Monday, August 31, 2009

Homeschoolers in the News

If you know me, you know I'm a big Florida fan. Having Tim Tebow lead the football team as the quarterback is especially fun since he was homeschooled K-12. Now, he uses his platform as a famous college football player to promote causes with an eternal impact rather than focusing on building his prospects for future personal fame and fortune. So, from time to time, I will post articles about him on the blog.
Enjoy this one. :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Little Entrepreneur

~The first 8 bars of a 40 bar order~

Rebecca wanted to learn to make soap a few years ago, so I signed her up for a one day class thinking she'd make a few bars and be finished. Nope. She decided to start a little business.

For awhile she set up a little stand at the end of our street and sold to the neighbors. (We live on a dead end street in a very rural area, so that was the only traffic.)

One lady who loved the bar she bought, placed an order for 40 small bars to give away to her home health care business customers. Now she has ordered 40 large bars to resell at the local craft fair. My baby has become a wholesaler at 10!

Friday, August 21, 2009


I finally got my scheduling for the year finished. I knew WHAT I was going to use for school this year, but I hadn't figured out the details of how or when.

People have all kinds of ways to "schedule" their year/week/day, but this is how I do it.

First, I make a list of all the "subjects" I want to teach. I make a separate list for each child, because then I write next to each subject, the way I plan to teach it.

Like this...

It looks like alot, but some of the "subjects" only take 5-10 minutes, and some aren't done everyday. Then I make another list of how many times per week each subject needs to be assigned in order to achieve my objectives for them. For example, math is assigned 5 days per week, but logic only 3 days per week.
Next, I look at our calendar and assign the subjects a "day". Notice in the picture below Tuesdays seem to be lighter while Wednesdays are heavier. That's because we have two "extras" (piano lessons and art) on Tuesday afternoons, but Wednesdays we're home all day. Each child gets her own because their schedules are a little different and they are in different grades, so the amount of work required is a little different. This schedule is flexible depending on our actual week, but I try to follow this guideline as best I can.

Next, I move to planning a specifc week. I only do one week at a time -usually on Sunday afternoon - so that I can make adjustments as needed depending on our schedule. Below is a picture of the sheet I use. I just made it on Exel. Each child gets her own up on the fridge Sunday night. I make a copy of each one and put it in a binder for my own reference, because they mark theirs up pretty heavily. If you're wondering what "couch" is, that's our reading time that we do together in the morning. "Extras" are any appointments/lessons we have.

When it's filled out it looks like this...

The "x's" in a box means that subject is not assigned on that day.

We've used this little "grid" assignment sheet for years. When they were very young, I didn't post it on the fridge. They didn't really know I had a plan. We just moved from one fun learning activity to another. When they got a little older they got one of their own every day, but with far fewer subjects than I've listed here. About 2 years ago, they got one for the whole week. Each year it changes a little, but the overall concept stays the same. I tried to change the layout of this little assignment sheet this year, but it made me confused, so I went back to the old standby.

Do you have any scheduling tips?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When do you start?

This is why I don't start a full school schedule in August. I have to turn this...

Into this...

Not to mention all the berries that are made into jam, corn and peas that are shucked and frozen, beans that are snapped and canned. It is ALOT of work, but so nice to have in February.

This year the girls have been a super help - peeling, cutting, chopping, measuring, filling jars. I'm very thankful they enjoy doing it.

So, we'll be starting "official" school in September when the kitchen isn't so hot. When do you start?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Chicken crisis

Yep. We have chickens. I don't know why. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be living on a "mini-farm" at nearly 40 years old.

Anyway, the girls have named our 6 chickens and love to go hang out with them. Why? I don't know. (Seems like I don't know much, huh?)

Yesterday, they saw a big cat hanging around near the coop and were a little worried that the cat would bother the hens. "No worries," I said. "Those chickens are as big as any cat." At that, we left for piano with the chickens scrapping around in their large fenced in area.

When we returned from their lessons, Sarah made a bee line for the chicken yard and all I could hear was hysterical screeching from her. Apparently 4 of the chickens had been carried off by some hungry wild critter. The two remaining chickens were busily going about their business as if nothing had happened.

We checked the yard and could find no signs of a struggle just a few feathers near the garden.

That's not enough feathers for 4 chickens. I could not understand how a cat (or anything for that matter) could carry off 4 chickens and leave only a handful of feathers on the ground. Maybe one got "got" and the rest escaped to the trees. Maybe they'd come home in the evening when it was time to roost. None of these were viable options in my kids' minds.

Sarah was hysterical, Becca was reservedly gloomy, and I was bummed because we'd been feeding these chickens for nearly 5 months and now that they should start laying eggs any day, 4 are GONE.

The story does have a happy ending. About an hour later, Rebecca was on our playset and heard something in the bushes...all 4 chickens. I guess they literally "flew the coop". We had clipped their wings, but I guess it's time to do it again. Not to get cliche happy, but they probably realized that the "grass was greener of the other side of the fence" since they have totally destroyed every bit of grass they had in their yard. We let them out in pairs in a small chicken tractor, but I guess that's just not enough for them. They had tasted the good life and wanted more. I just glad for the girls that they are all accounted for. :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Where do I go from here?

I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. Isn't that another world for middle school? The place between having fun without a care in the world elementary school and the get down to business, college entrance, and your future is at stake, high school.

Part of me wants to continue the unstructured learning that we have done the past five years, and the other part of me worries that if I don't get a little more "rigid" we'll miss alot of the credits needed for college entrance. Part of me thinks, but they are still babies, and part of me is reminded (daily) that they are becoming individuals and will (sooner than I'd like) be leaving my nest.

So what's a mom to do? Their personalities are shining through and they are testing the waters of independence. I want to push them academically, but at the same time I don't want them to lose the love of learning they have. I feel like I should be pointing them in some direction to help their future. But what direction?

Several wise homeschool veterans have told me "Don't let the good get in the way of the best, especially as your children get older." They are completely different in almost every way, so this year is going to be a fun journey discovering what is "the best" for each.

Welcome to my new blog!

Many of you have been reading my blog posts on my website, Homeschool By Design, but I have found that posting there has become tedious and time consuming.

We'll see if this makes it easier for the blogging part anyway.