Articles to mull over

Here are a few links to articles that I have found interesting and have been mulling over in my mind these last few weeks.  Hopefully you will enjoy them too.

*There are a few affiliate links in this post.

On Health

I have become fascinated with magnesium and the role that it plays in bodily processes. This article highlights some of the hormonal symptoms that result in magnesium deficiencies are outlined in this post.  As I have researched magnesium I have found it linked to ADHD, cholesterol issues, fibromyalgia, migraines, restless legs syndrome, irritability, insomnia, to name a few off the top of my head.  To help get our magnesium in we eat leafy greens, take a magnesium supplement, take our baths with epsom salt, spray magnesium oil on body, and on stressful days will drink Natural Calm.  

I was fascinated with this article about how the acne on your face is a road map to what systems are struggling internally.   Interestingly enough, the areas that my face keeps breaking out in does correspond to health issues that I am currently aware of and working on trying to find a remedy.

The impression that I got in my education was that the human race is so much smarter now than they were thousands of years ago.  I found myself questioning that as a kid, but as I asked questions the answers received always confirmed that thought process, because my teachers were all coming from an evolution based mindset.  But as I started teaching my children from a creation based perspective, I was amazed at all the resources that pointed out this line of thought obviously was not the case.  I have become even more fascinated with this concept as I have started studying more aspects of natural remedies, health foods, and traditional diets.  I am amazed as more and more studies are going back and finding out some of these natural remedies do in fact work.  This article was thrilling to me, as I read about how they are finding evidence that an onion and garlic remedy that is at least 1,000 years ago is proving to have great potential in fighting the MRSA.

On Education

In homeschooling, conversation is a vital part of your children’s education.  I talk to my kids all the time, but I need to amp up the quality, non-rushed conversations that happen in the home between my children and me.

Thought provoking article on how we educate our children at home from a veteran homeschool mom.  Have homeschoolers slipped too far back into the model of what public schools are doing because we are struggling under someone else’s idea of what a “proper” education is? 

On Parenting

As of late, a frequent discussion among some of my friends has been along the lines of doing things that will mess our children up or cause them to walk from the faith.  This was a great post about the most important thing that one family did in encouraging their children to continue to walk with the Lord into adulthood.

On purpose

I loved this article about how to find your “thing.” 

Spelling City

We have recently started using Spelling City in our house to cover the basics of spelling while giving our kids more opportunity to use technology. The teacher can add their own lists of words or assign a list from lists available on the site. There are lists available based on grade level, as well as based on subjects There are various activities the teachers can assign to their students from typing out words, playing games, alphabetizing, and performing tests. Some of the games can be played on i-pads, others are computer based.

My kids now look forward to spelling each day.  I have also found it to be helpful for my time because the kids are no longer waiting on me to be free to help them with their spelling.

SpellingCity is used by teachers in the homeschool community, public schools, and private schools.  Parents can also set up an account for their child to supplement their schooling.

As with all things, there are benefits to a paid memberships, such as student data is tracked, a vocabulary tests based off of spelling words, and no ads.There are also options to play games and take spelling tests without having a membership. My neighbor who is a public school teacher has added the app to the i-pads in her classroom and has benefited from this service also.

I am not an affiliate for SpellingCity.  This is just something that has made our homeschooling more effective during this season, so I wanted to share it with my readers.

Special Offer

Get an additional two months FREE with the purchase of an annual Premium Membership! Use offer code SPRING15 at checkout. Offer good through April 30, 2015 on new Premium Memberships and renewals!* Tell your friends!

*SPRING15 offer includes renewals due within six months.

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Spelling tests made easy

Gather At The Table

This is written as part of 5-Minute Friday, where brave writers assemble together online, to share 5 minutes worth of written word on a given topic put forth by Kate Motaung.

This Weeks Word: gather

 Come, Gather at the table.

gather-at-the-table.JPG

You will find us here much of our day.

We gather at the table for breakfast and to soak our teeth in on wisdom from Proverbs.

School happens around our table.  Math, history, drawing.

Conversations happen, gathered at our table.  Laughter, tears.  We see it all.  Gathered at the table.

We work on teaching the children to put others first.  Chew with their mouths closed.  We teach the practical while sitting, gathered at the table.  

Spiritual connections are made, formed, deep into their little  minds and souls. As we gather at the table, to share our victories, frustrations, thanksgivings. To raise our voice to the Lord.

All this, while gathered at the table.

 Click on through to read other great pieces around the theme of gather.

I would love to hear in the comment section about how you find yourself gathering around the table.

 

What to do with preschoolers when you are homeschooling older children?

