The HOME in Homeschooling

Lot’s of changes here. Being without a vehicle has made homeschooling so much easier. It used be that we were fighting with outside activities for time but now we have so much time. The house is neater and the schoolwork is all caught up.¬† More on that in a minute. So our list of what we accomplished this week is different but more fulfilling.

What we did do this week:

  • Weatherized the house: well we didn’t, but a crew was here working on that all week
  • Church
  • Workbook work
  • Easy Peasy Online School
  • Costco shopping with a friend and our little ones
  • Orthodontist appointment: Artist got her braces off ūüôā
  • Math drills
  • Read lots to the younger kids
  • Played around with water and our freezing temperatures outside
  • Church
  • Created a new cleaning system for ourselves

The HOME in Homeschooling

So many things pull us out of our homes. There are the lessons like music or foreign language, there are classes like a science co-op or drama group, there are sports activities like soccer or open gym, there are just so many awesome activities for us as homeschoolers, how do you choose?

Well, our choice was made for us with the demise of our latest vehicle. We were doing so many activities every week. Here is a list of things we did with the homeschool group before our vehicle bit the dust:

  • Science co-ops: ran these and participated
  • Drama club
  • Homeschool Choir
  • Singing at nursing homes
  • Ice skating
  • Homeschool meetings: set-up and lead most of them
  • Open gym
  • Yearbook: started and ran
  • and, and, and

That is just a partial list of our weekly things to do with/for our homeschool group. There are also field trips, the soccer team, talent shows, spelling bees, you name it, our group was doing it. Most of it was organized and run by us.

Now, these are all wonderful things to do. Really there are. But the HOME in homeschooling was becoming the, “get what you can get done in the time left” schooling. We were gone so much we wondered if our home was more of a motel than a house. My husband and I would laugh when saying this and then look at each other like, ” Really? Is this what we have become?”

We would spend our mornings preparing to be gone again:

  • Packing lunches
  • Collecting workbooks for down times
  • Final prep for¬†co-op lessons to teach
  • Collecting supplies for co-op classes
  • Rushing to do our animal chores
  • Eat a quick breakfast
  • And slamming that door behind us to a now empty house

That was a typical Monday. Don’t get me wrong, we would get all of our schoolwork accomplished but had barely any time to relax when we were home. When we got home we were exhausted. This was a typical week:

  • Monday: Co-op classes, Drama club, Yearbook all in the afternoon
  • Tuesday: Ice skating in the morning or Soccer in the afternoon, and Homeschool meetings in the evenings once a month
  • Wednesday: Field trips in the morning once a month¬†and Homeschool Q&A in the afternoon¬†once a month
  • Thursday: Open gym in the afternoon
  • Friday: Home

Now as you can see these are all taking up only parts of the day. Some were just mornings or just afternoons but I would have to plan out my week and figure out when we would get our actual schoolwork done. Each day we would get these activities and our schoolwork done but at what cost? There has to be a limit.

Someone once said to me, “If your not home is it really homeschooling?” Now there are many ways to homeschool, don’t get me wrong, but the way we were doing it was just was to hectic for us. We needed time to crash and not worry about the activities for the next day.

Helping to keep out homeschool group going for the last 3-4 years has been a blessing and a burden. We are a veteran homeschooling family and love to share what we have found works. This is our 22nd year homeschooling and we know a few things that could be helpful to a family starting out and love sharing that knowledge. We also know how to fit it all in since we have homeschooled for so long that it is just a way of life for us.  Homeschooling is the natural thing for us to do each day.

So what have we learned by being home more and not doing all those activities?

  • The homeschool group can survive without us
  • Our children are happier to just chill
  • We accomplish our schoolwork so much faster
  • We like to sleep in a little later
  • Our afternoons¬†are ours again to do what makes us happy
  • The house is cleaner since we are here to keep it neat (kinda weird that is was so much messier when we were here less…)
  • I am a more relaxed mama
  • I have my weekends back: not planning 3 co-op classes for Monday has totally freed up my weekends

My advice…

Pick and choose what you children will participate in. We have 6 kids still at home and could easily make a legitimate excuse for every activity we were doing but how did those choices change us as a family?

Make it a point to be home with your kids. There will always be something else to participate in but for this time just choose home.

Socializing is a hot topic… make time to spend with others but cherish this time you have with your children. Too soon they will be graduating and you will wonder where all the time went.

What do you think? Let us know ūüôā

Lastly a picture from this week… Artist got her braces off. A beautiful smile on a beautiful young lady.

no braces

Happy Homeschooling!

