Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tomorrow is August the first!!!

Can you all believe it?  I can't.  We've had a good, productive summer, mostly.  We did pretty much get our spring cleaning done in June and we honored our commitment to work out for 2 hours every day in July, except for about 5 days.  That's pretty good.  I feel strong since we've been exercising.  Now that August is here, of course we will be starting school about halfway into August, but we need to decide what to do with that couple of weeks.  Should we continue to exercise as intensely or should we get the rest of the "spring" cleaning done?  (Hey, better late than never, right?).   A combination of cleaning and exercising? 1 hour of each?    We are trying to get the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award, but that only requires the kids to exercise 1 hour a day and me to exercise 1/2 an hour a day, so we have surpassed that and we can do that in addition to some deep cleaning.  I just have to decide.  I also need to decide what to do about our curriculum this fall.  Right now I'm doing a survey of my computer documents to see what I've already downloaded from Curr-Click that I can use and perusing the Netflix queue to look for DVD resources.  I haven't yet opened my Rainbow Resource catalog, but sometime this week, I'll dive into that.  I wish I could find a way to float it in the pool without it getting wet, so I could combine activities, but I haven't come up with anything yet.  :-P

Friday, July 29, 2011

Okay. Maybe I should plan now?

I really need to get busy planning the school year.  Summer reading is over.  VBS is almost over (today).  The city pool will be closing soon. The local public school kids will be heading back to school.  The signs are all aligning to let me know what to do.  Honestly, if I didn't have a big old learning glitch  to deal with, I think I would have already done it.  If I had 2 students like my daughter who can and will basically do whatever I hand her with no problems, I would just order stuff and go with it.  But I have a kid, my youngest, who has something going on with him.  He doesn't write well and he doesn't spell well, even though he reads very well and has an amazing vocabulary.  He does fairly well at math and we've consistently kept him with his sister in math class, so he's been working a year ahead in that, but I really don't know what to do about his spelling and writing.  He's very interested in the roots of words, so I may try something that teaches Greek and Latin root words so that he can maybe improve his spelling.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  To me, it is a complete mystery that he can read so fast and so well and not know how to spell the words when he needs to.  It's a different learning style from mine and I need to learn how to teach to his learning style.  Please give me any suggestions you may have in the the comments section!!!! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Break time!

We've been watching old seasons of The Amazing Race from Netflix and sometimes they have a mandatory 12 hour rest.  My daughter commented that it is a good thing it is mandatory or no one would do it, they would just keep pushing themselves.  Well yesterday, some of the people in my house kind of hit a wall.  Three days of getting up 2 hours earlier than usual (for the kids) and all the exercise and going, going, going kind of hit us.  A friend emailed to let us know that they weren't going to be at the pool last night and at that point, we were relieved, and not disappointed and I could really tell we needed a break, so I cancelled chores, declared a no-mandatory-exercise day and gave everyone a couple extra hours of screen time.  We were tired so we watched a movie, got in the pool just to float, not swim laps, and generally took the day off. Sometimes you just really need that. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Busy and thinking.

The kids are doing VBS this week.  I'm working and chauffeuring, trying to keep the house clean, trying to get in 2 hours of exercise every day, selling things on Ebay, trying to keep up with my mom's doctor stuff and starting to think about what we will be doing for school this fall.  We've also got 2 sleepovers, a birthday party, summer reading, family swim night and a field trip this week.  I spoke to the kids I will be homeschooling this year last night about it in the pool and surprisingly they are receptive to the idea of notebooking.  I'm kind of excited about it.  It sounds fun to me.  We'll see.  I may make a plan to try it for the first 8 week period and then re-evaluate ... you know, my favorite thing, tweaking the schedule!  :-P 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good notebooking/lapbooking resources.

This is kind of cool.  Minibook Gallery.  Here's another one on Squidoo.   Here are a bunch of notebooking pages, The Notebooking Fairy.  Here's one for making your own comic books.  Zakka

Last full week of July.

