Homeschool interesting for mom too?

Moms, you are a very important part of your homeschooling vision and you should love your homeschooling days just as much as your children.  We are all equal parts of the learning, and often plan our children’s education without considering your own part in the process. You have so much to contribute to an interest-led approach.

Shawna Wingert of Not the Former Things writes a refreshingly different perspective on her homeschool planning in her post How my homeschool planning has changed this year and she writes how she includes herself in the plan.

Think about your curriculum, the schedule, the priorities, and the interests.  Instead of only considering what your child needs, why don’t you consider the following?  She asks, ~

  • What curriculums look interesting to me?
  • What would I like to learn this year?
  • What would bring me joy in our regular schedule and routines?
  • I know my son/ daughters’ special interests. What are mine? How can I incorporate them into our learning?

“What better way for my children to engage in our days’ homeschooling, than seeing their mom just as engaged, excited and involved in the learning?”

Most moms avoid a teaching style that drains them and often opt for safe, secure, predictable curriculums.  Many struggle against their natural energy rhythms, battling with boring approaches, tedious schedules or stressful expectations.  I hear from many moms who feel drained, guilty and stressed about their homeschooling.

Several years ago my youngest daughter and I experimented with silk painting! Here we are painting my scarf together

Take the time to consider your interests, the focus and style of lessons that you enjoy, and the grouping or individual time with your children. When are your energy levels low?  When do you need a little moment of peace and quiet?  Plan in a session of quiet reading or play so that you can regroup after more energized.

I very soon learnt that I loved literature-based education, loved reading aloud, enjoyed working with all my children together, loved hands-on activities, art and crafts … and guess what?  …that is exactly the kind of homeschooling we had.  I was energized after these activities.  My own creativity and joy bubbled over into my planning and lessons, and homeschool was a joy for many years.  Only when my daughters became teens did this change in favour of the curriculums, lessons presentation style and schedules they chose and needed to complete their final 3 years.  Still, all the 8 or 9 years before were a joy and a blessing!

Many years ago when we were all together in our schoolroom ~ one sewing, the others doing art and crafts. Some of our happiest homeschool days!

So, go ahead and plan in the subjects such as nature study, classical music, YouTube videos, outings, the extra subjects you want to include … just for you!  Plan your homeschool to intentionally include yourself as an active participant, and enjoy your homeschooling right alongside your children!

Blessings as you grow and learn on your homeschool journey!

Blessings, Nadene

3 things NOT to do when planning

“Help me!  I always over-plan, over-buy and become overwhelmed when planning my new year!  What should I do?”Reader's Question logo

In answering this  reader’s question, I remembered my early years and the terrible stress, anxiety and fear that consumed me when planning a new year.  After years of homeschooling and finding what works for us , here is my simple encouragement ~

Don’t over do it.

  • You don’t need to cover every . single . subject . for . each . child.  
  • Combine your kids for all the Bible, Core studies, Read Alouds and Fine Arts wherever possible.
  • Start with a good Maths, Spelling & Dictation, and a Reading/ Phonics program for each child.  Then add a family centered Core.
  • Gently add all the extra subjects such as Fine Arts and Nature Walks once your kids manage the basics.

Don’t spend money on curriculum or supplies you are not sure you will use.

  • Don’t buy under pressure that you “should” or “must” do programs, or  purchase programs all the other moms are using.
  • Put those orders on a wish list and let them wait there a while until you have peace and rest in your heart.
  • Find FREE downloads instead.  You can download stacks of my Free Pages to cover Handwriting, Copywork, Nature Study, Biographies and a full Famous Artist & Musician studies.
  • There are so many free Lapbooks and Unit Studies out there, but, again, don’t download and print out too much!  See #1.

Don’t make a rigid schedule.

  • When I tried to follow an over-full schedule, I felt overwhelmed, especially when we “fell behind”.  
  • Create a wide margin of time to explore, discover, follow other tangents and pause and reflect on the subject matter.
  • Give your children options.  They don’t have to everything!
  • View the schedule as your guide and not your strict task master.
  • Follow the 4-Day Week schedule and give yourselves one “free” day for fun and Fine Arts.
  • STRETCH out  the curriculum over 18 months instead of 12 months.  It really doesn’t matter what “grade” your child is following each year so long as they are working on their level and working consistently.

I hope that this encouragement helps settle those nerves and make your planning seem simpler and easier.

