Summer Activities for Your Homeschool Journey

summer homeschool activitiesSummer break is quickly approaching! I don’t know about you, but I could REALLY use a break. It’s been a busy year of trials and triumphs.

Of course I’m always ready for a break, but there should be a purpose for everything we do and it should always be an intentional and beneficial use of our time. At the end of each year, I take stock of our accomplishments and our shortcomings. I contemplate year-round schooling and other schedule options for our homeschool and implement what is best for our situation at that time.
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Let’s face it, taking a summer break isn’t always the most beneficial option. Sometimes children forget what they’ve learned over the course of three months. Then you spend the first part of the following year reviewing what they forgot.
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Here in South Carolina, it’s miserably hot by the beginning of August. The warm pool water isn’t refreshing. When you jump in you feel more like your boiling in a pot rather than swimming in a pool. There are also those famous last words: “I’m bored” that I sometimes hear after only a few weeks of summer break? That is one of my least favorite sayings ever. As a mommy, I would give ANYTHING to be bored. pool-690034_1280To avoid some of these pitfalls of summer, I thought I’d share some of our scheduling tips, games, and activities we’ve used over our 13 years of homeschooling.
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We take a shorter summer break and allow for mini breaks throughout the school year. We take a take eight or nine weeks off in the summer. Then we take a week off in September, several weeks during the holidays, and then another week off for Easter break. We also plan a few long weekends throughout the schedule. A shorter summer usually gives us time to rest, play, re-organize our supplies, choose and shop for the next year’s curriculum, take a trip, tackle a few projects, and maybe even schedule some appointments to get them out of the way before we resume school.
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To keep our lessons fresh in our minds, we will discuss some of the things we learned throughout the school year. We’ll play math games, thinking skills games, and participate in activities that reinforce what we learned and keep our minds fresh for the next school year.  Here are some amazing activities and resources that will turn your summer break into educational fun without your children even knowing it:
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A swimming pool is always a hit, but we can’t all afford an in-ground pool. This is a great option. We’ve bought a few of these over the course of our homeschooling journey. They’ve each lasted about 4 summers.

There are tons of water toys you can use for learning counting, colors, addition, subtraction, etc:

Math wrap ups are a wonderful way to keep those tables memorized and those hands out of trouble:

There are wrap ups for music and language subjects too!

We all live near historic towns. Take a field trip to one. You can walk through the streets learning history and observing creation. Many towns have wading fountains to keep you cool. There’s always an ice cream parlor nearby so reward your children with a scoop or two of their favorite flavor!

When it’s unbearably hot, have a movie day complete with popcorn and candy. Some local theaters even offer summer movies for a dollar or two.

During those summer afternoon thunderstorms, you could build a blanket fort or set up a tent in the living room, snuggle up and read books all afternoon. Many libraries offer a summer reading reward program.

You can hold a camp out in your own back yard complete with s’mores, water balloons, tent, and nature hunts.

Board games and outdoor games are always a hit with my children, and they don’t usually catch on to the fact that their learning in every subject!

Academics isn’t the only thing we need to teach our children, you know? How about set aside a week or two to learn some life skills? Make it as fun as you can by allowing your children to do some of the meal planning, shopping, cooking, laundry, car washing, yard work, etc. You could even throw in rewards like allowance or prizes for a job well done!

You’d be surprised what educational activities you can find to do over the summer. They’ll turn your summer into a low stress, fun, learning adventure that will benefit the whole family and create memories to last a lifetime!

Thorns of Encouragement

Thorns of Encouragement #homeschooling #parenting #encouragement #faithSoon our school year will be just another memory. What began nine months ago is quickly coming to an end. Are you like me, feeling as if each year ticks by faster than the last? I mean there are moments during our school year that seem to drag on forever like fractions, anatomy, pre-calculus… (Did you sense a trend? If you guessed we tend to struggle with math and science, you guessed correctly.) However, for the most part it has flown by. Taking the year as a whole, I feel as if it was a blurred whirlwind of events.

