Category: Slider Posts

How I Got Our Homeschool Day Back On Track

 

how-i-got-ourhomeschool-day

There are all kinds of schools of thought when it comes to homeschooling – the classic model, the Charlotte Mason model, unschooling, etc. Some people follow a strict schedule and some people let their kids follow whatever whim they have and learn that way. And if that’s what works for you, by all means, keep at it! But when I started my home school journey I didn’t really know how to make it work and we had a lot of frustrating days and times when packing my kids up on a school bus didn’t sound like half a bad idea.

I have finally got it under control though (for the most part – this is real life, after all!) The one thing that helped make our home school experience a happy one is not a fancy school room (I did away with mine) or a specific curriculum (my kids attend a “home school school” a few days a week where the curriculum is provided). The thing that brought everything together for us was realizing and admitting that while I love the idea of the “free to be you and me” home school life where we’re baking bread together and frolicking in fields and creating lap books on outer space, my ultimate, utmost goal is to make sure my kids have a good solid education in the basics – the stuff they have to know to get into college or whatever vocation they choose and succeed in it.

So while having school in an outdoor classroom where everyone learns whatever they feel like learning that day is an awesome home school dream, I realized I had to have some structure to get all those basics in. But wait! Isn’t one of the benefits of homeschooling being in your pajamas all day and reading novels to your kids by firelight and building Lego skyscrapers and paper mache volcanoes? Yes, some of it is. But you also are responsible for your kids knowing and mastering what every other public and private school kid is learning, so you have to have a plan to make sure that gets done.

Let me just share with you what our days look like without structure… kids wake up at all different times and eat breakfast at different times, meaning we have some starting their school work while others are still getting out milk and boxes of cereal. And I’m in the mix, too, trying to make my breakfast or pack a lunch, along with the dog, the meowing cats and my husband who’s trying to get out the door to work. Then someone has to go to the bathroom which takes an inordinate amount of time on school days while another already needs a snack break (ie. second breakfast – my kids are part-Hobbit) and another decides to have wrestling match with the dog in the middle of the floor. And while I’m waiting on the one in the bathroom, I decide to try and fit in a workout, unload the dishwasher, answer a phone call while spouting out spelling words to the kid doing the wrestling and trying to get the snacker to clean up his mess. And then suddenly it’s half-way through the day and we’ve barely gotten anything done.

Enter “the schedule”. I resisted this, I honestly did. But my homeschooling guru at Confessions of a Homeschooler has a schedule that is a site to behold (as well as an amazing school room, her own curriculum and she has time to quilt!) And her kids seem to be thriving. She sticks to her schedule but it seems there is some give and take and I just love her attitude, not to mention her mad organizational skills. If you are struggling, please check out her site.

And while I am most certainly not one of those parents who stand over my kids with a ruler in hand ready to pop anyone who even looks up from a book, I realized by being too “loosey goosey” with my home school day, I wasn’t really helping my kids. Their papers and work were a disorganized mess, they weren’t prepared for tests or forgot things they needed for class and I was constantly forgetting things, too. So here’s the schedule I’ve implemented that has made a world of difference.

  1. First things first, we get up at a decent hour, usually around 7. That’s early for a lot of homeschoolers, but considering our public high school bus comes around at 6 am (!), I feel like we’re doing pretty good. Besides that, we have to – my kids attend their home school school on opposite days, so we are always taking someone to school. May as well all get up and around at the same time.
  2. We get dressed, me included. Why not let whoever is staying at home stay in their jammies? Because it doesn’t set the precedent that this is a school day and we have things we need to/have to get done. I got this tip from one of my son’s teachers – a home school day needs to be treated just like a school day except you are home. And you are still getting the benefits of being home (ie. one-on-one time with mom, the ability to take more time/less time on a subject, the ability to pee when the urge hits or pet the dog while you learn your math facts). Getting dressed just says that we are up and ready to get things done. It helps in other ways, too – my kids get a break mid-way through the morning and if they aren’t dressed, they spend half of their break changing clothes when they could be outside playing.
  3. Everyone eats breakfast at the same time. That way, when we’re ready to start school, we can all start together and there’s no “but I’m hungry” right as we’re sitting down. I’ll usually give them a break mid-morning and they can have a snack then if they can’t make it to lunch. And as a side note, I usually don’t cook a hot breakfast. My kids prefer cereal, milk, fruit or toast, so while I know it could be better nutritionally, it’s not the worst thing they could eat either.
  4. I make their work a priority and try not to get too wrapped up in my stuff (cleaning, blogging, realtor stuff). Home school has some downtime and for many people, myself included, it’s hard to just… sit there. And I’ll admit it… my name is Susan and I am a compulsive multi-tasker. So it’s hard to just sit when I’ve got stuff to do! But if my goal is first and foremost to make sure they are well-educated, then I’ve got to make that my focus. I can answer an email here, do a property search there, but for the most part, I am directing the school day.
  5. I put time limits on each subject. If I leave my kids unchecked and get busy with my own things, they will piddle the day away. We’ve had a single math page take 4 hours before. FOUR HOURS. So now I set time limits. I started this by using an actual timer and threatening to have the page graded when the time was up whether it was completed or not, but after a couple weeks, I didn’t need to. My kids liked trying to beat the clock and also being able to see the light at the end of the school day tunnel as they checked another subject off the list.
  6. While I’m making dinner, my kids do chores. It’s not much. They have 2-3 chores each, things like scoop the poop, feed the animals, unload/load the dishwasher. They earn tickets for each chore and we give them a little money based on how many tickets they earn. You can download the chore chart I use here. They love earning money and it helps me, as well – I know that all those chores that call to me to get done during the school day will get done, so I can relax and just be with my kids.

