A Lesson in Altruism

A year or so ago, I discovered Be A Blessing Birmingham, a volunteer organization in our area that provides support to the local homeless and needy on a monthly basis. At first, our family supported the organization with donations. All those small hotel shampoos and conditioners we had collected, donated. Two pairs of my husband’s work boots that were not being worn, donated. Multiple winter coats, donated.

When it got really cold and sleeping bags were being requested, I found a great deal online and two low-temperature sleeping bags, donated.  But, I wanted to do more than just donate items. I wanted to help as much as possible and teach my boys about helping the less fortunate.

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is flexibility. All of our learning is not done at the kitchen table. We have time for the things important to our family. We can take a day off from “school work” to volunteer in the community.

So we started attending work days for the organization. The job doesn’t end with collecting donations. The donations need to be sorted and organized. The items need to be packed for the monthly Blessings Days. Hands are needed to do this. We have hands available, and as I found out recently, we also have tender hearts that WANT to help.

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The boys unpacking and organizing new wash clothes.

In the work days we have attended, the boys have packed bags with toilet paper, water bottles and socks. We have stocked donated items, and helped inventory. We have sorted and folded new wash clothes to help with ease of distributing. We have sorted clothing donations.

While working during our last volunteer day, my oldest sang a song he made up about helping. My youngest finishes whatever task he is working on and promptly asks “What else can I do?”

A couple of weeks ago, when I told my oldest that we were starting Spring Break the next day by going to a work day and afterward the zoo, he said something to the effect of Woohoo. I asked if he was “woohoo-ing” the work day or the zoo, and he said “Both! I like helping.”

We participate in a homeschool coop, and I shared a lesson on altruism with the kids. I read  The Can Man by Laura E. Williams to our group. It touched my heart to see how intent the kids were on the story. There was discussion about helping others and about how it would feel to not have a home. 

Afterward, the kids (and grown-ups) decorated cards to donate for the Blessing Bags.

We used Blessings tags from Thirty Handmade Days, and the love and attention the kids put into their art made my heart smile.

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This lesson in altruism reminded me  again of all that homeschooling has done for our family; the time it has given me with my kids, the flexibility and opportunities it has allowed, and I am thankful that the circumstances of our life led us on this path.

Is volunteering a part of your homeschool or family life? What ways have you found to give back? Feel free to share in the comments.

Thank you for reading & sharing!!! Amy

A Consistent Go-To Resource in Our Homeschool

 

A couple of weeks ago, a new friend who happens to be fairly new to homeschooling told me she was enjoying reading my blog. Basically being new to homeschooling, she likes reading about homeschool from those of who have been doing it awhile.

While I don’t yet consider myself a “veteran homeschooler,” I guess being on our fifth year does qualify as awhile 🙂 Over those five years, we’ve tried many different resources and approaches. There was the year, I bought two complete curricula, one for each kid. They ended up collecting A LOT of dust, the curricula, not the kids LOL.

The year before, we participated in a Charlotte Mason coop. We’ve done online

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Lots & lots of library books

reading instruction and hands-on phonics. Five years in, I think it’s safe to say that we are definitely eclectic homeschoolers. I pull resources from everywhere and anywhere for my kiddos. While we use mainly library books for science and social, I do like some direct instruction for language arts.

One consistent go-to for me has been Education.com  One year, we used all of their writing letter worksheets. They have upper and lower case pages. The year my youngest was Kindergarten age,  I bought the  premium membership and downloaded A LOT of workbooks. The membership gives you unlimited downloads, so we still have some that we are using two years later.

Last spring we focused on figurative language for a little while. My oldest is very literal, and we used some education.com worksheets to help him with conversational and reading comprehension. We still discuss figures of speech just in conversation and my husband and I are constantly forgetting the difference between a simile, a metaphor, etc. 

