homeschool

When little things are really BIG things.

Most of you know that this year...well, it's been semi-horrible for me, for us. But it's also been equally beautiful and God-filled.  

Goofy brothers.  

Goofy brothers.  

 

I guess I'm still gripped by a decent amount of fear and anxiety because when I consider the days that have passed since I last did (insert previously mundane, ordinary task here), it's borderline embarrassing.  

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Okay, so it's fully, completely embarrassing. 

 

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Things such as taking your children to the park. Grabbing those few missing items from your mental grocery list. Leaving your driveway.... 

Those things.  

Lunch.  

Lunch.  

 

It's so hard. So incredibly hard and difficult and unfair to remember what you used to be before fear and anxiety and random unexplained health issues.  

Music and Movement!  

Music and Movement!  

 

I used to just GO! Just 10 months ago, I had a three month old new baby, four other little guys, my sister and her husband here and their twin toddlers and we got up one morning and I drove them to a children's museum over an hour away from our house. No big deal.  

Olive was so ready for Co-Op

Olive was so ready for Co-Op

 

Now, today, I had to put myself in "timeout" in my van in the parking lot, "mid-co-op" and calm down. I was on the verge of frantic and I just sat in the van and sobbed while my three little girls kept begging to go to the playground with the other children.  

Computer/Testing Nook. There's a curtain to close in between this area and the sewing station.  

Computer/Testing Nook. There's a curtain to close in between this area and the sewing station.  

 

I told them to wait as I chugged Rescue Remedy and prayed for God to "take it away" for the seventieth-millionth time.  

My best friend encouraged me just one week ago to maybe tackle cleaning out our detached building for what I always dreamed would be our homeschool room. It was 700 sq.ft.of just crazy. I am so thankful to God for a friend that didn't push me, but gently encouraged me to tackle it while she was there. It was a HUGE accomplishment and now we have a fully functional space for our homeschools. To God be the glory!! Did I mention we didn't spend a dime so far?!??  

My best friend encouraged me just one week ago to maybe tackle cleaning out our detached building for what I always dreamed would be our homeschool room. It was 700 sq.ft.of just crazy. I am so thankful to God for a friend that didn't push me, but gently encouraged me to tackle it while she was there. It was a HUGE accomplishment and now we have a fully functional space for our homeschools. To God be the glory!! Did I mention we didn't spend a dime so far?!??  

 

We never made it to the playground. But not because I didn't want to, I seriously didn't know where it was located. So we hung out in the hallways until big brothers were done.  

Sewing/Crafting station.  

Sewing/Crafting station.  

 

You might say, "focus on the fact that YOU WENT today...you overcame so much". But, did I really? I mean, this is typical "mom stuff". This is stuff I should have no problem doing, planning for, and finding joy in. The fact that I have to wrestle through every moment is highly irritating. I just want that part of me back that thought it was "no thing" at all to attend a homeschool co-op, drive myself to the store, or have energy to stand and make dinner anticipating my dizziness to plague me the entire time.  

Media area and Library/Reading area. Not fully complete, but functional!  

Media area and Library/Reading area. Not fully complete, but functional!  

 

But, I guess, for now, I have to take the little things and make them the big things. The little things will have to matter now because to accomplish the little things is so huge for me. But I don't think it'll be any less embarrassing for me. I just don't.  

The Preschool Area of our schoolhouse.  

The Preschool Area of our schoolhouse.  

 

So today, yea, I drove my children to a church 23 minutes away from home. And we attended the co-op. And I had one meltdown. And I helped another little girl with an art project. And I talked to a couple of the other moms...but not extensively.  

 

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I guess I'm proud of me, but I'm too exhausted to stay proud. I'm just hoping that this can be a catalyst to the old me. The me that doesn't fight or flight the whole of life.  

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I can't wait for the little things to not be the big things for me anymore. But, for now, I'll choose to celebrate the little things, because it's the thousands of little things that will lead me back to where I belong. 

 

-Alicia  

St.Patrick's Day Activities!

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I love to celebrate every holiday with my kiddos. And since we homeschool, I love getting creative and taking a day off of the normal lesson routine to observe and hopefully convey effectively the importance of each special day. Every year on this day, I always do a fun "green" only meal. Whether it's green pancakes and green milk with green butter and green syrup, or a plate filled with various naturally/unnaturally green items, my kids love it!

Here's what we did today for lunch:

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Food colored some cinnamon applesauce, pickle spear, popcorn with green M&M minis, raw organic broccoli with slightly colored green ranch veggie dip, and I tried my hardest to "paint" a four leaf clover on a piece of sliced provolone. They ate it all up and loved how silly it was. Other ideas for green foods would be celery, green apple slices, kiwi, honeydew, sweet green peppers, veggie straws, etc. And as long as you have green food coloring, you can pretty much make anything turn green. :)

For some school fun I made up three quick games, one for each level academically that I have. You can make these games more difficult if you have older ones.

color sort

For Miss Avery, I quickly cut out six circles and placed them in a regular sized muffin tin. I took a marker for each color of the rainbow and colored one color per circle then placed a circle in each tin.

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I had some various rainbow colored puff balls and put them in a separate container for her to pull from.

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She had a blast naming all of the colors and sorting all of the balls into the correct color tins. This activity is great for an older toddler or young preschooler like Avery. This kept her busy (she did it over and over again) for a while. And it's practical enough to keep for another day....or a moment when she is simply into everything.

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rainbow addition

For Carter, my 5 year old Kindergartener, I made up a game that would encourage some extra addition practice. He enjoyed this game so much that I just may make a more extensive version and include subtraction.

