No Diving

No DivingHave you noticed those signs alarmingly placed around public pools? “No Diving!” Why do they do this? Jumping headlong into particular environments can be hazardous to your health. You might be surprised to realize that diving head first into your learning year might be just as problematic.

A new year is upon us. We have so many exciting things we can’t wait to teach, and there is so much potential waiting to be uncovered. So what do we do? We start off with a bang! The first day of our school year we unpack all the books and tackle every subject with eagerness.

What usually results? Grumpy children, frustrated parents, and a loss of motivation. What happened? Instead of testing the waters, allowing our minds an opportunity to adjust to the surroundings, we got in a little over our heads and hit a wall!

Why does this happen? There are probably several reasons this issue comes up:

Too Much, Too Fast  Instead of testing out a few core subjects and renegotiating areas of concern, we attempted to take in the whole ‘pool’ at once. We choose to dive right in, possibly neglecting a few areas of concern.

Shocking Degrees – Our children have been enjoying a lovely, relaxing summer. Now, we want to plunge them into an entire week full of sitting down and book work. It is fairly understandable our children are ready to balk at that tall stack of books we want them to work through. To them, it seems like torture!

Weak Muscles – After a long break, our minds need a little time to build themselves back up. If we attempt to tackle everything at once, we risk overworking our minds and frustrating ourselves unnecessarily.

Inexperienced Swimmers – If new subjects are being introduced, a child is just starting their learning adventure, or we are new to homeschooling in general; this could be a leading factor. We are not giving ourselves, or our children, an opportunity to become stronger learners.

Burn Out – Just as sitting in the sun too long after a long winter can easily cause you to get sunburn, sitting at a table all day after being on a break can cause burn out in your learning day. Keep in mind that children often need several breaks amidst all that book work, especially when returning to a routine after a long break.

So how do we avoid these problems? By easing into our learning year. Practically speaking, what does this look like?

For us, it means not all subjects are taught this first week back to school. In our home, only core subjects are introduced: Language Arts, Arithmetic, and Bible. The work is mostly review and easy to complete. As we move through the material, we adjust our routine to accommodate necessary changes and preferences. The following week we add in Science, History, and electives. Again, making necessary adjustments to our routine and our day if needed.

From experience, families who choose to ‘wade’ into their learning year, tend to have more longevity. They are content to test the waters, improve their stroke, adjust as needed, and then make a few exciting jumps into the deep end. They also understand when they’ve been at it too long and should take a break; no need to burn out.

Now, am I saying it can’t be done. No; I know families who can and do jump right on in. Am I saying you shouldn’t do it? Again, no; each family needs to make the best decision for themselves. What I am saying; is that you might want to consider not diving in.

Through prayer and experience, we’ve learned to take one day at a time in our learning. We start off each year nice and easy; testing out our well-organized plan for faults and adjustments. Once things are coming along swimmingly, it’s time for the real fun to begin!

📣 Chime In!: Does your family dive into homeschooling or wade into the learning year?

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Planning the Homeschool Year: Planning Your Day

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.

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Planning out the homeschool year is just the beginning. Once we’ve established an annual routine for our learning, it’s time to get down to daily organization. What time should we start? How much time are we required to spend on each subject? Would a routine or a schedule work better for our family?

Routine or Schedule?

I’d love to start our day at the same time each morning, pushing through each subject in a given amount of time. However, this would not meet my family’s needs. Instead, we choose to focus on a routine. A methodical movement from activity to activity, no matter what time we start or how long each subject takes to complete.

Test out what works best for you. You may find working on a timed schedule is best. If so, go for it! One word of caution: Don’t allow your schedule to run your life; make it work for you, not you working for it. For those who choose to be more relaxed and function on a routine, learn to forget the clock and abandon the concept of ‘running late’.

When Do We Start?

