Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Party 2009

Each year we have a little "Christmas Party" for our home school. We invite Grandma, big sis and her little one, and spend a few hours of down time together enjoying Christmas music, crafts, pizza, - and sharing memories. (Sometimes I buy "craft sets", other times we brainstorm or pull ideas from the internet). I also fix each of the them a small holiday treat bag :) Below are a couple pic's from this year!

A few of our crafts. . .

My gang. . .

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out-of-Door Life for Children

This is my personal summary from a section of the Charlotte Mason Original Series -

Out-of-Door Life for Children (Summary)
Charlotte Mason Volume 1 Part II

“Never be within doors when you can be rightly without.”
“. . .perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air.”

Charlotte Mason believed that spending four, five, or six hours outdoors per tolerably fine day, (preferably together, not “sent out” alone), to be absolutely best for the children. This time should be spent with some method, but not unwittingly hindered by the perpetual cackle of his elders! For physical and muscular development, two hours should be spent in vigorous play and at some point a lesson or two gotten in.

“At the same time, here is the mother’s opportunity to train the seeing eye, the hearing ears, and to drop seeds of truth into the open soul of the child, which shall germinate, blossom, and bear fruit, without further help or knowledge of hers.”

Send them on an exploring expedition:

• Direct them – “find out all you can about ________”

• Have them describe in detail what they have seen or observed: color, shape, texture, size, directions, position, etc.

• Provide the name of things and anything you have tell about it ‘once’ a child has offered a considerate description and details of his own observations.

“This is all play to the children, but the mother is doing invaluable work; she is training their powers of observation and expression, increasing their vocabulary and their range of ideas by giving the name and the uses of an object at the right moment – when they ask, “What is it?”, and What is it for?” And she is training her children in truthful habit, by making them careful to see the fact and to state it exactly, without omission or exaggeration.”

Picture Painting (mental imaging):

• Have him look upon a landscape or setting in nature, then close his eyes and describe what it was that he saw before him, fully and in detail.

“At first the children will want a little help in the art of seeing.”

This help can be provided by the mother modeling the process and pointing out in detail things that they see together:
• the trees reflecting in the pond
• the dew upon the leaves
• the Cardinal perched upon the branch
• the blue sky with soft, white clouds
• the squirrel scurrying up the tree

* It is worth noting that developing the skill of mental imaging lends greatly to reading comprehension in later years when mental images are formed from hearing or reading words in print.

Children should learn:

• Names of flowers, the manner of flowering – a head of flowers, a single flower, a spike, etc.
• Name of plants and ability to describe – leaf shape, color, size, growing from root or stem
• Names of trees – he should pick out a half a dozen in their winter nakedness and observe them throughout the year.
• Names of birds and ability to recognize them by their distinct features, song, habits, etc. Look for nests and eggs. (but leave them undisturbed)
• The delight of observing living creatures – “. . .they should be encouraged to watch, patiently and quietly, until they learn something of the habits and history. . .”
• from “things”! “The child gets knowledge by means of his senses.” Seek to put him in the way of things worth observing. (sights and sounds of the country, natural objects – twigs, pebbles, creeks, etc.)
• Rough classification at first hand – petals, leaves, roots, sepals, trees that keep leaves all year round, trees which lose them in autumn, creatures with a backbone, creatures without, and so on.

• Geography ~

• terms and ability to identify geographical concepts around them: plain, meadow, mountain, hill, field, pasture, lake, stream, swamp, brook, etc.
• weather variables: temperature, clouds, rain , snow, and hail
• distance - inches, feet, yard (various short distances around the home can be measured with steps and pacing)
• direction
• (first step is to make children observant of the progress of the sun). Sun rises in east and sets in west, hotter hours when sun is overhead, cooler hours in morning and evening with a low sun.
• street direction, town direction, wind direction, direction in which his house faces
• introduce to a compass and area boundaries

“The power to classify, discriminate, distinguish, between things that differ, is amongst the highest faculties of the human intellect and no opportunity to cultivate it should be let slip. . .” (this speaks to natural, relative opportunities, not of textbook directed)

Mother and Teachers should know about nature ~
“. . .that she may be able to answer their queries and direct their observations.”
“. . .the children will adore her for knowing what they want to know. . .”

