Category Archives: Homeschool

My posts about making the best of your entire homeschool experience, with honest tips and advice to help you plan, organize your homeschool whether you are a new homeschool mom, or at the end of your homeschool journey.

Guest Post: Jennifer Chalupnik from Education.com

I’m thrilled to be able to feature Jennifer Chalupnik from Education.com!  She has shared a really fun Word Web Treasure Hunt game to make learning spelling a lot of fun!  You have to check them out.  Their site is full of great resources!

I loved doing spelling and reading games with my kids when we homeschooled.  It helped them to remember their spelling words easier and sure made it a lot more fun.  Any time you can connect a physical activity, or something that can be touched to learning, kids eat it up and it helps their brain to make connections to what they are learning.  This is a game I would have loved to have done with my kids!  I love the connection it makes from the word to something they can see and touch.  This would be a great game for homeschool groups or co-ops!

Web of Words

This Word Web Treasure Hunt is a delightful way for emerging readers to improve their reading and spelling skills by tying letters and words with their real-life counterparts around the house or yard. By having players hunt down the other half of their word and read it aloud in order to find treasure, this game will give your child practice and purpose stringing letters together into words and will also strengthen vocabulary by reinforcing the meaning of directional words like under, over, around, left, right, and through that kids need to master at this age.

This game works best in big groups. If a one-word match-up seems too easy for the group, you can also string several words along the web strand as a challenge. Try this activity as a kids’ party game or holiday activity–it’s something everyone can enjoy!

What You Need:

Several long strings of thick black wool, one for each player
Room or patio space with enough room for at least 6 kids to clamber around
Chairs or fence posts or table legs on which to attach yarn
A 3×5 card for each player
Treasure prize—candy, or a non-candy prize such as a book or pencil
Hole punch

What You Do:

  1. Before playing the game, you will need to set up the web. For each player, take a treasure prize and find a hiding place for it.
  2. Write the location of the hiding place in clear block letters on an index card. Cut the card into two halves. One of these card halves will be for the player; the other half will be part of the spider web. Punch a hole in the right-hand corner of the right side of one of the word cards; punch a hole in the corner of the other card.
  3. Place a chair or table in the middle of the space you’ll be using. Take one of the long yarn strings, and use it to tie one of the card halves onto the table or chair. String out the rest of the yarn around other objects in the space. At the tail end of the yarn, attach the other half of the treasure word card.
  4. Repeat Steps 1-3 for each player (up to 8), making sure than the yarn has plenty of chances to wind up, down, around, under, and through other strands.
  5. After the web is set up, start the game. Have each player grab one loose end of the yarn, the end where the first half of a word is attached.
  6. Players will then follow their yarn strand up, down, and around until they read the other half of the word.
  7. When they reach the other half, players should put their two halves together and read the card to find out where their treasure awaits. Remind each player to do his best to sound out each letter in the word.
  8. Finally, go find the treasure!

Let me know if you tried the game and be sure to go visit Jennifer at Education.com to check out their amazing resources!  Happy Homeschooling!Blog Signature

Homeschool Mid-Year Check up

It’s time for a homeschool mid-year check up!  Just like you get check-ups, your homeschool needs them too.

Do you go to the doctor when you’re not feeling well?  Hopefully you’re better about it than I am.  I typically wait until I feel like I’m dying before I call the doctor and that’s usually one of the worst things I can do.  If I would have gone sooner, not only would I have felt better faster, it also wouldn’t have gotten as bad as it did.  All those years of not going in for a checkup isn’t the best thing either.  What if something was wrong with me and I didn’t know it yet?  You would know if you did a homeschool mid-year check up!

A check up could alert the doctor and myself to something that’s wrong before it gets serious.  So why do we put them off?  It’s no different for my homeschool or yours.  Even homeschools need checkups,  and doing a homeschool mid-year check up is a must.  Why bother?  Especially if everything seems to be going really good.

It gives you a chance to review your goals – are you meeting them, or not, or sorta kinda. Maybe homeschool is going great, but could you spice it up a little more?  Are your kids really learning?  Is everything going great because the work is too easy and not challenging them?  Maybe you’ve just found a really great rhythm and nothing needs tweaking.  Congratulations!  Enjoy this phase while it lasts!

Why do a mid-year homeschool review?   By the time you reach the Christmas break you’ve been using your curriculum long enough to hopefully now if it’s working or not.  This is the best time during the homeschool year to make change.  You can start fresh after the break.  There is still enough time to tweak what you’re using if it’s not working for you.  Can’t order new curriculum?  Then just tweak what you’re using or go back to what was working.  Make it work for you, not the other way around!

