The Benefits of Homeschooling (for our family)

When people hear that I homeschool, typically the first thing I am asked is, “What about socialization?” (because children are dogs of course). The second is “Why? Are they too smart for regular school?” (because naturally I must think my kids are geniuses).

The reality is, that homeschooling just works better for my children and myself. I figured I would go over just a sampling of some of the benefits that homeschooling has for our family.

First up is a more flexible schedule.  We are no longer “ruled” by the 7:38am bus and the 3:22pm bus drop off.  Appointments can be made whenever they are available. There’s no rush to eat breakfast in the morning (middle kid will literally eat the same bowl of cereal for 2 hours, gross). I don’t have to worry about bedtime being by X time so they can be awake at Y time in order to get ready in time.

Secondly, I can really tailor learning to my kids. If we read something and they want to know more, I can look up and teach them more. We are also more free to go into “reasons” behind things that they might not be able to in public school.  For example, we watch CNN Student News every day and part of the episode showed that some people were upset with Trump’s appointment of Bannon as Chief Strategist.  Big kid asked why so we were able to research White Nationalism and what it means and why people would be upset with that viewpoint being in such an important role in the White House. I am also able to add more math if one of the kids needs more practice and am able to skip math if they “get” it quickly.

The third thing, and honestly the most important in my life is that my kids and I are able to interact during the day.  We aren’t stuck behind the “rush” to get everything done in a short amount of time. This allows us to have real, relaxed interactions. We can joke and laugh and play silly games.  And yes, while they were at school it was still possible to act that way…but I always knew we still had limitations and that they needed to get showers done and backpacks packed etc.  It was also more difficult while at school because they would come home D.O.N.E. After being with 23+ kids all day, every day, they were mentally exhausted by the time they got off the bus in the afternoon…but NOT physically exhausted because they spent so much of their day sitting and listening.

Honestly, they are different children when they are homeschooled, and I am a better mother because homeschooling allows me a chance to be much more relaxed and flexible. Yes, we still need to get math done, but it doesn’t HAVE to be done in X amount of time.  Yes, we have to make it to X, Y, and Z activities, but we don’t have to be there ALL day just a few hours.   Homeschooling is an amazing thing for our family. Of course it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, anyone that says so is lying, but the positives for us FAR outweigh the negatives.

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Prepping for the First Week Back!

The kids officially finished their last day at public school today which means Monday starts our school year here at home! It also means Mama needs to start going through our supplies and make sure things are settled and ready to go. Right now that means looking through the Math Mammoth books to see where each kid should be. Middle Kid has gone through part of this math book before but it was ages ago (in kid time) and they have been working on pretty basic stuff at public school so I need to get an idea of where she should actually start in her 3A book.  Big Kid is in a similar spot only MM and the local public school do things in a different order, even though both are CC aligned.

I also like to go through the readers that we use from Build Your Library and pick a question or “assignment” from each section. It’s not part of the curriculum and not really part of the approach that BYL takes but I like giving them a writing prompt related to what they read and having them answer it the best that they can.  This is especially important for BK as he started reading really young and while his vocabulary, spelling, and reading level are all way above average he still needs work on his comprehension so this gives him a way to think about what he read and to show me that he is “getting” what he read.  The bonus is the books chosen by BYL are pretty awesome so I have no problem reading them ahead of time myself!

The last thing I have to take care of is making sure we have all the supplies needed for the first couple of weeks of our science program. REAL Science Odyssey  is heavily experiment/lab based but has a lovely “supplies needed by week” list in the front of the book, so that step shouldn’t be too hard!

So here’s to some Halloween candy, some coffee, and a nice corner to read a lovely book!

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Coming Back Home

Hello readers! Anyone still out there?

I fell off the face of the Earth when it came to blogging and then Big Kid decided he wanted to go to public school in January 2016, so to public school he went. Then we decided Middle Kid would join him at the same school in August for the start of the 2016-2017 school year.

Both seemed to enjoy it well enough but they weren’t the same kids I had known through the years of homeschooling. Big Kid would be antsy and full of energy from sitting still all day. Middle Kid barely talked because she had been with people for hours and as a tried and true introvert, she was done *done* by the end of the day.

They started asking to come back home a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if that was something I wanted to do or not, though. I know they require a decent amount of interacting with other kids and with my anxiety in it’s current state (BAD) I knew that wasn’t going to be easy.

