5 Things I Love About Homeschooling

Homeschooling has certainly been a weird and fun journey so far. And it definitely has come with it’s fair share of trials as well, but I figured it’s always best to start with the positive stuff (but don’t you worry, the not-so-great post is coming!)

 

5 Things We Love About Homeschooling

 

I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things that I really love about homeschooling. Stuff that I wasn’t expecting. And while I’m only 2 months into this journey, I think we’re finally finding a rhythm to our days, allowing me to see a little more clearly.

There is a lot I love about homeschooling, honestly. A lot more than I was expecting. It’s one of those things where it be hectic, annoying, and chaotic, but it is also one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. Here’s a few things I love.

 

An Ease to Our Days

 

There is no doubt in my mind that homeschooling has brought more peace and ease to our lives. I’ve really invested in the “power of yet.” Which is, most simply, the idea that while you may not have something now, it doesn’t mean you won’t attain it in the future. A few of my yets have been: “I don’t have a clear idea of how to schedule science…yet,” or “I’m not quite sure how to teach grammar in an interesting way…yet,” or “We haven’t found our rhythm…yet.” This idea of “yet” has brought so much peace into our lives. It reminds me that I don’t have to have everything mastered (a hard reality for me to face), and it also gives Zoey some room to breathe and experience learning in a new way. There’s also just the simple scheduling of our day that is so much easier. There’s no rush from point A to point B.

Sleep

Z is a night owl through and through. Pretty opposite of me – an early bird (Like a, “I’m always up at 6am,” type of early bird). Homeschooling has provided us a chance to meet halfway. I can get so much more work done (since I work from home) in the morning, allowing Z to sleep a little longer, and giving her a chance to really be aware and awake when learning. At first, I thought I needed a rigid routine of waking her up at 8 am every morning, but quickly realized it didn’t do either of us any good. I felt frantic and chaotic trying to juggle work and learning with Z. And she wasn’t fully awake or on board with learning yet either. So, we’d end up frustrating messes by 10am. Allowing sleep to happen naturally has been one of the best parts of homeschooling, honestly.

 

Learning in New and Hands On Ways

 

I am a crazy researcher. A strength (and sometimes flaw) of mine is being prepared. I want to know everything about everything, and will research the heck out of something until I find an answer. Homeschooling has fed my nerdy researcher and given me an opportunity to teach Z in ways that really work for her. We’ve found that she’s a very visual and kinesthetic type learner, so I can really meet her needs because I’m able to experiment and explore learning with her.

 

Feeding Her Interests

 

The library has become our best friend (oh, the English major in me screams with glee). Homeschooling has allowed us more time to invest in her interests. The other day, she was looking in the biography section of the children’s books and saw The Diary of Anne Frank. She asked me about who she was and I gave her a little back story. We decided her diary might be a bit too much for her to handle at this time, but she still wanted to learn about Anne Frank. So, we checked out a more succinct biography of her and discussed World War II, the Holocaust, and what kindness and bravery mean. It was one of those moments in homeschooling that made me feel fully alive in this journey.

 

Flexibility

 

This might be one thing I love most of all. The serial entrepreneur in me loves a flexible schedule. A schedule that meets your needs as well as makes you productive. If we want to meet E for lunch, we can. If we want to take a field trip to the aquarium, we can. If we want to spend all of school in our pj’s, we can. The flexibility to our schedule feeds into what I talked about in the beginning — the ease of our day.

 

There are a lot of things that I’ve fallen in love with in regards to homeschooling, but it isn’t an easy road. In fact, don’t you worry, you’ll get a post from me on what I miss about public schooling. For this season in our lives, though, it is working out so well, and an adventure that has been so worth it.

What I’m Watching : 13th

Anyone who knows me knows that civil rights issues kick me in the gut. They are very personal to me, and effect me in a way I can’t always explain.

I’m a white woman.

And I care about race issues.

Last night I watched a new documentary on Netflix called 13th. (13th references the 13th amendment. The amendment that abolished slavery and involuntary servitude). Within the first 12 minutes, I was already sobbing. Images of the KKK, lynchings, people getting tossed around as if they are garbage being tossed into a trash can — all because of pigment.

 

What I'm Watching Wednesday: Netflix Original 13th

 

The first quote that hit me was, “If you look at the history of black people’s various struggles in this country, the connecting theme is the attempt to be understood as full, complicated human beings. We are something other than this visceral image of criminality and menace and threat to which people associate with us.”

