Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Good Morning!

Today we're sharing an older's one I got when the kid were a bit younger.  We sat together and reminisced a bit.  It's a very simple book with awesome illustrations--which really tell the story.

The book's title is Please, Puppy, Please by Spike Lee & Tonya Lewis Lee, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

If you've never read this one, it's definitely one to check out.  Preschool age is most appropriate.

Want to join us in Book Sharing Monday?  Add you link below or just the title and author of a book you're really enjoying this week.  We'd love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal :: The Week in Review

This week has been another full week--for me, at least.  My summer has been filled with planning of some form or another.

A major event that I headed up was my family's reunion.  The planning for this, while spread over a year's time, really picked up over the last month or so.  I am thankful to say that it took place last weekend and so this week I've spent in recovery from that.

It's a shame that I must look back at my calendar to remember just what took place this week.  But it's a good thing I can. (smile)

I've continued planning for my children's learning time this year.  I've been focusing heavily on our History Lessons since this is the driving force for our topics of discussion throughout the year.  I've been doing a lot of reading and studying myself.

I'm also engaged in planning for my homeschool group.  This year we'll be offering a series of co-op enrichment classes--and if you've been a part of anything like that before, you know the amount of planning involved.

On Thursday, I met with a local art museum to help them brainstorm how to better reach out to school-age children.  I am volunteering my time and expertise in writing curriculum to engage homeschooling parents and teachers.  i'm excited about this opportunity--but, there's more planning that will be given to this.

On Friday of this week, I was able to attend a homeschool conference.  I went with another homeschooling friend and ran into a good number of our other friends/acquaintances from the area (some part of our group, several who are not).  It was rather interesting to talk and share stories about how things are going and what we'll be doing for the coming year.

As far as what the kiddos got into, they played outside a lot this week.  We've done a good amount of reading.  This week we instituted an informal system of the children taking turns reading aloud to the family in the evenings.  I do a lot of that reading and sometimes Daddy joins in.  Because of all the things I've been planning for and engaging in, I was really tired on night and asked Pretty Girl to read to her sibs.  This really isn't an unusual thing, however, I decided that we'd all take turns reading aloud and sharing in stories.  So far so good!

We are gearing up to take a bit of a vacation starting next week and into August.  We'll visit some family, visit a beach, do some camping, attend a festival, hang out with friends, etc.  I'm in need of a break from my 'regular' life and this is the time we usually take a trip.

So... a bit more planning is in the plans for my weekend as well.
It's a good thing I enjoy planning (smile).

How was your week?  No matter what happened or didn't happen, I hope you have a great weekend.

I am participating in the Homeschool Mother's Journal for July 27 with  You can read others blogs who also participate in this weekend 'blog hop' here.  You can also join in by clicking here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

More on History Lesson Planning

Photo credit
I wanted to share a bit more detail about how I'm going about creating our history lessons.  I've already had two conversations with other parents who wanted to know a bit more and think it will be helpful to post it here, too.

I'm using a Timeline to track our studies.  I picked one up a year or so ago from a local homeschool expo.  It's literally a large blank timeline that is laminated.  On ones side here are dates, on the other it only has a link on it--so, technically, you could create one of your own.  I've also seen other families create their timeline in a binder format using tabs for each time period and then using blank paper to write in the dates of importance.  I wanted a chart but either way can work well. (Both photos show what I'm speaking about.)

Something I shared earlier this week is that history can be rather overwhelming when you want to 'start at the beginning.'  There is documented history that shows things started in the fertile crescent and then moved westward into Europe.  In the SOTW books, this is how it's set up, with sprinkling in of other cultures here and there.  While I like the story-format of this curriculum, I don't want to continue with the idea that nothing was happening on the continent of Africa or in Asia, for that matter, until the Europeans 'discovered' it.  Not going to perpetuate this with my children.  So, we'll still be focusing on the cultures, peoples and ancient empires in Africa for this year.

