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Our Home School Space 2012-2013

I don’t have a “school room” like I have seen on a lot of blogs… our home school space is at our dining room table. Right now that is the space we have and we will make it work joyfully! After seeing some amazing home school spaces outfitted with everything matching and everything IKEA and everything oh-so-perfect, I was hesitant to post my simple space, but none of that extra “stuff” is necessary for children to be successful students. I am noticing that it is easy to become overwhelmed and guilty in the homeschooling crowd… I’m gonna need the Lord to keep reminding me of my purpose in homeschooling– to please Him!

So here it is… our school space:

Our home school space/dining room

Calendar/Snap Words– I’m sure more and more will make it to this wall as Ladybug progresses through school!

Easily accessible school supplies/books. I have other school stuff and books throughout the house, but these are the things we need to put on hands on quickly/frequently.

Another view

We live on the 7th floor, and our home school space has a killer view!

Not Back to School Blog Hop


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2012-2013 Home School Year

Last fall, I was wistfully beginning our last non-school year. This year, it’s time for Kindergarten. This will be an interesting school year for Ladybug. We will be home schooling August through December for half the day and she will attend a local kindergarten for the other half of the day. In December we will arrive in the States for a six month stay, so she will attend the public school where I used to teach second grade to finish out her Kindergarten career. (Whew! Transition much?)

I have had some questions from friends about what curriculum/materials we will be using, so I wanted to share what we will be trying out this fall. (It will also be nice for me to be able to look back in future years for planning/reminiscing purposes!) Since Ladybug will also attend a local school, we will only be focusing on Reading and Math this year for home school. Even though I am certified to teach K-6, I have had frequent moments of feeling so overwhelmed about home school– can I really do this? Am I going to royally screw up my kids? Where do I even begin?

The beginning of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) has really helped me with these questions, and has even inspired me for home schooling. It has been encouraging to be reminded that I am the best teacher for my children, and I can afford them opportunities through home schooling that public school could never give. The rest of my choices for curriculum come highly recommended from multiple sources. If you are looking for a curriculum for your home school, I think the best research is talking to moms who are similar to you. Ask a ton of questions, ask to browse their bookshelves so you can see teacher guides and workbooks up close, and pray– the Lord will guide and direct even your home school decisions if you seek Him!

For a few weeks now, Ladybug and I have been steadily working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. It is so easy! Everything is spelled out for me, and all the “materials” are right there inside the book. Ladybug has been so excited to start reading, and she is doing a great job! The lessons are the perfect length to hold her attention, on a good day, we can get through two lessons without a problem. (Ladybug knows all her letter sounds from watching LeapFrog: Letter Factory! I highly recommend it! They love the catchy songs, and even my three-year old knows all his letters after only watching it a handful of times.)

Once Ladybug had gone over a few letter sounds in 100 Lessons, I started giving her Bob Books to read for “homework” to her dad (or her grandparents or aunts on Skype!) They are simple little beginning readers, and it’s fun for her to be able to read a whole book! I think it encourages her that she is reading!

(The above listed home school stuff is the stuff I have actually tried/used some already, the rest is what is in my house waiting for August 25… or whatever day we decide to start our 2012-2013 school year!)

Right Start Math

Handwriting Without Tears (Letters and Numbers for Me)

Five in a Row (Volume 1)

Heroes for Young Readers

I also have some assorted things for creating some Math and Literacy centers: alphabet stamps, letter tiles, pattern blocks, games/activities inspired by my Homeschool Pinterest Board. I plan to create centers that Stinkbug can participate in as well, though I haven’t figured out how centers will work at home– I did center-time everyday when I taught, but rotating 2 kids through centers will be different from rotating 20 kids! If you have done something like centers for your elementary kids at home, I’d love to hear about it!

What kind of school year are you gearing up for? Do you home school? Do you do a combination of types of school like us?