This is the last full week of vacation for the public schooled kids in this area.  They do a "year round" school schedule with more time off at fall break, spring break and winter break (also known as Christmas break), so they start very early in August.  We do not follow their schedule exactly, preferring to take only 1 week in the fall and 1 week in the spring (maybe) and start later, savoring a couple of extra weeks of summer.  I still haven't written the kid's fall schedule and I have not decided what we're going to be doing.  I usually pull things together at the last minute but since I can change them throughout the year when I need to, it's fine.  The kids are used to my constant tweaking of the schedule and just go with it.  As for the oldest, who won't be homeschooled this year, he's got plans to try and get a job and then start home-college through, probably, Penn Foster.   None of those plans are concrete at this time either.  We're kind of just taking things as they come right now.  It might have something to do with everything breaking and having to be fixed, the kitchen sink (for which we had to call a plumber), my husband's car and now my car ...   We are meeting some goals this year though. I have spring cleaned, exercised for 2 hours pretty much every day in July and finally, finished my book on how to go gluten free (for about the 10th time, but this time, I actually did approve it to be published, so it's finished-finished this time!).  I really do need to take some time, sit down and decide what we are doing this coming year though.  Maybe next week.  

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The good news is

we now have a hot tub.  The bad news is, it's our pool.  The water in our pool was 100 degrees yesterday when we got in it to exercise.  I'm getting a little tired of this heat wave.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zipping around town.

Okay, is using zipping as my title, kind of reaching?  It probably is, but I've had to be kind of creative with this alphabet thingy, so there you are.  We do go a lot.  One time my cousin called me and left a message on my phone answering machine that said "You work at home, you homeschool .. why are you never home?!"  (Since then, I have stopped working at home and I work doing my medical transcription job at my mom's house because she has faster internet service.)  The kids and I go to skate nights twice a month, swim nights once a week in the summer.  In the fall, winter and spring, we add in 4H once a month, youth group meetings, and field trips.   I really can't remember what I did before I had children and I can't imagine what I will do when they all grow up, which is really speeding towards us now that our youngest is a teenager.   The best advice I can give a new homeschool mom is to combine trips as much as possible and have as much fun with your kids as you possibly can!

Friday, July 22, 2011


The argument has been made and I tend to agree that our current school systems are pushing academics too early, when the kids are too young and thereby stressing out the children and frequently leaving little boys behind.  Here's a good article about it.  I think that it is normal for some kids not to read until later than 6.  My youngest did not read well until age 10.  We didn't push him and now he loves to read.  I think being pushed to read too soon can just kill the love of reading for some kids.  I also think that kids need more recess and more free play than some of them are getting.  Play is a child's work.  It's how they figure out the world.  I know there are times that I need to process things and kids process things through play. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

X-rays, broken bones and other calamaties.

We've had a lot of life happen in the years since we've been homeschooling.  There have been multiple broken bones, including my son's ankle for which he had to have surgery and be non-weight-bearing for 14 weeks.  (That's 3 1/2 months!!!)  We've also home schooled through the flu, strep throat, multiple unnamed viruses, my surgery, my son's hospitalization when he passed out that time and also my Dad's illness and subsequent death.  (Most of this was in 2010, which was NOT my best year!)  We've made it.  We've had to make decisions at times on whether to take a break and have a shorter summer and whether or not to postpone things they are all working on together when one child is sick, or just to excuse that child and make the others continue.   I do not give the kids very many excused days that they don't have to make up, maybe 1 or 2 per year.  When I am sick, sometimes Dad takes over and sometimes the kids just do what they can on their own.  As they've gotten older, the amount of things that they can do on their own has come to mean almost everything.  They are very much self-directed learners now.  I give them a list and they do it.  I could probably be replaced with one of those medication reminder clocks that my mom has, just set it to say "Do your schoolwork!" about every 2 hours! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Worry is a big one for all parents.  We all worry that we are giving our kids what they need.  When you add to the bundle the fact that as a homeschooling family you are also responsible for their education, it can get kind of scary.  Just remember, you can always get help.  You can buy a curriculum that is on DVD or computer.  You can homeschool through a school that provides the curriculum for you.  You can ask another homeschooling mom to teach your child a skill you don't have or take classes like we do through 4H or through scouting.   You can hire a tutor or join a co-op.  With homeschooling, as I've mentioned before, the possibilities are endless.  The trick is finding time to actually stay home sometimes.  :-P

Seriously, though, we do worry that our kids will not be able to cope with "real life" (although what is this, a dress rehearsal?) or that they won't be able to get along with others or stick with things and get them done or speak a foreign language, or know to not end a sentence with a preposition or where to put in the commas or ever meet anyone that they can fall in love with or that they will meet someone ... but these concerns are part of parenting, part of life and they'll be fine.  Really.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Violence/bullying, etc.