Children should keep:

• a calendar of “firsts” – first oak tree, first tadpole, first ripe strawberry, first hike, (when and where), etc.
• a nature journal – each day’s walk and outdoor experience gives him something new to enter

The Mother must refrain from too much talk, though it is occasionally permissible to:
• point out some loveliness in coloring or grouping in landscape or in the heavens
• rarely and with reverence point out an object not only as a beautiful work, but a beautiful thought of God that we have the privilege of enjoying.

Games (physical development)

Nature provides for optimum development of muscular tissue. When weary of outdoors play, let the younger ones nap in the sweet air and awake refreshed. Let the older children play, run, shout, and move! Allow them to exercise their physical bodies as well as their lungs and voices. Sing, skip, hop, dance, jump rope, play tennis, climb, chase, etc.

Final thoughts:

Children should be dressed appropriately for outdoor excursions. (less an otherwise delightful time be spoiled for mother and child by the need to be overly concerned with soiling his clothing)

“Meals taken al fresco are usually joyous. . .” Enjoy snacks, tea, breakfast and/or lunch outdoors when weather conditions permits. Sit under a tree, put out a blanket, breathe and treasure the value of fresh air. Children love “picnicking”, but even the smallest delight can be taken outdoors!

Take advantage of weather and seasonal changes. A winter walk can be fertile in observations. A rainy day exploration (Wet Weather Tramps) can be refreshing and fun! (no one has ever melted from a little rain :)

The habit of attention is developed through the “out-of-door life”. Nature provides us with limitless opportunity for learning and exploring. Remember to just “be” outside with your children. Observe alongside them. Hold their hand, run, shout, and enjoy the freedom and vitality that is found is the great outdoors God has blessed us with.

“Intimacy with Nature makes for Personal Well-Being. . . .the least of the benefits of this early training should confer on the children; a love of nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humor.”

Recommended Resources:
A Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock
Nature Series - Christian Liberty Press
Usborne Complete First Book of Nature

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Something So Precious

As I shared in my recent post "Until Then. . ." we suffered the loss of our expected blessing #5 through a miscarriage in early November. It has been an emotional time and in many ways I felt that some of our family and loved ones took our loss lightly, figuring and pointing out that we could always "try again". I know no one meant to be hurtful, but obviously, it left me feeling a bit downhearted and alone in my grief.

To my surprise and to my delight, I received the MOST precious gift a few days ago from my older sister. She mailed me a card and an ornament that arrived unexpectedly, yet at just the perfect time (you know, the time when you are most unlovable, but most in need of love)! The card was poignant and the ornament breathtaking. It's a sweet baby ornament with an adorable little hat and wings, and on the back of the wings was written our last name along with baby #5 and his/her "heaven date". (see pic's below)

I sobbed and sobbed! There really were no words for how touched and overwhelmed I was by this gesture. It has to be the most precious thing anyone could have done to help us memorialize our loss so thoughtfully and meaningfully.

It's currently hanging on my tree and just warms my heart each time I look at it.

A humbling, beautiful reminder of something so precious!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reading and Spelling Q & A

Question 1:
I understand that the consonant needs to be doubled in little, giggle, etc to keep the first vowel short (lit-tle, gig-gle). But in the word “i-ci-cle”, what keeps the second i short? Same in au-di-ble. Or are these just one of those exceptions to the rule (i.e. Jail word?).

My Answer:
i can make the short i or schwa sound in unaccented open syllables - as in pre-si-dent, au-di-ble, in-ci-dent, multiply, editor, dignity, imitate, etc.

Question 2:
On words like flammable and terrible, why two m’s and r’s there?

My Answer:
There is an extension of the doubling rule - if the last syllable is accented and is a 1-1-1 syllable, the final consonant is doubled if the suffix begins with a vowel.

