And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, January 30, 2017

How We Homeschool

I haven't blogged as much about our homeschooling journey lately so I thought I'd give you a little insight into our methods. I'm not a huge fan of labels but if forced to label our homeschool style I'd say traditional/ eclectic. We are traditional because our school time looks similar to a classroom school time. We are eclectic because I don't buy our curriculum as a boxed set each year (although it's always tempting because it looks so easy!). I started this as an all in one post but I'm wordy so this will be a theme for the next few weeks. Today I'll start with where we homeschool.

My kids both have a desk in our "schoolroom" that doubles as my office. I have a desk because it's my office too. When we bought our home one of the big draws was this rather large room with a huge built in shelving system. I knew this would be a great schoolroom for us, and it has been. We've tried doing school without a dedicated schoolroom, and it just doesn't work for us. It's distracting to be in other rooms. It's messy to have our materials spread out through the house and things get lost and misplaced too easily. Even with our organized schoolroom, we have days when books or important papers can't be located. Personally, I'd go crazy if we had to search the whole house in those instances. I've found for my kids that having a place set aside for school keeps them on track. They know when we are down here for school that there's no electronics or toys. It's a place to focus and study and learn. It works the same way for me as my office. When I come down to work, I can focus and I have everything I need at my fingertips. I think have a dedicated school space will help prepare my kids for the future. In college, they will be expected to be in a classroom for classes. In most jobs they will have a dedicated office or workspace they use each day. They are getting in some extra practice now.

Right after Christmas, we gifted the kids new desks. Every time we've bought them desks (or a special table) I expect them to last forever. Ha. So a couple of years ago my parents gave them very nice school type desks. Small adjustable desks with a storage area in them. I thought they'd last for the rest of our homeschooling days. Recently the kids had began to complain they weren't large enough to hold their laptops and a paper or book on the surface. We have the above small table in the room and they'd began to fight over sitting at the table. I had enough of the bickering so I started looking for new desks for them. I found the ones I wanted just after Christmas. They were easy to put together and fairly inexpensive. They have a little desk in the front for pens, pencils, and other small supplies. I am HOPING these last us for a long time. We kept the smaller desks too. I had the kids put those in their rooms. Some days they do need a forced break from the schoolroom so now they have a place in their room where they can take their work when needed.

Our schoolroom is a bit dark so they each have a floor type lamp near their desks. They were also given brand new desk lamps from an aunt and uncle at Christmas so they have those as well. They are very happy with their new desks and areas.

While I love our schoolroom, I am still decluttering it. It seems like a permanent process. We have drawers and bins and shelves everywhere, and they are all full! With all the school books and games and craft supplies, our room is always to the point of overflowing. Every time I get it in order, it seems to overflow again. I am hoping to finish cleaning it up (again) soon.

Where do you homeschool? Do you have a dedicated space or are your kids all over the house? Since Hubby sometimes needs to sleep during the day due to shift changes, having a schoolroom away from his sleeping area is an extra blessing for our family.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My Top Posts of 2016

I'm still playing a bit of catch up after a short vacation from the blog. Here are my top 8 posts of 2016! I always think it is funny to see what garnered the most attention from our Chaos.

1. Obviously giveaways are always a hit. In April, I had a Purex Insiders giveaway that had the more traffic than any other post in 2016.

2. I love planners and planning so it is fitting that my #2 post was my review of the Hey Mama! Print Schoolhouse 2016-2017.

3. One of my favorite new curriculum items I reviewed last year was Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting. Speedy is still working on his Italic writing.

4. Every homeschooler needs a GREAT pencil sharpener. Apparently many of you were interested in the Hey Yellow sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.

5. I wrote a post on my personal FB page that got a lot of attention so I turned it into a blog post. The post got a good amount of attention as well. I'm still working to be sure I don't look at life in snippets.

6. I was so excited to review a new NKJV Bible. I've carried it every Sunday since then and do most of my Bible reading at home in it. I love the cover that I got to carry it in. I enjoyed reading through the Bible using my NIV, but reading the NKJV has a whole different feel.

7. We don't do many unit studies, but my kids both love them. I always vow to do more and then...well I don't. Most, like this Thanksgiving one, are easy to plan but somehow a curriculum for a whole year feels easier. However, my kids REALLY enjoyed this Micro Unit Study from Homeschool Legacy that we reviewed.

8. I guess some of  you like to plan and prep too because my second post on planning for the holidays was #8 for 2016.

2016 was a great year with a LOT of reviews and blog posts! Stick around for 2017 because it will be a lot of fun and chaos.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Is That True?

I took a couple of weeks off from posting. With the New Year, it felt like a good time to catch up on other things and reflect quietly. We've settled into our routines a bit more now. We've been visiting the same church the last few weeks. They are doing a wonderful series on Identity. There has been a different speaker each week pointing to God's Word and giving us new things to think about in our Christian walk.

As often happens, I seem to be seeing a lot of the opposite on social media from friends. Many people call themselves Christians but seem to be lost about what God's Word really has to say. To borrow from the sermon we heard two weeks ago, we love to cling to and repeat "Christian" sayings even if they aren't Biblical! How many incorrect things do we believe just because we've heard other people say them over and over?

From yesterday to today, I've seen several people say "all sins are equal". This has always made me cringe a little. I really like what Billy Graham has to say about it:

How about "if God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it"? Every time I see that printed on something or hear someone say it I think, "but maybe God didn't bring you to it". We want to take out the human element in all consequences. We don't want to acknowledge that our actions or sins or bad decisions put us in some positions. God is always there for us, even when we put ourselves in bad places but let's not blame Him for getting us there.

As divorce continues to rampage through our culture, I often hear that "God wouldn't want me to be unhappy". That one just isn't true. It may sound harsh but God doesn't seek our happiness just like a good parent doesn't seek their child's happiness alone. Many times we need to be unhappy to grow, to help someone else, or to see the truth in a situation. Most marriages don't fail because of one person. These days so many marriages begin in a sinful place then never quite come completely out of the mire. Want a Biblical example of God's lack of concern for our "happiness"? Moses. Moses did NOT want to go to Pharaoh. He told God repeatedly that he didn't want to go. He was concerned about his speaking issues. He didn't want to die for his past sins. Following God's direction caused him unhappiness. Again and again. He had to listen to the Israelites complain and blame him in the wilderness. Yet he did it. He followed God's direction and stuck with it even through great unhappiness. If our child is disobeying and it makes them happy, won't we still discipline them? We should! Being unhappy does not Biblically justify divorce. It just doesn't.

So what should we do? We should know God's Word. I just keep stressing it over and over because nothing is more true. We should teach it to our children. The kids and I have started in the New Testament reading one chapter of the Bible together each morning. As we read, they have 2 posters they are writing on. One says "Wanted" and the other says "Negative". When we come across a behavior that God wants from us, they write it on the "Wanted" board. When we come across a sinful behavior, they write it on the "Negative" board. This is in addition to their regular Bible studies. I wanted a way for them to see and remember what God is really asking of us in the Bible.

How do you test Christian catch phrases?