Category Archives: Scheduling

Working and Homeschooling

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Crestview Heights Academy Working and Homeschooling

For most of my homeschooling career I have worked part time while I homeschooled. When I first started our daughter out in Kindergarten, I was running a home daycare that I continued until she was in second grade. Then I babysat just for a couple of children. I have also taught special interest classes at our local community college and libraries, created my own downloadable activities for sale at Crestview Heights Academy, and currently am the print editor at Home Educating Family.

I would be dishonest if I tried to say that it was easy to work and homeschool. It’s not. Sometimes I feel like I am doing a disservice to one or the other. Sometimes I am stressed out. Sometimes I have trouble keeping up with everything. And often I am missing out on personal things that I enjoyed. Still, I wouldn’t trade either one. I love homeschooling, and even with working part time I am still spending more time with my kids than if they were in traditional school. And I also love the challenge my work gives me and the connections I have with adults through it.

Here are a few things I have learned about working and homeschooling:

I can’t do it without God. Without prayer and time with God, my days are sure to go haywire. Spending time reading my Bible, listening to teachings, and praying is essential.

This is a season. It will not always be this way. One day these kids will be off on their own, and things will go back to “normal.” So, I am going to cherish every second I have.

For the time being, many of my personal interests have been put on hold. I do not sew, cross stich, or crochet like I used to. I am a voracious reader, but with so much of my reading time needed for school and work-related projects, I don’t read nearly as much personally as I used to. And I read a LOT more youth and young adult fiction, because it is faster and easier to read. Even our newspaper piles up, and I skim through several in one sitting.

I need to be organized. I’m still working on this one, to be honest. But I am much more organized than I used to be.

Simplifying makes things easier. I have spent the past few months decluttering and simplifying our home and lives. I still have a long way to go, but it is getting better. I tend to be a pack rat, but more stuff means that I have to organize before I clean, and I just don’t have the time for that.

Keeping a calendar and schedule are important. I can often be heard to say, “Let me check my calendar, and I will get back to you.” I no longer say yes to anything until I check my calendar and think it through. I also try to keep on a schedule. As my children have gotten older, they can do more schoolwork on their own. So I set aside the morning for one-on-one and family school time, and work in the afternoons. Most of my family  is in bed by 9:30 or 10:00, so I spend an hour or so working after everyone is asleep, as well.

While my days are more than busy, they are also full of experiences and learning. And I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Are We Done Yet?

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Crestview Heights Academy Are We Done Yet?

It’s that time of year again for us. We are finishing up books and the end is in sight! Every homeschool family is different. For some of you, your school year may follow the regular school calendar, like ours does. Others school year-round or follow a different schedule. Still, at some point, you get to the place where your year is DONE!

When I plan out our next school year each spring, I always keep in mind the changing seasons. I know to plan a little lighter around the holidays and in the spring, when we have started ball season and I’m on to planning the next year. But, at some point, we are just DONE. All capital letters. And DONE doesn’t always mean the books are completely finished. Believe me, school teachers across America are DONE in the next few weeks, too, whether the books are finished or not.

So, how do you know if your school year is done?

  • If you or your kids are hanging from the chandelier, your school year may be done.
  • If you can’t stomach the idea of correcting one more paper, you may be done.
  • If the warm spring air is calling your name, you may be done.
  • If you have all of your books, workbooks, worksheets, and every activity you planned for the year complete, you are DEFINITLY done…and probably deserve some kind of medal! Smile

Here’s a truth about schooling in the public or private school: most curriculum is designed to review much of what was learned the year before in the first few weeks of the new school year. And much of what is learned is repeated multiple times before a student graduates. It is okay to take a look at your books and decide what doesn’t need to be completed before you end your year. Is there anything that will be reviewed the next year? And, as homeschoolers, there is no reason we can’t just pick up where we left off in a book the next year. I’ve done that several times with our Math curriculum. For other curricula, I contemplate whether we will miss anything if we don’t finish it.

To be clear, please be sure that you are completing everything the state requires of you. I am not recommending that you ignore your responsibility to educate your children. But if you have completed your requirements and are pressing on to finish a book or list of activities simply to get them done, rethink that plan. Is every chapter, every book, every worksheet or activity really necessary? If not, your school year may simply be DONE.

A Peek Into My Homeschool: Eclecticism for Two

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The way homeschooling works in our home has changed often over the years. When we began, my husband worked a crazy rotating shift, and I ran a home daycare, so one week rarely looked like the next.

