Waiting

I spend a lot of time waiting.  Waiting in lines.  Waiting to pick up KJ from school. Waiting in the doctor’s office.  All this waiting can add up to more than a hour of time a day!  With this new found time, there are 8 things you can do while you wait.

Communicate:
Waiting can be an opportune time to pray.  It is a time that is generally quiet and uninterrupted.  Praying can re-set your mood, re-fuel your spirit, and re-connect with the Lord.

Check Social Media:
This is the most obvious and the one we all do naturally.  Email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs are a great way to stay connected to everyone in your circle whether personal or professional.

Conversations:
Waiting in your car is a great time to return missed calls or make appointments assuming there are no kids with you or loud external distractions.

Comprehend:
For  me,  waiting is an idea time to read a book.  I generally keep something   to read in my car, my handbag, or my Android.  If you do not enjoy reading,  listen to an audio book.

Create:
Why not be creative. Start a family journal. Knit. Plan your garden or decorating project.

Calendar:
Another wise way to use “wait time” is to update your calendar by preparing for the day, the week or even the month.  I like to have a framework of what to expect at least daily and when I have those tasks complete, I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Clean:
I store shopping bags in my car for a quick clean up while I am waiting for KJ to get out of school.  It amazes me how much stuff we accumulate in a short time.  I once found a fossilized french fry marinated in spilled chocolate milk encrusted with a mixture of road salt and baseball dirt.  Yuck! Since then I have tried to take any trash out more often and do a quick clean up. I also keep baby wipes in the car to clean up spills, and to wipe down the dash (as well as any other disasters  that may happen).

Culinary and Couponing:
This is a good time to plan menus, make shopping list, clip, download and organize coupons.

Team Moms’ Bonus:
During my down time, I can plan for the next game/event, attend to administrative duties, answer emails, and update the teams’ Facebook Page.

How do you spend your wait time?

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I’m always on the hunt for good christian books for kids, especially those with good messages.  One such book is Blotch: A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace by Andy Addis.

This is a story about a little boy named Blotch who realized he was not perfect because of the blotches on his skin.  He very much wanted to know why he had these blotches and how to get rid of them.  He set out on an adventure in search of answers.  A long the way, he met other people with these blotches and asked many questions, but no one could explain the stains on their skin.  Disappointed, he diligently continued on his journey traveling from village to village searching for answers until he met a man…

Blotch: A Tale of Forgiveness and Grace

Blotch is a good way to introduce children to the gospel.   It not only explains sin in a kid-friendly manner, but also provides parents with a chapter-by-chapter discussion.  I recommend this book as a way to share the gospel with kids.  Because it is simply written and illustrated even kids of an early age can understand it.

______

(Disclosure:  B & H Publishing provide a copy of this book for my honest review.)

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I didn’t know what to expect, but there it was.  It intrigued me.  It was different.  I flipped through it.  Examined it.  Read it.  Interesting.

Finally, a devotional for women by women, speaking to the heart of women.  It is not a devotional laced with personal stories, but is beautifully sown together by passages of the Bible.

From Genesis to Revelation, The Devotional for Women, walks you through the Bible from the beginning to the end.  At the end of each devotion is a guided prayer and a place to write your “personal reflection”.  There is also a “Daily Bible Reading Plan” in the back that corresponds with the devotions.

The Devotional for Women

Honestly, I am not a big fan of devotions, but this one is different.  It speaks to the heart of every day women who want more from a devotion.

__________

(Disclosure:  B & H Publishing provided a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.)

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As most know, we homeschooled KJ for two years. It was a time of blessing as I watched him thrive and grow.  My time was short, but I gave him a strong foundation for what happened next… I had to return to the workforce, not by my choice or my family’s choice -the economy.  We were fortunate  to find a solid classical christian school whose curriculum is almost identical to what we were using. The transition was fairly easy. KJ made new friends. He was doing well academically. All seemed fine until midway into the school year something changed. This is my story why I want to return to homeschooling.

The Change:

Sometime following Christmas Break, my sweet son went from the I-can’t-wait-to-get-school kid to the crying-don’t-make-me-go kid.  I was confused.  I didn’t understand.  After all he and his new bestie were very close and had made plans to become brothers.