The final consonant is not double if:
- the final syllable is not accented
- the last syllable is accented, but it does not end in a consonant after a vowel
- the suffix begins with a consonant

admitting, forgotten, excelled

The accent is a bit tougher on the two particular words in question and they don't exactly fit the extension of the doubling rule like the other examples. . .

terr is a latin root - latin roots usually get the accent

flame is the root of the word flammable - thus that is the syllable that would have the accent and you would double the consonant before adding the suffix.

Have a question related to spelling and reading? Email me or post it as a comment and watch in the coming weeks for your answer!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

a day without seizures

giving the baby a bubble bath and watching him splash

tossing out the paper stacks that invaded my file cabinet

looking out the french doors at the woodlands behind us

watching the children run to meet dh when he arrives home from work

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun & Simple Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to get together with family, enjoy a wonderful meal, and reflect on the things we are thankful for. Yet, as much we hate to admit it, sometimes the meal (both preparation and partaking of), can overshadow the sentiment of the day. So. . . to help keep the main thing the main thing this holiday here are a couple ideas for starting new traditions and celebrating!

Thanksgiving Tree
Items Needed: flower pot, tree branch, leaf templates printed on cardstock, yarn/string/paperclips (or some other means of hanging the leaves), pens, and markers.

Last year we did our first "Thanksgiving Tree"! We took a bare branch and placed it in a large flower pot of soil in the center of the room. Each person colored and/or decorated their own leaf (leaf template printed on white cardstock) then wrote down some things they were thankful for on the other side. Once everyone was done, we came together in the family room around the tree. Starting with the youngest, each person stood up by the tree, shared aloud what they were thankful for, and then placed their leaf on the tree. It was a really special time. (We used a large branch, pot and leaves, but you can use smaller items if you'd rather use it for a centerpiece on the table)

Lastly, as each person left to go home, they were asked to take a leaf (other than their own) home with them and use it as a reminder to pray for that particular person from Thanksgiving Day until Christmas.

This year, a friend (my hairstylist) came over to do some crafts with the children and introduced us to a new idea that we're going to keep for tradition and I'd like to share that with you as well!

Thanksgiving Table Cloth
Items Needed: white vinyl lace table cloth, black plastic tablecloth, permanent markers of assorted colors (we used Sharpies)

(table cloths came from the Dollar Store :)

We took a vinyl lace table cloth laid it over a cheap black plastic table cloth (to protect the table from the marker ink) and then we colored in parts of the lace pattern and wrote down things we were thankful for right on the cloth. Not only is it a unique, special creation, it's a great tablecloth for that Thanksgiving Dinner!

So there you have it - two great ways to have fun as a family while emphasizing the spirit of the holiday and the many things we all have to be thankful for!

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Review: REWARDS Intermediate

REWARDS Intermediate published by Sopris West
Reading Excellence: Word Attack Rate Development Strategies

This is not something you'll find on the tables at curriculum fairs, but if you have an upper elementary level student that is struggling with decoding and upper level reading skills - this is a great resource!

First, I appreciate that this program packs so much into only 25 lessons. The scope of the lessons is limited, but considering that the program is not a long term approach to remediation that's to be expected. Each lesson takes about an hour and is broken down into bite size components that keep it interesting and give it a nice pace from start to finish. With a strong emphasis on recognizing affixes for decoding, there is also minimal spelling and vocabulary instruction.

Rewards teaches the student how to decode multisyllabic words, first by walking them through the overt strategies (circle prefixes, circle suffixes, underline the vowels, say the parts, say the whole word, make it a real word). then by moving into a covert use of those strategies. There's also a spelling component that encourages students to successfully spell by recognizing word parts (syllables), but overall the spelling portion is too little and insufficient to support gains in this area.

As affixes are taught throughout, it's worth noting that it is built on the premise that 80% of multisyllabic words have one or more affixes. Also in each lesson, select vocabulary words are introduced with usage examples provided. The student is then given a prompt to use the word by sharing an experience related to the vocabulary word, i.e.: tell me something that is "repulsive" to you.

