Homeschooling on the hard days

Having a bad day homeschooling, here are some tips to help.

Have you had a hard day of homeschooling yet? Chances are that you have. How do I know…because I am having one right now. Yep, it’s one of those doom and gloom days. The good thing is we don’t have them very often. Usually there is something that proceeds them. A late bedtime the night before, recent time hanging around with certain friends, too much sugar, avoidance in learning a new/difficult subject, growing pains, and the list goes on and on and on…

So, what do you do?

The thought of pulling my hair out and running away, screaming like a mad woman was appealing.

But not very helpful.

Here are some of tricks I use to get thru the hard days.

Figure out what the triggers are beforehand. If you don’t know, or are having trouble figuring them out, write down in a notebook what is going on in you and your childs’ life the day before and the day of. This will allow you to find a pattern, then when you see ‘whatever’ it is happening you can stop it before it starts, or at the very least prepare yourself.

You can also use their triggers as an opportunity to teach them. One of my daughters’ triggers is hunger – especially when she is growing. Ugh, it reminds me of the Betty White Snickers commercial. It’s not pretty. So, what I do is when I notice her starting to get grumpy, I offer her a snack – crackers, glass of milk, carrot sticks, anything to keep the hungry monster away. But I also put it in her hands, making her responsible. Sometimes I miss stuff, it happens. By having her identify when she feels hunger coming on it teaches her to be proactive about it.

Pray. I mean it. When in the middle of a ‘it’ I pray for our tempers to be controlled, for patience thru the rest of the day and for the day to get better. By giving it to God always makes the day get better instantly.

Talk to your kids about it. If they are having the bad day, try to find out why. Finding out why and trying to help will show them that they aren’t alone. If you are having the bad day (hey, it happens!) let them know, maybe even offer them an incentive. Maybe a little extra play time or a favorite dessert after dinner will help everything get done without the drama.

Put yourself in timeout. Not your kid(s) – you! Go to the bathroom, bedroom, outside, anywhere alone-just 5 minutes tops, and breathe deeply. Concentrate on your breathing and with every exhale send your troubles with your breath and relax. Even after a minute you will feel better. Make a plan and get back to it.

Move on. Sometimes moving to the next subjects helps. Especially if it is something they like.

Change gears altogether. Completely drop what you are doing and be done with ‘schooling’ for the day. Sometimes you just have a bad school day, and nothing is going to make better. But don’t be done with your child for the day. We have only had this happen once, but one thing I noticed was that my daughter thought I didn’t want her around – BIG parenting fail. I felt terrible, I didn’t mean to make her feel that way I was just so overwhelmed that it happened. So now, when this happens (my plan for the future) we do something fun, go for a walk, paint pictures, play games, just go outside and play.

What do you do to help with hard days?

Dawn

Homeschool: Cost and Planning

No idea how to start planning your homeschool year? Here are some tips to help. – As an added bonus I walk you through what I do to plan our homeschool year.

I was initially looking to make homeschool cost and planning two separate posts – but the truth is they go hand in hand.

It really comes down to what you want and really what you can do.

Homeschool laws vary from state to state. Here in Montana, I fill out a form for the state every summer. Keep track of the days that my daughter is ‘in school’ and I also keep my yearly to-do list. During the year everything is nicely placed in boxes, and at the end of the year it is marked and kept for a record of her schooling. We have very little interference from the state, which is especially helpful since we lean toward unschooling. Other states aren’t so easy, I have even read of homeschool parents that have written about the headaches that they have to face daily because their state demands so much.

A good first place to start is homeschool.com.

They have a great “Getting Started” section that has information regarding State Laws and methods (just in case you aren’t sure what you would like to do!). Another great place to start is your states homeschool website. You should be able to find this by searching your states name and ‘homeschool’.

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So, you decided you wanted to homeschool, found out what state laws are and now the time has come to move forward and get curriculum!

Now what?

It’s scary – really scary and can be overwhelming the first time you start looking at all the options to homeschool. And at first glance a lot of people just buy a packaged set and go from there, thinking that’s all they have to do.

This is where I will note that they usually don’t do it very successfully (I know because I was one of the poor kids that had to live thru it!).

Just take a breath and relax.

Here are some of the very first things you will want to do before you jump into the crazy homeschool curriculum world. Remember this is the foundation for your homeschool, spending extra time on these steps will make everything else a lot easier.

