Monthly Archives: August 2011

Choosing to Homeschool, After Having Your Kids in School – Interviews with families who did just that! Part 2

Choosing to Homeschool, After Having Your Kids in School – Interviews with families who did just that! Part 2

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In case you missed last weeks post about our newest series I have included it below.  Today is Part 2 and I would like to introduce you to the Hawley family.  Below is my interview with Nicky (mom).  Later this week I will be posting an interview with her oldest son, Jarryd, who is now in college. You are in for such a treat in reading these families stories!

Part 1 (you can skip this if you read it last week) 

For most children the past week began the daily routines of getting on the big, yellow bus, eating lunches with their friends, asking to use the restroom, waiting in line for the drinking fountain and the return of the daily homework assignments.  Many parents had their facebook updates stating how excited they are to have their own time and their kids back at school.  However for some, they didn’t return to the regular school routine because of a family decision.  They chose to keep them home and homeschool them.

What is it that makes some families decide to not have their children return to the usual school situation?  How does this affect the children and parents?  How did it work for them?  I had many questions about this so I asked the same questions to a few families who have gone through this process.  You might be surprised to read their answers.

Coming next week, a series of interviews from different families on the good, the bad and everything in between on pulling their children from formal schooling to homeschool them.  How have they adapted over the last few years……and would they do it again if they had to?

THE INTERVIEW YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR: 

Sacha: What were the ages of your kid(s) when you pulled them? What year was that/or how long ago?

Nicky: Jarryd was 8th grade (13 years), Jaydyn was 5th grade (10 years),  and Taliya was 3rd grade (8 years)., plus 3 under the age of 4!  This all happened early Fall 2006.

Sacha: What was your biggest fear before you pulled your kids out of public school?

Nicky: My biggest fear of pulling the kids out of school was MY ability to educate them.  I had a lot of access to homeschool families but they always seemed to have it together with their confidence in their ability to homeschool and I didn’t.

Through world influence  I was worried about them not having enough social interaction with others, other than their siblings and myself.

The other aspect was…How am I going you manage my home when I have no time now?

Sacha: Why did you pull them out?

Nicky: It was on our heart for sometime to consider homeschooling.  God presented many situations involving our children and public school.  We found that they were being exposed to situations and circumstances that we  didn’t think appropriate or necessary.  These situations were what we were trying to protect our children from and it made us feel as though we didn’t have full control over our children the way God intended.

So the confirmation came when Jaydyn got a concussion at school and was sent home without notifying us and was rushed to the hospital immediately.  I knew that was the last time I would leave my child at school.

Something very awesome also happened to confirm to us this was the path God wanted us to take.  I need $550 to finish getting the books I needed in order for me to begin homeschooling.  They had began back at a new school year and I was waiting and praying for finances also.  That same week $550 was left at our home.  No one knows who this was and how they knew about it…..God is good!!

Sacha: What was hardest part?

Nicky: The hardest part was changing my routine and taking on a foreign roll as teacher.  Not really knowing what they were learning prior to this and how they had adapted in the change over from when we moved from Australia to the USA.

It may seem odd but there are very big differences in the schedule of what and how things are learned from Australia to here.  We had only been in the USA 14 months, so I was concerned about the transition in different learning systems, not  to mention my own.  I didn’t know too much about American History.  I was still learning the currency myself and so many other things.  All of this with 3 children under 4 who previously had all my attention….Oh, and just pregnant with Rian….

Sacha: What surprised you the most?

Nicky: The biggest surprise in the beginning was how plain and simple a good homeschool curriculum really is.  How everything was laid out and how much support is available if needed.

I was also surprised at how different each of my kids learning style was and how amazingly clever they all were.  I actually felt when I started my first child in homeschool from the beginning and heard her read for the first time how much I had missed out on.  I thought about being there for all her firsts yet not having this with my  three older kids that I gave up this incredible moment unknowingly.  It was one of the most amazing moments ever, when I have heard my children read for the first time under my instruction.

Sacha: What was the biggest change you saw in your kids after you started homeschooling them?

Nicky:  The biggest change in the beginning was their willingness to adapt to the changes we had put before them….it wasn’t all smooth sailing believe me, but in the early stages I loved how eager they were.

I noticed that my kids started to spend more time together and we all developed deeper relationships.  I had all day with my kids not just the busiest times of the day when we really didn’t get time to hang out.

Sacha: How did it affect your family? (Yes, I want the good, bad and ugly!)

Nicky: Hope you are ready….