These days, with a fourteen-year-old eighth grader and a ten-year-old fourth grader, our homeschooling schedule is more regular, though I wouldn’t exactly call it routine. My husband works all day Monday through Thursday, as well as some Fridays. Because Daddy is sometimes home on Fridays, I try to get the bulk of our work done by Thursday. Some weeks we don’t work at all on Friday and make it up over the weekend or the next week.

Read the rest at HEDUA.com.

A Homeschooling Primer

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So, you’re thinking about homeschooling. Maybe you have a tiny one, not yet in preschool, and you just know that this is what God is calling you to do. Maybe your friends homeschool. Maybe your child is registered to start Kindergarten at the local public school, but you have a niggling feeling that that isn’t what is right for him or her. Maybe you have a teenager, and something is going really wrong at school. You have to pull her NOW, and you just don’t know what to do.

Regardless of the reason, if you are just thinking about homeschooling, here is the nitty-gritty basics of what you need to know NOW to get started.

What to Do First

So, you have decided to homeschool. What do you need to do first? Unfortunately, the legal aspect needs to be taken care of immediately. Each state has its own idea of what this looks like, and it varies from low to high regulation, depending on where you live. Before you let that discourage you, let me assure that many, many people do this each year, so it is completely possible. But, unless you live in a state like Idaho, you will likely have to jump through some hoops in order to homeschool. In our state, we need to file several papers, including a proposed monthly hour count and a list of curriculum. If you aren’t sure what the requirements are for your state, you can check them out at HEDUA.

Be sure that you follow the letter of the law concerning your homeschooling paperwork. Do not pull a child out of school until you have completed whatever procedures are required, or you may be subject to truancy laws.

Find a Friend, Homeschooling Group, or Co-op

If you can find a veteran homeschooler in your community, it will help you immensely. For one thing, if you haven’t been at home full time before you may find it very lonely. Having another adult to talk to can be a real blessing. For another, she will understand the laws for your state and can help you navigate them (and if you live in a high regulation state you will especially appreciate this!). Most veterans are happy to lend a helping hand to a newbie, since they were there once themselves. If you don’t know any homeschoolers, try your local library. They often know families in the area that homeschool and can help you get in touch. If your area has a homeschooling group or co-op, get in contact with the leader. If you can’t find a local group, try searching for a state-wide group online. They will probably be aware of any smaller groups in your area.

After You File the Paperwork

Now that you have your paperwork filed, what should you do next? It’s time to decide what you are going to teach. If you are homeschooling a Kindergartener, this is pretty simple. Most of your child’s day should be spent exploring and learning in a very organic, natural way. Play dough, nature study, cooking lessons, listening to audio books, singing, listening to music, coloring, drawing, playing pretend. Lessons for a Kindergartener that require sitting and concentration should be short and include breaks in between. There are literally hundreds of homeschool sites online for early learning with free ideas and printables. If you want some regular curriculum as well, a basic language and math curriculum are really all you need.

If you are pulling an older child, your situation will probably be quite different. It depends on what caused you to pull your child, among other things. Leaving school, for whatever reason, will likely be emotional for your child. And, if you are pulling a child out of a bad situation, even more so. Allow both you and your child some grace in the early days. While you do need to teach-you have made a commitment to do so-you can still allow your child some time to ‘deschool.’ Others with more experience have written about this, but in short, take some time to read aloud, go on field trips, spend time outdoors, go on long walks, and TALK. Then, gradually add in school subjects. If you are pulling mid-year, you might consider continuing whichever courses your child was completing in school. But this is not absolutely necessary, so do what is easiest and best for your family.

Your state may have curriculum requirements as well. Ours requires language, math, social studies, science, and health. Start with those and Bible, if you intend to teach it, first. If your state doesn’t have subject requirements, start with Bible, then “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” and then move on to social studies and science. The extras can be filled in later. You can choose ready-made curriculum for the core subjects. We’ll discuss that in a minute. But, you can also use free resources online. There is a ready-made course of study for each grade at World Book Encyclopedia that is helpful for creating your own curriculum.

Finding Resources

There is so much homeschool curriculum out there that it can be overwhelming. As a beginner, know that no curriculum is perfect. If you find yourself emergency homeschooling in the middle of the year, keep it simple. One tendency of beginning homeschoolers is to think that they have to do it all, teach it all, and not miss anything. As a former classroom teacher, let me assure you that even the best public school teachers skip things, miss things, or run out of time to finish a book before the end of the year.

Ask homeschooling friends (or online groups) what curriculum they use. Get their input, but don’t choose it just because it is what your friend uses. Choose what you think will be best for you and your child. Also, know that most homeschoolers make choices in curriculum at some time-often more than once-in their homeschooling career that they are not happy with. It is perfectly acceptable to realize that something isn’t working for you, ditch it, and find something else.