I found this Figurative Language Practice | Worksheet | Education.com worksheet on education.com  It’s on the school schedule for this week, and we will probably hang it on the fridge as a reminder for the hubs and I 🙂 Considering our history with Education.com, when someone reached out to me a few weeks ago about sharing one of their worksheets on my blog, I said sure.

Coincidentally, the first worksheet I was offered was on figurative language, so I was super excited to share with you. You can make a splash while learning about figurative language with this sailing themed worksheet. 

Click the following links for your copy of this freebie. figurativelanguage_crossword_boat (2)figurativelanguage_crossword_boat_answers (2) 

Plus, find more fun language arts games here!

Do you have a favorite Education.com resource??? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Thanks for reading!!! Amy

On Being “Unexpected Homeschoolers”

Homeschooling is something we kind of fell into. It was not something I ever planned on or really even thought of as an option. I went to public school, and as I was growing up the future I envisioned involved some type of daytime job while my kiddos were at school. Then life happened, and here we are in our fifth year of homeschooling.

Somewhere along this journey I came across the label, unexpected home-schooler, and as much as I dislike labels, this one is pretty much spot on for our family. One thing that comes along with being an unexpected home-schooler is the reaction of friends, family and even complete strangers when they learn about your life changing decision and endeavor.

Some reactions have been easier to handle than others. There was my sweet sister, a long time teacher/coach/STEAM leader in a charter school who responded, “You don’t really want to do that, do you?” Another well meaning family member stated something along the lines of you went to public school and you turned out fine.

I think I handled these comments fairly well.  I am happy to say that a year or two ago when my sister was frustrated about something at work, she emphatically said, “I am so glad you are homeschooling the boys.”

Then a couple of years ago, there was the shocked and very loud “WHY!?!?!!!” from a new hair stylist.  She was washing my hair, and asked where the boys went to school. When I told her we home-school, you would have thought I had said we were packing it up and moving to Antarctica. Needless to say that was the first and last time she cut my hair.

As I went back and forth between feeling the need to justify our decision to this stranger, and my thought that I was fairly certain we had put more thought into our decision to home-school than she had in her decision to send her kids to school, I was also grateful that we were already a few years into our journey. Anyone who has made the decision to home-school, to go against the norm, knows that along with this decision comes a lot of self-doubt, of wondering if you are doing the right thing.

Five years in, and though I don’t always know what I am doing, I am confident that the decision to home-school is definitely the right path for our family. Doubt, from self and from others, is why I choose to share our homeschooling experiences, and offer encouragement and support for others on this same journey

 

Math Games Created for Kids by a Kid

In this post: Math Games My Kiddo Created Himself

Math tends to be the one subject a lot of home-schoolers dread. Whether it’s because of difficulty in the home-school teacher’s own math instruction, or resistance from the home-school student, or something entirely different, math can lead to a lot of grumbling and headaches.

Fortunately in our home-school, I have one kiddo, a self-directed learner, that LOVES math. He is constantly using math in his daily life, whether it’s subtracting as he takes a milk container out of the garage fridge to tell me how many we have left, or dumping his piggy bank to count his money.

Over the past year, I’ve thrown the planned math lesson out the window more than once because my kiddo came up with something way better. Having found much support and many ideas from other home-school bloggers, I want to share some of his best ideas here.

Scare Crow Chase- A Measurement & Addition Game

The idea of “Scare Crow Chase,” his name for it, is that each player solves a math fact and then moves their Batman or Robin that number of inches forward. Batman & Robin are in a race to see who catches Scarecrow first.

Surprise, surprise, my son wanted to choose his own math facts to solve. The first one he chose was 30 + 3, so he ended up catching Scarecrow pretty quickly 😉 What’s great about this game is there is so much addition. Not only is he solving the math fact, then he is adding the number of inches he is suppose to go to the total he has already gone.

