Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Above academic pursuits is the process of building character. If all my sons get out of our education process is head knowledge I will consider what I've done a failure. The information itself is a waste without a relationship with Christ. The ability to respect authority, maintain healthy relationships, accept responsibility and have a strong work ethic will give them the groundwork to be a productive member of society. Through the process they will learn to listen for God's calling in their lives as to higher education, vocation, where to live, how to serve, if to marry and to whom and if to have children. God's success is what's important not America's definition.

M is entering a time at 21 months where our parenting must be united, consistent and effective with love. Parenting is not for the lazy or for those with out the conviction to make hard choices for the better long term development of their children. We must start the foundational principals of our parenting approach with one question. What does God expect from me? He expects immediate obedience and with a good attitude. (See Jonah's story of running from God's command to go to Nineveh in disobedient defience to understand God's stance and  reaction.)  How are we going to prepare our children to meet the expectations God has for them? We've had some humbling experiences approaching toddler hood which have required communication between us two, prayer, God's word and advice from Godly parents who are ahead of us on this road.

 A friend recently shared an acronym - those always help cement broad ideas in my head for
Principles of Character Mark 12:30-31        


1. Respect authority
Colossians 1:16-17, Colossians 3:18-22, Romans 3:1-7, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13-18
   Through out their lives they will always have someone in authority over them. First of all and always God, us as his parents and our government's legal system such as police and judges. As a child those authorities include extended adult relatives, Sunday school teacher, other caregivers. As an adult, college professors, a boss, a board they report to or customers to answer to and a spouse to consider. Men especially have such power within their control. The ability to make sound decisions, with self control and a level caring heart, as to what's best; not easiest, not just fun, not just for them; is crucial. We were created for God, God was not created for us. My husband is an amazing example of doing good that silences others. He has an amazing work ethic and a loyally servant heart.

2. Esteem others
Galatians 5:13-15, Colossians 3:12-15, Romans 12:10, 14-18, Romans 13:8-10, Hebrews 3:13, 1 Peter 1, 22-23
Through out their entire lives they will have relationships. Friends can be a source of great encouragement, refuge, support and love. Making the choice to be this kind of friend will attract this type of friend. Looking for friends who chose compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience will save them from so much pain, heart ache, and being influenced towards unGodly choices. Surrounding themselves with positive encouraging people is absolutely priceless because relationships can also be a source of comparison, competition and gossip that can destroy. Only God can fill all your needs and validate you.  When we chose to put vain conceit and pride aside and  honor others first, we are unselfishly loving them for what's best for them, not for ourselves and what we can get from them. Interesting that while the first ten commandments are about our relationship with God, the last five our commandments regarding our relationships with others. Loving- God's definition of patient, kind, protects, trusts, hopes and persevering in it's faithfulness towards those we love. It's not rude, envious, self seeking, not proud, doesn't keep record of wrongs and not easily angered.

3. Accept Responsibility
 The Fall: Genesis 3, 2 Chronicles 12:5-7 Rehoboam verses Acts 5 Ananias , confession of sin 1 John 1:8-10
     From the first sin humankind has been doing everything we can to escape personal responsibility for our wrong choices. First Adam and Eve hid from God when they knew what they had done was wrong. Then, the finger pointing started with Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the serpent. One of the foundations of a relationship with Christ is confession of sin to God. It's not for God, it's for our sakes. He doesn't forgive what we don't admit.  We refuse to do so by either rationalizing, justifying or trying to unsurp God's authority and become our own mini God with a different set of standards rewriting the definition of sin so we can quiet our own inner conscience. We also try setting a different standard then our separation from God begins. The harder our heart becomes with pride and denial the further that gap widens. God does not move. He is loyal, steadfast and never changing ready to forgive and love. It is us that shies away from Him with shame, rebellion and defiance.  In Rehoboam's case once they humbled themselves, God showed His mercy but when Ananias and Sapphira lied about their deceit and refused to come clean they perished. His word tells us if we confess He will forgive. There is nothing new under the sun and we can't shock or scare God away with how sinful we've been. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. There are no scales, no little white lies or shading of our acts to shrug off- it's all sin to God.

