Homeschool Goals 2017

IMG_6381.JPG(Playing in the rain on our last day of school!)

Here are my 2017 Homeschool Goals:

1. Teach Bible Literacy.

This is always my number one goal. If it ever isn’t, I will have failed my family and my children and made everything I did do meaningless.

2. Dive a little deeper with Memory Work.

As I wrote in my reflections of last year’s goals, I have felt pretty much in and out of survival mode for three years now due to the various challenges our family and children have faced. Now that most of that is behind us, I would like to dive a little deeper in our history, geography and science Memory Work this year! I am planning to have one day a week where we spend half an hour or so on these subjects. Cycle 3 covers American History, USA geography and the Human Body which are all content areas I love to teach!

3. Teach more life skills.

The girls have learned how to empty the dishwasher and put things away and they have learned how to sort and put away their laundry. This year, I would like to see them learning how to take responsibility in the kitchen during meal prep. I would like to get them on a schedule rotation where one is responsible for setting the table, the other is responsible for sweeping the floors and both help to clear the table after meals. Feeding 6 people three meals a day is no small task! If the girls learn these skills, it will take some of the responsibilities and pressure off the adults at mealtimes, which will make meal times more enjoyable for everyone.  I love the saying “Many hands make light work.” There is a lot of work involved in running a big family, but if we all pitch in together and work and help each other, our work will feel lite instead of a burden to the one person who is having to do it all. Plus, this goes right along with having a servant’s heart, which I desire for all my children. I want to see my children happy to serve their family.

4. Academic Goals

Little Bug

We will continue to work through AAR but I am going to also incorporate Progeny Press so we can begin to study literature together. This year I want to see Little Bug continue to learn and apply spelling rules. I also want to see her continue Copywork using Bible verses and poetry. By the end of they year, we will see if she is ready to copy some of her Memory Work from Classical Conversations.

Sweet Pea

This is a big year for Sweet Pea as she begins formal academics. I will teach her to learn to read and my goal here is to simply progress as she shows me that she is developmentally ready to learn to read. We will go at her pace; there is no pressure for her to be a fluent reader by the end of this year. It could happen, but my main goal is to instruct her in phonics in bite-sizes that she is ready for and can easily manage! We will continue to work on basic math skills as well as handwriting.

Sarge

Sarge is three years old this school year. The only academic goals I have for him are to continue reading to him daily, several times a day. Through reading, he will be exposed to the ABCs, counting, shapes and colors. We will also work on puzzle skills and fine motor skills through playing. He will continue his 60-minute Independent Playtime in the morning. Sarge’s days will revolve around playing and learning through his play!

Beau

Beau is one year old this school year. He will be read to daily.  As his morning nap time decreases, his Independent Playtime will increase from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Preschoolers and toddlers well trained in Independent Play is key to the success of our homeschool.

5. Build memories with my children.

I was homeschooled from 6th to 9th grade as a child. I have such fond memories of those years with my mother and brother as we homeschooled. I want my children to have those same memories. As I wrote about above, Cycle 3 covers some very fun topics and content. As we learn this year, my hope is that the activities I am planning and the books we will read together will provide those same warm memories of homeschooling that I had as a child. Mostly, I want all that to be so fun and exciting because we are learning it together.

Posted in Homeschool Goals, Homeschooling

Reflections on the 2016-2017 Homeschool Year

IMG_5823.JPG(The girls are trying to get a dead lizard into a water bottle without touching him. They succeeded after many attempts.)

These were my 2016 Homeschool Goals and now it time to reflect on how well we met those goals this past school year!

1. Teach Bible Literacy first and foremost.

Bible isn’t just a subject we do and check off first thing in the morning. I am always looking for ways to incorporate the truths of God’s Word into our every day lives. I truly try to live by Deuteronomy 6 and teach the Word of God to my children as we live our lives, and not just during “Bible time” at the start of our school time.

2. Keep it simple.

I kept things very simple this year out of necessity. While I didn’t have a newborn baby from the very beginning of the school year due to our failed adoption, we did unexpectedly adopt a 4.5 month old baby in December. I was grateful for all the planning I had done and that I had kept our plans for this school year very simple. The new baby took a lot of my mental energy as I learned what we needed to do to promote healthy attachment and bonding, and it was so good that I didn’t have to expend a lot of mental energy on planning for school. That was already done and I just had to execute my plans which I was able to do despite the mental fatigue.

3. Teach more life skills.

My girls sort and put away their laundry every week now! I put their laundry to wash and then to dry. It all goes into a laundry basket and then they each are responsible for finding their clothes and putting the clothes away in their closets and drawers. Since my girls are responsible for their clothes, taking care of my clothes and Dave’s plus the two boys is very manageable for me each week. Most every single week, I feel on top of our laundry and that is a great feeling when I am responsible for laundry for 6 people every week!