For example, on his first move he went to 33 inches. Then when he solved his next math fact (say it was 10 + 15), he needed to add 33 + 15 to find Batman’s destination on the tape measure. We played a few times, and he said he also wants to play again with the goal of catching the Penguin 😉

His game could easily be modified for any homeschool. Choose characters of interest to your kiddos, and if you want more focused practice use flash cards, or take turns coming up with math facts for each other to solve.

Another Favorite- Not Sure if He Named This One, but You Can Call it Airplane Measurement & Addition                                                                      

IMG_3823One day last spring, we had been using little plastic jumping frogs for a reading game, and my son decided he wanted to see how far the frogs could jump. So I pulled out the tape measure, and we started seeing whose frog could jump farther.

The frogs did not go very far on the carpet, so he asked to make paper airplanes to throw. Go for it, I said. After making the paper airplanes, he gathered paper and pencil and started drawing charts.

I had no clue what he was doing, but he was writing, and he obviously had a plan. So, I watched and waited. He wrote his name on one side and told me to write mine on the other. Then we took turns throwing our airplanes.

For each turn, per his instruction, we measured how far our airplane had flown and recorded it on his chart. This was perfect for what we have been working on in math. He got practice reading and writing three-digit numbers, AND it was all his idea!

After ten turns, we were done and he wanted to add his score. I pulled out our math counters (100s plates, 10s rods, and 1s cubes), and he counted out each of his measurements with the counters. At one point, we ran out of 1s, and I asked him what he could use instead.

He immediately started regrouping his 1s and trading them in for 10s. He also ended up trading in groups of ten 10s for 100s, and when he counted up that he had ten 100s, he shouted out “I have 1000!” I couldn’t have planned a better lesson for him. It went so well, that I wanted to share it with other homeschooling mommas.

IMG_3828Math doesn’t have to be all worksheets and headaches. With a little imagination it can be a game that you play with your kiddos.

What fun ways or games have you or your kiddos come up with the enjoy math? Please feel free to share in the comment.

Thanks for reading!!! Amy

A Math Resource My Kid Actually LIKES

It’s no secret. My 10 year old hates math. He didn’t always though. In Kindergarten he made a math corner in our living room with all of his favorite math items.

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Kindergarten Math Corner

Somewhere along the way we lost that joy culminating in a day last spring when he shut down and refused to do math. Then I yelled. It was not one of our finer days to say the least.

Luckily, taking the rest of the day off and a good night sleep put everyone in a better place. I remember the next day having a calm conversation with him about math before we even started any school work. We talked about attitude (his AND mine), about him being honest when he is confused or if he is just not wanting to do math at the moment. He admitted that yes he was a bit confused, but also he really just wanted to go play Lego. Surprise, Surprise 🙂

We agreed to work together to figure out why the specific math concept was a bit tricky, and we powered through. But I agreed, I would work on finding a better way for him to learn math.

Then I decided that we did NOT have to complete everything the curriculum we were using classified as “third grade math” by the end of the school year. I could take some time to regroup and make a new plan.

Enter Usborne Books & More  https://w7741.myubam.com/

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Usborne Lift-the-flap Times Tables

I ordered this Times Tables book as part of a homeschool friend’s adoption fundraiser. My son really enjoyed it when we dabbled in multiplication last spring. He loved all of the little flaps and fun questions throughout the book. It did not feel like school to him.

So when fall rolled around and I still didn’t have a definite plan for math, I decided to focus on regaining joy in math.

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Adding & Subtracting Activity Book

 

 

 

 

I had ordered this Adding and Subtracting book from the same fundraiser. My initial plan was to have my youngest work on it, but as most of us know, things don’t always goes as planned.

I made a guess that having my son work on skills he had already mastered in a fun way might bring the joy back, and IT DID!!! He loved the colorful illustrations, fun activities & stickers.

He finished it up a few weeks before Christmas, and we took a break from Math until after the holidays. In January we started up with the Usborne Fractions & Decimals Activity Book 

& the Lift-the-flap Fractions and Decimals book .

 

Not only is he learning about fractions, he is ENJOYING Math again!!! That’s a win, win in my book.