Our culture especially seeks for the easy way out, to avoid pain, growth, problems or waiting. The escape and coping mechanisms are as vast as the types of personalities, struggles and pain we all bear. From alcohol,drugs, smoking, to every day habits taken to extreme like eating,shopping, education,  gossip, criticism, judgement We hide our pain in otherwise daily routine escapes in any and all effort to not talk through, pray about and make concerted efforts to deal with and change that which becomes destructive in our lives. We spend so much time going over, under or around the core issues partly because we fear we can't handle the strength of our own hurt. We are scared to be overwhelmed by the sheer impact. We vastly underestimate the protection, comfort and healing presence of our Lord. Hurting people hurt people and the cycle continues until someone deals with what is broken inside themselves.

4. Diligence in all things
 Ezra rebuilding the temple in Ezra 5 & 6, Proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 13:4, 21:5, Colossians 3:17 & 23, Hebrews 6:10-11, 1 Timothy 4: 15-16
God oversees all of our earthly work. Work was part of God's master design for this world  long before the curse of it being hard. Work is good for serving others and building character.  It's not just an ends to a means of a paycheck or self worth or accomplishment in itself. We can also know that once God lays on our heart a task, nothing- not confusion, delay or frustration- can block His plans. Commentary from Ezra, " It's not always easy to speak up for our faith in an unbelieving world, but we must. The way to deal with pressure and intimidation is to recognize that we are workers for God. Our allegiance is to Him first, people second. When we contemplate the reactions and criticisms of hostile people, we can become paralyzed with fear. If we try to offend no one or please everyone, we won't be effective." I'm so glad Colossians 3:17 was part of this support because that's the one I always think of when work is concerned. I'm an efficiency girl, I like to get it done right and quickly and move on. But there are times my desire to move forward outweighs the thoroughness a project deserves. My husband is a thorough person. I learn often from him the rewards of  paying attention to details and being patient. Through faith and perseverance completely finishing and reviewing a task before moving on is a great reward. This scripture is also imperative in our approach of honesty, not cutting corners, cheating and being lazy. Our service is always under God's loving watchful eye. Regardless of the ethics of the person, company or organization we might be working for we are called to do it with all of our heart.

"All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." 1 Peter 1:24

Getting closer

This site has the closest to what I envision us starting one week from today :-) eeeekkk I went shopping today to get a few more items. I'll order the last of the priority one items by Friday to get here in time for our school to begin. From what I've heard most children at the 18-24 month age go twice a week to preschool for half a day. Using that as a general rule of thumb, my aim is to do school 3 days a week. Two days on the primary theme and one day for the secondary theme. I'll have my checklist of activities and all my materials set and we can get set to learn starting after breakfast and ending before nap time. That's loosely about 9 to 12 pm would be our teaching time window. I'm going to put the expectation of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Monday is spent recovering from the weekend and for mommy to prepare for the upcoming week. Friday morning hopefully for Ladies Bible Study. Only thing left to do is keep praying. I pray not to compare, not to be competitive. I pray to have a positive, encouraging fun atmosphere for learning. I pray to show Christ's love for my boys. I pray to focus on both of them and their different needs.

The LOTW - Letter of the Week- A scripture has already been going through my head a few times a day. Proverbs 15:1 " A gentle answer turns away wrath."

Friday, August 26, 2011


This week we've been a bit derailed by the sickies. I could make a long list of the goals we didn't achieve and people we didn't see but the most important thing happened. M and I snuggled rocking in the wee hours of the morning and got through the sickies together. M is very susceptible to the croup. He is 21 months old and this is the 5th time he's had it. Waking up with two little boys during the night takes it out of this mama. At least it's not contagious so D at 2 months is safe. D has been doing great, in fact sleeping longer until last night. I was up half the night with him last night. So, in the mean time, the cool mist humidifier is going and I'm trying to keep M cool -in 105 degree Texas weather- and calm - toddlerhood ;-) - so he can get better.

I'm reading some articles and continue to scour for more material during the small window both boys are down for a nap to support the lessons I have planned for the year. I found a couple of new resources here for my helper unit and here for yet more alphabet help. I also really enjoyed reading this article about keeping up with the homeschool Joneses. It really spoke to my tendency to compare and for perfectionism. We'll get back on track when my little guy feels better. Nothing checked off a list is more important than taking care of my little men.

Update on Saturday: Now D, who is 2 months old has come down with the croup too.  All four members of our little family have some range of cough and stuffiness. I hope sleep comes soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alphabet Activities

We are recovering from our fun busy weekend with extended family being in town. Today I worked on compiling all the activities I have found applicable for teaching letter recognition. Since I'm a visual learner, I made a spreadsheet. I think I may start by printing on card stock and checking off or highlighting when we have completed that particular activity for each letter. If the activity wasn't received well, I'll indicate and try it again some other time... or not.

