Planning The Homeschool Year: Reality, Religion, and Socialization

School-PlanningWith the close of this month, we put to rest our series, ‘Planning the Homeschool Year’! It’s been fun exploring incredible ways to organize our learning routines and better meet our family’s needs.

For those who have been following the series, thank you for stopping in and joining the fun. We appreciated hearing your feedback and learning from your life experiences. It has been wonderful sharing thoughts with you and getting to know you better.

Before we sign off for the week, and end this series, we’d like to leave you with a few posts which help in keeping our homeschooling in perspective. All were written from a homeschooling father’s perspective, my man!

Reality, Religion, and Socialization

Forcing Religion on Your Children
And They Will Not Depart From It
Homeschooled Kids Are Not Socialized and Other Stupid Myths
The Village School System
Reality: A Multiple-Choice Quiz

As the school year is just getting under way, we pray the Lord blesses each and every one of you. We pray He graces you with patience, wisdom, and an enthusiasm to continue with the adventure called homeschooling. May your year be blessed!

If you, or someone you know, is in need of a little more encouragement or help in their homeschooling adventure, please check out our various series we feature which include Homeschooling 101; Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail; and A Simplified Life.

🔔Time to Chime In: What are you most looking forward to during the coming learning year?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Finding Sanity

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

…..

Amidst all the homeschooling fun, a busy parent could use the occasional quite moment; an opportunity to breathe, relax, and be at peace. While we touched on this topic briefly during our ‘I Can’t Homeschool‘ series, we felt the need to once again encourage fellow homeschooling parents to include this important step in their homeschool routine.

With a little thought and a smidgen of planning, finding free time is not only obtainable, but completely within reach!

Pray About Your Time – May all things start in prayer. We need to ask the Lord to show us how our time ought to be structured and allow Him to show us ways in which we could be using our time more wisely, making space for much-needed down time.

Restructure Your Thinking – During our prayer and devotion time, we need to ask the Lord to help us focus on the greater good. We might like having several hours to ourselves each day, but the Lord knows best. We should ask the Lord to help us focus on what’s most important, removing any selfishness on our part.

Focus on Your Goals – While we all need moments of downtime, what are our overall goals? When we focus on the end goal, the day-to-day struggles become less important.

Find Practical Ways to Have ‘Me’ Time – 

  • Wake up a little earlier.
  • Stay up a little later.
  • Schedule in downtime. (Who days quiet time can’t be planned into each day?)
  • Teach the kids to play/work independently.
  • Schedule playdates with a friend. (One day we get free time, the next day they do. Each of us get a little time to yourselves, and our kids get to have fun.)

Still Too Busy? Consider Reorganizing Your Day – Hard as it might be, if we just can’t seem to find time to enjoy a quiet cup of tea, much less enjoy an hour of free time, it might be time to start looking at our weekly routine. Everyone’s life goes through busy seasons, but constant busyness might be a sign that we’re overdoing it. It all goes back to praying about how we use our time and allowing the Lord to lead our days.

Let’s face it, even machines need a break now and again. Being a homeschool parent does not mean we have to work from the minute we get up ’til the minute we go to bed. If having a little time to yourself is desired, start by praying about your concerns and then moving toward organizing your day with free time in mind.

May I leave you with this thought: We only have our children for a very short time, too short a time. Take a few moments each day to allow the Lord to fill you, refreshing your heart and spirit. But, remember, you’ll have plenty of free time when your kiddos are adults. You can always catch up on your reading then.

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.”
Psalm 62:1

🔔Time to Chime In: How do you find time to relax amidst all of life’s challenges and learning fun?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Finding Friends

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

…..

If you’ve ever come across the numerous blog posts written by ex-homeschooled kids, you will notice a trend. Generally speaking, the complaint lies in socialization. It seems they did not have enough friends, go on enough outings, or have the privilege of attending prom. To their way of thinking, they might as well have been locked in a closet.

While we’ve discussed the silly myth of socialization among homeschooled children, it does seem there is a certain percentage of children who are not enjoying enough interaction with other people.

