Our Homeschool – 2016

I have been homeschooling for over 20 years! Things have changed since I started with my oldest son, but it still remains dear to my heart. We are a Christian homeschooling family and began our journey in homeschooling with my eldest son, Nick, and never looked back! He went on to enter the U.S. Air Force Academy and is now going to be 27 years old. Where did the time go?

Nick getting his USAFA appt.
Nick receiving his USAFA appointment.

We have had two more children graduate our homeschool high school and now we only 😉  homeschool our remaining six kids. The children are in 11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, and two kids are in 4th. To get a look into what we do, I have listed our curricula below. We have some kids that school comes easily to, and some that it is quite challenging for. I love that I can take the time needed for each child’s ability. We start everyday with Bible reading and prayers, and then each child has assignments for their particular grade.

kids on playground
Our kids with their cousins at the playground.

11th Grader’s Curricula:

9th Grader’s Curricula:

4th – 8th Grader’s Shared Subjects:

  • The 4th through 8th graders are all doing Year 2, Level M for History, Art, and Music – Easy Peasy (free online)
  • Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day – Apologia Science
  • Piano Lessons – Hoffman Acadamy (free online)

8th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Gray Book
  • Algebra I – Teaching Textbooks

6th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Tan Book
  • Math – Saxon 7/6
  • Handwriting – Italic Book G

4th Grader’s Additional Curricula:

  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature – Orange Book
  • Math – Saxon 5/4
  • Handwriting – Italic Book F
  • Explode the Code Books

The older girls are able to do their coursework on their own with some assistance from me. I LOVE Teaching Textbooks for math because it is automatically graded, which leaves less grading for me. My kids love it too and do well with it. I find teaching the Easy Peasy History, Music, and Art classes to all the younger kids at once to work very well and is more enjoyable for all. Of course, I require more from the 8th grader than I do the 4th graders. 🙂

We do lots of other things that are part of our school. The kids spend a lot of time outside. We enjoy our little homestead, hunt, fish, hike, cook together, sew, garden, raise chickens, etc. In fact, we call my daughter Celia the chicken whisperer. She is often seen outside singing to her chickens. They sit on her shoulder and on her arm while she talks and sings to them. Their favorite song is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

Celia and Her Chickens
Celia and Her Chickens

What do you do in your homeschool? What curricula have you found to be especially helpful? Please share int he comments below.

God’s Blessings,

Rosanne

Gardening With Kids

Kids love to garden. We grow a garden so that we can lower our food bill and provide organic vegetables for our family. We did not always have such a big garden. We started out one year with two tomato plants and two zucchini plants in our front flower bed. Eventually, I wanted more vegetables, so we tilled up some lawn and planted a 50 ft. x 50 ft. garden, installed drip lines to make things easier, and ordered more seeds. Here is a photo of part of our garden from last year:

Garden

If you have never gardened before this is the year you should give it a try. It is a lot of fun and the kids LOVE eating vegetables that they grow themselves. If you need to start small,  start with planting some basil and oregano in some containers indoors. Next year, try planting two tomato plants and two zucchini plants in your flower bed or in big containers like we did.

If you are a little more serious you can rent a rototiller and mark off where you want your garden to be next year. Don’t let any kids or animals play on it for a year, then plant your vegetables next year. If you already have a place for your garden then the easiest way to have a garden is to purchase plants already started that you plant into the garden, but this can be expensive. You can start plants in your home for a lot less money.  If you run drip lines purchased on-line from DripWorks or from your local hardware store the lines drip right where the vegetable are planted. No wasted water!

Weeding

It’s great to have the kids learn about plants and how they grow. Each year we plant some cherry tomato plants and snap peas so that the kids can eat them right out of the garden. We all go out and weed together. The little kids “help”, but really they mostly play and ask a lot of questions. The older the kids get the more they really do help. It is great listening to them talk while we enjoy the fresh air and sunshine working outside. They make up funny stories, play “I Spy”, and “20 Questions.” They laugh and get to talk to the neighbors about the plants.

Kid in Garden  garden friend

Our dogs enjoy hanging out with us in the garden too!

