Friday, August 31, 2012

Education of Choice

Impressed by last night's topic of Education at the RNC? I was.


Education is wavering and the plans by the Republican party not only support children in the public schools, but those in charter, private and home schools. It puts into place not only stronger teacher accountability, but also a family's freedom of choice of schools they want to attend. Plans for the education of our children should be an important part of our voting decision this election.


I do believe Teacher's Unions have their place for sufficient wages, benefits and legal support. But because of their existence, many teachers are no longer are held accountable as individuals and their students are failing because of it. Students First should be the obvious route.


As a homeschooler, we have no wage bargaining or tuition funding. Our focus IS our children. I can only imagine that a turn in the right direction politically will let the world see education the way we do.


That's not the only element on the line… Visit me at Growing in Grace for my thoughts on the rest of the politics!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Planning to Homeschool - Year 7

  While I'm gearing up for our first day of homeschool, just a few days from now… I find myself spending hours reading, preparing, rescheduling, reprioritizing and redecorating! I'm caught in a whirlwind of thoughts and to do lists. I remember when I had just one student and each moment was spontaneous bouts of learning and fun in everyday life. Now I have three students and two little ones depending upon me to stimulate them at every hour of the day, with an obligation to present formal education materials with intermittent trips, projects and other activities. My greatest challenge is not the number of children, nor is it the curriculum. It is the coordination of myself to teach each subject at varying grade levels and varying learning styles simultaneously, while caring for young ones who just want to play with Mommy. By the Grace of God, I know it can be done.

    Our first day usually begins the day after Labor Day in September. We sleep in, attend a No School Track 'n Field Day with a local homeschool support group, then head back to take a tour of the schoolroom and our new books. We also take pictures and measure in at the height board mounted in our Laundry Room.  The days after that have varied only on what time we awoke and began the day. We got done what we could, and focused more on family time and learning from life.

   But last year, between pregnancy and new baby, and everyone's lack of enthusiasm for bookwork, we never finished our school year. I hoped that this year we'd stay on top of things and be productive.

   So this year, my color coordinated schedule has been pinpointed to the 20-minute interval of who I'm going to help and what book we're going to work on, as well as the number of pages to be completed. So much, that the very thought of an interrupting phone call, sick day or play date is freaking me out! The children have already rummaged through the new books. The schoolroom was new a few weeks ago and has already become tornado valley of toys and crayons.  I feel like my plan is already failing, and it hasn't even began. This frazzled version of me is not me!

Family Circus mom

  So I'm taking a step back today. Reflecting on the positives of prior years and how I can "integrate happiness" into our busy schedule. Is it possible to take complete chaos, organize it, and still have something enjoyable for everyone? Yes.

Planning for a Happy Homeschooling Experience:

1. Create a space that is conductive to learning and fun.
Clean up and start fresh each year. Keep things bright with windows, lighting, wall color, notebooks, decorations, maps, etc. Ask yourself, would l like to go to school here? Read my article about the Homeschool Classroom by clicking on the picture below!
Homeschool Classroom Logo<click it!

2. Measure success by the child, not the checkmarks on the schedule.

We take yearly pictures by the door, and measure on the door frame in the laundry room. The children find this their favorite part of Day 1, because "it's about them." When you ask yourself, why am I homeschooling? Answer "it's all about the children."
2006-07 GrPreK2007-08 GrK2008-09 Gr12009-10 Gr22010-11 Gr32011-12 Gr4
2006-07 Preschool2007-08 Preschool2008-09 GrPreK2009-10 GrK2010-11 Gr1a2011-12 Gr1b
2009-10 Preschool2010-11 Preschool2011-12 GrPreK
2009-102010-112011-12 Preschool

"Judge each day not by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant."
- Robert Louis Stevenson

3. Create a schedule that integrates bookwork, activities, group time, and always      leave      spaces!

Magnets allow flexibility…
Daily Planner

See how my current spreadsheet looks more chaotic? It will be if I leave it like this.

4. Always start with prayers, Mass, and/or devotional stories. (You'll need it.)

We begin the day with a devotional story and prayer…
Morning Devotion

5. Then off to the books! Have educational materials to guide your day, not determine it.

6. Plan for Fun!
If you're making a schedule, include space in your day for other wonderful life experiences from trips, visits, fitness, clubs, etc. We'll fill in with gymnastics, field trips, 4H, family, playdates and more! Some take off one day to allow for this, but it is harder as the kids get older and have more bookwork. My plan, make it work because it's important to enjoy life now, not later.

