About Rest for the Weary

I hope you will find this little spot a place of rest and refreshment for your soul. My intention is to build up women in the trenches of homeschooling. This includes veterans who are burned out and former homeschooling moms who have decided for one reason or another to put some or all of their children in school. Thanks for stopping by. Take a deep breath of refreshment for your weary soul.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

5 Myths about homeschooling

Sorry I haven't been around lately.  I hope to begin writing more.  Life is sometimes a whirlwind.  I came across an excellent article about homeschooling myths. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Back to school

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Can you believe it is already back to school time? School supplies have been in stores around here for a couple of weeks now.  Many of you may be anticipating beginning your homeschool while others may be meeting brick and mortar school for the first time this fall with some trepidation.  Whatever the case may be, their are many preparations for getting ready for this time honored childhood ritual.  As a child, I loved starting back to school.  I enjoyed shopping for school supplies and new clothes.  The smell of new crayons brings back many fond memories.
I thought it might be helpful to remind you of posts from last summer on school preparations.
Creative school lunches
Backpack station
Clothing organization
Homework
Lunch making station
Organizing the large homeschooling family
Last year was such a big change for us, with all 5 children going to school, that I literally scrambled to get all of the above things accomplished to have a good transition into school.  This year I would like to do some special things before school starts to celebrate the end of summer and a new beginning of another year in school.  Maybe you would like to try some too.

Back to school rituals

1.First day of school photos

This is one thing I was really good about when I homeschooled all of my children.  On our first  of school, I took their picture with their favorite book.  Now that they are in school, I do the same thing except they are in school uniform.

2. School supplies

Let the kids go shopping with you for school supplies.  Splurge a bit and let them get some fancy pens, binders, or folders to make it their own.

3. Scrapbook

A couple of weeks before school starts, make a mini scrapbook of your summer.  My children did this, and we had a blast.

4. A special time for each child

When I was homeschooling, a week or so before school started, I took each child out individually for ice cream or some other treat and went over the coming year’s expectations.  This year I am going to take each child out for a treat and share memories from their first school year and our summer together.
What special things do you do with your children at the beginning of a new school year?

Being a stay-st-home-mom after homeschooling part 1: The change

Being a stay at home mom after homeschooling, removes the role of educator from mom.  Many mothers must enter the workforce while others will have little ones still at home. But what about the mom with all school age children?
This can be a difficult change, especially if you have been homeschooling a long time.  Homeschooling may be your identity and once shed, you may feel empty or unsure how to proceed.  Failure and guilt may plaque you as well.  (but that’s for another post)
When I placed all of my children in school, I was thrilled to be alone because I had been so burnt out.  I had an abundance of time to nourish my depleted body and soul.  I frittered away days in the eyes of the world.  I kept up the basics of the household and enjoyed the quiet that my introverted self missed for so many years.  For awhile this was fine, but after some time, my addicted-to-productivity-personality took up residence and sent fun packing.  I felt as useless as a 5th wheel because my very important job as main educator shiftedBeing just a mom didn’t seem important enough.
Writing a domestic rule of life along with a list of goals proved helpful.  With these in hand, I had direction instead of aimlessly wandering through the days unsure of what to do.
Filling the void of homeschooling poses difficulties.  If you are staying home utilize time to discover what you love.  Now is the time to investigate new hobbies, volunteer opportunities, or further your education.  Regain yourself outside of curriculum catalogs, lapbooks, and reading lessons.  Revitalize your vibrant personality and share it with your family.  It my feel scary or selfish to focus so much on yourself, but it will help you become a better wife and mother.
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Cons of homeschooling

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Are there cons to homeschooling?
This is a hard post to write because I once was unabashedly pro-homeschooling and didn’t really believe there were cons to homeschooling.    Now, I am still for it in the right circumstances,  but I am not an over-the-top-everyone-needs-to-homeschool-to-be-a-good-parent any longer.  Many of you may be churning around the school choice decision in your mind, so I wanted to offer a few cons that I have discovered personally or through friends through my many years of homeschooling.  These aren’t normally verbalized because to do so would mean that it is not the perfect form of education and many in the movement would not want to admit that.  But I want to share these homeschooling cons for consideration so that people can make an informed choice.

1.  Financial.

Most families give up a second income to homeschool.  It is very difficult to have both parents work and     homeschool, although not impossible.   Many families who homeschool make a lot of sacrifices financially to live on one income. This is good to a point (being thrifty is a virtue IMHO), but it can be problematic as the years go on because some accumulate debt, others go without some things that really are needed (like regular dental care), most can’t save a lot for the future, and others can’t get loans for homes and cars.