The books I’ve mentioned in this post are only those we have used. Usborne Books and More has so much more to offer. I actually have several waiting on the school shelf 😉 , for when we finish Fractions and Decimals. I plan to share about our experience with those as we use them.

Picture of Fractions and Decimals Activity BookIf you would like  recommendations of other Usborne resources, feel free to comment below or send me a message on the Contact page.  Thanks for reading !!!Picture of Lift-the-Flap Fractions and Decimals (IR)

A New Year & A Refreshed Homeschool Approach

So we started back to “school” this week, and I am super excited about the next few months. We are using all of the same resources, but Christmas break gave me a chance to think about HOW we have been using them and make a new plan.

To be completely honest, in August I stumbled upon Reading Eggs & Math Seeds when I signed my youngest up for a free trial to see if it helped with his reading. (If you’re wondering, it DID!!! Highly recommend checking it out if you have a reluctant reader)

Anyway, when I realized everything the program offered, we jumped full in and, besides Grammar Galaxy and library books, it was our main “school” work for the fall. I was thrilled to not have to plan and to have more time to continue the decluttering I had been doing over the summer.

Awesome as the break from planning was, being on the computer so much is not our ideal homeschool, and I felt like we were missing out on other things. After seeing a thread on a Facebook group, I got the idea to only plan one computer based activity, per kid, per day.

So here are some highlights from our 3 day week after New Years’.

Wednesday:

My oldest researched for any updates on Nessie.

Not sure what got him thinking about Nessie, but Tuesday night he came over when I was half asleep and told me that now that he is “older” he doesn’t think Nessie is real anymore, and could he look for any updates on sightings. Sure buddy, tomorrow morning, go back to bed.

So the next morning before my youngest woke up, A was on the computer exploring http://www.lochnesssightings.com/ When his little brain was full of Nessie info, he completed a spelling lesson on Reading Eggs and then we all used Legos to talk about fractions and equivalent fractions.

Then my youngest and I read a little bit on Progressive Phonics for his daily reading practice.

Thursday:

My youngest made up his own math game. 

I planned for both boys to do a lesson on Math Seeds, but my youngest informed me he had a game he wanted to play. What you see below is what unfolded from his amazing imagination.

 

The idea of “Scare Crow Chase”, as he named it, is that each player solves a math fact and then moves their Batman or Robin the number of inches forward as the answer to the math fact. Surprise surprise, he wanted to choose his own math facts. The first one he chose was 30 + 3, so he ended up catching Scarecrow pretty quickly. We played a few times, and he said he also wants to play again with the goal of catching The Penguin 😉

His game could easily be modified for any homeschool. Choose characters of interest and if you want more focused practice use some flash cards, or take turns coming up with math facts for each other to solve.

Then both boys and I played Clumsy Thief, a fun math game that practice addition to 100. img_5597My youngest rounded out his day doing a Reading Eggs lesson and my oldest did a Reading Eggspress spelling lesson that corresponded with his spelling lesson from Wednesday.

Friday:

We played Math Noodlers for the first time.

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Math Noodlers!!!

 

I originally bought this math game as a Christmas present but decided not to put it under the tree. I broke it out Friday to check out with the boys. I honestly bought it with my youngest, who is my math lover, in mind.

But this game is AWESOME. My oldest, who is not a math fan, LOVED it game. It had him doing frog hops and standing on one leg while counting by 5s, counting backward and solving word problems. He loved it so much, he kept answering my questions for me LOL.

Both boys worked on Spelling City and my youngest read me some Lego phonics books.

You May Be Wondering, What About Handwriting???

Each of these day the boys did some fine motor work as well. My youngest is working on mazes and a color by code workbook activity. My oldest is working on a learn to draw superheros book he got from his Auntie Karen for Christmas and is also doing a variety of copywork that he actually started in his free-time.

