Thursday, March 12, 2015

Waiting on Spring to Arrive

What a BEAUTIFUL couple of Spring like days we have had here in the Midwest!!!
It's been a busy first part of 2015. We welcomed our 7th son Liam Donald into the world December 23rd. He is such a cutie with so much personality already! 

Liam is almost 3 months old now.

We've pretty much hibernated (the kids and I, Daddy has to go to work LOL) much of the winter taking it easy and adjusting to our new homeschool and household schedules.
The anxiety and anticipation is building for this years homestead and schooling plans!

Oh to finally get that the greenhouse built!
I have been sitting outside enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and getting a dose of natural Vitamin D.
Filling time watching the kiddos play and daydreaming about this years gardens, new farm animals, and all of the work that needs a catching up around here!

I can't wait to get back to blogging and sharing our homestead/homeschooling journey with ya'll!
♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ 

How we Homeschool with a limited budget

Kelsey asks: I was looking into homeschooling, everything I've come across is very pricy. I was wondering if homeschooling is even an option for poor people? I'm a cna. And the only income for the soon to be 4 of us. Is it possible to homeschool without choosing an arm and a leg?

I get asked this a lot! How to afford homeschooling on such a limited budget?

I was CNA also. 15 years. Hats off to you! It's a tuff job!  We have 7 boys. 5 still at home so I know your concerns all to well. We've had to cut back and do things what I call the "the hard way".

It is doable, but takes time and planning. A library card,good printer and laminator is a must.
Here's how I make it work for us. Hope this helps!

My guys are still fairly young (PreK, 1st, and 3rd) so I feel there is no need to purchase a pricey curriculum for a preschooler or Kindergartner. That's just crazy! let them be young learn and PLAY!

   I so far have not purchased any pricey curriculum. I guess you can call how we school is "Hackschooling". We are eclectic secular homeschoolers. We do a mix of classical, traditional, Charlotte Mason, Montessori education. I just can't find anything that suites our learning style completely and fills each child's needs. I find that they comprehend, read, and do math at different levels. For example my "1st grader" is doing multiplication as my 3rd grader is struggling with it. My "3rd grader" reads at a 5th-6th grade level. So most likely he has already read or studied everything in curriculum level. Some I liked, but too biblical focused for my taste.

This fall I will purchase a Math program for my then "K 2nd and 4th grader". I just don't have the time that is needed right now with a new baby seeking out those resources.
 I found Saxon Math would suite our needs and learning style, but there are several great math programs I found along the way.(Around $60 new and as low as $10 used)
There are several used curriculum sites and Facebook groups. I have also found  a lot of great used books at yard sales and Resale shops. Sometimes homeschool groups will have a yearly curriculum sale. There are also Homeschool conventions held each year.

There are so many learning styles and curriculum options out there my head was spinning! So I make up our  lesson plans and unit studies. We do copy work/writing, reading, and math daily. We try to fit in Science, Geography, History, Art and Music , but that doesn't always happen.
Everyday life is a great example of teaching. I can usually find a way to turn just about any situation into a learning experience. (sometimes the kids don't even know they are learning LOL)

 I seek out freebies via Pinterest, Homeschool blogs, Facebook, FB Groups, and Google search.
Each kid has a different learning style.  I have tailored work for each kid. We  mix up our work with documentaries, workbooks, worksheets, and free online curriculum such as: Easy Peasy Homeschool, Moby Max, Discovery K12, Xtramath, Starfall, and Kham Academy. It keeps things fresh and fun. I find the boys aren't tired, bored, and whiny like they were when we stuck to just book work. When I first started I was trying to replicate what they done in public school and I got daily meltdowns. So we did a few months of "deschooling"  When we went back into it the kids were so eager to learn. THEY got to choose what interest THEM. It made learnning so much more fun! The kids would share with one another what they were reading and learning about...so they ALL were learning! That is the greatest thing about homeschooling...the freedom to choose WHAT you want to learn about and explore. Not everyone wants to be a Dr, vet, or computer tech .

