Friday, September 26, 2014

Tiny Town - Our Homeschool Space & Get Fun In

 You don't need a huge schoolroom for Learning

After perusing the internet searching on homeschool curriculum (yes, I am a curriculum junkie - I admit it and my kids don't mind). I noticed all the elaborate homeschool rooms. Well we don't have that much space.

Each of my kids have their own desk in opposite corners of our basement.

Bookshelves are a must.

Workboxes that are (1) Numbered (2) Labeled with the subject and topped with (3) Weekly Lesson Schedule with box #, Subject, Test/Quiz and homework is in a notebook on the top.

Walls that teach have,
Personal Cork Boards and Dry Erase Board allow me to note homework, projects, special notes
Spanish Speaking Posters
Logic and Fallacy Map
History TimeLine

Weekly Wrapup

We had mostly good days.

This week nothing went as planned. That really bugs me because I am an obsessive organizer and planner. After a few deep breaths I figured it out.

Hubba had knee surgery and was home from work for the week. Hubba actually enjoyed Speed Racer sitting in bed with him to do school work. Otherwise, he said he'd been bored. My older son took him to the hospital for the surgery and my oldest daughter Rose came over to look after him so Mommy (me) was able to go to work since I'm saving my vacation leave for a few vacations we are going on later this year.

Ended up moving Thursday's homeschooling day to Friday and doing school on Saturday.

Fun Diversions:

Hanging out in bed with dad while his leg was elevated to watch magic shows on Youtube, selected and picked by Speed Racer (showing off part of his Science Project below).

Changes! Yep, I'm always searching for a better way to teach my kiddos so...

New Courses added to block schedule - 10 minutes a day is added for Language Arts Drills
Spelling You See - 10 minutes a day to help Speed Racer with Spelling replaces Abeka Spelling - Art Class instruction for Speed Racer - he wants to learn how to draw
Mark Kistler's Virtual Classroom - Tiger Lilly loves Virtual Classes and Art. So picked this up for her. Yes, that lady wanted to start it this 'semester' (we break her schedule up like a college semester system).
3D Animation - (Tiger Lilly loves their products) and wants to do Animation
DigiPen 3D Animation Virtual Workshop - Tiger Lilly won't start this until January and it's on Saturday's from 1-3pm

Why adding more courses?

Goal: Cutting Time Sucking Computer Game Time
Some of our other classes are winding down. Also, I'm finding time to keep the kids active in fun ways to keep them from wanting to play video games all the time.

2-3 hours of their sports
2 hours of gaming time or playing outside with friends daily.

Recreation Cheerleading

I help coordinate Tween and Teen nights a few area Co-Ops so my kiddos meet kids that are homeschooled AND kids who aren't homeschooled in order to give them a well-rounded group of friends.

Big Plans for 2015:
I start planning our trips and schooling for the next year over a year early.

Good thing I do because I found this wonderful opportunity from Landry Academy.

Mission's Trip to France! Yippee! I can start paying on it now for next summer.

*Both Tiger Lilly and her older sister Rose will be going on a France Mission Trip, sponsored by Landry Academy*

Working Parents Reflection:

Meal Planning: I slipped up with the prep this week. So it was a 'fast food' stop and go eat week. Bad for my Hubba and me. The kids enjoyed it though.

House Cleaning: The house is a wreck. Didn't get to do Saturday cleanup because Hubba was in bed and we had a cheer-game, martial arts class, church, and hair appointments.

Lesson Planning: I was hoping to get done 2 weeks of lesson planning out of the way - wrong! It didn't happen. So I will try again this weekend.

Yard work: The kids cleaned the yard on Sunday, just in time for the trash to go out.

Rest: I did it! I got 6.5 hours sleep 4 days this week.Now my husband is a self-proclaimed night-owl so I make him hang out with me for the weekends by going to a movie or out to dinner in order to make up for our hang out town we get during the summer when we aren't homeschooling.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Learning to Prioritize-Shortening Homeschool Days

I have been conditioned. Yep, used to a long Traditional School day of 8 hrs of school + transportation time. In addition to 2 hours of After-schooling with homework.


So being fairly new to the homeschooling arena, I was in disbelief when parents complained about how long it took them to teach their kids in a day.

I mean I considered 4-5 hours for an Elementary / Middle Schooler to be a breeze. Even with both my husband and I being working parents we could easily pull that off.