Week in Review & Yearly Assessments

We had a great week! Almost finished up all the schoolwork for November and we still have some days left to the month.¬†¬†Can’t beat that. I have the schoolwork for the year all organized by month in my binder. The first week of each month I hand out the packet of paperwork to each child to finish for that month. (This is in addition to their computer school and workbooks.) This packet includes specific papers for each subject for the year. More about this later.

The Breastfeeding Jeopardy Game with the breastfeeding support group went well on Tuesday. We had a lot of fun with breastfeeding trivia, had¬†some great prizes, and snacks. I decorated the room as a fall theme and bought everything at the dollar store. Lot’s of comments about how nice it looked. Yellow tablecloths, fabric leaves spread over them, leave plates and cups, and the prizes were wrapped with bags and tissue paper from the dollar store also. It was fun to do and cheap.

So I did get all the sewing projects accomplished for this week. I cut, pinned, and almost finished all the sewing on them. I made 5 large projects this week. All I have left to do is quilt them. I will be doing this at my moms house this next weekend. She has the batting for inside them. The seam binding is all made and ready to go and the fronts and backs are all ready also. Very excited about these projects. I have a little embellishment I would like to do to them before they are all the way done but I am so close. I will post pictures here if you want to check updates on these projects: Crazy8 Sews

The wood pile did get organized and all the wood is split. So nice to have that warm woodstove heat. It is such a different warmth than when the forced air heat turns on. We try and keep the house warm with wood during the day and let the furnace take care of it at night. Wood is cheaper here than oil so it helps with the cost of heating this huge house.

What we did do this week:

  • Co-op classes “Cells & DNA”
  • November packets almost finished
  • Workbook work
  • Easy Peasy Online School
  • Re-Certified in: Neonatal Resuscitation, CPR, and First Aid
  • Doctors Appointments
  • Math drills each day
  • Kids edited their new movie
  • Director: filming and editing at local TV station
  • Ice Skating
  • Tried three new recipes
  • It snowed so we watched: It’s A Wonderful Life
  • More wood burning
  • Free gym time
  • Bible Study
  • Church

Monthly Packets of  Schoolwork

I usually use the information from this site to decide what I will be sending in at the end of the year: Worldbook Course of Study

In our state we have to inform the state education office about what we did for school for the year. We have to show that there was progress in each area of study. This is our 23rd year homeschooling so I have this down pretty good. Here is what we do to accomplish this particular goal.

I have¬† each of the grades from that course of study link above printed up, stapled together, and in my Mom’s Schoolwork binder.¬†In this binder I¬†have a tab with each of my children’s names for their worksheets to go behind. Using the course of study¬†lists I pick about 6 -9 topics I will be studying for each of my children.

For example here is what I choose for Pilot this year. He is in 5th grade but is now on the 6th grade topics in the course of study that I linked to above. (I will continue using his paperwork as an example throughout this post just for continuity.)

Language Arts:

  • Spelling
  • Homonyms, synonyms, antonyms
  • Concepts of noun, pronoun, verb, adjective
  • Types of writing
  • Writing letters, factual matter, creative prose
  • Organization of a book
  • Types of literature
  • Reading silently and skimming
  • Poetry

Math:

  • Exponents
  • Interpreting graphs
  • Customary and metric measurement
  • Concepts of similarity, congruence, and symmetry
  • Identification and measurement of angles
  • Properties, identification and construction of geometric figures
  • Fundamental operations with fractions and decimals
  • Relationship between common and decimal fractions
  • Problems in percent

History:

  • Native American Cultures
  • World geography
  • Map and globe skills
  • Citizenship and social responsibility
  • Transportation and communication
  • The Roman Empire

Science:

  • Human body
  • Oceans
  • Solar energy
  • Sound, light, & heat
  • Scientific theory
  • Climate and weather
  • Simple astronomy

Health and Safety:

  • The heart
  • Substance abuse
  • Exercise and fitness
  • Dental health

What do I do with this list?

I know I will need to send examples of work from throughout the year for each of these topics. I go through the workbooks and curriculum books I have, and also search online for worksheets for each of these topics.

For an example: I found a worksheet for each of the topics for Pilot in math. I took 9 sticky notes and wrote a month on each of them from September through June (I just reuse the sticky notes each year). I put one sticky note on each of the math sheets and put them in order in my binder behind the tab for Pilot.