Review your goals for the homeschool year.  Are they obtainable?  Have you met your goals?  Make some new ones.  Look carefully at your kids grades, is the work too hard?  Is it too easy?  Or is it Goldilocks?  Are you having any discipline problems that need to be addressed?  This can be a reflection of the curriculum, learning style and many other things.  Take time to think and pray over these things now before it becomes worse.

How’s your record keeping?  Are you keeping up?  If not, take this time to get caught up.  Do you like your record keeping or would you like to switch next year?  Make notes!  Take time to really assess your whole homeschool, the curriculum, classes, projects, extras and make notes of what you’d like to change for next year.  Are there fun projects or field trips, movies, anything that you forgot about or would still like to do?  Try to see if you can work them in.

Talk with your kids!  Ask them how they feel homeschool is going.  Are they being socialized enough?  Are there things they want to learn that you didn’t know about?  Do they feel like they’re struggling anywhere or would they like a little more of a challenge?  You’d be surprised at what your kids will tell you when they feel like they can open up to you and they should be able to be honest with you about homeschool.  But be prepared, we need to be critiqued too, and sometimes that pill can be hard to swallow.  But if we need to make changes, then they should start with us.

Think about a mid-year review like a review at your job.  Some companies only do annual reviews and some do both.  This gives the employer and the employee a chance to find out the company as a whole is doing and if it’s moving along the projected path.  It also does the same for the employee. Are you still heading in the right direction, how’s your attitude toward the company and fellow employees, etc.

It’s really no different for a homeschool.  We need to know as teachers how we’re doing.  We need to know how our homeschool as a whole is doing and are we still on the path we set at the beginning of the homeschool year?  How does the principal of the homeschool think we’re doing?   If that’s your spouse, are they fully aware of what’s really going on?  And what about our students, how do they feel about the homeschool as a whole, their work, curriculum, attitudes, etc.

Now is the time to fix what needs to be fixed for the remainder of this homeschool year.  Above all, take time to pray over your homeschool, yourself as a teacher and your kids as students.    Then take time to reflect and review.  You could do it a home, Starbucks or do it retreat style and go away for a weekend.   Wherever you will have some quiet time.  Just remember this is not the time to beat yourself up.  It’s just a mid-year checkup!  Blog Signature

 

Effortless Homeschool Planning

Did I say, “Effortless Homeschool Planning?”  Yes, I did!  Well, maybe you have to put a little effort in, but with a few tips, it sure will be a breeze!

Time to break out the coffee, chocolate and snacks again, and send the kiddos to grandma’s house and the hubby to work!  It’s time to plan for another homeschool year!  I still can’t believe this will be my last year planning for our own homeschool.  Believe me, time does fly!  To help your homeschool planning go smoother, here are some of my posts to show how I plan my homeschool year.

It’s really not hard to plan your whole homeschool year.  If you use a traditional textbook method like Abeka, then it’s really easy because the whole year is already planned.  You just have to copy what you’re doing each day from each subject into your planner.  For example:  Math-Day 1, page 5, problems page 6; Science ready pages 6-10; English test 1, etc.  That’s it!

Then you can add fun stuff to go with it, like a history movie or a lap book!  If you’re like me and you kinda do your own thing, then it gets a little more complicated.  But it also stretches your creativity, too, which I really like.  Don’t feel like you have to plan every minute detail at this point; before each school week, take time to look your week over and get more detailed.  This week and next week, I’ll take you step by step as I plan for school, but for right now, just get the nuts and bolts down.

Here’s some posts to get you started, just click on the picture to go to the posts from my archives! Enjoy the old pictures from my planners!

Homeschool Planning 101 – Course Projections

Homeschool Planning 101 – School Calendar

http://girlfriendsguide2.com/homeschool-planning-101-daily-schedule/

Blog Signature

 

A Homeschooling, Blogging Mom’s Work is Never Done

My desk was covered today with work to catch up on.  My printer went crazy on me awhile ago and I couldn’t print or set-up anything correctly. Which meant I couldn’t even work on my book, but woohoo it’s finally fixed! I also lost a day of school yesterday since I had to take Emily to the doctor.  Actually I’ve taken one child to the doctor every week for the past three weeks. So today, I’m playing catch up and I thought it was crazy how everything was all over my desk.  I figured all of you homeschooling, blogging moms would understand and maybe get a laugh out of it, too.Homeschool Mom Desk

 

My desk with all my work all spread out and someone is hiding behind my computer.  I love the light through the window. I still need to redo my lampshade.  It’s driving me nuts!  Papers to grade like my son’s chemistry test.  My To-Do list which is never ending like all moms.  The rough draft of my new book that I was proofing while Spencer was testing and Emily was doing Math.  My weekly planner/blog planner out so that I can make notes about what I’ve gotten done and everything that still needs to be done.  And look, my inbox is full of papers to grade!

