Making a Home

Little Ones In The Pews

face-2031963__340When I was growing up, my family was at church every time the doors were open.  For twenty-nine years of my life, unless I was deathly ill, I never missed a service.  My attendance became closely linked, in my mind, with my good standing with God.  Yes, I was a true follower of Jesus.  And I knew the Bible said we are not to neglect to meet together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25).  But somehow, I wrong-headedly assumed that because I outwardly was attending church, God was more pleased with me or loved me more because of it and that, if I were to stop attending, I would somehow be forfeiting my immortal soul.  I was not consciously aware of these thoughts/feelings at the time, but they were there, just bubbling at the surface.

And then there were two babies.  Two adorable, cooey, wonderful babies.  My husband and I moved to Illinois when the oldest was two and the youngest a ripe old age of five months.  We had just been hired as pastor and family of a little church that had NO NURSERY.  Every time my husband stood behind the pulpit (for real, every stinking time), one of those little angelic faces would decide to reclaim the attention of the entire congregation.  I would have to duck out the back door as delicately as possible.  Now, if you’ve ever had the sheer pleasure of maneuvering the monstrosity of a baby carrier past a teeny row of seats in church before (one-handed, mind you, because the other is holding fast to said fuss head of a child) you will know that there is no way to do this quickly or easily.  Suddenly, it feels like a spotlight has been beamed on your little crowd, all eyes glued to your direction until finally, mercifully, you manage to slip out the back door.

Though most people attending told me they didn’t even hear the kids or that the sound of their young voices was beautiful, there was one lady that told me about how their little ones were perfect angels growing up.  She would lay a blanket on the floor at her feet, and the little dears wouldn’t make a peep.  Why couldn’t I control mine?  Funny how one negative voice can so quickly drown out a sea of positives.

Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, we would repeat this charade.  No longer was I actually attending a worship service.  Things had become more like a marathon to get tiny people more beautifully dressed than they normally were just for me to sit alone in a small room and sulk.  And cry.  And take it out on my kids.  I fussed at them for not behaving.  I refused to read books to them.  Or play.  Or pretty much pay any attention to them out of spite.  It wasn’t just embarrassment or frustration that drove me to behave so badly, though.  It was the fear and resulting shame that I had displeased God by not listening to my husband’s sermons.

And one day, by the grace of God (and some wisdom from my mother), I realized that I was totally in the wrong about the whole ordeal.  Who on earth would expect a two year old and a five month old to sit still through an hour or more of a service in total silence?  They were babies!  Sweet, adorable, beautiful babies.  And my job right then, at that moment in time, was to be their mother.  It was not my fault there was no nursery.  It was not their fault for being babies.  God was not angry with me for taking care of them and meeting their needs.  I was to merely do the best I could, given the situation.

What a breath of fresh air!  It was like scales fell from my eyes.  I finally saw clearly how wrong-headed I had been.  I scooped up my babies and apologized to them and to God for the horrible attitude I had had toward them and for shaming them for “bad” behavior.  I refused from that day on to ever be embarrassed of them again.  I let mean-hearted comments towards me and mine roll off and listened to the encouraging ones.  I loved the mess out of those babies.

During those long years of solitude among babies, I read my Bible and prayed alone.  I had theological discussions with my husband.  I learned to lean on God’s grace for my salvation like I never had before.  And I learned to let go of some serious flaws in my thinking that God knew needed to be chipped away.  What I once saw as a horribly embarrassing, frustrating time in life, I now see as God’s goodness towards me.

We now attend a church where kind, servant-hearted people love on my babies and let me attend worship services as well.  But if you find yourself in a situation similar to my own, for whatever reason (no nursery, don’t trust the nursery that’s there, have a child you are training and disciplining, have a special needs child you are afraid to leave in someone else’s care or appropriate care for him isn’t offered, or you believe in family integrated worship, etc), know that you are not alone.  God has made you Mommy or Daddy over your little one for this particular moment in time.  Worship services may not be relaxing for you like they are for the elderly gentleman behind you.  They may be severely frustrating or in spurts of attendance like my experience.  but God’s grace is sufficient.  Just do the best job you can.  Love those babies.  Be kind.  Trust God.  And breathe.