  • Figure out your method and what you want your child/children to learn.
  • Think about how your child learns (I did a little research into this – you can read about it at How we Learn)
  • Then how do you want them to be taught the information?
  • Start asking questions – know anybody who homeschools? If so ask them, glean as much info as you can from them. If you don’t know anyone, try local groups (you can usually find a contact online) or online forums.
  • Remember: not all homeschoolers are the same, I think we have all met someone who has – ok lets say it – a lot of weird stuff they believe and do – just relax. Don’t be scared away just because you encounter some that are “different”! You are in control of what you do and teach. You can be as weird or as normal as you want!

After you have figured “everything” out (I say that light-heartedly, you will always learn new stuff!), now it’s time to figure out what curriculum to use. Here is where cost comes in. You can spend as much or as little as you like. You can buy materials, find free materials (online or in person). Borrow books from the library or other homeschoolers. Make up your own. If you are lucky someone may give you some. Really it is all up to you. you don’t have to spend a fortune. For the first couple years (K, 1st) I think I may have spent $50. Even this current year I think I spent around $100. But a good part of that is a health curriculum that I purchased, and we will be using it for multiple years.

Another cost idea to think about – how many kids are you homeschooling? We only have 1, that weighs on my mind when I buy materials. If it is an amazing resource that will be well used, I try to find the best price. If it’s just something that would be nice to have (especially a book) I see if I can borrow it from the library or find a cheaper alternative that will work just as well. Here’s a thought: If you have 4 kids and end up buying a book for $100, but you know all will use it, it really comes down to $25/kid.

There are a lot of things to take into consideration – Good Luck!

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You will be learning as much as the kids, maybe more! Being a homeschool family is a lot of work!

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Whew – that is a whole lot of stuff to go through! Well, as promised, I am going to walk you through my process for planning our homeschool year. Just remember – this is what works for me. You may have a different way of doing things – neither way is wrong – they are just different!

We tend to unschool, but in the elementary years we want our daughter to have a proper schooling. Book learning, I mean. With unschooling children learn about the world around them by being in it, not just reading about it – and that’s what we like. But we also want her to have a firm foundation on the basics. I want her to be able to be anything wants to be in the future. Whether it is becoming an astronomer or opening a cleaning business.

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First thing you need to know is that it is a lot of work! Don’t let that scare you – once you get into a routine it goes rather quickly – like a lot of things – it’s all in getting started. In all, it takes me about a month to make a schedule for the year – wait! don’t freak out! I don’t do it all day, every day – I have a life and can’t stop everything just for that one thing! I just make sure I have plenty of time before we start the new year then I can do it when I want to.

  • I check to see what the state requirements are – yearly. Even when homeschooling the year before, guidelines can change from year to year.
  • For our state they want homeschoolers to have “instruction in the subjects required of public schools as a basic instructional program” from OPI Home School Information (mt.gov) – so to do that I get on the superintendents’ website for the state and look at the ‘content standards’ for her grade
  • I do an internet search for ‘what does a ___grader need to know’
  • Check thru the resource books that I have that show what she needs to know for her grade
  • I usually have a running list of things I and my daughter want to do in the new year. This list also includes stuff that maybe we touched on, but she didn’t get a firm understanding of. I try to incorporate them, and this year she wanted to learn French, I wanted her to work on computer skills and research. Both are on the schedule for the year.
  • Compare lists for what she needs to learn, add in what we want to learn. Make a list of what she will need.
  • Gather materials
  • I use a printable to-do list for each week. I print them from Free Printable 2022 Calendar (free-printable-calendar.net)
  • Go thru each subject and figure out what is to be done daily

If you buy a ready-made curriculum, you still want to go over it -it is always a good thing to find out what your child will be learning! Plus, there may or may not be an agenda but making sure that you are familiar with the information will help you in the long run. Make a schedule if there isn’t one, look over the information and what to be done each day. It will also give you confidence knowing what’s coming. It will also help your children to see that you are comfortable with it. It will also help when that ever-loving question comes out of someone’s mouth – “What are your kids learning?” You can tell them with confidence!

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I hope this information helps you on your journey! I try to remember that my job as, not just a parent, but as her teacher is to help lead her to become a productive member of society. And as Francis Bacon once said “Knowledge is power”.

Have a great day!

Dawn

Homeschool: Resources

Here is a list of resources that I use for homeschooling. This is by far not the most comprehensive list – just what I have used repeatedly. Since everyone is different you will want to make your own list when you are in your planning stages -your own list, is by itself, a great resource.

Also, please note on some of the online resources- I am homeschooling an elementary age child. If you are homeschooling someone a bit older you will need to look at resources that are geared for them.