 

And Tux pops out from behind my laptop to see what I’m up to now.  I think I disturbed his nap.  He’s so fluffy!  And least someone can nap while there’s so much to do!

Blog Signature

Need a Minute to Have a Mommy Meltdown

I’m going to apologize in advance for my meltdown.  I just want to act like a two year old for a minute.  I want to kick my feet and bang my head against the wall and scream not fair!

My daughter Emily, who is only 14, and has a disease called Ehler’s Danlos with Hypermobility Syndrome, now may have one more thing to contend with.  She already has reflux, asthma, normal allergies, skin sensitivities to all kinds of things, allergies to certain medicines and now may have an allergy to a food.  She is already allergic to tomatoes, crazy, I know.  Not a severe allergy but enough that it triggers her reflux which then aggravates her asthma.

The past couple of days she has been breaking out with hives and which each day they are getting bigger and more spread out and with a stronger reaction.  Since I already have one child with severe allergies (my son) I knew what this meant, get to the doctor.  Last night the place where the hives were, was as large as a volleyball.  Bright pink and full of huge hives.  We even snapped a pic on her IPod so we could show the doctor.  I highly recommend doing that because even though we didn’t get a great pic, it still was enough for the doctor to look at it and say, “Yep, that’s a food allergy!”

So today my baby girl had her blood drawn for the umpteenth time and now we wait to find out if it’s nut (been eating some nutty buddies), eggs, dairy, wheat, etc.  And I’ve been doing some research and found out that people with Ehler’s Danlos seem to be predisposition to have food allergies.  Go figure!

I was really hoping we were done with new things. Each person in my house already has some type of food allergy/sensitivity, but I was really hoping we were done with all of this.  Everything seemed to be cruising along, normal even.  It was really nice!  Please don’t get me wrong, I know that this is certainly not the worst thing in the world.  Simple even and could be 100 times worse.  But it is scary dealing with epi-pens and food allergies and I didn’t want her to have one more thing to worry about.  It already overwhelms her at times.  No child should have to go through illness, no matter what it is.

Ok, I’m done whining (I’m actually smiling now, really!)  Thanks for letting me vent.  I just needed to get it out of my system. Blog Signature

 

Classroom Makeover!

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately because I’ve been really busy with a surprise that my hubby brought home, a new desk!  A big executive desk that was given to him for free!  Ain’t God grand?  I think so!

So what was the first thing I needed to do?  Make it mine and since it wasn’t my hubby’s desk from childhood or an antique that someone gave me, I had no problems or guilt about wanting to paint it.  My hubby wasn’t so sure though.

Here it is!  It’s so big and it was really nice, but it had some rough spots.  So I sanded the finish off to take off the shine so the primer and paint would adhere.

Next I gave it 3 coats of Behr paint and primer in Decorator White.  Once it was all covered, I sanded it down in a few places to reveal the dark wood underneath.  I was going for a shabby chic look but I only did a little because I didn’t want it to look too old. Then I coated it in 2 coats of varnish.  I may do a 3rd coat later, but for now I’m really happy with the results.

Next I moved it into it’s new home right by the window of our classroom.  I love it! There’s so much room on top to work and spread out and I love the worn look after I got the desk personalized.  I still need to redo the lamp to match and I need to paint the trim on the white board to match the corkboard.  That’s next on the list! 

I went to Hobby Lobby and got the urn and the candle this morning for next to nothing, on sale baby!  The vase I had and the flowers I also had from an old arrangement. Emily wants to paint the pencil holder she made when she was little, but I like it just the way it is.

Here you can see a close up of the drawers and the handles.  It’s kinda hard to tell in the picture, but the handles were that gold-brass color.  I actually painted the round parts red and the curves in the handles red.  When it dried it looked really pretty.  Then I gave them a quick varnish.

Here’s the finished desk and yes as you can see I’m on my Facebook page!  I can’t wait to blog and write and do school from here!  And what does hubby think of my finished product?  He really likes it and I can’t believe how it turned out!

 

Blog Signature

 

East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championship 2013 Fun!

If you ever get the chance to go and watch the East Coast Homeschool Basketball Championships, I highly recommend it!  We had a blast, but we do every year.  From watching both of our varsity teams, to goofing off at the hotel to eating out together, there is nothing like it.   It is the “school sports” experience we wanted our kids to have.  Here’s just a few of the several hundred pictures that we took.  This doesn’t even come close to all the pics the kids took on their IPods, IPads and phones!

