good day in homeschool land

Monday was a really good day, at least homeschool-wise.
Well, beside the part about my van needing to be towed to the dealership twice in one day.  Yes, we towed it there twice.  Second time is the charm, I hope :) 

So, Monday was a really good day, we got so much done.  The secret?  I planned ahead.

Yes, 11 years of homeschooling- and I don't plan ahead much.  {secret confession}

Sunday I sat down, and not only did a smidgen of preparing, like I am apt to do...but I sat down and typed up schedules for DD16 and DD14 for the week.  I haven't been doing this, since Sonlight gives me these nice schedules all done (love it!)  

But, DD14 just finished Core 6 and we decided we don't have the funds for Core 7- so I will be putting together a History reading list for her, based on Story of the World vol.3 (which I adore)

DD16 does very well working with her Sonlight Core 100 schedule and using her syllabus for the classes she takes through the Biola Star program (Physical Science, Lit & Comp) but..she tends to get a bit free and loose with her other subjects.  I realized I need to type up what she needs to do for the week, so I can see when she doesn't do them...ahem.

I also planned out which subjects I wanted to tackle with the 3 younger students- and we started our first day with Writing with Ease .  The day went by very smoothly and clockwork. 

LOVE IT!  Sky is not surprised, it is a logical way to do things, but of course I am not logical.

I hope all of my bloggy-friends are having a great week, too! 
And that you don't have to tow your van ;)

In which I discover I am a perfectionist...stop

I've mentioned before that I love research.  I love the hunt.  The hunt for the best art materials, the best History/ Phonics / Math curriculum, the best way to make a smoothie.  I love the hunt, but I get lost in the execution.  I like to call it "being a creative person", or "my inner Bridget Jones" Sky calls it "scattered".  One day, my BFF called it "Perfectionist avoidance".

I had my doubts.
I don't live in the same zip code with the word "Perfectionist"...
I'm more familiar with the term "make do".  But, I deferred to Gracefulmom's analysis, since she is more educated than I.  And, she doesn't ramble.  You lose some credibility when you tend to ramble on...


Back to my story- So, Gracefulmom put forth the idea that we (we are both very alike in many ways, hence the BFF part) tend to plan/dream up really spectacular ideas and then sensing that we will not follow through in a spectacular way, we give up and avoid/procrastinate.  She could be onto something, but again, the perfectionist label was a hard sell.

I'm kind of in that place again, wanting to make some changes to our homeschool life- getting more of a rhythm/order to our day, adding back in more crafts, and dare I say it out loud?  ..adding in some baking with the kids, and healthier snacks.  I've done some research, read a few books, looked at a few websites..and then stalled.  The holidays, having company, my messy house.  Yes, it has all stalled.

I stumbled onto this blog post today,

Two Mamas

...Imagine for a moment Two Mamas on their way to Waldorf Homeschooling Land. One Mama rolls up her sleeves, plans the trip, and gets going. The other Mama wants everything to be PERFECT first...

go over to A Little Garden Flower bog to read the rest of a really enlightening parable, even if you are not into Waldorf homeschooling, or any homeschooling, I think this could apply to many of us.

So, how do you get unstuck?  Any inspirational advice from moving to planning to doing?  Or is your house as messy as mine is right now, and you just want to commiserate?  
Spill, I'm listening :) 

Trying- my beginning steps

watercolor snowflakes

I shared in this post *Trying about wanting to implement new teaching techniques into our homeschooling, specifically, Waldorf art and rhythm/ritual.  My struggle is in finding time to

  • 1st- research what I am wanting to learn about
  • 2nd- find materials/ methods that would be a good fit for us, or figure out how to adapt them. 
  • 3rd- find time to gather materials 
  • 4th -Implement 

I had several interested comments, so I am going to blog about the steps I am taking as I explore Waldorf homeschooling.

First, I went to my go-to place for homeschooling advice- The WTM boards.  I posted a question about Waldorf rhythm for older kids and about Waldorf art more specifically.  Several wonderful replies pointed me to inspiring blogs, a few websites, and a book or two to order.

