“I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

~Albert Einstein



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Hate Co-Ops but I joined one

First I copied this from my family blog because I wanted to share with my homeschool friends.  I will continue to update on how this is working for us.  We are still using the Kindles for reading, audio and math.  I will continue to update kid blogs and share those eventually. 

I hate the idea of sending kids to a school setting in anyway.  I am a homeschooling purist.  I guess after 19 years of homeschooling I wanted to try something different.  I found a co-op option that can only do minimal damage as the kids are in school for only 2 hours every 2 weeks (and I am teaching them 30 minutes of that time.)  A few years ago we tried a program called Classically Catholic Memory in which different material is presented to be memorized over a 2 week period for the school year.  This is from the website for the program.



What is Classically Catholic Memory?
Classically Catholic Memory is a memory work program that is both Catholic and classical in nature.

What is memory work?
Memory work is simply the mastery of core facts in a given subject, or the mastery of a certain body of work (poetry or Scripture, for example) using the tool of one’s memory.

We didn't stay on track that year because I got pregnant, then sick, then had twins.  We did a little of the work but got distracted by the history topics and couldn't stay on track.  I loved the program but forgot about it with the twins and the chaos that followed.  This year I was asked to join a new/old group that were using this program and meeting every other week in a co-op format for one morning to keep each other on track.  I had not joined the group before because it was kind of far away and I didn't think my kids could handle the set up at the time.  That group fell apart and new one immerged starting with year 4 of the program.  This group was meeting at my parish - so very close- and was less structured and demanding that any I had ever scene.  On a whim I asked the kiddos if they wanted to try.  I like the program already but had not decided to use it.  After a summer of mom working them hard on reading, writing and math they wanted to give this a go.

 So we planned to go to the welcome meeting for the Divine Mercy Co-op using the CCM delta year. 

 Pickle loved being able to serve for the morning Mass for the homeshoolers and loved that if we signed up he would be able to serve on Wednesdays.
 I wasn't too sure about the co-op but I liked the other families involved and if the kids were in I agreed to give it a try. 


 No matter what happens, one thing I know for sure!  The Texas T kids will make the most of it, they will honor God while doing it, and enjoy their time together.
 Their older sibling are a little worried, they feel that we have done a great job with them and we should not try to find an easier approach now.  I have assured them that I am just using a program I enjoy whie keeping my self on track with the co-op. 
 I hate uniforms as well.  I am not sure we will continue based on uniforms alone!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Homeschool Buyers CO-OP

I am a little sick right now.  I have just learned that I have been overpaying for everything I purchased for homeschooling.  Ugh.  Anyway join the Homeschool Buyers CO-OP.  There is power in buying in a group.  If you purchase through the group the cost is less, buying in bulk is cheaper.  Considering I am trying all kinds of newer online options I know this will save me a fortune.  I am just sorry I didn't know about this sooner and that I didn't come up with the idea.  (Things have changed so much from when I first started this stuff 19 years ago.) 
Click here to visit and join the Homeschool Buyers CO-OP, don't worry it is free. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Fabulous Reading Find!

Take a Look, It's in a Book, A reading Rainbow Book!   I have been feeling so guilty.  I don't read to my kids enough. I read to them but not enough. I suspect it will never be enough. With so many having a difficult time with reading I am always reading everything to them.  This has really taken the pleasure out of cuddle reading baby books with the little ones.  I know that reading to them will drastically help them all with their reading. 


The last few weeks have been fantastic with reading improvement.  I have been searching for something to build on that.  Looking for something to help keep reading fun, so that the desire stays with them.   I found that there are a few Reading Rainbow episodes on Amazon the other day.  It is only one episode per season.  I thought they were just trying to get you to buy the entire seasons.  We watched a few but they did not keep the kids attention.  I think the graphics are just too old. 
 