Just take that in for a minute.

This documentary is complicated and layered and heavy. So heavy. Some of it is so complicated that I don’t even know how I feel about it. It does exactly what a documentary should do. It brings information to light on a subject that is so unbelievably relevant. It makes you uncomfortable.

Frankly, I’m overwhelmed by it still. It’s all still resonating in my head. Maybe I’ll write a more well thought our review of it when it’s settled in.

Until then, watch it. It needs to be talked about.

3 Money Saving Apps & Plug-Ins When You Don’t Coupon

I’ll admit, I get easily frustrated and frazzled when it comes to couponing/scouring ads..etc. For me, the least amount of work I have to do, the better. When I’ve tried couponing, I’m always frantic as I go through the store, making sure I mark everything off and get the correct amount of whatever I need. Seriously, my heart beats fast, I feel overwhelmed, it’s not pretty.

All that being said, I still love saving money. I’d venture to say that saving money is really a necessity on our tight budget. So, I’ve found a happy medium. I have a few (super easy!) money saving apps and plug-ins that have saved me a ton (okay, maybe not a ton, but they’ve saved me — that’s what matters, right?!)

 

3 Money Saving Apps & Plug-Ins When You Don't Coupon

 

Shopkick

 

I’m often really shocked at how little Shopkick is talked about in the blogosphere. Am I missing something? Or do people not resonate with it like I do? Basically, you can earn “kicks” that will eventually earn you gift cards (500 kicks gets you a $2 gift card at Target or Walmart, but there’s plenty more). You can earn these kicks by scanning items on the app, and sometimes just for walking in a store. Z loves to help find the kicks (it’s like a scavenger hunt), or if I ever have some time (hahaha, wait, when is that?) I’ll swing by a store and quickly do scans. They’ve also started giving extra kicks for buying certain items (called Kickbates), but I’ve only used this option once as I don’t usually have a need for the items offering this. I use my kicks as sort of a savings account. I just keep building up kicks until I’m able to earn the bigger gift cards. I’ve been able to pay for birthdays, Christmas presents, and plenty more using gift cards from Shopkick.

 

Honey

 

Oh my goodness, Honey is an absolute dream for anyone who shops online. It’s a nice little Chrome plug-in that you run every time you’re going to check out online, and it will run active coupon codes to try and save you money. It also has this great feature when shopping on Amazon (which I’m addicted to….) that will tell you if there’s a better deal. You click the icon, and it will take you to the same item at a lower price.

I printed my Save the Dates as postcards through Vistaprint and was able to take 50% off my total checkout price. A-MAZ-ING! Whenever we order pizza (which we do all too frequently..sigh), it runs coupon codes and saves us money there as well. It’s easily become one of my favorite money saving strategies.

 

Cartwheel

 

We spend a lot of time at Target. A. Lot. Of. Time. So, it makes sense to use their money saving app: Cartwheel. I use it one of two ways. First, sometimes, I’ll look through the deals on the app before heading to Target and base my shopping trip around what I can save money on. Majority of the time, however, I go with my list and then, scan the items as we go along. I normally go for Market Pantry (Target’s brand) items because those are the ones that will normally have deals. And you may want to scoff at 5%, I’ll be honest, I scoff at it a bit, but saving money is saving money. Also, the deals aren’t always 5% off, I’ve gotten up to 25% off certain items before. The best is when you can pair an earned gift card from Shopkick with your savings from Cartwheel. Pure magic!

 

I’ve used a lot of other apps and plug-ins (Ibotta, Swagbucks, Walmart Savings Catcher, Ebates) and they’ve all been helpful and useful. I’ve just found that the 3 above are the three that I rarely forget about and are easiest to use. My goal is get on the Ebates train since I shop so much online. I’ll keep you updated on that one!

What are your favorite money saving strategies and/or apps? I’d love to try some new ones out!

#25 – Letters to Zoey

Dear Zoey,

Whenever I finally give you these letters, I will have given you a billion things to think about, to reflect on, to hopefully inspire you. You will hopefully see years of life pouring out through my words. And I hope, no matter what, you see joy and hope.

There is a lot to be angry about. A lot to be sad about. A lot to be disappointed in. But there is this amazing thing called hope. Cling to it. It is so easy to get cynical (I have to talk myself back from cynicism practically every day), but there is something so much more beautiful about rising above. Looking ahead. Making something from ashes.

