Thursday, October 27, 2011

Joining a homeschool support group

Joining a homeschool support group, or co-op, can help offer you support, encouragement and socialization.  The main question to consider is why do you want to join a support group?  The key is finding a balance.  Maybe connecting with another homeschooling family is what you need as opposed to a group.  Once you have determined your motives for joining a group, ask yourself these questions in an effort to help narrow down your choices. 

And Then There Are Days Like This

The alarm on my phone goes off.  The tone picking up tempo and volume as I fumble to reach it to MAKE. IT. SHUT. UP!
It’s too early
No human should have to get up by way of an alarm, it’s unnatural. 
It’s 7:45am on Thursday.  I’ve gotten roughly seven hours of sleep.  WAY too little for me to function normally or pleasantly or really, at all.  I whip off the toasty warm cocoon of my comforters  as I grumble expletives into the air.  Cursing at the fan because it’s the closest thing to me at this point that I can focus on.   Stumbling into the bathroom I go over the mental list of what I need to get done prior to leaving the house this morning – breakfast dishes, start laundry, make in bed, get dressed, brush teeth, pull meat for dinner tonight…  I make my way to Christian’s room.
“Chris”, I hiss as I start to pull his cocoon of toasty warmth off of him.  He revolts!  Yanks back at the covers and whines as he buries himself further under the covers. 
“Chris!  You need to get up.  Let’s go, GET UP!”, I say as I pull the covers off of him.  He curls up into a roly-poly and whines in protest.  I don’t blame him.  It’s early, it’s cold, it’s early.  I pull open the blinds in his room and he lets out another whine in protest as his eyes shoot open in response to the sunlight streaming through his room, assaulting his face.  I imagine his pupils shrinking in shock of such a thing happening.   I make my way to his closet and then dresser to pick out his clothes for the day.  It’s too early and we are in a hurry to get out of the house in 1 hour and 10 minutes.  There is no time for his dawdling.  Not today. 
“Make in your bed, get dressed, let’s go!” I bark as I make my way down the hall to Cody’s room.  I swear, I don’t know how the child stays warm with just one comforter on him at night.  Whereas his brother requires two blankets and a comforter and I require two comforters and a blanket (and sometimes my rob as well) he sleeps with one single comforter, a thin one at that. 
“Cody, up, now!”, I say with urgency as I make my way to his blinds and yank them open.  “NO!” he moans as he tries to shield his face.  “Get up!  You have basketball and you need to walk Slayer before we leave.  Get up, get up, GET. UP.!”
I’m making my way down the stairs when ‘he needs to wear a black and white shirt for practice’ jumps into my mind “And wear a black and white shirt”, I yell back up at him.  Inaudible moaning makes its way down in response as I hear his feet hit the floor.  I look at the clock.  Crap!  I go back over my mental list of things that I need to get done before we leave the house.   I rush into the kitchen to start oatmeal and check what meat I need to pull out for dinner tonight.  Then I go into the basement to let the dog out.  I forget to grab the meat from the deep freezer. 
I don’t like mornings like this.  They don’t happen often, once a week in fact.  It reminds me of the luxury that we have by homeschooling.  I remember all too well that this was the normal routine, though much, much earlier, when both boys were in school.  There was more yelling too, way more yelling, and threats too.  I did have to throw down a threat this morning though.  Why is it so hard for pre-teen boys to remember to put on deodorant?  It’s amazing what the probability of no video game time can produce (eye roll). 
I read Tracey’s post at Just Another Mommy Blog this morning (because I didn’t get to bed until like 12:30am), and nodded my head in agreement with what she had shared.  Our schedules have shifted this year.  We are up later; the boys now have the ability to spend more time with their dad at night.  Something that was unheard of while they were in school.  Bedtime was 9:30pm back then.  Cody had to wake up at 6:30am, Chris at 7:15am.  The boys are up, sometimes, as late as 11pm and we adjust the rest of our schedule accordingly.  We don’t roll out of bed until 9am, maybe 9:30am.  But not Thursdays.  Thursdays are my weekly reminder of how fricking blessed we are.  Blessed that we have the ability to homeschool, blessed that my son has such opportunities as a homeschool basketball team to wake up early for, blessed that tomorrow I don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock, blessed that what started out as a small annoyance of building tempo and volume became a reminder of what it was once like, and now no longer has to be.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Homeschoolers Red Ribbon Week activities

Red Ribbon Week runs the last week of October and is a call for community groups to wear red ribbons as a show of their drug-free commitment.  What if your community doesn’t offer activities for your family to participate in?  As homeschoolers, just because your child is not in the public/private school system does not mean that they cannot participate in activities during this week.
Red Ribbon Week became a national celebration in 1988 to pledge a drug-free life.  You can find out more about the history of Red Ribbon Week by clicking here and visiting the Drug Enforcement Administration website.
One of the simplest ways to show support is to hang a red ribbon outside of your home, either on your door, mailbox or even staircase.  You can also go all out and make a red ribbon wreath as part of an art project.   While you are hanging up your red ribbon you can talk a little bit about what Red Ribbon Week is.  Here is a list of some suggestions to start off with:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How do you homeschool?

