Monday, April 30, 2012

Secret's Teachers Never Tell!

I am spending the next week or two summarizing the workshops that I attended at the Nebraska Christian Home Educators Associations conference.  To read yesterday's review click:  HERE!

The second workshop that I am reviewing was presented by Dr. Joyce Herzog.  She is a former public/private school teacher and has been working with homeschooling families for over 20 years.  We attended 2 of her workshops and then I bought 2 more on CD that I was unable to attend.  My husband and I listened to this particular workshop in the car, on the way to church...since we had an hours drive...might as well listen to a workshop right?!:)

Secret's Teachers Never Tell!
 A little background on this I was going through the list of workshops, this one appealed to me at first, but then I asked for my husband's opinion.  He reminded me that I was once a public school teacher, so I probably knew all of the I passed this one up.  But after hearing her other workshops, I decided to buy this one, to see if I was in on the secrets....I think I was...and am...but here is what she said: (they aren't really all "secrets" I guess...more so tips.)

Secret #1:  Review

Start off the school year with a little review.  Don't dive into all new material. 

Secret #2:  Who says you have to go 9 months on and 3 months off?

You can create your own schedule.  You can go 3 months, take 1 month off and so one.  There is no rule or law that forbids you to teach during certain months.  Make your own schedule that suites your family.  Not the public school systems convenient schedule.  She says the worst month to teach is December...too many other things going on and suggests taking it off from actual school.

Secret #3:  You can't cover it one had a perfect education...why try to change it?

She suggested to take all of your textbooks and curriculum in your house.  Make a big pile in the middle of your living room.  Sit there and look at it for a bit with your husband.  Then go get a blanket, cover it up...and so the next time someone asks did you cover all of your don't have to really did "cover" it:)  I liked that little story, so I thought I would share:)

Secret #4:  Don't go buy anymore curriculum.  Look to see what you already have.  

Use the public library.  Use encyclopedias.  Use children's storybooks---yes---even for high schoolers. Do projects.  Have your kids come up with the projects.  Use what you already have.  There are so many resources out don't just have to rely on textbooks and workbooks...boring!

Secret #5:  Use a textbook like a tool...don't worry about finishing textbooks. 

Who says that you have to cover every.single.thing out there?  Will you go to homeschooling jail if you don't?  Teach a child what he/she is ready to learn and is interested in. 

Secret #6:  Forget about grade levels!

Where is it law that when a child is 7 they should be in this grade...and when they are 10 they should be in this grade?  No where.  Only in secular society and tradition.  If you know me well, you know I HATE grade levels.  If someone asks my kids what grade they are in, I don't want my kids to be confused, so they know how to respond by telling that person a certain grade level...but I know that that means absolutely NOTHING.  My kids are all over the place in grades...maybe I should have them memorize the recommended "grade level" of the things they are working on in school and really confuse people.

Secret #7:  Publishers are out for $.  

She says that there goal is to put the least amount of information and spread it through several books.  Also, why do we have so many updated math, english, and spelling books from the same publishers?  Have these subjects changed?  It is all about $$$.

I am sure I missed a few of the secrets...I was listening to it in the car and trying to take notes on my iPad.  Hopefully you were able to get a little something out of my little summary! 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

10 practical things every homeschooling mom should know!

Picture from web

This past weekend I attended the National Christian Home Educators Conference.    I look forward to the conference every year because I can hear speakers from around the country present some awesome workshops about a variety of different topics related homeschooling.  

I always keep an open mind when listening to a speaker…knowing that every family is different…every child learns differently…what works for one family, might be a total disaster for another.  There is NO right or wrong answer.   

So as you read my blog over the next week or two (not sure how many posts I will have), please keep in mind that these are just my notes for the workshops I attended…with a few of my own random thoughts thrown in.  

I am chewing on A LOT of new ideas.  Will I accept ALL of these ideas into our family, probably not, but I got to tell you, if you home school, or are planning on homeschooling…this is a must go to conference.  Such encouragement.  I can’t wait to start the new school year with some fresh ideas…oh wait…we are still in session…can’t wait to start this week with a whole new set of ideas!! 

Oh and the 4 different rooms and various hallways jammed packed with homeschooling vendors is also a plus!!  I love seeing what is out there as far as curriculum and fun home educating ideas!

Oh and another Oh…spending time with fellow homeschooling mama’s and bouncing off ideas with each other…priceless!