I was in a hurry when I made these games. I literally did it all in twenty minutes because the kids were excited for new activities and Olivia was threatening to reorganize the entire homeschool closet as I was using it. So I used what I had in front of me. In this case, I took 3 red solo cups and had some leftover rainbow stickers from Olivia's rainbow birthday party (go here for that post) and just simply stuck them on each cup. I then wrote with a sharpie a number on each cup that would represent a possible answer. I took rainbow Popsicle sticks (you can buy a pack of many at the Dollar Tree) and wrote a simple addition problem on each one that equaled to one of the answers on one of the cups.

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Carter then had to mentally answer each problem on each stick and place that stick in the correct cup. He had so much fun and got faster as he went along.

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pot 'o gold syllable sort

For my first grader, Hunter, I wanted a game that encouraged reading, vocabulary, and syllable counting. I took a white sheet of paper and glued the edges of two yellow pots (glue edges ONLY!!!), sprinkled them with a bit of gold glitter, and put a number on each. I took the same rainbowy Popsicle sticks that I used with Carter's game and wrote St.Patrick's Day related one and two syllable words. Hunter then had to clap while saying each word aloud and sort the sticks into their respective pots of gold. He, too, had a lot of fun with this game and it gave us an opportunity to discuss some of the words that he didn't know of before.

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Add in a fun history lesson about how amazing St.Patrick was and what the big deal is about this Irish holiday and I'd say you just had yourself a "pinch-free", super fun holiday with your kiddos.

Now it's back to laundry and to ice that triple chocolate fudge cake that has absolutely nothing to do with St.Patrick's Day aside from the fact that I need chocolate.

Love, Alicia

What I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

The first year of homeschooling was comparable to feeling around in a completely dark room. You run into a few things unexpectedly. You may knock a few things down. You stumble, you fall, you get hurt....but eventually, you find the lightswitch you've been searching for. I'm thankful I've found that lightswitch. {But it wasn't easily found} It turns out that this particular lightswitch has a dimmer feature, and as I increase the brightness in the room, I am further enlightened on how I may have just gone about that first year all wrong.

Here is what I thought homeschooling should be...[but its not.]

a Xerox copy of public school.If it was supposed to be, you might as well send your child to public/traditional school. Just go ahead and file this one away into your personal recycle bin.

a lot of sitting down, and a lot of worksheets.Turns out, worksheets don't work and sitting down all the time is just dumb. And when you have little boys doing the lots of sitting and lots of worksheets, prepare yourself for battle. Instead, keep seat work and worksheets to a minimum and do some real learning! Get out of the house, into nature, discover, explore, inquire, go on field trips....lots of them!  Give breaks as needed, go for nature walks, be spontaneous and encourage movement from the little ones as they are learning. Kids having fun AND learning??? That's priceless. And I guarantee they will retain more information this way than from any colorful worksheet.

very scheduled.I quickly found out that with having ONLY {four} little ones, this schedule you made with the BEST of intentions, will NEVER be followed like it should. Homeschooling should give freedom, not restrict it. One must be willing to account for major/minor mishaps, toddler tantrums, nursing babies, sick mamas, cranky "students", and just any other wrench that might get thrown into the mix. Relax. Throw out that rigid schedule, and decrease your blood pressure all at once! If you cant get everything done that you meant to that day, thats OKAY! And if you arent on the same number lesson for phonics and math, thats OKAY too!! [this one I've had to work on A LOT] And did I mention, relax?!?

a necessary burden.  We were excited, but very nervous at first thought of homeschooling our kids. We weighed our options and almost felt sometimes that we really had no other choice. I have an uneasiness about public school that I've never been able to shake off and private school, whether Christian or not, is just not financially feasible. We even looked into charter schools as a sort of last resort before taking the homeschooling plunge, but that was a HUGE bust. What I knew more than anything was that God called us gently to this, He's given me a love for teaching since I was a young child, and I knew that with His help, I can and will be an effective teacher for my children. It only took the summer before my oldest sons' Kindergarten year for me to see how amazing it is to be my child's teacher. Teaching my son how to read was hard work, but when I sat with him each day and saw visible progress, lightbulbs going off in his head, and in just a few short weeks going from a non-reader to second grade level, I was hooked. I cried even. What a PRIVILEGE to walk with him through that journey. We did it! Together! I couldn't wait to jump in to a school year filled with new discoveries and concepts.

like everyone else'shomeschool. It's so hard to not be that mom that compares what her kids are doing to what others are doing in their homeschool. There's countless opportunities to compare curriculums, schedules, activities, learning tips, progress, and goals with other homeschooling parents. What great opportunities these are as long as you stay guarded and protect the homeschool you have. Take any information you receive during these conversations and weigh them heavily against your personal homeschool philosophy, your child's specific learning style, and consider your entire home situation {number of kids you have, naptimes, working around a work/volunteer schedule, etc} before feeling the need to add this or that to what you already do. What works for them may not work for you....and that's OKAY!

Although last year was hard and so stretching, I am so thankful for what lessons I learned along the way. I'm thankful for the mentors God gave me in veteran homeschoolers. I'm thankful for an extremely supportive husband who loved to praise me and encourage me along...especially on the rough days. I am thankful for friends that God allowed to choose homeschooling the same time we did so I had a friend to walk with in that dark room. I am also thankful that I get the GIFT of educating my own children for the glory of Christ because it is indeed a GIFT! I am committed to home education for as long as God wills and am very humbled by His grace. I am so proud of my children and I am so loving this second year so far of our homeschooling adventures! I will always look back on that first trying year with such fond memories....but boy, am I glad it's over!:)

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-Alicia