2. Learning disabilities.

For many children with learning disabilities, homeschooling can be ideal.  I am homeschooling my dyslexic daughter for that very reason.  However, if you homeschool from the beginning, you may not be able to catch learning disabilities as quick if you are not well versed with them.  Also, the homeschool community tends to tout a better late than early approach so many moms don’t begin to worry or question problems until much later than the schools would.  I have personal experience with this because my oldest son was diagnosed with several learning disabilities at age 10.  I was a firm believer in letting children develop when they were ready and took the aforementioned approach with learning to read. Had I been knowledgeable about learning disabilities or he had been in school, this may have been caught sooner.

3. Lazy, unmotivated students.

Some kids just do not work well for mom.  Many of them tend to be lazy and unmotivated without that outside accountability.  I found this to be especially true as they reach the middle school years and my boys were also more like that although that may not be typical.  I think it is due more to personality.  My lazy children work so much better for their teachers at school.

4. Parent-child relationship.

This ties in with the one above.  Many times if you have a lazy child, you will be on them a lot, nagging them to get their work done.  Often they will complain that the work is dumb or boring.  This can lead to a lot of tension between mom and child because it wears mom down. I know with one child of mine in particular, I was not willing to sacrifice our relationship any longer because of homeschooling.  Now that she is out of the house for her education, the tension between us has reduced.

5. Socialization problems.

This is the most common con that homeschool opponents put forth to homeschoolers. After homeschooling 7 children for 20 years, I believe that homeschooling is not always the best socially for SOME children.  Both of my adult children whom were homeschooled completely through high school, thought that they were at a disadvantage socially.  I think if you homeschool your children, you need to take personalities into account and make sure you have plenty of opportunities for getting your children involved with friends especially when they are teens.
I am sure there are other cons of homeschooling, but these are the ones I have noticed the most.  Feel free to share any cons you have encountered through homeschooling.

Fear and decision making

celeste faceMy sweet granddaughter.

I have been thinking about fear a lot lately.  Fear is a powerful enemy with the ability to steer decisions unless we make the conscious effort to control it.  When making a change from homeschooling to brick and mortar school, we moms can be afraid.  Our minds can conjure up a lot of scenarios that may never happen.  We need to make sure we are making these decisions with a calm and peace of soul.  Be at peace, dear friend with the decision God leads you to.  Here are a few posts that discuss this issue of fear.

Who is in Control?
Letting go of fear
Verses from Isaiah
My job vs. God’s job
What am I afraid of?

Update and making a school decision

Sorry that my little blog has been sorely neglected.  I have been doing some part time work in the spring and now this summer, I will be working close to full time so you may not see much of me. Also, my son just graduated high school so we have been busy with that.  Given those facts, my newest ebook is on hold for now.  I will try to post archived posts on making a school choice, and hopefully write a couple on the subject this summer.  My first ebook is still a good go to for seeing how I decided and the struggles I encountered.  Until I get those up, here is a new article on some ideas about making this choice.

Making a decision on school can seem overwhelming in the day and age when there are an abundance of options.  What was once an easy option for parents of days gone by has become a research infested frenzy on the part of parents.
Have we made this process so much harder than it has to be?  Many good people come from all school settings.  Research confirms that what happens at home is the biggest determining factor of school success.  As homeschool parents, we will be involved in our children’s education no matter where it occurs.  I think what used to be an easy process can become that way again.
Coming from an age of intensive parenting, we are now seeing a shift to more free range or 70’s parenting.  Our kids can and will manage if we give them the responsibility, and I believe this can extend to school choice as well.
Kids can do well in most academic settings if we care, and they apply themselves.  They have a good chance of carrying on our values if we live those said values and pass them on at home.
Deciding to send them to a school can be a leap of faith.  Trust in them to choose well and work hard, trust God to direct their path and protect them even if that may involve some painful learning situations, and trust someone else to teach and care for them while they are away from you.
To help ease the transition of handing over the educational reins, it helps to become involved by volunteering and attending school functions.  Also, getting to know other parents and the teachers can ease worries.

Creative school lunches

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When my children were homeschooled, they were used to eating leftovers or something we could make.  Now that most of them are in school, they take their lunch to school.  They miss leftovers or cooked lunches so I have been on the hunt for creative lunches for a while.  My oldest, in high school, can take leftovers and heat them in a microwave that they provide in the lunch room, but the others were growing tired of sandwiches.  Here are a few things I wanted to share in case anyone else is tired of the sandwich rut.

