Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving!

What are you Thankful for?


This year as I reflect on all the things I'm thankful for
I've run out of words
God has Blessed me in bigger ways
Larger
Infinite
Ways than I could've dreamt up myself
 
The family I have today is one I'd daydreamed of
Longed for but was afraid to believe it could come true
And still I pinch myself
unbelieving that I'm worthy of such a great gift
 
Am I afraid that it won't last?
No
Not One Bit
 
Because every second, moment, place in time
that I can enjoy this
will be forever woven into my heart
 
God's Love
His Abundant presence
in my meager existence here on Earth
is still the greatest
gift of all

~ L.M. Preston

Friday, November 21, 2014

Homeschooling Nights and Weekends as a Working Parent


Yes, this is the FREEDOM of homeschooling as a WORKING PARENT.

You have permission to break all rules and do Homeschool during the NIGHTs and WEEKENDS

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE TO GIVE UP

Tons of sports and extra-curricular activities.

A formal curriculum that is to rigid for you to augment around your varied schedule.

Your perseption that school can only be done during the day and the weekday.

CRAZY TURNS OUR SCHEDULE HAS TAKEN

We virtually homeschool year around.

The core of our curriculum is taught from Mid-July to the 1st week of April.

Why? So my kids can take advantage of all the Spring Break weekly camps offered in our area and get the opportunity to play with their traditional schooled friends.

We don't finish homeschooling work til 10:30pm! Yep, you heard me - 10:30pm.

We homeschool every other Sunday or Saturday (I alternate which allows both my husband and I who work outside the home to make up work hours without sacrificing school work).

We do a 'Block' school schedule similar to a college schedule where the kids learn or focus on certain subjects every 8-9 weeks, then a new subject is introduced. Math, Science and English is consistent though.

MUST HAVEs for NIGHT and WEEKEND SCHOOL

Let your kids sleep in late. And stay up late.

A schedule and/or Lesson Planned out. We do sports every season, I make sure the sport only takes up 3-4 days out of our week. Those days we have a condensed schedule of rotating subjects.

An open mind.

Car schooling ability. Make your curriculum and homeschool work - mobile - so you can take it on the go! Therefore if you have a kid in a sport, your other kid can be working with you.

A curriculum that pretty much teaches most of the information independently. That allows your kid to do some on their own.

Workbox system has helped us immensly!

WEEKLY WRAP UP

Great weekend recap!

Tiger Lilly's cheer team won 1st place and Grand Champion - ending her Fall cheer season. What a way to end the year!

Speed racer had a blast at his cousins ALL BOY birthday party at Skate Zone then back at his house for a nerf gun battle. Twenty boys - one large basement - my little guy had a ball.

Work this week.

Speed Racer is doing so well with getting his independent online work done in the afternoons before I start working with hime. He finishes: Xtramath, Mango Languages, IXL, Music Learning online, Tynker, Minecraft Homeschool (his new favorite class) all before 2pm. Then I checked his work to find he is doing well on each independent topic.

Monday was a bad day for him considering he only got 7 hours of sleep. But he turned his day around (after a quick review of his Calm Down List).

He likes to work on his Saxon math independenly, and he and I only do the Mental Math portion together. He reads the lesson, does his drill, then his 25 questions. After we did some corrections to wrong answers, we move on. Then him and I tackle his Speed Reading, Spelling You See. He does the online/computer daily test for Sequential Spelling. My husband (Poppa Bear or Hubba) worked with him in the evening doing Abeka DVDs that instruct him in Math, Bible, Reading, Penmanship, Language, Science and History (We only review the Abeka Spelling words daily but it's no longer our core Spelling program).

Tiger Lilly has been studying for her CLEP and Accuplacer test. [GAME CHANGER ALERT] As with everything in homeschooling - I have to be flexible. So we made a change to our study plan - again (only the 2nd time this school year!) We had planned on doing all these back to back CLEP test and both her and I think it's making things way too hectic. She told me she doesn't want to go about it this way any longer. Instead, she just wants to take the classes for some of the subjects. We are adding 2 college courses for her Winter Semester and 2 for her Spring Semesters in subjects she enjoys. She can take them at the local Community College online. Therefore, she only plans on taking 1 CLEP this school year.

Since Cheerleading is over, she has time to catch up on some of the subjects she only worked on 2 times a week. We added them to her daily schedule now. (Econ, Physics, American Gov't). Her independent courses were on hold this week til Wednesday while she studied (Java Programming, Python (through Landry), Logic (through Currclick), 3D Animation (through Youth Digital), French (through Middlebury Interactive) and Teaching Textbook Algebra.

She worked through her other Abeka subjects via her DVD school and talked to her tutor on Algebra 2, Chemistry, and US History.

I was so proud of how much more independant the kiddos are getting. However, they still need A LOT of accountiblity.

