Jan 15, 2018

This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning


Welcome to the second week of The 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair! The Fair is hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and last week we discussed Why We Homeschool. If you missed it, go check it out! This week we are talking about How We Homeschool. Since we don't follow a specific method (we strongly lean toward Charlotte Mason but we mostly US School) I thought the easiest way to tell you how we get 'er done is just to let you have a peek into an actual homeschool day.


Before we get started, I need to give you some disclaimers...

1. I left out most of the goriest part of our day, I didn't add all the arguments about how hard their work is, why they have to do it, who stole whose pencil, how can they possibly be expected to stop playing with Lego and do math, and no, that answer is not a typo, you are just plain wrong so go and do the work over again... While a few of those might serve as entertaining and informational to you, there are way too many to include and it would take you forever to read. Assume they are there. Add your own children's voices and arguments because they probably aren't too different from mine. Or leave them out and enjoy the peace and quiet...

2. These are highlights. Again, I didn't add every detail but tried to give you enough information for you to get the gist without boring you to tears.

3. This was the first day back from break, so it went much more smoothly than days actually go. All their stuff was gathered so no one lost valuable time looking for the perfect eraser that they JUST HAD. Everyone was at peak engagement because they had had several weeks off of routine and my kids thrive on routine. And finally, they saw me taking notes and were therefor on their best behavior. My blog comes in handy sometimes.

4. The times are pretty general. We don't work by the clock, but more by hard stops. We have classes and places to be every single afternoon so we attempt to get our work done by 12:30. Sometimes we are more successful than others. But our method is to just start as soon as we can each morning and work hard until we are finished with the day's allotment. (Sometimes we run out of so much time that we drop a subject or two and hope we make it up at the end of the year.)

5. I didn't put in all of the questions. Because there are tons of questions and I don't even remember them all. I also didn't put in all of the rabbit trail conversations that honestly drive me crazy but are actually supposed to be a perk of homeschooling. My kids don't know how to learn without talking so it takes place pretty much non stop.


7 am My alarm goes off. I put on socks, grab my phone and water bottle and go to the living room where I read/ mommy basket/ quiet time/ whatever you want to call it. This is probably the only time I will get all day that is not prone to interruption.

7:15 to 7:30 Somewhere in here the little guy that we babysit (Langston) shows up. He and I usually hang out and chat a little bit. He is quite entertaining and I never know what he will say. Today, we talk about what Santa brought him and the fact that when he is seven years old I will no longer be able to lift him up because he will be too big. He also tells me that tomorrow he will be five. This is a bald untruth. He has been asserting this fact since his last birthday which was about a month ago. He will not be five for a long time, but he will not be swayed by facts. I no longer argue the point, my sanity is worth more than being right.

7:30 to 7:45 L and I put the dogs outside and then he "helps" me make breakfast. I make eggs for my husband and I and oatmeal for L, although sometimes he wants toast instead.

8:00 to 8:15 I wake up the kids and check to make sure the husband is up and moving around. It usually takes awhile to get all of them up and moving... we are not morning people around here.


8:30 School starts (In theory. See part above about not being morning people, some days we are more "on time" than others.) The kids make their own breakfast ( toast, cereal, oatmeal, etc) and bring it to the table, they eat as I start reading. We start with what we call "Morning School". We do the same basic things every day but not necessarily in the same order. We start with Bible reading and go from there. We sing hymns, read an historical fiction book, read from Mystery of History,  work on memorizing poems and Scripture passages, do art study, etiquette, or history of the Bible, and finish up with three rousing rounds of wrap ups!

9:30 When Morning School is over, the kids clear off the table and disappear to get ready for the day. They are supposed to dress, do their daily "grooming", and generally get their affairs in order before school starts. I take this time to do a little bit of a workout, make sure my planner is filled out and that I am also ready for for school.

9:45 (or so) As the kids are finished getting ready they return and grab their school boxes. These boxes contain all the books and binders they need on a daily basis. They also keep a pencil box in there full of whatever tools they require: pencils, pens, erasers, sticky notes, calculators for the high school kids, etc. With their boxes they settle at the table or in the living room or at the bar with the computer and get started. They have a list of the subjects they are required to do each day (We have a Mon/Wed and Tue/Thur schedule as well as some things they do daily, like math. We do not do school on Fridays.)

