Crew Blog Hop : Tips on Getting Ready for High School

 

It’s the last day of the 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents Blog Hop! I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. Today, I want to share some things I’ve learned about homeschooling high school. My oldest son is about to graduate, and I can’t believe we are at the end of our official homeschool journey! While I am so very proud of him and all that he has accomplished, it is a bittersweet moment, as I am sad about watching him move on, and I will miss having him home with me every day. However, getting him ready to start his own life has always been the goal, and I am excited for his future. These are a few of the things I would advise anyone getting ready to start high school to do:

1. Get Familiar with Your State Graduation Requirements:  If your child is college bound, it will benefit you both to become familiar with your state graduation requirements. In most cases, homeschoolers are not bound to follow any state curriculum, however, state graduation requirements are written to generally line up with college expectations. For Florida, the Department of Education website has graduation requirements spelled out by year. When my son was in 9th grade, I found the expectations for his year of graduation and printed them out, then used these as a guide to plan his curriculum, making sure he had the same amount of general credits in English, Math, etc. for his transcript.

2. Find Some Method For Keeping Track of Your Classes: If you haven’t had some method for keeping track of regular grades and classes up until this point, you really should find one. It will make it much easier to create a high school transcript later on. You can use your computer to make your own system, print out a record form and keep notes by hand, or use an online system such as Homeschool Skedtrack or Homeschool Minder to help you stay on track. These are not the only options by far, there are tons of them out there. The point is, find one that is simple and easy for you to use and stay on top of it. Choose one day a week where you devote one hour to going in and entering information. TRUST ME, if you get too far behind you will feel overwhelmed and not do it, leading to a snowball effect. Also, make sure you back up your info somewhere. I had a computer totally crash on my son’s junior year and I lost a LOT of stuff. It was a disaster.

3. Keep an Eye Out for Dual-Enrollement : If you have a motivated student, watch for dual-enrollment opportunities. I am fortunate to live in a county where this program is offered free for all students. My son started taking dual-enrollment classes at the local community college as a sophomore, and he will graduate with quite a few credits (at least one full year of college). Now, here’s the thing, I never pushed him to do this, it was totally up to him, and I made him start with just ONE class because I wanted him to understand how much work it was. I don’t believe in making kids take on more than they are ready for. If he had decided not to do dual-enrollment, that would have been fine too, and every child is different. I have a feeling his younger brother may not be so into it, and that’s okay. But if your child WANTS to take it on, and you have access to it, go for it. It’s a great way to earn some credits and take care of some of those classes you don’t necessarily want to be in charge of.

4. Get Your Child Involved in Directing Their Learning: At this stage, my son was largely responsible for his at-home work. We went over his plan for the week on Monday, and he turned his work in on Friday and we went over everything and made sure it got done. I was always available for questions, but most of his work (we used MFW) was set up as more self-directed. I read the notes at the beginning of the week, and went over the things I needed to with him, but he was taking responsibility for himself at this point, which was good preparation for college.

5. Plan for Testing: Decide which tests your child needs to take. This largely depends on which path they decide to pursue. Some colleges put more preference on the ACT vs. the SAT while others are leaning towards their own tests now. At the end of their sophomore year, start thinking about where you child might want to go to school and look into what their options are. Schedule their first test for early in the junior year so they have plenty of time to retake it if they need to. Also, be aware, the tests are costly! So plan for that too.

6. Make Time for Fun! : You are nearing the end of your homeschool journey, and if it’s anything like mine, it’s been full of crazy, fun times. High school was stressful for me, but take some time to enjoy it, because your child really is growing up now. Earlier this year my son and I took a week to go up North and visit some colleges. Just me and him. It was really nice to have some time alone with my almost grown up boy. Sometimes, out of the corner of my eye, I swear I could still see that little kid that used to grab my hand and beg me to carry him when his legs got tired. Sometimes I still miss those days!

It’s been a lot of fun sharing with you this week. Be sure to check out the posts from other crew members today here:

Annette @ A Net In Time
Brenda @ Counting Pinecones
Carol @ Home Sweet Life
Cassandra @ A Glimpse of Normal
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm
Crystal @ Crystal Starr
DaLynn @ Biblical Womanhood
Danielle @ Sensible Whimsy

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Crew Blog Hop: Tips for Staying on Top of Things

Wow, it’s already Day 4 of our 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents Blog Hop! Today I’m going to share some tips for how I stay on top of things at my house. Now, one thing you need to know is that I am by far, NOT a very organized person by nature. I want to be organized, I long to be organized, but it’s really not in my nature. However, I am a planner, and I think this is what helps me keep from getting completely lost and overwhelmed with all the stuff that has to be done on a regular basis!

1. Get a Planner:  Seriously, I have a planner for me and my kids. I love the Ultimate Homeschool Planner from Apologia and the Hey Mama! Planner from The Old Schoolhouse for moms. There is plenty of space for you to record your schedule, notes, Bible verses, and everything else you need. Plus they offer all kinds of helpful charts and references. If you prefer to print and create your own planner, you can also find plenty of places to do that online as well, I just love having a physical planner (but I also prefer to read physical books!). For me, having a written plan is essential to staying on track. I also have planners for each of my boys where I actually write out their lesson plans for the week. Now, I write these in pencil, because as you know, stuff doesn’t always go according to plan, and if something doesn’t get done, that’s fine, we just move it to the next week, but I like the fact that on Monday, they can grab their planners and get stared while I’m making breakfast.

2. Prioritize your Commitments:  One of the big mistakes I made as new homeschooler was to overcommit to everything. I wanted to make sure my kids didn’t miss out on anything, but in the process, I stressed us way out by overbooking our schedule. Well, I have pared things way down at this point. We belong to one co-op, which is really flexible. From there, my kids pick and choose what they want to be involved in. Since they are both about high school level, I feel they can make those choices. My oldest works, and my youngest is really involved in serving at our church. If they want to take on something else they can, and if they want to just hang out after school and go fishing, that’s fine too. Each week, I make a list of the stuff we HAVE to do, and I make sure that stuff gets done, but I do not overbook anymore.