So that’s how I manage our day. I hope this helps you avoid the mistakes I made or at the very least, define your own home school goals so that you can mold your day in a way that best helps you achieve them. A schedule works for us because it ensures my kids get the best of both worlds – they are prepared for their school days and are getting the education they need, but it also allows them that precious time play and do the things that make home school such a positive experience for so many people. And some days, yes, we are in our jammies from sunup till sundown. But when you know you’re doing a pretty good job overall with this whole home school adventure, an occasional jammie day isn’t a detriment. It’s just the icing on the cake.

Blessings!

Susan

2 Cheap & Easy Halloween Costumes

 

2_cheap_and_easy_halloween_costumesNeed a costume quick and on the cheap? These two costumes cost less than $12 total and were pulled together in less than an hour. I’ll show you what to buy and how to get the look for two cute, fun and frugal Halloween costumes.

Costume #1: Super Fudge

Supplies:

  • A red or orange t-shirt, pullover or sweater
  • Yellow felt (dollar store)
  • Orange hairspray (Party City, Walmart)
  • dark eyeliner
  • glue stick

First, take the yellow piece of felt and cut out a yellow “f” about 6-8 inches tall. If you need a template to do this, you can just print one from your computer and trace it onto the felt before you cut it out. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

I used a glue stick to glue the “f” to the front of the red fleece pullover. I only needed it to last a day and wanted to be able to take it off easily. Once we were done with the costume, I pulled off the “f” and any remaining glue washed right out.

Fudge has really crazy, messy red hair. My youngest is blond, so we used orange hairspray and sprayed it all over while mussing it up, so that it stuck up all over. Fudge also always has a dirty face, so I took a brown eyeliner and dabbed his face here and there, then smudged it around to look like dirt.

We paired the red pullover with a pair of holey jeans (we always have plenty of those lying around!) and sneakers to complete the look. (And I apologize for the blown out pictures – photography is something I’m still working on!)

Cheap & Easy Halloween Costume

Total cost: $1 for the felt and $3 for the hairspray for a total of $4. So cheap and so fun!

Costume #2: Mad Scientist

  • a large white long-sleeved button down or lab coat (Goodwill or Amazon.com for the lab coat)
  • yellow rubber gloves (dollar store)
  • rubber boots or dark shoes
  • safety glasses (Lowe’s, Walmart or other hardware store)
  • white hairspray and hair gel

We had bought a white lab coat costume for a previous Halloween, so that was a cost savings, but you can easily find a cheap, large white button down at Goodwill that would also work with the sleeves rolled up a bit. Then you add the yellow gloves, some kakhi color pants (or any neutral color), dark shoes or boots and the safety glasses. The hair took a little more work. I whetted it down and added hair gel, then used a hair dryer to get it to stick up all over. I finished it by spraying the white hairspray all over. It came out more gray than white, but still gave him that mad scientist look he was going for.

Cheap & Easy Halloween Costume

Total cost: $2 shirt from Good Will, $2 for the safety goggles, $1 for the gloves, $3 for the hairspray for a total of $8 (cheaper if you already have any of the above).

So for $12 (or less) you can have two super cute, easy homemade costumes! We had so much fun trying to pull these together, too.

I hope this helps you or inspires you come up with your own last minute costume!

Blessings!

~ Susan

10 Musts For Fall

It’s finally fall here in Georgia! Summer seemed to last until  few days ago when, just in the nick of time, a cold front swept through and we got relief from the heat! Whew!

But October’s almost over and I’ve got to get in fall mode fast! So I headed to Pinterest to gather some fall “Pinspiration”. Here are 10 things I found that are sure to usher in that fall feelin’.

First, I started with some decor ideas for my house.

Love this simple, subtle mantel look from Home Stories A to Z.

And this gorgeous fall kitchen vignette from Stone Gable.

Beautiful lanterns for the front porch from SAS Interiors.

And a colorful fall wreath for the front door like this one from Our Sentiments.

Now, on to FOOD!

I’m not a big pumpkin spice fan, so you won’t find me making a list of a million things that taste like pumpkin pie, although I am dying to make these…

Pumpkin cream cheese streusel muffins from Creme de la Crumb.

After which I’ll be needing to lighten things up with…

Weight Watchers 1 Point Butternut Squash Soup from It All Started With Paint.

And when we go camping, some of this!

Hands down favorite chili recipe (and I’ve tried many) served over Fritos in their own little pouch from The Pioneer Woman.

And lastly, I’ll be putting away my flip flops and shorts and breaking out my fall wardrobe. Maybe I’ll add some of these pieces this year…

Cute denim and leggings look from The Tres Chic.

Or this gorgeous chunky sweater vest that The Teacher Diva is sporting this fall. Not your gramma’s sweater vest for sure!

I’ll also be be picking up a pair of cute booties and learning the right way to wear them from Babble.

I hope you’ve gotten some fall inspiration for your home, next fall meal and wardrobe and you’re out there enjoying a fantastic fall. Come find me on Pinterest for more fall ideas, holiday decor, recipes and more!

Happy fall y’all!