In California, by law, our children are required to be under adult supervision from 8am-3pm. This does not mean we have to be schooling at precisely eight o’clock, just that we be with our children. We have the freedom to start school at whatever time works best for our family. That might be eight o’clock, but, then again, it could be closer to ten; it might also change from day-to-day. (Generally speaking, I prefer to start no later than nine. But, that’s just me.)

55 Minutes Per Course!

It is generally accepted that fifty-five minutes per day, five days a week, constitutes a proper course in any given subject. Once you’ve been educating for a short length of time you’ll start to notice something. Subjects do not fit into neat little boxes, only dealing with their own topic; they cross over into many other fields.

That being said, don’t allow the concept of fifty-five minute classes overwhelm you. Aim to master whatever it is you are teaching, and forget the clock on the wall. If you finish in less than fifty-five minutes don’t sweat it, you’ll either make up the time on another day when the work takes longer or you’ll compliment the lesson with something learned in another area. If you go over, enjoy the journey.

(For those with children in junior or senior high needing to complete courses for credits, please see The High School Handbook for details on accounting for time.)

Every Subject, Every Day?

The same goes for covering each subject every day of the week. If you would prefer to cover history two days of the week, and science another two, then go for it! We are not called to mimic public schools, but to teach our children how they learn best. Find a learning routine that works for your family and go for it. Don’t be afraid to move things around on occasion, just to shake things up and find what works best.

Do We Get Breaks?

Public school kids get a morning recess and lunch. What do homeschoolers get? Pretty much whatever they need. If you find the kids need a break between each subject, go for it! Again, find what works best for your family and make it happen.

I Still Need to Clean House!

While our main goal is to focus on better organizing our home school year, we also understand that we function as a family. Our family needs food, a clean house, and clothes on their back. Thus, chores play a part in our daily routines.

I humbly suggest that chores, and the like, become part of your learning routine. Make it a goal for cleaning to be a family activity, where the children learn to be keepers of the home. Include the kids in laundry exercises, seeing who can fold fastest. Have them help in the kitchen, assist with errands, or anything else you need to accomplish. Over time, you’ll discover this to be a blessing. More hands make the work faster and fun!

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Planning the homeschooling day doesn’t have to be a stressful event. Pray about how the Lord would lead your learning, and proceed as He guides. Allow Him to be the center of your home and focus all your attention on what He wants of your family.

For more details on our family’s homeschooling day, take a look at our Daily Routine! Prayerfully it will give you a few ideas for scheduling your own family’s homeschooling day. Don’t forget to peruse our record keeping menu and other printable documents, to help assist with your homeschooling needs.

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”
Psalm 127:1

🔔Time to Chime In: What time does your day usually start? Share your thoughts with us!

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And So… We Begin Again

Yesterday we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for our home.

I make sure I read my Bible. Praying is important, talking to God always is, but I want to make sure I am hearing from him as well. Whether from a devotional or reading straight from the Word, I want to make sure I get in some good reading time.

I wake my babies with a cheerful “good morning” and a silly song. I try to wake the kids with something light and cheerful. This helps all of us look at the day in a good light. I usually walk in singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” They laugh, half asleep, and beg for five more minutes. This is usually met with a swift “nope” from me and a quick announcement. They are told they get one hour to get dressed, clean their room, eat, and  be ready to learn.

We start our learning with Bible time. Once the kids are finished with their morning routine, we gather at the kitchen table and tackle the most important subject together as a team. This sets the mood for the rest of their learning.

We start off nice and easy. The first week of school, I try to keep things nice and light. The work is mostly all review, with very few pages to be completed. This eases the kids back into a more formal routine and affords me the time and opportunity to readjust as needed.

We don’t cover all subjects on the first day. Jumping into more formal work can be a daunting task. Going from an easy summer load to a full fall load, all in one day, is like going from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds; I prefer to ease them into it.

The first day of school, we cover just the basics; penmanship, spelling, language arts, oral reading, and “rotations”. Because of our curriculum layout, we won’t even start arithmetic until Thursday! Science and History will not begin until next week.