I have had people tell me that they don't think my kids will be able to withstand bullying when they become adults because they are not undergoing any bullying now.  I can't see into the future of course, but I think having a strong sense of self and a good idea about how people should be treated will help them.  I don't really think that adults run into problems with bullying the way kids do.  If you are on a job and someone hits you or threatens you, this is dealt with in a different way that it is for a kid at school where it is thought of as normal.  Charges may be filed.  People may be fired from their jobs for harassment.  Restraining orders can be placed.  If you are harassed at a job and you can't get it stopped through the normal channels, you can quit the job.  Kids just can't quit school without their parents permission and quite often feel trapped and hopeless.  Once when my son was being treated for his broken ankle, one of the nurses in the office asked me a bunch of questions about homeschooling.  It seems that her daughter had attempted suicide due to bullying and now was being homeschooled.  I helped her all I could.  I don't know for sure if the kids are missing out on some valuable toughening-up experiences, but I don't think so. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Well this is awkward.  I don't have anything to say that starts with the letter U for my ABCs of homeschooling series of posts.   In my note to myself, several weeks ago when I first had this idea for blog posts, I wrote "unschooling or unsocialized".  Really though, I don't unschool and I don't know enough about it to write a post about it.  It seems like it would be fun and probably its a lot like what we do in the summer, but that's all I have to say.  As for the topic "unsocialized", I've already discussed that I don't think kids need to go somewhere to be taught social manners and mores by their age-mates.  I think families do a better job of teaching kids how to behave than other kids do.  Or is that just me?

Anyway, I'll finish this kind of non-post with a brief glimpse into our summer. We are exercising 2 hours a day every day, except yesterday (but I feel that everyone deserves a break sometimes!) and we are going to summer reading, going to the city pool, doing skate nights, picking blackberries, playing video games, finishing the book I'm writing for what must be the 50th time,  watching The Amazing Race from Netflix which we've never seen before, getting exhibits ready for the county fair which starts this week and we are going to see Harry Potter 7.5 today.  We have sent in our Letter of Intent to Homeschool for this next year and so soon, we need to start giving what we are going to do this year some thought!

Friday, July 15, 2011


In Kentucky, we are not required to do any standardized testing, but a lot of us choose to test, at least occasionally.  I can see that my kids are progressing, but every now and then I like to use some kind of assessment, just to make sure.  The state of Texas releases their previous year's achievement tests for free online at this site and I have used those.  There are also some tests that you can order.,,  Homeschoolers can take the SAT test and the ACT test.   Homeschooled students can also take the Clep tests, AP tests and Dantes Tests and get college credit before they are even college aged.

 I was just looking at my past posts on my blog and realized that there are 2 S's in my alphabet ... now everyone is going to wonder if I am qualified to teach anyone anything ... LoL.  

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Are homeschoolers strange and is homeschooling as a practice strange to the human race as a whole?.  You'd think so if you were judging by the way people sometimes look at me when I say I homeschool.  The truth is, that government run schooling has just been done for the last couple hundred years and at first it was not compulsory.  Parents educated their children at home and if there was a free public school in their area, the parents decided whether to send their kids or not.  I remember reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, Farmer Boy and wondering at how few days he actually attended school.  The parents were able to decide if something was important enough to miss school for, or if he'd learn more at home or if they just needed him for farm work that day.  My point is that people have homeschooled their children since the dawn of time and organized education is the newcomer, not homeschooling.  Whether we are strange or not, I'll leave that up to you.  :-P

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

School at home versus homeschooling.

So, school at home and homeschooling, aren't those exactly the same thing?  Well, I guess yes and no.  When I say "school at home" I do have a different mental image than I do when I speak of homeschooling (although this may just be me.  :-P).  With 'school at home' the picture that comes into my mind is the family getting up early, eating breakfast, and then switching into school mode, where mom is the teacher and the kids are sitting and doing schoolwork for 6 hours, then switching back into home mode.   With homeschooling, it's a lifestyle and schooling is done at the family's convenience (within reason) not getting up earlier than normal and doing lessons in a relaxed way.  I came home one day to find my daughter lying on the couch in a ray of sunshine doing her math lesson.  This is what I think of when I think of homeschooling.  Also, science experiments in the kitchen and the backyard, watching DVDs together and discussing them, reading books together, playing games, going to the library, doing art, reading or hearing about things and immediately going to look them up because we want to know about them.  It's a family lifestyle now.  I am sure going to miss it in 5 years when we are done.