3. Menu Plan:  This is a huge part of making things easier for me, period. I plan our menu in two week stretches before I go grocery shopping. Basically, I start with Facebook. Our local grocery stores post their sales adds on certain days, and I make sure to check those adds, then I plan the menu based on what’s on sale. It saves us money, and it helps me, because I don’t have to stress about what I’m going to make for dinner every day. On days when we have co-op or something else going on and I know we’re going to be busy, I plan a crock pot meal, so it’s ready when we get home, which saves me a lot of time too.

4. Assign age-appropriate chores to your kids. Part of homeschooling is preparing your kids for real life. Part of real life is knowing how to take care of themselves. My husband and I firmly believe that as our boys grow older they need to learn how to cook, clean, and do laundry, because they are not going to live with us forever. As the homeschool mom, you are not supposed to do everything by yourself, and you are not hurting your kids by asking them to do some work. You are actually preparing them for life outside of your home. And that’s really important.

5. Take Advantage of Apps:  My hubby and kids are all pretty busy. I kind of act as a secretary for everybody, which I don’t mind. However, coordinating schedules can be difficult, especially when people do not let me know what their schedules are. Fortunately, I found the Google Calendar app, which has made all of our lives much easier. What I love about this is, everyone can access this app on their phone, and they set it up through their Gmail. Basically, I had to request access to their calendar, and once they granted me access, I was able to see EVERYTHING they added on the calendar on my phone. So now, when my hubby schedules an overtime or meeting, or my oldest adds his work schedule or class schedule from college, it automatically updates on my phone! This makes it so much easier for me to coordinate everything for our family, and they don’t even have to think about it, they just update their calendars on their phone like they normally would!!

6. Make Time for Downtime:  Everyone needs downtime. You, your kids, your hubby. Whether it’s watching a favorite show, reading a book, hanging with friends or by the pool or whatever, you need to give yourself, and your family members, some time to just relax. Don’t feel guilty for spending an hour watching Netflix, or indulging in a bath at the end of the day. If each of you doesn’t get a little time to chill out, chances are you are going to get stressed, and that stress will manifest itself in some ugly way down the road. Let your kids have some time to just be alone and entertain themselves, and make sure you take some time to do something you enjoy too!

Thanks for visiting me today! Be sure to check out my friends posts too! And stop by tomorrow for the last day of the Blog Hop!

Dawn @ Double O Farms
Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool
Debbie @ Debbie’s Homeschool Corner
Desiree @ Our Homeschool Notebook
Diana @ Busy Homeschool Days
Diana @ Homeschool Review
Elyse @ Oiralinde: Eternal Song
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Erin @ For Him and My Family
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Crew Blog Hop: Tips for What to Do When Things Go Wrong

So, as we all know, homeschooling involves everyday real life, and real life is messy. In a previous blog hop, I gave a real honest look at what a not-so-good day in our homeschool looks like, but today, as part of our Crew Blog Hop with the theme 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents, I want to give some general tips for how to handle those days or seasons in life when things just don’t go the way you plan. Here’s how I handle it.

1. Take a Breath: The first thing you need to do is step back and take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this too will pass. Then assess how emergent your situation is, with as clear a head as possible. When I first started homeschooling it used to drive me absolutely CRAZY to deviate from my set plan, which led to a lot of internal stress and conflict. As the years went by, I learned to let go, and things got easier. I realized that life happens and I needed to learn to roll with it. Ask yourself if you are in the middle of something that has to be dealt with right now, or if your crisis is something you can handle later. If it must be dealt with immediately, then move on to the next steps.

2. Begin with Prayer:  I have learned that is much better for me if I bring these things to God in prayer right away. I start by asking Him to give me strength and patience to deal with my current situation, then I ask Him to show me what is important in His eyes for me to accomplish that day, or that season, for homeschool and for life in general. Then I try hard to commit to following His lead and let go of my own controlling nature (which is much easier said than done!)

3. Take a Break if Necessary:  In the midst of a major family crisis, remember that it is perfectly okay to take a complete break if you need to. Your kids will not be harmed by it. In fact, they will probably learn some valuable life skills from watching you deal with your situation and pitching in to help. For example, a few years ago, my husband went through a major medical crisis with his heart. For a short term, we had to take a break from school while we went out of area to get second opinions, procedures etc. I was racked with anxiety over my hubby’s condition and guilt over my kid’s lack of schooling, but you know what? My son, who is a graduating senior this year, has his eyes set on becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon, and a big part of the reason is the experience we went through when his dad was sick! So even though we weren’t “schooling” what we were going through was still having a huge impact!

4. Cut Back to the Basics:  If your situation allows you to school somewhat, consider cutting back to just the basics. Focus on reading, math, spelling, and writing for a while. Let your kids read books for history and science. It won’t hurt them long term if you take a break from those subjects if you really need too. If it makes you feel really bad and you have older children, assign them a research project and let them do the work on their own.

5. Look into Online Learning : If your situation involves you being tied up working or caring for a sick loved one, consider looking into an online learning program for your kids. Websites like Time4Learning, IXL, and other programs offer instruction, grading, and more, allowing your kids to log-on, do their lessons, and all you have to do is check up on them later! We also like other options such as Teaching Textbooks which offer computer-based learning with similar options. Basically, look for anything that will simplify things for you at this time.

6. Cut Yourself Some Slack:  Like I said, I was great at giving myself a guilt trip whenever moments of crisis would arise. I felt like I was somehow failing my kids by not being able to give them “school” every single day. However, I have now learned that my kids have learned as much about real life as they have about math, science, reading etc. and I think those lessons are just as important. Kids need to know what to do when they face a crisis, because things like this will come up in their own lives. By going through these experiences, they are learning life skills they could never pick up from a book, and I think there is a benefit to that!

Thanks for joining me today. Be sure to check out what my other crew members had to share here:

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Jennifer @ A Peace of Mind
Jennifer @ Faithful Homestead
Joelle @ homeschooling for His Glory
Joesette @ Learning Curve
Kari @ Random Acts of Boyhood
Katie @ Katie’s Daily Life
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized
Kim @ Homestead Acres
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom

See you guys tomorrow when I share tips for making life easier!