Photo credit
As I've already shared, we use notebooking and lapbooking as our methods for recording our learning for history and this will continue as both of these tools lend themselves to creating as you go.  If you're using the SOTW as your main spine, they offer nice little pictures to add to the timeline to represent different events and people.  Since African history is not a main focus of this curriculum, there aren't any pictures that go along with what I'm planning to do.  This past year, we used colorful post-it notes but as I'm looking through resources and sites, I'm compiling some icons and pictures to represent what we're studying.  I will probably make it into something others can download and/or purchase to add to their timelines.

For anyone looking into the study of Africa and/or a more rounded study of the history in this country, here are some online resources to look through.  There are a couple sites I've included that I have not looked through thoroughly, but they appear to have a wealth of information so I'm adding them now.  These sites were shared with me by another homeschooling family on Facebook.
I have some resources pinned to my Pinterest Ancient History Board as well.  I'm planning to tie Geography into our history lessons too.  This is a good time since we'll already be using a map and globe.

If you're interested in watching documentaries, both YouTube and Netflix have a good number of them.  YouTube holds several series of Ancient African Empires done by the BBC.  We watched a good many last year and will re-watch a view of them again this year as they cover a wealth of information not always found in texts.  Netflix had several on Ancient Egypt and the Pyraminds.

[When looking on YouTube, type in 'Lost Kingdoms of Africa,' and you should find a series of videos that cover the full documentary.  These are posted by RASyared and icassa2011addis.  Also search for 'Ancient Africa' another series of videos posted by WhenTheEarthWasYoung.  This should give you a good starting place and you can do your own searching for specific history of a particular group or culture.]

If you're looking for history resources for United State History, I highly recommend using Howard Zinn's books and site as he has used primary sources for telling/re-telling history and exposing the true of many of the history lessons we were taught in school growing up.  The site is geared for teachers and parents looking for resources to use with their children.  I encourage you to take a look and see what's being offered their as well.

The more I learn, the more interested I become in learning more.  My guess is that you will, too.  I will continue to share resources as I come across them.  Look for these and others on my Resource page.

What resources have you found to be useful in teaching history?  I'd love to know what things are working for you as you plan your history lessons for this year.  Comment below.

Happy Learning!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

How to Plan Your Homeschool Year :: Step 1 Goal Setting

I've decided to do a series of posts based on the workshops I've done for homeschoolers over the course of the past several years.  If you're just starting out or considering homeschooling your child or children, there are definitely steps you can take to make this process less overwhelming and stressful.

I'll start by saying that the fact you've decided to take full responsibility for providing your child/ren with a learning rich environment and thus opening up the world to him/her/them is admirable.  You may be feeling excitement about your decision and as you explore the world of homeschooling may also feel lost in the sea of all your options.  Surprisingly enough there are a great number of options now readily available to homeschoolers now days.  There are more and more families opting to homeschool for various reasons and thus there is a large market now just for us.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013-2014 Planning by Subjects :: History

We all thoroughly enjoyed history lessons this past year.  This was the basis for many of our lapbooks. It was a surprise, to me, that each of my children enjoyed it so much.  We're using SOTW as a guide. I must be honest and say that we really didn't use the book beyond the first few chapters. However, I did like the activity guides that come with each level and used quite a bit of the ideas & activities.  We spent most all of our time on the continent of Africa.  There are so many groups of people and history of the ancient times that is totally missing from most all of the history books used when I was in school as well as what are being used now.  I also used the book From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin.  It's a college level text but is so thorough, I had to use it.  I also found a lot of good resources online and have pinned many of them to my Pinterest board (Ancient History, American History, and Geography).

We used several documentaries found on both YouTube and Netflix when reading materials were limited and hard to find.  I also have several friends I've found on Facebook who also use history as the base for their homeschooling lessons who have shared a vast array of books and resources that are specifically for the people from the continent of Africa.

We have ALL been mis-educated--those in the West, I mean, specifically.  What I don't know personally, very few, if any of my white counterparts know either.  The difference is that learning about European history is mandatory.  It's what seen as 'American.'  It's even what's seen as having a 'world view.'  Any history about any other group of people is typically told from a European perspective, which can never be the full story, is rarely the true story and at the very best, only a 'museum view' of that people or culture.  (By 'museum view' I mean it's taken totally out of context and is critiqued based on standards other than those of the people whose culture it was taken out of to be put on display.  Look at history, Europeans went around the world destroying people and places, saving only the items that 'caught their eye' and building places to house those 'treasures.'  Then create the back stories of these treasures and writing books to document these stories.) 

