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.

 

PaperPunk Review

My mom has a blog. You should check it out. It’s a review site, so she gives away a ton of cool things. She got PaperPunk to review last year and so she sent it over to our kids to create and have some fun. They did.

Both of my kids LOVED doing this project, and they proudly displayed their creations until they (unfortunately) fell apart… about 3 weeks later. *On a side note, if you used glue they would most likely hold to together longer.

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If you are looking for a neat birthday gift that’s original between the ages of 6 and 10, I would recommend PaperPunk. Super neat! *Added bonus: there were a TON of left over stickers so the kids enjoyed those for other projects as well. Cheers!_JAS8130

Teach Your Monster to Read

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I just wanted to share this website because my daughter really enjoys it. I know she is 8, and she doesn’t really need this website (she reads pretty well), but we stumbled across it about two months ago and she likes getting on here almost everyday.

I can hear her laughing and squealing as the game plays out. I would say it’s probably best for ages 8 and under.

Check it out Teach Your Monster to Read

Time has flown by, and somehow I’ve completely neglected this blog…

It’s crazy to me that my last post was back in July and Thanksgiving is next week! Ahhh! What happened? I’m not sure, life I guess. I did think about sitting down and writing a post a few times; however, that proved to be easier ‘thought of’ than done.

Anyhow….

Homeschool is going fairly well. It has been somewhat of a roller coaster these last few months. We started off strong, like most homeschoolers, then sort of dwindled unexpectedly. Caden, my nephew, also stopped coming here about a month ago. His mom will be teaching him since she is able to stay at home now. It’s nice to be back to just two kids, but the kids miss playing with him. Luckily, he still goes on field trips with us.

I started a part-time job in August, so that has taken a small toll on our schooling. Mainly, we we actually get things done. It’s not bad, it’s just not consistent each day, so we just do things as we feel like it right now. Although, sometimes (most times) I leave the kids with a small list of things I would like them to accomplish while I’m at work it I have a long shift. It works nicely and gives them something to do other than resort back to their screens.

In September, I started a homeschool Facebook group for taking field trips and to take advantage of some awesome group discounts. We have had two trips so far and both turned out well. I encourage you to find a group of people you really like and plan things with them. I always wanted to do this, but never had the guts, this year changed when I really noticed my kids wanting that extra social interaction and to make some friends who weren’t related to them, so I put my shyness away and went with it. It’s been great for both of them and myself.

My guy also turned 9 in September and we celebrated with a party then a limo to laser tag with his friends.

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Our daughter turned 8, and we also had a party then a party bus to a local skating rink and ice cream. Both parties were a blast and so much fun. Not sure how we will top those in the coming years!

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I’ll be posting some of the trips we have gone on over the last few months in upcoming posts this week. Hopefully, I can start posting weekly again! Fingers crossed. There is something soothing about sitting down at the computer in the morning, alone, just typing away.

We all have weaknesses… knowing yours and improving

My son is eight. If you believe in the theory of left-right brain, he would be labeled a definite ‘lefty’. I don’t really like labels, and prefer to just think in terms of weaknesses and strengths and improving those. Labels seem harder to overcome once someone puts you in that box.

Here lately, I’ve been thinking about a few of his and one has caught my attention the most: he has trouble being creative. I’m not technically ‘worried’, but I do want to to help him in this area.

He loves Legos, but not in the traditional sense, he can’t stand creating on his own. If you’ve seen the Lego Movie, he’s the guy that wants to super glue all the parts together 🙂 He follows the instruction books to a T, then puts his finished product on the shelf, which looks cool and I’m glad he enjoys it, but every now and then, it would be nice to see him creating something from his imagination.

When we are doing something for school and he needs to create a sentence, yes, just one little sentence, he seems to be struggling. He just wants someone to tell him what to write. He doesn’t even like to try.

So, a weakness my amazing son has is creative thinking. He has plenty of strengths (and I won’t list them now), but to better ourselves we need to work on weaknesses.