In the final 10 lessons, in addition to sentence and passage reading and comprehension exercises, there is a word family component, which strikes me similar to the method of Sequential Spelling. This exercise visually reinforces the morphographic nature of english language by building on the root of a word:

Pre-test and post-test allow you to measure progress in decoding and reading fluency. Recommend for students in grades 4-6, who have mastered the decoding of single syllable words and basic reading skills, though not reading fluently and accurately on grade level. Some of the text is worded toward a group setting, but it is easily adaptable and well suited to a one-on-one teaching situation.

The teacher's guide alone is a whopping $89, but add in the student book and for around $100 you'll have a very effective and efficient short-term remedial reading resource at your fingertips.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Let's Talk Reading - Part 1

He can read, but. . .

I've heard this statement many times over the years, usually followed by a very telling list of seemingly insignificant issues that nag at the parent just enough to keep them concerned, yet uncertain as to whether or not their child may need intervention. These interactions keep me aware of the misconceptions and misinformation related to reading issues. Consequently, this week I will be focusing on the fundamentals of reading and attempting to sort through the basics that help lay the groundwork for future reading success. It is my hope that this series may help provide clarification and useful information to those whose inner voice still whispers with uncertainty "he can read, but. . ."

Reading is a foundational and necessary skill upon which all learning revolves. The early years (K-2) are when we focus on "learning to read", while the latter years (3 and up) rapidly change course, requiring that one "read to learn". For most children, this standard works and this shift in process causes no distraction. However, for others, it's a continuously rough road that leaves them somewhat perplexed, with potential injury to their confidence, questions about their intelligence, and/or a sense of failure. Children, including those who struggle, have a keen sense of observation and insight. They are well aware of when their peers are able to do things that they are not - and when they don't understand why, it becomes a source of anguish that they will try their best to conceal. Nobody, not even children, want their weaknesses out in the open for all to see.

When your child is struggling with learning to read, it's important that you take at look at the "foundational" skills he/she may need intervention or remediation. Attempting to "build" on top of an unstable "foundation" can lead to frustration for both the parent and child. Remember, nothing stable is built from the top down!

There are several building blocks necessary for one to become a skilled reader. Research has concluded that there are 5 main components or layers of learning which combine to help one master this vital skill.

1. Phonological Awareness - this is an "umbrella term" that includes phonemic awareness, work with rhymes, words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.

2. Phonics - this is the process of understanding the predictable relationship between sounds(phonemes) and letters(graphemes) - the letter "a" represents the sound /a/ as in apple - the letters "qu" represents the sound /qu/ as in quack)

3. Fluency - fluency is a term used to describe the ability to read accurately and quickly. Fluent readers read effortlessly and with expression. A fluent reader sounds natural, as if you they were speaking, and is free to concentrate their attention on what the text is trying to convey (comprehension).

4. Vocabulary - this refers to the words we must know to express and receive language in order to communicate effectively. Oral vocabulary refers to words that we use in speaking and listening, while reading vocabulary includes words which we recognize and use in print - both reading and writing.

5. Comprehension - comprehension is the ultimate goal of reading. The previous four components or building blocks, ideally work together seamlessly to allow a student to make sense of what he is reading, remember what he is reading, and to being able to use that information as needed.

Over the next few days, I'll break down these five components, discuss the value of intervention and remediation, introduce you to the Orton-Gillingham method, and share tips and resources that will help you along the way.

In the meantime, here are two great resources for more information. (if you have a struggling reader beyond 3rd grade, you'll still find these useful and informative!)

Free Informational Booklets on Literacy:

Put Reading First (Kindergarten through Grade 3)
Download PDF at:

A Child Becomes a Reader (Kindergarten through Grade 3)
Download PDF at:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

a book so good you can't put it down

singing along to music as I drive

friends from my yahoo groups

my floral comforter and matching valances

the color green :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to Seasons of Learning!

This is my second half-hearted attempt at blogging. I tried another host site, but was not finding it very friendly and I don't have a lot of time to spend on figuring it all out. So, anywho, a friend shared that blogspot was easier to use, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is my desire and hope that this blog with serve as a valuable resource to other families, particularly homeschooling families, through the sharing and information presented here.

I'll be gradually moving posts over from my other blog, so be sure to stop back by soon and review the archived and back-dated posts!

