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Friday, February 26, 2010

Sampler Village

Both my shops will have samples in the March and April Sampler Village boxes.
So go check it out and order your awesome sample box today!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Our "typical" school day, part 2

Note: We are night owls by nature, although since hubby got moved to day shift, we are trying hard to make the transition after 11 years. So first off you'll see that we sleep later than most people and wake up later. The getting in bed earlier and waking earlier...well, its not really working yet. Its just so hard to get past 11 years of staying up late. I find myself having more migraines in the last few weeks, especially on the weekends when I get up at 4 am to take hubby to work. Barring we don't have a migraine day or any place to be, and everything goes smoothly, this is usually what a typical day looks like for us.

8:30 am...Mom wakes and heads to computer. This is my time to work on listing items in my shop, catch up on Facebook, and emails.

9 am...kids wake up. They begin chores/showers while I finish my stuff.

10 am...we "clock in" (yes, I count our hours...I get lots of strange looks when I tell people I do this; apparently its viewed as sort of anal. lol But here's the thing: I get easily distracted. There is always some new website, or a book, or a craft calling my name. If I didn't keep up with our hours, I'd never get schooling done because I'd never leave the computer, and Nick wouldn't have any high school credits. )
We usually begin on the couch together doing devotions and prayer. We didn't always put Bible first and sometimes we still don't, but our day seems to flow better when we do. It sets the stage for the rest of our day. We're reading through the Bible in a year along with our church family. Ash is too little to really comprehend our daily reading, so she usually plays. I try to make sure she gets some little kid Bible stories in each week so she's not left out.

After Bible, we scatter. Nick goes to one computer to work on Switched on Schoolhouse for language, another Bible study on the NT, and history/govt. Adrian, meanwhile, is on the internet working at www.time4learning.com on his core subjects. This is when Ash and I cook lunch or squeeze in some pre-k stuff.

12 noon...lunch break and recess. Kids can go outside or play a video game. Sometimes we cut it short and start right back in school if we have an afternoon errand. Or we'll frequently eat while working if we have to leave early in the day. But if there is no place to be, we take the whole hour free. I love to be able to catch up on chores halfway through the day.

1 pm....back to work. Nick moves to internet for Learning Upgrade's Algebra online program or to the laptop to work on Tell Me More Spanish. I like to take this time to sit with Adrian and Ashleigh and do some Five in a Row. When Nick is done with computer work, he works from either his Artistic Pursuits art lessons, silent reading, or his Apologia Biology. When the FIAR lesson is done, Adrian catches up on random worksheets and Ashleigh plays or gets a little TV time.
If there is still time left to get our 4 hours in, we'll do some silent reading. If the kids will be good and read for thirty minutes of DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, I can sneak in some additional Bible study time or parenting books. This is when Nick is trying to get in some classics and books from his 9th grade reading list.

If we stick to our schedule we can be done by 3 pm. But often Nick's work takes longer or we'll get absorbed in our FIAR lesson and keep going past the 4 hours. We have been known to start as late as 11 am and end at 4 or 5 pm.

Late afternoons and evenings are for family time, church, youth group, 4-H clubs and sports. Generally the kids are in bed by 11 pm, while Dad and I finish up a rerun of Criminal Minds. I often stay up until 12 or 1, crafting new items to add to my Etsy shops. It's my only really quiet, 100% free time.

**Side note: I could sleep about 5 hours and be raring to go again but for some reason, Ashleigh still gets up every night to find me. She sleeps through the night only about once every 5 months, no kidding. I'm exhausted most days. We're not sure why she doesn't sleep solidly. Doesn't seem to matter what she eats or drinks, or how early or late we put her in bed or how busy she's been.
I try to dim the lights every night and settle in her with rocking, snuggling, and stories. Still she'll awaken about three hours after falling asleep. Sometimes this happens multiple times, and so I am up and down putting her back in bed. Then I get up at 4 am long enough to make sure Jarred is awake and see him off. I think this up- and- down sleep pattern is killing me slowly. I look forward to a day when I get a good 4-5 hours of SOLID, uninterrupted sleep. ;) Then maybe we can get up "on time" and be more "typical". lol

Today was a "not so typical" day. Long night last night; lots of ups and downs with Ash and Adrian , who has a bad sore throat and couldn't sleep well. Got behind on my Etsy store work this morning and my chores, and let kids way over sleep. Started with lunch first today because we were so hungry, then schooled from 12 noon until 4 pm without breaks.