Addenda:  ;De pointed out that they do school at home and it got me to thinking.  I realize that I sounded kind of critical of this way of doing things and really, I don't mean to be critical.  I only meant to say it's not our method.  The point of this post should have been that you can do homeschooling any old way you want and if school at home works better for your family then choose that way and if lying on the couch works better, then do that.  The wonderful-est part of homeschooling is the flexibility.  Some families need more structure than ours does.  Our family would drive other people crazy with our procrastinating (actually we drive each other crazy with that too) and with sometimes the school-work not being done until bedtime!  So structure, no structure or somewhere in the middle --- you get to choose!

Monday, July 11, 2011


If you start homeschooling at the beginning of your child's academic career then you will be the one teaching your child to read.  This is a bit scary for many parents, including me.  When we started homeschooling, our kids were in the first, third and sixth grades and the first grader had not yet learned to read.   A lot of people we knew had success with this book, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.  I personally tried various things, phonics programs, etc, but had the final breakthrough with him with the Leapfrog videos and illustrated sight words cards pictured above).  Now we are faced with the issue that at 13 he can read very well, but can't spell very well at all, so we will probably be using resources from this site Dianne Craft.   For my daughter we have used Sequential Spelling for several years and now her spelling is really good.  My oldest came out of public school reading and spelling very well so we didn't really have to address much of this with him.   One of the more difficult things, I think, is to bring up a child who loves reading because reading is so good for the brain.  We've done read alouds for years and are still doing them and I think that helps too, as well as frequent trips the the library.  A lot of times we go to town and my youngest will walk through stores with me and will have a book in front of his face, reading the whole time.  People will ask me how I got him reading voluntarily and I don't know what to say.  Sometimes I just say "I homeschool him."  other times I just shrug.  My whole philosophy of education is just too long to discuss at the Walmart, you know? 

Sunday, July 10, 2011


In most states you do not need to be a "qualified" teacher to teach your own children.  In some states you will need to have a qualified teacher look over your child's work or administer a test.  My husband and I both have degrees.  I got mine right out of high school, way back in the dark ages and he got his after my youngest son was born.  I think that him having a math refresher course a few years back has helped him teach the math, but I'm not sure, he may have been able to do it just fine without the refresher.  My math skills are a bit rusty.  Nonetheless, I do feel that we are qualified to teach our kids without oversight from anyone else.   You notice I said "oversight" not help. We may very well need help from someone else.   Fortunately, we have millions of resources for curriculum, for hiring other teachers, for joining co-ops, for taking online classes, for having our kids tested if need be, for basically any kind of help we need, there is someone offering it.  One of our children does have a learning disability and believe me, I have explored every option I can for how to address it and have found many people willing to help me and myriad resources available to me.  

Saturday, July 09, 2011


That is what everyone says you need to homeschool.  Every time I mention that I homeschool to someone, generally when someone asks my kids what school they go to, they say, "oh, I wouldn't have the patience!"  I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I never thought of myself as being a patient person, but I guess I am in some ways.  I don't dread homeschooling my kids.  I love it.  I love having them home with me.  Occasionally, my patience has been tried over the years of homeschooling, but I do not think that it is more difficult than just regular parenting.  In most ways, parenting homeschooled kids is easier.  Getting them to do their lessons is not more difficult than it was getting them to do their public school homework or getting them to do chores or personal hygiene.  (Anyone else have problems with little boys and baths?)   The thing is that they are there all the time and you sometimes you need to control their behaviors and sometimes it is not the behavior that is a problem, they are just being regular kids and the fact is, mom needs a break.  If this happens to me, I just take one.  I have been known to cancel school because I don't feel that I can handle it that day.  We make it up.  We still do the required number of days a year, just sometimes we'll be done on June 1 and sometimes on June 10.  It's no big deal.  (I guess it would be if it happened every day!) Sometimes I have been known to leave the kids with my mom or my husband and take off shopping by myself, sometimes I go to my room and read and sometimes just to sit out in the sun.  Everybody needs a break now and then.  Now that my kids are teens, this is way easier. 

