Missing Homeschool

I got to cuddle next to the kids last night and watch Miracle on 34th Street. It was so great. I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with them since they started school. I miss these moments.

The kids have been in public school for 3 weeks now.

At first, we all really liked the change. The kids made friends, they have been doing well on their work, and they said they enjoyed school. But not so much anymore.

Now our mornings are full of grumpiness and sometimes tears. They don’t have that same excitement when they wake up, and frankly, neither do I. I am on their side. I think homeschool is where they need to be, it’s just a matter of timing now. It’s going to happen. I miss them so much and teaching them and watching them grow and learning something new. I miss all that. And I’m sad when I think of all those kids in school whose parents miss out on that too. I feel more distant with both kids since they started. I don’t know what’s going on in their lives and even though it’s only been three weeks in PS, their personalities have already begun to alter, and not neccesarily for the better.

We are going to keep them in school for a little while longer. I’m thinking until Christmas break, so I have time to get our business up and going and then I can quit my job too.

Homeschool is one of the best things our family has ever done. Yes, it’s completely stressful and sometimes we have lazy days, not accomplishing much, but wow, I miss every second. I miss making breakfast with them, eating lunch at our table or maybe a picnic. I miss reading to them. I miss teaching them. I miss their smiles and laughter. I miss it all.

The saying where the grass is always greener on the other side is so true. We thought it would be better for so many reasons to put them in school, but we were wrong. We are a homeschooling family and always will be.

I am glad we tried public school out. I think it was just what we needed to give us a boost when we come back to homeschooling. The kids had started to take homeschool for granted and I believe they will appreciate the way we do things much better now.

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A HUGE CHANGE AROUND HERE!

Two words. Public school.

Two more words. Debt free.

We love homeschooling our kids. We have been doing it officially the last three years, and plan to continue that journey in the future. However, we also want to make a better life for us and our future. We have read Dave Ramsey‘s The Total Money Makeover many times and I listen to his podcast almost daily to help keep us on track, but something was missing. We could be out of debt (except the house) in 2-3 years with no change in our income. That’s not fast enough for me. When I get excited about something I tend to go a little crazy and want change instant. So we thought about it and the only way to pay down our debt in less than one year is for me to work more.

So that’s exactly what we plan to do.

We will send the kids to public school for this year while I help bring in extra income to get us where we want to be financially.

We are all sacrificing on some level and have discussed it to make sure everyone was on board. The kids were excited to try out a new experience for this year and understand what we are trying to do to get us to a better place. Live like no one else, so later you can live like no one else. That is Dave Ramsey’s motto. I repeat that to myself many times a day.

Not only are we putting the kids in school and I’ll be working more for the next 7 months like a crazy person, but we are putting everything else on hold too. There is a long list of things that I want done around the house or mini-trips we would like to take, all are hard to say no to, but we are in this 100%, so for 7 months we will buckle down and be dedicated to our new lifestyle.

We still plan on ‘homeschooling’ the kids outside of school. They will continue with their Teaching Textbooks math each day, their journals, and coding. I may even pull them out for the day if we plan an awesome field trip.

This is one small chapter of their lives and we look at it as a real-world experience, which is our main goal as parents: to give them experiences to help them grow into a well-rounded adult.

Until next time.

 

School of Rock!!!

Finally!!!!

Turner has found something he is into besides video games ūüėČ Hey, I’m not one to hate on video games, I absolutely LOVED them as a kid. I was awesome at Mario Kart, Golden Eye, and Banjo Kazooie back in the day.

BUT

I’ve been hoping our son, Turner, would find another interest and he did. We took both kids to School of Rock back in December, and he was hooked from the first lesson. They actually say he is one of the better ones for his age and picks it up super quick.

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I’m so proud of him and also for my daughter for trying out SOR. She completed one season with them, but decided it wasn’t right for her at this time.

Here is a video of Turner playing one of his favorite parts he learned for last years show: Breaking the Law.

Here is a video of both of them. Turner on the drums, Lilly vocals.

If you have a School of Rock near you, I would recommend it to anyone. My son loves being around other musicians, working in a real band, and just playing the drums.

We just signed him up for a 2nd lesson each week closer to our town, which he also enjoys because they let him pick the song he learns. So far its been Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, and now he is on Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.

