Homeschool Survival Essentials

September 9th, 2019

homeschool-survival-essentials

What are your homeschool survival essentials? My friend Ingrid from Mommy & Mia Homeschool Chronicles asked some homeschooling YouTubers what they must have in order to homeschool. She made up a list of 10 questions for us to answer for a more full picture of what is needed in every homeschooler’s home. So here we go…

Homeschool Survival Essentials

1. What are your top 3 favorite mom things?

  • Time alone.
  • Mom’s night out.
  • Mom’s night in.

2. What are the 3 homeschool must haves no matter what?

  • Black & white card stock paper
  • Binders with a clear pocket in the front
  • Prismacolor pencils

3. Share 3 new things that will be added to your homeschool this year.

  • Physics
  • Geography
  • Civil Air Patrol

4. Share a minimum of 3 things you will be changing in your homeschool.

  • Adding to Teaching Textbooks for my daughter for Albebra 2, including Khan Academy and Math-U-See DVD’s.
  • While filming homeschooling this year (we’ve filmed our homeschooling for the past 10 years, which you can find in the Unit Study Treasure Vault!), my son will be filming just the physics experiments without a person in the screen.
  • As long as they finish what they need to do for the school week, they can arrange their school days however they want. No rigid schedule this year.

5. Share 3 things in your survival homeschool kit. (These are destressors that will help you survive the day/week.)

  • Spending time with my mom, my sisters, my friends
  • A hot bath at the end of the day
  • Time alone to decompress

homeschool-survival-must-haves

6. 3 must-read homeschool books (for homeschool help)

  • The Well-trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
  • A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola (If you want to know more about Charlotte Mason, I have a 6-part blog series that starts here.)
  • Educating the WholeHearted Child by Sally Clarkson

7. 3 favorite subjects to teach in order please

  • Bible
  • literature/writing
  • history

8. When is the best time for you to do your planning

  • Long-range plans for the school year are done in the summer.
  • On the weekends, if I need materials for an experiment the next week.
  • For math, they do one lesson per day. That doesn’t need a lesson plan.

9. Share your favorite planner and supplies.

  • I don’t like planners, so I don’t use them. I use paper and pencil when needed.

10. Share a minimum of 3 field trips you are planning to do this new homeschool year.

So those are my homeschool essentials. What are yours?

Delight-Directed High School Curriculum

September 2nd, 2019

delight-directed-high-school-curriculum

What?! Is it possible to have delight-directed high school curriculum? Why, yes it is! Following the interests of your teen, you can build any high school course on your own or by collecting curriculum and resources that are perfect for the personality and strengths of your high school teen. Let’s take a look at what we will be doing this year for my 14-year-old daughter.

This post may contain affiliate links.

Homeschool High School Math Curriculum

First of all, she will be taking Algebra 2. We will be using Teaching Textbooks, but we will also use Khan Academy and Math-U-See Algebra 2 (especially the DVD’s) to help her think mathematically, since this is her least favorite subject. I also picked up the Algebra Survival Guide: A Conversational Handbook for the Thoroughly Befuddled. We will be going through the book together during the first few weeks of school to refresh her memory on Algebra, since she did Geometry last year and has not been doing Algebra for a full year.

high-school-math-curriculum

Homeschool High School Geography

Since Rachel has already done three years of high school English (literature and writing), she will not be doing English this year. Instead we will be focusing on the location of each country in the world, along with its culture and topography.

She started by decorating a binder with travel-the-world stickers to get her excited. We have a puzzle of the world with each country a separate puzzle piece. We will also be going on field trips: our first trip is to Canada! She has a travel journal to snap pictures of Canada and write descriptions on the sides of the pages. I picked up a brand new atlas, since countries are changing all the time. Of course, her passport is current–we will be using it the first week of school!

high-school-geography

Homeschool High School Psychology & Early Childhood

My daughter is taking Psychology and Early Childhood courses from 7 Sisters Homeschool. I love, love, love their no-nonsense curriculum. They have a LOT of electives to choose from that are perfect for delight-directed homeschooling of high school.

