Fun Family Homeschool

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Tag: homeschool

The 2018-19 plan….So far

I am not sure that I ever planned out a whole school year in advance before. I am still not sure if that is what I have done here.  But something is coming together and it feels a lot like a plan.
My specialty is last minute, creative fun.  Long term, advance planning is not at all how I am wired, mostly because I have decidaphobia ( which I recently learned to be a real thing).  There are too many possible things to study and learn and way too many ways of doing it that I get overwhelmed and end up choosing nothing… and throw all my energy into a fun new project that can be done right now.  Usually art or something related.
Planning each new week ahead on Sundays nights served me very well last year and I will resume that practice once I can plant my feet firmly in one place for more than two weeks at a time.
But there was one notable drawback, I still ended up with decision fatigue from constantly having to think about what we were going to study each week, trying to provide a balanced diet of necessary skills and inspiring ideas.
I tried to ease the load by choosing a history program that should have lasted all year as an open and go program, we enjoyed it for a few weeks but then I came across chapters that I disagreed with and lost faith in the program, so I dropped it. Leaving us with no history plan. Thankfully Ronald Dhal wrote a gripping biography that really brought some recent history to life.  And we read a couple historical fiction books.
All this to say that putting all my trust in one publisher for any topic is a risky endeavour, so this year I am taking a different approach.
I ordered a couple book bundles from Beautiful Feet books.  Each is box of book titles from different authors and publishers (many are award winners) along with a guide book with discussion questions and more book lists on the subject. The bundle is called The History of Science and it came with more than a dozen ‘living books’, each about a different figure who contributed to science in some big way.  There is no particular order that the books need to be read in (the guid book goes chronologically), and if a book in there is just not meshing well with us, we can drop it and pick up a different one. These are not dry textbooks but exciting narratives that will make the accounts come to life, that’s what a ‘living book’ is. Something I learned by looking into Charlotte Masons writings last year. So that makes up both our science and History for this year.  A time line was included but we may make our own and do some of the experiments outlined in a couple of the books. Roman is also interested in nuclear physics, so there will likely be a deep dive on that subject.

Character Building

Building Character

The other bundle I ordered is called Teaching Character Through Litterature. It is a collection of award winning and diverse fiction novels that will introduce the kids to challenges and situations they have likely not faced yet but may someday and give them food for thought to help them prepare in advance how they might act themselves. Or that’s the hope at least.
(There are a handful of companies offering similar programs.  Book Shark and Sonlight are the other names that come to mind.  If you know of others please mention them in the comments so that readers can look into them as well.  Some are Christian but Book Shark is secular. )