What has ended up happening is that the study of people of color has been relegated to elective studies, so only those who have purposely decided to know more do.  The general American population, and perhaps all those in Western society, know very little, in general, about this history.  We've even gone a step further, here in the U.S., by dividing of different groups into a weeks or two (if you're lucky a whole month) of study or focus on the contributions they've made to the American society.  This often appears (to the untrained eye) to be very inclusive and welcoming, however the history of all the people who were either here on this land before we arrived, along with all the histories of the people who were brought here (against their will) or chose to come here make up the full history of America.  The fact that we only know about a small part -- the European part -- has disastrous implications, not only to all people of color but to all those without it as well. 

If we are truly seeking something better for ourselves and our country and our world, it's time to stop sitting with your head in the sand and start doing something different.  Our history is world history.  Our history is American history. Period.

For the past few years I have been rather nervous about just how to teach history, where to begin, what to include, what to leave out, etc., etc.  Unfortunately, I have encountered people of color who want to portray themselves as 'having it all together' and 'knowing all their history' and 'the authorities on history' etc.  Those encounters have left me feeling intimated and often times discouraged.

Nonetheless, I'm realizing that I have to learn what I don't know and last year I simply decided to do just that along with my children.  When I learn something, I share it with them and we explore it together---just like we do with other things.  Naturally.  Without the stress of having to be the one who 'knows it all.'

So this summer I've found some new things and have been reading through several books so that I have more information and stories to share with them about our ancestors from the Motherland.

Now, I am from a diverse family and have many ethnicities and cultures within my family.  The care that I am seeking to have with learning about our African heritage, I want to have with learning about our Native American heritage, our African American heritage and our European heritage.  What I want my children to have is a strong sense of who they are and how they have been in the world.  As they grow we will definitely have more challenging conversations, but I want them to have the most true perspective of what has happened in the past so they don't have to repeat it.  What better way then to use primary sources for our history lessons.  (By primary sources, I mean sources written by the people who experienced that history first hand, as far as possible.)

I have found several great resources for this.  Here's a quick list of what I've been using to learn and what I will be using as we progress through history.  Please note that as I learn more, this list will grow!

From Slavery to Freedom : A History of African Americans by John Hope Franklin
Into Africa : A Journey through the Ancient Empires by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle
Life in Ancient Africa by Hazel Richardson
The Ancient World by Kingfisher
Seven Wonders of Ancient Africa by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods
A People's History of the United States : 1492-Present by Howard Zinn
The Twentieth Century : A People's History by Howard Zinn
A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn adapted by Rebecca Stefoff
The People Speak : American Voices, Some Famous, Some Little Known edited by Howard Zinn

I am still working out the units that we will cover this year.  With so much happening I may do a bit of moving from the distant past to the recent past.  But, for now, this is what I'm planning:

Into Africa by Marq de Villiers and Sheila Hirtle and From Slavery to Freedom by John Hope Franklin will be may main spins for the first part of the year.  I will be using the main divisions of Into Africa as my units
Unit 1: Monomotapa
Unit 2: The Land of Zanj and the Birth of the Swahili
Unit 3: Towards Azania
Unit 4:  Kongo
Unit 5: The Gulf of Guinea (Cameroon, Ife, Oyo, Benin, Dahomey, Ashanti, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone)
Unit 6: The Sahel : The Golden Empires of the Sun (Old Ghana, Mali, Songhai, Kanem-Bornu, Tuareg and Timbuktu, Fulani, Hausa Kingdoms, Colonial Sahel, The Dogon)

My children are still young (6, 8, 10) and so we will go as in depth as possible for their ages.  I want them to have some basic knowledge and as they get older we will cycle back through more in depth.  A bonus to homeschooling.