You are probably thinking, what kind of copywork does a kid do in their free time? This is a prime example of how I follow my kids’ interest. I’m not 100% sure but I don’t even think my kid knows the term “copywork”. A couple of months ago, he started copying the Nexo Knights character names and descriptions from a library book into his journal. He never finished it, and we had to return the book to the library.

Well the other day we checked it out again, and I put it on the stack I have started of his unfinished projects. Over Christmas we read a Nate the Great and Me book where the reader is solving the mystery along with Nate. There are some Scooby Doo books like this too, and my boys have “fact trackers” where they keep track of the clues to solve the mystery.

After reading the Nate the Great book, my oldest started copying Nate’s “Tips On How To Be A Great Detective” included in the activities at the back of the book. I put that on his stack of unfinished projects as well. So each day I let him know he had some time to work on his projects. To him it wasn’t even school work, but he was getting great handwriting and endurance practice.

It was an awesome start back after Christmas break. I am super excited to continue incorporating games into our learning, and to continue following the interests of my kids to keep them excited about learning.

What do you have planned for the start of the year??? Do you have any ways that you sneak “school” into your children’s everyday activities??? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

 

Homeschooling is Not Always School at Home

As a homeschool mom it seems that everywhere you look people are posting or talking about the complete curriculum they are powering through each year. I’m over here like yeah, we do a little phonics, my youngest made up his own math games & I read to my kids.

Usually I’m fairly confident in our relaxed approached, but sometimes comparison rears its ugly head and the doubt creeps in. Over the years, I’ve learned that’s when it’s time to  take a deep breath and a step back and just observe my family. Like right now, as I’m typing, they are watching Wild Life Docs & asking about the meaning of “overseas.”

This question led to the discussion that although South America is a different continent and far away, it is not overseas. My just turned 8 year old chimed in “yeah because it’s connected to North America through Central America.”

In our homeschool, we have never formally studied geography and they have never labeled each continent on a map, but my kiddos have a pretty good grasp of the layout of our earth. So how did this learning occur?

We read and watch educational series about what interests them. This year it has been endangered animals. As we learn about each animal of interest, we find their native habitat on the map. We have learned about the Southern & Northern White Rhinos of Africa, and the African Penguins that live off the coast of southern Africa.

We have learned about the Kakapos of New Zealand. My 8 year old loves lemurs, and he can also show you where Madagascar is on a map. We have read the Dolphins of Shark Bay and learned about the varying feeding habits of dolphins off the northwest coast of  Australia, to name a few. Also, when the boys ask questions like “What is overseas?”, we have conversations about their questions.

But their learning doesn’t end with our “educational” endeavors. We have an old Wii and one of the boys’ favorite games is Shaun White Snowboarding Road Trip.  As you play, different mountains around the world open up for additional play. The mountains are displayed on a world map and yep, my boys first learned where South America is from opening up the Andes Mountains for snowboarding, LOL!

Officially, we took most of December off. The hubs finished grad school so we traveled to Florida for his graduation ceremony. We added a few days to the trip for some relaxing (the boys riding bikes through massive puddles and me walking the dog) and site-seeing. We stayed at the campground near Fort Pickens, a place we have visited previously and wanted to return to ever since.

On our visit to Fort Pickens we took the historical tour. My 8 yo was given permission by the tour guide to climb up and spot where the cannon currently targets. He saw that it actually now points at land, even though the fort was built to protect from sea invasions.

From this experience, he learned how the sea level has changed from the time when the fort was built. When it was built the cannon did point out to sea but the changing sea level over time has effected the present day “target” of the cannons.

When we returned home it was less than a week before Christmas. I was busy unpacking, wrapping presents and making cookies, while the boys were occupied with their Legos. We managed to squeeze in a library run and the boys literally picked out about 30 books. Some were from a series we discovered on audiobook during our road trip, but there were several animal books we will be starting in the next couple of days.

