My daughter will be back with us for 8th grade! I’m so happy to have her back! She liked going to school last year, but we like homeschooling more. Less stress, more depth, more time for interests and hobbies, freedom from the school schedule. So I’ll have an 8th grader and 4th grader and a 4 year old at home this year. And my oldest loves going to his private Christian school, so he’ll be there again this year for 10th grade this year.
I’d write more but we are setting off on a road trip to the East Coast tomorrow and I need to finish getting ready. And hopefully, take a nap. We read so much over the summer, we’re planning to visit many historical and beautiful sites, and mostly just write about what we learn and see for a couple months.
Side note: since I wanted to read an unreasonable amount, I had to find a way to get the kids to listen. This is something that always seems harder for us than it does for other people. We went from about 20 minutes of reading aloud most days to several hours. It was pretty painful many days.
Here’s what I found worked best:
- reading before bed when they had to lie down and were sleepy
- reading while they were eating a meal
- having them lie down, put their heads down and imagine pictures of the story in their mind
- having my 3-year-old in another room, ex. pack-and-play time, blanket time, nap/rest time. These were 30 min usually but they gave us that long anyway.
- when they kept talking after I said not to, just purposely not obeying, I put a tally mark on my hand and they had to do that much ‘practice’ sitting still after reading OR I’d have them read on their own and tell me. They realized very fast it was much easier if Mom read it and they listened than having to read it themselves. (some books were a pretty high reading level)
- sitting at the dining room table working on a collage or coloring – my 4-year-old liked this
- letting them play with quiet toys, but the key was they had to stay in one place for 15 minutes with one toy. Otherwise they’d interrupt constantly, fight over toys, etc. So I had them ‘freeze’ in that spot with whatever blanket, toy, etc, until the next break.
- having them draw a picture of what was going on in the story.
Something I meant to do that I keep hearing Cindy Rollins say on the Mason Jar podcast, is to draw in nature notebooks while I read. We haven’t done that but I want to try it when we get back.
Also, we have been doing some narrations, and Karen Glass’s book Know and Tell is excellent. I have never successfully done narrations before, but this time we are and they are working well! I love getting to hear my kids tell about what they learned. And it’s helping me work on being a better listener, which I need for all kinds of reasons.
Okay, happy homeschooling, friends. May you have a year of great stories, much beauty, and lots of cuddles.
2018/2019 Update (September 2018)
Well, we are still homeschooling! It looks different this year, as I’m really only a half-time homeschooler. I’m homeschooling my 3rd grader and have my 2 (almost 3) year old at home. My 14-year-old son is in 9th grade and my 12-year-old daughter is in 7th at a private Christian school. I’m pretty sure my son will stay there through high-school but I’m not sure about my daughter yet. We will likely do a couple more years of homeschooling at some point.
So for now, I’m back to the little years with potty training and circle time in the mornings. In the afternoons I’m helping with pre-algebra or taking kids to the orthodontist.
We’re doing a very mixed approach this year.
I really like living books, and nature time and short lessons. Very Charlotte Mason, right?
But I also like workbooks. I do. There, I said it.
What I love about them is how independent my 3rd grader can be. He can do 2 pages of his little workbook while I’m sitting in the bathroom waiting for my toddler to poop. (Sorry, but that’s the reality right now. Lots of waiting for pooping.)
I like the Spectrum and Rod and Staff workbooks for a few things. I like them because they are
- Cheap ( I get them from Mardel from about $4 to about $15 per book.)
Really build sequentially in those skill areas like math & spelling, phonics and grammar.
AND my favorite reason:
- They free up my brain, energy and time to do the fun stuff, like read alouds on the couch, nature walks and art project planning.
We try to read a story from our Children’s Bible and review one to a few memory verses. (This seems to be chaotic for some reason. Still working on the routine.)
My son does some quick workbooks or flashcards on his own. Then some math fact practice.
Then upstairs for a 20 minute spelling lesson (I love All About Spelling).
Then we do a Circle Time with my toddler, so we do some fun songs & memorize a poem or verse, then I think I’m going to tell a story. This week went ok. We’ll see if he listens better or if I’ll ditch this idea!
Then a 20 minute math lesson (my toddler plays on the rug with some toys near us, or tries to get our attention. or sits on the potty upstairs).
