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Learning Boooks

Learning Books

Every once in awhile I get rewarded for homeschooling. It definitely comes with it’s ups and downs. The ups are always when I see success with my kids.

A couple of days ago, my son, who always fights me when it comes to writing, asked me about the crabs on the beach. We were just about to do his daily reading, which I’m normally not flexible on, but I had a little feeling to go with this one. So, I got up from the couch and asked him if he would like to get online to see what he could find. He, of course, was very happy with this. On our way to the computer he took a little detour, went to the other room for a minute and came back with a stack of papers that he had stapled together. He then announced that he was going to make a book. This is typical of him, to want to write a book but he never puts words in his books because he’s a great artist. His books are always full of wonderful drawings. This book, however; was different, it has words! I know some of you are thinking, what’s the big deal?, but the other half of you, who have a kid like this, appreciate this as a great victory! He finally wanted to make a book and he wants to write in it every day and do research on different animals. Even better, 2 of my other kids are now making books on subjects that they’re interested in. The best thing about these books is that I don’t have to ask them to write in them or coerce learning. They want to do them and they want to do a good job. They want them to look nice. It’s not nagging mom making it ”right”. I love it!

Homeschooling is really so rewarding. Every day comes with a simple reward.

 

Homeschooling in Puerto Rico

We’re finally getting settled into our new home and getting a routine down. Some of you have asked what I’m doing for school right now. Here is what’s working for us now. Keep in mind that it is constantly changing. Just a reminder, my kids are ages: 14, 11, 9 and 6.

Kids at the sea glass/crab finding beach.

Kids at the sea glass/crab finding beach.

We always do history, science, art, geography and music together, meaning all of our kids. Right now this is all about Puerto Rico. Puerto Rican history, geography, art and music. Science is oceanography, sea animals, land animals, waves, tides, sand, ect… Pretty much anything we experience can later be turned into a science lesson that they really care about. It’s a little easier here only because I’m not used to everything so we’re very aware of the world around us. I think this can be done wherever you live. :)

IMG_1190

Crabs on the Beach

Math - All of my kids are using Math-U-See right now. I like the consistency and I love the way Steve, the teacher, makes sense of math. I’m learning math in a whole new way as well. All of my kids need a little guidance each day but are able to complete a lot of math work on their own. I check their work afterwards and answer any questions.

Spelling – We are trying a new spelling book this year called, Spelling Power. It came highly recommended by some friends. I haven’t been very impressed with my kids spelling lately nor their constant, “Mom? How do you spell…?” I love the program! It’s a little hard to get through the instructions, especially if you’re like me, and just want to start without reading instructions. Now that we’re all set up it’s super simple and is giving my kids more confidence in their spelling. This is also helping with sentence structure, grammar and handwriting.

Reading – We read as a family and individually.

Family: We choose a family book to read together. We just finished The Cookie Company by Ross Venokor. Family books are so much fun to read! This is one of my favorite things that we do. We don’t read together every day because sometimes we get busy and forget.

Individually: This one is getting easier now that they’re all reading. I still read with my 9 and 6 year old. They choose what they read for their independent book. They also read other things during the day that they’re interested in.

Writing – Right now our writing consists of email, stories, journaling and little books that they write about things they learn. They write, I correct punctuation, grammar and spelling. I try to be sensitive when I correct them and show them a better way. I’m hoping that if I’m patient they’ll  remember what we’re learning.

Spanish – We are learning Spanish using 2 apps. Duo Lingo as well as Lingo Arcade. These are supplements to us using our Spanish outside the home, Honestly, we aren’t learning as fast as I would like but it’s coming along. Slowly but surely.

 

The Boys Doing Spanish Lessons

The Boys Doing Spanish Lessons

That’s it. I know it sounds super simple. I’m really enjoying keeping it simple and consistent. I feel like our most important learning will come while we are out and about in Puerto Rico learning a new language, culture, land and making new friends.

Any questions? Just leave a comment below.

 

I Can’t Believe It’s Been So LONG!

I Can't Believe It's Been So LONG!

I’ve been a major slacker on this blog. When I started blogging I would joke with my friend about how many homeschool blogs only have a small amount of posts on them. I, of course, was not going to be one of those bloggers. Haha!

I know now why there aren’t that many with consistent posts. Homeschooling is a busy life. I mean busy in a good way. Your main priority is the family. I’m really missing Love To Homeschool and all of you so I’m blog a little more as a fun way for me to keep up with you.

Here’s a little update:

collage #1

All of the kids are home now full time and home is Puerto Rico! (One of the best perks of homeschooling!)  It’s been a fun year planning our adventure here. We’re planning on being here for at least a year. We’ve only been here for a month and it’s been a little crazy and a lot of fun. You can read more about it HERE on our other blog (goneexploring.co)

I hope all of you are doing great! I know you’re all definitely keeping busy!