In addition, my kids considered the day short and more directed. Even enjoyable compared to the alternative of traditional school.

However, my homeschooling peers were balking at me when I told them that my kids were spending upwards to 5 hours 'doing school' and sometimes 7 hours if I added in their chosen extra curricular subjects.


What it boils down to is not the TIME but the instruction. Every parent schools differently and if they can merge play and learning - then great. That means 'formal' instruction isn't being done, but the child is still learning the tools needed to be educated.

My approach was to keep my kids in line with traditional school routines, structured studies with a flexible schedule that is allowed us by homeshooling. Therefore if my kids had to make a transition back to traditional school, they would be conditioned to do so. Not only that, but I like the order and format of a structured day.


I've considered ways to get learning in during the summer, and in doing so, I stripped their curriculum down to the bare bones. Math, Writing and Science. If a parent makes those three subjects their main focus and add in other subjects in a semester, quarterly year or block schedule, condensing school down to 2-3 hours is doable as long as the core subjects are maintained. I selected Math, Writing and Science because those are subjects that need constant care and feeding and to neglect those would show some degradation of learning.

My Weekly Wrapup:

This week had some highs and lows but it all met up in the end.

Speed Racer has been sneaking downstairs and watching TV until 4am in the morning. Yep, he was busted two times. Even with the reprimand - TV wins.

The effects? Well he was cranky when it was time to start school work and highly unmotivated.

He is one of those kids that loves to stay up late but hates waking up. This was a major problem when he went to traditional school because it put him in a bad disposition.

He doesn't have TV or video game access in his bedroom so he waits until we are all sleep and sneaks down to the living room to watch til he falls out.

I'm considering putting a TV in his room just to appease this issue, but I don't think it would be productive.

Mom is still trying to figure out a way to circumvent this behaviour - so stay tuned.

Instruction Completed.

Speed Racer's Mid-Morning Work
He attacked his Teaching Textbooks (supplemental Math),,, and IXL (Language) in the mornings with his home helper watching.

Afternoon with Mom and Evening Studies with Dad
When I got home we did Art History (a book we are reading), (their language program), Sequential Spelling, (Spanish), and his Abeka DVD subjects he does with his Dad are (Bible (only 2 days), Math6, Reading, Writing, Language Arts, History, and Science). School ended around 9:30pm but one night at 10:30pm when Speed Racer decided to make paper planes during math (side effect of lack of sleep from late night watching TV)

Tiger Lilly has been rockin' it out this week. Even though last week I noticed there were some quizzes she didn't finish. So guess what she was doing for 'homework' over the weekend? Yep, makeup Quizzes. Oh, and she decided to skip all the word problems in Teaching Textbooks for the last 10 lessons - so those 10 problems will be part of her 'homework' this weekend.

Tiger Lilly's Mid-Morning Work
She finished her Teaching Textooks (supplemental Math practice for Alg 2), Landry Programming course (Wed only w/ homework done on weekend), Critical Thinking Course with (Thu only with homework done on weekend), MOD Design (Java), Writeguide (8 week course done every other day) and (Grammar - done daily for 8 weeks).

Afternoon with Mom and Evenings with Dad
She's studying for her Composition and Analyzing Literature CLEPs so she's doing the InstantCert Flashcards review and a sample exam weekly. After she completes that she does her Abeka DVD courses (daily courses: Algebra 2, US History, Spanish, Chemistry), these are done 2 times a week (Physics, American Gov't, Economics) and on Friday's we do Art (See the Light DVDs).

Working Parent's Recap

Home Helper is now working with kids two times a week. It's working out and giving us an earlier time of work completion. So on 2 days the kids are finished school work by 4pm. They don't like the fact they have to wake up earlier on those days.

Lawn Care. I ended up not having to hire anyone. Once my husband and son realized I was firing them from the job, they jumped in and did the lawn. Hummm.

Meal Planning. Since I prepped everything this past Sunday, dinners were ready and on the table every night.

Cleaning. Still can't find a cleaning lady, so Saturday we all did a deep cleaning and tidy up. During the week I washed clothes while doing school with the kids. So the house stayed tidy. Speed Racer does the dishes and Tiger Lilly cleans the bathrooms.

Rest. I had an average of 5.5hrs sleep nightly. Mainly because I have been staying up to watch television, read or be time-sucked into Facebook. I will try to do better. I am also working on a business and my writing gig where I have some deadlines to finish, so that's also kept me up later. But I will do better next week!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Importance Of Playtime In School time

Weekly Wrap Up.

