Monday, January 26, 2015

Kindergarten Homeschooling

In September I kind of threw myself into the world of homeschooling. I jumped into a small co-op, field trips, and anything I could find. I have since realized I need more structure in my days and my priorities needed to change. 

From September to December my days were filled with a whole bunch of nothing. I felt like I was doing 1000 things but really not getting anywhere. I didn't have a written lesson plan, no goals, and since I was told by many people "it's just kindergarten, it's more important that they just play", I wasn't making school a priority. 

All of that changed over the holidays. I was talking to a friend of mine and I was telling her how I felt like I wasn't doing my son any justice and I didn't know if I should follow the "it's just kindergarten" input I've received. She said "think of it this way, it's not JUST kindergarten, it's his first year of school."  You know what?  She was totally right!  

Why am I going to essentially hold him back?  He's excited about learning, he absorbs everything, and he's smart. Who am I to say "it's just kindergarten?" 

I am not saying playing isn't important, but us doing all if our lessons, minus crafts and games, takes about a total of 30-45 minutes out of the whole day. And that is doing language arts, math, Spanish, a unit study, and added reading throughout the day. And intentional playing is just as good as unguided playing. They get plenty of both. 

I am learning a lot about my teaching style and his learning style. I am learning a lot about how much is too much for us, and how to pick a topic and stick with it. I want him to learn so much, and he's so interested in everything that it is hard for me to pick and stick with something. 

I have found that they both love for me to read out loud to them. I'm talking real and informative books. We started "The Story of the World" not too long ago and they love it. They want it read after dinner, during bath, and pretty much any time they are playing quietly. And it's a history book!  

I find that if I use the read aloud time to read other topics other than what we are studying it helps his curiousity and still gives him good, true facts. 

A friend of mine, who just graduated her oldest son, suggested a simple weekly schedule. Cover the bases you want to cover, decide how often you will have school, and don't put specific days on your schedule. I put a date range, a week, to keep me on track but it is nice not feeling like I missed things because I didn't do them that day. Life happens, interests change, and we try to make everything a learning experience. 

I am still tweaking things, but I think I am on the right track!  What does your day look like?

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflecting on 2014

It has been awhile since I have posted anything, and I am sorry for that, but unfortunately my time has been in high demand. I guess it is a good thing because I have gotten more hours working from home with Lifebushido, and I get to stay home with my 2 very active boys who keep me on my toes!

With it being New Year's Eve I decided to reflect on this past year and list some things that I have learned. I feel like I have changed a lot as a person and have taken on challenges and hurts that I never thought I would.

The first and most important thing that I realized this year is that everything does not work as planned. I have never ever thought of homeschooling. I have never been interested in it, and I always thought that when it was time to take them to school, off they would go. All of that changed when it came time to put Z in school! I was literally filling out the paperwork for enrollment, had already taken him for his physical, and I just couldn't do it. My husband works crazy hours, and honestly public school scares me. We made the split decision to try it out for Kindergarten and see how it goes. So far it has been great! He gets to see Daddy every day in the mornings until about noon, and we found an awesome small co-op group that has been great to be a part of. The kids all get along and are around the same ages, and I am currently looking into a PE class and other co-op opportunities. Hubby and I have decided that if Z passes his tests at the end of the year, we will probably homeschool again next year.

The next thing I learned is that some things just don't last forever, and it is OK to walk away. I have had a very difficult family situation that has been really going on my whole life. It took me having kids of my own to really understand the depth of things and that nothing will ever change. In order for me to protect myself and my kids, I had to make a difficult decision. People that I thought were a very large and special part of my life decided that they would remove me from their lives. It is unfortunate that this happened, but I have a lot of people in my life who would never ever even consider cutting me and my kids out of their lives without even telling me why. As sad, and as hard as it has been for me, it is what is best for me and my family and I cannot imagine them doing this when my kids are old enough to understand. Sometimes letting go is the best thing, even if it is the hardest.

