Thursday, January 29, 2015

Weekly Homeschool Wrap-up 1/30


Topics covered in this edition

~ Beth's upcoming eye surgery
~ Writing Instruction
~ Handwriting Without Tears
~ Cartooning with Kids
~ All About Reading activities
~ Our Blessing List
~ Martin Luther Biography
~ Sonlight Core B Read-Alouds

Our family enjoyed a productive week (pictures below), with just one doctor's appointment interrupting our school schedule--a pediatric ophthalmologist to check Beth's eyes for any inflammation caused by her juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. There are two types of JRA (also called juvenile idiopathic arthritis - JIA) which cause eye inflammation, and she unfortunately has one of those types. If inflammation occurs and goes untreated, it leads to blindness, so every 3 to 6 months she goes for an eye check-up. 

Unfortunately, we received some bad news this time, though it wasn't related to JRA. Her strasbismus (wandering eyes) has not responded to her eye glasses with prisms, so she will have to have surgery to make her eyes work together. The good news is that a famous doctor works at Akron Children's Hospital, who Beth happens to see. He developed a strasbismus surgery and people come from all over the world to have him do surgery on their children. So Beth is in good hands. 

The doctor assured me he does many of these surgeries a week. It's done under anesthesia, taking a half hour total, with her going home the same day. She will be on limited activity afterwards for 3 to 5 days. 

I expect the wait to be a few months at least, because they told me someone will call in about two weeks to schedule a surgery date. If the wait is two weeks just to speak with a scheduler, that indicates they're pretty backed up.

My husband is the most nervous about this surgery, because as a child he had wandering eyes and was left with permanent double vision due to a botched attempt to improve his vision. Over time one of his eyes became dysfunctional--kicking out to the side naturally so he could use just one eye. It was the body's way of giving him functional vision, I suppose, though he could never go in the military or be a postal worker or anything else requiring normal vision.

Beth deals with regular pain and discomfort, and it's hard to imagine how she keeps such a sunny disposition. I just praise God that she does; she inspires all of us. She's been under anesthesia twice already, so it saddens me that we're to have another go-round, though I'm grateful her eyes can be corrected. 

Last week we found Cartooning For Kids at our public library. Beth had a great time drawing with this amusing instructor. It's amazing how many different kinds of lessons one finds available on DVD.  

Here is a finished person, using the cartoonist's technique for drawing a proportioned face. Beth is still working on a proportioned body. She just loves drawing!

Grammar in the Easy Grammar text, which we all find extremely helpful and painless.
Notes on Writing Instruction
It was fascinating this week to watch Peter so excited about a story he's writing. Possibly because of his dyslexia, he's been unable to make any progress with typing, but this week he typed finger by finger, and really benefited from Microsoft Word's grammar and spelling checks. He has an issue with using sentence fragments, and forgetting to capitalize proper nouns. The quick correction he received while typing his story made a big impact on his skills. I've been bugging him for years about capitalization, but it made little impact compared to the power of Microsoft Word's instant corrections. I don't know how long he'll have the patience for one-finger typing, but I'm loving this. He spent every spare minute on his story, revising the beginning over and over (the setting--time and place and character introductions) after I taught a lesson earlier this week on the elements for a setting. 

Despite his dysgraphia, he's a good writer, able to use a variety of sentence structures. You have to read his work with grace, looking for the talent instead of the errors, as is true with most dyslexics. If you fail to see the talent, it's you who has a disability, not the dyslexic writer (many famous writers are dyslexic).

I use some Write Shop Junior E for their writing, but I'm also doing my own lessons with them, based upon what I see needs developing from their writing samples. Both boys need to do a better job mapping out a problem and solution (plot/conflict) for their stories. They tend to go off on tangents, and then get tired of the story and end it abruptly, with no clear plot ever developed.

With Peter I've been working some on five-paragraph essays--a skill that needs to be well-developed before college. At this point, we're writing them together after he's finished a novel. I've learned over the years that kids are let loose with complicated assignments too soon, before there's been proper modeling of the skills involved. A lot of shared writing and modeled writing needs to occur before many students can grasp what is expected of them on essays.

Handwriting Without Tears chalkboards with the smiley corner at top left. It helps dyslexics learn to write their numbers in the correct direction. I didn't use it last year, but we've had it since Peter was young. I still have to remind them often about the direction of their numbers, but they're making progress.

Sweet, cuddly Beth. I don't know what I'd do without her! 

Handwriting Without Tears - Wet, Dry, Try
First you use a wet sponge (tiny sponges provided in the kit), then you use a dry sponge to go over it again, and then you use your chalk.

Handwriting Without Tears - extra practice with numbers. The dot is like the smiley on the chalkboard.

