How to Find One-on-One Time When You’re a Mom of Many

Other than being a wife, being a mom of many is my favorite thing in the world. There’s just nothing like a house full of laughter, noise, and…yes, clutter.

One of the drawbacks of having this number of kids (11 for those who don’t know…) is the number of times I’ve had people insinuate that they feel sorry for my kids because I must never get time alone with them.  Continue reading “How to Find One-on-One Time When You’re a Mom of Many”

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12 Things NOT to Say About My Big Family

…even if you’re “just joking”.

I love having a big family. And by big, I don’t mean three or four kids. I love being the mom of a super-size family. My eleven children are such a source of sheer joy for me, and I’d never trade our life for anything.

Unfortunately, the choice that my husband and I made to have this number of children seems to give people the notion that they can say whatever they want to us about this decision. Some people say the nicest things, and I certainly am grateful for those moments because I’m finding that more and more people can’t seem to find the filter on their mouths.  Continue reading “12 Things NOT to Say About My Big Family”

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Spiders and Squirrels and Snakes, Oh My!

The end of the school year is in sight, and the great outdoors are calling! (If the rain ever stops ;P) Join me for another week of highlights from There’s No Place Like Home!

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Well, we’ve now just completed the second last week of school for the Littles and the Big Kids. The Teens have another three weeks to go because they follow a more traditional school schedule. The end of the school year is a bit bittersweet for me because, while I love the summer, I do not enjoy the lack of structure from not doing our school routine everyday. Besides that, I really do enjoy our school routine, so I know that I’m going to be bored out of my mind without the hustle and bustle of the school day. Oh, well. Just plan on me posting lots of new unit studies because that’s what I usually spend my time doing when boredom sets in. I will admit, however that I am looking forward to the deep cleaning we always do the first few days of summer break because this house is a wreck.

This week was very similar to last week in that it’s been cold and, once again, I had to take five children to the dentist. Fun. No cavities this week, but one does need to see an orthodontist. Joy. Other than that, it’s been a pretty laid back week- as far as a household of twelve people can be laid back. 🙂 Now on to our week:

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy.)

The Littles

This week we started reading Madeline, which the kids have enjoyed so far. We found France, where the story takes place, on our world map and each child got their own map to place a story disk on. They also colored their own French flags, and we discussed so many different topics while reading, such as appendixes, hospital visits, steamboats, land line telephones (who would’ve thought they would be considered history in our lifetime!?), and the Eiffel Tower.

I’m going to confess that we spent a lot of time vegging out in front of the TV because it’s just been a cold, rainy week, and we really didn’t feel like venturing outside.

The Big Kids

The older kids are still working on their research/reference unit and will probably do so until the end of next week when they finish school. We read about Noah Webster and each child has been busy compiling a list of words they don’t know from our read-alouds and their silent reading selections (which, incidentally, are all the same as last week) to author their own dictionaries. Today they got to decorate the covers.

Caollin (11) did get to spend some time at the creek with Dillon (16), and she had a blast finding salamanders, crayfish, and a newt. Otherwise, they, too, have just been relaxing in the house, waiting for the sun to finally come out again.

The Teens

Schoolwork-wise, it’s really just been business as usual with these three.

Arianna (14) has been busy reading and helping with the younger kids during school time this week. On Sunday she went to see a local theater group’s performance of “Mary Poppins” with my mother. She really enjoyed it and hopes to see some more shows like it. (She recently saw “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” as well).

Dillon is still having the time of his life taking photographs and has even ventured out in this dreary weather to hone his photography skills. Here’s a sampling of what he did this week:

A few days ago he created a Facebook page for his photography, and he’s really been working hard at perfecting his skills.

Devin (17) has, once again, spent a lot of time with our oldest son this week. She’s looking forward to next month’s anime convention in Atlantic City and is busying herself with the details of what characters she’s going to cosplay. She also wants a job in the worst way, but I just haven’t gotten around to getting her a photo ID just yet.

Unfortunately, our school district does not issue school IDs to homeschoolers, which makes everything from getting a job to attending after-school events to taking SATs that much harder. I honestly believe they should begin issuing them to homeschoolers, since we do have to report to them yearly, so our kids are, technically, still students in the district, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, this has been our week! What’s yours looked like?

 

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A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Art and Election Day

It’s that time again for our end of the week review. Join me as I write again about another crazy homeschool week with ten kids!