Kaytie always starts with Fix It! Grammar. She marks up her sentences and then comes to me to check/ correct her work together. By the time she is finished, Nate has settled into working on math, Daniel is doing coding on the computer and Abbie has marked up her grammar sentences and is ready for my help.


10:00 Kaytie moves on to quickly and efficiently complete her assignments in Power in Your Hands, Around the World in 180 Days, and Characters in Crisis which she brings to me to check and correct when she is done. These are her favorite subjects and she does them completely independently. I just grade the work when she is done.

Meanwhile, I am helping Nate with math questions, watching Langston color and snack on graham crackers and going over Daniel and Abbie's grammar sentences and teaching them a quick spelling lesson.

10:30 When Nate finishes his math, he hands in the worksheet for me to check and starts reading his Biology textbook. He likes to read the interesting bits aloud for the rest of us to enjoy. By this time, Daniel is studying geology on the computer and Abbie is reading her literature book in the living room. Langston has gone outside to roam around the backyard.


11:00 Kaytie does a little Bible journaling and quickly completes the day's allotment of Biology and Spanish homework. She starts on her math, but is almost immediately overwhelmed and confused. She Facebook calls her math tutor and is soon bursting with understanding, at least until tomorrow. She finishes her work about noon and fixes herself and Langston lunch.

11:30 When Nate has read his Biology, he corrects his math, reads his literature book, does Bible journaling, and completes Spanish homework. He finishes up by 12:30 and grabs a quick lunch.

12:30 By this time, Daniel has started on his math. Abbie has enjoyed her science (she does Easy Peasy Zoology and is loving it!). When she finishes, she also starts on math.

12:45 I load the big kids in the car and drive them to their Spanish class. By the time I return, Daniel and Abbie have their math ready for me to check and are eating lunch. Daniel reads his literature book while he eats.

1:15 I finally have the kids' math papers checked and handed back to them to correct. I take the time to eat lunch and read a few blogs/ goof off on Facebook/ read email.


1:45 I recheck the kids' math. We work on Geography. Today we are watching videos on Greenland. We learn that the top temperatures in Greenland in the summer are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Since it is currently 54 degrees outside, I send the kids out to feel what a summer heatwave in Greenland feels like. We also watch a video about narwhals, which makes Abbie decide that she needs to draw a picture of a narwhal, which she does. Daniel and Langston meanwhile go off to play and I start thinking about the IEW class that I will be teaching later.

2:40 I go to pick up the big kids from Spanish. As soon as we get home, it's a mad rush to make the house at least semi-presentable before the kids show up for writing class.

3:30 Kaytie hustles Langston off to play in the bedroom while I teach the other three kids and three friends an IEW lesson. Today we are starting reports and learn way more about humpback whales than I ever wanted to know.

4:40 Writing class is over (we ran late because we had a lot to cover) and the kids are picked up. I get to chat with one of the moms a little which is always nice. :)

5:00 Nate has finished up his Geography and I have checked it. He hustles off to start supper (he's our cook these days) the other kids help out/ read/ play and I take a moment to breathe a little bit. Our school day is over and I am ready for a calm evening and an early bedtime. Only I don't get that because I wind up having to run an errand while the boys are at Scouts. Once we are all home again, the kids do dishes and we think about bed...

So that is the basics of our day. Mondays are our busiest/longest day usually the kids get more free time in the afternoons to pursue their own interests (guitar, drawing, writing, building, playing outside, Lego, whatever).

What do my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about their Homeschool Method? Go visit them to find out!

