Nourished

nourished

Switching gears for this post today and focusing on health.

About 6-8 months ago I started having pain in my hands and feet. At first, I didn’t want to believe that anything could be wrong with me. I have tried to be healthy most of my adult life, so there couldn’t possibly be anything seriously wrong with me right? By Christmas, I could barely open my presents my hands were so swollen and sore. At that point, I realized that this needed a doctor’s attention and I would not be well on my own. I tried to keep a positive outlook through the process of blood work and doctor’s appointments but there were moments, I felt defeated. I felt sorry for my son, robbed of a healthy mother. I felt sorry for my husband whose wife isn’t in tip-top physical condition. I felt sorry for myself that I couldn’t pick up any exercise I wanted.

After two months in limbo, I began to pray earnestly that I could see my referred specialist soon. I was physically and mentally at a breaking point. God answered, in two weeks of my prayer, I had an appointment and a diagnosis. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.

Recently, I logged into the patient portal to view the notes that the doctor had written and to see my labs. I read this “appears nourished”. That word struck me, nourished. I know the meaning but I wanted to look it up anyway because it spoke to me on a very spiritual level. Here is the definition.

Nourish- verb- 1) provide with food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition or 2) keep (a feeling or belief) in one’s mind, typically for a long time.

While I had allowed some defeated thoughts during this time; God had still answered my prayers and my physical body was still nourished. I was not forgotten or forsaken. I know that my illness is not in vain, I’m not sure what His will is through this, only that I must follow Him. God will nourish me through this process and through His word.

I pray this blesses you.

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Homeschool Calling

When we first had our son Jack, we didn’t anticipate homeschooling him. I had no doubts that public school was in our future.

My stepson was actually in the biggest school in our area and at the time I had no major complaints with the school system. In retrospect, there were some alarming behaviors from the school and from him, we should have listened to more closely. But, I thought sending a child to the most diverse population with the most resources would benefit the child. That’s not exactly what happened. We naively thought it would get better and it didn’t. As we had more issues pop up going into high school and beyond (he’s 14 years older than Jack) we started to realize, this isn’t just happening to him but to several kids. Our wheels started turning so to speak and it was compounded with one school crisis after another.

While we were dealing with his school crises, Jack was hitting milestones earlier and earlier. I became concerned that school would bore him and we put off enrolling him in pre-school, though just a few years before I was a big advocate of giving kids a head start. After a particularly rough year in the public school for the oldest, I looked at my husband and said to him that Jack at the very would need to be in a small public school. He agreed and I started asking around for a public school I thought would fit his needs. I began to pray that God would show me the way for Jack’s education. Public School, Private, or Homeschool. I had my answer in a week. I wish I could tell you the exact epiphany but it was more of a mulling over and a few conversations with different friends about their experiences with homeschool, public, and private. I went home one day from work that week and I told my husband we have to homeschool him and I think I can do it. He said he felt the same and we began our adventure. I know God answered my prayer because my husband and I had the same idea on the same day as to what direction we would go, I sometimes still ask for guidance. I question if I’m a good mom or if I’m letting my son down somewhere but God always answers me and sustains me in this direction.

If you are looking for a direction in which to educate your child I strongly recommend lots of prayer.

 

Digging for Free Play

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When we first decided to homeschool, I felt the need to do all the things. I really wanted a set time for play, reading, chores, etc. What I discovered was that in the moments I let Jack lead his homeschool through play, he learned a ton more. That’s where I started learning about John Holt and became fascinated by his point of view. I began consuming articles on the importance of free play and forest schools. I adore a little of all of these philosophies and in the end, I slowly let go of my schedule worries and to this day we don’t have a set schedule of anything. I remapped my homeschool strategy and now I focus on goals for the week and the school year and not a set daily schedule. It gives me play time if Tuesday took a bad spin, I can adjust what we didn’t learn to Wednesday or Thursday. This type of flexibility isn’t just a strategy, it’s our way of homeschool life.

How does an unscheduled day work for us? I put more importance on free play. We spend less time on actual school work and more time on playing. I give some guidance based on his interest. I have found he is very self-motivated to learn and when letting go and letting him lead we have accomplished so much more learning! I have become an advocate for hands-on learning. For example, we may spend most of our day digging up dino bones in our yard and reading books on dirt and paleontology. We still do math and reading and he hits his milestones but we chase his interests major ways. It’s one of my favorite things about homeschooling, if not the favorite thing about homeschooling.

