Friday, April 21, 2017

When Things Go Wrong: 5 Tips on Dealing with Homeschool Burnout (5 Tips of...)

Welcome to the Fifth and Final Day of my Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World series. If you have come over via the Homeschool Review Crew Blog Hop...Welcome! You can get caught up with my other posts, here.

We've made it, my friends. To tell you the truth there were a couple of days I wondered.

I already have told you about the dismal computer issues I've been suffering.


Then yesterday, ATT had something freaky going on. We didn't have phone or internet service all day!

Josiah bemoaned the loss all day and told me it was "worse than not having electricity." He later asked me if this was how it felt to be Amish.

Can you tell that we are not a "roughing it" kind of family?

Today I am going to talk to you about Homeschool Burnout.

Duh. Duh. Duh.

It can be the worst. And you know you are suffering from Homeschool Burnout when even the idea of starting your school day causes you anxiety, bitterness and unexplained twitching.

Why? Does? This? Have? To? Be? So? Hard?

So maybe your Homeschool Burnout hasn't been so extreme!

But I have been there. I remember a few years ago feeling underwhelmed, overwhelmed and discouraged all at the same time.

Even my hair and skin felt frazzled. I literally felt like I had been KNOCKED OUT!

I had lost my joy.

There are a lot of psychoanalyzing that could take place right now, but we just don't have time for that. Generally, I know when I'm feeling the fringes of burning out, I can blame it on a few things.

Fatigue. I'm not taking care of myself.

Illness. I'm not taking care of myself.

An intense and difficult school season.

An  intense and difficult season of life.

Regardless, I am going to give you 5 QUICK AND EASY Things to do right now if you are feeling burned out. These are fun, practical things that have helped us find our fun and joy for learning again.

Tip #1 - Stop, Drop and Roll

It might be a good time to set that math book aside. Give the brains in your home a break. Sometimes you might need an impromptu day at the park. Sometimes you might need a week at Grandma's. Sometimes you need longer...There is NOTHING that says you have to keep cramming it ALL in. Open the doors, take in the sunshine and clear the cobwebs from your head.

Field Trips are a great way to clear the cobwebs and get the family out of the house. It doesn't have to be fancy...a nature center or state park (with the obligatory sack lunch) sounds like a great educational experience to me.

Tip #2 - Tea Time

Set aside afternoons for calming rituals. In fact, don't just set them aside...make them mandatory. We enjoy spending an afternoon with a it audio or a read aloud. I call this Tea Time, but in all actuality I am the only one drinking tea. Josiah grabs his beverage of choice and we take our favorite positions in the living room. This has been the BEST thing for us. A few months ago, we were in the middle of a stressful move. We were both anxious and a little sad from moving from a place we loved. We were anticipating our new adventure, but it still didn't take away from that nervousness that we both were feeling. Our Tea Time was a comfortable ritual. I chose funny, "ha-ha" books that made us laugh out loud. Right now we are reading the darker, yet thrilling Count of Monte Cristo. Such intrigue! Such betrayal!

Tip #3 - Game Day

Make one day a week a game day. Lay out the board games and let the fun commence! You will be surprised how much the kiddos are learning. AND having a good time.

Tip #4 - Movie Marathon

There are those days that call for a movie marathon. I say be intentional about those movie marathons. For example, you can use a pair of movies to contrast and compare. We did this with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory using the original and the remake. We've had adventure/survival movie marathons with Swiss Family Robinson, Far From Home and the Wilderness Family. We've watched movie adaptations of some of our favorite books...And we have had many movie marathons featuring sports. Pop that popcorn. Turn off the lights. Pull the curtains. Chill out and enjoy.

Tip #5 - Let Someone Else Do the Talking

Some of my favorite products right  now are audio podcasts and CDs featuring some of our favorite curriculums and authors. Do you know that Apologia has audio CDs of their Science Curriculum? Or that Diana Waring's History CDs should have their own special place in the Homeschool Hall of Fame? We are currently reviewing a new series from Drive Thru History about The Gospels.

They are brilliant! Filling your homeschool library and day with excellent documentaries, great audio books and even online art lessons can not only take some of the burden from your weary shoulders, but it can provide some much needed pep and pepper to your homeschool.

In fact, I require Josiah to watch at least one documentary a week (generally of my choosing).

