A Mother's Account of Learning to Teach Her Children At Home
I am a SAHM and teacher of six beautiful daughters. I decided to create this blog because I needed somewhere to write down what I was and am going through as I learn about the wide world of homeschooling. I figured why not share that process, in case there was anyone that found it as overwhelming as I did! I hope you enjoy your stay and perhaps find something helpful in your own journey!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Review: "The Complete Guide to Home Schooling"

So, I’m finally done with The Complete Guide to Homeschooling. It took forever just because things have been crazy around here and the book was chock full of good information that I didn’t want to skim in a quick read.

So, while the book has had some of the best, most up to date information I’ve read so far, I’m scoring it down because of the tone of the authors. They have a very arrogant, their way is best, everyone else’s are to be looked down on tone. Have you ever met a person that claims tolerance of all groups, but then when they talk about how tolerant they are, their tone of voice oozes snideness, sending the message that while they’re ‘tolerant’ they think the other person is an idiot for doing it differently? Well, that sums up the whole tone of this book. But if you can force yourself to ignore their tone, there is a ton of good information in this book. Especially for the parent that is planning on using textbooks as a major part of their curriculum. I also like that it had chapters devoted to things to do with different age groups (elementary, middle school and high school).

This book has so much information that applies to my situation, that snide tone or not, I plan on purchasing my own copy so I can reference it whenever I want instead of having to go back to the library and hope it’s not checked out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Husbands & Homeschooling

Today was a good and bad day.

Good because the girls and I maintained our morning schedule. I’m up at 5 and have an hour to myself. The daughter helping with breakfast is up at 6, the rest of the kids are up at 6:30. We’re done eating and dressed by 7, when we start our chores. Done with chores by 9, then read scriptures for 15 minutes and personal reading for 30 (morning reading is done silently to ourselves). All of this is done before Daddy gets home from work (he currently works 3:30 – 9:30AM).

Then Daddy comes home and usually causes a ruckus – this is why we need to be done before he gets home, because nothing gets done after.

I got very frustrated with him tonight when we were supposed to be doing our family reading time just before bed. I was reading chapter four of Charlotte’s Web and the older girls were listening attentively until Daddy decided to start goofing off… So we didn’t finish the chapter. After the girls were sent to bed, I kind of laid into him about needing to set an example for the children and that reading time is serious as it’s one of the homeschooling activities.

Will see how things go tonight.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Days!

Today was an excellent day in the course of establishing our daily routine! Everyone got up on time, ate quickly, got to work on chores and we were done by 9am! I was so happy with the girls. After the chores were done, we read scriptures for 15 minutes and then whatever we wanted for a half hour.

Tonight, I read chapters two and three of Charlotte’s Web aloud to the family. Rebekah and Rose were attentive, but Rachel was being kind of a pain. Not sure what I can do to get a 2-year-old to be quiet during reading time at night. Will have to work on that. Robin (7 months) kept squealing during reading time, but it was nice to know she felt involved. After I finished, Dad read Mosiah 23 from the Book of Mormon aloud to the family. Then it was time for family prayer and bed.

If we are able to follow the morning and bedtime routine everyday this week, then I will add journals (for penmanship) to the routine next week.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tentative Subject Schedule Outline

Daily Activities
  • Personal reading time silent
  • Personal reading time aloud
  • Scripture reading time aloud
  • Family reading time aloud
  • Family scripture reading time aloud
  • Flash cards – alphabet, colors, counting, states, capitals, countries, presidents, prophets, multiplication, subtraction, addition, division, body parts, etc.
  • Math
  • Journals
  • Life skills - chores, cooking, etc.
  • Physical education - play outside, take a walk, bike ride, etc.
Weekly Activities
  • Science 2x
  • Fieldtrip 1x
  • Game & Puzzle Afternoon 1x
  • Spelling test 1x
  • Research paper or book report 1x – Rebekah only
  • Arts & Crafts 2x
  • Creative Writing 2x
  • Library 1x
Monthly Activities
  • Social Studies Project 2x
  • Health education 1x

Friday, June 11, 2010

Progress Is Being Made

Yay! The girls got all their chores done in two hours today! Happy days! Thus we were able to go to the library. Our library is being renovated, so harder to find things right now. But the girls were able to find books for their personal reading in the morning and I got a copy of Charlotte’s Web to read aloud as a family at night. I read it to Rebekah when she was a baby, but have not read it to any of the others. And of course, my husband has never read it. The girls got me to promise that any books we read that have movies made; we will have a family movie night and watch it when we get done with the book.

