Raising Readers

I often joke with my husband that there should be some kind of reward for ME every time one of my sons learns to read. Everyone celebrates the child, as they should, but like … as hard as it was for them, can I just maybe be honest in that IT IS JUST AS HARD FOR ME to not loose my cool when they get the word cat wrong for the 14th straight day in a row?! SHEW it is a C-H-O-R-E, let me tell you - one I am thankful for and really do love getting to witness in regards to progress. But gracious goodness was there ever a trial in patience than sitting down with a wiggly little boy trying to get them to sit down for a measly five minutes and work through a reading lesson. It is a little bit like wrangling and octopus with 27 arms.

One way we’ve eased into learning to read is to instill a love of reading at a young age.

Here are 5 ways to help raise readers and teach children to love reading:

  1. Books. Lots of Books. Everywhere. At every age. Simple enough, right? Starting young, make books the norm. Books in the bedroom, in the car, by the mantle, at the kitchen table. Having books around is literally the first step to instilling a habit of book reading as enjoying and entertaining.

  2. Go to the library! Don’t wait for your children to ask to go to the library, just do it. Make it a part of your weekly or monthly schedule. Sign up for classes and let them peruse at their own pace; Let them get a library card at a young age and fill up their own bags.

  3. Ditch the electronics. This is a constant battle, especially when places (such as the library) have them on display and preloaded with apps for kids. HOWEVER. If a child walks into a room and they have to choose between a book and a tablet, they will 9/10 choose the tablet. If a child walks into a room and there is no tablet - or xbox - or kindle - or iPhone - or computer - OR there are parameters on said electronics - then the child isn’t going to choose what’s not available :) In common areas of rest/relaxing, offer books instead of screens! Perusing pictures is just as satisfying for the non reader as diving into a 500 page novel for the thriving reader.

  4. Read aloud, often. As kids get older and more capable of reading on their own I find I have to remind myself that my fluent readers enjoy being read to, also. Almost every night when I am found reading to my preschooler, even books the olders have heard time and time again, I am left with more than just one child listening in to the bedtime stories. Sarah MacKenzie offers great monthly read aloud lists that are delivered directly to your inbox, as well as an entire list of boy-friendly books for every age group. These are great to have on hand say, in a waiting room, during snack time, while you’re waiting for dinner to finish.

  5. Let them choose content. To be honest, this is a hard one for me. I do not love reading Ninjago books aloud, nor do I really enjoy reading through insect encyclopedias. But letting children choose their areas of interest will engage your learner and give them the desire to pick up their books in passing and during down time. It’s important especially in the young and developing reader that they are not be forced to read things that are downright torturous to them. For one of my sons, reading anything unrealistic is absurd. For another, the more outrageous and impossible the better. Letting them choose gives them ownership, excitement and develops curiosity.

    *I will often check out several children’s books for my children every week. I try to find things that interest them or maybe something I’d like them to explore more to pique a new interest.

*A resource we’ve continually referred back to for reading lists and wholesome children’s series is Honey for a Child’s Heart.

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Pre-K, 1st & 3rd Grade Homeschool Roundup

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The only way I’ve managed to get this far in homeschooling is by picking the brains of other homeschool mamas. Linking arms - and blogs - with other homeschooling women offers perspective, tools, and so much grace. It helps us to think outside of our own box, or maybe offers us freedom to create something new altogether. My prayer in offering this to you is just to show another way of doing things. It’s not better than, but it is a best fit for our family right now!

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Preschool:

This Reading Mama, “Reading the Alphabet”

One plus One plus One Alphabet printables

Matching workbook

puzzles

Read alouds

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1st Grade:

Sonlight 2nd Grade Readers

Saxon 2

First Language Lessons 1/2

Explode the Code 2

A Reason for Handwriting

*Classical Conversations Geography

*Story of the World

*Apologia: Botany

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3rd Grade:

Sonlight Grade 4 Readers (we did half last year, half this year and do not read aloud every day)

Saxon 5/4 + Life of Fred

First Language Lessons 3

Fix it Grammar

Explode the Code

Handwriting with Ease, cursive

Lifepac Geography Grade 3

*Classical Conversations Geography

*Story of the World

*Apologia: Botany

—————

*these subjects are combined with all ages, even the pre-ker ever now and then.

For tips on scheduling, check out how we used Block Scheduling this year!