Paul using Teaching Textbooks 7.

Word problems are practiced every lesson, which I love.

All About Reading Level 2 - Reviewing the Name Game syllable. The letters are at a party, and the e goes up to the a and says "What's your name?" Brilliant, I think.

Practice words for the name game syllable.

Practice with /er/, one of the bossy r's. Also working with open syllables (long vowel) and the bossy r syllable.

Do your kids include their stuffed animals in the lessons? My girls like to teach their animals a lesson after I'm done teaching. Works for me! Love the review it provides them as they pretend to be teachers;


Mary at spelling dictation

Hex bug fun at break time
Paul teaching non-fiction history to the girls.

Our Gratitude List

~ The Millers devotionals for kids. Oh, my. We all enjoy these! The kids are loving our devotions.

~ We finished Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary and I cried. Yes, that's me. Read and cry. Read and cry. We're now reading (Sonlight Core B read-alouds) The Year of Miss Agnes, and I can already tell I'll be crying.




~ Lots of snow to play in. They've all come in so tired from their rigorous snow play. 

~ Togetherness...an indescribable blessing.

~ An excellent doctor for Beth.

~ A loving husband who usually replies, when we ask around the table at dinner, that the best part of his day is having dinner with his family.

~ Progress for everyone in all subjects.

~ I've revised the winter homeschool schedule four times since school started up again after our flu. I think-- I hope-- I've finally got it working like a charm. It feels good to be accomplishing so much each day, while still having free time for exploration and play. 

~ The Proverbs we study for morning devotions are really improving sibling relationships and overall attitudes.

~ The kids have expressed an interest (from a story in Prudence With the Millers) in planning and cooking some of our dinners themselves, and I'm excited about facilitating that.

~ The boys will be reading a Martin Luther biography this school year, and as I preread it, I was fascinated by this amazing man. 

Includes photos from a movie made about Martin Luther, which I haven't seen.
He had the same type of OCD that Peter has--religious and moral scrupulosity, in which he constantly worried about his eternal security and had a deep melancholy before studying the Bible and learning that we're saved by grace through faith. The common people did not read Bibles in his time (many were illiterate, for one thing). Bibles were expensive and were mostly in libraries (not for check out) and for high clergy, so it was many years before Martin Luther learned Bible truth. Prior to his becoming a university professor and preacher, he'd become a monk in an attempt to secure his salvation and escape worldly sin. He eventually translated the Bible into German, making it available to the common man, and assisting the spread of his message (the true Gospel) around the world. This biography seems to be written for middle- and high-school students, but is excellent for anyone wanting a beginner's look at Martin Luther's life and contributions.

~ Peter's interest in writing and publishing...he wants to write a story for publication, and has asked me fifty questions about it this week. Thankfully, I know the library has a book on the process.

~ That daily comfort and rest is only a Scripture away.

Proverbs 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. "Selah"

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

How was your week, friends? Have a blessed weekend.
Weekly Wrap-Up


See other Homeschool Mother's Journal posts at Managing Your Blessings.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaching a Dyslexic Child to Read & Spell

Marianne Sunderland is mom to eight children, seven of whom have dyslexia. After a number of years driving to dyslexic tutoring appointments for her children, who have varying degrees of dyslexia (some with ADHD or ADD), she decided it would be easier for her to get trained and certified as an Orton-Gillingham Reading Tutor, so she could teach her already homeschooled children at home (she has twenty years of homeschooling under her belt).

Marianne's Homeschooling With Dyslexia blog, introduced to me by Tesha, has been such a wealth of information. If you even suspect your child may be affected by dyslexia, I recommend that you peruse her sight.

The Orton-Gillingham method is not a curriculum, but a collection of proven teaching practices that work best with the dyslexic student. No matter what curriculum you choose, it needs to include these attributes to best serve the dyslexic child (or any struggling reader):

~ Personalized (Adjusting everything to the child you are teaching, based upon the child's strengths, weaknesses, and preferred learning style. Ideally, dyslexics shouldn't be taught in groups, but individually.)

~ Multi-sensory (Using sight, feel, movement, and listening, all at the same time)

~ Direct and Explicit (Don't assume the child will infer anything--teach every aspect of the process)

~ Systematic (Use the same order and method to teach every new concept)

~ Sequential and Cumulative (Only present words in their reading that have patterns or sounds that have been taught. Start with the simplest, and move to the complex, only after mastery.)

~ Synthetic and Analytical (Synthetic means to teach sounds, and then teach how they can be put together to form words. Analytical means to present a word, and teach how to break it apart into its individual sounds. Go both directions for the learning to really stick.)

These attributes are the basis of the Orton-Gillingham approach.

