Archives for July 2013

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball @jasminejlucero

In the past 12 years of homeschooling, I have…

–homeschooled a second grader and kindergartener with a four month old baby while my husband was in Kuwait for 6 months

–homeschooled while moving at least 9 times including 2 moves overseas and back

–homeschooled 6 kids ages 17 – newborn (who was being treated weekly for club feet) while my husband went back to Spain for 8 months

–homeschooled 6 kids alone in Texas while caring for my terminally ill mother

–homeschooled through many of life’s curveballs including births, deaths, illnesses, miscarriage, financial hardships, and times of being alone

And what I have learned through all of this…

Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

I have met many homeschoolers over the years that are what I like to call “fair-weather homeschoolers”. You know, the ones that will homeschool if they are financial able, and if their husband helps, and if everything is just perfect.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble and sound pessimistic–but if you hold out waiting for life to be just right in order for you to choose homeschooling (or continue to homeschool), you’re going to be waiting a long time!

The Lord didn’t command us to teach our children in the garden. He commanded it of us in this sin-tainted, death and disease stricken, life-is-hard world. I know that sounds a little harsh, but the reality is that we are to train up our children and teach them diligently even when life is hard…especially when life is hard!

And just how does that happen?

How to Homeschool When Life Throws You a Curveball

1. Keep #1 number 1.

Everything we do in this life should bring glory and honor to our Lord and Savior. He should be our focus during the good times and the bad. There were (and still are) many times that doing any school work was just too much. It was during these times that I would at least try to read from the Bible with the kids, or sing hymns or recite verses or listen to BBN. If I wasn’t able, my oldest daughter would read the Bible to the kids.

You may be so weak or overwhelmed that even this small task seems too much. I would encourage you to find some way to bring Jesus into the picture. If someone asks how they can help, have them read to you and the kids. Turn on an audio version of the Bible (there are some phone apps that do this) and listen from your phone. Call out to the Lord and ask Him make Himself known during this time.

2. Know that the kids are learning.

Sometimes it is easy to focus on academics and forget that true learning happens everyday all around us. And what better thing to learn than the character traits acquired during hardships. How many times my children have had to put other’s needs before their own? How much compassion did they learn as they brought water and food to a dying grandmother? How they have matured as they have given and served those they love!

If they had been in school all day, they would have missed out on the blessings that can only be received when we have empties ourselves of all our wants and desires and became the hands and feet of Jesus.

My oldest daughter is studying to become a midwife. I truly believe that allowing her to experience hardships first hand during her schooling years has allowed to to develop the skills she will need to do the job God has called her to do.

3. Know that this too shall pass.

Right now is not forever. Life changes in an instant, and though we don’t know the road ahead, we do know the one who created the road. He will carry us through this difficult time, and each one that comes our way.

Psalm 30:5
…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Life is like the ebb and flow of the ocean. There will be times of hardship followed by times of joy. I lost my mom last year to cancer, but was able to welcome her namesake into the world this week. Tears of joy flowed as I held my precious niece and thanked God for His mercy and goodness!

joy-in-the-morning @jasminejlucero

Final Thought

I guess I really haven’t given you an outline on “how to homeschool” when life throws you a curveball. Because, well, sometimes life is just too hard to homeschool. And that is OK. Just pull your children close and know there will be time for academics. Just not now. There will be time for reading and writing and arithmetic. Just not now. There will be time for the school learning, but now is the time to be still.

I like to think of it as a race. If you were running a marathon and you fell down and hurt yourself, would you give up and quit the race? Or would you hobble through the next mile, get your groove back, and finish the race you were called to run?

We are all going to hobble around a bit now and then, it is finishing the race that really counts!

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This post and many more are part of the Teach Them Diligently Summer of Encouragement Link Up series! You can read More about How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling HERE

Homemade “Storebought” Granola

A few years back I learned to make homemade granola. Boy, I thought I had hit the jackpot. I love granola, but it is rather expensive to buy storebought. I was thrilled to find out I could make it myself at a fraction of the cost. My enthusiasm waned before long because my granola didn’t taste like the storebought kind. Instead of bold exciting flavors, my granola tasted like dried oatmeal and honey. I set out to make a really yummy granola that I would want to eat everyday (ok, maybe not everyday, but at least several times a week).