Here are some of my favorite resources for purchasing curriculum:

Getting Ready to Teach

Now that you have your paperwork taken care of, decided what you are going to teach, and purchased curriculum, it’s time to prepare to teach. Spend some time looking through your curriculum. Then, set up a basic weekly schedule. Be flexible. It may take awhile to figure out what works best for you.

Set up a teaching area. For some families, that means a schoolroom. For others, it means a cupboard. For our family, we have a closet and a dresser that contain the majority of our “active” school supplies (we have bookshelves and boxes in the basement, and tubs in the attic for supplies we are not currently using). We mostly school at our kitchen table and in our living room, with the kids doing independent work in their bedrooms. If you are just beginning, start simple and allow yourself room to grow. You do not need a full-fledged classroom with a chalkboard and school desks. I repeat, you do not need a chalkboard and school desks. Start simple. A table or regular room desk will work just fine. If your child is like mine, you will spend most of your time sitting on the couch or floor anyway!

Once You’ve Gotten Started

After you have your homeschooling under way, it is helpful to learn more about homeschooling. There are many resources on this blog to help you, including my list of top homeschool how-to books.

A Final Note

If you are thinking of homeschooling, especially if you are considering pulling an older child, I’m guessing that you might feel overwhelmed right now. Take a deep breath. I want to encourage you that YOU CAN DO THIS! Just take it one step at a time and don’t worry about trying to make it look like what you think everyone else is doing. You will soon be the homeschooling veteran offering help to those who come after you.

 

 

 

Our 2014-2015 Homeschool Schedule

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Our ballgame days are heading to the finish line, so I have been turning my attention to getting everything in order for the start of our new school year. I am planning to start the last week of August. While I actually have been doing some planning for months now, particularly for Boo’s high school classes, the next month is the time I focus a concentrated effort on it.  So far I have most of Buddy’s assignment’s scheduled and about half of Boo’s. Because I decided to write my own literature and geography curriculum for Boo (WHAT WAS I THINKING! Smile ), I am still working on writing up questions.

This year looks very different from other years. Between Boo being in high school, my working part time, and both kids becoming more independent, the kids will be doing more work independently of me and each other. This makes me a bit nostalgic for the days of working together on various projects and reading aloud, but I am also very excited about the different possibilities.

Our Schedule

Although this is our pen-and-paper (or in this case, word processor) schedule, one day rarely looks like another around here. I am also giving Boo the freedom to rearrange her independent classes to whatever suits her best. But this gives us a general guideline:

2014-2015 Schedule

 

Pink is Boo’s independent color, blue is Buddy’s. Boo with me is orange, Buddy with me is purple. All of us together is green. You can see that after 1 PM consists of independent work for the kids, which will allow me to get my own work done.

So, how about you? Do you make up a schedule? Is it very different this year or pretty much the same?

Making My Homeschool Unique: Blog Hop and Giveaway!

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I am participating in a blog hop with the rest of the Home Educating Family review team every Friday in September!  And if that weren’t exciting enough, each week I am going to be able to offer a giveaway for a product from Home Educating Family!  You can find out the details at the end of this post!

There are both advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling.  In my opinion, one of the greatest advantages is the flexibility it offers.  Flexibility in methods and resources we use, classes we teach, and even when we homeschool.  Our state does have some requirements that we need to meet, such as a minimum number of hours of instruction and certain core subjects we must teach.  Still, there is a great deal of flexibility available to us.  Today I am going to talk about how I take advantage of this flexibility in our scheduling to make our homeschool unique to us.

When we began homeschooling I pretty much followed the local public school’s calendar for my teaching schedule.  There are some good reasons to do this, the most obvious one being that we were out of school on the same days so I didn’t have neighbor children ringing our doorbell to play on days that we were in school! Smile  When I first started homeschooling I also had a home daycare and following the school calendar meant that the school aged children I kept were not at our house during school hours.  Later on we moved and I quit doing a full day care.  I soon realized that modifying our schedule would meet our needs better.

Over the years our schedule has evolved as our life changed.  My husband’s schedule has changed greatly since those early years.  I now school two students rather than one.  My son definitely does better with a routine and he learns better when we don’t take huge breaks.  We currently use a modified year-round schedule.  We start a new school year the third week of August and we school full days until two weeks into May.  We school all of September and January.  We take one whole week off each month in October, November, February, March, and April and two weeks off in December and May.  We school half days in June.  This gives us all of July and two weeks of August off.  I need that time to enter all of my information into my online planner and for my copying, filing, and organizing.

