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I'm a Christian Mom answering the call to educate our boys at home. You can also follow me at www.facebook.com/littleschoolofthewest and on Twitter @schoolofthewest

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Our Homeschool Mission Statement

At the first Homeschool convention I attended a couple years ago (and in several books/blogs that I've read since then) they encouraged those starting out in their homeschooling journey to write a Homeschool Mission Statement. The purpose is so that we can look back on it in the years to come, to remember why we decided to homeschool in the first place and what our main goal is for our kids. I've made some notes here and there since then and thought it was about time I put them all together.

When I first began blogging after we made this decision I wrote this post listing reasons why we decided to homeschool. Everything listed there is still a very important part of our decision but our mission statement goes a bit deeper than that.

Why are we Homeschooling?
Above all we are homeschooling our children because God called us to do so. We know that if our children were meant to attend a private school that God would provide for their tuition, but after much deliberation and prayer we knew that God had a different plan for our family. We feel confident that if/when His plans change for us we will be ready and willing to take another path.

What are our spiritual goals?
We want to instill a Godly character in our children, to give them a Christian worldview, and to ultimately find God's given purpose for their lives. A couple of things that I've heard in the homeschool community since we started are: 1) to point our kids toward Heaven, not Harvard and 2) that the two most important subjects in our homeschool should be History and Theology.

I struggle with this next one a bit because so much of the time I just want/need them to get their work done so we can move on to other things... but I really want to be able to focus on the big picture (i.e. their relationship with Christ as their savior and His plan for their life) and THEN focus on the academics. Every education has gaps and I can't beat myself up later over any little thing that we didn't cover. If I instill in my children a love of learning, nothing will stop them from achieving any goal they set for themselves.

Proverbs 22:6New International Version (NIV)

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Chugging Along

In an effort to complete the school year by the time the baby arrives (or at least around that general time so we have the summer to just enjoy being a new family of 6) we are pushing through most holidays. We didn't take an extended time off for Christmas or New Years, which worked out just fine since we usually just make sure to take the days off that Craig has off from work, which meant we had two 4 day weekends instead of 2 full weeks off.

To keep the boys from getting bored with the same workbook material each day I continue to try to switch things up now and then.

Josh has a pen pal that he has written back and forth a couple times. He hates writing so it has been good practice and since he knows he's going to get mail back in return it's not as much of a fight :)
During the month of January he had the opportunity to learn to play hockey.

Baseball season is upon us once again, this year he's on the Angels!

Nathan worked steadily in his Kinder books all Summer/Fall and is now starting to slow down a bit (which I have no problem with since he just turned 5....). He still sits with us during our read-aloud time but when it comes to their individual work he will choose an educational game on my iPad, or work on a craft of some sort.

David is a challenge to keep busy, sometimes he decides he needs to join us but that usually doesn't end well. Most of the time he finds his way into the boy's room where all of our games are and takes out Hungry Hippos... he LOVES that game!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Time is Flying

2015. Wow!

Soon after I posted about our back to homeschool interviews I found out that in May we will be blessed with another precious bundle of joy.

We can't wait! I've always wanted four kiddos, Craig wasn't so sure about a fourth until our (now) youngest was about 6 months old and he agreed that our family didn't quite seem complete.

Since my husband is the type that needs to know the sex of the baby as soon as possible he scheduled an ultra sound at our local mall the day I was 15 weeks along for a gender reveal :) Much to our surprise (I was convinced there was a 1% chance) they told us we are expecting a baby GIRL!!

The boys are excited about adding a baby sister to the family, from the moment we told the boys I was pregnant Nathan started praying that it was a baby sister :) She is going to be one loved and well protected little girl.

This pregnancy has brought about some changes in our school year.  Fortunately, I don't deal with anything too severe as far as morning sickness symptoms, etc. but there is always a time when I'm not feeling 100% and with this pregnancy the worst part of the day was actually in the morning. (With Josh it was any time I got a little hungry... no matter what time of day, with Nathan I had to snack on crackers or something small all day and with David it was mainly in the evening... couldn't eat much for dinner in the first or last trimester with him.) It has been amazing getting to "know" each of them in the womb and then in person but the fact that your body can react so differently to the pregnancy hormones each time still doesn't quite make sense to me; same hormones, same body.... should know after the first how your body is going to react, right? NOPE

Anyway, since I was dead to the world in the morning for awhile there we would have a nice slow start to our day and get our work done in the afternoon while David napped (which is when we usually do our read-alouds anyway). There were some days when we would still be finishing things up when Craig got home in the evening. All that matters is, we kept chugging along... with some adjustments.

I've been feeling like myself again for a few weeks and it's been SO nice. My energy is back and I can eat what I want when I want :) 

The beginning of our school year didn't bring a lot of crafts, unit studies or fun worksheets (they still got to do a lot of that fun stuff at Bible study and co-op)... it was mainly just checking the basics off our to-do list. Keeping that in mind I've switched things up a bit lately, especially since we only took one week off for the holidays (pushing through the holidays, I'd like to be done early for summer since baby girl will arrive in May). 

Josh has discovered lately that he enjoys word searches so I printed some out for him to do this week along with his math (a nice break from his usual phonics worksheets).

I also printed some fun Lego math worksheets that are always a hit.

For Nathan I pulled out some Read, Build and Write mats that I printed awhile back from homeschoolcreations.com and he is really enjoying them. He loves using our alphabet stamps to build the words.