Well the good I watched my kids focus change to specifically what we wanted them to set their hearts and minds on and that was God.  We had many, many daily life experiences to work with and referring them back to how God expects us to be.  We got to see the true hearts of our kids and God gave us many opportunities to work and pray for them.  I have never seen such great growth in our family, we truly had our own revival.

I watched my kids develop a love for learning and develop interests that we could pursue.  I had one child that needed extra attention and all this time at school he was branded as disruptive, when in fact he was distracting the teacher from catching on he wasn’t getting it.  So, I got to see him learn to enjoy school for the first time.  The younger kids LOVED having their older siblings home and it created greater unity.  I saw my kids for the first time build deep relationships with each other rather that before just being in each others way.

Now…the not so pretty…In the beginning my kids were good then reality set in and there were crying outbursts of….I hate being stuck at home, I want to see my friends, why did you make us move to America and now homeschool us?  We never get out we always do school …….oh the list went on.  I did pray through this and comforted them through this major changes in our life.  If you speak to anyone of my kids 6 years later they will tell you being homeschooled was the best decision ever…in fact Taliya has nightmares that we send her back to public school…..ha ha

The other aspect that I did not love was the  disorganization within my home.  I felt so torn between my two worlds…the old one of caring for young kids and keeping my house and the new one of teacher.  Of course teaching took more time and the house got less.  I am a creature of habit and love a tidy and organized home.  Well , it was slipping until I realized we need an organized system of ready helpers…..the chore chart.  They still don’t love that either but it is what can make this house function at a level where we don’t get house poisoning and still get an education.

Sacha: How did your life change once you were homeschooling?  

Nicky: Pretty much the above answer.  I felt exhausted from trying to do both the old and the new role perfectly in my own strength.  I have never been one for my own time kind of thing and I love every minute of having my kids with me.  I think the greatest change was learning to juggle without thinking I had to be prefect at all of it.  Something has to give whether you are willing or not…

Sacha: Is there anything you miss now that you are homeschooling?

Nicky: NO…..nothing.  My life is richer for becoming a homeschool family.  Highly recommend it..

Sacha: How long was the learning curve and when did you finally feel comfortable homeschooling?

Oh, I would say 2 – 3 years of getting comfortable and asking everyone who does homeschool questions, testing out different curriculums , reading homeschool forums etc…….the learning curve NEVER ends.  I think I have learned more through schooling my kids than I did when I was at school.  I had a lot to learn coming to a new country also.  There are still days when I feel under attack thinking, am I doing the very best for my kids? then I am reminded of how faithful God has been to us throughout this journey.

Sacha: What curriculum do you use?  Did you change things after your first year?

I now use Abeka and have for  four years.  I am a bit of a task master and I love how everything is spelled out and there is definate progress that I can monitor.  They have teachers on call and with this program I have seen the greatest advances in my kids…love it and if I change it anyways my husband is going to make me eat the books LOL….

After the first year I got to see for myself what areas the kids need help and what areas we needed to improve upon depending on ability but most of all personality.  I think that personality is an area that needs to be discovered more with each child in order to establish their learning style and capabilities.

Oh, and I also had to stop being the task master and remember we aren’t doing public school at home but we home school…..I wasn’t taking them out of a system I didn’t agree with to transfer it to my home….part of that world conditioning that God had to work on within me.

Sacha: What would you tell someone considering pulling their kids out of school to homeschool them?

Nicky: There is so much.

First of all give every fear and concern to God.  He will faithfully answer you according to His plan.  Remember they are His children and we are stewards of them, He will always guide your path according to His will.

Don’t give into the fears that the world put into us.  I still have family that think my children are social rejects that never get out of the basement except for Sundays when we go to church.  My children will stand up and tell anyone that this is not true and they have more social interaction with like minded people than ever before.  Remember going to school with a bunch of kids your own age is the ONLY time in your life that you will ever be in a group like that again.  It isn’t necessary for social development, it is necessary for public school to maximize their resources.  My kids now have so much more time and common interests with each other than they did when they had limited exposure to each other.

Another fear that many families contemplating homeschool is…..I am not that smart.  Well, pleased to meet you, neither am I.  I always tell people. “Do you do homework with you child when they come home from school?’ “Do you love your child and have a vested interest in their education?” Of course the answer to both of those is yes, then YES you are ready to homeschool.  If you can follow the teachers instruction on how to help your child with home work from public school you can follow a teachers instruction on how to homeschool your child on a daily basis.  I am sure many parents, myself included at the time don’t know what their kids are learning at school on a day to day basis.  Now I know we can use daily life to refer back to what we learn, this brings joy into learning and they develop a natural love of learning.

