The Do’s & Don’ts of Homeschooling

It matters how you see yourself!! Believing that you can be a successful homeschool mom will make all the difference in the world.  E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” It’s so true, homeschooling takes so much courage!! Courage, believing you made the right decision for you and your child. You’re not letting a school decide what and how to teach your kids. There is great ownership in homeschooling kids and sometimes that can be scary.

I look back over the years of homeschooling and I can see how much I have changed and grown.  In order to see what God sees, He sometimes has to change the person and boy has he changed me. You and I were made to be more than what we think of ourselves.  We were meant to go further, be better, and stronger. You were created to be an overcomer and not to be overcome.

So with that all being said, I’ve learned some valuable do’s and don’ts of homeschooling.

Don’t compare yourself to other moms and their kids.  This is sometimes hard, believe it or not. It’s so easy to look at another mom and think I should be like that or my kid needs to be reading and doing his/her work like that family.  This kind of thinking will only set you up for frustration for both you and your child.

Do compare yourself and your child to your previous selves.  I may be having a bad day thinking my child isn’t learning anything and I look back to where we were last year and discover that we have learned and moved forward.  It may not look exactly like Susie or Jimmy but it’s definitely an improvement. I can look back at my own self and see I’ve learned to be more patient, or I’ve learned how to teach grammar better this year than last year.  Comparing yourself to yourself you’ll be more successful.

Don’t try and do it all!! Maybe this is your first year homeschooling and you want to do everything that the public school did – don’t. You’re not the public, private, or Christian school.  You’ll set yourself up for a stressful school year trying to complete and accomplish everything. Even schools don’t finish everything it’s just that you’re not physically seeing the stuff that isn’t done.  Social media can also be a trap.  That Pinterest school room might be way out of your budget. You don’t need to have it all and do it all to have a successful school year.

Do try new things.  So just because I said don’t do it all doesn’t mean you should never try something new. Hey, you’re doing it right now!! Homeschooling. Trying new things is also a great lesson to let your kids know that it’s ok to feel scared about doing something new, it’s ok to wonder how it’s going to turn out but don’t let fear stop you from accomplishing one of the greatest goals you can ever achieve.  I remember trying a new reading curriculum with my youngest kid.  I never used it with my other kids and I was wondering if it would be more work trying to figure something new on top of trying to teach a kid to read.  Let me tell you, I didn’t regret it and It’s one of my favorite things to experience as a mom and homeschooler.  There is nothing like hearing your kid read and know you were the one to help make that happen.  Try new things, get a little messy – you won’t regret it.  And just remember everything you do, do in moderation and you won’t go wrong.

Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work.  Man, this is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as a mom. I’ve spent a lot of money on a certain curriculum to discover it was not working for me or my kid. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I’ve bought this curriculum even after having that little voice in my head tell me to not buy it. I was so mad at myself for wasting all that money. I had a hard time moving on mentally in my head.  Feeling guilty, you know being a one-income family spending money needs to be done wisely.  I’ve learned though that this kind of mindset has never helped me or my kids. Many times though what we perceive as an error or failure is actually a gift. And eventually, we find that “lessons learned from that discouraging experience prove to be of great worth,” a quote from Richelle E. Goodrich. Remember that life’s greatest lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. Learning from our mistakes can be so hard, yet so valuable.   I have a child that has struggled with reading.  I’ve done a lot of things to help improve his reading.  Now I can sit there and say it’s my fault he is having this struggle, I should have picked a different reading program, I should have done this differently, I should have read to him more.  The list can go on and on. I’ve learned that beating myself up about it doesn’t change anything and in fact, it does change how I think of myself.  Remember, it makes a difference in how you see yourself!! Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before.

Do seek out wise counsel. You can’t predict the future but you can ask others who have gone before you for guidance and perspective.  How many times have I worried over things or done things that if I had asked for help or guidance from my older peers I would have avoided many errors? James 1:5 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given.”  Always go before the Lord first for guidance.  Ask that He puts the right people in your path.  I am a big advocate of asking and finding out what worked for the previous generation.  What mistakes did they make, what things did they learn, what wisdom can they pass on?

Be confident in your decisions. Remember that God is molding us into His image and sometimes in order to see what God sees, He sometimes has to change us. We were made to be more than what we think of ourselves.  We were meant to go further, be better, and be stronger.  We were made to be overcomers. You got this sweet mom!