  • September – Exponents
  • October – Interpreting graphs
  • November – Customary and metric measurement
  • December – Concepts of similarity, congruence, and symmetry
  • January – Identification and measurement of angles
  • February – Properties, identification and construction of geometric figures
  • March – Fundamental operations with fractions and decimals
  • April – Relationship between common and decimal fractions
  • May – Problems in percent

Then I go through for all of the other subjects and find a worksheet for each of the topics I choose. I divide them by month and place them behind this math sheet that has the month sticky note on it.

For Pilot I ended up with these worksheets behind the September sticky note:

  • Exponents
  • Homonyms
  • Native American Cultures
  • Human body
  • The Heart

I also included other worksheets that I wanted him to accomplish:

  • Report form: he chooses his topic
  • Math facts sheet
  • Book report form
  • Spelling test forms
  • Reading log
  • Experiment sheet

At the beginning of each month I hand out the packet of papers for that month to each child. They complete these and place them in their hanging folder. This way I have at least one useful piece of paperwork for the yearly assessment¬†for each topic. ūüėČ

Before I implemented this way of doing things I would search through all the work they did for the year trying to find useful paperwork that showed the varying topics they had studied. We do lots more than this packet of schoolwork. This packet just gives me something that is specific to the personal course of study that I make for each of my children each year.

Hope you find this useful.

What do you do in preparation for reporting at the end of the school year?

Happy homeschooling!

 

Monday Musings

Plans for the week ahead

This week we are doing Cells & DNA during co-op class. It is going to be so fun!! I lead a Breastfeeding Support Group and it meets this Tuesday after Ice Skating. Out topic this week is a Breastfeeding Jeopardy Game I made a few years ago when I worked for WIC. The rest of the week is Free & Clear. Yahoo!! Hoping to get all the schoolwork finished up early and work on some sewing for Christmas.

Thinking about

Trying to finish up all my Christmas stuff up by the first week in Christmas so I can just enjoy the month of December. This week is sewing projects. I will be getting the projects organized, cut, and pinned together. This most likely will not be done this week but might as well try.

Out of doors

This week we will finish stacking wood and splitting what we have. Later this week we will be getting some more wood to cut down and split. Busy week outside.

In the kitchen

I would like to make a decorate a pile of cakes this week. Why? I just love to decorate them. Hoping to find families to eat them ūüôā My youngest daughter turned 5 this weekend. I made her a Hello Kitty birthday cake and remembered how much I love it.

A photo from last week….

Here is a scene from the movie the kids made this past week. The grandmother is discussing something with her grandchildren. They are all at a party.

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Hope you have a wonderful week!

Monday Musings

Plans for the week ahead

Can’t believe it actually looks like a slow week this week. We only have Co-op classes today, Ice Skating tomorrow, and Bible study Wednesday. We have the November packets of schoolwork to finish this week. The main focus this week is making a video for a contest the kids found.

This weekend they started with talking about all the movies they wanted to make. I finally said to them that they just needed to do it! I told them they could have a good chunk of time this week to work on one if they could find a contest to enter. There would have been 4 movies being worked on if they didn’t have a main goal ūüôā So, they found one and are having a planning session today and start filming tomorrow afternoon.

Thinking about

I was able to finish up neatening up the hallway upstairs. I still need to organizer it. I have containers to spray paint to match each other. I bought the spray paint and have the containers (in varying colors). The containers will go below each child coat and snow pants. The containers are to hold that particular¬†child’s ice skates, hats, gloves, and helmet for skating. Trying to cut down on the number of hats, gloves, and mittens around the house and get the hallway organized.

Out of doors

Brrr, it has been so chilly overnight. Tomorrow looks like a perfect afternoon to get outside and do some filming ūüôā

In the kitchen

Hmmm, what to do, what to do… We have so much time home this week. Trying to use the oven and get the house warmed up on these chilly days. Lot’s of cookies being made. Thinking we should change our focus to muffins and quick breads to have in the mornings for breakfast. Love to make these in bulk with our commercial size muffin trays that hold¬†2 1/2¬†dozen muffins. That should kill two birds: warm up the house and have breakfast all set.

A photo from last week….