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Crew Blog Hop: Tips for How to Homeschool on the Cheap

Welcome to Day 2 of the Crew Blog Hop, 5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents! Today I am going to share some of the tips I’ve learned for saving money in your homeschool budget! If you’re anything like me, you probably plan an awesome homeschool year based on what you think you can have, but then stuff comes up, and suddenly, your budget gets slashed! Not to worry, there are tons of ways to homeschool without spending a lot. These are some of the tricks I’ve learned!

1. Utilize Your Library:   Do you have your eye on one of those literature-based curriculums that is just chock-full of books? Don’t lose hope if the price tag is outside your budget. Download the book list and find out how many of those books you can check out at your library. In most cases, you only need each book (other than the spines) for just a few weeks. Consider simply purchasing the guide and the spines and check the rest of the books out. Even if your library doesn’t have every single book, chances are you can find a good substitute. Remember, the key to homeschooling is flexibility, so adjust and make it work for you so you can have that dream curriculum!

2. Make Big Purchases for those Items that will Last:  In general, I don’t mind spending a little more on a textbook or other item if I know I can use it for both of my kids. In fact, my oldest has a running joke that he has never been allowed to write in anything ever!! While that isn’t exactly true, I have kept our more costly items clean, so I can pass them onto his brother. If you are pretty sure you can reuse an item for more than one child, then it’s an investment, and that makes it worth it!

3. Connect with Other Homeschoolers:  Do you know other homeschool moms with kids just a grade ahead of or behind your kids? Maybe they have some curriculum you could use and vice versa! For the last couple of years a friend and I have swapped curriculum for a couple of our kids and it has worked out great! She has one son just ahead of my oldest, so she loaned us high school math and science, and her youngest is behind both of mine so I loaned her some stuff for him. Naturally, you only want to do this with someone you trust, so you know they’ll take care of your stuff, and you have to return theirs in pristine condition, but if you are both responsible, it can be a mutually beneficial relationship.

4. Shop Used Whenever Possible: Even if you don’t belong to any local homeschool groups, look around to see if any in your area have yearly book sales. I have at least two that I hit up every year. Also, search online if you have a particular curriculum you want. Homeschool Classifieds is a good place to start. Also, a lot of online homeschool forums and curriculum forums offer a resale board, so check those out too. Another place to look, which a lot of people don’t think of, is eBay! Search for the curriculum you’re looking for by name and see what comes up! Of course, you always want to be cautious. I look for sellers with a high rating and positive feedback. Use PayPal for any transactions as they have built-in protections, and feel free to ask as many questions as you want!

5. Take Advantage of Online Learning:  A simple search of the Web can find a number of websites devoted to any kind of subject you can imagine. Some are free, some cost a little, some cost more. Don’t be afraid to step outside the box. If you find an online learning site that fits your budget, go for it! You can always supplement with library books and hands-on activities. If you sign up for the newsletter at Clickschooling you will get a daily email with a FREE web-based curriculum idea! I can’t tell you how many of their links I have used over the years!

6. Start with the Main Subjects: In those years when we’ve been extremely tight, we simply started our school with the basics, reading, math, writing, spelling. Then we took a unit-study approach to science/history/etc. with me kind of making up activities based on my kids interests and library books. We did a lot of nature journaling and experiments based on stuff I found online and in books I checked out, and you know what? It worked just fine and we had a lot of fun! If you are on a tight budget, focus on getting your main subjects covered. CLE is a fantastic no-fuss, no-frills  curriculum that is also low-cost that I have used many times for my boys. It gave me peace of mind knowing their needs were being met, and didn’t break our budget. And we had plenty of free time for whatever free field trips/outside time/exploring I could find.

7. Get Creative: My final point is simply, get outside the box. Homeschoolers by nature tend to be free-thinkers. Look for a local homeschool group where you might be able to join up and get some classes for your kids that can save you money. Hit up Groupon for some low-cost field trips, then head to the library to do some research beforehand. Check out Unit Studies for science or history, Hands of a Child and Homeschool Legacy both offer great low-cost studies on a variety of topics!

The main point is, don’t let a lack of funds get you down! Homeschooling really can be done very well on a shoestring budget. Remember, it’s more about the time you are putting into your kids than anything else.

Thanks for visiting, and make sure to join me tomorrow when I share some tips for what to do when things don’t go as planned. For now, check out what my other crew members had to share on the Hop today here:

Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
Latonya @ Joy in the Ordinary
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Megan @ My Full Heart
Melanie (Wren) @ finchnwren
Melissa @ Mom’s Plans

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Crew Blog Hop: Tips for Choosing Curriculum

 

It’s our first Crew Blog Hop of the year and our topic is “5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents”. For my first day, I decided to tackle a subject that was of the utmost importance to me when I started homeschooling: choosing curriculum. Even before I officially started homeschooling, I spent countless hours (I’m afraid to even say how many) researching curriculum. It became one of my biggest obsessions. There are SO many options out there that it can be almost overwhelming and making decisions about what to use can seem almost paralyzing. Now that I’ve been doing this for a while, I’ve learned a few things. I am by NO means an expert, but this is some of the advice I would give to myself as a new homeschool mom back then!

 

1. Start Small: Look, one of the biggest mistakes I made as a new homeschool mom was that I wanted to do EVERY single cool thing I saw. And one lesson I learned was that you can take on too much. If I could go back, I would probably start with one main big curriculum (say a literature based history or something) and then go basic for everything else, until I got into some kind of routine.

2. Combine as much as possible: When my boys were younger (before high school) I combined them for science and history, using products from Apologia, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace and Winter Promise. I cannot tell you how much easier that made my life. I could work individually with them for specific subjects like math, reading and spelling since they were three grades apart, but we could study some things together, which resulted in less planning and more family learning!

3. Spend Time Researching: Read reviews. For Real. The TOS Homeschool Crew offers a ton of reviews on countless numbers of curriculum, but you can pretty much search for any curriculum by name and turn up reviews on it! Pay attention to how the writer says they used the curriculum. What worked and what didn’t? Try to find users who have kids in the general same age as your kids, because that can give you a better idea of how it might work for you.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of Workbooks/Textbooks: Look, I feel like a lot of homeschoolers feel some need to use whole books or lapbooks or something like that for everything. If it makes you feel comfortable, there is nothing wrong with using workbooks or textbooks. In fact, for subjects like spelling, math and reading, I kind of like the traditional approach. And, they can be very cost effective.

