Thursday, August 29, 2019 and Teaching States

I've really been enjoying! I got the annual subscription pro edition for just $47.95 (you can also do a monthly subscription). It's great for kids preschool through 5th grade. Yes, I'm close to aging out of that teaching range, but I still teach at our local homeschool co-op, and this site has such great resources that it's entirely worth it to keep it going for the wonderful and fun teaching resources!

I was super excited to receive my lemon ice cardstock today from Amazon (one-day delivery!) so I could start copying the state postcards onto it for our classes which start next week. The kids are going to love coloring their postcards and writing on the back of them! I'll figure out a way to organize them after I cut them out, probably writing somewhere on the postcard a number for each card so they can put them in order of when each became a state.

Kids can also do activities and play games on the site in addition to the zillions of great resources you can print out for teaching/helping them learn!

Here's my review of from April 15, 2013. Hard to believe I have been using this site for over 6 years!


Friday, August 23, 2019

Senior Year Homeschool Plan 2019-2020

Joel turned 18 in June and I love homeschooling so much I wanted to keep him an extra year. It's going to work out that way for my oldest three kids, but I should have my younger two on track to graduate sooner. We'll see. Maybe I will try to keep that last kid around several more years LOL

This kid can now officially be called an Eagle Scout as of August 15, 2019.
Here's Joel's senior year plan:

Finally going to kick Algebra's butt using a workbook with tons of problems because he doesn't work best with a program like Teaching Textbooks. Then we'll move on to a Geometry workbook so he has some basic knowledge of these two concepts as he heads out into the world.

Here's what I have so far on the list for all the kids, but for now I'm checking into The Outsiders, some sort of classic, something Shakespeare, some short stories, something contemporary. First up is The Great Gatsby.

I either read these books aloud to Joel and his brother (10th grade) or we listen to an audiobook. We talk about the book, sometimes write papers, discuss things like plot, structure, foreshadowing, etc. We will try to do this 3 times a week.

Taking certain things into consideration, and it's hard to choose since I only have one more year with him, (in the past we've read quite a varied list, like Okay for Now, Station Eleven, Fahrenheit 451, Wednesday Wars, etc.):

Here is what PrepScholar says are the 31 best books for boys to read in high school.

Here is how BuzzFeed weighed in with 26 Contemporary Books That Should be Taught in High School

I also have a list that I'm going through based on The Read-Aloud Family and Honey for a Child's Heart.

I also highly recommend Time4Learning for their English for high school; amazing short story and book ideas and great teaching to back them up. Please tell them Kerrie McLoughlin sent you!

Easy Grammar (4 times a week)

We work on this a couple of times a week, incorporating the literature into it. This year we'll also write a research paper.

Apologia Exploring Creation Biology, utilizing the student notebook for homework and experiments

Our Pioneers and Patriots during Morning Time (which can be any time of the day when we can all come together) just to cement some of the history concepts. He has learned about Government and all sorts of history already so this is just a refresher, not really a necessity. Plus he may end up taking a History at the community college, and one semester counts as a full year of credit for high school.

Physical Education
The kid goes to the gym 6 days a week

Dabbling in this during Morning Time with the younger kids

October through December: 8-week accelerated Psychology course online through our "local" community college (local means it's like 20 minutes away) for dual credit. Eight weeks of this count as a full one-year credit.

Criminal Justice
January through May: Tentative plan will be to take two more classes, maybe History and Law or Criminal Justice. He would like to go into law enforcement, so we are determining the best classes for him right now.

Job/Life Skills
Working for a lawn care business 20-25 hours per week

Field Trips
Art Museum
Truman Library
Still working on this list!

Please see my Ultimate Field Trip List (Kansas City) when I have that live (coming soon!)

Our Family's Homeschool Vision Statement

Ignore the graphic for now; The Fun Homeschool Blog is something I tried to branch into but decided I love it here at Homeschooling Mommybot way too much!

Holy cow. I received Pam Barnhill's (Homeschool Solutions) Put Your Homeschool Year on Auto-Pilot 10-module course to review and so far just the first step has changed everything for me! The first step is about creating a vision for your homeschool so everything else can progress from there.

The second step is about creating goals for each child and then after that you come up with the subjects and resources you'll need to meet the goals and stay in line with your vision statement. I'm really excited to progress through this course!

Your vision statement might look ENTIRELY different from mine. It might focus more on getting your kids to Harvard and use words like "rigorous education" and that's great for your family! For my family, I like to focus more on a lifelong love of learning so they are always WANTING to learn and also I want them to serve others, be good workers, and have a lot of fun with this life they have been gifted.

Your vision statement might focus more on sports and it might not focus on religion at all. All families are different!

Here's what I came up with for our vision statement after 12 years of homeschooling:

In our homeschool, we refuse to be dictated by man-made timelines and society’s standards of “normal” (bedtime, travel as a family, job as learning, etc.) and have a lot of fun experiencing the world and the people and places in it, including field trips, dates, book clubs, and party school.