  We don't have cable. We cut that out about 6 years ago and have not missed it one bit! We purchased a ROKU for around $50 and have a subscription to Netflix which runs $8 a month and recently just trying out Amazon Prime with a free 30 day trial. I find tons of great educational programming and documentary on both. And believe it not...we don't have a cell phone either (we do have a cheapie with an hour of mins for travel or emergencies)

We use educational online games as "reward".
 The kids earn their screen time by completing school work and chores.

I did purchase a few websites such as Enchanted Learning. com ($20 yr) Worksheets.com ($20 yr) ABCMOUSE.com ($50 yr which I found a total waste of $ for my PreK...all he wanted to do was "play" on there)

Get a library card if you don't already have one.
Utilize the library!  Get books on subjects of interest.

I usually spend an hour or so each evening and  plugged in on Sunday evenings searching, seeking, and planning the following weeks lesson plans.

We also homestead. So I garden, raise my own chickens, collect eggs, raise turkeys, and hogs. The kids are out there right along with me learning those skills needed to survive real life.
I hope this has helped some. Good Luck!

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"How do I get started Homeschooling?"

With the recent restructuring of our school Dist I have gotten a lot of inquiries via FB involving homeschooling. An abundance of questions, concerns, and the big one...How do I get started homeschooling. I'd be GLAD to help and answer your questions. If it was not for the great homeschooling parents out there who have answered my concerns and questions about anything homeschooling, I doubt I could of taken the plunge alone. Welcome to the greatest journey of your lives! =0)

 I think it's AWESOME that you are taking your children's future and education into your hands. YOU know your children best and what is the BEST for them!
All you need to do in the state of IL is give the Dist a withdraw letter. Google "IL Homeschool laws" (or whatever state you are in) and you will find all the info you need and a sample withdraw letter. Check out HSLDA they have tons of info too.
There are thousands of different curriculum, learning and teaching styles.
When we first started "homeschooling" we schooled at the kitchen table. We quickly outgrew the kitchen as our school supplies were over spilling into other rooms. We decided to turn one of the boys' bedrooms into a school room so we had a designated place for all of our learning resources.
I spent out first year "deschooling" and learning each boys learning/teaching style. The younger the child, the cheaper it is. I find tons of freebies online through FB pages, groups, websites, and Pinterst. It takes a lil' more time, but I can gear it toward what the actual needs for the child are and customize it. I found that I have one doing 5th grade math and reading who is technically in 3rd grade. So it suits us better to plan my own and build my own curriculum. I use several online free curriculums as well. Let Google be your friend. There is an abundance source of info out there.
It can be overwhelming at first, but once ya find what works and get into a groove things go much smoother and the children and parents confidence builds.
My ONLY regret is that I didn't do it sooner.
This list was shared with me today, so I'll just leave this here for you =0)

1. Don’t homeschool unless you and your spouse are both on board.
Do proceed if both parents are unified and at peace with the decision!
2. Don’t wait to have all your ducks in a row until you start.

Do realize that you can only do it with God’s help, strength, and guidance. (And you’ll never have all your ducks in a row!)
3. Don’t pattern your homeschool after public school.
Do make learning an adventure.
4. Don’t forget the laws of your state.
Do follow the requirements set before you and be thankful for this amazing opportunity!
5. Don’t be afraid.
Do realize you already know a lot . . . and you have tons of resources at your fingertips (i.e. the Internet, the library, your friends/peers).
6. Don’t feel like you need to know everything.
Do plan on learning along with your children. (You’ll be amazed by all you learn!)
7. Don’t focus on teaching subjects.
Do remember you’re teaching your child. Seek your child’s heart and nourish his or her skills.
8. Don’t get too stuck in a boxed curriculum.
Do find ways to make learning come to life!
9. Don’t isolate yourself.
Do get plugged in with local homeschooling groups and friends.
10. Don’t worry about what’s popular with other homeschoolers.
Do follow your child’s unique interest and learning styles.
11. Don’t make “finishing the work” your goal for each day.
Do make the love of learning the goal. (That will stick with your kids for life!)
12. Don’t think of book work as a complete education.
Do incorporate real life learning: volunteering, home ec, and life skills.