5. Check Out Online/Computer-Based Learning: Maybe you have a child that is naturally a techie. In that case, computer based learning may work best for them. Be sure to research these options. Companies like Alpha Omega offer programs like Monarch that are all computer based, and other companies, like Stinky Kid Math offer specific subjects you can supplement.

6. Don’t Make Comparisons : The biggest challenge with homeschooling is our natural tendency to compare ourselves with others. Keep in mind that your homeschool is specific to you and your kids. Try hard to resist the need to compare yourself and your kids to that mom in your homeschool group. This was really hard for me at first, but I began to realize that I didn’t do anything good for my kids by trying to make our school look like somebody else’s model. I had to let us be us. Choose your curriculum based on what you think will work best for you and your family. Period.

7. Allow your kids interests to dictate some things. There was a year we studied forensics for science because my kids were totally into it. We had so much fun. I also tied that study into a study of the human body using the Apologia Elementary Human Body curriculum. We did experiments on cells, fingerprints, blood typing, fibers, etc. To this day, my kids still talk about it. When your kids are in elementary and middle school, allow some of their interests to dictate your paths. Explore the things they want to explore. Trust me, it will make learning easier for all of you.

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Step Out of the Box. Sometimes you see a curriculum you think your kids would love but you’re just afraid to try it because it’s just so…different from what you’ve done. I can tell you, some of the things we loved best were the risks we took. And, worst case scenario, even if you hate it, there’s a good chance you can resell it or pass it on to someone else!

 

So, those are my tips for what to consider when choosing curriculum. If you have any to add, let me know in the comments! See what other crew members had to share by checking out these links and join me again tomorrow when I share some tips for how to save money on curriculum!

Melissa @ Grace Christian School
Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Missica @ Through the Open Window
Monique @ Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Rebekah @ There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama
Sasha @ Such a Time as This
Tawnee @ Adventures in Homeschooling
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home
Tina @ Desperate Homeschoolers

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Real Life Homeschool : Reality Check

I hope you have enjoyed a peek into what homeschool is like for our family during this Real Life Homeschool blog hop. So, what are the most important things I would say about “real life” homeschool? Well for starters, I would acknowledge that often, things DO NOT go as planned. And I would say that is perfectly okay.

As adults, we know that real life is often very messy. You have financial crisis, sudden illness, unexpected problems, and other issues that have a way of popping up. So why should homeschooling be any different? Which is one of the reasons homeschooling is so good! It is real. Your kids get to see how you work through problems in life as they arise, and often, they get to work through them with you.

Kids learn how to prioritize when emergencies do come up, which is a lesson that will benefit them as adults. They learn how to accept the fact that sometimes, even the best-laid plans run amuck, and that you still have to keep going. See, as a homeschool mom, I don’t want to just teach my kids academics, I want to prepare them for life in the real world. I want my boys to grow up to be the kind of adults who can handle it when they get a wrench thrown in their plans, the kind who don’t wither under the pressure of some kind of crisis or disaster.

So, even though interruptions and setbacks can be frustrating, I like to look at them as learning and character training opportunities. And that is what I think Real Life homeschool is all about!

I hope you enjoyed the 5 Day Blog Hop as much as I did. I have had such a good time reading posts from my fellow crew members. To see what my friends had to share today, click here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!
Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Start with these 10 blogs:
Indy Homeschool
The Open Window-An Autism Blog
Creative Madness Mama
Hopkins Homeschool
Tots and Me…Growing Up Together
Our Journey
Crystal Starr
A Little This … A Little That
For the Display of His Splendor

Real Life Homeschool: Schooling on the Go

We are at day 4 of a our 5 Day Blog Hop, and today, I want to share how we do school on those busy, on-the-go days. You know, the days you have dentist appointments, have to run to the library, have homeschool co-op, have to hit the grocery store, or just run a bunch of general errands. One of the benefits of homeschooling is, of course, the flexibility. However, I have found that if you don’t have some kind of a plan for these kinds of days, then often, nothing gets done. So, this is how we school in the car!

My backseat is pretty comfy.

So, the first thing we do on a busy day is pack our backpack with everything portable. Our math book and notebook, the chapter book we are reading, grammar, and spelling. I used to try to cart around our history and science books too, but I quickly realized that the load was much heavier than was realistic and honestly, on a busy day like that, it probably won’t get done anyway, so I limit our carschooling days to our essential subjects.

While we are in the car, I try to provide instructional entertainment with an audio drama or book on tape. Heirloom Audio Productions offers some excellent ones, like Under Drake’s Flag and In Freedom’s Cause. These are nice because we can listen to them and then spend time discussing them using the study guides. We also like to pass the time listening to classical music CDs like the ones from Maestro Classics. I feel like this is a way to bring some value to the times we spend in the car.

If I know ahead of time we are going to be running around, I can plan around it, which is great. I limit our subjects, set up the backpack ahead of time, and the day goes relatively smoothly. For instance, once every two weeks we do a big grocery shopping trip. So, on those days, I plan for only a few subjects, and figure the life skills my kids are learning at the grocery store take care of the rest. On co-op days we also go light on school, usually only doing reading, spelling and math.

But what about those days when stuff just comes up out of the blue? Well, on those days I tell myself to pick and choose what is most important and postpone everything else. Believe it or not, I find my cell phone and computer to be handy tools on those days. There are actually a lot of educational games and applications that at least give my kids a chance to practice math and reading skills when we are out and about. I also try to make a stop at the library if we can. We might grab lunch and hit the playground too, so my boys can run around and burn off some energy. And dinner on these busy days (which I try to squeeze in in between guitar lessons and football practices)? Well, let’s just say the pizza man is quite familiar with my house! LOL

At any rate, carschooling is a reality for many homeschoolers. Unlike most parents who run errands and take care of things while their kids are at school, our kids are always with us, so it is inevitable that we have to make adjustments. How do you do school on those days when you have to run around? Let me know in the comments. To see what my fellow crew members had to share today, click here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

 

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Start with these 10 blogs:
Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama’s Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

Real Life Homeschool: A Not-So-Good Day

So as  you know, this week the Homeschool Review Crew is doing a 5 Day Blog Hop and our topic is Real Life Homeschool. Yesterday, I told you about what a really good day in our homeschool looks like. As much as I would like to say that all of our days are like that, if I did, I would be lying. More often than not, our regular days resemble something more like this:

I hit the snooze button one (okay, 3) too many times and I don’t roll out of bed until 7:30 (when my kids were younger I never could have done this, but now that they are older, they like to sleep). Instead of having an hour of Bible quiet time and coffee, I squeeze in a devotional that I receive in my email ( I love the daily devotionals from Proverbs 31 ministries). I pray out loud in the shower, then get my kids up and check my email while they have some Pop Tarts (breakfast of champions. LOL).