The first workshop I will be telling you about was presented by Dawn Hudson.  She was home schooled during her sophomore-senior year in high school and has homeschooled her kiddos who are know in middle school and high school.  It was titled:

10 Practical Things Every Homeschooler Should Know!

1.Train your children in helpful training patterns before you start school. 

 She recommends starting at least a few weeks to a month prior to starting school to focus in on a few behavioral issues….when they are young.  There is nothing like having 4 different kids, who don’t obey.  She recommends tying your obedience training to a few different Bible verses and reminding your children why they are to obey you.

The first thing she suggest that you work on is “first time obedience”.  Doing something the first time that mom/dad tell you to.  Not the 2nd or 3rd

A verse to go along with this training pattern is:

Ephesians  6:1  Children obey your parents for in the Lord this is right!

The second thing she suggests that you work on is no whining or complaining…from the kids…or mom!

The Bible verse that goes along with this is:

Philippians 2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing.….so you may shine like a star in the heavens.

The third thing she suggested that you work on with your kids is the “interrupt rule”.  When a child needs you, but you are working with another child or busy, she suggested having the child put their hand on your shoulder, and you put your hand on their hand to acknowledge that you realize they need something.

The Bible verse that goes along with this is:

 1 Corinthians  13:4-5:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

She gave several ideas of using charts, marble jars, and different activities rewarding the kids for good behavior and taking away marbles/tickets whatever you choose to use, when you have to repeat something.

2.  Make a schedule listing all of your responsibilities and chores

Responsibilities include all of our your outside activities as well as in the home activities.

3.  Plan a 4 day school week with a fun and chore day on Friday.

Fun days could include belonging to a co-op, doing a field trip, or simply making up school work if someone is sick or behind. 

4. Start school slowly, gradually adding in subjects.

    Make the first day fun.  Don’t do every single subject on the first day or even the first week. 

5.  Set a beginning and ending time for school.

   This helps when scheduling outside appointments and to help keep yourself focused. 

6.  School time is sacred.

She recommends turning off your e-mail, phones, and not scheduling anything that would distract from school during your school hours.  I have a problem with reading e-mails during school time…and when people call during school it drives me crazy.  I am doing better with not answering the phone and sending it to voicemail, but I need to better. 

7.  Have realistic expectations.

 Know their strengths and weaknesses and work with them.  She gave an example of her daughter who can’t sit still.  She has to be moving at all times…so she has her daughter hold something to fidget with…rock in a rocking chair…sit on a bouncy ball…and she learns just fine these ways.  She did note, that there are times when she has to sit still like at church…and they have practiced this at home as well.

8.  Don't compare your homeschool to others.

This is dangerous.  As I said in my intro all homeschools are different.  Don’t overwhelm yourself by what others do.  It is ok, to take bits and pieces of what you like about others’ homeschools, but she cautions about trying to keep up the Jones’ homeschool family.

9.  Plan positive reinforcements and consequences ahead of time.
Post your expectations....if you do this..this is what happens

10.  Schedule time for mom and dad.
She suggested having a daily quiet time.  Even if you don’t have nappers, require that all of the kids have an hour of two of quiet alone work/play time.

Have bi- monthly dates.  This one is tough for us.  I realized today, after a failed attempt at a lunch date, that my husband and I haven’t been out anywhere together without the kids in at least 7 months.  Kind of sad.  I guess we went to a Christmas party…but we were with his employees…so not sure that counts.  Just hard when you add up a sitter, the cost of dinner, and then if you we do something else like go to a movie it could easily be around $100 for one night out.  Just easier  (and cheaper) to take the whole family out.  One of these days we will get a date or be alone with each other out in public…it might just be a while.

So…that is my summary of one of the workshops that I attended.  Stay tuned for others sometime this week!

You can view my review of last years conference:  HERE!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

For the birds!

I found this cute little idea on Pinterest...little bird hearts made with cheerios, string, and pipe cleaners.  All things that we have plenty of around here!  So I decided to have this kids do this for Art (not really sure this is considered Art, but we will go with it!)
and then we hung them in the woods...we don't need any more birds doing their business on our swing set and porch!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My little goal!

No--that is not me...image obtained from the web!
So I have this little goal that I would like to accomplish by the end of this summer…bearing my back doesn’t go out like it did last summer.  Fun times!  Thank goodness for a great local chiropractor that has fixed me up pretty good!  

My little goal is to be able to run 1 mile.  

Yes you read that right!  1 mile.  

