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23 Aug

When You’re a Homeschool Mom

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Everyone has an opinion on homeschooling and they are usually very black or white. Some people are totally supportive and others think you’re ruining your children. Here are a few things I have found happen constantly for me personally…

When you’re a homeschool mom…

1. You are tagged on Facebook a lot. Every. Single. Day. Anytime a new homeschool funny comes out it’s private messaged to me or posted to my timeline numerous times. I don’t mind, it makes me realize that my loved ones know that this is a big part of my identity and I’m glad they think of me when they think of homeschool. Keep them coming girls… and the Ryan Gossling ones are my favorite!

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2. People are curious. Every time we go out during “school hours” we always get comments and questions. “No school today?” “Are they sick?” “I didn’t realize today was a holiday…” I always smile and politely tell them that we are a homeschool family. That statement is met with a couple of responses. We’re either praised for the effort or my kids are quizzed to make sure they can count their toes. “What part of school is Chick Fil A??” ummm… it’s lunch??

3. You constantly compare yourself to “perfect” homeschool moms. We’ve all seen them. That beautiful mom who’s perfectly put together everywhere she goes. Her kids (all 12 of them) are all clean and well behaved. The little ones all listen to Bach while the older ones build space shuttles in the immaculate school room. Each child is gifted, starting college in the 4th grade. I’ve learned something about super homeschool mom… she’s not real. Not at all. It’s all an illusion. God gave me these dirty, loud, rowdy children for a purpose. We don’t need perfection, it’s overrated.

4. You’ll change curriculum all the time. People will assume you’re a flake. Ignore them. It takes time to find the right groove for your family. The public school system has a very cookie cutter approach to learning, assuming all kids learn the exact same way. When you’re a homeschool mom you get to find what works best for your children, even if each one learns in a different way. You get to tailor make an education plan that’s just right for them.

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5. You’ll change your schedule constantly. This goes right back to #4. Finding your groove is important. When we first started I bought every subject in their assigned grades and nearly drowned in my schedule. Over the years I’ve learned to combine some subjects. We now do the same history and science so we can tackle it together rather than individually. It’s so nice to be able teach science one time to my kids and then actually be able to discuss what we learned as a group.

6. Laundry will be piled up all over your house. It’s inevitable. Don’t fight it, just roll with it… and push it off your bed so you can get at least a couple hours of sleep at night. It’s not that we’re lazy it’s just that our priorities are wrapped up in math lessons and the like. Laundry and dishes can wait, for a little while anyway. Chore lists help… sometimes…

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7. Electronics are your hero. Do you know what it takes to get a hot cup of coffee in the middle of the day for me? A Wii U, an Ipad and Youtube… that’s what it takes. I’m not a failure, I’m a human being who needs 5 minutes. Don’t judge the homeschool mom who’s kids watch kinder eggs… she’s surviving.

8. People will compliment your children and then immediately criticize you for your choices. I once took my boys to get their hair cut. The stylist went on and on about how confident they were. How they actually held conversations with her unlike many kids, who just sit there. She raved about how smart and polite they were. I thanked her and told her that they’re homeschooled. All of a sudden my children who she 3 seconds before had been amazing are “never going to get into college or be able to make friends” Lord help me. That conversation actually hurt my brain.

9. Family can make or break your homeschool. Support is necessary. Sometimes it’s an uplifting word from your husband. Sometimes it’s your mother coming by and taking the kids for a swim in the middle of the day so you can catch up on some housework (remember those laundry piles) Sometimes, if you’re really lucky and have an awesome mom like min, she’ll come over while you have the kids at Co Op and clean your entire house (Thanks again Mom!) Either way, you’ll need your village. If you don’t have family around find some great homeschool moms to surround yourself with. Yes, your non homeschool friends are still important, but having someone who’s living this life is priceless. We get each other. My homeschool friends are my people. Love you girls!

