Welcome Friend

DSC_2465 Hi. ¬†Welcome to my blog. It’s named in honor of *me* ūüôā

My blog rules are:

*Play nice (mostly for me).

*Don’t agree with EVERYTHING¬†I or anyone else says…we are all at least a little wrong.

*Say MOSTLY good things.

*Care LESS about what people think- care MORE about people.

You must know this: I LOVE debate. It’s almost a problem…almost. I welcome any FRIENDLY debate that doesn’t stir ill feelings. People who can debate interesting subjects and keep their emotions in check are my favorite kind of people. Debate gives me opportunity to continually evaluate the way I look at life and gives me opportunity to cement the right and toss the wrong. Hope you find something useful here.

Find out more about me here.

Why I choose to homeschool

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As mothers of young children, who doesn’t look forward to that day our youngest child starts kindergarten¬†and you can send all your little ducklings off to school¬†for the day and *sigh* enjoy using the bathroom without interruptions? The list of things I imagined myself getting done¬†during that time was long and I got giddy just thinking about it. Of course I would shed the traditional tears on the first day of kindergarten, but goodness, it would be a small price to pay. Let freedom ring!

Children are taxing. To nurture and discipline¬†them requires a lot of energy and sacrifice. That’s just the way it is. Sure, there are women out there who would disagree, you know, those women who were wired to be the perfect mom with patience and long suffering radiating all about them¬†(and the rest of us try not to¬†hate them). But for the rest of us, motherhood is a continual struggle.

Homeschooling was not in my future plans when I dropped my oldest off for his first day of kindergarten. I was doing exactly what society expected of me. I wanted to be that amazing mom that teachers loved. I wanted to see my children thrive in school. It would be a testament of my awesomeness!

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Not so. That little dream began to chip away the first time I felt it. It was that feeling you get when you know something just isn’t right or good for your child. The first time I felt it was during my first parent teacher conference. The teacher told¬†me that Eli had a hard time following all the rules and was¬†a little too rambunctious. He didn’t stay in line and liked to interact with others too much. ¬†I felt sad at this news. Not because Eli was being the imperfect child, but because of the conformity the classroom setting required of him…for SIX hours of the day! It just felt wrong. I was almost rooting for him, “Don’t conform Eli, be a yourself!”

Having twenty to thirty children in a group to be managed by one or two adults (who have known the children for a small period of time) is simply not a natural situation. Obviously it would require children to comply to an unnatural standard of stillness, quietness, and conformity that is beyond their years.

There were many other things that continued to chip away at my dreams of freedom and relaxation. But what was my alternative? Homeschool was that fanatic thing people did when they wanted to shelter their children from the world. It was for parents who tended to be ignorant, afraid, and closed minded (so I thought). Most of the children I knew who were homeschooled where indeed socially awkward. Besides, I was already having trouble keeping up with my parental duties, how could I add more?

Fast forward a year and a half and I’m sitting in a meeting with Eli’s first grade teacher trying to explain why I don’t think public school is what is best for him academically while she is trying to talk me out of it. I felt terrified of what trials the future would bring because of this decision. I felt like there was a mountain of expectations on my shoulders. I was afraid of failure and¬†worried about what people would think.

If I could only go back in time and give myself a little pep-talk. I would say: “You’ve got this girl. You are doing EXACTLY what is right for your family. Yes, it will be hard and there will be tears but the rewards will be far beyond what you can imagine. You will have extra time with your children to learn how to be a better parent. You will whittle TV time down to a few hours a week and watch your kids figure out how¬†to¬†entertain themselves. Your circumstances will require you to transform into a more disciplined¬†person. You will see miracles in your life as you witness God’s grace make up for your weaknesses. Most importantly, you will have more time to build a relationship with your children.

I homeschool because it is what’s right for OUR family. Is it for every family? No. I’m glad I had the courage to dive into the unknown. It has been hard but worth it!

Our Math Curriculum Set Up

Ah! Math. The subject of much frustration and many tears for both teacher and student. Is it even worth it? How many times have you heard people comment that they never use that fancy math they learned in school?

Well, I think¬†math saves us from being stupid. It’s a quick way to learn logic which is the science of correct reasoning. Math also helps us learn patterns in problem solving¬†that can help in many aspects of life.

I wasn’t a great math student growing up, but after getting through my first¬†college algebra class (because it was required) I literally felt my other classes getting easier. I was learning¬†to focus and pay attention to detail. If you miss a step in a math problem the solution will be wrong. Math forces¬†our brains¬†to be more efficient.

With that said, let me share what I call our “bare bones” math routine. It’s based on the Robinson Curriculum¬†which we do not follow to a tee, but aspire to. Dr. Robinson stresses only BASIC subjects during the elementary years of school- two hours of reading, two hours of writing, and two hours of math. His curriculum is¬†based on the classical education¬†model. The¬†curriculum consists of rote memorization of all math facts (up to number 12) then the student is to¬†begin Saxon Math 5/4¬†(which in public schools would be 5th grade math).

My oldest son (8 yrs) and daughter (6 yrs) are both working on memorizing their math facts. This is our set up:

Step #1

Purchase math fact flash cards for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I purchased the sets with all facts This means the set will have one card with 1+2=3 and another with 2+1=3. This allows for more repetition and adds confidence in variety.

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Step #2

Mix them all up. I did this by distributing them all into eight separate piles so each pile has an equal amount of the four operations. Then I color coded each pile to differentiate them. Here are three of the eight piles:

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Step #3

Take each color coded pile and separate it into six sub-piles. The first 5 sub-piles will have 15 cards and the sixth will have less than ten. Assign a number from 1-6 to each sub-pile and mark each card with it’s assigned number in the lower right hand corner of the “solution” side of the card (because this is the side of the card that will absorb the pen ink, if you have the same type of flash cards I do). This is the back of the “blue” pile showing the sub-pile number assignments:

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Step #4