Days we schooled? All week long in the evening til 11pm on Wed and 10:30pm the other nights, and there will be a Sunday school day of 2 hours for make up work or working with a tutor on subjects where help is needed.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Didn't plan this week. So Tuesday I stopped at the store and picked up already seasoned meat (Chicken, Fish, Beef). Viola! One less thing for me to do. Frozen veggies (don't judge) with more of that yummy Goya rice, fried potatoes, macoroni and cheese complements of Velveta.

Cleaning. My homehelper, daughter Rose, did the folding for me. She felt bad for me since I was planning on staying up late Sunday night to get them finished. The rest of the house is in need of a deep cleaning. Still haven't found a cleaning lady. But the deep cleaning is scheduled for...before we leave for vacation in December (that's my hope!).

Work & Life Balance. Yeah, and I volunteered to run a homeschool event that oh, only 3 kids showed up for. I believe that will be my last coordination for awhile. I find just inviting my kids friends from recreational sports activities tends to be more of a benefit of my time. However, I do this so my kids can build friendships. It's hit or miss.

This week didn't go as planned. I ended up working less hours than I wanted but thank goodness for paid vacation. My side business had some needs crop up and I worked on those while my kids were homeschooling in the evening with my husband.

Lesson Planning. I actually finished planning for next week early (so what if we are only doing school for 2 days). Thanksgiving break we have off from the 26th to 29th. Then back on the wagon. So I hope to get all of December (only 2 weeks of plans) done by the end of the weekend.

Rest. Failed at this on Monday. Even though the kids were finished I stayed up working on my part-time business stuff. I regret doing it, lol! Tuesday through Friday I still got up at 4 am, but made sure I took my power nap on Wed and Thu 30 minutes each day. Thank goodness I get to sleep in on Saturday!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Alternative Sports My Kids Love!

Lots of people ask me what do you do with your kids as far as 'socialization' and sports if they are homeschooled?





See that kid up there? That's my Speed Racer. The high energy -Generation X- newbie xgamer kid who loves being active, is brave and doesn't mind mom signing him up 'just to try something new out'.


My Speed Racer is competing in a Break Dance Competition. He's only been doing this for 1 year. But if he wasn't homeschooled, it's something I don't think we ever would've considered due to lack of time.

Now that he and Tiger Lilly are homeschooling, I am hard pressed to find a sport they love and can do well into their teens.

My young lady that was never much of a sports addict, now loves cheering, martial arts, and lacrosse. Coming up on her high school years, we are exploring some of the other sports below and even an All Star Cheer team that isn't associated with a school.


THE LINE UP OF SPORTS I HAVE PLANNED FOR MY ADVENTURERS TO EXPLORE

These are non-traditional sports that aren't limited to a local school system. But they can be fun, earn scholarships and give your kid some awesome things to do with friends.


Archery
Bowling
BMX Racing
Snowboarding
Tennis
Fencing
Martial Arts
Swimming
Boating
Racing
Dogdeball
Jump Roping

WEEKLY WRAP UP

The routine keeps changing! Gosh, maybe because mom keeps tweaking things. This week went rather smooth.

Tiger Lilly has taken it upon herself to spend extra time drawing.

My lady little artist drew this on our computer with just her keyboard. So I ordered her a computer drawing pad to make her creation of art easier.

Her other subjects are well under way and she did 3 - one day courses on Currclick that she really enjoyed. American Indians, Colonial Times and Redcoats. It made for a busy week but she said she loved it. However, with Algebra 2 it's been a tug of war. She does good in Abeka quizzes but is failing the Teaching Textbook quizzes. Therefore, the tutor with Abeka is working with her this coming week as well as her sister Rose to keep her on track.

Speed Racer is doing well with his new math Saxon Math and Word Up! Also, I've been doing some 'speed reading' drills with him this week. He likes it and we decided to keep it up. This week for him had some really high points with him enjoying his tennis lessons, pushing several days work to 'homework' on the weekends, and him acing his math test with both Saxon and Abeka.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Let's see, I did manage to get a home cooked meal on the table three times this week. Tuesday was a take off day since I was off work and slept way too late to do anything. I couldn't have pulled this off without my George Foreman grill, pre-made marinade and Goya rice.

Cleaning. Eh? I've finally wrestled the clothes washing issue  -except for folding the pile of clothes on my basement couch (I'm tackling that this Saturday - I promise). The rest of the house is in serious need of dusting and moping. The cleaning lady I've been looking for hasn't showed up yet. Just can't find anyone in my price range or area yet.

Work & Life Balance. It's working out great since this week I had Tuesday off! The job I have now is very flexible and allows me to work all my hours anyway I want during the week as long as I get in the alloted hours by the end of the month. It's been working out well for my family. Although next summer this may change since I have to find another contract position then.

Lesson Planning. I was able to get it out on Sunday and am late working on next week's schedule. The kids had some subject changes since we are doing a block schedule.