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ Wendy

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The school room transformation

It's been a busy few weeks around the ole homestead. We got hit with another winter storm here in the Midwest. Ice, cold frigged temps, and high power bills. The animals all don't seem to mind though. The chickens are still laying, the goats are frolicking, and Ms Bacon is about ready to become an Easter ham. I am so over winter and ready to get my hands dirty planting this years garden! The seed catalogs have all arrived, order is ready, and gardens mapped and planned out for this growing season. I am still hounding the hubby for a green house. ;0)
 We're in the process of transforming Tiny Tornado's bedroom into a school room. My kitchen was becoming over run with the learning books and science tools. It's been a work in progress, but really seems to be working out great for everyone. I wanted to paint the walls and put in new flooring, but I grew impatient as my hallway and kitchen was filling up with school related items. I haven't gotten out much this winter, so I've done quit a bit of my shopping online.
They tore down and built a new library the next town over and had a book giveaway. I scored three huge boxes of history, geography, biographies, and many misc books for the boys. I had to order a few book cases and waiting their arrival. Then we should be pretty much set in our new learning space.
 I purchased this L shaped desk from a local FB sale site for $40
 I purchased the office chairs, rug, and red reading chair from Walmart Online.
 Tiny Tornado is showing his big brothers some funny videos on Youtube
Tiny T has his own little spot.

 Gabe has his own space
and Nate has his own.
In just a few short months everyone has adjusted nicely to the homeschool life.
 There is such a calm and peaceful feeling throughout the house and in our lives now.

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Weekly rundown ~ Homeschooling Week 4

Saturday we celebrated a very special Princess's 1st Birthday.

Sunday of course was spent having family time, cooking, snacking, and watching the Super Bowl.

Come Monday we weren't stressing to fit everything in anymore. We've been a bit more relaxed around here this week. The kids got a lot more of play time in. I think we were trying to get too much in on a day. It was exhausting not only for myself, but I think for the kids as well. 
As I observed them this past week playing, (while learning...life its self is a huge learning experience right?) one thing really stuck out... how great they were playing together! I watched as they helped each other solve a problem one was having. I witnessed a few surprise kind moments that made my heart just melt. I witnessed a whole Lego City being erected, Minecraft wild west being built, animals being fed and good manners being used without being reminded.
There is a sense of calmness and peace in all of our lives.
Don't get me wrong, they are far from perfect and they had a few spouts, but nothing like what we had  6 months prior.
I am very proud of the boys for achieving so much in so little time and leading the direction in their education. One thing I am strict on is sticking to daily Math, Reading, and Spelling/Writing. The rest can be done weekly. I've devised a schedule for all of the extras. I try to get in Geography, History, Art, Music, and Science two days a week and we usually spend a couple of hours on each. Once the boys get interested I can keep their attention with different actives as long as it's a more hands on approach. They are enjoying making projects and reading on their own time. A lot of "creating" has been taking place on the ole homestead.

A Creeper Club?

Nate's Blue Whale Reading Project

Jaxon learned out to make videos on his tablet.

What to do with all of the junk seed catalogs! I've called them to PLEASE stop sending me seed catalogs unless they can prove that the seeds are heirloom, GMO free. Most could not give me that guarantee, so I will stick to the few I know and trust, but what to do with all of these? 
Make a garden of our dreams and then RECYCLE!
We even got creative with our spelling list.
We started using Easy Peasy Homeschool as a supplement for all of the littles and so far so good.
Xtra Math daily for Nate.
We're still adjusting and fine tuning each boy's learning style and responses to teaching styles, but over all it was a great week.