So, I started looking. I started reaching out to find ways to have weekly interaction with the same batch of kids so they could make consistent friends, good friends. I ended up finding a couple of groups locally that would fit into our schedule and I did the most important thing I could for ME, I hired a sitter. I found a sitter to come in every week for 5 hours. She is going to take the kids OUT while *I* get to stay HOME. As another member of the introvert club I can’t really “recharge” without getting time alone.  Anyone that has homeschooled knows that’s not an easy task when homeschooling any number of kids, much less three.

So, for now, we wait for our paperwork to come through from the state saying we are “allowed” to homeschool again. Once I have that in my hands I will let their teachers know when to expect their last days to be and make sure we have the contact information for the kids they have grown close to from school.

For curriculum I am planning on using Build Your Library grade 5, for both kids. I am really excited that grade 5 uses The History of US instead of Story of the World for social studies/history.  I am excited to read the books in the curriculum this year too, as they all look amazing.

We are going a different route with science this year. We are going to try R.E.A.L Chemistry for both kids.  I am hoping we like it because the idea is very appealing.

We are also adding in Soaring with Spelling and Winning with Writing. Big Kid doesn’t really seem to need spelling but it won’t hurt him and Middle Kid will benefit from it too, even if just from the handwriting.

I expect it will take a few weeks to find out grove again and how to fit in each activity and *still* get the schoolwork done, but we will find it and hopefully they are happy they asked to come back home.

So here’s to restarting the great adventure of learning right along with my kids!

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Harry Potter Complete! (Week of February 16)

This week we finished Harry Potter and the Scorer’s Stone.  I am so happy with this book.  It is so well done and interesting to the kids.  The only problem we have is that NEITHER of the kids could manage to wait until the last day for the last chapter so for reading before bed both of them read the last chapter on their own (I still read the last chapter aloud anyway!).

For science this week I had Aaron read aloud to Ivy from Mammals Who Morph.  They both loved the book and it was the end of the series so it played nicely with the 3 week unity study of Harry Potter.

Math this week was another combination of  Excel, Mammoth, and Times Tales.  BK and LK were both able to tell a “tale” each to their GP this afternoon so they are remembering things well, which is awesome.

For history/social studies I found a series on Netflix Instantwatch called How the States Got Their Shapes and we watched 3 episodes of that.  It was an interesting series and the kids enjoyed it.  Full of various trivia which BK has always been a fan of.  We will watch more episodes of this going forward.

For art this week we made Dada pictures since he was out of town for part of the week.  Below is the drawing LK made of the family to show Dada that she missed him.

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Another Week of Harry Potter

Hello!

We have kept up out unity study on Harry Potter.  The downside is I am a bit daft sometimes and *completely* missed the herbology section of the unit study.  Oops.  As it turns out, that works fine because I can use that section in the spring, should spring ever decide to arrive.  I have read Harry Potter before, of course, but it has been great to read it over again with the kids now that they are a bit older.

Science last week was the next book in the Universe series with Lava to Life which tells the story of how life came to be on Earth.  The kids really seem to like that series and it is useful for me to have BK read it aloud to LK so I can correct his pronunciation as needed and so I can be sure they are reading it all/understanding it as best as possible.

History I have admittedly been slacking a bit on.  I have a plan for this coming week but I didn’t for last week, so we just sort of skipped that bit.  The kids did watch one more episode of Mankind the Story of All of Us but found it boring and kept asking me how much time was left in it.

We have also been working quite heavily on essay writing.  This is one skill I was a bit behind on teaching them but the bonus of homeschooling is now that I realized that we can focus on it really strongly for a couple of weeks and get them both caught up, if not ahead of the curve.  I have taught them how to brain storm ideas and how to write a thought tree then use that tree to write a first draft.  Then we talk about the stories they have written and I correct them, then on Fridays they do the final draft adding in what they need to and correcting as they go. Below is the first draft of LKs essay.  She did pretty well overall her spelling is just a bit off which isn’t a big deal for the end-ish of 1st grade.

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Math this week was a mix of Excel, Mammoth, and Times Tales.  They whined a bit when I asked them to watch Times Tales again but when I asked them to tell me the stories from memory and neither of them could they realized that watching it again was important.

We are also approaching the end of the year for us.  We school year round and March/April is usually our transition point where I put together the portfolios for the state and where I give them each a standardized test (for my own records and to expose them to it should they ever go to public school).  I placed the order for the IOWA tests today so we will do the testing at the end of March/start of April.

That covers the bulk of our week last week! This coming week we get to finish the first Harry Potter book! I am very excited!

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First week of February!