My oldest is wrapping up her freshman year of college. I’m in my third year of denial that my middle child is in high school, and this is pretty bad considering she will be a senior this fall. I don’t even want to think about the fact that in 5 short years my two youngest babies will graduate and most likely leave my nest at the same time–double whammy!pink rose closeupI’ve been reflecting on our homeschool journey a lot lately. I remember when we began. Stepping out on faith into the wild unknown of homeschooling was a frightening experience. Time with my precious children was what I always wanted. I knew it wasn’t always going to be rosy, but I had no idea how much time I would spend fussing about the lack of attention span, worrying about silly state education standards, cleaning up messes from science experiments gone wrong, and sweeping up the hair I pulled out during math meltdowns. I spent a lot of time focusing on the thorns instead of smelling the roses.

Even more valuable and memorable was the quality time I spent with my blessings. I didn’t realize how much time we would spend cuddling up on the couch with a good book, laughing at poems and short stories they’d written, teaching the time-honored but not forgotten traditions, crafts, and life skills of yesteryear, marveling and worshiping God and His creation, honoring our ancestors, hugging through the meltdowns, praying through the struggles, and thanking God for the honor and privilege of homeschooling. I am so grateful for these beautiful blossoms in our homeschool.

Now that I think about it, those thorns lead to some delightful blossoms; those moments were well worth it. I would endure the pricks and thorns one million times over to homeschool my children. After all, you can’t have true roses without thorns. They have a God-given purpose. Who am I to question God’s design and plan? Roses are one of God’s most beautiful creations. I can’t imagine avoiding the soft, delicate petals, the lovely fragrance, or the intricate beauty of a rose simply because of the thorns.

It won’t be long and I’ll be reflecting over our summer break and heading into the 2016-2017 school year. Our homeschool journey is moving way too fast for me.  Maybe you feel the same. It is my prayer for us all to take time to enjoy the roses of our homeschooling journey, thorns and all! Roses don’t last forever.

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break

Activities to Keep Children Busy During School Break #children #parenting www.ruckusandrubies.comI don’t know about your children, but mine tend to get bored easily during Christmas and spring breaks as well as summer break.  Boredom leads to lots of whining and loads of trouble. It’s times like those that make this homeschooling mommy schedule all year round. The problem with that is I NEED A BREAK! Skipping break is a punishment for me in many ways!

I need time to catch up on all of the other things that get placed on the back burner during our school year. I need a break from grading, paperwork, record keeping. Homeschooling knits us close together, but I need time with my children without any hindrances or pressures this world tries to heap on us.

Let’s face it–every endeavor in this life takes some sort of effort especially if you want it to be successful. With a little planning, your children can have the excitement they need while you get the vacation you so desperately deserve!

A few things you’ll need to remember: there will be times when you’ll have to let go and let the children make a mess. Have them help you clean it up, but allow them to just be children and have fun. Also, be sure to the age appropriateness and level of maturity of your children for each activities. Now, check out these awesome activities to keep your blessings busy:

  • Let your children build a fort over furniture.
  • Have a camp out in the backyard or inside your home complete with flashlights, pup tents, campfire or microwave s’mores.
  • Bake cutout sugar cookies.
  • Decorate and eat cupcakes.
  • Have a bubble blowing competition.
  • Play Twister in swimsuits with colored shave cream.
  • Purchase pom poms, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glue, construction paper, popsicle sticks, or craft kits. Put down lots of newspaper or an old sheet, and have a craft day! Children can gift their crafts to grandparents, aunts, uncles, church family, the elderly, etc.
  • Make or purchase play money, set up a cash register or calculator, have children use stickers to put price tags on toys or other items, and let them play store.
  • Allow children to use cooker cutters and plastic knives to play with play doh. If you’re worried about mess, set it up outside at a table or on a blanket.
  • Buy random, inexpensive food ingredients and let children make their own snack creations whether or not the foods go together.
  • Blind-folded gourmet jelly bean challenge; have children guess flavors.
  • Keep old broken appliances and electronics. Be sure to check them for any safety precautions, remove old batteries, etc. Let children take them apart and put them back together (this was a favorite and very educational past time of my son).
  • Play board and card games. Here are some of our favorites: Sorry, Ticket to Ride,  UnoCandy Land
  • Set up minute-to-win-it games.
  • Fill a jar with random acts of kindness written on small pieces of paper.
  • Run through sprinklers.
  • Sidewalk paint and chalk.
  • Go for a nature walk.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Have a picnic lunch.
  • Utilize activity books like this one for more ideas: The Instant Curriculum: Over 750 Activities Developmentally Appropriate Activities.
  • Finger painting with paint or food.
  • Swimming.
  • Water balloons.
  • Have a Lego building challenge choosing themes for the projects like holidays or a topic you are learning in school.
  • Volunteer at a nursing home or children’s hospital.
  • Plan a sleepover with another family and trade off the following week, giving both sets of parents a break.
  • If you  have to run errands or take care of things during your break, take the children along but plan ahead by making a way to involve them in the process.  For example, allow them to help with grocery shopping by letting them grab things off shelf, push cart, or scan items at the self checkout. You can even teach them couponing.
  • Make popcorn, rent or stream movies, and have a movie afternoon.

With a little planning ahead, you can plan an exciting activity each day. Depending on the age of your children, many of these can be done without much involvement from you. That means you can utilize these activities to keep your monkeys busy while you enjoy a productive and hopefully restful break!

 

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling?

Overwhelmed by Homeschooling? Tips and advice for overwhelming the enemy instead of yourself. www.ruckusandrubies.com #homeschooling #faith

I wish I could say that after you homeschool for a while, you no longer feel overwhelmed. Many aspects of the journey do get easier, better, less stressful, but there are always going to be aspects of homeschooling that overwhelm us.

Whether it is Algebra, the science experiment gone awry, meltdowns over writing assignments, the phone ringing off the hook, non-supportive family members and friends, broken appliances, there will always be something that tries to ruin your homeschool journey.

We must remember: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12.

The enemy, satan, wants to steal, kill, and destroy our homeschools. He wants us to throw in the towel. Knowing this gives me a whole new perspective on my struggles. It makes me angry, but most of all motivated. It makes me want to “man up”, stop whining, and fight for my children and our homeschool.

When you feel overwhelmed, use these tips as ammunition against the enemy:

  1. Get into your prayer closet. Encourage your children to pray with you. I know it is an interruption to your homeschool schedule, but math problems can wait. Protecting your home from the enemy cannot!
  2. Reach out to your prayer warriors. Nothing bothers satan more than to hear the prayers of many saints fighting against him.
  3. Seek advice from your homeschool support group, accountability association, or fellow homeschoolers.
  4. Take a break from the overwhelming tasks, pray over them, and do something fun instead. You could take a field trip, go to the library, have a game day, volunteer, perform random acts of kindness in the community, or just take the day off and spend it cuddling and basking in His light.
  5. Speak to the enemy. Bind him in the name of Jesus. Grab your Bible and study scripture. Claim it against the enemy just as Jesus did. Include your children in this maneuver, because they need to know how to recognize who they are battling and how to defeat him.
  • And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant. Genesis 33:5
  • And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Hebrews 2:13
  • Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
  • Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1
  • Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

The truth is that whether or not you homeschool, there are times of trial for everyone in this life. Hang in there! Remember God’s faithfulness. Seek Him first, and He has promised He will take care of the rest. God never breaks His promises!

10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid

hands-634363_1920Parenting is the toughest, but most rewarding job in existence. No other job causes the most physical and emotional stress or reaps the most benefits. Parenting is also the most crucial and important job you will ever have, because the choices you make when rearing your children have a ripple effect for years to come.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes along the way. Some were early on and others are more recent. I am the type of person who tries very hard to consider the repercussions of my choices and actions. This can be a good thing until you let it cause you to worry.