In our homeschool, we strive to consistently practice basic skills like math and language arts until we master them, learning at our own pace and finding out about things we are interested in along the way.

In our homeschool, we strive to practice our religion (serving each other and others, volunteering, TOB), equip our kids for whatever God may call them to, and learn life skills (self-sufficiency, good work ethic, chores, cooking, finances, relationships with siblings, extended family and others).

In our homeschool, we strive to foster a love of books and conversations, sharing good stories and discussions, trying to cultivate a lifelong love of learning.

In our homeschool, we strive to love each other well and point each other to God, enjoying our time together as a family and offering a welcoming haven in our home.

What would your homeschool vision statement look like?

Monday, August 19, 2019

First Day of School Signs

I love the first day of school pictures on Facebook! Why not also for homeschooling?

Here is one of ours from 2018-2019. You can't really see what the signs say so I plan to do more of a close-up this year, but I love how they are all together and by the pool, no less, on the first day of official homeshooling! They were first day of 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th.

Here's how to get the free printables.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

7 Things I'm Doing This Year to Make My Homeschooling Work Better with 5 Kids 2018-2019

I'm that slacker homeschool mom. The one who takes a half day off no problem, convinced that it will just be one half day and no more. Then it turns into another and another and soon we're like, "Uh, why don't we know cursive handwriting and multiplication tables?"

So after 11 full years of homeschooling, I'm learning. We are all settled in our new home in the country and we have a lovely little routine that won't likely be broken up by fixing up a house, moving, vacationing, a new baby, etc. It appears to be a smooth-sailing year up ahead. (yes, I know ... the best-laid plans!!!!)

1. Six weeks on, then a break
Teaching for 6 weeks at a time then taking a 1-week break. We'll still get a Christmas break, of course, and one of our 1-week breaks will count as Spring Break. We'll need to go until the end of June, but then we get 8 full weeks off after that (July and August).

2. Teach more than one at a time
Combining them. Brave Writer Help for High School will be done this year with both Michael and Joel (freshman and junior). They'll learn the material together as I read it to them so I make sure I know what's going on as well. They'll write papers and assignments at the same pace.

3. Make them accountable and independent
Emailing links for the week to the high schoolers with videos I want them to watch (e.g., Crash Course Biology, Crash Course History, cool documentaries on Amazon Prime, Netflix or Hulu, etc.) Copying their workbook pages for Easy Grammar and giving them the entire week's worth at once so they can do it all Monday or do it all Friday or throughout the week, working at their own pace and being able to deal with other things they have going on at the same time. I think learning how to manage their course load is important. For the younger kids, letting them know which pages need to be done by Friday in Explode the Code (such a fun workbook series for Language Arts).

4. Make things special
Making things special more often, like we planned to do last year. Today we have Back-to-School Little Debbie snack cakes with a battery-powered candle and some picture books. Yes, I make my older kids sit through picture book time. And I also make my younger kids sit through some things which may or may not be currently over their heads. It all works out in the end. Take time for fun field trips like we've always done, with our friends and on our own.

5. Lunch-n-Learn versus Morning Basket
Instead of a Morning Basket, which is a fabulous concept, I am doing a Lunch-n-Learn since the kids all wake up at different times, which is fine by me. We eat lunch, I read to them a selection of things covering all subject areas, and they are free to create art during this time as well. I don't need their eyes on me at all. They can paint or draw while they listen.

6. Be prepared
Before the kids even wake up, I pull off the main homeschool bookshelf anything I'm hoping to use that day. That way, I can SEE my "workload" for the day and so can the kids. Over the summer, I cleared the entire shelf off so now it's organized like this, and I don't have anything on there that will distract me from the current set of 6 weeks of homeschooling.

7. Check myself before I wreck our entire year
I must have rules for myself, which is something I always rebelled against. This year they include things I can handle: I can do my paid work in the morning after prepping for the homeschool day. I can only check my phone to handle immediate things like if my husband texts, a friend wants to come and play, etc. Otherwise, STAY OFF FACEBOOK and other social media is the number one rule for myself from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Don't go on a 2-hour field trip and call that an entire homeschool day. Oh, and make sure I'm logging their homeschool stuff every single day. I like to look back on it and it's helpful to have records just in case.

Check out our first official day of homeschool, day after Labor Day.

Here's to a fabulous school year! And click here to see how we're starting out with the 2019-2020 school year, starting with my senior!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Organizing Your Homeschool Areas

How about a mini tour of just the upstairs part of my homeschooling world? No, I don't have a specific homeschool room, even though we have moved to the country to a larger space. Where I might have carved out a homeschool space there is a pool/ping pong table, and that's not going anywhere anytime soon. Downstairs there is a bar area with lots of great drawers, a homeschool stash closet under the stairs, and a nook for a desk with computer and a large bookshelf. I still don't have it all figured out just yet but I'll link to it when I do :-)

So this is what I like to call my Homeschool/Work/Life Command Center. It's like home base for everything. So all homeschooling begins here. As far as homeschooling goes, it's where I keep the planner, the main binder, the homeschool helps books, the Thirty-One Container of Stuffs, writing utensils and highlighters. And the all-important thing that gets me through each day: the Cinnamon Fire Jolly Ranchers.
To the left is my Morning Basket-type thing.  That black and white thing is my Thirty-One Container of Stuffs.