If you need any encouragement or advice, don't hesitate to ask. I UNDERSTAND the struggle. It will get better...I promise.

I want to leave you with a good list of resources for practical things/items you can use.

Here is a big list of possible field trips for those "stop, drop and roll" days.

I've talked about this before, but audio books are a great option for Tea Time. Some of Josiah's favorites are the audio dramas from Focus on the Family and Heirloom Audio. A few years ago, I compiled THIS list. I hope it helps.

Another list! This one is for some of our favorite movies and documentaries to watch!

Apologia Educational Ministries has those excellent audio products I mentioned for science. Don't miss checking out Diana Waring's site too! I've seen her in person a few times at homeschool conventions. She is a breath of fresh air. Be looking for my review for Drive Thru History. I am really impressed.

I wrote another post a few years ago about dealing with burnout. You might enjoy reading it. It has a little more just for YOU and a few things I've talked about here.

You can read more from my friends on The Crew below! It has been such a joy to write for you this week. Again...let me know if I can encourage you in any way!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Homeschool Review Crew)

It is no secret. I have LOVED everything that has ever come my way from Apologia Educational Ministries. For the last little while, we have been reviewing the brand spankin’ new Readers in Residence Volume I (Sleuth) Full Set by Debra Bell.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence
You might recognize Debra Bell from the review I did a while back of her very excellent Writer’s in Residence.

Readers in Residence was created to teach students “how to read to learn.” It is intended for grades 4-and up. It can also be used for students who are a bit older, but need additional help with the skills covered in the program OR struggle with reading comprehension.

In this program students will:

Learn to recognize literary elements

Make inferences

Build a diverse vocabulary

Learn to decode unfamiliar vocabulary words

Work with punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage all as it helps clarify a story

And much more!

You can use this program along with Writer’s in Residence or by itself. Both programs working together are intended to give you a full year of rich and rewarding language arts instruction.

One of the BIG draws for me with this program was the choice of literature. Debra uses Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte’s Web and Because of Winn Dixie for this program. Students will get to choose 3 additional books to read, as well. What’s more (and this was a biggie for me) is that the student reads the ENTIRE book. I don’t really care for those literature courses that only feature bits and pieces of a work. I don’t think that is what the author intended and we lose so much enjoyment by reading bits of chapters here and there.

With the Readers in Residence full set you receive a student book….which is the “main show.” It is a large, spiral bound book that is sturdy enough to be drug around from couch to table. The Answer Key book is pretty much self-explanatory. I appreciate the Answer Key book because I didn’t have to search in the dark for what the curriculum might be expecting from a particular question or activity.

The Student Workbook contains a suggested daily schedule. It follows a 32-week school year. Along with the study there are suggestions for book clubs and parties. The curriculum also uses rubrics to help students learn to evaluate their work. Those rubrics were a great help to me, as well.

Readers in Residence is a Biblically based curriculum so I loved that Scripture was used to help us view the literature from that particular viewpoint.

How We Used It

I was one of those parents of a “struggling older student” who asked to review Readers in Residence. As you might know, Josiah is dyslexic and much of his formal training as been in the actually discipline of reading the words on the page, themselves. He has been able to do little actual reading on his own for pleasure.

Now we have used “read alouds” and “audio books” to fil in that gap, but I really feel like he is at that point in his education that he can handle easier (but equally enjoyable) books. I also wanted to see if this program would help him achieve success in Independent Study.

I first need to say that I am BLOWN away by the thoroughness of program. Each section is excellently crafted and fairly easy to follow.

Here is how we managed it. For the first few chapters, Josiah and I read Sarah, Plain and Tall round robin style. He would take a section then I would take a section. Then I began to assign bigger chunks of the book independently. For example, I set the timer for 10 minutes or assigned so many pages.

I was curious to see how much of the material he was comprehending.

Would you know that eventually Josiah decided he could read farther than I had assigned? He even read 2 chapters completely on his own one day. This was a huge step for him. It wasn’t required by the curriculum, but he wanted to know what was going to happen next!

The curriculum itself has a lot to it. For most students, I think that it would be perfectly acceptable to have them work through it independently…except for the discussion areas. Books need to be discussed with a party other than oneself!

For our part, I read much of the text out loud to Josiah, then we discovered the book together. Some sections I was able to assign for him to work on independently. I also reduced some of the activities to manageable sections for him. For example, he was required to list character qualities for each character. The list was a bit overwhelming for him, so I narrowed it down.