Due to some doctors appointments and unexpected events we had to augment school a bit. For Monday and Tuesday I shortened the kids schedules and workload. I didn't play the DVD/Streaming course for some of their less demanding classes and they just did the classwork and homework. It shaved off 2 hours of instruction.

The rest of the week went off without a hitch! My helper came over on Monday and Wednesday and got a lot done with the kiddos. They finished school early on those days, 6pm and the other days were our typical 9:30pm nights ending with hubba assisting in the lessons.

This week Tiger Lilly, started cheering at games. Also, she began a new online course with on Logic. She likes it since she gets to talk to other kids her age. They have 18 students in this online course!

She also got help from her sister Rose on her Python project with Landry Academy. My two lady programmers at work.

Things I realized I'd like to make this journey easier for me.

I decided to hire a cleaning lady (hey! I work so I should be able to treat myself). And I hired a yard service (because as much as my dear hubby claims he can mow the lawn - he hasn't because of his bum knee and my oldest son doesn't like coming home from college to do it). And my daughter Rose, made the commitment to continue on as my home helper/tutor who will help out with the students on days my husband's and my work schedule goes crazy. We just have to pick her up the night before and drop her off in the morning at her college which is on the way to my husbands day gig. I'll pay her the rate I was going to pay the other student.

Also, for meal planning this month, we are doing Let's Dish ( because I don't have much time this month to prep meals or plan them like I did last month.

These are some benefits of being a working parent that I just haven't cashed in on lately. Now with our busy schedules, it can't be helped.

Now if I can just find someone to do the laundry...

The importance of playtime.

Since momma is a highly active, energetic lady. So are my kids. Therefore, I try to incorporate PLAYTIME into our homeschool day. See my Speed Racer in character?

This weekend while finishing up some projects we didn't have time to work on early last week, my son goes upstairs for a quick change.

Racing through the house dressed as his own hodgepodge of a super hero, we chase him around the house or hide for him to capture us.


Yes, we still make time to play with our kids. We have to. It is fun, relaxes US as well as the KIDS and they NEVER FORGET IT.


Hide and Go Seek. Yes, my kids and I still love to play this in our tiny townhouse. Even the big kids - yeah, older teens who would shake me if they found out I told this, would join in and play.

Blanket Tent and Campout. This can be done in the living room, dining room under the table or by placing several chairs strategically together. Food of course is served in lunch bags or is make believe.

Sock Out. We all take our socks, all them up into torpedos, and hide. When the sound "Get Um!" is yelled we have sock wars and whoever lands the most socks wins.

Movie Night (Drive in Movie theatre, or during Blanet Tent Campout). This is our all night movie and munchie marathon. Easy, fun, and kids love to do it.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Three steps forward and One back

LIFE wouldn't be as fun IF IT WAS EASY

This week was a doozy! The schedule is in full effect and I had very little down time. Or at least I wouldn't give myself any.

Just a peek at our day would make some faint. But we got a lot accomplish this week with some added classes.

The good: We got all of our work done this week.
The bad: I was unprepared for all of the activities smashed in the middle of school day. Dance Crew (for Speed Racer), Jujitsu (for both) and Cheerleading (for Tiger Lilly) means we are out of the house with Speed Racer 5 days a week. However, Tiger Lilly will still have Friday's free.
The GREAT: We are getting used to our schedule. The college students stopped in this week briefly (one was homesick) and they got their car towed since the campus lot didn't have any obvious signs. But my oldest son paid for it out of his paycheck (which I was touched by him insisting that he pay for his own mistake.)

Here's a peek at TIGER LILLY's SCHEDULE (It changes a bit weekly)

Morning Work (Independent) 10am-2pm

Python Programming (Code Academy and Landry Academy online class)
Youth Digital (Mod Design - Java)
Writing Course ( and
Algebra 2 Math Lab
Humanities Video Review

She did most all of her work by the time I got home. The home helper only had to assist her with some of her math problems. However, she did miss 2 lessons of her Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2 she asked to make up over the weekend.

Supervised Work

Algebra 2 (Abeka)
Spanish (Abeka, Mango Languages)
US History (Abeka)
Chemistry (Abeka)
English Composition CLEP Review (InstantCert Flashcards or REA Test)

This went off without a hitch. But  it's become mom as around.