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST on Monday, Jan. 15th.
How Our Academic Co-op Completes Our Eclectic Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
A Method to Our Madness by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Finding Our Homeschool Method by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
How We Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
Give Us.... by Annette @ A Net in Time
A day in our Home by Sarah@DeliveringGrace
Lit-Based Education: How We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Overhauling Our Homeschool - Adjusting our "How" to fit our "Why" by Sabrina Scheerer @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler: Expectation Vs. Reality by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
How Charlotte Mason Transformed Our Homeschool by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Captain's Log, Supplemental - Our Homeschool Days by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we get it done. by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
How to Organize Daily Curriculum with the School Cart by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Learning For LIfe by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
Eclectic Homeschooling: When It All Comes Together by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
A Typical Day? by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
This is the Way We Do Our School, So Early in the Morning by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Little of This and a Little of That: Eclectic Homeschooling by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World
Still Classically Educating After All These Years by True North Homeschool Academy
So what exactly is Life Led Homeschooling? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
The way we learn ~ 2018 Virtual Homeschool Fair by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Our Homeschool Routine by Joelle @Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Methods � 8 Tips for the Journey by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset

Jan 8, 2018

In Pursuit of Purpose

Welcome to our annual event, The Virtual Homeschool Fair. This used to be the Curriculum Fair, but this year we are broadening our subject matter to talk about more than just curriculum. The Virtual Homeschool Fair is hosted by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts and Minds. We will be posting on a different homeschool topic each week in January, starting this week with The Reasons We Homeschool.


There are probably as many different reasons to homeschool as there are homeschool families. Maybe more, because I know that my husband and I, though both committed to this lifestyle, when asked, have very different reasons why we do this home educating thing. 


First, I just want to say that we do not homeschool our four kids in an attempt to keep them away from anything. Homeschooling does result in a sheltered, protected, greenhouse environment, but for us, that is simply a result, not a motivating factor. I do not homeschool in order to keep them from hearing anything I disagree with, because we talk about those topics regularly. I do not homeschool in order to keep them away from people who are different from us because we do actually spend plenty of time around people who look, think, act, and believe differently than we do. To put it simply, I do not homeschool out of fear.

So, then, why do I educate my kids in a counter culture way? A way that is more difficult, more costly, and often brings scorn and derision on our heads?

My husband would tell you that we make those sacrifices in order to better raise our kids to be productive adults. Homeschooling enables us to tailor their education to their own personal strengths and weaknesses and move them toward that ultimate goal. He is more of a long term, vision caster and he chose the title of this post. For his part, we homeschool to give our kids an opportunity to find their God-given purpose in life and to teach them the skills they need to pursue that purpose. 


For me, though, I dwell more in the short term. I homeschool so that my kids are not labeled, stuck in a box and categorized. They aren't AP, they aren't SN, they aren't LD, they aren't nerds or jocks or smart or dumb. They just are who they are. They learn at their own pace and no one cares that one started reading at four and another at nearly nine. No one points out to them that they are "behind" or "ahead" in any particular subject. They have figured out on their own that one kid struggles in math and excels in anything to do with words while another kid is just the opposite. But no is teased or mocked or marginalized. They work each day and appreciate the progress they make even if that progress is just simply that they didn't cry over a math problem that day.


I also homeschool because I love hanging out with my kids. They are great people, funny, intelligent and generally kind. I love being a part of their day and watching them grow and develop as human beings and knowing that I have a part in that.

I homeschool because I can choose the village that helps me raise my children. My kids have good relationships with the parents of their friends, with the moms that teach their outsourced classes, with their coaches and the volunteers at church. I can send them off at co-op or soccer to practice independence knowing that if they break the rules another mom will step in to enforce proper behavior. I am comfortable with letting them hang out with friends because I know those kids and I know they will (generally, kids aren't perfect, but for the most part) lift my kids up to excellence and not drag them down to bad attitudes and mis-behavior. 

I homeschool because it gives my kids the confidence to be themselves. They wear capes and top hats and suits in public if they want to and don't care if other people might think they are weird. They stand up for their convictions and are not easily led astray. They take risks and try out new experiences. They encourage those around them to do the same.


I homeschool because I want my kids to think of each other as their BFFs, to have shared experiences and to know they can rely on each other when the going gets tough. 

Oh yeah, and I homeschool because I truly believe that our small teacher/student ratio and one-on-one interaction along with our ability to be flexible, to course-correct, and to adapt to their own particular needs gives them a superior education.


Come back next week to read about Our Method of Homeschooling.

But for now, let's see what my fellow homeschool bloggers have to say about The Reasons We Homeschool.