Making a Home

The Importance of Chores

IMG_2324Oh my.  If my littles didn’t pitch in every morning and take care of their responsibilities, I would be drowning.  I seriously look forward to sipping my coffee while listening to the sound of the vacuum cleaner running and smile, knowing it’s not me having to do it.  But are chores good for kids?  Are they all that important, or does it just give Mommy a free ride? And how do you go about teaching kids to do them in the first place?  Isn’t it just easier to do it well yourself instead of having a sloppily done job?

When I was new to the Mommy gig, I believed that I should serve my children in everything.  Out of love, mind you.  And yes, it IS loving to be servant-hearted toward one another.  And when the children are really, really little, there isn’t a whole lot they can contribute.  So year after year, I did everything.  I ran myself ragged with all the household responsibilities that come with raising little bitties.  For those of you still in the land of babies with no big kiddos to pitch in, hang in there.  Those years were cute but tough.  I may have more children than you, but I have older ones, which makes it far, far easier.  You will get through this, and then you too, my friend, will be able to sip your coffee in sweet peace.

One day, about when we added our fourth child, I realized that I was severely drowning.  I was not requiring them to lift a finger outside of their school work.  It was making me irritable towards everyone.  I had tried to handle it all on my own.  God knows I did.  I wanted to be everything to everybody.  I did NOT want my children to have to serve me.  They’re kids, right?  Let them be kids!

But then I watched the Duggars.  Such a sweet family.  Not perfect, no, but only Jesus is.  And there’s something so wonderful about seeing the way a huger family than mine struggles and deals with life that puts my own problems more into perspective.  I learned so much from Mrs. Duggar.  One thing she stressed is the need to involve the children in the household duties.  In their family, every child capable of grasping objects helps.

So why is it something we should teach to our little ones?  #1-Because we mommies need them to help out.  I love and like my children.  I like them a whole lot more when they’re helping out!  It actually gives me warm fuzzies towards them to see them busily taking care of things.  And I’m no longer drowning, which makes our house prettier, makes us ready to welcome any visitors that may come, and frees me up to be able to parent them better (and wife better and be by myself better, etc).  And #2- because the children need the responsibility!   It actually makes them think more about others to have to serve their family.  It makes them less selfish, more careful with the messes they make, and (get this) feel like they are NEEDED.  We all want to feel needed- even children.  My little Carey (age 4 at the time) once told me, “I’m glad I have chores, Momma.  That way, I know I’m part of the family,”. Totally not making that one up.  If there was any doubt in this momma’s heart of the value of chores for children before, it was totally wiped away at that.

So- how do you go about teaching these things without losing your mind?  Because, if we’re honest, kids are sloppy.  And they have to be taught every single teeny thing.  Holding a broom and dustpan does not come naturally to a child.  They will dangle the broom around one-handed, slinging mess to the outer corners of the room if left on their own.  It’s happened.  Mrs. Duggar suggested a book that their family used to get started teaching responsibilities to the young kids.  It really helped us out.  It comes with little see-through sleeves that clip on to a child’s clothing.  You print out the chores onto cards (using words or pictures) and place them inside the sleeve for the child to go through.  No matter where that little one roams, his chores are right there with him, reminding him what he needs to complete.  He turns in the sleeve to his mother when he’s all done!  For the older child, simply creating a chore chart and posting it is enough.  This book, listed below, gives recommendations of chores per age category.

Managers of Their Chores

We no longer use the little chore sleeves.  It was super helpful at first, especially since the whole idea of children having responsibilities was brand new to us all.  Now we simply use a chore chart and I assign only two duties to my very littlest, which are easy to remember for them.

When first introducing chores to children, it is super, super important that you tell them why they are being asked to do them.  All young children want to help and please their parents.  But chores, as anything done in repetition, get old.  Having a reason behind why chores are being done ensures the child will understand what is being asked of him and keeps you all going.  I explained to my children that mommy needed help.  I couldn’t do it all on my own.  I needed my children to serve me as I serve them.  We help each other out of love because we’re a family.  I have had to say this every few weeks for YEARS.  Any time a little one wants to complain, I have to remind him or her of the why.  Because it’s important.