Block Scheduling

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The beauty of block scheduling lies in that chunks of time are carved out for chunks of school, so if keeping to a strict "to-the-minute” schedule isn’t your thing, you’ve still got a working plan in motion that sets expectations for everyone on when school subjects will happen. This block schedule is for your ideal day - the ones that will run as a “normal” school day at home without the interruptions of extracurriculars. For us, this is three times a week. Our other two days are modified for co-op day and Bible Study mornings. Remember, you’re homeschooling, so you get the joy of setting parameters and working around what you choose.

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Here are some ways you can begin to categorize and break things down before working on timing:

-individual subjects vs. mommy-led subjects

-grouping table/together subjects in one block (such as morning time, devotional, character study, any subject that is done as a family)

-identify subjects that require your student at their sharpest point in the day, such as math

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Now you can begin looking at your day, your family’s typical flow (or maybe the flow you hope to instill!), and use your categories above as to how you can group subjects + time of day together. For us we grouped school into two main chunks of time in which all our attention is focused on completing our work:

10am-12pm Morning Subjects

1:00-4:00pm Afternoon Subjects

(Call me crazy, but these are also hours I try to keep my phone usage to a minimum, if at all. Turning it on silent, do not disturb or leaving it in another room helps me stay just as focused as I expect the kids to be).

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Now that this is established, let’s begin to break things down into a little more detail:

Which subjects take the longest?

When do you, the teacher, have time for each child’s mommy-led subjects?

Is there a point in your day where everyone is a little cranky or needs more movement?

Is math especially hard in the early morning, or does it take four times as long at the end of the day?

What needs to happen before morning and afternoon school start?

What are things I’d like to include in our day for enrichment but not grouped into our morning and afternoon school blocks?

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With answers to the above questions in hand, here is how we plugged things in and around our Morning and Afternoon Subjects:

Block one - (8:30-9:00) morning time, including character, Bible, poetry, read aloud

Block two - this is about 30-45 minutes long for us and it’s when I get to do preschool & books with the 4 year old, while the older two can work on subjects like handwriting and explode the code which does not often require my help.

Block three - (10:00 am- 12:00 pm) Morning Subjects! By this point everyone is hungry which is a great segway into doing a few things that we try to do together, such as history, science, etiquette, music. Then we split up and work through the rest of our Morning Subjects which also include a few mommy-led. Everyone knows that their list of morning subjects must be complete by the end of our block, and whatever is not complete turns into…homework! The motivation? If they’re finished before noon, *F R E E T I M E *

LUNCH & RECESS

Block four - (1:00pm-4:00 pm) Afternoon Subjects! Nappers nap, others that need quiet time get quiet time or the option to work on stuff on their own that didn’t get finished earlier in the day. And we work through the last few subjects of the day before - free time!

For more information on planning your day and year, visit Pam Barnhill’s homeschool solutions - she has a wealth of resources!!

And if you’d like to see a more detailed schedule, check out last year’s round up for Pre-Pre-K, Kindergarten and 2nd grade here, or this years’ round up for Pre-K, 1st & 3rd here.

Our Loose Homeschool Schedule

I am a scheduler at heart.  I love color coordinated calendars.  I love to know what is coming, what is expected and I typically thrive when there is more to do.  HOWEVER.  I also need downtime, time to reflect and process and freedom within my well planned schedule to breathe, reassess and just let us all be.  Which is one of the many reasons I love homeschooling and the freedom it affords each member of our family.  

Some new things we incorporated this year: 

*Table time for the 3 year old - a lot of great ideas out there, but essentially 45 minutes - 1 hour where the 3 year old plays at a small table quietly with things only brought out during table time, so I can work with the older two on combined subjects (map work, Classical Conversations memory work, presentation preparation, etc.)  

*Rotations for the big kids to play with the 3 year old - this worked in 30 minute increments, long enough for me to complete 1-2 teaching subjects with each of the older two kids one-on-one

*An electives only co-op because having a house of highly active boys, and needing a little differentiation in age-appropriate activities I will gladly pay $10-$35/month for science, PE, art and more.  It has been a gift to us this winter/spring!

*Morning time! - time together every morning we are at home, which realistically boils down to 2-3 mornings/week where we read scripture, share a devotional, study a character trait, talk through an etiquette lesson, read poetry, and then a chapter or two from our current read aloud.  We might cover map work or a few pieces of memory work review during this time.  The only time I require them to give me complete attention is during Bible, devotional & character.  After that, they are allowed to work on/play with something quietly while I read or we discuss.  I try to rotate things in the basket that are available each week just for this time (dot to dot, cars, hand puzzles, jar of shells, etc).  I love pambarnhill.com and appreciate all the things, especially her morning time suggestions/plans as well as A Handbook for Morning Time by Cindy Rollins.  