At first, I thought KJ just needed time to readjust to his routine.  But it continued almost daily, and grew worse and eventually it all came to the day (or night).  He was sobbing.  I was teary-eyed.  I snuggled him and asked him to tell me what was wrong, because I couldn’t help if I didn’t know what was on his heart… KJ began pouring out his six year old heart to me.

I learned two things that night, first, he was stressed because wasn’t doing as well as he wanted to.  The truth is he is an A/B student on a harder grading scale than the average school. Secondly, he wanted to return to homeshooling.  That night I promised him that as soon as we can we will homeschool again.  Three years later, he has not forgotten my promise and reminds me periodically that it is his heart’s desire to homeschool.  I have not forgotten my promise to him.

THE BEST CHOICE:

KJ’s school is good.  It is grounded in the Word of God. He is growing academically and he has good friends.  But,  he is 100% boy. He is active.  He is curious.  He is easily distracted.  Sitting in a classroom for hours at a time with little free time and limited recess it not good for him.  KJ needs to be able to move about, stand up, sit down, lay down, jump, and sing.  It stimulates his brain and burns off energy!

He needs to be able to move at his own pace.  Move faster through subjects that are easy for him, take longer on subjects that are more challenging, and spend more time on subjects that he is interested in.  In any structured classroom this may not be possible, because everyone has to keep the same pace.  If some kids are behind they have to catch up – which may cause frustration.  If some kids are ahead, they have to wait for others- which usually causes boredom.  Either of these combinations can cause disruptions in the classroom that must be addressed by the teacher thereby taking time away from teaching.

THE FLEXIBILITY:

The flexibility of homeschooling is a huge plus. There is flexibility in what to teach, how to teach, and when to teach.  If we want to jump on one foot while singing the Timeline song we can!  If we want to go outside for science to explore the insects and plants we are studying, we can. We can even have a field trip to the zoo or aquarium.

We can homeschool in the car by listening to memory work, reciting facts, and yes, your child can read in the car instead of playing a video game or watching a movie.  We can homeschool when out of town.  If I need to go to help my parents, it’s not an issue.  I just pack up the wheely cart with the school work and go!

These are just a few reasons I believe homeschooling is the best choice for us.  But for now, KJ will attend his private school until I can return home.  There are many points of view regarding education overall. The only opinion that matters is yours . The only choice that matters is what works best for your family.  Whatever your choice of education, it should be a family decision that has been discussed and prayed over.

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How to Choose curriculum for your homeschool

Now that you’ve read my posts how to survive your first (or 21st) homeschool convention.  We’re ready to learn how to choose curriculum.

As you can imagine, there are many curricula to choose from including classical, traditional, teacher lead, and online academies.   Curriculum is available from  preschool to  high school and college with varying prices to fit any budget.  There are a few points to consider when choosing:

STEP 1: DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS

Determine what you are looking for by asking yourself some simple questions:

  • What is the age of my  child? This is a simple question, but a necessary one. The age of your child will help determine the general grade level he/she is educationally.
  • What is my child’s ability?  What does your child know? Maybe he is more advanced in some subjects and struggles in others.  That’s one of the good things about homeschooling, you can adjust the curriculum to meet individual needs.  If you want to get a better idea of his knowledge, there are placement tests you can use.
  • Does my child have a learning disability or special need? The curriculum for children with learning disabilities and special needs have come a long way in the past several years.  Companies are now publishing curriculum specifically designed for these children. There is also a lot of free resources and encourage  online as well.
  • How does my child learn?  Knowing how your child learns is as important as knowing their ability.  If you are not teaching in their individual learning style, simple tasks can be confusing and in the end cause frustration.  There are seven styles of learning, but three are the most common; hands-on (kinesthetic), visual (see it) and auditory (hear it).  Sometimes there was will be a combination. For example, KJ is a musical and kinesthetic learner.   I have found that if I put the more challenging things to music/rhythm along with hand motions, he gets it!