Curriculum that include these attributes include:

For Older Children - Reading Horizons

Marianne Sunderland has written a five-part series on teaching the dyslexic child to read. Here are her posts, all outstanding.





Building Fluency in Dyslexic Readers

The founder of All About Learning Press, Marie Rippel, also a certified Orton-Gillingham instructor, wrote this post on her blog: Using Dictation to Improve Spelling. She also wrote: How Can I Help My Child With Spelling Dictation? Both articles are excellent, as is the blog Marie Rippel maintains on her website.

My daughter Mary, who just turned eight, was slow to learn to read in the past, after initially mastering all her sounds and learning to decode three-letter words and short-vowel words with blends, all without incident. Everything beyond these beginning skills proved very difficult for her.

Reading in the All About Reading Level 2 reader (on a cold January morning. :)

All About Reading game with /ar/ words

All About Reading practice cards with /ar/ words

All About Reading magnet letter board, used in most of the All About Reading and All About Spelling lessons. New sounds and syllable types and words are introduced and practiced this way.
However, this month I've seen fluent reading and her confidence has soared! She can pick up her All About Reading reader and read all the past stories with remarkable fluency, compared to her first day with the program in late September, 2014. I'm one grateful mother and now, one informed teacher, thanks to Marianne Sunderland and Marie Rippel.

Like Marianne does for her children, I modified the All About Reading program to include more practice. Mary was required to read all the stories we'd been through over and over, on different days, different sittings. I can't say she was happy with me, but she did it, and as long as it wasn't a new story, she could do it without my help. I believe this extra repetition was key in building the fluency she's lacked the last few years.

Both Mary and Peter have many signs of dyslexia, but Peter learned to read far easier, with only sight words becoming a stumbling block. He read fluently at about the same time as Mary--eight years old. Peter also has dysgraphia (difficulty with handwriting, spelling, and organizing thoughts on paper), which is common in dyslexics, but Mary prints and writes without difficulty.

Mary also has extreme difficulty learning her numbers to 100, and Peter did too, to a lesser extent. Mary's difficulty with numbers could be part of her dyslexia, or it could be dyscalculia--I'm just not sure yet. I do know Peter struggles with dyscalculia (math disability similar to dyslexia, but it can be present without dyslexia).

I will continue to write on the topic of learning disabilities, sharing with you what I'm learning along this journey. Do you have any concerns about your young readers?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Help Needed: Strength Hope Peace Joy Love

Psalm 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.




Forgive me, but my heart is heavy. Today was so hard and sometimes it seems like no one can understand what the hours are like parenting special needs children. I feel so alone sometimes. And my husband, bless his heart, is overwhelmed, as I am. He escapes at work and when he comes home and OCD and other disorders rear their ugly heads, he wants nothing but to go back to work. So talking to him is not the best choice.

Some of you online can understand, but no friend here in the flesh can. Often it's better to keep quiet to avoid being judged. People do judge you when your kids have problems. They try to figure out what you're doing wrong. I'm sure I'm doing a lot of things wrong, but nothing worse than the mother with "normal" children.

My son Peter has in some respects recovered well from his concussion, but there seems to be a very real and prolonged effect on his OCD, worsening it. He can be so affected at times that he even looks strange, as though he's schizophrenic and hears voices. I know that isn't the case, but I mourn the look of panic and fear and pain in his eyes. I mourn the worsening and fight my own fear--fear that for his whole life he'll be paralyzed by this disorder and all his plans to go to Uganda and help the farmers there--the abject poor and the unsaved, will be thwarted

It doesn't matter to me what he does for a living as long as it's honest and can bring glory to God, but I know what stirs passion within him. It's the Gospel...sharing it, proclaiming it, living it, along with the things of the earth that proclaim His greatness and majesty...seeds, soil, trees, plants, flowers, birds. 

Today is Saturday and the weekends are rarely good with special needs children battling executive function disorders. They're off kilter, cranky, combative, stressed, all for no obvious reason, other than their routine being off. It doesn't make sense to schedule a weekend day like you would a Monday-Friday. It just isn't fair to the rest of the family and it doesn't train the affected child in how to self-monitor and regulate. 

The best part of the day today? The kids and I were busy cleaning the house before lunch. It didn't get any better after that, which is sad and depressing for all of us, because who wants Saturday cleaning to be the best part of the day?

I need strength. Strength to face OCD and ADHD another day. Strength to smile despite aggravating symptoms driving me up the wall. Strength to be something other than a snappy mother and a snappy wife. I need strength to let go of tomorrow and find the blessing in today.

Join me for a walk through Scripture? Be encouraged, because what my soul longs for so often is just a little encouragement. And maybe you too?

