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You're a Homeschool Mom? You Are Building Something Amazing!

You're a Homeschool Mom? 

Maybe you're even a NEW homeschool mom? (God bless you.)

Did you know you are building something AMAZING?  

As we prepare for another school year (yes, ours begins next week!) I feel like we all need encouragement. We need to know that what we are doing MATTERS. 

It matters so very, very much. 

God has given me several BIG moments this summer where I could sit back and marvel at what HE is building through a tiny seed He planted in my heart nearly seven years ago. 

That seed has given me the strength to help children learn to read, master times tables, navigate friendship issues, and tackle formal logic! It has given me the strength to keep going when it seemed like the easiest thing to do would be to enroll my children in public school. 

So let me tell you now -- as you anticipate a new school year --  you are building something amazing, and homeschooling your precious children IS WORTH IT!  

You're a Homeschool Mom?  You are Building Something Amazing!

You Can't Always MEASURE What You Are Building

Society tells us that we need to MEASURE our children.

Measure them against each other, against a test score, against Common Core requirements. 

As a homeschool mom, however, you can't always measure accomplishments or progress. 

When my kids were little I measured their progress from my heart:

  • Were they happy and ENJOYING learning?
  • Were they kind to each other?
  • Did they have a thirst for knowledge?
  • Could they sit and read a book without being asked just for enjoyment? 
You're a Homeschool Mom? You Are Building Something Amazing!

We learned a lot with Unit Studies and Five in a Row

We took many field trips and earned a lot of Junior Ranger badges. 

I followed my kids' interests wherever they would lead. This set the stage for them to know I was their partner in learning and would support them in their endeavors. 

Did I have TANGIBLE evidence of what was being built?  No, but I knew in my heart I was laying a foundation for something wonderful. 


Sometimes It Feels Like You Are Just HAMMERING Away

Believe me, I understand that many days homeschooling is just HAMMERING AWAY at things. 

If you have a child that is strong-willed or a child with special needs, that hammering can be almost constant. 

There have been MANY evenings when I would just sit down in tears, and tell my husband that the WEIGHT of being responsible for my children's ENTIRE education was just TOO MUCH. 

I would waste valuable time thinking how much BETTER my life would be if I could just get some peace and quiet like moms who send their kids to school. 

I've learned - in times like that - to do a few things to bring myself out of the pit:

  • PRAY!
  • confide in a mentor/friend - be totally honest and seek encouragement
  • take a few days (or weeks) off - your kids will be JUST FINE
  • outsource a subject (or two)
  • seek COMMUNITY - a co-op or homeschool group is so helpful
  • refer to encouragement in one of the 10 Best Books for Homeschool Moms 

All of that hammering WILL produce something beautiful. 

It will produce a family that is closer, siblings that have a deeper bond, and children that are more apt to discover their God given gifts on their own terms and time table. 

Believe me - when your kids get into middle and high school, you will start to see the fruits of your labor. 

You're A Homeschool Mom? You Are Building Something Amazing!

Those BIG Moments I'm Having

I told you there have been BIG moments this summer where I just realize God is building something amazing through my homeschooling efforts. 

Can I share just ONE with you? Maybe it will encourage you in your journey? 

My Anna is starting to talk about what she wants to do after high school. She is asking questions about music therapy and working with the special needs population. 

This summer she had several opportunities to volunteer with a special needs ministry through our church. She came home from the special needs VBS and said, "I can't wait until this is what I can do for a living!". 

As a homeschool parent I have the opportunity to foster this interest, design a for-credit high school course for her, and seek out more volunteer opportunities for her.  

THIS IS BIG. 

THIS IS WHY I HOMESCHOOL. 

You're a Homeschool Mom? You Are Building Something Amazing!

In the same short time span, I've found a lot of resources for homeschooling high school. I have been to many college websites and know  I CAN DO THIS. 

God is giving me the signs and encouragement I need to stay the course through homeschooling high school. 

 

Let me hear from you!  Are you new to homeschooling?  A veteran homeschooler?  Do you know you are building something amazing?  Do you have a story to share?  Use the comments below and let me know!

 

If you haven't gotten my free eBook, You CAN Homeschool: Encouragement for the Journey, please feel free to download it. It's a collection of stories and encouragement from our first few years of homeschooling. 

 

 

High School Math with Mr. D

Isn't math the eternal struggle for some of us?

If you don't have a "math kid", it can be extremely difficult to find an upper grades curriculum that "works". 

For the past two years I feel like we've been limping along in math.  I take full responsibility for this - I am the teacher. 

The buck stops here. 

You see, I've been missing the most important thing .