This post has affiliates links. If you choose to click on it and purchase through the links I will earn a small amount of money at no extra cost to you.

I had a friend recently ask for ideas on what to do with her preschoolers while schooling her older child. Since I have been in the boat of having preschoolers in the home while teaching school age children for the past five years, I have a few ideas up my sleeve.  I am not the most consistent person.  I like change.  Therefore, I have tried most of these ideas and have found success with them, but we mix things up around here quite a bit.

My 3 preschoolers.

My 3 preschoolers.

School Cabinets

I have special cabinets that hold the school age kids workbooks, teacher books, as well as different activities that are only supposed to come out for the preschoolers while the older ones are doing school.  I keep them in separate containers so I can hand each preschooler a bin.  Sometimes the preschoolers go to the table.  Other times I have them sit on a blanket and tell them they can only get up to go to the restroom.  I have found that Mr. Potato Head, Puzzles, Wooden Blocks, Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoy Sets, Legos, and magnetic dolls all work very well for these types of activities.

Busy Bags

A few years back a friend organized a busy bag swap, where several moms assembled the same busy bag 10 times.  They then swapped their bags with nine other friends.  Each mom ended up having ten different busy bags for their preschoolers to use during school time.

Nabi Tablet time

On some days I will give my little ones the opportunity to play on the NABI Tablet.  They enjoy greatly this time of exploring on technology.

Computer Time

We have a few kid computer games that we picked up years ago.  I will sometimes let them play these.  Or sometimes I will let them play games on Starfall.

Dewberry taking her turn playing Bob the Builder.

Dewberry taking her turn playing Bob the Builder.

Play-dough

On some days I pull out the play-dough. I have found this to be especially effective during read-a-loud times, and I hand everyone some dough to create with.  If I am doing this for the older kids, I try to encourage them to mold something that they hear me reading about.

Paper Designs

I give the preschoolers paper and magazines to cut, tear, and glue.  They can try to make a collage or picture with it.  Sometimes they tear out pictures they like.  Other times I will ask them to tear out items pertaining to a theme such as a certain color or foods they like to eat.

Educational Videos

Some of my favorite are Your Baby Can Read series (If you can find copies.  No, your baby will not be reading great novels as a result of this program, but the program helps develop language and aids young children in their reading skills.  It has been helpful for my children.), LeapFrog: Letter Factory, and LeapFrog: Talking Words Factory.

Spiral Notebooks-Journals

All of my preschoolers currently have a spiral notebooks, just like their older siblings.  They have a sticker book, which is the only place they are supposed to put stickers. I can give them a sheet of stickers which can keep them busy for 30 minutes.  They also have a thankful journal that they are to draw a picture of things which make them thankful.  They later tell me about their picture and I record what they tell me.  They have a nature journal in which they are to draw a picture, make leave rubbings, or collect leaves and flowers to tape on the pages.

Dewberry's thankful journal.

Dewberry’s thankful journal.

Strawberry's thankful journal.

Strawberry’s thankful journal.

Sorting

Kids like to sort and they can sort anything.  I have them sort by color, shape, and size.  Sometimes I will give them things with instructions to put the items in order from little to big.  We sort beans, buttons, beads, Cuisenaire Rods, Pattern Blocks, plastic-ware or silverware, etc.  Really, when it comes to sorting items there is an endless supply of things that they can sort.

Coloring and Drawing

Sweet Potato, as preschooler, coloring while sisters are doing school.

Sweet Potato, as preschooler, coloring while sisters are doing school.

Free Play  – Imaginative Play

Free play and imaginative play is very important for a child’s development.  However, may not always be doable while trying to school other children.  Some days, my preschoolers do an excellent job of having this play time without being a distraction to others.  On other days not so much.  However, this is in my tool bag of appropriate things for them to do during the others school time as long as everyone is getting along and the noise levels stay manageable.

Music & Dance Time

Sometimes I send the little ones to their rooms and let them listen to music to dance to. They listen to a variety of things from classical, to Clifford Music, to scripture memorization music.

KEEPING THE PEACE

On many occasions my older children have felt slighted that they had school work to do and the preschoolers are doing activities that looks like play to the older ones.  For this reason, I try to make a point to let the older ones have access to some of the toys and various materials that the little ones get to use.  This may be achieved by letting older ones use the toys or manipulatives in another room where younger ones are not to disturb, sometimes during nap time, and other times they are allowed to get those materials and work alongside the little ones once the older ones have finished their school work.  I particularly noticed the need for this when my older kids where just barely starting their formal education.  Occasionally, the older ones still ask to use some of the toys and manipulatives that the littles had out during their school time.

