Friday, October 21, 2011

School Days

We have homeschooled now for about 5 years and I have to say that we love it!
Will went to a public, two-room school for first grade, and although we really enjoyed it, it was quite a trek.
Tim had also developed severe asthma at that time and was in the hospital every time he caught a cold.
I wanted the best education tailored to their needs and to be able to foster our Christian beliefs, so homeschooling was the answer for us. 
Do I think it is for everyone?
There are some great schools out there and great parents who are on top of their kids and their education.
Each road has its ups and downs.
Believe me, we have some perfectly IMperfect days and once in a while I think it would be nice to have a day to myself  {I'm not superwoman}....
But for our family, homeschooling has really been our answer to prayer!

The biggest question I get is, "What do you do all day? How does homeschooling look?"
Wow! That answer encompasses quite a bit!
Some people are super relaxed with homeschooling, some run it more like a'm a happy medium:).

Here is a peek into what our daily life looked like a couple of weeks ago...

The weather was warm and beautiful, so some of my kids moved outside to work.
I love that!
Lily is at a 2nd/3rd grade level right now and enjoys reading.

Our kitchen table IS the school room in our house.
It is where most things get done.
Will is in 7th grade and things are a little tougher this year, but he is doing so well!
I have a system of giving each child a weekly outline of what needs to get accomplished.

Usually, I give a short lesson if there is a new concept, and them they are pretty self motivated to finish each subject. 
I have them check off their work and then correct their papers.
I don't grade at this point....I know where they are at and have them correct mistakes right away.
We can speed up or slow down as needed.
It is nice to be able to do that!
I keep these weekly outlines as part of their records for the year.
I have folders for each subject in a three-ring binder and have them put tests and other samples of their work to keep. At the end of the year, I put everything in a file and tuck it away:).

Lily was studying hearing and the parts of the ear in science this week.

Tim is in the 5th grade and Jack is in preschool.
This particular week we focused on the letter "A."
He practiced writing capital and lowercase A, we sang songs about the sound it makes, and we studied apples.
Jack made a little book about apples.

We made apple muffins together.

  And we cut apples open to examine them, counted their seeds, then made apple prints with paint and paper.
Most days my house looks like this...learning can be messy...but I love it!

We try to meet with a local homeschool group for PE and the kids take swimming lessons, but we also have a lot of activity at home.
Tim loves riding his horse, Clover:).
He took a break in between subjects to ride her.

Recess includes playing with these guys:).

We went on a field trip put on by the Dept. of Natural Resources and the local college.
It was all about relocating beavers and beaver habitat.
I had the kids watch a movie about beavers the day before and then told them we would have to write a small report about what they learned.
The best part? The field trip was on a farm that we lived on when Darren and I were first married.
Such good memories there...

The kids got to see a live beaver up close and personal. We were amazed that his tail was lizard-like. It had scales and was really strong.

They got to look at beaver skulls...

a beaver pelt {which helped bring people West}...

and beaver teeth. They are orange because they are made of iron and calcium and never stop growing.

This was a rubber cast of a beaver's back foot.
There is a split claw for grooming.

There was evidence everywhere that the beaver were around.
Fallen trees and piles of dirt that they roll in to mark their scent.
They looked similar to what a mole hill.

The beavers moved to a stream which is a tributary to the river that runs nearby.
It is really pretty....I used to walk here each day when I was pregnant with Will :).

Afterwards, we looked at stream water and found all kinds of life. 

The old farmhouse...

I think one of the aspects of homeschooling I love the most is that I get to learn right along with my kids!
I also love to be with have to when you choose this kind of life style.
I want them to have good memories together and I feel like I have more time to cultivate that.

When you homeschool, there is no controlled setting where the clock is ticking and you have to be finished up with a subject in 30 minutes.
 The dishes still need to be done, there are discipline issues, messes to clean up, and phone calls to answer....or not if we are in the middle of something:).
It is probably the one thing that is hard for new do you juggle all of that?
Well, it is a life style.
You have to be a bit flexible and yet have a schedule and plan.

I don't like a rigid time schedule, so we have a routine.
Around 7am we're all up.
Chores then breakfast.
Inside chores.
Start school.
 Break for lunch.
Finish school and any experiments.
Outside or run errands.