At Mom's Night Out this week two of us were talking about how much I have loved the Immersion Reading available on some books on the Kindle.  As you know we got each child their own kindle this school year.  At times I am a little sad because there are not as many of the learning apps out there.  This can be a very expensive option.  You first buy the book from Kindle, then you also purchase the audio version from Audible.  I have found that the Books + Audio can get pretty pricy.  Spending a money of books isn't a bad thing to spend money on.  I just can't afford getting it for each child over and over again. 
 
That is when another mom mentioned how much she has loved the Reading Rainbow app.  I almost let it go without asking more about it.  What a huge mistake that would have been.  Thank you so much Mrs. Julie C.  As it turns out RR has a beautiful app for the Kindle and one for the Ipad.  Either version is wonderful.  The app is free but that will leave you limited.  The paid content has been a God Send.   For a nominal fee you can become a member and then have access to so many books and videos.  I like the set up as well. Readers and Nonreaders alike will enjoy this set up.  It brings books to life and can read to the children if they just click an icon.  My two year olds are hooked.  My only issue is that memberships are limited to 5 family identities.  This is probably only an issue for a family as big as mine.  Engaging, fun yet functional.  I can't describe it well.  Just download the app and it will show up.  Click here for the website. (although you must purchase membership through the app.)  The site describes what is available much better than I did, but as LeVar says, "Don't take my word for it!" but go check it out for yourself. 
 

My sincere thanks to LeVar Burton and the Reading Rainbow Team.  You have helped me insure that my children will love reading.  The T-Family Kindle Method just keeps getting better and better. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summer Reading Program

This is great find for a summer reading enhancer program.  This is simple, easy to use and takes only 30 minutes a day.  I got my copy for FREE on my Kindle.  I thought it looked interesting so I downloaded it, I mean the price was right.  You can get it too on your Kindle, click here.  To be honest it will take some work for mom, making copies and being prepared.  The book gives enough poems with lessons plans to fill 8 weeks.  The poems are all by Bruce Lansky and are really cute.  Amy Buswell has added the reading stuff and it is so fun.  More Poems can be found at the Giggle Poetry Website.  This is the full title of the book:  Giggle Poetry Reading Lessons: A Successful Reading-Fluency Program Parents and Teachers Can Use to Dramatically Improve Reading Skills and Scores.  I share this in case you are looking for something fun and schoolish to fill your summer days, try this - the price is right.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Math Drills with IXL

We need something different for Math.  It needs to be something that I can monitor.  We have used Math-U-See on and off for years.  The kids learned but not as consistently as I would like. This is not their issue but mine.  I get so busy that waiting until tomorrow to correct todays paper ends up being a week without math.  This is no way to make progress.  I asked a friend to review Ron Paul's curriculum and part of the response was that he was very happy with IXL for math and for basic grammar.  I looked into it and I like that there is an audio version that reads the question out loud with a push of a button. 
 
 
I paid for access to the IXL site.  I included the grammar and was very disappointed that this is not on audio yet.  (YET, they tell me it will be soon.  I would not have paid for that part if I had known. If your children do not struggle with reading, then this might work well for you.)   Overall I am happy and I feel my money was well spent.  Click here to be directed to the IXL site.
What am I getting for my money?  Anyone can use IXL just visit the site as a guest.  The site will not keep track of your work.  When you pay into the access it then tracks it all and generates reports.  The site keeps track of the amount of time spent working as well. This is the part that I like.  I know the kids will make progress and remember more as we establish the habit of spending 30 minutes each day working on it.  My only problem with this site is that it just drills.  I feel that this is a I made them all start at the
 beginning and we are working 30 minutes each day.  Right now was are building the habit.

 
 

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Way to Homeschool With Kindes

This is a project really.  I have never really been thrilled with my reporting ability.  I work with kids all the time with little to show for it at the end of the day.  All those coloring sheets just get thrown away.  I have such dyslexic kids that they end up feeling very unaccomplished.  We needed something new.  After 18 years of homeschooling, I am bored, I am tired and I am feeling like I have failed. 


