Posts Tagged With: ideas

Why Didn’t I Think of that Sooner Homeschool Ideas

We start slowly into our homeschool year in August, but we’ve been in full swing for about a month now.  This is our fourth “official” year and for any of you struggling out there I just wanted to say, it’s finally coming together.  And since I’m banging my head wondering why I didn’t think of these ideas sooner, I thought I’d share what’s working for us in homeschooling.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

For clarification, I’ve got a 3rd grader, a K/1st grader, and a two year old with special needs.  I’ve recently started working from home, plus this blog, and a husband who works long, hard days.  We’ve got farm animals and community responsibilities and a house that doesn’t clean itself.  I know what busy looks like.  Actually, I’m quite familiar with crazy.

Previously our days were a hodgepodge of schoolwork and housework and disagreements and bribery with a fair amount of getting lost on Facebook and sneaking candy my kids didn’t know about.  We learned.  But it wasn’t what I wanted.

This year it’s finally going better.

This year when school starts I quit being mom, housewife, blogger and become teacher.  I’m focused, the way I want them to be.  Sure, sometimes I run a load of dishes.  But mostly I don’t.  No computer, no iPad, less phone.  I want them to know this is important to me.  That mind-set is making a difference.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

A couple of books I read this summer also helped me rearrange my living space.  I really thought about the square footage in our home compared to the use we get out of it.  For us that meant converting the home-business office into the school room and a massive overhaul of how we handle paperwork.  To help with the toddler/homeschool situation I had a garage sale and used the money to put bar-height tables where the office used to be.  I now love this whole paragraph.

I also took a look at the subjects we must cover (Missouri requires 600 hours in math, language arts, science and social studies) versus important extras (religion, PE, art, etc.).  I’m working to combine them in practical ways.  My favorite example is journals.  We were writing typical prompts– “what I did yesterday”, “what I like about fall”, etc..  Now we’re journaling everyday in response to our devotion.  Same time frame.  Same skills.  Whole new meaning, and it’s a core subject.

Why Didn't I Think of That Sooner Homeschool Ideas

One thing I thought was a concession has turned out to be a blessing.  I had never used a computer-based teaching programs because, well, I guess I thought homeschooling meant I should be doing the teaching.  But homeschooling is so much more than subjects.  By using Teaching Textbooks for math I have more energy to devote to phonics or to make a social studies project happen or to help them create their own cookbook just because they want to.

So it’s taken three years to reach a clicking point.  Naturally it’s still not perfect.  But it is good.  I mean, I’ve been a parent for eight and a half years and I’m still waiting to feel confident in that. 🙂

What made homeschool click for you?

Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

My Favorite Homeschool Secrets

We did it!  We completed our first week of homeschool AND we did so with a new addition here on the farm (post to follow on this soon!).

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I know some people like to show you all around their homeschool classroom and list their curriculum for the year (, if you didn’t read this post) but I think the most useful thing I learn from other home educators are just those random tricks that work wonders for your sanity.

My favorite was shared on a park bench after Co-op last spring.  At my house it looks like this:

Our secrets to a happy homeschool {}

That’s a closet door with two of Mardel’s hanging file folder pocket charts.  Not that impressive, I get it!

But within these rather simple looking pocket charts lies the secret to happiness in dealing with my head-strong, strong-willed, stubborn, determined first grader.  Because this system allows him to choose, well, almost everything.

I have one of those homeschool, school-day planners in which I write down assignments for each subject and can plan out the yearly scope and sequence if I want and track all our expenses (again, if I want…), so I’m choosing all of the work.

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But he gets to decide the way our day looks.  Each night I create a pile of the next day’s work and place it in the bottom pocket.  The next morning Brett pulls everything out and places it into the pockets in the order he wants to do them.  If two things go together, like working on the 100s chart and today’s math page, I just give him one item and pull the other out when we get there.  I also give him pieces of cardstock labeled “break,” “recess,” and “snack,” which he can also schedule as he likes.

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Besides allowing him to make his own choices, this as also been a great motivator for him since he can visually see the amount of work we’re doing.  School has a beginning and an end and he chooses all of it.  (Well, almost all of it.  I do insist on prayer, calendar and reading to begin the day!)

The friend who shared this idea with me uses the cardboard mailboxes common in public school classrooms and organizes her children’s work for them to purposefully create independent learning time for one while she works with another.  Her children enjoy working for the snack and break rewards placed in their boxes.  I tried this with Brett and found he needed a little more than raisins (or even suckers.  Yes.  I did that.) to work for.  Like I said, he’s… determined.

My other great idea came from Pinterest.  (Actually, aren’t we all just amazed that something DIDN’T come from there?!)  Its a chart with picture cues for “cool down” ideas.  When my determined child has absolutely had enough– or I have– either of us can call for an automatic time-out by choosing something from the cool down chart.  He can shake a jar filled with colored water and glitter and watch it settle out.  He can get a drink of water, climb under his covers, hide in the closet (he came up with that one– and he loves it.) or color a picture.

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So there you have it.  My two favorite way to make it through the day.

I’d love to hear yours!

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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