Who's Ready For A Break?

There are only a few school days left, and that's a big reason to celebrate! I love starting school, and I love when it's over too. I guess most of us probably feel that way.

As we head into the summer, we've been spending time talking about what the next school year should look like. We have to decide who wants to study what and which kids are interested in college.

I will have a senior and a 10th, 8th, and 7th grader next year! Where has the time gone? I know where....it's been whiled away in day after day of spending hours on end together. When you homeschool, the days can seem to drag on and on and sometimes you just wish for some kid free space.

Looking at it from the homestretch, I'm so thankful for all those hours. All the noise, mess, and even seeming lack of productivity have added up to create some great kids.

There have been times when I thought math was going to ruin my relationship with my kids forever or that I would have a 5th grade drop out, but God has always come through with His grace and wisdom even at the darkest moments.

So, here we all are on this amazing journey! Let's take full advantage of our summer break and dive back in deep, because raising powerful adults is amazing!

To Test or Not To Test?

What would you think if I told you I don't believe in giving tests? I have a few reasons for my line of thinking...

  • Early on in the homeschool process I realized that tests were just a repeat of the daily work we were already doing. Since I'm working with my 4 kids everyday (not classrooms full of kids) I had no problem keeping up with which things the kids needed extra practice on without giving a formal, intimidating test.
  • In a lot of ways tests are for teachers to gather data: data which I simply already know just by doing life all day, every day with my kids.

It may sound like I'm talking out of both sides of my mouth when I say this, but I do send my kids for state basic skills testing every year. It is not a requirement in our state, but I do it anyway because:

  • Test taking is a life skill to be practiced.
  • It gives me peace of mind to see their scores.
  • It's a safety net that highlights areas I may be missing.

What do you think? Do you test?

What Will Your Kids Create That Will Change The World?

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate. (Psalm 127:3-5)


Parenting is the ultimate way to raise up disciples. We’re not all called to full time ministry, but we’re all called to make disciples and feed our Father’s sheep.

It is time to get a vision for the next generation. What will your kids create that will change the world? Whatever it is, they will have a very difficult time accomplishing it without your care and wisdom.

Be intentional in raising your kids. Your kids are your story. Ask Holy Spirit what your child’s destiny is. Then take time to get to know your child well. This way you can start to form a strategy to prepare them for their future.

Try to think outside the box in raising your kids. Every child has a unique personality and learning style. It is better to work with their individuality than against it.

It is helpful to think of the parenting journey as raising adults, not taking care of kids. The nurture and training you give out now will affect generations to come. Your kids are your inheritance. Pour your whole heart into them!

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My 9th grader, Levi, loves Answers In Genesis. Check it out. Here's a link to the kids' area.

This is great for older kids! (photo is Amazon link)

This is great for older kids! (photo is Amazon link)

Second Semester Slump

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I don't know about you, but summer break could start right now and I'd be thrilled! It's so easy to get going in the fall when all of your school ideas are fresh and new. Keeping at it going into spring can be hard work. Here's how we are maximizing our learning time in spite of the second semester slump....

Are you familiar with Ted Ed? We have really been enjoying their videos. They are especially helpful for my 7th grader whose mind tends to wander while reading a text book or listening to me talk. I like their videos because they are entertaining for older kids and adults alike, visually appealing, and educationally interesting. You may want to watch out for some secular, evolutionary thought lines though. Here are a couple of our favorites: (Images are links)


One of the great things about having older kids is being able to say, "Guys, I'm swamped today. I want you to find something educational to do." This is where unschooling is beautiful. My kids will read a book, write a story, or work on digital art. My 9th grader will spend hours reading up on history all on his own.

If you have younger kids, put in the hard work of training and teaching the basics. It really does pay off in the end. Don't allow behaviors or attitudes in young kids to continue, thinking the kids are too young to do the right thing. A tantrum that looks cute on a two year old will grow into a nightmare attitude in a teen if you don't do the hard work early on. Consistency in training truly is harder for parents than for kids.


For small kids, and older ones still struggling with multiplication, check out Math-u-see's Skip Counting CD. We used to listen to it all the time in the van and it really sticks with you. (Image = link)

What are you focusing on this month? I'd love to hear about it!

Learning Digital Art

Zoe has been creating really cool pictures on her iPad using an app called auto desk sketchbook. She uses a digital pen that she got for Christmas. I've included links in case you want to try it out! (The digital pen needs the plastic tip. Don't toss it out.)

Visit Zoe's Blog Here!

Visit Zoe's Blog Here!

Here are a few of the pictures she's done lately!

Literacy With Heart Connection

As Zoe and I spent two hours cleaning her room the other night, we came across a scrap of paper with a poem scribbled on it. We both smiled as we remembered the day that we wrote a little poem together. It only took a couple minutes to write, but they were a couple minutes filled with not just learning, but heart connection.

We took turns writing a line. Here's the poem:

My mom and I wanted to write a poem,

About all the reasons we love our home.

I love the snacks, and I love our dog, Shack.

She loves the trees so tall,

And the peaceful green paint on the walls.

I love my brothers,

But I especially love my mother!