I started out by reading the ingredients of the storebought granola and tweaking my recipe to include some of the ones I liked. I change it up a bit every now and then, depending on my mood and what I have in the cupboards. Here is the recipe of the moment, but I will include some delish alternatives at the end of the post. Enjoy!

The mix of honey and maple syrup gives the granola a rich flavor without overpowering the other flavors in the granola. I found that by adding in the 1/2 cup of ground flax seed, the granola stuck together a bit better and was clumpier. I like my granola to have chunks in it rather than it being loose oatmeal mixed with nuts and berries.

Like I said before, this is the recipe that tickles my fancy, but you can really change it up and come up with lots of different recipes. Here are a few suggestions to get you going…

granola ingredients @ponderthepath

Flavorings: vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon

Nuts: pecans, almonds, walnuts, pinenuts, peanuts, cashews

Dried fruit: Berries, Raisins, Coconut, Banana Chips

Yummies: Peanut Butter (add in with butter and oil), chocolate chips (add after granola has been cooked and is cooled), orange zest, cocoa powder

How ’bout you? What do like in your homemade “storebought” granola?

 

Beach Towel with Pocket

Pocketed Beach Towel @ponderthepath

Summer has arrived in full force here in South Texas and going to the pool is #1 on the kids’ summer bucket list. In order to keep all their swimming necessities in one place, I created a beach towel with a pocket. Each child can store their goggles, sunshades, snacks, or money in the handy pocket sewn to the back side of the towel.

Check out my Beach Towel Pocket tutorial at The Happy Housewife to learn how to make your own!

Homeschool Encouragement Basket Giveaway

35 homeschool bloggers have joined forces in a
HUGE homeschool basket giveaway! Each blogger below is conducting her own giveaway, so make sure to visit each one for a chance to win!!!

Win This from Ponder the Path

Homeschool Encouragement Gift Basket

Included in my Basket of Encouragement:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ihn-currclick-promo

CurrClick is a sponsor of my gift basket. Be sure to visit CurrClick to learn more about their upcoming Open House, where you can receive discounts and win free classes!

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iHN-Back-to-School

(1) Back to School Toolkit from Milk and Cookies
(2)†Back to School Toolkit from These Temporary Tents
(3)†Back to School Toolkit from Spell Outloud
(4)†Back to School Toolkit from Great Peace Academy
(5)†Back to School Toolkit from Gricefully Homeschooling

……

(6) Back to School Toolkit from Raising Lifelong Learners
(7) Back to School Toolkit from WriteShop
(8) Back to School Toolkit from Preschoolers and Peace
(9) Back to School Toolkit from Starts at Eight
(10) Back to School Toolkit from Joyful Mothering

……

(11) Back to School Toolkit from Harrington Harmonies
(12) Back to School Toolkit from Ponder the Path
(13) Back to School Toolkit from Forever, For Always, No Matter What
(14) Back to School Toolkit from Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus
(15) Back to School Toolkit from Habits for a Happy Home

……

(16) Back to School Toolkit from Curriculum Choice
(17) Back to School Toolkit from See Jamie Blog
(18) Back to School Toolkit from Beautiful Motherhood
(19) Back to School Toolkit from Sam’s Noggin
(20) Back to School Toolkit from This Reading Mama

……

(21) Back to School Toolkit from Teaching Mama
(22) Back to School Toolkit from Adorable Chaos
(23) Back to School Toolkit from The Pelsers
(24) Back to School Toolkit from Hodge Podge
(25) Back to School Toolkit from Sallie Borrink

……

(26) Back to School Toolkit from The Kennedy Adventures
(27) Back to School Toolkit from Flourish
(28) Back to School Toolkit from Our Journey Westward
(29) Back to School Toolkit from Meet Penny
(30) Back to School Toolkit from On Faith and Coffee

……

(31) Back to School Toolkit from Our Abundant Blessings
(32) Back to School Toolkit from Holistic Homeschooler
(33) Back to School Toolkit from The Encouraging Home
(34) Back to School Toolkit from Motherhood on a Dime
(35) Back to School Toolkit from The Homeschool Scientist

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Preschool Fun: Stellaluna

Stellaluna @ponderthepath

{image credit: My daughter, Maddie, has been learning photography and helping take pictures for the blog. I think she did a great job with this one!}

Sometimes in the busyness of homeschooling older children, the younger ones miss out on fun projects and learning of their own. In our family, I have to be intentional about making sure I spend time doing hands on learning with the preschoolers. It doesn’t have to fancy or take up a lot of time. Something simple is usually best.