Blessings as you plan, Nadene

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Best Homeschooling Decision #3 Free Day

Right from the start of our homeschooling journey we kept to a 4-day week.  Sonlight presented this as a planning option and it was the one thing that saved me from complete burn out in my first year of homeschooling.

I’m glad I realized that we could homeschool “only” four days instead of every day.

We often used our “free day ” for doing our weekly shopping,   There was nothing really educational about many of our free days, but it was the day available for outings, going to the library, meeting with friends, or playing in the park.   I scheduled at least one free day per month for some educational activity.

Let me be completely honest here … we took a day off for shopping every week because we lived so far from town, but, now and then we took another day off for homeschool outings and meetings.  That meant that sometimes we took 2 days off our week!  And do you know … we still didn’t fall terribly behind!  Somehow we  fitted in the week’s work in 3 days.

Our “free day” P1170201also became known as fabulous Fine Arts Fridays which was a delicious day of art, appreciation, art activities, listening to classical music, reading or listening to poetry,  and most importantly, relaxing together in the world of fine arts.

Free days were excellent for catching up on work we skipped or books we needed to catch up.  We also watched  related YouTube videos or historical movies on free days.

A free day is vital to ~

  • soothe stressed moms
  • unwind tense kids
  • fill your lives with a rich culture
  • give you time to catch up when life interrupts the schedule
  • offer a variety
  • present new opportunities and experiences
  • fit in all the extras that make homeschooling wonderful!

Plan free days in your schedule and enjoy your homeschooling!

Blessings, Nadene

Rich Wide Education

Charlotte Mason advocated giving children a rich, wide curriculum.

Sewing and handicrafts in the afternoons

This generous curriculum can only realistically be covered by keeping lessons short.   I call it “short and sweet“, where these 10 to 20 minute lessons encourage a child to give her utmost attention, especially with subjects, such as maths, phonics, handwriting, spelling and grammar.

To keep the daily schedule enjoyable, alternate disciplinary lessons with Bible, poetry, history, fiction, art, folksong, outdoor nature study, chores and life skills like cooking.  This variety keeps a child’s minds bright and encourages enthusiastic and motivated participation.  Some children prefer to “get all the seat work done first” and then move onto the freedom of the rest of the subjects.  You may need to try each approach to find what works for your family.

It isn’t the number of subjects, but their duration that tires the mind.  What child wants to sit still and concentrate for long lessons?   Quick math drills every morning, practice spelling while jumping on a mini trampoline, or quick laminated chart handwriting practice, or play a quick round of the amazing arrow games, provides younger children the necessary stimulus and physical exercise, and a short review of the same facts before supper results in a better memory of facts and skills.

Memorizing Scripture (which is the living Word) or poetry (which opens the eyes of imagination) verse by verse takes just a few minutes every day. Scripture and poetry also provide deep and meaningful insights and enlarges the child’s heart and mind. They lessons are not dull, dry facts or tiresome workbooks, textbooks or worksheet lessons.

Daily themes 2015It is very easy to just “do the basics” and call it a day, but I found that the only way we could regularly cover all the diverse subjects was to use our “Theme of the Day“.  Allocate all these extra subjects across the weekly schedule, enabled us to maintain a full, rich, wide curriculum.

You don’t have to fear trying to “do it all”.  Just start with the basics, keep it short and sweet and do a little every day.  Ease into the rest of the schedule by adding one extra subject and you’ll be amazed how much your children will learn in a relatively easy, quick, daily schedule.  This way you will offer your children a banquet, but don’t rush them, while also avoiding “force feeding”.  A generous education is a homeschooler’s privilege and pleasure!

Blessings, Nadene

What our typical school day looks like

At Simple Homeschool.net, we are sharing our typical homeschool day.

 

Over the past 12 homeschooling years, we ease into our schedule and gently find the rhythm of each day.

I like to think a daily routine is like creating a tapestry.

Tapestry weaving

Image via Wikipedia

This is what a typical day in our lives looks like:

I start the day an hour before the children with tea and quiet time.  I put on the coffee, put in the first load of washing and get the fresh bread out the oven.  Then I wake the girls at about 7am.

Usually, we complete morning chores, eat our breakfast at about 8am and hang up the first load of washing.

Generally, we start school at 9am.

