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Ideas for Keeping the Family Close-Knit and Strong

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.

– Eva Burrows

Does your family hold a regular family meeting?  We started holding one a couple of years ago and started some traditions that are still family favorites… “candle night,” the “smiley under the plate” and getting downright silly with the kids in “knock your socks off.”  At the end of the post, you’ll find 10 other ideas for keeping your family close, but first a little bit about holding a family meeting…

We started holding family meetings when the kids were 4, 6 and 8.  It has been a real positive experience for our family. We use this as an opportunity to share good feelings, to talk about what’s going well in our family, to brainstorm ideas that might make our family work better as a team, to talk about things we’d like to be going better and probably most importantly of all, to have fun together.  We want the kids to know they have a real (and important) voice in the family.

Here were some guideline we first came across about family meetings:

  • Meet Regularly
  • Make an Agenda or List of Topics to be Discussed
  • Plan the Time (so you can do something fun immediately after)
  • Take Turns
  • Limit complaints
  • Take Notes

Meet Regularly: Our aim is to meet once a month, but to be honest this only happens every other month or so. At least that’s a start.

Agenda:  Hubby and I usually jot down some topics for discussion and leave space to take notes as each person contributes. Here was last Sunday’s agenda:

  • Say something nice about somebody else.
  • Talk about things that are going well in our family
  • What are some ideas to make family life better?
  • Upcoming Family Events/Family Calendar (we talked about our upcoming trips)
  • In what ways do we feel like a team?
  • What ways can we get along better?
  • How can we all pitch in more around the house?

Other ideas you might include in your family meeting:

  • allowances
  • kids’ activities (what they like, what they don’t, how it affects your family time)
  • chores/jobs around the house
  • time spent on electronics
  • goals you are working toward (individually and/or as a family)
  • extended family & how to stay close (letters, art, phone calls, special trips)
  • things you’ve noticed from the week (help that was given, chores that were done unsolicited)
  • Need more ideas? I came across a post called Family Meeting Topics that might be helpful especially if your kids are older than mine.

First we talked about each point in our agenda as I took notes. Then I read out the notes from our previous meeting if they added anything relevant to the conversation.

I’m not sure how much you’d be interested in the nitty gritty details of our family meeting, but I’ll just add a few comments…  (This is from two years ago.)

Something nice: DD and LD said they were proud of ED for making it to the top of the rope at gymnastics (about 40 feet in the air which she had done for the first time earlier in the week).  Even ED chimed in nice things, “Mom cooks great food.” [I don't know about that, but it's cute for her to say!]

Things that are going well: The kids love “candle night” when we turn out all the lights during dinner.  They also love when we do the hidden smiley face under a plate. (pictured right) Everyone sits down and checks under the bottom of their plate. We go around the table saying lots of nice things about the person who has the sticker under his/her plate for that meal. You should see how much the person glows when we all talk about them, their strengths and the positive things we’ve noticed about them lately.

 Some of our ideas for making family life better: to make sure we each clear away all our dishes after every meal/snack; to actually put shoes into the basket;  to put laundry away promptly; to make labels for where things go.. and things like that.

When we talked about what ways we could get along better, the kids had some honest comments about not saying “Noooooo ”  (in a whiny voice) when someone wants to play something they’re not interested but to use a nicer tone of voice (I thought that was really insightful!)

As I said before, the most important part of the family meeting from our perspective is the family funthat comes at the end of the meeting.  We actively spend time doing something together which creates a close family bond, makes kids happy to do the family meeting, and builds fond memories together.  A couple times this year, we all put lots of fun ideas into a jar and pulled out one or two to do as a family.  The kids especially loved the game we played one time after our Family Meeting called “Knock your Socks Off.” We all crawled around on hands and knees trying to protect the socks from being pulled off our own feet while trying to go after and remove the socks from other members of the family. The last person to survive with a sock still on won the round.  We all roared in laughter and we still talk about that game all the time! Some of the other things in our jar? go hiking, lay in the grass to relax, play tickle monster (tag), mummy wrap, go to a park, play board games, do a family craft, go bowling, go to a restaurant, read books in front of the fireplace, go to a museum…

This time we decided ahead of time what we were going to do and didn’t pull from the jar. LD and ED really wanted to go bowling while DD wanted to go on a hike.  We decided to do both (with a trip to DQ in between!).

Bowling with the Family

Followed by a hike at a park.  We came across an owl, deer, a beaver and a couple of foxes (it was in the evening so the wildlife was quite active)  in addition to this pretty little waterfall.