Starting off “light” gives me an opportunity to monitor how much time those first subjects are taking and adjust accordingly. It also means I have an opportunity to work around our chores and see if our routine is working for us.

We finish the day early. The first week back to school, I want to make sure they aren’t sitting too long. We try to take a few breaks in-between subjects and we try to finish up our learning time as early as possible. With plenty of breaks and free time, the kids are less likely to complain about the return of a formal routine and they grow accustomed to longer periods of learning.

With all of these tips to help us out, our return to learning went fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but we will work those out. With much prayer and patience, we are getting back into our routine.

Time to Chime In: What tips help you make “back to school” more easy? I would love to learn how you “return to your regularly scheduled program”!

Here We Go Again!

Bookshelf_Feb2010Well, here we go again… Another summer has come and gone; it is time to once again hit the books. (Not that we ever really stop, mind you. It just lightens up a little bit.) Starting this morning, our learning year is now in session!

Everything is ready to go, materials are all in place, and the kiddos are ready to tackle this year’s projects. It’s time to put all that planning, organizing, and prep to good use. We are very excited to see what this coming year brings. Each year holds something special for us and tons of memories to look back on.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to all of you who will be starting your year soon. May the Lord guide you in your planning and show you His path for your family’s learning. May you be filled with His peace, wisdom, and joy. We look forward to reading about all of your exciting homeschooling adventures, projects, and outings.

May the Lord use all of us mightily in this coming year!

Time to Chime In: When does your learning year begin?

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9

Back to School Night?

Well, officially, it was an afternoon and not a night, but all the same… Our PSP had a BBQ to celebrate the coming year. We ate, we threw water balloons, and we had cake! A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Back to School BBQ (1of6) Back to School BBQ (2of6) Back to School BBQ (3of6) Back to School BBQ (4of6) Back to School BBQ (5of6) Back to School BBQ (6of6)

While not everyone was able to attend, we had a great turnout. It was a lovely afternoon, if a bit warmer than it had been the previous few days. It was nice getting to know one of our newest families to join in.

This looks to be a fun year. It will be a blessing to see what the coming year holds for us all.

Say Cheese!

Yesterday was our first meeting of the year in our home school PSP, which also makes it picture day! My husband has been awesome enough to volunteer doing photography for the group, so off we all went to welcome and assist both returning and new families.

Noel IDThis photo shoot is mainly for ID purposes and to have a current photograph on file; we are not focusing on group shots or candid. Theoretically this makes for really quick sessions with each person. You sit, he snaps, you leave; easy as pie.

Little children are bit trickier to shoot though. Will they smile, do they need some coercion, or do we just go with whatever works? Usually he is able to get some pretty neat shots.

Being that this was the first meet of the year, it also meant an actual meeting was in order.

We always start with a quick devotion and then we handle “business”. Rules and JAG IDregulations are gone over; t-shirt orders are taken (we have school shirts); September field trips are signed up for; school calendars are handed out (we plan our entire year in advance when it comes to activities, so everyone has plenty of advanced notice to plan things in); and any other items that might need going over.

This first meeting is also a great opportunity to introduce ourselves to any new families and visit with those we might have lost touch with over the summer. It’s always fun to fellowship with friends.

The pictures are now finished, processed and ready to be sent out to their respective families. Now for the next order of PSP business, planning for our fall co-op. Which classes should I volunteer to teach? Decisions, decisions….

I’ve enjoyed seeing everyone else’s posts on “back to school” pictures. Do any of you create ID’s as well?

One Step at A Time

Ah… That feels good. Three weeks of our “school year” are under our belt and things are coming together. Why are they just now coming together? Well, for the last several years, the kiddos and I have tried something revolutionary in our learning year. Instead of tackling all of our subjects the very first day of school, we take one step at a time.

Yup; you read that correctly. Rather than bog down our children with masses of subjects the first day out of summer, we take things nice and easy; gently returning to our regularly scheduled program.