  1. Tacos:  I found a great way to keep tacos warm. Pour almost boiling water in a thermos and let it sit while you prepare lunch.  Heat meat, beans, or eggs (depending on the type you are making) to a high temp.  Wrap them in a warm tortilla and wrap the taco in foil.  Keep in the oven while preparing the others.  When they are done, dump water out of the thermos and dry quickly.  Put foil wrapped taco in thermos and quickly close the lid.  Do not include cheese, 1lettuce, tomatoes, or any other cold ingredients.  Put those in a separate container.
  2. Hot dogs or hamburger:  The same can be done for a hot dog or hamburger as above.
  3. Tortilla wraps:  We have been adding lunch meat, along with either a cheese stick pulled apart in half or a slice of cheese, wrapped in the tortilla.  If you have children who like veggies, add some lettuce and tomato as well.  I freeze the meat and cheese kind and pop them in the lunch boxes in the morning.
  4. Homemade lunchables:  My 11 year old son came up with this.  He cut lunch meat and cheese into squares and packed crackers.  He has really enjoyed this, and I am sure it is healthier and know it is cheaper.
  5. Homemade pizza: If your children don’t mind cold pizza, you can make your own pizza (or even make frozen pizza) and pack it.  Again, I freeze it after cooking it so they don’t need a cold pack.
  6. Boiled eggs and yogurt: Lately, I have been sending my children with a boiled egg (or two) along with a bowl of yogurt or a frozen tube of it.  It is a good mix of protein and is a nice change from sandwiches.

Tis the season…to be thinking about school options

Spring is the season in which homeschoolers tend to begin thinking about the coming school year.  Moms comb through curriculum catalogs, scour internet message boards to find the latest and greatest ideas for their new homeschool year.  For many, this planning is a means of helping them pull through burnout or a respite after making it through that burnout.  But for some, they don’t make it through the burnout, and spring, with its beautiful weather did not blow in new enthusiasm or sprout fresh solutions to the problems that still hold them trapped in the never ending winter doldrums.  Is this you, mom? You know you might need a change for your family, but maybe the what if’s in your mind’s eye are piling up like laundry in a large family.  Making changes for our families can be very scary especially if you have believed for a long time that homeschooling is THE best or only option.  I know because I was there.  It was agonizing making the choice to send my children to school.  I had a hard time finding support and stories of other moms who had made that change.  I needed to know what to expect. That is why I am writing a new ebook on deciding to send them to school.  This book will be a less personal narrative than my first ebook, Letting Them Go…to SchoolIt will explain fears you may have, benefits to school that you may not have realized, and some ideas on how to go about making the decision.  Included will be questions for you to reflect on as you are making the decision.  Look for it in the coming weeks.

Which is harder–homeschooling or brick and mortar school?

On the surface, homeschooling appears to be the harder choice. All of the lesson planning, implementing, discipline issues—in fact every single thing about your child’s education you are responsible for. It is a lot on anyone’s shoulders and not for the faint of heart. But after one has settled into the routine of homeschooling, is it really the harder choice for most people? I know for me, homeschooling was my comfy spot. I knew it because I had lived it so long. I was a pro at coming up with lesson plans and schedules. Brick and mortar school has become the harder choice for me at the time. There are several reasons I think this is so. If you are struggling with the choice to send your child to school or not, you may see a lot of similarities here.
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  1. Giving up control and trust someone else.  You won’t know everything your child is doing all of the time, who they are interacting with, what they are hearing/seeing, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Former control freak that I am, I had a big problem with this. I have gotten so much better, though.   Kids are resilient and can learn to feel responsible and independent without us always there for them.
  2. You aren’t the one solely responsible for their education. This goes along with the first one as well, but I had a hard time stepping back and taking a parental role. I had to sometimes clamp my mouth shut when I encountered mindless assignments that I felt were a waste of time. It really helped for me to read about letting my child be independent in his homework.
  3. Your child will encounter junk. No way around it. BUT they will encounter that among homeschooled children as well. I used to think we were safe with homeschooled children. Not so. Everyone has different standards as to what their children watch and listen to, and it will creep in. It was hard for me to allow this to happen (because I knew it would be more so in school), but it has prompted lots of good discussions. I am glad we are able to walk them through it now before they go off to college.
  4. You will have less time with them. I was very concerned about this at first because I wanted my children to be close. But I have found that the time we are together is so much better now because absence does make the heart grow fonder.
  5. Your schedule will change. Gone are the mornings of sleeping in, forfeiting school for a field trip, or taking a week of vacation in the middle of the year. It was an adjustment and a pain at times, but we have adapted.
School has solved several problems for me and quite worth it for us. But that doesn’t mean we have made an easy choice or that I gave up. It is just traded for other issues, and it is for each of us to decide which we can live with. For me, my sanity as a mother outranked everything else.

Whose needs are more important?

