This picture…these boys. I snapped this of the boys right after Max’s First Holy Communion. May has been rough with end of the school year activities. All activities seem to converge in May so that by the end, we’re all just exhausted! But there are so many good things…sacraments, school plays, smiles after winning unexpected awards. Still, it’s time to slow down.
Part of our slowing down involves exploring the area for fun parks or hikes. The more rustic the park, the more the kids seem to enjoy. Yes, my May calendar is still full, but I’m making sure to be more deliberate in spending time with the kids. High school planning is looming, and the planning is making all my time with them seem so fleeting.
So if you need us, we’ve decided it’s time to exhale. We’ll be sitting on the porch, still sweaty from playing at the park, waiting for the blueberries to ripen. Come pull up a chair and exhale with us. The blueberries are almost ready.
Way back in November, I wrote saying we’re emerging from wonderful rest, blah, blah, blah. Y’all, after Christmas, our schedule got crazy! You guys may all be thinking “But you’re super mom! You can handle anything!” Well I’m here to tell you I spike my morning coffee one drip at a time just like everyone else. More on all that schedule in a bit…
House(blog)keeping: I was looking through all of the curriculum I’ve posted so far and decided to change it up a tad. I cut out some unnecessary parts and simplified here and there. I don’t want to overwhelm people who are just starting out with this whole homeschooling craziness.
Music: I stumbled upon an awesome Patreon! I have a secret love for folk, bluegrass, and old country music. I cannot sing at all, and the kids remind me of this, but I love listening to and learning about folk music. Well Annie Hatke had a wonderful idea of going on a traditional/folk tale tour this summer and posting videos about it, including bits of history about the songs. I’ve never done Patreon before, but I’m definitely willing to make this my first! Go check it out!
Reviews: I have some curriculum reviews I’m working on since it’s curriculum hunting season. If there’s anything in particular you have questions about, either comment, email me, or find me on Instagram (@elainemj7) I’m planning IEW, Elemental Science, History, Math Mammoth, and a few other reviews so far.
Schedule: Back from the crazy schedule I mentioned. A word to the wise…don’t fall into the trap of “Oh no, my kids aren’t getting a “real” school experience because we’re not in this group or that activity!” then proceed to sign them up for everything and volunteer yourself to help with all of it. We all burned out. We’re still not done with everything since my kids’ Odyssey of the Mind team advanced to state competition and one child has a play in May, but I see the light at the end of the school year. The lesson learned is even after almost a decade of homeschooling, I still have to remind myself that it’s a good thing homeschool doesn’t look like public or parochial school otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. Perhaps if I put this in fancy quotes on my blog, I can remind myself of this at the beginning of every school year.
The lesson learned is even after almost a decade of homeschooling, I still have to remind myself that it’s a good thing homeschool doesn’t look like public or parochial school otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it. Perhaps if I put this in fancy quotes on my blog, I can remind myself of this at the beginning of every school year.
I’m emerging after a year of enjoying my family, learning new crafts, and all around rest. Since no one really reads blogs anymore (ok, yes, I still do because there are some really lovely blogs out there!), I’m revamping the site to be a homeschool resource for Catholic homeschoolers. As I’m approaching high school and a decade of teaching my children, more moms are asking questions about what our day looks like, what books we use, and how I keep my sanity.
New features of this site will include:
What curriculum I use for each grade level (with links)
Posts on curriculum in action
Tips and Tools on how I keep organized
online resources for middle and high schoolers
what our plans are for high school and beyond
I hope I can help at least a few of you navigate the world of at home schools! Be on the lookout for new content trickling in on this space.
You’ve spent all summer planning, ordering, reading. The calendar is perfectly filled out through May 31st. Now the books are all lined up nicely on their shelves. All of the supplies are bought. Digging through the sofa cushions and looking under beds, the kids find all the missing pencils from last school year. Sharpened, they are ready to write beautiful essays and reveal the most difficult sums.
Before you settle in that first quarter of school groove, know this, you won’t finish every single bit of your curriculum…and that’s ok!
When I started out eight!! years ago, I was so wrapped up in doing it all. I researched and purchased what was of course THE BEST of all curriculum. And we were to complete everything by the end of May. It was written in the calendar darnit!