And this is a small bookshelf of Stuff We Use a Lot.
I'm working on only getting things on this shelf that need to be here for the upcoming school year so I don't get distracted by other shiny homeschool curriculum choices.

So I went on the other day to check out some options for our entryway shoe issue and came up with this sweet solution at a good price. I kind of then went down a rabbit hole of other homeschool space solution options. I was surprised at the affordable AND stylish options that were available. Time to get rid of that hand-me-down particle board thing we've been storing the computer on.

I also found this great article on How to Set Up a Homeschool Classroom. It talks about where you are going to homeschool, how you want to set it up, and more. Now it's got me thinking that we could carve out a room down in our storage area ... the lighting is good, it's quiet, and there are plenty of shelves for all our stuff. Or I could brainstorm on how to homeschool at the bar, as was my original plan.

So many options! I'll keep you updated on my space solutions. In the meantime, let me know what your homeschool space looks like in the comments below. Feel free to link to a blog post you've written :-)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Homeschool Conference Weekend 2018! Why I'm Not Going and What I'm Doing Instead

So it's Friday, June 1, 2018 and it's the weekend of the Catholic Homeschooler Conference here in Kansas City. It starts as I am writing this post, at noon, and goes until 9:00 tonight. Then tomorrow it goes from 8-4.

*If you are a conference lover, and I know there are a lot of you out there, I RESPECT THAT! I love that you can go and socialize and buy stuff you need at a great price and listen to great speakers and go back home ENERGIZED about your faith and about homeschooling in general. I am not knocking homeschool conferences at all!

With that said, here's why I am not going — and may never go — to a homeschool conference.
  1. I am easily confused. I blame my self-diagnosed ADD — or the fact that I'm running a household with 5 kids and a husband in it and also have a side business ... and am almost 47 years old. If you give me a choice of 100 homeschool resources, my head will explode and I will either get very testy and annoyed and buy nothing or I will try to decide and end up buying too much stuff I will never use and that my kids hate.
  2. Too much socialization makes me exhausted. I love seeing my friends and making new ones, but I am doing a lot of socializing this summer by having friends over, and I want to be fresh as a daisy mentally for my pals and their kids.
  3. Too much information, in the form of speakers, makes my mind shut down. I need things in bite-sized pieces.
  4. I want to be with my kids and husband, who are going away to sleepover camp next week. The timing of conferences around here never seems to be just right for our family ... there is always something going on and I just can't commit to even going for one full day of it.
  5. We need to save money (gas, conference cost), and the time spent at the conference is time I either need to be working or hanging with my kids and husband.
What am I doing instead (besides saving gas, conference money and time)?
  1. I am listening to Pam Barnhill's The Homeschool Solutions Show podcast on planning and organizing. I also love The Homeschool Highschool podcast, Brave Writer podcast, The Homeschool Sisters podcast, and Read-Aloud Revival podcast.
  2. I am watching YouTube videos by Pam Barnhill about planning (10 steps, and the first is to have a vision, which I don't think I've done since my oldest was in first grade and now he's going to be a junior), Erica Arndt (Confessions of a Homeschooler), and Julie Bogart (Brave Writer). Also, others I stumble on that might be helpful.
  3. I am working on my list of parenting magazine writing markets that writers are asking me for so that I can sell it and put money away for homeschool books and activities and field trips and PARTIES!
  4. I am reading Read-Aloud Revival by Sarah Mackenzie for great book ideas for the coming year. The biggest problem is culling the list and saving some for the next year!
  5. I am planning for co-op for fall (Creative Writing and Drama for 5/6 graders).
  6. I am formulating what I want to do with my own kids this summer (as far as books we want to read and movies and pool parties).
  7. I am ruminating on what I'm learning so I can work this month to plan our 2018/2019 in the best way possible instead of winging it.
  8. I am preparing my kids for camp next week. Two of them are going to overnight camp so I want to be with them as much as possible before they leave; the youngest is going to Scout day camp and I am going with him, but there are still things to get ready. Also, don't forget about the things we need to buy for camps, like sunscreen, bug spray, and secret care packages I like to send them.
  9. Oh, and I am hanging out by our swimming pool in the country with kids and podcasts. It's called Poolside Professional Development!

So ... are you going to a homeschool conference this year or have you already been? Tell me some cool stuff you learn/learned! Also, do you have any great podcasts or books or videos you have learned a lot from that you'd like to share about?


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