My son Spencer #20 doing a great job and being tough!Liberty 2013

Me helping a friend’s mom with her daughter’s number. Please pay no attention to my hair.  We had a 10pm game the night before and had to be up early.  I was exhausted and it was a ponytail kinda day.  But you should have seen her a couple of days later, when the girls made the championship game.  I must find a picture of her!  She had a red curly wig, makeup, crazy red and black clothes.  She brought the spirit!Liberty 2 2013

This is homeschool sports at its best!  After the championship game, both teams huddled together for prayer.  What a way to close out the week and to show that yes, winning is amazing, but it’s the friendships and our walk that’s the most important.  After all God is the reason we can play so tough!Liberty 1 2013

I love snapping pictures of coaches talking to their teams.  The intensity on their faces and the players.  I got this one of our guys right before the game started.  They are hanging on his every word.Liberty 3 2013

The girls and their trophy!  They played so amazing and we are so proud of them.  They got to play in the Vines Center!  The Dome!  They fought hard and played with heart and placed 2nd.  Congratulations!Liberty 4 2013

The guys and their big trophy.  Wonder why they aren’t so happy?  It was a really tough game and they fought hard, but it just didn’t go their way.  It was a hard loss.  But they did get to play in the Vines Center under the dome and that was awesome! Congratulations!Liberty 5 2013

Liberty 6 2013

Fans, siblings and friends! We laughed, we shouted, we argued a little with the ref’s, we ate, we stayed up way too late, but it was all worth it!  I love homeschooling and homeschool sports.

Liberty7 2013

Liberty 8 2013

 

Is Homeschooling in the U.S. in Jeopardy?

Have you heard about the German family that came to the U.S. seeking asylum from their government so they could homeschool?  If you haven’t or even if you have then you better pay attention.  It doesn’t even matter if you support homeschooling or not.  There is an agenda within our own government that we better wake up and pay attention to.

The issue is bigger than this one family that had to make the heart breaking decision to leave their country, their friends, their jobs, their families, everything to come here.  It’s bigger than the fact that homeschooling is banned in Germany.  It is the reason it is banned and it’s the reason that our government wants to deport this family back to Germany where they will be sent to prison and have their children stripped away from them and deemed unfit parents by their own government and for us to possibly find homeschooling banned here.

To get a fuller understanding, please click here and read what the attorney from HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Assoc.) says about the case and its importance to all of us.  Did you read it?  Good!  That saves me a lot of explaining!  The problem is our current government believes they have the right to determine what our rights, liberties and freedoms are.  They could potentially ban homeschooling here too.  This is unprecedented in the U.S.

For those of you that have just started homeschooling in the past few years, then you don’t have the experience of what we went through when we first started homeschooling. Even thought it is legal in NC., I remember being taught at homeschool meetings to not take our kids out in public during school hours, being asked why our kids aren’t in school when we did dare go out, being taught what to do when DSS showed up on your doorstep.  Yes those were the days!  But that doesn’t compare to what the ones a few years before me when through.  You guys have been blessed!

But let’s look a little more in the past. Have we forgotten what Germany did during WW2 to their kids?  What does their stance say about them today?  They no longer want people in their country to have a religious upbringing?  They know what is best for the children and not the parents.  Are they going back to another version of their WW2 state?  God I hope not!

But what about us? The nanny state is ever-increasing and ever-encroaching.  And now it has its aims set on homeschooling.  If this family gets deported, this could lead to huge ramifications on our rights here.  The government is trying to say that homeschooling isn’t a right and they can take it away.  Look at the other rights we are losing right now.  They already think they can tell us how to eat, what size drink to purchase, pushing more and more vaccinations, health care, gun rights, etc.  What will this say about Christianity in the U.S.?  We are losing more of our religious rights every year.  Are you ready to stand up and tell our government, that we know what is best for ourselves and our children?  That we don’t want to lose our rights?  Are you willing to make the phone calls, emails, etc. to get the message across to them? Or will you sit silently by and mumble complaints when you can’t homeschool your kids or your grandchildren are taken from their parents because they dared to do what God was leading them to do? 

I know I may have taken this to the extreme, but it is a possibility if we don’t take a stand now.

Blog signature

 

Is it Anti-Christian to Cheer at Sports?