For Strength
Joshua 1:9 I repeat, be strong and brave! Don’t be afraid and don’t panic, for I, the Lord your God, am with you in all you do.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry.”


Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord is indeed going before you – he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!”

I need hope. Hope not in tomorrow or in the outcomes so much as just hope itself. Hope is the opposite of depression and discouragement. Hope is relief from the heaviness that problems bring. Hope is Heaven and the spot reserved there for me.

For Hope
Romans 5:1-5  “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory. Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

I need peace. Peace knowing that the Lord has heard the groaning of my heart and he will not forsake me. Peace that even on the most aggravating, scary days, he is in our midst, working his Plan. Peace knowing that my son has the Lord as I do, and I can trust Him to soothe and comfort Peter and my other children with his Presence. Peace that I can trust him to turn disorder into a testimony of His faithfulness. Peace knowing that we need the Lord more than those who aren't acquainted with everyday pain and disorder and ever-present dysfunction. We aren't cursed but blessed! To need the Lord is be blessed.

For Peace
Philippians 4:6-7Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 54:10 Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

I need joy. Oh, boy do I need joy. I need it to endure the aging face I see in the mirror, for one. The face that is still a shock, because I don't feel any older. The daily struggles here accompanied by the scary aging face, don't combine well. I haven't colored my hair and I've never done anything about the acne scars that have aged me prematurely for decades. These things just are. I can't escape them and I didn't choose them. They're what the Lord chose for me, and who am I to say he made a mistake when he formed me? 

Most of all, I need joy to wear a face and a smile that convey strength and hope and peace and love. A face that says the Holy Spirit dwells in me and I am transformed by His love!

Because He does. And because I am...transformed by His love. Hallelujah.

For Joy
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Isaiah 12:6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."

Isaiah 35:10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

John 16:22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Psalm 30:5 For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

I need love. The love of the Father. Love that is the cross. Love that makes me never thirst again. Love that says I am enough. Love that flows into me and then from me so I can bless the socks off my family.

1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins

Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.

Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Happy, happy Sunday to you, my friends!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Day in the Homeschooling Life, Part 2

Today I'm sharing our Tuesday-Thursday homeschool schedule. Last Tuesday I shared our Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, but I've made some changes since then to accommodate something the girls requested, so I'm sharing the revised M-W-F schedule following the Tues-Thurs schedule, below. Our master schedule is on chart paper on the wall, in pencil, so it's easy to make changes.

My boys are aged 13 and 11, and my girls are aged 8 and 6.

I have in my midst one, maybe two cases of dyslexia, one case of ADHD (accompanied by dyscalculia and dysgraphia), 2 cases of OCD, one case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and lastly, one child suffering from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. We need structure, and we need the All About Learning Press curriculum, which was written with dyslexics in mind. Having switched this year, we're making good progress with the addition of All About Reading and All About Spelling. We still continue to enjoy the Sonlight curriculum, using their Bible, History/Literature, and Science packages.

Brother-Sister Knitting Lesson
Tuesday-Thursday Homeschool Schedule

7:30 - Wake-Up 

I'm up at 7:30, in the shower at 7:40, after inserting a load of clothes. I dress, comb and scrunch my wet, permed hair, apply make-up and make my bed, and help the six-year-old with her bed.

The kids trickle out between 7:45 and 8:10, with Beth, age 6, often up first. They make their beds, get dressed, put their pajamas in the hamper, and then play with Legos, Hot Wheels, board games or whatever. It's basically free time until 8:30, but no computer.

Personal Bible Reading - Boys

If they get to bed late the night before for some reason, I let them sleep longer, and in that case they read the Bible before ending school for the day. The boys have a check-off sheet listing each subject, and that has to be checked by me before they're finished for the day.

8:30 - Breakfast & Devotions

We eat oatmeal or Cheerios or Shredded Wheat, and then we all rinse our bowls and gather for devotions in the living room. I'm reading from the Miller Family Series, currently in their Proverbs book called Wisdom And the Miller's, to which we all look forward.

After the reading we all take turns praying about our upcoming day, about the Proverb we learned, about various needs, after first giving thanks. 

The children will brush their teeth next, and I will fix the girls' hair.

9:30 - Quick Write Journals

They write in their journals for 15 minutes, with the kindergartner either using the Draw Write Now series of books, or working with me on Handwriting Without Tears. The kindergartner will often keep working into the next segment.


Quick Write

More Quick Write

9:45 - 10:35

Notes: The boys only do Science on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so they do a lot of science these two days. Last semester they did science daily. Since we school year round, we can still get through their Sonlight Science G this year without difficulty.

