Day 5 - Rely on the Simple and Uncomplicated

Day 5 - Rely on the Simple and Uncomplicated

Rely on the simple and uncomplicated. Do what suits your family best. You know all of those absolutely jaw-dropping buffet spreads and fresh pine swags and elaborate gift wrapping designed specifically for each member of your family, including the goldfish? Skip 'em. Unless you just love to put on the spread and the decor, do what your family loves and will enjoy. Everything else elicits the opposite of easy Advent ideas that don't overwhelm. 

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Day 2 - Find a Church. . .

Day 2 - Find a Church. . .

Find a church that has a Christmas Eve service or other Advent services and events. You don't need to own an Advent wreath and candles if your own church lights and celebrates every week leading up to Christmas. Just make very good use of the time you spend together and that shouldn't be overwhelming at all, even if the kids can't remember which Advent Sunday it is by the time you hit the church parking lot. This isn't a homeschooling subject! Enjoy the experience.

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Audiobooks That Parents and Kids Can Enjoy Together

Let's be honest. Some audiobooks that kids love to listen to can be the most insipid and annoying stories we adults have ever heard (or forgotten, as it were). Are there audiobooks that can truly be enjoyed by both adults and children?

Yes, of course! We've put in a good 23 years of audiobook listening with our kids so far, and we thought it was time to share our favorites with you. We happily still have 10 weeks of summer left here in the western hemisphere, so crank up the audiobooks and pour the lemonade!

Conversely, if you're reading this in the winter, light a fire and pop the corn!

These are affiliate links below (thanks!) but we often find what we love to listen to from free sites like HooplaDigital and Librivox.

Audiobooks to Enjoy With the Youngest (Ages 3-6)

(This list does not include shorter picture books.)

Riki Tiki Tavi

When We Were Very Young

The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter

James Herriot's Treasury for Children

Winnie the Pooh

Audiobooks to Enjoy With Tweens and Middle Kids (7-12)

Just So Stories

Hank the Cowdog

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

All the Wrong Questions series - Lemony Snicket

The Chronicles of Narnia

Swallows and Amazons

Adam of the Road

The Adventure Collection: Treasure Island, The Jungle Book, Gulliver's Travels, White Fang, The Merry Adventures of Robin

The Ralph S. Mouse Audio Collection

The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar

Wonder

There are plenty of classics and options for older kids that are enjoyed by both both parents and teens. We're choosing not to create a list here in the interest of time, but are happy to help with specific suggestions.


Teens, Tweens, Toddlers - How to Manage Multiple Ages and Homeschooling

It seems like a lifetime ago, but when we started homeschooling, our oldest son was four. We also had a two-year-old and a newborn, and as life went on, we added another baby about every other year or so. Pretty soon we had a big group of eight kids from 15 down to the baby, and I felt like I was drowning every day.

I have learned and implemented a lot of management techniques over the years.

Sometimes the things I try work and other times I have to scrap the whole shebang just an hour or two into it. Quite honestly, my current frustration is teens who see the systems, know the systems, and ignore the systems. Systems, it seems, aren't the stuff of which relationships are made.

I'm not so good at relationships. I'm very good at projects. For all the homeschooling moms out there who love to while away the afternoon with a cup of coffee and a long conversation on the couch, I'm the homeschooling mom who would rather organize paperwork and cook dinner. I'm the one to whom administration and organization come naturally. I'm the one who is socially inept most of the time, so if you want to throw a party, I'll get it all up and running for you. Just don't ask me to host. Ha!

I'm working on the relationship part, and I love reading books by homeschooling moms who are relationship rock stars.

Are you needing help knowing how to not drown while homeschooling?

 

 

How to not go completely under? I can do that. In fact, I have a whole site dedicated to helping you figure out how to homeschool older kids well while managing little ones, too. It's called Preschoolers and Peace, and it's been around a long, long time.

Help is here!