That is the burning question right now.  I love watching my kids play sports!  I have loved coaching sports and dance and working with kids.  I’ve been doing it for over 16 years.  But things are changing, not really with me, but around me. What was once passionate and fun is now dull and bordering on boring.  I still love the sports.  I still love watching my kids play them.  I still have a desire to coach, but that has now been severely tempered and in all reality, I may never coach again thanks to a very personal beating that my girls and I took this year.  But that’s a whole other story.

What I’m talking about is rooting for your team or child at a sporting event.  Team spirit!  Cheering loudly and passionately.  Wearing team colors.  Hanging banners and having spirit nights.  Not where you are screaming at your kid and telling them everything they did wrong, but loudly cheering, “Go team!, Go (insert child’s name).  And I’m not talking little kids here, but high school!  Is it wrong for homeschool teams to be cheered by their fans?  Now I’m not talking teams that are like recreation ball, but ones that are competitive school ball.  Although I don’t see a problem cheering loudly for either one! 

I see it everywhere.  The teams we played against used to be so passionate and so were we. It was so much fun!  Everyone cheered their hearts out.  Jumping up and cheering when the basket went in.  Everyone holding their breath and letting out a collective yell at the buzzer beater.  Stomping on the bleachers.  The teams actually asking the fans to get louder when we got quiet.  It was fun!  Win or lose the games were fun and both teams were still friends at the end of the game!  And now you could hear crickets chirp. There’s barely a golf clap when we win or when a good shot is made.

All of a sudden over the past two years, we have started being told it’s not Christ-like to cheer.  Parents are now being pulled aside or given dirty looks when they cheer.  It’s being told to our kids and team spirit is about non-existent.  Hardly anyone cheers anymore, whether it’s a simple “Go team!” or “Make good passes!”  Why is that?  What has happened?  Aren’t Christians allowed to be passionate about their lives and enjoy things?  Doesn’t God want us to enjoy things?  Is this another form of Christians bullying other Christians?  Or has the world just made us too afraid of everything?  What does this say to the parents that are new Christians, new homeschoolers, or the non-Christian parent?  Does it say that Christians or homeschoolers aren’t allowed to have fun? I really want to know. 

I know what it’s saying to the parents that are not returning to our sports because of this.  They are leaving because it’s not any fun and they wanted their kids to have the experience of a school team.  A huge part of a teenager’s life is the experience.  The experience of having something to root for, to cheer for.  Being part of something bigger than themselves and friendships.  Learning how to deal with success and failure.  I also know what it meant to a parent that spoke to me about it.  It said to them that we are judgmental (meaning judging the parents and kids that cheered) and not accepting at all of people that don’t fit with us (meaning the ones that won’t cheer) and that hurt.  Even though they weren’t talking about me personally (because I cheer), it hurt.  I hurt for them and their kids.  Are we turning them away?  Are we turning our kids away from enjoying things like sports?  What message are we sending them about Christianity?  I would love some thoughts.

This may actually turn into a series. I have a lot to say and a lot of thoughts on the matter too many for one post!  Wanna hear something funny? As I wrap up this post, I decided to turn on Pandora and what song do you think started playing?  “We Will Rock You” by Queen!  How appropriate!  I just had to laugh!

Spice Up Your Reading for Halloween

Is your kid or teen already bored with reading and literature?  Why not do something fun and spine tingling just in time for Halloween?  There are some really great literature books that are sure to fit into your reading list for the year and it will chase away the boredom.

  • “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
  • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
  • “The Tell Tale Heart” or “The Raven” or just about anything by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”
  • “Macbeth” or “Hamlet” by Shakespeare
  • Ghost stories from your state
  • “The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Harry Potter or Twilight

Not crazy about really scary books?  Try mysteries!

  • “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Nancy Drew
  • The Hardy Boys

I think you get the picture!  There are tons of books to choose from that will either keep you on the edge of your seat or terrified to turn the page.  Most of what I listed here are for middle school thru high school.  A lot of these have study guides that you can use along with them from Progeny Press or Total Language Plus.  You could probably even find some free ones online with a little research.  They would be a great addition to any high schoolers reading list.  Colleges are not only looking to see if they read classics but if their reading list is varied and current.

There is no need for everything you read to be a read-the-book-and–do-the-worksheet kind of lesson.  Be creative!  Study a little bit of the history of the author and how their life affected their style of writing.  Why did things during that time period scare people?  What was going on during the author’s life historically?  What was the world like when the author was writing? 

You could follow up finishing the book with a scary movie night complete with popcorn. Maybe a bonfire with friends, a corn maze, or a ride in the woods on trailer. Have fun with it! If you’re really brave got to a haunted trail!  Time to shake up lit class and have some fun!