As long as we get our four hours in, it really doesn't matter when or how. :) Again, the beauty of it all. I prefer to have a similar schedule every day but sometimes things get mixed up a bit and we just jump in head-first and make it work.

Well , there you have it. Hope you enjoy planning your homeschool day according to YOUR needs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our "typical" homeschool day part 1

Ok, I have been asked a lot lately what a typical day at our home looks like, mainly by those interested in homeschooling their own children. So I (finally) decided to open our lives up here (scary!) for those who are curious.

Things to keep in mind:
1. In TN, a homeschool day generally consists of 4 hours of work. This may sound preposterous but trust me, with only a handful of kiddos to instruct, fewer bathroom breaks, no milk money to collect, and very little down-time, we can get so much done in that short time. In fact, if you took a typical public school day and removed all the distractions, trips to other rooms/restroom, breaks in between classes, lunch/recess, and teacher duties such as taking attendance or collecting monies, I dare say you'd end up with about 4-5 good solid hours of instruction. I used to do some subbing in our elementary schools and I do recall quite a bit of non-instructional time. My Special Education teacher pals tell me that the paperwork they have especially is horrendous and takes a large amount of their time.

For younger children most of this can be hands-on. As the kids tend to age, the work also tends to be more bookish. My high schooler *sometimes* takes 5-6 hours a day to finish his work load. Part of the length of time involved will be determined by how fast your child grasps the work, how focused he is on the task, and the type of curriculum you're using. Some homeschool textbooks contain a lot of busy-work, as they were written and geared towards use in a Christian school classroom.

2. What is typical? No two homeschool families are alike. Try reading Rhonda Barfield's Real-Life Homeschooling or Nancy Lande's Homeschooling: a Patchwork of Days. Homeschoolers have real-life interruptions...a sick parent, emergency room visit with a younger sibling, unexpected phone calls and visits, or even a cranky baby can upset the day's plans. What is "typical" this year may not be next year if Mom is expecting another child...or Grandpa is in the ICU for weeks...or dad gets a new job and the family has to pack up and move. Those types of things certainly affect any family, but even more so a homeschool family, because the kids are right there during it all. I don't feel this is a bad thing; this is what real life is and these are the struggles children will turn into adults to find placed upon them.

3. What works for one family might be a disaster for another. My thoughts on it are to first follow the laws set forth in your area, and then use the flexibility of it to make homeschooling fit your family, not the other way around. Not an early bird? Then don't try to teach at 7 am. Have to work part-time? Do schooling when you're home or have Dad or a friend teach a few classes here and there. Have a really busy week? Do some work on the weekends. Like to sleep in? Focus on using your afternoons or evenings for the majority of your school load. The beauty of it is in the flexibility.

Join me again later for part 2.

Don't feel sorry for my kids

Ahh, its good to have a chance to blog again!

Today's blog post is part venting in love, part confession. Hoping it shows everyone a glimpse into our lives so you can understand us a little bit more. ;)

Please don't feel sorry for my kids....

Yes, we homeschool. No, it isn't torture. Believe it or not I've asked them would they ever want to try public schooling and they always answer "no".

Yes, we enjoy being with each other a lot. We have our moments, though. We make sure to get out around our buddies frequently so we don't get on each other's nerves too much.

Yes, we argue and fight like any other family, although probably not as often as some do. My kids are pretty quiet to begin with. They also know the rules, so they usually don't push them too far.