To help him with this, I have bought a journal and 4 days a week we will do some creative writing. I hope this will help, and will post back later and update how it is going in a few weeks.

It may be a struggle for him at first, but I’m hoping he will start to enjoy writing and enjoy expressing himself and his thoughts.

Everyone has weaknesses. Some may not be fixable, others may take a lot of time and effort to change. I am just hoping to open him to the world of creative writing and maybe it will trickle down to other things he does as well.

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Pioneer Day at George Washington Carver

We generally head out to George Washington Carver National Monument at least once a year. It is so beautiful and peaceful, with a great walking trail and history also.

The kids and I headed there last week for a homeschool Pioneer Day they were having, which included candle dipping and white washing.

Both kids loved the activities, I wish there would have been more, but the 2 they had were good fun.

If you’re ever in the area I would encourage you to stop by, it’s a great way to spend an hour or two.

Lapbooks

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When we first started homeschooling, I read a lot about lapbooks, but never fully understood what they were until I found some helpful YouTube videos, click here for one that explains it really well.

We get our lapbook resources here, but also incorporate our own ideas to add as well, or take some of them out. We customize for us, but its a nice starting block.

My son was a 1st grader and my daughter a Kinder when we made our 1st lapbooks. This was for our Aviation/Wright Brothers unit. We built wooden airplanes, bought and tried out rubber band airplanes, drew an airplane using a video instruction, and of course watched a documentary and learned airplane terms. They HAD A BLAST! And so did I!

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Then we did another for Johnny Appleseed. The kids really enjoyed trying all the different apples, and deciding their favorites, then counting out how many seeds were in each apple. We also added in the corner their favorite apple food and had the kids draw a photo to add. On the bottom we took note of the book we read from.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetOur last lapbook we did the first year was on Sharks. We took a trip to the ocean afterwards. On the back of this one we glued the bar graph for the different sized sharks, and we set their drawing of a hammerhead (which we followed another online video) inside for safe keeping. I also made my own card holder for the photos of different sharks.

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They really enjoy them so much. I think it’s mainly because you get to see all that information you want them to get in a more kid-friendly, eye-appealing way.  Even I tend to be more interested in what we are learning!

The kids enjoy gluing, stapling, and (some) cutting also.

Lap books are a unique way to store the information you want your kids to get, its not the entire unit however. We still do other activities, and I record that in the lap book as well. Like the books we read, the movie/documentary we watched, a field trip we took, etc. It’s nice to see this when we look back at them and remember all the fun things we did. We also put a photo in there if we take one.

It’s been awhile since we did the whole lap book thing, but with our latest Science topic: WORMS, we are using them again. I’ll post about that later.

I highly recommend trying it out and seeing how your kids respond to lapbook learning! 

This year I think we are going to try and do 1-2 a month.  It’s well worth it to me if the kids retain the information better, and look more forward to learning  🙂

No [school room] here

Yes, we homeschool. No, we don’t have a schoolroom (insert ‘gasp’ from readers here!)

Let me start over. I started homeschooling a little over a year ago, when I pulled my Kindergartener out of PS (He cried every morning and didn’t want to go, so I figured, I’m home, I’ll try it out. I felt terrible sending him somewhere he didn’t want to be.)

In the beginning, we had a small table and I decided to do a ‘rotate through the stations’ idea. A math station, science, sandbox, history, art, etc…. it was kinda neat for a Kindergartener, but for me, it was stressful… trying to think of something super fun all the time. I got burnt out and we did away with that after about a month.

We finally moved and had a huge extra room, so I thought yes a school room! I even bought both kids a desk like you would find in school, off Amazon. At first they enjoyed the desks. We had the walls decorated, a computer set up, and a huge whiteboard for me to ‘teach’ them lessons.  (This is hard for me to recall, I mean ‘What was I thinking?’…. I took them out of school only to recreate my own school!)