At this point I want to draw attention to the fact that my quiet time is the first thing to go in this scenario. I know this is a bad idea, and I always regret it later on, but it’s one of the easiest things to cut out. I wish I could say that I always make that a priority, because I do understand how important it is, but the purpose is to be real here, and that is my reality.

Anyway, my hurried pace always seems to agitate my kids too and it is not uncommon for a squabble to start up. Also, it never fails that on a day like today, some other crisis seems to pop up. The dog throws up all over the floor, the sink backs up and I have to spend hours on the phone first with the landlord, then coordinating with the plumber. Or, some work assignment comes up that absolutely HAS to be finished by noon. It’s like things start to bulldoze and after a while I’m just along for the ride.

So, as it seems my attention is going to be elsewhere, at least for the morning, I resort to plan B. Instead of doing a math lesson with my youngest, I have him log onto a website like IXL (moments like this I am so grateful to be on the crew review team) and have him do some work on there. I mean, it’s good for him to get some extra practice on some concepts right? (that’s what I tell myself)

After that, as I get my oldest to shop-vac the gunky water out of the sink, I have the young boy read. Read what? To be honest, whatever strikes his fancy, which is usually comics. Look, reading is reading, and as long as his nose is in a book and not focused on the TV, I figure that’s a win.

After a lunch that probably consisted of microwave corn dogs and chicken strips (yes, I know, frozen pre-packaged foods are bad bad bad, but there are days the microwave is my best friend). I hope to settle down for at least a read aloud. But then the phone rings and it is my mother in law and I have to answer because my father in law is ill and is frequently in the hospital. So, I turn to Netflix for a little history (I love Netflix). Documentaries count as learning don’t they? Especially if I have my kids write a narration of what they learned!

And since I am now relaying the info my mother in law told me to my hubby and we are trying to decide if we need to make the three-hour trek to their home, I send my boys outside for a little recess but also give them an assignment. Take their Dangerous Book for Boys outside and stage one of the battles from history. This is an assignment they take to with gusto. Seriously, they do this just for fun.

As I take in the mess that is my house (dishes from breakfast are still in the sink and army men are everywhere) I sigh and ponder going to the gym. But then I figure all the pacing back and forth I did when I was on the phone probably covered my workout for the day. Instead, I turn my attention to dinner. Since I was too scatterbrained to pull any meat out of the freezer this morning, it looks like we’re having leftovers (I did mention earlier that I love my microwave right?)

At the end of the day I convince the kids to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher while I restart the load of laundry in the washer that smells musty because I forgot to switch the clothes to the dryer and fall onto the couch. My youngest grabs a book and I read to him, then we turn on the TV and veg out. My dogs want a walk, but my oldest takes them in yard to chase the tennis ball instead. I promise myself that tomorrow will be better and I absolutely will get up as soon as the alarm goes off but, well, you know how that goes.

So, that’s a more typical, kind of crazy and slightly disorganized real life homeschool day at our house. Do you ever have days like that? Let me know in the comments. Tomorrow, I am going to tell you what one of our “carschooling” days is like. Check out what my fellow crew members had to share today here.

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!
Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Real Life Homeschool: A Good Day

So, the topic of our blog hop for this week is real life homeschool. I told you yesterday that it did not take me long to learn that in real life homeschool, things rarely go according to plan. However, I thought I would start off describing what a day in our life looks like when we have a good day. Occasionally, we have days where things go exactly like I planned, with no unexpected interruptions. Granted, these days are rare 🙂 but when they do happen, it’s really nice.

So, on a good day I am up by 6:30, and I start my day in the Word. I know how important it is to spend time with God in the morning, and when I don’t, it seems the rest of my day is just more stressful. On good days, I have time to pour myself a cup of coffee before everyone else is up and jump into a Bible study and prayer time. Incidentally, I find the 30-day Bible studies from Doorposts to be really good.

After I am done, I wake up my kids and serve them a hot breakfast. Scrambled eggs with salsa and cheese is my specialty! I try to get my boys up around 8 on most days, although my older son has college classes Monday and Wednesday mornings so he is up anyway. From there, the big kid and I discuss what he is working on that day, and my youngest grabs his planner and starts getting his books together.

He usually starts his individual work first, while I sort through emails and clean up from breakfast. I also use this time to squeeze in an assignment or two (I work as a freelance writer) so I don’t have as much to do later. My son likes to work in our homeschool corner, which is finally cleaned up again.

Seriously, if I showed you what that corner looked like before, you would probably report me to Hoarders! I don’t know why, but I just have such a hard time parting with our homeschool supplies and stuff. I worry that the second I get rid of something is exactly when I will need it. That corner had books and papers and things piled up the side of the window. It drives my super-organized hubby crazy! He finally sat me down during our spring break and spent two days going through everything piece by piece until we cleaned it up. It was painful. I cried more than once. Sigh.

Anyway, by the time my youngest gets done with his individual work and I wrap up my morning activities it is lunchtime. On a good day this means I make us a nice salad, or we pack up some sandwiches and head to the park down the street. It has a nice playground and tennis courts and lots of places to picnic. My boys both love to be outside so we finish out our lunch hour with some free play, swimming, etc. (or, what I like to call PE).

You might not be able to tell, but there is a boy swinging on a tire swing under that big tree.

We live in Florida, so our pool gets used about 10 months out of the year.

