Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One of THE best school days so far this year!

Today was my kind of school day.  It flowed nicely, I watched for cues that the kiddos were done with an activity, and we did music...LOTS of music which is always a great thing for us. 

Shadow shapes for definite success since they both know their shapes

 "The b's on the bus go b-b-b, b-b-b, b-b-b..." - This was my favorite random mommy-made-up-school-thing-in-the-car-one-day and now they ask for the song all the time!  We sang it and they found the bottle cap letter as we sang and put them back in their plastic baggie:).

 The girls LOVE candy corn so we did a roll and remove game with candy corn!!!  
 Then the whiteboard came out and I introduced them to the alligator that eats bigger numbers for meals!  They LOVED it!  They wanted to give him a body and legs too:).
Finally Dancin' Diva started singing Freshbeat Band songs so I out the CD in and we had a music/dance concert for an hour!!!

They were absolutely ADORABLE today and I had a blast chomping numbers and dancing withe my girls:)

Homeschool Spirit Week

So last week was the first ever International Homeschool Spirit Week!  I thought it would be a fun way to do school that week and help me let go a bit:).  It was a fun time and I think we may do this sometimes to change things up!  Enjoy:)

School-away-from-home day
 Mixing the water form their water bottles with the dirt making mud!!!
Comfy Cozy Day!!!

I think we need at least two of these per week...haha!
 Crazy Sock Day...and winter day???  Haha!  Dancin' Diva found my stack of winter items I took out of storage:).
Mismatch Day
 Twin Day

Yay for spirit weeks!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Chill School Day

 So my intention is not to do school on Wednesdays because we visit with Grandmom.  However, we still hadn't read our library books from Friday.  So we had some school today, but because it wasn't planned everyone stayed calm and happy (something I'm trying to replicate so maybe I should stop planning???).

We read LOTS of books and the girls were too cute!  

So my kids love dry erase boards so I decided to bring it out and see what would happen.  I decided to have them erase letters, shapes, words, and numbers and they thought it was SO cool!

When they had their own time on the board DD decided to do some addition.  All on her own, by the way.  So we talked about the addition sign and equal sign.  However, I have to say I actually like her underlining method:).  She stated the problem out loud and then counted to get to the answer.  I left it alone after that since this was their free time.

This was just an adorable bonus picture after dinner.  From left to right it's Lil' Diva, Little Red Riding Hood, and a bad dinosaur turned good dinosaur that is now friends with Red.  I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

School with some new concepts

Today we brought out some fun educational toys my sister-in-law handed down to us.  The names escape me at the moment, but they were pretty cool!   

 This one was perfect for SD to work with colors, sorting, and shape review

 DD got a kick out of replicating the movements of this directional puzzle.  It gave us plenty of opportunity to talk about directions throughout the rest of the day:).

 One of their favorites...Handwriting Without Tears!  They love this because of three things...the wood pieces, chalk and a wet paper towel...ha!  Often the wood pieces turn into drum sticks, wands, and whatever else they can think of and my kids have an obsession for wet paper towels.  I'm serious they could play with a wet paper towel for hours!  As for the chalk...what kid doesn't like playing with chalk?

This was one of my favorites of the day.  Count the House!  We would have gone all over the house, but Granddad came by to help look at our leaking ceiling:(.  So we kept it in the school room.  

 I am really into the living math with my girls instead of pushing them too soon into other math concepts.  I am hoping this will really give them a true foundation of what the numbers really are and what they mean instead
of just saying they can count to 100 by Kindergarten.  DD loved sticking the corresponding stickers in her notebook.  I also got a little addition in there when we miscounted and needed to add another sticker.  So instead of telling her I asked how many we needed to add to get the right amount and she was on top of it!  In that moment I was living my dream of how I would like education to happen in our home:).    

So although SD didn't really get into the sticker part she had a great time running around the room counting the different parts of the house/room.  For a moment I was preoccupied with her doing the stickers, but luckily I've been at this enough that I let it go:).  She was counting perfectly, playing with dolls in between, but would still count the next thing when I asked.  So I would say we had success for the day.

It was a fun school day and then we all headed off to dance class that afternoon.  Tomorrow we will be making an igloo on my bed and reading our library books from Friday.  I'm WAY excited!


Friday, September 7, 2012

"Shift Begins with Me"

So my friend, Cindy, over at The Right Side of Normal is a homeschooling mom who loves to share her views on right brain vs. left brain learners AND she just published her first book on the subject!!!  Congrats, Cindy!!!  One of the things she does in her book is give these "shift begins with me" moments and I LOVE them!  They are these "ah-ha" moments when certain things just sort of...click for you when you aren't expecting them.