What I so appreciated about the program was that it explained literary elements in a way that was easily understood. It allowed Josiah to draw from his own life…which made the whole experience easier to grasp for him.

I did shorten lessons and didn’t use the suggested schedule.  I was, however, a big fan of all the practical grammar usage and capitalization/punctuation activities included. I think it helped Josiah see it better in the context of the book he was reading.

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence
I do need to mention one thing. My first copy of the student book (you read that correctly) doesn’t contain the last section. I received a defective book. I haven’t been able to look at all the goodies located in that last section. I am POSITIVE they are super. Apologia has been nothing but gracious and I should be getting my new copy (and complete) any day now. Yay for great customer service!

Another mention I need to make is that the curriculum DOES NOT come with the assigned books. We did have all 3 mentioned, but I wound up having to order Sarah, Plain and Tall. They use a particular printing of the book and I didn’t want Josiah to get confused with different page numbers.

In fact, I ordered 2 copies of the book (they were really cheap) so that we could read together. In my opinion, no one can have too many copies of Sarah, Plain and Tall.

This is an awesome curriculum. You won’t be disappointed. Just be prepared to be flexible if you have a struggling learner. It will work with you!

You can connect with Apologia via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below for more reviews. 
Instagram:   @apologiaworld
Twitter:   @apologiaworld

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
Crew Disclaimer

When I Need to Mind My Own Business: 5 Tips on Managing Relationships & Dealing with Critics

Welcome to Day 4 of my Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World blog series. If you are joining me via the Homeschool Review Crew Blog Hop...Welcome!

You can catch up by checking out this page here. I have had such good response with this series. My post on Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness has received a CRAZY number of views.

Today I want to talk about a couple of tough issues.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one or four of you have a compulsion to call me ugly names in your sleep.

It wouldn't be the first time I've brought out the worst in someone. friends...I really think these kinds of conversations are important.

We are raising a generation of kids who need these lessons desperately.

And, trust me, I am walking this walk right along with you. I've had dark days. I've had days when I just need to apply duct tape to my mouth and call it good. I've had days that I needed to remind myself (over and over) that I don't know everything.

The following advice can actually be used by anyone calling themselves a human being. You need not be a homeschooler. And if by chance you aren't a homeschooler, please don't be offended if I lay some uncomfortable truths at your feet.

It is what it is.

Tip #1 - Mind Your Own Business

One of the most overlooked passages in Scripture comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 

Busybodies and gossips were alive and well, even in the Apostle Paul's day. Today I think we have even a heighten awareness of what our neighbor is doing because EVERYBODY POSTS EVERY LIVING MOMENT ON FACEBOOK!

Am I shouting? I apologize.

What's more. We all have become great and philosophical commentators of this thing called LIFE. We have an opinion about everything.

I will admit to following the adventures of April the Giraffe on Facebook from time to time. Of course, the real entertainment were the comments. For some reason, there were those among the viewers who had suddenly become experts in Giraffe Midwifery.

As if some of those among us (including myself) haven't felt the need to put our two cents in where it wasn't required...Now we all just beg for it.

"I am now going to make a politically incendiary comment so you can proceed (and possibly rightly so) to tell me how moronic I sound."

Here is where I start insulting non-homeschoolers.

Do you have a family member or friend who homeschools? Guess what. You don't get to make snarky comments about socialization or standardized testing.

You cannot possibly know everything there is to know about it.

Support that family. Love that family. If you sense they are struggling in some way, pray for them and find a way to lighten their load.

Tip #2 - You Don't Have to Tell Everything You Know

This bit of wisdom I learned at my father's feet. My very reserved Dad has trouble giving out his zipcode to well-meaning cashiers, but he does have a point.

Oversharing can only lead to uncomfortable situations.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with your kiddos (and the neighbor)

1. My private intimate life with my husband is my business. I am not going to expose that very sacred and secret parts to anyone else.

2. If I have a "beef" with my husband I don't include my son in my discontentment. Private conversations and hurt feelings cannot be shared with the children.

3. If I have a struggle with a neighbor or friend, I don't share those things with my son. My attitude needs to always be one of forgiveness and prayer.

4. If someone tells me something in confidence I am not allowed to use their life or situation as an example of "what not to do" for my son. I need to teach him that I can be trusted.

