It’s summertime and the planning’s good

Okay am I the only one who is geeked about planning for next year? Oh my but I love everything about it! Every year is a fresh start, full of possibility. New school supplies and clothes (we get these things), fresh teacher planners and juicy new dry wipe markers are all signaling school’s about to start!

I know you may wonder why I am chatting about this now. It’s early July, you think. I have plenty of time, you think. I’ll do that later, you think. I wouldn’t if I were you…

Planning for the year is important. You know the saying, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” It happens every time I think I can “wing it.” I like to think I’m a free spirit but I really need more structure than I want to admit sometimes. For me, writing it all down helps keep me on track and [mostly] productive.

Here is my planner for this school year. I have linked below to all the wonderful blogs whose free printables I used in this planner. Isn’t the cover beautiful? I cobbled the contents together from several sites to fit my needs. I laminated the covers and comb bound it (I happen to have tools to do both). Super cheap and just what I needed!

Here is a tour of my planner on YouTube. To me its easier than a bunch of pictures.


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Here are the links to the printables I used.

 

 

 

H is for…Homeschool companion

FACE offers a helpful resource for those new to BPA. It’s short and sweet and chock full of helpful info. It helps you take a deep breath and say, “I can do this!” It is written by a home educating moms who have been there and done that and lived to tell about it.

The Noah Plan Homeschool Companion is free with purchase at the FACE bookstore or it’s only $6 if you want it alone.

G is for…GACE

I’m so happy to come to this letter! GACE, or the Guide to American Christian Education by James Rose is my favorite go-to reference for BPA. It is chock full of almost everything you need to get started and stay going. I can hardly begin to list all of what’s in it. It addresses BPA in the home and in home education. There is help planning lessons, basic 4R’ing and other foundational concepts and disciplines. He addresses core subjects, enrichment and some subjects that are hard to come by in any other BPA materials–namely Kindergarten year full lesson outlines, economics and Anatomy/physiology. There are contributions from Katherine Dang and Mrs Ruth Smith, among others. (Did I mention how much I adore this book?)

It is inspirational and challenging, practical and comprehensive. We have a GACE study group on Yahoo! that goes through Mr. Rose’s study that is comparable to the Self-directed Study from FACE.

Getting homeschool organized for 2012-2013 part 3

Here are parts one and two if you need to catch up.

This post has some of my space saving ideas and such. If you are anything like me you like to peek into other peoples’ homeschool spaces.

This is my china hutch. I got it for a steal at the Salvation Army. It had some lovely china in it but I need the space for homeschool supplies. So I put the china away and lined the inside of the glass doors with some lovely gift wrap from Wal-Mart and voila, a great space for goodies.

You can see I keep a lot in here: my portable teacher’s desk, paper of all kinds, tempera paint and art supplies, page protectors and more. It’s not a big cabinet but it holds a lot out of sight.

This wall is our chalkboard wall. The whole wall was painted with homemade chalkboard paint that matches the decor.  I put our timeline along the top under the border and now we have a huge space for doing anything we need a chalkboard for. And when we need a map I just tape it up here. (We also make the wall magnetic wit paint but it’s not very strong and doesn’t usually hold up something that heavy.)

This cute little bird holds our chalk in a low spot so even my 4yo can reach it. (Both came from Target. Under $5 for both.)

These bookcases are in the living room. I want to paint them white but I am recovering from surgery so that project will have to wait. I organize books but subject: science, reference, etc and then history and literature I put in chronological order. I love this method because you can see the progression of both and it’s easy to find any book you need.

This little shoe shelf (closet organizer) from KMart is right by the front door. It holds all of our library books. I used to have a basket for this but the basket got torn up. This is working mush better for us and they are always right there when we need to take them back.

This butcher block on wheels (from Wal-Mart) is also in my dining area. It holds food in the baskets underneath but the top is an extra surface for projects. Both sides fold up to make a large surface for crafts, science experiments and more.

All of these things I had on hand. I am simply re-purposing what I already have to accommodate a homeschool space in our 1200 sq. ft. home filled with 6 people and lots of other stuff. I hope you are inspired to see how you can be a good steward of your finances and find a way to make do with what you have. Do you have a post on organizing homeschool? Leave a link in the comments!

Homeschool Plans for 2012-2013

I am really really really looking forward to this new year! So much change and so much to make me smile. I have been on sabbatical from home educating my children but God has brought things together for me to be able to joyfully teach my children again. I have missed it so much!