Your comments are welcomed and appreciated. It let's me know that something here is beneficial to you and encourages me in this endeavor :o)

¸.·´ .·´¨¨))
((¸¸.·´ .·´ -:¦:-Tina ~
-:¦:- ((¸¸.·´*

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My Review: All About Spelling ~

All About Spelling by Marie Rippel

Do you know the angst of spelling woes? Whether we like it or not, the inability to spell can lead to the mistaken assumption that intelligence is in some way lacking in a individual. Spelling is one of those difficult areas that some children just can't seem to grasp. They either get stuck in the phonetic stage or they grow tired of trying and begin to compensate for their weakness by using words way below their vocabulary level or avoiding spelling and writing altogether, again lending to the unfortunate misconception noted above.

All About Spelling is the solution to those woes!

Having a child with dyslexia and knowing the uphill battle reading and spelling was for my own dd, I was ecstatic to see All About Spelling hit the curriculum market. Most spelling programs operate with the same basic approach - word family lists and/or look-say-spell methods. The packaging may look different, but the content is the same. And while this path to spelling may work for some, there are just as many who are not able to succeed with this method.

All About Spelling is different. AAS is built on the tried and true Orton-Gillingham method - offering step-by-step, multisensory, interactive lessons that teach phonemic awareness, phonogram mastery, blending, segmenting, syllable types, syllable division, irregular "rule breaker" words, dictation, spelling rules, spelling generalizations, accent, and more.

The lessons are scripted with plently of tips and support for the teacher, while the pace is flexible and allows for the individuality of the student. It is a program that serves the needs of the user efficiently.

Best of all, there's no painstaking learning curve and there's no risk. If you are not satisfied with the program, AAS offers a one-year guarantee.

So. . .if you're ready to get started with a top-notch spelling program or if you have a child that struggles with spelling. . .All About Spelling is a solid, effective and fun curriculum that will work for you!

Learn more at

P.S. Don't forget the fabulous Phonogram CD-ROM! This is as great tool for ongoing review of the phonograms and a great resource for any teacher who may be unsure of the precise sounds for each phonogram.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Momma's Madness

I shared this on my groups quite a while back, but I think you'll find it timeless humor!

It was one of those long, long days - you know. . .the kind where you fantasize about being stranded on a deserted island with a good book. . .so please read on to share in my folly :o)

** (for full effect sing to the tune of Gilligan's Island :) **

Sit right back and I'll tell a tale,
The tale of a day gone wrong.
It started out with Mom's great plans,
But the kids won't go along.

We had our pencils and our books,
Pajama's all still on.
That's when the trouble started friends,
And soon my mind was gone, soon my mind was gone.

The children started whining loud,
My head began to throb.
If not for chocolate and a can of coke,
You would've heard me sob, you would've heard me sob.

My Yahoo groups were calling me,
I felt I must respond. . .
With lots of posts, and questions too,
A few good laughs, and some sighs,
Another coke, a nap at 3:00 - yes just for me.
Oh, ain't homeschooling fun!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Altogether Beautiful. . .

Inspired by a favorite quote and the noteworthy blessings and moments I encounter each day, these short recurring posts will communicate five simple things that I find "altogether beautiful" in the world around me-

"The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Until Then. . .

Loss has a way of putting things back into proper perspective, doesn't it? This week was a whirlwind, a blur. The joyful anticipation of my first OB visit for blessing #5 quickly left us downhearted as we learned that all was not well with the pregnancy. The ultrasound measured the baby at 6.2 weeks, (should have been close to 9) and found no heartbeat. I was scheduled to go back next week to recheck for change in case "dates" were just off somehow, but I went on to miscarry. Thus, it is with grief and sadness that I share our loss.

It has been a long week, but we are doing okay. I've been encouraged and comforted by the sharing and prayers of others who have reached out to us during this time and in return I'd like to share a poem that I wrote today in memory of our little one gone home.

Until Then. . .

For a time much too fleeting
You grew in my heart
I never imagined
Your soul would soon part

In the blink of an eye
My plans were displaced
But I know God’s are greater
and I cling to His Grace

You weren’t meant for this earth,
You’re too precious for this
So I’ll see you in Heaven
And you’ll know Mommy’s kiss

With each breath, I release you
But I’ll hold you again
My beloved - this is not good-bye
It’s only, until then. . .