Reading Time / Snack on the couch – I’m trying to do books they both can at least look at. Right now, an art book and a nature sketching book. Not entirely certain what I want to do here, but I really like snuggling up and reading after all that hard work!
We’re done around 10 or 11! I’m hoping to do some outside time here (still working out all the kinks), just playing in the backyard or walking up and down our street. Then lunch & nap/rest (for me too).
Lunch & rest/nap
My toddler naps and my third-grader usually listens to Adventures in Odyssey or an audio book (CD or audible.com) during his rest time.
Then we sit on the kitchen couch and have a snack or tea or something and do something together. This is one of my favorite parts.
This is when I do a Read Aloud (from Sonlight or another list). I need to start having my son read aloud here because I currently am not really hearing his reading, which I think is still important. Need to probably do this first for at least 10 min. Or maybe alternate a page with him, then me reading. Still figuring this out…
Either a grammar lesson, science reading or art project, depending on the day. I love the art/drawing time.
Even just a drawing and a couple sentences really helps bring the material to life.
Then he may read or do a little spelling practice while the older kids do their homework. Again, still figuring some of this out.
But because the workbooks go so fast, it’s about 2 hours in the morning, then another 2 in the afternoon. + an hour of audio books so let’s say 5! But only about 3 hours of my time/ day.
That’s why I like this kind of hybrid approach. We’re covering the basics, and we’re enjoying God’s creation and having fun as we go.
If I get time I’d like to do another post about the key to all this which is….
(And the Lord. Yes, of course. But I it’s a lot easier with discipline as well.)
Discipline, as in the Bible definition, meaning teaching and training. Having the ideal in mind and helping teach the children towards that.
I could have planned all this school with my older two, and actually, I did, but it didn’t work well because my oldest fought me on everything we did. And his sister followed suit. But he did that, I now realize, because I wasn’t firm enough and let him have waaaay too much control in his little life.
Now days, if someone is having a bad attitude I have them sit until they are ready to obey cheerfully.
We don’t go on.
We don’t fight through it.
We don’t butt heads all day.
They don’t get out of doing it.
If no school gets done, fine. I can either fight this battle when the first defiance comes up or I can fight it for the next 5 years. I’ll just fight it now.
I should have done that with my oldest son.
But that’s another topic for another day!
Enjoy your year, Moms!
May God give you endurance and encouragement as you teach and TRAIN your children in obedience, contentment, and patience this year. And some math and reading too.
Update August 2016
I completely forgot to update last August because I was hugely pregnant and trying to cool off at the pool or cram as much school as we could into the few months before the baby came. Ezra came October 25th so we have an adorable new chaos-creator in our family. Right now his nine-month passion is standing up and pulling books off any surface to fling them to the ground. School will be thrilling this year!
I’m still homeschooling my ten-year-old daughter (5th grade this year) and my 7-year-old son (1st grade this year). And Ezra of course will join in the fun. My 12-year-old is at a small private Christian school which we love and is a great fit for him.
What school will (maybe) look like this year at home:
Well, last year was very traditional, workbooks & textbooks, which were awesome in that new-baby season and made things easy for me. It made school kinda boring but we sort of needed boring last year just to make it through. No thought or planning.
This year I’ve been up to doing a little more hands-on stuff, and I am excited about it but also nervous, hoping I can fit in all the mom-intensive lessons I want to.
Reading: All About Reading (I LOVE this program and wish I’d been using it all along)
Handwriting: A Reason for Handwriting
Math: Hands-on lessons with mom following Waldorf Grade 1/2, Saxon worksheets
Science: together with sister, lots of reading & art pages for main lesson book
+ CC, Read Aloud time, Awana
Spelling: All About Spelling (LOVE LOVE)
Writing: IEW Medieval (through Essentials)
Science: covering CC topics with BJU and other science texts, art for MLB
+ CC, Read Aloud time, Awana, History with CC and Reading
I’m planning to do the skill work (their checklist) in the morning, science reading & art during the baby’s first nap, and read-aloud chapter book during the baby’s second nap. We’ll see!
