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.

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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 🙂 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.

Having fun on our Week Off

Last week we were off and we kept busy.  We started off the week with Geocaching. Something we got into about 2 years ago. It’s a great free go-to activity to get out of the house. I also like how it introduces the kids to reading coordinates and tracking distance. They love to watch the map and see how many feet are left until we reach the cache.

Lilly found this one first!

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We did 2 more caches, one being at the local Fish Hatchery. After finding it, we headed inside to take a look around. They had some really neat things inside, and the nice lady at the counter showed the kids what fish eggs look like.

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We also did a small science experiment. We are wrapping up our unit on solids, liquids, and gases, but before moving on we decided to show that states of matter can change and then change again.

We added a few drops of food coloring to water using our Lego trays, popped them in the freezer and recorded the changes, then we let it sit on the counter to see it change back into liquid. They all really enjoyed this and could tell back what was happening using big Science words 🙂

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Our normal weeks look pretty similar, with some Math and Language Art books thrown in too!

Cheers!

Sometimes the Timing is Just [OFF]

I was thinking last night how we, as parents, introduce our kids to new things

thinking it will be exciting or helpful in some way, only to find out, they resist it, don’t like it, or just don’t care.

When they react negatively a lot of us think, ‘well it’s just not for my kid’ and move on, figuring ‘oh, well, I tried and they didn’t like it’. Maybe you’re right, but what if you’re not.

Maybe it is for your kid. Maybe they will love it. Maybe your timing is just off.

If you introduce them to something new and you really believe they would naturally enjoy it, but for some reason don’t, maybe put it away for a bit and reintroduce it at a later time.

Perhaps they need to mature more. Or they need to be able to read better without being frustrated. Maybe they need to learn more patience.

Whatever it may be that’s holding them back, they just aren’t there yet, but don’t give up on them.

Think about why they say they don’t like it. Talk to them about it. Maybe they are scared, nervous, or need more confidence. As parents we are there to support them and mentor them along the way. This isn’t just about academics, it’s about everything in life.

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Example #1 
When we first got Miquon for Math. I didn’t understand it, so it was hard for me to communicate to my kids what to do. It was frustrating. I put it away and got another Math book. After a few months, we got bored and then I decided to give it another shot. I dove in and did the page myself to make sure I knew what to do before having them try it. What a difference. The timing was off for us before hand, but a few months later it turned out great. Now, we love the books and I recommended them to everyone. And, yes, I tell them it’s hard to understand at first. If we would have given up before, I’m not sure what we would be doing right now for Math, but I do know our Math now is amazing and our kids are excelling because of these books.
Example #2
I bought the game What’s Gru? when they weren’t that great at spelling or reading. They hated the game. I mean hated it. So I put it up. 2 months ago we got it back out. They had a ton of fun because they could actually play it without being frustrated. They had built up better spelling skills and confidence before I reintroduced it to them.
Example #3
We bought my son a Razor electric scooter for Christmas when he was five. I thought he’d love it and zip around everywhere…. nope. For the first year and a half, I drove him around on it. He was scared, and he really couldn’t handle it that well. I almost got rid of it, but we kept it in the garage, and when he was 6 1/2, he decided he could do it. He got out there and rode that thing like a champ! He loves it!

Timing is crucial. Don’t give up because they say “no” or aren’t into it at that moment.

Try again later.

If they still hate it, then maybe it’s time to move on. But ask yourself if they are truly ready for what you want them to do. Don’t set them up to fail.

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4 weeks in and already changes

Things always look good on paper. In fact, if we all lived in a world where we wrote down our goals, to-dos, etc and then it magically happened liked we planned.. the world would be much different. However, paper is just paper. Ideas, thoughts, and goals are all good, and should be written down, but it’s not black and white. Things happen. People change. Interests change, sometimes overnight. And we all have to learn to go with the flow. Pick up the pieces. Let go, and move on. Yet stay positive and find the good in all.

I could sit here complaining about how things haven’t worked out like I had them written down a few weeks ago, but instead I’ll move forward, and think of the good that has come too.

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I had our perfect year planned. We were going to start (and did start) July 7th, after a 2 week break. Everything started off great. I had all the curriculum that I wanted to use. I was excited to jump right in. But after that 1st week things already began changing and I realized my yearly plan was about to be rewritten.