I love how our relaxed approach to homeschooling allows us to live a relaxed life while also allowing my kiddos to learn every day and everywhere. I for one cannot wait to dive into the stack of books they selected to see what learning awaits.

Awesome Audiobooks for Sensitive Kiddos

My boys are fairly sensitive to media.  A lot of things that kids their age (8-10) watch or play (Star Wars, Minecraft ) would be anxiety provoking for my kiddos, especially my oldest. For example, we rarely go to the movies, but when we do, I wait in the lobby with the boys during the previews. This is not of my choosing. It is to prevent the complete panicked shut down of our oldest.

Because of the lack of visual stimuli, read alouds and audiobooks are not as anxiety provoking for him, but there are still story-lines he wants to avoid.  Since we have come across some great kids series that both of my kiddos love, I thought this would be useful info to share for other mommas of sensitive kiddos.

Nate the Great

We listened to an eight book collection of Nate the Great on a recent car trip, and both of my boys LOVED them. They have since listened to them again while I took a nap after a morning of unpacking from said trip.

No anxiety provoking themes in any of the books we
listened to, and as a plus, there was lots of laughter!

Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds

Cam Jansen has been another hit in our family. We have borrowed numerous audiobooks in the series from our online library system.

While searching for books for this post, I did come across the following titles (Mystery of the UFO, Mystery of the Monster Movie, Ghostly Mystery) that I cannot give my sensitive kiddo’s approval on. They may be fine, but he has not listened to them and aliens and monsters are some of the story-lines that cause him anxiety.

 

Calendar Mysteries & the A to Z Mysteries ,which feature the older siblings of the kids in the Calendar Mysteries, have also been well listened to by my boys.

January Joker, the first in the Calendar Mysteries series, was originally a bit much for my oldest as the story-line involved “aliens”, so we just skipped to the next story. After he had listened to and enjoyed the other books in the series, he was ready to give it another try.

A to Z Mysteries (26 Book Set)

The A to Z Mysteries also have a couple of titles that might be a bit much for sensitive kiddos (The Zombie Zone & the The Haunted Hotel are two), but again we listened to them after listening to some of the other in the series and my son was ready to give them a try.

I always let him know if we are listening or watching something that he is concerned about that we can turn it off if it starts to scare him. It gives him the courage to try to expand his listening horizons without making him completely anxious.

My final audiobook recommendation is The Boxcar Children series, pretty much any of The Boxcar Children Books 1-4 them. There are a few titles that are about ghosts so use your judgment. The couple “haunted” type books I have read aloud to my boys (rather than having them listen independently to the audiobook), so I was able to judge their readiness for it. But there are plenty of titles without any spooky references that would be perfect for audio books. Also, if you are looking for movies for sensitive kiddos, the Boxcar Children movie & the sequel, Surprise Island were hits with my boys.

We find most of our audiobooks either on CD (yes I know I am dating myself) at our local library, or through online resources our library offers. Our library is part of a county system so we are able to get books from both the county’s online system as well as our local branch’s separate online system. Make sure you are utilizing all of the free resources available to you 🙂

Do you have any recommendations of great audiobooks for sensitive kiddos??? Please feel free to share in the comments.

The Things that I Never Knew I Would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about Homeschooling

There are A LOT of things to love about homeschooling. Common reasons you hear are individualized learning, kids being able to learn at their own pace, and kids having more time to follow their interests. Yes, yes and yes. But this post is going to get into the specific day to day things that I never knew I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about homeschooling.

Number One, Top Thing I Love

We plan our schooling around our life, not our life around school. My husband is graduating from grad school in mid-December. It has been a long two, or maybe it’s been three years, with him completing school work in addition to the work he does to support our family. Specifically it has been a LONG last six months while he has been in the project phase of his degree.

You better believe he is going to walk at his graduation and we are going to be there to see it. He completed a distance learning program so it’s about a six or seven hour drive for us. We are heading out a few days early and camping at a nearby National Park we visited on a past trip. The boys have wanted to return and do some more exploring of  Fort Pickens ever since, so now is our chance and guess what. We don’t have to worry about or justify missed school days.

