How do you people do it all? – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

I need to know how veteran homeschool mamas do it all: schooling, groceries, house chores, keep order, and still have energy past 3pm? Help!

Needing a nap,
Tired


 

Hyacinth:
Dear Tired,
Oh, this is an easy one……here’s the good news: we’re not doing it all!For me, I’ve maintained my sanity by letting my standards slide a bit. Try it – it’s liberating! In general, I never shortchange the schoolwork, but I’ll let the dust bunnies run amok (I’m building strong immune systems around here). I have a few non-negotiable priorities that help me maintain my sanity: I like to keep the kitchen and bathrooms clean, my bed made, and the dining room table clear. If those things are done, the house doesn’t seem like a complete disaster.Though I have my kids do a few chores around the house, I’m not very systematic, I must confess.
It’s an area in which I could use some help, so I’m going to stay tuned for this week’s posts myself. The other members of Dear Brain Trust run well-oiled machines – weigh in, Brain Trust!

Looking for more answers????

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Typical Homeschool Day – Doodle

Typical Homeschool Day – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Braintrust,

I’m curious….what does a typical day look like in your home-school?

~ Curious in Columbia


 

Doodle:

Dear Curious,

Ahh….the mother of all questions! This answer is going to be more varied than the ice cream flavors at Baskin Robbins! But, I admit that I like to learn from others homeschool families. I have found that each family has to get their rhythm and their days of homeschooling take on a vibe that fits them and their family. What is Dad’s work schedule? What are the ages of your children? Do you do coops or outside activities? All of this factors into what your “typical” day looks like. I have found though, that for us, routine and schedule is important even though, I would like to be more fluid and relaxed. But, for me, I need a daily schedule.

The beauty of it is this: “my” schedule serves “my” purpose. I am not chained to it, but I do treat it fairly seriously. Here is a sample schedule for my elementary children:

8am – Kids wake and I whip up a simple breakfast. Kids listen to memory work.
8:30am – We get ready for the day and do some light chores (make beds, start laundry, clean kitchen etc)
9am- Bible and devotions
9:15am – Handwriting, cursive
9:30am – Math
10:30am – English Grammar/phonics
11:15am – History readers, Science
Noon – quick lunch break
12:30p- writing and finish up morning work
1:30p – individual readers
2p – piano practice

Love,
Dood

Looking for more answers????

Quick and Dirty Tips from the Brain Trust

My children fight from sun up to sun down and it’s driving me crazy! Help!!

What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Hyacinth:

Dear Intimidated,

I believe there are two main goals for the first year: 1.) Establishing your authority and the discipline that accompanies that. 2.) Helping your kids “buy in” to the idea of homeschooling. It’s a tricky balance, to say the least. Some moms tend to think that if they make homeschooling a boatload of fun, then their kids will love homeschooling, and they’ll be all set. Unfortunately, though, some moms equate “fun” with “undisciplined,” and that’s a recipe for future heartache. Your kids must obey you when it comes to doing their work, otherwise the schoolroom will become a battleground, and at some point, you won’t be able to withstand it.

Obviously, your kids will be doing some subjects that are challenging and require discipline, and they may complain that it’s not “fun.” Keep doing it. Daily. Don’t allow complaints. But, also work in daily at least one activity that helps you connect with each other, preferably something that they wouldn’t be doing in “regular” school. For us, that activity is a read-aloud; we love to snuggle in with each other and read a great book! Some artsy families do art projects; some families play with Legos; some play outdoor games. Just find something that you all enjoy – it will nourish your souls!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Doodle:

Dear Newbie,

My encouragement when you first start homeschooling is to make a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish your first year of homeschooling? Educationally? Responsibility-wise? Character-wise? I tend to be over-zealous and want to do it all. A girl can dream, can’t she? But, this is where I get in trouble and get exasperated if my ideals are too lofty.

Second, keep your first year simple. Get your core subjects worked out: math, english, history, science and reading. Most of us try and do it all in the first year. We don’t know where to stop, and this can quickly wear out a homeschool parent. Go simple. For your first year, use a tried-and-true curriculum; no need to try to invent a curriculum!

Third, attach yourself to some experienced homeschool moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. There is a plethora of resources available, so don’t get overwhelmed, but do your research. Learn homeschooling philosophies, and read, read, read.

Fourth, relax! Please know that it takes time to hit your homeschool stride. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your child be completely educated in a year. Education is a life-time process, and fostering a love of learning is the goal, and that love will develop over time .