 I got too caught up in Saxon being the gold standard (after all - it is what Classical Conversation recommends for the Challenge program), and forgot to look at MY CHILD and HER NEEDS.  

Thank GOD I was led -- by some miracle, really -- to attend a math workshop at FPEA earlier this year with Mr. D.  I'm so happy for that hour I spent in his workshop, and for the chain of events that occurred after that day. 

High School Math with Mr. D Math

The Background Story

I share this with because maybe you can relate. 

I have a feeling many of you have struggled with upper grades math or are even struggling now. 

Anna (my 9th grader) began homeschooling when she was in the third grade. She has never liked math.  

We started with Horizons, and after three years decided to switch to Saxon in sixth grade. Perhaps if she had been doing Saxon from the start it would have worked for her, but Saxon was just too MUCH. It wasn't engaging. It was time consuming. 

Add to this the fact that I am not a math person, and it was just a recipe for disaster. I knew we should probably make a change, but I was so frightened to try something different.

I thought Saxon was the only path. Silly, I know. 

The math problem kept coming to the front of my mind, and as I went to FPEA in May I decided I MIGHT try to investigate something different for Anna.  

Enter Mr. D. 

Truthfully, I wanted to go to his workshop because he was talking about strategies to help with the SAT.  As I sat in his workshop I was getting excited about math (which is a big deal for me!), and becoming even more excited about the prospect of what kind of high school curriculum Mr. D offered. 

Dennis DiNoia biography - Mr. D Math

Mr. D was artful at capturing everyone's attention, and was encouraging all of us to PLAY WITH NUMBERS... something I know (from a CC Practicum a few years ago) is so valuable for all ages. 

I spoke briefly with Mr. D after the workshop and made myself a note to investigate further when I got back home to Georgia. 


Summer Math - Algebra Readiness

After I had been home a few weeks, I reached out to Mr. D.

Guess what?   He's a homeschooling dad! 

After asking some questions about the specifics of his math program, I decided to enroll Anna in a 6 week Algebra Readiness class that is meeting this summer. 

Anna logs onto Mr. D. Math every Wednesday afternoon for an hour of basic Algebra instruction... basically making sure she is ready for Algebra I in 9th grade. 

Algebra Readiness with Mr. D

Mr. D is humorous, engaging, and genuinely interested in each student. He brings the PERSONAL element to math I have been looking for.

Anna is learning math from someone who LOVES math. Math is no longer drudgery. It might even be somewhat enjoyable for her (grin). 

After her hour long class, she receives an email with homework problems from Mr. D. She is given a document with the problems, and another document with the answers. Along with that are a recording of the class, a specially recorded video about the particular concepts covered that day, and any math rules they have gone over. 

And guess what?  I'm doing Algebra this summer, too!  

Mr. D Math is helping ME reclaim MY math education! 

And another awesome thing:  Anna now enjoys math.  When I asked her to rate Saxon on a scale from 1-10 she replied "2".  When I asked her the same question about Mr. D math she replied "8".

I could cry with relief. We may have found a math solution for high school.

Anna is already registered for the Algebra I Math Co-Op with Mr. D  this year.  

When I spoke with her Challenge I tutor about this math change, she happily told me, "I bet Anna will be able to contribute a lot to our math conversations this year!".   (This is yet another reason I love the Challenge program.)


Benefits of Mr. D Math

I encourage you to check Mr. D Math out for yourself. It is very well organized and thorough. Mr. D is also great about answering questions via email.

Some of the benefits that I have seen in just a few weeks:

  • We have NO technical issues with Mr. D's online environment - logging on is easy and he is obviously very tech-savvy.
  • Mr. D is a degreed math teacher with a LOVE of math and children - I really sense it is his passion to helps kids succeed in math
  • He's a homeschooling dad.  He GETS IT.
  • NO textbooks to lug around or be bored with - everything is online. I feel like this is a great experience for what my daughter will deal with in the future.
  • Lots of math vocabulary - as a Classically homeschooling mom, the GRAMMAR of math is important to me. Mr. D uses that grammar often, and I have a sneaking suspicion he's a Classical homeschooling dad, too. 
  • My daughter LIKES it -- and anyone who is homeschooling an almost 14 year old gets the importance of THAT.  Yes, I know she can't LIKE everything, but this area is just too important to suffer through, don't you agree?

Getting in the Math Trenches

I promised Anna I would get in the math trenches with her this year.  

WE are going to be reclaiming our math education at the same time. I'm excited about that.

Today, we completed 40 problems using rules for the order of operations and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing integers. 