I will also be using this site as a resource:

I also want to read about some people of African descent that we have not yet heard about.  Another sister-friend shared this list with those in our homeschool group and I'm planning to simply go down the list and learn about them.  (Will share the list once I locate it, again.)

I've been going through my library system's site to find books that can go along with all of this.  I'm also gathering my materials for the lapbooks we'll make and notebooking pages we'll do.

I'm don't feel as overwhelmed as I once did.  I'm a bit excited.

How are you integrating history into your homeschool this year?  What do you use, if anything and how do you go about it?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Good Day All,

We've had such a lot of rain this season--a good thing, as we've been in a drought for much too long.  However, it's made gardening a bit of a challenge.  When I came across this book at the library last week it put a spin on a rainy day and being out in the garden.

Today's book is Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell, who also illustrated it.

Typically children are disappointed by a rainy day and having to stay inside.

These children's grandfather has another idea.

After picking what they need and return inside to cook together.

The rythmic verse and rhyme of the words entertained my younger one.  Sweetie Pie was excited to see the recipe at the end of the story.  Hopefully soon we'll be able to pick some items from our own garden for stew, too.

We think you'll enjoy this book as well.

Want to join in our Book Sharing Monday? (Working on an image to share.)
Comment below with a link to your blog post or simply add the name of the book w/ author.

Happy Reading!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

Today's book is Night of the Moon: A Muslim Holiday Story by Hena Khan, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

As you can see we wanted to learn a bit more about Ramadan and the holiday of Eid.  I have very glad to have picked this book as it answered most all of the initial questions my children had from reading the book we shared last week.

It's told from a child's perspective and not only gives us information about the month of Ramadan but also gives information about the moon cycles.  The author's note at the end of the book give further explanations.  There is a glossary with pronunciation guide and definitions.

We will be looking for a few more books about Islam and look forward to talk to some of our Muslim friends about how they celebrate this special month.

Want to link up?  Add your link in the comment section below so other can find you.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1. Books
2. Sharing (being able to share with others and having other share with me)
3. Time at the library
4. Cooler weather
5. Growing tomatoes & peppers
6. Time with my husband
7. Children who are learning to be responsible.

What things are you thankful for today?
Mind sharing one or two?  I'd love to hear from!

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Parenting on Purpose :: Blog Series @

I'm excited to share that I'll be doing a regular series on the blog entitled Parenting on Purpose.  I'll be sharing quotes, tips, challenges, encouragement, etc. for all of us looking to be more purposeful in our parenting.  Won't you join me?

Here's a link: Parenting on Purpose :: A Quote & A Challenge

Please leave a comment there so I know you stopped by.

Here's the Parenting on Purpose!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

2013 Fall Planning :: An Overview

It's definitely that time of year--planning time!

Honestly, I've been planning since the end of May.  Nothing major, at first.  It started with me going back and re-reading the blog posts I shared at the beginning last school year.  I was also posting for other homeschooling families in my local group as we were doing a series of workshops about planning, scheduling, mapping, record keeping, etc.  Here are just three of the ones I read again today.  You can find them here, here, and here if you're interested. (smile)

Part of this initial planning time has included evaluation--a look at what worked well and what may need to be adjusted or thrown out!  I was talking to another homeschooling mom about this the other day and she was taken by surprise.  She didn't really expect me to be doing this.  From her experience/perspective evaluation is reserved for testing your kids.  I am not sure why this is the only use of the word nowadays--perhaps it has a lot to do with our test-centered learning models in public education. (tongue sticking way out of cheek!)  Anyway, I went on to explain that this is only one type of evaluation and that as homeschooling parents, and, well, parents in general, we use these skills and techniques on a daily basis: to figure out what meal to prepare, what time our children should go to bed, when the best time to do a particular activity, etc.  Sometimes it is a bit of trial and error, other times we 'dial a friend' or family member, still other times we go with our intuition or our prior knowledge based on our experiences.

Evaluation is just a natural part of learning and growing--whether you use that term or not (smile)!

