Inside: Five Secrets to Homeschooling During the Holidays. My boys will be thrilled that I am reminding you that there are only 12 days until Christmas. But there aren’t. There are actually almost 24.75 days until Christmas. But who’s counting?
7 Finger and Hand-painting Thanksgiving Crafts is a post from Bekki @ A Better Way to
Homeschool where we learn to train our children to become lifelong
learners. If you have enjoyed this post, be sure to follow Bekki on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+!
20 Thanksgiving Math and Reading Activities
More Thanksgiving Activities Here
Thanksgiving Math, Reading, Science Activities for 3rd Grade
30 Thanksgiving Activities, Crafts, and Games for K-2nd Grade
21 Thanksgiving Math Activities for Kindergarten
4 Thanksgiving Jokes Solved with Divisibility
Fall Math and Literacy Super Bundle- Grades K-2
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Yes, our site is called “A Better Way to Homeschool”. But why?
Homeschooling was frustrating for me the first few years.
I was fumbling around trying to figure out how to teach my two oldest sons while nursing and training 1-3 babies.
I had no idea what I was doing!
Eventually, I was invited into a homeschooling group that happened to be comprised of 4 fabulous homeschool moms; 3 of them even being certified teachers. To me, this made them worth of study:).
I watched them closely.
- What were they teaching their kids?
- How were they teaching?
- What can I glean from them?
You know what I learned?
If you ask 100 homeschoolers what is the best way to homeschool children, you will likely get 100 different answers!
My husband and I discovered that the best way to homeschool our boys was our way.
A Better Way to Homeschool was born to inspire you to homeschool your children YOUR WAY.
What makes your way A Better Way?
- You take your children’s strengths and weaknesses into consideration when choosing the kind of work you will require.
- You enjoy learning right along with your kids.
- No one knows your child like you do.
- Your child’s passions can be knit intricately into their school day.
- You can share your passions with your children and call it “school”.
- You get to decide what your school day looks like.
- You get to choose whether to use a shrink-wrapped curriculum or books form your local library to teach your children.
- You are free from the trap of measuring your 11 year old against the next 11 year old you meet. They are each unique.
It is A Better Way, because it is your way.
It is a journey, a process.
If you are anything like me, your homeschooling will morph as your children and you settle into your routine.
Homeschool is a living breathing thing.
As your child grows and develops strong interests, your schooling bends toward them.
Do not let yourself get trapped into a pre-packaged idea of what your child’s education should be. Sure, you need basic goals for them to achieve, but so much of their education will be captured alone the way.
Enjoy your kids.
Embrace the unexpected and capitalize on moments of intrigue and excitement.
- Did your boys bring home tadpoles from a friends house, like mine just did? Search YouTube and Discovery Channel to find videos that teach about the life cycle of Frogs and Toads
- Look for journaling pages that have lilly pads on them for them to write down their observations.
- Teach them how to do research online to discover what those tadpoles need to eat to survive.
- Visit your local pet store and talk with the people working there to find out more about frogs.
- Go to the library and check out a few books about life cycles (butterflies, frogs, people, etc…).
- Teach Venn Diagrams and compare and contrast frogs to any other living creature. How are they the same, how are they different?
- Make a lapbook.
- Get a frog kit and observe how those frogs do compared to the wild variety.
- Let the kids make their own documentary.
Ride tides of excitement like a surfer who caught the perfect wave!
Embrace your better way to homeschool!
I love hearing from my readers! How do you embrace homeschooling?
I found Kristy at The Little Natural Cottage a few weeks ago and just fell in love with her transparency. As a veteran homeschooler, I confess there are many days that I find myself overwhelmed and very tempted to quit.
Kristy wrote an article where she shares this reality and how she manages to get over the hump. It really spoke to my heart.
Here is her article. If it speaks to your heart like it did to mine, jump over to her site and let her know you were blessed!