After our lunch break, we finish out our school day doing work together on the couch. I work with my youngest in science, history, and writing. For his other subjects, I teach the concept but he does the work on his own. I also love to read so I try to squeeze in some read-aloud time too. If we did really well (and didn’t take too many Lego breaks!) We are done with school about 2. Now, if I am really fortunate, my boys will move directly into their chores at this time, but, more often than not, they need a few “gentle reminders” first.

Since we got done so early, I have plenty of time to grade papers and finish up my work assignments before I cook dinner. I can also head to the gym and squeeze in a Zumba class or some time on the elliptical. (My doctor told me I needed to work on taking off a few pounds to bring my blood pressure down). Dinner is on the table around 6, and it is a HEALTHY meal!

After dinner, we grab the dogs and head out for a family walk. If this was a day my hubby was off work, he was puttering in and out working on various house projects and other things. He doesn’t participate in homeschool a whole lot, except for Shop type activities and car maintenance.

A rare photo of my camera-shy teenager and our little girl dog.

My hubby and younger son.

At the end of the day, we have story time and my hubby and I get some TV time before we go to bed. At 11 LOL!

So, how does that sound? This is my ideal day, and like I said, while most days are not like that at all, I occasionally get lucky. Most of the time though, things are drastically different. Tomorrow I am going to give you a glimpse of what a Not-so-good (or closer to normal) day looks like. What does a really good day look like in your house? Am I the only one who frequently has her “best laid plans” go awry? Let me know in the comments. And see what my fellow crew members are talking about for the Real Life Homeschool blog hop here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Get started with these 10 blogs:
For This Season
Unexpected Homeschool
For Him and My Family
As We Walk Along the Road
Growing in His Glory
Homeschool Coffee Break
Daily Life
There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining
Proverbial Homemaker
ElCloud Homeschool

Real Life Homeschool: What is it?

It’s time for another Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog Hop and I am really excited about our topic! For the entire week, me and my fellow crew members will be blogging about what real life homeschool looks like in our homes! I am so looking forward to seeing how my friends school on good days and bad days!

 

So, what is real life homeschool? Well, to me, that means letting you in on what homeschool is like in our house when things are great and when things are messy. Let’s face it, this life is not always easy. When I started homeschooling I had this “ideal” image in my head of what my day would be like. Up with the sun for quiet time, a healthy breakfast cooked for my family, a day of fun, learning, and laughter, and a yummy dinner and clean house afterwards. Oh, and enriching field trips, lots of reading aloud, science experiments, family time etc. etc. etc. Yep, I was going to do it all!!

Except, then I started to actually homeschool and I realized, I can’t do it all. As much as I WANT to be supermom,  I do not actually have super human powers. This reality was hard for me to accept at first. Days did not always go as planned, and I got frustrated. I even questioned what I was thinking when I decided to homeschool in the first place. But then, as I got to know other homeschoolers and spent more and more time in prayer, I began to realize that it’s actually okay to fall short sometimes because everybody does.

Sure, we have some great days when things so smoothly and it looks just like I thought it would in my  head. But, more often than not, our homeschool is a reflection of our real life. And real life is, messy (or at least mine is). There are unexpected setbacks, illnesses, family emergencies, and financial crisis. There are days when the sink backs up, the car breaks down, and the AC goes out. There are days we have to stop regular homeschool to deal with curveballs life has thrown us. But here’s the thing, through all of this my kids are learning some very valuable lessons. Stuff like how to be flexible (which I admit isn’t my strong suit), how to deal with problems, how to keep going when things get tough, and most importantly, how to rely on the Lord for everything.

So, for the next four days I am going to give you a real glimpse into our homeschool week. I want to give you an example of what a good day looks at my house, and also a bad day, and everything in between. I hope that maybe you will see something you relate to in my day. I hope that if you are worried because your homeschool dream doesn’t meet your reality you will realize you are not alone. And I really hope that I don’t look like a total flop as a homeschool mom!! So, join me tomorrow when I peel back the proverbial curtain and show you a good day at my house. See you then!

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

 

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Check out these ten blogs:

Every Bed of Roses
Ben and Me
Footprints in the Butter
Mountain of Grace Homeschooling
Raventhreads
Counting Our Blessings
Homeschooling for His Glory
Ozark Ramblings
Chestnut Grove Academy
Only Passionate Curiosity
Farm Fresh Adventures

5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: Flexibility

It is the final day of our 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials blog hop! I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have. Today, I am sharing about an attitude that is absolutely essential for our homeschool success: flexibility.

As I mentioned on Day three of this blog hop, I am a planner by nature! In the beginning of our homeschool, I was NOT very flexible at all, and that led to a lot of stress for me and my kids. Thankfully, I have relaxed over the years. I have learned that there are days (or sometimes, complete seasons) where unexpected things come up, and your plans get put aside. I have learned that accomplishing everything on my checklist is not the key to a happy homeschool, and I have learned that sometimes you just have to put things aside to enjoy special moments together.

Do you have days where you feel pulled in 100 different directions and know you just aren’t going to be able to do it all? I do. At first, this really bothered me, and I made myself miserable (and crazy) trying to do it all. It was in these moments that I would become most stressed out. Fortunately, God stepped in and taught me a few lessons. First, He showed me how to focus on what was most important, which really is time with my kids. Next, He showed me that our homeschool day really belongs to Him, and His plans may not be the same as mine, but they are so much more important.

These weren’t easy lessons to learn. In my pride I stubbornly hung on to “my plans” and tried to force things to come out “my way” but all that accomplished was more and more frustration. When I finally learned to let go, and allow God to lead the way, I became a lot more relaxed and homeschooling became a lot more fun. Now, I start my day with a prayer to the Lord to open my heart to His leading, and I make all plans in pencil. If God opens up another opportunity (whether it be through an unplanned interruption or an unexpected side trip) I remind myself to be open, and that God may have a lesson planned that I hadn’t thought of.

Ultimately, I want to teach my children to turn their hearts to God, and how can I do that if I won’t do the same? So, being flexible is essential if I am going to successfully homeschool my children for God.

What attitudes do you feel are most important for homeschooling? Let me know in the comments. And thank you for joining me for the 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials blog hop! Be sure to visit me for my regular weekly posts about books, cooking, reviews, and homeschool life! Check out what the rest of the crew had to say today here:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace

5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: Groups and Co-ops

Trip to the fire station.

