When do you start back to school when you homeschool?

There are lots of opinions on when to start back to school as a homeschool family. Many of my friends school year round and take breaks every 6 to 8 weeks. I typically have a school calendar that is similar to the school system near me. This allows me to really enjoy the summer with my boys. We play, swim, fish, and relax. It’s really not that difficult to get in 180 school days from late August until the first of June. In my state, I have to log attendance for each student and keep a copy of that record in my school file. It is not a big deal compared to other states, but that is where I ascribe to the 180 school days philosophy. Truly, my children are learning every day, but I am referring to our structured school days for the purpose of this blog post.

With that said, we have started back on our math and reading lessons. We will be adding in language arts, history, and science throughout the month. This gives us time to adjust to new grade levels and makes things a little less crazy starting out a year with 4 students in 4 different grades.

I have planned a park day at the end of the month to meet with our local homeschool friends. This will give us time to catch up and start making some plans for field trips for the new school year. This time is also really important for the boys to see friends and just enjoy socializing with other homeschoolers. My local homeschool group meets monthly, in the evening, to encourage one another, ask questions, and plan events to do as a group. I have been a part of this group for more than 10 years.

I am really bad at doing a first day of school picture of the boys. I am reminded of this every year when my Facebook feed is filled with pics of kids going back to school. Maybe this year I will turn over a new leaf and take a pic. But even if I don’t, it is ok. I take plenty of pics throughout the year. What really matters is that I am there with them on a day-to-day basis. I love being with my children and being their teacher. I love taking them places and learning new things with them.

If you have any homeschool questions, you can email me or drop a comment below.

Be encouraged,


Sweet Summer Time Memories

Why homeschool?

Why did our family decide to homeschool?

In 1998, we had two children. I started reading about homeschooling, and it was something I felt we should do as a family. Our daughter was already in public school at the time because that is what everyone around us did. Our son was 3 years old, and he was in a private preschool. So I pushed the thought of homeschooling to the back of my mind. Fast forward two years, and it was time to send our son to kindergarten. I was also pregnant with our fourth child. So homeschooling that year was not exactly something I wanted to start with a toddler and new baby coming.

Our son went to kindergarten, and it was just not a good situation for him. He was all-boy, and the school system just does not allow for the wiggling and rough playing that boys do at that age. Within two weeks, we decided to pull him out of school and homeschool him. Our daughter was struggling in 4th grade with math and too much homework. Within 6 weeks, we decided to homeschool her as well. I had to do some quick research and ordered her some basic books. We started our homeschool journey with a 4th grader, kindergartner, a toddler, and a baby due in January.

I balanced book work with field trips and hands-on activities. I worked on setting some routines for us for school work, house projects, and play time. I found an email group and subscribed to The FlyLady emails. I was a classic Side-Tracked Home Executive (SHE). I needed help setting up my routines, and with three children at home all the time, I also had many things demanding my attention. I needed some focus on how to maintain my household while juggling teaching, caring for a toddler, and taking care of myself.

Following The FlyLady’s routines was a freeing experience for me. The routines kept me from being overwhelmed all the time. Working on small-scale projects 15 minutes at a time was much more manageable with everything else I had going on daily. I was also able to incorporate training my children to help with daily routines. They were young, but they could help with small tasks. I had to let go of my perfectionism. My Type A personality had to learn to take a backseat.

Our first year of homeschooling was a learning experience. I learned how my children learned the best. I learned a lot of patience with them and with myself. I learned with my children. I felt like I had my children back. I always wanted to be a mom and a teacher, and I was both things, even though I had been teaching them all along when they were with me.

If you are thinking about homeschooling, pray about it. Talk to your spouse about it. You both have to want to homeschool. It is a big commitment. It is a full-time job that pays benefits in deeper family relationships. If you are overwhelmed with life and your home and needing routines, then I encourage you to sign up for The FlyLady’s emails. They will change your life and your outlook.

Here’s a picture of our school cabinet where I store most of our daily books, and here is a picture of two of the boys working on math this week.

Be blessed in your journey,


Homeschool Planning for a New Year

It’s that time of year where I evaluate what we did well last year and where we need to improve. It’s time to start some planning for the new school year. When I look at a whole school year before me, it looks a little daunting. I will be homeschooling 10th grade, 8th grade, 6th grade, and 3rd grade this year. I have to do some planning and break it down into manageable steps. Some subjects are pretty easy to break down into weekly and daily assignments. Math is one of those subjects. I divide the total number of lessons and tests by the number of school days in our year (180). Then I know how many lessons need to be done per week and per day.

For my high schooler, science and history break down easily, too. I use the same system of dividing the number of lessons by the number of days in our school year. Language arts for a high schooler is a little different. I have to look at the number of papers I want him to write, and the number of books I want him to read and break that down into monthly and weekly goals. I will meet with him about the expectations I have for the year. We will have a joint check-off sheet to go by, but it is his responsibility to see that he stays on track. I will check in daily with him on his workload.

For the younger boys, I use a unit study approach to science and history. Their reading and writing assignments are based on the topic we are studying, so language arts gets planned in with the unit studies based on age and ability. In the fall, we are doing a big unit study on the States and Regions of the United States. In the spring, we are doing a big unit study on the systems of the body. This balances out our science and history over the course of a year. For these three, I will stay on the same topic, but they will have books assigned based on reading ability, and their writing assignments will also be based on their abilities.

I have been writing up weekly plan sheets for the unit studies, so I know what books and supplies to be gathering. I hand-write these plans because it cements these plans in my head. I hope to share pictures along the way this year as we learn together. For now, here is a picture of the first four weeks of lesson plans.