One more thing I learned was that I don't need to keep everything!  I tend to keep knick knacks and toys, and crafts, and pretty much anything that I might one day need!  A good friend informed me that I do not need to keep everything and that it will make me crazy if I do. She was totally right. I have been clearing out and cleaning up and it feels great to have less clutter everywhere. It is not perfect, but my house is actually getting organized!

Something that I already knew, but became really aware of recently is my disorganization and lack of time management. I am terrible with figuring out how to manage my time and most of my time I spend looking for stuff because I am so disorganized.  It is terrible! I am really working towards being better with time management. So far I have set up 'work hours' that will be the times I spend in the office at home working. I have set up a google calendar to try to keep my work, and Z's school stuff organized and actually written down.

And last but not least, I have found out that asking for help is a good thing. I have been in therapy since my family issues started, and it has been so helpful. My therapist is great and gives me tips on how to deal with the situation. She also helps me understand why the kids act how they do sometimes, and how to handle those situations. It has been a great help in keeping my cool, and getting the boys to listen without having to yell.

All in all, I think I have grown a lot this past year. I also think I have learned a lot about myself and am focused on making myself the best I can be and letting go of things I cannot change, even if it's hard.

What have you learned in 2014?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaching Kids About Gift Giving

Do your kids like to give gifts for Christmas?  My 5 year old loves to give gifts. It makes him very proud to do it. We do multiple crafts so a lot of our gifts are homemade.  He decided that he wants to buy gifts too.

I don't believe in handing my kids everything, and I feel like if they want to buy gifts for people then he should earn money to do that. I think it is great that he is thinking of others, but I also feel like teaching him now about money will prevent problems for him in the future in regards to his finances. I think it also teaches him responsibility and that things don't happen immediately, and that sometimes you have to save up and wait for what you want.

So I asked him who all he wanted to give gifts to. We made a list, and then we went back through it and wrote down who he wants to buy something for and who he wants to make something for. It ended up that there were only a select few he wants to buy gifts for. We established a budget of $20, and he is planning on doing chores to reach his goal.

We are making a graph to chart his progress.  After we were done planning he said "Mommy, if I have extra money after buying everybody their gifts I will be able to buy extra gifts for them!"

I think I am doing something right...

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homemade Table Tent

If you have boys, you know that tents are the funnest thing in the world to them!  One day I was browsing Facebook and came across a picture of a tent that went over a table.  I thought "wow, the boys would LOVE that, if only I could sew!"

So I emailed my mother-in-law the picture (AKA Grammie).  She can most definitely sew.  She said it wouldn't be a problem and she got to work.  I wish I could tell you how she made it, but I have no idea!  All I know is that it is one of the boys' favorite things.

It has 5 windows, all with screens.  Each window cover can be rolled up and held open with velcro straps.  The door opens up also, and there are 2 mailboxes and the boys beg me to put mail in them frequently!

All in all it is a great invention, and they will play in there forever.  They have push lights under it and always ask to eat lunch in their tent.  If you know somebody who can sew, I suggest you get them to make you one!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kid Friendly Recipes!

I was recently asked to review a book, Kids Cooking Made Easy by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek and in return I got the book for free.  I am SO glad I did it because we have already made multiple recipes from the book.  The recipes are very kid friendly, good, and easy.

As you know, my hubby is a chef (and no, he doesn't cook at home very often!) so the boys LOVE to cook.  It is one of their favorite things to do with me, so it was great to have recipes that they could actively help with.

Z and I went through the book and marked all of the recipes we were interested in making.  Then we went back through and narrowed it down from pretty much all of them, and picked out a few.  We started with the Chewy PB Granola Bars.  Let me tell you, these are delicious!  I have tried other granola bar recipes and they do not compare at all.  I accidentally made them in the wrong size pan so they came out thin, but next time (which will be really soon) I will use the right pan!