Number Two

My kiddos can get the rest they need. It is 8:12 am as I am typing this post. My 8 year old is still asleep. He went to bed at 8:45 last night. A bit late for him, but not super late in general.

Tuesday of this week, he was super emotional. He cried multiple times throughout the day, and at Tae Kwondo, he was close to tears once because he couldn’t remember the steps to his form. I knew something was off but wasn’t sure what.

The next morning he slept til 9 am. I don’t know why he has been needing more sleep than usual (he is usually up around 7) but I love that I can let his little body get the sleep he needs so that he can be happy and healthy.

The local school starts at 7:45. I have  no idea what time I would have to get him up if he went to school, but I know I would have a tired and grumpy kid; not great for the school, not great for our family and definitely not great for him!

Number Three- This one kind of ties into number two, but I think it deserves its own number 😉

We are not rushed in the mornings.  We can take our time and eat a healthy breakfast. We can talk about plans for the day. We can talk about dreams from the night before. The boys can spend some time building Legos, which they LOVE. I can read or write for a bit .

Beyond the general relaxed morning, homeschooling gives us time to take care of our family’s specific medical needs. My 8 year old has seasonal (fall & winter) asthma. His maintenance during this time of the year, is 3 vials of meds nebulized. This takes time, about 35 minutes.

35 minutes that I would have to wake him up earlier just so he could get the meds he needs so that he doesn’t cough non-stop throughout the day. Honestly waking him up early for this, when he obviously needs sleep (see Number Two), would feel like I was punishing him and myself for his medical condition. 

Number Four

Both of my boys have special needs. Although we have not sought out an official diagnosis (after much discussion with several of their speech therapists), they both present with symptoms of Apraxia of Speech and Auditory Processing issues. The result is severe phonological disorders. For anyone not familiar with speech diagnosis terminology, this means their conversational speech is VERY difficult to understand.

They currently receive speech services three times a week and I work with them on non-service days. Homeschooling allows us to get their services during the daytime, instead of trying to squeeze them into the after school hours. It also allows me to work with them during school hours, instead of having to spend the few hours we would have together after school not only doing homework but also trying to squeeze in their much needed daily speech practice.

Also, homeschooling protects them from the bullying I feel sure they would experience as a result of their speech disorders.

 

Number Five- Homeschooling Allows Us to Focus on our Relationships

We get to give our kids what they need. I read The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman over the summer and it was like a light bulb went off. Our 8 year old constantly seeks physical contact. He loves to cuddle and be close. He also loves to crawl on my husband when he is resting on the couch. Sometimes this is sweet, but at 80 pounds, sometimes it has been a source of uhhh, frustration.

As I was reading this book, it hit me. L’s love language is physical contact. It makes him feel loved. Now when my husband rests on the couch, he invites L to lay with him or hold his hand. It has made a huge difference.

When L and I practice his reading, something he has previously resisted,  I invite him to snuggle with me on the couch, or we sit on the floor together, him sitting between my legs and resting on me. It’s no longer a struggle to get him to work on his reading.

This physical  contact is not something he could get in a school setting. Yet, it is what has helped him progress in his reading skills in a very brief time.

My oldest feels loved when he gets to share his interests with us. Homeschooling allows me to slow down and really listen to him when he talks about the Lego movies he is planning, or the Lego book he read and  LOVED.  It allows me the time to show him that his interests are important and valued.

Our family never planned or expected to homeschool.  But doing so has given us so much joy and so many gifts. What unexpected things do you love about homeschooling? Feel free to share in the comments. 

Trusting My Kid (and That a Love of Learning IS Enough)

I think I’ve said this before. I’ve been pretty relaxed in our homeschool journey. I found a couple of podcasts (The Homeschool Sisters  & BraveWriter) that help me feel supported in this approach.  In our homeschool, we work on reading skills, math, and do a grammar curriculum the boys LOVE.

