Posted in Homeschooling, Wednesday Work

What About Homeschooling?

A couple of weeks ago, I shared about the homeschooling side of my organizational system. But, you have probably noticed that I rarely write about homeschooling.

It’s odd, I admit. Homeschooling is such a huge part of my life. I was homeschooled through most of my childhood, and now I’m in my eleventh year of teaching my own children. So, why does it not figure dramatically into my writing? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, I am not really the hands-on, photograph worthy homeschool mom that you might see on Twitter, Pinterest, and in the great bloggy world. Yes, I’m comparing myself, and I am not that mom. Oh, we have done some of those things in the past. I do have posts on the family blog of the elementary years displaying outings, projects, and funny moments. And, there are sometimes blog worthy moments even now that they are older. But, now that the kids are older, those picture perfect moments have grown fewer and farther between because my kids do not fit that homeschool model either. Books fill their love for learning, but pictures of kids sitting around reading book after book after book tend to get a little old.

Second, we’re strange. What works for us does not work for many other people. Maybe even most other people! (Again, rather obvious from social media and the blog world.) So, I actively refrain from writing about what we do as if it’s THE way to homeschool. It’s not. It’s just our way to homeschool.

Finally, I love to encourage and mentor other homeschoolers, but I’m a one-on-one kind of person. If you have questions, I’d love to sit down face to face or over e-mail and talk through them with you. I’d love to help you discover what will work best for you and how to get the most out of your homeschooling. A blog post does not accomplish that. Not in the least. Mostly because I can’t hear your questions and respond according to your unique needs.

There’s a Problem, Though

All of this leaves me bothered about something. You see, there are a gazillion homeschool bloggers out there. Think I’m kidding? Get on Twitter and search #homeschool. Then, begin following everyone that pops up. But, as you follow, make sure to look through and follow all of the recommendations connected to each new account you follow. It keeps going and going and going and going and going! And all of them have plenty to share about their homeschool experience.

And that bothers me. Not because they are sharing what works for them (I applaud that part!), but because their posts often – and usually very unintentionally – leave other moms like me (and maybe you) feeling like failures because we cannot make that same system work. Or because we have never taught this topic or insisted on those lessons. Or because we don’t do all of those creative, hands-on projects. We come away with the feeling that, no matter how exhausted we already are as we try to fit everything in, we have to make sure to fit in this one more thing or we’ll be leaving incurable gaps in our children’s growth and education.

That, my friends, is a lie. And many of the homeschool bloggers out there would be mortified to discover that they in any way contributed to that lie.

I work with a team of amazing homeschoolers. Each of us has homeschooled a different way. We prioritize differently, and our children are all developing differently. But words cannot express just how much I have learned from my amazing coworkers through the years. They encourage me, exhort me, and share their wisdom with me. How I love it!

That is what homeschool community is meant to be. And, that is actually what the blog and social media world can be to all of us, if we know how to navigate it and sort through the massive amount of information flowing our way.

So, I have decided to start writing more about homeschooling. Not necessarily about what works for me, but more about how we can navigate this huge, intimidating, but potentially helpful community that is the world wide web of homeschooling. And I would love to hear your questions! Is there anything you want to know about homeschooling or navigating the online community? Any general homeschool questions that you have never known how or where to ask? I’d love to hear from you! Either comment below or click on the Connect with Me tab at the top and send me a message. I’d love to connect with you over a little homeschool chatter!

Posted in Homeschooling, Wednesday Work, What Works for Me

The Planner in Me: Homeschool

I’m a planner. I’ve always loved calendars and planners and getting things all lined out! Recently, my husband wrote a blog post outlining what he uses for schedule and organization. When I shared it on social media, I mentioned that I would outline my own system soon.

My system actually started with success on the homeschool planning front first. I have tried many, many planners and organizational systems over the years, both for homeschooling and for life. All of them kinda sorta worked, but each one left something to be desired. Then, I ran across a huge discount on a planner that only had a few months of life left in it. That was early 2011; it was also my very first Well Planned Day planner. Later that year I would become a volunteer reviewer for the Well Planned Gal, the creator of the planner. But for the time being, I was just trying out a planner I’d never heard of from a company I was only vaguely familiar with.

And I was hooked.

This gal who had tried one planner after another and rarely been diligent with any single planning system had suddenly found the one homeschool planner that truly worked. And now, six years later, I actually get to help make them! Why yes, I do love my job.

Ahem…back to the task at hand. So, why do I love Well Planned Day so much? Well, it accomplishes what I had always looked for before. It allows me to lay out assignments on a weekly basis in a large, roomy format. For even greater ease of use, I keep a colorful array of Frixion pens on hand. (Yes, they really do erase well – very important for when the schedule needs to be tweaked.) Each child has a color of their own, then there is a separate color for things I do with each child. When each assignment has been graded, I write the grade beside the assignment. Then I highlight the assignment, leaving the grade un-highlighted until I have entered it.