So my last post about easing up on the printables and going for the child-led environment was a result of a shift I had a few weeks ago.  The girls were graphing.  They were rolling a die, then marking the graph, then...you know...repeat.  I took a picture to document and upon review of the picture I noticed something.  They were bored out of their minds!  In that moment I knew that every piece of paper I had just printed would never be used...oops!  I realized that our hopscotch numbers game where I took paper and wrote numbers on them and had the girls hop to each as we count was WAY more fun than sitting, rolling, and marking.  Guess what else I figured out?  They actually retain the information when we do it the good 'ole hopping way and we're all so much happier during school.  Which I'm not sure why I even thought switching from the hopping method was a good decision considering that most people retain information better when it's in an interesting book or they are moving and connecting with the information.

So there you go.  One of my "shifts."  At this moment I can't remember my first shift because I did not write it down.  So Cindy, if you remember the story please shoot me an email so I can put it in a post:).

Do any of you have any "shift" moments?  It doesn't have to be homeschool related.  I can tell you that I've had "shift" moments in several other areas of my life too.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


So there are several methods of homeschooling.  They range from school at home methods where you mimic what public schools do, methods that are completely child-led, the unit study method where you pick a topic and learn all you can from that one subject for the day...week...or whatever you choose!  There are more and you can read about them online if you want to know more.  If I had to choose, though, I would say that I identify with the unschooled, child-led, read the classics (TJed) folks which basically means I'm more eclectic than anything...ha!  The one thing these methods have in common is that the child's interests lead the game plan and reading is VERY important.  

We have always had books everywhere in our house so we were on the right track with that, but the subject areas are still the areas that need work.  My head is telling me that all the printables, word families, and fun ways to learn to read are what we need to do so that I know what we have done.  However, my heart and girl's smiles in response to the non-structured/non sit-in-your-seat activities tell me that we should be going down the child-led road.  

So here I sit, with a wonderful year's worth of activities planned, BUT luckily I am learning that I don't need to be so much control (I know some of you are laughing) that I can't just erase that plan and start over with what you see below.  I cannot remember where I got this idea from, but it was genius!  It was called "plop."  The idea is that you just "plop" some items in a pile and let your kids create!  Sometimes you just put random things and sometimes you've read a book and you piggy-back off the story.  Either way I LOVE it!

Our "plop" items for the day
  Stringing her book together
 Now the brain waves start working!

So no matter what I say THIS is what I want school to look like in my home:).  She laughed, skipped, and giggled the whole time she was creating her book and I LOVED watching as she called to me,"Mommy look!" every time she glued another picture down:).


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When Your World Shifts and Finding Your Way

Now that I'm truly embracing the fact that I am homeschooling my children, I can feel a huge shift in my world. Half of the children in my mommy groups have started Kindergarten and we're all finding what activities work for our children and those that don't. So what does this mean for me, a new homeschooling mom? It means the way my life has looked for the past four years is changing. It means that even though people are supportive, I am still sitting in this "oh no" moment. This moment of knowing that in another year more of my girls' friends will go to public school, this moment of realizing that there may be some that don't understand our choice, and this moment of wondering if I'll meet other moms to talk to who also homeschool. I am confident in what I am doing and I'm ready for the task. However, I've had to do three things to help me approach and get over this hump:

1. Seek comfort through prayer.

2. Seek out a friend to help me manage my emotions and hash out my schedule.

3. Remember the reason we chose to homeschool.

I'm still working through this process, but I am making progress. Prayer is helping me to have the strength to stand alone in my immediate circle. I have a wonderful group of friends, but if I'm being honest I am doing something different and that leaves me feeling a bit out of place where I used to feel sure. Prayer is helping me to reflect, re-center, and continue to be with my friends without so much of the self-inflicted perception of possible judgement of my choice.

My supportive friend and sister-in-law is serving to be just the remedy for those self-doubting days. The other day I was actually re-doing my schedule...again...when I stopped in my tracks and decided I needed some guidance. It was so nice to be able to call on her for support. We carved out some time for me to talk things through and get a "pep talk." Oh how I wish she were here so we could have monthly support time in person. I'm actually on the search for a support group in my area so that I can feel some local support and so that my girls can meet other homeschooled children.

Finally, remembering my girl's faces when they read a word with me or sing the days of the week song or the feeling we all get when we snuggle on the couch to read books are just the right memories to remind me to keep moving forward. When my husband and I started talking about homeschool it was out of fear of what our children would be walking into at their zoned elementary school. Since, it has become something that I truly enjoy doing. I was a high school counselor before staying home with our children and I bypassed the classroom on purpose. So it came to a surprise to me just how much I truly loved teaching when I started with Joy School three years ago. I take lots of pictures, I blog, and I post on my personal Facebook page so that I can always remember the good moments. I know these images are helping me remember why my husband and I chose this path in the first place.

I share my thoughts because I know I can't be alone in this shift. I also share because I want to know YOU! I want to know other moms who are like me, who I can share my thoughts of the personal joy I feel from teaching my children, who I can exchange ideas with, and who I can depend on for the support that I personally need. Yes, things are shifting and I've got to restructure somethings, but I know I'm going to come out on the good side of this shift. My family and I are in a new stage of life and although it's a bit scary, I know it's going to be an amazing journey!