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ 


Homeschooling with Minecraft

By now I'm sure you have heard about Minecraft.
Around our house it's Minecraft...Minecraft...Minecraft!
Before I ever come across any homeschooling with Minecraft, I would give the boys ideas to build things that correlated with subjects we were working on. Now there are dedicated safe servers, classes, Unit Studies, you name it, you can find it!
Dawn at Guiding Light Homeschool has a pretty great rundown and reviews for Homeschooling with Minecraft. Be sure to check it all out on her blog. MINECRAFT!!!

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥ 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"How do I get started Homeschooling?"

Several times a week I get a private message on Facebook asking the question "How do I get started Homeschooling?" I've even had a few people ask  if I could homeschool their kids too LOL
So, I thought I'd share with you some tips I've learned along the way to help you get started homeschooling. I hope you find it be informative and encourage you that you CAN do it too!

Check the homeschooling laws

It's essential you understand the homeschool laws before you get started. While some states are very relaxed in their approach toward homeschooling, others have more rigid guidelines and regulations. The strict states require regular reporting, submission of test scores, evaluations by outside professionals and sometimes home visits by state officials. Be sure to read upon the laws in your state. Also check HSLDA.org, where you can become familiar with the specific laws, filing requirements, record-keeping expectations and other regulations in your area.

Examine your child's learning style

Consider your child's personality, strengths and weaknesses, as well as their dominant learning style. Some children are visual processors, learning best by seeing, while others are auditory processors and learn by listening. Other children do best by doing.  Think about what has worked best for your child at home and school, when it comes to learning and play. Each of my boys have different learning styles. Keeps things interesting.
A variety of other homeschooling methods are Traditional method, Charlotte Mason, Eclectic, Classical education, Montessori, Unschooling, Unit Studies, Notebooking, Waldorf, Hackschooling, and the Principle Approach and so many other ways to learn and teach. Just do some research and find the right homeschooling method for your family. I find that I incorporate a little of each learning style and my teaching method. What works one day might not work the next.

Choose a homeschooling curriculum
When it comes to curriculum, you can purchase a complete homeschool curriculum, buy text books and work book separatly, create hands on activities and projects, make lapbooks, use online classes, computer programs, and so much more. The amount of homeschooling curriculum can be overwhelming. Some curriculum can be Bible based. Common Core, which we try to avoid at all cost. We are building our own curriculum. 

Find Support

It takes a village -- even when you are homeschooling. You can find a number of homeschool support and networking resources both online and in your community. You can join a local homeschool co-op, support groups of like-minded homeschooling moms in your city, online homeschooling groups through Facebook and other websites. No two homeschooling experiences are exactly alike, you can learn a lot from homeschooling parents who have been there and done that. Be sure to network, ask questions, join support groups. Not everyday is going to run smooth and perfect. Don't over do it. The whole reasoning behind homeschooling is to do it your way. What works for one family, might not work for another. Be flexible.

Here are a few of the freebie resources and sites we are currently using or checking out:

We are trying out Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschoo right now and both my 6 and 8 year old really seem to like it.

There are many Math sites and games to keep the kiddos busy and challenged. http://xtramath.org/

Lots of cool spelling and phonic sites are out there. Spellingcity.com

Youtube videos on subjects and interest, there are videos for EVERYTHING!

Google! Google is a homeschoolers best friend. You can find tons of resources via the internet.

Utilize your local public library. Get a card and visit often.

A good  printer is a MUST! And LOTS of ink!

Enchanted Learning: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/Home.html

For reading and Phonices: Starfall.com

Pinterst! There are so many great homeschool boards you could spends months on there.

Join Facebook groups for local co ops, support groups, and curriculum. There is a Facebook group for just about everything these days.

Here is a list free resources to sift through I have post d on the blog: http://freerangeschoolin.blogspot.com/2013/11/homeschooling-for-free.html

I post alot of freebie links to my blogs FB page : https://www.facebook.com/LivingaFreeRangeLife

♥♪♫•.•°*°•.¸¸♥. PEACE and LOVE .•°*° ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♥