Thursday, August 10, 2017

Wiggly Boys, Wiggly Boys...what to do with all those wiggly boys?

and Girls!!!

So those of you who don't know me personally don't know that I have 4 boys in a row. Ages 8, 6, 5, 4 and a toddler 20 month old girl.... who might be mistaken for a girl in a skirt! What can I say, she was raised by those 4 boys! Plus I have 2 older boys, who use to be little boys. And a couple other wiggly girls all in one house!!!

In my opinion it's fine to let them be wiggly, to let them use that energy they have, because a lot of the time they just have a ton of built up energy they need to have used!

I thought I'd collect a few tips and ideas for teaching wiggly kids.

*If you are trying to practice reading with them, and they can't sit still long enough to do a lesson, make a deal, for every page they read they will earn 2-5 minutes of "recess" or "free play" right after their lesson. This should be changed to their age and ability. So it could be page, paragraph, sentence- word or flashcard. I like to say you have to sit until the lessons done or maybe give a specific time frame, such as we will do reading for 20 minutes. Then as they get better at sitting and reading, you can adjust those times and goals. Make it a positive, you are learning so well and doing so good, I think we should set a new goal.

*Break it up! Don't expect the wiggly ones to sit for hours doing their work. Let them have a break or do something more active in between. Even the simple act of moving to a computer or to a couch will change it up for them.

*Many homeschool moms allow kids to play with blocks or quiet toys while reading aloud. I prefer not to do that, too many times those quiet toys have become loud toys during our read aloud. I like to use snack time as read aloud time. If their mouths are full, they can't really talk! I will also have kids color or draw while I read aloud.

*Make sure you are using their needs as you go through the day. If a child is really struggling with a case of the wiggles give them something they can do, actively. If they are practicing math facts, let them do it outside on the trampoline, or even walking in a circle.

*Stick to a routine. I have found my wiggly kids, do better knowing what to expect.

*Add multi-sensory tools into the mix. Play games, add activities, do hands on, act out stories, or pull out the legos and let them listen to a CD while playing. Listen to educational CD's in the car.

*Add in sneaky learning, as I like to call it. Place books out that you want the kids to read, maybe you sit down and read it one day and then leave it somewhere they can. Put maps and eduational posters in their rooms or playrooms. If someone asks a question, don't just answer it, teach it. Papa Bear has been fishing in Alaska, so in stead of just saying he's in Alaska we could find it on the map, look at some Alaska books or you tube videos. No lesson plans, just simply answering their questions!

Hope that helps, and if you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I actually keep a list in my planner all about wiggly kids! Ideas or thoughts I have, things we've done that helped. It's just a simple list of ideas, because usually when they are all wiggly, I can't think straight!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

A Flexible Plan laid out for the new year.....

When you tend to be an OCD Planner Mama, it's difficult to work with the normal chaos of a homeschool life.
Babies and Toddlers,
Illness and Sick Days
Vacation and Spontaneous Activities
Feeling Overwhelmed and Burned Out

Can you honestly plan those things into your day, into your life?
because would you plan those things into your life, if it was your choice!
Well I'm sure we'd all plan babies and toddlers, but they'd have their behavior more on our schedule!

I love having a plan, I love knowing my plan, but having that plan and knowing that plan, can also cause such a stress when things, aka life, happen. Over the years of homeschool I have learned, I need a plan and a routine, I (along with some of my children) really work better with that in place, yet when my plan is out of sequence, or off schedule, it feels like a weight or a burden. My answer is simple, because when you live in organized chaos, like I often feel, I need simple, I crave simple!

I LOVE the idea of scheduling throughout the year, a more inspired school plan, however just finding that time to be inspired as a busy mom, and let alone using that time to plan school---well doesn't happen. However when I feel an inspiration, or I need to change the plan I've laid out it's ok, because the way the plan is... um planned, allows for flexibility!

Here's the simple idea.

*I plan in an undated planner. This planner could be dated, and I just white it out. See I haven't found a planner I just love for every year and every season of my life. I have used regular planners, school lesson planners even to my own simple creation. I figure out how many weeks of school I need to accomplish for legal reason, or maybe even personal reasons. For me that's between 30-32 weeks of school in a year. I then write week 1 across the top of my planner, and the days of the week become days 1-5, 5 days of the school week.  So one week day 1 could be on a Monday, while day 1 another week could be on a Wednesday or even a Friday. It doesn't really matter the number of the day to the day of the week.
When I came to that realization, it was a game changer for me.

*I only plan homeschool in my homeschool planner. Because I don't plan school to a dated planner, I can't combine my outside of the house life with my school life, just as sickness, vacations and/or learning opportunities don't change my plans. They may change our days but not our plans. They may even change our lessons, but not our "plan". I hope that makes sense. I may find a great learning opportunity, maybe a field trip or community activity I really want to participate in. Maybe before or even after this said activity I want to chase some "bunny trails" or things that were sparked. I can and I do, and then when we are done, I just go back to the "plan" I had planned.
If someone calls last minute and wants to come visit, and also really wants to tour your location, or you just really want to hang out with them during this time, it's ok. Say YES! Once you are done with that visit, you can just pick up the plan, and begin where you left off.

