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Friday Fun

2 Sep

Since the kids have worked on their studies so diligently throughout the week, Friday is a great day to kick back, review what we’ve learned, and have some fun!

Instead our typical spelling class – we had a spelling bee. The winner of today’s competition won a dollar. My youngest little spellers got a penny for each word spelled correctly.   They loved it! It’s great for getting them to think on their feet!

English class, I’m not sure if that was fun.  My 4th and 6th graders had their first test. We worked through it together. It was fun, for me, to watch them figure out how to apply the concepts they had been working on, in a test situation.

Math was pretty normal, just getting the job done!

Lunch? Yes, that was a treat! The little ones requested we eat under the table rather than on top. It seemed like a good idea to me, so out came the table cloths and an instant fort was made.

Not sure what the rest of the day will hold, but so far – so good!

I hope your day has some unexpected  pleasurable surprises!

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all those little things… making a big difference

26 Aug

Waking early this morning, as I stepped out of our bedroom, I noticed we had failed to close the front door before we had gone to bed.  The view through the screen was breath taking… it was the “breaking of the dawn” – beautiful!

Today, what’s left of it, is Friday.  The end of our first week of school.  I don’t know if I have ever had the first week go so well.

At times I wonder: Why do I choose to get up early? Does the exercise routine really make a difference? Am I being transformed by reading God’s Word and seeking the Lord? Am I making more work than is necessary by serving a good solid breakfast early in the morning so we can all eat together?

As I considered the last few days, I knew the answer to my questions.  So many details all came together.  From menu planning,  the kid’s morning chores, to the children’s  self discipline  learned through the early years  – all played an important role in helping the days to run smoothly. It was worth the laborious process to develop these systems and habits.

Soaking in the fresh morning air, I was thankful for the week and thankful that all of those little things we have worked toward over the years have added up to so much!

Set Priorities for your Family and Stick to Them!

18 Aug

Living in such a fast paced society, if we are not careful our families will be swept into the current and pulled places we may not want to go.

“Are we asking questions that help evaluate the priorities of our lives?”

– What is most important in our lives? Are we living in such a way to preserve or enhance how we spend our days?

-How does our family spend time together and is there any way it could be improved on? What is stealing away our time?

-What are the most important things we want to teach our children? Are we  prioritizing the time to teach them in an effective way?

-What could we change to better serve each other and others, as a family?

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…just a few things to think about at the start of a new school year

Managing Toddlers while Schooling

16 Aug

I think one of the biggest challenges of  teaching at home is trying to keep the younger siblings occupied long enough to be able to focus on the older students.

Even families whose children go to school must deal with the same issues, as they try to help their young students with homework in the evening.

Over time, out of necessity, we found several ways to make this process much easier.

Children, of all ages, love routine.  As I planned my school schedule of topics to cover, I also mapped out my little ones’ morning.  If they still took two  naps a day, that gave me two natural blocks of available time.  But once that season passed, I found the toddlers loved to be in the mix of things. Sometimes they would be included in class, other times were set aside for their own quiet play.

For instance:

9:00 – 9:30:  Bible Class with family  (Give the little one crayons and paper. It is a good time for them to learn to sit still and be quiet –  for 30 minutes, on your lap if needed.  If you have practiced Blanket Time, this is an easy transition.)

9:30 – 10:00:  Toddlers Play Time (I kept several bins of toys tucked away so I could pull out a different one each day. The child should not be allowed to leave the designated area.  If the next older sibling is available, it is a great time for them to be given a “babysitting job.” It is a good way for the older to learn to serve. ) *btw, don’t let them leave the area without picking up their things.  It is a habit worth developing!

10:00 -10:30: A half hour educational movie. (I liked to look for something that might help them learn their letters or numbers. Remember to keep the volume low so as not to distract the students.)

10:30 – 11:00: By now the little ones are ready for some action and attention.  It is important to remember to give them your focus as well or they will demand it in unacceptable ways.  Take time to go outside, go for a walk, roll down some hills, PLAY!

12:00  Lunch (Sit down together. Give the kids a chance to talk about what they have been learning.)

1:oo  QUIET TIME!  If you have been following Not Without Aim at all, you know I love quiet time.  It doesn’t matter what age, little ones should nap, readers should be reading, if reading hasn’t been mastered yet- picture books are available, and if anyone happens to fall asleep napping (that would be me), all the better!

1:30 Back to class – quickly before the babies awake!

3:00 Time to be done!  Free! Go outside, play, explore, create…

Taking a little time to plan ahead goes a long way in keeping a step ahead of the crew.

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Reality in our home, and most -I would think, is that some days it feels like discipline issues consume a lot of our time and energy.  Don’t be discouraged. This training is just as important as the academics! Without the painful process of learning self- discipline, the academics are useless!

One week til school begins…

15 Aug

It is hard to believe we have been homeschooling for around 23 years and still have 12 more to go! Wow!

If you think, by now, I have it all down and know all the answers – you are SO wrong!  Each year I wonder what I should keep doing, and what needs to change.  When August rolls around, I find myself asking Mark, “How in the world will I be able to orchestrate  seven different grade levels and maintain the responsibilities of everyday life? There is no way!” he laughs a bit and confidently replies, “You always say that, but you always find a way.” Of course he is right, it always works out.

In keeping with my goal, to read at least one book per year on education, I recently finished The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education, written by Leigh A. Bortins.  I love the concept of the Classical Education and have tried to incorporate it into our homeshcool philosophy, but it is easy to get overwhelmed, finding myself unable to achieve everything that can appear to be so important.

Leigh Bortins describes such a practical, do-able approach to teaching children of all ages combined with the reality of everyday life.  I was especially encouraged that I could apply so many of her principles without changing the curriculum we  are already using.  The concepts are applicable for children in a  home schooled situation,  a private school, or a public school.

One of the ways, this summer, I applied what I had learned, was to work on some memorization with the children.  Our lunch time became quiz time.  The more we quized, the more fun it became.  Of course it’s always more enjoyable when you know the answers! My four year old would repeatedly want to be asked to name the planets.  She managed to get them down perfectly!

With seven days and counting, the rest of my week will be filled with scheduling, making photocopies, creating lesson plans, and picking up school supplies.

As a result, over the next few days,  Not Without Aim’s focus will also be devoted to school related topics.

btw, I appreciated what I learned from The Core so much I purchased one for each of my sisters as a birthday gift.  (Sh… they don’t know yet!)