Once a mistake is made, it’s already out there. You can’t take it back. However, you can take stock, evaluate, study God’s Word, pray for His guidance, and decide how to remedy the situation and what to do differently next time.

Here are 10 Parenting Mistakes to Avoid:

        1. Not following a schedule or routine.  Children crave routine. Early on they need predictability in their lives to give them security. As they get older they need to learn that the world revolves around a schedule. Routines teach children that someone or something bigger than them is in charge as well as guiding them.
        2. Not reading to or talking to children.  It is important even at infancy to talk to your child about things you are doing and to read to them daily. They crave communication even though they may not be able to understand what you are saying. We read to our children from the day we brought them home from the hospital. We talked to them about everyday things bath time, foods, colors, numbers, all sorts of things. You may feel silly, but they absorb like sponges. You would be surprised how quickly their communication and language skills develop simply by reading and talking to them.  Here are some of my children’s childhood favorites:                                                                                                       
        3. No chores or responsibilities. Children need to be given chores and responsibilities early on according to their age and ability. Even toddlers can handle the task of cleaning up their toys before pulling more out of the toy box. As they get older they can help you fold towels, feed the pets, wipe the kitchen table, entertain the baby or bring you diapers and wipes. Children love feeling needed and the crave the feeling of accomplishment. Here are some chore and discipline charts that would be beneficial to help you keep all of this organized:                                         This one is just for one child but I love it!                 This one is for up to three children.
        4. Paying for good grades, personal responsibilities, or other things required of them. I see no problem with paying children for chores above and beyond their own responsibilities, but children shouldn’t be paid to get good grades, make their own beds, brush their teeth, clean their rooms. They should be paid for going above and beyond what should be required of them. It shouldn’t be a child’s immediate response to ask “what’s in it for me” when they are told to take care of themselves and their belongings or to get good grades. Children should NOT be bribed to do what they should rightfully do on their own.  On the other side of the coin, don’t treat your children like slaves. Nothing bothers me more than to see parents say “go get this”, “go do this”, because they are too lazy to get up and do it themselves!
        5. Assuming children are just naturally boisterous. I call it the “boys will be boys” syndrome. Just because society has had a mental and spiritual lapse in good manners and social etiquette doesn’t mean it is acceptable. Too many children these days are not taught manners and decency. I cannot tell you how many children I run into on a daily basis whose main topic of discussion is toilet humor. They assume they are entitled to whatever everyone else has. They don’t even utter the words please and thank you. They help themselves to your pantry. We need to teach children to keep their hands to themselves instead of walking into a public place or someone’s home picking up and touching things that don’t belong to them. Table manners are important as well. It’s one thing to sit by a small child who smacks, but no one wants to sit at the table with an adult who shows everyone their “seafood”. Children shouldn’t invite themselves to join in on activities either. It puts people on the spot and makes them uncomfortable. Children should wait until they are invited. There is a difference between being boisterous and being disrespectful. Please give your children more credit than this. They can have good manners and be respectful of others. They can follow the Golden Rule. If your children are taught these things at home, then they will mimic them outside the home. Of course, if they are spending their days in public schools or daycare, they are learning their social skills from other children who may not have the same rules and values so those are things you will have to deprogram  the poor manners they pick up. Bottom line is it is NOT “cute” when our children are rude.
        6. Negotiating and begging. How many times have you seen a parent in the store trying to negotiate with their screaming child? “Now Sally, please stop screaming at the top of your lungs in the store. If you stop, I’ll buy you something.” There should be no negotiating. When your child is doing something wrong, you need to pull them aside and tell them why it’s not acceptable. Lay out the consequences of continuing the bad behavior and let the chips fall where they may. Don’t stand their begging your child to behave and don’t reward them for misbehaving in the first place. Be the adult. You are creating a vicious cycle you’ll never break.
        7. Not following through. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Don’t threaten your children that they will lose a privilege if you are not willing to take it from them. Children are smart. It won’t take them long to figure out that you don’t really mean what you say.  If you tell your daughter she will lose her favorite toy if she hits her brother, then be sure that toy is taken if she chooses to hit her brother. If we don’t show children the consequences of their actions, then they will continue to disobey. We are in their face every day. If we don’t show them the consequences of disobeying our rules, how will they ever obey God’s rules when He is not in their face everyday and the consequences aren’t as tangible? A good practice is to use God’s Word for instructing our children on right and wrong. They can memorize and write Bible verses that pertain to their actions. We should also pray with our children asking for God’s guidance and forgiveness.
        8. Not choosing battles wisely. Choose your battles wisely. That doesn’t mean don’t ever discipline your children. It just means be sure the battle you’re waging is worth fighting for. Arguing with your child over mismatched clothes really isn’t worth fighting for. However, if your child is doing something that is detrimental to herself or others then it’s definitely worth the battle.
        9. Too much criticism, not enough praise. When you are running around trying to take care of all of your responsibilities, it’s can be hard to remember to praise your children. They deserve to be praised when they make good choices. Many times that is the only reward they will receive. Instead of coming home and complaining about everything they haven’t done, how about praise them for the things they have done. When we are too critical, our children will stop trying altogether. They’ll find that nothing they do is good enough so why bother.
        10. Not including God in your home.  I saved the most important for last. The biggest mistake is not including God in your home. Now I don’t just mean not going to church. I mean not including God in your home as part of your family. A few hours a week at church is not enough. You need to incorporate God in everything your family does. Your children need to see you saying more prayers than just the mealtime blessing. They need to see you praying for them and their struggles. They need to see you turning to God for your struggles.  God’s Word tells us to teach of Him morning, noon, and night. God isn’t an accessory to our life. He should be the center of our life. If you simply seek God first in everything, you will probably avoid mistakes 1-9, because obedience and surrender to God encompasses all of these things and more.  Here are some wonderful devotions to help you invite God into your home:

                                                                                                               

I hope and pray this list of top 10 parenting mistakes to avoid is beneficial to you. Praying you and your family have a 2016 that is abundantly blessed with growth and God’s favor. Hang in there! Don’t beat yourself up about your mistakes. Learn from them, change bad habits, and grow. Parenting is a difficult job, but it is soooo worth it!

Encouragement for Your Monday

His mercies are new every morning!

Well, folks, it’s a Monday. I don’t know about you, but I usually wake up on Monday morning feeling like I need another weekend. It was a busy one. I had a Saturday full of meetings, chores, and shopping. Yesterday I spent the afternoon helping my oldest daughter move back into her dorm after Christmas break. That time was sandwiched between two wonderful worship services.

I woke up feeling tired and wanted to crawl back under the covers. The Lord reminded me that today is another day just like all of the others. It’s an opportunity to serve Him and my family, and to be a blessing to others. He sent me a sweet Facebook message from a dear cousin, and then He sent me His Word to share with you, encouragement for your Monday:

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”  Lamentations 3: 22-25

I’m praying you seize every God-given opportunity today through His strength and power! Happy Monday!

New Years Resolutions for Our Homeschool

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New Years Resolutions for Our Homeschool #homeschool www.ruckusandrubies.com

I cannot believe 2015 is coming to an end.  It seems the homeschool years fly by faster and faster with each passing year. Our children are growing up at record speed! There is so much to teach them about academics and life and so little time.

New Years offers a wonderful opportunity for life lessons with reflection and setting new commitments. We typically call them resolutions, but I’m not sure I like the flippant way society treats resolutions these days. These days resolutions are broken all to easily. If we look at resolutions on more of a spiritual level we realize they are more than just goals. They are commitments. Why settle for having just a good homeschool, when you can have the best homeschool? In order to accomplish this, we need to faithfully commit to the New Years resolutions for our homeschool.