This weekend we had a great time just hanging out with some friends after church. Here is a¬† cute picture of both¬†of our family’s¬†youngest children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Week in Review & Our Classroom

This week wasn’t as great as I thought it would be for school. We got things done but I was hoping we would get more accomplished. There is always next week. What we did do this week:

  • Co-op classes “Nervous System”
  • End of Year Soccer Party
  • Workbook work
  • Easy Peasy Online School
  • Math drills each day
  • Homeschool Parents Meeting
  • Ice Skating
  • Chiropractic Appointments
  • State Police Field trip
  • Orthodontist appointments
  • Monthly shopping
  • Blogging
  • Wood burning
  • Worked on the mending pile
  • Boys did their brothers brakes and axle on his Subaru
  • Free gym time
  • Bible Study
  • Church

Our Classroom

This year we have an actual classroom area. Some years we have only used the dining room table or desks in their rooms. This year we are doing the Easy Peasy online school which requires computer use. It was a pain to put away and take out all the laptops each day so we changed things around a little bit.

Our living room now is also the classroom. Each child has a desk with his/her computer on it and also their respective school books.

The only child without her own computer is Princess. She uses Directors computer when it is time to do her schoolwork. I try to have her done and off that computer before Director is even reading to do school. Doesn’t always work but I try ūüôā

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Princess doing her Reading Eggs Online schoolwork. Director is waiting to do her schoolwork ūüôā
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Artist doing Easy Peasy Online Schoolwork
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Pilot is working on XtraMath Online Math Drills
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Collector doing XtraMath Online Math Drills. You can see his knitting is ready to go for when he is done ūüôā
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Tech starting up his really slow laptop. He is opening his Easy Peasy online schoolwork.

Do we like it this way?

I like that they have a place for all there things and the put away take out each day is gone. They like it because they can use computers each day and their schoolwork is right there for them.

We don’t like that it takes up over half of the living room. The pros out way the cons though.

 

How do you do school? Do you have a classroom set up? Leave a comment and let us know.

Happy homeschooling!

Week in Review

This was pretty good academic homeschooling week. We got all our October schooling done and filed away for the end of the year portfolios. Here is our week:

  • Church
  • Harvest Cook-Out at a friend’s house
  • Muscular¬†System Co-op
  • Apiary Field Trip
  • Homeschool Choir
  • Lots of reading
  • Wood burning projects
  • Ice Skating Started
  • 20141028_090335
  • Older kids Wrote¬†their Resumes
  • Online Computer Classes at the library
  • Muscular¬†System Review Worksheets
  • Workbooks
  • Easy Peasy Online School (my review of this curriculum here)
  • Blogging, of course

Quite a list!!

Happy Homeschooling!

Week in Review & Planning Field Trips

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Princess at the Fire Department Field Trip

This was an awesome homeschooling week. We got so much accomplished. Lots of academics and also some other fun stuff.
Our field trip this week got cancelled so I thought I would highlight planning field trips in this post. First, our week in review:

  • Church & Business Mtg
  • Digestive System Co-op
  • Homeschool Choir
  • Career Readiness Co-op – Writing a Resume
  • Breastfeeding Support Group Meeting
  • Online Computer Classes at the library
  • Bible Study
  • Skeletal System Review Worksheets
  • Workbooks
  • Easy Peasy Online School (my review of this curriculum here)
  • Blogging, of course
  • Director got & started¬†a bi-weekly¬†editing job with local TV station
  • Open Gymnasium time with the Homeschool Group
  • Natural Science Museum
  • Kids Carnival tomorrow

It sure seems like more when I list it like that. Ok, planning field trips next.

Planning Homeschool Field Trips

Our family plans most of the field trips for our homeschool group. Our group wasn’t¬†doing many field trips when we started attending this group years ago. I decided that if I wanted field trips to happen I was going to have to do it myself. Here is the process.

First I decide what my children would be interested in doing for a field trip. I look at what we will be studying that year. In 1st grade I usually do a “Community Workers” type of lesson so if I have a child going into 1st grade I will gear my field trips towards those occupations. I also ask my kids which ones they liked from last year and also if there are any they have thought of that they would like to do. I also ask them if there are any they would prefer to never do again ūüôā¬†I make up a list of all the prospective field trips and what specific businesses would be called if we choose to do that field trip.

Then I ask around and see who would like to go on a field trip. I¬†usually ask¬†via email or during the monthly meeting or I just ask my friends that homeschool. I have found that to have a business host a field trip they like to have a group of people to make it worth their while. There are 8 of us and I can usually find at least 2 more people to join us for any given field trip. Most places require or ask for a group of at least 10 people for them to take the time to host a field trip. We have just gone with only our family, but still 8 is a pretty good size group. I don’t usually narrow my list down by these inquires into who would like to attend. But if your family is not as large as ours¬†you may have to narrow the list down to field trips that have at least 10 people interested.