Sonlight Science - Peter

Sonlight Non-fiction History Reading & Sonlight Historical Fiction Novel - Paul

Saxon Math - Mommy and Girls


A free time creation

Science with brother Peter

10:35 - 11:25

Sonlight Non-fiction History Reading & Sonlight Historical Fiction Novel - Peter

Sonlight Science -  Paul

Puzzles, Painting, PlayDoh, Drawing - Girls


Melissa and Doug puzzle fun


11:25 - 12:05 Snack and Break


12:05 - 12:30

Sonlight Science B - Peter teaches Mary (Beth does well with experiment day, but has trouble listening to the other lessons, so for now she is not included.)

AWANA - Paul works with Beth on her verses, and does his own.

Mom does laundry and cleaning, or meal prep.

12:30 - 12:55

Sonlight B Non-Fiction History - Paul teaches Mary and Beth

Proverbs - Peter aged out of AWANA, so he's working on memorizing the Proverbs we're studying in Wisdom and the Millers.

12:55 - 2:05 Lunch Break 

We practice speech sounds for a bit after they finish eating. Beth is working on /th/ in the middle and final positions. Mary and Paul are working on conversational use of /th/ and /r/. If we don't do this here, we do it after dinner, before their nightly stories.

2:05 - 2:35

All About Spelling Level 1 - Girls and Mommy

Teaching Textbooks Level 7 Math - Paul

Easy Grammar - Peter

2:35 - 3:20 

All About Spelling - Boys and Mom

Library Movie - Girls 
The boys and I are diligently trying to get through the earlier spelling levels so we can get to their appropriate level. They have to learn all the spelling rules from the earlier levels, even though they can spell the words involved, because later rules build upon the early ones. I really need the girls fully engaged and not interrupting, asking for food or drink or whatever. I give them a drink, a small snack, and they watch something they picked out from the library the previous week, since we don't have a TV signal.

3:20 - 4:00

Teaching Textbooks Math Level 7 - Peter

Easy Grammar - Paul

Folding & Putting Away Their Own Clothes - Girls (boys do this before bed if their baskets are full.)

4:00 - 4:15 Afternoon Clean-Up

We tidy up the house. I wipe down the bathrooms or sweep, and finish up kitchen chores. The kids put away anything they've left out during the day. If it gets way too messy before this, we do five- minute pick-up segments during the day.

4:15 - 6:30 Free Time (and taking turns in shower)

Free time inside or out, depending on temperature and precipitation. In other seasons, they're outside during snack break and lunch break also.

Or, complete any unfinished school work.

Mom makes dinner and conditions the 6-year-old's hair. Kids clear off table for dinner.

6:45 Dinner

Husband joins us when he arrives home at 7:00 PM. Having dinner this late isn't ideal, but it works for families in which Daddy works late.


7:30 Family Devotions & Prayer

We're currently working through Leading Little Ones to God, recommended by Sonlight as part of their Core B package.

8:10  Take vitamins, chronic-condition medicines, and brush teeth. If there are a lot of clothes in the kids' individual laundry baskets, they fold those and put them away after teeth brushing.

8:30  Daddy reads to boys. Mom reads picture books to kindergartner, and some of their Sonlight Core B read-aloud selections, if I didn't do them during the day. I try to do some at lunch too, while they eat.

8:50 Bedtime for girls 

9:20 - Bedtime for boys (Takes them some time to settle down in there, so they actually fall asleep around 9:50 PM. They like to tell each other stories.)


______________________________________________________

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

7:30 - Wake-Up 

I'm up at 7:30, in the shower at 7:40, after inserting a load of clothes. I dress, comb and scrunch my wet, permed hair, apply make-up and make my bed, and help the six-year-old with her bed.

The kids trickle out between 7:45 and 8:10, with Beth, age 6, often up first. They make their beds, get dressed, put their pajamas in the hamper, and then play with Legos, Hot Wheels, board games or whatever. It's basically free time until 8:30, but no computer.

Bible - Boys

8:30 - Breakfast & Devotions

We eat oatmeal or Cheerios or Shredded Wheat, and then we all rinse our bowls and gather for devotions in the living room. I'm reading from the Miller Family Series, currently in their Proverbs book called Wisdom And the Miller's, to which we all look forward.

After the reading we all take turns praying about our upcoming day, about the Proverb we learned, about various needs, after first giving thanks. 

The children will brush their teeth next, and I will fix the girls' hair.

9:30 - Quick Write Journals

They write in their journals for 15 minutes, with the kindergartner either using the Draw Write Now series of books, or working with me on Handwriting Without Tears. The kindergartner will often keep working into the next segment.