Pink indicates supplies still to buy. I provided a column for activities we come up with along the way. There are a few more I have in mind not notes but, I'm not sure he's old enough for include cutting and pasting. We'll see :-)

Next I'll do an activity list for bible, unit studies, colors, shapes and numbers.

I am inspired by seasoned homschoolers. There is nothing new under the sun and I don't want or need to reinvent the wheel plus imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Here are just a few thoughts from a lovely Christian lady who was home schooled along with her 5 siblings and is now homeschooling her 4 children that have given me food for thought:
 "Math is useless without the Sum of All Life. Language is nothing without the Author of Words. Science is pointless without the Creator of Life. History is empty without the Beginning and the End. “We learn for one purpose, and one alone. We learn to have more opportunities to know HIM better. Everything else is just a tool to serve Him more effectively.”

I prayerfully desire to remember these thoughts. I hope to maintain the focus, pig picture, motivation and heart behind these statements. They reflect such an intentional root drive behind what Christian educators are trying to achieve. Shaping and guiding our children's hearts towards Christ and the acknowledgement that everything we do is for and because of Him can only be done with deep connection with Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Thank you again Courtney for allowing God to work through you to inspire others like myself.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Test Run- part 2

Yesterday delivered was my gleefully ordered educational tool from last week called Education Cubes. The cubes are actually marketed to hold photographs, but this brilliant blogger has made inserts and given instructions on how to use them for what ever you are teaching. 

I try not to get sucked in to spending money on anything that's single purpose and only for a short period. Since Jen has inserts for everything from geography to sight words, these can be used for years to come. I foresee getting a second set when D is ready in a couple of years. I set each of the 4 cubes with a different concept.  The Letter of the Week curriculum is courtesy of Confessions of a Homeschooler 

I pointed out a few things and then began asking him what's that as I pointed. He named a few :-) Then he started building a tower with them, so we moved on.
  Next was chenille sticks. He watched me bend them in to letters and named A, B C, E and F. ( I did A through F)

Then we broke out the foam letters and numbers. I placed them around the table and M pulled off his favorites. I said the name of it as I was sticking them on. At one point, he starts going around the circle of the table in a sing song way calling them all E ;-)

We also had foam shapes and numbers we played with. I really like the idea that he's having fun and just getting familiar with the shapes of all these.
 Next was the molding clay. I'm still not 100% it's gluten free, (I have Celiac and M will be tested when he turns 2 in November. In the meantime we have eliminated gluten from his diet as a precaution) but I just made sure neither one of us had our hands near our mouths.

Last, we went outside as M's attention span was waning. Mommy drew A through D upper and lower case with side walk chalk on the back porch. We didn't stay long since it was already 105 outside and being in the half shade didn't help much against the sting of the heat.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Test Run

Yesterday afternoon while nursing D, M watched Leap Frog Letter Factory. Five people recommended this video and it completely lived up to the hype. It's a great visual support to the fridge phonics system we already have.  Professor Quigley is in there with Toad's voice as are the songs the fridge system sings. The video inspired me to spend yesterday's nap time printing out a slew of A through D visuals on card stock. I spent M's snack time while he was in a high chair cutting them out. He really enjoyed playing with the excess paper bits afterwards. I was only planning on doing the A supports in a scavenger hunt, but since most of the smaller flashcards came 4 to a page I adjusted. I'm so glad I did :-)

I had in mind to do a scavenger hunt, but M's idea was SO much better!  This morning, we started out with Brainy Baby ABC's for M while I was nursing D.  Then, we played and learned for an hour while D was sleeping before M's nap time this morning. I got out my bag of letters- 32  different kinds of each letter- and the fun began :-) The letters came from -those that had their names on the material- Homeschool Share, Homeschool Creations, 1+1+1=1, The Moffatt Girls, Confessions of a HomeSchooler, Kidzclub, Kindergarten Kiosk, Itsy Bitsy Learners, Projects by Jess and Lakeshore Learning. Links to these sites are on the left.
I started pulling them out of the bag and M just started touching, throwing, playing, literally swimming in them. Note, must laminate them. Even heavy card stock is no match against an active 21 month old boy.

He was just playing around even after some prompting so I started gathering them up, but he poured them back out again.

So I then started telling him again which letter was which and sorting them in to piles.