History is awesome. I didn’t always think so either, homeschooling actually brought a new found love of the subject to me. I look forward to relearning history with our kids. For this year I had decided to use Story of the World, Book 1. We actually started back in May with this book. It’s really interesting and in depth, but I also had another book I wanted to use, A Child’s History of the World. We were using both of these, side-by-side.

But it became to much, even after finding this website that breaks down the chapters that coincide with each other.

So I decided to put down Story of the World, and just read through A Child’s History of the World first, then start jumping into all the SOTW books.  Change #1

I also was printing off a page for the kids to see what they needed to do each day, but it seemed like things always went unchecked, or something added, after I had printed it off. Now I am going to just try and keep a mental tab on what we do and how much time it takes (in MO we must have 1000 hours of instruction). They liked checking things off the list, and we may go back to something similar later, but for now we will stick with my general plan that I type out (and can edit at any time).  Change #2

All in all, the first 3 weeks were really fun and we all grew and learned a lot. Our break week went amazing, even getting in some reading time and a few board games throughout.

When things just don’t feel right, don’t be afraid to change them, or alter them in some way. It will never be a perfect system. It’s doesn’t mean you’re failing, it means you’re growing. When we grow, we change. Our likes, dislikes, the way we do things, or don’t do things. It’s life. Embrace it, and move forward.

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Walking through Caves

Somehow I managed to become part of a local homeschool group on Facebook. I don’t remember joining, but it all worked out in the end. I’m not one who joins groups and even though I homeschool our kids, I still think there are ‘weird’ homeschoolers out there…. and yes, I saw some on this trip.  However, it was so cool to be able to visit a place as a group and get an amazing discount. — Bonus: We didn’t even have to hangout with the weirdos 🙂

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So we all met up at this neat cave called Bluff Dwellers Cave in Noel, MO. This was the 2nd walk through cave we have been in, the other being at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO.

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetIt is SO BIG!  Tall, deep, dark, and still growing. The water drips on you as you walk through.

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Processed with VSCOcam with m3 presetA little water pool in the cave.

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We all really enjoyed the trip. Our tour guide was pretty lame, but it was still cool. If you’re ever in the area, I encourage to take a look around.

Last Day of School, Full of Surprises :)

2013-2014 has come to a close.  The kids had a great year, it was our first FULL year of homeschooling. A success, and ready for next year. The kids are getting 2 weeks off, and they are excited to play with their friends whenever they like.

Today, we decided to have a day of surprises for them and end with a bang!

Surprise #1:  Donuts!

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Surprise #2:  A 2 hour Art Workshop (Turner opted not to participate, but Lilly had a fantastic time!)

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Surprise #3:  Lunch at one of their favorite Japanese Steakhouses (the ones with the fire!)

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Surprise #4:  Jason and I had printed out Diplomas to make it more official. They loved them and kept saying all day they have graduated and get to move up!

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Surprise #5:  No school work!  They took the afternoon to build.  Lilly built a spaceship, and Turner a Limo.

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Surprise #6:  Later tonight they are going swimming with their friends and we’re getting ice cream!

Digging for Diamonds

The kids were VERY excited for this trip.  It was a 5 hour drive to dig for the ‘hope’ of discovering a diamond at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

The kids loved it for about an hour, and then they were ready to head to the water park (on location).  I wouldn’t encourage anyone with kids under 10 to take this trip and expect the kids to ‘want to dig dirt all day’.  It was ‘fun and interesting’ for the adults, but (once again) after an hour or two, we were ready to call it quits. We did keep some interesting quartz and other types of rock we found, but no diamonds 🙂

The campground and water park made up for the lack of fun digging and we had an enjoyable trip overall.

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Khan Academy is so cool

Our kids have 2 Math programs they use: Miquon and Khan.  I wrote an earlier post on why we love Miquon and today I wanted to share the coolest of Khan.

Our kids spend 3-5 days a week on Khan, they do all the Mastery Challenges for that day (this is where they can move up to Mastery in each category and it challenges what they know).  Once they complete those (usually 2-3 challenges), they do 1-2 practice categories.  That’s it then they log off 🙂

What the Dashboard looks like:

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Here are detailed reports of what they have been working on:

 

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I love how Khan emails me each week with a mini overview of what they have been doing.

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You get points each time you complete a set of problems, my kids LOVE seeing their points go up. You also get Badges based on a number of different things, so it’s fun to see what ones they have gotten.

I would HIGHLY recommend Khan Academy for anyone, from Kindergarten to college.  It works great, and is like a personal tutor with videos and a forum.

Enjoy!

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?