I have never been a runner, nor do I intend to be a marathoner.  You will not see my in the Boston Marathon anytime soon…or entering any races in the near future.  

In PE class growing up, I dreaded having to do anything that required running any type of long distance.  I played basketball, volleyball, and softball and playing those sports I did just fine…of course with the exception of basketball, the latter two didn’t involve a whole lot of running.…and then when it was that time of year to run a timed mile…I was always in the last few to finish it.  Never was able to run it straight through.  Not sure if it was my running technique…breathing technique…maybe I didn’t have appropriate shoes…but I felt like I was going to die.  

So my goal…to fulfill a lifelong childhood-teenagehood goal of running  1 mile…non-stop in 10 minutes or less. 
I am on my 5th week of training.  I consulted with one of my friends who is an avid runner and has a degree in all things fitness and nutrition.  She looked over my plan and said it looked pretty good and gave me some suggestions on what I could buy to help me out and what iPhone ap I could install to help me keep track of my progress.

So how is my training going?  I guess you could say pretty good.  I started the first week with walking 5 minutes running 2 minutes…3 times.  Then the second week walking 4 running 3…and so on.  Each week the walking time decreases as the running time increases.  I do feel like I am about to die towards the end of the allotted time…but I feel like my body is getting used to the running part.  Ok…jogging really slow part.  

My favorite time to get out is at 6am while everyone is still sleeping and it is still dark out.  I don’t have to worry about onlookers and it is kind of nice to see the sunrise.  I have tried the evening once so far…too many onlookers and I swear if I didn’t give my kids a stern lecture before I took off I would have had 3-6 kids following me.  My neighborhood also gets pretty boring.  I have to walk/run down every street …sometimes twice to just finish whatever is on the plate for the week.  I am not brave enough to run on the country roads because of the lack of street lights and dust from cars. 
So secretly root me on as I strive to run 1 mile straight through in less than 10 minutes!!:)  Thanks!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Educational egg hunt!

The kids were playing in our woods the other day and came across a few eggs that the neighbors kids did not find during their egg hunt....that got my mind going...that they had so much fun searching for these random eggs that were left over, I should organize an educational type egg hunt! 
 I wrote down 7 school related questions for Easton, Katelyn, and Jocelyn. 
 I then hid 30 eggs total (9 eggs were empty).  After I hid them around our yard and woods, the kids were told they each needed to find 10.  After each of them found 10, the game began. 

If they chose an egg with their initial (and question) they got a rock.  If they answered the question, they got a rock.  If it didn't have their initial, they would read the question to the person it was meant for.  If that person got the question right they would get a rock.  So the goal was two fold, hopefully they found eggs with their own questions...and hopefully they were able to get their questions right.  If they got an empty egg they had to skip their turn. 
 In the end, the kids had a good time playing.  There was a tie between Katelyn and Jocelyn so they decided to have a throwing contest. 
 Also Kate found 2 more eggs that the neighbors left out and was surprised with some candy.  We then had to go on another hunt to find our remaining eggs!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some days I wish I could live next to one...but then I wake up:)

We will probably never live near the ocean.  We kind of like being midwesterners and being close to family.  But I can dream right?  Last week, we drove to Cocoa Beach, Florida.  It was a little more than an hour from Orlando and it was the only beach I knew of.  I took my students there back in 2003 and it seemed like a fairly nice beach then.  Apparently we need to try to the Gulf side if there is a next time.  It was warm where we were at, but apparently it is warmer on the Gulf side.  Anyhow, my husband is NOT a beach person.  His idea of a vacation is no where near the beach...he would rather go to the lake and mountains, but in the end he mentioned he was glad we took an afternoon to go there!  Yay!  The girls had a great time playing in the waves and sand!
Here are few pictures of our afternoon at the was really, really busy...but a lot of fun!

and a quick video!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Break 2012!

We took a little break from school and headed to Orlando, Florida!  It was a surprise for the girls and a business trip for my husband.  The girls didn't know where we were going until the plane was landing and the pilot announced we were in Orlando.  I tried to get their reaction on video, but didn't push record.  Bummer!  Their reaction was priceless.  They were beyond excited.  I was also excited to just have a break from everyday tasks at home.

The first full day we were there I woke up at 5am (Central Standard Time) and got the girls up shortly after that and headed to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.  I wanted to be there right at 8am and it is a long process of getting into the we had to rise early!  My husband thought we were crazy...but we weren't.  He didn't quiet get it.  We had a plan...more about that later. 