As the years went on, I changed curriculum more than I changed diapers. We’re settled now on the best curriculum FOR OUR FAMILY. Even that may change as the little ones grow. And you know what, many, many times we don’t finish our curriculum before we declare summer break and jump in the pool.
Did the kids suffer? Did anyone have to repeat a grade because we didn’t finish everything on my list? Absolutely not! The key, I finally discovered, was that it was my list. In the beginning, I set expectations so high because I wanted to be the perfect teacher, prove to all that I can do it! Eventually I started becoming so interested in the things my kids were learning, I became a kid myself. We all started learning together. Learning turned into a 365 day affair from dawn to dusk. Each year we spend less time at the desk and more time on field trips, at the library, reading, playing, making art, just getting out there!
So take a deep breath. Finish what you can of IEW or All About Reading or that geography book with good effort, then put on those hiking shoes and get out there in the world!
…handmade jewelry from Humble Dwelling! It all started with a simple question from a friend. She asked if I made crucifixes. Well, I still haven’t made a crucifix yet (working on it!), but I now have some beautiful solid bronze saint pendants, and cameos (with more coming soon…just waiting on molds and resin). And of course, rosaries.
To celebrate, I’m offering free domestic shipping until Christmas. Just visit the shop and enter the coupon code HUMBLEXMAS at checkout.
I’m often adding new items to the shop. To keep up with what’s new, follow me on Instagram @humbledwellingelaine or like my Facebook page Facebook.com/humbledwelling You can do both by clicking on the links in the right sidebar.
Is it just me, or is it bizarre for anyone else to type 2016-2017? We live in the future, so where are our flying cars and robot housekeepers?
Sci-fi aside, we’re two weeks into our school year already! Since everyone wants to know what everyone else is using, here’s my annual list of homeschool goodies. It looks daunting, but I lump together students as much as I can to keep my sanity.
Natural History/Science-Nature journaling; most of the books listed on Ambleside Online’s natural history and science 6th grade booklist. (I have him do oral narration after reading each chapter.) I’ll talk about experiments and lab work in a different post.
Penmanship-Zaner Bloser cursive
Latin-He takes Latin and our homeschool enrichment classes
Literature-We’re just having fun with this! We’re reading Just So Stories, Charlotte’s Web, Aesop, The Hobbit, and tons more. I also do little lap books on subjects like Johnny Appleseed or various Greek myths.
Pre-K Let me preface this by saying I normally don’t teach pre-k. I think children learn plenty through play. I don’t really get serious about school with a kid until they’re in 3rd grade. I spend 1 hour a day tops with my k-2nd graders. But my current pre-k kid begs and begs every day for school, so I relented a little. 🙂
Art-drawing on my hallway wall when I’m not looking
Science-getting muddy and asking approximately 1 billion questions a day
Poetry-mostly Stevenson He memorized Whole Duty of Children, but does not heed it. 😉
Spelling-asking me how to spell every word in the English language before I’ve even had my morning coffee
We also do a few other things such as read scripture, PE, handiworks (I usually let the kids pick what they want to learn), and I want to eventually start praying the little office.
To keep my brain from melting, I made one of the best homeschooling decisions in my life! I now use Homeschool Planet from Homeschool Buyers Co-op. The older kids have Kindle Fires that they use to check off each assignment as they finish. They can even see what their current grade is. We all love it!
And that’s our homeschool this year in a nutshell…a very big, chaotic nutshell. I could really use that robot housekeeper right about now.
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My wonderful husband took care of most of the crazy kids today so I could cloister myself in our classroom to prepare for our school year starting in 1.5 weeks! I spent the bulk of the day rearranging things, filling garbage bags, and writing lesson plans.
I kept looking at the mess of a room with bare walls, and with toys strewn about on the subfloor that we’ll someday cover with hardwood. I know we’ll hit the ground running and not stop until next summer. Most people would call this the calm before the storm.
But for me this is the calm after the storm. After a hurricane of a summer…very hard third trimester, new baby, new job for the husband with a lot of travel…this is my calm. There is such peace preparing this room and arranging things just so. There is such peace knowing I’ll get to spend so much time learning and growing with my children for yet another school year.
These aren’t just lesson plans I’m writing. They’re plans to snuggle up on the sofa while we soak up C.S. Lewis’ wonderful words. They’re plans to take a walk down by the creek to see how many different birds we can identify then sketch in our journals. And most importantly, they’re plans to sometimes just be still and know.