Friday, July 08, 2011


As homeschoolers, unburdened by the very burdensome school attendance policies, kids have opportunities to spend more time with their parents, get more sleep, spend more time pursuing their own interests, do internships, volunteer work, play at playgrounds when they aren't crowded, schedule doctor's appointments early in the day, take vacations in the off season, visit museums when they aren't packed, see their Dad (who works an odd shift) during the week, go to the bathroom without asking permission, learn at their own pace, be sick without getting behind, spend longer on topics that interest them, wear whatever clothes they want (no uniforms!), opt out of selling candy and cookie dough for fundraisers, go to work with mom ...the list goes on and on and on.  The opportunities are endless. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Okay, notebooking is something that I have not done enough of, but it is such a cool learning tool that I wanted to mention it here.   Please read this article about it and I'll add my thoughts.  Notebooking can be anything you and the child want it to be.  The earliest learners can start with numbers, alphabet and nature notebooks and they can get more complicated and more personalized as your child grows.  When they look back at their notebooks and show them to grandparents and friends, they are reviewing the material that they have learned.  It's a great learning tool and I intend to use it more this school year.  Here are some of our past efforts. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

Mom as teacher.

Okay, I'm mom and I'm kind of the teacher, although at this point, the kids are mostly learning on their own ... and dad is the math teacher, so do we have difficulty separating our roles?  In a word, no.  Homeschooling is just a lifestyle now.  It's what we do.  We don't have set school times, other than it needs to be done by 6:00 p.m. and we have no trouble switching back and forth from just being a regular mom and dad to being a homeschool parent who needs to answer a math, science or reading question.  It's no big deal.  Maybe if we were more formal it would be.  I enjoy being both the teacher and the mom. 

Sunday, July 03, 2011


The public library can be a homeschooler's BFF.  First of all, they have books that they will lend you for free.  I mean how cool is that?  Also they have DVDs, music, audio books, digital downloads and magazines.  At our library, each library card holder can check out 25 items at a time and the late fee for overdue books is 5 cents per day.  If I need a particular book for my curriculum (or just for fun!) and they don't have it, our library will get it for me. Either they will purchase it and let me check it out first, or they will get it on interlibrary loan.   They have summer reading programs, game nights, craft classes, knitting and quilting classes, history lectures and the list goes on and on.   Can you tell I enjoy the library?  For the next two weeks, I'll probably be there twice because they are having 2 different kids programs.The library is the first place I check when I want to read, listen to or watch something. 

Friday, July 01, 2011

We interupt....

this blog series to let you know what's going on with us.  We finished our month of spring cleaning and have now begun our fitness month.  Of course, we'll still be doing our regular summertime things, basic chores, work, read alouds (We're reading Ranger's Apprentice, The Emperor of Nihon-Ja), summer reading, family swim nights, skate nights and getting one kid ready for camp, but we've committed to doing 2 hours a day of exercise every single day this month.  Today was the first and we spent an hour walking in the hot, hot sun and then an hour and a half to 2 1/2 hours in the pool.  I personally am pretty tired, but not terribly so.  At some point, we will need to finish the cleaning because one room didn't get done :-( and we need to make plans for the fall semester, but for now, we're just summering and getting in better shape. 


If you homeschool, you're going to have to spend a lot of time with your kids.  For some people, this is not a problem because they want to spend more time with their kids and for others, it sounds awful, because their kids get on their nerves!  I think most of us fall in the middle of these two extremes.  We want to spend more time with our kids, but then, sometimes, they get on our nerves.  When you first begin to homeschool, it may be difficult to get enough alone time, especially if they've been in school, gone all day, for a while, but you get used to it and get into a rhythm.  There are good things and bad things about the kids being free from the system.  One is that they will be eating all their meals pretty much at home and you'll have to adjust your grocery budget.  Another is that a lot more dishes seem to get dirty, again, from eating all meals at home and the house gets more messy with kids having time to pursue a bunch of interests and doing it in your home.  Then there are school supplies, books, microscopes, globes, notebooks, pencils, paper ... etc.  The benefits are that the kids can take on more of the chores and learn more about running a household.   You can work out these issues with some patience and perseverance.   If your kids do get on your nerves a lot, you may need to address some of the behaviors that get on your nerves and find a way to stop them.  Everyone your kids come into contact with in the future will thank you for that.  :-P


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