Next we made the Hot Pretzels!  This was really fun because the kids could dig in.  Z mixed with his hands and then we even got to practice some math with measuring the ingredients and the length of the dough ropes we made!  K was able to make his own pretzels or what he called "pancakes" and they came out great no matter what the shape was.  I have always been intimidated by making hot pretzels, but these were so easy and delicious that they will definitely be in our home a lot.

Last, for now, we made the Honey BBQ Chicken Nuggets.  These were delicious.  Easy, good dinner.

This cookbook is a must get, especially if you have kids who eat!  I have attached an affiliate link to the Kids Cooking Made Easy for your convenience.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Things I Thought Before I Had Kids!

Lately I have been thinking about what I did with all of my time before I had kids.  Honestly, I have no idea!  I worked and went to school, but that only took up a portion of my day.  Not sure what I did the rest of the time.  I do know there are some things that I thought before kids, and I am sure I am not the only one!  So I decided to share and see if anybody else has something to add!

1.  Before kids: Why are there window locks in my car?
     After kids: If these windows couldn't be locked, they would most definitely be broken from over use.  Oh, and they have prevented many shoes and toys from flying out the window because the kids were bored on the 5 minute ride to the store!

2.  Before kids: Why is that person just letting their kid scream and throw a fit in the store?!
     After kids: Just ignore their fit and they will stop!  It might take an hour and an annoying time at the store, but they will day!  Getting groceries has to happen and sometimes kids just don't cooperate.

3.  Before kids: I won't let my kids watch more than a half hour of TV a day and I will never put the TV on just to keep the kids from acting crazy.
     After kids: I LOVE the TV!  I love that there are educational shows that I can put on when the kids are acting crazy and I just need to make dinner without 2 kids running under my feet and clinging to me while whining and asking for things.  Did I already say that I love TV?

4.  Before kids: My kids won't talk back.
     After kids: I don't know what exactly I thought I would do to prevent this, but I am pretty sure I did not grasp the complete determination of a 5 year old and his attitude!  So how do I get him to stop talking back?

5.  Before kids: I will never sneak food and hide treats from the kids.  If I don't want them to have it I just won't eat it.
     After kids: First I sneakily buy a candy bar at the store while they are looking the other way, smuggle it into my diaper bag, sneak it into the freezer way in the back, and then when they are happily pre-occupied I hide and eat it!  Sometimes mommy needs a treat that she doesn't have to share with 2 kids!

6.  Before kids: My kids will take care of the pets and learn young.
     After kids: Ok kids, please DON'T feed the cat!  No, no, no....only ONE scoop....Ok, I guess I am cleaning that up before we actually get to eat breakfast...

7.  Before kids: My kids will like to sleep as much as I do!
     After kids: No, it is not even light out yet, that makes it still night time so get back in bed!

What did you think before you had kids?

Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Make a Native American Travois

I know I have been posting less and less frequently, but only because we are having so much fun with Kindergarten and learning about lots of new stuff!

I am part of a small co-op and we are using the Konos curriculum to do unit studies.  The first one we have been doing is Native Americans.  We have done a lot of things so far, but we are currently on the Plains indians.

We were reading through some things before our co-op meeting and Z got completely interested in the Travois.  It was used to transport things by being either carried on a person's back, or later by dog or horse.  I saw the picture and decided I could definitely make it!

All we needed was:

A hot glue gun
Popsicle sticks
2 longer sticks- I used 2 dowels I happened to have

First I glued my dowels together a few inches from one end to make an X.

Then I made the platform to carry their belongings on out of popsicle sticks.  I used 1 for the top and 1 for the bottom, and cut a few in half and used those to connect the top to the bottom with hot glue.

Once I had those made I used my lion (I didn't have a horse or a dog!) to gauge where to attach the platform so that it fit right.  Once I had the right spot I hot glued it to the dowels.

Then I used my twine to make it look like it was held together with it and ta-da, we are now proud owners of a Native American travois!