Love,
Dood

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Burnout – Doodle

Burnout – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 
Burnout – Bull

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Embers,

Great advice BT! Homeschooling is not a sprint but a marathon. The strategies for each of those races are completely different. I just finished my 15th year of homeschooling, and I can’t believe I am still here! Here are a couple of pointers that have given me stamina and helped me pace myself in this homeschool track:

1. Keep pure motives: Burn out for me comes when I am pursuing selfish ambitions. I know that sounds crazy, but I get bored pretty quickly when it’s only about me and mine. There is nothing like finding some people to help serve to get my heart pumping with life again and renew my energy to homeschool. So make your homeschooling about something bigger than just you and your family.

2. Run unencumbered: I watch for those activities that distract or wear me down. Strive for those things that breathe life and keep guard for those activities that deplete. A walk in the park, a bike ride around the block or breakfast on the patio can do wonders for a soul.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize: What kind of human beings do you want to send into the world? What virtues do I want them to have? With the cultural issues of today, I go back in history and look at the attributes of those who changed the world. It takes work to keep great ideas and thoughts within your sights and in your heart. Remind yourself of what is really important and stay focused on that. Nothing like a good dose of vision to keep my nose pointed in the right direction and wind in my sail.

4. Find like-minded friends: Sometimes I need a soft place to land and other times I need a kick in the “rear-end.” Like-minded, friends make the world go round and are a large reason why I am still here. The road of homeschooling does not need to be lonely. Work to be that friend to others and your friends won’t let you quit.

Embers, don’t give up! One day you’ll find yourself jogging over that finish line. You’ll be so amazed at God’s provision for your race and the prize that awaits you!

Love,
Dood

Close in Age

Close in Age

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Snow:
Dear Dubious,

I cannot speak from experience on this one. I only have 2 kids plus one on the way, and they are fairly far apart in age… What I can say is that I see families doing it and doing it well! These families have a common thread running through them… They have a vision for homeschooling! They have a plan and a purpose. They have committed themselves and their family to something that they believe in 100%. I greatly admire each of them!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.

Love,
Dood

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull

Close in Age – Bull

Close in Age – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Close in Age – Snow

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Close in Age – Doodle

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull

Close in Age – Doodle

Close in Age – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Close in Age – Snow

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.

Love,
Dood

Bull wraps is all up tomorrow, May 31st! Stay tuned…

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Close in Age – Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Hear from Doodle tomorrow, May 30th

Bull lays out her thoughts on Thursday, May 31st!

Spacing

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Love,
Confused in Cleveland


 

Bull:
Dear Confused,

Three things instantly come to mind: develop an efficient schedule, treat it like the Holy Grail, and give those kids jobs. As for your schedule, put the most important subjects at the top of the list. What are the most important subjects? Heck, I don’t know – that’s your call! If you want me to start bossing you around, which is something I usually reserve for my closest pals, I’m going to have to charge something. So, let’s get back to the free stuff. When you’ve developed a schedule that works for you, stick to it. You don’t have time to waste, so don’t waste any! Stay off the phone, the computer, the TV, and allow your wisely-devised schedule to work for you. Then, give your kids a job. Your olders can certainly lend a hand with grunt work. Have them check the youngers’ math facts, administer spelling tests, listen to read-alouds. The thought of passing the buck on read-alouds make me g-g-g-g-giddy! ;)

Bull

Snow:

Dear Confused in Cleveland,

Take Bull’s advice! Schedule, jobs, pass the buck… Sounds like a plan!
Spacing Day 2

My girls are 5 grades apart but we do more together than you would think. Anything that is on audio, we listen to together, mostly because we do that in the car, and they are trapped like mice! I have them read to each other, too. I have a schedule where I get one started with something and send them on their way. Then, I get the next one started on a subject. I juggle having them work on the things they can do independently while the other is doing the subject they need me to teach. I alternate back and forth. If I had more than 2 kids, I imagine it would work similarly. The older they get, the more I see them being independent for longer amounts of time. This all helps with my one goal in life: an uninterrupted shower!.

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Confused,

Fear not! I suspect you are picturing yourself as if you are a classroom teacher, so the task seems physically, mentally, and hormonally impossible. Remember, homeschooling is a different animal – you aren’t delivering lectures all day. Ideally, homeschool students become independent learners; you’ll get your student started, but you should expect him to complete his work with minimal intervention (over time).

One of my friends with six children spends a good deal of time helping her kids to become early readers, then when they are in the older elementary years, they can soar independently. They are immersed in great books, and probably because of this, they are all wonderfully creative and accomplished. Many people find that their oldest child has a way of snagging all of mom’s time, but my friend makes sure she pours the most time into those early readers so they can work independently later.

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth