Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back to School

Back to school...  We've been back in the groove of homeschooling for over a month now.  Honestly, we're still trying to find our groove. Even though this is our eighth official year of homeschooling (not including "preschool"), we are still working on our schedule, determining the right curriculum in certain subjects for each individual girl, and looking forward to having a real schoolroom again.  

Our littlest is now in 1st grade!  Where has the time gone? She loves to read, has an official science notebook like her sisters, and has already memorized two poems.  She loves her classes at our homeschool co-op!  

Our little middle is now in 4th grade!  Time really does fly! She loves to write in her journal, draw, and is fully embracing her cooking classes at our local community center.  She took classes through the summer and is eagerly awaiting her upcoming ones this fall.  She too loves her co-op classes (writing and studying the wild west).

7th grade?  Now I'm starting to cry.  Our oldest is doing a lot of her school work on her own now.  Pre-algebra is on the computer (thanks to Teaching Textbooks!) and she diligently works through her grammar, spelling, and writing homework on her own.  My only challenge is keeping up with her supply of books from the library.

We are looking forward to embracing our beautiful yard in the upcoming fall months using nature notebooks and spending much of our school days outside.  Bike riding and now training for a 5k are part of our PE regiment!

I have to confess that this year scares me more than before due to teaching three grades.  Last year included kindergarten, which I probably didn't take as seriously as I should have, partly due to moving at the beginning of our school year.  Our principal (aka Daddy) has been working hard over the summer to finish our school room above our garage.  We are eager to move our books from the dining room to a space designated for our home education!

Field trippin' is such a special part of homeschooling.  Even a quick trip to the beach can be such a learning experience! We have a few field trips on the back burner, and our girls could not be better travel companions!  They put up with their crazy picture-taking mama and love being anywhere with their daddy!  Our girls are a gift that I too often take for granted.  They bring so much joy to our lives, and I truly consider it a privilege to not only be their mama, but also their teacher. 

"Teaching our children should not be so much about academic goals being reached as it is about the people they are becoming in the process." - a fellow homeschool mom

More blog posts to follow concerning our curriculum, personality types, what's inspiring me, homeschool dads, and busyness.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Reading through the summer

This summer has flown by (as it seems to every year)!  I had hoped to blog more, organize more, travel more...  oh well!  But one thing we did do was read more.  We didn't tour as many libraries & bookstores as I had hoped, but our weekly visits to our local libraries brought a lot of good books home, thanks to some great resources and reading guides.

This reading guide & excellent resource is simple, yet eye opening. Families are encouraged to read just one book from a certain area of the world each week.  The book gives a plethora of books to choose from and reserve from your local library, as well as printable maps, videos to watch, etc.  Some of our favorite books have been The Journey that Saved Curious George, One Hen, My Librarian is a Camel, and Adele & Simon in America.

Another incentive to encourage my growing readers was the easy summer reading program though Barnes & Nobles.  Just walking in the store gives me thrill, not sure if it's the smell of books and coffee or the memories of the many dates with Marty before kids. Only 4 books are required to be read in order for them to get a free book!  (It's not too late.  The program ends September 6th.)

A great blog that I've mentioned before is Modern Mrs. Darcy.  She puts together a great summer reading guide (for adults).  It has helped me branch back a little more into fiction as that's something I rarely read just for myself.

In the past, I've mentioned our family's love of audio books, especially in the car.  We have enjoyed almost the entire Little House series, listened to new books that I've never even heard of, laughed hysterically over Ramona the Brave, and wistfully imagined ourselves on the shores of Prince Edwards Island with Anne Shirley.  Below is a great blog post concerning audio books.

For the Love of Audio Books by Greta Eskridge

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bring on the Bucket List

Every year (especially since we started homeschooling) we plan out a bucket list for the summer.  Not sure if it's the need for change, excitement, or just the thrill of checking things off a list. Regardless of whether we accomplish everything or not, I pray for rest, for new memories, for rekindling summer traditions, and to look back with no regrets.  

Here's our 2016 Summer Bucket List!

Go:  To the Soda Shop in Pittsboro

Try:  Drive-in movie theater and $1 summer movies

Read:  At a different library or bookstore each week
Play:  At a pool or park that we've never been to
Eat:  Smores a lot!
Explore:  Two museums

Make:  Mini Water blobs
Ride:  Kayaks with Daddy

Send:  Watercolor postcards

Cook:  Healthy recipes on Thursdays 

See:  Baseball game (Mudcats or Bulls)
Create:  Canvas Art
Do:  More rollerskating and bowling (on Mondays)
Give Back:  Donate & sort books for WLFJ or Dorcas Ministries
Grow:  Flowers or herbs from seeds
Travel:  To Williamsburg & Charlotte 
Watch:  And learn about the Olympics

Even though this list was made over a month ago and it's fun to check things off, doing the impromptu or someday's nothing at all is ok too.  Water balloons & ice cream with Daddy, picking blueberries at a local farm, and day trips to the beach have already filled our summer days with memories 


Friday, June 3, 2016

What I've Learned from Ma, Mary Poppins, and Marmee

Reading aloud with my girls is probably one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling.  Over the last several months, we have been reading Little Women (very slowly... it's deep!), Mary Poppins, Paddington Bear, listening to the Little House series in the car, with a sprinkling of poetry in the midst of all that.  Within these books are lessons galore!  But this post is focused on the three main women in these books and what I've learned from Ma, Mary Poppins, and Marmee.  

In boarding school, we were only allowed to watch one hour of television a week and that usually consisted of an episode of Little House on the Prairie.  It was during this weekly hour that my admiration for Ma began.  She reminded me so much of my own mother.  Ma always seemed so patient, desiring the best for her girls, rarely raising her voice, fully supportive of Pa and affirming him as the head of the family.  She was resourceful, knowing how to make or use items found with the little they had, always willing to learn new things, and thoughtful of family and neighbors.  I honestly can’t remember if I ever read the books as a child.  But when my girls were really little we read through the series in the evenings and I think I loved the books more than they did.  Now as we listen to them in the car, the wisdom and courage that flows from Caroline Ingalls amazes me! 

Mary Poppins… It’s a name that has always brought a smile to my face, not sure if it was the British accent or the disciplined way of doing things.  But I realized this year that it stems from my view of the movie and not from the book.  I have always thought that the book is better than the movie, except in this case.  I read Mary Poppins (for the first time) to my girls last month and was truly disappointed.  I hope this is not a spoiler for others, but Mary Poppins taught me all the things that I desire not to be:  prideful, quick tempered, arrogant, distant, and unapproachable.  She would care for the children only as a job, not with a sincere desire for them to grow.  There was very little grace within her.  I find myself often acting a lot like Mary Poppins: always wanting to be right in the eyes of my children, impatient, and unkind.  Oh, how I wish to be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger... 

Marmee...  Once again, I realized that I had never read the entire unabridged version of Little Women.  I have always loved the movie, but in this case, the book is even better!  We are still not finished with the book, mainly because it is 777 pages long (seriously!) and is not an easy read.  The tears that have been shed (from an unnamed mother) from reading the wisdom of Marmee who was such a strong and independent woman.  She learned the gift of having an even stronger husband, one who could be her team mate, friend, and protector.  She was honest, yet kind to her little women.  She gave correction, but not without examples and transparency of her own previous struggles.

This is such a short summary of my opinion of these women. Others may view them differently.  So often I feel that I have to read the self-help books to challenge myself, but there is so much to learn through the classics, children's literature, and even poetry. But none of this can happen unless we read.  Read aloud with delicious food near by, read in different places, read books that inspire and encourage, and try to focus on quality literature.