STOP finding excuses..I have the proof in a college student with a perfect grade average and 2 associate degrees under his belt in 18 months to prove that homeschooling makes your child stand out from the rest. I also have  6 other homeschooled kids that are a testimony to the fact that this is one of the best decisions ever made for our family.

You too will develop and new relationship and love for your children beyond explanation.  I say take the journey with your child, you’ll get to step back into your own childhood and share it with your kids while at the same time you are filling their hearts with loving memories of how we are called to parent our kids…..

There you have it…the first of 3 parent interviews. I also have 3 kid interviews to come!  I know I was so inspired by all that Nicky shared with me.  I hope that you were too!

If you are considering homeschooling but don’t know where to begin, please leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help you figure out the next step.

Review: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids by Rachel Carman

Review: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids by Rachel Carman

Wow, finally my 1st of many reviews for the TOS Homeschool Crew!  What a great way to start out my year of reviewing products.

Each review will start with “Sacha’s<25″ (my thoughts in 25 words or less)  This is will be my review in a nutshell, and it will hopefully entice you to keep reading.

Then I’ll include a short list of things I think are important in a product and how I rate the item.  I’ll end with a more in-depth review and conclude with all important information—the who, what, and where’s that you want and need to know!  I hope this makes it easy for you. Please let me know what you think about this layout!

OK, HERE WE GO WITH REVIEW #1:

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids by Rachel Carman

Sacha’s<25: A totally awesome, but quick, read for any new or seasoned mom looking for some real encouragement in raising your precious kiddos.

Home in the Trenches Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth my time? 9 Stars
Did it stretch my thinking? 9 Stars
Is it worth the money? 10 Stars
Is it useful to me? 10 Stars
Practicality- 10 Stars
Quality-10 Stars
Kid Rating-N/A

There are a million good things I (or my children) could spend my time on but is it a great thing?–GREAT THING!
How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids was such an encouraging book to read, especially as we were just getting ready to start a new school year. To give you a bit of an idea on what is included in the book here is the table of contents:

Introduction: The Heart of the Matter……………………………………7

Chapter 1: H — Have a Heart for the Things of God………….31

Chapter 2: E — Enrich Your Marriage……………………………………..58

Chapter 3: A — Accept Your Kids………………………………………………88

Chapter 4: R — Release Them to God………………………………………116

Chapter 5: T — Teach Them the Truth…………………………………145

Epilogue: Heartfelt Encouragement…………………………………….179

Acknowledgments…………………………………………………………..193

I know that when I looked a the table of contents for the first time it was hard to know what I was really going to read about.  The author opens with a wonderful introduction that you don’t want to skip.  It really gave me a flavor of who she is and where she is coming from in writing the book.

I started to take notes on what I was reading shortly into the first chapter.  I LOVED what she said about intentional parenting.  Here is the paragraph from the book:

“‘Intentional parenting’ means that we are thoughful and purposeful in our actions and words.  As intentional parents we do not react, but we respond.  We do not panic; we pray.  We do not give sermons; we give scripture. And we are prepared to do so through our own pursuit of God, for His glory and by His grace.  By seeking God first, we are going before our families, paving the way for our kids.  We are clearing a path through the undergrowth that is everyday life and showing our children how to put Him first in all things.” p 32

AMAZING! A-MAZ-ING!  If I could just remember and live life by this paragraph it would be wonderful.  How inspiring!  I think I am going to post that by my window where I do dishes and on my mirror in the bathroom.

There are so many great passages in this book — it really is a must read for your year!  Whether or not you are a homeschool mom, I think it is an important book for you!  It is so easy to get beaten up in the midst of the world’s ideas for our kids and families. This book helps to encourage you on your journey in raising your children, valuing your marriage and setting value to the things that really are important in life!

I loved that she included “hands-on” ideas of things we can do with our kids.  Many of her examples are straight from things that they are doing as a family — such as memorizing chunks, chapters and now books of Scripture as a family!  How cool is that?  What about asking your kids what God is teaching them recently?

One of the things I really liked about this book is its size.  The book fits just perfectly in a purse and is easy to hold and read.

To be honest, I haven’t read a book cover to cover in YEARS!  (OK, unless it was a book I had to read aloud to the kids for school)  This was the first one I have FINISHED!  It was that good to take my time and actually read it cover to cover.  I found myself actually a bit sad when I reached the last page.