STEP 2: EDUCATION STYLE/FORUM

Just as there are different learning styles, there are different education styles or forums:

  • Traditional Education: For most of us when we hear this term we think of public school with classes being taught that we as parents have no control over.  I use this term in the sense of teacher-led classes.  The parent as the teacher with the freedom to choose the subjects your child will learn, but with a more industrial age (modern) curriculum.
  • Classical Education: This style of education is also teacher-led and not only includes reading, writing, arithmetic, and science, but Latin, Greek and ancient history usually starting with “In the beginning” (Genesis 1).  This is our preferred choice because it is Biblically based which is very important to us.  Learning Latin and Greek improves language skills. Science is based on the word of God not the “big bang theory”, and history starts at the beginning of the world.  Think about it.  Most of the history taught in public schools begin with the founding of the new world.  There was no history until God created the world!
  • Online/CD:  There are many good options for online or CD driven programs.  More and more private schools are now offering classes online and you can often choose the subjects  you want your child to take online. This is especially nice if you are not comfortable teaching Latin or calculus.

STEP 3:  ADDITIONAL SUBJECTS

Decide what subjects you will teach in addition to the standard reading, writing, math, and science.  Will you add a language?  If so, will it be an ancient language (i.e. Latin, Greek, Hebrew) or will it be a modern language (i.e. Spanish, French or German)?  Will you add art history or music?

It is important not to over extend your child’s or your time.  Don’t try to cram too many subjects into one day or school year, this will only cause burnout and frustration for everyone.  Remember that one reason to choose to homeschool is to allow your child to grow and learn at their own pace.


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Survive 1st Homeschool Part 2

In Part 2 of the How To Survive Your First Homeschool Convention, I will share more tips to keep you organized and provide information you may not know about the convention.

LOGISTICS

Whether you have pre-registered or not, the first step is to check in at the registration desk.  There you will be given a packet containing a schedule of workshops and vendors, wristbands, an audio order form, and other items that may interest you.

Take time to look through the packet especially the schedule and tentatively plan your day by highlighting the workshops you’re interested in then write them down in the 2016 Homeschool Companion Guide I designed to keep you organized.  Do the same for any vendors you’re looking for or want to know more about.  There is also a section in the Guide for vendors that can be organized by child or subject and a place to tally the costs to help keep you on budget.

In your registration packet you will receive a wristband for each family member registered. These wristbands allow entrance into the workshops and exhibit hall.  You will only receive one wristband per person for the entire convention. It is important not to lose them.  I always put my wristband on just snug enough not to fall off and loose enough that I can slip it off my arm at night. I also put the wristband in my handbag for safe keeping.

ORGANIZE

If you print my Guide, three-hole punch it, and place it in a three-ring binder.  You can either keep it intact as is or use dividers to organize it into workshops, vendors, and wishlists.  The homeschool schedule can also have a place in the binder for easy access.

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW

Save Money: If you plan to attend an out of town homeschool convention, register early for discounts.  You can also volunteer a few hours to receive free or reduced admission price for you and/or your family.

Discounts:  Look through the homeschool schedule for discounts and specials for curriculum.

Logistics: Reserve your hotel as soon as possible especially if you want to stay close to the convention center. Some hotels partner with the homeschool convention and offer special rates.

Missed a Workshop: Was there a workshop you really wanted to attend, but forgot the time, or just couldn’t make it?  No worries, just order the audio version and pick it up at the conference.

Extras:  Some events, including special guest speakers, programs, children conferences, and audio recordings are not included in the price of admission and will cost extra.

Homeschool conventions are large, but with a little know-how and planning you should not be overwhelmed like I was at my first convention. Remember to go here to receive my Free 2016 Homeschool Convention Companion Guide.


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Survive your 1st homeschool convention I admit I was overwhelmed  by my first homeschool convention.  No one told me what to expect other than “there’s a lot of stuff” and “you can spend days going through it”. No “what to’s” or “how to’s”.  I was on my own, kinda like the first day of Kindergarten – not knowing what to expect. So you won’t be overwhelmed, here are some tips to survive your first homeschool convention!

BE COMFORTABLE

There is no dress code for the homeschool convention.  I’ve seen moms dressed from heels to sneakers.  I suggest wearing comfortable clothes and shoes because there will be walking, lots of walking.  Wear what you are comfortable in, be it heels or sneakers.  Just remember the walking.

BE NOURISHED

There are food and drink vendors throughout the convention hall including coffee stands. But I suggest taking a few bottles of water and quick snacks. Most of the food vendors are located in one general area and you may be in a workshop on the other side of the convention hall when the need for refreshment or nourishment arises.