So as I have stated I was reading about Ron Paul's curriculum.  I know nothing about the content but I was loving the concepts for highschool.  How can adapt his ideas into what we do?  I also don't have the money to buy each young child a computer or an ipad.  In trying to figure all this out, dad came across a great deal for Kindle Fire.  We went ahead and invested only $60 each for 4 units for Pickle, Princess, Bagel, and Jumba.  In our minds the twins are too young and Possible as a nicer Kindle Fire HDX from Christmas.  These units have internet ability but so we can visits all the math sites from practices but they don't have the cool apps like the ipads do.  That might someday be worth the investment.  For now we are trying to get this ball rolling. 

We have started the 2014-2015 school year very early this year.  For the first month is will be just trying to figure out how and getting into the practice of our new methods of being accountable.  It is lots of work right now but I know that eventually it will relieve so much of the stress on me.  My goal has always been to get the kids to be self sufficient. They need basic educational skills, they need to be able to apply them and they need to have motivation to keep at it.  I have seen so many families push and push the school work only to have the children shy away from school all together later. 

I want to encourage the independence while still keeping track.  I will always hold out hope that we will move north.  Texas is very homeschool friendly, and I love that about being here.  I need to get back in the habit of better record keeping in case we get to move into a state with much stricter guidelines. I must admit that it took a lot of time (several hours over the course of everyday for three weeks or do.)  I established a homeschool blog for each child.  They will use this to report into each day instead of handing me a stack papers that I am supposed to grade and record somewhere.  I used blogger because that is what I am familiar with.  (I plan to keep them private for a few months until we work out the kinks. I also am not sure how out there I really want to be with the kids.  It would be really bad if their friends got at look at their work and started teasing them.  To be honest I am not sure they will be public until much later. I guess time will tell.)



We started by getting the kindles hooked up and going.  Set them up and downloaded and note taking app.  Setting each child up with the right font and colors etc.  They will be using this for their writing each day and each week.  It was very time consuming setting this up on all five devices.  We are still waiting on the arrival of the cases and I will also be getting each child head phones.  I had each child write an opening post for their blogs.  This was just three or five sentences.  It was a lot for some and nothing for others.  For the first month I will not be pushing too much with the writing but there will be several things due each week.  I am trying to find a routine and get the kiddos in the habit of using the "note" app. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Homeschool Connections

 

 

Online Classes
for Homeschoolers

Complete live online classes
for middle and high school students --
Educating the heart, mind, and soul
in the Catholic tradition.

My last post was about the Ron Paul Curriculum and I still have to say that I love the model and set up.  That particular program is not for this Catholic Homeschooling Family.  I love the model though.  I can't just use textbooks anymore.  My older kids were bored and lost interest. The model of a video class to keep them connected and engaged is so intriguing.  Due to the amount of learning issues we have worked with in the past and that we still have with rest of the bunch, I know that offering a book and expecting a report and test is not the way to gauge how much they learned. I saw this even with the on-line with audio version of Introduction to Catholicism that we did this year through My Catholic Faith Delivered (I should offer a review for them but in a later post).  We were hearing the material but not necessarily comprehending it.  So even offering the audio version is not completely engaging.  The truth is I do not have time to sit with each child and present each class with the enthusiasm they each deserve.

I have never liked just offering the books, even if they come with audio.  That has been a great option considering the kids long for some independence for high school.  I was so drawn to the Ron Paul set up because it really does offer the video and the independence.  I just need it to be a little more cost effective and a little more Catholic.  I attended the homeschool conference and once again got into a nice discussion with Walter Crawford.  He is one of the individuals behind Homeschool Connections. I really want to see if I can take the archived classes offered through Homeschool Connections.  I want to offer a Catholic alternative but loosely following the Ron Paul model.  I am not sure how this will all work but we will try to get started by June 1st and that will allow us to tweak it until we get it going.