My two older daughter are starting junior high and high school this year at our church’s Christian school. The boys (8 and 4) will homeschool with me. So here are my basic plans for this new school year (third grade and preschool):

My 4 year old wants to be just like his big brother so I have “school” things for him to do as well. Soon I’ll see if he’s ready to learn to read. I have had the privilege of giving each of my other children the Golden Ticket and I can’t wait to work with my last one.

 

This is just the skeleton. I am starting to put these bones together and then I’ll flesh them out with weekly plans and dress this guy up in some field trips and special projects.

I’m trying a new-to-me organizing system that I’ll share with you soon. I really like it so far! I’ll show you how I adapt it to fit my needs.

Benefits of home education [for mom]

We often hear about how homeschooling is best for the student. Home education is also great for the mother-teacher as well. Here are just a few of the ways:

time with your children
In my opinion this can’t be oversold. Time with your children should be something you desire to find more of. This seems to be the reason many parents choose not to homeschool–they will have to be with their children all day. I have never understood that sentiment. If that’s the only reason you don’t try homeschooling then let me encourage you to rethink this idea.

you are always learning
Home educating parents are always in school themselves. Learning and exploring alongside your children is one of the greatest homeschool joys, I believe. You don’t have to know it all right now. Taking time to learn together is a wonderful way to bond as a family.

forging relationships
Meeting and praying with other parent-educators forms a strong bond. Finding like-minded parents and children is an important factor in the success of home educating families. It is really difficult to “go it alone,” and with the internet it’s now easier than ever to connect and create life-long friends.

building confidence
Home educating parents are constantly setting goals (and hopefully seeing them through). Looking back over a year, or a semester, is rewarding. You can see how far the homeschool students have come and where you need to go next. Accomplishments such as teaching a child to read are methodical milestones a parent can look back on with pride. This builds confidence that bleeds over into every area of life.

ensuring your desires for your children’s education are met
There is no competing worldview or opposing force vying for your child’s heart and mind. Also you are able to focus like a laser on what you think is important for them to learn. You can also be sure you deal with challenges and giftings as needed.

If you could write this list, what would you add?

 

 

 

Decisions, decisions…

Two days until we start our new school year! I am peacefully happy about how this is working out for us. In our homeschool we follow the calendar of the private school my daughters attend. They start on Thursday, so guess what. So do we.

My 7yo son has bugged me since Christmas break to homeschool him again. Once we decided to do just that he has never looked back. He hasn’t wavered or questioned his choice once, even when we registered the girls for school and went shopping for school supplies. I am so impressed with his quiet confidence in his choice.

Unlike him, I spend too much time rehashing and questioning and second guessing most every important choice I make. I don’t just let the decision hang out there, small and vulnerable. After I toss it out I quickly reel it back in, clutching it,  frantically searching for any perceived flaw. Upon closer inspection I deem it unworthy and toss it onto the heap with the rest of the changed decisions. Then I make another decision and start the process over again.

Those little decisions never reach maturity. They never see the light of day. I hang onto the familiar, even when it’s not in my (or my family’s) best interest. I pray Jack’s unknowing example will help me be braver as the months go on and that some of my wee decisions will have the chance to turn into great things.

Let your “Yes,” be “Yes,” and your “No,” “No…” James 5:12 NKJV

“The Mighty Works of God: Liberty & Justice for All” review

Mrs. Smith is the founder of Pilgrim Institute. She has written a history series for home educators called “The Mighty Works of God.” I have used this myself so I feel I can give an honest review. For this review I will refer to this title as LJFA.

This is the second book in the MWOG series, intended for younger elementary ages. First off, this is not an intimidating tome. The student text is less than 200 pages and the teacher’s text is only a few pages more. It is an easy read for the students.

The teacher’s guide provides three or more lessons per chapter. Mrs. Smith has supplied a leading ides for each lesson, along with reasoning questions and a synopsis of the chapter. A CD-ROM is included with the teacher’s guide full of printable maps, notebooking pages and charts that correspond with the lessons.

If you are new to BPA it can be a terrific way to ease into a subject without having to build lessons from scratch. And if you have Mr. Rose’s book, this text corresponds with year 3 (second grade) in the chart on p. 207.

LJFA covers all of history, from creation to today. She uses the theme of liberty to connect the lessons throughout the year. I like this because it adds continuity to the lessons. There are scriptures, poetry, biographies and more sprinkled throughout the text. Many color drawings add to the enjoyment as your child reads about Moses, Marco Polo, William Penn, Jedediah Smith and more. Benjamin Franklin seems to be a favorite historical figure with children and the stories about him in this volume are inspiring and a great place to pause for a “rabbit trail.”