My 16-year-old starts her Grade 10 course:

  • We work our her schedule for the week and put up a timetable.
  • She likes to stick to her schedule and works in her own space on her own the morning after chores.
  • After lunch, I tutor her on Maths and Physical Science for an hour each.
  • After her one-on-one time with me, she continues other subjects and reading until about 4pm.
  • She joins her younger sisters for a swim at the dam, folds laundry and helps prepare dinner.
  • Evenings after supper are free.  Lights are usually out by about 9:30pm.

My 11-year-old and my 8-year-old’s schedule:

  • We start with our Bible time together for about half an hour.
  • Each child works on their own spelling, Language Arts, dictations, copywork and Maths. These lessons are short – about 15 minutes each, with Maths lasting about 20 minutes.
  • I listen to my 8-year-old read aloud to me, say 15 minutes.
  • We have tea and a snack, and the girls let off some steam outside for about 10 minutes on the trampoline or riding their bikes, skipping or swinging.  They help me hang the 2nd load of washing.
  • Now its time for Core.  I read aloud and they write (or dictate and then copy) their narrations.  Often we do narrations in lapbooks or on notebooking pages.
  • Perhaps we’ll do narration as a hands-on activity.  They love to build models or make finger puppets and give a quick show.
  • We are done by lunchtime.
  • We do Sketch Tuesday or crafts or our nature walk one afternoon in the week.
  • Then it is time for free play outside till late afternoon.
  • They help fold laundry, do early evening chores, help prepare dinner, mix the next day’s bread and tidy their rooms and then bath.
  • After supper, once the girls clear the dishes and clean the kitchen, we play a family game, watch a DVD or play or read or chat quietly till bedtime at 8pm – 8:30pm.

Evening times are my low-energy times.  I need the children to be in their rooms by about 9pm.  I read to my younger kids in bed, we whisper and chat and pray together and then lights out.  My 11-year-old always reads afterwards for about half an hour.

Some nights I have a good chat with my 16-year-old.  She may tell me deep and wonderful things or we have a lovely mother-daughter time.  She also loves to read at night.

I tidy the living room and kitchen counters and sink.

Then, finally, I spend time with my farmer hubby who has worked hard outside most the day.  Shower, read … and then sleep.  Ah!

Routines form the simple pattern in a tapestry.

Shared mealtimes, hard work, simple chores and free time together create the bright and beautiful designs.

There are the days where the threads fray.

The fabric unravels.

Simple days weave the fabric.

Fun times shared embellish the design.

https://i1.wp.com/honestlywtf.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/tapestry.jpg

May your schooling days create a wonderful tapestry!

Blessings,

Starting School ~ those first days …

Many moms around the world worry about the first days of school.https://i0.wp.com/farm3.static.flickr.com/2499/3928914499_43366dcce7_z.jpg

Homeschool moms worry about starting homeschool too.

New homeschool moms worry even more.

May I offer some gentle advice?
  • Just start slowly.
  • Don’t try do the complete schedule.
  • Ease into your schooling.
  • Go gently.

(Just remember that the professional teachers spend much of their first weeks of school doing orientation; they hand out new books, explain note-taking, give an overview.  They don’t jump straight in with the full program.)

Here’s some tips (that I still use after all these years …):

Set up your school area the night before:

(I like to do this as a surprise for the kids!)

  • Put tables, stationary and books/workboxes/or files in order.
  • Write a welcome note on the whiteboard or prayerfully write to each child and place a personal note on each child’s place.
  • Arrange the CD and music player ready with your song or praise and worship for circle time.
  • Get into a simple “Early to bed & early to rise” routine.  Chat and pray with each child before bedtime.

On your first day:

  • Wake half an hour earlier than the family, make yourself a cup of tea, have your quiet time and pray.  Commit your plans to the Lord and surrender all to Him.
  • Gently wake the kids and get them into their morning routine and chores.  (I like to have a “test-run” a day before school and start the school morning routine a day earlier than the actual day.)
  • Have a simple but nutritious breakfast, or go ahead and make it something special!
  • At the agreed starting time, start school.
  • I like to start each year in a circle or on the couches.  Start with a chat about the year, the themes, some planned highlights and goals.  Let the kids talk about what they expect, what they are afraid of, what they look forward to. Ask them to use one word descriptions to express the qualities they want to see from their mom/ teacher and of themselves. (We wrote all these words on a page and stuck it on the board.)
  • Then pray about all these things.
  • Sing and learn a memory verse for the week.  Make it fun!  Chose something really simple and easy.
  • Now chose what you will do the first week.  Either just do some basics3Rs (Maths, Reading and Handwriting) or just do your Core (History, Literature study)for the first week.  Tell them that next week you’ll add the rest of the subjects, but this week they must just do their very best with the easy schedule.  (They may beg you to do it all!  If they seem relaxed and the work done was excellent, then, by all means, do your full plan.)  If things are really awful and stressed, just cuddle and read together
  • Try have a lovely tea break with some healthy snacks.
  • Include some fun & games in between lessons if they get fidgety.