We do have music lessons, swimming lessons, 4-H, and friends over sprinkled in there, too.
The boys work a lot with their Dad and Grandpa {who lives 2 miles away}.
My Dad is a mechanic, so the boys help him with a variety of projects.
It keeps them busy and learning!

We incorporate tons of life skills throughout the day like cooking, baking, or mechanics.
The boys always have a project they are working on and usually this is a big incentive to get book work and computer time finished!

I have three boys and boys need to be busy...I have really found this is the trick to keeping things running smooth and it really cuts down on mischief {ie: teasing, yelling, arguing} haha.
It is hard for my boys to sit for a long time, too:). 
So, when I have them doing research papers or reading a book, I try and break it up into smaller portions.
As they age, I increase the amount of time I expect them to be able to focus.
I also want them to always do their best.

So, how do I know what to teach?
I get asked that question a lot.
There are a myriad of options out there, but we have a compilation of books.
The requirements also vary from state to state. We live in Washington where the laws are very homeschooler friendly.
I file a Letter of Intent with the school district and have my kids tested each year.
Most states have the school year requirements posted on the Superintendent of Public Instruction's website, and I do look at that and try and follow "what everyone else is doing." 
I am also not afraid to go against the norm.
Every school in our district is using different curriculum, so for example some of Will's friends probably covered the Rennaisance in school last year...we are covering it this year. 
No biggie.
I expect my kids to get their work done, but we are somewhat flexible in the day. 
If another learning opportunity comes up, we go for it!
Sometimes, we even take a day off if it is nice and get things done outside. 
It balances out if you think about the fact that we don't take every holiday off or half days that the schools provide. 
Because we farm, we are busy in the Fall and Spring. We believe that working as a family and learning life skills are also important, so most of our bigger projects in school happen in the winter. 

That is when we may start a class with other homeschoolers, take an art class, visit the library more often, or write detailed reports.
At the beginning of the year, I sit down and look through their books and decide how much they need to accomplish each day to finish.
This is what I use to create their weekly assignments.
What if we don't complete EVERY SINGLE PAGE at the end of the year?
It's OK.
Many times that is the case in a classroom. Usually the last few pages are review in a book, as well as the first part. So, I don't sweat over it:).

Here is what we are currently using for our curriculum this year.
I have provided links, just in case you want to check out the books:).
Remember...this is just what works for us, and it has been years of trial and error to get to this point.
If a book isn't working, we move on to try another and now we definitely have our favorites.

Will {7th Grade}

{We start out with a devotion time.}
I supplement with Spectrum Writing because I think that Easy Grammar needs more writing.
This combination has been great.
Math: Horizons 
Reading: Various books from the 7th grade reading list. 
Currently, he is reading Hatchet.
Electives: He is taking a woodshop class.
Art: Included in other subjects and an outside class this year.

Timothy {5th Grade}

Reading: Various books from a 5th grade reading list. Currently reading: Justin Morgan Had a Horse
Art: Included with other subjects and an outside class this year.

Lily {2nd-3rd Grade}

Explode the Code...for fun.
 We have just loved this set. I usually search Amazon for all of the different books and can sometimes find them used:).
Handwriting: Currently using a mismash of books, want to order THIS.
We are also reading The Little House Series.
Art: I include this in other subjects. Example: For history, we may use collage to make a picture of the Mayflower. We have also taken art classes before,too.

Jack {Preschool}

I have been using the site Delightful Learning to study the alphabet.
Her Alphabet Fun section is just amazing!!
I have been using bits and pieces of the curriculum to supplement and it is great!
Jack also uses Rod and Staff Preschool. I just love this company because their books are fun and have a simple, logical layout. They were designed by the Amish and are really comprehensive, but most of all the kids enjoy the books.
We also do a lot of reading together...brothers and sister included. 
So, there you have it! 
I know I could tell you so much more, but this post is super long as it is:).
Homeschooling has been great for our family, and if you are looking into it I would encourage you to give it a try. 
The road can be bumpy, but each year gets easier.
I think the time that you get with your kids is precious... and that their education is so tailored to their needs.
For us, life is a little slower paced, maybe a little messier, full of focus on the Lord and family, close bonds...and I love it that way.