More specifically, what type of homeschooling method should you follow?  If you are new to homeschooling this can be confusing or even frustrating.  Maybe you don't want to subscribe to a specific method or practice.  Maybe you want to replicate the schooling experience your child has or would have received had they gone to public school.  Maybe you want to try a little bit of all of them and kind of pick and choose what works for you.  It's all fine.  There are no hard-lined ways of doing it.  Sometimes it takes a period of time while experimenting with different methods, which speak to you and your family's dynamic, to embrace that method.  Then, sometimes, the method that may have worked in the past may not work now.  That is one of the exciting things about homeschooling; it affords you that kind of flexibility.  Keep in mind that you do not have to subscribe to any one method if it doesn't fit your needs.  In addition, there are many more methods of education out there than what is listed.   

Homeschooling, by the number$

One of the many concerns when deciding whether or not to homeschool is how it will impact the family budget.  If you do your research, it doesn't have to be an expensive investment.  Sure, there are tons of homeschooling curriculums out there.  Do you need a bought curriculum though?  I guess that all depends on you.  I would suggest brain storming what you want to teach during the year by subject matter, and be flexible.  Realize that what you map out may need to be tweaked.  It happens; it doesn't mean that you are a failure or a bad planner.  Just realize that the best laid plans often go awry.  Here are some of the resources that we use:

Friday, October 21, 2011

HOMEschool? Ha! More Like TRAVELschool...

I have spent way too much time in my van this week.  I know this because my gas tank is almost empty and I have three more days until I can put gas into it.  It seems like EVERYTHING happened this week.  From multiple doctor appointments to our bi-monthly grocery shopping trip to field trips, we spent a lot of time in the van.
So first before I go into our week in review I have some very exciting news to share.  Well, it's exciting to me!  I will be writing for  You can find me here.  (Giggle!)  I'll be sharing how to get started in homeschooling as well as tips and ideas for homeschooling.  I linked my first article in the post below this one as well.  I wanted to see if it would link, and it did.
On with this week in review:
Monday - Chris working on vocab

Monday - Cody working on biology

Monday - a happy little black puppy

Monday - Educators Open House at the Museum of Science and Industry.  You can read about my night here.

Monday - In the tornado vortex at the Educators Open House

Monday - Educators Open House at Museum of Science and Industry

Tuesday - Time-suck day!  I had a doctors appointment in the early afternoon and we went grocery shopping after.  Gotta love a wall of German food!

Wednesday - we went back out to the farm to shoot

Wednesday - Cody doing biology in the van on the way home from the farm

Wednesday - Chris's bin of work

Thursday - Of course we are on the go again!  On the way to Cody's basketball practice.  He's getting his reading in.  We multitask a lot.

Thursday - It's fall!

Thursday - Chris reading on the way to Cody's practice.

Thursday - Chris finishing up his reading assignment

Thursday - Cody getting ready for practice

Thursday - Cody doing drills

Thursday - Cody for the lay up

Thursday - Chris sitting on a basketball doing his spelling

Thursday - Chris doing math

Thursday - Cody, irritated or something

Thursday we finished up our Moon Phase study in Nature Studies.  I made the above example of the phases of the moon using sandwich cookies.  You can find the example here on my Pinterest page.

Thursday - Chris identifying the phases of the moon.

Thursday - Chris making his own phases of the moon with sandwich cookies

Thursday - Cody doing his phases of the moon

Thursday - Cody is done and excited that he gets to eat his creation and the scraps

Thursday - Chris is done and excited that he gets to eat his creation and the scraps

Thursday - Chris's turn to do the lunch dishes

Thursday - we went to the library as well

Thursday - Cody had to sell popcorn for Boy Scouts

Thursday - Our seasonal table is done for fall

Friday - Cody had a doctors appointment in the AM

Friday - Of course we packed our stuff and took it with.  This is Chris getting his reading time in.

Friday - Cody getting his reading time in...

and a little worried about this thing being shoved up his nose.

Friday - On the go again.  Cody is working on his vocabulary story for the week.

Friday - on the way to the orthodontist.
At basketball practice on Thursday, which for some reason seems like it happened today.  It's scary when the days melt together.  Anyway, yesterday at practice, Cody's coach was telling them that "it's much easier to fix a mistake than to break a bad habit".  It was in reference to them looking at the ball while they are dribbling.  It stuck with me and I just wanted to share.
That's all that I have for this week.  Have a great weekend.

Homeschooling, legally speaking

You are here because you are either looking into homeschooling or you have decided that, for whatever reason, homeschooling is the route that you want to take.  Congratulations!  The question that you may have now is, "where do I begin?"  With the plethora of homeschool websites and books out there it can be a little overwhelming.  There is a lot of information out there.  For now, let's stick with the basics.
Legally, can I do this?
Yes, you can!  First off, homeschooling in Illinois is 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm a Science Rock Star!