Sorry I have been quiet for a while.  Lots of life happening as usual.  I will explain that in another post, but for now, I wanted to share something that has been on my heart.
I have discussed before how you may feel trapped into homeschooling, and there are times when there is no other good alternative. Generally, this is when mom is healthy and the schools are just awful. But what about when mom is suffering to the point of exhaustion, depression, or even worse?
I have heard people tout homeschooling as always the best option, but I don’t believe that is so. Some say the worst homeschool situation is still better than the best public school. A mentally unhealthy or unstable mother is not best for her family. Depression does affect children, and what do we want our children to remember ? Depressed mothers tend to be more irritable and often want to be left alone. On top of this, they may heap guilt on themselves for doing a bad job at educating their children and neglecting household duties and fun activities with them. How can this be a good situation? At school, children can meet new friends and have fantastic teachers.
It greatly saddens me to see mother’s like this. I was this mom at one point. I have met many in real life and online. Often it is moms of many children. We do not have to be super mom. We do not need to find our worth in homeschooling. Homeschooling until you are dying on the inside is not a badge of good mothering. Extend yourself some grace and reach for a life preserver even if it be school for now.

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Dyslexia

I know I have been quiet most of the month.  That is because it is February.  February is typically hard for people, homeschoolers and others alike.  My 9 year old daughter is really struggling in school.  (this is her first year) Although they are making accommodations, the change in environments has been great.  I have done a lot of research and reading on dyslexia and how best to help her.  I thought I might share some of my findings because this is such a common learning disability:  1 in 5 people are dyslexic.  Many are very mild cases, and thus go undiagnosed.  My daughter is on the border of moderate and severe and it affects so much more than just reading.  Besides all of the language arts areas, it affects math, geography, handwriting, reading sheet music, organization skills, attention, and even social skills.
So, let me share with you a few of the sites I gleaned info from.
This first site is called Learning Abled Kids, and it is for kids with many learning disabilities.  There is a lot of good information on many things, and although it is geared towards homeschooling, she does discuss working with the school districts, IEP, and more.
Dyslexic advantage has a good online test if you suspect dyslexia.  Although not a formal diagnostic tool, it may give you some insights to your suspicions.  It also has great information on how it affects like in each subject as well as socially and emotionally.
This math you tube video is a godsend.  It is called multiplication lattice.  It has helped my daughter tremendously to organize her double digit multiplication.
My audio school has tons of free audio books which are great for dyslexics.  I know some people can’t afford a subscription to Learning Ally, but this is a good alternative.
Homeschooling with dyslexia is a treasure trove of helpful links and facts about dyslexia, especially for homeschoolers.  I especially appreciated the dyslexia simulations, called Experience Dyslexia so others could see how it feels to be dyslexic.


I’m looking forward to spring.
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Parents with a prodigal child

I have a prodigal son. No, homeschooling did not spare us from this because as I have said before, there are no guarantees with homeschooling. Many of you know the story, but if you don’t, in a nutshell, my oldest son, now 21, is bipolar and has thrown everything away we have taught him. He blames us (and homeschooling) for his problems, chooses not to get help through medication and therapy, been in jail twice, and doesn’t believe in God anymore. He has done almost everything I tried to protect him from.
It has taken me a long time to move through this, and really I am still in the thick of it. I think for homeschooling moms to have a prodigal child is especially painful because of the time and sacrifices we put into these children. I know for myself I was shocked that this could happen to us because I felt we did everything right. Sure, we made some mistakes, but we tried hard. What I have found is that you can do all of the right things, and they can still go astray. That is a rather depressing thought, but they are individuals with free will. We don’t control them even if we control the environment. They have to take on these values that we are trying so fervently to engrain in them. We have to take hope that we planted the seeds, and that in time, God will bring them to fruition.
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If you are the parent of a prodigal child, hang on. Know you did a good job. Not perfect but good enough. Don’t second guess. No brow beating. No dishing up guilty goulash. Extend grace for yourself and for others who are in the same situation. It can be easy to look at other families with a prodigal and think you know how it could have been prevented or fixed. But we don’t. We need grace and hope to hold on to, knowing God has got us and our children

Organizing the large homeschool family’s school room

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I moved this page I wrote several years ago from Squidoo since they closed down.  I hope some of you find it useful.  It includes many ways to organize your homeschool, especially if you have a large family.  Check out Organizing the large homeschool family’s school room.