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Almost School Time

It’s that time of the year again. Backpacks are being stuffed with unsharpened pencils and brand new notebooks. Kids are boarding big yellow buses. Home-school moms are filling in plan books. Homework is being assigned.  It’s back to school everyone goes.

Except us.

This is the last September that I won’t have a school-aged child. Next September it will be time for Ladybug to start kindergarten, and not too far behind will follow Stinkbug and then Doodlebug! Home-school, charter school, private school, public school– it doesn’t matter what kind of school we do, it will be time to do school of some sort.

I had been stressing about choosing some curriculum, some plan, some format for home-school preschool this year. I want to maximize the time I have  with my little ones. My blog reader and Facebook feed are full of excellent time managers planning and executing preschool at home for their little ones…and I felt like I should be doing something.

And then I looked at our life…

…at the white daisies we wondered if we could change colors…

…at the avocado seeds we wondered if we could grow into trees…

…at the ordering and pasting we did with whales after a trip to the beach…

…at the coloring by number and initial letter sounding we did because the Bugs are into letter sounds (Thanks Leapfrog videos!)…

…at the reading and preparing mom and dad are doing for nightly family worship times…

…and I realized that I may not have Sonlight’s 4/5 curriculum (or any “curriculum”!) to follow this year, but I don’t need it! We have shelves full of books, a cabinet full of art supplies, and a world full of mysteries at our fingertips!

So I might not plan our home-school preschool in a teacher’s plan book. I may not even call what we’re doing “school”. And I certainly won’t work myself into a frenzy about what I’m doing or not doing to school the Bugs this year.

Instead, I’m going to listen to my children’s questions and help them find the answers. I’m going to read aloud. We’re going to the zoo and the beach and the weekly bazaar, and maybe a farm. We’ll ride taxis, buses, trains, possibly even an airplane. We’ll talk about colors and numbers and shapes and letters. We’ll write and we’ll color, we’ll cut and we’ll glue. And we’ll soak up every minute of this last year before a new chapter begins. The chapter of “Schooling” and all that comes along with that.

For now though I think I’ll pour myself another iced coffee and enjoy the sounds of the kids playing their imaginative games.


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Don’t Grow Weary!

I know it’s been quiet here at MyBusyHome… mostly because my busy home has been, well busy. I’m in a tough, demanding, active, crazy, overwhelming season of life. I have busy kids who hurricane around the house overwhelming me constantly with their endless energy.

There’s a four-going-on-thirteen-year-old, self-declared princess, who creates and perpetuates drama, but also initiates sweet conversations about God and life. There is a little boy running around in big boy undies, so busy with playing and jumping and laughing he sometimes forgets to do his business in the potty. And don’t forget the adorable, mobile baby who is as fast as lightning and has a fascination with electrical cords…

Some days I drop into bed at 11pm and I wonder how I made it through the maze of another day, and if I can muster the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

So, I haven’t felt very inspired to write here about how to manage a Busy Home, because more days than not it feels like my busy home is managing me instead.

In days and weeks like I’m having lately, I find the greatest comfort in verses like Galatians 6:9:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I cannot express in words the comfort that this promise brings to my heart.

I shouldn’t grow weary. I must not give up. I don’t need to stop doing what I’m doing. I can’t stop sowing into my children. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other… And, one day, when it’s time, I will reap.

Isn’t that a precious comfort? Don’t give up! It will take hard days, and long weeks, and toil and struggle and tears, but WE WILL REAP if we don’t give up!


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How to Change a Bad Habit

I “momfessed” today that I yell at my kids.

This morning as I was reading in Ephesians 4, I saw a few things that made me think about my yelling, and what I need to do to be different.

1. In verse 21, we read that Paul is assuming the readers know Christ. So the information that follows is an exhortation and an instruction to believers (those who “have heard about him and were taught in him”.)