Really, I am.  I have a sticker to prove it too! 
I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Educator Open House at the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago.  Swanky!

I was able to pretty much do all the really, really cool stuff that I would love to do if I were there without my kids.  Seriously, look at this - I'M IN THE TORNADO VORTEX!
I was able to check out all of the really exciting programs that they offer.  Going with the mind-frame that I was there to seek out information for homeschooling made it even more fun.  Upon arriving we were divided into three separate lines according to our last names to check in and get our agendas for the evening.
Had I know how quick the ticketed events would fill, I would have planned out my evening a little more.  The two ticketed events were the Haunted Coal Mine and Dr. Seuss and the Art of Invention.  I went to the Dr. Seuss one first because I knew it was a new exhibit and thought that tickets would go fast there.  I was wrong.  By the time I got back to the Coal Mine all the tickets were gone.  Sad times I tell 'ya.
While I was waiting for my ticket time to roll around for the Dr. Seuss exhibit I partook in the delicious foods that were offered.  Oh My Goodness!!  The food absolutely blew my mind away.  From there I made my way to the Pumpkin Pyrotechnics demonstration which was really fun.  This is a special event that runs the month of October and is brought to you by the Center for the Advancement of Science Education: Guest Experiences.  I thought of Cody the whole time and how much he would have enjoyed it.  The coolest thing by far, in my opinion that is, that they did was spray the pumpkin with acetone and then set it on fire.  (hee, hee, hee - FIRE!)
The acetone burned but the pumpkin did not char.  Pretty neat!  Around the time they started pulling explosions I had to make my way to the Dr. Seuss exhibit.

They wouldn't let me take pictures, I got as far as here - which was right inside of the entrance
But, I did learn that there is the Art of Dr. Seuss - Unorthodox Taxidermy, and they had some of them on display.  I really like the Sawfish Sculpture, that one cracked me up.  As I made my way through the exhibit which chronicled  his work, everything from cartoons, drawings, editorial cartooning, paintings, advertising and sculptors were on display.  Then I came to the Oobleck!  I never knew such a thing existed.  I got to play with the very thing that ran amuck in Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  We are so making some of this stuff for a science experiment!  The hands on room, where the Oobleck was, was very kids friendly and looked like a lot of run.  There were puzzles, props from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the movie), and a giant mad-lib like thing.  Did you know that Dr. Seuss used the assumed name "Stroog Von M" on the painting he painted and then displayed in his home to see what others thought of them?   I know!
From there I went to the Science Storms Exhibit.  SO COOL!     
I learned about the vortex of the tornado
Me - in the Tornado


80 MPH Wind Tunnel
Me in the 80 MPH Wind Tunnel
Then I learned about combustion and checked out the live-fire experiment which is based on a laboratory test of sprinkler systems
I turned the fire dial to HIGH
I think that besides standing in the tornado vortex the next best part of this exhibit was playing with the sun.  By controlling the amount of sun the solar panel received I was able to make my car voom around the track.
I'm the red car
From there I moved on to the tsunami portion of the exhibit
Water diffraction - watch the water ripple

This is the string waves, you can see the picture it's creating at the top in green
And then there was the avalanche disk
It's amazing to see solid material turn into a liquid like state while trying to "control" an avalanche. 
I also go to play with the hot air balloons and learned about convection.
From there I made my way to the Fab Lab
The Fab Lab Manager gave me a tour and I was blown away by what they have to offer to students.  Not only that, but what they are currently working on project wise to bring the fab lab experience to school classrooms.  Insane! 
From there I went back to the Pumpkin Pyrotechnics folks and asked them a few questions about what they have to offer homeschoolers like me.  Since they are with the Guest Experience group I figured they'd be a good place to start.  The Live Science Experience offers FREE hands on events daily, and there is a whole list of programs that are offered.  I'm liking the dissecting a cow eyeball one myself.  They then directed me to a very nice woman who explained to me all about the Learning Labs which are offered there.  She also reminded me to check out the homeschool section of the MSI website.  As well as confirmed the rummer that I heard that as a homeschooler, you could gain free admission to the museum by just filling out a form.  SCORE!  No more waiting for museum free days.
Though I was well aware that this open house was geared towards teachers in the non-homeschooling arena, I was a little disappointed in the lack of resources that were available to essentially non-CPS teachers.  I think that either a table with separate information for homeschoolers or possibly a homeschoolers open house would be a really cool idea.  Logistically I don't know if that is possible, but a table would be nice.
Overall, I had a very enjoyable night.  I learned a lot about what the museum has to offer, things that I did not know (which is good) and got to partake in some really neat exhibits.
Would I go back to the Museum of Science+Industry and use it as a resource for homeschooling?  YES!  The exhibits that are offered with general admission are really good.  Knowing that I can now gain free admission as a homeschooling makes the decision to go back even easier.   
Plus, I want to do this again
Thank you to the Museum of Science+Industry for having an Educator Open House!  For more information about admission and parking click here.  Directions?  Click here.

**Disclaimer - All opinions are my own.  I have not received compensation for this review.**