Today I’m sharing with you the New Years resolutions for our homeschool for 2016:

  1. Keep God first in our homeschool. We need to stay committed to prioritizing our day by beginning, ending, and focusing on God through prayer, Bible memorization, reading and discussing His Word, faith-based curriculum, and homeschooling. If we seek Him first, He’ll take care of the rest.
  2. Be more like Christ. We are planning  to study our Bible more and plan more service opportunities for the second half of the year. We want our homeschool journey to be one of growth, outreach, and blessing to us and others. We can spend all the time in the world learning academics, but it won’t do our children any good in this life if they haven’t learned to be like Jesus. True success is measured by how many lives we change.
  3. Smell the Roses. The beginning of the year seems to be so rushed. We jump in with both feet and sprint through the first semester. Many times we miss opportunities for life lessons, cuddling on the couch, sweet discussions with our children. It’s true that they will be grown before you know it. We are so stressed and rushed.  We don’t want to pass these bad habits on to our children.  So take a slow down, take a deep breath, and smell the roses.
  4. Stay up-to-date on paperwork. Oftentimes we get lazy and push aside things that need to be done because we are just too tired. We fit our homeschool schedule around everything else in our lives. It should be the other way around so we are committing to keeping our grading and paperwork current.  That may mean we will need to say no to some opportunities, but it will be worth it in the end because we won’t have a pile of paperwork to do.
  5. More hands on activities, less seat work. By this time of the year, we are becoming weary and are ready for summer break. Livening things up a bit with activities will help us stay motivated during the second semester. Shake up the hum drum a little bit with games, crafts, and field trips.

If you are in need of an overhaul on your homeschool this year and want to start the New Year organized and prepared, check out this wonderful faith-based curriculum:

Sit down with your family and set some New Years resolutions for your homechool. I’m praying for you and your homeschool journey in 2016. May it be successful and fruitful! It is my hope that when summer break arrives, you’ll be able to look back on 2015-16 with little or no regret and an overabundance of blessed memories!

Christmas Break Activities

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There are no words to describe how grateful I am that we are on our Christmas vacation. Don’t get me wrong–we love homeschooling, but we are in desperate need of a break! We start school much earlier than most families, so that allows us to take a little more time off during Christmas. However, it makes for a loooong first semester.

For the first week we usually spend our days catching up on anything around the house that has been neglected or fallen by the wayside while we’ve been busy with school.  Then we spend some time mailing Christmas cards, making gifts, shopping, wrapping gifts, and serving others until Christmas day. After Christmas, we are busy taking down decorations and cleaning while we still have the time. Then we try to spend some more fun time together before resuming school.

I try not to keep my children busy with extracurricular activities outside the home.  I believe it is important to have the family together for dinners and quality time in the evenings as much as possible. We don’t want to spend valuable time running the rat race.  During our days and sometimes evenings, we make crafts, gifts, bake, and play games, and of course we attend church as well. But it doesn’t take long before you start to here the dreaded, “Mom, I’m bored!” I always tell my children that I would give ANYTHING to be bored!

Here are some wonderful resources to keep your blessings entertained during Christmas vacation or any time of year:

It’s never too late to begin Advent or Jesse Tree activities and this is the perfect book. There is a link in the book for free printable ornaments:

Ann has also written a parents’ version of this book:

This is one of our beloved favorites:

Easy recipes for kiddos 4-16

This one is FREE on Kindle!

Gluten Free for the Holidays

Paleo Christmas Treats (easy to tweak for Trim Healthy Mama)

This is another geared specifically for children.

Here’s another FREE one on Kindle:

Nothing teaches the true meaning of Christmas like a nativity, and for these yummy goodies you’ll may need some nativity Christmas cutters:

Or nativity cupcake toppers:

One of our very favorite traditions is viewing Christmas lights. We check the newspapers and websites for lights displays.  We all dress in our sweats or p.j.s., bring blankets, get comfy cozy.  We make cocoa or peppermint shakes, hop in the car, and travel from home to  home viewing the lights and listening Christmas carols.

I hope you find these Christmas break activities helpful. I’m praying your season is filled to overflowing with the real meaning of Christmas, the peace and joy Christ brings.  Merry and Blessed Christmas from our family to yours!