And other ways to keep your family bonds tight and strong: 

  • Write notes to one another and leave it on their pillow.
  • Have a family game’s night.  (You can see some of our favorite family games.)
  • Do meaningful things as a family. Volunteer in the community. Go on a walk and pick up trash in your neighborhood or at your local park.
  • Have a strong community of support (beyond your family).  Attend (or organize) neighborhood barbecues, block party or picnic. Participate in a church, temple or mosque.
  • Go on a family bike ride or walk in the neighborhood together.
  • Hold hands, hug, snuggle and sit close.
  • Sing songs together as a family.
  • Go on family trips. It doesn’t have to be far, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but create a history together.
  • Look through old family photos together and talk about some of your favorite family memories. Ask questions that start with, “Do you remember the time…”
  • Make time for your spouse and keep your marriage close.
  • Support one another, not just emotionally, but also help with odd jobs and chores.
  • Talk about problems and keep the lines of communication open.

Do you have some other good ideas to keep the family close? Come tell us at our Homeschool Facebook Page!

Image: Family via Shutterstock

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Our Homeschool Week (Grades 3 and 5)

Friday, May 9th, 2014

The past couple of weeks have flown by. I wanted to write up a quick post to mention some of the things that are going well for us at the moment.  It’s hard to believe that we’ll be wrapping up another school year in four or five weeks!

Here’s what we’ve been up to the past few weeks:

Language Arts: In order to fulfill the requirements of our state, the kids will have to do some standardized testing.  We always spend a bit more time brushing up on some grammar work at this time of year in preparation for those. We have been working on: Word choice (lay/lie, piece/peace, etc.), Adding endings (change the Y to I; doubling the consonant; irregular verbs),  Comma rules, the 8 parts of speech

Spelling: The kids have been doing daily lessons from All About Spelling.

First Language Lessons: ED (Kindergarten) started the first volume of First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. She loves it! The older kids have joined in on a couple of lessons… For example, we went over the location of a lot of the U.S. states and the kids are all memorizing the poem about the months: Thirty days has September, April, June and November… We had started working on the second volume while ED works through volume one, but have found that we can’t squeeze it into our day right now.

Writing Workshop: LD is editing and re-writing a 12 page story he wrote for Hubby for his birthday.  DD and ED have been writing short stories. We spend about 20-30 minutes writing these days. Plus, they also spend time (10-15 minutes) reading a book about writing.  More about that another time, but the writing workshop has become one of our favorite times of the day. Love that!

Math: LD is working on percents  and fractions; DD is finishing up her math workbook and is doing timed division practice (4 minutes doing as many division problems as she can.)

Science: We take turns working on either history or science.  We are currently working on a weather unit.  I have a whole lot of science experiments and a weather packet to share with you next week.

History: We just finished reading about the Han dynasty  in the Story of Ancient China by Suzanne Strauss Art. The kids absolutely love this book and beg me to keep reading each day. I’m thinking that we’re going to skip a huge chunk of time so that we can cover the Mongol invasions and Marco Polo before the end of our year.  We’ve also been going over some of the geography of the region. The past few days we’ve been covering the countries of the former Soviet Union (because we were learning about the Silk Road).

German: I decided we needed to use a workbooks this semester (last semester we primarily used theBobo Siebenschlafer stories).  We’ve been using Complete German Grammar and a conversation practice book that I got from a Thrift store called ALM German. I love the dialogues. The kids definitely need practice with those.

Reading: The kids read a lot on their own independently.  I have a post to share with you on some of DD’s favorite chapter books.  LD switches between Newbery books and his own selection of books. He read several of the Artemis Fowl books, but looking over at the table, I see he’s now reading Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher (which we read aloud together years ago). We also listen to audiobooks in the car. We’re almost at the end of The Penderwicks.

Outside Activities: LD does team gymnastics, so he practices 16 hours/week.  DD does parkour, aerials and Brownies. 

My Health Issues:

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that I’ve had terrible ear problems this year.  I had surgery back in October that was plagued with complications (not the surgeon’s fault, just bad luck).  I was allergic to the bone filler that he used; I got a horrible case of vertigo (called BPPV); I started having trouble with the inflammation in my inner ear and that exposed problems from my years and years of infections as a child. As a result, I wound up with a rare condition called semi-circular canal dehiscence (on the horizontal canal) which left me extremely sensitive to noise. Any noise including my own voice made/makes my eyes go blurry.  For a long time everything jumped and moved when I walked around (the horizon line wouldn’t stay steady). That all meant that I couldn’t go out much, couldn’t drive and through February and March had difficulty being around anyone or talking.  I had two more surgeries in March to try to address all my issues.

Things now are much better but are not completely fixed.  While I’m now able to drive, I still have trouble turning my head to the left (it makes me a bit sea-sick) and my own voice reverberates in my ear when I talk.  The nerves in my ear feel like they are on hyper-alert.  I had a couple of different tests last week (an MRI and VNG test). Those show that March’s surgery did plug up the horizontal canal.  But because I’m still having some issues (third window, it’s called), I have a 5th ear surgery lined up for the beginning of June.  It has been a long road to recovery, that’s for sure!

Our Gardens:

We live nestled down in the woods, but the area around our house is cleared of trees. We have a LOT of gardens.  We’ve been spending a lot of time and energy working outside. The kids pitch in some too. The past few weekends I weeded and mulched the strawberry bed, blueberry bed (we have a dozen blueberry bushes) and the gardens in the front of the house. Today I spent a couple of hours trying to weed and mulch the raspberry garden. I’m trying to get as much done as I can before my next ear surgery. I spread about 15 bags of mulch today (and at least 60 the past week!) What a lot of work to keep ahead of the weeds!! No wonder I’m sore!

Play Time:

Sometimes I feel like we have a deep, dark secret. My kids play A LOT!!! I’m not meaning electronic stuff; I mean plain old-fashioned creative playtime.  They play inside. They play outside. Yesterday, for example, LD created scrolls with a secret (alphabetic and numeric) set of codes. He hid them all around the house. We had to hunt down the scrolls and decipher the secret message. The kids also took the huge box the new dishwasher came in and spent hours playing with the box. In the end, they piles every stuffed animal they owned into the box and then jumped into it.

They beg for more time when I’m trying to cajole them to get some schoolwork done.  I know (and value!) the importance of play, but honestly I’m not comfortable with letting them play to the exclusion of schoolwork.  The kids are great buddies (sometimes-HaHa!!) and will play all day if I let them.  For me, it has to be a balance, though.

Electronic Time: 

The kids are allowed about an hour of electronic time (roughly from 3pm-4pm before they head out for other activities). Some days it’s a bit more. Hubby and I have to kick them off and tell them to find something else to do at times.  These days they spend most of their time playing Minecraft and watching you-tube videos on how to make rubber-band bracelets and stuff. We don’t really watch TV, although they might watch one or two movies/shows a week. We’ve been watching the Spider Man movies as a family movie night the past couple of Saturday evenings.

Well, that’s about it. I’ve stayed up entirely to late writing up this post and want to get up early  to get another hour or so of weeding done before the kids are up and moving. I’d better bring this to a close. Hope you have a great day!

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Homeschool Purchases and Organization — Furniture, etc.

Monday, May 5th, 2014

Actually, there is no such thing as homeschool furniture or purchases since everybody’s home is unique and everyone has their own style!  But that being said, there are a few purchases I’ve made in the past six months that I really love and I wanted to share. 

Book Display Shelves:

We have all kinds of book displays, but I wanted one that looked “nice” and would display the writing books in a forward facing style in “my” part of the writing workshop area.  (The kids and I write together every day… and you can see pictures of our “writing workshop area at the bottom of this post.). This wood forward facing book display was about $55 from Amazon. I wanted forward facing shelves so I could easily grab what I wanted.I like that the shelves are tilted and quite deep. I often have 3 or 4 layers of books stacked on these shelves.

Desktop Easel:

We started back up with our spelling program this semester. We didn’t do any spelling last semester because we spent a lot of our energy creating a daily writing workshop routine. (Read all about our Homeschool Writing Workshop in this series of posts.)  We use All About Spelling and just love it!  ED started the first volume and just loves it. DD is in the 4th book and LD is in the 5th volume.

We bought a new tabletop easel (by Learning Resources) recently.  It is bigger than the one we used to use (which you can see in our writing workshop pictures at the bottom of this post).  We store some of the other spelling tiles in the space behind on another magnetic board and bring it out only when needed. I really like the way this one looks. Some people use wall mounted dry erase boards. We always work together on the floor, so this works well for us!

 Desk Organizer:

The other recent purchase I made was a desk organizer. My work area sits in the corner of our dining room (I/We spend a lot of time in the kitchen/dining room!!). But… papers often piled up and made my little desk look messy. I wanted something that I could close off the mess, but still have my calendar, post ideas and other thing close at hand.