5. Most of the time my first reaction to a conflict is a wrong one. Just because I feel like I've been wronged doesn't mean I have to express that vocally. You can't take back words. You can apologize, but the sting is always there.

Tip #3 - Just Be Nice

Is this too much to ask, America?

Can we acknowledge to people we pass on the street? Can we greet the cashier at the grocery store with a friendly smile and greeting?

Can we just be nice?

I have been told before that we just need to be our true authentic selves. And if our "true authentic self" is grumpy and taciturn then so be it.

There are days that even my family doesn't need to meet my "true authentic self."  In fact, sometimes my "true authentic self" needs to chill out.

Brush the chip from your shoulder.

Fill your day with purpose. And that purpose needs to be edifying, not destructive.

Teaching manners should be a part of every good homeschooler's curriculum. I once had an older gentleman tell my son when greeting him, "Always give a handshake with a firm grip. Then look that person in the eye like you are glad to meet them."

Good advice for all of us.

Tip #4 - False Guilt

I've spoken about guilt over the past few days. We mommas like to "waller" in it. False guilt comes when we find ourselves guilty for something we didn't even actually do.

We wear it like a smothering cloak.

But let's take it a little further. Some of this guilt (most of this guilt) comes from the idea that we need to please everyone around us.

Don't get me wrong...I still think we need to be nice...BUT we also need to take comfort that our choices in life (such as homeschooling) don't  need anyone else's approval.

I have spent too many years apologizing for "how I be." I've apologized for not being well. I've apologized for being creatively fruity. I've apologized for liking to wear dangly earrings.

I've apologized for WANTING to homeschool my son.

Do you do this? Whenever I sense disapproval from someone about this choice, I start listing the reasons why we made it.

He is dyslexic.
We moved a lot in his early years.

Those things factored into it, sure...but here is the honest truth.

I love this Kid and I want to keep him at home. I LIKE homeschooling and there is nothing (absolutely nothing) wrong with it.

Don't let the idea of false guilt and pleasing others keep you from doing what you feel you are called to do.

Tip #5 - Live Graciously

I talk about Grace a lot on my blog. I feel that walking in grace means that we not only live in the grace God has given us, but we need to extend it to others, as well.

Here are a few quick thoughts about living a grace-filled life.

Use Grace when dealing with critics. Politely thank them for their concern and change the subject. You don't have to apologize or defend your position on homeschooling. Remember about what I said about guilt?

Be there for friends and family who experiencing a tough time. Don't feel as if you have to know all the right things to say. Your presence alone can be a great comfort. Your kids will learn from your compassion.

Accept apologies and extend forgiveness. Gracious living doesn't allow for grudge holding.

Don't use coarse or foul language. We need to learn to our express ourselves in other ways. Those kiddos are listening!

Learn to say "I'm sorry" when necessary. There have been many times that I've had to apologize to my son for my impatience. The world need not involve around my midlife hormones. You know what I'm talking about.

I like what this passage in Colossians has to say...

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

One more thought about this and then I'm done. We need to be aware of our bodies rhythms and moods. Remember taking your toddler shopping during their naptime? How did that work out for ya?

Keep in mind your own state of being when communicating at large with the outside world (including your family). Are you experiencing your monthly hormone surge? Have you been overtly tired and a bit snappy?

Josiah used to comment on my "crazy eyes."

Bless his heart. Sometimes it's best just to be by myself.

You know what I'm talking about.

So that wasn't so bad, was it? I hope I didn't step on too many toes. Tomorrow will be an easier day, I promise.

But for now, what do you struggle with most in dealing with critics or relationships? Let's learn together!

Don't forget to check out the excellent posts from my friends on The Crew below!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When the House is Messy and Nobody Can Find Anything to Eat: 5 Tips on Homeschooling when you are Homemaking

Welcome to Day 3 of my Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World Blog series. You can catch up by clicking here.

This evening, I am typing from our church office. It's LONG after suppertime.I've executed Plan XYZ (which I execute quite often)...Plan XYZ being "hep yourself to anything in the fridge...momma's gotta work." And no "hep" is not a typo.

I do speak hillbilly.

I did have taco salad on the menu (it is Tuesday, after all), but ding dong it! I've got stuff to do and the minutes are running out in my day.

You feel my pain? I figure you would.

Oh...and why am I typing up this blog post from the church office.