I thank God everyday for the gift of homeschooling and the time I get to spend with these seven sweet, wonderful, mighty, and loving souls.
Being very pregnant during “birthday season” around here can be a tad trying. So this year wasn’t huge themed Pinterest Perfect Parties, but small and sweet celebrations. First up, little Max turned 4. He was very excited and told everyone that he spoke to that he’s not3anymorethankyouverymuch! Max is such a sweet, empathetic child. He always makes sure to ask me how my day was or how I’m feeling. It’s really very sweet.
Matilda turned 8!!! Yes, the cake doesn’t look the best, but oh my word did it taste goooood! Matilda requested a sleepover party. I never knew 7 and 8 year old girls could be so loud! My suggestion is to invest in good ear plugs for any future sleepovers you may have. 🙂 Matilda is growing into a little proficient chef. She loves helping to bake and cook and has a few solo things that she can do now. I love watching the kids find their passions.
Matthew turned 6. His aging seems to go more quickly than all the others for some reason. He’s no longer the bouncing everywhere toddler, but a (mostly) calm kid who devours books. He’s almost ready for chapter books, which amazes me since he only started really reading last September.
The day before Matthew’s birthday, we went on a field trip with a little Charlotte Mason homeschool co-op we attend. I think Stella wanted to take all of the animals home. I mean, look at this piglet!!
A few of the kids tried their hands at milking a cow. I didn’t.
We also got to feed calfs. I think it was a sweet little birthday celebration for Matthew. It was nice to be out in the sunshine with all the animals. Plus we got to buy some raw milk and made mozzarella cheese with it when we got home. Best cheese evah!!
That’s it for birthday round ups! The next group of birthdays comes in July with Jack, Stella, and Henry will finally be here!!!!!!
Lent…I had so many plans. Stations of the cross, daily family rosaries, carefully planned out Lenten crafts for the kids, etc. Then my back gave out on me. Not the “oh it’s a bit sore” kind of pain but the “I can’t believe walking is causing this many tears” kind of pain. Most of my Lent plans flew out the window.
As always, God had different plans for me, and as always, He was right. Having to be still has allowed me to take quiet time to pray, study my hobbies (obsessions) of rosary making and Iconography, and mostly to just sit down and chat with my kids. My not being able to move much has also given my kids the opportunity to serve someone in need. It’s amazing to see them brighten up when they have a chance to help me out by handing out snacks at snack time, or getting me a book from across the room. I sometimes forget that they need the chance to earn graces as much as I do.
So I’m glad my Lent isn’t going the way I planned. It’s going the way He planned, and it’s much, much better that way.
Let’s face it, teaching multiple grade levels at once is TOUGH! So to stay on top of things, I’ve come up with a few little tricks to make the school day run more smoothly.
First, assignment sheets! Every evening I fill out an assignment sheet for the next day. This details all of the work each child is supposed to do that day. The kids have to finish every thing I list on the sheet before they can call the school day done. If there are incomplete subjects done, they have to finish it on their own time. All work is due Friday by the end of the school day. Honestly though, the kids never have problems finishing the assigned work. And this is for 3rd grade and up. 2nd grade down kiddos do most of their work with me. 🙂
Second, I must be prepared! Once a month or so, I have a copy or print out fiesta. I copy math forms (used in Saxon), religion quizzes, and print out anything needed for crafts etc. I made the mistake of not doing this last school year (new move, little baby to take care of, excuse, excuse, excuse!) and I found myself constantly running back and forth from the school room to the office to make copies often. Those little minutes add up! Not to mention if I’m out of the class room for more than 5 minutes, the giggles start and the school work stops. Not that I mind the cute giggles!
Third, and most important, prayer!!!! I try to start each school day with prayer time. I’ll admit I forget more than I like (which means a lot during our busy morning routine), and those days are always hardest. Prayer in the morning calms and centers us so well! I also set a reminder to go off every day at noon for the Angelus. And I found a wonderful scriptural Rosary book we’ve been using. My goal is to say at least one decade a day.
I hope to eventually add “circle time” in the mornings where we read a bit of scripture, pray and practice reciting some of the kids poetry memorization. But in order to do this, I have to actually wake up before the kids do.
Yes, I realize the pictures in this post are random. C’est la vie.