I asked again to start naming letters and he could name A, B and C in random orders in different shapes, sizes, fonts and colors. 3 out of 4 is great :-))

We took a break and spun around in the chair for a few minutes. Then we moved on to the fridge phonics and track letters. We played each letter's song and found A through D in the bucket of 26 track letters. How neat that the colors were the same for the letter with both of these activities.

Then M pointed to the books so I got 5 of them down. We read A through D in each one.

He held the Veggie Tales ABC the rest of the time we were reading.

Next we moved on to our puzzles, naming the letters as we placed them in and then me pointing to the empty space and asking him to find the missing letter piece.

Then he worked on number, animal and transportation puzzles. As we go through out the afternoon I'm going to make a point to count the things we see.  Also, this morning I ordered off of Kids Woot a 6 DVD set of educational videos. They were only $5 - $10.81 once you including tax and S&H. They include: abc's, numbers & shapes, phonics, preschool, alphabet train and counting.

We had a great fun morning. We worked within his attention span at his pace. If M didn't respond to something I'd move on, try it again, then move to something else. I don't want to internalize at what rate or which approach is most effective with that particular concept. This is about learning his process, taking his queus within the overall goal of learning. There were giggles, clapping, 'ooohhhs' , and stopping to think on his part. Lots of pictures, video, quick on my feet thinking and grins on mommy's part.

We'll work on another concept tomorrow to be determined and then use some of the crafts to reinforce the shape of the letters A through D. Friday, Nana and Papa are in town so we'll take a day off. No pressure, this is all a pre-assessment until September 6th to see where he is at. We'll see what concepts and approaches speak to his strengths. Finding out coming naturally for him and what will require more creativity, time and resources to teach for the year is all part of the journey.

Oh The Places We'll Go

Great resource from Teaching Blog Addict of blog listings by homeschool, by grade level and for special ed/ ESL teachers. I had to bookmark this one :-)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Half way there

I'm reaching the half way point in obtaining our school supply list for the fall. I prioritized the necessary items through out the year to be more practical about cost. We have a great start with books, puzzles, DVD's and crafts to help Matthew in a few weeks. I'm praying for week 1 to occur Labor Day week on September 5th. We're already trying out a few approaches to tinker and tweak. It's very cool to see how he processes and what doesn't work and why. I'll post some organized results when our school officially begins. Until then we have family coming in town.  Hint: He's eating up the puzzles and phonetic sounds. E is his favorite letter so far ;-) I think today we'll experiment with a letter scavenger hunt through the house. Here are a few recent finds.

Dollar Tree:


Alphabet Books so far. I'm still on the look out for ABC Bunny and ABC Bible Verses.

Alphabet Puzzles. I really like that the top one has lower case letters underneath to match with the upper case pieces.

Alphabet manipluatives. ( I have tried 4 different ways to upload this pic the right way. It's rotated correctly in my main picture folders. I don't know why this one didn't all the others did.) I wanted to show the flashcards, phonics, blocks, dry erase board bottle caps and other Letter supports. The clay and pipe cleaners - soon geo board, twisters, shoe laces- can bend in the shape of the letters- numbers and shapes also.

Ideas for projects and crafts to reinforce concepts.

 Books on a planned Dog unit. M is crazy about them. We stopped by the pet store yesterday while we were running errands so he could have a visit. The huge smile and giggles said it was a wise choice.





Thursday, August 11, 2011

School Supplies

Like freshly sharpened bouquets of pencils.... Great line from a movie :-) There is something about fall and school supplies. Now that I'm completed my mom binder and lesson plan forms, my next task is obtaining my list of necessary items to teach. I've updated the previous projects with my results.

The Don't Haves....

And the Haves...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lessons Plans

A Teacher's Plan: Templates

The Mom Binder project is done for now to the extent it can be. The Printables section is really the most unfilled. I will print out paper materials as we go along. Most of what we are doing is activity not paper driven since M is only 21 months old.

The second unfinished section is Lesson Planning. So, I'm looking for some ideas as how to schedule out our time by day and hour. This site was great inspiration! I'm going to start planning out a month at a time and see how that works. I have chosen at least through preschool to go with the spiral teaching method. Since I know our local public school district's Kindergarten Readiness Plans centers mostly around letters, numbers, shapes and colors, I will teach those core concepts in increasing degrees of difficulty for the next 3 years. That will bring us to the fall M turns 5. Year one of preschool - age 2- will be speaking and identification. Year two of preschool - age 3- will be phonics and one to one correspondence. Year 3 - age 4- will involve writing and counting to 20. Bible, life & social skills, art, music, PE, and unit studies will be taught each year.