We are on day four of our 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials blog hop and today I am going to talk about one of our essentials for fun: homeschool groups! We belong to one local group and one co-op. When I first started homeschooling, I felt rather isolated, so I looked for groups we could join up with. There are actually quite a few in my area, ranging from academic groups to groups just for fun. I was searching for a less-structured group to join and I was happy to find two just like that.

Barrier Island Field Trip

Our first group meets at a local church on Monday afternoons for eight weeks in the fall and eight weeks in the spring. They offer a variety of classes taught by local experts as well as parents from the group. My kids have taken classes in science, photography, world cultures and other topics with this group. It is not exactly a traditional co-op as parents don’t have to teach classes, but you do have to volunteer in your kids class as a helper at least once a semester. We also take a lot of field trips together. Last year we went to Legoland, which was probably my youngest son’s favorite field trip ever!

Legoland!

We’ve also gone ice skating, visited a chocolate factory, had beach days and done a lot of other things. Once a year, we do SAT 10 testing with this group as well.

Our second group is a co-op that meets every Thursday. In this case, the moms meet at the beginning of the year and plan out each week with parents volunteering to teach. This is our first year with this group and it is so much fun! We have learned CPR, visited the shooting range, gone to local parks, and had water play days together. This group also has a lending library where people donate old curriculum for others to check out! This was a huge blessing to our family this year.

My oldest.

My kids have made some really good friends in our groups and so have I.

My youngest.

Why are these groups so essential to our homeschool? Number one, its nice to get together with other homeschoolers on a regular basis. Because we are a large group, we get access to numerous activities at a discounted price that would cost a lot more if we went by ourselves. Also, I have found many parents in these groups with talents in areas I don’t have, and I am thankful that they are willing to use these talents to enrich my kids education.

Joining these groups has also given me a lot of connections. It is nice to have other homeschool moms I can talk to in real life about the challenges we face every day. On a practical note, I had a few friends loan me curriculum for this year that allowed me to teach my boys in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.

I do enjoy the fact that these groups are not terribly rigid. The classes my boys take are extras, not core academics. And the field trips are pick and choose as you go. If we need a week off or something comes up, we just stay home (unless I have to actually lead or help that week). I didn’t want to join a group that we were tied to week after week, because to me, that limits the freedom of homeschooling. While I do have other more academically-oriented groups in my area, I chose these specific groups because they met our needs and fit with out lifestyle. I think that is probably the most important thing when deciding whether or not to join a group and choosing which one to join. You have to find the one that is the right fit for you!

So, do you belong to any groups? What are some of the activities your group participates in? Let me know in the comments. Join me tomorrow for the last day of our blog hop when I discuss an important essential attitude! Check out what the rest of the crew shared today here:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace

5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: Planners

For today’s 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials posts I am talking about one thing I feel is absolutely necessary to make my homeschool run smoothly: planners! I am a planner at heart. I love making to-do lists and keeping a calendar. As a teacher, one of my favorite things was planning out my lessons for the week. For me, planners serve multiple purposes. For starters, I juggle a lot of stuff. Homeschooling, blogging, appointments, church activities, homeschool groups, dinners, shopping, house stuff etc. If I didn’t have a way to keep track of it all, I would go crazy!

In the past, I have used many planners for my kids, most of them printable. While I love the flexibility of these types of planners, printer ink is expensive. Since I print out a lot of our school work, I decided to look for a hard copy planner this year instead. I knew what I wanted in a planner, space to write down weekly lesson plans, grades, and other information. After spending a lot of time online I settled on the Homeschooler’s High School Journal for both of my kids (even though my youngest is only in 7th grade).

The Homeschooler’s High School Journal

What do I love about this planner? For starters, the price! (Less than $10 is always good for me). And I love the way they are set up. There are pages to record grades and attendance:

Attendance/Grades

As well as ample space for recording lesson plans and notes:

A whole week on two pages!

In addition, it has pages to keep track of resources used, field trips, and credits. This makes it really easy for me to sit down on a Sunday evening and write out our plans for the next week. Why do I need a planner? Well, for me, I think it’s just how my brain works. I need to SEE our plan for the week to get a feel for where we are headed. I like the fact that my kids can grab their planners and get started on their work while I clean up breakfast. My husband likes the fact that if he has to fill in for me, he can look at the planners to know what the boys are supposed to be doing. I know a lot of people do not use written lesson plans in their homeschool, and that’s great if they can work that way. But I just can’t. Having these plans laid out gives me confidence that everyone knows what they need to do. I tried doing workboxes, but that just didn’t work for me! At any rate, I always plan in pencil so I can easily change things when needed. Each week, I sit down and make notes about things that didn’t get done, because of other things that came up, and I move them to the next week. Easy-peasy!

Now, for my own day to day planning and record keeping, I use the printable planner from The Old Schoolhouse magazine. This thing is loaded with more pages than you could possible imagine! I love that I can print out exactly what I need and customize my own planner in a binder. I use the calendar pages to keep track of appointments and schedules each month, and the week-at-a-glance pages for menu planning and staying on top of important weekly tasks.

Week-at-a-glance

When I need to add something to my planner, I just pencil it in.

My color-coded calendar

Because I am (otherwise) disorganized and all-over-the place when it comes to tasks, having a planner keeps me on point and makes sure I don’t forget anything important.

Finally, this year, I decided to start using a blog planner. Between crew reviews, blog hops, link-ups, and carnivals, I can get distracted. I tried writing all of these things on my regular calendar, but it got to cluttered and things were still getting lost in the mix. So, in my binder, I created a separate tab for my blog. Here, I keep track of posts that need to be written, as well as a running list of posts that are scheduled.

My blog planner.

Using pages from a planner from My Joy Filled Life I print out what I need and keep track of everything I need to do. I try to write down my regular monthly link-ups and posts first, then fill in reviews, guest posts, and other posts as they come up. That way, when life gets crazy, I can refer to my plans to make sure I am not missing anything.

So, I know this may seem a little crazy to some people (LOL) but honestly, planning doesn’t take me that long. Planning our school week takes me about an hour on the weekends, and doing my personal calendar and blog calendars takes about 20 minutes at the start of the month, and then 5-10 minutes a week as I add in new activities, posts, and events.