I also have two eBooks that might come in handy, particularly if you want to cut to the chase and not have to poke around the site for the info you need. The first is called Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids With Success While Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet (affiliate link), and it covers everything from home management to kid management to schedules to food to school ideas.

The other is Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day (affiliate link). I was struggling getting to all of the subjects we wanted to cover, such as Scripture memory, art, writing letters, etc., and so I implemented a group time around our kitchen table that includes all the kids. It's been the anchor to our homeschool for the past 15 years!

Here's to thriving in our homes!

-Kendra, who is off to focus on some relationships here . . .


9-Year-Old Boys and Homeschooling and Moms

I have an almost-9-year-old boy. I've raised three of these creatures prior to the current one, and as he pulls his typical 9-year-old antics, I remind his disgusted/annoyed/frustrated older sisters that this is perfectly normal. 9-year-old boys are disgusting/annoying/frustrating.

Case in point:

Big sister said, "Take those out of your ears or you'll ruin them."

He replied, "That's the point."

I am confident that his goal was not to actually ruin the pencil or his ears, but as soon as sister made a comment, he felt the need to put her in her place and communicate that he is above the need to worry about a mere pencil/eraser/ear drum.

Also, get aload of these fingernails:

Gross.

But most of us moms-of-9-year-old boys can look past the smell and the muddy shoes and the constant activity. Most of us see a future right around the corner that all too soon includes careful clothing selections and Axe Body Spray. No hurry.

What we struggle with as homeschooling moms of 9-year-old boys is some variation of this:

Hiding under the bean bag because, math. Poor kid. I asked him to do his two pages of math and it was surely a sign to him of the coming apocalypse. 

I'm sure the big question here for those of you moms who are currently homeschooling a 9-year-old boy is, "So what do I do when he collapses on the floor because I dared to present him with school work?"

A few tricks that have worked for me:

  • Turn on some motivating music. The day of the pencil-in-the-ear, we listened to the Star Wars playlist from Apple Music.
     
  • Give work in short bursts, followed by activity or "brain breaks". Favorites here are jumping jacks, sprinting up and down the stairs, running laps around the yard, and getting to use the bathroom. Just kidding. But no, really.
     
  • Liberally use the stop watch on your phone. My boys in those middle ages love to be timed, whether it's a math workbook page or emptying the dryer.
Homeschooled Boys: Why Apple made a stopwatch on every iPhone.

Homeschooled Boys: Why Apple made a stopwatch on every iPhone.

  • Allow food. A bowl of peanuts, a handful of carrot sticks, and yes, even that gum you and I were never allowed in school. I get it - they wanted to preserve their flooring - but in our home, gum often allows a student to focus on the task, much like doodling or knitting or coloring helps us adults to focus on a speaker or podcast. 
     
  • Remind them that you are their teacher, and as such, they do need to get their school work done. But when they've finished, let 'em go! Give them the freedom to play/exercise/read/whatever.

Need more good resources all about boys?

Did you know that other parents struggle with the 9-12-year-old boy group, too? Our friends Hal and Melanie Young over at Raising Real Men have a whole "boot camp" (encouragement/major cryfest/boost) just for parents tackling this stage of life.


You can get FULL ACCESS to bonus interviews, exclusive content, and cool free stuff by joining theHomeschoolingIRL community, and you can do that by subscribing (and telling your friends about us, too!)

The Lifegiving Home

This post contains affiliate links.

We generally don't talk a lot about homemaking on our episodes of Homeschooling in Real Life, but we do mention family culture and we certainly talk a lot about creating a home that makes kids feel safe to live transparently. We definitely do talk a lot about pointing each other to Jesus, too, don't we? 

Sally Clarkson was one of the first homeschooling moms I (Kendra) listened to and read almost 20 years ago when we started homeschooling. She was an encourager, a passionate lover of Jesus, and a gentle voice who reassured me in my dark moments. In particular, I remember a story she told in one of her early books about being frustrated with her kids as she heard them goofing off down the hall, until she discovered that they were actually oohing and aahing over their baby sister. That was confirmation my Type-A self needed to hear.