14 things I learned in 2014

Today, I am linking up with Emily at Chatting at the sky.  Please feel free to add your link on what you learned in 2014.
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As this year comes to a close, I am reflecting on what I have learned this past year. Unlike some of my other years, this one has been less dramatic, but much change, some pain, and a lot of joy. For many years, my life was status quo, with little change in dynamics other than a new baby every other year. Now that the family size is stable, there hasn’t been much rhythm other than bumpy with lots of life alterations. Much of this adjusting was not sought, but it was needed for growth. So, here are 14 things I learned this year in no particular order.
  1. I am addicted to productivity. Being without my job of homeschooling mom, I found myself with a lot of down time. I have felt the tug of proving my worth by being productive. At times, just being a mom has felt so less than.
  2. Since I homeschooled so long, and had a large family, I didn’t realize how much I crave quiet and alone time until I put my children in school. I am a much better mother when I am rested and have been alone. My soul is tired, and the quiet solitude is just what I need.
  3. October marked the 1 year anniversary of the death of my father. I discovered I miss him so much more than I ever imagined I would. I thought this passage would be less painful since he didn’t live close and I only saw him a few times a year, but I was wrong. Thus I have learned how visiting family is so important. You don’t know how long you have them.
  4. In June, I celebrated 25 years of marriage. That same month, God blessed us with a pregnancy as a 25th gift, only to lose him in July. I learned that even though the odds say it is almost impossible for a 48 year old woman to get pregnant on her own, nothing is impossible with God.
  5. As a child, I devoured fiction books. Once I became a mother, I changed genre to non-fiction. When I began homeschooling, I once again read fiction aloud to my children. But I rarely read fiction for myself. This year I began picking it up again and realize how important it is to adults as well. It feeds ones soul and nourishes creativity unlike any non-fiction book can.
  6. I learned how to write, publish, and market an eBook! It was so exciting to go through the process that I may have to do it again.
  7. Along with my eBook, Letting them go to school, I set up my own website this year. There is a lot to managing your own website, but it has been such a growing experience.
  8. After watching the Titanic, I became interested in social classes and have been reading up on it. I am amazed at how people looked down upon others so easily based on something so silly, but I know we still have a ways to go as a society. All people have value because they are made in God’s image.
  9. With my free time this fall, I found I love to decorate my house, especially refinishing items and making crafty things.
  10. I learned playing in the rain is good soul therapy.
  11. Normally, I am not a beach person. I can’t stand the amount of work there is packing, washing, sand in the everything, but this fall during my 31 day challenge, I went to the beach. Alone. I found that it was very soothing to my mind, body, and soul, and that I am brave enough to go 3 hours alone.
  12. One very important lesson I have been learning over a number of years is moderation. I have tended to the extreme in many things in the past so I am seeking a middle ground of moderation in everything from parenting, schooling, eating, exercising, and entertainment.
  13. For years I have had a vegetable garden. I love the fresh taste of home grown veggies, but I am finding that I really only enjoy the work when I need time alone or when I am stressed. Something about digging in the earth appeases a frantic mood, but now that I have more quiet time, I am finding that I don’t need the gardening for that reason. I will probably still continue to do it on a smaller scale, but I won’t need to rely on it like I once did.
  14. This has really been a year of enlightenment for me in the parenting arena. I have questioned many of the things I have done in the past, my successes and my failures have been through a full evaluation. I notice from this thinking, and reading to an extent, have formed a new way of thinking about parenting and children which is very different from how I began as a parent. I think that is a good thing, to grow and admit what didn’t work and change things up.

Word for 2015

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I like to pick a word each year to be my main theme to work on.  Last year, I chose receive which proved to be more difficult than I imagined.  I didn’t always like what I received because I have too many preconceived ideas in my head on how life should look.  I still have a hard time with that control issue.  I want to run the show, be the one in the driver’s seat so to speak, but I am finding that receiving also requires releasing.  Releasing my expectations, my control, my desires so that I can receive what is meant for me.  “You have to let go of your ideal and find God’s ideal—then make that your reality.” (Ourbusyhomeschool.com) and “We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Joseph Campbell  This is what I am striving for, but it is so hard.  So my word this year, to go along with receive from last year is release.
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Is self-care a myth?

Recently on a forum, I noticed a conversation on “me time” aka self-care. Many of the moms were talking about how this time is a myth. It got me to thinking about the time when as a young, homeschooling mom, I read and believed that moms didn’t need to take time for themselves. It was touted as selfish, and if we did want it, you were not being content.
I really hoped by now we would be over this battle in the mommy wars, but it doesn’t seem so. Everyone is different in their need to recharge. Much has to do with personality and temperament, but why do we find fault with those who need time alone to recharge their mommy batteries, especially if it make them a better mom? And I am no longer convinced that all of this time spent with and around our children is such a good thing especially if our family become child-centered, meaning life revolves around everything they want and the parents think they need. (That is a topic for another post)
Anything can be overdone or be a channel for selfishness, but ordinary care to fill mom’s cup up so she can continue to serve her family is not wrong. Extend grace to other moms. We don’t know what they are going through, and we certainly don’t know what they need.
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Take care of yourselves, dear ones, so you can take care of your family