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Our year so far…

We started the school year off in July after a 3 week break. The kids were ready to get back into the swing of things and I prefer them to stay on top of what they have been doing, otherwise they tend to forget (don’t we all!) 


A few things we have been doing that I’ll mention is last year we started a point system. They are awarded points for reading or completing their work. Sometimes kids, even adults, need a little extra something to get them excited. So we tried it out. An example: 1000 points for completely their Math for the day. Then when they have enough they turn in those points for things such as a pizza party with their friends or a trip to the ice cream shop. There are different levels. This worked great. 

However! 

Over the past month I’ve seemed to neglect using it. They both have over 100,000 points right now and neither of them seem to be in a hurry to use them up (even though there are some cool things they could do, like a $40 shopping spree, etc). 

So this has been out on the back burner. It worked amazing for about 4 months tho! ūü§ď

We have 5 huge changes this year. A few are to help us gravitate towards independence, a love of learning and unschooling. 

Number 1. 

Teaching Textbooks, finally!!!!

I love our other Math programs, but they require so much time from me and my kids weren’t really digging them. I finally splurged and bought TT4. They both complete a lesson each day. It’s graded for me. It’s engaging and I haven’t heard one complaint about it. It’s been 4 weeks. Thank you Teaching Textbooks!!!!


Number two.

Daily Journals.

I remember having a journal as a kid and I’ve read different articles why they are important to keep, so I went out and bought them each a cute journal (or diary if you will.)

I let them know that this is there’s. I won’t read it unless they ask (they haven’t). There are only 3 rules:

  1. You must write in it each day
  2. You must write out the date 
  3. You must write at least three sentences. 

They really enjoy this time. I do scan through and make sure they are following the ‘rules’ and try my best not to read it. I’m glad we started this. I think it really helps them understand how to get their thoughts on paper, learn to spell the date correctly and to express themselves in a positive manner. 

Number three.

Cursive notebook. 

I also went and bought them each a cute notebook. Turners says ‘I can do anything.’ And Lilly’s says ‘I’m a Rockstar.’

These notebooks are our new cursive books. When I was a kid my mom and I use to write back and forth Ina notebook because there were many time we weren’t hole at the same time and this was a fun way to communicate. 

Everything they write (and me) HAS to be in cursive. I wanted to switch it up this year and make it more natural. Now we write notes each day back and forth. It’s been wonderful. 

Number four. 

Three week session rotation. 

We use a three week on, one week off rotation. 

But I switched it up even more this year. 

We now rotate between Geography, Art and Cooking, History and Writing, and Science. 

It has made life so much easier, more organized, and fun!

We have completed our Geography session: studying South America and are finishing up our Art and Cooking session this week. 


I really feel we get more out of each topic since we are completely focused for three weeks. Then we take a break from it until it comes back around. History is up next and we will focus on SOTW #2, Medievil Times and writing an essay (a first for them). 

For us, we will hit each rotation three times in a ‘school year’ and have a two week review at the end. 

This has been so great! 

I also try to tie them together. For our Art session they have made globes, which they will paint and label the continents (South America/Geography)!


Number five. 

Class books and cover page. 

We have always read class books together and if there is a movie we watch it afterwards. 

What is a little different, is I’m having the kids make a cover page at the end (or you could call it a review page). 

They get a blank white paper and put the title on the top then illustrate and color a scene from the book. They can pick any part they want. They have completed the books and cover papers for Sign of the Beaver and 100 Cupboards so far. We are currently reading BFG for our class book now. I try to get one in each session. We got two books in our first session (1/13) because one was an audiobook we listened to in the car. 

At the end of the year they will have a folder with all their cover sheets to look back on. I think it’s a neat reminder

Until next time!

The Trash Squad

Recently we came up with an idea to go around our town and pick up trash. I know it doesn’t sound like the most amazingly fun thing to do, but actually it’s pretty cool.

Both of the kids really enjoy it, and like to see what they can find. We usually weigh our bags at the end and keep track of the biggest/heaviest/yuckiest items we find.

They created a Facebook page to keep track of what they have been doing and to hopefully encourage others to join in and pick up around their communities, as well as to not liter.

You can check out the Facebook page here with some photos of the kids. They were pretty excited the first time out and received a $2 donation from a random women driving by. She stopped and asked what we were doing, we told her picking up trash, and she said why, we said because we hate seeing the side of the road covered in garbage, then she handed the kids $2 and said thank you. It was sweet and they decided to get some ice cream after all their hard-work.

