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?
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.
This past week our son had minor surgery. We were sitting in the waiting room for hours waiting for his turn. The doctors were running behind. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad waiting. He is 15 now, so he no longer complains. (Don’t laugh, he really does not complain)
Everyone in the waiting room was happily entertained with their electronic devices. The 8 year old, the teenager, and the 3 elderly patients waiting for surgery or loved ones all quietly played on their ipads, computers or phones.
After my son was called in, the time went much slower. I finally put down my ipad and said aloud, “I was wondering how people survived waiting rooms before technology. I bet they actually talked to one another…”
All of the “patients” were now in surgery. It was just we few parents who remained behind. Suddenly, we all put our toys away and shared our stories. One mom said her son was having surgery because after his cancer, her son had developed an infection. She was more than eager to share their story. Time flew by and the nurses came to call her to recovery.
I looked at the last mom in the room and said, “I am going to be nosey and ask you about your son too.” She laughed and shared that he had trauma to his eye from a football injury and then went into the details of how they were going to repair his eye.
We chatted for a long time. Just as she was sharing her sons ambitions to join the Navy, and elderly man walked into the room and overhearing her comment said, “The Navy is a great choice!”
I asked him of he was a former sailor like my husband, and he went on to chat our ears off about his tour. He was delightful, and we both were able to thank this veteran for his service to our country.
Time flew by once we all put out toys away. We became vested in each other’s stories, rooting for our children (And the veterans wife).
I bet you will find yourself in a situation this week where everyone around you is engrossed in their screens. I would encourage you to be the first to put yours down and open a conversation. I bet you will be blessed!
Does the idea of teaching divisibility make you jump for joy or run for cover?
I have taught 5th and 6th grade 7 years total now, (3 years in the classroom, plus 4 of my own kids so far) and I can tell you that many kids struggle with the divisibility rules.
- You now, things like “A number is divisible by 9 if the sum of all the digits equals a number is divisible by 9”. Easy? No? Fear not.
These rules are very important when kids need to reduce fractions, so I got creative.
I made 14 Divisibility Games and Activity Pack to help you reinforce divisibility. (I am giving a copy away to one of my lucky readers. Enter below)
My boys love the pack.
Actually, each time I pull out an activity they help me create a new one. We are now up to 14 fun activities:). You can visit my store to get your own copy. It is only on sale until 11/14/2013.
Here is my 6th grader doing the color by divisibility activity. He loved that when you colored the numbers a picture emerged.
What will you get in this 37 page activity pack? Let me share the table of content with you:
Divisibility Word Search
Divisibility Word Search-Key
Match the Vocabulary Worksheet
Match the Vocabulary Worksheet-Key
Divisibility Rules numbers 2, 5, and 10
Divisibility Rules numbers 3, 4, 9
Divisibility Rules numbers 6, 7, 8
Divisibility Tic Tac Toe
Large Color Number Cards for Tic Tac Toe and BINGO!
Large B/W Number Cards for Tic Tac Toe and BINGO!
Tic Tac Toe Board
Divisibility BINGO Boards
Small Bingo Number cards
Divisibility Quick Guide/answers for BINGO
Graphing the Winner Template-Use with Games
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 5
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 5-Key
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 9
Find Hidden Symbol- Divisible by 9-Key
What’s the Divisibility Drill Worksheet
What’s the Divisibility Drill-Key
What’s Your Divisibility Worksheet
What’s Your Divisibility Worksheet Key
Divisibility Quick Reference
Enter to win your copy
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Can’t wait? Order your instant download at my store.
I am really excited to introduce you to Discount School Supply!
Founder Ron Elliott has the vision “to offer the highest quality products at the lowest possible prices.”
What do you need to know?
They have over 5,000 amazing products for kids. I’ll show you enough to get you started. Honestly, it is worth a trip to their website every time you need school supplies, children’s toys, or gifts.
My kids have always been really into make-believe and role-playing.
Look at this cool play station!
Arts and Crafts Galore!
You name it, they have it.
Excellerations™ Jumbo Lacing Beads – 36 Pieces
When you visit Discount School Supply, scroll to the very bottom of the page. In the lower right-hand corner is a list of great free resources for you!
“This post was created in partnership with eAccountable and is not officially a part of Discount School Supply or any other DSS brands. All opinions are my own.”
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.
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)
Love of learning. What does that phrase mean to you?