This schedule fits us very well.  We are off during the weeks that our extended families plan family reunions and other events, as well as major holidays.  June tends to be very warm here and my kids choose not to be outdoors most of the time, so schooling then seems natural to us.  And getting a WHOLE WEEK off during many months of the school year gives all of us time to recharge our batteries and get some extra housework done without having the re-entry issues we sometimes have when beginning in August.  Having that six week break, however, gives us a true “beginning of the school year” day, so we can take those first day photos right around the same time everyone else is heading back to school as well.

Having been a public school teacher it took me awhile to let go of school looking like public school.  But when I did, it brought a great deal of freedom.  We are not limited to certain months, days or hours for schooling.  Some weeks we do some of our schooling on Saturday or occasionally Sunday.  I prefer to work in the morning and early afternoon just because we are often busy in the evenings and my energy level is low, but every so often we will do some school work in the evening. 

If you are a beginning homeschooler, or if you have homeschooled for awhile but just really feel that you need a change, try to let go of the school mindset and think about how you can make your homeschool work for you.  Your homeschool does not need to look like anyone else’s.  It can be uniquely yours!

Now, for the giveaway information! 

I randomly chose the winner using http://www.random.org. Congratulations to Angela, whose comment was the second one on the page!  You have won a one-year subscription to Home Educating Family Magazine!  I will be contacting you to get your mailing information so that you can begin receiving your magazines. 

This week, thanks to Home Educating Family, I am able to give away a wall calendar to one of my readers! 

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You have until midnight next Thursday (September 20th) to enter.  I will be using random.org to choose a winner, which I will announce next Friday (September 21st).  If you enter, please be sure to check back on Friday to see if you are the winner.  I will need to forward the winner’s name and email to Home Educating Family so that they can send you the prize!

Here’s how to enter:

You may have up to three entries per person.  Any extra entries will be deleted before I determine the winner. 

1. You may have one entry just for leaving any comment on this post.  I’d love to know more about you, but even just a “nice post” will do!  Smile

2. You may have one entry for “liking” Crestview Heights Academy on Facebook.  Please leave a separate comment noting that you have done so.  If you already like CHA, just let me know that in the comment.

3. You may have one entry for tweeting about the contest or posting about it on Facebook.  If you don’t have Twitter or Facebook, you can email about the contest or just tell a friend.  Leave a separate comment for completing this activity as well.

Due to international sweepstakes laws, this giveaway is for US entrants only. This giveaway is not tied to any social media site. All prizes must be claimed within eight weeks. Thank you!

I can’t wait until next week, when I will be able to announce the winner of this contest and tell you about next week’s prize!

Please go check out the rest of my team’s blogs and read about how they make their homeschools unique.

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A Day in the Life

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Since I posted our actual schedule earlier this year, I thought that I would take you through what our day is like and how it is going.  I really, really like the way our schedule is working so far.  They kids are..ahem..less than thrilled about getting back into a routine, but the routine itself works great.

We start our morning off with chores.  I get the kids up around 7:30 and they are supposed to do all of their chores and be ready for Bible time at 8:15.  We aren’t always exactly on time, but we come close most days.  Here are our new chore charts that I made using this idea that I found on pinterest:

 

I put all of the chores I want done that day on the “to do” side and they move the pins over to the “done” side as they finish, so I can quickly check and see what has been done. 

Next up is Bible time, which lasts somewhere from about 8:15 until 9:00 and includes quiet time, together Bible study, and character lessons. 

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From about 9:00 to 10:30 we do language.  Buddy and I work together first while Boo does her independent work and then we do vocabulary together before we switch. 

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10:30-11:10 is Math time.  I start with Buddy while Boo spends some time on the computer.  Then, we switch again and Buddy gets his turn on the computer while Boo and I work together.

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Before lunch we also do our history or geography work from Explorations to 1850 and our Canada Study time.

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We have lunch at 12:00, followed by our literature time.  By this time it is around 1:00.  At 1:00 we do art or music, depending on the day of the week.  Starting next week , we will be going to Homeschool Co-op on Thursday afternoons.  We finish up the day with Science, Life Skills, and piano practice.

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My original schedule had us getting done around 3:30, and most days we are done about 2:30.  That gives us time to go to the Y and swim or have a walk before we get ready for our evening activities.  So far we are just back into Tae Kwon Do on Tuesday and Thursday nights.  Soon we will add AWANA on Wednesdays and piano on Mondays. 

I always enjoy seeing how other people schedule their days.  I hope you enjoyed a peek into ours!