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Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

(If you’re interested in a more detailed example of our homeschooling days, click here.)

I can’t believe another week has gone by! Time flies when you’re having fun, right?? While last week my kids were enjoying the warm weather all week, as I write this post, I’m sitting in my dining room in a sweatshirt, next to a space heater, shivering. Gotta love this fickle weather.

Anyway…this week my kids got much more book work done than last week, but we also accomplished quite a few other things, as well.

On Monday, I accidentally stumbled upon a new snack idea for the kids. Since I have to make so many waffles for breakfast at one time, I usually put them in the oven instead of the toaster. I happened to get…umm…sidetracked and forgot they were in the oven, and if there’s anything my kids hate, it’s crunchy waffles. Desperate to save some time and avoid making something else, I came upon the idea of waffles and ice cream in a chip and dip platter. (Okay, two things- I know ice cream is a horrible breakfast idea, but, hey, it was Monday :P, and the reason I thought of using the ice cream was to make my hard waffles softer. Phew! I feel much better confessing, so now I can move on…)

A desperate mom's breakfast hack!

The kids ended up really enjoying it, and I promise I will only use this idea for snacks from here on in!

On Tuesday, five of my kids had dentist appointments, so on the way home from there, I stopped by the local polling place to vote in the primary election. Since the 2-yr.-old threw up in the van (my kids always get sick after the dentist, do yours?), my oldest daughter sat with her and the 4-yr.-old while I took two of my other daughters in with me while I voted. This is an actual conversation with my 11-yr.-old as we walked through the parking lot:

Daughter: Mom, who are you going to vote for?

Me: Ted Cruz.

Daughter: Isn’t he an actor?

Me: (Cracking up) No, that’s Tom Cruise.

One hour later…

Older daughter: So who did you vote for?

Me: Tom…I mean Ted Cruz.

{Sigh}

And now on to the fun stuff:

The Littles:

The younger children finished up Lentil this week by learning about acoustics by singing in the bathroom, testing taste buds by eating sour candy, singing Fifty Nifty United States, and learning how to use shading when drawing.

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Here, my youngest decided to showcase her artistic prowess by decorating our bathroom wall.

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The Big Kids:

We’ve still been reading through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone together, although all three kids have started new books for their silent reading. The 8-yr.-old is reading Mummies in the Morning (Magic Tree House), the 10-yr.-old is reading Dork Diaries No. 10, and the 11-yr.-old is reading Horns and Wrinkles. They’ve spent most of this week preparing for a report they’re going to be writing tomorrow and next week. We’ve also been doing lots of fun activities which emphasize how books are categorized at the library. They really seem to enjoy these and are excited for the scavenger hunt we have planned tomorrow which goes along with this theme. Besides that, they’ve been doing all kinds of art projects on their own (as they always are).

 

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Drawn by the 11-yr.-old during our Harry Potter read-aloud. This is Harry and Ron eating the candy on the train to Hogwarts.
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This was by the 10-yr.-old. All of the kids made several variations of fish and sharks and later used ribbons to tie them to long branches to look like fishing rods.

The Teens:

My 14- and 16-yr.-olds spent quite a bit of time at the creek this week looking for snakes and other critters. My son actually went there for several hours almost every single day, and this experience has motivated him to become an amateur wildlife photographer.

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One of the many photos he took.

My oldest daughter, who is turning 17 on Sunday, spent a lot of time with our oldest son, who is 22, this week. Although he is over five years older than her, they get along wonderfully, and they share many of the same friends. Tonight she went to an alternative gallery with some of her friends. She visits there several times a month and is planning on showing some of her work there in the near future. This was one of her favorite pieces she saw there today:

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Book-wise, my son is still working through several WWII books, while the 17-yr.-old is still reading Dante’s Inferno and the 14-yr.-old has started The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler. Believe it or not, neither of these books were assigned to them. They chose them on their own. 🙂

So that’s where we’re at in our homeschool right now. What have you been up to?

 

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Think Tank Thursday

 

Looking at the Bright Side of Unschooling

Finding balance within your homeschool is the key to superior learning, and some unschooling philosophies can play a key role in that.

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Image courtesy of lekkyjustdoit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After writing yesterday’s post about our experience with unschooling, I began to wonder if I was able to adequately convey our good experiences with it. I fear that there was a bit of negativity at the end, and I felt the need to clarify myself.