Weekly Lesson Plan Forms

Planning Ahead

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Totally Tots: Simply Made ~ The Funny Font Book

Totally Tots: Simply Made ~ The Funny Font Book: "One of the things I've noticed over the years as I've interacted with children and books, is that depending upon the font used, children ..."

To go along with my current Alphabet Frenzy :-) Also this week, I received from a preschool teacher and fellow mom friend Alphabet window clings. We are having so much fun!

Mom Binder

For the next few days, I'll be getting organized on paper. I bought my 3 ring binder, sheet protectors and card stock. I'm happily printing away my version of this. Yes, she and I chose the same blog layout. I'll update this post later with my results :-))

Click here
I've updated this post with the cover and TOC for my Mom binder.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Changing the Way We Speak By Examining the Heart

I was just reviewing yesterday's blog post just before I went to check my email. I often do this and usually find grammar and sentence structure mistakes in my enthusiasm to express what's on my heart. So, I went to check email and received my daily devotional from Girlfriends in God. Sharon articulated a core issue I was struggling to convey yesterday. The post was entitled, "Changing the Way We Speak by Examining the Heart" by Sharon Jaynes. In closing she shared the following scriptures:
The book of Proverbs has much to say about how the condition of our heart affects what we say.
  • Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)
  • The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. (Proverbs 10:8)
  • A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly. Proverbs 12:23)
  • An anxious heart weights a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. (Proverbs 12:25)
  • The discerning heart seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. (Proverbs 15:14)
  • The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (Proverbs 15:28 TNIV)
  • A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones. (Proverbs 15:30)
  • The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21)
  • The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and theirlips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23 TNIV)
  • One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend. (Proverbs 22:11 TNIV)
  • Like a coating of glaze over earthenware are ferventlips with an evil heart. (Proverbs 26:23)
  • Enemies disguise themselves with their lips, but in their hearts they harbor deceit. Though their speech is charming, do not believe them, for seven abominations fill their hearts. (Proverbs 26:24, 25 TNIV)
  • As the water reflects a face, so one’s life reflects the heart. (Proverbs 27:18 TNIV)
These scriptures really spoke to me about what I was talking about with heart issues effecting our actions, choices and direction in our life. We are all capable of faking it until we make it. Anyone can be on their best behavior, sell themselves, fake church, do all the right things for all the wrong reasons, and put the front of having their 'act' together. Our feelings effect our thoughts. Thoughts effect beliefs. Beliefs determine choices. Habitual choices are the foundation of character. What happens though when the people we so want to impress, seek approval from or respect for, leave? Character is what we do when no one is watching, is reflected in how we treat those we can't benefit from, it's what happens when we are sure we won't get caught and no one will find out. In the end everything we think, say and do is for an audience of One. His way , His view, His laws, His love is all that will matter. These are the core issues I hope to address through loving, training, correction, direction, encouragement and most importantly listening to my children.

We as parents are fighting against a huge wave of popular culture counter to our beliefs. A system of beliefs and actions based on very unstable foundations. Finding self worth in anything exciting, glamorous, sexy and instantly fun. These messages enable selfishness, immaturity, irresponsibility, materialism, arrogance, apathy, hard hearts, laziness, and entitlement. Everything tells us we don't have to wait, we should - and deserve- perfection, to have everything we want, when and how we want it. Money, status, appearance, acceptance, even our families and friends will all change. Stock markets crash, jobs are lost, people age, friends/ family will hurt and disappoint us, others will reject us and loved ones pass away. Maybe just because I now have sons, I'm so much more aware of how cheap our culture portrays physical intimacy. It's reduced to a biological function that you can just do with anyone and further the lie by saying as long as you have a physical layer of protection - from unwanted pregnancies and diseases- it's fine. Convictions are something to be hidden along with our faith in anything besides what society deems important at that moment.
God offers us the real & lasting protection, self worth, belonging, peace of mind, happiness and security we crave instead of the dangerous illusion of it the world offers. Sometimes it's like convincing a child that's it's worth it to wait and save up their money for the real well made item instead of settling for the cheap shiny plastic toy that will beak in an hour. Encouraging a teen to wait for mature, respectful, committed love rather than giving away any part of their heart, time, or body for temporary shallow acceptance and approval. It just doesn't compare in the long run.
I take seriously my responsibility as their mother to model, encourage and pray for the 4 pillars from Luke 2:52, " Jesus grew in wisdom (academic) and stature (physically), and in favor with God (spiritual) and man (social). "