In person resources:

  • bookstores (books, magazines, workbooks, etc)
  • school supply stores
  • office supply stores
  • libraries

Online resources:

  • www.homeschool.com – this is a great place to get started. They have everything from reviewing state laws and different methods to support, freebies, you name it.
  • hslda.org – another great place to get started – the website and content lean toward the legal side of homeschooling. Make sure your homeschool is on the up and up – you don’t want to get in trouble with the law!
  • responsiblehomeschoolers.org – another great resource for research and advocacy
  • www.k5learning.com – free worksheets for grades K-5, you can also buy materials.
  • www.teachercreated.com – free stuff section, you can also buy decorations, classroom organization, etc.
  • www.education.com – printable worksheets for low monthly/annual fee Preschool-8
  • www.lakeshorelearning.com – I love looking thru the catalogs and the website of Lakeshore -lots of great products for elementary. Just glad we don’t have a store near us – I would probably be broke…
  • www.christianbook.com – if I really need to buy anything I go to Christian Book. If I keep an eye out and check it often, I can usually get the resource at a discount.
  • Personal websites/blogs – there is a great number of personal websites and blogs out in internet land that have resources that you can use for free or pay a small amount for. Here on MTdawn, you can check out what I have put on the site for homeschooling at mtdawn.com/category/homeschool/.
  • www.pinterest.com – great place to find homeschool inspiration – also a great place to find personal websites.

Other resources:

Other great resources can be anything and everything. You can use clubs, organizations, classes, museums, trips, businesses…really the sky is the limit for what you can use. Also, don’t underestimate people close to you and your homeschooler. Friends, family – grandparents are a great resource to tell about a different time. Even church can yield lots of resources. We have a lady where we go to church that is 100+ years old. Just being able to hear what she went through in the Great Depression and World War 2 would be a great resource. We also have a family from another country – just image what could be gleaned from talking with them.

What do you use – or could you use – as a homeschool resource?

Dawn

Homeschool: Pros/Cons

Wondering if homeschool is for you? Here is a list of pros and cons of homeschooling with my own personal experience – I hope it helps!

Here are some pros and cons of homeschooling. It isn’t a complete list but gives you a good idea of the life.

Pros:

  • Slower pace – have the ability to really understand the material/enjoy life more
  • Flexible schedule – I worked full time for the first 3 years
  • Child can truly be themselves – no peer pressure
  • Parents/caregivers are main influence on the childs life
  • Kids get to enjoy childhood more
  • Parents get to have a say over what is being taught
  • More time to enjoy your children (but I like my kid – if you don’t, that can make a whole new set of problems…)
  • Believe it or not – but there can be a better variety of socializing – we take our daughter everywhere, and she is encouraged to interact with people of all ages

Cons:

  • Slower pace – vs – the fast-paced world
  • If not organized, it can be overwhelming
  • A lot of peer pressure on parents from nay-sayers (family, friends, neighbors, people at the store – you will come across them anywhere and everywhere)
  • depending on state, you can have a lot of paperwork/hoops to jump thru
  • If there is an obedience problem between parents/kids – it may get worse
  • You are always with your kids – I love my daughter but sometimes I need to be away from her, and she needs to be away from me
  • Cost – depending on the curriculum that you use, it can be costly.

My experience homeschooling:

Homeschooling my daughter has been a fun adventure, but by no means a walk in the park. There have been days that I have been ready to throw in the towel. Pack everything up and drop it at the curb while I drag her down to our local school. But it is in those times that I have come to realize that we are learning the most. She is learning what the curriculum is, and I am learning who I am, how I handle stressful situations, and how my daughter learns.

During those stressful times I have also come to see that I can teach her by example of how I react. Those are the times I try to make sure I keep myself levelheaded so she can see how to react – to keep her cool and keep going. She’ll be able to use that lesson her whole life.

Homeschooling her has also made me realize how much I know and how much I have forgotten. The good thing is that I don’t have to know everything, I can learn it with her. I will admit though, there are subjects that I enjoy now a whole lot more then when I was learning them as a kid.

Also, I have had days when I am tired. Tired of looking at the same books day after day, tired of the routine, tired of the same questions. Those are the days that I found that an unscheduled field trip does wonders for my mental health. Also, self-doubt is a real thing. Even those that are the most confident will have times when they start to doubt themselves and their ability to teach their children. What makes it worse is when those ‘outside’ question you. It can wear you down. Having a solid support for myself (aka my hubby) has been a life saver.

It comes down to this – homeschooling is a lot of work, but if you remember the reasons why you started it is so worth it in the end.

I hope this is helpful – have a great day!