4. Academic Goals

I am very pleased with the academic progress of all three of my children for this school year. They each show growth from where they were at the beginning of the year to where they are now at the close of this school year and that is what matters most. Here are some specifics about their individual progress:

Little Bug

Little Bug reads morning, noon and night without me ever having to give her reminders to read. It is one of her most favorite things to do. As I am writing this post, she has read over 150 chapter books since last June! We are still working on basic math fact memorization, but with CLE Math, that is easy to do because of their built-in fact memorization system. Little Bug moved away from tracing her copywork to doing true copywork where she copied text onto her own paper. She has done this mostly with Bible verses and poems.

Sweet Pea

My relaxed approach to Sweet Pea’s academics this year was perfect for her. She is primed and ready to learn to read next school year! She’s gotten a good handle on some basic math concepts too that we will continue to build on.

Sarge

I’ve created a love of books in Sarge this year by reading to him daily. That is always Step 1 in creating a reader! It starts way before they are developmentally ready to learn to read. He also happily does his 60 minutes of Independent Playtime in the morning while we get the bulk of the girls’ school work done.

5. Laugh a lot.

Quite frankly, I need to do more of this. Since Sarge’s birth and adoption and dealing with all of his medical issues for his first 18 months (and some are still ongoing now) and then adopting another baby so soon that required special care and concern (mainly ensuring proper attachment/bonding), parenting the past almost 3 years has just been hard. And parenting on normal days is hard. There have been many seasons I’ve lived in survival mode. Sometimes, (often times, really), I don’t feel like a “fun mom”. I feel like a mom that is just trying to get her kids well enough to be normal kids, and it’s hard. I’ve been off social media now for over a year, and one of the big reasons I decided I didn’t have room in my life for social media was because it was hard to see people (friends) living normal lives and being a “fun mom” while I was over here just trying to make it through another day and overcome the latest hurdle. I am thankful we are at the tail-end of the challenges of the past three years.

2017 Homeschool Goals coming soon!

Posted in Homeschool Goals, Homeschooling

Our Homeschool Year in Review: What Worked & What Didn’t

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Every year I like to evaluate what worked well and what didn’t work well in our homeschool for that year! Here is this year’s review:

What Worked?

Bible

God’s Names, The Jesus Storybook Bible, The Adventure Bible for kids

All three of these Bibles/books were excellent resources to aid me in teaching the truths of God’s Word to my children this year. We enjoyed each Bible/book but I think I could say reading Genesis from The Adventure Bible was our favorite of the year!

Classical Conversations

Cycle 2, as far as content, has been my least favorite, but it was still a successful year. We enjoyed learning about space most of all. It is amazing how simply going over the Memory Work daily and listening to the CDs really does help put these facts in their minds!

Handwriting

Handwriting Without Tears K & A Reason for Handwriting K

We started the year with HWOT and ended with ARFH and both were great handwriting practice for both girls. I like both of these programs for teaching handwriting.

Language Arts

All About Reading Level 2

Little Bug loves AAR and I love using it to teach reading. It is open-and-go, engaging and Little Bug asks to do it. What more could I want?

All About Spelling Level 1

It’s the same story with AAS! Little Bug was a little reluctant with AAS because she says she “isn’t a good speller”, but she is learning spelling rules and applying them in her writing.

Explode the Code Books 3, 3 1/2 & 4

ETC is probably not necessary, but I feel it is such a good reinforcement of the phonics and spelling rules learned in AAR and AAS, so I required Little Bug to do two pages a day.

K4/5 Kindergarten from Confessions of a Homeschooler

K4/5 Kinder was a good choice for meeting my goal of a gentle academic year for Sweet Pea. By the end, she could do a lot of the activities on her own. It was good for reinforcing letter sounds, which she had learned with AAR Pre-Level. It also got her reading CVC words well!

Math

Christian Light Education Math Level 100

We absolutely love our new math curriculum! I love the way it has me teaching new concepts and Little Bug loves the lay out much better than Horizons Math.

Horizons Math K

I had not planned to use this with Sweet Pea as my plan had been to start CLE Math with her next year. I had a hodgepodge of math materials to use with her. When we had used all of that, she wanted a math book, so I pulled out the first Horizons Math K workbook and she devoured it. She didn’t finish the entire book but she did complete a good 2/3 of it.

What Didn’t Work?

Please note that several of these items just didn’t work for this school year and I fully expect them to work in future years. There are several curricula that I have realized don’t jive well with our homeschool and I will talk more about that below.

Bible

Apologia’s Who is God?

We intended this to be a family devotional once the littles were in bed, but we soon realized the girls were a little young to get the most out of this book. This book is on the shelf and will definitely be used down the road when the girls are older. What we did read was so good, but at the time, it was over their heads.

Language Arts

Explode the Code Primers ABC

I thought Sweet Pea might begin these this year, but I held off because I wanted her handwriting to improve somewhat before pulling these off the shelf. They will certainly be in her curricula line up for next year!

Math

Horizons Math 1

We said goodbye to Horizons Math this year. I still think Horizons is a very sound math curriculum, but for Little Bug’s learning style, I knew Horizons was going to open the flood gates of tears every day once we hit the second book in Horizons 1.