 

Maybe you'd like to try writing a collaborative poem with your family.

We would love to hear it!


I saw this at a consignment shop Monday. It made me smile. For some reason I love these desks, but they are not practical for my home. I thought it might make you smile too.

I saw this at a consignment shop Monday. It made me smile. For some reason I love these desks, but they are not practical for my home. I thought it might make you smile too.

Unschool Activities

Our school life is a mixture of public school, homeschool textbooks, and unschool activities. I guess you can say we take our favorite parts of each method and throw out the rest.

This week Judah and I made a "Bert" shirt for the public school Spanish class project he had to do with his friend (who dressed up as Ernie).

We used duct tape to make the stripes!

We used duct tape to make the stripes!

 

Zoe and I made a maze for her hamster, Cookie. We read in a magazine that even small pets need mental stimulation. Check out how it turned out in this short video!

We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

Learning to Tell Stories Through Video

My 6th and 7th graders love to tell stories. The past few months we have been experimenting with different ways to tell their stories. One of our favorites is through video. With the technology that is available today, anyone can make a nice video in a short amount of time.

Sometimes the kids draw on old fashioned paper; then we just snap a photo of the drawing. Other times they use their iPads to draw the illustrations.

Next we record their voice with a phone.

We upload all of the pieces to iMovie for editing. When we get things just the way we want them, we upload the video toVimeo.

Here are a couple of our favorites.....

 

To see more of the creative work the kids are working on visit Zoe's Gallery and Elijah's Gallery!

Do you have any creative storytelling ideas to share with us?

Binge TV Watching You Can Feel Great About

One thing we have definitely been doing right in our history studies is watching the Torchlighters animated series. Have you ever watched them?

Torchlighters isn't paying me to promote them, nor do they even know I exist, so you can be confident that I'm telling you about them simply because I think they're awesome!

They are interest for children and adults alike, making them perfect for family time.


If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch several of the Torchlighters free. Visit the Torchlighters website for more great resources including a kid zone.

That Time I Fell Off the Bandwagon of History

We started with a great plan. Isn't that always how it goes? I picked up some "great" history DVDs which I figured would interest the whole family. We were going to watch them a few days a week and have a group discussion.

Fast forward to December, and I had to do a face palm when it dawned on me that we had fallen off the bandwagon of history....missed the train....slidden off the slippery slope.....or whatever you want to call it. We only made it though one and a half of the discs.

I want to blame it on the fact that my oldest son's schedule ended up being much busier than I guessed it would be, which makes it hard for us to all watch the DVD's together. In reality, the series is just plain boring. I can hardly stand to watch it; I certainly can't blame my kids for not being interested in my "great plan."

What's a mom to do when she realizes halfway through the school year that her kids haven't been getting any history education for months? Call a family meeting.

The family meeting on this occasion was a casual, right after family dinner event. I just said, "Guys, I need to talk to you. We have a problem. The younger kids (middle school age) don't know basic history. (They get a deer in the headlights look when I ask basic questions that every American should know the answer to.) What can we do about this?"

Fortunately, my two older boys are really into history. They have been very motivated to learn on their own. They honestly know more about it than I do.

They said, "Just make them read the text books that we read."

Duh. I was trying to make learning fun, which I still think is the best way to go, but in this case my efforts at fun actually made things worse.

Sometimes you just have to crack open that text book and get some straightforward information the good old-fashioned way. (Click to Tweet)

The younger kids aren't excited about the plan, but sometimes parenting is about doing what's best for your child, not what's the most fun in the moment.(Click to Tweet)

Are there any areas in school where your family has fallen off the bandwagon this year? Do you have a solution yet? Maybe we can all brainstorm together.

Have You Fallen Into the Benchmark and Performance Mode Trap?

I started homeschooling when my oldest son, Judah, turned four years old. He has an August birthday, so he is always one of the youngest kids in his grade. I decided to jump right in with him because I had two more boys behind him and a baby on the way. I figured I couldn't afford to wait; besides, I was excited to start the process.

Looking back, Judah was not as ready as I was. We went through a few years of struggle over math studies because I pushed him harder and faster than I should have. 

Judah is a junior in high school now, and he is excelling at everything he puts his mind to. I wish I would have known when he was younger that it would all pan out in the end.

Sometimes you just have to set aside a text book for a semester or two. I have found that waiting, instead of trying to keep up with grade level benchmarks can very often bring the breakthrough in learning that you are longing for.

That's one of the reasons why we homeschool, right? We want to have the ability to teach our child according to their own interests, personality, learning style, and pace. Funny how we can easily get into performance mode. I think it comes from a deep desire to know that we aren't messing our kids up. It's good intention carried too far.

Take a deep breath and enjoy your kids. It's all going to be ok.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.

Homeschool Blog Intro

Maybe it seems obvious to you, but it just occurred to me that I should write a bit about my homeschool journey. I'm in my 13th year of this homeschool gig, so it kind of feels second nature. I almost don't notice it.

I'm hoping that this will be a place where we can share ideas and encourage each other. If you have friends who might want to join in, please share this sign up link with them: http://eepurl.com/cqKSR1