Dawn

Morning Chat 6/27/22

Good morning and Welcome to Morning Chat for June 27, 2022!

an early morning planet viewing

I hope everyone had a good weekend. We once again had a busy one, that’s just part of life on our little farm – always something to do – even on a mini farm!

I want to tell you about what we did last Friday.

Last week we watched online (at http://www.timeanddate.com) as the planets aligned in the night sky. And my daughter, the amateur astrologer and local planet nut who is obsessed with space asked if we could take our telescope out to see them. This meant more than just stepping out back door, we have large trees to the east of us that would have impeded our view. So, I, as any good homeschool mom got myself up – well before I think even God was up – and we drove over to our local wildlife refuge, Lee Metcalf (or just Metcalf to locals).

I knew what to expect from the many early morning photo shoots that I had done in the past, but it was a whole new experience for her. She was super excited, even at 3:45 am, but once we parked and got out, she quicky became nervous. I could tell, a mother always knows. The cool brisk morning, yipping foxes and rustling grasses from unseen critters had her a bit on edge, that is until I lined up the telescope and had her peer thru. What she saw was a small blurry Jupiter. It was small but just enough for us to count 3 moons around it.

The next planet to view was Saturn. Given the fact that it is over 800 million miles away from us our little telescope didn’t do too bad. With our eye piece we were able to see the ellipse of the planet and it’s rings. Which of course was all that my daughter needed to get over the early morning jitters for good. I will admit that it was awe inspiring for me. The thought that these giant planets are out in space, millions of miles away and yet they are right there – thru the lens to look at. It made me feel small, and a bit like I was in on a secret.

I hope you get to try it someday. Have a great day!

Dawn

Taking a Break

Sometimes you just need to take a break…

This post has been written for homeschoolers – but a break can be an important part of everyone’s lives!

We are officially on summer break after my daughter’s 2nd year. I schedule breaks through-out the school year, but it always seems to amaze me how long it takes us to get to one.

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Since we homeschool year-round, breaks are an important part of our lives. It allows us to take a breath, and revel in where we have been and anticipate what is to come.

It also allows us to remember why we do what we do. The constant strain can make everyone tired – not just the students. I speak from firsthand experience. Being a homeschool mom takes work, and there has been more than one time that I was the one that wanted to skip a day more than my daughter.

So, why not just take an extra day or two off and get back to it? Simple…we need to rest! And just get away from it all, even if it is just stuffing everything into a drawer for a week or two and “forgetting” about it. For the student it’s getting away from the work. Learning can be exhausting especially if it doesn’t come easy. And for the teacher, i.e. me, it’s the idea that for a period of time, I don’t have to explain something again, and again, aaand again. sigh…

Here is a quick list of things we like to do on our breaks:

  • Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Nothing is scheduled and anything goes, she wants to play with her mud kitchen or hang out in the pool all day – have at it! I may join her in the pool!
  • Hanging out at the river/lake
  • Hiking – we have great trails near us!
  • Painting – we are currently looking to paint our house (which will be fun for her for about – 15 minutes) but I am talking about pictures, wood pieces, etc. When she was little, she liked to “water paint” the house. I would give her a bucket of “paint” (water) and an old paint brush, and she would “paint” all day.
  • Finding shapes in the clouds – when was the last time you did that?
  • Star gazing
  • Board games
  • Family Lego time – we have built some big houses!
  • I do try to limit tv time, but when the weather is nasty out, we hang out watching movies and sipping cocoa
  • Drawing with chalk (on sidewalks/patios – I also made my daughter a chalkboard out of an old door – which I will be making into a post soon)
  • Imaginary play – I get out all our garden sheets and a bunch of clothesline clips and she drapes them over her swing set and chairs to make tents, pirate ships, circuses – you name it!
  • We currently have a very large pot full of leftover wood pieces from projects – it is amazing the things she can think up with those. Since they are left over pieces I don’t care if they get ruined, so it’s nothing new to find them floating in the pool or being used to make a Fairy house in the sandbox.

What is something fun that you do when you get a break?

Dawn

Virtual Travel Adventures: Personal or Homeschool

This is a great – cheap – way to “see” the world. It also makes a great Social Studies project!

I don’t remember much about my school years, but when I was in 7th grade, my social studies teacher “took” us to Mexico. During our class time for a period of time – I think maybe 4 weeks – we watched travel videos, looked at maps, pictures, learned about the culture, tried authentic foods, and was able to touch and feel goods that he had picked up from his travels there. We in turn used special color-coded journals to write down what we “did” and what we thought. Every Friday we handed the journals in, and he would read over them, grade them, and then return them the next Monday so we could add to it the next week.

