Tips for a Happy #Homeschool Day
We're about 9 weeks into our homeschool year and all over the FB groups and such, I am seeing a lot of "Homeschool Mom Burnout", HMB for short. (I just made that up) Moms who are ready to give up and ship their sweet little hellions back to public school. Don't give up yet, Mama. With a few tips and tricks, you can turn that frown upside down and start to enjoy homeschooling again.
The key to a having a good morning, is to start at night.
1. Make sure they get plenty of rest the night before. Now, that doesn't necessarily mean put them to bed at dusk, if that works for you, fine, if not, that's fine too, just make sure they get enough rest, so they can focus the next day.
2. Make them eat some kind of breakfast. Something. In their belly. Not junk. I get it, some kids are just not morning people, or afternoon people, but your body didn't get the memo and it wants food.
Break it down for them, explain it to them like this... Your body is like a car, it needs fuel to work properly. It's been at least 8 hours since your last fill up and your "car" is empty. Then proceed to feed them something with some kind of nutritional value... scrambled eggs, toast, oatmeal, something.
3. Set the mood for the day. No, I don't mean dim the lights and light some candles, unless that helps, then, by all means... I mean if you are in a good mood, they will be too and vice versa. If you are excited about learning, they will be also. You are their barometer as to how the day will go.
4. Tell them exactly what you expect and give them an outline for the day. I find if a kid knows what they need to do, they will pretty much do it, but if they are left to their own devices, they would probably read a book and doodle all day. When you start "school", let them know, "We will do this, this and this, then we will take a break and have lunch.". Then, their brains go ahead and accept it and start to move on.
5. Be prepared. I can not express how much this one has helped me. Last year, we were mostly just winging it. I had some really fun workbooks and we went to the library a lot and we did other fun stuff, but this year, I decided to really get organized and it has helped me (and Micah) immensely.
Being organized doesn't have to be hard or complicated. You don't have to use some elaborate book and system with stickers and colors for every day and all that mess (unless that works for you, then, by all means, color code away). For me, simple is better. Maybe if I had multiple children that would be necessary, but with just one, I find this method works amazingly well.
For this schedule thingy, I used a calendar from Dollar Tree and some Post-Its. I wrote each subject on a Post-It, so he would know exactly what we were doing each day. I let him choose which subject to start first and as we finish, I let him pull the Post-It off. It's simple, but for us, it works. You could always add to this and write each assignment, for an older kid who is able to work independently.
As you can see, this is a very basic student agenda from Dollar Tree. It has just enough room for me to write down a brief description of what we are doing in each subject, each day, with room left over for extra curricular activities.
When I got the agenda, I took about two hours and sat down with my Little House 123 lesson plans and wrote out everything for a 9 week period. It was a bit tedious for my ADD brain, but I got through it and I can not tell you how much easier my whole day is now. Seriously.
The Little House curriculum has been amazing for me. I am not very good at lesson planning. I will find a million fun things to do, but none of them tie-in to each other, so it all ends up being a weird, jumbled mess of random information, I get frustrated, give up and we end up reading five books and calling it "school". That was last year. This year has been soooo much different.
Each day, I look in my handy dandy book and I see what I need to do and we do it. No whining, no fussing, no crying. (I'm still working on Micah though) *rim shot*..... *crickets*
Jokes aside, Micah has really taken to this curriculum. I love that it utilizes videos, because Micah is a very visual learner so this is perfect for him, especially since he figured out how to stream them to the living room TV, via the Xbox. We can sit on the couch, in our Pjs and "do school". How cool is that?!
I also feel that a routine is key to having a (relatively) stress free morning. Notice I didn't say a schedule. Routine is different. Schedule is: "We must do this at 8:01 or else puppies will die!" No, That sucks. Don't do that to your kids. Isn't part of the fun of homeschooling, the luxury to do things at your own pace?!
Do something fun in the morning to get the day started off right. (and get those bodies moving) I have recently been introduced to a fun (read as: low impact for Mom's old bones) yoga series for kids, Cosmic Kids Yoga. Micah loves this and will actually participate without whining.
Cosmic Kids also has a "Zen Den" series which I really love. It's a series of videos that help children focus, be more mindful and have better coping skills. I have actually listened to several of them and found them very relaxing and helpful. (and short-ish, which is great for my ADD brain)
This is one of my favorite ones. In this video she refers to the smell of fresh popcorn and I just happened to find a caramel popcorn candle at the Dollar store. One morning, Micah was being especially jerk-ish, so I lit the candle and we watched this video together and it really helped him to refocus and relax. (and Mom too)
What I'm really saying, as I ramble on is: find what works for you and don't get discouraged if it takes you a little while to figure it all out. It took me a year to find my groove and realize I wasn't like other homeschool Moms and that's OK.
In that year that I was "screwing up", Micah learned to read and spell. Yes, my five year old reads and spells better than most second graders. Somehow, someway, the learning happens, whether you are using an Erin Condren planner or just flying by the seat of your pants, so keep on keepin' on, Mama. You got this!
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with a complimentary subscription to ArtSquish, in exchange for my honest opinion.
When I decided to homeschool, I didn't really know exactly what I was getting myself into. I joined a few homeschool groups on Facebook, I did some online research (by "some research", I mean I spent hours and hours online looking through info and resources) and I finally decided there was really no way of knowing if I could do it, until I just jumped in and tried.