Saxon Math K

I’ve had this on our curricula line up now for several years and I just end up never using it! I think Saxon is a wonderful math program as well, however, it does not fit our family and our homeschool. A friend of mine from CC ended up borrowing the K level from me this year and at the end of the year I told her to keep it and I gave her Saxon 1 too!

And that is a wrap for 2016-2017’s curricula. I am deep into planning for next year and will be sharing our 2017-2018 Curriculum Choices soon!

Posted in Homeschool Year in Review, Homeschooling

Last Day of School 2017

We woke up to a very rainy last day of school!

Sweet Pea said, “Can we play in the rain??!”

My plans of completing one more math lesson went out the window…the kids got their swimsuits on and out we went.

They had a blast playing in the rain and I enjoyed watching them be children.

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Sweet Pea said, “Mommy, this is the best day!!”

We came in and everyone had a warm bath and then we turned on the new Beauty and the Beast movie!

Unk (my brother) and Dave were planning to go to lunch together today and Little Bug and Sweet Pea joined.

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They went to get ice cream after lunch and a nice man in front of them in line paid for all of their ice cream!

And that’s a wrap for 2016-2017 school year!

Time now for cleaning out the homeschool baskets, purchasing new curriculum and planning and prepping for a new school year!

Posted in Homeschooling, Last Day of School

Homeschool Highlights {May}

Here is what we were up to on our final month of homeschool in the 2016-2017 school year:

Language Arts

Besides our usual LA studies (AAS and First Language Lessons), Little Bug learned how to write a letter this month. The neighbor’s granddaughter had been in town and Little Bug and Isabelle love playing together. They decided to be Pen Pals and have now exchanged one letter each. Isabelle and her brother are also homeschooled and do CC, but sadly their Grandma is moving this month so I am not sure how much we will be seeing them in the future.

Little Bug completed All About Spelling Level 1 on May 3rd!

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Sweet Pea has read the first three BOB books! I pulled our the activities and games I had filed away to use again with Sweet Pea. She enjoyed this very much.

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Math

At the end of May Little Bug has begun LightUnit 106 and she has now completed 102 lessons (although she started on lesson 30) of CLE Math 100! We will continue to plug along in math over the summer so we can complete Level 100 sooner rather than later. As you can see in the picture, she wrote “poop on clocks” on her math page. While she does like CLE Math, she apparently doesn’t care for clock problems.

Sweet Pea continued to work through Horizons Math K but towards the end of the month, I pulled out some games and activities for us to do. Sweet Pea loved the Counting Bear Patterns!
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Sarge

We begin our reading time by reading a Bible story from our Read and Share Toddler Bible. He loves the story of Sarah and Abraham and likes to point to the baby. I put some short picture books in his book basket because he was ready for some longer stories. He has loved “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” this month.

Sarge is working on his puzzle skills as well as speech. He attends a weekly speech therapy session. Gramps takes him to speech each week which I so appreciate!

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Trip to the Mountains

The girls got to enjoy a week in the mountains in early May with Grams and Gramps! This was a special treat for them. Grams said at the beginning of the trip they tested their boundaries but once they learned the same rules still apply, they were pleasant, respectful little girls the entire week. I am proud that they can go off like that and the hard work of our training and discipline shows!

They got to go to the zoo, the hardware store (for gum out of the gum ball machine!), the red caboose and the river which is near one of our favorite BBQ places…and much more!

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Meanwhile, I was at home with just the boys as Dave had a work trip that week. At first I was bummed that I was going to be stuck at home by myself, but then I decided I needed to enjoy the week for what it was: an opportunity to enjoy just my little boys. I had three years of just the girls before the boys came along and having time with just my boys is very rare. I enjoyed my five days with my boys immensely!

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Nature Study

The girls came home with four caterpillars in their cocoons! We set them up in the caterpillar home and are waiting for butterflies as I write this!

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Summer!

Our last day of school was May 24th! We are now in Summer mode for the next six weeks. I look forward to the month of June which is my BIG planning month for our new school year, which will begin on July 10th!

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Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling

Read Alouds {2016-2017}

These are the 28 chapter and pictures books that I read aloud to the girls this year!

Title Author
On the Banks of Plum Creek Laura Ingalls Wilder
By the Shores of Silver Lake Laura Ingalls Wilder
Because of Winn-Dixie Kate DiCamillo
Charlotte’s Web E.B. White
One Wintry Night Ruth Bell Graham
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain Alice Dalgliesh
Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
The Courage of Sarah Noble Alice Dalgliesh
The Family Under the Bridge Natalie Savage Carlson
The Hundred Dresses Eleanor Estes
Akiak Robert Blake
Grandfather’s Journey Allen Say
Finding the Titanic Robert Ballard
Tomas and the Library Lady Pat Mora
Tanya’s Reunion Valerie Flournoy
Boss of the Plains Laurie Carlson
The Stranger Chris Van Allsburg
Cendrillon Robert D San Souci
Heat Wave Helen Ketteman
My Name is Maria Isabel Alma Flor Ada
Marven of the Great North Woods Kathryn Lasky
The Last Dragon Susan Miho Nunes
Sing to the Stars Mary Brigid Barrett
Happy Birthday, Dr. King! Kathryn Jones
Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man David A. Adler
Wildfires Seymour Simon
Skylark Patricia MacLachlan
Posted in Homeschooling, Read Alouds

Little Bug’s Book Log {2016-2017}

This girl is a reading machine and from June 2016 to May 2017, she read 157 chapter books!