I don’t remember his name, but I remember that he seemed to want to open the world up to us. And for that I am grateful. We moved soon after that project was completed so I don’t know if he took his students on other adventures around the globe, I would hope so. I truly enjoyed it.

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Back then – the ’90’s was a lot different than it is now. We had movies, maps, books and pictures to gain information. Now you can turn on your computer, and in a matter of seconds, you can be anywhere in the world. Moving down the streets in some rural village in the middle of a distant country just like you were there.

I will admit that nothing can beat being somewhere to enjoy the experience of travel and the diversities of culture, but this is close. And with everything going on in the world, not to mention the gas prices that are on a steady uphill climb – it can be a close second. And now, another “benefit” (for lack of a better word), is that since the pandemic, a good portion of museums, aquariums, even the Vatican has virtual visits. And if you want more of a guided tour you can sign up for virtual trips. Just put in “virtual traveling” into any search engine and rummage thru the results. Some do have a fee, but most are free.

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So why write about this? For one, I am starting to make up my daughters’ schedule for the next school year. And it is something that I would like to do with her, maybe not as involved as it was when I was a kid, but maybe somewhere new every week to get a feel of what’s beyond our little world.

And two, to mention it to those who are a little wanderlust, who are unable to travel at the moment for whatever reason. When I was working full time, sometimes the stress was overwhelming, not to mention sad due to my line of work. And every now and then I would take a break and head (virtually) to some remote island in the pacific – or stroll around the streets of a small town in Tuscany. Allowing myself to “get away” even for 10 minutes helped the rest of the day.

So, with that – I bid you safe travels – from carpal tunnel and eye strain. And send a Thank you, to my teacher, whoever you are/were. You touched a kids life – Thanks.

Dawn

Morning Chat 5/23/22

Good morning! Welcome to Morning Chat for May 23, 2022!

garden set-up, straw bale gardening, and compound bows!

Spring Kale

We have a lovely day ahead of us – which is good because I have a garden to prep for planting later this week. This spring I have a lot less to do in the garden then I did last year. Last year we ended up moving the main garden, and that was a job in a half. I pulled up sod and transplanted it, leveled off the old garden area, put down cardboard to kill the grass in other places and used the straw-bale gardening method to help establish the soil. If you are wondering about it – it works! There’s a little work at the start, but the plants do great, and, in the end, you get beautiful compost. Which is why we did it, to help the soil.

If you are wondering about the ‘main’ idea – it is because we have 2 separate areas for our garden. We have the main garden which takes up a good portion of our backyard, which houses the duck house and later this summer the duck run, and the south garden. Which – you guessed it – is on the south side of our house. It is comprised of 5 large, raised beds – and one little one, along with a sitting area for us, our bow range (us girls just took up shooting compound bows – it’s great for homeschool!) and houses my daughters Kids Pallet Playhouse and the Kids Pallet Mud Kitchen that I made her (it’s a very busy yard!). Of the 5 beds in the south garden 3 are for regular garden use, and 2 have fruit plants in them, blueberries and raspberries to be exact. Last year They didn’t do too well, so I am hoping that the change of scenery along with a well amended garden bed helps.

If you are a regular to my little blog, you may remember that I talked about Spring Garden Clean-up back in April, but today my job is setting up the bones of the garden. Which entails a lot of t-posts, wire and a few pallets, I am also putting up a teepee for the green beans, which I have had for the last few years and just love the look of it when it is all decked out in green vine-y splendor!

Well, I hear the ducks telling me it’s time to get up! I hope you have a great day!

Dawn

Morning Chat 5/2/22

Good morning and Welcome to Morning Chat for May 2, 2022!

duck house, homeschooling and power tools!

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Our weekend was a mixed bag. Lately, I have been working on a new duck house – one that will be large enough for all our ducks – because during the winter they will all be housed together. So that has kept me busy, or at least would if the weather would cooperate. Spring in Montana can be interesting to say the least but this year it takes the cake. Last night was the first night in weeks that I have actually been able to see stars sparkling in the night sky. Luckily a break in the weather has been forecast and I am hoping to get the main part of it done this week.

Our other business is figuring out a new edging/fencing around our flower beds. I am on a budget (no surprise there!) and I would like something that uses what we already have. I like concrete retaining wall blocks and we have them used in different places around our yard, but the cost would be a little much. I also need something a little taller to protect our plants – like the tulips above – from little speckled beaks! So, I guess a little imagination and creativity will need to rule the day!