Debby said...

love your photos. I think that you are really organized and have the right focus. I know of others homeschooled that do not have that focus. I admire you. Your children are learning so much. Is that your home, it is beautiful.

Gumbo Lily said...

This post takes me back! Wonderful, happy, BUSY days. I wish you well in your journey. It's well worth the hard work and effort.


Unknown said...

~Julia, We use and love many of the curriculum/books that you mentioned, or have in the past! Your farm and fam look lovely! I think you are doing a fabulous job, and enjoying the process as well, it appears! Good for you!

The Coderlambian said...

Nice to hear your routine and see what you do! We love homeschooling too!

Valerie said...

Hello Julia!

I am stopping by to say hello and thank you for your kind sentiments on my blog.

How in the world did you find me...? Did you notice that I had linked to you on my side bar?!!! I just discovered your blog YESTERDAY and didn't even have a moment to comment and let you know how lovely your place on the web was...but went ahead and linked you under my homesteaders anyway!!!

Then, this morning, I read this awesome post you wrote on homeschooling and was so impressed!!! I meant to come back when I had a moment to clearly articulate my thoughts.

Anyway, what caught my eye, while blog hopping yesterday, was your post on Jennifer Rizzo. Jennifer is a fan of Anne Marie over at Na Da Farm Life with Anne Marie. Do you read her blog? She is a homeschooling mama to 6...and Jason and she live on a working homestead in Illinois. I think you would totally lover her place on the web. And she's Catholic too... ;)

So excited for your girl to be making her First Holy Communion. Mary Catherine would be too if I had not waited to start school with her...she's one of those August babies!

Well, sorry this is so long, but like your comment blog box says...this would be so much more fun over a cup of tea, but this is great too!!!

Looking forward to getting to know you better,


Carissa Anne said...

Oh my goodness Julia!!!!

I must come back and comment more, because this is just wonderful post!!!

But may I first ask...
Scott Forseman Science
Do you like it? Is it Christian based??

The reason I ask is because I was at Goodwill today and there was three of his science books there. I almost bought them, but then didn't because i did not have the time to look through them, I had never heard of him before (I'm new to some of this stuff), and I didn't want to buy them if they were not Christian beliefs.

Seriously i just got home a couple of hours ago, and then I see this post with that book mentioned. WOW

Please Email Me and let me know.

I'm kicking myself now. I probably should have bought them. Looks like I am going to be at there doors first thing tomorrow morning! :-)

Looking forward to coming back and re reading your post with a cup of coffee.

love carissa

Sandy said...

Hi Julia!

I have a little bit of an un-schooling week - at home.
We are doing school, but taking it a bit easy.
We try not to run around too much.
Which is hard with an 9th grader that has Biology elsewhere.
Last week I looked into the Rodd and Staff book (a friend in our group had it.) And she loves it.
I was going to look into it. And she was going to have me borrow one.
I loved how easy and friendly the book looks.
I don't have it yet. But, now seeing it in your post (mentioned) I am looking so forward to it.

Have a great weekend.
And thank you for sharing your homeschool days with us.

(My house can get very messy too).


By the way.
We decided to take Friday's off.
We used to do crafts on Friday.
But we just figured let's work harder on M.T.W.T. and Friday we will call it weekend!


Cailan said...

Oh wow, I really should start a letter a week with my preschoolers - hard to get in the "mode" when no one is officially school age yet...Did you do preschool with all your children? Thank you for the inspiration. :)

Dayna said...

I so enjoyed reading this post! You made some great points, like having a somewhat-schedule while being flexible; learning is a lifestyle; and boys need to be kept busy. :-) Thank you for this window into your days!

Unknown said...

Awesome!!!! I stumbled upon your blog prom a pin someone posted on Pinterest. I am a Mommy to 3 kids (4yr, 2yr, and 6mo). I homeschool my 4yr old in Preschool/Pre-K right now. I have browsed through your blog and I am excited to be a new follower. Pop over and say hi to me at
anytime you want! I love blogging and reading other Mom/Homeschooler blogs because of the blessing of feeling supported, encouraged and stirred-up! Blessings to you Julia!

Anonymous said...

I am so enjoying your website after finding a link here from The Peaceful Mom the other day! Thank you for the beauty here and ideas. I really like your planner sheet! Where is it from, if you don't mind sharing?

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