2. In verse 22, we are exhorted to “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires”

So my yelling-self is part off my “old self”. When I am sinful and disconnected from the Lord (through lack of the Word and prayer), and when I am hungry and tired, and oh so fleshly, I yell at my children.

It sounds easy- just put off my old self. But when you stop and think How do I put off my old self?, it starts to look a wee bit more complicated. I think the key to “putting off” is found in the next part:

3. In verses 23 and 24, we see that the old self doesn’t just need to be “put off”, it needs to be replaced— “be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

4. A little further down, verse 29 really struck me in regards to my yelling:

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

When I yell, I am not edifying my children. I am not edifying myself. It benefits no one. Those words (and the tone with which they are spoken) are not wholesome. They do not need to proceed from my mouth.

So, I prayed. Asking the Lord to help me put off the old self and put on the new self daily.

And  then I printed out Ephesians 4:29 and hung it up to be a reminder to me to only speak grace-giving words to my children. (I might post it up in every room of the house!)

Putting of the old and putting on the new is not an easy task. It takes daily prayer, daily truth from the Word, and constant work. But through God’s grace, bad habits (sin) can be put off and we can clothe ourselves with the new!

 

 


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DIY: Homemade Baby Food

When Ladybug was beginning to eat solids, I somehow decided I was going to make her baby food (maybe I was inspired by a mommy blogger out there somewhere? I can’t remember exactly!) I made Ladybug’s baby food, and once I realized how easy and cheap it was, I never looked back! I made Stinkbug’s food, and now I’m making baby food again for little Doodlebug.

My favorite resource for baby-food-making is Wholesome Baby Food. There is a wealth of information and tons of great recipes for making your baby’s food. (When I looked over there this week, I’ve noticed they’ve added a ton of new stuff since the first time I made homemade baby food in 2007!)

Basic Tips to Making Baby Food:

  • Some fruits and veggies don’t need to be cooked to be made into baby food– like banana and avocado.
  • You can bake, boil, or steam fruits and veggies before pureeing. (The Wholesome Baby Food website gives tips for preparing each fruit and veggie.)
  • A food processor or a blender will work to make your purees.
  • Freeze the baby food in ice-cube trays. After frozen, transfer to a labeled Ziploc bag in the freezer. (Each cube is about one ounce of baby food.)
  • If your baby doesn’t seem to like a food when you first introduce it, don’t stop trying!
  • When baby starts eating solid food, you can also try giving her a sippy cup to figure out. (It will probably take a while to get the hang of it!)
  • Once baby is a crawler (7-11 months), you can introduce finger foods. Cooked peas, banana chunks, avocado pieces, etc. At first baby may get really frustrated as he learns to use the pincer grasp to pick up these things, but he will get it with time and practice!
  • Keep some wipes or a wet rag handy to clean up the mess– and there will be plenty of mess!
  • Have fun! Enjoy introducing your baby to a wide range of foods, spices and flavors!


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Holy Week with Kids

As a family, we do a Jesse Tree for Advent, and I’ve wanted to develop some traditions for our children around Resurrection Sunday. I like doing “spring baskets” full of goodies, coloring eggs, and hunting for hidden eggs, but I don’t want these to be the extent of our celebrations this time of year. (And I like to do those things on a different day than Resurrection Sunday… last year we did all of the “secular” traditions the Saturday before Easter.)

Noel Piper has written a devotional called Lenten Lights, that we are going to use this week during our family devotions. I found a seven-candle-holder at IKEA this week, and it’s perfect for using with Lenten Lights!

Tonight we will begin with seven candles lit, and read the first devotional. At the end of the reading, one of the candles will be snuffed out to symbolize the Light of the World growing dimmer. Each night one more candle will be extinguished until all the candles are dark on Good Friday– when the Light of the World was “snuffed out”. The candles will all be relit on Resurrection Sunday when the Light was back! What a great visual for children as we learn about Christ’s death and resurrection!

What do you do this time of year to teach your children about Easter?