*I plan any homeschool activities I know we will be a part of into my plan. For instance if I know we will be participating in a weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly activity, that is part of our school time- that is added. So let's say we are participating in a weekly co-op this year, I take one day of the week from my planner and simply mark it as co-op day, then any planning I need to do for our weekly co-op can be planned in that section of my homeschool planner. Does it matter that I may be planning our co-op on day 5, but we actually go to co-op on Wednesdays? No. Often times we will also be a week ahead on our co-op classes, then our homeschool lessons, and not always because we didn't do school for a week, it could be we missed a day, or it could be we decided to take a field trip and didn't do our family lessons for a day, or maybe we even took a field trip and came home the next day and did a family lesson about that field trip. Or it could be we were sick in between co-op classes, but attended the 2 co-op classes in a row. It's fine! And if it really bugs you to have that happen, then don't plan your co-op classes along with your regular homeschool lessons- because it will bring that feeling of doubt, and the "I'm not keeping up" in the back of your mind. Simply make a different planner or planner page for your co-op planning.

*I only plan our family school activities in this planner. Classes I will be teaching to my family, or the majority of my family. I do not plan our daily lessons here. Often time when we come home from an activity I will still have the kids do their daily lessons, things like math or reading. I have independent studies sheets for each of my children that all their daily lessons are tracked on. I do these in the same manner, with a day 1-5 instead of days of the week, and week markings instead of months. This planner is used to plan our morning devotional and morning loop, history and science family lessons and maybe a family elective.

*I prefer to have a space to mark the dates on all my daily columns and weekly pages. This is simply to keep myself accountable, to myself. I will also usually jot down why we had a discrepancy on our dates. So if we had a field trip I will just jot that somewhere in between the two columns.  This is only for myself, and helps to keep those "I'm not doing enough" thoughts out of the back of my mind, or maybe to help push them farther back.

As you can see I'm still deep in my planning and organizing. I still have many blank spots! So back to my planning.

So that's it, my simple planner for a flexible plan amongst my organized chaotic life!

Friday, July 14, 2017

a REALITY CHECK in planning......

Well it seems to be the time of the year when many are homeschool planning. I am seeing posts and links everywhere, with tips and advice and so many ideas! Yes, even I am in this mode here. It just must be that time of the year!

So as I'm planning, the first day is always hard.
I have dreams,
I have visions,
I have ideas
Oh so many!!!

I literally start thinking, how can I add more hours to my day?
Let's see we could start our day, at 4:00, no that doesn't mean everyone will be cranky and tired. Definitly  not, and especially not me!
Then we could school until 4:00- I mean the neighbors can't really plan until then anyways, by the time they get home, have a snack and work on school or home responsibilities, right?!?!


Then I decided, no what I need to do is edit, sort and maybe even subtract!!!

For some reason as a homeschooler, I think that our school needs to be extra special, at all times and in all ways. It needs to be super cool, amazingly awesome and at ALL times! Yet in the mist of all that, life is well life!

I mean come on how many of us think that every moment of our life is just that?


Last time I checked a mom's everyday chores and responsibilities are NOT there!
(laundry, changing diapers, doing the dishes, mopping the floors, and especially cleaning the toilets!)
Last time I checked a dad's everyday responsibilities are NOT there!
(boring meetings, paperwork, restrictions, traffic and oh taxes!)

So let's face it, homeschool needs to be extra special, super cool, amazingly awesome, but only sometimes, and sometimes it's just plain work!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Do you Summer School?

We are a Summer School Family. Here's the main reasons why I choose to year round homeschool our houseful.

First off I completely agree with public school moms, after a couple weeks of a summer break the kids are bored! They start complaining, being mischievous and/or driving me crazy!!!

We like routine, we like routine with flexibility. Hence I like to year round school, because often in the homeschool world things come up last minute, or we just need a break one day when it's been a difficult week, or maybe it's the first nice/warm day of the spring- and let's face it no one wants to be inside on a day like that! Yes in my book, all those days can be and are included in schooling my houseful, however I still like to know where we stand in our curriculum and in our goals for the year.
So if I know we have an entire year to complete something, not a school year, I feel more relaxed!

I also detest having to review everything you learned last year!!! REALLY! If you have to review it, did you really learn it!?!? Now I get reviewing things you've learned and especially facts- but feeling like the first 15-20 lessons in every math curriculum is dedicated to relarning things, not reviewing, but yes- relearning! In our household when you start a new math or grammar level, you get to start with the unit tests! If you can pass it off you move to the next unit test until you found "the good stuff!" The new material!

I also hate that feeling of just getting a child over a hump, especially learning to read or decode, figuring out their math facts or a math topic or killing a moment where someone is into a specific topic- and then having a feeling that we need to revamp the schedule or rethink somewhere else- to fit it all in, when in reality I want to fit it all in! And with a year round school year, you can chase a bunny trail, and then come back to where you are, and know there's still plenty of time!

Vacation time! We can vacation how and where and most importantly when we choose! We also like to live on "Dad's schedule" That way when dad's off we can be off! Also I believe it teaches a good work ethic, along with helping my children find joy in the simple things. If life is life you find joy in simple things- like a day off or park day.

Sick days, we obviously can't plan those! Along with sick days, I've had 11 children! Homeschooling and pregnancy is difficult, along with homeschooling with babies and toddlers. We need some flexibility during those times in our lives.

I also like to take long breaks around holidays, especially Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving.

I think we also take the idea that life is school to a whole new level! I want my children to see school and learning as a part of their life. That it is what we do, it is important and learning is everything and everywhere. If we take a summer break, and it's considered a holiday, then wouldn't you dread going back to school? I want life to be both work and a holiday, and for it to happen in a more natural way.

And amazingly we still have plenty of time for play, and guess what we even enjoy and cherish that time!

I will be preparing a post on how I plan  with flexibility! So I don't feel I'm behind, or feel like I need to rethink our schedule anytime we get sick, need a break or decide to enjoy an activity I didn't plan on.

since August 13, 2009

since August 2009
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Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6