Sweetest Blessings,
¸.•´ .•´¨¨))
((¸¸.•´ .•´ -:¦:-Tina ~
-:¦:- ((¸¸.•´*

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Our Curriculum 2009-2010

We start each morning together with Bible Story, Devotion, Poetry Memorization and Memory Verse. Below are the resources we've selected for the year. (of course, it is always subject to change.)

7th grade dd:

Bible - Catherine Vos Bible Stories. We also alternate between a couple of devotional books.

Math - Saxon 8/7. We also got the new Saxon Teacher this year and it is a fantastic resource!

English, Reading, Spelling -
Megawords (we are working our way through the entire series) This is in followup to 2 1/2 years of the Wilson Reading System (an Orton-Gillingham program designed for students with dyslexia)

Saxon Grammar 6 - I really like this program. We started at a lower level because we haven't focused specifically on grammar before and I wanted to make sure she got a strong foundation as she progressed.

Abeka Oral Language Exercises (honestly I'd probably drop this, but the lessons are short and they enjoy it!)

Six-Way Paragraphs and McCall Crabbs (alternate days)

English From The Roots Up - we simply learn and review three a week, playing Rummy Roots for reinforcement.

History - Abeka World History, Geography (Rand-McNally workbook) and A Child's Geography. We have a globe and wall maps in view and often discuss and point out things throughout our week.

Writing/Literature - IEW's U.S. History-Based Writing Lesson Volume I

Science - Apologia General Science (Wow, this one is a huge leap from elementary science!)

Poetry Memorization - IEW's Poetry Memorization - We are working through Level 2.

Typing - Mavis Beacon Deluxe 18

Critical Thinking - Building Thinking Skills

Music - The Masterpiece Collection (classical), Wee Sing CD's (Bible, Fun n' Folk, American/Patriotic), Music Ace Deluxe (fun software program that covers music fundamentals)

Art - I Can Do All Things! (we are all artistically challenged, so we'll see how this goes)

Physical Exercise - I require 30 minutes on the treadmill :) Other outside activity encouraged.

1st/2nd grade dd:

Bible - Catherine Vos Bible Stories. Leading Little Ones to God.

Math - Saxon 2

Language, Reading Dev. & Spelling -
First Language Lessons
Writing With Ease
Rod and Staff Reading Text and Workbook
All About Spelling

History - America History Stories by Mara Pratt

Science - God's Design Science (green series)

Poetry Memorization - IEW's Poetry Memorization

Critical Thinking - Building Thinking Skills

Music - The Masterpiece Collection (classical), Wee Sing CD's (Bible, Fun n' Folk, American/Patriotic), Music Ace Deluxe

Art - I Can Do All Things!

Nature Appreciation - designated outdoor time for breaks

That's the gist of our choices this year. We incorporate assigned reading and read-alouds, selecting books from varied resources and genre's. Both complete a "character report" at the end of each day to reivew attitudes, behavior, and spirit thoughout the day :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tips for New Homeschoolers!

Homeschooling is SO much more than "school at home". It is truly a lifestyle of learning that has the potential to enrich your family unit, your family relationships, your parenting, your ministry to others, your own knowledge and more! Each new day, each trip out, each vacation, each service opportunity, each moment offers something of genuine learning value. Take advantage of all the world has to offer and be on the lookout for God working in you and those around you!

- Setting up your school day

We use a checklist type schedule that I print out for each child and fill in weekly. It's gives us flexibility, keeps us on track, and helps the children know what's expected.

- Designated school rooms vs. use of all or various areas

We use the whole house. I've learned that since we've chosen a lifestyle of learning (and I love books, lol!) , it's impossible to limit it to one room or one surface :)

- Choosing curriculum

This is a learn-as-you-go process! Pray about what to get started with, but don't be afraid to ditch it if it doesn't meet your family's needs in the long run. There are SO many wonderful resources out there that there is no sense in forcing yourself to stick with something that makes you and/or the kids miserable. No matter how "good" you've heard it is, if it's not good for YOUR family - move on!