3 Questions I Ask Myself When I Feel Like Giving Up on Homeschooling
Yes, I feel like giving up sometimes.
Homeschooling takes all I’ve got and then some, and there are weeks when I just feel like throwing in the towel.
Years ago, during an especially difficult season of life, my husband and I agreed that there would never be another option for us regarding educating our children. Homeschooling is a conviction for our family, and we’re sticking with it.
But that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
So what do I do when I feel like I’m absolutely the wrong mom for the job?
Well, after I’ve drank a few cups of coffee, sneaked into the bag of chocolate chips, put the kids down for a nap and escaped to a quiet place with my laptop…
I ask myself a few questions.
1. Am I getting enough sleep?
The answer to this one is almost always no. I am a chronic overachiever, and sleep is usually the first thing to go when I feel like I don’t have time to tackle one of my beloved projects.
Plain and simple, I’m an ogre when I’m sleep deprived. If you don’t believe me, ask my kids. (On second thought, please don’t.)
It’s amazing how much better I handle stress (yes, homeschooling can feel stressful at times) when I’m leaving enough margin in my day for sufficient rest.
2. Am I trying to do too much?
The answer to this question is almost always yes. It’s hard for us moms to admit it, but we really can’t do it all. Something has to go.
For me, the first things I “let go” when the going gets tough are my expectations of a perfect house and my blogging projects. I can’t be a career blogger and a career mother. I just can’t. I have to let go.
3. Why am I homeschooling in the first place?
This may seem like a strange question to ask when I’m feeling low, but it’s amazing what a little honest evaluation can do for my resolve.
I’m not homeschooling because it’s easy.
I’m not homeschooling because I’m cut out for it.
I’m not homeschooling because I have a fancy education and I feel smart.
I’m not homeschooling because it fits so well with my schedule and personal goals.
I’ve chosen life as a homeschool mom because I believe God has called me to it. And since He called me, He will equip me. He will. And He does.
More than anything, homeschooling is a walk of faith.
I believe that God is bigger than my mistakes. Wiser than my weaknesses. Stronger than my inconsistencies.
I believe that He knows and loves my children infinitely more than I could ever know and love them.
I believe that He gave them to ME, and me to them, with an eternal purpose in mind.
I believe that I can do this, and do it well. Not because of anything good within me, but because I am equipped by God Almighty himself.
So is there ever really a time when I’m ready to say, “I quit?”
Sure. I say it.
And when I reach the end of myself is when I find Him. Holding me. Cheering me on. Giving grace for another day.
And another… and another…
Thank you Kristy, for your wisdom and heart!
Were you blessed? Take a minute to let Kristy know by clicking here.
Let’s Be Honest: When I Walk Through My Home, Do I See Order or Chaos?
I definitely have some spring cleaning to do! At a quick glance my house is tidy, but I’d never pass a white glove inspection! As I do a self inventory of my home I am fighting the urge to clean everything so I can tell you I have stayed organized this year. Nope. I said Let’s Be Honest, Right?
I see multiple areas that need attention:
I have an eclectic homeschooling style. I love to tailor the books and materials I place in front of my children based upon their passions, talents, gifts, weaknesses, and my own curiosity. I also am blessed and cursed with an embarrassing short term memory. I have no idea what I wore yesterday, what chapter I am on in any of our current readers, or even what color my own house is unless I write it down in my journal. (See, anyone can homeschool as long as they are determined to learn and never quit!) I have piles of projects, worksheets, books, readers, lapbooks, books, and more books that I simply leave visible so I do not forget them. What does that look like?
Embarrassing photo #1
Yes, that right. This is our school area.
Although I have created worse messes in the past, currently everything is piled and mixed up. Sure, that closed door hides more of the mess, sure my high-schoolers supplies are not in this picture, sure I have a bazillion reasons why I stack and not file.
Being Honest: I need to go through everything in my school zone and purge what is unnecessary. It’s amazing how chaos creeps in, isn’t it?