Once I know I have the 10 or so people that would commit to go I start to call and schedule the field trips with the different businesses. Usually people say they will go but you end up with about 2/3 of those people actually going, just a heads up, I usually call to schedule anyway.

The process of scheduling:

  • I have a calendar printed up in front of me with our families major commitments on it like: homeschool co-op, appointments I can’t change, church commitments, sport commitments, etc. I also list things that¬†the majority of the things that the homeschool group will be doing like: open gym time, meetings, other events, etc. I figure that trying to host a field trip during the time that kids would normally be at say a soccer game¬†might be a hard sell when asking for family participation in the field trip. Also, the families might be a little miffed that their child wanted to go do both events¬†but I scheduled it during that time.
  • In front of me I also have an open email or Word document ready for me to type in the information so I can send it to the group when I am finished my calls.
  • I have made a list of the places of business for each field trip¬†and phone numbers. When I call I write down the contact persons name, their direct line, and any specifics they give me like: no more than 25 people, no kids under 3yo, no open toed shoes, etc.
  • I almost always schedule field trips for Wednesday mornings. Why do I do this? I have no idea. Whenever I call I look down at my calendar and that is usually the only day free. It looks like it would fit nicely in the middle of the week. I really have no idea why I schedule them mainly on Wednesdays. But you should have some idea what day you would like to go on your field trips¬†because the contact person will ask you, “When would you like to come?” I usually give the a list of the next ¬†3 Wednesdays that are available. I also suggest to them¬†that we usually do field trips in the mornings. Sometimes we have done them on different days and in the afternoon but for the most part they are on Wednesdays and in the morning hours.
  • I set up with them¬†the date, time, and special requirements for that¬†field trip OR I leave a message. In the message I say, “I would like to set up a school field trip to your place of business,” and leave my contact info and sometimes possible dates for the field trip. Some people still do not know what homeschooling is but they understand if I say “school field trip” so I usually word it that way.¬†Leaving a message is kind of a pain because I was hoping to set everything up right then when I call. I am appreciative that they are willing to host the field trip but waiting for that return phone call can¬†take weeks.
  • In my email or Word document that I have¬†open¬†I list: the date and time of the field trip or¬†I if I haven’t gotten ahold of anyone I write TBD or “left message waiting to hear back” just so the other families know that¬†it is in the works.
  • In the email to the homeschoolers I also ask that whoever is interested in coming to the field trip to let me know that they are interested.
  • As emails and texts come in from the homeschoolers interested,¬†I start a list of people wanting to attend. Some field trips only allow 25 people so when I hit that number I don’t stop, I continue adding names till I get to 30 because I know some won’t show up on that day, happens every time. BUT the opposite can happen. I have had field trips where people just showed up without telling me and we were way over our number allowed. The business still let us have the field trip but had to split us into two groups and it was hard to reschedule with that bank again. So try and emphasize nicely that you need to know who will be attending.
  • When I have reached my limit for field trip participants I send out an email stating that that particular field trip is full.
  • I also set up an automatic calendar update to come through the group to remind them that the field trip is coming up.
  • The day before the field trip I call and remind the business that we will be coming.
  • The day of the field trip I try and be the first ones there.¬†This¬†is not always the case but I try. I find my contact person and let him/her know we are here.
  • I thank them at the end of the field trip for letting us come.
  • I try and remember to send a thank you note to them for allowing us to come. I am terrible at remembering this. Not sure why it is that way. I very much appreciate all they do/did but I totally forget. But you (and I)¬†should send a thank you of some kind.

Here is a list of the field trips we have taken in the past just to get your thoughts going on what you could do:

  • Library
  • Statehouse
  • Transfer Station
  • Community Television Station
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant
  • Bank
  • State Police
  • Hospital
  • Buses
  • Natural Foods Co-op
  • Fire Department
  • Recycling
  • Apiary
  • Animal Shelter
  • Food Shelf
  • Farm
  • Dairy Farm
  • Stable
  • Post Office
  • Newspaper
  • Veterinarian
  • Town Office

Here are some pictures from our Fire Department Field Trip last week.

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Checking out the Trucks
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All Suited Up
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Listening to the Chief
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Our Group
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Explaining the Equipment
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Tech, Director, Artist, and two friends checking out the Fire Truck
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Listening Intently
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Fun on a Fire Truck
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What does a fireman wear and why.
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Everyone loved going in the fire trucks
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Collector checking out the Fire Truck
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Our Group
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Our Group again