As a parent who truly does want my children to enjoy meaningful friendships and have lifelong relationships, how then do I go about the act of socialization? I think there are numerous ways in which this can be accomplished:

  • Church
  • Sports
  • Co-ops
  • Family
  • Fellowship with Friends
  • Ministry Opportunities
  • Volunteer Work

I am sure the list could go on; however, I doubt it is necessary. To be honest, I believe opportunity is not the issue. There are more than enough venues to offer socialization if one simply makes an effort. Perhaps the problem lies somewhere else… a lack of relationship with our children.

As parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to our children; to understand their needs and provide for them. If my children are expressing a desire for interaction and fellowship, it would behoove me to listen and help them in this area of development.

Is this going to mean a little more work for me? Possibly. Will this mean I might taxi people around a little bit? Perhaps. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

Through careful study of my children, I can begin to encourage and help forge those relationships which would be of benefit. With an observant eye, I want to offer plenty of opportunities for my littles to meet new people and build lasting friendships.

It doesn’t take a public school to socialize a child. It does take an involved parent with a heart to meet their children’s needs and guide them into meaningful fellowship.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

 🔔Time to Chime In:  How do you teach your children the fine art of socialization? Which venue has best met that need?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Field Trip Field Guides

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

…..

On our field trip check list is a new item for the coming school year: Field Trip Field Guides!

It all started with my oldest daughter wanting to create a scrapbook. To be truthful, I’m horrible at scrapbooking. Let’s just be honest, I am not a crafty person. But, when my child desires to do something creative and educational, I tend to be a softie and indulge them. Thus, the idea of field trip field guides was born.

I wanted to create an organized, self-contained, easily accessible system of scrapbooking our yearly field trips and events. Something I could grab on the fly, which didn’t require a lot of searching and hunting, but could go with us anywhere and serve our purposes.

After a lot of thought and a bit of research, I’ve finally created the perfect system for our family!

Field Trip Field Guide Kit

One plastic container with fitted lid
Five sketch books
Five rulers
Five boxes of colored pencils (your basic 10 pk)
Two pair of scissors
Two glue runners
Pencil Box (pencils, erasers, and sharpener included)
Five basic shape stencils
Package of small ziplock baggies (jewelry size)
Two mini microscopes (loupe)

The plastic container is approximately 14″ x 10.”5 x 3″, making it small enough to fit in any Field-Trip_Guides backpack and easy to grab. The sketch books are about 50 pages, making them thin and light to carry. The idea is to scrapbook field trips and nature walks, thus 50 pages should be more than sufficient for the year. All other items are likewise thin and light, making for an easy fit in our kit and less burdensome to carry. Surprisingly, the entire kit only cost about $20 to put together as most of the items were purchased at the local dollar store.

Me being me, I created covers for each of our field guides (sketch books) and an image for the top of our kit. This makes each guide more personal and fun!

You’ll also note there are five field guides in our kit, but we have only four children. We wanted this to be a family exercise, thus there is an extra field guide for us parents which we share. Sometimes mom is doing the sketching and, because Pop is the better artist, other times it is my husband.

The entire kit being packed in our helpful container, our field guides are constantly at the ready and able to be grabbed on a moment’s notice. If we have a last-minute field trip, I merely grab the box on our way out the door and we are set.

Now, it makes no sense to have these awesome guides and not have a plan to put them into action!

On event days, I add the field trip kit to our backpack and we are ready to go. Simple and easy. Sometime during our trip, whether it be at lunch or we purposefully take a moment to work on our guides, we find a quiet spot and get to work. Glue runners enable our children to adhere event tickets to their guide or perhaps brochures; mini ziplock bags allow our children to add small keepsakes such as sand from the beach or flower petals; stencils, colored pencils, and drawing materials encourage them to embellish their guides with images reminding them of the event; and the microscopes (small loupe) enable us to better see details in nature while exploring.

Field Guides In Use

Putting our guides to the test. They’re awesome!

Thus far, our field guides are a hit! The kids love working in them. Mommy is loving the kids’ enthusiasm for the kit. Pop, being an artist, loves having a sketch book on hand. And, everyone is learning tons. Our children excitedly plan for what will be included in their personal field guides, and rejoice over the individuality of the experience. No two guides are the same, and each is uniquely beautiful.

I wish we had created this kit years ago, but, alas, here we are. Now, to put them to good use and plan tons of amazing field trips for the year. This should be fun!

🔔Time to Chime In: Our goal is to attend one field trip a month, minimum, with a nature walk once a month as well. What is your field trip goal for the year?