 

Five Great Reasons to Homeschool Your Kids in 2020

Anyone that knows me knows I have a passion for homeschooling. Maybe this year you’ve found yourself having to homeschool, or maybe you finally decided this is the year I’m going to homeschool, or maybe this is one of many years of homeschooling. Whether you’re brand new or have been at it for a little while, I hope this will encourage you to either keep going or know that you can do it!

#1 Ownership. One of the best things about homeschooling is it puts you as the parent in the driver’s seat. As a parent you have raised this child from the very beginning. You know your child the best. Who better than you to be able to teach your child? So maybe this is your first year or you’ve been doing it for many years, but we all need to be reminded that we are the best teachers for our kids. We don’t need to do it all either. Being from a public school background I sometimes tend to bring that mentality into our homeschool experience. I often have to stop and just take a break and that is ok to do. You’re in the driver’s seat! I’ve heard it said that public/government school parents are just the checklist people. Is your child dressed? Check! Is your homework done? Check! Did you pack your lunch? Check! Do you have $ for lunch? Check! When homeschooling, you’re not just the checklist person, you actually get to decide what is best for your own child. How awesome is that? Sure, it can be frightening at moments, but nothing is set in stone. You don’t have to decide to homeschool for the next 4 years, just take it one day at a time. I have people ask me all the time as I have been homeschooling, “Are you going to homeschool them all the way to high school?” I always tell people my long term goal is to homeschool through high school, but my short term is to make it through this day and next week. I say that not because I feel completely overwhelmed but because I’m in the driver’s seat, kids change, and life ebbs and flows. What might be good for my child this year might be different next year.

Reason #2 Relationship. We are given the opportunity to cultivate a much deeper relationship with our kids. You have a year to homeschool your child, to do something radically different in their life and enjoy it. You will be able to get to know your child as a person. The pressure of having to wake up at the crack of dawn and rush to get ready for school and then run to drop off your kids to 3 different schools is gone. Homeschooling takes away that pressure and allows you some breathing room. You don’t get the best of your kids when they come home from a long day of school, but homeschooling them you’ll get to experience some of the best moments. I love being able to see my kids master a math equation and seeing them feel accomplished. Seeing that amazement in your child’s eyes when they discovered they just read their first sentence is something you’ll never regret. You now have the chance to sit back and really study your kids. As one author says, “let them fashion a self in silence far from the madding crowds”. You will discover so many things during your year of homeschooling, some good and some bad. If this is your first year homeschooling, take a break and take some time to get to know your kids. Take a morning walk with them, maybe cook pancakes with them. Getting to know your kids will never be a regret you will have.

Reason #3 Freedoms. After you get to know your kiddos you’ll discover the activities that fascinate them. Maybe you’ll learn that your kid has a talent for computers or drawing. Each of my boys are different and as each year passes I learn something new. This year for my 10th-grader I’ve chosen to do more online live classes for him. I signed him up for a literature class thinking it might be too much for him. After three weeks in this class he is really loving it. He told me he doesn’t like his history cause the questions are just meaningless. Looking up answers in the book is boring. He wished it was like the questions in the literature class that really makes you think. Who would have thought?! I’ve learned that my middle child I’ve struggles with reading, and homeschooling gave me the freedom to work in a younger grade level while keeping him ahead in other areas like math that he is good at. Having this freedom has made his learning experience so much more enjoyable. John Taylor Gatto said, “Grades don’t measure anything other than your relevant obedience to a manager.” I have to remind myself this all the time.

John Taylor Gatto, for those of you who don’t know, was the New York City teacher of the year in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and the New York State teacher of the year in 1991. After winning that award, he stated in The Wall Street Journal the next day that he could no longer be a part of an institution that he feels harms children. He goes on to say,  “Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic. It has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem, must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes, “We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for 10 or 15 years and come out at last with a belly full of words and do not know a thing.”

Wow!! I need to be remind that homeschooling gives me the freedom to let my child grow and go with the passions that they really care about. Homeschooling really does make for a powerful education if you allow it.