9:45 - 10:30 

All About Reading Level 2 - Mary (age 8) and Mommy 

Teaching Textbooks Math DVD program Level 7 - Peter (age 13)

Sonlight Historical Fiction Novel from World History Part 1 (Core G) - Paul (age 11)

Puzzles, Painting, PlayDoh, or Drawing - Beth (kindergarten)

10:30 - 11:15  (Everyone switches from the subjects above. The boys use the same curriculum so they have to rotate with some of the resources.)

All About Reading Level 1 - Beth (Grade K) and Mommy (She can only concentrate 30 minutes tops, and that's pushing it.)

Teaching Textbooks Math DVD  program Level 7 - Paul

Sonlight Historical Fiction Novel from World History Part 1 (Core G) - Peter

Puzzles, Painting, PlayDoh, or Drawing - Mary

11:15 - 11:45  Snack and Break

Children might do crafts, such as make up a miniature puppet theater, or get out the construction paper/scissors/glue, or play board games or cards after having a quick snack. If they're highly involved in their creations, this can go 20 to 30 minutes longer, but usually we stay on track.

I shuffle laundry throughout the day, including at this time. I also try to unload and load the dishwasher during this half-hour.

11:45 - 12:30 

Writing - Boys and Mommy

Making Books at Writing Center - Girls
This was something we did in the past that the girls really wanted to do again. I put out writing and drawing materials (drawing instruction books) and stapled blank books of various sizes (homemade and simple) and the girls illustrate the pages. Later I help them write the story words they dictate to me. If there's a lengthy story, I write it myself as they dictate it to me.

Split Week - The segment below, 12:30 to 1:15, is split for the girls. Monday and Friday the girls do Saxon Math with me at this time, and on Wednesday they do All About Spelling with me. This gives them 4 days per week of Math, and 3 days per week of spelling.

12:30 - 1:15 (Monday and Friday Only)

Saxon Math - Girls and Mommy (Beth, the K student, doesn't work the whole 45 minutes.)

Easy Grammar Workbooks - Boys

Paul plays the piano after grammar. He's teaching himself with piano books, with the goal of being able to play music at Christmas for his family, or hymns for his family devotions. 

12:30 - 1:15 (Wednesday Only)

All About Spelling Level 1 - Girls and Mommy (They also have spelling on Tues. and Thurs.)

Easy Grammar Workbooks - Boys (same as Monday and Wednesday.)

1:15 - 2:30 Lunch Break 

If we need milk from the dollar store or have to go to the pharmacy window, that will usually happen at the end of the lunch break. I buy five gallons of milk once a week (2 jugs nonfat and 3 jugs 2%), but we need one additional milk run before a week is up.

2:30 - 3:00

All About Spelling Level 2 & 3 - Boys and Mommy 
We switched to All About Spelling this year. It's recommended that you take older students through all the levels so they don't miss any of the spelling rules. Level 2 is too easy so I try to cover both 2 and 3 at the same time, only covering words from Level 2 that are needed to illustrate the spelling rules they don't know well.

Free Time - Girls (Without interrupting Momma's spelling lessons with the boys.)

3:00 - 3:30  Read-Aloud

Mom reads aloud from the girls' Sonlight Core B read-aloud list. My husband reads aloud to the boys later at night from their Sonlight Core G read-aloud list. However, the boys also enjoy listening to the girls' selections. They're highly funny, engaging books! We just finished Owls In the Family by Farley Mowat, and now we're into Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. On Fridays we read from Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

3:30 - 3:45 Afternoon Clean-Up

We tidy up the house. I wipe down the bathrooms or sweep, and finish up kitchen chores. The kids put away anything they've left out during the day. If it gets way too messy before this, we do five- minute pick-up segments during the day.

3:45 - 5:30 Free Time 

Free time inside or out, depending on temperature and precipitation. In other seasons, they're outside during snack break and lunch break also.

Or, complete any unfinished school work.

5:30 - 6:30 Take Turns in Shower and Free Time 

Mom makes dinner, sometimes with kids' help, while also shuffling laundry and conditioning the 6-year-old's hair. Kids clear off table for dinner.

6:45 Dinner

Husband joins us when he arrives home at 7:00 PM. Having dinner this late isn't ideal, but it works for families in which Daddy works late.


7:30 Family Devotions & Prayer

We're currently working through Leading Little Ones to God, recommended by Sonlight as part of their Core B package.

8:10  Take vitamins, chronic-condition medicines, and brush teeth. If there are a lot of clothes in the kids' individual laundry baskets, they fold those and put them away after teeth brushing.

8:30  Daddy reads to boys. Mom reads picture books to kindergartner, and most often the 2nd grader cuddles with us too.