Other than that, our normal day to day routine keeps pretty much the same. Our homeschooling is starting to wind down. In the Spring I like to slow our pace after a heavy Winter book load, and I tend to change gears a bit to incorporate more outdoor tasks. Where we still work on book learning I will also involve her in more hands-on learning. The duck house is a great example. She has been involved in all aspects, I worked on the plan with her next to me and we discussed what we need (and why) and she would offer suggestions and we would discuss why something would or wouldn’t work. We have explained what the final outcome will look like, and she helps with cutting boards and assembly. And that’s just one ‘to-do’ on our list. We also have garden prep, plants that have been started, painting to be done. I am also looking at making planters and hopefully a nice place to crash and enjoy the fruits of our labor in the back yard. All of this I place within the realm of ‘homeschool’. It is a learning opportunity at every step – I mean really – how many kids know what a 15 degree cut looks like on a 2×4, let alone why the drop is needed on the roof and how to incorporate it into a structure? Maybe not many. I am just happy that she likes power tools as much as I do!

Well, looks like the sun has finally rose enough to start warming our yard, that means work time. I hope you have a great day!

Dawn

Kids Quiet Time

Ever get to the end of the day, you are dragging, the kids are over-tired and grumpy and no matter what you try it doesn’t seem to help and it happens day after day? Exhausting? – yes, but quiet time may help.

When I returned to working remotely after having my daughter, I thought “great!” – this little person isn’t very hard (she really was a very easy baby) she sleeps most the day, I can keep working – not a whole lot is going to change…

I know…your laughing now!

To my defense, I had never been around babies before. Every now and then I had one thrust into my arms, and I comically tried to figure how to correctly hold it without dropping them, it really wasn’t pretty. At least I knew which end was up!

The good thing is, because of my naivety I knew I was starting at the beginning. So, I learned and learned and am still learning. Just when I think I got it kinda figured out – the rules change. One thing I learned very early on was that my little one (and mom, and even the dog) got very tired and a bit grumpy by the end of the day. I was trying to take care of her, find time to work and take care of our house. And being an introvert, I need time every day – even if it’s not a lot – to unwind and just be. It really is amazing what a 10-minute break with a cup of coffee on the back step can do for you.

So, in my exhaustion and need, I figured that every day – at the same time – my daughter could “do quiet time”. Which in turn put the whole house into quiet time. Which actually turned into the nicest time of the day somedays! And since it became a blessing and life saver at our home I thought I would write about it. Maybe it will help you!

Rules are simple:

How long: It can be any amount of time you want. Our is 3 hours at the most. Somedays it’s less. It really depends on the day. But when my daughter was little it was crucial that it was for that amount every day just to get into the routine. I know, 3 hours is a long time. We started with 30 minutes and after a couple weeks moved to 1 hour, and after a couple weeks 1 1/2 hours, etc. until we reached the 3 hour mark. The reason for 3 hours and the next step – time of day – was done for a reason. I had to finish work. Thankfully I had a flexible schedule. I would work the bulk of my time in the morning – early morning…and finish when she went in for quiet time.

What time of day: Ours is always about 1 hour after lunch. We would enjoy lunch and then go outside to play and get some fresh air and then usually around 1:30-2 in the afternoon We would get her in and I would go back to work. I found that this time was the best, it allowed her (and me) a little break every afternoon to just rest. I would get work finished up or finish up house chores and by the time she was coming out I would be a lot less stressed because everything was done. It’s also a great time to sneak a piece of chocolate – shhhh!

What to do: I did limit activities. No TV/computer or loud overstimulating toys. It’s called quiet time for a reason – Quiet activities! Read books, play with dolls, cars, blocks, color, draw – anything quiet. It really is amazing how better you feel after just a little bit of time of no or very little noise. I would also have calming music playing very low every now and then. Now my daughter has a radio in her room and she listens to it – on low – while she’s in there. And now that she’s getting bigger every now and then she will ask if she can “do quiet time” in our living room where her Legos are stored, or outside on nice days in a homemade tent or in her playhouse.

Remember to check on them: We started quiet time when she was about a year and a half. One day when she was about 2, I heard her giggling and just having a good ole time. When I went in to check on her, I was hit with an overwhelming smell of baby oil. Somehow, she had gotten the lid off a baby oil jar and had poured it all over herself and her bed. And I caught her with a bottle of baby powder in hand – headed back to the bed. Ugh – I don’t even want to imagine what would have happened! I cleaned her up (she had wonderfully silky skin for a few days) and cleaned up as much as I could of the oil that had soaked into the mattress (her bedroom smelled of oil for a week), removed any and every other bottle I could find, popped a load of oily sheets and blankets in the washer and got her back in to finish. As soon as I left the room and was out of ear shot – I busted out laughing – it really was very funny! But the biggest lesson for me is that even now that she is bigger, I still check on her.