10. You’ll know it’s worth it. All the planning, reading, praying, worrying… all the piles of laundry and neglected chores… all the stress, all the library visits, all the insensitive strangers with more opinions than brains… it’s all worth it. Seeing your child thrive, getting to know them on a different level, watching them grow up before your eyes, seeing them all play together in the school room… even if it involves some fighting… It’s something I wouldn’t trade for anything on earth.

 

Love to you girls…

Nicki

 

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03 Aug

Our “A Little Bit Classical, A Little Bit Traditional, Slightly Minimal” Homeschool Year

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I love this time of year. Researching curriculum choices, buy new school supplies, planning field trips and activities. The possibilities the new year holds are endless.
We’ve made some changes to our school room and curriculum this year and I wanted to share them with you.
Like most first time homeschool moms, I purchased each grade level kit when we first started 3 short years ago. I was eager, excited, and ready to teach Every. Single. Subject. to Every. Single. Kid. That eagerness and excitement lasted approximately two weeks. Then I realized there weren’t enough hours in the day to do it all. I wanted their homeschool experience to mimic their school experience. I was scared that they’d miss something and that somehow I’d fail them by not making sure that they did everything they would have done at school exactly as they would have done it.

I. Was. Wrong.

This year I have taken on a slightly more minimalist approach to homeschooling. I’ve found that our personal homeschool groove lies somewhere between traditional schooling and classical learning. We do traditional lessons and worksheet work for the core subjects, English and Math are both done very much like a classroom would. They boys do their own grade level and are taught separately.

We abandoned our structured reading curriculum this year in favor of good old fashioned books. I want reading to be something that they love to do, not something that they have to do. So this year, we’ll go to the library and hopefully foster a passion for paper rather than electronics.

Our history and science programs are more classical this year. We’re using Apologia Zoology 1, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day for science. I really like that it’s immersive, they get a great deal of information about one topic rather than just a little bit of a lot of different topics. We read each chapter together and discuss it. There are no tests or worksheets although the boys do have journals to keep track of new vocabulary words and interesting facts they learn through our reading and discussions. Each chapter has optional activities that get us outside, exploring nature. Instead of sitting in a classroom memorizing facts, we’ll be reading, talking and exploring real life. I am also super excited that I’m teaching science ONCE a day rather than to each kid separately.

For history we’re starting The Story of the World. The approach is very similar to Apologia. We read, discuss and journal. There are also some very cool projects to do with each chapter, for instance, Chapter 1 is on ancient civilizations and Mesopotamia, our project is doing our own cave paintings and hieroglyphics.  I love that both of these curriculum are much more hands on and get us learning together.

Another thing I am implementing this year will be morning time. I’ve put together a basket of items (search Pinterest for Morning Baskets and find a ton of homeschoolers suggestions on what to use) to start our day. Our devotional and bible story book will be in there, some math fact flash cards for the boys, their daily journal, and our read aloud book. I’ve also included some Play Doh, Legos and some other items to keep the little hands busy as I read to them.

I am also beginning preschool with Olivia this year. I decided not to do a formal curriculum, instead opting for a few readiness books out of the Target dollar bin (love that section!) and some fun and educational busy bags that focus on colors, shapes and numbers. Because Liv will take some of my school time from the boys we have also switched to a DVD lead math program for each of them. It takes that teaching time away from me and fosters some independent learning in them. Win win. Teaching Textbooks is a spiral math program that has been used by many homeschoolers for years. I think it’s going to be a really great fit for our family! I’ll be sharing a review after our first semester to let you know how it’s working!

We also are beginning a Freedom Fridays group that, obviously, meets on Friday. Each month we will have an art and science project, an oral presentation and one fun play day. I’m really excited about all the fun things we have planned to enjoy our Fridays while learning cool stuff!

So that’s it, that’s our year. I’m praying over this year. I’m implementing more time together and more independence in learning. I’m working to foster a love of reading rather than completing the task. What are you doing this year?

 

Nicki

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