I am not against unschooling. I feel that some of its philosophies about allowing children to pursue their own interests and using life as a curriculum hit the nail right on the head. I have seen first-hand how much children learn when they have a vested interest in something. In fact, our family still uses natural learning as an important part of our homeschooling routine. Our structured learning normally takes only about two hours a day, while the rest of the day is open for my children to engage in anything they find useful and interesting.

What this has looked like this past week has been my son deciding that he would like to become a wildlife photographer after spending hours at the creek every day taking photos like these:

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Spending six hours a day doing structured school work would have prevented him from committing the time he did towards this project. Is this as valuable as book work? I’d have to say that this holds even more value because this is something he initiated on his own and will, therefore, remember all the better.

Before our unschool experiment, I would have scoffed if he had asked me to go to the creek during the school day every single day for an entire week. I would have lectured him about the importance of getting an education. Unschooling taught me to recognize that this is an education.

It also gave me the ability to see the worth in seemingly mundane things that many parents overlook. Caring for a sick baby bird. Making homemade paint out of sidewalk chalk. Helping the neighbor in her garden. These are all things I would happily set aside school work for in order to pursue.

Does this mean I do not assign value to book learning? Absolutely not. I am a self-professed nerd, and I realize that there are some things that are better learned with some structure- usually some sort of book, but not always.

It all comes down to balance. At the end of the day- at least with my children- there are some things which are best learned when they are taught, and there are other things best left to experience in real life. This is what homeschooling is all about. Finding the balance that is right for your family and allowing the joy that follows to shine through.

For more photos like these, you can follow my son on Instagram!

 

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Lazy Day Links- 4/23/16

Having a lazy day? I’ve got some links and books you just might be interested in!

lazy day links
Image courtesy of porbital at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(This post contains affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.)

If you’re anything like I am, there are some days that you just can’t seem to get yourself moving. These are the days you spend lazily browsing blog after blog and website after website, trying to find something that will interest you for at least a little while. Since these days are usually on the weekends for me, I’ve decided to share links with you each Saturday. These will include 5 of my favorite blog posts from other bloggers, 5 of my own that you may not have seen, and 5 books I think are worth reading. I hope you enjoy!

Favorite Blog Posts:

10 Guarantees I Wish Homeschooling Offered {But It Doesn’t}– Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

5 Things That Really Matter in Your Child’s Education (Homeschooling Moms, Read This.)– Generation Cedar

My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake: Over-Thinking Methods and Philosophies– Amongst Lovely Things

Education and Doll Making– FIMBY

10 ways you’re making your homeschool day harder than it needs to be– Simple Homeschool

My Older Posts:

Maybe ”Educational” Should Be a Bad Word

Sometimes Simple Is Hard

What Exactly Is an Unschooler?

Just Let Your Kids Play, Already!

The Top Ten Reasons I Homeschool

Books Worth Reading:

Learning All the Time– John Holt

As It Was in the Days of Noah– Jeff Kinley

On the Trail of the Nephilim- Volume 1– LA Marzulli

Monster– Frank Peretti

Angelology: A Novel (Angelology Series)– Danielle Trussoni

 

Do you have any suggestions? Have a great weekend!

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Unit Study Advice Every Homeschooler Needs to Know

Not sure how to use unit studies? Here are some tips I wish someone had given to me a long time ago!

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Image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

In an attempt to make your life immensely easier, today I’m sharing with you some wisdom I’ve gained throughout my years of utilizing unit studies that I wish someone had shared with me. Through much trial and error, tweaking of curriculum, and, yes, burnout, I’ve reached a place in my life where I can honestly say that, yes, unit studies do, indeed, make life much more simple. This did not come easily, and only you can know what will work for your family and what will not. With that being said, here are the most practical tips I can offer you with regards to successfully implementing thematic units into your homeschool routine.

1. Unit studies are cross-curricular. Use that to your advantage. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first began to use unit studies was to use them on top of everything else we were doing. Instead of using this method to cover our science, social studies, art, etc., we would complete a full day of “school” and then add on a unit study for “fun.” Admittedly, at first it was a novel idea, and we enjoyed the activities because they were so different from the constant seatwork we were used to; however, very quickly it became too much and the “fun” wore off and was replaced by burnout, which led to sending my children back to public school for two years. When I decided to homeschool again, I was determined to use unit studies but in a much more relaxed manner. After much reading and research, I realized that unit studies sufficiently cover every required (and quite a few extra) subjects, with exception to phonics, grammar, and math- and even that is not written in stone. Some families are able to incorporate enough phonics, grammar, and math into their lessons to satisfy those requirements, as well.