Sally's the big sister I never had. She might be the mentor you are yearning for, too.

Right now in the Fletcher home, a thousand plates are spinning and threatening to crash at the slightest provocation. My heart is desirous of creating a home that doesn't feel like a freeway collision, but my flesh is weak, friends. When Sally's book, The Lifegiving Home, arrived in my mailbox a few weeks ago, I knew this was the right time to read it. I read what I need.

The Pinterest pressure is off, though. I was leery of that, you know. I don't need another idea screaming at me in the face and revealing what I loser I feel like. I'm pretty good at doing that myself. So then, this, which Sally and her daughter Sarah wrote together:

"We want to show women (and men, if they're interested) how to create a space that supports vibrant, productive living and supports growth of body, soul, and spirit."

Yes. Me, too! I want to create a home that is all of those things. A place that feels like a refuge rather than what I currently feel: the place where all my work is and that I can never escape all the work. And maybe, if I create a place of rest and refuge and beauty for Fletch and me, all of that will spill over onto our kids and seep into our souls, don't you think?

I'm still reading The Lifegiving Home, so I can't tell you how this story ends. But I can tell you that it's a lovely winter read, perfect for the days I'm anxiously awaiting the almond blossoms next door and a warmer breeze and flip flops every day. 

One more thing? Don't try to be Sally. Don't try to be us. Just be you. God created your home to be a place that reflects the unique ways He has gifted you, and that's a beautiful truth.

Nothing is required for the making of a home except a heart that loves God, an imagination fired by His Spirit, and hands ready to create.
— Sally Clarkson

More from Sally Clarkson:


Adventurous Mailbox Review - Give Your Kids a Cultural Adventure!

Oh! How happy kits and things that come in the mail make our children! When the opportunity to review The Adventurous Mailbox came up for us, I jumped at it because I knew this would be something our 11-year-old and 8-year-old would potentially love.

So yes, we were given a subscription to The Adventurous Mailbox for the purpose of reviewing it for you. We were compensated for our time, but we certainly have the freedom to let you know if we think something stinks. In this case, not at all!

An Educational Gift That Arrives in the Mail!

The day the box arrived, our two kiddos were beside themselves with excitement. It was hand-addressed to them, which nicely set the tone for what was in store.

It came from Taiwan (cool!) and was from someone named Crameye Junker - very intriguing. Both kids wanted to immediately set to work, which they did, and they soon found out that Crameye is the the narrator of the story and creator of the workbooks. 

So what's in the box? Eight beautifully illustrated books, each with an adventure through a different country: Finland, Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, Greece, Tanzania, and Peru (there are two books that cover Peru.)

There are also personalized letters to each child you've signed up. This feature scored major cool points with our kids because - hello - a letter, for them, with a secret code that gets them started on their adventure around the world. What's the secret code for? The Adventurous Mailbox online hub! Several characters in the stories have a "blog".  There are also terrific educational resources to learn more about each culture, including how people live and work, what kinds of food they eat, what animals are present in those places, and more.  It's a safe site that we allowed them to explore once we saw how well it is built and monitored. 

Annesley gets her letter

Annesley gets her letter

Christian is into it immediately

Christian is into it immediately

A Cultural Education Right From Home

It's important to us to give our kids a view of the world that is not North-America-centric. We read about what's going on in the rest of the world and host exchange students and take or send our kids to faraway places when we can, but the reality is, we can't afford to do so as often as we'd like.

Short of hopping on an airplane, The Adventurous Mailbox is one of the most engaging approaches to studying world cultures and people that I've ever seen. The box that arrives, the letters addressed to the student, the quality books, and the online hub are all excellent components of a quality curriculum, and I'm just getting warmed up!