As for David, he's your typical 2 year old. He has, however, started pointing out shapes in every day objects so he received Tiggly Shapes for Christmas and LOVES them. 

How has your school year been treating you?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

2014-2015 School Year

The past week has been a busy one as we slowly started to get back into our school routine. I wanted to continue our back to homeschool survey tradition so I compiled their answers a couple days ago, here they are :)

Back to Homeschool Interview:

My name is: Nathan

I am __4 1/2___ years old.

My favorite food is: Turkey Sandwich

I really, really do not like to eat: broccoli

My favorite show to watch is: Mickey Mouse

My favorite movie is: The Lorax

My favorite books are: Thomas the Train

The best thing about school is: Leap Frog workbook

The worst thing about school is: when homework gets harder

The coolest person on Earth is: Katie

I am really good at: running and swimming

My favorite color is: orange is the best!

The best place in the world to be is: California at Disneyland

When I grow up I want to: be a Fireman and a soccer player

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: play in the wading pool with Josh, Dylan, Katie, Emily and David

My best friend is: Noah

Jesus is: God

When I was little I used to: crawl

3 words that describe me: smart, caring, good

This year I hope to learn: about Jesus

Back to Homeschool Interview:

My name is: Josh

I am __7 and one month___ years old.

My favorite food is: pizza

I really, really do not like to eat: healthy foods

My favorite show to watch is: Max Steal

My favorite movie is: LEGO Movie

My favorite books are: Ninjago

The best thing about school is: Math

The worst thing about school is: Phonics

The coolest person on Earth is: Dylan

I am really good at: baseball (catcher)

My favorite color is: Green

The best place in the world to be is: with Dylan

When I grow up I want to: be a baseball coach 

If I could do one thing all day long it would be: hang out with Dylan

My best friend is: Dylan

Jesus is: God

When I was little I used to: suck on a pacifier

3 words that describe me: talkative, loud, energetic 

This year I hope to learn: lots and lots of Science! 

Looking forward to another good year!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Curriculum Choices 2014-2015

We are a few weeks away from starting our new school year (besides what we've continued this summer) but I thought I'd share my curriculum choices.

I'm excited that we're continuing with Sonlight this year for Bible, History/Geography and read-alouds.  The boys and I are excited to start filling in their Timeline Book with the Biblical and Historical figures we'll be learning about together.  I decided not to purchase all of the read-aloud books but that we would find those at our local library.  The boys and I really enjoy our trips to the library and this not only saves us money but space on our already full book shelves.

The boys are going to continue their Language Arts (Explode the Code) and Math (Horizons) at their own levels.

Nathan is only 4 1/2 but he is ready for Kindergarten so this year we will have a Kindergartener, First grader and toddler.

I debated for a long time whether Nathan would be considered in Kinder or Pre-K but he has demonstrated time and time again the past few months that he is ready for Kinder.  I never thought my boys that are 2 1/2 years apart in age would only be a year apart academically but we are using homeschooling to our advantage and going at their own pace :)

I had originally planned on using Sonlight Science but then discovered the Magic School Bus Young Scientists Club for half off and since the boys LOVE Magic School Bus, and receiving mail, I decided to go with that for our Science curriculum this year.  So far it's been a big hit!  I'm sure next year we'll have plenty of Science fun with Sonlight's living books and experiments.

Last year, in our Sonlight curriculum, there was an Art book with beautiful pictures we would discuss once or twice a week, this year I decided to go with ARTistic Pursuits.

In addition to the subjects we'll be learning together at home the boys will continue to memorize their verses in Awanas on Wednesday nights, Community Bible Study on Thursday mornings and subjects with their friends in our co-op on Fridays.

A lot of fun times ahead :)  What is your favorite curriculum?  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Graduation and a Summer Update

In June our co-op had a promotion night and Josh graduated from Kindergarten.  I'm so proud of how far he's come! Feeling blessed to have been beside him along the way.
Although we've been on summer break since the end of May, we haven't stopped learning :)  The boys continue to practice their reading on a regular basis and we've begun our Magic School Bus Young Scientist Club activities, we are receiving packets each month with supplies for experiments on a number of different topics (more on my curriculum choices for this year later).

Our first packet contained information and supplies to discuss stars and planets, so for the past two weeks the boys have been going to swimming lessons and working on Science. They really enjoyed learning more about space and we, of course, had to watch the Magic School Bus episodes on each topic :)

Painting the inside of their constellation box.

One of the highlights was making this solar system!

Time is flying and before we know it we'll be starting up another school year, probably sooner rather than later since the boys have been asking to do more and more each day (especially Nathan, he's already 10 lessons into his workbooks....).  Hope you're all having a restful and blessed summer!  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Button Quail

We are blessed to have a wonderful friend from our church who was willing to set us up with everything we needed to hatch some adorable little button quail.  For 15 days I turned the eggs twice a day and kept the humidity up in the box that was set at 99.5 degrees F.  On the 15th day I stopped turning them, added more water to raise the humidity and it was time to wait.  They were due to arrive on day 18 but on day 17 they quickly made their arrival (all 4 hatched in less than an hour).  The boys LOVED it (so did I :)  Here are some pictures, enjoy!

Warm and cozy in their box :)  We kept them almost a week and then our friend took them to a nearby farm.  It was definitely an experience we won't soon forget!