After the why conversation, then I teach the chores required to each child.  It does take a while.  It takes patience and understanding and trying things out until they get it right.  Stick with it, though.  Once they grasp how to do things, your load will start to get easier!!  I usually choose to teach new chores in the summer or winter breaks from school.  That way, we can concentrate on those tasks without having to rush to handle other responsibilities.  Once the child demonstrates the ability to complete a chore, I then supervise for a while to make sure it’s still being done right and reteach if it’s not.

Lastly, I walk around the house and inspect chores to make sure every child has completed them well.  It’s important not to skip this step.  Children that realize their parent doesn’t check up on them will sometimes start to be sloppy in their work or “forget” to do them at all.  I do not check up on them every day- I do it sporadically so that they do not know when an inspection will take place.  Chores left undone or done sloppily when the child says they completed them have to be done all over again.  I’m pretty mean about this one.  If I see fuzz on the rug (you know, in the amount that I am sure means a section got missed), the entire floor has to be re-vacuumed.  If toys have been jumbled into one bin instead of being separated into different ones like I asked, I’ve dumped them all onto the floor again to be resorted.  But you know what strictness in doing a good job gets you?  It makes sure the job is done right the next time.  Do take into consideration the age of the child completing the task to determine how perfect it should be.  I ask that my older children fold shirts just so, but my five year old can hand in off-center washcloths.  Because that’s the best she can do.  If you are a bit anal about things like I am, you will have to lower your expectations a bit when the children are helping.  But the benefits of their help far outweigh having sloppy towels.

Most of the time, my children are cooperative and sweet about it all.  They love me and know what they’re doing helps me out a whole lot.  I remind them of that constantly and try to thank them for their completed jobs.  Our family provides a small allowance at the end of the week for each child with chores.  You do not have to compensate yours if you do not wish to, but I do remind mine that this is why they have an allowance.  Any time there has been complaining or an attempt to shrug off the responsibilities, however, I have pointed to the list of my own chores at the bottom of their chart.  “Stinky chores” I call them.  For fussing about their own, they have to add one of mine to their daily list.  I usually request that the offending child scrub a toilet.  Three toilets is the farthest it’s ever gotten.  Sometimes, I actually look forward to someone complaining!

Here is our current chore chart.  It changes once or twice a year for us just to keep life from being boring.  Feel free to make one for your own family according to their ages and abilities and your own needs.  We normally do these chores every morning after breakfast.  It takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on how much dawdling and goofing off happens along with it.  In the afternoons after school, they fold a couple loads of laundry and then put their own clothes away.  It takes them about 5-10 minutes.  For us, there is no free time until all schoolwork AND chores are completeIMG_4845

Homeschooling Stuff

Playing With Fire

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My children love experiments.  They beg for them.  I love hands on learning myself, so whenever we come across something in a textbook that can be tried at home, we usually go for it.  Unless there’s like a mile-long list of all the stuff I have to buy first.  Then Mommy “loses” that suggestion page, never to be found again.

Here’s a fun one.  We were studying how hot the sun was.  All it takes is a magnifying glass.  And patience.  A ton of patience.  We sat out on our driveway, chose a leaf, and aimed that little glass at one spot on it.  If you narrow the beam of light to the finest, brightest point you can get and hold it there, it will start to smoke in a few minutes.  I think ours took about ten.  Meanwhile, you can have an older child read aloud the information you’re studying.  Or ask review questions.  Whatever.  All I know is- my children learned a ton that year on planets, stars, and the like.  The one shining moment they can recall in an instant is this experiment.

And because I don’t want to turn a free experiment into the most expensive one we’ve ever done, of course I taught my kids never, ever to do this without me present.  Just for added precaution, the magnifying glass disappeared to the top shelf.

The science curriculum this came from is loaded with cool experiments to try.  Jeannie Fulbright’s Apologia series has been wonderful.  The books explain complicated things on a young child’s level, while also providing proof that God is the creator of it all.  I would highly recommend them to any elementary student.

Exploring Creation With Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright– Amazon

Jeanniefulbright.com

 

Making a Home

Killing ‘Em With Kindness

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My little ones and I took a field trip today and went on a lovely hike in a local nature preserve.  It was hot, the baby screamed the ENTIRE time (as evidenced above- see the red face?), and, as always, there were sporadic murmurings of various needs not being met.  This picture is incomplete as it is missing one child because he decided to take off in another direction away from us.  You’d think it was a terrible trip after all that, but it was actually kind of fun.  One of the first outings for baby, though he hated it with all his teeny heart.