I can't wait to see if we can make this work. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ron Paul Curriculum

Did you know that Ron Paul left his life of civil service and started creating a curriculum for homeschoolers?  His hope is to find a way to help save America.  I have not yet joined but look forward to.  I think the pricing is just right.  I need to wait until I have a little extra time to explore.

I don't know that we will actually use his curriculum in depth but I want to really examine the model.  He had organized a set of self directed classes that can eventually add up to a middle school and high school education.  The site claims that this is all self directed. You really must click here and  visit the web site to start investigating for yourself.
I toke one idea and ran with it, already.  I have had the kids each create a blog and the idea was taken directly from this curriculum.  Read about that idea here, written by Gary North called School Blog. For now ours are not public but eventually will be.  We also used Blogger and maybe I need to look into why he recommends WordPress.  I prefer Blogger just because I am familiar with it.


If any of this intrigues you, I suggest watching the full 26 minutes of the 6th-12th grades being explained in a video form.  I am so excited about the possibilities.  Now I have not forgotten that I have kiddos with learning issues and reading is a huge issue not to mention writing.  I think I might just adapt some of this and the ideas into a real successful curriculum for my own kids.  I do what to change some of the classes out to insure a more Catholic approach.  I agree with the reasons why we need this. 
I don't need to be convinced to homeschool.  I just need to refresh my methods and tweak here and there. If you have more experience with Ron Paul's Curriculum, please share!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Parenting Book Study

I posted this on the family blog.  I felt that it also belonged here.   
 
http://www.amazon.com/Backtalk-Steps-Ending-Rude-Behavior/dp/068484124X
 
 

If you are looking for some help with dealing with the backtalk of children, I want to take the time to recommend this wonderful book. Backtallk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids.  Over the years I have referred to this little gem over and over again.  My kids cringe every time they see it.  In fact I just found out that Pooker hid the book for a few years.  God Bless that child. 

So with Lent starting and the desire to be a better parent I decided it was time to read the book again.  My biggest issue is remaining consistent. The first week is tough, the second week isn't bad but by the third week I am letting too much slip by.  With each read I do grow stronger in my parenting but I wanted to be a better parent with more peace in my home by Easter.  I also wanted support as I went through it this time. 

I sent out the following invitation to my homeschool group.  I knew that to "teach" something you must know it yourself.  I was happy to have made a commitment and then setting up three meetings over 21 days I knew that I could be more effective in changing myself. 
                                                                                

 

“Your kids are so good, you should teach a class!”
 

I have heard that more than one time over the years.  I disagree that my kids are “that good” but I have found one book to be extremely helpful with bad behavior.  My kids cringe every time they see me pull it out to read, so it works.  They know that I get the book out to remind myself how to be a better parent.  They don’t always like it because I will be more consistent in my parenting.  This in turn changes their behavior. 

My kids and I need a refresher.  As I sat and started to reread the book, I decided it would be more fun to share the journey.  So the title, the work, and the joy of watching our families transform is something we can all enjoy with the support of each other.  I will lead a book study and discussion coupled with my personal experience over just 3 meetings.  I am hoping that by Easter I will be a better mom, my children will be better children and we will all grow closer to Christ.  If you would like to join me on the dates below just email me and let me know so I can find a space that will accommodate us.   I strongly recommend this book even if you can’t make the 3 meetings.


I really wanted to give this my all.  I prepared my notes, gave out suggested homework and enjoyed sharing what has worked in our home over the years while learning from my peers.  I share some cards that offered the 4 steps with my notes about each one with everyone. 


Backtalk: 4 Steps to Ending Rude Behavior in Your Kids

                                   Written by      Audrey Ricker  And  Carolyn Crowder

 

Step 1:  Recognize Backtalk  Does it hurt, embarrass,   annoy or leave you helpless?

Step 2:  Choose appropriate Consequence  Have backups ideas on hand—like time out, kneeling, dead horse, chore.

Step 3:  Enact the Consequence.   You can briefly identify the backtalk, express how it hurt or was inappropriate, state the consequence, put child in place, set up chore, oversee the initiation of Consequence (not the same as a punishment). 