This is straight from back of the book, as well as from Apologia’s website:

How well do you really know your kids? What has God shown you about who they are and who they will become? He has sent these children into your home at this specific time for His glorious purposes. Indeed, you have been invited on the adventure of a lifetime, a journey on which you will see walls fall, seas parted, and giants slain. You don’t need special skills or training for this journey—you need only to seek God and hold tight to His mighty hand! As with so many things, the first step to having a heart for your children is knowing your heavenly Father. As you seek daily to share His heart for your children, keep this inspirational book close at hand.

About Rachel Carman:

She is a devoted wife, a homeschooling mother of seven children, and author of the Focus on the Family book SoundBites from Heaven: What God Wants Us to Hear When We Talk to Our Kids.

TO SUM IT UP:
I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you read this book.  And actually buy it!  Yes, I said it, buy it.  It is that worth it!  I would suggest reading it at least once a year.

The Important Information:

How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids

by Rachel Carmen

Published by:  Apologia/WholeHeart, a division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.

Address:  1106 Meridian Plaza, STE 220, Anderson, IN 46016

ISBN: 978-1-935495-41-3

Order from: Apologia

Price: $13.00

Disclosure/Disclaimer:  I received the above product free of charge for review purposes.

Choosing to Homeschool, After Having Your Kids in School – Interviews with families who did just that! Part 1

Choosing to Homeschool, After Having Your Kids in School – Interviews with families who did just that! Part 1

For most children the past week began the daily routines of getting on the big, yellow bus, eating lunches with their friends, asking to use the restroom, waiting in line for the drinking fountain and the return of the daily homework assignments.  Many parents had their facebook updates stating how excited they are to have their own time and their kids back at school.  However for some, they didn’t return to the regular school routine because of a family decision.  They chose to keep them home and homeschool them.

What is it that makes some families decide to not have their children return to the usual school situation?  How does this affect the children and parents?  How did it work for them?  I had many questions about this so I asked the same questions to a few families who have gone through this process.  You might be surprised to read their answers.

Coming next week, a series of interviews from different families on the good, the bad and everything in between on pulling their children from formal schooling to homeschool them.  How have they adapted over the last few years……and would they do it again if they had to?

Online Family Calendars?

Online Family Calendars?

Switching from a paper calendar to an online calendar can be intimidating.  I have held off going to an online calendar.  This school year thought I would try to do both-a paper and online one and slowly wean myself away from physically writing on a calendar.  I think it  is therapeutic to write on the calendar.  However, I think it is time to try to make the move.  I had been trying out Cozi over the last 6 months but I haven’t been sold on the calendar portion of it.  A friend and I were talking today about online calendars and she is trying to take the plunge too.  She had seen an article that mentioned a few I hadn’t heard of.

Jibidee (jibidee.com)

Plumlife (plumlife.com but it costs $10/month)

Homelife (homelife.daytimer.com)

What do you use for an online calendar?  What do you like or don’t like about the one you are using?  I am not even sure which features should be important to me.  Please leave a comment and help me and anyone else trying to make the switch!

Update on my sewing progress from last week….

Update on my sewing progress from last week….

Tim’s mom and I had a super, wonderful, great, magnificent (ok, you get the idea) time last week sewing.  We (including the kiddos) stayed up to crazy hours of the night, slept until late morning and ate dinner out every evening! Joy (10) even sewed each day with us on a quilt that she has been working on.  Yes, she has her own machine and has been quilting since she was 5 (with grandma and mommy’s help) and at 6 we got her her own machine.

I spent most of the week sewing 2 twin quilts for the boys.  I have all my blocks sewn, but need to put the last 3 rows together and onto the quilt. I am so close to being done and would have finished, but I had another idea I had to do!  One of our friends’ children was having her first birthday over the weekend and I really didn’t want to get her a plastic toy.  I knew she would be getting a bunch of them and I would most likely end up duplicating another gift.  So, mid week I decided to make a quilt for her!  5 hours later here is what it looked like:

The name  (Maeve) and flowers are appliqued and I sewed ric-rack onto it.  Then I free-motion quilted it (for those of you who care to know)!

Here is a photo of part of one of the boys’ quilts.  I am holding it the wrong way though in the picture.  That is really the top 3 rows of the quilt.  Oh, and look at the floor.  Isn’t it a scary sight? Yeah, it’s better now, but the little girls sure did have fun cutting up all of our scraps!

This week should be a bit more of normal as we finish up what school work we didn’t finish last week and try to get us into a good schedule for the school year!  I hope you all have a great week too!