Thursday, April 25, 2013

When to Start Homeschooling


I get asked quite often what curriculum I use for my little kids, younger than kindergarten age.  I never give the answer that is expected. 
I don’t use curriculum until they are older…much older. 1st grade older.
What?  You don’t start teaching them when they are 2? 
Yes & No.
I don’t do anything formal with my kids before they are 6 years old unless they are really showing signs of being able to learn to read. My youngest daughter was totally ready & was doing a lot of school work around 5 years old.  She was reading very well by six.
I am what you call a “Relaxed Homeschooler”.  I wasn’t always like this, but over the years I have learned a lot and realized my kids will learn when they are ready and that is when I pounce!
Raymond & Dorthy Moore became my heroes early in my homeschooling career.  They founded the Moore Foundation in order to help parents better educate their children. When I was so frustrated because my 5 year old still couldn’t read or even count to 20 a friend told me about the Moore’s and since this was in 1996 and I didn’t have internet I read their books.  I was so encouraged to learn that it was ok if my child wasn’t reading by 5 & they gave me permission to slow down and work at her pace.  Thanks to the Moore’s I learned most kids (boys especially) are not truly ready to learn to read & write until they are closer to 8 years old.  Unbelievable I know, especially in a day when parents feel like their 3 year olds should be reading. (If your 3 year old can read that is wonderful…I never had one of those kinds of kids.)
So, this blog post is really to show you what I do with my younger kids & links will be provided so you don’t have to search it out yourself.

babysignBabies. I don’t allow baby talk to my babies.  We talk in complete sentences. We start teaching baby sign language as soon as possible. I don’t worry about them signing back to me, I just like it when they know what I’m signing to them.  In their own time, they will start signing back.  Charlie is almost one and he is just now beginning to start signing back to me.  Baby sign language is a great start to their language development! is a great site to use. In addition to sign language we read.  We read as much as Charlie will let us read to him.  He has his favorite board books he will sit for.  Gradually we are working towards longer books as his attention span grows.  But don’t think my 1 year old boy will sit for a long time.  Usually 5 minutes is his max…if that long!

Toddlers.  Keep reading!  And sing!  A toddler will often sit longer while you read if you sing what you are reading.  You may feel silly, but they will love it!  And the best thing is your toddler doesn’t care how off key you sing!  With our toddlers, we play because that is how they learn.  As we play we are counting, saying our colors, letter sounds animal names, etc…  As we drive down the road we are pointing out the cows that say “mooooo” and the horses that say “neigh”.  Simple stuff.  We don’t have iPads so our kids are learning the old fashioned way.
Toddlers are very kinesthetic and need to touch to learn so I try to have activities that nurture that need to touch.  Since it has been a long time since I had a toddler I am looking for new idea’s & of course Pinterest has been a huge help.  I have pinned several blogs & sites that feature some neat idea’s for Charlie when he get’s a little older.  Check out my Pinterest board, Toddler Play
Another great site for Toddlers is called Totally Tots. Click on the picture below to check out that site.
totally tots
For my toddlers, no curriculum needed…just my time, a few household supplies and my willingness to let him be messy.

Preschool.  This is when it can get really fun because your baby isn’t a baby any more.  They are capable of sitting longer while you read, following directions better and helping around the house.  Chores should always be included in a child’s day. It is just as important as the academic education. Make the jobs simple.  Pick up toys, clothes, help make their bed.  They can learn to help unload the dishwasher and clean off the table after a meal.  I love how my toddlers don’t see the chores as work, they see it as fun and helping mom.
My favorite all time homeschooling site for Preschool is Homeschool Creations.  It is chocked full of idea’s and printable activities for your preschooler.

You will be on this site for days.  Get your printer ready, she is has a ton of stuff that your preschooler will love. Her activities cover learning phonics, counting, shapes,etc…
And don’t forget to check out my long list of homeschool freebies which includes a lot of websites for the younger ones too.
Crayon Background
Keep it simple.  There is no need to go buy expensive curriculum for your younger kids.  They can learn everything they need to get ready to start school without formal curriculum.  Make the right stuff available to them & let them go!
Keep it natural.  Did you set aside time everyday to teach your baby how to walk?  No, they learned that naturally and you helped.  Learning happens naturally with the help of the parents. Keep playing, that is how they will learn.  If they learn as the play they will love it.  If you make them sit at the table and require them to spend 1 hour everyday practicing phonic sounds they will eventually not love it anymore and grow to hate it.
Whether you homeschool your kids or not, you will always be their greatest teacher. Your teaching began the day they were born and it will continue until you die.  So, while they are little, nurture that desire to learn and it will flourish!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Always Be Prepared