Note: all posts will be live after 8 am EST.
5 Reasons to Homeschool High School by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Weird Homeschoolers by Kim R. @ Good Sweet Love
How We Make Homeschooling a Lifestyle by Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine
Our Ever Evolving Homeschool Story by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
5 Reasons You Will Want to Homeschool by Michele@ Family, Faith and Fridays
How Our Homeschool Came To Be (and why we continue) by Sabrina @ Kids, Crunch, and Christ
Home Education - 10 Reasons we keep going...even when it's hard by Lizzy @ Peaches@Home
So... Tell Me Again Why You Homeschool? by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Virtual Homeschool Fair 2018 - Week 1 - Why do I Homeschool  by Joelle@Homeschooling For His Glory
Homeschool Reasons: Bullies, Faith and More by Annette @ A Net In Time
In Pursuit of Purpose by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
A Long Time Ago . . . Why We Decided To Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
The Why Behind Hopkins Homeschool by Amanda @ Hopkins Homeschool
5 Reasons We Love Homeschooling by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Why We Homeschool - It's What We Do by Kristen H @ Sunrise to Sunset
Why we Home Educate and Extra Benefits by Sarah@Delivering Grace
Homeschooling: The Big WHY? by Lisa @ True North Homeschool Academy at Golden Grasses
Regaining Your Homeschool Focus by Jen @ A Helping Hand Homeschool
Why do we homeschool? by Dana @ Life Led Homeschool
Our Homeschool Why by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
It's Worth it! Why We Homeschool, Even After All These Years by Hillary @ Walking Fruitfully
Because Life is Precious by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
1998 vs. 2018: Why We Homeschool by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Jan 1, 2018

Happy New Year!


Every year, we spend New Year's Eve playing games, eating junk food and watching movies. We try to watch the ball drop, but we usually fail. Instead we sip sparkling cider and clink our goblets and wish each other a Happy New Year!

This year the highlights were:

  • getting to play Pit, a new game for us
  • Abbie finding a tiny lizard in the bathroom and the debate on what to do with it since it was so cold outside
  • working on our Lord of the Rings marathon
  • fudge (because fudge is always a highlight)
  • actually staying up until 2:30 because we started LotR so late in the evening
Hope your New Year's Eve was as fun and festive as ours. 

Dec 24, 2017

Four Little Penguins Sitting in a Row

Our four kids are less than four years apart. This means for two weeks and two days they are "all in a row" age-wise. Since this happens over Christmas, I usually have a lot of pictures of them during this phenomenon. This first picture is the year they were 1, 2, 3 and 4. (Since Abbie was in the hospital until after Kaytie's birthday this is the first picture I have of them "all in a row".)


This year, we recreated the original picture because it has been a decade and they are now 11, 12, 13 and 14.


Merry Christmas from the Four Little Penguins!

Dec 15, 2017

Homeschool Socialization


One of the things I love the most about homeschooling here in our West Texas town is the relationships we have been able to build. This morning a homeschool mom friend whose kids have graduated high school opened her home to several of us. She gave of her time to share information and encouragement to those of us who are just embarking or are about to embark on this high school journey.

Another mom friend has kids younger than mine, so she left her kids at my house while she and I went to the meeting together. Our kids, ranging in age from 4 to 14 had a wonderful time hanging out together, playing games, watching and discussing Dr. Who, decorating gingerbread houses and just building relationships.

After the meeting, they stayed for lunch and it was so much fun just hanging out. I love that my kids don't care about age, gender or popularity factor in their friendships!


Dec 4, 2017

The second half of my Thankfulness Posts


Day 16
I'm thankful for poetry. I love stirring old war poems, sweet little lullaby poems, funny poems, long story poems, and poems full of lyrical language and evocative phrases that stir my soul and fill my head with pictures.

Day 17
I'm thankful I get the privilege of homeschooling my kids. It's not always easy, but the rewards make the struggle so worth it. I'm thankful that my kids are getting the education made just for them, but more than that I am thankful that they were able to grow in an environment that allows them to be confident, strong, brave, and comfortable in their own skin. They don't have to be like everyone else. They live in a world where they are accepted for who they are. Yes, they have been teased, questioned and even laughed at but they live in such a welcoming, encouraging environment, that they are able to resist the negativity with a grace that amazes me. They are happy, unique individuals with thick skin and incredible confidence. They know they are weird and they don't care.