This is a screen shot of the area of the site that is just for members. There is so much humor, I actually laughed out loud when we watched an animated pig welcome us to the forums and say, "Please read the rules at the top of the forums before you get started. Don't question my authority just because I am a pig. I'll have you know that in some circles I am a rather important fellow. Plus, I am a talking pig and you have to admit that's kind of cool. So let's just save everyone some time and do what I say." Ha!

There's more: a teacher's lounge where you can find hundreds of lessons, from fill-in-the-blank vocabulary pages (with very funny sentences!) to writing sentences using target vocabulary to fun crossword puzzles. It's integrated and very well done. I've got a coupon code for you below that also gets you the teacher's lounge resources for free!

Exclusive Coupon Code

$10 off the Adventurer Package and ree ccess to the Teacher’s Lounge with coupon code HSadventure - Valid until 06/30/2015.

Adventurer Package ($79 inclusive of shipping)

Teacher’s Lounge ($20) This is an upgrade chosen after the base package is chosen.  

In addition to the Adventurer Package, The Adventurous Mailbox will soon be rolling out E­book versions. Later in 2015, they will also have Series Two ready for purchase. Ultimately, The Adventurous Mailbox will have a total of five series (40 books), all with accompanying lessons. 

Recommended for ages 8-12.


Want to learn more about The Adventurous Mailbox? Find them here:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Instagram - @theadventurousmailbox   

Google+

Five For Friday: How to Respond to Homeschool Critics

Typically on Five for Friday, we highlight 5 posts related to the topic of our most recent episode, which happens to be Answering Homeschool Critics. But instead of drawing your attention to 5 posts, we think you'll be super happy to read a whole list of posts from the bloggers at the iHomeschool Network.

Covering everything from "How are you qualified to be a teacher?" to "But you went to public school and you turned out fine", the bloggers and homeschoolers at iHomeschool Network have a lot of great experience and wisdom to share. We hope you feel encouraged.

Answering the Homeschool Critics


Flow Charts and Schedules For Homeschoolers

Hi Kendra & Fletch!

I listened to your podcast on organization today, and would love to look at your flow chart for planning your day. I've been homeschooling 8 years and have yet to find a schedule plan that works for us!!

Thank you and blessings to you for your gift to the homeschool world!

-Katrina


Happy to help, Katrina!

Back when we began homeschooling, I knew we'd have to have some sort of routine to our day or I was going to drown. At the time, our oldest was 4 and a half and we also had a 2-year-old and a newborn. I was breastfeeding, so there was that, and also involved in stuff at church. If there wasn't a plan for the day, nothing was going to get accomplished.

We went along swimmingly until school became more academic. Somewhere in there I learned about strict scheduling and decided that would take care of any little issues we were having. I made a great color-coded spreadsheet with a plan for what everyone would be doing, half hour by half hour. It looked so gorgeous!

Unfortunately, children do not pay any attention to color-coded spreadsheets. My babies cut teeth, skipped naps, and needed to nurse longer, while my toddlers had diaper blow-outs, the dog threw up, the eggs were left to boil too long on the stove, and my husband had an emergency patient at the end of the day. More often than not, we found ourselves 2 hours behind and reading aloud at night instead of in the afternoons. I also became majorly grumpy, barking, "Stop fooling around! We're 10 minutes late for starting math!" Not pretty.

One morning I sat down with the kids at breakfast and pulled out a piece of paper and a pen. Super high tech. I made a list that looked a little like this:

Breakfast/Clean-up
Circle Time
Math
Art
Lunch Prep/Lunch/Clean-up
Babies down for naps
Mom Read Aloud
English/Handwriting
History or Science (depending on day)
Free Time
Dinner Prep

And peace returned to our days. We had a backbone, but it was flexible and able to take into account the changing needs of each person in our home. When we found ourselves in the hospital for long stretches with one child or another, those at home could follow the flow and get some things done, even if Mom wasn't home.

I actually wrote a post over on Preschoolers and Peace about why a flow chart works for me, so hop over there if you want even more info.