This last week I decided we were going to piecemeal things together in an effort to be a bit less rigid and a bit more relaxed for a couple of weeks.  I mentioned in my last post that we were doing the Harry Potter Unity Study.  We read the first week of the book and it was excellent.  It has been a lot of fun reading it aloud to the kids.  There are also little “projects” to do for this unit study so they have been doing things like filling out information on magical things etc.

For science we have jumped around here and there.  I have had BK read Born with a Bang to LK.  We also did that science experiment I last posted about.  I wanted an “easy” day too so we watched the PBS documentary called A Murder of Crows, which is about how smart crows are.  It was really neat to watch and the kids loved it.

For math we did a few days worth of Excel Math but we also started Times Tales.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of it but so far it seems pretty awesome.  It is based on stories where the “characters” look like numbers.  You remember the story in order and figure out the math problem.  Example.  Mrs Week (7) sat on a char (4) to go fishing.  She caught 2 rubber boots and 8 trout. 7 x 4 = 28.  Pretty neat idea overall.  We will see how the kids do with it but it can’t hurt!

We, admittedly, haven’t done any real history as of last week. We watched one episode of Mankind the Story of All of Us.  What we HAVE been doing is working on essay writing.  I realized we had sort of left that behind so we have been writing an essay a week for a few weeks now.  Week 1 was about MB’s birth, and week 2 was about whatever they wanted (BK wrote about Christmas, LK wrote about Nature).  We have started with the idea of a brainstorm day, a first draft/correction day, and then a final draft day.  So far they seem to be catching on pretty quickly which is awesome.

In all, it was a good week and didn’t feel overly busy, which was exactly the goal of this little “break” we are taking.

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Hello Again!

Hello there readers!

For those following along you know it has been FOREVER since I have written.  We had a new addition to the family in September and things have been hectic as we all adjust to what the new monster baby (MB) means for our schedules and daily life etc.

When MB was first born, we took several weeks off from schooling because Mama was nothing short of a zombie (not that I am any better now, I have just adjusted to it!).  I “made time” for that this summer by keeping up with our schooling on the weeks that LK and BK didn’t have camp, so instead of “summer break” we had “baby break”.

Once we started back up we kept going with Build Your Library grade 3.  Of course we are using it for 2 kids now, age 6 and 8, and I haven’t had any trouble adapting it to use easily with both kids.  The hardest part is getting LK to do the copy work but I had similar trouble with BK back when he was her age, so I know if we just keep it up she will get used to it.

The focus with this grade of BYL is the early modern world and microscopes/chemistry.  We have read many awesome books so far including Out of Many Waters, Mandy,  and The Ghost in Tokaido Inn.  The readers with this grade (first grade level with readers for BYL) have been excellent too and my kids have enjoyed all the books so far.

We have also kept up with Math Mammoth.  BK has moved on to book 3B and LK has moved on to book 1B and both are excelling using that program.  I am still very impressed with how the books teach the lessons and how little I have to actually help them understand the concepts.

It has all been going really well but last week I decided that we need a break from “the usual” and the mid-winter doldrums have hit, so I have switched things up a bit! We got as far as finishing week 12 of grade 3 and as it turns out, the reader *and* the literature book both end that same week so it was a good chance to take a little break.

Instead, we have been doing the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone unit study (also from BYL) for our literature/main component and I have added in the reading of Born with a Bang for our science section.  A lot of the Born with a Bang stuff seems a bit over their heads (duh, at 6 and 8 years old) but I like exposing them to it anyway so when we talk about it more in depth as they get older they will already be familiar with it, on a basic level.  We have also done a couple of science experiments (seen in pictures below).

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For math we are taking it “easy” and have gone back to the Excel Math curriculum that I bought and used over the summer.  It is great review and is good for practice etc but I wouldn’t trust it as a main curriculum, the lessons are just too short and the spiral nature of it can be confusing for my kids.  Math Mammoth is a much better fit but takes longer in the day to day to complete a lesson.

For history I am “cheating” and we are watching Mankind the Story of All of Us.  It is a good enough show but it isn’t 100%.  Again, just good for them to be exposed to the ideas in the show.  They seem to find it engaging enough and it is a good break from Story of the World.

Right now BK and LK are both doing basketball through our local parks and rec department.  This is BK’s third year doing it and LK decided she wanted to try it out too.  It has been great for them overall though the 3rd/4th graders play with much more zeal than the 1st/2nd graders do so that has been a pretty big adjustment for BK.

In all we are doing well, just super busy.  With any luck I will do a little better at keeping up with the blog, we will see!

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