#4 Time. Homeschooling helps you to teach your child how to use their time effectively. One of the best things when homeschooling is you find out that it doesn’t take all day like a normal school. What takes from 8-3 pm in school only takes 2-4hrs depending on the grade your kid is in. You then can help guide your kids in how to pursue their passions and interests in life. Having so much more time will allow you and your kids to be able to prioritize much more effectively. Find out what that thing is that makes your child feel good and help them to manage their time with it. Eric Liddell, who was an Olympic gold medalist, wouldn’t run on a Sunday. Learning to balance things in life is such an important skill to learn. For me teaching is a passion of mine, I feel God’s pleasure in doing it. But I can’t be in it all the time and I’ve learned to balance my passions and interests.

#5 Serving. Serving together is so important and really lacks in today’s society. Our culture is so focused on self. Because of all the extra time homeschooling gives families, we can take that time and serve together. How awesome is that?! Several years ago my grandfather got sick and was put on hospice. My family and I were able to help my parents, and the boys and I found an opportunity to serve together. Giving my mom and aunt time to step away and do some other things was helpful. We were also able to help them accomplish the other commitments that they had. It was a great experience seeing my kids learn to serve. We’ve had other times where we were able to volunteer in a conference and help pick up the slack due to a loss of volunteers during business hours. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make the biggest impact. Working together with your kids to serve others can be something little but can return the greatest blessing to your own family.

 

You’ve got this!

Help!! I have to teach Math this year!!

Top 3 Math Programs

I can’t believe another year of school is around the corner!! I feel like I haven’t had a break from teaching my kids. 2020 sure has done a number on a lot of us. A lot of parents this year are looking at having to homeschool their kiddos and that can be an overwhelming feeling. You’re not alone though and I’m here to tell you that there is no one better than you as the parent to teach your kids. The hardest part of homeschooling is really finding the best fit for the curriculum for you and your kiddos. So Let’s start!

Math is one of the dreaded subjects for a lot of parents to teach. There are so many different math curricula out there, but I’m just going to name what I think are the top 3 🙂

https://www.mathusee.com

Math U See is a mastery-based program, meaning once you master the concept you don’t need to go back and revisit it. Each lesson teaches using multi-sensory tools such as videos, manipulatives, and other resources, designed to appeal to any type of learner. I have used Math U See in the past and love it. My boys loved the blocks and learning about the decimal street (units house, tens house, hundreds house, and so forth). If you have a kid that likes to craft and visually see and touch things, check out Math U See. It comes with colorful manipulatives, DVD’s, an instructional textbook for the parent, and student workbook. Some parents have their kids watch the video lesson, read the lesson in the teacher’s book, and then work on the student workbook. There is an answer key in the instructional book and tests and quizzes for your kids to take. They also have extra worksheets on their website to access. This is a great resource if your kiddo hasn’t mastered the concept and you don’t want to move onto the next lesson, then you can access more worksheets from their website. Mastery is the key to this math program.

A few reasons why I love Math U See:

1. DVDs!

I, as the parent, don’t have to teach the math lesson. Having multiple kids, I need to be able to have some subjects that don’t need my full attention. DVD’s are one of the top reasons people love Math U See. The lessons are timed just right and to the point.

2. Manipulatives!

I love that my kids can build their math and see why numbers, equations, and fractions have a specific answer. Giving kids a way to see and physically experience math adds such an important dimension to their learning.

3. Mastery! Mastery! Mastery!

A lot of people don’t like the spiral method. Math U See spends more time learning the concept before moving on, so doing this cuts down on confusion.

4. Great from elementary levels all the way to advanced calculus!

No wondering if you’re going to have to find another program once your kids are done with the elementary grades. If you start in primer when your kids are young you can go all the way to Calculus. They have great online resources to access too and when I did run into problems I could call the company and they were able to help me out. The more help for this Mom the better off I am.

https://www.christianbook.com/page/homeschool/math/saxon-math?kw=saxon%20math&mt=e&dv=c&event=PPCSRC&p=1020037&msclkid=807ef79babde10d216c9a8a6e81a0edb&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Homeschool&utm_term=saxon%20math&utm_content=saxon

Saxon Math is the next up and coming program out there. I have never used it but will use a write up about it from a good friend of mine, Heather. She has been a homeschooler for 20 years and has tried a few different math programs. Up until a few years ago, she swore by Math U See, and she still does from the beginning until the focus on Fractions. Once her kids finished that she found that they had a firm math foundation and were ready to move onto Saxon 54 and to be moved into a self-taught arrangement.