Our schedule started off ...super scheduled.  Time windows, back to back, and motivation to finish promptly which equated to a few free minutes outside or doing something of their choice.  It worked well at first but I felt bound, without freedom to fluctuate between subjects if needed or give the kids a longer break if necessary; this was confusing to them to deviate from the schedule even if we really really needed to deviate from the schedule.  

So then what?  We adjusted :) 

Before you read ahead to what OUR day looks like, this is in no way to try and force your family into our mold nor lead you down a path of comparison.  Our "average day at home" is about 2-3 days a week.  Full of mini breaks, moments of correction, and getting off track often.  Each year when I evaluate our schedule I am constantly searching for ways to improve, whether adding more or taking away or changing it up altogether; that's all this is for.  To show another means of "how".  

Our average day at home looks a little like this: 

7ish - breakfast

8-9ish - all morning chores/responsibilities completed; I read and puzzle with the 3 year old if he's feeling social :) 

9ish - Morning Time!  **I mean, sometimes morning time didn't start until 10.  Sometimes I just needed longer for coffee.  Or someone soiled clothes and I had to get a load of wash in, which means I didn't get dressed when I'd hoped.  Or let's be honest, some days during this pregnancy I just plopped right back in bed and let the kids play.  Be. Free.  To wake up, assess the day, and reevaluate what best suits the needs and emotions of all those precious people in your house...including yourself :) 

10ish - Snack & some sort of review/presentation topic discussion.  Or a few moments for me to switch out laundry, take a bathroom break, check my email.  

10:30ish - 3 year old plays on his own or has Table Time.  This is a stretch for me because Table Time inevitably means playing with all the things in all the ways that make all the messes.  I try to ignore and limit correcting/instructing if it's not a life or death situation.  2nd Grader goes to a quiet place to go through all morning work subjects that do not require my help (includes: LifePac, Handwriting, Math Worksheet, Spelling Worksheet, two pages of Review from his Classical Conversations Cycle 3 note booking pages).  I work with Kindergartener on as much as I can get through in half an hour - usually starting with Math.  

11ish - Kindergartener needs a BREAK or is sometimes finished for the day so he plays with the 3 year old while I work on 1-2 subjects with the 2nd Grader

11:30ish - everyone is cranky and begging for food so I send them outside or to their room/basement to play basketball while I make lunch

*in an ideal world we are finished with school by lunchtime.  Some days this happens..others we all need food and a nap so we tack on some more later in the day.

12ish-  lunch

12:30ish - nap time for the 3 year old!  (and all the people said amen)  Reading/spelling lesson with kindergartener if not completed earlier while 2nd grader has free time or works on something he didn't finish earlier

1ish - everyone has quiet time for an hour and a half...or longer if needed...

2:30/3ish - Finish up last 2-3 subjects with 2nd grader if it's one of those days, otherwise...freedom!!  

The reality is - seasons change.  Life with littles is tough!  Give yourself grace, give your kids grace and worst case take them all to chick fil a and the library and call it a field trip + life skills lesson while looking for books ;) 

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade Roundup

Woo!  May is here which means school is almost not here - or maybe it's already left your house for the summer :)  Either way, we are celebrating with completing books, finishing up our tests and looking back on goals planned and now achieved.  

Which inevitably means - time to look at options for next year!  As registrations quickly approach along with all those terrific homeschool resale pop-ups I thought I'd offer a peek into what our kindergarten and 2nd grade roundup look like.  

If you are new to homeschooling or just getting your feet wet with the idea - be encouraged: It does not have to be hard.  You don't have to compete with the school system at large; you get to choose what works best for YOU and YOUR family!  You get to use all the "transition time" that takes up a large portion of the public school day and let them learn at their own pace, pursue their personal interests, help them catch up in areas of weakness, challenge their strengths and offer them a taste of truth, goodness and beauty in the every day.  

So on to the good stuff....

Kindergarten!  About 45 minutes - 1 hour a day of direct one-on-one teaching time...