The effects of intense mothering

Society in general is in chaos, and parenting in particular is in trouble. Having been a parent for 24 years and having 7 children, I have learned a lot. From my observations, discussions with mothers, and reading, I have come to some startling conclusions that I never realized before. Intense mothering is in vogue, but it is not having the desired effects hoped for.
Has anyone else noticed the rat race of researching and finding the best of everything for your child? From childbirth options to school choices, we parents, and moms in particular, are running us into the ground, trying to make sure our children have the finest of every.single.thing. And it becomes a sort of competition among moms. (AKA Mommy wars) Wanting a top notched sterile environment for little junior, moms hover over their little ones like a mosquito lusting for summer skin. Fear fills the hearts of many and moms can be seen following their angel around holding hand sanitizer making sure the helmet is secured on tightly. We have become so hands on that we are squeezing the life out of our children.
This intense parenting takes on many other forms as well. Parents try to protect their children from teasing, physical pain, not being good at sports (losing), academic failure, and more. Many homes have also become very child centered whereas in years gone by it was not this way. The children’s schedule and activities dictate the family. Moms are busy shuttling kids from so many activities that she barely has time for a life herself. Her children are her life. She sets up play dates, hosts immaculate birthday parties, volunteers for everything at her child’s school, researches and implements the most pinterest worthy crafts and activities she can find, all the while hoping to win the mother of the year award .
How did we as a society get to this point? I think a lot of it stems from guilt and perceived societal expectations. Moms, whether we like it or not, bear the weight of how our children turn out. If things don’t fare well with our children, the blame lands squarely on our shoulders. Guilt in many forms (from being a working mother or whatever) also drives many mothers to be the best or to make up for some lack they feel.
This guilt and fear is steering our parenting choices and creating some disastrous effects for both mothers and children.   Today, more than ever, we see many clingy, selfish, demanding, narcissistic, entitled, weak, fearful, and irresponsible children. In moms, we see exhaustion, guilt, fear, pride, depression, and anxiety.
How do we turn this around? How can we become more merciful to ourselves and others? Knowledge of course is the beginning. I think many moms (and not just homeschooling moms) are hitting bottom, trying to keep up with some of these unrealistic expectations. It is time we start talking about these out of reach standards, and stop finding our worth in how our children turn out. At the end of the day, ask yourself if your children were fed, clothed, laughed, and played (and not necessarily with you.) If so, call it good. Drop the impractical list of needing to have the best of everything and know you are still a good mother.

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From Homeschool to School ebook

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I finally finished and formatted my ebook and have it for sale on Amazon.  It is a short ebook about my journey of putting my children in school after many years of homeschooling.  I discuss feelings and situations I struggled with and ones I found common among others I read about or talked to.  Please feel free to pass on the link. (any sales I make helps to pay for this webpage.  Thanks!)



Advent

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The Advent season is upon us, and it is a great time to add something different and meaningful into your homeschool or afterschool if you children are in school.  These are memories that your children will carry with them into adulthood.  Try some and find ones that resonate with you. After 7 children and 25 years, we have discovered quite a few Advent activities to help us along through the season.  Some we continued, like celebrating the traditional feast of St. Nicholas, and others, like the Jesse tree, we did when most everyone was young.  The interest in the decorations waned, but the memories are tucked safely in the cozy spot of their minds.
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I wanted to share a few traditions we tried and enjoyed.
St. Nicholas day activities
St. Lucy’s day (great to do if studying American girl doll Kirsten)
O Antiphons
Jesse Tree
The Twelve Days of Christmas
Assortment of activities and ideas to celebrate this season.
A few of our favorite Christmas books we read over each year.







Be thankful where you are right now

Thanksgiving is upon us once again.  I can’t believe how fast this school year is slipping away!  Of course this holiday reminds us to be thankful for the many blessings we have been given especially family, faith, food, friends, jobs, and more, but in addition to those normal things to be thankful for, I want to challenge all of us to feast on the idea of being thankful for where God has us right now in our roles as mothers even if it is not where we wish to be at the moment.  Some of you may be unhappy to be homeschooling, feeling trapped and depressed about it.  Maybe you had to put your children in school for many of the reasons I have talked about before like for financial reasons.  Whatever the case may be for your family, give thanks to God.  He does tell us in everything to give thanks, and that even means the things that aren’t quite to our liking.  I think if we can thank Him for those things, even if we don’t like them and we may change them, they can become sources of grace for us and are easier to bear for the time being.  Enjoy your thanksgiving, and I look forward to sharing more when the holiday is over.

