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School and Cabin Fever

Keeping school going this time of year is hard. Very hard. Everyone seems to have a short fuse, no one can concentrate for more then 5 seconds, and wanting to make excuses to take yet another day off is more appealing by the minute.

So, how do we manage? Sometimes, we don’t. Plain and simple. Sometimes we just take the day off and play board games and watch TV. Whichever one doesn’t start fights at that time. Or we do both at the same time to accommodate for all the ages of kids and there “needs” at the time. Am I thrilled that I use the TV to keep the chaos down? Yes and no. I don’t like having the TV as a fall back plan but sometimes it’s needed, and I’m ok with that. As long as it doesn’t become a TV marathon for the next month, yes, watch your show and give me a moment to catch my breath.

But what happens when it seems you’ve tried everything but to lock the kids outside in -50 below because you want to ring there necks? Because no one is allowed to breath without someone getting so ticked off by the sounds that they punch the breather in the face? Yet, sometimes I’m the one wanting to punch them. lol Don’t judge, you’ve been there too.

Right now we are in the mist of the horrid cabin fever stage. We have had an abnormally long and bitter cold winter. Normally cabin fever for us doesn’t kick in until mid to end of Feb. This year it started in…December. Ugg!

Our trick, Dum Dum suckers. Yep, we bribe them with candy. 😀 A while back I scored a huge bucket of Dum Dums for 5 bucks. And huge I mean 1000 suckers! Because they are small I don’t feel guilty giving the kids a few through out the day to get their school and chores done without nit picking each other and grumbling. Whatever works right? Sometimes, yes, just trying to survive this crazy winter and if Dum Dum suckers is the trick then so be it.

We now have extra stress with planning a move in the next couple months and not knowing where we are going. Trying to focus with this kind of stress can be a little much. especially because this is the second time we have been faced with moving and not having a place to move to. However, that is the joy of homeschooling. We are going to work hard these next couple months and probable take a chunk of time off when we move.

How do you handle cabin fever with our family?

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Our 2013/2014 Daily Schedule

Our daily schedule changes with the seasons some but it’s always nice to go over it every once in awhile and make sure it’s either still working or make some changes.

At the “beginning” of our school year Dean and I always sit down and make the appropriate changes to match up with school and daily life. I then post it were the kids can see it easily so they also know what is going on through out the day. Some need this more the others and it works well for us. This also helps the ones that need the extra structure to know what is coming up next and can prepare for the next thing. I have a couple kids that really need that time to transition from one activity to the next and without that time all heck can break lose.

I am the queen of charts and schedules. This year I have made or revised a chart/schedule for gym class, chores, showers, yes, we have a shower schedule, don’t laugh 😛 Were was I, oh yes, a schedule for meals for the rest of the year, meal helper schedule, puppy helper schedule, and  movie night with mom schedule. I think I got them all. Dean use to tease me about all my charts and planning but now if we don’t have one for something that comes up he asks me to make one up. haha  The kids have even asked for them or try to make their own daily schedules.

Here is how our days will be looking for awhile…

5:30am – Dean and I wake up

6:30am – Kids wake up call

7:00am – Catechism and Bible

7:30am – Breakfast

8:00am – Chores and showers

9:00am – School

10:30am – Start lunch

11:00am – Lunch

11:30am – Chores and finish up school

12:30/1:00pm – Quiet time/free time

2:00pm – Free time

4:00pm – Start supper and chores

5:00pm – Supper

5:30/5:45pm – Supper clean up and chores

6:00pm – Free time

7:30pm – Get ready for bed (bathroom and brush teeth)

8:00pm – Bed time

8:30pm – Lights out

10:00pm – Lights out for Dean and I

How do you structure your school days?

New to Homeschooling?

I’ve come across a few really great blog posts that help with being new to homeschooling and I’d like to share them with you. I’ve thought about writing a list up myself but these ladies have done a wonderful job of it already. Maybe someday I’ll create my own list but for now I’ll share what I’ve found helpful from others. Enjoy!

http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/homeschool-basics/

http://www.hiphomeschoolmoms.com/2013/07/10-tips-to-help-your-struggling-reader/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=10-tips-to-help-your-struggling-reader

http://www.hsclassroom.net/6-tips-for-new-homeschoolers/

http://www.hsclassroom.net/how-to-confidently-combat-homeschool-challenges/

What are Your Back to School Resolutions?