It's not that I really have anything against public schools per se, I just think Micah will thrive better in this setting and so far, he has. He just turned five in August and can already read most any word you put in front of him. He is an amazing speller and loves to learn about science-y stuff. He's not too keen on writing, yet and that's OK. I know in time it will become something that he will grasp, but until then, we are focusing on doing a lot of fun, artsy things, to build his fine motor skills and to let him get used to the feel of implements in his hand.
When I was doing my research, I found tons of curriculum choices and for the most part, they were all pretty similar. They all had the basics, Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies, but most of them lacked any Art lessons.
I am not what one would consider a very artsy person. I love and can appreciate all kinds of art, but when it comes to making my own... stick men give me problems, so I knew I would have to "outsource", if I wanted to include art in our homeschool. Lucky for me (and Micah), I was introduced to ArtSquish.
DISCLAIMER: I was provided with complimentary tickets and lodging in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.
When I was planning our recent trip to The Smokies, I knew it had to be extra special, as this would probably be the last vacation we would take as a complete family, since we would be dropping Kaylee off in Knoxville, for her freshman year of college at the end of our trip.
I knew we wanted to stay in a relaxed atmosphere, a place with lots of amenities and something fun for the little one. I Googled, I scoured all the review sites, I compared and I finally found a place that had everything we wanted, the room to spread out that we needed and was within close proximity to all the fun stuff in the Smokies. Say "Hello" to the RiverStone Resort, in Pigeon Forge, TN.
I gave you a little bit of background info on RiverStone, but I had to share some of the pictures I took while we were there, to show the full extent of how nice this place really is. Imagine waking up to this beautiful, expansive golf course, every morning and sipping coffee, while sitting on your private patio.
DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by the Barnes & Noble MasterCard, powered by Barclaycard. All opinions are my own.
The last couple of months have been full of some amazing new milestones. My "baby" turned five, my husband and I celebrated fifteen years together and my only daughter graduated high school and recently started college.
At first, things were going really well. We got her moved in, no problem. Her room mate is really cool, she loves her classes, her rug looks amazing with her comforter and she is already familiar with where each of her classes is located.
Everything was going swimmingly, until I talked to her about a week ago and she tells me she still doesn't have a few books she needs. Books?! Dang it!!! We thought of everything else, but we forgot books. We even remembered toilet paper and band aids. How did we forget books?!
What could have been a huge disaster (like a college kid four hours away from home with no money or car, huge), luckily was not, thanks to Barnes & Noble. Of course you know Barnes & Noble has all the newest books, but did you also know they carry new and used school textbooks?
After getting some info on the book she needed, I looked it up on the Barnes & Noble site and sure enough they had it and it was about $30 cheaper than anywhere else I found. I ordered the book, had it sent directly to her dorm room and it was there in a matter of days. Tragedy averted.
While I was able to save the day this time, what if wasn't a book she needed? What if it was something really serious? What would she have done? What would we have done? With her being four hours away, I will always have fears, but there are a few steps we can take to make sure she has a back-up plan, next time. Say "hello" to my back-up plan.... The Barnes & Noble Mastercard.
The Barnes & Noble MasterCard is a great credit card for parents and college students purchasing textbooks and supplies during the back-to-school season (and beyond). You will get 5% back when you use your Barnes & Noble MasterCard to buy school supplies and textbooks at any Barnes & Noble store, BN.com and at campus Barnes & Noble bookstores.
That 5% at back-to-school time can really add up. A recent study by the College Board shows the average cost for books and supplies last year was $1,225 at public colleges and $1,244 at private colleges. Using the Barnes & Noble MasterCard for those purchases at campus Barnes & Noble bookstores or at BN.com could give you an immediate $60 savings.
You will also receive a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card after your first purchase with the card and you will receive an additional $25 Barnes & Noble gift card every time you reach 2,500 points. (1 point = $1 spent) The best thing, in my opinion: there is no annual fee for the Barnes & Noble MasterCard. So you can use it if you need it, if not, just forget you have it. No worries.
While letting go of your favorite (only) daughter is never easy, you can ease your mind, knowing she has a back-up plan, in case of emergencies... and no, Kaylee, Dunkin Donuts is NOT an emergency.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a sponsored post.
Homeschooling without a dedicated room does not have to be difficult, you just have to get creative and make the most out of the space you have. Think outside the box. Use spaces you already have, in ways you wouldn't normally use them.
For example, turn your refrigerator into a word wall. Pocket chart + sight word flash cards = $2 word wall. The magnets holding the chart are DIY also. Bargain bin clothes pins + Dollar Store magnets = handy dandy word wall holder thingies.
You can also see in this picture, the numbers and continents on the bottom left. Those are educational vinyl clings you can find in most Dollar Tree stores. They can be easily changed and leave no sticky residue. Look around, there is space all around you that is just waiting to be used.
I also have a hack for storing allll those books and workbooks we homeschoolers seem to accumulate, but that will require a bit of cleaning on my part and today is not the day for that. I'll give you a hint... rolling Rubbermaid storage carts and magazine holders.
DISCLAIMER: Special thanks to "Clangers" and Coolabi for sponsoring today's post. All opinions and information in this post are my own.
Children are natural born learners. From the time they come out of the womb, they are already trying to figure it all out. Admittedly, in the beginning, it's usually very simple tasks, like figuring out where their next meal is coming from, but they are learning, nonetheless.
From the time they learn to walk and talk (and even before), children are curious about the world around them and for good reason: there's a lot of cool stuff going on out here. The sights, smells and sounds of nature are all around us and it's our job to make sure they experience it. You don't need any special training or equipment to enjoy nature, just use your eyes, ears and heart.
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