8:50 Bedtime for girls

9:20 - Bedtime for boys

Before bed I...read the Bible, get teaching materials ready for the next day, pay any necessary bills, research any curriculum or methods or books, order school supplies, or read blogs and/or write a blog. If there's a major news story ongoing, I read about that (we have no TV signal, so online news is all we have). I tend to stay up late because all of this takes time. My husband is on his feet all day, so he generally goes to bed by 10 PM. Two to three times a week, I also go to bed early.

My days are full and fabulous, despite the difficult health conditions we deal with. I couldn't be more grateful for this lifestyle. Being together so much strengthens and grounds us, and prepares us to serve God with joy when we go out into the world, at church, at the library, in the neighborhood, at appointments, on errands. We pray for each other and share each other's burdens, and remind each other to give it all to God. Even when things are messy and some are in bad moods, it's still all good, all building toward a stronger character as we stumble but keep trying to be like Jesus.

Weekly Wrap-Up


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Day in the Life Homeschooling Ages 6, 8, 11, and 13 (Updated)



We complete one set of subjects on Monday,Wednesday, and Friday, and another set on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with some overlapping. Today I'll share our Mon-Wed-Fri schedule, and later this week our Tuesday-Thursday schedule.

A Word About Vision and Goals

You might notice we don't have any extra-curriculars scheduled. We aren't big on them because they tend to crowd out family devotions and family dinners, which are what we feel strengthen families and provide kids with rock-solid foundations--something peers and extra-curricular teachers can't do for us.

If one of my children happened to be a gymnastics super star, or an exceptionally talented soccer champ, we might feel differently about extra-curriculars, but our children's God-given strengths and interests don't happen to be in organized sports or lessons. They play sports in the backyard with each other, which makes them happy. Free time is important to them.

Additionally, my children have each other to play with, whereas smaller families may need more outside stimulation. Each family has unique needs, and each home-managing couple has to find ways to meet those needs the best they can, in ways that uphold the family's vision statement (or philosophy).

Friday Changes On Friday afternoons things are different than what is scheduled below. We schedule two hours for art/crafts or baking, and then we go to the library, though this is subject to change if something special is going on at the library on another day. But generally, Friday works best.

One or possibly two of my children have dyslexia, and another has dyscalculia and dysgraphia. The All About Spelling and All About Reading programs both address those special needs. Also, I have one case of ADHD. two cases of OCD, and one case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. My youngest has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. All of these needs together make it necessary to stick to a structured schedule. Everyone is happier with structure here--structure with room for creativity.

If there are doctor's appointments to schedule, I try to make them after 2 PM, but not too close to dinner. Appointments tend to be at least once a week between the arthritis and other needs.



Monday, Wednesday, Friday 
For our Tues-Thurs Schedule, click here.

7:30 - Wake-Up 

I'm up at 7:30, in the shower at 7:40, after inserting a load of clothes. I dress, comb and scrunch my wet, permed hair, apply make-up and make my bed, and help the six-year-old with her bed.

The kids trickle out between 7:45 and 8:10, with Beth, age 6, often up first. They make their beds, get dressed, put their pajamas in the hamper, and then play with Legos, Hot Wheels, board games or whatever. It's basically free time until 8:30, but no computer.

Bible - Boys (If they get to bed late the night before for some reason, I let them sleep longer, and in that case they read the Bible before ending school for the day. They have a check-off sheet for each subject, and that has to be checked by me before they're finished for the day.)

8:30 - Breakfast & Devotions

We eat oatmeal or Cheerios or Shredded Wheat, and then we all rinse our bowls and gather for devotions in the living room. I'm reading from the Miller Family Series, currently in their Proverbs book called Wisdom And the Miller's, to which we all look forward.

After the reading we all take turns praying about our upcoming day, about the Proverb we learned, about various needs, after first giving thanks. 

The children will brush their teeth next, and I will fix the girls' hair.

9:30 - Quick Write Journals

They write in their journals for 15 minutes, with the kindergartner either using the Draw Write Now series of books, or working with me on Handwriting Without Tears. The kindergartner will often keep working into the next segment.

9:45 - 10:30 

All About Reading Level 2 - Mary (age 8) and Mommy 

Teaching Textbooks Math DVD program Level 7 - Peter (age 13)

Sonlight Literature Reading from World History Part 1 (Core G) - Paul (age 11)

Puzzles, Painting, PlayDoh, or Drawing - Beth (kindergarten)

10:30 - 11:15  (Everyone switches from the subjects above. The boys use the same curriculum so they have to rotate with some of the resources.)

All About Reading Level 1 - Beth (Grade K) and Mommy (She can only concentrate 30 minutes tops, and that's pushing it.)