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter, & Pinterest!

Planning the Homeschool Year: Field Trip Fun, Part II

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

…..

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to spend countless hours planning awesome field trips only to arrive at our destination missing particular necessities, like shoes on my kids’ feet. (Yes, it’s actually happened.) To prevent myself from stressing, walking out the door without essentials, and/or having to stop and grab something last-minute, it helps to have a field trip checklist!

While our field trip checklist changes depending on each particular location’s needs, we always have a basic list upon which to build:

Field Trip Checklist

The Night Before…
Fill the gas tank
Withdraw cash from bank (if needed)
Enter address into GPS (if needed)
Freeze several water bottles
Pack Backpack with…
Field Trip Field Guides*
Tickets for the Event (if needed)
Scavenger Hunt List or Activity Sheets for Event
Hand Sanitizer
Gum
Sunscreen
Light Sweater (I’m always cold.)
Peppermint Oil

Morning of…
Pack Snacks and/or Lunch Bag
Place frozen water bottles in backpack.
Place both backpack and lunch bag in-car.
Check to make sure kids have: sweaters and shoes
Have everyone take restroom breaks.
Double check locks on house.
Pray over our drive and field trip.
Have fun!

*Our Field Trip Field Guides are new this year, and something special I worked on over the summer. We’ll be sharing more on this later in the week!

You’ll note I didn’t place a camera on my checklist. Why? Because my camera and I are inseparable! If you don’t have said relationship with your camera, adding one to your field trip checklist is probably a good idea.

Field-Trips

To read more about getting the most out of field trips, please click on the picture above.

One final thought. While I am packing for the field trip specifically, I also like to prepare for the drive itself. I tend to have water bottles handy, snacks at the ready, and encourage my kids to pack a few items to keep themselves occupied, such as books. For longer drives, my kids are advised to bring pillows as well. They might not need them on the drive to, but the drive home from a field trip is always more pleasant with a pillow. A great field trip ‘play list’ for the iPod might also be fun!

With proper planning and organization, field trips days can be tons of fun and easy on the nerves. Having a checklist means there is less for me to forget, and less worry on my mind. Plus, with a checklist, other people can help out! No more asking me what is needed or waiting for my instructions. We work together, get the job done, and enjoy our day.

Have I mentioned I love checklists?

🔔Time to Chime In: What the funniest/craziest thing you’ve ever taken on a field trip?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Field Trip Fun, Part I

School-PlanningIt’s back to school season! While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling. Let’s get started!

…..

Who doesn’t like a good field trip? There’s nothing quite like fresh air, a change of scenery, and a little exercise to rejuvenate your learning routine. While field trips can be a lot of fun, they can quickly turn into a frustrating mess when not planned properly.

The first step to getting out the door, is knowing where you’re going so you can plan accordingly. How does one find great locations for those nature walks you’ve dreamed of? Which local museums offer free days or homeschool discounts? Might there be more to explore than meets the eye?

Our family is always on the go, looking for new places to discover and explore. Some we’ve found completely on our own, while others have been passed on to us from family and friends. Here are a few of our favorite field trip resources:

Field Trip Guides

Field Trip Factory
Crosswalk
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
Online College

Nature Walk Guides

Storm the Castle
Bringing up Learners
Hands On As We Grow

For California Residents (like us)

The California Geotour
SoCal Pocket Memories
SoCal Field Trips

If I had it my way we’d go on one field trip a week, at least. Unfortunately, life does get a little busy, preventing us from taking as many trips as I would like. However, my goal is at least one a month, with a nature walk once a month as well.

Field-Trips

With a little research and a dose of planning, field trips can be stress-free and tons of fun! We highly encourage changing up the routine on occasion and getting your family out the door for some ‘in the field’ training. You never know what you might discover and learn!

For additional field trip tips see ‘Getting the Most Out of Field Trips‘; a series we ran a few years ago to help with this aspect of our homeschooling routine. We humbly offer up our tips for stress-free planning, establishing a field trip routine, helps for getting out the door on time, and more!

🔔Time to Chime In: Is there one field trip (or location) that stands out as a family favorite? Share it with us; we’d love to hear all about it!

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter, & Pinterest!