Last week my laptop just plain died. I have no words.

So then I transferred my energies to the home office computer (Josiah uses this one for school). Said home office computer is slower than molasses. I spent 10 minutes staring at the log-in screen.

I don't have time for pokey log-in screens.

It's REAL LIFE here, my friends.

One of the biggest struggles in my homeschooling has always been juggling my housework (and all that goes with it) with our schoolwork. Because contrary to popular belief, Homeschool Momma's don't sit around eating ice cream and playing Candy Land all day.

Though there have been those days...

I have discovered a few tried and true Tips over the years to make things work. After all, my guys will only go with Plan XYZ for so long.

Tip #1 - Treat Yourself to a Super Simple Menu Plan

When I say "treat yourself," I mean it. 9 times out of 10 your family will not care if you hand breaded all of those chicken tenders. Keep It Simple Sweetie.

This is how meal planning goes in my house (and keep in mind that I am SUPER picky about our food choices and I am on a really strict meal plan).

Monday is supper at the church. Our church provides a community meal so Josiah and The Muffin eat there. I help serve, but don't eat there. I eat something I have made ahead.

Tuesday is always Taco Night. Or a variation on the theme. For example, I make Taco Salad a lot.

Wednesday night is Bible Study. I always have something in the crockpot.

You get my drift? I have a handful of meals I rotate through. I might make them differently (for example, Lasagna instead of Spaghetti), but I try not to stress out about it.

Tip #2 - Embrace the "15 minute pick-up habit"

Oh. My. Friends. This little habit might save your life. I am serious.

This is all you do. Assemble all those people who live in your house. Tell them that they are going to have 15 minutes to go around and pick up all that they can. You can assign chores. You can have a random item pick-up. You can do this 2 or even 3 times a day.

I even make myself play along. When I have lots to do, I even set the timer for 15 minutes at a time. In between the 15 minutes, I might even rest for 15 minutes.

You can do a lot in 15 minutes.

Tip #3 - Teach Those Kiddos How to Clean!

If you aren't teaching your kids to contribute to the daily running of the household, shame on you! Sorry to be so blunt, but there it is sister. Your kids will thank you in the end. Even the littles can fold towels and set the table. Consider it part of their education.

And no. They probably won't do it to your particular specifications. This is what learning is all about. Bite your tongue and just set the timer for another 15 minutes. AND...make sure they know how to do something right. These things don't come naturally.

And for goodness sake...Teach those babies how to cook and do laundry. Don't send them off into the old world without some tools in their great toolbox of life.

Tip #4 - Find a Mentor

If you have trouble with motivation, try and find someone whom you can emulate. They probably have a system and don't even know it.

YouTube is a wonderful resource for inspiration. I have several youtube channels I follow. These ladies inspire me to keep a clean and peaceful home. I might not be able to use all their practices, but I am always motivated. I like to stream while I am cleaning!

Tip #5 - Purge. Purge. And Purge Some More!

For the first time in many years we have a dedicated school room. Yay!

However, this doesn't mean that I can keep accumulating stuff. I still have to be fairly brutal in letting go of homeschool books, old art supplies and random clutter. Homeschoolers just seem to have more stuff. Take time to periodically go through that "stuff" and get rid of it.

And sometimes having a dedicated school room doesn't help at all with keeping those schooling items from taking over the house. Today we had friends stop by the house guessed table looked like Easter and a Homeschool Store had exploded all over it. Green Easter grass...a plethora of gel abacus and possibly a cat (no judging, please)...there was more, trust me.


This is one of those great mysteries of life, my friends.

So that's all I have for today!


What do you do to keep everything under control?

As usual, I want to leave you with a few resources that I use and like.
YouTube...Not only do I use YouTube to follow ladies that motivate me to live a beautiful (and cleaner) life, but I listen to audiobooks (For FREE!) and I even have a housecleaning playlist I've put together filled with peppy music that makes me want to move my groove thing.

YouTubers that I watch frequently?

How Jen Does It
Andrea Mills (she is ammaazing!)
The Daily Connoisseur - I also have 2 of her books that I LOVVEEE!
ClutterBug - This site is one I have reviewed. It is a monthly subscription, but has a lot of neat features. I still use a recipe or two once a week. I can't even tell you what having a meal ready in the freezer makes a difference for me. I don't even have to resort to Plan XYZ as much!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
You can check more blog hop posts by checking my friends posts below!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When I Don't Feel Good: 5 Tips on Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness (5 days of...)