Day 18:
I'm thankful for nurses. Doctors are great, but it was a nurse who stayed by my side during the labors and deliveries of my kids. It was a nurse who cleaned us up. Yuck! It was a nurse who snuck Kaytie ice cream when she was a starving toddler recovering from surgery and a nurse who talked a doctor into letting me eat after 2 weeks on a liquid diet. It was a nurse who worked round the clock to keep Daniel and Abbie alive. A nurse calmed Nate with his broken arm and a nurse reassured me that the bump on his head would be fine. It was nurses that soothed us into taking IVs when we needed them but didn't want them. That brought us meds and food and ice chips. That cleaned our beds, answered questions, did hundreds of things that I would rather not talk about and thousands that we didn't even notice. Thank you, Lord, for nurses!

Day 19:
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Day 20:
I am thankful for memories. So many memories of love and laughter, adventure, ordinary days of ordinary pleasures, trials overcome, friendships and stories

Day 21
I am thankful for our homeschool community. Not only do we enjoy fellowship and shared learning, but it makes stuff like this possible.


Day 22
I am thankful that I got to do this as a kid and that now he gets to do it, too!

Day 23
I'm thankful for my family. Grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, husband, kids. They have all played their part in making me the person I am, quirky as that might be.

Day 24
I'm thankful that when I have to do hard things, I have a best friend to do them with me, encourage me and challenge me. We have always been a team

Day 25
I'm thankful for days like today. Ordinary days of peaceful hanging out with my favorite people.

Day 26
I'm thankful for Kaytie. Just by her birth she made so many of my dreams come true! I love being her mom!
We named her Pure, Brave and Full of Grace.
She is my most motivated child. She has a clarity, a purity of purpose that rises above challenges and obstacles and just keeps moving forward. She sets goals and meets them and then sets more goals.
She is truly the bravest person I know. She steps forward with confidence into situations where most adults would hesitate. She might be scared, but she does it anyway. No excuses.
Being the oldest is hard because the firstborn is the guinea pig. But Kaytie endures our mistakes and missteps with such grace. She is forgiving and kind.
I'm so grateful I get the opportunity to be her mom. I get a front row seat to watch her grow into an incredible woman who will do great things just simply by showing the love of Jesus to those around her.

Day 27
I'm thankful for this guy. He keeps us laughing. He keeps us on our toes. He is super smart and never stops learning. He has a strong sense of justice and looks out for the underdog. He has really stepped up this year and taken on extra responsibilities and demonstrated such maturity! I can hardly wait to see what an amazing man he will turn out to be! We know he is going to be something spectacular!
I'm so grateful God chose me to be his mom.

Day 28
I'm thankful for Daniel! He loves to build and repair, he's my go-to guy whenever Dad isn't around. When Dad is around, he's his right hand man. If something needs done, Daniel will do it. He's an excellent babysitter because he is calm, patient and entertaining. He knows how to tell a good joke. He is kind, funny, considerate and incredibly smart.
I'm thankful I get to be the mom of this awesome guy!

Day 29
I'm thankful for this crazy kid! She is sparkles and sunshine and rainbows and fire. She is laughter and drama and flashing eyes when you make her mad. She is little and fierce and never-give-in stubborness. She is crazy silly and super smart and sneaky get-her-own-way. She is melty, gooey, soft-as-cotton-candy when it comes to babies or animals or especially baby animals. She is 100% Daddy's girl. She is beautiful imperious princess in soccer jersey and jeans.
I'm just grateful that she is mine.

Day 30
I saved the best one for last!
Today I am thankful for Steve Hoggard. Little did I know what I was getting into when I married him. I know a lot of people make lists about what they want in a spouse. I didn’t make a list. I just had a fuzzy idea that I wanted a guy who was cute, smart, strong, loved God and had a sense of humor. Not necessarily in that order.
I married him because he was all of that! But what I've discovered over the years is that I also married a man who is kind, generous, faithful and hard working. A man who suffers well. A man who has the unique ability to accept me just as I am and yet still challenge me to grow. He dreams big, yet keeps up with small details. He gave me four amazing children and is such a good daddy to them.
I'm thankful every day for the extraordinary blessing of being married to my best friend.


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