This year we did a good number of unit studies.  At the beginning of the year, I wanted to do more lapbooks with the kids and use them as a way to chronicle our unit study information.  It was a whole lot of work--probably a bit more than I initially expected.  However, it was SO worth it!  Our pace did slow down a good bit.  We didn't cover nearly as much as I had thought or even planned for.  But one of the great things I enjoy so much about homeschooling is the flexibility.  We will continue to work on those topics that we didn't get do.

Another plug for lapbooking -- each of my children retained so much more than we did the previous year with simply reading and doing an activity or two.  The lapbooks can be taken out and used to "present" to the grandparents and other guests (my children love sharing what they've learned and how they've put it together).  Please also note that if you'd like your children to get the most out of lapbooking, wait until they're old enough to make them themselves.  I've seen plenty of 'parent made lapbooks' and although they are lovely and show well, I often wonder how much the children actually remember/retain.  Yes, it did take me awhile to get over the 'how will this look' thing--but it's their work.  They'll learn how to cut and fold from cutting and folding.  Just my 7 cents. (smile)

I have been blessed, yet again, by one of my teaching friends with plenty of the basic supplies and some teaching resources.  I actually don't need the resources--so will be sharing them with a few other families who are homeschooling in the area.  I have been looking through them though and gathering ideas.  Right now I'm liking all the ways to record books for comprehension purposes and way to incorporate book reports other than the 'standard' way we all remember from school.

I've also been up to my neck in history resources.  I will devote an entire post to this subject as I'm seeing how important it to our homeschooling journey.

Needless to say, my dining room has been turned into a mini office/classroom space with stacks all around the room of books and other resources.  I haven't yet taken out my calendars to start scheduling things but I am reading and putting myself in a creative space to find ideas to capture our learning in a few new ways this time around.

Later this week, I'm planning to have a little meeting with the children.  I'll ask them what they enjoyed about what we did last year and what things they'd like to do again.  I'll also listen to hear what new interests they have.  I regularly ask them to make lists of topics and activities they'd like to learn about/learn to do.  Each year I try to incorporate at least three things from each of their lists into our learning time.  As they grow and become more independent, my goal is to let those lists lead them in their own pursuits in learning (i.e. independent study).

The more time I give myself, the more thorough I can be in planning.  Yes, it does take a lot more in building my own curriculum but I feel like I have a better handle on what we're doing.  Perhaps this is more about the actual time I take to plan--identifying, locating, reading through, writing down/out, revisiting, revising, you get what I'm saying, right?!  I do feel better prepared and better able to make adjustments as they come up--for we all know they will.

So, how is your planning coming along?  What new things are you looking to incorporate into your homeschool this year?  Will you be building your own curriculum or using one already prepared?  I'd love to hear what's going on in your home.  If you blog, leave your link.  If not, add a comment.

For those who may be new to this whole homeschooling thing, or new to the idea that planning is an intrical part of homeschooling, I am starting a new series of posts that will be shared over the next several weeks about what things you should be doing now in preparation for starting.  Do check back soon.

Happy Home Learning!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Book Sharing Monday

I haven't participated in this Monday activity in a few years now.  I'm having trouble even finding the blog of the mom who started this.  Last I read (and this was a good while ago), she had stopped homeschooling and was embarking upon a new adventure of her own.  Until I'm able to find her or another who's participating still, just know that this isn't my idea.  However, I've enjoyed it in the past and have decided to start it again here on my blog.  The children and I read so many good books that it just makes sense to begin this habit of sharing with you all again.

Should you like to join in with us, please do.  Simply add your name and blog link to your 'Book Sharing Monday' post and I'll add you to the list so others can enjoy the books you're sharing.

Today's book is Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns: A Muslim Book of Colors by Hena Khan, illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini.

This is a very simply picture book yet it gives some basic information about the religion of Islam.  The colorfull illustrations are captivating and piqued my children's interested to learn a bit more about this religion and culture.

We are sure you'll enjoy this book as we have.  I appreciated the glossary in the back that gave correct pronunciation of the words introduced through the colors along with a brief description/explanation of what it is.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sharing Nature with Children

We have been trying, unsuccessfully, for quite some time to sprout an avocado pit.  We purchased the organic avocados as well as the convention ones all in hopes of getting it to grow into a plant.