After another month or 2 of that nonsense, I took down everything on the walls, did away with the whiteboard, and moved their desks into their rooms, so they could still use them if they wanted (My daughter uses hers for art projects, my son hasn’t looked at his for months).

Freedom!

It felt so good to be rid of all that ‘school’ stuff, even for me.

We started doing our Math on on giant rug in the mornings, then read on the couch, and do Science and History wherever we like also. We were free to use any part of the house we wanted, and the outdoors.

I like having my extra room back in the house also, we actually turned it into a screen room (TV and computer), and now we have a den, quiet room, sitting room, whichever you want to call it. It’s amazing not having a TV in the main room of the house, I love it.  We haven’t had cable in 3 years anyhow, so it made no sense to have it there anyway, since it’s hardly used.

Conclusion:  To homeschool, you don’t need a special room. You need to do what is comfortable and inviting for you and your kids. I was dreading the school room also, so it just made sense to get rid of it. Homeschooling is about flexibility and creating a love of learning, I try to tell myself this every morning so we can start the day off right.

Book list for 1st and 2nd graders

Here is my hopeful list of books we will get through during this school year, 2014-2015.  Our kids will be in 2nd and 1st grade this year.  We use the library as our #1 source, only purchasing books if they do not have them.

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I would love to here your comments on the books on your list, a suggestion to add to mine, or your thoughts of any of the books below.

Finish up Burgess Bird Book by Thornton Burgess –FREE online

Mr. Poppers Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan –possibly the other books in the series also

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

The Borrowers by Mary Norton

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, along with the other 2 books in the series

Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh

Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Other AudioBooks on our list to get through

The rest of The Magic Tree House series, we are on book #39 now

King of the Golden River by John Ruskin, FREE audio online

Parables from Nature by Alfred Gatty

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

50 Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, 13 books

Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Red Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

Stink series by Megan McDonald

Books to be read for bedtime

Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand, the movie Nanny McPhee was based off this book  (Lilly)

Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet by Tony Abbott, series of about 10 books I believe  (Turner)

The Sister’s Grimm series by Michael Buckley, 9 books in the series  (Lilly)

Ivy and Bean series by Annie Barrows, 9 books in the series  (Lilly)

*Yes, we will be busy this year reading some great literature and some just for fun!  I will give an update of what we thought on the book after completing it. Of course, we will be reading other stories, but this list is of the ‘major titles’ we will read together.

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My kids don’t know who Bach is

My kids are your typical everyday kids. They get grumpy if you wake them up too early, they watch movies, play with their friends, learn new things, and even whine to try and get their way.  They are six and seven.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing your kids to others, and even easier when it comes to homeschooling and what everyone else is doing.  I’ve been victim to this. I let myself get pulled in after reading another blog where so and so was learning 2 languages that year and doing a unit on famous composers.  I thought, “Wow, my kids need to get going and not get behind.” So I started researching what I would teach them. Then reality hit. My kids are six and seven, they don’t need to know who Bach is right now. They have their entire lives ahead of them.

So I stopped researching. We enjoy learning a ton of things around here, but you won’t catch me trying to cram information about Mozart to my six year old (unless she asks). We do listen to classical music in the car though 🙂

It’s fun to read blogs and see what others are up to, but don’t get too caught up in it. You can’t teach your child everything!  You don’t know everything, no one knows everything.  And even if you cover the Great Depression, who knows how much they will remember in a few years. Everyone has GAPS in their education and knowledge, you have to decide what is important to you (and your state mandates) then go from there to decide what to teach your kids (and maybe ask them what they want to learn about).

So, if you ask my daughter or son who Bach is right now, they won’t have a clue.  Give them a few years and ask again.

However, Turner can talk your ear off about BMX, car makes and engines, Minecraft and Legos. Lilly can go on about ballet terms and knows more facts about animals than I probably do!

What about your kids?  What are they really interested in right now?