I ordered "Painting with Children" by B. Muller - on strong recommendation, and then
"Beyond the Rainbow Bridge" - a book I had considered purchasing a few years ago, but decided not to because my children are older...I wish I had ordered this before- it was very helpful. 

I really like how Amazon shows you books others have ordered after purchasing the book you are looking at, and how they have lists people make of different book interests.  There were several books I am planning on ordering, Seven times the Sun- is one I wanted, but was out of stock.
Heaven on Earth, and Making a Family Home were also recommended, I was going to wait and see if I got them as gifts- my birthday is coming up...but now I don't think I can wait that long, so I will probably order them myself :)

The trail of research led me to the Bearth Institute- a very faceted site that I still haven't fully explored.  They offer grade curriculum e-books, something I got overly excited about at first- because I always am tempted with the idea/hope that one curriculum purchase will answer all of my needs...after reading some threads on the WTM boards though, I realized that while the Waldorf homeschool curriculum style might have been fun for K and 1st- we are at a point where I want something that moves along faster and is a bit more rigorous.  So, back to adding in art and rhythm to our day... :)

The Bearth Institute does have helpful articles on Waldorf, podcasts, videos and e-books.  I ordered their e-book titled Waldorf Rhythm and stages: from preschool to grade 8.  They also sell small blocks of their homeschool curriculum, I am seriously thinking of ordering the Grade 4 Geography Block to play with. 

The blog Our Little Nature Nest- is a treasure trove detailing the learning days of homeschooling Waldorf.  I found this post- Our lessons this week-measuring time really helpful for seeing what Waldorf lessons look like.  I really liked this learning block- this is what has tempted me to try a lesson block on for size.

The blog, Hawaiian dreaming- has a great list of Waldorf links- this blogger pointed me to the one above...

So far, beyond all the research- I began planning for crafts and baking we could do during the Christmas break.  I'm trying to tap back into my creative side.  The next 2 weeks will find us crafting and baking muffins and such.  
Our first craft was painting snowflakes to make a garland with.  Our next craft is going to be melting crayons in a mold to give as a gift.  I am finding great/imaginative craft ideas at Waldorf homeschool blogs.  
I will be ordering paint and craft supplies too- I just want to take my time with the order, it's not going to be small..yikes! 


Life has been really crazy-busy for me this school year.  It reflects mightily here on the blog, my posting has been pretty scattered.

My scattered days are leaving me a bit frazzled, and also leaves all the duties and cares in my life undone, half-done, forgotten, late and/or messy.

And yet, or maybe because of all this, I find myself yearning for a change in our homeschooling, back to our more Charlotte Mason/ art-centered learning.  I yearn for more order, more rhythm, more purpose.

A few years ago, searching for the how of rhythm -to- my day- (yes it's a re-occurring theme for me) I looked a bit into Waldorf homeschooling, but could only find books that seemed to center on young children- and also there are some parts of Waldorf that I don't feel are compatible with my faith-another post, perhaps.

So, here I am a few years later, on the same restless search for order/rhythm...and I found some really wonderful/beautiful/inspiring Waldorf blogs.  The wheels in my brain are already turning with lesson ideas, art ideas... Here's the thing though:  So many of my days are crazy/busy that I don't have time to plan, don't have time to gather craft supplies.  
The paradox: I want to make some changes in our learning days..but I don't have time to plan changes in our learning day.

The next few weeks on this blog will hopefully follow changes we make- changes I will try to make...I am reminded of a quote from The Karate Kid: "there is no try, there is only do".

Do any of you struggle with being inspired to try something new, explore a new learning philosophy but find yourself too busy to research and plan?  Frustrating?  Yes.

Here's to a new week of doing...

What new things are you exploring lately?

First day back, homeschool 2010

Not-back-to-school 2010 was a success :)

I entered into the new home-school year with some trepidation, I did not get all the organizing done as I had wished to. But, it worked out, the little I did do was enough and we had a really great 1st day.

I did get my homeschool bookcase cleaned and organized. This is where I keep our Sonlight books and also where I keep big magazine type boxes to hold books/notebooks for each child- this is the spot to find books we use on a daily basis. I also bought new 3-ring binders for each student and filled them with a week's worth of work.