If you zoom in on the papers to the left you can see it looks pretty messy, right? What I love about this desk organizer (by Victor) is that you can close off the shelves! Perfect!

Wooden Tray Table:

We get a lot of use out of the wooden tray tables we bought at Walmart (for around $10). We haul them around the house or outside.  They’re convenient to have on hand.

Organizing Tote:

I have had a lot of medical (ear/balance) issues the past six months and we have had to homeschool on the go more than I ever envisioned (because of doctor’s appointments and tests).  When my son’s gymnastics’ team had a fundraiser, I hesitated and fretted about getting a thirty-one utility tote. In the beginning of the year, I saw a blog post by a teacher who raved about her bag.  In the end, I wound up ordering a zip-top tote.  I am so glad I did! It has come in so handy. It holds tons of books and holds its shape so it will stand upright. (There are 4 notebooks and 3 books in the bag in the photo and there’s room for much more).  I liked it so much that I wound up getting a smaller one that holds my Kindle and 4 or 5 small books. I especially like that there’s a mesh pockets on the ends that can easily carry two drink bottles (without the worry of tipping over and spilling on our books and notebooks). I linked to their catalog above (I’m not affiliated; nor am I a consultant) and I’ve seen them on ebay as well. (Shhh… don’t tell my sister, but I just bought one for her!)

Since I’m on the topic of organization, here are some pictures of what we do with our homeschool room:

This room is truly a mish-mash of furniture… much of which was free from friends (including the long craft table, the coffee table where the CD player sits and that computer table where the kids do math!).  It works for now!

On our “craft table” we always have long strip of butcher paper (you can see the roll of butcher paper under the window), which the kids draw on all the time!

We still use workboxes that house various textbooks, printables.  These are great for keeping our homeschool materials organized (most of the time!)  You can often find these on sale at Joann Fabric.

And just because you might be curious here are some other pictures of our homeschool area that I’ve shared before.  As I said above, our home is a mish-mash of furniture because when we moved back from Australia a few years ago (where we had lived for 12 years) we had very little furniture and a family of five to buy for (beds, couches, dining room table, etc.). We love the couch our friend gave us last year.  We sat (warm and snug) in front of the wood stove all winter long!

I’m no carpenter, but have the ability to use a saw and hammer. When LD was little, I wanted a book display case. They couldn’t be found anywhere in our small town in the Australian Outback, so I took an old curtain rod, some dowels and a few pieces of wood to construct my own.  We STILL use this (as you can see in the picture above!! Here are pictures of the project in action… by the way, I only had about 4 tools total… I’m still pretty impressed I eyeballed this and made it work!

And finally, here is our writing workshop area:

That’s about it!

P.S. I’m not an affiliate at this point (April 2014) for Amazon or All About Spelling. I just shared the links to their products for your convenience and because I like them. All About Spelling has really wonderful service.

P.P.S. If you like organizing, you might check out the ideas at Bored Panda. I thought their  organization ideas were useful and creative. Some of their ideas include creating drawers under the stairs and hiding/camouflaging those ugly computer cables in various ways.

~Liesl

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One of *Those* Days

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I’m pretty sure you know exactly what I’m talking about, right?

  • Not only are there a mountain of dishes to be put away, but  there are dishes in the sink filled with cold nasty water with floating bits of who-knows-what. (Grrr.. why didn’t we just do them last night?)
  • There’s laundry still in the dryer, waiting to be hauled out and folded.
  • LD lost his math book. We spend 15 minutes looking for it all through the house and finally give up.
  • DD wakes up in a B*A*D mood.  She yells at ED and then is rude to me.  She gets in trouble. She cries. A lot. And crawls back into bed.
  • When she finally re-emerges, she sits down to read while she’s eating. LD realizes that DD has picked up and started reading his novel, gets irate and demands it back. Right now. More mayhem.
  • We finally sit down to do a bit of school and the phone rings once… twice… three times!
  • My to-do list unfurls before me like runaway toilet paper rolling down a hallway… For example, there’s a picture that has been sitting on the back of the couch still wrapped in plastic for five WEEKS… waiting to be hung on the wall (along with the laundry *still* waiting to be put away–who knows how long that’s been sitting there?).

 

The conventional homeschool advice is to take the day off, go to the park, take a trip to the museum, take a bath, read all day, arrange a play-date, let the kids play in nature… and on and on. Sometimes we do that, but sometimes to be honest… we just slog through the day. Why? I really thought about that a lot today.