-Kendra


Tinker Crate Review: Why We Love These Kits (And No One Paid Us To Say So)

We've been promising a Tinker Crate review for some time now because this is a kit-based educational product that we are loving in our home, and no one from Tinker Crate even asked us to say so. We do have affiliate links in this post, though. That just means we earn a little kickback if you decide you want to try Tinker Crate, too. Thank you :)

Fletch has been doing the monthly engineering and science kits with Christian, who is nearly 8 years old. Here's what he has to say about Tinker Crate: 

1. Anticipation: They send a monthly alert email that the newest Tinker Crate is on the way which stirs up excitement in the heart of our son.

2. Presentation: Tinker Crate is clean: simple box with well-organized materials. Everything fits and nothing is missing. Everything is laser printed.

Zoetrope

Zoetrope

3. Efficiency: Tinker Crate saves the time and hassle of having to go out and buy everything. Instructions are clean and easy to follow. Videos online are even more helpful if you get stuck on a project.

4. Age appropriateness: Projects are challenging enough to be interesting but not so over Christian's head that he doesn't get it. An older kid could certainly do the whole kit entirely by themselves. 

Creating Polymers

Creating Polymers

5. "Tinkerzine": In every delivery is a Tinkerzine, a short and snappy mini magazine which expounds upon the project and teaches more about the subject.

6. Spurs further learning: These projects whet the appetite to learn more about the subject.

Save 30% plus FREE shipping on your subscription purchase with code FEB30 - a great way to try it out! 

Explore Science, Technology, Engineering, Math!

Five For Friday: Let's Make Homeschooling Fun!

Is that even possible? 

From around the web, here are five articles and blog posts to accompany our latest episode: How Do I Make Homeschooling Fun? we think you'll find encouraging this weekend:


10 Things I'd Change If I Could Have a Homeschool Do-Over - Kris Bales

Bet you can guess why we chose this post of Kris' to feature on this edition of 5 For Friday. Yep, fun. She wishes she'd incorporated more fun.

 

Make Math Fun - Marci Goodwin

Is teaching math your nemesis? Maybe it's time for some good mathematical fun!

 

10 Ways to Make Homeschooling Fun - Amber from Classic Housewife

Green eggs and ham? Yes, you can!

 

Winter Homeschool Fun - Amy Blevins

Maybe it's the weather that's bringing you down. If your kiddos are feeling claustrophobic and you're ready to chuck it all and drive to a snowless climate, take some cues from Amy and infuse some fun into your winter days.

 

Friday Fun School - Marcy Crabtree

Take a great idea from Marcy at Ben and Me and turn one day a week into hands-on adventure learning. 


Letters From Listeners: Homeschooling Older Kids For the Very First Time

Hey HIRLers! We are receiving more mail and questions from you than ever, and we think it's great! Enjoy this week's letter from listener Brandi. Some affiliate links included.


This is my first year to homeschool. My kids were in public school prior to bringing them home and they are currently 5th and 8th grade.

My question/concern: I am researching the heck out of curriculum for next year and am really having a hard time finding subjects (mainly history) that are not part of a series plan. If I want to use something for my to-be 9th grader next year for a high school credit, it's part of a 4 part series and not a stand alone. What about us who haven't homeschooled our kids from the beginning and started a series from the very beginning? I feel like my kids do not have the back history of events enough to jump in mid-sequence. I'm pretty laid back and not rigid about my curriculum choices, but this has my head spinning a bit. Maybe I'll just go have a cup of coffee and think about this later.

Any thoughts or suggestions would make this mama smile.

-Brandi


Hey Brandi-

Congrats on bringing your kids home! That's a huge step away from convention and we know it's not a choice you made lightly. We're happy to help in any way we can.