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Latin Games

Several years ago, I created a post on Latin games to make learning Latin fun.  It was on Squidoo and then Hubpages, but I have since deleted it from those and put it here.  Feel free to pass it on to anyone who would like to use them.  I have it listed in my top menu bar for easy access.

latin games

Making homeschool curriculum work

After homeschooling 19 years, I tried a lot of curriculum, as in enough to begin my own homeschooling store. When things weren’t going well in our school, I tended to browse curriculum catalogs, ask opinions on homeschool forums and e-lists, to find a solution to our then current crisis. I found this quite common during the November slump as well as during winter burnout. Little did I realize (and it took many years—I’m a slow learner) that the answer wasn’t in the curriculum choice. It was in the teacher, ahem, me.
Mom, you make the curriculum work. Normally, children can learn from any type of curriculum if you apply two things: time and consistency. Any child can learn math facts from any number of ways: flash cards, computer games, songs, games, etc. Same thing with reading. Any phonics curriculum will teach a child to read (unless there is a learning disability) if you practice daily and give it time. I see many people give up too soon, thinking it is the curriculum. Change doesn’t come fast when learning. Either our children complain or we get bored or frustrated because it isn’t happening as fast as we would like so we switch curriculums assuming something must be wrong with the one we were using.


Years ago, class sizes were much larger than today and all children learned the same way. There is a tendency for homeschoolers to feel like they must tailor every subject to each child’s learning style. That is fine if you have the time, money, and desire, but many moms are struggling to keep up with everything else so adding curriculum hopping to the plate may be too much to carry. I held the belief early on in my homeschooling career that learning had to be fun and meaningful to stick. I practically killed myself trying to make school entertaining, and it was one of the things that contributed to my downward spiral into burn out. I constantly felt like a failure if my children didn’t like their school work and if I didn’t have what I deemed the best curriculum. I think this desire is fed by all of the information out there, particularly on the internet. It can be overwhelming to see glowing reviews of curriculum, wonderful blogs featuring hands on learning, and it can lead to a bit of discontent. We fall into the comparison trap and feel like we must have that type of schooling for our children. By all means research curriculum, but then pick one and stick with it. If after a good amount of time, if it truly isn’t working, then give it some consideration. Sometimes a new curriculum can bring in some freshness to a lagging homeschool, but often it brings added stress to a busy mom who has to research the new one and learn how to use it. That time may have better been spent in actual teaching instead of all of the legwork to switch to the newest thing on the market.

November slump/burnout for homeschoolers: Unit studies part 2

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Today I would like to share a few more ideas on some unit studies I have done in the past with my kids to help liven things up.  See part 1 here. 

Jan Brett Unit Study (this is a unit study I created based on Jan Brett’s Christmas Treasury and Jan Brett’s Snowy Treasury.)

DAY 1
1. Introduce Jan Brett. Read her biography online. Show various books she has written.
2. Locate her hometown (Norwell, MA) on a map. Find the distance between our hometown and hers.
3. Read Gingerbread Baby. Point out the hints in the borders. Show other books like that (The Mitten and The Hat) Tell about writing/drawing a story Jan Brett Style with borders. Be thinking of ideas!
4. Make Gingerbread baby cookies
DAY 2
1. Make Gingerbread characters for play/show. Gingerbread baby masks
2. Make gingerbread house on computer
3. make a chart/graph of favorite Jan Brett books. Begin asking people and write on Internet for people to participate.
4. Read the Mitten.
DAY 3
1. Read the Hat
2. Play Gingerbread baby board game
3. Practice Gingerbread baby show
4. Work on personal book Jan Brett style
DAY 4
1. Read Christmas Trolls.
2. Work on personal Jan Brett book.
3.Make Troll stew
DAY 5
1. Make Christmas tree cone
2. Read Annie and the wild Animals
5. Make Annie’s corn cakes
DAY 6
1. Begin reading Noelle of the Nutcracker by Pamela Jane illustrated by Jan Brett
2. Work on book
3. Practice show
DAY 7
1. Read more of Noelle of the Nutcracker
2. Practice show
3. Practice ballet steps
4. Finish book
DAY 8
1. Begin putting recipe book together from favorite Jan Brett story recipies.
2. Watch the nutcracker video
3. Finish reading Noelle of the Nutcracker and discuss
4. Read the 12 days of Christmas
DAY 9
1. Finish recipe book
2. Read the Wild Reindeer book
3. Make Wild Reindeer sandwiches
DAY 10
1. Read the Night before Christmas
2. Write Jan Brett a letter about your favorite book and why. Tell her about the author study we did.
3. Make
Hedgehog cookies
4. In evening: Display books, perform play and show graph to Dad)
Jan Brett coloring pages

November slump/burnout for homeschoolers: unit studies part 1

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Traditionally, you hear about homeschool burnout in January and February.  But after 19 years of homeschooling, I began noticing that burnout also occurred around November for a lot of homeschool moms as well.
My November burnout was never as intense as February, but it was there. The newness of the school year had worn off, and the holidays are just around the corner. I usually pushed us through November with our regular schedule and academics, adding in some fun Thanksgiving and fall crafts and read alouds. By December, I felt the crunch of the upcoming holidays and no one seemed to be able to concentrate on school work. So, December we took off from most of our formal school work other than math and reading daily. We used the rest of our time to study things about Advent and Christmas. This included lots of good stories, movies, baking, and crafts.
I thought I might share of few of these ideas I created or found that I used year after year. They hold great memories for our whole family. Now that my children are in school, we won’t have the time to do all of these things, but we will be doing the reading in the evenings and the baking and crafts on the weekend.
If you have not read this trilogy, I urge you to find them and read it.  They are wonderful. My teens even love to hear these every year.