At this point, she prefers Saxon over Math U See because every day, they practice some of all they have learned over the years as they continue learning new concepts. The student then avoids losing any knowledge from previously mastered concepts and prevents having to go back and relearn. There is something to actually writing out problems rather than just putting answers into a workbook too. She believes that it helps solidify things in a student’s mind.

A couple of her kids struggled with Algebra both in Math U See and Saxon, so she decided to try out Teaching Textbooks, but it felt like the program gave too many opportunities to work on problems that students would get wrong. Because of this method, Teaching Textbooks works and she felt that kids eventually knew which answer to choose/give without truly understanding the concept. Heather even had one of her kids openly express that they didn’t feel like they were learning and actually asked to go back to Saxon. Saxon will stretch them, and if you aren’t a math person (like Heather or me), YouTube is an excellent resource for lessons your kids cannot solve on their own. It’s okay to let kids try and figure out problems for a little bit. Here is an excellent posting from another blogger on Saxon Math https://simplehomeblessings.com/simple-questions-from-saxon-math/

  1. Saxon Math is very thorough & easy to understand. Having the dialogue written out is a great help.
  2. Concepts are explained so well that kids can independently do their work.
  3. There are plenty of problems to give your kids an opportunity to master the concepts. You also have the option of skipping problems if you think your child has already demonstrated mastery.
  4. It has a spiral learning method and makes it easy for parents to teach.
https://www.teachingtextbooks.com

Teaching Textbooks is another great program that I love to use. I was in a season where I had a lot of things on my plate. I was feeling quite overwhelmed by all the correcting and just the demands of being a mom and wife. So I came across Teaching Textbooks. Maybe you’re at your wit’s end or maybe you just need some extra help. Teaching Textbooks offered that for me. The program is totally online with optional DVDs, but honestly, the online version is much cheaper and easier to keep track of your kids grades. With this math program, I’m able to step aside a lot more as everything is done for me. If I’m not satisfied with my child’s grade or I feel like they need to redo a lesson or maybe they accidentally typed the wrong answer, I can go into the account and delete or change things.

Some of my reasons for liking Teaching Textbooks:

  1. It’s completely affordable, and they also offer a substantial family discount! Who doesn’t want to pay out of their nose for math when having more than two kids?
  2. It’s self-grading! Who doesn’t like a program that automatically grades your kids’ stuff for you?
  3. It allows your kids two tries if they get the answer wrong, and there is a Hint button also to give that child the extra help they might need.
  4. It’s fun and interactive!

Remember you know your child the best from everyone and you can do anything! You’ve raised them this far so don’t worry, it’s not as scary the more you do it. With all the great curricula out there, teaching math isn’t as frightening as you may think. Join Facebook groups, watch Youtube videos, call the companies, research other bloggers on these topics. If something doesn’t work you can always switch it up or change it the following school year, nothing is ever set in stone.

I hope you all have an awesome, successful school year!

Let’s Talk Homeschooling!

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This year I will be homeschooling a 10th, 6th, and 5th grader. But for today I’m going to just focus on my 5th grader.

I have been homeschooling my youngest since the very beginning. I had the privilege to see him learn to read and add simple numbers. There is great satisfaction in teaching your own child to read. Watching him realize he could read brought great joy to me. Fast forward and I find myself teaching him 5th-grade curriculum. Wow!! Just a little more intense than 1st-grade.

Just a little background on my youngest boy (11) and me. He learns best through touching, seeing, and experiencing. I love to pick and choose my curricula. I’ve tried an all in one curriculum in the past and find that it just never works for me or my kids. So what did I choose this year?

Let’s start with math. In the past, I have used MathUSee. https://www.mathusee.com I still love this program for teaching kids math, but when I have three kids’ papers to correct, I found I was having a hard time keeping up with all the correcting and teaching. Because of this, I left MathUSee and switched over to Teaching Text Books, which is another excellent program. https://www.teachingtextbooks.com It is all online, so there is no correcting on the parent’s part. On some levels, you can do bonus rounds to increase your grade. The other significant portion of the program is that you, as the parent, can go into the child’s account and edit their math. For example, if you are not happy with the end grade, you can choose to erase all the problems they got wrong and have the child redo them. You also have the option of deleting the whole lesson and having them start over. Teaching Text Books helped aid me in my journey of homeschooling. Is it perfect? No, but then again, no program is. Another perk to Teaching Text Books was it is more affordable.