If you're talking specifically about history, then I can recommend a few resources. High school freshmen in the state of California where we are do not have a history requirement. If that's your state, too, then you could use that year to do a world history refresher. Khan Academy has great history videos and covers all of world history. They also have a survey of American history, if you feel that would be a better place to start. Their stuff is free, so have at it.

If you want church history woven into world history, we heartily recommend The Mystery of History. You can get the audio version and cover a lot of ground just by listening over the course of that freshman year. Bonus: it's great for both of your kids' levels, so they can learn together.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about jumping into the middle of things unless that just leaves your students entirely perplexed. Most of us have so many "holes" left in our scope and sequence from our own traditional schooling, and we have been able to fit the pieces together and learn what was needed when it became important enough to us. 

The main thing here is to help your students regain a sense of wonder. What you want to see happen is an awakening of that love of learning they had when they were younger, before school probably snuffed out the little spark. Maybe it didn't; I'm making assumptions. Either way, what you really want to see develop over the next few years of homeschooling is an ability to teach themselves and to learn anything and everything they can. That may mean scrapping what "should" be done this year and allowing them to direct their learning based upon the things they're truly interested in. Obviously, there are subjects they must cover at some point, but as you're easing into a whole new way of learning, let their delight direct you!

Hope that helps,

Kendra


Five For Friday: When You Need to Be Reminded of the Gospel

From around the web, here are five resources that accompany our latest episode, Christ in the Chaos. We think you'll find each stop very encouraging this weekend:

 

[Gospel 1]: The Gospel is a Story - Paul Tripp

Where to begin? What do we mean when we say that we must always return to the simplicity of the gospel? Start here, with Paul Tripp's explanation of where we find our hope.

In Need of a Redeemer - Jim Applegate

And then go here. It's the beginning of a life-changing series out of Exodus, and it helped Fletch and Kendra exit their own self-relying works-based religiosity. Spoiler alert: Grace wins! 

Where Can I Find Joy? - Kimm Crandall

A beautiful and hopeful post by our guest on this last podcast, Kimm Crandall.

Ladder Christianity - Tullian Tchvidjian

"The strength of God alone can liberate us from the burden of needing to be strong."

Good Parenting - Jessica Thompson

We want so badly for our good parenting to be what makes our kids who they are. But the truth is, all we really can do is point our kids to the One who shapes their souls.


A Biblical Curriculum We're Loving This Year - Apologia's Who is My Neighbor?

Before I tell you why we're loving Apologia's Who is My Neighbor (And Why Does He Need Me)?, I think it's important for you to know that this is NOT a sponsored post. We were not asked to review or write it. I have included affiliate links, though, because they do help us cover some site expenses. Thanks.

Last year at the Teach Them Diligently convention in Dallas, I took some time to browse the vendor hall, specifically looking for a study that I could do with my 10-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. We were coming off of two solid years in Community Bible Study, where both of them had learned to study Scripture in an expository manner. I wanted something just as meaty, but choosing something that would fit the bill for their ages and me (I want to learn, too!) was a tall order.

I had seen Apologia's What We Believe Series before but I had never seen this particular volume. Given the fact that they are prime ages for copious sibling disagreements (read: they argue a lot), I picked it up and pretty quickly knew it could be a great fit for us.

While not a line-by-line study of Scripture, this worldview text teaches about Jesus' ministry, what we're called to do as believers, and how loving our neighbor plays out in the real world.

What I love:

  • Apologia isn't afraid to go deep with kids. The Biblical discussion is broad and well-rounded. Just when I'm thinking about something I'll add to what the author is teaching, it appears in the text. 
     
  • It's about as grab-and-go as you can get. You can take the time to see where the text is going, but you don't have to. You can literally grab the book and start.
     
  • It comes with level-appropriate workbooks that accompany the text. This is really big for me; I just don't have time to pull extras together. No need! The kids' books include crossword puzzles, copywork, lapbook-style mini books, Scripture memory, coloring pages, and more.
     