Make these precious moments matter:

  • Take some “First Day” photos of each child.
  • Prepare a special breakfast.
  • Ask Dad to give a “Welcome To School” speech. (My hubby is our homeschool “Principal”!)
  • Give each child a small gift – some stationary/ stickers/ new hair accessories for their first day.

I trust this encourages you.

Blessings as you plunge in,

Hymn Study Schedule for 2011

An early printing of Luther's hymn A Mighty Fo...

Image via Wikipedia

As I shared before in

Confessions ~ I didn’t do it all,

I didn’t do it all.

The other plan that just didn’t happen in 2010

at all …

all year …

was…

Hymn Study

Charlotte Mason
Image via Wikipedia

Charlotte Mason suggests that,  just as you would do a monthly Artist and Composer study, children should study a hymn each month.

She said that children should~

“form the habit of listening to and reading the scriptures – the actual scriptures.  Children should be in the habit of praising God.  Sing hymns. ”  (Vol 2, pg. 142)

To start

I went to Simply Charlotte Mason and copied their Hymn Study Schedule.

I have some hymns on CDs here at home.  I believe in using what I have, so I highlighted all the hymns on the schedule that I have on my CDs.  I had 12!  That’s one hymn for each month!  (I prefer our recordings to the midi files and MP3 files online, but there are excellent YouTube videos of several hymns that you could download if you don’t have your own CDs.)

Next

I created a Hymn Study Schedule for 2011 (the download is at the end of this post) and linked to websites that have midi files or mp3 files, background information on the authors and composers and the songs words.

I downloaded 27 pages of  FREE –Hymn Study Notebooking Pages that Jimmie created at  Jimmie’s Collage.  Jimmie gives some great ideas for hymn study.  Besides blank copywork pages, there are pages for vocabulary you find in hymns, Bible verses you find in hymns, and the meaning and etymology of the word hymn.

I highly recommend Jimmie’s Hymn Study Squidoo Lens.  Here you’ll find stacks of Hymn Study ideas, activities, CDs & book titles, other web sites and links for free hymn study downloads.

Dana at Epi Kardia shares how her family does their Hymn Study. They ~

Sheet music for the hymn

Image via Wikipedia

  1. Discuss the hymn.
  2. Discuss the author.
  3. Sing the hymn every day for a month.
  4. Additional options:
  • Assign one stanza along each week as copy work.
  • Assign one stanza each week as memorization to be recited.
  • Ask your older student to research the author and write 3-5 paragraphs about their lives and work
  • Request that your older student find Scripture pertaining to other phrases in this work mentioned above (Born of His Spirit, Washed in His blood, etc.)
  • Have your student write out this hymn in his own words.
  • After studying this hymn, have your student create her own hymn.
  • Assign your student to find a passage of Scripture and compose a melody to accompany it.

Finally

I printed out the words of each hymn (free download at the end of the post) for the girls to learn the hymns and for copywork lessons.

In order to ensure that we do our hymn study, I have purposed in my heart to keep it really simple to start.  (I tend to jump in and crush their joy with over-zealous enthusiasm!)

Gotteslob — German Catholic hymnal

Image via Wikipedia

I pray that as we sing the hymn daily during the month,

I may gently include a little extra study each week on the hymn.

It may be some copywork.

Or perhaps memorization.

Maybe they will write a short biography of the author or composer.

But I know that I will NOT do it all.

 

I want to gently urge my children to appreciate these hymns,

to understand them,

to recognise them,

and maybe remember some verses.

Perhaps they may even sing them.

The bonus would be some narrations on their notebook pages,

or beautiful handwritten copywork

or biography pages.

Here are some more Hymn Study Websites:

Here are my Free Downloads:

Blessings as you worship Him,