Step 4:  Disengage  I find that this can be the hardest step.  Do not engage in conversation about the consequence.  Have a “go-to” on hand to change the subject if needed.  Say a prayer out loud or start singing a song.  It will soon be known that as soon as you disengage there is no use continuing the reaction.

 

I wanted to give this 100% for my friends.  Jason was so encouraging.  I was shocked that the night after my first discussion/class Jason and the kids had come by and left flowers on the car.  Aren't they cute!?! 
 
The best part was having friends to share consequence ideas with.  So many ideas from some great mothers.  I think that we might continue to gather one time a month to offer continued support from like minded moms. 
 
I recommend this book with all parents out there.  Don't be afraid to do this wrong, just do something.  We owe it to our children to parent them.  This book gives some wonderful ways in which we can positively parent.  If the form of consequences in the book don't work for you, change it up.  If the ones I offer don't work for you, change it up.  Just do something and be consistent.  Your children will thank you for it (they might also hide the book on you) but they will eventually thank you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Still Homeschooling

I am still at this crazy game and the more time I have spent doing it the more I feel I need to learn.  We have three graduated from our T Homeschool Academy with one more graduating this January.  All of those three are in college and doing well in classes in spite of the various learning issues each on has had.  Don't give up, not matter what.  Don't let what others say about you change what you in your heart know to be true.  Don't give up. I have watched too many people back track later and then ask what they did wrong.  I could see all along that they did not stay the course.  Hey it isn't easy out there.  It can get messy.  Laws of the legal system and in-laws of the family system can try to force you to change.  Stay the course, you won't regret it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Morning Out

Dad works from home.  This has been great at times and a real pain at other times.  J had a very important conference call scheduled.  He needed to give the call his absolute attention.   It was much easier for us to vacate the home for the morning.   After morning Mass I took the crowd to a fun McDonalds (has a play place) for breakfast.


Beautiful - Adorable


It ended up being a fun morning.  The twins are just days from turning one and they had a blast.  Adorable and Beautiful preferred to be together in the tubes. 

I post this to remind us all to enjoy time to have fun.  I know too many homeschoolers that are so super focused on school work that the kids are stressed out.  One dangerous trap is that too often these over focused families loose site of the goal of heaven.  I have seen so many families use an intense programs, then not have time to take breaks and enjoy each other's company.  Some of these families end up with kids that are college drop outs.  Once the kids have a little freedom, they rebel completely.  We all look into the eyes of our little one year old and see the world.  I still see those endless possibilities in my adult children.  They are open to life, all of it - including the learning, the fun, the worship, the joy.  The well rounded person sees the world for that it has to offer not what it can for you.  To my dear fellow homeschooling moms, remember to enjoy your time with the children.  Teach them to seek Heaven in all that they do. In the end it is the only thing that is important.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Great Investment for the Catholic Homeschool

Over the years I have tried different things to teach the younger ones about the Mass.  My hope has been that the more engaged they were at a young age, the more they would grow to appreciate it as they got older.  I also hoped that understanding would improve behavior during Mass. 
 
 
Years ago I purchased the Mini Mass Kit from Our Father's House listed below and at a Catholic Homeschool Convention I found the vestments.  These were quit pricey.  I probably invested a little over $300 in a few years creating the Mass Box that the kids could only play with respectfully and properly.  This means that we only allowed the boys the play priest and wear the vestments. 
Jumba grew up with the Mini Mass Kit in the house and was not interested.  When shopping for Confirmation gifts a month ago I found this cloth version called My Mass Kit.  It was only $70.  I liked it because it was very portable and self contained.  It was also quiet making it just the trick I needed to engage my "very bored" 5 year old at church.  He brought the kit to the car the entire first week but not into daily Mass.  He would get to the car after Mass and then pull the pieces out and try to remember how the priests had used them.  The second week he took it inside two times and only one time did we take it into the cry room and actually get the pieces out.  We were alone for daily Mass and I let him set it up and then watch the priest to compare the real items to his kit versions.  This is not a toy that I think should be brought to church all the time.  I think of it as a tool that works wonderfully at teaching a young one about the Mass. 