2. If you choose to supplement, keep it simple. I am absolutely convinced that there is no need to supplement any area beyond math and some language arts. While these subjects are included in many unit study activities, most families feel more comfortable giving these subjects a little boost. My children have a “table time” most mornings where they will complete a math lesson and either a spelling lesson or work on memorizing passages from great literature. (We are currently using How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, which is phenomenal.) However, depending on what we will be covering on any given day in our unit study, we do not complete these lessons every single day. If I know that we will be doing a lot of writing or copywork or even some grammar lessons in our unit that day, we will only do math at table time. If I have a math lesson incorporated into what we will be pursuing, we skip the morning math lesson. My children are especially excited on those rare days that both of these subjects are covered in our activities and they get to completely skip their table time lessons. If your child will be sufficiently covering these subjects in your unit study lessons, there is no need to be redundant. Mix it up a bit. It will be refreshing for both you and your kids!

3. Don’t go overboard! Less is more. I can get a bit overexcited when creating our weekly lesson plans. If you ever happen to catch a glimpse of my lesson plan books, you will see that they are filled with eraser marks and entire weeks scratched out. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to choosing activities for my children, I’m like a kid in a candy store. I want to do it all. Everything looks so good, and I don’t want my kids (or me) to miss out on anything. So…I begin penciling in enough activities to keep us busy for twelve hours a day…until I look at it again a few hours later and realize that it’s never going to work. You know your kids best, so this is a great time to use that asset. Only you know how much your children will be able to comfortably handle in one day. At this point, besides our unit study read-aloud, I only schedule two related activities per day. That’s it. I know some people may be gasping at this statement, but I say it without guilt. I know my kids. You know yours. If your kids want to do four activities a day, go for it. If your child gets overwhelmed by any more than one per day, that’s great, too. One of the best things about homeschooling is the freedom to tailor our children’s education to fit their individual needs.

4. Don’t try to do every single listed activity. This ties in with #3. I promise you, if you try to complete every single suggestion, the unit study will get old fast. When choosing your activities, consider not only the activities your kids will enjoy, but also what you are comfortable with, as well. No one wants a cranky homeschool mom! While your kids may love to paint, if the thought of the mess stresses you out, skip it. There will be other opportunities for your kids in the future. (Perhaps you could even hold off on it until the summer and then move the activity outside and do it just for fun.) Stick to those suggestions that will work for all of you.

5. Don’t try to read every single book listed. As with the activities, the books are merely suggestions to get you started. You may decide not to use any books on the list and use alternatives you dig up yourself. That is perfectly fine. As the saying goes, use your curriculum…don’t let it use you.

6. If your children get bored with the topic, plan a new unit. Your son may love snakes. He may jump at the chance to memorize their names, study their habitats, create snakes out of clay, and calculate the size difference between an Egyptian cobra and a timber rattlesnake. If, however, his eyes start to glaze over after covering this unit for several weeks, it may be time to move on. Don’t destroy your child’s love of a particular subject by insisting that it be completed through to the very end. There are so many amazing things that God has created for us to learn about. This is the perfect chance to explore what else is out there!

7. Establish a general daily routine instead of an ironclad time schedule. I’m a clock-watcher. I always need to know what time it is, and I LOVE to create schedules and lists. (I guarantee that my kids will back me up on that.) One thing I’ve learned is the utter necessity of flexibility. Make general goals for starting and finishing times for your homeschool day, but accept the fact that things may not always go as planned and be okay with that. It’s not the end of the world if you finish at 2:00 instead of 12:30. Since I am officially homeschooling nine kids this year, I try to get my elementary age children done by lunchtime in order to keep the rest of the day open for the secondary age kids who do most of their work independently but do require my help sometimes. There are usually a couple times a week that I do end up working with my younger children after lunch, but it’s not a big deal because our routine allows for these circumstances.