As we hiked through the woods, another person caught up with us from behind.  She was young, alone with her dog, and looked totally like she had just stepped off of a runway.  Perfect hair.  Expensive clothes and sunglasses.  Very pretty.  She had that “Oh no” look all over her face as she glanced this way and that, looking for any way around our bunch.  I called a halt to my troops and had them move to one side to let her pass.  The lady walked by with ease until she came to Tyndale, the five year old with big blue eyes and curly blond hair.  The one that looks like a cross between Shirley Temple and Alice in Wonderland.  With her cute little baby voice, she said, “Pwease, may I pet your dog?”  The woman didn’t even glance at her, but kept walking, and yelled, “NO!” sharply.

I was all the way at the back of the line and was slightly confused.  Did her sisters just yell at her?  Did that lady?  Several minutes later, when I met up with the big ones and confirmed it wasn’t them, I was a little taken aback.  We all shared a little giggle at the shock of her rudeness.  I praised Mary for her polite way of asking and all the kids for being kind to the lady by moving aside, and we continued on our way.

Later, after retelling the incident to their daddy, I told them all that I should’ve gone all “Momma Bear” on the woman.  They laughed as I spoke about flying through the air, baby strapped on and all, to grab the lady by the top of her hair and say, “You WILL let my little girl pet your dog!”  After the silliness, though, we reiterated that no- Mommy would never do something like that.  The woman was completely within her rights to say no, she just should have done it kindly.  We can’t control how other people behave, however, only how we treat them.

Kindness.  How do you teach that?  “Be kind!” is a common mantra in our house, right up there with “Stop running!”, “Don’t make a mess!” and the ever popular “Kitchen’s closed!”.  But just saying it and transmitting it to a little one’s heart are two totally different things.

I try to point my children to scripture- What does God say about how we should treat people?  Turn the other cheek  (Matthew 5:39).  Forgive (Matthew 18:21-22).  Pray for our enemies and love them (Matthew 5:44).  Be kind (Ephesians 4:32).  I pray for my children to love God and love each other.  I pray with them in areas they are struggling.  I pray for kindness in myself.  We talk and talk and talk about things as they happen in real life and how we should react.  Most of all, I try (very, very hard, though often fail) to demonstrate what kindness should look like through how I behave.  And I apologize to them when I fail.

Life is hard.  Kindness is hard.  Let’s struggle in it together, asking God to give us strength to be more like Him.

What are some ways your family has taught about kindness?

 

Making a Home

My Incredibly Strong, Submissive Momma

holding-hands-1031665__340When I was growing up, I watched my Momma disagree with my Daddy about a number of issues.  She would tell what she thought should happen, and my Daddy would listen to her.  Sometimes, he wouldn’t agree with her, and he would just full-steam ahead with whatever he had decided.  My mother would close her lips then, sometimes tightly, nod her head, and keep silent.  I knew she really disagreed if she also closed her eyes.  And it would all make me mad.

When I went to middle school (on a military base), my teacher told us that girls were just as important as boys, but that we had been oppressed by men for far too long.  We needed to stand up for our rights, dang it!  We shouldn’t be told there are “girl jobs” and “boy jobs” or tell a child they couldn’t play with a toy simply because it was created for a child of the opposite sex.  Why should one (or two) little body parts dictate your entire life?  (This was actually said in school.) Right, right?

So, in my little sixth grade mind, I watched my male-dominated family.  And I fumed.  My dad wanted me to help my mom clean dishes in the kitchen while he taught my brother to cut the grass.  How dare he.  I refused to be classified, grabbed a rake, and headed outside to help out anyway.  Every job I was given was seen as a threat to my rights as a girl, and I was as rebellious as I could be.

And then there was the problem of my mother.  How could she take it?  How could she just give in when she did NOT agree with my dad to do this or that?  Was she so incredibly WEAK?  Why didn’t she make herself be heard?  She was just as important a person as my father!

 

Years passed.  I grew up, still with these ideas swimming around in my mind.  I got married.  Arguments happened.  I was good at standing up for my rights and making sure we had equal responsibilities.  I excelled at letting my voice be heard.