Sunday, August 7, 2011

To Motivate, Teach and Inspire

Another area I've been researching is motivation, personality, love languages, learning styles, birth order, gender differences and overall age development relative to learning. So, if hypothetically M is -in order- internally motivated, cautious, introverted, touch, kinesthetic, first born leader male during the toddler years (based on a mix of 'norms' and parts of what I see in him as his mother). How do I approach reaching him, making learning real so that M - eventually D- is understanding concepts and implementing life application lessons, rather than memorization for it's own knowledge sake? I don't want to pigeon hole or label my sons. Both M and D will grow and change exploring different ways and views until they ultimately decide for themselves the path God has for them. They are not the sum of a list of traits, sins, choices or accomplishments. They are a complex beautiful creation reflecting Our Maker. I do want to know their hearts, minds and what they are passionate about which in the end enriches their learning experiences and hopefully their overall walk with God. I believe by first knowing who you are then you know what to pray for. You become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. I don't believe any trait is in and of itself negative. Any strength taken too far or becomes harmful to yourself/others can be a weakness ultimately. Understanding where my children are coming from and how they view and process their world will help me to get in there with them.

I have seen some great ideas for organization from work boxes to schedules done in pocket charts to help give structure keeping the learning process moving on a daily basis. I'm very excited to start up a calendar time area in our learning space. I'm slowly putting together my Mom Binder full of lesson plans, ideas, goals, resources etc.

Specifically, I am an alphabet nerd lately. I have at least 22 pdf's full of activities for each letter of the alphabet folder to complete a Letter of the Week theme. Ideas like this from 1+1+1=1, Confessions of a Homeschooler, and File Folder Heaven have me all excited looking forward to the process of M and D understanding letters. These passionate teachers are incredibly generous sharing their time and talents for free online.

For Shapes, Colors and Numbers I've found great tools from sites like KidsSparkz, KizClub, GrowinginPreK, Preschool Palace, KidsLearningStation, as well as great books from Veggie Tales, Eric Carle - Brown Bear Brown Bear and The Very Hungry Caterpillar and others. I have games, puzzles and toys to reinforce concepts. Just last week, we worked on shapes and then spent the next 5 minutes pointing them out around the house. M would run, point and yell excitedly, "circle!"

The Unit Studies came mainly from 1+1+1=1, 2 Teaching Mommies, Homeschool Creations, Homeschool Share, Mama's Monkey's, Lawteedah, School Express with miscellaneous resources for support such as Moffatt Girls, Ingles360, and ABC & 123

The Montessori manipulatives like the movable alphabet, sandpaper letters, and the geoboard are on my wishlist. Other hands on tools like Education cubes, bottle cap activities, fridge phonics, window clings, play doh mats, lacing cards and push pins will aid with learning for our 2 year old lesson plans.

Other great resources are found on Pinterest, Teacher's Notebook and TpT. I will do my absolute best to give credit where it's due as I post about our learning experiences. I am so grateful for all of these sites as well as others in this learning adventure.

No matter how anyone chooses to educate their children, every parent is their child's first teacher. If my husband and I provide a loving, accepting home environment; M and D will ask us questions, tell us when we've failed them and challenge why we do the things we do, think that way, feel that way. Through the parenting process our very hearts and lives are laid open to these incredible human beings God has entrusted to us for how ever long He chooses. We are their role models on how to be an adult. We show them by our choices and actions what is acceptable and desirable adult behavior. I would pray that not only are our superficial acts, but the deeper heart reasons of why we live the life we've chosen becomes evident to them as they grow up. It's a conviction and calling for me to mature, to step up and self examine the kind of follower of God I am to my boys. I pray the story of my life, both failures, challenges and accomplishments in the end will bring them to a closer understanding of the love, acceptance, forgiveness and never ending presence of God in their hearts.

So, I ask myself am I providing a foundation that encourages them? Am I helping them see God working in our world, country, state, city, church, extended family, home and our hearts? Raising children is a motivation to me as well to stay intimately connected to the only source of true unshakable strength, courage and integrity.

Friday, August 5, 2011

How do I know what to Teach?

It's been interesting receiving feedback as we've slowly started mentioning how we have chosen to educate our boys. I have been praying to give them a very thorough education. I'm still researching Common Core Standards by Grade as well as accessing the TAKS tests from 3rd through 11th grade that Texas students are required to pass. I've broken the subjects down by grade to see what concepts are taught when. Based on information I found posted on public and private school sites, I've come up with a broad big picture guideline so far through 8th grade.