BE PREPARED

I was not prepared for my first homeschool convention.  I didn’t have a notebook or pen. I didn’t have any knowledge of any curriculum other than AIG Preschool and Classical Conversations.  I realized just how unprepared I was when I walked into the exhibit hall and glanced upon the sea of resources! Here are a few quick tips to help you prepare.

When you check in, you will be given a registration packet that includes a schedule for each day’s workshops, a list of vendors, and a map.  Peruse it.  Familiarize yourself with it.  Highlight the workshops and vendors that interest you and/or write it down in the 2016 Homeschool Convention Companion Guide that I designed. Having a general plan is better than having no plan.

Bring pens/pencils, highlighters, paper and a 1 inch 3-ring binder.  You will need these if you plan to attend any of the workshops.  The binder will keep you organized and serve as a lap desk.

BE EDUCATED

There are many, many, many workshops.   There are workshops from how to teach, what to teach, and when to teach to how to parent preschoolers, tweens, teens, and special needs. How to manage your time, your children’s time to  how to organize your home, your homeschool, and your menu.  There are workshops for homeschool legal issues, political issues, and inspirational stories.  All the workshops are very informative and you will learn tips that can be used at home.

BE MOBILE

Mobile? Yes mobile.  Take a rolling cart, wagon, or wheeled back pack to carry notebooks, water, snacks, and all the information you’ll collect.  Being mobile will free your hands to explore and it makes getting back to the car or hotel easier.

BE PATIENT

Be patient and enjoy yourself!  This is the time to learn,  be refreshed, and be inspired.  Just in case I have not emphasized it, there is a lot to see and do.   So take a deep breathe and go!


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Homeschooling working momHomeschooling is hard.  Being a working mom is hard.  Being a homeschooling-work-outside-the-home-mom is exhausting!  But it can be done, and it can be done well with lots of planning and creativity.

SUPPORT:

If you’re a work-outside-the-home-mom and considering homeschooling, the first question you’re probably asking yourself, is what to do with your children while  at work?  Family.  If you’re fortunate to live near family, ask if they are willing and able to help while you’re away.

Another option is to find a nanny who is qualified to supervise/guide your children while you’re at work. I researched homeschooling nannies out of curiosity and found there are some companies who  provide this service.  In centuries past, a nanny was more commonly known as a “governess“. Of course, this option depends on your personal financial situation.

It will take some planning with either of these options.  A schedule and lessons will need to be prepared for each day. Remember to check your State’s laws regarding what you can do, cannot do, and are required to do.

OLDER CHILDREN:

Older children who are responsible, capable and need little to no supervision can manage on their own for a few hours to complete their assignments. But, with any minor child, there should be rules for their safety while you’re away.  For instance, you may want to make a no going outside rule, a no opening the door rule, no friends over rule. If you don’t have a security system on your house, you may want to consider it for added safety.

TAKE KIDS TO WORK:

Do you own a business?  Why not take the kids to work with you?  Create a space specifically for a “classroom” that will be near you and safe from any harm.  Make a comfy area for reading, doing school work, and creativity.  Provide a computer for their use only, especially if you use an online curriculum as part of your home education.

This is not a new concept.  In early America, children were included in almost every area of their parents’ daily lives.  If the parents owned a business, it was not unusual for the children to be nearby helping out in the “store”.  We have gotten away for the idea due to so much liability.  But if you own your business you can ensure their safety. Again, remember to check State laws and in this case,  your insurance policy.

 ONLINE CURRICULUM:

Another option to successfully homeschool, is online curriculum.  There are many, many options such as Alpha Omega, Liberty University, and Time 4 Learning.  There are also some private (and public) schools that offer online learning.  It’s just a matter of choosing which program is best for your family.

Homeschooling is a life changing decision, not only for you, but the family as a whole.  The decision should be made by the family.  Boundaries, guidelines, planning and scheduling need to be set to ensure success and everyone involved needs know what is expected. However, homeschooling should have the flexibility to ebb and flow with life’s ever changing pace.  Flexibility is one of the keys to homeschooling, and let’s face it, what working mom (or any mom) doesn’t wish for flexibility!