Let’s move onto history. I have used Notgrass History for my oldest child, and this year, my youngest will be using it. https://history.notgrass.com/ I love all the beautiful pictures Notgrass uses in their books. Notgrass can almost be an all-inclusive curriculum. In each lesson, you have the option of the Bible, Creative Writing, Vocabulary, Map Study, Timeline, Student workbook, and Literature. Check out the link to explore all the different books they offer. This year we are starting with America the Beautiful. I’m also only having my 5th-grader do the Map work, Timeline, Literature, and Student Workbook.

Moving onto spelling. I absolutely love All About Spelling!!! https://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-spelling/ This has been a game-changer for my kiddo. It allows him to see the word and how it is spelled by color, coordinating the letters and vowels. They build in all the spelling rules perfectly so as not to overwhelm the student or the teacher. Everything is written out for you as the teacher, so no guesswork is involved. The other great thing is it doesn’t take too long to teach a lesson. The first lesson is about 15-20 minutes max, and then it’s just practicing spelling those words, which take about 5 minutes. We usually start day 1 with the beginning of a lesson and learn all the rules and rule-breakers, and end for the day. On day 2, we do small spelling drills of 10 words each. The next day we work on writing sentences using those words and wrap up the final day with a word, which he uses in his own sentence.

What about grammar? I think for a lot of parents this is one of the most dreaded subjects to teach. Let’s face it, the English language is not the easiest to master, heck I’m still learning. So for grammar, I have found Fix It by I.E.W. has worked great, especially for boys. It’s quick and to the point. I’ve also used their writing programs for all my kids. Fix It grammar teaches kids grammar through editing. If you think about it, when you write you’re not thinking about nouns and verbs and all the different clauses that are found in sentences, you just write. When you edit your paper that is when you look for all the commas and strong verbs and what you can replace for repetitive words. So Fix It does just that. The student works on one sentence a day, makes sure the first word is capitalized and ensures it ends with correct punctuation. Each week the program adds a new grammar label. By the end of the year in the first level, your students are marking all the nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs and the list goes on.

My next primary subject we will be reviewing is reading. I came across this curriculum this summer and like it. I no longer have to worry about being creative in finding a book for my child. https://www.clp.org/store/by_course/7 It’s not too parent-involved but just enough. The first day the child will silently read the story themselves. The curriculum works on vocab, reading comprehension, and many other things. I don’t know about you, but for me, I have two boys that don’t enjoy reading. I’ve tried everything out there such as graphic novels, mystery, drama, poetry. You name it, I’ve tried it. I would assign a book for the boys to read, and unless I had comprehension questions available for that book or had read it already, I had no way of knowing if they read the chapter or book or if they just skimmed it. This program took away my nagging question of wondering if they really read it. Do they enjoy it? No, but after homeschooling for 10 yrs, I’ve discovered they are not going to like everything, and I must pick and choose my battles.

Last but not least is science. Apologia is the winner this year. We have used this program for many years and my oldest will not be doing chemistry!! For my 5th-grader he chose Anatomy & Physiology (the human body). Apologia science in the elementary year does more focused studies. Last year we did a study on flying creatures. Any animal that had wings we learned about it. They also have a schedule in front of the student book for you to use. https://www.apologia.com/product/apologia-superset-anatomy-physiology-with-regular-notebooking-journal/

This about wraps up my choices for our 5th-grade yr of schooling. I hope this helps aid you in your upcoming school year. Some things I’ve learned while homeschooling is to always call the company and ask questions. Check out to see if there are Facebook groups for the curriculum you will be using; this way, you can ask questions from other parents who are using the same thing. Remember you don’t have to use everything I’m using either, do what is best for you and your child. Maybe you have a newborn this school year, so keeping it simple is your goal. If you’re like me and have multiple children, I’m always looking for ways to simplify my school day without losing educational content. If you a newbie, HSLDA is a great source to have. They will let you know all the laws and requirements in your area and state https://hslda.org. They also just have a load of resources for you as the parent.