I’m at a loss for what to do about a curriculum. We got very lucky and were able to get the Saxon math programs we needed for dirt cheap from other homeschoolers that were done with them. But I haven’t had any luck with anything else. I’ve found several curriculums that I would love to try, but they’re too expensive, especially with my husband not having a full-time job yet (wonderful economy). For now, I think the best course is to use the internet to provide science lessons and experiments for us to all do together, work with the Saxon math, and then read various books from the library on other topics. Some of the books I’ll have the girls do oral reports on to the family and others write reports. Our local library has kits that have lots of picture books on a particular subject. I think we might get one of those each week this summer and check out some harder books for Rebekah on the same subject. For penmanship, I am thinking of journal and creative writing. The creative writing, I’d fill a jar with various ideas or themes. Have the girls draw one and them give them a specific amount of time to write on the subject.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

First Fieldtrip

Today was a good day for homeschooling!

We got all of our chores done! It took longer than I would like, but that’s because the girls’ room was a disaster. Now that there are no disaster areas in the house, the morning chores should take a lot less time. We will see how it goes tomorrow. I was just so glad we got it done. And in time to play some games before lunch, too!

This afternoon, we went on our first fieldtrip. We took the girls to a local museum that has an exhibit about the evolution of dogs. The girls are crazy about dogs, so had wanted to go to this for a while. There were lots of neat displays that the girls enjoyed learning from. There were some giant dog ears that you used to find the sound of termites, to give a person an idea of what it would be like to hear like a canine. There was another area that had a pressure plate where you could feel the rhythm of a human or dog heart at rest or running. The girls really liked the areas that showed the many ways in which dogs help humans.

Another section of the museum has a kids' room to play in and learn about local wildlife and history. The girls had a lot of fun playing in the log home, tipi, beaver dam and caves. Don’t know if they necessarily learned a lot in this area, but they had fun.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Success & Failure

Today was a good day for Rebekah, not so much for Rose. It took Rebekah and me less than three hours to get our chores done, and tomorrow will be even better. Rose fought me all day and never finished her chores. Here is how I have decided to handle her stubbornness. When it comes to the public rooms of the house (kitchen, dining room, living room, hallway and bathroom) – we will clean together and it will be done each day. Chores that involve their bedrooms, I leave to them to do. If they do their chores, they get privileges. If they don’t, they don’t. In July, when we start lessons, we will stop cleaning at 9AM every morning whether done or not. If they’re not done, they will have to complete them after lessons for the day before they can play, watch TV, play computer, go outside, etc. Fighting with Rose doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Maybe if she sees her sister getting to play while she’s stuck with nothing to do she’ll start doing them without fighting me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Unexpected Interuptions & Reading Aloud

Homeschooling today started off well, though a little late because I was up all night with the babies again, until a friendly neighbor reminded us of a church activity my oldest daughter was supposed to attend. I had completely forgotten. She was going on a hike and needed a packed lunch, sunscreen, towel, hiking shoes, etc. So we spent the next hour and a half scrambling to get all her stuff ready and get her to the leader’s house on time for departure. That just threw my whole groove off. But I did get a lot of laundry done! Several hours later, when she got home, we picked up on the cleaning routine where we had left off, but didn’t get finished before time to make dinner. I double checked my calendar – no events going on tomorrow to surprise me! And I kept the babies up most of the day with only short naps, so I should get a good night’s rest and be ready for tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll even get time to do some more reading and write a new review soon!