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Working mom homeschol

It’s Homeschool Convention Season! W0o-hoo!  Hubby and I look forward to the MidWest Homeschool Convention every year.  When you put two people who love reading, history and education in a convention center filled with endless possibilities- its a date!

You’re probably thinking, what does a work-outside-the-home-mom know about homeschooling? I homschooled our son for a season, and prefer it to  other choices.  But life happens and we have to make the best choices according to our means.   It’s our desire to return to home education, but in the meantime, KJ attends a classical christian school.

When KJ began school, we continued go to the homeschool conventions.  The expressions on the vendors’ faces are priceless when we tell them we no longer homeschool, but enjoy perusing the resources and attending the lectures.  There are lectures from parenting, special needs, and education to organizing, saving money and making money.

We take KJ with us on Saturday, when he is out of school.  The convention is where his desire to learn the violin was sparked.  The place he discovered he wanted to learn to play chess.  The place he was mesmerized by robots.  The place he was fascinated by microscopes, and the place he found historical books to read.  It stirs the imagination of the young mind, and encourages learning in subjects your kids may not be introduced to otherwise.

If you are a working mom (or dad) who is actively involved with your child’s education, or considering your options, I encourage you to attend a homeschool convention near you.  You will find resources and hear lectures to guide you.

While you’re there, you may also find some encouragement of your own. There are vendors dedicated to nutrition and food preparation and organization/planning.  There are wonderful books. Classical books.  Christian books.  Art books. You may even find something that ignites a passion that you never knew you had.

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A Working Mama Goes to the Homeschool Convention

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Super Working Mom SyndromeFor years, I suffered from Super Working Mom Syndrome.  It’s a condition that causes working moms to believe we have to do everything and do it to perfection while looking our best in heels and lipstick.  The good news is, we can overcome it!  I want to share four things  I’ve learned from being a working mom.

  1.  I don’t Have to do Everything:  You know the mom who has it all together? Her household runs smoothly. She prepares gourmet meals, and provides for her family all while looking amazing! Her husband and children adore her.  We strive to be her.  Yes, the legendary Virtuous Wife.  She seemed to do it all, but most of miss the fact that she did not do it alone! She had maidservantswhether free or bond, she  had help. She delegated tasks and duties.  Most of us don’t have the financial means to have a household staff.  But, what we do have is a family. Every capable person can lend a hand in maintaining order in the home. Lesson 1: We need to learn to appropriately delegate tasks because we do not have to “do it all” by ourselves.
  2. Crockpots are our Friend: There are a gazillion recipes for crockpots meals, including pre-made frozen dinners.  Just drop and go and dinner will be ready for the hungry family when we get home. SideTrackedSarah.com and Crock-Pot.com are two sources for yummy meals. Lesson 2: Gourmet meals are not necessary. Focus on yummy and nutritious meals that are quick and easy. 
  3.  Schedule Everything: Time management is essential.  As a working mom I think of time often- what time do I need to be there? How much time will it take to get to point A to point B? How much time will it take to perform a task, etc. My solution is to schedule everything, including laundry.  This method works well for me as long as I have time to do it.  I also like to make a list of things I need to accomplish and fit it into my day – crossing tasks off my list gives me joy! Lesson 3:  I control my agenda, my agenda does not control me. Don’t stress if a task is not completed when it is scheduled.  Just move it to the next day.  It will still be there.
  4.  Sunday is Essential: Many of us feel guilty if we have a day of rest.  A day we do not do anything.  No laundry.  No vacuuming.  No cleaning.  No running errands.  When I was a little girl, we rarely did anything on Sunday.  After Church, mom would make pizza for lunch and we would visit my grandparents or go for a Sunday drive.  I miss those  days. (Sigh) Rest is a commandment.  God commanded a day of rest in which no work is to be done.  For Believers, by tradition,  that day of rest is Sunday. Our day of worship, rest and refreshment. Lesson 4:  Do not feel guilty about a day of rest.  God rested on the seventh day.

I confess I have not perfected any of these.  At times I still struggle, but I take it day by day.  Don’t give up!  We can rid ourselves of the Super Working Mom Syndrome with delegation, preparation, rest and of course, prayer.

 

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