Why you might like this

  • She weaves a beautiful story, revealing His Story as it marches through time. It is taught from a Providential history perspective, focusing on Biblical reasoning to learn about historical individuals and events.
  • It makes history an easily teachable subject.
  • You are provided the leading ideas for each lesson.
  • It is flexible. Because there are no daily plans you can use as many lessons as you like. You aren’t left feeling as if you haven’t covered something.
  • Reflection and reasoning are supplied.
  • It inspires affection for America’s Christian history.

Why you might not like this

  • Your educational philosophy doesn’t jibe with a Biblical Principle Approach philosophy.
  • You want daily lesson plans.
  • You want literature-based history.
  • You don’t want to teach from a Christian history worldview.
  • You want a textbook.
  • You want something the child can do independently. This requires the teacher to reason alongside the student.
  • There are no tests or quizzes. (or maybe this should be in the list above!)

I enjoyed using this with my children. We learned a lot. I didn’t feel rushed through a huge lesson schedule, so we could take out time and focus on reasoning and not just facts. I was also able to teach multiple grades with this (4th and 1st). A little modification makes this easy to use with several ages at once. And because the leading ideas are supplied, I didn’t have to do a lot of preparation before we could sit at the kitchen table and talk about His Story together. It began a lot of great conversations about the why’s of history. Not “why do we need to learn this” but why people do what they do and why things happen.

7 wonders of the [homeschool] world

1. Reading. Teaching your own child to read is the first step on the road to lifelong learning. I call it the Golden Ticket. In my opinions it is the greatest gift you can give your children outside of salvation. And you can do it all by yourself (with some good phonics books).

2. Graduation. You homeschooled your own child. They made it. You made it. And you didn’t need a school system to pull it off. That’s pretty wonderful.

3. Affordability. It’s not expensive to educate your child yourself, unless you choose to spend the dough. It doesn’t take $4000 per child per year to educate your child. Score.

4. Individuality. There’s seemingly no end to this one. Individuality of lessons, religion, methods, children, diets, schedule etc. are but a few ways that you can customize each child’s learning experience. This is wonderful, not spoiling. Everyone should have the opportunity to learn in such an environment.

5. Rabbit trails. When something interests your family you can swerve your lessons right into it. You can’t do that in a classroom setting

6. Camaraderie. You are able to form close relationships with own family, a “values in action” exercise because your children see how you live day-to-day.  And home educators are a tight knit and friendly community. No one is more willing to share wisdom, information and materials than homeschoolers are.

7. Seamlessness. School and life are not separated, they are celebrated. All of life becomes learning and all the world becomes a classroom.

What’s on your “seven wonders” list?

Homeschooling is a bit like nursing

Since I have started working again I have noticed there are a few correlations between what I do now and home educating.

  1. Individual attention. I have two patients and so I am able to concentrate only on them.
  2. Specialization. It takes a special skill set to work as an ICU RN. It also takes a special skill set to homeschool.
  3. Continuing education. You are always learning as a nurse and as a home educator. If you aren’t learning in either role then something’s wrong.
  4. Critical thinking. You must constantly evaluate test results and assessments, put clues together and think three steps ahead.
  5. Caring for the whole person. As a nurse I don’t just care for a person medically. I also care for their spiritual well-being and their soul as well. As a home educator the same is definitely true.
  6. The little things matter. What I do–or don’t do– can make a BIG difference. And little changes in my patient can mean big things down the road. Noticing subtle changes in your children can also make a big difference down the road.
  7. Caring for the vulnerable. It is my responsibility to care for those who cannot care for themselves. They are counting on me to know what to do and how to do it. I also have to teach them things they need to know until they are well enough to take care of themselves. I feel it is my responsibility to not just make sure they are still alive when I go home, but that they are well cared for, that I do all I can to make their lives better.
  8. You can’t do it alone. No man is an island. We aren’t created to be isolated. Teamwork is important, even within families. Don’t be a martyr or a victim. I need help turning, double checking and sometimes just reinforcing my gut feeling when dealing with patients. Home educators can’t be lone rangers. You cannot be everything your children need all by yourself.
  9. They aren’t with us very long. My patients move out of ICU ASAP. That’s a good thing and as long as they are in my unit I want to make sure they are well cared for. Our children aren’t with us long either. Before you know they seem to move from toddlerhood to high school!
  10. You have to love it. You’ll burn out. You won’t do a good job. Those whose care you are charged with will resent you. You can make silly mistakes because your heart isn’t in it.

They are both critically important roles, and both extremely rewarding as well. When done right, they make a difference in the lives of the individuals in our care.