5 Embarrassing Things Homeschooled Kids Say

I love homeschooling my kids.  It is one of the key components to our “homestead” lifestyle.  Empowering kids to know they don’t need a specialized teacher in order to learn and sparking a love of learning is vital to raising self-sufficient kids.  Homeschooling teaches our children HOW to think, not what to think.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world but let’s be honest, there are a few problems with homeschool life.  One of these things is the constant battle with what homeschooled, tiny humans say to embarrass their parents.

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Here are just a few of my favorites:

  1. “We only do school one day a week.”  This is the one that they love to tell their friends (and the friends in turn tell their parents, earning you the stink eye from the parents.)  The truth is that we have our homeschool COOP once a week and for some reason homeschooled kids seem to think this is the only “school day” that they have.  We do school at LEAST 4 days a week… most of the time… I SWEAR.   
  2. “No we haven’t done any school yet today.”  This is one they love to tell their dad when it’s 11:00 AM and he calls home from work to say “Hi”.  It goes something like this…”What are you doing right now?” kids inevitable response is “Oh, just laying here” (Translation: “I WAS just doing my copy work, but I laid down on my bed to talk to you.”)  Dad’s tone grows concerned “Have you done your schoolwork yet today?” “No, we haven’t done any school yet today.” (Translation: We haven’t done our math or language arts yet and apparently don’t REALIZE that all this other stuff we’ve been doing (ie. Bible story, memory work, copy work, read aloud time, science journaling) is “school work” leaving Daddy with the impression that we just rolled out of bed. (SIGH)
  3. “I don’t know what grade I’m in.”  This is their #1 favorite thing to say to strangers who are interrogating them in the grocery store.  And to be fair to the kids, we as mom’s don’t know how to answer that question either.  We know what grade they should be in by age category but the truth is that homeschooling offers us the freedom to work with our children according to their own level of mastery in each area.  For instance, at some point in time, I had a 5 year old, who should technically be a kindergartener… but she started Classical Conversations at four and insisted on learning to read the minute she turned 5 years old, so she was closer to a 1st grade level in many ways, although we were still doing kindergarten math.  The same year, in language arts my (then) 7 year old was doing the second semester of a kinder language arts program because I felt the curriculum we used previously was lacking in some areas.  So although she was reading at a 2nd grade level, we were catching up on some fundamental phonics,  AND THAT’S OKAY!  So no, random lady in the grocery store check out, none of us really know how to answer that question.
  4. “We just watch TV and color.” Yet another thing they LOVE to tell strangers.  Yes, we use Wild Kratts to supplement our science and trace black line maps with dry erase markers to learn geography, but it sure would sound a lot better if they learned to tell people, “we’re studying biology and European geography right now.”  But no, we watch TV and color. 
  5. “No, I haven’t learned about ______ yet.”  (This one also comes in the form of a non-verbal blank stare.)  This comes as a response to someone asking, if they have learned something yet and as luck would have it, will always be something very basic that you have gone over many times.  The truth is we have no idea where this response comes from, maybe it’s because they don’t recognize the word “multiplication” or maybe because their little brain decided to go on recess break at that moment, who knows.

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The truth is that homeschooling is a unique journey and it rarely looks like a public school setting around here.  (THANK GOODNESS)  But that, especially if you are new to homeschooling, can lead to anxiety over social judgment. Learn to laugh at your kids when they say these things and relax into the arms of grace.  That lady in the grocery store checkout has no business interrogating your kids but maybe rather than elbowing your kiddo into silence and running away as quickly as possible, take a moment to explain to her the hidden translations to your kids’ answers.  Most who are opposed to homeschooling don’t understand it or are working off of a narrow stereotype.  It would do a lot for our cause if we took the time to joyfully share how penmanship and art are connected to science in nature journaling and how that fuels their desire for more knowledge.  Who knows, she might just walk away with some new light shined on an old stereotype.

Simple Spelling

This summer I was in a scramble for a spelling curriculum.  My daughter was getting ready to start 1st grade(ish).  (One of the beauties of homeschooling is that we don’t have to conform to one grade, or one curriculum, or one… anything!) 

Now, I know that spelling in the first grade isn’t actually a necessity but I felt like it would help her with her confidence in reading. I knew that if we backed up her current reading level with similar spelling words or word families that she would start to gain some proficiency and confidence.

At first, I asked around my local homeschooling circles and found a few wonderful curriculums, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I decided that (at least at this current stage) we needed to keep it simple.  You see, one of the beautiful things that I have learned while being involved in Classical Conversations is to keep things “stick and sand.”

The premise of “stick and sand” is that you really don’t need anything more than a stick and some sand to teach your child.  Leigh Bortins, founder of Classical Conversations encourages us to ask ourselves,

If I only had a stick and sand, could I engage and effectively dialogue with my students about the concept I want to teach them?”

First, I searched online for a weekly first grade spelling list.  Once I found one that I liked, I just wrote the words out on our little dry erase board that hangs above the girls’ work table.  They also have their own  small dry erase boards to write on.  (Here is an affordable way to make your own dry erase boards.  This is what we use, not only at home, but at our CC Community day as well.)  If you do not have (or do not want to make your own dry erase boards,) a simple paper and pencil approach is just fine. (Remember, stick and sand.)  We love using dry erase boards because lets face it, to the tiny humans, EVERYTHING is more fun while writing on dry erase boards.

Each day while I am getting other things ready for our school day, my 6 year old copies each of the words (my 4 year old attempts to copy 2-3 words, which is quite a stretch but REALLY great practice.).  That’s it, spelling done for the day and it only took 5 minutes.

So let me show you what it looks like during our personal school week.