More School Stuff. Well, more like art supplies…
Embarrassing Phone #2
My 7-year-old is like a tornado through our supply cupboard.
I have to admit this is a bit humbling. Since my kids have a laminated chore chart posted on my fridge, I fully and naively assumed that I’d have a clean child’s bedroom to report:
Embarrassing Photo #3
This is our 3 Musketeer Room. Apparently, a bomb went off because there is no other explanation as to why I should be tormented through the necessity of sharing this disaster with you. What a mess!
The issue goes back to the title of this post, Do I see Order or Chaos.
Yes, I see chaos.
It’s late in the school year. We need to fix that broken picture frame (casualty of the latest Nerf battle), purge a few thousand toys, and pull out summer clothes with the goal of getting rid of torn pants, donating things that are too small, and somehow convince all the young boys that being handed down their older brother’s clothing is a blessing. This chore is way over-due, but always nags me at this time of year.
That’s all the “Full Disclosure” my time (and pride) will allow. My honest answer to this question is that I can see through the piles of chaos. I know with a few days of hard-core organizing and purging and a reward of something sweet and wonderful we will soon whip our home back into shape.
The order/chaos battle never ends and effects more than my pride.
I find it hard to think straight when the home is in disarray.
I am less patient and easily distracted when the piles grow faster than I can sort them.
It’s a wonder we get any school done in an atmosphere of disorder… Yet, somehow or other, we do.
What condition is your home in right this second?
Have a nightmare with me:
Teaching with Toddlers and Babies
Yes. That was my first year of homeschool.
So how did I survive?
The key to my homeschooling survival was three-fold.
- I had the heart and attitude that no one was going to be more invested in my children’s success than I was.
- I took the time to create a plan.
- I found successful homeschool moms and asked a lot of questions and implemented their methods that were successful.
It’s all Attitude
When you school around toddlers and infants you have to be dedicated. There is no other way to describe it. It is exhausting to chase little ones and teach algebra simultaneously. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not you are committed to “Stick and Stay”. Our kids desperately need to see us model a never quit attitude. The great news is that, with a few adjustments, it is absolutely possible to do a great job!
If a plan is going to succeed, there must first be a plan; a goal. It was here in my life’s story that my husband and I focused and formed our foundational goals; our Mission Statement if you will.
I would encourage you to do the same.
Our goals were simple.
- Pass on our faith
- Teach our kids basic math facts
- Foster a love of reading while exposing our kids to great literature
- Begin the lifelong journey of becoming an excellent writer and communicator.
Asking for Help from Experts
I would never have survived that first year of homeschooling had I not taken the time to seek advice and ask for help. Some people have a really hard time asking for guidance, not me.
I knew I was a good teacher, but I also knew my house was a mess and I had no idea how to teach with little ones around.
Here’s what I gleaned from experts.
- Organization: I actually had a new friend come and help me organize my home. She taught me how to clear and organize clutter. She taught me how to store things in to clear bins. She taught me that taking the time to organize my home, even above the time I took to teach would save me countless hours. Fast forward to today. This was the smartest thing I ever did. It took me about 3 weeks to completely clean. purge, and organize my home yet I have been able to maintain it for over a decade.
- Toddlers Crave routines. (Actually, we all do, but toddlers thrive when they can anticipate the next thing). One of the moms I “interviewed” encouraged me to schedule my toddlers into manageable time-chunks. It can best be compared to kindergarten “stations”. I established a cycle of activities that followed this order: eat, quiet activity, busy activity.
If I could give any advice it would be to glean this “quiet-time”/controlled environment mentality.
There are many, many, many kinds of activities to entertain and educate your toddler available online.
Keep it simple. I always kept my school activity time toys out of reach so they were fresh and new when needed.
Toddlers crave consistency.
Toddlers will thrive under a schedule of rotation of activities.