So, where do I enter the grade? Well, that’s part two of my homeschool planning system. You see, I don’t like to plan on paper more than a week or two in advance because of all of the little things that pop up and require us to change the plan. But, I do like to have a handle on the whole school year. That’s why I also use My Well Planned Day, an online planning software. I lay out the entire school year online, then I can tweak it as needed each week. It saves me a ton of time and allows me to stay on top of where we are. And, it’s a great place to keep grades, which is especially helpful now that I have a high school student who will need a transcript soon. Oh, and the best part is that the girls each have their own login. So, they can get on, pull each day’s assignments, and make notes in their own student and high school planners. In the next couple of years, I’ll teach Steven how to do the same thing.

What’s neat about it all is that I got to spend last weekend showing other homeschool parents what works for me. I helped Rebecca the Well Planned Gal, aka my boss, man her booth at the Ft. Worth Great Homeschool Convention. Yes, I was working. But, the whole time I was also getting to share what works for me (and getting to spend time with my amazing boss!). What works for me doesn’t work for everyone, and I was quick to admit that this weekend. It’s fun, though, to know that I get to be a part of sharing the system that I love!

Next week I’ll share what I use for everything beyond homeschooling.

Posted in Around the Web, Helpful Hints, Homeschooling, What Works for Me

The Great Balancing Act

Sometimes I need to remember what God has taught me in the past. And today, it’s a reminder about balance and making decisions that work best for today, no matter how task- and schedule-oriented I may be. So, instead of writing something new today, I’m going to share with you an article I wrote for Family Magazine last year – one God brought back to my attention this morning to give me the “past lessons” reminder that I needed for today.

Working and Homeschooling: The Great Balancing Act

Homeschooling was once a venture primarily tackled by stay-at-home moms who had no intention of working for income, whether inside or outside the home. Working homeschool moms were relatively rare. But, as homeschooling grows in popularity, more homes experience the juggling act that comes from trying to combine employment and homeschooling.

Every situation is unique. Some children need more attention than others. Some parents work from home while others work outside the home. Some jobs fit into a solid routine; others require flexibility. As a result, there is no one-size-fits-all response when a desperate mother asks for help balancing work and school. But shared experience and wisdom from other work-at-home moms can still offer valuable assistance.

Here are some tips I have gleaned from fellow work-at-home moms:

Click here to read the rest of this article at wellplannedgal.com.

Posted in Homeschooling

Homeschool Thoughts: Break, or no Break?

Today I have a question for any homeschoolers who read my blog – which may be zero, other than my sweet hubby, but I thought I’d ask anyway!

Do you take a summer break?

For years, we called ourselves year-round homeschoolers. It all started that first summer. We had only been working since January anyway, as my oldest was not ready for formal kindergarten when formal school time rolled around. Once she was ready, though, she flew through all of her KG activities and was fully caught up by May. Great! I thought. This means I have the summer to prepare for first grade, and we’ll get started in August!

Wrong.

Not only did she immediately start begging to go ahead and start first grade, but her four-year-old sister was begging for school work, too. She wanted to be like her big sissy! So, I scrambled to up the timeline, and we rolled into the new year as quickly as possible.

The next summer, I gave them the option, and they wanted to continue right on through the summer yet again. At least this time, I was prepared!

But, as I look back over the years, I’ve realized that we aren’t really year-round homeschoolers. We just take our breaks at different times, usually the majority of it between the end of October and the turn of the year. We took our first-ever extended summer break this past year. Yes, we took the whole summer off. Then we paid for it over the holidays, having to strictly limit our days off.

So, what about you?

When and for how long do you take breaks, and why?

Posted in Around the Web, Homeschooling, Thoughts, Thoughts from Others

Around the Web – June 18, 2014

I haven’t gotten quite back into the full scope of blog reading this week as I’d hoped, but I’ve still come across a few posts that I really enjoyed.

Doug’s Blog

A couple of weeks ago, Doug wrote a post about earning his MDiv and contemplating what’s next. Obviously, I know all about his journey and his plans because we have talked through these things many, many times. But, “Third Degree Burns?” also has a point. No matter what might be ahead, consider where God has you right now. Obey here and now. I needed that reminder.

Oh, and if you like historical fiction and want something a little different, take a look at Doug’s review of Edwin, High King of Britain.

The Fun of Homeschooling

The Nerd Factor

I love the way homeschooling feeds our nerdiness. Here’s the phrase that caught my attention this week:

Do you hear the words Allon-sy, Geronimo, and Fantastic all the time in your house? Are jelly babies on short order? Does the sound of the T.A.R.D.I.S. echo from your living room? If so you might be the parent of a Whovian. (Who am I kidding? You might be a whovian yourself.)

I love that a fellow homeschool mom wrote “Using Doctor Who in Your Homeschool.” And my oldest immediately said, “Yes, please!”

The Training Factor

I also ran across this post about the need for children to move and play and be outside: WHY CHIDLREN FIDGET: And What We Can Do About It

And this post about summer boredom:
Dear Children: Let Me Explain This Thing Called Summer

A Lifestyle Thought

Then there’s this post: Because There is a Difference

I absolutely loved this post. It expresses what I know to be true about myself. My eating habits, or any other health or discipline habits, mean nothing if my heart is not in tune with Christ. Aimee Byrd articulates that fact beautifully.

Be sure to check out what my HEDUA friends have been reading and writing in Must Reads. And don’t forget to share your links with the rest of us!