In all of the children's gardening books I've seen, this is one of the first activities, coming right behind beans (which has been a similar experience for us as well).  I was starting to feel some kind of way about not being able to do it.  I mean, what is really going on with our plants??? (Yes, this will be another post. Smile.)

Well, another mother-friend suggested that I try some avocados from another local market.  We finally have found success!!

Today, I had my little Sweetie-pie pot our first sprouted pit.

She has observed me well and did this all on her own.  We're excited to share that we have four more pits that have sprouted as well.  We're planning to keep three of them in pots on the porch and will take the other two down to the community garden to plant it there.  We'll share the progress of these plants.

Are you growing things with your children?  How are things coming along?
We'd love to hear from you--please comment below.

Happy Growing!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Review ::

I have been invited to review  I have never used this resource before although I do know several homeschooling families that have.  Here's the disclosure that I must post here prior to review:

I've been given a Premium Membership to for a candid, personal, online review. 
VocabularySpellingCity helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as Sentence UnscrambleHandwriting Practice,WordSearch, and FlashCards. Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site, or use any of dozens of free teaching resources on topics such as Synonyms and Figurative Language. Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience. 
There might be more free memberships available for bloggers. If you're interested, find out how you can review
We will be using this resource over the next 30 days and I'll be back to share my honest feedback of this site.

Is this a resource you've used or are using currently?  What do you use for vocabulary & spelling in your homeschool?

Happy Homeschooling!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Before You Throw out Your Curriculum....Read This!

It's that time of year.  Many of us are finishing things up and coming to an end of one level and looking forward to the new and what we'll be doing again in the fall.  This is the time where you'll find lots of blog posts about the 'new and improved' homeschooling curriculum and resources.  If you're really 'in the loop' on homeschooling things, you've probably already been receiving ads via email and mail from publishers about the new, colorful, better-than-before resources that you just 'have to have' to make it through your next school year.

I'm heading to a couple homeschool conferences and expos and know from past experiences that everything there is going to look beautiful and necessary!  Reps and consultants will be on hand to explain all the reasons why what they're offering is so much better than what someone else is offering and why I must have it in my homeschool this year.

Well, change can be good.  New things are, indeed, nice.  We all get excited about new books and such.  You may even find something that may be a better match for your family.  However, before you simply throw out everything you've already invested in, take a look at these tips to help you evaluate just what you need and what you may not.

Before throwing your curriculum out:

1. Look at your reasons for why you're considering getting rid of it.  Are your children complaining about it?  Are you having to 'fight' with them to get them to do the work?  Is this something specific to a subject/topic or does this show up across the board/every subject?  Are all your children experiencing it this way?

The answers to these questions can help guide you in figuring out whether this is simply a negative attitude, in general, towards the use of this resource or if there is something else causing the frustration.  Perhaps you're not using it as it was intended.  Perhaps you're being too rigid in your use of it.  Perhaps it simply doesn't match up with your family's philosophy and style of homeschooling (i.e. the curriculum requires heavy reliance on textbooks).

2.  Take some time (a week or two) to evaluate how it's been working for you and your children this year.  Is it too rigid for your family?  Does it require extensive prep on your part?  Does it match up well with your children's learning styles?  Are you having to suppliment more than what you would consider reasonable?

These questions are closely related to those in number 1 but go a bit further to uncover the practical uses of the curriculum.  Investing in a curriculum where you are still doing a lot of the researching and supplementing may not be the best thing for your family.  Are there parts of the curriculum that you aren't using?  Would using those additions make the difference in finding success with it? Sometimes we don't go with an entire curriculum thinking that we can make up the difference and find other things that will work just fine.  (I know I'm good for this one.)  But at the end of the day, are you investing too much of your time in search of these 'other items' that it's becoming too much?  Would purchasing those additional parts make using it more useful?

3. Can you re-purpose what you're already using to make it work without having to throw out the entire thing?  Perhaps you like how things are set up and could use the outline to add to it with other resources you already have on hand.  Perhaps what isn't working for one child will work for another, so keeping it around to try again may be beneficial.

