Saturday, June 14, 2014

how i homeschool

micaela has a link-up that i can not resist.
i enjoy reading how other people school and of course i like to write about me.

how long have i been homeschooling?
i've homeschooled a total of 4 years, but not all together.
we started off in a catholic school- homeschooled for 3 years - a different catholic school - public school - and this past year we started schoolin' the boys at home again.
i like to think all this switching around has made my boys very flexible.  
we used to take it one year at a time.
however, this time we decided i will homeschool the rest of my life or at least the next 18 years.
but, we are the parents and that could change, but probably not.

what our mornings sometimes look like.

how many kids are in my family?
we have 5 boys and one due in november.
this coming year i will have boys in 9th, 8th, 6th and 4th.  i homeschool all of them.
don't forget the 2 year old to keep me busy.

our state laws...
i think they are very relaxed.
i send a form in saying what i plan to do with each child and their grade.
easy peasy!
i've been told those are just filed away.  i've never heard of anything being done with them.
children in grades 3-8 are required to take the iowa test each spring.  it only takes one morning.  we do have to take it at a state approved site.  luckily for us, we have a mother in our homeschool group who is 'state approved' to give the test.  the boys just spend the morning taking a test with all their friends.  they actually enjoy it.  my boys tell me it is much easier than the tests given in the public schools (which are a week long).
nothing seems to be done with the tests.
true story:
the first year one of my boys took the test, he did not do the english part.  like, it was all blank.  he just wasn't sure when to start, so he never did.  he scored in the zero percentile of that section. i was never contacted about his blank section.  it makes me wonder if the state even looks at the tests.

my homeschool philosophy or mission statement:
how about my goals instead?
our goal for our boys (and us) is for them to know, love and serve God in this world.  straight out of the baltimore catechism.
the way we see it, if we do those things, God will take care of the rest.  and yes, it is so hard to teach your children those things when you are not very good at it yourself.
i also want them to have a strong foundation in math, know how to write well and know how to learn.

my style:
i used to try to fit myself into one of those boxes, but not anymore.  i'm just me teaching my boys.

do i follow a set curriculum?
yes!  sort of!  only when it works.
i use the mother of divine grace syllabuses.  i really do like them.  we are not enrolled in the school.
i am good at switching things up when it gets boring or is not working.
for example, i have a slow reader.  he never reads all the books for history.  that would be way too much for him.
for math we use saxon.  i like it, but it is a lot of problems.  we never do a whole lesson unless we need the practice.
i have used math-u-see in the past.  i liked it too, but i was tired of all the little blocks and the videos.
this year i am going to use write shop 1 with my 2 oldest boys.  that is not on the MODG syllabus.  i don't have the confidence to teach my boys to write on my own.
oh, and i am using learning language arts through literature for my 4th and 6th grader.  it is what i used with my oldest boys.  emma serl's language lessons are good (what MODG recommends), but boring to us.
so, does that count as using a set curriculum?

a box fort:  all of these boxes are connected with boy sized tunnels running through them.

my best homeschool moments:
when my boys are learning.  that does not mean just book knowledge either.  last week husband spent some time teaching them how to tie knots.  one boy sat down with a book to teach himself more knots.  i like how he was teaching himself.  that will be useful in college.

my not-so-good moments:
first, when i loose my temper.  it could be because i can't explain something in a way they can understand or because they are being lazy.  i have gotten better at closing the book and walking away until later.
i think our relationship and showing love to each other is more important than any school subject.
second, when i over schedule us.  i can't teach and they can't learn if we are exhausted or we are not at home.

how do i stay on track?
this is not that hard for me.
i have lists (surprise!) and i know exactly what we need to do.  the MODG syllabus helps too.
last year we schooled 3 weeks on and 1 week off for most of the year.  the write shop lessons are set up in 2 week chunks, so this year we will go 4 weeks on and 1 week off.  the off weeks give us time to catch up if we got behind.  this is also when i have time to do projects for myself.

how do i keep the 2 year old busy?
i try to have a couple things (easy!) for him to do each week.  maybe play doh, paint the fence with water or sidewalk chalk.  he does have a school tub with his coloring books and markers.  he takes that very serious for maybe 10 minutes.  i read a couple of stories to him every morning so that he does get my undivided attention.  sometimes he takes his bath in the morning.  that could last for an hour.  i just teach from the bathroom floor.  but my real secret is that i never let the schoolin' boys take a break at the same time.  when they break, they automatically go to him since everyone else is busy.
there have been days that the boys are on their own until he goes down for a nap.  sometimes he needs me and i just go with it - this is where that off week is so handy!
however, i have never ever homeschooled with a newborn.  i know lots of mommas have done it, so i know i can.  but, the unknown...

homeschool advice i would give:
ask lots and lots of questions and then do what you think is best for your kid.  God gave them to you and He will show you what to do.  if what you are doing isn't working you can change it.
i would also say don't over schedule yourself.  give your kid time to be a kid.  but also make sure you give yourself time.  you have to refuel.