When I began homeschooling, I figured my children would naturally love to learn. I would not need to teach them how to do this. Instead, my goal was to fill their minds with as much knowledge as I could possibly pour upon them.
My experiences as a public school student and teacher taught me that children could easily make it from K-12 and beyond attaining titles such as “top of their class” without truly learning anything more than how to study, memorize, and regurgitate facts. I was one of those types of kids and I definitely wanted my children to get more than this from their education.
Determined to set a full plate before them, I scoured over homeschooling magazines, catalogs, and websites and purchased more books and curriculums in those first couple of years than I have the last six combined. It soon became apparent that we would need to add extra hours to our day in order to finish all of the prescribed scopes and sequences. With schedules and assignment sheets in hand, we began to plow our way through our curriculums. Now, obviously, we hit a few bumps in the road. Who doesn’t? During those years though, all skeptical eyes were upon us from family to friends to the local social worker that paid regular visits to our home (we were fostering at the time). All bumps were neatly swept under the rug and we kept right on plowing. From the outside looking in and according to the standardized tests, everything was great.
Eventually though, the pace and the bumps began to wear on me and I became restless about our homeschooling. The kids, on the other hand, had adjusted fairly well. They had grown accustomed to the long hours, the lack of playtime, and mom’s perfectionist tendencies. However, when I finally took stock one day in what we were doing, I realized that instead of helping my children to rise above my own educational background, I had trained them to be just like me.
They were pro’s at marking off their little check boxes, filling in the blanks, and regurgitating information in nice little pre-packaged amounts. Additionally, they had sacrificed their own interests and desires so much to this point that they really did not know how to “just be a kid”.
This was not what homeschooling was supposed to be like for our family! What happened?
In retrospect, I know that my mistake was not in having high aspirations nor was it my perfectionist tendencies or the pressure from our skeptical audience. The problem was I began building my children’s education without first laying a proper foundation. I continued to add layer upon layer to our educational structure with the goal to build it as tall as possible. Therefore, when the building became too heavy and burdensome, it all came crashing down without much more than the materials to show for all of the labor. This is the point where those in my situation begin selling off all of the “materials” in exchange for new ones thinking that will somehow fix the problem. Instead, we should focus our time and attention on laying that proper foundation.
So how does one go about this? First, give yourself permission to break whatever mold your family is currently conforming to and let go of whatever is entangling you. (Unfortunately, it took me about three years to really do this and to let go.)
Then, invest some time to research “homeschooling philosophy” online or at the library and begin writing your own philosophy of education.
This will be your foundation.
Seek ideas that will preserve the unique personalities, desires, and interests of your children as well as remain true to your family’s vision. Define what “love of learning” means to you. Weave this into your foundation. You may find that your philosophy is a hodge-podge of some of the popular homeschooling philosophies floating around out there. Perfect! Take the best points from those that really mesh with your family and make it your own. Having defined this for my family has freed me from my own misconceptions about education as well those from outside sources and “experts”. It has freed my children to be kids again, opening the doors of discovery and ushering in a true love of learning that will build larger storehouses of information and wisdom than I could have ever hoped of building!
(Reprinted with permission from Debra Reed, NotebookingPages.com)
Before notebooking, our school days were chocked full of a variety of learning activities and curriculums, but the learning was so dry and dull. By the end of the day, and I mean the-END-of-the-day, the kids were wiped out and so was I. Do you have days like these?
Notebooking will refresh and rejuvenate your homeschooling. It opens the door for meaningful learning while saving you time, money, and those precious hours you currently spend (if you’re like most homeschooling moms) trying to tweak everything that you currently do to make your day better.
Today, I want to help you get started.
Notebooking is a very simple tool.
Basically, we just want to help our children get what’s in their brain onto paper using both what they can “see” and what they can verbalize. I have been amazed out how effective this has worked with my children. Over the past few years, we have been able to completely eliminate the worksheet/test method from our schooling.
We now use notebooking for just about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!
We have saved time, money, and SO much frustration by using this tool. Now, instead of a trashcan (or tote that gets tucked away in the back of the closet) full of oodles of paperwork that we’ll never look at again, we have beautifully crafted and individualized notebooks full of their best work–their OWN work–their very OWN homemade books! You will pull these notebooks out time and time again throughout the years, just like your old photo albums, to treasure over and over again.