The beginning of every school year comes with new goals and new hopes. However, like all resolutions it’s easy to set unrealistic goals in the excitement of the new year. Here is a great blog post that couldn’t have said it any better to “make a list and change it twice.” Enjoy!

http://simplehomeschool.net/4-back-to-school-resolutions/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SimpleHomeschool+%28Simple+Homeschool%29&doing_wp_cron=1377432235.0556149482727050781250

‘Tis the Season

Mara-12

Mara-12

The season to blog about a new school year that is. We will be starting fall classes in one week, and once again we are shaking things up. The last couple years we have schooled year round but taken longer breaks. We’d work three months, then take one off. This year we will not be taking breaks other than for birthdays and holidays. Oh yeah, and we’re schooling on Saturdays.

Before you call us slave drivers, let me explain.

We want our kids, primarily, to enjoy learning. Kids love to learn and are (overly?) inquisitive by nature. It takes a special kind of “education” to drive that out of them, and we were steering way too close to that kind of special. Something needed to change.

At the heart of our un-fun school year (not that it was all bad, mind you, but wasn’t nearly as fun as we envisioned it, or as it could have been) was the constant, nagging feeling to add more. We have books we haven’t even cracked yet that we bought years ago (is that normal?). Then there’s that gnawing notion that maybe we’re not teaching them all they need to know, as evidenced by all the other homeschool blogs we read. You know the type where their four year olds have nearly mastered Latin and Greek?

Adrian-age 11

Adrian-age 11

So what’s a family to do? Focus and prioritize.

We want our homeschooling efforts marked by focused attention to a topic and information retention which leads to creative thinking. In other words: If they pay attention for a few minutes, they’ll learn more. The more they learn, the more ideas they’ll come up with throughout their life. Pretty simple, if we can pull it off.

That brings us to our latest round of tweaks. We sat at the table for the better part of the day hashing out a lot of ideas. Some we had been thinking about for weeks or months. Other ideas came to us on the spot.

We narrowed down our list of subjects for the year, deciding who was ready for what subject and who needed more time before they were ready.

Cut back to the essentials.

We decided Bible, reading, and gym were the only truly foundational subjects (mind, body, spirit). Everything else we added on top of that was bonus. This helped remove any guilt of not covering certain things yet, and help us focus on what matters.

Garrett-age 10

Garrett-age 10

Rotate classes quarterly

Every three months they’ll tackle 4-5 subjects. For instance, starting in September they will have their core subjects, plus music and history. Then on the fourth month, we scale back to Bible and one other class, like Math.

This will give them a chance to focus deeply on fewer subjects, but still look forward to an entire month of a lighter workload.

Saturday School

This one doesn’t make us very popular parents, but that’s okay. We’ve found our family does better with more structure, and when we don’t do school, the day gets chaotic. Plus, with all the days we end up taking off due to appointments or other life events that get in the way, this gives us a buffer so we’re not trying to play catch-up later on.

I really don’t know if this is how other homeschoolers lay their year out but we’re seeing a lot of good things coming from this schedule. Breaking the subjects up through out the year will give us more time to focus on each topic and do the fun extras that go along with many of them verses skipping or

Emry-age 9

Emry-age 9

rushing through them because we have to “get to the next thing.” Plus, it gives the kids a break from subjects that they don’t care for as much, and gives them time to look forward to the ones they do like.

This is what we plan to tackle this year.

Catechism/Bible – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

English – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

Math – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

History/Geography – M,A,G,E,K

Science – M,A,G,E,K

Typing – M,A,G,E

Logic – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

Gym – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

Music – M,A,G,E,K

Kurtis-age 7

Kurtis-age 7

Art – M,A,G,E

Current Events – M,A,G,E,K,W,T

Cooking – M,A,G,E

Sep, Oct, Nov – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, History/Geography, and Music

Dec – Catechism/Bible and Math

Jan, Feb, Mar – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, Science, Logic, and Art

Apr – Catechism/Bible and History/Geography

May, Jun, Jul – Catechism/Bible, English, Gym, Math, and Typing

Aug – Catechism/Bible, and Science

*Cooking and Current Events Through out the year but not scheduled in.

How do you get in all the subjects you want to teach in a year?

Wyatt-age 6

Wyatt-age 6

Tirzah-age 4

Tirzah-age 4

Shamus-age 2

Shamus-age 2

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All kids 1

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All kids 2

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All kids 3

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All kids 4

Summer Break is Almost Here

Four days until our summer break starts! I’m just as ready as the kids for the break. We have taken more days off these last three months then I had planned but holidays and nice weather can do that to a homeschool family. I’m ok with that.