Handwriting - A Reason for Handwriting

Math - Saxon 1

Reading: started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons then eventually moved on to any level one readers from the library

Spelling - All About Spelling

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 - incorporated during our morning time, copy work found on Half A Hundred Acre Word and several fill in the blank options from CC Connected

The End :) 

 

Second Grade: About 1 1/2-2 hours of direct one-on-one teaching time

Handwriting - started with a Reason for Handwriting cursive; wasn't a great fit this year so we switched to Handwriting Without Tears and it's been a night and day difference.  

Math- Saxon 3 (finished up from last year) and Intermediate Saxon 4

Reading - Sonlight Readers - they offer a great online assessment to evaluate which level to pursue with your reader; the chapters for 4th Grade increased significantly in length so we followed our own schedule and will finish these through the summer.  

Spelling - Sequential Spelling

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 - incorporated during our Morning Time, copy work found on Half a Hundred Acre Wood and several fill in the blank options from CC Connected

Language Arts - Writing With Ease (we stopped after week 24; it wasn't a favorite for both of us and we were able to incorporate similar ideas and concepts in our other books) & First Language Lessons 3 (this is going to last us through next year as well so we only did about 2 lessons a week after we got into the diagramming of sentences).

History - LifePac Grade 3

 

That's really all there is to it!  The kids get science, art & PE at our co-ops, and we will use Apologia Science Jr Notebook Journal for our summer studies.  Of course there are plenty of games, lots of reading aloud, music studies and all the things that make up our school day that can't be quantified into a textbook.  That's the beauty and hybrid bit of homeschool for us!  

If you're looking for an idea of a daily schedule, visit this post, Our Loose Homeschool Schedule 

 

 

 

School Lunch Simplified + FREE Printable

What is it about packing lunches that just sucks?  Is it all the options?  See Variety Is A Ploy of the Devil...Or the whole making it through the day, feeding people, cleaning up from the day only to get out stuff for the next day and make another mess in the kitchen?  My mind is ready to shut down at just the point it needs to make yet another 3-5 decisions for 3-5 people and I just want to be done!

Here are some tips, and super easy lunch box ideas to help you out this week:

1. Keep. It. Simple.  As much as I feel like my love and parenting ability is wrapped up in what this lunch is like...it is not and I can stick to what I know and what I know they like.  

2. Ditch the Bread.  Making sandwiches can be on of my most dreaded chores of packing 5 lunches for the kids.  But giving them a roll up or just some meat and cheese with or without crackers (similar to a lunchable minus the price and packaging) accomplishes the same thing: main meal.

3. Eliminate all the options.  I grew up on the same lunch, 5 days a week with maybe a slight variation in my chips or dessert option.  Granted, it was in the days when peanut butter and cheetos were allowed in school, but here I am no worse for the wear.  It's ok to not ask your kids what they want for lunch every single day.  

4.  Stick to a few basics.  There are a couple of items I pack in their lunch boxes nearly every single day.  Such as a granola bar, applesauce, a fruit cup, and a piece of fresh fruit.  

5. Invest in a decent water bottle for each child and give them only water.  I occasionally buy the mix-in flavors so they feel like they are having something special.  

6. A few inexpensive, simply divided containers make the packing that much easier and clean up a breeze.  A few favorites are listed below and don't portion of your child's education fund.

7. When all else fails, no one ever died from eating 1 lunchable a week.  

A few of Amanda & Lily's Go-To's:

*it should be noted that Amanda is the most reliable source when it comes to lunch packing.  Lily makes packed lunch 1-2 days a week which is enough to send her into a tizzy and be known for avoiding it all together by bringing a bag of popcorn and sack of apples to share on the floor of the gym...

Water water water

Rollups: 1) meat & cheese, 2) peanut butter & nutella, 3) peanut butter & jelly, 4) peanut butter & honey, 5) cream cheese & avocado, 6) cream cheese + shredded cheese

DIY Lunchable: Crackers, sliced cheese, sliced meat or pepperoni

Pita Chips + to-go hummus

Side ideas that don't involve much prep work and can be thrown into those containers mentioned above: apples, clementines, carrots, cucumbers, squeeze applesauce, frozen yogurt tube (usually thawed by lunchtime), granola bar, grapes, mini bell peppers, fruit cups, popcorn

And sometimes just for fun, I throw in a little something special that makes the kids smile.  Maybe their favorite cookie or a simple hershey kiss.  

 

To Download a FREE School Lunch: Simplified printable with over 3000 lunch combinations, all on one page, fill out the form below.