I couldn’t survive without my planners and that is why they are one of my homeschool essentials. Do you plan out your weeks/months? What planner do you like to use? Let me know in the comments. Join me tomorrow for day four of our blog hop when I talk about one of our essentials for homeschool fun! Check out what other crew members had to share today here:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace

5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: The Library

A ticket to anywhere! A library card.

For the second day of the 5 Days of Homeschool Essentials blog hop, I am going to talk about one of my most absolutely necessary curriculum essentials: my local library! For starters, I used to be a middle school English teacher, and I LOVE books! I love them so much, I write about them on my blog every Thursday for my Booklovers Anonymous series! When we started homeschooling I was so excited about the books I was going to get to read with my kids!

I could spend hours in the library.

Then, as I started doing research about homeschooling, I discovered the idea of using living books for history studies and tying them into reading and language arts, ala Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, Winter Promise, and other companies. The idea of this got me really excited!

That was, until I started looking at their prices! Wow…so far out of my budget it wasn’t even funny. That’s how the library comes in! I got a chance to check out Illuminations by Bright Ideas Press through the crew, and I checked out almost every book from the library. When I wanted to try the program, I went through the book list, looked up every book, and figured out which books were and were not available. In all, I had to order about 7 books, and I think I spent around $40 on all of them!

As I’ve gotten more confident in my abilities, I have created my own short unit studies using books from the library. You can truly study just about any history, science, art, or literature topic you want if you have access to a good library or one with inter-library loan (which mine has).

For our Wolf unit.

The one thing about the library for me is that is does take planning! For example, my youngest son is on year two of Mystery of History right now. I have to take the time to plan a couple of units out, deciding which books I need and requesting them when appropriate. It is also important to keep tracks of those due dates so you don’t rack up pesky fines!! The Old Schoolhouse Planner has plenty of forms to help with this! I usually print out a new form for each month and keep it in my personal planner, using colored highlighters to keep track of books and due dates.

The library is definitely one homeschool essential I could NOT live without! What is your most important curriculum essential? Let me know in the comments. Join me tomorrow when I talk about one of my big essentials for helping our homeschool run smoothly! Check out what the rest of the crew had to share today here:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace

5 Days of Homeschool Essentials: Heart Attitudes

Proverbs 3:5-6

It is time for the first Crew Blog Hop of the year. Our theme for this week is “5 Days of Homeschool Essentials”. So, for the next five days I will be sharing with you the things I feel are most essential for our homeschool. I have been giving this series a lot of thought, and I am excited to share my feelings with you, as well as read what my fellow crew members have to say.

So, my first essential for successful homeschooling? Having the right heart attitude. This applies to both me and my kids. In my experience, if our heart attitudes are wrong, there isn’t a whole lot else that goes right. So, how do I cultivate a right heart attitude in the midst of all of the stuff that goes on around here? Well, first, I start with myself.

Proverbs 3:5-6 is pretty much a life verse for me. Over this very bumpy road I have traveled, I have learned that I must absolutely and without fail “Trust in the Lord with all my heart”. Now, this is not always easy. I am only human, and I struggle with doubt and discouragement. And when I get discouraged I often get frustrated,and when I get frustrated, I take my eyes off the Lord. This often spells disaster for our homeschool. In order for me to be in the right frame of mind to patiently and effectively school my children, I must keep my eyes firmly fixed on God.

Hebrews 12: 1-3

The best way for me to keep my eyes and heart turned to God is to stay in His Word DAILY! Even on those rare cold Florida mornings, and those (more likely) rainy mornings, when I would much rather stay snuggled under my covers, I get up an hour before my kids get moving. I usually chose a bible reading plan online each year (currently I am working my way through a chronological reading). I also get daily devotions in my email from Proverbs 31 Ministries and Alpha Omega. Spending time with God like this gives me a sense of peace and purpose before the craziness of my day starts. This year I have decided to take it a step further by reading a book of spiritual encouragement each month. I am starting with Believing God by Beth Moore.

As the mom, I have found that the condition of my heart attitude greatly influences the heart attitude of my children. If my core attitude is negative, theirs usually is too. If I am agitated, so are they. If I am impatient, they also reflect that. If I take the time to cultivate my own positive heart attitude first, I find I am better able to direct their heart attitudes later.

Which brings me to my children. Their heart attitudes play a huge part in the success of our homeschool day as well. And of course, just like me, they have bad days and they get frustrated. So, what do I do? In our homeschool we have spent the better part of the last few years focusing on the fruits of the spirit.

The Fruit of the Spirit

When my children are having an off day, I try to redirect them by leading them through a discussion of these fruits and asking them if their heart attitude reflects them. We have spent a lot of time talking about what the fruits of the spirit look like. And I emphasize to my kids that in order to have them in their lives they need to stay close to God as well. My children have developed the habit of daily Bible reading, and lately I have encouraged them to read devotionals as well. My oldest son has even begun writing his own book of 30-day devotionals for teens!

Does this mean that my days are always joyful, peaceful, and full of kindness and gentleness? No, of course not. But by spending time reflecting on the goodness of God in my own life, I find that I am better able to show my children grace, mercy, and patience each day. When I remember the incredible love, grace, mercy, and patience God shows me daily in my imperfections, I can do a better job of overlooking my kids imperfections and not snap at them. Does this always happen? Sigh…no. There are days when snappy, angry mom makes an appearance. Usually, if I catch myself early enough, I can apologize and redirect. Sometimes, I don’t, and when my boys get “that” look on their face I know it’s time to take a break from school, and just hang out and cuddle my boys.

So, heart attitudes are one of my most important homeschool essentials. What would you say is your number one ingredient for a successful homeschool day? Let me know in the comments. And please join me tomorrow when I talk about one of my number one curriculum essentials. To see what other members of the Crew had to share today, click here:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

Visit these blogs for more Homeschool Essentials posts:
1. Day by Day in Our World
2. Nurturing Learning
3. Farm Fresh Adventures
4. For the Display of His Splendor
5. At Home: where life happens
6. Journey to Excellence
7. Homeschool Ways
8. Adventures with Jude
9. Delivering Grace