Toddlers need to have set boundaries for their own development and safety, as well as the sanity of your homeschool environment.
File in your Homeschool Notebook Under the Babies and Toddler Tab.
Don’t have a Homeschool Notebook? No worries!
Just click on the “Yes, I want help” button below.
how does one move from the newbie side of the homeschool line to the
coveted veteran side?
It’s different for everyone, but it all starts
here: Do not quit.
Homeschooling is one of the more challenging
endeavours that a parent can undertake. Imagine sitting in your home,
surrounded by all of your children. You are the chief cook and bottle
washer. You decide what they eat, what they wear, what they learn.
Honestly, the task can be daunting.
Complicate the homeschooling
experience by the fact that humans are competitive by nature and we tend
to want what others have. That translates into having our children
involved in too many activities and ordering their school days with an
ivy league quality set of assignments to be completed each day.
Homeschoolers tend to make a huge mistake.
They run out and order a
curriculum because it looks good, long before they discover who their
children are as students and who they themselves are as teachers.
A Newbie still believes that “this curriculum” or “that curriculum” will help their child learn.
Veteran Homeschoolers are a different breed entirely.
While we are all unique, we do share some concrete similarities.
- Veterans know their child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Veterans tailor their child’s education to fit in between the lines of their students passions and abilities.
- Veterans are confident in their ability to teach, yet humble enough to ask for help when necessary.
- Veterans are more interested in their child’s character than how many math facts they can fire off in 60 seconds.
So how does a Newbie move to the Veteran Side?
- Spend more time studying what makes your child tick than you do shopping for curriculum.
- Ask for help determining your child’s learning style and your teaching style.
- Have fun learning along side your children.
- Choose to ignore the laundry and play in the mud.
- Realize that your primary goal is to teach your child to love to learn, not master XYZ of your states standards.
Being a newbie can be a wonderful season in your
educational career. This is where you can honestly glean wonderful
pearls of wisdom from educators around you. Enjoy the process of
discovering who you and your children are as homeschoolers. It is never
about how well your child knows page 214 of their science book. It is
about how well you equip your child to seek knowledge daily.
goal should be to reach the veteran camp as soon as possible.
there is more laundry here, but
A Better Way To Homeschool: Learning From The Past
The card catalog has been replaced by our online library systems. There was a day when you could walk up to a cabinet filled with actual drawers holding small cards in alphabetical order. The cards were created as a trilogy, where the information listed was rearranged according to the categories of Author, Subject, and Title. When looking up a certain book you could physically walk up to a drawer, open it, and flip back through the cards until the exact book was identified. From that point you would hand write the information necessary to help you locate the book on the library’s shelves.
Antiquated, I know, but relevant as we look to homeschooling our children. We cannot allow our minds to be trapped back in the era of the card catalog, for that is certainly completely irrelevant to our children. If our kids actually walk into a library, they will walk up to a computer to complete their search. With a few swift key strokes, they will have the appropriate information right before their eyes.
While we can appreciate how far we have come, our kids are miles ahead of us. They are born into this technology driven world. They think its normal to watch a television show and watch a person pop up in the corner and tell them some fact about he character that is performing the show, the actor, or the location. They are not annoyed by the “pop up’s” on the computer screen as they search for information; in fact they absorb 12 times the information in one 15 minute sitting that we ever could. (I made up the 12 times, but you know what I mean)
Our card catalog mind wants to physically touch, smell, and see our one piece of information. Their computer savvy mind wants to scan through the 3.2 million search engine results, filter for the top 4 relevant sites, and laugh at the funny pop-up. They are being programmed to soak up information like a sponge.
So how is this relevant to homeschooling.
Besides the obvious “we shouldn’t try to teach them about how to find a book through a card catalog” we should embrace this information driven world while teaching our kids to focus.