Am I missing something?  What do you do with your preschoolers while schooling the older ones?

Handicrafts projects – Handbag, Computer Fun-AHG, Catapult, DIY Valentine’s Day Wreath

This post contains an affiliate link, which means that if you click on the product link and make a purchase, I’ll receive a percentage of the sale.

One of the things that I’ve always wanted to do in homeschooling is to give my kids the space and time to explore various interests and hobbies as a means of discovering the areas that God had gifted them. The problem I’ve encountered is that in my checklist oriented mind, I would often pack so much schoolwork in to a day. Therefore, crowding out time to get to the different handicrafts we wanted to try. After reading Kelly Crawford’s book Think Outside the Classroom (affiliate link), I made the decision to give them some space in their weeks to work on different projects. The 3 older ones all shared interests with me, I helped them pick a project, and then gave them a deadline 2 weeks out in which to get it done by.

draw-string-bag-handicraftPlum sewed a handbag by watching a class on Craftsy. Hubby and I fielded a few questions from her and explained a few steps to her.  But she did all the cutting and sewing. She was extremely proud of her accomplishment.

AHG Computer Fun Badge

Blueberry choose to complete her Computer Fun badge for AHG. She had to learn several computer skills and then draw pictures using a computer.

handicraft-catapultSweet Potato really enjoys building.  He was very eager about his assignment. He built a popsicle catapult using these instructions, within 2 days.

handicraft-wreath

Grape asked for a project after she saw the others working on theirs. It was a week later before I was able to get to the store and get fabric that she could use to revive this wreath that Plum had made, and put her stamp on it.

 I am linking up with Raising Homemakers Homemaking Link.  Come check it out.

Please share with me what are some handicrafts that you enjoy doing with your children?  

Momma’s Homeschool Organizational Bins

We had a problem.  Since we do most of our schooling around the dining room table, school books, projects, and supplies were always stacking up on the table.  When meal time would come around, we were spending a large amount of time moving school work to provide space for eating.  While the kids each had several items to put away, I often ended up with a hefty stack of their books awaiting my time to check their work or for me to help them out on problems in which they stuck on.  Sometimes I would stack them on the piano bench, on another flat surface (there aren’t many of those in our current house) or on my desk. But then I was never sure if the book was waiting to be graded or if the kid was waiting on me to aid them over their mental block.  My solution to this problem was two-fold, first was to embrace that we are homeschoolers by moving my desk into the dining/living room next to the dining room table. Additionally, we added Momma’s Homeschool Organizational Bins labeled: “Help Please,” “Please Grade,” and “Shala’s Office To-Do.”

momshomeschoolorganizationalbins

I have found these bins to be extremely helpful for our transition times, as well as keeping the stuff on the table more manageable.  My mind feels less cluttered as a result of this simple system, a huge plus. As a mom of six kids, there is always someone needing or wanting something from me.  I have found the organizational bins to be helpful in the following ways.

PLEASE HELP BIN

In our school, there are several subjects the kids do independently, as well as some areas of study that are done as a family.  Therefore, the kids know if they get stuck on a problem when I am unavailable to assist them immediately, they can put that work in the bin, and move on to their other work.

Previous to the bins, I would find that one of the kids would come to me requesting help with school.  However, oftentimes helping the potty-trainer make it to the bathroom would trump their request.  Sometimes this scenario would happen repeatedly throughout the day and I would be preoccupied with a myriad of tasks from helping another with school, to laundry, food, or working through character issues with another child, etc.  That child would then just leave their work on the table for me or put it back on their school shelf. At the end of the day, I would discover the subject was never finished.  But now that I have a “Help Please” bin, I am constantly casting an eye over at the bin.  I glance to see if there is any work in there as an indicator of any who are in need of my instruction, so that they may complete their task. This bin serves as my nag-free reminder to help.

PLEASE GRADE

I am no longer having to search all over the place for their completed work.  As time allows, I can reach into the bin and grade the work that has been completed. Having all their finished work in one place has saved both the kids and me many minutes a day not having to look for the work which they completed, but misplaced.

 SHALA’S OFFICE TO-DO

Honestly, this has mostly been used as a place to put books in need of some TLC mending work.  We already have a designated place for mail and bills, so it is not used for that purpose.  I am using this to help keep clutter off my desk.  But I am not putting any loose papers in there.  Nope, those would just get buried and left in there for way too long.

 

What are some organization tips that you have for making homeschool run more smoothly in your home?

I am linking up to The Homeschool Link-Up.