Staggered 2 Times a week
American Gov't
Art (Drawing with Instruction DVD Teacher)

She really doesn't like Physics. Mainly because of the equations. The teacher she enjoys as well as the labs. The ART class is going well. Here's her 2nd lesson.

Movie Curriculum (Watch a weekly Movie)
African American History

ROOTS - we'll be watching an episode a week

Electives She does on her own.
Japanese (Mango Languages)
Piano (HoffmanPiano Online Free Class)

She still remembers a lot of Japanese from the Youtube Video Tutorial lesson plan and workbook she started last school year.

Yes, and after all this the girl want's to add a Saturday class! Digipen 3D Animation to start next week.

Here's a peek at SPEED RACER's SCHEDULE (It changes a bit weekly)

Morning Work (Independent) 10am-2pm (Visual Arts, Reading, Science)
Math 7 Teaching Textbooks

Supervised Work

Bible (Abeka)
Math 6th Grade (Abeka)
Spanish (Mango Languages)
History (Abeka)
Chemistry (Abeka)
Science (Abeka)

Speed Racer had to read the CALM DOWN LIST one day this week because his father made him re-write his spelling words. Ugh. All 15 of them - 3 times. I would've had a fit too. However, after that and a short time out, he got back on task. Since Speed Racer decided he'd rather do it that night than move it to weekend work - it was a late school night.

Staggered 2 Times a week
Paragraph Writing Course (San Diego Scribblers)

I'm adding the Scrafty MineCraft class for him later this school year at his request.

Bedtime for the week? 
Well we had one 11pm night (see the meltdown explanation above?) where school finished later than the 9:30pm anticipated.


This week I really wondered if I was insane by putting Speed Racer in Dance Crew. It requires 3 days of practice AND weekends. He loves it though and there are 4 other boys in his class. So there! He's getting socialized.

Food Planning: Went off target this week. I usually have a quick grab and go snack prepared and dinner in the over. Well - I forgot to put the prepared dinner in the oven on Wed. and we ended up eating KFC chicken for dinner. I really hate that since I want to do more healthy food.

Adjusting to smaller family size: My oldest two kids are officially living on campus. My husband and I still cook portions as though they are coming home. Sigh. Wasted food. So I put them in containers and sent it home with them.

Getting Proper Rest: I haven't been. I only got 5 hours of sleep on Tue and Wed since I had that high of coming off a holiday Monday. I paid BIG TIME for it on Thursday and Friday.
Power Napping: Well I tried it 2 times this week. While the kids were in their sports, I typically have to wait for them so I took a quick nap both times in the car - bad, bad, bad. In order for me to get 6 hours of rest a night I have to go to bed by 10pm. when I took the 'Power Nap' it gave me a false sense of restfulness and I couldn't go to sleep until midnight each night. So in the future I will tough it out til 10pm when I collapse into bed (to read myself to sleep).

Work Home Balance: Well my work-schedule has been hectic because I'm trying to save hours to get home early next week. So I'm working 9 hour days (worked 3 days this way). I think I may start to do that in the early part of the week just in case I want to take a day off. My husband's schedule has been trying also and he's planning to have knee surgery soon so he's taking on a heavier load.

It's all fun and games - and lots more. However, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My kids DO a lot in one Day.

I believe my kids are like me and my husband. Hungry consumers of learning.

I didn't realize their capacity for learning and observing material would be so vast. I mean, they spent 7 hours a day in a traditional school system. Then 2 hours doing homework which included 'after-schooling'.


They gasp.


But when I hear how other mom's want or need to cut the hours or subjects down in their day, I question why my kids keep asking me to add on more.


Now I personally have an issue with labeling kids in this manner because all of us have 'gifts' or abilities in specific areas.

So no, my kids aren't gifted. My Tiger Lilly, takes a bit of time to figure stuff out, because she prefers to really try to do it on her own before asking for help. However, once she knows it - she knows it well. My Speed Racer just has a really good memory. He recalls things faster than his sisters but has a tendency to be rather impatient when he can't figure something out.


Teach them! My kids do a full 'boxed' curriculum. It takes them 4-6 hours just to finish that.

Then they tell me the other things they want to learn. Spanish, Japanese, Piano etc.

You see for them...

their minds have been set free because now they have the time and the freedom to explore anything they want to.

And boy am I having a great time with them.