The challenge with a our new world is that our kids can quickly acclimate to this alternate universe. They can believe that its OK to buy a movie ticket while texting their friends simultaneously, or sit at the dinner table and be watching a YouTube video and chatting as they eat and communicate with the people sitting at the same table.
As homeschoolers in the new millennium we must learn from the past. We need to teach our kids to categorize their technology filled world into a few essentially vital categories: people, relationships, knowledge, and entertainment.
If our kids can recognize that everything fits into one of those categories, then they can be taught to prioritize them.
People first, knowledge, entertainment, and so on.
While we cannot change the world to look like it did when we stood in a library at age 12, we can teach our kids to treat this new world with the proper perspective. We need to teach our kids to focus on people and relationships (not the touchy feely kind, but the “you are more important than this cell phone” kind) and embrace the benefits that technology provides.
Our kids are sponges. We need to teach them to absorb knowledge and to seek hard after those subjects, topics, and fields that they are passionate about. We need to not be intimidated that they can do 12 times more than we could do in the same amount of time, but rather train them to use that ability to become a better student, family member, and human being.
At the end of each school year, are you finding yourself swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering just what to do with it all?
Where does the organization begin?
What do you keep?
Where will you keep it?
How much should you, dare I say, throw away?
As you begin to tackle this heap, your brain recalls the many hours that went into creating this voluminous collection. You may start to wonder just how well spent those hours really were. You remember the great ambitions with which you started the school year and the many good intentions that fell to the wayside in order to finish this massive collection you are now faced with sorting. Finally, you conclude that if most, or perhaps all, of your children’s work is going to get tucked away somewhere never to be seen again, how much value can it possibly hold? Does any of this sound familiar? Well, it doesn’t have to anymore!
Our family has been introduced to an ageless tool of learning that keeps us from creating these questionable mounds of paper throughout the year. There is nothing left to sort. There is nothing left to pack away. There is nothing to throw away. Instead, another volume (or two or three or more) of our children’s prized work gets added to their personal library at the end of each year. No more busywork. No more second-guessing if our time has been well spent. As a matter of fact, this tool has freed me from the seemingly never-ending search for the perfect curriculum! It can literally transform the way you approach your children’s education and set afire a love of learning within each child. Spend your precious hours exploring, discovering, and capturing the knowledge that awaits you and your children each day. Make learning a journey instead of a list to be checked off at the end of the day and a pile to be sorted at the end of the year. How do you do this? Let me introduce you to the tool that has breathed new life into our homeschooling.
It’s called . . . notebooking!
Notebooking is the coined term for what one may refer to as educational journaling or scrapbooking.
Essentially, the idea is to take your planned school subjects and activities as well as the areas of your child’s interests and create notebooks, compilations of created pages collected in binders.
Your child will fill his notebooks throughout the year with what he has learned about these topics. Written narrations, drawings, maps, and photographs are just a few of the items he may include.
The pages of his notebooks will capture both the new knowledge he has discovered as well as his own personal reflections of what he has learned.
Through the process of creating a notebook, you will likely watch him become a storyteller, a teacher, and most undoubtedly, an expert in some of the topics he studies.
Unlike some of the more traditional tools of learning, like worksheets and tests, notebooking allows your child to develop a deeper relationship with what he is learning. Instead of finding out what he doesn’t know about a topic or study, which is what a worksheet or test usually reveals, he is given an opportunity to express everything he does know. By cutting out the busywork that is involved in some of these more traditional methods, you open a window of time and opportunity for your children to dig deeper into topics, to really get to know the people, the places, the events, the concepts, the ideas, and so on of what they are studying. Then, they take this information, digest it, and produce a notebook that tells all about what they have learned.
After following this process, there will not be that sudden “unlearning” phenomena that usually takes place after the traditional chapter or unit test. The knowledge that your child gains during his notebooking experience will stick! Most importantly this process fuels a love of learning as your child begins to discover how exciting and fun it is to learn with notebooking!