Planning the Homeschool Year: Portfolios

School-PlanningI don’t know about you, but in our neck of the woods it’s back to school season. This month, public school buses will go chugging down the street, ready to pick up those eager (at least for the first week) children. While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling.

…..

When most people think of a portfolio, they think of an artist or professional showing their well crafted work in order to gain recognition or obtain employment. However, did you know that homeschoolers can have a portfolio as well?

When I first began to homeschool, I read everything I could on the laws of our state and ideas on how to keep ourselves protected. One great suggestion made was portfolios; simple, three-ring binders that hold all pertinent work and tests the student has done for the year. In the event it should become necessary, examples of the students’ work are on hand and available. (These are not required by our state, mind you, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Plus, it’s always fun looking back on our hard work, especially after several years have passed.)

Portfolios

Click on the image above to discover what’s inside!

Every fall, we create unique covers which inspire and encourage us to fill these will beautiful work. In previous years we have used a wide variety of art mediums to create our covers. We have drawn images, water colored, and used decoupage for our art projects. For the past two years, we have chosen to use a new medium: computers! Using digital images and art programs, we have made the most beautiful covers for our binders.

Well, here we are again! It’s time to put our imagination to use and get those fingers moving. Besides a few images which reflect our goals for this year, I have also included a few funny comments which I hope will encourage my kiddos and help keep us on track.

If you don’t already, consider putting together a portfolio for each one of your children. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be time-consuming, and it doesn’t have to look professional. Dig out whatever materials you have on hand and get busy!

Having portfolios of your children’s work is always a good idea. Besides having proof of all your hard work, it’s a great way to store memories. One day, you’ll look back on these and shed tears of joy.

🔔Time to Chime In: We’d love to see what your portfolios look like. Take a picture and send us a link to your Instagram page so we can!

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Counting the Cost

School-PlanningI don’t know about you, but in our neck of the woods it’s back to school season. This month, public school buses will go chugging down the street, ready to pick up those eager (at least for the first week) children. While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling.

…..

While public education is fairly inexpensive, with very little directly coming out of our pockets each year, homeschooling rests solely on the shoulders of mom and dad’s budget. When planning the upcoming homeschool year, it is always best to count the cost.

Free Homeschool Options

Free is nice. It’s even better when it’s something you can use and need. Here are a few resources for free homeschooling:

  • Charter Schools, such as K12 – Government-funded, home-based, private school programs. Usually this covers all curriculum, materials, and field trips. (As a Christian home schooling family, we are hesitant to endorse this option, but it is viable. We understand the draw of not only receiving curriculum, but also supplies for free, however the drawback of arbitrary state requirements and the inability to count Christian materials cannot be overstated.)
  •  Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool – A complete, free, online, Christian homeschool for your family’s needs. Easy Peasy covers every subject for every grade level.

Moderate Homeschool Options

If you’re looking for a little more variety, but aren’t ready to break the bank, you might consider these options:

  • Buy From a Materials Display – Companies frequently offer sales during the summer months (back-to-school season) to encourage buyers to purchase.
  • Buy Used – There are forums to help aid families in the selling and buying of materials from other homeschooling families.
  • Share Curriculum – Trade or share curriculum with another homeschooling family. Perhaps one family could history, while another science. There’s no need to purchase both when you’re working together.
  • Don’t Buy Boxed Curriculum – Buying everything in one package can be pricey. Consider purchasing just what you need, not everything.

Investment Homeschool Options

  • College Prep Textbooks – If you have children in higher grades, these materials tend to be more pricey. However, the potential college credits make it worth the investment.
  • Reusable Materials – More expensive textbooks (biology, chemistry, etc.) and resources, such as microscopes, are a hit to the wallet, but well worth the money spent. You will use them more than once, and they have great resale value.
  • Boxed Curriculum – Sometimes it’s worth it to buy the whole program. You get everything from reading materials to craft supplies. You don’t need to shop for anything. The time saved in looking, shopping, and the reuse of said materials is also worth considering.

Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. Pray about your homeschooling needs, asking God to show you how to best use your resources. Do a little online research about options available to you, and make an investment into your children’s future. Then, let the adventure begin!

Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”
Psalm 37:16-17

🔔Time to Chime In: Does your family have an annual homeschooling budget? Share with us how you determine your budget and how it is best spent! We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter, & Pinterest!