Lake George Park DayTrack and Field Day 2011
Kids Bowl Free - Memorial DayCrystal Gardens Day1
CampfireEastman Nature Center-Bones and Skulls

Simple Homeschool Blog
10 ways to adjust your attitude when you’re homeschooling for the long haul
The worst reason to homeschool
A Day in the Life (of a homeschooler)

The Home School Mom:
  10 Reasons I'm Glad "Back to School" means Homeschooling
  Celebrating Homeschooling with a Not Back-to-School Party

Start of the School Year Memories
YEAR 1: 2006-07  Grade PreK
First Day of School PA110042
YEAR 2: 2007-08 Grade Kindergarten, Preschool
Sabrina 1 wk old - field trip to orchard
YEAR 3: 2008-09 Grades 1, PreK
Schools in Session Schools in Session
YEAR 4: 2009-10 Grades 2, Kindergarten, Preschool
Sabrinas 2nd Birthday
YEAR 5: 2010-11 Grades 3, 1a, Preschool
First Day of School - Year 5
YEAR 6: 2011-12 Grades 4, 1b, PreK, Preschool
Patio set from grandparents Family Picture Day
YEAR 7: 2012-13 Grades 5, 2, Kindergarten, Preschool

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I needed this today - inspiring and fun quotes

Judge your day not by the harvest you reap, but by the seed you sow. - Robert Louis Stevenson, author

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - God, Deuteronomy 6:6-7

You may think the grass is greener on the other side, but if you take the time to water your own grass it would be just as green.

Insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein

Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow." - Mary Anne Redmacher

Do the things you have to do when you have to do them, so the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them. - Zig Zigler

An observant child should be put in the way of things worth observing. - Charlotte Mason

Enjoy the little things in life.. for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things. - Robert Brault

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me and I'll remember. Involve me and I'll understand. - Chinese Proverb

Home-based education is not an experiment. It's how people learned to function in the world for centures. And there is no reason to think people today can't do the same thing. School is the experiment, not the lack of it, and that experiment is in trouble. - Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine

Kids don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are. - Jim Henson

Just For the Home Educator

Have you seen those "Hey Girl" memes (posters) online with a picture of things you'd want your husband to say to you when he comes home. (seen with pictures of Ryan Gosling, actor)

"I understand that you didn't have time to do school today because you were too busy "pinning" ideas onto your Pinterest homeschooling board."

"I love it when you laminate stuff."

"The fact that you went to that book sale and spent $80 on curriculum you never used doesn't stress me out at all."

"I loved how you managed to tie in our morning devotional with algebra."

"Let's grab a latte, a quiet spot, and review curriculum options."

"One of the sticky notes fell off the family schedule, so I have no idea what to do at 6:30 tonight."

"Don't worry. I know which scissors you use for fabric… and which scissors you use for paper."

"I could just sit here and watch you reorganize the schoolroom all night."

"I love that one of your passions is collecting math manipulatives."

"You're right, chalkboard paint would be perfect on that."

"Have I told you how hot it is to watch you parallel park our 15-passenger van?"

"Public school starts this week? Eh, give yourself at least a month more of summer."

"That new planner you ordered must be pretty awesome. I don't mind at all that you've talked about it nonstop for the last four weeks. - Does it teach the kids, too?"

"I don't care that I haven't had clean underwear in two weeks. You've been schooling up a storm!"

"I'm totally cool using one of my 10 vacation days to come to co-op and watch my son play the theme from 'Star Wars.'"

"No. I don't mind that the kitchen table is covered in owl pellets."

"I know you didn't join that co-op just for the 5 hour long planning meetings at Panera. It's just one of the many sacrifices you make for our children's education."

"Hey Girl. How about I take off my shirt while we make those workboxes."

Monday, August 27, 2012

End of Summer Brag Post

We didn't vacation as usual this summer. In fact, it was so hot and buggy, we barely got outside. But we were way too busy to notice. Here's some quick takes of our August and the fun we've had.


Homemade t-shirts made to spot my kids in a crowd. Great at the family reunion!

Wicks Family Reunion


Our backyard vacation spot!


Mikayla 10th Birthday

Swinging with Grandma


A day of happy helpers!

Helpful Morning Helpful Morning Helpful Morning


A summer of sweaty gymnasts!

Mikayla at Gym Gymnastics at MN Aerials

Jonathan at Gym Sabrina at Gym


Welcoming a new family member - our nephew

New Parents Melissa and Benjamin

Eddie's not the baby anymore, 10 lbs bigger and 6 months older than Benjamin. 

Eddie and Ben

Everyone is so happy to see the first cousin on this side of the family!


Happy Birthday to our double digit daughter! Mikayla is 10!

Mikayla 10th Birthday

Mikayla in Grandma Pats bridesmaid dress



and Eddie just turned 6 months old…

edward 6mth


I blinked. Everyone's growing up so fast. :(

Thank goodness I bought a new camera that has a shutter speed of 1/4000! I don't think I can blink that fast?


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