I saw an interesting article today that I want to keep in mind. It stuck with me as a perfectionist. Failure to me is a negative thing and I don't want to pass on that to my sons. Failing at something could be God's plan to teach me, reach a lost soul or help someone else get a yes to their prayer. I have to remember it's not all about me. I don't see the entire picture, only God does. I could - easily- stress about this homeschooling journey and focus on the degree of perfection, thoroughness, completeness, how far ahead, accomplished my children are and ultimately lose sight of a relationship with, need for, trust in, relying on God journey and that's what I want both for myself and the example we set for our sons:

4 Easy Steps to Help You Fail at Homeschooling from Five J's
Posted By Joy On December 31, 2009 (11:34 am) In Homeschooling

Thousands of books and internet articles have been written about how to succeed at homeschooling. But I'm going to offer you something a bit different.

If you've ever wondered how to fail at homeschooling, you've come to the right place. Here are four easy steps to help you fail as at homeschooling. This vital information has been gleaned from five years of intense experimentation with my own children, and it's sure to work every time.

1. Plan too much.

When you sit down to make your lesson plans, make sure you schedule every minute of your 6-8 hour school day. Be sure to plan the exact page numbers to be covered every day, and include several non-core classes each day, at least an hour of daily read-aloud time, field trips at least once a week, and hands-on projects every other day.
If a homeschool publisher says that a particular curriculum should take 36 weeks to complete, you can double up on the lessons and finish it in half the time. Oh, and when doctor visits interrupt your homeschooling day, be sure to make up the lost school time to get back on your schedule by having your children work late into the night or on the weekend. Your children might have to forego spending time with friends, but remember, finishing your curriculum is of the upmost importance, so sometimes sacrifices have to be made. The most important thing to remember is that under no circumstances should your lesson plans ever be more than a half-day off track.

2. Plan too little.

If you know you want to cover science three times a week, English four times a week, and mathematics five times a week, simply make one weekly schedule that will be good for each week of the school year. There's no need to write down the exact pages or units to be covered each day since you'll just cover the next lesson in each subject on the assigned day. When doctor visits interrupt your homeschooling day, don't worry, you can just leave the school work until the next day. Afterall, you won't technically be 'behind' since you don't have specific assignments worked out. Oh, and for those extra curricular activities like teaching your children art or how to cook? Don't worry about planning out exactly what you want to cover; inspiration for art and cooking lessons always come best at the last minute.

3. Plan too frequently.

Make out your lesson plans only a week — or even better — only a day ahead of time. That way you'll be able to adjust your plans to your ever-changing family schedule. Don't worry that you won't know if you're on track to finish the curriculum by the end of the school year, or that you might finish it too quickly so that the last couple months of the school year are a little lean on the curriculum-side. Oh, and when sickness, unforeseen family commitments, or a simple lack of motivation strikes and you're not feeling up to planning? Never fear, your husband will step in, and through his amazing ability to read your mind, he will plan the next day's lessons for you — exactly as you would have done it. No worries!

4. Plan too infrequently.

If planning on a weekly or daily basis sounds like too much trouble, instead take a few days at the end of the summer and plan out the entire school year. Make sure that you allow sufficient time to finish up each curriculum; so if the curriculum says it'll take 36 weeks to finish, go ahead and take it up to the last day of the school year. After all, you don't want to have finished up all your curriculum two months before school is officially supposed to end for the year. Oh, and when you realize that a particular curriculum isn't working for your child a few months into the school year, you'll just have to deal with it. If your child changes curriculum mid-year, it'll mess up your perfectly-planned schedule and the new curriculum won't be finished by the end of the school year. Don't worry though, you can work the new curriculum into your plans for the next school year.

So how do you actually succeed at homeschooling?

Obviously I've written this article with my tongue firmly in my cheek. But really, each of these four points I have undertaken with gusto at one time or another — and I've failed miserably each time.
What I've come to realize is that to succeed in homeschooling your children, you have to find a balance in your scheduling — somewhere in between each of these points above — where you and your children can operate the best.(For me, that balance is doing a general year-long curriculum plan at the beginning of the year — making sure the curriculum is assigned frequently enough to finish in a year — and then planning specifically only six weeks at at time.)

It's okay to fail.