It’s funny, we are finishing up our sixth year and I still don’t feel like I have this down. Maybe I never will and that’s totally normal. I don’t know. The new challenge I faced this year was incorporating Kurtis, Wyatt, and Tirzah into the school day. Kurtis is the only one I feel really needs to start “school” while the others still are in the pre school playing kinda thing. However, THEY are not ok with that so they are asking everyday to do school. I LOVE that they want to be learning with the others but they are stuck at the moment. There are at a point were they want to learn but their mind is not letting anymore info in and their hand eye coordination has not developed. Leaving them feeling frustrated and left out. This has made for some frustrating days. I don’t stressed over this anymore, as they are only 4 and 5.

I have stressed about this in the past though. Mostly when I start reading other homeschool blogs and they talk about how their 3 year old is reading on their own (self taught of course), knows how to point out everything on  globe, can write complete sentences, and is doing 5th grade math. I know I’m not suppose to compare, but when all you read is how other homeschool kids are so much more advanced you feel like you are failing your kids because so-and-so is doing this and that.

This is when I have to remind myself of a few things. 1. Is this an only child? It’s not uncommon for a family to really take off with their education if there is only one or two kids. They have A LOT of time to focus on the kids. 2. Maybe that child is gifted and the parent wants to put a good spin on how great homeschooling is so they talk about their one out of ten kids that is gifted making it look like all the kids are super brainiacs, when in truth the rest of the kids are right on track for their grade level. ( I know how this can be tempting as we have a gifted 8 year old…But I will brag about him another time.)  🙂 3. Maybe they are lying. Yes I went there. As homeschoolers we have a lot of outside pressure to be perfect. One of the first things people think of when they hear “homeschooling” is super smart kids. This really bugs me. Just because people homeschool does not mean all their kids are running at genius levels. Even being at a normal level can be looked down on in the homeschool world.

We have already done quite a bit this summer. Nothing super fancy, but we have hosted a couple of get togethers and have gone to a couple family events. Between the 4th of July and birthday parties we’re ready for a break…from everything. lol We have a couple more events to attend today and tomorrow and then we are staying home for awhile.

Plans for the month of August? Not sure yet. I’m hoping for a whole lot of nothing. I’ll have to take a week to get fall classes prepped but other then that I don’t think anything is on the calendar. The kids will complain they are bored, Dean will be doing more resting, (still waiting on surgery) and I’ll be kicking my half marathon training into high gear. We hope to have some families over during the month but we have decided to stop hosting big events. We always have a crummy turn out and I put a lot of work into them only to be disappointed that on one shows up. This is not to say I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into those friends and family that have shown up, but when you plan for 40 and 4 show up, yeah, that’s a disappointment.

So, for the next month we are simply going to enjoy each other and find things to do around the house. No commitments for the next month.

What do you have planned for the last month of summer?

Field Trip and Cow Eyes!

IMG_1091 IMG_1095 A couple years ago I had an eye checkup and had talked to our Dr. about maybe doing a field trip with the kids to learn about our eyes. Dr. Zipprich thought is was a wonderful idea and told me she would look at getting some cow eyes to dissect and she’d let me know when she got her hands on some. Shortly after she got the cow eyes she lost my number and couldn’t remember which family she had talked to.

Fast forward to out next eye exam and we got to talking about that field trip again. Come to find out she had put the eyes in her freezer in hopes of figuring out who she had talked to about it, and she still had them!

We finally got to get together and the kids had a blast…  Thank you Dr. Zipprich for taking time out of your weekend to teach us!IMG_1106

Cow eyes!

Cow eyes!

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While the other kids play with eye ball goop Zeth plays with Dean's sandals.

While the other kids play with eye ball goop Zeth plays with Dean’s sandals.

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Inside of the cow eye.

Inside of the cow eye.

Very back of the cow eye.

Very back of the cow eye.

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Vitreous gel. This is what holds the shape of the eye ball.

Vitreous gel. This is what holds the shape of the eye ball.

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Lens

Lens

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All of us in a very tiny room.

All of us in a very tiny room.

Dr. Zipprich and the kids.

Dr. Zipprich and the kids.

Dr. Zipprich and the kids.

Dr. Zipprich and the kids.