The kids came up with the name btw, we are working on getting some shirts made for them too.

Just finished our first week of school!

Actually, we only had 3 days of school last¬†week, and 3 this¬†week. That’s why we homeschool though, so we can go on trips or take off days when we need to¬†ūüôā We were supposed to start school on Monday last week, but I ended up needing to watch my sister’s two kids, and this¬†week we took¬†a field trip, so it¬†was ¬†another short week. It’s kind of nice starting off this year slow, to get into the groove again. We ended up having a 6 week break (WAY longer than I had planned)!

Here they are, proud to be moving up the ladder and getting more independent. Turner, our 3rd grader.

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Lilly, our 2nd grader.

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Caden, my nephew, also in 2nd grade.

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The kids said they had a ton of fun this week, my daughter even said she liked Math! (Although, I’m not sure why, because we didn’t do anything different, other than have complete one-on-one time, only her and I were at the table at once. Oh, and she loved writing on the window with dry erase markers!)

I really like our morning meeting time that I have implemented with things such as talking about famous quotes, learning a new ASL phrase, setting goals and plans to achieve them, assigning the kids an endeavor (they LOVE this!). We also meditate for 5 minutes, I recently read this interesting article about how good it is for you, which I’ll link to soon.

Another thing we do is have a character trait of the week. They each spell it on the board and we look up the definition in the dictionary, whoever shows that trait the most during the week wins the card and we will count them up at the end of the year to see who has the most with a small prize.

I am really trying to focus on character building, learning through natural ways and great discussions this year. There are so many ways to learn and grow without workbooks.

For History we started where we left off in SOTW Ancient, chapter 17. The kids really liked the story and compared it to The Hunger Games, it sounded just like it too (the people put names in a bowl then drew 7 boys and 7 girls to be sent off to another island with a Minotaur, then a prince ‘volunteers’ to go and kill it, which he does). They had fun working together as a group to build a Lego labyrinth (which Turner then compared to The Maze Runner!)

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We are studying a famous artist each week and this week we focused on Paul Cezanne and his painting, ‘The Blue Vase’. They used oil pastels and drew their own vase. I think they turned out amazing. I really like the look of oil pastels. Lilly has been crazy about them since we scored some for $1 at yard sale, and draws each day.

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For Physical Education we are working on our golf, bowling, and running skill sets.

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We call them skills, so the kids can see the progress they are making, and can see their progression each time. Just going and playing golf is fun, but to work on a skill set, such as putting 3 in a row, or hitting off the tee… they can then see how well¬†all their hard work is paying off.

Actually, I’ve been calling everything a ‘skill’ this year and they love it. Instead of saying let’s do some Math, I say, ‘Hey, let’s work on your factoring skills, or you multiplication skills.’ In Language Arts, right now we are working on our ‘how to write a paragraph skills’. For some reason, it has helped them focus more when we work.

I think a big reason we are starting off strong, is that I have really taken a lot of time to plan and have a goal for everything. There must be a reason we are doing something, otherwise it’s a waste of time. With this mind set, I have been able to see the smiles on their faces, knowing they have accomplished something great.

New School Year 2015-2016

Two 2nd graders, and one 3rd grader this year! Such fun!

I’m am excited to start the year off next week.

We homeschool Mon-Thurs and start around 8am. Last year we started later and ended up not doing quite a few things because of it. Once 1pm rolls around we are all ready to go our separate ways. Our ‘breaks’ are centered around my nephews’ dad’s schedule: when he comes home, we take time off, generally 7-10 days.

Each day the kids complete Math (either Khan Academy or their Miquon books, Turner will finish with Miquon soon and go to Teaching Textbooks). They also have reading (which is usually done before bed), and their ETC books (which I believe they will all finish those this year). Oh, let’s not forget PE too, staying active¬†is a big deal is this house.

Other than that, we are trying a new thing each morning before anything else, and I call it our morning meeting. We basically sit around our awesome new table fr IKEA and learn a new ASL phrase, discuss a famous quote and how it applies to life or what they think about it, discuss any goals they have and a plan to get there, and we are also have group vocabulary using Freerice.com, they really feel like they are helping others out and never complain about learning some new words! Win-win for us! A few others things we do are dictation and some group memory work every now and then.