In fact, I didn't plan well enough for our December term (that'd be my point #2 above) and we ended up not doing any school work for most of the month because I didn't plan specifically enough. But the important thing is to get back up and try again — just with a different method.
Eventually you'll find the balance you need, and believe it or not, your children will likely not be worse for wear. In fact, seeing that adults don't always get things right the first time might actually be a great life lesson for them, especially if they also see how those same adults react to their failure.
So what about you? What learn-through-failure experiences have you had in homeschooling?

Hopefully through it all, we will all be Growing and Learning His way.

Courtesy of: Abiding Mom

Super Mom/ Abiding Mom
Does/ Is (Psalm 46:10)
Tries to impress others / Pleases the Lord (Eph. 5:10,Proverbs 29:25)
Is controlled by an agenda/ Is controlled by the Holy Spirit: (Gal. 5:22-26)
Her self worth is found in her accomplishments/ Found in who she is in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:10)
Her peace is found in the “perfect” environment/ Found in Jesus in the midst of any storm (Is 26:3)
She is discouraged by failure/ Failure reminds her that God's strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
She expects perfection from herself and others/ She practices grace with herself and others (Eph 4:32)
She teaches her kids to be good/ She teaches her kids to be Godly (Proverbs 22:6)
She is frustrated with her lack of spiritual fruit/ She abides in Christ and bears much fruit (John 15:5)
She does things with her children/ She builds a relationship with her children (Deut 6:6-7)
Her perspective is based on what is seen/ Her perspective is based on what is unseen (Col 3:2)
She chooses quantity of activities/ She chooses the most excellent Way (I Cor 13)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beginner Reader Book Set

There is something about a chance to get something free that gets me. I can't resist, especially if it's for the benefit of educating my children. To enter, people ask others to spread the word and post about the giveaway on your own blog. So here goes one from Moffatt Girls for a Beginner Reader Book Set of 30 books including:

Set 1-Preschool-Kindergarten (10 books)
Set 2-Kindergarten-First Grade (10 books)
Set 3-First Grade (10 books)

Her Ready2Read and other printables are fantastic :-)

The Moffatt Girls

Update August 6, 2011. I won this, yeaaaa!!! Thank you SO much Annie!

Welcome :-)

I first started personal blogging after some encouragement in 2007. Now, since my interest and passion have grown so much over the last year in wanting to homeschool my two sons, I've decided to start a separate blog to chronicle that adventure. I'm a big fan of scrapbooking but since having my first son in 2009 I have spent shamefully little time putting memories on paper. By the time I get out the supplies and print off the pictures, someone needs something. I tried general digital scrapbooking but something about it doesn't appeal to me as much. Writing has always tended to be cathartic to me. I've kept some kind of journal since I was 12, so here is our journal of learning and growing in the Lord, which hopefully will never end. Even when formal concrete building education ends, I believe learning is a life long journey.

I'll use this first entry also to explain why I wanted to teach my boys this way. For anyone who doesn't know me in person I have 20 month old and 7 week old sons. It took almost three years to get pregnant with our first son and I am an older mom. Those factors combined with a long history of love for children including college level early childhood education classes, being a nanny and working for a pre-school I knew I wanted to be personally involved in the education of my children. Who else is going to love them more (outside of God) and be more invested in their academic, spiritual, physical and emotional growth than Billy and I are? I will explain I am an all or nothing kind of person in general so when I get passionate about something... well you'll see. I pray the process of educating my children will be thorough covering reading, writing, bible, math, science, history, geography and cultures with a biblical world view yet flexible in the sense of what my children's learning style is. Yet I am human so, whatever gaps despite my extensive research may be present, I pray my children will have a love for learning and have a life long adventure of discovery.

M will be 2 this fall so I started back in the winter months gathering information. (Actually this has been a twinkle in my eye since I became pregnant with M in 2009 and I began visiting local co-op meetings with some friends) I started building a scope and sequence based on the common core standards for our local district's Kindergarten. I have in the works a school supply list and a dream for our playroom to morph in to a classroom. My lesson plans for this school year are generally in place, now I'm down to weekly plans of how to achieve the overall bigger goal of letter, number, shape and color recognition as well as pattern, sequencing, critical thinking, fine & gross motor, social & emotional skills, etc... I'll also be weaving in a weekly scripture to memorize and a bible virtue with a lesson.

I have several favorite online resources that I'll tag in the sidebar soon in case anything catches your eye. I am looking forward to the task that God has laid on my heart and I ask for your prayers as we journey forward in our pursuit of a love for Life Long Learning.