Life of Fred Math

Math is actually my favourite subject. No, seriously, it is.  Nothing scares me about teaching math. But I like to have a plan here too because even fun desicions can be exhausting. I love Life of Fred, as goofy and silly as it is, the stories makes practical application all along the way and the kids remember what they have learned. Very short reviews takes the drudgery out of practice.  We also love Bedtime Math books.  I adore the short interesting stories and the way there are 3 levels of math questions plus a bonus. So all my school age kids get their own question to answer.  This is great at lunchtime. I plan to include more math games to help solidify the multiplication table and addition. King domino is a personal fave but also Yahtzee and our homemade version of Shut the Box.  I also use the occasional the worksheet to hone in on specific math functions,  I reserve these for 1:1 times and we will do a few problems a day until I feel they have grasped it or that it is over their head enough to drop it and come back another time. Also MathAntics on YouTube to intro or review concepts. He’s great.
Writing is my least favourite subject to teach because, even though I love grammar, I would not know where to start or what to cover and when.  We had used pages from the Complete Canadian Curriculem in the past but they are tedious and not retained.  Last year I discovered Brave Writer and my whole homeschooling univers blew open and ‘then there was light!’ I am still limping along, trying to master the art of teaching the lessons without reading it directly from the guide.  But honestly, the entire ‘Brave Writer Lifestyle’ is what I had already been doing with my kid back when we started out and homeschooling was fresh and magical to us. Julie and her team have provided fabulous webinars that really instruct us how to use the products in any circumstances. So I trust this one particular program provider for our writing instruction.
 So we will be using  The Wand and Jot it Down and some arrow guides this year, with a focus on getting into a routine of daily writing practices.
The boys will continue to practice cursive writing and integrate it into copy work.
My husband and I are artsy so I don’t worry here either.  I have purchase a membership with Masterpiece society and there is likely enough there to give us directed projects for when we lack our own inspiration.  Specifically, we will take some water colour lessons and try the mixing with the masters and drawing lessons. I want to include a weekly picture study this year too, where we may learn a bit about certain artists.
Music and theatre are important to me but we are currently traveling too much for lessons with a teacher.  I am encouraging the kids to keep finding YouTube tutorials and practice at will.  I have added a weekly song to our morning worship.  I draw out a different musical aspect from each song and give a brief lesson, then we practice singing it. I am drawing on my own experiences from choir and music lessons from my own schooling.
The big boys are still enjoying trampoline so we will continue taking classes once school starts up.  Dars and juju get their lessons at the drop in classes.
I would like to start a morning workout routine using YouTube videos, I feel that Pilates or a form of yoga stretches may be beneficial and calming…which is desperately needed.  I am normally a ‘do it alone with no one watching’ kind of person so we shall see how this goes.  Also, now that the littles are bigger, regular hikes are high on my list. The forest near us is amazing and I want them to get to know it like I have. I am putting off swim lessons until Juju is old enough to join. Last term was too hard with two time slots for lessons and him not able to swim until open swim after the lessons, made for a 3 hour swim trip, on a meeting night.  We might alternate open swim and trampoline on weds.
We are currently reading Paddle to the Sea. I have other books like it lined up in my amazon cart. Activities to go along with the book will be map work, learning more about tides and currents, field trip to Wye Marsh or Tiffin Centre or Bear Creak Eco park.  The big boys are loving online games that involve a lot of maps so that counts as map work.
I like to pullarticles from Complete Canadian Curriculem book or news stories and have Discussions. Kids love being part of grown-up conversations
Aside from trying to be outside tons and tons, we will watch documentaries, YouTube videos like Jonathan’s Blue World and Smarter EveryDay. We started nature journals, gonna try to keep that going.
Am I missing anything?
what is your plan this year?
comment below

Canadian Online Homeschool Conference

http://Canadian Homeschool Conference

I happened upon this amazing conference last year, deep in the trenches with four kids and no sleep and no local homeschool conventions anymore for encouragement and inspiration, there had been one in our city but it has stopped indefinitely.

I loved that I could put my kids to bed then log in and listen to the wonderful participants as I wash dishes, folded clothes and drank wine in my PJs!  I was so moved by one presenter that I bought her video series explaining in detail how she had done to homeschool her many children with a very strict budget and through periods of severe illness. That series cost me about $30 but ultimately shifted how we school and the tears dried up over-night.

If you need a boost, register for free here ( disclaimer: this is an affiliate link, and I will receive a small % of any purchases made, but you don’t need to buy anything to listen to all the great presenters).  If you are new or struggling with homeschooling right now, I fully recomend the $35CND all access pass that will give you long term access to the presentations as well as oodles of discounts and freebies valued at $120CND.

I just know you will love it, go check out what sessions have been lined up. And enjoy the conference from home!


10 Minute Molly Maids

Of all the chore systems we have tried, this one has lasted the longest and had the most success. It’s basic, easy to remember and quick but most important, it provides a reminder to work with and train my kids how to do the jobs well.  Here is how it works:

We take 10 minutes either in the morning or right after lunch to tackle a task.  These are basic areas that need regular attention but would be neglected if I did not have a schedule.  Now that I have older kids, I send them to one area of the house while I train the little ones in another area.

Monday is Mending and Maintenace. That means if a button has fallen off a shirt or pants have a ripped knee, we practice sewing and mend it.  If a light bulb needs replacing or a gash in wall needs spackle, we do it then.  We don’t need to cross every item off the list, just work at it for 10 minutes and get done what we can… together.

It’s good to have a running list of items that need doing so that you can delegate a small job and help with a bigger one.  This does not mean that we leave every maintenance and mending job for Monday’s,  it just means that once a week, we are prompted to look around and care for things that need our attention.

Tuesday is Tubs and Toilets.  Pretty self-explanitory but while we are in the bathroom cleaning those fixtures, we do the sink and mirrors too, because, why not?  We have lots of bathrooms so we spilt up and I rotate which one I help with so that each one gets a really good clean every few weeks.  I do not inspect the bathroom being cleaned by the older kids, though I work along side them often for refreshers. The point is to be done in 10 minutes and move on with the day.  It is not an exam, it’s a contribution made to the household.  Somedays they give their best, other days, not so much. That’s life.