- Favorite curriculum or resources

Sonlight (reading pace is quick, so we slow it down)
Ambleside Online (we have enjoyed many books on their list)
Mystery of History
Apologia Science
God's Design for Science
Saxon Math
Homeschooling in the Woods Timeline resources

Again, there are SO many awesome resources out there. The tough part is limiting yourself and figuring out which ones will work best for you and your kids! Remember, curriculum is a tool, not your master.

- Record keeping

We use a notebook for attendance, progress reports, field trips, curriculum list, books read list, any assessments, etc.

- The best advice you ever received :o)

Forget about gaps! We cannot teach our children everything they need to know, but we can teach them HOW TO LEARN, HOW TO QUESTION, and HOW TO THINK, so that they have the skills necessary to learn whatever they need or want to learn throughout their lives. Learning doesn't end with graduation - it is a lifelong process. This short time is about building a foundation for continued learning and instilling a love of learning in our children that endures!

- Getting past the jitters and fear of jumping in

Just do it! The first year is the hardest, but each year gets better. This journey will bless your life if you let it! So. . .feel the fear, take it to God in prayer, and then jump in wholeheartedly. God blessed you with your children and He is fully capable of giving you everything you need to reach and teach them!

A few of my favorite hs quotes . . .

"After all is said and done, the condition of your child's heart will be the true measure of your success."

"One of the extra benefits of home educating is that it restores to the whole family the excitement and pleasure of learning - fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons all learning and growing together. . .God never meant for learning to become a burden, either for children or for parents. He meant it to be a natural, enjoyable part of family life."

". . .education is the natural outgrowth of the discipleship relationship between parents and children, so it should be the natural activity of every Christian home." --from Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

"The goal of parenting is not for us to decide what we want our children to become and then ruthlessly teach, train, squeeze, badger, and cajole them into that mold. Instead, we must recognize that God has already designed them. God already has a mature person and a long-range purpose in mind. Our job is to see our children as God does - to involve ourselves in God's plans for them." --from A Mother's Heart by Jean Flemming

Remember, God's plans for our children are so much bigger than ours. Take some time to write out a mission statement or journal about what you hope this change of lifestyle will mean to your family.

- Responding to concerns about socialization

There are numerous excellent articles on the web about this subject. Please take time to do a search and read as many as you need to in order to ease your concerns and/or those of your family :)

- How does Dad fit into the picture? What does support from Dad look like for your family?

Support from Dad looks like different things for different families. I feel blessed that my dh provides for us and supports me homeschooling. After a hard day's work, I don't expect him to grade papers or teach academic subjects, but he is otherwise very hands on with our children, takes them on outings so I can have planning time or personal development time, reads bedtime stories, is willing to help when asked, goes to our local hs conference with me, etc.

- Responding to that voice that questions your "qualifications"

Jay Wile has a good article that discusses some of the common concerns such as qualifications and socialization. You can read it here. . . (scroll down and click on the handout link "Homeschooling: The Solution to our Education Problem")

And again, there are more articles out there, so be sure to "google" to your heart's content!

- Best homeschooling books for Mom to read

I have many favorites, but this one tops my list. . .

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay & Sally Clarkson (currently being revised and updated, due out again later this year or early 2010, but you may be able to find a used copy of the current edition via Rainbow Resource or CBD)

Ruth Beechick also offers many books that give encouragement and guidance for those who want a more relaxed approach not driven by textbooks!

- Where/how do you get support and a sense of renewal for yourself when you grow weary or begin to question?

God's Word, prayer, spouse, Yahoo Groups, friends, books, audio workshops, trips to the library, conferences, etc.

Lastly, I'll add a few "don't" tips. . .

Don't underestimate the value of networking with other homeschool Moms! Whether online or in person, the support and encouragement you will find is priceless.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Any question is a good question.

Don't try to live up to an unattainable standard of perfection.

Don't compare your children (to one another or to others).

Don't rely on your own strength.

What God has called you to, He will equip you for!
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