As a plus, we did get to start our reading aloud as a family today! I read from Wuthering Heights for fifteen minutes, and then my husband read a chapter from the Book of Mormon. While it was successful in that we got it done, it was not without hiccups. The girls definitely need to work on their listening skills. Also, Wuthering Heights is too advanced for the kids – I spent so much time explaining terms that we only got a few paragraphs into it. So I’m headed to the library tomorrow afternoon to try and find a novel to read aloud that is better suited to their comprehension level.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Birthday Holiday

Today we celebrated our oldest daughter’s tenth birthday. So we had a holiday from homeschooling, just doing minimal chores, and spent the day having fun instead. We went to a movie, played at a local jump zone, had cupcakes and Chinese food, and opened presents. I think this is one of the joys of homeschool. When it’s special occasions, you can take off from your routine and enjoy the time even if it’s not a national holiday. Then pick-up the next day where you left off without worrying about missed lessons or catching up.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Homeschooling Websites & Reviews

I love about.com. The sites are full of information themselves and always have plenty of links for more information. Homeschooling.about.com also has free printables. Beverly Hernandez is the writer for the site and has homeschooled her own children. She also owned a homeschool bookstore and has been involved in assisting/advising other homeschool groups. As it’s in blog form, she also has articles right up front that are applicable to the current date (like right now she has links to June holiday activities and a summer reading program).

A to Z Home’s Cool seems to have a lot of information available, but I found it difficult to navigate. It has so many ads on it that I often wasn’t sure if I was linking to a part of the site, or to a whole other site. Quite frankly, I don’t have the time to try to learn to navigate this page. With four children, I need stuff that is easy to find.

Homeschool.com has a TON of information. And I mean, a TON. The downside is that you have to pay for some of it. But they also have lots of free resources. The site has ads, but they are in one column and not jumping all over the place. You can get a free newsletter, and to help navigate their site they have a search box.

Homeschool World is mostly an online catalog. They do have some articles available online, but I find them more useful when shopping for something. They are the website for the magazine Practical Homeschooling.

So, I loved Lisa Whelchel’s book So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling. I like her website, as it provides many of the references she gave in the book. And since I don’t own a copy of the book (got it from the library), this site is of great use to me and anyone that enjoyed the book.

"Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms. Through annual memberships, HSLDA is tens of thousands of families united in service together, providing a strong voice when and where needed." 'Nuff said. This site is wonderful for learning the laws about homeschooling in your state. I also highly recommend you join HSLDA if you are eligible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Recital Night

As I thought, today was another slow day due to the ballet recital. I let the girls sleep in because I knew they were tired from rehearsal and I wanted them at their best for tonight’s performance. So in addition to letting them sleep in, I also ‘gave them the day off’ from chores. I let them veg in front of the computer watching some movies and we read a lot today. The recital did not get over until after 9pm and they were tired, so I think I made the best decision so that they’d be up to performing. Afterwards, we took the girls out for ice cream (traditional family activity after recitals). By the time they got to bed, it was almost 11pm. So I’ll let them sleep in a bit tomorrow, too. But then it’s back to establishing our routine.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day Two

Today was a heck of a day on the homeschooling front.

First, we over slept (I’m supposed to get up at 5, the daughter helping w/ breakfast at 6, and everyone else at 6:30). We finally rolled out of bed closer to 9am. I blame it on the activities yesterday. We were wiped.

So we finally got out of bed and had a late breakfast of pancakes and bacon, followed by 45 minutes of reading to ourselves. Fifteen minutes are dedicated to personal scripture study and the remaining half hour is the person’s choice. I read some more of Guide to Homeschooling and Atlas Shrugged, Rebekah worked on a Charlie Bone mystery and Rose read several picture books from the library. Rachel took turns in everyone's lap, having them read some of their book out loud to her. It was a nice, relaxing time.

Then we got started on our house cleaning routine. We got a lot further than yesterday and would have finished but had to stop to get ready for Rebekah & Rose’s ballet recital dress rehearsal. So at 3:30pm, we stopped working and the girls got costumes and make-up on. Rachel & Robin stayed at home with daddy while I took Rebekah & Rose to rehearsal. We were there for almost four hours! I was so glad when it was finally over. But by the time we got home, ate something and got the girls to bed, it was 10pm. So I suspect we’ll have another slow day tomorrow that will also end early for their recital. Thankfully, ballet is all over for the summer and we can get down to business after that.

One of Dad’s uncles wrote me an e-mail today and suggested a book for learning how to teach. It’s a great resource and I’m so glad he reminded me of it. Teaching, No Greater Call is a book published by the LDS church primarily for Sunday school teachers, but it has principles that are true for the teaching of all subjects. It’s available in its entirety online for free and a wonderful resource I recommend to all.