Today was ranked as a 10 out 10 day at the Magic Kingdom....that was going to be the busiest of busiest days of the year.  Apparently other people spring break down there too!  My plan was pretty much flawless.  The girls and I rode on all of the rides that we had on our list.

The girls on the tea cups!
 We got fast passes when we needed to and they met all of their favorite characters with the exception of Pocahontas and Mulan.  If I would have known they wanted to meet those characters I would have built it into the plan, but had no clue until we got there...and it was too late to rearrange things!  I kept reminding them we had a PLAN!!:)

So what is this plan?  I knew that we would have a limited time at this park.  So I studied...and read...and studied some more.  I asked a lot of questions to the pros.  I had never been to this park with little ones.  We went to Disneyland in September...but it wasn't very busy.  Since the park was going to be VERY busy...I need a plan so I built a customized Touring Plan.  I was able to tell this program what time we were planning on being there and all of the attractions that we wanted to see.  It was able to tell us exactly what time we needed to be at an attraction and when we needed to get fast passes.  It also told us how long of a wait we would have, how long the ride was, and how long of a walk we would have in between attractions.  It was WONDERFUL! 

We even had a little time to spare before the mid day parade!  I would highly recommend using some sort of plan if you are going to be going on a busy day.

Strollers!  Oh yes I did!
Another little thing that I read about and baulked at was it was highly recommended that you either rent or bring your own stroller.  My little girls made it all day at Disneyland (Kate was even sick and walk most of the time) surely they could make it through 1/2 a day at the Magic Kingdom.  Then I started thinking about it.  It is going to be way hotter.  The crowds are going to be 10x as heavy and I am going to be by myself.  EEEKKK!!  My girls are slow and like to look at things, most of the time in different directions.  So the first thing I did was rent a double stroller.  I was able to plow through the crowds like it was nobodies business. It was THE BEST decision (besides my plan).  The girls were still tired after riding (probably from having to be up by 5:30am).  They didn't want to ride at first, but after they realized it was kind of fun when mommy would go fast...they were all for it. Plus it provided them with shade! We were even able to rent the same type of stroller at Hollywood Studios that evening by just showing our same day receipt!

Me being a cheapskate!
Another thing that I did...that was NOT recommended by anyone it seemed like...was I bought my tickets in advanced from a cast member.  We were able to get into the parks for less than 1/2 price and if we wanted to we could go to all 4 parks in one day.   It was a huge risk on my part...but it worked and I was pretty happy.  Cast members have access to so many free tickets each year.  I even had one offer to meet us at the park and get us in...but it ended up being a black out day.  Bummer!  Getting into the parks is extremely expensive, so if you do go sometime...research cast member connections.
The girls in our hotel playing with their souvenir-- polly pocket princess sets
Some more money saving advice!
Another money saving thing that I did was I refuse if at all possible to buy food or souvenirs at the parks.  Food is outrageously overpriced at the parks.  We brought in our own snacks and drinks and left at lunchtime and ate at McDonalds.  I promised the girls we would go shopping the next day and they could each spend $20 on a souvenir of their choice.   I broke down in the evening and spent $7 on ice cream bars for the girls.  We had to get to a show and I realized it wouldn't be until 10pm until we could get somewhere real to eat.  Ooops.  So if you can suck it up and tell your kids no and mean can really save a lot of money.

Too young to remember!
Last but not least...we left our boys behind:(  We tried really hard to get Easton plane tickets at the last minute but our flight coming home booked up fast.  I still believe he is too young to really enjoy and remember the park.  My husband says he is done with Disney and will never go if the boys have an interest I might have to take them on his own.

Here are a few more pictures and videos from our trip!  Enjoy!
Rosetta-- one of Tinkerbell's friends
Rosetta teaching the girls a dance!
My sweaty little girl drinking a juice box!
We spent the evening at Hollywood Studios and watched a few shows including: Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Disney Junior Live on Stage, and Fantasmic!  All were WONDERFUL!  Couldn't get pics of them all because I just had my phone and lighting was crazy!

Beauty and the Beast production!
and videos:
The girls talking about the park.
Part of the parade!  My girls LOVE the parades!
and this last video was from the end of Fantasmic...totally work the wait of 90 minutes to get a seat for the show....leaving was horrible...10,000 people leaving all at once and 10,000 more lining up in the park to get in.  What a mess!  But LOVED the show!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Need a little giggle?

We are on spring break this this will be my only blog post of the week...enjoy!!