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An Open Letter to Homeschool Moms During the Month of February

Dear fellow homeschool mamas,

I see you.  You’re looking at this 2018 calendar wondering how on earth is it only February 1st.  Have we REALLY got another 3 ½ months left of this??  

There is this funny thing that happens to some of us during the month of February - sometimes called the winter slump.  School seems impossible.  Raising kids, out the window.  The cold weather looms and all of your curriculum choices are horrible; you can’t believe you ever attempted this math book let alone tried to teach more than one kid!  Who ever thought of this crazy idea to homeschool anyway.  Surely it wasn’t your idea.  So long schedules; goodbye productivity.  You’re ready to wave that white flag high in the air and send all of your kids to public school for the remainder of the year.  That’ll teach em!  

But before you keep trodding down that path - or maybe before you even start… here are a few things others have taught me and I’ve found to be true myself.

  1. Don’t make any rash decisions about your curriculum for the month of February.

  2. Do not make any major change decisions about the following school year during the month of February.

  3. Take a break from school if needed and come back full steam ahead in March.

  4. Go back and re-read all the reasons why you’ve chosen to homeschool and make a list of all the goals you HAVE attained, both relationally and academically.  I bet there are more wins than it feels at this exact moment.

  5. Bake some cookies.  Brownies.  Loaves of banana bread.  A lot of them.  Every day, if necessary.  They drastically change the mood of most situations, as do hot chocolate and breakfast outings to Chick Fil A.  

  6. Find your tribe and stick together; meet up with friends at the local museum.  Have friends over for lunch.  Sign up for all the things at your local library, but whatever you do, don’t stay secluded!

  7. If you are not one of those mamas that goes through a February slump - find one that does and love on her extra big!

So ladies, be encouraged that February is a short month.  28 days, in fact.  With a little help from those adorable Pinterest Valentine’s Day math printables and a few extra play dates, you can do this!  Am I right??

 

 

 

Lucy and la petite nouvelle

***Scroll to bottom for giveaway information***

This post is especially near and dear to my heart, not just as the daughter-in-law of this featured author, but also as a mom who so desires to instill a love of reading in the core of our home and hearts.  Quality books are something we are constantly looking for and we all love the ability to let our imaginations soar in an endearing series.  My talented and creative mother in law wrote and published her first book in a five part series that has captured our boys hearts and left them expectantly waiting for the next release.  It was fun to take a moment to hear where her love of reading and writing began as well as what she has to say to moms who are hoping to encourage a love of reading in their little ones' lives as well.  Read the interview below and take a look at the book on Amazon!

 Able to purchase on Amazon or directly from the publisher at shop.encouragebooks.com

Able to purchase on Amazon or directly from the publisher at shop.encouragebooks.com

When did your love of writing begin to take shape?  What were your favorite books growing up?  Were you always an avid reader or did that come later in life?

As an elementary student, in the school library I felt like “a kid in a candy shop”. We didn’t have books at home besides schoolbooks.  Historical biographies and mysteries were the genres that I mostly focused my attention toward.  I loved reading about historical figures such as Paul Revere, the Green Mountain Boys, Betsy Ross, and others. Literature classes in high school and college brought a much broader selection of prose, such as Cat’s Cradle, Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, and the Agatha Christie mysteries. I enjoyed reading books for pleasure much more than as a school requirement, but they all helped to build vocabulary, spur on imagination, and widen my horizons immensely. My love of writing began in high school when I enrolled in a creative writing class. The teacher motivated the students with her fascinating style and ability to paint pictures with words.  Writing became the outlet I needed to express my thoughts.

 What inspired Lucy and la petite nouvelle?

The Front Porch Diaries series was inspired by the many afternoons I spent sitting on the front porch of our family house, reading books and daydreaming about the future. Moving to different parts of the country because of my husband’s job advancements afforded our family a plethora of adventures, both in daily living and meeting people from all walks of life. Books continue to be of great value to me.  I love to read from new and veteran authors alike to stimulate my imagination and creativity. The first book of the Diaries series, Lucy and la petite novelle (the newcomer), comes directly from some of my childhood experiences. The setting for these books is a Midwest town in the mid-1960s. The main characters, Lucy Miller and her brother Eddie, meet new acquaintances from another country. This opportunity brings some perplexing and maturing episodes between Lucy, her school friends, and her new companion, Simone.