It was during these early years of marriage that I heard a wonderful, godly, believing woman (Mrs. Mary Mohler) teach that God made men and women as separate but equal.  They were different, both physically and in the jobs they were to do.  But they were both of equal value in God’s sight.  A woman was to be the help-mate of her husband.  She was CREATED to be his helper.  And she was to be submissive to him.  (“What?” I screamed in my head.  No way.  How could I be submissive to someone that repeatedly made what I thought were bad/wrong decisions?  No way!   How would we survive?)  But she wasn’t done.  She taught, from scripture, mind you, that it was not showing WEAKNESS for a woman to be submissive.  However, it is the opposite.  In a woman’s STRENGTH, she trusts that her husband is responsible to God for the decisions he makes for the family.  And God will take care of them all.  The wife only has to state her opinion, talk things over, and let her husband lead.  Then, all burden of the results of the decision is removed from her and placed on her husband’s shoulders.  In STRENGTH, she stands back and trusts.  In STRENGTH, she has faith that God will provide.

I thought over what I had heard.  I believed the Bible was truth, but I had never understood these teachings before.  My worldview had been so shaped by my feminist teacher that it didn’t recognize the Biblical truths were in opposition to my own understanding until it was pointed out clearly.  After the initial shock wore off, I so loved this truth I was now hearing.  How I longed to let my husband lead.  How I wanted to be his helper and let him be the strength in our family.  I was tired of carrying the burden of feeling I must win every fight and stand up for my rights.  I was ready for peace.

And now I “got it” about my mother.  All those years of watching her “cave”.  She wasn’t weak at all.  She was STRONG.  Rock solid.  The easy thing would’ve been to argue and win, to get loud and fuss until she got her way.  The hard thing was to stop herself, close her lips, and nod and let her husband lead and God provide.  That was strength.  I am now in awe over my incredibly strong, submissive Momma (that my Daddy adores, by the way).  I so wish I could turn back time and appreciate her strength in my youth and imitate her ways in my early marriage.  As it is, I am thankful to have learned the lesson early enough to pass it on to my four daughters.  Hopefully they will have wisdom to listen.

There are many longer passages about how a husband’s duty to his wife is to love her.  They were written for and directed at our husbands and are to be between them and God.  It is comforting to know that God knew we wives needed most to be loved and knew the men needed respect most of all.  His plan is always best for everyone when followed.   We are happiest when we live the way God planned for us to live without trying to change it or assert our “rights” as we see them.  I am happiest living as helpmate to my husband.  My family is happiest when I am submissive to him.  My children are blessed when they see Daddy lead.

Thank God for my incredibly strong, wonderful Momma (and gentle, loving leader in my Daddy).

Genesis 1:27-28  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them.”

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Ephesians 5:33 “…let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Colossians 3:18 “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”

Titus 2:3-5 “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

1 Peter 3:5-6 “For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.  And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.”

****Side note- We are to be submissive wives when our husbands are making decisions for our family, but NOT when the decisions they make would be sinful.  We are not to stand back and let him abuse us or our children or commit other heinous acts against God in the name of submission.  Submission, rather, is a way of peaceful living with the two leaders of the home working in harmony together.

*****Another side note- Your submissiveness may not look like mine.  And that is perfectly fine.  You were created to be the helpmate of YOUR husband.  If you are walking this life together, and you are helping with him leading, that also is good.

 

 

 

Homeschooling Stuff

Just an Example- Curriculum

books-1841116__340I am basically an eclectic homeschooler.  That means I pick a little of this, a little of that, and go all over the place with whatever works for our family.  I, personally, love Charlotte Mason’s ideas and also the Classical Christian Education’s trivium.  I am listing what we are currently using as curriculum for this year for two of my children, just as an example.  Your family, however, is unique.  Please feel free to pick and choose curriculum based on your children’s unique educational needs and your own teaching style.

I have loved this book and have used it as a guide when making a lot of choices in curriculum:

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.

I don’t always follow everything they recommend, but it has been a wonderful guide for me to know what each grade level is expected to learn, along with curriculum to help teach it.

My 5th grader’s list of subjects/curriculum:

Writing- 

copy work.  I have her copy Bible chapters, poetry, and sentences from her spelling book for practice.  Her handwriting is awesome, so I didn’t have to purchase anything this year just to practice.  If I needed to work more on it, I would order the Handwriting Without Tears 4th grade book (cursive) or a lower level for basic writing.  The books don’t actually say the grade on them, so only I would know.