The learning book that came with the kit is pretty good.  If you only have girls I would still get this version.  They don't really play Mass with  this version, it isn't real enough.  I still think it is a fabulous teaching tool.
Wee Believers My Mass Kit
I was even more thrilled when I got home and examined the packaging.  My favorite Cardinal is quoted on the box!
" . . . will capture the imagination of little children with regard to the most sacred realities of life." 
~Most Reverend Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D., Prefect, Supreme Tribunal of the Apostoic Signatura



Now it is time to go old school.  I ordered this kit years and years ago, probably to help with teaching Pooker for her first Holy Communion.  I know it is well used but I could not find old pictures.


Our Father's House Mini Mass Kit
The goal was never to try to convince the boys that they needed to be priests but to make the option real.  Just like having a doll and pretending to be mom and dad, the kids have also played Mass over the years.  In our play they don't have two girls get married and in the same way they only have a boy as a priests.  This isn't political it is just the way it is. 
 
Bear is actively looking onto several different seminaries and trying to decide which one is the better fit for him.  I don't know that he will be a priest for certain but I do know that today he thinks that is what his vocation truly is.  Pickle declared a few weeks ago that he also would like to become a priest.  His true desire is to be an NFL star but a good back up option is the priesthood.  I thought J was going to panic about the family name living on when Jumba announced the other night that he too wants to be a priest.  I am not sure about any of them but most of all doubting the current dreams of this loving 5 year old.  I say all that to let you know that even if none of them end up as priests I still think that the these investments were money well spent!  (Oh and in your spare time, Please offer up a prayer for my boys and their vocations, whatever those vocations might turn out to be.) 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Where to Start

One might be surprised how often I am asked this question.  I will be honest and tell you that it depends on where you are in life.  Pulling a teen out of public middle school is different than pulling a highschooler out of Catholic high school.  Everyone knows that their child is very different and so is each mom trying to learn something new.  There is no one set way to begin.  This post is to focus on mom though.

I think this is pretty universal as far as the needs of each woman deciding to homeschool their kids.  Actually this is crucial for all of us especially stay at home moms.   We need to find your passion or what you enjoy and then find like minded women who share that passion.  Humans are social creatures.  We learn and feed off of each other.  We will benefit from social time.  Our need for social time with like minded peers begins with our girlfriends when we are very young and it doesn't go away when we get married.  Sure our hubby is our best friend but all girls know that you sometimes get mad at your best friend.

The first step in homeschooling, even if you are thinking about maybe homeschooling your current newborn 5 years from now, is to find a support group.  You might have to create one.   I have discovered that for Catholics it is crucial to build a Catholic homeschooling group or to create one.  (Catholic friends that have gone to other groups mostly non denominational but Christian have had their children decide to abandon their beliefs in young adulthood.)  There is nothing better than the Catholic support.  Build your faith and your child's faith while at the same time creating a community within a community of like minded people.  The risk is that sometimes you will run into the "supercatholic" that tends to bash anything and everything of the world.  It is better to find balance with someone over doing it than it is to maintain your beliefs with others that are out to safe you from those beliefs.  Don't ever loose focus on the goal being Heaven and the path being the Catholic Church, homeschooling can help in finding that path.  I think that like minded peers is more important for mom than it is for the kids.  The students can play with siblings but mom must have support.  If it doesn't exist in your area create it and visit others in near towns via the internet and yahoo groups.

I was recently asked where to begin by a new mom to the stay at home world and one who wants to later being a homeschooling family as well.   My advice to find friends that are also on this path.  You can help each other.  They will keep you sane.

These are a few of my friends.  The picture taken a few years back.  We now try to meet each week for Coffee and a study of our faith.  Yes we mostly discuss our lives but it helps so much that we have each other.

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