Rest. I have been on schedule with it this week. However, on Tuesday I slept til noon (which is unheard of for me). I must've needed it. Then I went out to lunch with a work buddy. After that, it was to work with the kids and a late night since I was over-rested. Wednesday, I was dog tired and had to take a power nap to get back on track. By Thursday I was back on schedule and getting 6 hours sleep a night.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Balance Check Up - Working and Homeschooling


Sometimes I don't know how I do this.

HOMESCHOOL
 
WORK FULL TIME OUTSIDE THE HOME
 
RUN A SIDE BUSINESS
 
BE A WIFE, MOTHER, TAXI DRIVER...the list goes on.


My Motto?
 
'CAN'T means WON'T'


One thing my humble and challenging upbringing has taught me was ... there are ways to get it all done - if you are creative.

Finding the Right JOB

This is the area where most parents have a major challenge. Finding a job that allows the flexibility of home teaching. My husband and I have played with all types of combinations so that one of us could be available and home most times with out kids. He worked night jobs as a Security Guard, Help Desk Technician, Real Estate Broker, Call Center Manager and on. I've worked in the Information Technology field most of my life. I actually changed careers because I loved technology but also loved the flexibility my techie friends had.

With the challenge of finding this balance, I've even helped my older daughter groom her career to have a wide variety of opportunities that afford her the ability to have a flexible work schedule.

The cost of flexibility is usually hit in the (1) Income (2) Location (3) Job Advancement areas. But it's not a trade off you can't recoup later.

Having A Spouse That Helps

This is where I am blessed. My husband has played the role as 'work from home' dad. Where he cared for the kids in the early morning until he left to meet his clients when we had an at home business.

We share in the schooling. He takes early morning and late evening. I take the midday afternoon and do the coordination.

Curriculum that's Easy And Teaches for you

I have to find a curriculum that keeps us both coordinated and does most all of the teaching for us. This has really helped both of us find success without stress in homeschooling.

We'd love to do some really fun stuff, but the truth is, to keep the homeschool train running nicely, having a box curriculum where I can have my kid call a free tutor, have the curriculum all laid out, have everything I basically need to teach my kid makes life easier.

I do add on 'supplements' but I make sure they are also, little maintence, on the parental part.

Using Outside Childcare or Tutors

There were times where my husband and I had overlap on our workdays. When our older kids weren't able to be home with the younger two, we hired a 'Home Helper'.

Having the 'Home Helper' has been GREAT! She administers the kids schooling for that day, makes their lunch, tidy up the main level, and puts our crock pot dinner on so when I get home - dinner's done.

Work Outside the Home OR Inside the Home

We've done both. Working inside the home has been much more challenging for both my husband and I - especially when the kids were younger.

Working From Home - leaves very little space or lines in the sand for 'work-time/home-time'. We ended up still needed to flop our schedules and it seemed the kids never understood the 'working from home' idea.

Working Outside the Home - this works well for us. It's a clear division of home vs work. Also, it allows us to network with other people in our fields. We also, even get out for lunch breaks with each other, or our co-worker friends. In most cases - the pay has been better when we've worked outside the home.

Stay Organized!

This is a BIG deal. Whenever we don't do this, life is chaos.

Things that must be done to keep things rolling.

Make a Daily To Do List, checking off every item as you go.

Do this on Sunday's or set aside a 'Planning' day for the below:

- Workbox System in place (Sue Patrick's Workbox System)
- Meal Planning and Prepping for the week
- Lesson Plans - Weekly Schedules posted and given to the kids and all the 'teachers'
- Schedule in 'sleep' time
- Use electronic calenders like google or gmail calender to remind all parties of schedule

DO YOU WORK AND HOMESCHOOL? WANT TO? HOW DO YOU?

WEEKLY WRAPUP
 
Tiger Lilly schedule has changed. Her Writing courses ended last week. WriteGuide and Time4Writing were great courses. In place of them she is starting Sociology and Psychology which are on her CLEP test list for next Spring.  Finally, she's finishing up her Youth Digital, MOD Design course and hope to start on her 3D animation course with them over the weekend. 
 
We are really trying to get her ready for the Analyzing Literature CLEP and she is struggling with it (but we just started). I realized she needs more time so I moved the test date another week out.
 
Speed Racer is loving his new class, Minecraft Homeschool 'Vikings'.  He's all set up, finished his initial quiz and orientation and loves it! We also started WORD UP! with Compass Classroom to get him up to par on root word association since we aren't doing Latin. His other courses are going rather well. Overall, he's calming down and becoming a more focused student! Whew! His big sister Rose who administers school for me a few days of the week said he's on track.
 
He's getting ready for a big Breakdancing battle this weekend. Also, he loves Tennis (we just started it last week - he complained initially) and is getting close to being rewarded a strip in martial arts.
 
WORKING PARENT
 
Nothing this week went as planned. It was a complete chaotic week since I didn't do any meal planning on Sunday and barely got lesson plans done.

Work balance has been off since I started a new project at work, but I did get to go out with work friends for 1 hour in which I sacrificed homeschool work that evening to do.

However, because of the dissaray of our schedules, I started working on next week's schedule so this won't happen again :-D