And that’s all there is to it. Pretty simple and straight forward, I notice immediately that the afternoon grumpiness went away, and we all had much better nights. Also, above I did note what works for us, so if you try, adjust it to your own needs. I hope it helps you!

-D

Help with 2/3 digit Subtraction and learning Place Values

This is one of the many great way for little minds to wrap their heads around subtraction and place values, especially if borrowing is involved.

Subtraction can be difficult for little minds to understand. I can personally attest to that since I have sat many a homeschooling day with a frustrated child just wanting to get past this subject. But one of the greatest reasons to homeschool can be that the parent has control of how curriculum is to be taught. Even being able to change the way a subject is taught just a little, can make all the difference in the world.

I will not take the credit for this idea, I stumbled across it one afternoon while looking for anyway at all to help my daughter. Out of all that I found, I let her look at each idea and she chose which she thought would help.

I really hope if your little one is having troubles this helps them – and you!

Legos can be a wonderful tool for teaching and showing perspectives, but here we use them to show the movement of borrowing in subtraction. Also, the different sizes of the Legos will also help show the differences of place values.

The first thing to do is to get your Legos gathered. For 2 digit subtraction we used square 2×2 pieces. We have 9 singles (for the ones) and 9 sets of 10 (for the tens). For 3 digit subtraction we use the Legos for the 2 digit along with rectangular 2x4s, 9 sets of 10 (for the hundreds). We have all mixed colors with the blocks that we chose, but if you want to, you can separate them further by color to help with understanding place values.

Other supplies that we used are plain white paper, a top loading sheet protector a wipe-away marker, and eraser.

The first step is to write on the paper a blank subtraction problem. I also separated the ones, tens, and hundreds places with a line to help my daughter keep the numbers lined up. Then slip it into the top loading page – and done!

I love quick and easy, there is so little of it in life!

When working problems just write the numbers on the top loading page and count out the Legos that are needed. Then work the problem. It may take a few times for you child to understand it, but hopefully it won’t take long and they will start to understand quickly. Then once the problem is done, just use the eraser and clean off the top loading page and get ready for the next problem.

I hope this helps!

-D

How we Learn

Knowing the different ways that we learn is great information for anyone to know. But I think it is crucial component that many homeschool parents overlook.

When I started homeschooling my daughter, I quickly realized that she learns a different way than I do. And even though we learn in similar ways, there are a few subjects that I have had to adjust the way I teach so that she can understand the information.

As I worked through the task of tweaking the way I teach, I figured that understanding the different ways we learn would do nothing but benefit me in the end. It would make my job easier and our homeschool in general more enjoyable.

Through some research I learned that there are 5 main learning types.

Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic, and Logical

Visual – the student learns by seeing

Auditory – the student learns by hearing, this can include music

Reading/Writing – the student learns by reading/writing the information

Kinesthetic – the student learns by doing

Logical – student learns from following a process or rules

There are also 2 other types that I came across. But when thinking about it, I don’t really believe they are a way we learn, but more perhaps a personal inclination that can assist with the way we learn. Those are:

Social/group – student prefers to be in a group

Solitary/alone – student prefers to work alone

You can usually figure out fairly quickly how someone learns. The easiest way I have been able to figure it out is by observing the student. If they seem to relax and is more open to the information – even if it is a new subject – you have more than likely found out how they learn.

I hope this helps you with your teaching adventures!

Dawn

Easy way to draw a heart

This is a simple technique that can help little ones draw hearts!

A very important skill for little ones to know, especially since Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

When my daughter was little she was like most little kids – she had trouble drawing hearts. And after a while of watching her frustration I decided to try to think of a different way for her to draw them. It had to be something simple, that she could use skills that she already had. Since she was already writing her letters and numbers that was my first place to look.

It didn’t take me very long to think of an idea of using V’s and 3’s.

To start write a V. Then at the top of that write a sideways 3.

A tip: I found it helpful for her to turn the paper for the 3.

I hope you find this helpful, have a great day!

-D

Homeschool: building confidence over schedule

You can usually tell when your child is struggling – being a homeschool parent it gives you that opportunity to see your child when they feel vulnerable. The good thing is that it also gives you a great opportunity to help.