Hope and joy. Not happiness. Not glass half full, or half empty, or no glass at all. Hope and joy are the ultimate goal. Those are the things that will hold you together when your world gets torn apart. Those are things that will make you savor the human, vulnerable, and beautiful moments you stumble on. Hope and joy are born out of pain, grief, and broken things. In order to gain them, you’ll have to know suffering. And when you’re going through the suffering part, you’ll want to say,”to hell with it,” but then that little thing called hope will whisper in your ear, “Keep going.”

I know the weight these words come with. If I’m wishing hope and joy for you, I know that carries a double-edged sword because I will have to watch you be hurt too. And that kills me. Every time. (By the way, it’s amazing how you reflect on your own mother and father when looking at your daughter. Knowing all the things I’ve experienced that your grandparents have had to watch me go through. Being able to reflect on that — it’s a really incredible thing). And when you’re going through the fire, if you need me to remind you, I will tell you that beautiful things come from broken places.

Sink your teeth into this incredible life. Know what you’re against, but promote what you’re for. Seek the type of joy that fills you up, and gives you resilience. The one that says, “This may be a dark world, but I am light and power and peace and beauty.”

Your name means life. Remember that.

Love you,
Mama

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Second Grade

Phew, what a doozy of months these last few have been. As most of you know by now, we decided to homeschool. And it’s certainly been an adventure, to say the least. I’ve put in hours of researching curriculum and educational schools of thought. I would find that I thought Z and I aligned with one, only to discover the exact opposite. I also have to keep in mind that after we leave FL, she will likely go back to public/private/some sort of school (as I plan on completing my masters once E is done). So, while I don’t teach to standards, I do have an idea of what schools are doing, so I can make sure we get her there (albeit, probably not the same way).

I did buy some curriculum (I know, rookie mistake), but some of it has worked out. What we’ve done for the most part though is find our rhythm (which we still don’t have completely, but we’re getting there). Z isn’t a morning person, and I most certainly am, which has presented some issues, but like I said, we’ll get there. But what are we using, curriculum-wise?

 

Our Home School Curriculum for Second Grade!

 

Language Arts

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Second Grade

 

Spelling – All About Spelling

I bought All About Spelling  because I read so many excellent reviews of it. It really has a great and specific way of teaching…it’s just not our cup of tea. So, for now, I’m using materials purchased through TeachersPayTeachers.com (LOVE this site!!), as well as some spelling games (mostly found through Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool).

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Second Grade

Grammar – First Language Lessons

I’m mixed about this curriculum. It’s really popular in the sphere of homeschool bloggers I follow, but it just hasn’t thrilled me. This could stem from the fact that I’ve found Z to be more of a kinesthetic learner, so while she loves sitting down and interacting with me, I think she gets bored easily. I think I may adapt my own curriculum with some ideas from this one, but won’t likely continue with it. (Side note: If you have an auditory learner, this would be a great curriculum for them!)

 

Our Homeschool Curriculum for Second Grade

 

Reading

No curriculum for this one! I subscribed to Epic! which she has loved, and we frequent our new library (which she also loves). She has a huge love of reading (can I say love anymore in this paragraph?), so I’ve just let her go with it. She’s good about finding books from different genres. You’ll see her books from our most recent library trip above. I’d say that’s pretty diverse. Haha! I’m working on figuring out what read-alouds we can do together for the rest of the year (one of my favorite projects!!)

Writing

Journaling has been huge for us. Z is not a fan of writing, overall, so I’m still searching for ways to make it more appealing. While in brick-and-mortar school, she was taught through Handwriting Without Tears, which seemed to really resonate with her. I have her work book from 1st grade (which they finished about half of), so I’m contemplating buying the teaching manual and starting this curriculum up.

Math

 

 

Life of Fred

She has LOVED this curriculum. I think, after growing increasingly frustrated with math via the common core route, this has been a great shake-up. I also love that he interjects more than just math. We’ve learned about boating, weather, days of the week, and plenty more. Plus, he lives in KS, and mentions it frequently, which she loves. I’m still trying to find more to supplement with, but haven’t found anything we’re entirely crazy about. This is the one area I stress the most about. I’ve never been a huge fan of math, but I can’t deny it’s necessity. It’s also something that she will likely be compared with her peers, and I want to make sure she’s as prepared as possible once she goes back to a brick and mortar school.

Singapore Math

I’ve used this, so far, as mostly a review for Z. We do LoF majority of the week, and then I use Singapore to review basic concepts. I’m not thrilled with it. It’s very visual and great for kinesthetic learners, but I’m not clicking with it. We’ll see what happens.