8. It is not necessary to cover every subject every day. Just as life is not broken down into subjects, it is not necessary to break school down in this way, either. While I do include subjects covered per activity in the units I’ve written, I merely do this for record-keeping purposes. When planning our lessons, I do not pay attention to what subjects we will be covering but how each activity pertains to what we are reading each day. Sometimes you may cover history for weeks on end with only a few science lessons thrown in here and there. That is perfectly okay. If you think about it, kids are great at pursuing the sciences on their own through digging in the dirt, trying to build aerodynamic paper airplanes, and watching animal documentaries. Sometimes the tables are turned, and you may spend weeks doing science-related activities, while only covering history or social studies here and there. It balances itself out. And just as with science, kids don’t seem to have a problem touching on this area on their own through running errands with you, discussing current news topics, and running to the map to see where Fiji is. This can be true with any subject. Language arts can be covered through writing stories and emails and playing Mad Libs. Math is easily covered through playing games, handling money, and baking cookies. Don’t ever fret about going light on a subject here and there. Those topics still exist in the world around you, and they will happen naturally through simply living life.

9. Have fun! If at some point you find yourself dreading doing school, shake things up a bit and have a movie day, a park day, or take your kids for a walk. Remember that it is not a wasted day because life is learning and family relationships must always come first!

I hope this list may be a blessing to you. Just as each family is different, the same can be said about each homeschool. These tips are meant to be a guide, but it is up to you to decide how best to serve your children’s needs. Have fun and cherish every moment of your homeschooling journey. It will come to an end all too soon.

 

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A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers

Curious as to how a super-size family manages their homeschool? Join me in an overview of our days!

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

Today when I was looking over the search terms that bring people to my blog, I realized something profound- I write about homeschooling a large family but have never actually written about how we break down our day.

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Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I mean, really. How did that get past me? Anyway…

Today I will write about just that. First things first. Our homeschool day gets broken down into three groups:

The Littles- our 7, 6, and almost 5-yr.-olds. (and sometimes our almost 3-yr.-old because occasionally she wants to “do school,” too)

The Big Kids- our 11, 10, and 8-yr.-olds

The Teens- our 14, 16, and almost 17-yr.-olds

It’s important to note that my 14 and 16-yr.-old do take turns each week watching the younger kids until it is their time for school. This is such a huge blessing for me. We actually just started doing this in November, and I wish I would have thought of it long ago because it would have prevented so many stressful days! They do get a very small stipend for doing this, but it is so worth it.

To make things as simple as possible, I’m going to break down our day by using these three groups because that is exactly how things get broken down at home, too.

Before getting started, I do want to clarify that we are fairly relaxed homeschoolers. I do not believe lessons need to take six hours a day because there are so many other things to learn about in everyday life. I try to ground my children in the basics, inspire them with a few activities, and allow them the rest of the day to explore as they choose. With that being said, here we go!

The Littles

10 am- Bible time-I  usually read just a verse or two, and we have a very short discussion afterwards. Sometimes this may include a Bible story or even an episode of Veggie Tales.

– Table Time- I sit down with each child individually and work on math and either phonics or reading, unless one of those subjects will be covered that day in the unit study.

– Five in a Row– (This is done every other day, and we take two weeks to complete a book instead of one.) I read aloud a selected title, and we do two activities related to the story. This week we are reading Lentil.

The Big Kids

11(ish)am- Bible Time- I read aloud from The Children’s Adventure Bible, and we have a   question and answer time.

Read-Aloud Time- Last week we started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

– Table Time- As with the Littles, I work with each child individually on math and either spelling or grammar, unless one of those subjects will be covered in the unit study that day. As the children wait for their turn with me, they do their silent reading.

– Konos Volume 2– (This is done every other day.) Each unit focuses on a  character trait. Currently for us this is inquisitiveness, and we are studying it through a section entitled “Research and Reference.”  We typically do two activities per day and will sometimes read a separate read-aloud to go with the unit.

12 pm- Lunch/Chores/ Free Time- While this is not technically part of our homeschooling day, I am including it to show when we get these things done. How is a story for another day. 🙂

2 pm- We finish up whatever  was not completed before lunch, after which I try to read aloud to the teens. Here’s where it gets interesting…

The Teens

2:30(ish)pm- I read aloud from Jesus Is: Find a New Way to Be Human.

That is the only schoolish thing we do before dinner and evening chores. The homeschool day of my teens does not normally begin until at least 8pm. Please don’t be dismayed. They are night owls, and it works for us in this season of life.

8pm- One-on-One-Time- While my teenagers do the vast majority of their work themselves, this is the time I’ve specifically set aside to help them with anything they need me to, usually some branch of math. Sigh.