One of the best ways to incorporate learning and fun is to choose a simple children’s book. After reading the book with the children, choose an activity that relates to the story.

We recently checked out a long-time favorite…Stellaluna. Stellaluna is a young bat that is separated from her mother and ends up in a next of birds. She just doesn’t fit in and feels down about her failures, until she discovers she is really a bat. A wonderful book that teaches us to be the person God created us to be!

Stellaluna pages @ponderthepath

For our related craft, I did a quick search on YouTube and found some how-to videos teaching basic origami.

“Ori” is the Japanese word for folding and “Kami” is the word for paper.

We made origami bats and an origami wing flapping bird. Even the older kids joined in on the fun. The two year old was a bit young to make his own, but he did get some practice using the scissors to cut paper. I love it when everyone is learning, even if it wasn’t planned or structured.

Origami bat @ponderthepath

Origami bird @ponderthepath

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If you would like more great storybook and craft ideas, check out the other bloggers from iHomeschool Network!

We also read The Big Hungry Bear and made strawberry shortcakes and would love to share that with you as well.

A-Book-and-a-Big-Idea

Preschool Fun: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

The Big Hungry Bear @ponderthepath

The Big Hungry Bear has been a loooong time favorite at our house. Little Mouse picks a red ripe strawberry. The narrator talks Little Mouse into sharing the strawberry in order to keep it safe from Big Hungry Bear.

The Big Hungry Bear @ponderthepath

My favorite aspect of the book is the beautifully drawn illustrations. When Little Mouse pulls the strawberry from the vine, you can feel the vine shaking. And when he cuts the strawberry in half, the sweet juiciness entices even the reader to want to share the strawberry.

Strawberry Shortcake @ponderthepath

A classic story such as The Big Hungry Bear deserves a classic recipe to highlight the strawberry goodness. I pulled out my 40 year old Betty Crocker cookbook and found a sweet recipe for Strawberry Shortcakes.

Shortcake Recipe @ponderthepath

It is simple enough even the boys could help me out.

Making Shortcake Dough @ponderthepath

After making the dough, roll it out and cut out personal size shortcakes using a cup.

Shortcake Dough @ponderthepath

Whipping up the cream is the best part, especially for little mechanically minded boys!

Making Whipped Cream @ponderthepath

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If you would like more great storybook and craft ideas, check out the other bloggers from the iHomeschool Network!

We also read Stellaluna and made origami bats and birds…would love to share that with you as well.

A-Book-and-a-Big-Idea

Curriculum Choices 2013-2014

curriculum choices @ponderthepath

This year is going to be a bit different for me. The last couple of years I have had to focus on high school kiddos, getting them graduated and where they need to be. But this year my 16 year old will be taking dual credit classes at the community college, which will free me up to do some fun things with the younger kids.

Our younger children will be in grades 6th, 3rd, and Pre K (along with a 2 1/2 year old…oh boy!), so it should be a good year for some hands on learning! I am actually very excited to get started with school this year, as the last couple of years we have been in survival mode. I am praying that this year will be a year of refreshment.

Homeschooling Methods

Generally, we are relaxed homeschoolers who somewhat follow a Charlotte Mason homeschooling method. In theory, I would like to incorporate the Charlotte Mason method more thoroughly. In practice, I just haven’t been able to do all that I would like to and our method has really been more about doing what we can when we can.

Some of my favorite resources for Charlotte Mason learning are:

Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

Ambleside Online

Simply Charlotte Mason

Bible

For years I searched for a Bible curriculum and never found one that worked for us. At the time, I started just teaching each day from the Bible. This has worked out so well for us, doesn’t require any planning, and allows me to let the Lord guide our learning each day.

What we do is start our Bible time with the singing of hymns (I usually let the kids pick them out, or I will choose something if there is a hymn on my heart.) My oldest daughter plays the piano while we sing. Then we have a time of prayer. After that, we recite our memory verses, then read from our Bibles.