The first week back to school, we usually focus on all areas of ELA (English/Language Arts). It’s not until later in the week that we introduce their new Arithmetic books and do a quick page to wet their appetites.

One Step at a Time

Our second week back, we keep up our ELA and Arithmetic and add Geography and History to the mix. Even with these two included, we can usually breeze through school in about two and a half hours; not bad! Probably because we are starting off with mostly review work (as the curriculum books assume you haven’t been doing summer work and are ready to pick up right where you left off).

Now for the fun part… week three! During this week, we add in Science and personal projects such as video presentations. Whew!

So far things are running pretty smoothly and we are all handling things well. Hopefully this is a good example of how the rest of the year will fit together. Oh, I’m sure some days will be more challenging than others, but that is to be expected.

With all our subjects now plugged in, it’s time to get moving full steam ahead.

What’s your take?… Do you dive right in or test the waters?

Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Once again, here we go! This will be us this coming Monday. Wow! I’m so glad I re-read this to be better prepared in resuming our “regularly scheduled program”.
Cristina

A Homeschool Mom

Today we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for…

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Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Today we returned to our “regularly scheduled program”; meaning school. Books were pulled out of the homeschool cupboard, pencils were sharpened, and lessons were learned.

For some, the first day of school can be a little bit overwhelming and sometimes even scary! Over the years, there are a couple of tips I have incorporated into our routine to make this first week run more smoothly.

I start the day a little earlier than our kids. Once my kids are up, it feels like the starting line at the Olympics, “And their off!” Getting up even a half an hour earlier than my kids, allows me time to take things easy and enjoy a cup of coffee before madness begins.

I pray, pray, pray. I want to make sure that the Lord is the center of our day. Starting the day off with prayer sets the right pace and tone for our home.

I make sure I read my Bible. Praying is important, talking to God always is, but I want to make sure I am hearing from him as well. Whether from a devotional or reading straight from the Word, I want to make sure I get in some good reading time.

I wake my babies with a cheerful “good morning” and a silly song. I try to wake the kids with something light and cheerful. This helps all of us look at the day in a good light. I usually walk in singing, “Rise and shine and give God the glory, glory!” They laugh, half asleep, and beg for five more minutes. This is usually met with a swift “nope” from me and a quick announcement. They are told they get one hour to get dressed, clean their room, eat, and  be ready to learn.

We start our learning with Bible time. Once the kids are finished with their morning routine, we gather at the kitchen table and tackle the most important subject together as a team. This sets the mood for the rest of their learning.

We start off nice and easy. The first week of school, I try to keep things nice and light. The work is mostly all review, with very few pages to be completed. This eases the kids back into a more formal routine and affords me the time and opportunity to readjust as needed.

We don’t cover all subjects on the first day. Jumping into more formal work can be a daunting task. Going from an easy summer load to a full fall load, all in one day, is like going from 0 to 60 in about 2.5 seconds; I prefer to ease them into it.

The first day of school, we cover just the basics; penmanship, spelling, language arts, oral reading, and “rotations”. Because of our curriculum layout, we won’t even start arithmetic until Thursday! Unit studies and Spanish will not begin until next week.

Starting off “light” gives me an opportunity to monitor how much time those first subjects are taking and adjust accordingly. It also means I have an opportunity to work around our chores and see if our routine is working for us.

We finish the day early. The first week back to school, I want to make sure they aren’t sitting at the table all day long. We try to take a few breaks in-between subjects and we try to finish up our learning time around 2p.m. With plenty of breaks and free time, the kids are less likely to complain about the return of a formal routine and they grow accustomed to longer periods of learning.

With all of these tips to help us out, our return to learning went fairly well. There were a few hiccups, but we will work those out. With much prayer and patience, we are getting back into our routine.

What tips help you make “back to school” more easy? I would love to learn how you “return to your regularly scheduled program”!