The second and third books of The Front Porch Diaries take Lucy and Eddie Miller and their newfound friends, Simone and Philippe, on more exciting, yet challenging adventures. Volume 2 revolves around wintertime and the Christmas holiday break, and Volume 3’s main emphasis is a two-week stay for Lucy and Simone at Grandpa and Grandma Miller’s farm. The reader will learn some simple French phrases, and discover a few historical details about the Sixties era. These books are wholesome and interesting for youngsters of all ages and are suitable chapter books for fourth through eighth grade readers.

As a mom and now beloved "Nana" to five grandchildren, what encouragement and wisdom do you have for parents in instilling a love of reading in their children?  

Early on, both my husband and I spent time reading to our young children nearly every evening. From simple Golden Books with lots of pictures and easy to understand stories to reading Value Books about character traits of famous people, as young children both our son and daughter developed a love for learning. Our daughter was an avid book enthusiast, especially as a preteen and young teenager. Our son enjoyed focusing more on hands-on projects. Not every child will develop a love for reading at the same pace or to the same level, but nurturing this gift is so much easier if adults introduce and encourage reading early in a child’s life. For children and grandchildren alike, reading not only teaches and reinforces ideas, but also enhances their learning by increasing imagination and creativity.  In play and teamwork, reading helps to develop greater focus and problem-solving ability. Reading can generate a peaceful atmosphere and transport a child’s mind to imaginative places.

In this day of electronic everything, I would encourage moms and dads to model for your children how enjoyable reading can be, and the comfort that a book brings, by curling up in your favorite chair and reading. Peruse through the books before your child reads them, and question your child about the stories afterward. You will be amazed by their creativity.  Just think what a hero you could become to your child by starting when they are little ones! Instill a love of reading for a lifetime.  

Oh, the stories they will tell!

What is your hope for readers when they pick up this series?

I hope to teach children to appreciate diverse cultures and people.  Another objective for writing these books is simply to let the reader see siblings and friends that love, support and have fun with each other despite their differences. 

 

 Author Judith Grimme

Author Judith Grimme

Judith Grimme received her degree in Sociology from Colorado State University. Early memories of a relative, who served as a Catholic nun in Bolivia, as well as their own experiences serving in the mission field in such countries as Canada, Romania, Slovenia, Madagascar, Panama, and El Salvador, fueled Judith's passion for helping people learn to appreciate other cultures, a theme that runs throughout the Front Porch series.

Grimme grew up in the 1960s and 70s in a small town outside of Fort Wayne, Indiana. With farms surrounding their family home and plenty of siblings and neighbor children to play with, most of the stories in The Front Porch Diaries come directly from her childhood experiences. She intentionally depicts strong, healthy families, communities, and childhood friendships.

 

 

**In order to be entered to win a FREE autographed copy of this book, share this post on any social media account!  Winner will be announced on Sunday, January 28!!**

Those Early Years - Part 2

As mentioned last week, there is just all the grace and flexibility in the world to let those little years stay filled with wonder and discovery.  The way we approach “school” during the four-five years involve a lot of hands-on, everyday life with a seasonal stack of “extras” that might include cut and paste, sorting, tracing, early handwriting, etc.  If it gets by us one day, or a week, there is no stress.  If there is extra interest and excitement to do more in one day, then we do more.  But for the most part, I follow their pace.

*for one of my children’s Pre-K Year I did intentionally try and have him complete one or two school related tasks a day.  The only purpose of this was to instill in him the habit of listening to my teaching and understanding that there are set expectations for school; it had very little to do with academics.  

*We are also part of a co-op that starts at age 4; We don’t do much with review until their second year, but they retain so much of it anyways!  Review time is always incorporated as a family and largely led by books we check out that pertain to the material.  

Here we go!  

Favorite Curriculum & Websites

**again, used loosely.  I print things off monthly and keep a big stack in a folder for each age and pull out as desired.  

1+1+1

This Reading Mama

Read Aloud Revival

 We love Zaner Bloser for beginning handwriting and their 1st book is a great start.  That could be a post in and of itself - reading and writing and when to start.  

 

Favorite Toys for Pre-K:

Dollar Tree Buys:

Corn and beans in a tray or small bin

Pom Poms to sort, put in and out of containers, etc.

Pipe Cleaners with letter beads

**I made a ton of busy bags one time for my first born; but was reminded that boys are just a little different when it comes to quiet time play and almost everything I made was either destroyed or reconstructed to be something else, so I let that one go...  