Day 1: Have your child copy the words from the board onto their personal dry erase board (or paper.)

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Day 2: Copy the words from the board using magnet letters and a cookie sheet (their favorite.)

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Day 3: Copy the words from the board using these awesome, dry erase word family wall hangings.

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Day 4:  At the end of the week, we have our spelling test.  I take my board down and dictate the words to her while she (only my 6 year old participates in this test) writes them out from memory.

Simple copy work is a very helpful tool and a fundamental piece of classical education.  It accomplishes training in multiple areas all at once (integration of subjects is a very important part of Classical Education.)  While  the student is copying down the words, they are practicing not only spelling but also reading, hand writing, sitting quietly, fine motor skills, and strength in hands for writing.  All of this in one quick, simple lesson that requires very little one on one help from you (which frees you up to tend to a sibling, switch loads of laundry or empty the dish drain.)

It’s that simple.  For now at least, this method is working great for us.  In the future I intend to start using more copy work but I know that for right now, this was all that we need.

I just thought I would share this for any of you with younger kids who are just starting out or who do not have the money for an expensive spelling curriculum right now.  I cannot stress enough that YOU ARE ENOUGH.  You do not have to have an expensive curriculum (although in some cases it is very nice.)  Keep it simple, keep it “Stick and Sand.”

*Disclaimer* The dry erase, magnets and wall hangings are all things that are a little step up from “stick and sand” but I really lucked out at a yard sale this year and got some great school supplies from my dear sis-in-law/former kindergarten teacher.  If you don’t have these supplies on hand, USE WHAT YOU HAVE or what you can find affordably.  Pencil and paper are JUST FINE!

 

 

4 Ways to Hit the Reset Button

It is never too late to hit the “reset” button.

Its 10:30 in the morning, and your happy home is beginning to crumble.  The house looks like a hurricane has hit, tensions are high, melt downs are multiplying and Mama is starting to consider heading for the hills.  It is a cycle that needs to stop and it’s up to YOU to stop it; you need to hit the reset button.

No judgement here about the messy house, in fact I once read the statement “trying to clean a house with children in it is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos” this is NO understatement.  Its life, and life with the tiny humans is messy.   But when it comes to the tension, raised voices and whining, YOU are the model of behavior that your children have been given.  You cannot expect them to “change their attitude” if you do not give them the correct example to follow.

I have found that the best defense is a good offence.  Starting the day off right is a great way to avoid the train to crazy town.  In a homeschooling mom’s group meeting I received a priceless gem of advice.

“Determine what the most important part of your school day is, and do that FIRST.”  By starting the day out with a quick family devotion, you are not only starting their day out with a good moral reminder for them to take with them in their daily adventures, but you are starting YOUR day out with the same reminder.  I find that taking the time to read a Bible story or a character building lesson to my kids, I am reminded what an important responsibility our Father in Heaven has imparted to us.  The responsibility of our children’s spiritual welfare is no small task and is the most important task by a long shot.

Disclaimer:  Starting your day with a devotion doesn’t mean you have to drag you kiddos out of bed at 6:00 and immediately commence a theology seminar.  We are not all at our best in the first 30 minutes of the day.  Some need to have time to truly wake up.  I have found that breakfast is the perfect time to engage the kids in a devotion.  You have them seated and occupied, now is your chance to gain their attention. 

But on those days when your day doesn’t start out in an ideal fashion (let’s face it, not every day is going to fall into the perfect routine), here is 4 quick ways to hit the RESET button for your day and regain some peace and serenity.

  1. Find you own calm. Take a moment to gain your composure.  Tell your kids “Mama just needs one minute,” step outside, and take a deep breath.  I recommend stepping outside for a moment because there really is nothing better than a breath of fresh air to clear your mind.  Locking yourself in the bathroom will only make matters worse, the tiny humans will find you, pound on the door, and want to know exactly what you are doing in there.  This will just add to your stress level.  (If you live in an apartment and can’t just step outside, take a cup of coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate and your phone (for music) into the bathroom with you. Take your moment of calm any way you can get it.) Now that you are momentarily alone, remember your purpose. You are here to raise these little ones to know Christ and to help generate faith in this upcoming generation.  It is VITAL that you show them peace and calm.   They learn by example.
  2. Sit down. Have your children sit down with you, little ones on your lap, older children nearby.  Telling your child to “calm down” will have just about as much effect on them as someone telling you to “calm down” when you are angry.  It does NOT help.  Sitting down automatically lowers the level of tension in the room.  Take this time for a read aloud story or if you missed your morning devotion go ahead and do that now.
  3. TIGHT SQUEEZE.  It has been scientifically proven that hugging is a natural anti-depressant and can even lead to better health.  All the proof that I need is the results between my kiddos and myself.  When we are mid-melt down, all that I have to do to stop the downward cycle is say “STOP, I need a tight squeeze.”  We give the biggest, tightest hug possible, injecting all the power of our frustration into that hug.  The results are miraculous, we both end up giggling doing it over and over until the stress is forgotten.  Don’t believe me?  Try it.
  4. Dance it out. This seems the best remedy for that “UGH” moment of the day.  When you’ve all hit your wall during school or when a chore like house/room cleaning has lost its “shine” (witty pun intended.)  Drop what you’re doing and put on some fun, dance worthy music and dance out all those blah attitudes.  It is a REQUIREMENT that you dance with your kiddos; you are not allowed to sit on the sidelines.  Remind you kids that life is fun, and even Mama likes to have fun. 

The most important lesson here, is that you cannot expect your kiddos to have happy hearts if you do not example that for them.  They need to see your sweet smile, hear your laugh and feel your love.  Yes, there is a time when we have to get serious and strict when discipline is required, but they also need to know our joy.

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