Planning the Homeschool Year: What Do I Need?

School-PlanningI don’t know about you, but in our neck of the woods it’s back to school season. This month, public school buses will go chugging down the street, ready to pick up those eager (at least for the first week) children. While we don’t have to be on the curb at the crack of dawn or make sure our children have their lunch money, we do need to plan out our coming year of homeschooling.

…..

You’ve accepted your family has been called to homeschool. You’ve even taken the time to organize your yearly schedule, accounting for much-needed breaks and planning for your daily routine. You’re rearing and ready to go, there’s just one more thing you need. Materials.

Core Curriculum

While I’d love to point you toward the perfect curriculum for your child, only you and God know what will work best. Pray, pray, and pray some more about which materials the Lord would have you choose. Have faith He will guide you in making the wisest choices in this regard.

That being said, if you’re merely looking to gain some insight into what is generally taught at each grade level, HERE is a helpful link listing a scope and sequence for each. You might also consider picking up a curriculum catalog from several companies, comparing standard outlines of education.

Electives

What about those fields your children are interested in exploring, but don’t neatly fit into a core category? Consider making them into electives! Here are a few elective suggestions to get you started:

  • Music
  • Home Economics (sewing, baking, cooking, and more)
  • Foreign Language
  • Computer Technologies
  • and more!

General Supplies

If you’re not quite ready to delve into the mass of creative supplies you could purchase to make learning more fun, there are a few general supplies are probably going to need:

  • Lined Paper (and lots of it!)
  • Pencils (ditto)
  • Pencil Sharpeners
  • Erasers
  • Colored Pencils, Markers, and Crayons
  • Rulers
  • Protractors
  • Compasses
  • Calculators
  • and Patience … wait, you can’t buy that one. Shucks!

Crafting Supplies

For those who really dig crafting and can’t wait to try new things, here are a few suggestions for your crafting closet:

  • adhesives (glue sticks, glue tape, glue dots, double-sided tape, and the like)
  • scissors (both regular and pinking sheers)
  • stamps (we have four boxes for our ever-growing collection)
  • ink pads/stamp crayons
  • stickers
  • embossing tools
  • modeling/sculpting supplies
  • paints (both watercolor and washable paints, including brushes)
  • glitter (but only for the truly brave)
  • yarn, ribbon, and string
  • arithmetic resources (rulers, compasses, protractor, and triangles)
  • science resources (magnifying glasses, rock collections, fossil collections, and more)

This portion of homeschool planning is probably the most stressful. As parents we are constantly weighing the value in what we purchase and stressing to budget appropriately (more on that later this week).

Again, pray about how you should be using your resources, and ask God to clearly direct you towards the curriculum that will best fit your child’s needs. Consider speaking to like-minded homeschool parents you know and ask them what worked for their family. Do a little online research and ask companies if they offer free samples of their materials for new families, some do!

As a final note: Don’t be afraid of switching curriculum mid-year. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. You can always sell the curriculum that didn’t work out!

🔔Time to Chime In: We’ll be covering curriculum in more detail later in the series, but to help out new families just starting their homeschooling journey, share with us your favorite place to purchase curriculum. Is there a website you love; a company you always buy from; or a forum for used curriculum you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it!

Want to stay connected & up to date with A Homeschool Mom? Don’t forget to follow on FacebookInstagramTwitter, & Pinterest!

Building a Family Plan

Fail-to-planIn conjunction with our “Planning the Homeschool Year” series, we thought it might time to review our family plan. This is the perfect opportunity to review our budget, household management, and gather ideas for the coming year.

I am huge on planning. Without a “vision” for my day, or my year for that matter, I can quickly lose balance of what needs to be accomplished and get overwhelmed by the surmounting tasks of the day-to-day.

In order to help me make sense of life and to prioritize the multitude of tasks that fill my routine, I decided to write down a “master plan”. A guideline to help me better manage both my household and my homeschooling.

Menu Planning
Chores
Homeschooling
Educational Resources
Extra Curricular Activities
Free Printables

Let me be the first to remind you, what works for me might not work for you. Please feel free to read with discretion; pray about what you are hearing and then decide for yourself where the Lord is leading. May these ideas help you as much as they help me!

🔔Time to Chime In: Do you have a family plan? Share it with us!

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