Spelling- 

Spelling Workout D- super cheap, with tons of independent and fun practice.  There are crossword puzzles and word searches as well as harder stuff.  I have her do 1 activity per day for 3 days & write out sentences and study on day 4.  On the 5th day, she gets a test.  For homework, I assign that she has to write out missed words 10 times each.  Cost per book is about $10.

Grammar- 

Rod & Staff English book 5.  Really great series, written by Amish people with lots of Bible verses as examples.  It’s very tough & thorough.  When my kids complete each year’s book, they know their stuff and tend to score high on grammar testing. You can assign a lot of written work or very little, depending on what you feel needs improvement.  This year, we’ve done most of the assignments out loud, one on one, since it’s a review of a lot of stuff she already knows (so far).  These grammar books are about $17.

Math- 

I bought a public school math book on Amazon for like $5.  It was like 10 years old.  Be wary of any recent publications, though.  They will have the newest government-promoted, common core material. I’ve never seen that, but I’ve heard it’s confusing to parents and kids alike.  I love Abeka math workbooks and teacher answer keys.  If I had had more money to spend this year, I would have purchased those instead for this child.  Abeka math is very thorough, but easily understood by my oldest child that has struggled with math in the past.  And the workbooks are great b/c there’s no need to waste time writing out each problem- the child can write answers directly on the workbook pages.  Together, the workbook and answer key are about $50-60.  There’s also a cool little (FREE) computer program that one of our private schools around here uses as a means of teaching children to know their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts.  It’s called Xtra Math.  We use it in lieu of doing flashcards.  Every time one of my little ones completes one of the 4 sections, they get a treat of their choice.  They think it’s hard but fun.

Reading- 

I assign 1 hour of read time in the mornings (alone).  I printed off “1000 Great Books” online, which lists a ton of classic books per grade level.  We check out what she wants to read from the library, along with books that go along with what we are learning about in science and history.  She picks from those for her reading time.  I also have her read aloud to me from time to time without her being aware that I am checking on her- directions, part of a science chapter, whatever.  I also read aloud to the kids for about half an hour in the afternoons from a classic book that is above their reading level, but something they would care about (Anne of Green Gables, Narnia, etc.)  I only do that with 3rd grade and up.

Science- 

Jeannie Fulbright’s Apologia series.  We love “Exploring Creation with Zoology”- several different volumes.  There are lots of books to choose from.  My kids have loved them all.  Activities and experiments are optional, but usually pretty fun, like building a wooden birdhouse for your backyard or experimenting to see if birds prefer to eat directly on the ground level or at tree level.  Christian series & very sound.  The author loves to prove God’s existence and ongoing care for His creation throughout all of her books.  I read this book twice per week to all the kids at once (or retell it in my own words).

 History- 

Mystery of History (LOVE)  Can come in cd form, where you listen aloud together or book form, where you teach it yourself.  These books show what was going on around the world at the same time as the Bible stories were unfolding all the way to modern times.  Very, very well researched and presented. There are currently 4 volumes available, and we’re on #3. I just read a chapter aloud, three times per week.  Sometimes we do activities as recommended or color a picture I print off the internet.  You can order a coloring/ activity pack that goes along with this, but I never have due to expense. Sometimes I’m super on it & also research cool videos to show that relate.  One year we also created a timeline and bought tiny little coloring cards that you can buy with it to tack on to it.  It’s as laid back or intense as you want to get.  I love finding field trips that go along with our lessons.  The book is around $50-60.  I teach this to all kids at same time.

My 2nd grader’s list of subjects/curriculum:

Writing- 

Handwriting Without Tears Printing Power.  This one has little places to color, along with writing practice.  This is my little one’s favorite book.  About $10

Spelling- 

We’re not ready for that yet, but I have an Abeka Spelling and Poetry 1 book ready for her when she’s ready.  I want her to read a bit easier first.  