Each child is so different that I’m finding it necessary to write about them separately, so here goes:

The 14-yr.-old– She loves to read, so we’ve taken advantage of that by using a literature-based math curriculum, Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology. She and my younger children have actually been working their way through this entire series. What I like the most about this book is that it includes enough biology to count towards her science credit, so, although she always has library books checked out on everything from the universe to chinchillas, if she ever runs out of things to read, her science is covered. For history we use living books. Right now she is reading The Book Thief, which is based in WWII era. Since she does so much reading, and she loves to voluntarily write reports, the only language arts she does is vocabulary, and that is because she asked for it.

The 16-yr.-old– If you’ve ever had a child who needs to be prodded along, this is mine. Don’t get me wrong. He is brilliant with computers and can probably identify every single spider and frog on the planet, but he does not like to be bogged down with school work. After much tweaking and trial and error, we’ve found a routine that works for him. He uses a math curriculum, but I usually only assign him every other problem because he has no patience for drilling. Like his sister, at his request, he does do a vocabulary curriculum. He uses library books and documentaries for astronomy, and he uses living books, movies, and documentaries for military history. He is also working through D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths and the accompanying Student Guide.

The almost-17-yr.-old– This is my overachiever, but she would deny it if you asked her. 😛  She also uses a math curriculum for geometry. She’s in her 3rd year of psychology, her 2nd year of Japanese with Rosetta Stone and she is learning both sets of Japanese characters through a workbook from a friend who is from Japan. While we had no plans on doing geography this year, she became interested in US geography and devised her own intricate method of studying this subject involving mapping, demographics, and interesting facts about each state. She uses A Beka for biology and has already finished her grammar workbook.

….And that’s about it. I hope I didn’t make this too confusing for those of you looking for guidance on how to handle homeschooling lots of kiddos! If anyone has any questions or would like me to clarify anything, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I always look forward to hearing from you!

 

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How to Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Originally published in 2014)

Today is Part 2 of my Homeschooling on One Income series. Part 1 described how our family manages daily living on one income. Before homeschooling, it is essential to work out a budget plan for day to day living if you have a limited income.

One of the many arguments I see coming from opponents of homeschooling is the myth that only affluent children can be taught at home because of the costs involved. This is laughable to me. We homeschool an extremely large family on a welder’s income, so there goes that idea. To make matters worse, many prospective homeschoolers buy into this reasoning and begrudgingly enroll their children in public school because they feel they can’t afford it.
I’m here to tell you today that, no matter the homeschooling method, there are enough resources out there that, given the right amount of research, almost anyone can afford to homeschool.

Here are resources that we have used for homeschooling that have been very affordable, if not downright free!

– There is such an abundance of free homeschool printables covering pretty much every subject online that I really could just stop right here. There are also wonderful unit studies available- again, for free! Take time and look through homeschool blogs. There are so many writers who are excited to share their wonderful ideas with you at no cost.

– I have gotten my younger children workbooks at Dollar Tree. Yes, Dollar Tree. This store is actually where I get most of my school supplies throughout the year.

– More expensive does not always mean better. Do your homework. Our family used Konos unit studies for years. The initial price tag of $110 might sting a little (although this is considered inexpensive compared to other curricula), but you have to look at the big picture. There is enough material to cover 2 1/2 years of schoolwork, and there are activities included from K-8. So this is perfect to use with multiple children; you could even have the younger children go back through it again when they’re older because there’s that much material in there.

– Instead of buying Language Arts curriculum, use lapbooking to fulfill that area. And I don’t necessarily mean those lapbooking worksheets that you print out and just have them fill in. Let them decide what they will put in it. Encourage them and give them ideas, but let them have the final say. I promise you, they will enjoy it so much more, and they will remember more.

– Don’t forget the library! Even before we started unschooling, the library provided the abundance of our learning tools. It’s not just for books anymore! (although that’s my favorite part :))Our library has movies, music, free online foreign languages through Mango Languages, story times, and toys that you can borrow and take home. Devin and I always jokingly say that if the library starts selling food, we’re moving in!

– Buy used. Ebay, Craigslist, and Amazon are but three of dozens of places where used curriculum can be bought and sold.