Seven Tips for Surviving Homeschool Meltdowns

portrayal-89189_1920As a homeschool mom, nothing puts a damper on my day like a homeschool meltdown. You know what I talking about: tears, tantrums, frustrations.  Those moments when you feel like you have to drag your child to their desk kicking and screaming.

We’ve had our share of meltdowns in our home, and I’m sure no homeschool family is immune to them.  Over our many homeschooling years, I’ve discovered a few tips and tricks for surviving homeschool meltdowns:

  1. Prayer and scripture.  We start our homeschool day with individual devotion and prayer time.  I resist the urge to rush through my morning, and I take a few minutes to read a Bible study or devotion and pray with each child.  This sets the tone for the rest of the day.  I also give each child a chance to talk to me about anything that may be bothering them or struggles they may have.  This gives them the opportunity to get their worries off their chest and clear their mind.  If a meltdown occurs over math or writing during the day, I try my best not to lose my temper or my mind.  It’s easy to get frustrated because busy moms don’t have time for meltdowns.  But I have to remember that I will have a lot worse to deal with if we don’t stop and discuss it. Instead, I sit down with my child and we turn to The Lord for help with school work and our attitudes.
  2. Discover the learning style.  Use this link to determine what type of learner your child is: HSLDA Learning Style.  Nothing causes a meltdown faster than trying to teach your child in a style for which they have not been wired.  God created each of us with unique learning styles.  The beauty of homeschooling is tailoring your child’s education to their individual needs to help them meet their incredible potential.
  3. Discover their interests.  Try to put a spin on lessons by incorporating things that interest your child.  My son loves Legos.  We have used Legos in every subject including reading.  Get creative!
  4. Follow a flexible schedule.  Some of my children are more prone to meltdowns than others.  Their temperament is also such that they crave consistency, a routine. Consistency helps them know what to expect and minimizes their apprehension.  A schedule also helps our school day flow better.  If I didn’t follow a schedule when my children were younger, they would get distracted, run off to play, and get into trouble.  Having a schedule in place helped me transition from one subject to another without the children running amok because I was not prepared.  I was also sure not to schedule too much of the same type of work or learning at one time.  We did seat work early while their minds were still fresh.  I learned about how long they could sit, and then would schedule hands-on-activities between subjects that required them to sit.
  5. Switch it up.  Although our schedule is consistent, it is flexible.  There are times when we need a break from the mundane.  Don’t be afraid to schedule a reading day, a documentary movie day, or a field trip day.  Plan a fun day of snacks, games, and activities that reinforce what they are learning.  You can even schedule some of these activities during every school day.
  6. Schedule regular breaks.  Be sure to schedule breaks.  Children need time to refresh their bodies, minds and spirits.  Allow them the opportunity to rest.  It also gives them something to look forward to and it is a good motivational tool!
  7. Praise your child.  Let your child know how rewarding it is to work hard and do your best.  Show your appreciation for all they do.  Remind them of how much they can accomplish with God and you by their side.  They will be motivated to keep up the good work!

I pray these tips will help you as much as they have helped us over the years.  May your meltdowns be few and your success be great!

Buying Homeschool Curriculum

School Books www.ruckusandrubies.com

Having homeschooled for 13 years, our family has enjoyed many different types of homeschool curriculum.  Over the years I’ve noticed my children enjoy literature based and hands on curricula more than typical textbooks and desk work you see in a school setting.  I’d love to share with you about some of our very favorites over the years! Perhaps this will help you when buying homeschool curriculum.