My little girl is sensitive, and an only child, her temperament is that of a pleaser. She just wants to please us. When she – I will emphasize when SHE thinks that she is not doing what she thinks she should be – she will shut down and tears inevitably come.

I have noticed that it is usually when something new is started that she doesn’t understand right away.

Thing about it is she’s a smart kid, a very smart kid. And that is probably why, a lot of things come easy to her. She has done things that completely stump me that I didn’t even know she knew what they were let alone how to do it. Examples: when she was a year and a half, she put together a pulley system with a jump rope and the door handles in our hallway. Because she didn’t want to pick up toys to get them onto her truck or figuring out that if she put a wedge under a board, she could use it to pry stuff up. She’s also the kid that rattled off planets in order to her grandmother (including dwarf planets) while not skipping a beat playing barbies and makes up math problems and works them during church. I know what you are thinking, and no, she did not see us do any of those and yes, I have had flashes of ‘oh boy – I’m going to be busy with homeschooling!’

Anyway, back to it…

I did finally get her to admit after a very long and very trying day that she thinks if she doesn’t do well – even fails, that my husband and I won’t love her. Which couldn’t be any further from the truth, but that is what she believes, and we just need to reaffirm that we will always love her no matter what. I honestly do not know where it comes from. My guess is preschool or an encounter with a family member that put this idea in her head.

We tell her that failure is ok, and even needed. We even give times that we have failed – some very badly (hey, if your gonna go down, make it spectacular – right?!?)

I have realized one thing, as a homeschool parent my empathy for her could make life worse. I can’t lighten her load and make everything easy. That would not be any help to her at all in the future – life’s not easy. My goal is to help her over the bumps that make her confidence plummet and teach her how to boost her confidence by herself without any help from me – at least not all the time (we all need a cheerleader every now and then).

Here are a few different things we do to help instill confidence in her:

  • explain it’s OK, getting stuff wrong and failing is good (it’s when we learn the most)
  • take a break – sometimes you need to get away from it
  • stop or back up and reexamine
  • encourage, encourage, encourage
  • look back at all the things that have been accomplished
  • reexamine the information and see if there is a different way to teach it – find a few different ways and show them to your child, let them pick which to use
  • learn the information in little pieces and take time with each. Make sure they know each piece before they move on.

There is also one more, that I absolutely love, and that’s ‘let them teach you’. I just love the way kids explain stuff, and it really is very helpful. You get to see how their brain works when they are explaining. So, if anything, pull up a rug and be the student while they explain how to do stuff.

Have a great day!

-D

How to get back into a routine after a break

Originally based for homeschool – but great ideas for work also!

With the holidays ending, and a New Year starting, the idea of getting back on schedule looms in the hearts and minds of many. It’s hard to get back into a routine after the holidays, especially if you took a lot of time off. Here are a few ideas to help get life ‘back to normal’!

Honestly, to tell you the truth, we don’t take long breaks with our homeschool. I try to keep my daughter going all year round. But, also with doing that we have less to do per day, because we don’t take a lot of time off.

Even around the holidays she does school, but I try to make the work more holiday based. Like this last year, we took the 2 weeks before Christmas and learned about how other cultures/countries ‘do’ Christmas. I got a book from the library, we would find the country on the map, usually check out more information online. And sometimes even do a project pertaining to the culture. She’s still learning and it keeps us in our routine.

We have however, had long breaks that we just can’t work through. A couple years ago, we did a kitchen and living room remodel and even enclosed a deck. We did it all ourselves, and with limited time off – regular sit down school – was not an option. She did learn ‘on the job’ training – and found out that she likes power tools as much as mom does. But – and it’s a big one – when we went back we had a horrible time. That’s when I figured out the list below. It’s not easy, but taking it slowly over the first couple weeks helps.

  • Mentally prepare yourself and think positive – but just in case, make sure you have extra coffee and chocolate on hand
  • Start back into the routine earlier then needed – get back into going through the motions a few days before actually starting. Getting up at a certain time, breakfast, etc.
  • Don’t expect it will be just like when you left off – your kids aren’t going to want to do it, maybe you won’t either
  • Take it slow – reevaluate where you left off
  • Cut back on the amount of work
  • Try field trips/activities for the first few days/week
  • Have a special “thing” to do for going back – special breakfast, game, activity, field trip, new supplies, or even some fun new curriculum that your kids are excited about – just something special and out of the ordinary.
  • Make the first couple days all about cleaning up and reorganize your school supplies/school area – and get the kids involved!

What are somethings that you do to get yourself back on schedule?

-D