I set up my chalk-board wall of power with a list of the short day I had planned, and then I added a drawing of a big hand, with each finger labeled with a task from The Daily 5, which I will be implementing into our day this year. I heart this concept and I heart this book!

We started 1st with a Bible/Character story for the 3 littles from School Days with the Millers.
I still haven't figured out curriculum for for now, I will be doing character lessons.

After Bible time, I have scheduled our Daily 5 time-block. Today, I explained to the kids what the Daily 5 is, what it will look like- and then we only tackled 2 of the 5. First, we worked on "write" by having creative journal time. The kids wrote about what they did during the Summer. Next, we did "read out loud to someone" - that someone was me.

I used this time to introduce them to this
Fiction Reading Comprehension program-cards in a box by Teacher Created Resources. I explained how to use them and then worked through one card with each child- doing the comprehension questions on the back together. I love this program, it's going to be great for the kids to use independently during "read to self time".

We then all worked on Math. We are using Math-U-See. After that came handwriting. I had the 3 kids sometimes working on a different subject while I had a reading session with one.

Meg and Josie were working totally independently, but sitting at the table with us. Today, they tackled Math, History and Literature, Grammar and Writing.

After cursive handwriting, we moved onto the all important snack time and play break. Once break was over (about 15 minutes- during which I corrected Math) I had the 3 kids each work in their Explode the Code (phonics) workbooks. Then, we were done!

A bit of a short day, but I wanted to ease into things. I felt really successful in starting the day early- I was aiming for an 8:30 start time, actually starting at 8:45. This was much, much better than the 9-ish or later time (usually later) we were managing at the end of our last school year. Sky helped me get up and out to exercise early this morning. By the start of homeschool, I had walked/exercised, showered & dressed and had breakfast. For the Bridget Jones Homeschool mom- this was a huge feat. It felt really, really good to be ready to take on the day.

Once we were done with our school work, we headed over to Rubio's for a celebratory lunch, and then over to the bookstore for some R & R.

Really a great start, I am actually looking forward to tomorrow! :)

So, to my homeschool friends- have you started back up yet? How was it?

Moms of schooled kids, are yours back yet? How was it? Great, I hope!

Homeschool Teacher's Lounge

I stumbled upon these books at my local Barnes & Nobles- mine has a whole new big educational department. Things at my store were being moved all around, and I had my tail bent out of shape at first- I am at this bookstore once a week or don't go and move things and change things!

But, I do highly approve, now that I got to look through the new Edu-topia upstairs!

So, I found these two books, written for the classroom by two teacher/sisters with years of classroom experience and research. They do seminars and have a website.
-The 2 Sisters

The first book is about setting up a daily literacy routine that fosters independent work in the classroom. We all know I am the schedule-challenged homeschool mom...I am looking for ways to make a workable routine for my kids- and I need all the help I can get. These books look very doable, in a scaled-down way for the home.

The first book is The Daily 5 - which was written first, all about how to set up a routine of 5 activities for literacy. The next book, The Cafe- takes the subject of literacy further and shows you how to set up a notebook to track your student's goals, achievements and individual instruction time you spend with them. Okay, I'm only through half of the first book, but this is what I have taken away from skimming through and from my reading so far... Good stuff!

Next up, Ramona and Beezus review and lesson plan.

my mind is spinning with all the possibilities for a back to school unit study. Ask your students to write about what they were like at age 4, and how they have changed and grown at their current age. Oh the possibilities!! I love connections! :)

How about you, any good back to school finds?

Back to homeschool 2010

My plans are not set in stone yet, but here is how our homeschool is shaping up for the 2010-2011 school year:

Amie age 8- She will be using; Explode the Code books 5-7, Headsprout Reading Comprehension program (online) finish up Math U See beta level and start gamma level. Flash kids Writing workbooks-finish grade 2 and then onto grade 3. Sonlight Language Arts 2 intermediate- reading schedule. MCT Grammar Island with Demi
art class, piano study, skate-boarding, marital arts class

Teddy age 10- (auditory processing disorder student) Explode the Code books 3-6.
Finish Math U See Gamma level and move to Delta level. Finish Flash kids Math 4 workbook and move to Math 5. Sonlight LA 2-regular reading schedule.
Soccer, skate-boarding