 

Losing Sight of Homeschool Goals

We are in our 5th year of homeschooling this year.  I have a 4th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, and three preschoolers ages 5,3,2 (at the time of writing this post).  By the time Thanksgiving rolled around this year, I found myself very weary and discouraged.  Please don’t get me wrong, my children are wonderful. I love that I have the ability to be home and homeschool them.  I love seeing the triumphs of the mental road maps that they develop, when something just clicks.  I love to see that spark.

On the other hand, this homeschool thing is work.  Never ending work.  When I taught outside the home I had a designated planning time.  But in my homeschooling world, planning, teaching, laundry, weekends, grading, cooking, everything ends up getting blurred into this one great big chunk of time.  Which is great.  And not great.

Around Thanksgiving of 2014, I found myself so ready for Christmas break.  I wasn’t so eager for the Christmas season and the festivities: with all the time commitments, tagged behind by all the holiday obligations, as I  was ready to be done with everything, so that I could rest.  My exhaustion came out so often in my thought process about homeschooling.   Many times, many days during those early weeks of December, I found my self thinking that it would be far, far easier to get up in the morning and send half the kids off to school so that someone else could be in charge of managing their education, grading their papers, dealing out the consequences when the expectations and school work was not finished.

I knew I was treading on dangerous territory.  I should have been joyful and thankful for the wonderful opportunity to be home with my children, to train them, love on them, disciple them, all the while having freedom from schools schedules.  I even found myself saying, that I knew God called me to this, but what was the purpose again?

I had lost perspective in the nitty-gritty, day-to-day laborious duties of a homeschooling mom.  I had lost my vision and my reasons for homeschooling were waning.

At the end of the month, Hubby and I were reviewing 2014 and talking about goals for 2015, when I stumbled upon a notebook that I had written down my reasons and goals for homeschooling several years back.  I was so refreshed to find this very rough draft copy of my homeschool goals.

homeschoolgoals

Goals

My goal in educating our children is to teach them of God when we rise, sit, lay down, and go about our day.  My primary desire is for them to love God, love His Word, and love others. Secondly, I desire that as a fruit of their love of God they would develop godly characteristics.  Third, I desire for them to see God in all things.  I want them to see God in the world around them, as well as to see how He has orchestrated all things from history, science, and math for His glory and His purposes.  

I intend to do this by using the Bible as the greatest authority in all we learn. I aim to use all their God-given senses, abilities, and talents in order to teach them of the wonders of the Lord.  My hope is that they will be educated in the ways of the Lord in such a way that regardless of the size of a room they are placed in, their world will be big because they serve a mighty God.

I was so happy to have stumbled upon my vision and reasons for homeschooling. I found it was so very refreshing to read my scrawlings on that paper buried in an old notebook.  Now that these reasons have been brought back to the front of my mind, I find myself not feeling so overwhelmed, but instead empowered with purpose, trusting that if I keep seeking the Lord, and making decisions in line with these goals, homeschooling will once again feel manageable and more fruitful than just checking things off our to-do list.

 Have you ever felt overwhelmed with the task that God had called you to?  What are some of the things that help you to keep taking steps forward in obedience?

Memorizing God’s Word

I meant to post this over a year ago and just found it in the draft section of my blog.  

I have tried many methods over the last few years to actively hide God’s Word in my heart.   In highschool and college it was easy.   In highschool when I would finish the assigned work given in class, then I would pour over the Bible.  I learned many scripture passages  by spending hours a day in the Word.  In college whenever I got bored with listening to the lectures (which was quite a common occurrence), I would flip through all the index cards that I had written the verses on which I wanted to memorize and read through them.  Then I would spend time writing the verses repeatedly.

But once I had kids I found it very hard to memorize scripture.  My mind was always busy……with interruptions of a child who needs a drink of water, or a diaper that needed changed, or a fight that needed to broken up. You get the idea.

About nine months ago I read about a family who has a file box for memorizing scripture.  I decided that might just be the key to helping the kids and I to do hide God’s Word in our hearts.

I have been amazed at the amount of scripture our kids can memorize following this system.   I have also done a much better job of memorizing.   I am very thankful to this family for sharing their method.

We also use this system to memorize poems,  and catechism.  After lunch we stay at the table and go through our memory box.

Home Education and Socialization

If you are a homeschooling parent, the question you  most likely get from anyone who finds out you are homeschooling is, “What about socialization?”  On the flip side, if you are not a homeschooling parent your first question to someone who homeschools is very likely, “But what about socialization?”  It is probably the most popular question and reason cited for homeschooling being “a bad idea.”  While, I have a lot to say about this subject, I will spare you today.  But instead I will leave you with this quote and a link to an excellent article on FORBES about homeschooling.

Homeschooled kids don’t lack socialization . . . but socialism.