Depending on how everyone is doing (remember, we have little ones in the bunch), we will read 1-2 chapters. I have the kids take turns reading, even the ones that are just learning to read. We use the KJV and I have found that having them read each day helps tremendously with their reading skills. As we read, we will pause and discuss what we are reading.

To keep track of our reading (where we are and what we have read), I use a Bible checklist that I found online. I love visuals to help me know where I am at and help keep me on track.

History/Language Arts

Early American INTSG

History has always been the core of our learning each year. I try to tie in our language arts and history so that we are getting more bang for our buck. (I don’t like doing more than I have to!)

For history this year, we will be learning about early American history. Beautiful Feet Books is one of my favorite sources for living history books. In fact, I started out using them 12 years ago and here I am reading the great again with my second round of kids! It is always neet to pull out old books and remember when the older kids were little. And then to experience the stories all over from the perspective of different children. What a blessing it is to teach our children at home!

What I usually do is start with a core read aloud and generally build around it. I will choose readers for the kids that complement the read aloud and are age appropriate. I have tried and tried to use different curriculums, but I always modify them so much they never really resemble the original curriculum.

This year I have a membership with Notebooking Pages, so I am excited to see how it fits in with our studies. I like the fact that I can custom create pages that work with whatever I decide to do *and* I have lifetime access to the pages, so I don’t feel like I have to cram them all in at once! I plan on using the Notebooking Pages to reinforce what we are reading, as well as teach handwriting and dictation skills.

I am still a little unsure about grammar/writing/spelling this year. Still pondering this one.

Science

earth and space

After living in Kansas for 1 1/2 years, I have a little boy who is fascinated by weather, especially tornados! We have checked out books at the library and read every book we have at home, but his fascination continues.

With that in mind, I am really thrilled to try something new for science this year. We will be using Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space, which covers such things as geology, atmosphere, and WEATHER! Science is one of the areas that sometimes gets pushed to the back burner when life gets busy. I wanted something that was super easy to implement and didn’t take much prep work from me.

I also got the student activity book to go along with the text. I plan on just printing out copies of the worksheets for all the kids to work on. I love this because I can make copies for the little guys too (makes them feel big) and not feel bad if all they do is scribble on them.

Math

Math is a pretty easy one this year. We will be using Math-U-See once again. It is a solid program, although I haven’t taken full advantage of the videos that accompany the curriculum. I usually just explain how to do things then let them take off.

I haven’t quite decided what to do for the 4 year old. Normally, I don’t start any formal schooling until around 1st grade. But he is a sharp cookie and really wants to “do some school”. So I may buy the Alpha book for him and just let him play with it and move at his own pace. If he is ready for it, fine. If not, we’ll put it up til next year. {edited: I just went to the Math-U-See website and lo-and-behold they have a “primer” math for the little guys!}

Math-U-See

Another thing I love about Math-U-See are the manipulative blocks. Like I said, I don’t always teach according to the videos. And some concepts I teach using a different approach all together. But I am always able to use the math blocks to help them visualize the concept they are learning. This is so important for the younger years when math concepts are so foreign to them. Whether you use blocks, or silverware, or buttons–having something tangible makes a huge difference! The blocks are also great for keeping toddlers busy building while the older ones do their lessons!

Music

composers

All of my older children play instruments and sing, so I always feel that we have music covered. We sing hymns in church or the girls learn new ones to play for different audiences. They learn blue grass tunes and old folk type songs, so I really think Charlotte would be proud.

One area that I do want to focus on this year, though, is learning about the classical composers. My oldest daughter learned more classical pieces on the piano, and the younger girls haven’t really done that. We will be using Bright Idea Press’ Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers. It consists of 32 weeks worth of lessons covering 26 composers. They will listen to the music (I think I have most of the composers in my VOX collection), learn about the lives of the composers, and about the different periods of music. Worksheets are included to help facilitate learning.

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This post and many more are part of the Teach Them Diligently Summer of Encouragement Link Up series! You can read More about How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling HERE

This post is also part of iHomeschool Network’s Not Back-to-School Blog Hop.

nbtsbloghopcalendar2013

Disclosure Policy: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”