As you can see, evaluation is necessary throughout your journey of homeschooling.  Being able to determine the purposes and uses of the curriculum you choose helps you to easily access it's continued usefulness and benefits.  You can keep yourself from getting rid of things that are still useful and at the same time let go of everything that isn't.

Try going through these questions this time around and see if you're able to make better choices for your family.  You may find that there is no need to throw out everything.  On the other hand, should you decide to go with something new, it won't be because you didn't take a thorough look at why you need something else.

How do you make decisions about changing curricula?  What questions have you asked yourself?  I'd love to hear from you.  Comment below!

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thankful Thursday

1. Rain
2. Tomato Plants growing well.
3. Books to read
4. A library in walking distance
5. Neighbors who look out for us
6. Quiet
7. Laughing together as a family

What's on your list today?
Leave a comment below.

Enjoy your Thursday.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Comparison, the Thief of Joy!

I'm sure we've all been there.  You know, the place between feeling confident and sure of where you are and the feelings of inadequacy as you look at what another mother/family is doing.

Comparison.  Judgements. Negative Self-Talk.  Doubting.  These are just a few of the places we can find ourselves.  Why do we keep falling into this space?

This isn't a space I often find myself now--I'm grateful for the growth over the years--but when I do look up and see that I'm 'here' how do I move back into the space of contentment?  What things do I say to myself to put things back into perspective; to find my balance; to find contentment?

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years, specifically with regards to learning and teaching your own (homeschooling).  Please note: this can be adapted to your life in general.

1.  Remember that you and your family are uniquely made.  What makes your family special is exactly what keeps you from being exactly like any other family.  This isn't to say that what is working for another family can't/won't work for yours.  However, if it doesn't, you shouldn't beat yourself up.  That family is not your family!

2. The reality is that we ALL are tempted to compare ourselves at some point or another.  You are not alone in feeling this way and should be kind to yourself by not beating yourself up.  This is no good from anyone (you, your family, others).

3. Ask God for help in embracing the uniqueness of your family.

4. Take a loving look at your family.  What do each of your family members bring to your family?  How do these gifts, talents, strengths, etc. add to the overall uniqueness of your household?  Can you imagine your life without these beautiful people in it?

5. Spend time setting realistic goals for your family based on what you know about them.  (Does it make sense to copy another family's plan when they are quite different from your own?)  Communicate with your spouse/partner and children about these goals and allow their input.  Allow them to help shape what your homeschooling journey looks like.

6. Keep what works, let go of what doesn't.  There is no need to keep doing something when it's clear it's not working.  Sometimes we want to do something so badly (maybe because it's working so well for someone else) that we forget what works for our individual children.  Don't force something that just isn't a good fit for your family.

7. Remember your sense of humor and use it (often) when you find yourself in the comparison place. It may be hard to laugh, when you're feeling so overwhelmed and depressed about things not turning out like you'd want it to.  But when you're really honest with yourself, you may be able to see the humor in trying to turn your household into an exact replica of someone else's.

8.  Find encouragement from others.  One of the great things about the homeschooling community nowadays is that there are many homeschooling parents who blog and offering encouragement (such as this) to those beginning or simply needing some support.  Reading blogs of encouragement can be helpful when you're in the comparison place.*  Finding a network of families in person can also be a great place of support as well.  Talking with and listening to moms who know what you're going through can help you see the humor in things.

It's not fun to find yourself in the place of comparing.  Comparison is definitely a thief of your joy.  So be encouraged.  You are just where you're supposed to be.

Have you been in the place lately?  What things have helped you get out of it?  I'd love for you to share a tip or two as we all have something to share that can benefit others.  Thanks in advance for taking a moment to comment below.

*Special note regarding reading others' blogs: be careful that you focus on the positive encouragement that is being offered and not all the wonderful photos/activities/posts about what that family is doing.  This can actually make you sink deeper into your negative feelings of comparison.  I've learned this the hard way and wanted to share that tidbit with you! :-)


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