If you find yourself hitting your head against the wall right now trying to get your kids to do worksheets or focus, let them lead for a day and see where it takes you 🙂 Until next time.

 

Laura

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To the Worn Out Mom

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A real life worn out Mom

To the tired and worn out mother:

Superwoman doesn’t exist but if she did she would look like you, tired and worn out mom. An average day for Superwoman looks like this: She’s a woman who wakes up before her children, gets dressed for work. She’ll wake the kids and get them ready for the day. She’ll face the battle of what pants to wear and why aren’t your shoes on? She’ll swear she needs another cup of coffee after her morning round of child wrangling. She’ll drop everyone off on time and arrive to work early. But she doesn’t get a breather, work starts the minute you walk in. All her customers or patients need all the things all the day and lunch was eaten in a rush. She’ll orchestrate a pickup for her dearly beloved children. She may even be the picker upper. Either way, when she and her children unite for the night exhaustion will have started creeping in for all. There are tears of “we don’t want that chicken for dinner”, fights of bath time, “but I swear I washed my hair!” and bed time wrangling. Or she may just be so exhausted that she falls asleep on the coutch and her kid falls asleep on top of her ☺ (example seen in above picture). The day will have left her with no more fight and at least five times where she thought she was failing at being a mom, wife, or employee. Just know tired and worn out mom that you are not alone. This battle we fight every day is only for the strong and that’s what you are. Keep climbing those mountains and go ahead and grab the extra coffee.

 

Can you work and homeschool? YES!

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Have you wanted to homeschool but thought you couldn’t because you work full-time? As a product of public school myself I worried and worried that I wouldn’t be able to get enough time in to teach my son. But, I felt and still do feel that public school isn’t for him. Here are some tips for you if you are in a situation like me, where you have to work full-time and you KNOW that public school isn’t for your child.

  1. Look for resources and blogs that will make your life easier: I Homeschool Network, Gifted Homeschoolers, there are so many homeschool blogs (just like this one) with tips and tricks, articles that help.
  2. A pre-packaged curriculum is a life saver in a pinch. At first, we used pre-packaged curriculum much more than we do now. It was easy for me to see what level he should be on and I had a goal to meet. At this point in time, I’m much freer with our school days and I do not always use the workbooks. I substitute history some days with School House Rock or math with a cooking lesson or a game. That being said, I still do buy a few pre-packaged workbooks and I still monitor his progress against them.
  3. Call in reinforcements. I work 5 full days a week and how I manage it all is help. Jack’s grandparents watch him 3 days a week (since dad works three long days). Because I buy pre-packaged curriculum it makes it easier for them to pick up his math book and work with him on it, it also saves me some time when I get home. There is no shame in asking for help. All of these people love and care for Jack and are on the same page with me, he should be homeschooled. If you don’t have any family nearby look for co-ops or work opposite shifts of your spouse.
  4. Know what is important. What I mean by this: Public School and Homeschool look very different. It was hard for me at first to wrap my head around it, shouldn’t we do Math for 45 minutes every day? Well, for us no. We work on it a little every day and we master it in our own time but 45 minutes is too much for Jack. I try to stay under 30 and he is still a grade above. Let your pre-conceived notions of what Public School was and hang on for a very fun ride!

A Day in the Life- A Homeschool Day While Mom Works

If you’re questioning how homeschool works on a day to day basis for a full-time working mother, here is a glimpse into a day in my life. I’m very fortunate that Jack’s education isn’t burdened all on me and Dad (and Nana) does some of the school work too.

Monday-

5:45 a.m. alarm goes off.

6:30 a.m.- I have finished dressing and am fixing breakfast 6:45- Our little guy is awake and wants snuggles, I read him his devotional. I love this time and am adamant that I never say no to snuggles..one day he’ll be too big for me.

7:15 a.m.-5:45 p.m. I’m at work. On my lunch break, I may look for projects for us to do on the weekend (if they’re large) or little exercises to do for Dad/Nana during the week while I work.