Title Author
Christmas in Camelot Mary Pope Osborne
Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve Mary Pope Osborne
F is for Freedom Roni Schotter
Good Morning, Gorillas Mary Pope Osborne
Stage Fright on a Summer Night Mary Pope Osborne
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Betty MacDonald
Lions at Lunchtime Mary Pope Osborne
Polar Bears Past Bedtime Mary Pope Osborne
Twister on Tuesday Mary Pope Osborne
High Tide in Hawaii Mary Pope Osborne
Dolphins at Daybreak Mary Pope Osborne
Revolutionary War on Wednesday Mary Pope Osborne
Civil War on Sunday Mary Pope Osborne
Black Beauty Classic Starts Anna Sewell (Retold from)
Stormy Elizabeth Mills
The Girl with Green Hair Janet Adele Bloss
Thanksgiving on Thursday Mary Pope Osborne
Tigers at Twilight Mary Pope Osborne
Tonight on the Titanic Mary Pope Osborne
The Jungle Book Rudyard Kipling
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Pippi Longstocking Astrid Lindgren
Pippi in the South Seas Astrid Lindgren
The Quicksand Question Ron Roy
Pippi Goes on Board Astrid Lindgren
Mystery Behind the Wall Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Firehouse Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
Because of Winn Dixie Kate DiCamillo
Benny Uncovers a Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
Jenny and the Cat Club Esther Averill
Heidi Great Illustrated Classics Johanna Spyri
Mystery Ranch Gertrude Chandler Warner
Anne of Green Gables L.M. Montgomery
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe C.S. Lewis
The Three Musketeers Alexandre Dumas
The Talking T. Rex Ron Roy
Voyage with the Vikings Paul McCusker & Marianne Hering
Attack at the Arena Paul McCusker & Marianne Hering
Peril in the Palace Paul McCusker & Marianne Hering
Revenge of the Red Knight Paul McCusker & Marianne Hering
Showdown with the Shepherd Brock Eastman & Marianne Hering
Problems in Plymouth Marshal Younger & Marianne Hering
Otis Spofford Beverly Cleary
Hamlet Andrew Matthews
Henry V Andrew Matthews
The Taming of the Shrew Andrew Matthews
Macbeth Andrew Matthews
Julius Caesar Andrew Matthews
Richard III Andrew Matthews
King Lear Andrew Matthews
The Prince and the Pauper Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
The Twits Roald Dahl
Matilda Roald Dahl
The Enormous Crocodile Roald Dahl
The Secret Garden Frances Hodgson Burnett
Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure! Jeff Brown
Peter Pan J. M. Barrie
Antony and Cleopatra Andrew Matthews
The BFG Roald Dahl
The Witches Roald Dahl
The Usborne Treasury of Animal Stories Susanna Davidson
The Magic Finger Roald Dahl
Little Women Louisa May Alcott
Spirit Duey
George’s Marvelous Medicine Roald Dahl
What Was the Underground Railroad? Yona McDonough
Ramona Quimbly, Age 8 Beverly Cleary
The Quicksand Question Ron Roy
Pirates Past Noon Mary Pope Osborne
Pippi in the South Seas Astrid Lindgren
A Little Princess Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Twits Roald Dahl
The Merchant of Venice Andrew Matthews
Robin Hood Simon and Schuster
The Twits Roald Dahl
Christopher Columbus Minna Lacey
The Littles to the Rescue John Peterson
The Indian in the Cupboard Lynne Reid Banks
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer Mark Twain
Benny Uncovers a Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
Mystery Behind the Wall Gertrude Chandler Warner
Space Explorers Eva Moore
The Firehouse Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
Around the World in 80 Days Jules Verne
A Bear Called Paddington Michael Bond
Challenge on the Hill of Fire Marianne Hering
Danger on a Silent Night Marianne Hering
Secret of the Prince’s Tomb Marianne Hering
Battle for Cannibal Island Marianne Hering
Hunt for the Devil’s Dragon Marianne Hering
Black Beauty Classic Starts Anna Sewell (Retold from)
Cinderella and Other Stories from “The Blue Fairy Book” Andrew Lang
Spirit Duey
Stallion By Starlight Mary Pope Osborne
Soccer on Sunday Mary Pope Osborne
Philippa Fisher and the Fairy’s Promise Liz Kessler
A Ghost Tale for Christmastime Mary Pope Osborne
Nancy Clancy: Soccer Mania Jane O’Connor
Nancy Clancy, Star of Stage and Screen Jane O’Connor
Nancy Clancy Seeks A Fortune Jane O’Connor
A Good Night for Ghosts Mary Pope Osborne
Eve of the Emperor Penguin Mary Pope Osborne
Winter of the Ice Wizard Mary Pope Osborne
Night of the New Magicians Mary Pope Osborne
Nancy Clancy, Secret of the Silver Key Jane O’Connor
Once Upo a Frog Sarah Mlynowski
Philippa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister Liz Kessler
Goat in the Garden Ben Baglio
Puppies in the Pantry Ben Baglio
Goat in the Garden Ben Baglio
Bunnies in the Bathroom Ben Baglio
Kittens in the Kitchen Ban Baglio
Gerbil Genius Ben Baglio
Goose on the Loose Ben Baglio
Henry and the Clubhouse Beverly Cleary
The Never Girls In the Game Kiki Thorpe
The Never Girls Under the Lagoon Kiki Thorpe
Carnival at Candlelight Mary Pope Osborne
The Never Girls A Fairy’s Fire Kiki Thorpe
The Never Girls A Fairy’s Gift Kiki Thorpe
Hurry Up, Houdini! Mary Pope Osborne
Night of the Ninth Dragon Mary Pope Osborne
The Mouse and the Motercycle Beverly Cleary
The Family Under the Bridge Natalie Savage Carlson
Piglet in the Playpen Ben Baglio
The Cricket in Times Square George Selden
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl
The Long Winter Laura Ingalls Wilder
These Happy Golden Years Laura Ingalls Wilder
In Grandma’s Attic Book One Arleta Richardson
The Never Girls on the Trail Kiki Thorpe
The Never Girls far from Shore Kiki Thorpe
The Never Girls into the Waves Kiki Thorpe
The First Four Years Laura Ingalls Wilder
Monday with a Mad Genius Mary Pope Osborne
Moonlight on the Magic Flute Mary Pope Osborne
The Mystery of the Missing Pop Idol Gertrude Chandler Warner
Tinkering Tink Elle Rosco
Mystery of the Fallen Treasure Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Clue in the Papyrus Scroll Dee Garretson
The Boardwalk Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
Journey on the Runaway Train Dee Garretson
Celebrity Cat Caper Gertrude Chandler Warner
Greek Myths Diane Namm
Ballet Stories Lisa Church
The Mystery of the Stolen Dinosaur Bones Gertrude Chandler Warner
Fiona Finkelstein, big-time ballerina! Shawn Stout
The Yellow House Mystery Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Mystery at the Calgary Stampede Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Mystery of the Wild West Bandit Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Election Day Dilemma Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Legend of the Irish Castle Gertrude Chandler Warner
Rush Revere and Brave Pilgrims Rush Limbaugh
Mystery of the Soccer Snitch Gertrude Chandler Warner
Mystery of the Grinning Gargoyle Gertrude Chandler Warner
Posted in Book Logs, Homeschooling