Last month was the 3rd time we had to take Charlie to the ER since January 1st.  Never have we been to the ER so many times with one child. Poor little Charlie,  he has had a very sick winter with RSV, stomach bug, respiratory infection and whatever else a baby can catch this time of year.  Last month, he dislocated his elbow.  HOW?  I have no clue, but he did. Actually I did it, but don’t know how.   So, needless to say I am learning some new things thanks to all of these trips to the ER.

1.       Always take a shower before bed, never think you can take it the next morning.  Every time I decided to shower the next morning we ended up taking a sick baby to the ER before I could shower.  Thank goodness for pony tail holders, baseball caps & perfume.

2.       Keep snacks & a water bottle in the diaper bag.  2 of the 3 times we went to the ER during a meal time.  Thank goodness today I had some trail mix stuck away in the bag because Scott & I were hungry & there were no vending machines in sight.  Plus who wants to pay $3.00 for a tiny bag of pretzels?

3.       Keep a journal at home.  On our first ER trip Charlie had RSV. When my baby was gasping for air and the nurse was asking me when I last took his temperature, how high his fever was and when he last had Ibuprophen I couldn’t remember a thing. If I had written it down and brought it with me it would have made things much easier.   I write stuff down now just in case I have to tell it to the Pediatrician or ER doctor.  Plus it really makes me look like I’m on top of things. J

4.       Be patient.   It is so easy to want to demand quick treatment when your baby has been sick.  You are tired from staying up all night and all you want is for your child to be ok.  ER trip #2 we sat in a waiting room for 3 hours on Martin Luther King Jr birthday with hundreds of other sick people, tempers were flaring.  It was a long wait, especially when you have a sick child.  The staff was working as fast and as efficiently as they could.  We knew that & waited, even though I really wanted to stomp my feet & yell, “Hey do you even care my baby is sick?”.  When we were finally taken to a room, we waited some more.  It was getting old, but getting upset about it would not help our sick baby any at all. 

5.       Be prepared to shine for Jesus.  Even when you are the patient (or your child is) we can shine for Jesus by the way we respond to others or speak to them.  Every time we have been in the ER the Lord gave us opportunities to talk about Him with others.  Scripture says to always be prepared.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. “ 1 Peter 3:15

When Christ rules your heart and mind others notice even if they don’t really know what they are noticing.  Do others see something different in you?  Do they see a hope and joy they rarely see? 
Our family has been through a lot in the past 2 years and is still going through it.  I will never forget when someone asked my oldest daughter how she could be so upbeat and joyful when our family was experiencing such a difficult time.  Without missing a beat she responded with, “It has to be the Lord carrying me through this because this is the hardest thing we have even been through and yet I know he has our backs.”  I love that!  My 20 yr old daughter, in the midst of difficult days, was living out the joy of the Lord & her hope was grounded in Him and others noticed.

Are you prepared? 

Do others notice a hope in you they don’t have?

Do you know someone who has that hope that you want?

Sweet Mom, Jesus is the author of the faith that makes that hope & joy possible.  I pray you know him as personal friend and Savior and learn to choose His hope and joy.  It is there for the taking.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Are You a “Tomorrow-Mom”?


boys with mother_1

Are you a “tomorrow” mom?

I recently realized I am a “tomorrow” mom. Let me explain.

I find myself constantly putting off for tomorrow what I need to do today.

I’m not talking about procrastinating on the laundry, or housework. I’m talking about my kids and how I spend my time with them.

Tomorrow will we go to the park.

Tomorrow we will start our Bible readings together.

Tomorrow I will pray with the kids.

Tomorrow I will say more encouraging words.




                                                     Blah – Blah - Blah

James 4:14-15 “You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.”

In James 4 I am reminded that I am not even guaranteed tomorrow. All you have to do is watch the news to be reminded of that or read the paper. On one side are birth announcements and across the page are the obituaries. We are here today and gone tomorrow.

So, how can I encourage you? LOL!

There is great joy to be lived in today but I miss it when I am waiting for tomorrow.