I am using the KONOS curriculum (www.KONOS.com) for my guide on planning. I did this same unit study about 10 years ago, so that is helping me plan our activities. I am looking forward to this school year!

Enjoy the journey!


A Review of Diana Waring’s Experience History Through Music Series

 Recently I was given the opportunity to review Diana Waring’s re-published series, “Experience History Through Music.” Since this is the beginning of our 15th year of homeschooling, I have long-known Diana Waring. I have used her history and music cassettes in the past, and I was thrilled to learn she had located the original recordings and had them re-mastered and converted to a file that is compatible with audio CD’s. Diana has also written books for homeschool families that have greatly influenced how my homeschool is structured.
 The newly published and updated books provide short lessons on the background of the folk songs from times past, and Diana has also included the sheet music and words for the songs. Not only can you listen to the music CD’s, you can also participate and sing along with her and the other musicians on the recording. I have found that my children retain information when we are able to bring in hands-on learning and music to our learning time. Our brains store and retrieve details much faster when we incorporate music than if we just memorize facts and information.
I can’t pick a favorite music CD from this series, so I will give you a little bit of information about each one. If you are studying early American history, I highly recommend this series to enrich your learning. If you are not studying American history this year, this is still a great supplement to your day. 
 “Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder”
One of our favorite time periods to study has been the pioneer days. Of course, when we study the pioneers, we study Laura Ingalls Wilder. If you are familiar with her writings, you know that music was a big part of her family life. Her Pa played the fiddle, and it had a big impact on her life and her books. When I have read her books, I always had to imagine the songs in my head. With Diana’s book and CD, I am able to read about the story behind the songs, listen to the songs, and also have the sheet music to follow along with the songs. My children get so much more from our reading time when I can also play a song that is a part of the Laura Ingalls Wilder heritage. 
This book is written by William Anderson. He has a long and rich history of writing about Laura Ingalls Wilder. You will learn many details from him throughout the book. The pictures in the book also help you imagine life when these songs were sang by Laura and her family.
Here is a brief excerpt from the book:
“The songs Pa played and the words sung by Laura and her family spoke of love and loss, praise to God, good times in the past and better times in the future.” (Musical Memories of Laura Ingalls Wilder, p. 7)
 “America: The Heart of a New Generation”
This CD and book contains sixteen musical selections from the very beginning of our country. It starts out with a stirring rendition of “Yankee Doodle” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” 
Music is such a rich part of our American history. Immersing your family in the study of America with these rich songs will give you life-long memories. These are songs you want your children to share with your grandchildren and their children.

“Westward Ho! The Heart of the Old West”
Imagine yourself and your family loading all of your personal belongings that you could fit in a covered wagon and heading West to the great unknown territory. You would spend months with families on the same journey. Babies would be born while you were on the trail. People would die on the trail. Couples would get married along the trail. The wagon train worked as a small community to work together to make it through very rugged terrain. One way to express your thoughts, feelings, and emotions on a trip like this would be through music. Many songs were sung as you traveled along and when you stopped for a respite. The songs reflect life along the trail.
Diana Waring brings these songs to you with stories and pictures. She helps you feel the emotions of these travelers through song. With her CD and music sheets, you can capture a bit of the excitement of the travelers who leave life as they know it behind for the great unknown in the West.
For the next two days, you can get all three of Diana’s “Experience History Through Music” books and CD’s for $50. The offer ends on July 31, 2014. The regular price is $18.99 per set. This is a savings of $6.97. You can see details on how to purchase this set at http://www.dianawaring.com/store/experience-history-through-music.

About Diana
Author of Beyond Survival, Reaping the Harvest and Diana Waring’s History Revealedworld history curriculum, Diana discovered years ago that “the key to education is relationship.” Beginning in the early ’80s, Diana homeschooled her children through high-school—the real life opportunities to learn how kids learn.  Mentored by educators whose focus was honoring Him who created all learners, and with an international background (born in Germany, university degree in French, lifelong student of world history), Diana cares about how people learn as well as what they learn.  Audiences on four continents have enthusiastically received her energetic speaking style. You can learn more about Diana and all of her resources at http://dianawaring.com.
We live in a fast-paced, instant society. It is nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle and enjoy listening to music that is a rich part of our country’s heritage. 
Be Blessed on Your Learning Adventure!

Pardon the dust while I do some maintenance around here

It’s been a while since I posted on my blog. I will be blogging regularly again in the very near future. You will notice the design of the blog will be changing in the coming weeks, too. All of this is to make your reading experience here much better.

This is a view from the top of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. I love my state! 

There have been lots of happenings in my life in the past year. I finished our 14th year of homeschooling with my four sons. I ran many races in the past year. Everything from a 5K to a half-marathon to a triathlon and obstacle races. It has been a fun and active year. The most fun I had in a race was jumping fire. I will post a few pics for you to see my journey.

Ready for the Elf Run
Midnight New Year’ Eve Run
 Snow Day Run
 Stretching with my 7-yr-old


Hope you enjoy the pics. It has been an awesome year! On to new goals and new dreams.

Saturday fun with the family

Enjoyed a great day with my family picnicing, fishing, walking, and eating. Gotta love the smells when you cook breakfast over an open fire.

My greatest joys in life are my husband, children, and my mom. Had a wonderful time away from the house, the computer, and cell phones.


Friday Encouragement for Families

It’s the start of the week-end, and it is July. What do you have planned as a family? How about a picnic or hiking a trail? Too hot to do much? Why not have water balloon and water gun wars in your yard?

There are lots of low-cost ways to spend time as a family. Pick something and do it!

Just look at the pure joy on the face of my youngest as he blasts me with his water gun!

Have a great week-end!