Demi-Sky age 10- Finish Math U See Gamma level and move to Delta level. Finish Flash kids Math 4 workbook and move to Flash kids Math 5. Flash kids writing workbook grade 4 then onto grade 5. Sonlight Language Arts 2-advanced reading schedule.
MCT Grammar Island with Amie
Art class, piano study, skate-boarding, martial arts class

All 3 youngest students will use together: Abeka handwriting (cursive), Wordly Wise book A,B. (Vocabulary) Spelling workout workbook, Growing with Grammar bk 2 (maybe). Sonlight History Core 2- finish and then begin Core 3. (we started Core 2 in Winter last school year).
Apologia Science-Exploring Creation through Astronomy plus notebook, A Child's Geography by Ann Voskamp, Writing with Ease level 2 by Susan Wise Baur

Josie age 13- MCT  Grammar Voyage, Caesar's English, Paragraph Town, Practice Town, Story of the World vol. 3 plus activity book and various historical fiction tied to this History period

Spelling workout , Mosdos Press Literature Pearl level finish Math U See Epsilon, then
move to Zeta level, Abeka health reader, Little Women literature study. Apologia exploring creation through Astronomy, Prentice Hall Science Workbook grade 8, Writing With Ease vol. 4
Piano music study, Fencing, Tennis, Story club for creative writing, art class, Martial arts

Meg age 15: high school sophomore- Algebra 1 -Math U See (we tried Chalkdust and switched back to Math U See)
Sonlight History Core 120 -American History/Geography
Rosetta Stone Russian, Russian Face to Face textbook and workbook
General Literature and Composition at the Biola Star program
Physical Science at the Biola Star program
Violin study and orchestra, art class, Irish dance, horse riding/working at stable

I am sure I am forgetting something, and it's a work in progress. I will be deciding on exact levels as I go through the ordering process. How about you, are you ready for back-to-school?

Not Back to School Blog Hop

Mom, getting it done badly

I can't do it all. Most of the time I don't do it all. Some days I do well with juggling all the different tasks/cares/responsibilities/fun. Many days I limp along and get it done ungracefully.. -and then there are the days when it all comes crashing down on my head.

We call it, living the Jen life.

Sky says I'm my own worst enemy, and I know he's speaking wisdom there.

{photo by Alexander Somma -used by permission}

I struggle with how real to be here on the blawg- I want to be honest...and yet, I kind of doubt many come by to hear me whine.

I have this feeling though, that there are many moms & specifically homeschool moms who struggle like this. I don't have any easy answers, I'm figuring it out as I limp along. But, I wanted you to know that I'm just like you, that I have horrible days. I have days when I am late to everything and I hurry through a lesson and get it done 'good enough'.

Mostly, I feel like I bounce from one big event to the next. First it's getting my homeschool records done for end-of-year, to next getting Meg to an Irish Feis. Next getting ready for vacation and camping. Then I have a breather of a few days before I have to start epic cleaning for our Bible Conference and having people stay here. Then they leave, more arrive, finally a quiet house and bam- we have 2 weeks of youth Bible school for my 12 year old. This means 2 weeks of driving her around every night and hosting the kids for dinner at least one of those nights. Then bam- it's Irish feis time again. Then bam- put oldest on a flight to Washington for her Bible camp, and then I'm getting on a flight to join her. Then bam, it's start of school again.

In between I have paper work to do for the beginning of school, laundry, cleaning, cooking-when I remember. This week I had two days where it all came crashing down on my head. One of those days I cried.

Sky was good though, after he lectured me on my own folly (linear brain that he is, he couldn't resist) he took me to a favorite restaurant for girl food to soothe the soul. He's good like that.

So, here I am...sitting on a ton of laundry, tired and disorganized-trying to figure out how to get any of it done.

Working moms- total hats off to you, I do not know how you do it. I have all day to somehow get it together, and I don't.

So, I'm still a continued work in progress.

How about you? Have you figured out a good, workable system for family life? Or are you like me, keeping the plates spinning-except on days when you don't?...