Summer 2017 Plans

We school year-round and take about six weeks off for “summer break” from Memorial Day to the Monday after July 4th. This gives me time to reorganize the school room (which is now our dining room), have our yearly portfolio check and for me to have time to plan and prep for the new school year!

This is the longest break I give my children because I have found we need structure to remain sane. And it is this reason that we haven’t ever totally take a break from all academics. Maybe when they are all older we will actually need that kind of a break, but for now, in this season of schooling a bunch of littles, we’ve always got some kind of structured learning going on around here. We just keep it extremely low-key in the month of June.

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Here is my plan for Summer 2017:

Little Bug

CLE Math 100 – Since we didn’t start Level 100 until February of this year, I want Little Bug to continue doing 1 math lesson a day. This will literally take 30 minutes of her time if she chooses to sit down and focus.

Read books – I don’t have to assign books for Little Bug to read. I know she will continue to devour books. My challenge now is providing her books to read. The library has become a good friend.

Sweet Pea

Dry Erase Handwriting books – Sweet Pea needs to continue working on strengthening her fine motor skills for writing her letters and numbers, so she will practice writing her letters and numbers with our Dry Erase Handwriting books.

Together

Bible – We will read The Children’s Book of Virtues and learn our memory verse for June.

CC Memory Work Review – We will review Cycle 2’s Memory Work by listening to the CDs and playing games.

Read Alouds – You just can’t do everything. Sometimes something has to give and, unfortunately, what took the biggest hit in our daily homeschool routine during the phase of adjusting to having 4 children was our Read Aloud time. We still had Read Aloud time – it just wasn’t very consistent there for about 3 months. It got pushed to the very end of the day (right before bedtime) and bedtime routines for 4 children can be quite hectic so many nights we just had to pass it by and try again the next evening. I missed that time because it is one of my favorite things to do with my children! We are back into a good routine now of reading once both boys are down for their afternoon naps, but I always look forward to our summer breaks because it means even more time to Read Aloud!

Like I said, we are keeping it very short and sweet. There will be ample time for planning and playing!

Posted in Homeschooling

Homeschool Schedule {Winter/Spring 2017}

I like to document our daily schedules and routines every so often because life changes quickly and it is fun to go back and read these posts and remember what life was like “back then”.

Here is what our daily routine looked like from January to April 2017. As I write this, things are shifting here and there in our routines according to the needs of each child, so I wanted to go ahead and document what life was like with a 7-year-old, 5-year-old, 2-yr-old and a baby during the Winter and Spring of 2017.

Morning Routines

Little Bug is the early bird of the family. Now that she is seven years old, she wakes up at around 6:30/7am (I am not sure exactly what time she is up because I am NOT up that hour!) and reads until she hears me up a little before 7:30am. I get up with just enough time to get dressed and make Beau’s morning bottle before getting him up at 7:30am.

This early morning time was my time with Beau. When he first came home, I did skin-to-skin with him every morning at that time for the first 6 weeks he was home. While he drank his bottle, I would read the Bible through the YouVersion app which will read aloud to you! I LOVE that app. After Beau finished his bottle, I read him a few books before getting him dressed for the day. Around 8:15am, he went into his pack n play for half an hour of Independent Playtime.

In order to give me this precious time with Beau, Dave started getting the older three children up in the mornings and getting them breakfast. He would often make me breakfast too! While the children were eating and doing their Morning Chores, I would eat and do my Morning Chores too which usually consisted of starting laundry if it’s a laundry day (I do laundry 2-3 days a week) and doing anything else I needed to do before the day really got started.

Sibling Playtime

After breakfast all four children would play together in the living room while I finished up my Morning Chores and cleaned up from breakfast. I would love to say they all played lovingly together every single morning, but more often than not, I was also a referee during this time! And then, there were the mornings where, if only for a brief moment in time, they all four would be playing sweetly together and I would soak in the sweetness as I was scrubbing oatmeal off bowls and watching them play together.

School Time

9:00am was always my goal time to start school. First, I would put Beau down for his nap at 9am. Then, the girls would start their Copywork and handwriting while I took Sarge into his bedroom to read to him. Once the girls finished their Copywork they were to use the bathroom and then read books while they waited on me to finish reading with Sarge. After I read to Sarge, he would immediately go into his pack n play for his 60 minute Room Time!

Once Beau was down for his nap and Sarge was in Room Time, it was time to start school with the girls. We always begin by reading the Bible, going over our monthly memory verse and praying together. If it had been a harried morning, this was a great way to calm everyone (mostly me!) down and refocus.

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After Bible time, it was time for CLE Math with Little Bug. Sweet Pea would get started on her Independent Work which consisted of language arts and math activities that she could work on on her own. Little Bug and I would do one CLE Math lesson and then we would move right into her All About Reading Level 2 lesson (and then All About Spelling once she had finished AAR2) followed by a First Language Lesson. She would take a short break water and/or bathroom break whenever she needed one, but we would finish all of that in under an hour.

When I was finished with one-on-one teaching time with Little Bug, it would be time to do Kindergarten with Sweet Pea. At first we were working through Confessions of a Homeschooler’s K4/5 Kindergarten curriculum and when Sweet Pea finished that, she started CLE’s Kindergarten II curriculum. Little Bug would finish up her math work. When Sarge’s timer would go off after his 60 minute Room Time, Little Bug would go get him and bring him to the dining room.

And this is when things got really interesting as there would be a 2-year-old in the mix while trying to teach two older children! However, having that solid 60 minutes of instruction time without a toddler underfoot is key to our homeschool success. Room Time is my number one strategy to use to school older children while managing a toddler! By that time, the bulk of everything was done and we were just finishing up.

I would strap Sarge into his highchair and he would have “Table Time”. This worked like a charm (most days) because he saw his big sisters working at the table and Sarge never wants to be left out and he thinks he can do anything they do. Most days, 10-15 minutes of table time activities allowed me to finish school with both girls by around 10:30am. Sarge enjoyed doing puzzles, animal magnets, coloring, playing with small quiet toys and doodling on dry erase handwriting books while he sat in his highchair.

We used to do our CC Memory Work review time right after Bible Time, but I found that Sarge enjoys CC Review time and would sit in his highchair and “participate” with us, so I moved CC Review time to the last 15-30ish minutes of our school morning!

Outside Time & Lunch

I aimed to be finished with school by 11am and then all the big kids would go outside to play (so I could have some time to breathe!). Once they were all outside, I would clean up from the homeschool tornado that always seemed to pass through our dinning room every day we did school. Then I would move laundry and get lunch prep started. Beau would get up from his nap at 11:30am and I would feed him his bottle. I aimed to have lunch ready by noon.

Walk in the Neighborhood

Once lunch was finished and cleaned up, we would head outside for a walk in the neighborhood. The boys would ride in the double stroller and the girls would walk or ride their bikes.

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Naptime

After our walk, we would come inside and get everyone ready for naptime. Diapers would need to be changed and I would have to get a TV show on. Beau drank a 8oz bottle before going down for his nap. Sarge was still up so in order for me to know he was safe while I was in the bedroom putting the baby down for his nap, I would turn on a TV show (usually Word World, Leap Frog or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse) and strap Sarge into his highchair. The girls and Sarge would watch the show while I got Beau down for his nap. When Beau was down, I would turn the TV off and take Sarge back to his bedroom and get him down for his nap. Then, I would get Sweet Pea down for her nap by 2pm (yes, she is 5 but still needed a nap most every day!).

Rest Time

2-4pm is Rest Time in this house. The children need rest and need rest! The first part of this time Little Bug does her Explode the Code and I help her if she needs help and then check over her work and make sure she understands the phonics rule in her lesson for the day. I also move the laundry along but I make sure I have down time while all the littles are down for their naps. After Little Bug does her Explode the Code she has the rest of naptime to read, create, play and pursue her interests.

Late Afternoon

The time after naptime and before dinner was probably the most varied part of our day. There were many things we did during this 1-1.5 hours before dinner. We would: play outside, play inside, go on a walk in the neighborhood, do a structured activity, clean up the house or fold and put away laundry. Beau got up from his nap at 4:30pm and would drink a small “snack” bottle and then join us in whatever we were doing at the time.

Dinner and Family Time

Dave is still the cook in this family. He gets off work around 5pm and walks from our home office (a corner in our bedroom!) to the kitchen and starts dinner prep. Once dinner was ready we would round up the troops and all sit down to eat dinner together. If there was time after dinner and before time to start bedtime routines, we would often go on a family walk together in the neighborhood. I liked to try and get as much of dinner cleaned up before going on a walk, but many times I would have to leave it and come back to it once all the kids were in bed. Sometimes, Dave would clean it up if I needed to go ahead and get Beau started on his bedtime routine. Dave and I are a wonderful team; we both know what needs to be done and we just do what needs to be done without really even having to discuss who is doing what!
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Bedtime Routines

Beau needed to be heading to the bathtub by 6 or 6:15pm. He loved his bath time! I would get him bathed, slathered in coconut oil (for his eczema), in his pjs and then feed him his bedtime bottle while rocking him in his bedroom. I loved that peaceful time with him. Often times he would be asleep when I would lay him in his crib for the night. During this time, Dave would be cleaning up the kitchen from dinner and then getting Sarge bathed. After Sarge was bathed, he would send Sweet Pea to take her bath and then go in to wash her hair if it was a hair-wash night. Little Bug would go shower in our shower.

Once baths were done, it would be time to brush teeth and hair and then we would try to have some time to read to everyone before bedtime. Dave would read to the girls and I would read to Sarge. A little after 7pm, I would take Sarge to his bedroom and get him to bed by 7:15pm and then at 7:30pm we would both put Sweet Pea to bed (she likes for us both to put her to bed). Little Bug had from 7:30-8:00 to read before she went to bed at 8pm.

Peaceful Evenings

I tell you, I love my children, but I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t know by 8pm all children would be in bed and the house would be quiet! Our house is LOUD…and for this introverted homeschool mom of 4, I am craving peace and quiet by 8pm every day so I can wake up and do what I love to do more than anything else all over again the next morning! Dave and I have the evening to finish any cleaning up we need to do, I always go around the entire living areas and tidy up so we start with a tidy house in the morning and then Dave and I have the rest of the evening together before we wake up and do it all over again the next morning!

Final Thoughts

I run a pretty tight ship around here. No…I don’t schedule our days down to the minute and allow the clock to run my life, but I do have very clear expectations of what we are doing and when and I find if we stick to these routines in place, life just runs so much smoother with four little ones to take care of. Young children thrive off routine and knowing what is coming next and what is expected of them. That is the foundation of my “schedule and routines”.

During this time, we have had a baby that takes two naps which greatly limits our ability to get out and about because the baby is sleeping over 5 hours during the day! Our family greatly values sleep and not just sleep but adequate amounts of sleep for every person. It is a small season because eventually Beau will take one nap and suddenly our mornings will be free again! (Actually, they will be free for the first time since Sarge was born in 2014, minus the 5 months Sarge was only taking 1 nap before Beau came home in December!) In the meantime, my children just know we will be home more than we will be out. They really don’t get antsy because I have numerous ways to keep them entertained here at home. The best way is by giving them nothing to do and making them find ways to entertain themselves by being creative! We also have our CC Community, playdates at our house (so the baby can still get his nap!) and I am very fortunate to have grandparents willing to stay with Beau while I take the older three on field trips and outings. Dave also works from home and we will often run somewhere leaving Dave working and Beau sleeping.