Introduction to Psychology is a one-semester course with printable tests and activities for each of the chapters. I found two visual guides about psychology at the local bookstore: How Psychology Works and The Little Book of Psychology. I might make a YouTube video showing you the inside of these books at some point, since they are beautifully laid out.

Early Childhood Education is another one-semester course with printable tests and activities that my daughter will be taking the second half of the school year, when we finish Psychology. Over the summer my daughter took the Safe Sitter class at the YMCA to start babysitting. What she learned in the class is a perfect introduction to Early Childhood.

psychology-homeschool-curriculum

I plan to also do Astronomy with my daughter this year, but the curriculum hasn’t arrived yet, so I will write a separate blog post for that.

Last but not least… what my 16-year-old son will be doing:

My 16-year-old son will be taking Pre-calculus, Physics, Quantum Mechanics, Piano, and Civil Air Patrol. He already took the SAT last year and did well, so this is his senior year. He will continue running the sound system at Youth Group at church, as well as teaching himself computer programming.

delight-directed-homeschooling

And that’s how you do delight-directed homechooling. Why are my kids so far ahead, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked! It’s because of what I did with them in early childhood (which I explain in my workshop Cognitive Development in Early Childhood). Secondly, they are far ahead because we accelerated their learning through unit studies. Thirdly, we skipped middle school. Stick around. Join my newsletter below, even if you don’t want the Bible craft book, just to keep up with our family adventures!

back-to-homeschool

Camping: Great for Family Bonding

August 2nd, 2019

camping-great-for-family-bonding

If I had known how wonderful camping would be for family bonding, I would have gone camping with my family a lot sooner. Yes, I find it nearly impossible to sleep outdoors because of all the noises and light, a feeling of not being protected, and the constriction of a sleeping bag which is way too hot and tight for comfortable sleeping. During the day in the summer months, the outdoor temperature induces sweating and wilting, not the ideal conditions for a pleasant experience.

inside-the-tent

Notwithstanding the aforementioned drawbacks of camping, I still have to say that the beauty of nature, the delicious food cooked over a campfire, and the deep conversations without any electrical devices can be refreshing and invigorating. And it helps if there is a lake or river nearby to dip your feet into to cool off.

marshy-area-camping

Years ago we were given a family tent that was big enough to sleep our whole family, back when our kids were young. We used this family tent for church camps because we couldn’t afford a cabin. During those church camps when my children were toddlers and preschoolers, the sheer amount of work to take care of the children was enough to bring me to the brink of tears out of sheer exhaustion.

braid

Now that the kids are older and starting college, we took a weekend to re-connect as a family. I found a new 2-person tent at a yard sale for $5, so we even had separate quarters for us, the parents. My sons immediately started whittling sticks with their pocket knives. It had been years since they had learned to use their pocket knives at Cub Scouts, which my husband and I used to lead.

whittling-while-camping

We set up the tents and threw our backpacks into the tents and settled into our canvas chairs around a campfire. We had brought food to cook over a campfire for each meal, and of course, we brought S’mores. As we sat around the campfire in the evenings, we would talk and talk. It was wonderful! My kids are interesting and their thoughts run deep. They have opinions about everything, and they are hilarious. We laughed a lot while sitting and telling stories the second night around the campfire. My kids all have active imaginations, and their conversations reminded me of when I was young and all of life stretched out before me.

roasting-marshmallows-campfire

During the day we went exploring the area, finding beautiful other-worldly places. The marshy ground revealed long-necked birds and more exotic insects than are found in the city. A small lake reflected the blue sky and was surrounded by low mountains. It was a beautiful sunny day, both days that we were camping.

hiking-while-camping

It was nice to smell bacon and eggs in the morning, especially when cooked by someone other than me. My son Stephen made pancakes the second morning, and we were always ravenously hungry. Maybe the fact that we were outdoors caused us to expend more energy through exercise, causing us to need more food. And the food always tasted wonderful.

breakfast-at-camp

The conversations we had as a family enabled us to bond in a beautiful way before we sent two kids off to college. One of our sons left to Oregon for Bible college, while our second son is commuting from home, but both have definitely matured into godly men. Sitting and sharing our hearts over a campfire is definitely an experience I would not have traded for the world!