In the book of Ecclesiastes King Solomon tells us to live everyday under the sun for the Son. Don’t wait for tomorrow, live today and live it for the Lord fully.

Today, we are going to the park. It’s been on my calendar many times, but I put if off waiting for a better weather day. Today is the day. Clouds & all.

Today, I will read that book my daughter has asked me to read with her many times.

So what can you do with and for your kids today that you keep putting off until tomorrow? james4_14

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stress-free Mom is a Happy Mom

I once took pride in my routine.  I knew everyday what would happen.  I knew what kid did what chore. I knew what school lesson would be taught.  I knew what part of the house would be cleaned.  I knew what errands would be done & who had an appointment or event to go to.  I knew what was going on.

Then we moved.  All of that went away.  I could have created new chore charts and school schedules, but I thought we would move again soon so I just put it off.  Here we are 17 months later and still living with Scott’s parents.  I thought it was time to get things back in order, or I knew I would lose my mind (what is left of it).

Our 5 oldest are 17 to 21 years old.  The oldest 2 don’t live with us, so that leaves the 17, 18 & 19 year olds here.  They are super busy with work and school and it is really hard to keep up with their schedule’s.  So, I found out about a free app for our phones that has become an easy way to keep up with them.

features_calendar  This has been a huge help.  We use the calendar more than anything else & I don’t pay for it so keeps it simple too.  We have one login so everyone can easily add their schedules in.  They can install the app on their phone & it will send them reminders.  I even have a widget on my laptop desktop so when I turn my computer on in the morning I see who has what going on.  LIFESAVER!  Of course this requires they actually put their work schedules in the calendar & often my sons can’t  do that because… well….they are boys & that would be too difficult to actually type numbers and letters that are not directed towards a friend or girl ((insert sarcasm)).  But my daughter has it down & she is like me…needs an updated calendar to survive.

Now I have the older ones under control (can you hear me laughing?) I decided it was time to get chores going again.  My kids were becoming quite accustom to not helping around the house again & I just couldn’t have that.  So, Scott & I decided to not just bring back the chores, but also a small allowance to help motivate.  We have been against this in the past, but he has ulterior motives.  He is also teaching them how to save their money & designate it for different things.  Dave Ramsey has some awesome methods that we have followed for years & we want our younger ones to learn how to use them now just like our older kids do.

So, as I am making yet, another chore chart & find on Pinterest the most amazing thing!  Another smarter & more creative mom than I, printed her list of chores on magnetic paper!magneticpaper

This brilliant mom printed the chores out on the magnetic paper & then posted them on the frig.  EAch child had their own list & as they did a chore they simply moved it down the list. So easy & so amazing how my kids feel accomplished when they can move those chores down & see the list of “Chores to do” grow smaller. As their list of “Already Done” chores grows so does their allowance.

Here is what mine ended up looking like.


I only did the 3 younger kids.  The other two older boys (13 & 15) just do whatever their dad says to do when he says to do it.  No chart needed. LOL!

I printed out a page with the 3 colored columns.  I laminated it, but the magnets weren’t strong enough to hold so I had to print another one that wasn’t laminated. The only thing that was not magnetic was the paper they put the chores on.  They liked having a picture of themselves over their chores too.

The next thing I did was write up menus for meals.  I had done this before, but didn’t stick to it.  This time, since I am not the only one cooking, I didn’t assign meals for specific days.  I just made a list of possible meals for the week & then bought the food needed to make those meals. If the recipe was new I printed it out at the beginning of the week.  That way, when my mother-in-law is getting ready to make lunch (because that is the meal she always makes so I can do school with the kids.  Isn’t she wonderful?!) She just has to look at the list of meals & see what she wants to make.  We work together on this.  She & I both plan out the meals and even though I do most of the grocery shopping she often fills in the gaps of what I forget to buy.  I am living the dream!

Such simple things have helped to bring the early beginnings of order & routine back to my day.  We are finishing up school for the year so I will get to establish a whole new routine once school isn’t part of our day. (kids jumping for joy!)

Charlie is finally into a routine of 2 naps a day and going down on his own in his bed. Yipee!!  This helps so much!  Now if I could just get him to sleep all night, my life would be perfect!

You may not need routine as badly as I do, but I’m always so amazed at how even the smallest bit of routine can ease so much of my stress.  And we all know that a stress-free mom is a happy mom!