Sonlight

I believe Sonlight has received the best response from my children.  It is literature based so there is a LOT of reading.  Two of my children struggled with reading and really didn’t enjoy it.  That was one of the reason we didn’t begin using Sonlight until the past four or five years.  I just didn’t think they would enjoy it.  However, each year as I prayed for direction in curriculum choice I was drawn more and more to Sonlight.  I gave in and tried it despite my reservations.  It completely changed my reluctant readers’ opinions about reading.  In fact, they now love to read not just for school but also in their free time.  In fact, my son disliked reading the most out of all four of my children.  Now he reads his assignments, finishes them early, and begins on the next week’s books.  He just cannot get enough. Each summer he eagerly awaits the arrival of our Sonlight books for the new school year.  When they arrive, he rips open the box with such enthusiasm and joy!  Depending on the package you decide upon, Sonlight comes with as little or as much as you want so you can tailor it to your family’s educational needs.  It is also faith-based and comes with student and teacher lesson plans, notes regarding the literature, and comprehension questions and answers.  It typically combines Bible, language arts, reading, and history together.  This saves time and prep work, and is a lifesaver for me.  It also helps the students’ education flow together better and helps with retention of the information.  You can also order literature-based science from Sonlight.  Their website also offers math curriculum. In essence you can get your whole homeschool year in a box delivered right to your door.

Notebooking

My blessings have always loved creating notebooks for the topics about which they are learning.  Notebooking provides activities, coloring, cutting, pasting, minibooks, puzzles, popup items, all sorts of hands on activities for your children to do to reinforce what they are learning in any and every subject.  Here are some educational and beneficial Notebooking Pages you can utilize in your homeschool.

Unit Studies

I am always interested in getting the most and effective education possible.  There are so many benefits when subjects are combined like in Sonlight and unit studies.  Faith-based Weaver Curriculum combines unit studies or multiple ages on the same subject.  This means you teach all of your children at one time no matter the age range.  Then the hands on activities or work assignments are tailored to the age of the student.  Weaver also combines lots of life and character building lessons into the core subjects.  I was working from home a lot when we used Weaver.  It does take more prep work than curriculum-in-a-box like Sonlight. It’s not an over abundance of prep work, but you will need to visit the library regularly as well as gather some household objects.  I just didn’t have the time to devote to prepping, but I really miss it!

Science

We absolutely LOVE Apologia Curriculum written by Dr. Jay Wile.  Apologia offers curricula in all subjects.  We have used their science curriculum for many, many years.  Their high school courses are considered honors level which is wonderful.  Each lesson has science experiments and hands-on activities.  They have notebooks which you can purchase to go along with the textbooks, but they are optional.  When we have been on a tight budget, we have skipped purchasing notebooks but my children missed them.  With some extra prep work on my part, I was able to research online and print activities that pertained to the lessons we were learning.  When we’ve had enough funds in our curriculum budget we have purchased the notebooks, and they are overflowing with hands-on activities to reinforce what your students are learning.  Dr. Wile has written the science curriculum based on the truth of the Bible and creation.  He explains constructively the difference between evolutionist point-of-view and The Word so our children can see the truth and back it up.  I appreciate so very much the way He references all of the different aspects of science that obviously came about from the Intelligent Design of our God and Creator.  Apologia has been such a blessing to our family!

Teaching Textbooks Math

Teaching Textbooks are great for independent learners as well as those who need a little more instruction.   They are on CD-ROM and a textbook can be purchased as well.  The lessons on CD will self-grade the students work.  They teach and explain the lessons as well as show children life application.  There is approximately 120 – 160 hours of teacher instruction on CD-ROM.  This has been especially helpful to me as my older children have gotten into high school math and surpassed my math education history.

Writing

The Institute for Excellence in Writing is the best writing program.  It teaches children thinking skills, effective communication, eloquence of speech and creative writing.

Character Building

We Choose Virtues teaches Biblical virtues and character building lessons that not only educate your children but also bring good behavior back into your home.  They use explanation, memorization, demonstration, conversation, and personal application to instill virtues.  They offer hands-on tools like flash cards and charts to reinforce life lessons as well.  We Choose Virtues is for all ages, because they also offer mentoring lessons and activities for older children.

Homeschooling has been the best decision we have ever made for our family.  Buying curriculum can make homeschooling seem daunting.  I hope the information I have shared with you will bless you on your journey!  Please let me know if I can help you in any way.