Thursday, June 6, 2013

homeschooling + parenting: Q&A {balancing kids, what we do, giving special treats}

Today I wanted to answer a few of the questions you guys asked me a couple of weeks ago! I tried to group them into a few categories- lots of your questions were related to parenting/homeschooling, which I'm covering some of today. I am definitely no homeschooling or parenting expert by any means, so these answers are just what work for us now or solutions that have worked for us in our few years of experience. :D 

Do you still homeschool??
Yes, two days per week. :D The kids go to school the other three days a week at a small Christian school. {of course it's summer break at their school right now- in a week or two we plan to start back to some very light homeschooling again so they don't forget everything!}

We currently homeschool our children but I would love to use the wonderful resource of this Christian school also I wonder if you would mind sharing with me how it works to do both homeschooling and Christian school with your family.
We homeschool on Mondays and Fridays, and they go to their Christian school on a regular schedule Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The administration was very, very kind to work with us and allow us to do this part-time schedule. We love it, and it's a perfect mix of school and home for us right now. 

The school they go to uses Abeka and ACE, and they bring home two days of schoolwork from there each Thursday to do at home. The nature of their main curriculum is very independent- ACE being the most independent, and my kindergartener using Abeka needs the most help, of course. It works well for us, and I know of a couple of schools that do it in our area and of at least one or two the DFW area. I'm not ready for them to go to school and be gone all day 5 days per week, and so far this has worked amazingly well for us. We never know what the next year will bring- so we try to take it one year at a time. :D
our full-time homeschooling boxes: we use these for keeping up with their workbooks
How do you homeschool? What is your typical homeschool day like? 
Our kids get up {usually around 7:30-8 a.m.}, eat breakfast, and go straight to school work on homeschool days- usually starting before 9. I have to help the youngest one with her work, and the older ones need to read their work to me sometimes, but the curriculum is designed for independent learning. Now that both of my boys can read, they do most of their school work separated in different rooms. 

The boys do three subjects, then take a break, and come back to do as much as they can before lunch. If lunch comes before they finish, they take a break and finish after lunch. Some days they get done in 2- 2.5 hours, and sometimes they have lots of math and don't want to work and it takes them until 3 or later. I have to help Isabella through all of her paperwork/lessons, so she stays right beside me or Rob and does it with us. If Rob is available and not working, he will have one of the boys or Isabella sit at his desk and helps them as needed too. Did I ever tell you he's the best? I couldn't make it without him. 

Homeschool days are both harder and easier, in my opinion- easier because we don't have to go anywhere on a schedule, but harder because they take lots of attitude correction and discipline on our part too. We have to stay on them to get their work done, and to do it quietly without talking, fighting, or playing with each other. We may be coming up with a different seating arrangement than our current dining table for next year.

I was wondering if you do anything special as a family to honor your kids moving up a grade. We homeschool and my 6-year-old just finished grade K. I keep seeing pictures of all the public school kids his age in a cap and gown at a big ceremony with a diploma. My son has worked super hard this year and has memorized lots of scripture. Do you have anything special you do in your family to celebrate your kids successes? 

We don't really have anything special like that for when we homeschool exclusively. {We do celebrate the last day of summer though! hahah!} We do trips to the zoo and special things as rewards and for birthdays, and now that the kids are in school part-time, they still participate in the big graduation ceremony at the end of the year, and get little awards at their school. If you're in a co-op or homeschool association {we never did}, they might have activities like that too. Homeschool moms- do they have this?
our family at this year's graduation! :D

How do you teach more than one kid, and how to you keep the others distracted if/when you have to work one on one with another child? I have a 5 year old daughter that I am homeschooling, and I also have a 2 yo boy. It is so hard for me to teach her while he is distracting both of us! Before we would do school while he napped but her recently gave his nap up! (AHH!!!) Distracting him with crayons and playdough doesn't last long! LOL 
Haha, one more question popped in my head. I have 3 boys ages 6, 3, and 7 months. How do you teach different subjects to each of them at the same time? Are you bouncing from one child to the next teaching or do you have some kind of structure to how you teach the them when they're learning at different levels? 

If one of the older kids needs help while I'm with another one, I make them wait and work on the next thing {something they can do} until I can talk to them. And it does feel like I'm bouncing from one to the next- mostly to help them with little stuff and then they go back to their work. I only have one that doesn't do school right now {3.5 years old}, and she plays by herself with toys or sits at the table and colors while the kids work. When I had just two to homeschool, the girls both sat at the table or played together in another room, and I held the youngest one in my lap for a good while.

I know girls are much different than boys- and since my boys started "school" together, I only had girls to contend with as the younger siblings. They were much easier to distract at the table than my boys would have been I think. :)

From what I've read from moms of many, getting the little ones in a routine they expect while you do school is very important, and training them to be able to sit on a blanket or in a small area with toys for a certain length of time in one place is a great way to keep them out of everything while you are busy. I haven't done the blanket training yet, but it sounds good! :D 

After a while, at our house I just came to accept the fact that there would be a certain amount of chaos with toddlers, and let them eat snacks in the high chair, and play and make a mess where they were as we worked. But we also kept early schooling time very short when they were young- 2-2.5 hours per day max, and that helped me to stay more sane. :D

we find the iPad is great for the keeping the child who finishes early busy :D

My 6-year-old keeps having special things happen. Lost his first tooth, birthday, graduating Kindergarten. All right after the other. My 3-year-old is starting to feel jealous. We got him a small gift the other day just to make his day brighter. Do you ever deal with that and if so how do you honor one child without making the younger ones who don't understand feel bad?

Aww, you sound like a very caring mama! A lot of times we do special things for all the kids together for celebrations- parties, special ice cream treats, rewards for chores, zoo for the birthdays, etc. Many times though, just one child gets birthday presents or a reward, and the younger ones want presents or a party too. We usually just tell them that it's not their turn, and when they do that special thing, they will get that special reward too. :) 

I wouldn't feel bad when you tell even the littlest ones "no"... in our short {almost 10 years} parenting experience, it seems that not getting what they want as a small one helps them deal with not getting or expecting everything when they get to be 5 and 10. So it's not necessarily a bad thing for them to have to go through that, I think. Even at a young age when they are that small, situations like that can be a time of great formative attitude training for being a teenager and grown-up, and I think it will make your parenting job easier later on too. :D 

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