It may seem super orderly, but it’s relaxed and fun. Nothing is forced or has a time limit.

Things that they will do a few times a week are keyboard practice, Coding (code.org), Art (we are studying one famous artist a week then creating similar art pieces),  History (SOTW), Science (Mystery Science), and Geography (Little Passports USA Edition).

Another new idea we are implementing is Individual Weekly Questions. During our morning meeting, they each decide on a question they want to know the answer to, then present that information to the class on Thursday during the morning meeting. They are responsible for researching the topic. It will be on something they want to know, whether it’s how Legos are made, or how old the trees in our yard are. I will guide them in finding the answers if they need it, but they are on their own during the presentation.

One last thing we have are endeavors. They love them. I basically write down their endeavor on a card and they work on it in their free time until they completed it. Once they have it mastered, we write a completion date on the card and they keep them so we can look back at all their endeavors each year. Endeavors are skill sets I want them to work on tailored just for them: shoes tying, counting on Spanish, writing their address, knowing the states that border us, writing their birthdate, etc. the possibilities are endless.

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A neat site we just discovered: DIY Challenges for Kids

I stumbled across this awesome site this a few weeks ago (DIY.ORG) and the kids have really enjoyed using it so far.

Basically, you create a username and then you find challenges you would like to complete. Once you complete the challenge you post and photo or video, and receive this online badge once you get 3 in a certain category.

Turner’s username is BOYDITTMER and Lilly is GIRLDITTMER.

They have posted a few already. And also got their 12 year old cousin having fun with it also.

I’m mainly excited because I think it will open doors for them and get them interested in different hobbies. It’s aimed at kids 7 and up.

Check it out!

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Oh, they also offer camps, which is basically having a mentor guide you through challenges. Turner is interested in the Survival Camp, but we haven’t sign up for anything yet. Right now they are having fun on their own, so I don’t want to spend the extra money for the camps, which are around $40.

Field Trip: Branson

We went down to stay at Big Cedar in Branson, MO last month and again last week. The first trip was hiking and go-carts, but last week we went to Silver Dollar City and The Butterfly Palace (a last minute idea because it was raining).

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The boys loved exploring all the different butterflies. Lilly liked it until they started flying near her and then she was out. Besides butterflies flying everywhere, there was a pretty neat 3D movie, a mirror maze the kids LOVED, and a small reptile area. The price was high, and we won’t go again, but it’s worth going once. Pretty much everything in Branson cost around the same for a family of 4, so no matter what we did it was ‘high cost’. We chose this because it was hands-on.

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It’s March

Well, the school year is coming to a close. Turner keeps asking me how long until he is in 3rd grade… my response is after you get your 1000 hours of school complete for 2nd grade.

I actually HATE counting hours, but I do it so if something happens I have proof that they are doing things, although just talking to my kids for 5 minutes and you can tell they know just as much (if  not more) than a PS kid.

We don’t ask the PS teachers to ‘log’ the kids hours. Sure they may be sitting in Math class everyday from 10am-11am, but I guarantee you they aren’t doing 60 minutes of Math. Oh, well, I’m just thankful that MO is pretty good to homeschoolers in general, so I shouldn’t complain about tracking hours I guess.

PERSONAL UPDATE: During the month of January, up until Valentine’s Day, Jason was gone. He tried out a new job in ND, and decided it was best to come home and try MMW again, along with another new software he developed, TxtFyre. It was really hard on Lilly for him to be away and us as well, we so are SUPER¬†EXCITED he is home!

I’m excited that the kids are getting older.

Kindergarten and 1st are fun, but there is such a transition between reading and understanding, that it seems like it’s hard to keep them all happy. With Turner being in 2nd grade, I’m either going over the other 2’s heads or slowing things down too much for Turner. I think they will all be more on track next year. With two 2nd graders and one 3rd grader.

I really like the idea of un-schooling, and sometimes associate ourselves with that… usually on those lazy days ūüôā But I also like our Explode the Code books for learning to read and our Math books. Once they finish up ETC, then I don’t foresee us getting another curriculum like that because I think it would just be busy work at that point. I will keep Math books in the picture though. However, I am wanting to do something for studying root words which I think will really help kids understand larger words and vocabulary. I myself am not that great at vocabulary and it’s something I hope my kids can excel at better than me.

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Turner started his Green Math Book the beginning of January. He also started book 5 1/2 of ETC.