 

My Dishwasher Doesn’t Clean My Dishes!

One day, Ryan (my dh), read an article on how to fix our dishwasher so that it actually washed the dishes. It’s never worked right and I was so tired of working hard to clean them all before I would put them in the dishwasher just for sanitation. I honestly thought that the dishwasher was broken. Then Ryan tells me about this “awesome” article he read. Then he proceds to tell me about how I should never wash the dishes. Just scrape the junk off and put them right in. I thought he was crazy to think that could actually work but tried it because he was sure. It was totally against my nature to leave the dishes sooo dirty. I really wanted to wash them. Then, to my surprise, they came out perfectly clean! You can imagine my excitement. I mean, I  and I’m sure you too, do a ton of dishes. Our kids are home all day! So my new life is scraping instead of washing (or having kids scrape instead of wash) I love it so much that I had to share my new little time saver with you. I’ve told several friends and none of them believe me so I took some pictures to convince you. :)

These dishes sat in the dishwasher all night because I forgot to start the load. I myself doubted this one.

BEFORE

BEFORE

To my amazement the no washing plan worked again!

AFTER

AFTER

Beautiful Right! Here is the article if you’re interesting in reading it for yourself.

The Dish on Dishwashers

I hope this can save you time too because we all need a lot more of it!

How to Save Thousands On Your Next Family Vacation!

I’m just dying to share with you how we saved thousands on our last vacation to California while traveling in style! I know, it sounds like an infomercial and no, I don’t get paid because I recommended this. :)  I’m just so excited I couldn’t wait to share with you!

My boys enjoying the tide pools

My boys enjoying the tide pools

House swap! We just got home from our first home exchange! We found a family who wanted to come to Utah on homeexchange.com. I never thought in a million years that it would go so smoothly! In the past we have gotten one hotel room with 2 queen beds, and slept 2 kids on the floor or on a roll away bed and spent thousands of dollars. This trip, we had 5 bedrooms in a beautiful home with kitchen and spa and only 3 miles from the beach for FREE!  The family we swapped with was awesome. Our house was in perfect order when we arrived home. There were absolutely no problems. It’s not just about the house either. We loved that they gave us advice on great restaurants and places to see, that only the locals really know about. We texted with them every day just because it was fun for them to hear what we were doing and for us to hear what they were doing. It also made us take a good look at what our city has to offer.

Here’s how it works…

Homeexchange.com is the website we use to match up with people who want to trade us homes. There are several other websites including lovehomeswap.com but homeexchange.com is my favorite because it’s easy to navigate. You can search for homes and put up a profile for free but you have to pay $80/yr. to have full access and to contact people that you are interested in swapping with.  We saved WAY more than $80 on our last vacation! On your profile you post where and when you’d like to go on vacation. On our profile we also have stated that we are open to receiving any offer. You can email people who have homes you’re interested in and they will email you as well. Once you find someone, agree on dates and discuss the details. (We also did a TON of cleaning! Totally worth it for the guests and for us) You’re all set! It really is as easy as trading houses. We’ve had offers from 1 week to 5 months, from Idaho to Paris.

I’m telling you moms, this is THE way to take advantage of the freedom we have to travel because we homeschool. This is part of the payoff.

Happy Homeschooling!

Jenny

006: Melanie Ballard – What is Mom’s Retreat and Why You Should Go

 006: Melanie Ballard - What is Mom's Retreat and Why You Should Go
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In part 2 with Melanie Ballard we focus on you! Mom’s need to be nurtured and fed just as well as their children do. It’s so important to take time away from the kids, especially when you’re homeschooling, to look at the big picture and to reflect on the needs of the family. I’m so excited about Mom’s Retreat coming up in August! Registration is now open. You won’t want to miss this podcast!

005: Melanie Ballard on How to Homeschool and What Keeps Her Going

005: Melanie Ballard on How to Homeschool and What Keeps Her Going
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Today on The Love to Homeschool Podcast I interviewed Melanie Ballard.

I can’t wait for you to hear Melanie’s perspective on homeschooling! Why she does it and what keeps her going. We talked about divine purpose and ways to best nurture that in the home. I went away from this interview feeling empowered and ready to rely on my intuition to teach my kids and I hope you do to!

 

4 steps to Controlling the Chaos and Keeping the Peace

Step one: Gather together in the morning.

Not every one of us is totally organized for the homeschooling day first thing in the morning but gathering in the morning is so important. It halpe youto see the overall picture of what everyone needs for the day. This is a time where you can read, share something you’ve learned and give instructions for the day. Most days the instruction will be similar to the day before but this is still a very valuable time to make sure everyone is heading in the right direction for the day. This is the number one things I have found in common with other homeschooling moms.