– Let life be your curriculum! That’s right…life…because every waking minute of your child’s life…of our lives…we are learning. Let them explore! Let them collect rocks and salamanders and leaves! Teach them to use search engines (also free!) to identify and classify their finds. Even watching the dreaded TV will provide learning. (I’m not one to let them watch unlimited TV, but I will allow it 1-2 hours a day if they wish to watch it. Sometimes they don’t.) Just the other day, I overheard Caollin correctly use a scientific term that I knew I didn’t teach her. Where did she learn it? Spongebob!

This is how we’ve afforded to homeschool in our household. We are so blessed to live in a society in which we can find an abundance of learning resources in as little as the click of a mouse. So before you nix the idea of homeschooling for financial reasons, I say stop. Take a step back, and rethink it. The world is at your feet.

What are some ways that you have cut costs in homeschooling? Leave a comment…you just might give the advice someone desperately needs!

 

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Frugal Friday

Large Family Living on One Income

(Originally posted in 2014)

Being the stay-at-home mother of eleven children, I always face the inevitable question- How can you afford to live on one income? It’s not something I actively think about often because it’s been a way of life for such a long time now. Lately, though, I’ve been getting many inquiries about not only raising children on a tight budget but homeschooling them, too. Since I am a staunch homeschool advocate, I really want to encourage women that it can be done! Today, I’m writing the first of a two-part series about living and homeschooling with limited funds. My hope is to help some of you who want so badly to homeschool but aren’t sure whether or not you can afford it.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Part 1- Living Frugally

The most obvious place to start would be how to live within your means. I think the most important thing to remember in all of this is that it can be hard. You may not be able to get your hair and nails done or wear the latest fashion, but you need to put it into perspective. What are your priorities? Sort them out first. Make sure they are in line with being willing to sacrifice. Believe me, you will sacrifice, but it will be so worth it. Of course all families have different budgets, so this is just a glimpse on how my family manages.

We are a one-vehicle family, and it’s twelve years old. I know some of you are probably gasping in horror, but this situation is doable, especially if you look at the benefits like:

– No car payments
– Lower insurance rates
– Less gas consumption

We rent our house, instead of owning it. This may seem counter-intuitive at first because mortgages are usually less than rent rates, but think about it. If the roof needs to be repaired the basement floods, the furnace breaks down- it’s not our responsibility. We also don’t have a huge bank loan to pay off in this shaky economy.

We rarely go on vacations. I mean RARELY. The last one was almost two years ago when we drove 1,000 miles to Fort Leonard Wood, MO to see our oldest graduate from boot camp and AIT training. Before that was tent camping on the beach in Wildwood, NJ…eight years ago. And that one ended in disaster, as a tropical storm decided to show up and wash pretty much everything we had there out to sea. My husband and son were literally holding the tent we were in, so that it wouldn’t blow away, but that’s a story for another day.

We do a lot of shopping at Aldi. Have you seen their prices? We don’t go there every week because there are some things they don’t have that we like, but we do shop there twice a month.

We only go clothes shopping once a year, usually at Walmart or Target because they seem to have the lowest prices on clothing. The rest of the year we do get a lot of hand-me-downs from friends and our church has a clothing closet. In this case, my children are really a blessing because they are so thankful for the clothing we get from others and never complain about it, and when we do take them clothes shopping, it’s like Christmas to them.

Most of our furniture is secondhand. Again, our church is such a blessing because the Helping Hands Ministry will locate furniture for anyone who needs it and will help set up a way to either have it delivered or will at the very least help load it into your car.

– We rarely, if ever, go to the hairdresser. My daughter, Devin, is excellent at cutting hair. (Arianna’s getting pretty good, too!). Also, once a month, my church- yes, my church AGAIN- has a free haircut day using licensed hairstylists who are either members of our church or who generously volunteer their time.

Craigslist is our friend. All kidding aside, other than major Black Friday sales, this is how our family acquires electronics. We actually just bought three laptops for about $600. We’ve never had a problem yet!

Perhaps the most important thing is this- WE ARE ALL CONTENT WITH WHAT WE HAVE. In a culture that is obsessed with the next best thing, so far, my kids have never gotten upset that we don’t have every gadget known to man. They are very resourceful and truly appreciate everything they do have.

I hope this post has helped in some way! Part 2 will get down to the nitty gritty of how to homeschool with a limited income.

If you have any questions or have some more tips on living frugally, leave a comment! I always enjoy chatting with you!

 

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