Dog in Garden

I hope you will give gardening a try. There is nothing more tasty than vegetables from your own garden. The kids love eating what they grow, they enjoy fresh air and sunshine, and they learn to work without complaining. Gardening with kids can be such a joy!

garden harvest    bell peppers  green beans

Too Busy?

Too Busy? Need more time?

Time Management Tips

Ask someone how they are and most likely the answer will be “busy”. We live in a busy society. I am not immune. Many people ask me every week, “How do you do it all?” Yes, I home school 7 kids, run a business, make all my meals from scratch, have animals, garden, exercise, and read voraciously.

I would like to help you to get more out of your day. Below, please find some helpful hints that help me to get done what I need to get done, plus lets me have time to enjoy life:

Now, start timing how long certain tasks take. If you are like me, you’ll procrastinate when you don’t want to do something because it will take too long. But, how long does it take? You might be surprised. Start whatever it is you need to get done, but are putting off, and do it for only 15 minutes. Many tasks actually only take that long.

It’s also important to know that routines are your friend. Routines are what get me through the day. If you do something everyday in a certain order then you don’t have to think about it. You actually get a LOT done without even realizing what you are doing. Have a routine for the morning.

Here’s my morning routine:

 Make bed
 Get dressed
 Drink lemon water & start breakfast
 Check e-mails, facebook, twitter, etc. & respond if needed
 Eat breakfast
 Exercise
 Shower, brush teeth, etc.
 Bible reading/devotional time with the family
 Time for home school

Then, have a routine for bedtime. Mine is the following:

 Check e-mails, facebook, twitter, etc. & respond
 Do prep work for dinner tomorrow
 Pick out clothes for tomorrow
 Say prayers with kids
 Brush teeth, etc.
 Go to bed

If you need to, write your morning & bedtime routines out and post them in a prominent place like the kitchen and/or bathroom. I don’t even think about doing these things because I do them on automatic pilot. Also, you can have a routine for each day of the week. I ALWAYS plan my meals and grocery shop for the coming week on Sunday evenings with my husband. It is kind of a mini-date for us.

Create boundaries. Don’t let the nosy neighbor suck up 45 minutes of your time because you step outside. Use your voicemail to return calls; don’t answer every call when it comes in. Also, you do not need to look at or answer
every text and e-mail when it comes in. Set aside a block of time every morning and evening to check your texts, e-mails, voicemails, tweets, and facebook posts so you are not distracted and/or disturbed during your critical work times. For example, everyone that knows me knows that we home school until 2:00 p.m. If you want to get in touch with me during this time, then it’s best to e-mail me. I will NOT answer the phone during school hours.

mom holding out hands

Next, don’t go it alone. If you have kids and/or a spouse or roommate, set up a system where everyone does their fair share of work. Chore charts work great for our family because the kids don’t need to be told (nagged) about their chores. They just look at the chart, do the work, and check off what they have done.

girl doing chores

My BEST tip is: DON’T watch TV! I realize not everyone will want to do this, but I find it frees up a LOT of time to do other things. Our family watches one show most evenings. It is usually a re-run of “I Love Lucy” or “Rawhide” or something similar. However, the kids aren’t allowed to watch unless their chores are done and their rooms are clean. Dad checks their rooms and checks off the chore chart before anyone can sit down & watch the boob tube for 1/2 hour.

Another key to finding more time to get things done is to track where you are spending your time now. This may seem drastic, but if you do what I am about to suggest you will be surprised at how you spend your time. For 72 hours, write down in a little notebook or journal what you do every 15 minutes for 12 hours a day (for example – 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). Yes, it’s annoying & obnoxious to do, but get over it (this is said in my best “serious mom voice”). You may think you know how much time you spend on things but chances are you don’t. If you are REALLY serious about finding more time to do what you want, then you will buckle down and log your time for 3 days.

Once you know how you spend your time you are able to make a concerted effort to choose how you spend your time.

I hope this article will help you, even if you don’t adopt all of the suggestions I make. Time management can be easy if you know where you spend your time, how long your activities take, and you develop routines to get things done. I love and care about you and want you to have the life God has designed for you. Make a change today to arrange your time to get the thing you have to get done in a timely manner, so that you have time to do the things you enjoy. God bless you!