And I’m hoping and praying to enjoy this sweet season of chubby arms & legs climbing and exploring and not worry so much about the baby “interrupting” us. He’s a delight and we’ll get school done as best we can while we’re enjoying him. : )
Update August 2014
This year my oldest will attend 5th grade at an actual, not-in-our-house school, which is pretty weird for us. I’ll have my other two at home. We’ll see how the year goes.
My daughter will be in 3rd grade and my youngest will be five. If it were only him I’d probably just let him play, work with me around the house, and learn naturally from life. Since I’ll be doing school with my daughter, however, my son will tag along and do preschool/kindergarten-ish things with us.
Because I just have two at home this year and they are relatively easy kids (they don’t abhor the whole idea of school, unlike some other children who may or may not belong to me), we’ll do some fun things. We are also doing Classical Conversations.
I’m doing less traditional things (ie. workbooks) and more hands-on (projects, stories, songs, games) this year than before, which means more work on the front end for me. But we also sit around and read for entire days at a time. Since I just have these two amenable kids to worry about and no toddlers running amok trying to poke their eyes out or color their entire bodies with markers, I was able to do the prep work. You do what works for you.
I’m going to post some of what we do on Facebook, but take it all with a grain of salt. It looks fun, and it is, but it’s a lot of work so if you have babies crying all night, or four other children to worry about, or if this is your first year homeschooling and you understandably want to pick the easiest thing to start, just enjoy an idea here or there and feel confident doing what you’re already doing.
You probably already know this, but Charity Hawkins is a pen name. Because I’m a Super-Secret Superspy. Oh, and also, to protect my family’s privacy, because I don’t want to be famous, and because no one can spell or pronounce my real name!
I attended the University of Oklahoma where my transcript shows least 5 majors over the course of four and a half years, including English and International Business. Finally I had to pick something, and ended up graduating with two degrees: Management Information Systems and Environmental Design. (Yeah, I don’t really know what that means either.)
Following college graduation, I joined an oil and gas company in a software support role, where I quickly learned I hated supporting software, and if we’re being honest, wasn’t too fond of computers either. I worked with natural gas trading for a year, and then moved into website design and development, which was much more fun. Over the next four years, I dabbled in project management, branding initiatives, and application support, all of which, surprisingly, have been very helpful skills in my latest
venture—writing and promoting a novel.
My husband and I were married in 2001. In 2004, one month before the birth of my first child, I came home. I have been a stay-at-home mom ever since, enjoying the creativity and freedom of life at home with my three children.
Usually. Except for those days when I wanted to go back to work. Because in corporate America, if people disagree with you, at least they don’t try to kick you and then fling themselves wailing to the floor.
I briefly did some freelance web design from home but decided if my baby was sleeping, many other items were higher on my priority list than designing someone else’s web site. Things like a shower. And eating lunch.
In 2008, I embarked on the adventure of homeschooling my then-four-year-old son. It was such an adventure, in fact, that I kept looking for fiction books about homeschooling. Surely someone must have written them, right? But they hadn’t. I have enjoyed writing ever since childhood and always thought I might focus on being a writer someday, but never pursued publication, other than a few occasional articles.
I had been wanting to share this story of the wild, hilarious, hard, beautiful world of homeschooling, and God gave me the idea to write it in the form of a novel. I have always been an avid reader who studied plot lines and characterization for fun, one who sighed with rapture at a perfectly chosen word. Writing fiction seemed to come very naturally. As if I had been unknowingly oxygen deprived, and had finally begun to breathe.
Very quickly (and with my husband watching the children every spare minute), the first draft was complete. The revisions and editing took another eight months.
I was thrilled when Todd and Debbie Wilson of Familyman Ministries agreed to publish the book. I am awed and amazed at what God has done.
We are currently in our
fifth seventh eighth year of homeschooling. It is getting easier. Some days no one even cries.
My prayer is that the blog and book would encourage you in these hard but precious years at home with our babies. Like Todd Wilson says, “The hard things are good. The good things are hard.”
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9
If you enjoyed the book, I’d love it if you’d be willing to leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. The number of positive reviews does seem to be a factor in whether a mom decides to pick up the book or not, so if you think it would be an encouragement to someone, that’s a great way to let them know. And it really makes my day to read your kind words!
Feel free to email me at Charity@TheHomeschoolExperiment.com . Thanks friends!