  • If you choose to follow the daily plan (a daily plan! Yay!), you'll get through the study in a school year. If you choose to skip portions, as I occasionally do, you haven't missed the major facets of what is being taught. In typical Apologia fashion, there's so much there that you can pick and choose. 
     
  • The fictional story that carries the whole text is beautifully written. Following a Chinese family immigrating to San Francisco, neighborly love and kindness are poignantly woven throughout, and my kids beg me to keep reading every single time. They are genuinely concerned for the fictional family!  
Appropriate copywork for the 7-year-old 2nd Grader

Appropriate copywork for the 7-year-old 2nd Grader

He loves it, too!

He loves it, too!


Of Seizures and Septic Tank Back-Ups and Seriousness

We recently asked HIRLers (fans of HomeschoolingIRL) on Facebook what they'd most like to see us writing about and providing here on the website. One answer was "humor", and I immediately tagged Fletch to say, "You're up!" Fletch is the funny one. Me, not so much.

I'm a reflector. I reflect on stuff. 

Last week our 7-year-old had another febrile seizure, of which he has been prone all his little life. It had been over a year since he'd seized, so we really thought he'd grown out of them. The thing is, he had his first one just two days after we brought our daughter home from 3 weeks in the ICU after she went into septic shock from a ruptured appendix.

Post-seizure resting

Post-seizure resting

Which was a year after I ran over our 5-year-old with our 12-passenger van. Which was 6 months after I found our 7-week-old in a coma. While we try to lighten the mood by glancing at each other, shaking our heads, and declaring, "It's always something", it's not really funny. It's serious.

Then Fletch's parents' septic tank backed up last week, too. They live across the driveway from us. That was serious. And gross.

This week's episode, Christ in the Chaos, is peppered with humorous moments, but the subject is serious. Our guest Kimm Crandall has weathered a lot, and her story's not so funny. But it is glorious.

God transforms us in the serious moments, doesn't He? He teaches us that in the midst of chaos and destruction and our sense of a loss of control, He is steady, ever-present, reliable, and kind. If life is always a humorous moment, a side-splitting laugh-fest, or as smooth as a summer lake, we tend not to see God in it all. 

On the other hand, it's humor that often helps us understand that God is there, despite our quirky and chaotic humanity. It's what makes us listen to a middle-aged homeschooling couple banter with one another and poke fun over a podcast and realize that we're not alone. We're crazy too, and that's okay. 

Every little thing is gonna be alright. 

Every little thing is gonna be alright. 

We'll keep providing the humor (c'mon Fletch!) and the quiet reflections. We'll continue to draw out the real life - the junk that isn't pretty or that we tend to want to stuff under the couch cushions. When we examine every facet, even the unpolished, un-pretty circumstances, we tend to see God there. In our imperfections we meet Jesus, and that's what Homeschooling in Real Life is all about.


Increase Your Science-Teaching Mojo With These 4 Tips

This post was graciously written by Paige Hudson, guest on our newest episode, I Love Homeschooling But I'm Not a Good Teacher. Affiliate links included.


Often just the word “science” can strike the fear into the heart of homeschool mom. Many fear that because we disliked science or didn’t understand the subject, there’s no way that we could ever be a good science teacher.

But this doesn’t have to be the case! You can teach science, even if the thought of science textbooks and dissections makes you want to gag.

Here are four tips to increase your science-teaching mojo! 

Tip #1 – Do lots of hands-on.        

What kid doesn’t prefer to do a hands-on project over reading about a subject in a textbook? After all, doing it is way more fun than reading about it!

Adding scientific demonstrations, experiments, nature study, online dissections, and even science fair projects serve to ramp up your student’s interest in the subject. Plus it gives your child a chance to see the principles he or she is learning about in action!

Doing science instead of reading about it in boring book will serve to make you look like a super-star science teacher. 

Tip #2 – Read oodles of great non-fiction and living books.    

There are a multitude of options available to help you study science beyond the standard textbook.