There are times where I feel run down and tired from being a homeschool mom of 4, but truly I wouldn’t trade these days for anything and it doesn’t take much for me to remember what a blessing these chaoticly organized days really are to me. One day I will be reading these posts in a completely quiet home because my four little birdies will have flown the nest. I just want to be found faithful in being their mother in these critical days of their upbringing and raise four children who will one day desire to trust the Lord and honor him with their lives, bringing glory to His name all the days of their lives. That right there is why I do what I am doing right now.

Posted in Homeschool Routine, Homeschooling

Homeschool Highlights {April}

Sickness

The month of April started off rough with sickness. It started with me when I came down with the flu on March 31st. I was pretty much out of it for 2-3 days and then it took me a full 2 weeks to regain my full energy! I was napping most every day along with the kids just to make it through the day. Then, April 4th Sweet Pea started running a high fever. The next morning she was diagnosed with strep throat. Less than a week later, on Sunday, April 9th, Little Bug came home from church and wasn’t acting herself and she said she had a headache and her legs ached. I felt her and she was burning up. The next day she tested positive for flu! The nurse said she had picked it up 2-3 days before, so I don’t think she caught it from me. By mid-April I was OVER sickness and ready to see everyone well! That was a rough start to April. We were able to make up our school work because I didn’t want to push our school year into June.

The pics below are (left) my arsenal of essential oils. I was never officially diagnosed with flu but the nurse who tested Little Bug said I most likely had the flu as well based off my symptoms. The top right picture is of Little Bug at my parents’ house. When she tested positive for flu she went there to hopefully keep the other three children from catching the flu. (It worked.) That picture is of her ironing something when she and Grams were crafting. The bottom right picture is of Sweet Pea the night before she was diagnosed with strep.

I am so thankful we are all well now and April is over!

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Bible

We finished reading the book of Genesis in the Bible! The week of Easter we got out our Resurrection Eggs, which is always a favorite at Easter time! Now we are finishing up God’s Names.

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Classical Conversations

Unfortunately, we had to miss our last community day due to sickness, but we were all well by the following week and were able to participate in our Field Day! I cannot believe we have already completed Cycle 1 & 2! Cycle 3 will be here before we know it. I love these break months we have (May to mid-August) where we have time to review the previous memory work and also focus on other things. It brings a very nice balance to our homeschool!

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Language Arts & Math

Little Bug has nearly completed All About Spelling Level 1! We have just a couple more lessons to go. I love AAS’s method of teaching the spelling rules and then having the child apply them through various activities.

We are continuing to work through First Language Lessons Level 1. It starts by teaching all about nouns. I use CC’s definition of a noun while teaching these lessons to Little Bug because that is what she will need to know for Essentials. These lessons are short and sweet…that is the best way to describe them. This means they are a perfect addition to Little Bug’s Language Art studies at this time.

Little Bug is doing so well with her copywork. There are days where she takes better care to copy exactly and I am hoping as time goes on she will continue to improve in these skills. So far she is copying Bible verses and poems from First Language Lessons.

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Kindergarten

Sweet Pea is ready to move on to the next level of academics and I am so excited to go there with her very soon! In the meantime, she continues to work through CLE’s Kindergarten II. I don’t have her do every single page of every single lesson. I only have her do what I know will benefit her moving forward. CLE Kindergarten II is such a strong program in preparing children to learn to read! Sweet Pea started it already knowing her letters and letter sounds, but I will definitely keep this curriculum in mind for my little ones in the future. She enjoys the little crafts throughout the lessons. You can see the elephant she made in the picture below.

Sweet Pea finished A Reason for Handwriting K and she will start it over again next school year. It is such a good book for handwriting practice. This summer I need to have her continue to do activities that will strengthen those fine motor skills so she can do even better on ARFH next time!

She is zooming through Horizons K Math. I think she will be able to finish the first book by the end of this school year and then she will begin CLE Math Level 100 from the very beginning!

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Sarge

Sarge continues to have his 60 minutes of room time (while we are doing the bulk of our school work) and then he joins us for the last half hour or so and does “Table Time”. Lately, his interest has been doodling in our dry eraser handwriting books. Whatever keeps him happy is my motto so we can finish our school work. (This year we’ve been able to get everything done in the morning, but next year we will have to split our school time into a morning and afternoon session.)

Sarge is in speech therapy and is making progress with his speech. We work with him at home as well. I bought several Usborne books recently to help him learn new words. He LOVES them. One of the books is First Hundred Words in English. We go through the pages, point at the pictures and say the words. I have also started reading our toddler Bible to Sarge in the morning before his room time. He knows “Bible first” and then we read books together!

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Passion Play

We went to see the Passion Play again this Easter! We look forward to this every year. I look forward to the day when all the children are old enough to attend!

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This school year is winding down with only about a month left of this school year! We take the month of June off every year, however, I do think we will continue on with math so Little Bug continues to work through Level 100 through the summer. She is naturally a reading machine so I don’t worry about not doing any formal LA for the month of June. I have a lot of planning and prepping I need to do in the month of June for next year’s Cycle 3 and it is good for the kids to have even more time to enjoy the great outdoors!

Posted in Homeschool Highlights, Homeschooling