 

 

 

 

Those Early Years - Part 1

Once upon a time I had a baby.  Who turned into a sentence speaking 18 month old that turned into a 3 year old reader who then started computing multiplication in his head around 4, reading through the Bible around 5 and completed his first boxed set of novels just before 6.  His drive and focus was amazing and sometimes overwhelming.  He was so busy - he never slept.  In fact I’ve just now surrendered my 7 year battle of trying to get him to sleep more :)  He is who he is.  I also have a precious almost 6 year old who cannot get his b's and d's sorted out to save his life.  He sees everything in shapes and colors, what it could be instead of what it actually is.  He spends most of his time creating and dreaming, living outside of any sort of proverbial box and it's amazing and wonderful.  He's taught me a lot about slowing down and savoring.  My 3rd born is a unique and incredible mix of the two, who keeps us laughing/crying on a daily basis.

But I remember approaching those preschool years with my firstborn and feeling a lot of pressure to dive into homeschooling - because we could.  He was ready.  I was ready, I thought.  And we’d just spent the past four years playing, puzzling, reading, field tripping, walking and talking and doing all the things.  And really, I found schooling, curriculum shopping, all the extra reading and researching so much fun.  There is so much to look at and choose from and such great resources available right at your fingertips; Unit studies, coloring packs, busy bags galore.  All the seasonal crafts you can think of are just right there!  The eagerness and excitement of starting something new and setting up “school” just seemed fun.  

I am thankful we started when we did, and how we did and the things we chose to do.  But in my few years of parenting, and then diving into it again with my second born, I am just so thankful for the freedom homeschool affords; and if I could impart any wisdom or have the opportunity to encourage any new mamas out there with preschoolers and kindergarteners on their hands...this would be my list of top ten things to remember….

-DO play.  For me, that sounded dreadful.  What on earth had I been doing the past four years?  I was played out.  But every study under the sun shows the benefits of early play - even into ages 6, 7, 8 and 9.  Let those littles create, dream up and think to their hearts content.  **for those busier bodies that go from one thing to the next, structured play and sticking to a loose schedule is so helpful!

- DON’T over plan.  They are just so young!  Know your personality type - but also know the personality types of your kids.  I am a planner to my core, but not all of my kids thrive at the same pace or in the same box that I do.  Leave them space to explore at their own pace, even if it looks so much different than yours.

- Less. Is. More.  Our natural inclination is to give our kids the best this world has to offer; All the electives, all the classes, all the sports, all the books and experiences.  Academically speaking, children don’t need unit studies and tidy curriculum packages at this age.  They need structure and they need to know what to expect but ditch the busy work and extracurriculars to let them be.  

-Ditch the electronics.  If your house is anything like mine, there is a magical thing that happens when an electronic device come out: peace. And. quiet.  Mama gets a break.  Free babysitting.  But these are such precious years to instill self control and wise decision making; if you give a child the choice between playing/reading on a tablet or building with blocks or legos, they will of course gravitate towards the tablet!  But as educational as those apps claim to be, nothing...noth-ing… compares to the hands-on play time at such a young age.  

***I want to be clear here, life happens in seasons.  And if you find yourself in a season needing those moments of quiet or needing a break, I am with you and understand.  We are in a season where some days I’m couch ridden or just do not have the capacity to move a muscle - give yourself grace.  Use what is available to maintain peace and sanity in your home until you find yourself a little more capable.  

-Enjoy the slower mornings, and choose to focus on character and responsibility more than academics; my eldest thrived on the structure of a schedule.  Some mornings he was dressed, fed, read to, played with, and finished his morning snack by 7a.m.  Which kind of set me on a trajectory of jumping right to it every morning - but mamas, be encouraged that those slower mornings matter.  Taking time to instill helpful habits, starting with the Word, snuggling up for a great book or exploring nature on a morning walk - they all matter more than getting in that reading or phonics lesson.  

-Read.  Read.  And then read some more.  The end :)  

-If something isn’t working, give it some time - if it’s still not working, switch!   Sometimes we feel really bound by deciding on something that we stick it out even if it’s making "school" time miserable; Because we have to check it off the list, duh.  But it’s just not worth it.  I bet one of your goals in home educating is to tailor your child’s education to what works for them - so just keep in mind that if it isn’t working, you’re in charge and can change it!

-Let them lead.  If they are driven, let them keep going.  If they are laid back, let them be laid back.  If art and creativity consumes their day, follow them along and see what can be discovered together.  If reading lessons are going great but suddenly there is push back, it’s ok to back off.  I once read somewhere that as far “ahead” as kids can be at a young age, and as far “behind” as they can be at a young age - by the age of 10 most children meet around the same spot academically.  