We had a VERY long problem for the last one -- a type of problem Mr. D practiced a lot with the kids in class this week. I KNEW Anna could get it right.

She asked her dad to sit down with the white board and do the same problem she had -- a math race, if you will. 

Guess who won?

I Beat Dad at Math.jpg

This picture speaks volumes. 

First, my girl has a large math problem on her white board and she is happily consenting to a picture and SMILING. 

This picture gives me faith that math won't be drudgery this year. 

It gives me faith that Anna will come to ENJOY math and faith that I will ENJOY math, too. 

And, it gives me faith to continue on the path of doing what is right for my child... not to follow a curriculum just because everyone else is doing it, or because it's "the best".

 

I'm sure you will hear a lot more about Mr. D math this year.  I will be sure to keep you updated. 

And - for those of you who are wondering, my 5th grader, Grant, will continue with Saxon right now. It WORKS for him and he LIKES it. 

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Talk to me about math in your homeschool. Please tell me I'm not alone in our struggles.  

Let's support each other in the comments below. 

 

High School Math with Mr. D

Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1

The older my children become, the more thankful I become for the time we have spent learning about music and art. 

Fostering a love of art and music not only creates more well-rounded children, it also creates children with an appreciation of TRUTH, BEAUTY, and GOODNESS. 

One of the biggest advantages of homeschooling is that children have the luxury of studying art and music in ABUNDANCE!  

This year we will be very INTENTIONAL about incorporating fine arts. A SIMPLE plan of attack - one that will work in the schedules of my elementary and high schooler - is in order.

Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1

Fine Arts FIRST THING!

Mornings are the perfect time for fine arts. 

This year we will intersperse art & music, making sure to incorporate a little of each every single day. 

LESS IS MORE - and by incorporating a little bit of art and music into the first hour of our day, I hope to make a lasting impression. 

Breakfast is the time in our homeschool when we are all together (and this year dad will be with us since he works from home now -- hooray!) and I can easily incorporate fine arts. 

During this time together at the table we always have a devotion, watch CNN Student News, and then will move on to art or music study. 

Hopefully, we can compact these things into 45 minutes. 

While I'm not always a stickler for "the schedule" - morning is a time when the kids get up (usually by 7:30), and we are all together at the breakfast table by 8 a.m.  This is the best way for our family to get everything accomplished in a day. 


Art Appreciation

We have several artists on our schedule this year. (They are recommended in our CC Foundations guide.)  

While we may not study the artist on the exact week, I have just come up with a rough schedule of artists we can study during the first 12 weeks. 

  • Ghiberti
  • Angelico
  • Durer
  • Michelangelo
  • El Greco

My plan is to read a brief biography (which I will locate online) about each of these artists, and then find representative works online as we go.  

We will be using Discovering Great Artists as our guide. 

I have also found this GREAT little deck of art appreciation cards for Go Fish.  I imagine we will be using them quite a bit! 


I also LOVE the suggestions made in this post about using art books to foster art appreciation.  I am a firm believer in strewing books around the home to help us learn about a particular subject. 

In the past I have tried creating a strict "schedule", but I have found that it inhibited my children's sense of exploration. If I simply start by saying "Let's see what we can find out about Angelico", I find that we do research together and make interesting discoveries. 

Too much rigid planning can stifle creativity! 



Music Appreciation

This year we will be focusing on a variety of composers, from Bach to Mozart.

In our Foundations guide Bach, Handel, and Mozart are covered. We will learn about other composers from their respective musical eras (the Baroque & Classical Eras). 

{ In case you hadn't gathered, this area is my favorite - and my area of expertise because I was an elementary music teacher. }

And, of course I will be using the curriculum I've written - SQUILT

This year, as part of Cycle 1, we will be working our way through SQUILT Volume 1 & 2 (Baroque and Classical Eras).  

 

What I LOVE about SQUILT is that it is 100% open-and-go -- each lesson teaches my kids about a great musical work and teaches them how to SPEAK and WRITE about a piece of music. 

We can simply sit at the breakfast table with the iPad or laptop and conduct a SQUILT lesson from there.   It's so simple -- I designed it for ALL parents - especially those with NO MUSICAL BACKGROUND!   

AND, because the SQUILT site is freshly redesigned, I'm offering a 25% discount on any SQUILT volume or bundle -- this week only!   


That's the SIMPLE plan of attack for fine arts this year in our homeschool. 

There are no elaborate schedules or online booklists, just a plan that we can follow - while allowing for interest and creativity to lead the way.

What is YOUR plan of attack for studying fine arts?  

Incorporating Fine Arts in CC Cycle 1