Non-fiction books like the Let’s Read and Find Out series allow you to dig deeper into a subject at a level that your student will understand. Living books like the Sassafras Science Adventures and the Burgess Bird Book create excitement and adventure around science facts for your child.

Reading from these resources makes learning scientific information tons of fun, which will cause your student to think you rock at teaching science. 

Tip #3 – Watch tons of science video.    

Videos from Magic School Bus, National Geographic, BBC, and more bring a visual tie-in to the principles your student needs to know. Plus, watching a movie is a great break from the standard routine.

Letting your child watch movies for science one day will definitely increase your cool-science-teacher factor. 

Tip #4 – Get the right curriculum.    

The right curriculum supports your weak spots and adds to your strengths. It will provide the guidance and direction you need. No one curriculum fits every homeschooler, so don’t be afraid to look at all the options before you decide which one will work for you. And if it turns out that after several months, it just isn’t working, don’t be afraid to pitch it for something new.

Having the right curriculum on hand will serve to give you the confidence you need to be the best science teacher you can be. 

In a Nutshell    

Add in some hands-on, some great books, and some videos. Support those with the right curriculum for your situation and you’ll have a recipe for some major science-teaching mojo! 


 

 

Paige Hudson is an author, speaker, and homeschooling mom of two. She discovered her love of science early on which developed into a passion for sharing the subject with homeschoolers and students. You can also find her sharing tips and tools for homeschool science education at her blog, Elemental Blogging, and at her company’s websites, Sassafras Science and Elemental Science

The Homeschool Post

Our Top 7 Books of 2014

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Books that inspired us, made us laugh, made us think, showed us a bit more about God, and engaged our children, here on our list of top seven books we read in 2014. Fletch has openly admitted that he's not much of a reader, so the list is Kendra-heavy. But if we had a top ten podcasts list? Fletch's list would be the whole post!

Fletch

Live in Wonder is a book that will help you engage in the art of conversation, with your family, your friends, your co-workers. 
Live in Wonder Journal accompanies the book in a thoughtful way.

Kendra

New Morning Mercies is Paul Tripp's new devotional, and it has been a wonderful treat for me. I recently wrote about it on the Preschoolers and Peace site: My Favorite Devotional of 2014 (and It's Not Just For Moms).

Wonder - Our daughters and I started this one when we knew we'd be in the car a lot this fall. A boy born with a severe facial deformity, a loving family that seeks to protect and defend him, and a world that tries to come to terms with a different definition of "normal". The girls are 15, 13, and 11, while I am 44, and we all were deeply touched by Wonder.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is Crystal Paine's (Money Saving Mom) treatise on getting control of the life that's making you feel as if you're drowning. Even though I'm already an organized person who loves to chase balance, I found nuggets in Crystal's book that helped me pinpoint the most important ways to spend my time and shave off what needed to go. 
 
Miss Buncle's Book - What happens when the most unlikely person to write a book about the whole town writes a book about the whole town, and it becomes a bestseller? Written in the 1920's, Miss Buncle's Book was nothing but a pleasure to read. 

My Escape From the Auto de Fe - I've read literally hundreds of chapter books aloud to our kids over the past 20 years or so, and I'm always looking for interesting, engaging historical fiction that stands the test of time. My Escape From the Auto de Fe was a new title for us, and it quickly rose to the top of the list of really great titles to read aloud. The Spanish Inquisition, Christians escaping, and plenty of adventure!

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches is the 6th book in a series of murder mysteries set in 1950's England. The heroine is a spunky 11-year-old girl who loves chemistry, her father, and their dilapidated English manor home. If you want to start at the beginning of the series, pick up a copy of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.

David and Goliath - I'm a big Malcolm Gladwell fan, and was particularly interested in his newest title, David and Goliath. Are underdogs really behind the 8-ball, or is there something working in their favor when what seems like the impossible comes true?

So, that was actually 9 ;)

What are your favorite books of 2014?