Plus, I read to the boys A LOT about all different subject matters. We watch documentaries. We go to the library A LOT. I look for community events, and learning activities I know the boys will enjoy.

Last week , we donated some time to a local organization that helps the homeless in our community. We also went to a Homeschool Hangout at a local library. The focus this month was exploring with magnets and circuits. The boys, and I, had a blast.

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Such a little smartie 🙂

At one point A was trying to power 3 light bulbs and a mini fan in a circuit. All of the lights were glowing faintly, but the fan was not running. I mentioned that I thought the circuit needed more power for everything to run, but I didn’t think it was actually capable of having more battery power added. I went out to the restroom and when I came back, the librarian pulled me aside. “Look, he got it running,” she said. A had figured out where he could connect a second battery to the circuit.

Yesterday with everyone fight colds, I planned a light school day. The boys completed their online math and then I pulled out a turkey themed punctuation activity I found at thisreadingmama.com

This fall, A has started writing stories for story competitions through our online reading

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no sitting required

program. So when I saw this punctuation activity, I knew it would be perfect for him. He loves anything hands-on and artsy. Since we don’t have a color printer, I chose the non-color option turkeys and he enjoyed coloring in the turkeys and cutting them out. 

When he finished coloring and cutting  his turkeys, I asked him if he was ready to glue them on the construction paper we were using for the activity. In a very polite tone (I note this because it was sincere, not huffy I don’t feel like doing this that we sometimes get LOL) he informed me, “No, I don’t want to glue the turkey. I thought of a new movie idea.”

Little back story… If you ask A what he wants to do when he grows up, he will tell you “I am going to make Lego movies.” I have no idea what he will end up doing, but I do know that he has an amazingly creative mind. He spends time jumping on our trampoline almost daily, and when he is jumping he is planning his movies.

I use to think he was just thinking about movies he has seen, but one day I went to get him off the trampoline to come eat lunch and he told me “But I’m not done my movie yet.” After a bit more discussion, I realized that he is actually visualizing the scenes of the movie as he is jumping, and he plans what movie he is going to “work on” during each jumping session.

He once told me, “I didn’t get as far in my movie as I planned today so can I jump more later? ” So when my sweet kiddo told me he had a new movie idea, I asked him if he wanted to jump on the trampoline to work on it or write it in his journal. I’ve been trying to get him to record all of his ideas so he will remember them in the future, but for the most part he enjoys jumping and visualizing them.

Anyway, yesterday he chose to record his idea in his journal. He wrote the title (with his IMG_5324best handwriting, YAY) and on his own got books from his room to check the spelling of words he wasn’t sure of. He also designed the cover for the movie. I couldn’t have planned a better “school” lesson for him.

 

If you look closely, you will see a little mark between the y & s in turkeys. I asked him about it and yes, it is the apostrophe to show possession. I’m not 100% sure how he learned this. It may have IMG_5325been in our grammar program this fall, or I may have mentioned in passing about showing possession at some point, but either way, seeing that in his writing made me do a fist pump.

My relaxed approach is working. He is both motivated and learning, or maybe I mean he is motivated to learn. Either way I was a happy homeschool Momma yesterday. After he was satisfied with his journal entry, he and L did get back to finishing the turkey punctuation activity.

Also pictured is the hand turkey L made while his brother was working on his movie idea. He has been talking about doing this for a couple of weeks. I think he got the idea from SciShowsKids, but I’m honestly not sure. He is in constant learning mode, coming up with so many new ideas of things to build or do, that it’s hard for me to keep up 🙂

So with Thanksgiving approaching, I reflect on the things I am thankful for. Of course I am thankful for my family, for my loving hubby & our happy and healthy kids. I am also thankful that the circumstances in our life led us to homeschooling. I love the time I get to spend with my kiddos and being able to witness and share in their learning.