Yes, our school schedule is kind of different. But it works for us and that's why we do it. I don't plan my days around public school breaks, snow days, or flood days. Not to say that we never take off for those but I don't intentionally plan to take off, just because public schools are out. If it really does snow and is a good one, then usually we'll have a half day. Hubby and I share a vehicle and I won't drive on ice/snow unless I have to anyway. So unless a friend wanders over to our home, we are generally stuck here on snow days. Why have the kids sitting in front of the tv for 6 hours or playing video games all day? My kids already have (unfortunately :( ) plenty of time to do that stuff every day.

So the kids go out to play and then come in to warm up and do a bit of school. School on those days tends to be easy stuff, educational board and file folder games, lots of read aloud time, or educational Netflix videos. It's not me standing over them for 6 hours cracking a whip! LOL I am beginning to think that's the perception people may have, and if so, its not at all correct. And yes, from time to time we'll take a whole day off when public school does, and have friends over. It depends on the circumstances and if we are currently behind or ahead.
Now, some have asked why we don't take off every time, a whole day every time. For that answer you'll need to come back and ready my next blog post, 'A Typical (Ha) Day in Our Homeschool Lives".

Yes, we have to answer to an authority. First and foremost, my authority to answer to is God. I need to do everything as if I'm doing it for God, and that includes homeschooling. Next I answer to my church-related school. I have to report my attendance and grades to them twice a year and submit my sources/books used. At certain grade levels the kids can get tested.

Yes, my kids are normal. The boys are really quiet, but Ashleigh jabbers 24/7. My oldest son Nick is shy most of the time, Adrian is almost never shy, and Ash acts shy because people think she's cute when she's acting shy (which actually gets her MORE attention--it's a plot). They laugh, they play. They go places and meet people. They have full schedules and a variety of peers and friends. They are strong in some subjects, weaker in others. They can have genius moments. Then again they sometimes do dippy things. They may even say very dippy things (usually it happens in front of someone who is opposed to homeschooling, making me smack my own head and ask, "Why now?"). They don't always know things that public school kids know, like going through a lunch line (which is not too important in life anyway). But they do just fine on work and tests, and where it counts, they are just as normal as other kids.

Yes, we plan to keep going as long as it is God's will. I am surviving the first high school year. Its wasn't as hard as I thought, although Algebra gave us some trouble until we found the right program for Nick. He is using the computer for most all of his work, via Switched on Schoolhouse. He basically self-teaches. This curriculum assigns and grades all the work submitted. I hardly have to help him anymore. Which makes me feel proud and also a little sad. He enjoys working solo at his own pace. He makes all A's and B's on his SOS work. My only problem with this is that we miss him! Up until this year, for the majority of our schooling, we used unit studies and worked on most all subjects together as a family. So I kind of miss having Nick around more. I was afraid to use units for his freshman year, but I plan to go back to them next year now that I have a grip on high schooling at home. We will use the third volume of Learning Adventures together. I am eager to get back to this time.

Yes, I have to strive to make sure that my kids don't pick up my quirks. I have some OCD type issues, maybe some anxiety disorder mixed in. There are things I just don't enjoy, although I can usually make it, such as being in large groups. I don't like to drive in large cities or on the Interstate. I am also an introvert, but again, I can come out of my shell if needed.
To make sure my children have plenty of opportunities to grow, God has clearly blessed them with mentors who can offer things I might not think to or desire to. Family and friends tend to invite them on trips where I might spaz driving. They travel with family and church youth as far as the ocean or just a few hours away to ice skate or see a hockey game. I never have to ask; the opportunities just pop up. I like to stay home and "charge my batteries" with quiet time more than they do, but again, I am adjusting to being on the road a lot more and having kids in and out more frequently. And locally I make sure my children have church activities, 4-H, and homeschool group time to keep them busy. I watch for signs to make sure my habits don't rub off on them. I've commented to my kids many times that driving my big old Suburban is not something I enjoy. My oldest son now seems nervous when he thinks about driving it. I can see where he is picking this up from me, so next week we are going out for a driving lesson.

You don't have to homeschool to rub off on your kids; we tend to turn out like our parents more every day and most of us were probably public-schooled. It just happens. And its not all bad. ;)

So don't feel sorry for my kids. I think they'll all be okay in the end. :)