-PRAY.  Our God is the God of creativity - He delights in discovery.  He adores relationship.  He is the giver of all wisdom - and He genuinely cares about your heart to homeschool.  Before you dive into curriculum and scheduling, spend some time praying over what would be a best fit for your week, month, year.  Ask Him to give you insight to your kids, open your eyes to their unique giftings and areas He wants you to focus on.  After all, He is the one who made them :)

So I guess I only had 9, not 10.  

Stay tuned for Part Two, which will be a list of my favorite preschool and kindergarten blogs, printables, curricula and toys!  

 

Hybrid Homeschool 101

Hybrid Homeschool 101:  How did we get here.  

Want in on a little secret?  This whole Hybrid Home thing actually started out with far more narrow of a vision.  Narrow as in: The Hybrid Homeschooler.  It’s a whole thing, you know?  Staying home with your kids, trying to stay sane and teach them and feed them and keep them alive all at the same time and stuff.  I called up a sweet friend (the gracious kind that is willing to talk to you for hours on end while you drive your 3 kids home from Georgia in the middle of the night) and said “I HAVE OUR BLOG IDEA.  THE HYBRID HOMESCHOOLER!”  To which she replied… “THAT’S AWESOME!!!  But I don’t homeschool!”

Which really, that’s kind of where all of my thoughts landed that night prior to calling her - I am in fellowship and in community with some amazingly beautiful, talented, gifted women who are clothed in strength.  Determined to fight for their family, advocate for their children and give their all day in and day out.  And the funny thing?  We don’t all match.

This summer was the first time I found myself on the side of the conversation in which moms were asking ME questions about how to homeschool.  What curriculum we use, what our schedule looks like.  I’ve been around the block a time our two just talking screen time and chore charts.  Responsibilities.  Structure.  Socialization.  I absolutely love my days with my boys - hard.  But good.  And I absolutely love talking homeschool.  But really our choices and reasons for homeschooling and the curriculums we’ve chosen are things I’ve been picking and choosing from- a blend that is tailored to our family.  A hybrid, one might say (see what I did there?).  And at the end of every conversation there was kind of this sinking feeling, like I didn’t have enough to offer them.  That I just wasn’t going to help them see the big picture.  There was this voice inside me that wanted to just shout YOU. DO. YOU!  BE FREE!  And just do you really well.  Because truthfully, at the end of the day, as much as we know in our heads that not every child fits in a box…neither do us mamas.  

In typical kind-gracious-loving fashion, my friend heard me out - but took it further to not just the homeschooling mom of 3.  But into every area that we’re tempted with the lie … “you should be doing more.”  

Thus, The Hybrid Home was birthed. 

I love essential oils.  But I also really love Children’s Motrin.  And bug spray.  

I use Norwex for just about everything.  Along with toilet bowl cleaner and bleach.  

It is a fact: You will not lose your salvation if you’re vegan one day and throw a whole chicken + 1 stick of butter in the crock pot the next.  #balance

I can feed my family well 95% of the time but like, some nights it’s Tyson chicken nuggets prayed for and anointed with holy oil.  

I could go on and on and on, about all the hybrid up in this home.  Not from a place of discontentment or striving for the next best thing - I most certainly once was - but now, rather from a place of complete peace in knowing who I am, and who I am not.  And being ok with both.  

Sweet friends, our hope for you as your peruse and mingle about The Hybrid Home is that you would be filled with the encouragement that you are uniquely made to be you.  There is not another like you.  And while the world tries to tell us that we have to be all organic, or all oily, or all vegan and completely Charlotte Mason or 100% classical, off the grid or on, a complete extrovert or none whatsoever, we so desire for you to know that it’s ok to mix it up.  It’s ok to say you hate science experiments and prefer readalouds.  It’s ok to be a screen free family but let your kids binge watch cartoons on Saturday mornings.  Whole foods it as much as possible, but if the McDonalds drive thru is what is going to set a better tone in your home then go big and upsize.  Send one to school and homeschool another.  Be free of the constant yammering soapboxes coming from the internet and hold on tight knowing that the Creator God has allowed you to bring glory to Him in a way that is unique to you and your family.  And just do you - really really well.  

“a person who fears the Lord avoids all extremes.”  Ecclesiastes 7:18

xoxo

L