 

Social Studies


Unit Studies

I am ALL ABOUT UNIT STUDIES when it comes to Social Studies. Z seems to take a genuine interest in SS, so it’s so fun for me to prepare for. We’re about halfway through a unit study on Native Americans (I’ll break down what we did/are doing in a separate post).

We’re getting ready to start a Citizenship/Election unit, and have also started a “Halloween Around the World” unit (which is SO much fun!) TpT (TeachersPayTeachers.com) is seriously a lifesaver for unit studies. I’m addicted.

We’ve been focused mainly on geography and US history so far. I’m pretty intimidated by World History, but I’m doing my research!

Supplementals

SS has been the subject I’ve been most successful with apps. Z uses Stack the States, Presidents v Aliens, and Carmen Sandiego Returns (ahhh, my childhood heart leaps for joy!)

She also has the Leap Frog US & World Maps with her Leap Pen, and loves using it.

Science

 

I’ll be honest. I’ve had the best of intentions with science. It’s been the most difficult for me to wrap my head around, and I’m not sure why. I think I’m overcomplicating it (as is common for me). We’ve gone on nature walks quite a bit, but I’d really like to make them more intentional. We learned about the life cycle of a pumpkin. But I want to do MORE. I’m just really trying to focus my thoughts. There’s so many cool things to do with science, but I guess I just don’t want it to be about doing cool things, I want it to be intentional.

I feel a lot of pressure with this one too. Mainly because I was always so disappointed with how little science she was able to do while in school. It was no fault of the teachers, they just simply didn’t have the time. But again, we’ll get there.

 

Extra-Curriculars

 

Gymnastics

This has been a challenge. She’s always loved gymnastics, but now she’s in a class with girls that are older than her (2-4 years older), and they are, of course, more advanced. Z looks like she is their age (a constant struggle — yes, she is 7. Yes, I know she’s tall. Yes, I’m sure you did think she was around 10. Rinse. Repeat). So, it’s been frustrating. There are a few other homeschool classes at this particular place, so we might try a different day/time to see if it’s more her pace.

Musical Theatre

We just started this class this past week. And she really enjoyed it! She can be pretty shy, but luckily she already knew two of the kids in the class, and they helped make the transition easy. I’m excited to see how this develops.

Cooking

I cannot say enough about our cooking curriculum. We LOVE Raddish! It’s a monthly subscription cooking curriculum. They send three recipes (and a bonus project), a gift for the month (this past month, it was measuring cups) and a patch to iron on to the apron they provide in your first shipment. They also give you lesson plans to align with cooking projects. We used two of the lesson plans, and they were great. Plus, she gets mail every month, and what kid doesn’t love mail? (Use my referral code: fmwhcn and you’ll get a $10 account credit!)

Supplementals

Teachers Pay Teachers

Cannot say enough about this site. Just because Z & I have left a brick and mortar for the time being doesn’t mean I don’t still value the experience of great teachers. Teachers that make items for TpT are insanely passionate about education, and that means a great deal to me. Part of my issue with our school system, in it’s current state, is that educators aren’t given enough opportunity to use their experience to facilitate change and growth in academia. Plus, I’m happy to support teachers with my purchases!

Apps

Like I said above, I found that SS has been my easiest subject to supplement with apps. I’ll make sure to write another blog post with some of our favorite apps. We’re so thankful to be able to have a hand-me-down iPad to supplement us at home.

YouTube

I’ve found that I love supplementing or introducing new ideas/curriculum/units with YouTube. There is SO much on there. Some of our favs so far have been:

Cosmic Kids Yoga : I was so excited when I found this YouTube channel. However, when I went to introduce it to Z, she totally stole my thunder and said she already knew about it because her music teacher back in KC used to use it in class! Regardless, it’s a great focus tool with Z, and it’s just fun! (Plus, I love any chance to share mindfulness practice in obvious ways!)

Welcome to Fresberg : This is such a great channel that tackles everything from hurricane facts to more difficult subjects (ie. I used a video about the Trail of Tears to explain it to Z). Plus, the narrator has a fantastic voice to listen to. So many great videos to choose from.

Anything Kid President: I plan on using a lot of his videos for our Citizenship unit. He’s such a great, inspiring example of goodness. If we could all be like Kid President, the world would be a beautiful place!

So, if you’re just beginning homeschooling — what are you doing curriculum wise (if anything?)