering 2nd and 3rd grade!!!
 

 

I savored our first day of school – it was so fun!  And looking at these pictures just convinces me all the more that I must treasure this time with them – because I’m going to blink and they’ll be 18 wahhhhhhhhhh!

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you to day are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

 
Whether your children attend a public school, a private school or are home schooled, Deuteronomy 6 applies to us all – our job as moms ultimately is to teach our children to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls and strength! It is our job to impress this on their little hearts as they sit at home, as they are traveling to different activities, as you tuck them into bed at night and as they wake up in the morning! I want to encourage you to evaluate your time this fall and be sure that this is a top priority over all the other busy busy busy things on your to-do list!
 
Have a great school year!!!

Walk with the King!

  

My 2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum& WLWW Link-Up Party!

 

 We are really excited to get back to homeschooling!  This year Alexis enters 2nd grade and Alexander enters 3rd grade and Grandpa will be joining us again on Fridays to homeschool for 4 hours – 3 cheers for the world’s greatest Dad (besides my husband of course :) ! )

To prepare for our new school year, this week we have been attending Classical Conversation’s Practicum which is a learning camp for kids and a training camp for moms. 

 

 

We will once again be attending a local Classical Conversations class on Tuesdays.

 

To go along with the Classical Conversations Curriculum we have begun an awesome lap book created by Karen Gill from WisdomandRighteousness.com.  If you are doing Classical Conversations too – I highly recommend you check out these printable lapbooks here.  They are an excellent resource and tool that we have just begun to use for the new year!

 

 

 So here’s our full list of curriculum for 2012-2013:

Classical Conversations provides our history, science, geography, grammar, latin, art and some music.

For math, we are using Saxon.

For Phonics, we are using All About Spelling.

For literature and grammar, we are using Sonlight.

For Handwriting, we are using Handwriting without Tears (cursive).

For Beginning Typing we are using Typing Instructor.

For Bible, we read daily out of the NIV Family Reading Bible and the kids memorize verses and do daily devotions through the Olympians Program at our church.

My son is playing Flag Football again this summer/fall with the local public school and continues to take Karate. In the winter, he plans to try out for the public school basketball team (he has been playing on the team for 2 years and practicing all summer for tryouts this year!)  My daughter is continuing her gymnastics tumbling class and piano lessons and they will both return to the Sunday Evening Olympians program at our church.

So it’s a full year of fun and learning and we can’t wait to get started!

Chime in – do you homeschool?  What curriculum do you use?

Walk with the King,

Not Back to School Blog Hop

 

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And NOW…

 

It’s Living Well Wednesday – Link-up time!!!

If you have never taken the time to check out these other bloggers – you are missing out! The ladies that link-up below are amazing writers and creators and I just know that one of them is going to encourage you today! So you’re invited to come on in!

Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you link-up below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here! (Posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, homeschooling, finances, recipes, organization and more!)


To find the code go to the sidebar – or right click and “save as” the button and then upload it into your post! :)



Our Homeschool Room, Activities & WLWW Link-Up Party!

I’ve had many emails asking me for more details about how we homeschool, how we get socialization in and more! So yesterday I shared our curriculum and Classical Conversations homeschool group pictures and today here’s a picture gallery from our year!

Our Homeschool Room – it’s a wee bit messy – but you get the idea :) !


Sometimes we work in the school room but many times we work at the kitchen table or at the kitchen desk where it’s easier for me to assist the kids while getting some of my housework done :) .

And sometimes the kids work on the couch in the living room!!!  My son does a lot of work in here because he is more of an independent worker than Alexis.

Here are some of the outside activities we participate in.  Alex has played Flag Football on the public school team for 4 years.


Alex has played basketball with public school kids for 4 years also.


Alex has taken Karate for 2 years.


Alexis has been in Gymnastics for 3 years and swim for 5 years – this was her first year to not do swim.

Alexis started piano this year and LOVES it!  We have an amazing teacher who comes to our house!

And the kids are in a Sunday evening Word of Life program at our church called Olympians.  They just received these awards this past Sunday night for saying all of their memory verses, doing their daily devotions, doing service projects and book reports.


All of this keeps us hopping!!!   So tell me – what activities are your kids in that you enjoy?

Walk with the King,

 

Our 3rd Year of Homeschooling Using Classical Conversations

First Day Of School Jitters!

Last August we embarked on a new homeschooling journey.  For our first 2 years of homeschooling we used a curriculum called K12.  But then we heard of this amazing group of homeschoolers in our area that meets weekly – and they were doing a curriculum called Classical Conversations .  After looking over the curriculum – we were excited to join!

This group divided into 4 classes after opening session

 

Every Tuesday for 24 weeks my children attended this class from 9am-12pm.  All of the mothers attend and stay with their children. Some of the subjects we covered in class were history, geography, latin, math, grammar, anatomy, geomotry, music, art, and science.

Weekly Science Experiment

Each week all the students did a 2 minute presentation on an assigned topic.

Weekly 2 Minute Presentation

Alexis really improved by the end of the year!

When class ended at noon the children went to play on some indoor slides (inside the church where we meet) for 30 minutes.

The kids LOVED getting to play here every week!!

Then we went to the cafeteria for lunch!

Alex and his buddies!

We also used the “Rod and the Staff” English, Grammar, Phonics and Handwriting curriculum and Saxon Math Workbooks.

Last spring I did a 5 part video series with some of our thoughts on homeschooling.

Part 1 – Why We Homeschool

Part 2 – The Benefits of Homeschooling

Part 3 – Our Daily Homeschool Schedule and Curriculum - we have changed curriculums this year – the updated video below explains it all!

Part 4 – The Challenges of Homeschooling

Part 5 – Sheltering Children and My Experience in Public Schools

Since the video from Part 3 has changed, I thought I’d make an updated video about our homeschool changes this year (including some samples of what Classical Conversations School work looks like) and the one change we plan to make for next school year.

(if you are reading this in an email or feedreader - click here to view the video)

Tomorrow I’ll share pictures of us doing school at home.  If you homeschooled this year – how did it go? Is there anything you loved and would like to recommend?  Share it with us!

 

Walk with the King,