We push through those days because sometimes things start to feel better and we get into a groove.  Sometimes we feel a great sense of accomplishment when we start off rocky and finish off solid (if not brilliantly, just with a solid day behind us).

We slog through because life isn’t always easy. I want the kids to know that we’re accountable for ensuring that they get a good education… even on *those* days.

We push through those days so the kids know that sometimes you have to do what you don’t want to do.  I did NOT want to tackle the dishes/laundry, but we did. And it actually feels good (now looking back at this day at 11pm!).

We push through and continue on because I want the kids to know that temper-tantrums are not acceptable and do not result in a free-pass through the day.

We continue on because we have other things coming up that will take time away from homeschooling.

Looking back on the day it was not our best day. But it was a satisfying day.  I’m probably not alone having one of *those* days.  Am I? [Hopefully not!!]

May you have a *wonderful* day!

~Liesl

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What We’re Up to In Our Homeschool – Curriculum We Use

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

One thing about homeschoolers is that each family has its own style. Some people have quite a structure/routine to their homeschool; some people unschool and support and follow the passions and interests of their kids. Our days are fairly loose, but we follow fairly traditional subjects. Homeschoolers often fall into different categories… Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Classical, or use online-curriculums. I would say we are eclectic, hands-on homeschoolers — meaning we use lots of different types of materials/curriculums/books and try to make our learning interactive when possible.

We have a rhythm to our day, but each day is different from the other.  Usually ED and I are up first. I read to her while she eats; she reads to me after we’ve made a fire in the woodstove. And then by that time, the other kids are up and reading on their own while eating breakfast.  It’s often not until 10:30 or so that we start in on our other subjects. In general  our schoolwork takes us about two hours to four hours (two for my youngest, closer to four for my older two), but we’re quick to seize other opportunities when they arise.

I get asked a lot what curriculum we use. Since it has been a while since I’ve done an overview of what we’re covering, I thought I would do that while also highlighting some of the books and curriculum that have been useful for us this year. I probably spend more than I “should” on curriculum. Sigh… Our saving grace is that I almost always buy things used (especially from Homeschool Classifieds.)  Oh and if you are a regular reader, then you already know we also make/create a lot of our own materials for our units in history and science and check a lot of books out from the library!

And just so you know before you start reading, my kids are now 10, 8 and just-turned 6.

Math

We have tried a number of different math curriculums over the years (Singapore Math, Saxon Math, Mammoth Math), but we keep coming back to the Spectrum Math workbooks as our spine. We use it in a funny way–I mark off a few problems from a number of different pages bouncing all around the book. (So, they usually do a bit of multiplication, division, addition and/or subtraction and a few problems from whatever new concept they are learning such as long division, fractions, decimals).  I supplement with other resources as well.

LD: Spectrum Math 6;   Geometry 4-5 (by Carson-Dellosa) – We did the first half last year; he’s now working on the second half. He’s also reading through a fun set of math books by the Art of Problem Solving called Beast Academy (4A). I asked LD what he thought of it. He said that it is a math comic book. It was good review and covered a few things that he didn’t already know.  He said it was a good secondary book.  That was his input. They were $15 each (not including the practice books), but since all three of my kids will read through them I felt the price was worth it.

DD: Spectrum Math 4; Primary Grade Challenge Math  - DD really is enjoying the problems from this book. She is also reading through Beast Academy (3A). (It has just been lying around on the kitchen table and they pick it up to read whenever they want. The kids enjoy the comic style.) I asked DD if she would recommend it to other kids.  She said, “Well, yeah… and then she launched into a five minute explanation about the comic books… whenever this blue guy pops up… he’s a evil bad guy and you have to figure out these math problems to try and stop him…”  So, there you go!

ED: Much of the year, ED was doing worksheets that I made for her and pages I pulled out of some workbooks we had on hand, games and Montessori math activities.  About a month ago, she begged for her own Spectrum Math book (since the other two use it daily)– so she just started Spectrum Math 2. She’ll continue to sit down and play lots of math games with me and we’ll continue on with some of the Montessori-style math.

Critical Thinking

This is related to math, but we do this as a separate subject that we call Math Circles. We absolutely LOVE the fun problems and challenges in Math Circle Diaries. The kids beg for more time! They say it’s really fun and is often their favorite time of day. We also use a book from the Critical Thinking Company called Building Thinking Skills sometimes. DD has also been enjoying Sudoku problems.   A First Sudoku book is a great place to start (1-4).  Sudoku Puzzles for Kids has numbers 1-6.  We have a number of other critical thinking books (analogies and so forth), but haven’t been using them lately. I’ll highlight them at another point when we get back into those. ED doesn’t participate in these usually.