6:30 p.m. I’m home and get the run down on our homeschool accomplishments for the day. We’ve watched Latin, journaled, and done our own science experiment. I work on reading, math, and spelling. Because Jack works quickly we are usually done within an hour. Sometimes, it takes longer if he isn’t in a school type mood and at that time we may break and focus more the next day. I would also like to say that the bulk of his education is very child led. (Notice the science experiment, this is usually started by him and monitored by us). He also requests us to read science books to him. This all happened while I was at work but he constantly leads the way for us to teach him. We follow along with some workbooks but he blows past most pre-packaged curriculum quickly. So, I encourage the rabbit holes so he can deeply learn about things he likes.

9:00- We are watching Magic School Bus (did I mention he was very interested in Science, LOL).

10:00- We are asleep.

This is a small glimpse into a bigger picture of a foundation I lay for him day to day. I strongly encourage him to take control of his own education. We love the rabbit holes, we play games and go outside. This is the biggest part and it happens it seems when we least expect it to happen.

 

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Grandparents and Homeschool- A Special Post by Nana

My first experience with homeschooling was with my second oldest Grandson Jacob. He felt he wanted to try homeschooling in 6th grade and his parents agreed. Jacob’s first year of homeschool saw him flourish and he tested better at the end of the year than he had during his public school days.

Then my youngest decided to homeschool and she knew that I was on board. Because I can keep my grandson a day or two through the week, I have a unique opportunity to enrich his life.

Here are some ways I make our special time together count toward homeschooling while my daughter is working:

  1. We cook together and we make up our own special recipes. I sneak in his math lessons by measuring ingredients out or halving a recipe we may find online. Cooking with Grandma is a time-honored and special tradition.
  2. My grandson loves dinosaurs. We pretend we are on a dig in the backyard. We learn about bones, dirt, and rocks.
  3. We pretend we are in a castle or we design a castle or a city. We learn about what a city needs (doctor’s, banks, malls, police). We use our imaginations and learn all about the inner workings of what we build.
  4. We play 20 questions and learn about what it was like when Nana was young. We talk about decades and pretend to be real war heroes like George Washington.

Grandparents have an exceptional opportunity to bring experience to the learning experience and make special connections with their grandchildren during the day while the parents are working. I encourage other grandparents to get involved and give mom the day off (or take care of the kids while she works).

 

 

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What’s Cooking?

I love cooking as a part of homeschooling, or just life really. It’s so important that children feel like they can accomplish and do what adults can, this is how they learn. I also like that cooking goes hand in hand with math skills. Just like my previous posts states my son hates workbooks and some days it is just easier to sneak a math lesson in by cooking. I’ve learned that it’s totally okay to count it as math and move along. Pre-K and Kindergartners may not be cooking as a math lesson down at the brick and mortar school but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count in my homeschool 🙂

Another reason I like to cook with Jack is because he has had texture issues. He doesn’t like to touch certain things. He came by this honestly, his mom didn’t touch hamburger meat until she was in her late 20s, LOL. The child in the picture below hated and I mean HATED the feel of eggs and refused to crack the eggs. Fast forward to a year later and he cracks eggs all by himself. This wasn’t by magic, but by example and practice and lots of patience.

In a year we went from him refusing to crack an egg to writing our own egg recipes. He does everything but cook the egg on the stove. I’ll save this for a later age. I have listed below a few cookbooks we started with. Now we use Pinterest as well as the below books to find easy recipes that kids can follow. You can follow me on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/wildhomeschool.

Here are a few cookbooks we use in our homeschool:

Pretend Soup- I love that it has a section for parents and a section for kids. It’s a true collaboration style recipe book.

https://www.amazon.com/Pretend-Soup-Other-Real-Recipes/dp/1883672066/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485717595&sr=8-1&keywords=pretend+soup

 

This is the first cookbook we bought Jack was this Super Hero cookbook. If you have a superhero lover I highly recommend this book. The drink recipes are a great way to start little ones started

https://www.amazon.com/Official-DC-Super-Hero-Cookbook/dp/1935703919/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485717983&sr=8-1&keywords=super+hero+cookbook

 

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Yes, he is on the floor stirring. No, I wasn’t concerned a floor germ would bounce off the floor and attack our pancakes 🙂

Let us know your favorite recipes to cook with your kids! Below I have our easy pizza night recipe

This feeds exactly 1 dad, 1 mom, and 1 6-year-old.

