Tag Archive | homeschool

Back to School?

College word artNot the kids this time! Right now, my husband is pursuing his Master’s degree in an accelerated program that will have him graduating in May, just 12 months after starting. I’m not sure why, but I thought this would also be the perfect time for me to go back to school too. Maybe I was jealous that everyone else was in school? So now all 5 of us are in school. And it is crazy. Plus our ministry has ramped up and we are counseling two couples each week while still leading or hosting 3 small groups and leading a group of small group leaders. Oh, and then there’s our regular activities at church…praise team and the Connections ministry where we are leaders. Plus the kids activities. I’m tired just writing it all out!

I don’t tell you this so that you feel sorry for me. We have made these choices with prayer and purpose. But it is a crazy time at our house. How are we doing it? ORGANIZATION! This season of busyness has brought to light the need for organization beyond menu planning and clean closets. Here are some tips we have learned:

1. Shared calendars. 4/5 of us (the 6 year old is excluded at this point!) have smartphones and we sync calendars. Every family member has their own calendar (color-coded of course) and we have calendars for special groups. For example, there is a wife calendar, a husband calendar, and a couple calendar. Anything that is for us both goes into the couple calendar. The kids all have their own calendars and there is one for activities that involve all three kids. Then there is a calendar that deals with all-family things. Each person has all the calendars that affect them syncing to their phone (and for us it goes to the computer and iPad too). This way everyone knows what is going on, where we need to be and when. We use the notes section to include instructions such as what to wear and if they need to bring something like a book to occupy time or sports gear for the next activity. We parents see all the calendars so we know exactly what is happening in the family schedule. This helps keep us all moving in the same direction as a team.

2. Boundaries. Now more than ever we are also saying no. No to things that take our focus away from our primary mission. No to people who suck the life out of us. No to requests from others when it is our family time. No to good things that just are God things for us.

3. Scheduled family time. We have scheduled Mondays as non-negotiable family night. Everyone is expected to have work and school finished by dinner time on Mondays so that we can eat together and then play together. Whether swimming at the base pool or playing cards or Wii games, we spend time as a family uninterrupted. We don’t answer calls or texts. We just enjoy each other. This recharges us for the crazy week ahead.

4. School schedules – for the parents! Since my husband and I are both in school too we keep detailed plans of each class. Required online meetings go in the calendars. Before a class starts we make a detailed plan of each week’s assignments and schedule each part of larger projects. This keeps us from rushing around at the end of the semester.

5. Staying connected. Not just with each other, but with outside people too. The tendency for many when things get busy is to stop church activities like LifeGroups and service areas. We have found that when we withdraw from fellowship and service with other believers, everything else suffers. So we plan our time, use it wisely, but we stay involved.

The only way to be successful is to put in the hard work. That means doing the organization and planning that will help keep our family focused during this season of life. I am looking forward to Jonathan’s graduation in May. Then we get three months of calm before he starts on his Master’s of Arts in Religion and Doctorate!

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Winter Olympics 2014 Activity Pack

Sochi-2014-Winter-Olympics-lWith the start of the Sochi Winter Olympics this week, I have been looking for activities for my kids to do around this theme. Enchanted Homeschooling Mom has a great pack that can be used for Pre-K through 6th grades.  Perfect for those families with multi-age kids. This is not just for home schooling, but would make good weekend actives for all kids surrounding the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Winter Olympics 2014 Pack from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom

What We Are Reading Now – 1st Quarter 2014

Reading bookI haven’t updated our reading lists in a while, so here are some of the things we are reading now!

Parents:

Kids:

The links provided for these books are from www.cbd.com. These books are also available at many libraries and through e-readers such as the Kindle. We prefer the Kindle. You can download free software to use Kindle books on your computer, tablet, or smartphone for free. You don’t even need to buy the tablet!

The Gettysburg Address: 150 Year Anniversary

Gettysburg AddressToday, November 19, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s address at the Gettysburg battlefield and cemetery dedication. Partially because I am from central Illinois, I enjoy all things Lincoln. Here are some sites to help you learn about the Gettysburg Address with your students.

Abraham Lincoln Online – a collection of Lincoln history and information

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum – I highly recommend you visit if you are ever near Springfield, IL.

 

Under His Hat – A collection of information from primary sources about President Lincoln, in collaboration with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Gettysburg.com – A collection of information about the Gettysburg area

History.com – Information from the History Channel

Back to School

BACKPACK3Back to school time, whether at a traditional school coming off a long summer break or a home-schooler returning from a vacation, can be a time of strife and chaos as everyone tries to get back into the “normal” routine.  As with most times of change, a combination of organization and flexibility are key. Here are some of my favorite back-to-school tips:

  • Homeschool – Here is a collection of home school tips and organizational ideas that have worked well for my family. Some of these are home-school specific, but many can be used by families no matter how you decide to educate your kids.
  • School Supply Stock-Up – A list of school supplies to stock up on whenever they are on sale
  • Back-to-School Schedule – Tips for getting your kids back onto a school (and not a vacation) clock
  • Back-to-School Trial Run – Making a day to “practice” going to school
  • Morning Cards – A simple system for taking the chaos out of busy mornings
  • Packing Lunches – Tips for setting up an easy-to-use, kid friendly lunch packing station
  • Lunch Notes – Cute notes to put into your kids lunches
  • Must-Have School Items – A list of must haves
  • Color-Coded Family – How to organized your family through color – even in their school supplies!
  • Family Calendar –  A must-have for busy families
  • Monday Morning Organization – Start your week off right with these tips for Mondays

Even though we don’t actually go back to school at this time of year anymore it is still one of my favorite times. My husband is a teacher so he does go back at this time of year, and it is always a time of transition from summer to a fall schedule. This is my “New Years”! We set goals for the next 12 months, stock up on school supplies (the only kind of shopping I actually like), and in general use this as a time to re-set the family.

Curriculum Review: The Story of The World

Concept: As though telling a story, this world history curriculum moves elementary students from ancient times to the modern age over the course of four years. Supplemental activities and tests are available to encourage retention of material and assess progress.

How It Works: Each week you read through the story book, which gives students insight into the historical time period and culture you are studying. Each chapter is divided into two sections, allowing you to break up reading with review questions. The activities book provides review questions and guides for narration exercises. The activity book also includes map work pages and instructions for students. The back of the activity book has masters of all the map work and coloring pages. The activity book also includes supplemental activities and research you can do to increase student learning and retention.

How We Used It: We have used this program various ways depending on the age our girls were at the time. Initially I read the chapters out loud and guided the girls through the review questions and map work. Coloring pages were done during free time. As the girls got older they started reading the chapters on their own, with me going over review questions and map work with them. We also introduced tests when the girls were in intermediate grades. Some weeks we covered two chapters a week, and other times one, depending on the rest of the kids coursework. We rarely did the supplemental activities and projects, as I felt they were often too involved for what we were trying to accomplish. We do supplement learning with the History Speaks series for branches of government and important documents in American history as we read through the last two volumes of The Story of The World, taking a break from STOW to learn more about America.

Concerns: The curriculum information says it is for 1-4 for read aloud, and 5-8 if they read it on their own. While that is true, the activity pages are clearly for first and second graders. By third grade the girls were bored with the pages. The stories are too much like stories for older kids.

Recommendation: We recommend this curriculum for grades 1-4. After grade 4 we suggest supplementing with more challenging activities for students. We recommend not using the tests until at least second grade, and possibly waiting until third or fourth grade to begin testing. This world history curriculum lays a good foundation for further study in junior high and high school.