Reading- 

We worked through a phonics book together from kindergarten through last year.  She’s really gotten the basic rules of reading down, so this year, I’m just concentrating on practicing what she already knows.  Bob books (can check out from library or purchase a set for about $10 on Amazon) are great at helping.  We were also given a Hooked on Phonics 2nd grade kit that she loves.  We check out lots of books. Basically, we just read, read, read.  If the skill is already there, just let them practice reading out loud.  You don’t really need a program.  My 2nd grader reads to me for 10-15 minutes each time, or until she’s just really tired of it.  Some days, she wants to go a bit longer.  I also read aloud to her with stories for her age- usually at night.

Grammar- 

First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise (it has 1st and 2nd grade in the same book- can be done together).  Lessons are short, so they keep little ones’ attention span. They are parent-led, but it doesn’t take any preparation ahead of time- just read aloud.  There are cute, short poems to memorize, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, basics of grammar to memorize, teaching about how to narrate back a story. I love it.  I bought it years ago & can’t remember the price, but it wasn’t much.

Math- 

Arithmetic 2 by Abeka.  It’s a workbook with colorful pages.  It reminds me of preschool books that were fun, but on a harder level.  My little one feels challenged, but like she is having fun too.  I also have her do Xtra math online.

Science- together

History- together

Homeschooling Stuff

Curriculum Crazies

disgust-15793__340When you’re just starting to homeschool, you’ll find that there are so many choices out there, it can make your head spin.  But choice is good!  You can narrow down exactly what works for you and your family.  Each homeschool parent is different, and there is no one quite like your child.  Finding what works for you can mean a lot of research (if you’re a bit anal like me and want to look at every.  single.  book.  before making a decision) or just a series of hits and misses as you try things out.  Here are several ways to explore resources:

1. Homeschool friends-  Something I found helpful was grabbing a few of my already-homeschooling mommy friends and just asking them what their favorite recommendations were for their children.  I asked them to bring their books and just let me sift through them. I’m a hands-on kind of gal and I know that my friends and I are often like-minded.

2.  Conventions- Others enjoy going to homeschooling conventions, where oodles of curriculum choices are spread before you like a banquet with people in-the-know standing by to show and explain it.   Many homeschooling parents love going to them.  There is a cost for admittance.

3.  Bookstores- There are homeschooling bookstores in many states, where you can peruse their stocked shelves and ask questions of the owners.  I love this idea too.  Just being able to open a book and flip through it gives me such a better idea of whether we would like to live with it for an entire year rather than just reading a review on it.

4.  Catalog-  If you much prefer the stay-home-and-read-tons-of-reviews route, this is an excellent resource for you:

Rainbow Resources

This site is for a family-owned company that has vetted many, many homeschooling resources over the years.  They write their reviews for them right in their catalog.  You can request a hard copy to be sent to you for free (think super huge phone book size) or just peruse their info online at the above link.  I absolutely LOVE Rainbow Resources.  You can order from them directly or simply use their catalog as a wonderful guide.

5.  Co-op or hybrid private school- You might choose to enroll your child in a school part-time.   There are schools that are established to assist homeschooling parents by providing private-school class time once or twice a week.  There are also parent-led co-ops, where homeschool parents share in teaching different subjects once per week or bi-monthly or whatever they have established.  The variety of choice is amazing.  With these schools, curriculum might already be decided.  You then purchase what the school is already teaching in order to continue the same curriculum at home on the days they will not attend in a classroom setting.

6.  Books- There are guides for homeschooling that list recommended curriculum if you decide to stick closely to a certain homeschooling method.  (More on this in upcoming posts).  For example, if you decide that you like Charlotte Mason’s thinking, you may decide to give that a whirl and see if it’s a good fit for your family.  There are recommended book lists available from authors prescribing to her way of thinking.

7.  Eeny, Meeny, Minee, Moe- Just look at the choices spread before you, believe that they all have something good to offer, and just select something randomly to try it.  Honestly, I’ve done this too.

There are a LOT of books per subject available.  Feel blessed, not overwhelmed!  It’s amazing that so many people have put so much care into preparing this feast of information for you and your little ones.  Only a few generations ago, the choice was oh, so small.  And know that there is no.  way.  you are going to screw up your child with curriculum choice.  It’s all good.  There’s something wonderful to glean from it all.  But knowing that you can be flexible and switch if you find a book too boring, too over-their-heads, too much writing, not enough writing, too much reviewing, whatever…should make it less stressful.  Happy exploring!