Teaching Textbooks Math DVD  program Level 7 - Paul

Sonlight Literature Reading from World History Part 1 (Core G) - Peter

Puzzles, Painting, PlayDoh, or Drawing - Mary

11:15 - 11:45  Snack and Break

Children might do crafts, such as make up a miniature puppet theater, or get out the construction paper/scissors/glue, or play board games or cards after having a quick snack. If they're highly involved in their creations, this can go 20 to 30 minutes longer, but usually we stay on track.

I shuffle laundry throughout the day, including at this time. I also try to unload and load the dishwasher during this half-hour.

11:45 - 12:30 

Writing - Boys and Mommy

Making Books at Writing Center - Girls

Split Week - The segment below, 12:30 to 1:15, is split for the girls. Monday and Friday the girls do Saxon Math at this time, and on Wednesday they do All About Spelling. This splitting gives them 4 days per week of Math, and 3 days per week of spelling.

12:30 - 1:15 (Monday and Friday Only)

Saxon Math - Girls and Mommy (Beth, the K student, doesn't work the whole 45 minutes.)

Easy Grammar Workbooks - Boys


Paul plays the piano after grammar. He's teaching himself with piano books, with the goal of being able to play music at Christmas for his family, or hymns for his family devotions. 


12:30 - 1:15 (Wednesday Only)

All About Spelling Level 1 - Girls and Mommy 

Easy Grammar Workbooks - Boys (same as Monday and Wednesday for boys.)

1:15 - 2:30 Lunch Break 

If we need milk from the dollar store or have to go to the pharmacy window, that will usually happen at the end of the lunch break. I buy five gallons of milk once a week (2 jugs nonfat and 3 jugs 2%), but we need one additional milk run before a week is up.

2:30 - 3:00

All About Spelling Level 2 & 3 - Boys and Mommy 
We switched to All About Spelling this year. It's recommended that you take older students through all the levels so they don't miss any of the spelling rules. Level 2 is too easy so I try to cover both 2 and 3 at the same time, only covering words from Level 2 that are needed to illustrate the spelling rules they don't know well.

Free Time - Girls (Without interrupting Momma's spelling lessons with the boys.)

3:00 - 3:30  Read-Aloud

Mom reads aloud from the girls' Sonlight Core B read-aloud list. My husband reads aloud to the boys later at night from their Sonlight Core G read-aloud list. However, the boys also enjoy listening to the girls' selections. They're highly funny, engaging books! We just finished Owls In the Family by Farley Mowat, and now we're into Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary. On Fridays we read from Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

3:30 - 3:45 Afternoon Clean-Up

We tidy up the house. I wipe down the bathrooms or sweep, and finish up kitchen chores. The kids put away anything they've left out during the day. If it gets way too messy before this, we do five- minute pick-up segments during the day.

3:45 - 5:30 Free Time 

Free time inside or out, depending on temperature and precipitation. In other seasons, they're outside during snack break and lunch break also.

Or, complete any unfinished school work.

5:30 - 6:30 Take Turns in Shower and Free Time 

Mom makes dinner, sometimes with kids' help, while also shuffling laundry and conditioning the 6-year-old's hair. Kids clear off table for dinner.

6:45 Dinner

Husband joins us when he arrives home at 7:00 PM. Having dinner this late isn't ideal, but it works for families in which Daddy works late.


7:30 Family Devotions & Prayer

We're currently working through Leading Little Ones to God, recommended by Sonlight as part of their Core B package.

8:10  Take vitamins, chronic-condition medicines, and brush teeth. If there are a lot of clothes in the kids' individual laundry baskets, they fold those and put them away after teeth brushing.

8:30  Daddy reads to boys. Mom reads picture books to kindergartner, and most often the 2nd grader cuddles with us too.

8:50 Bedtime for girls

9:20 - Bedtime for boys

I do the dishes, sometimes with my husband's help, but he often has to talk on the phone with his 92-year-old father, who lives alone in Florida by choice. I also check for any last laundry loads to shuffle.

Before bed I...read the Bible, get teaching materials ready for the next day, pay any necessary bills, research any curriculum or methods or books, order school supplies, or read blogs and/or write a blog. If there's a major news story ongoing, I read about that (we have no TV signal, so online news is all we have). I tend to stay up late because all of this takes time. My husband is on his feet all day, so he generally goes to bed by 10 PM. Two to three times a week, I also go to bed early.

My days are full and fabulous, despite the difficult health conditions we deal with. I couldn't be more grateful for this lifestyle. Being together so much strengthens and grounds us, and prepares us to serve God with joy when we go out into the world, at church, at the library, in the neighborhood, at appointments, on errands. We pray for each other and share each other's burdens, and remind each other to give it all to God. Even when things are messy and some are in bad moods, it's still all good, all building toward a stronger character as we stumble but keep trying to be like Jesus.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.