Wednesday is for Windows and Walls.  I have these amazing cloths called KAWOS (kleen anything with out streaks) you get them wet, wring them well and wipe ANYTHING! No streaks! So everyone gets one and we spread out, washing windows, doors, doorknobs, marks on walls, door jambs, ect…. fun and done! Moving on….

Thursday is to Tidy Thoroughly, putting all those items that are not where they should be back in their propper place. Stuff just seems to migrate through the house. I am an offender too.  Remember 10 minutes only!

Friday is Floors.  Vacuume carpets, sweep and wash what you can of the rest in 10 minutes.  I often do a good sweep and vacume with the kids during this time, then wash the floor once the littles are in bed.

Sometimes we miss a day, but we get it the next week so it is still better than what happens when we have no plan at all.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the things that need doing in the house every week ( dusting is not on the list and never gets done….I should really add it in somewhere, what day rhymes with dusting? 😂) And I do often have to clean a toilet between tuesdays, but the point is that the kids are learning that these jobs are easier when done regularily and that they are not all that hard to do, even the little kids can help.

By using alliteration to assign these tasks, I dont need to take my list with me when we travel, we all know what needs doing each day, no matter where we are in the world.

Whats your cleaning schedule? Any tips to share?



Homeschooling Through Loss

We recently lost a very dear family friend.  She was 61 and essentially an adopted grandmother to my kiddos, though she was like an older sister to me.  Unmarried and childless, she gratefully joined in on any activity we invited her to, from swimming at the community pool to gymnastics class to going to the zoo.  She was one of my foremost homeschool supporters.

Though she fought hard against multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) for 6 months or so, it was her kidneys that gave out in then and sent her into a rapid downward spiral.  Through all the doctors apointments and hospital visits and extra help with shopping and around the house, we put on our brave faces and tried never to complain about the inconvinience.  I would be lying if I told you that I never thought to myself: ‘it will be easier once she dies’.  I thought it… but I was dead wrong!

Losing a loved one may release them of their suffering but it also releases you of the need to put on that brave face, and the trapped emotions just might come crashing in on you all at once. The guilt, the anger, the blame, the sadness.  And when your children are suffering the loss too, it is all multiplied.

It might seem to make perfect sense to throw out the homeschool schedule for a while and ride the wave of grief.   And for some, that may actually work. But I want to offer my personal experience so that others may benefit from considering it.

Aimlessness and sorrow can get into all sort of trouble when they chum up.  If everyone in the family is feeling stung, then having no purpose in your day will likely lead to fights and chaos and anarchy…which will lead to more pain, of a different sort.  Don’t pile hurt upon hurt.

If you are fortunate enough to get a heads-up that a loved one is dying, have a plan for your own family to carry you through the storm. There are a few things I wish I had known to do:

1) Prepare freezer meals. I have not only found it hard to think about food, or what to make, but have also felt overwhelmed at the thought of having to grocery shop.  Think comfort food.

2)Have babysitters lined up. Friends or family who will take the kids so that you can have some time to process your own feelings, or so that you can devote time to helping with nessesary tasks after the death of your loved one without feeling like you are neglecting your kids.  Little kids are resilient, they need to get back to playing and can seem unbothered by the loss, which can almost irritate older kids and adults who are processing dificult feelings. I sent my littles to daycare for a couple days and it was a nice break for us all.  I only wish I had lined up an overnight or two as well, bedtime routine was harder than usual and I would get quite cranky with them.

3) Stock snacks. People may come visit to consol you, be ready to receive them with tea and cookies. It may even be that tea time is what your kids need more of too. Or perhaps you will welcome the distraction of a playdate, snacks would be good to have on hand.

4) Discuss what roles you may be called on to fill, post-mortem, with with the ailing party so that you can be prepared.  If you will be asked to say a few words at the funeral, start writing things down now.  If you will be asked to help file the taxes and claim insurance, know where the paperwork is.  Etc…

5) Prepare several weeks of school lessons ahead.more on this in a bit.

6) Prepare how you will explain death to the little ones. Continue reading