Horseback Riding in Spokane

July 17th, 2019

true-west-trail-rides

My son has been wanting to go horseback riding ever since he took lessons when was three years old. Back then we were doing a themed unit study on horses, and ever since, he saw himself as a cowboy. He would wear cowboy boots around the house, and several birthday parties were themed around horses or Wild West shows. He even wrote a creative writing assignment set in the Wild West, culminating in a show-down with a villain set in a western town.

So when we had an opportunity to go horseback riding in Spokane for his 16th birthday, I finally booked it. When I told him, his face lit up. We had several months to look forward to it, and last Saturday we finally went. We had found True West Trail Rides on a web search, and the fact that the trail that we chose was by the Spokane River made it all the more lovely!

We filmed the experience for you to enjoy:

We met at an equestrian area at Riverside State Park. As soon as we arrived, we signed some papers, and the kids put on riding helmets. My husband and I opted to not wear riding helmets and signed papers accordingly. It was a beautiful sunny day. A nice breeze was blowing in the shade under the trees.

susan-on-horseback

It’s been a while since I’ve gone horseback riding. Back when I was a teacher at an American school in London, I was a chaperone on a pony trekking field trip in Wales. I remember riding a tall pony for three hours and nearly falling off when the horse jumped over a small river with no warning.

This time my horse was well-behaved, and I was even able to film with one hand. I was holding onto the reins and the pommel (the handle at the front of the saddle) with my left hand. Every once in a while during the hour-long ride, I would film for a few seconds and then put the video camera into my fanny pack around my waist.

horseback-riding-in-spokane

My kids enjoyed themselves and even had the horses trot every once in a while. We hiked on a trail through the forest, so we saw a lot of pine trees and other forest plants. We had to duck our heads several times to avoid running into branches. I could have avoided all branches by guiding my horse around them, but dork that I am, I was recording with one hand, so they snuck up on me.

Ducking branches reminded me about the biblical story of Absalom, King David’s son, being caught in a branch from riding a horse, and dying shortly thereafter. In all fairness, Absalom would not have died if someone had helped him down from the tree branch instead of a group of soldiers stabbing him because he was in the middle of a war. Thankfully I was not in a war. Like I said, it was a pleasant sunny day.

horseback-riding-spokane

We had the rare opportunity to see a buck with antlers! My husband took this picture on his phone, but you can see this same buck in our video footage above. It was hiding in the upper left hand area of the video. Perhaps it’s worth watching the video again to see this delightful sight. When I was recording it, I couldn’t see the buck through the forest. My husband was pointing, and I filmed in the direction of his pointing. I’m surprised I caught it on film!

deer-with-antlers

You can see in the video that we had an amazing view of the Spokane River. I filmed some of it and never took a picture because I decided to just enjoy it. I suppose I should have filmed more, since further down the river, it was an aqua color. It was beautiful! It would have been nice if I had caught this on film, but I’m also glad I was able to enjoy the moment.

horseback-ride-spokane

When we arrived back at the starting point, we got our picture taken as a family. Here we are, sitting on our horses after our one-hour trail ride:

six-people-on-horseback

We thoroughly enjoyed not only riding the horses, but the tour guide’s conversation, as well as the beautiful scenery surrounding the trail. Wherever you live, there are probably places you can go to ride horses. It’s a unique experience to have as family-bonding time. We loved it!

Related article: Cowboy Birthday Party

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