Ingredients:

1 package crescent rolls

1 package mixed cheese

1 package pepperoni

Directions: a flat cookie sheet at least 9×11

Spray or grease a flat cookie sheet at least 9×11. You and your kiddo rollout and press down flat the crescent roll to make a pizza crust. After this is finished let them spread the cheese on the rolled out dough. Add pepperoni’s as wanted. Bake at 400 F for 10-15 minutes until crust is brown and cheese is melted. You can add or change toppings as wanted. Enjoy!

The Ever Changing Curriculum Path

Hang around a few homeschoolers long enough and you’ll find they all use different curriculum and different ways to teach their children. I think it is because “Education is custom work.” John Taylor Gatto. I also think it’s because we are all wired differently. I also decided to write a post that I wish I had read when I started homeschooling. It’s okay to throw your curriculum away!

I work full time and I had a ton of bricks (self-imposed) on my shoulders to makes sure Jack had the world’s best education. As a result, I put a lot of emphasis on pre-packaged curriculum and workbooks. I think I was stuck pretty hard in the “public school is homeschool” mentality. It didn’t take Jack long to let me know that this isn’t how it’s going to work. Now, I agree with him. Workbooks aren’t that fun and quite frankly you can homeschool without them. So, we threw several to the side and we wing it with library books and research. I do keep the workbooks mostly for guidelines on where he should be grade wise. But, quite frankly he is way ahead in most subjects.

This catharsis of throwing away what a standard requirement is of my child has recently led me to realize that I have become an anti-helicopter homeschool mom. Don’t get me wrong I still use pre-packaged curriculum but now I use it sparingly. It’s nothing for us to go a whole morning or day only discussing Dinosaurs or Argentina and not really crack a book. I try and just incorporate what he is interested in with what he needs to do, like writing. If he was suffering or behind in reading, writing, or math skills maybe I would feel differently. But once I really gave up trying to control our homeschool day and forcing him to do the pre-packaged curriculum it really has become much easier. Is it going to be the end of the world that in 1st grade at the local public school they are learning about flowers while he is at home learning about the digestive system because he’s all of sudden obsessed with it… I doubt it. But this is our life, it’s mostly child-led learning and I’m very grateful we follow it.

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“We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions — if they have any — and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.” ― John Holt

 

 

Our Path to Reading Success

 

A major concern for all parents is for their children to learn to read. While I was pregnant with Jack it was definitely high on my list of priorities. I google searched for the perfect books to add to your kid’s library for literary success. I bought Dr.Seuss and read all sorts of books to our boy with great hopes he would love to read. Maybe it was the concern and priority that turned out a great reader or maybe it was just the perfect storm of reading to him all the time. Either way, here’s my very simple list of suggestions to raise a reader.

  1. Read to them from infancy. I read to Jack from the time we brought him home. It was a priority and he was a captive audience. LOL. Those babies aren’t running from you, they love to hear your voice so go ahead and read to them. Also, use your finger to show them each word as you read it, babies and toddlers pick up on this and start putting together what you’re doing. It makes reading less of a mystery for them.
  2. I was a big investor in Dr. Seuss. Love him or hate him, his books make perfect rhyming sense to young children. They are fun, they are colorful, and they teach rhyming and word families.
  3. Make a priority to take them to the library. Once a month or once a week as long as you take them and let them pick the books that they are interested then this tradition will be a recipe for success (and also for homeschooling). I started this when Jack was about 2. At first, I had this method; I led him to the fiction, science, history, geography sections and would encourage him to pick a book he was interested in from each. Today he stays far away from fiction and I don’t pressure him, at six he can read all the science and history books he wants 🙂
  4. Ask forward-thinking questions while reading.  For example, “Jack, what do you think Cheetahs eat?” right before we read the page that answers the question. It gets them thinking ahead and wanting to read for the answer. You can do the same for fiction books as well, “Do you think Dorothy will ever get back to Kansas?”
  5. Sign up for free book programs, if available. We signed up for the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and I highly recommend it! https://usa.imaginationlibrary.com/register_my_child.php?gclid=CKSV1IaG1NECFdC4wAodBmICnQ#.WIPAj1MrLIU
  6. When it came time for him to learn to read on his own, we invested in the book, “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” https://www.amazon.com/Teach-Your-Child-Read-Lessons/dp/0671631985/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1485029793&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+teach+your+child+to+read+in+100+easy+lessons

Let me know what your path to reading was and how you were successful, I would love to hear it! If you have any questions on our path, comment below.