Step 2: 5 minute clean ups.

Controlling the chaos includes, not only keeping the kids happy and engaged, but keeping the environment from getting out of control crazy. Now that the kids are home all day it’s important that they stay on top of the messes they make. I think making messes is a great thing as long as they get put away afterward. The thing that we have found the most helpful is 4-5 5 minute quick cleans during the day. This helps those little messes stay little.

Step 4: Give Individual attention:

I think this is the hardest step but every day each child needs individual attention. They need to feel like they are being listened to and that they are the most important thing to you for that moment. One thing I learned in the first year of homeschooling is that it is very important for me to get off of the computer and the phone during school time. Your friends and family will understand and you’ll feel more fulfilled when you get to spend that individual time with each of your kids.

Step 4: Have Fun!

Sometimes I get caught up in all of the mundane tasks of the day and forget to have fun with the kids. Take some time to sit in the sunshine or play a game. School doesn’t have to be all work it can be loads of fun too. Bask in your kids creativity and love.

 

Did you Know? Distance Learning Charter Schools

Distance education charter schools are a little newer in Utah than they are in California and other states. They are government funded charter schools that children can learn from online or enroll as a homeschool student to receive resources for homeschooling as well as reimbursements for money spent on educational curriculum and supplies. I just talked to a mom who’s been homeschooling for 15 years and she’d never heard of this resource. You can check out distance education charter schools in your area by searching for them online. Every charter school is different. For example; one in Utah offers once a week classes such as tumbling, karate, computer lab, cooking, sewing, sign language, violin and many more. Where another is focused on technology and offers amazing technology courses for kids of all ages elementary through 12th grade. Read about the resources the schools you are looking at before you apply. After you apply you don’t have to stick with that charter school forever so no worries if it doesn’t fit your homeschool but there is usually a wait list to get in.

littlebookgirl

Here are a few of the things I love and don’t love about them.

Love

1. You can get reimbursements for curriculum and school supplies – homeschooling can be expensive, especially in the beginning years when you’re getting everyone and everything set up. This can help with those expenses and make homeschooling more affordable.

2. Schedules – Every charter school will have you sign up for a schedule that includes all of the core classes. What I love is that you can sign up for any classes you would like that they offer, outside online subscriptions that they approve they will pay for or you can create your own curriculum which they will reimburse you for up to a certain amount. This allows for you to be flexible and also for you to have as much or as little accountability from them as you would like. I typically don’t like anyone looking over my shoulder and checking on me, not because we aren’t doing anything, just because it’s annoying and time consuming. I know there are those out there that love accountability and moms who feel lost without it so there are those options as well.

3. Interaction with other kids – Because it’s a distance education classroom there is minimal time that kids spend with other kids but they do offer field trips and other fun activities a few times per year. 2 of my kids go to a charter school once a week for the whole day to take classes with other kids their age. They love this interaction and I’ve enjoyed having one day where I can really zone in on my other 2 children.The classes are taught by mentors who love what they teach which is something that I’m always looking for in our education.

Don’t love – With all of the don’t loves I would like you to be aware that the benefits obviously outweigh the obstacles or I wouldn’t join a Charter school. I just consider it my payment.

1. Attendance – I don’t like that we have to mark attendance. It’s a pain and we are always learning in everything we do so there are never any sick or vacation days. It just feel like an unnecessary step to me. Kind of like the busy work I was given in Elementary school. Hmmmm

2. Flexibility – Sometimes I feel like the charter school idea takes some of our flexibility away. I just feel like the daily check list is more important than I used to. I’m not actually sure if this is due to the schedule I make with the charter school but I am a strong believer in letting kids get caught up in something their interested in for hours and gaining a very in-depth knowledge of that thing. I believe in having a schedule but letting it go if someone gets really excited about a concept. I feel like lately the checklist has taken over a little too much. Teaching them to love to learn and how to learn is way more important to me than the checklist.

3. Accountability – If you join a Charter school you have to play their rules. This includes Dibbles testing and state IOWA or CRT testing. We are part of a Charter school so we have to take these test which I really don’t like. I thought I would love them in the beginning because they would tell me where my kids are “at” but I don’t. My kids have done well on them but I find them pointless. Especially when we aren’t learning exactly what the kids in the public schools are learning. Especially in science. I don’t like the feeling that my kids have someone looking after them. Maybe this sounds crazy but it just makes me uncomfortable. I know their doing fine and that we’re working hard and learning a ton and that’s definitely good enough for me. The only good thing that I see coming out of these tests are that my kids will know how to take the SAT or ACT when it comes to that. Enough said.

 

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