Mini unit study for Jotham’s Journey.  Check out these other books in the trilogy, Bartholomew’s Passage: A Family Story for Advent and
Tabitha’s Travels: A Family Story for Advent.
I came up with some ideas to go along with Jotham’s Journey. It is really more of a loose rabbit trail that you can add to and/or change based on time or interest. After each idea, I have in parenthesis the week and day on which the idea comes from.
Week 1
Study Jackals. Jotham dreams and worries about these throughout the story and many people are not familiar with them so I thought they might be fun to research. (1-1 and 1-2)
Taste pomegranates and beef jerky, and grind wheat which were some of the foods that Jotham ate and maybe children haven’t tasted. (1-3)
The first week discusses family trees. Have your children research your family tree and make a poster, lapbook or notebook with pictures, birth dates, marriages, baptisms, interviews/stories etc. as far back as you want. Have children interview an older relative (great grandparent, if possible) about some past Christmas’ they remember, maybe traditions they remember as children. Also, this week is good to reference the Jesse Tree if you are doing one, since it is a family tree of sorts. (1-4)
Week 2
Write on parchment paper with walnut ink and quill pen (AKA a feather). Copy some passages suitable for Christmas or from here. Discuss how difficult this is and how hard and long this would have taken to copy all of the scriptures down. (2-1)
Make homemade Jewish bread. Have the kids knead it themselves and they can make it into shapes for a feast day such as Our Lady of Guadalupe or St. Lucy’s day. (2-5)
Locate several places that are referenced (Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth) on an ancient Israel map. This interactive map tells many interesting details about these places.
(anytime this week or after)
Week 3
Research and make kites. Jotham first encounters these when coming into one of the big cities. He is fascinated by them. It might be nice to add a religious Christmas theme on the kite and use Christmas colors. (3-3)
Research stars and how people used things such as the sun and stars to travel as the wise men did. (3-4)
Make Baklava. This is a traditional Greek pastry that Jotham comes into contact with during his travels. Give as a Christmas gift! (3-6)
I have purposely not included any activities for week 4 because of how close it is to Christmas. Instead, use this time to read this thrilling story and use the discussion questions to spark conversations.

Later in the week, I will share a few other unit studies with you.

Ways to lighten a homeschool mom’s workload: outside accountability


Many homeschool moms can become overwhelmed with teaching a lot of children especially when they have middle school and high school aged children.   Beginning in the middle school grades, some children become rather defiant, er, determined and exert their free will rather strongly.  They desire independence and accountability so outside sources can be very useful.  There are several ways to find outside accountability and reduce the mother’s workload.

simple-red-school-house


1. Homeschool co-ops. For those that live in or near a relatively large city, these may be an option.  I used one for my daughter’s high school chemistry class.  I did not feel competent enough to teach it so I outsourced.  Many co-ops have the harder classes available like math, science, and foreign languages as well as the fun, elective type of classes like drama and art.
2.Enroll in an online class for homeschoolers. While not accountable to a teacher in person, they still have the expertise of a teacher in whatever class they take. I have made use of online writing and Latin courses so I can recommend Bravewriter classes and Latin classes from Memoria press.  There are many others out there and new ones popping up all of the time.
3. Enroll in a homeschool program,complete with lesson plans, online class enrollment, and more. I have used 2 of these types of schools in the past:  Seton and Mother of Divine Grace.  It was nice to have teachers the kids could call when they were stuck plus the lesson plans all laid out.
4.Dual credit or college enrollment. Obviously this is for the high school age children beginning in 11th grade in most states. I had my son take his welding classes at a community college.
5. Online public school such as K12. This includes lesson plans and online classes with certified teachers leading the classes. These are done at home.
6.Brick and mortar school. This may be an option for some people who have been homeschooling. Both private and public schools have their pros and cons, but there are many wonderful things about both.  They can provide opportunities that you cannot replicate at home. You can find substitutions for some of these opportunities (like sports and great science labs), but for some, having it all in one place and giving the accountability completely to someone else can be so helpful.

What ways have you found to help your teens and lighten your load as a homeschool mom or former homeschool mom?