As your children become more experienced with notebooking, you will begin to see the evident benefits of this great tool. The richness of what they are learning will be apparent as their notebooks become filled to the brim with stories, pictures, maps, quotes, and photographs of the people, places, and events encountered. The depth of what they are learning will be told as new layers are added each year to certain notebooks, such as their language arts and math notebooks.
The process of learning they have experienced will be unveiled as you note the ways they organize and choose the material they include for their notebooks. You will begin to see certain notebooks take on your children’s personalities as they learn to express themselves in the variety of ways they have been gifted. It is an amazing joy to sit down with your child while they lovingly and passionately share all that they have learned through the process of creating their notebook. Their hearts and hard work have been poured into this notebook and they beam with confidence at the turn of each page.
Each year, as you take time to look back through the increasing volumes of notebooks being added to the shelves, you will see that notebooking has become an amazing “living” record of your children’s journey of learning. Instead of tossing the year’s work into a box in the back of the closet, you’ll be looking for ways to add more bookshelves to house these treasures!
So how do you begin notebooking with your family? Start simple. Start with one topic or one study for each child or for the whole family. Perhaps the easiest way to start is to let each child begin a notebook of one of their favorite hobbies or passions. Do you have a child that loves dinosaurs? I do! My youngest son would find spare moments throughout the day to notebook his knowledge of dinosaurs. His head would be stuck in any number of books from the library trying to gather information. That’s where it began for him! Today, he is our leading expert when it comes to dinosaurs.
Perhaps the easiest place to start notebooking with the entire family is with any history or science topic because there are so many ways to dig into these subjects. You could start very simply by asking your children to give a short narration of what was read on a particular day either during your read aloud time or their independent reading time. If they give you a blank stare, ask them what they found to be most important or interesting about what was studied and encourage them to write about that. If you have younger children, you may need to write down their narrations for them until they are more proficient with the physical skill of writing. For children who are accustomed to giving short fill-in-the-blank type answers to questions, narration will take some practice to develop. I highly suggest researching the topic of narration for more help in this area. Narration is an invaluable skill that will prove most beneficial in their notebooking studies.
As your family or child continues to dig deeper, add new material to the notebook. The notebook may include any number of pages and collections including, but definitely not limited to:
- written narrations from material studied in books they have read or real life experiences
- collections of quotes from philosophers, experts, missionaries, statesman, etc.
- photographs, ticket stubs, and information from field trips
- maps of places and events studied
- drawings from your child’s imagination that express his ideas about the particular topic
- sketches of objects, animals, famous art, or places being studied
- collections of items such as leaves, pressed flowers, and seeds for a study like botany
- pictures from hands-on activities or experiments completed during the study
- nature photos, sketches, and journaled thoughts
- your child’s handwritten copies of favorite scripture, poetry or selections from favorite literature
Ready to get started? Grab a few essential supplies: binders (or a binding tool), paper, your favorite arts and crafts supplies and a selection of writing utensils and dig in! You may also want to invest in some notebooking templates. These templates made notebooking a reality for my family, especially in the early days of our notebooking experiences. Notebooking templates are pages that have been designed with a variety of preprinted lines, frames, borders, and clipart that provide a quickstart to the notebooking process. Use the preprinted lines for your children’s narrations, copywork and other written work. Use the empty frames to add maps, drawings, pictures, and other items. I became so hooked on using the templates that I began creating my own. Then, after realizing how helpful these templates were to my children, I began to share them with others online. You can now visit our website, www.NotebookingPages.com, to find our growing collection of free and affordable sets of notebooking templates available for a variety of subjects, studies, and activities.
Ready to make learning a more memorable and meaningful experience for your family? Get started with notebooking today! Visit us at NotebookingPages.com for more notebooking information, freebies, products, articles, and tips, as well as for a variety of other free homeschooling charts and printables.
(Reprinted with permission from Debra Reed, NotebookingPages.com)