Reading

We read a lot!  We have several books that we are reading aloud.  I am reading the Voyage of the Dawn Treader aloud to all three (we read one chapter at lunch). And for our China unit, we are reading a wonderful novel called Bound aloud together.  In the evening I’ve been reading Farmer Boy to ED and DD. Meanwhile, Hubby is reading the Harry Potter series aloud with the kids.

The kids also do a lot of independent reading. ED just finished her phonics series, so I set up our book display area for her to select books for independent reading time. A number of years ago, I bought a huge lot of Hello Readers and easy readers from ebay. (Today on ebay, for example, I saw a lot of 52 Hello Readers for $9.99). I rotate those little books in that short/small red book display area. (I made that red book display a few years ago!)

A couple of weeks ago, I went onto ebay and won a bid on 65 Newbery-Award winning books for a little less than $1.00 each! Now I just have to find a new home for these. (In the meantime while they’re a mess on the floor, the kids have browsed through and each ran away with a couple of books in their hands!)

Language Arts

 I make up our own grammar sheets based on some of the mistakes/problems I see in their writing.  We also have the Write Source Skillsbooks that we use every now and then; they cover grammar, not writing.  For a while we were using Editor in Chief pretty regularly, but haven’t used them lately. We really love All About Spelling, but have only made small steps forward recently. ED is the one making the most progress in All About Spelling. She’ll often pull out the book and hand it to me to do a lesson! She’s in level 1.

For the past couple of months the kids have spent 10 minutes/day at the beginning of our writing workshop reading the Write Source Student Textbook. I was surprised at how much they enjoyed the student text. Both kids said it covered some really useful information about writing: the writing process (pre-writing and outlining through publishing) and writing traits (ideas, organization, voice, etc.). LD just finished the entire book today (Feb. 19); DD is about half-way through.

Writing

This year we started a writing workshop. I’ve been doing a lot of posts on that lately. I’ve been trying to put together some of the first mini-lessons that helped us get started. Look for that early next week.

We started a little poetry unit as well. More about that soon.

History

We finished our Civil Rights Movement Unit. The past couple of weeks we started a new unit on China. I’ll be sharing a lot more about that soon (including all the books we’re using as well as some free printable resources).

We’ve added a bit more writing into our history units this year… and I’m also introducing the kids to some basic pointers about note-taking and stuff.  (For my older two, that is.)

Science

ED has been doing a unit on animals (lots of Montessori-type activities). I have quite a number of printables to share with you (coming soon).

We’ll be doing unit on Weather/Water… We’ll begin the unit with the layers of the atmosphere. I have the unit (and packet) all planned out, but I’m not sure quite when we’ll start that.

German

We’re still primarily using the Bobo books. We also have a German grammar book that I bought, but we haven’t really jumped into that enough to recommend it one way or the other.

Music

The kids are still learning pieces on the piano.  LD is learning a simplified version of Moonlight Sonata that I really love! The book he’s using is called A First Book of Beethoven:Favorite Pieces in Easy Piano Arrangement.

Flexibility

One of the best reasons to homeschool is the flexibility we have as a family.  It allows the kids to work at their own pace. We’re able to travel and take trips when we want to. Unfortunately, this year we’ve had to be flexible for the worst reasons… health.  In a little less than two weeks I’ll be going in for my third ear surgery in four months.  I have been suffering through dizziness, balance issues, vision problems, noise sensitivity (even to my own voice. Augh!), pulsating tinnitus (I hear drilling noises or jingle bells or SHHhing noises all day and all night) and ear aches. I haven’t been able to drive for over a month. :( I’ve had to modify what we do so that I don’t have to move around quite as much (thus lots of reading, not so much in the science-experiment/hands-on area). I have a big community of friends who’ve helped out enormously — driving the kids to their activities and bringing our family meals.  I’m hoping that the March 4th surgery will fix all my issues (if not, I’ll have to have a more drastic/difficult 4th surgery at some point after that).

So that’s our homeschool in a nutshell at this moment in time.  Different things work in different seasons of our homeschool. At some point soon, I hope to go on a ton of field trips and outings… museums, hiking, concerts… all the things we haven’t been able to do recently because of my ears! Then we’ll pack away these books and focus on a different area/way of learning!

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You might enjoy this post from when my kids were 6, 4 and 22 months:

Or this post: Typical Day with Tots & PreKs (When the kids were 18months, 3 and 5 years old)

 

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