Welcome to my 5 days of Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World Series. You can check out the rest of my posts here.

Today I want to talk with you about Homeschooling when you have a chronic illness. We all have days that we just don’t feel good. However, living and homeschooling with a chronic illness is a whole different animal.

For some of us we have periods of time when we are experiencing relatively good health.  We are able to keep up (for the most part) with our premade schedules. We are able to take the kiddos on field trips and trips to the park. We can almost feel like we are normal and live like normal people do.

And then there are those time periods that require major adjustments. 

I am going to give you a brief history of my own story. If you are a regular follower of my blog you know much of it.

Long before I was a momma, I had a massive car accident which left me orthopedically challenged for life. Most of what I have dealt with since my accident is pain and a lack of mobility. The particulars of what and what I haven’t been able to do with my son because of my limitations is something I have had to deal with over the years.

A few years after my car accident, I went into a congestive heart failure and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. I was also diagnosed with diabetes. Over the years, I have had a few near-fatal episodes of active heart failure.

What this means is that my heart is weak. It maintains is strength through medication and properly taking care of myself. Sometimes, I have warning signs that I am heading in the wrong directions. I need to slow down. I need to watch what I eat. I need adjust medications or routines.

You can imagine that I might have not have the kind of energy I wish I had. It can be frustrating. I also have to keep in the back of my head that at any time my health could take a precarious nose dive. It is a constant and fragile dance…juggling what I think I need to be doing with what is actually the best for me.

I won’t go into the spiritual and emotional toil that this kind of life takes on a girl. I will say that I wholly trust in Jesus. I have learned from the things that I have suffered and I firmly believe that He has me in the palm of His hand.

So that’s my story. And I’m stickin’ to it.

To homeschool with a chronic illness is a brave choice. I have been called out for it more than once. I am not going into the many benefits of your choice. Or mine. This post is not about that. What I do want to do is to ENCOURAGE you and to tell you how I make it work for me.

I also want to tell you that some of my advice is what I am doing RIGHT NOW. I’ve had a few months of precarious health. This is real life, my friends. We have to do what we can to support each other.

Tip #1 Give the Guilt Trip the Day Off

You have made the BEST choice for you and your family. If you feel like you have to put the kids in public school then by all means do so. BUT, I encourage you not to take that step because you feel guilty. I decided a long time ago that the days and hours I spent with my son were more important than anything. Because life is so uncertain I wanted to be sure that I made it count. I didn’t want to miss his life because I was too busy trying to save mine.

Tip #2 Whittle it Away

What I mean by this is that when you are experiencing one of those “low” seasons you need to remove the excess and concentrate on the basics. Is your child reading? Is he or she doing math every day? Are they writing? The other stuff can be learned through self-exploration and play.  

Here is a plan. Let’s say you let your child choose a book to read over the next few weeks. You can either assign so many minutes during the day or so many pages. If you have having difficulty keeping up with your math curriculum find an online program that will help him stay on track. Or keep a math workbook available. There is no harm in reviewing. You can save new concepts for another time. Encourage your child to write in a journal daily. You can either assign journal topics or if you have a creative writer you can let her go to town. For your reluctant writers, focus on copywork. Because Josiah is dyslexic, we always listen to a read aloud together. Currently, he is also reading out of Psalms and an abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. He is focusing on typing writing and cursive writing. He is also copying out favorite quotes. There are a few other things I add to his day, but if he completes those things I am happy. And what about math?  

Tip #3 Share the Load

There is NO reason on earth that you can’t utilize those special folks in your life to give you a hand. My husband recognized that I was experiencing more fatigue than normal and offered to spend a couple of hours every week with Josiah and his math. This is a LIFE SAVER.   

It’s okay to admit we can’t do it all. It’s okay to ask for help. Even if a grandmother can listen to someone read or assign copywork. We are blessed to have a church family who also assist me in other ways. We have a dear man who takes Josiah out for breakfast every week. This is in payment for Josiah doing the vacuuming at the church, but I don’t even think this friend knows what he is doing for my son. Occasionally, he takes him on errands. To the parts store. To visit at the nursing home. Down to gab with the guys at the local Dairy Queen. We have other friends who take Josiah fishing or to a local state park to hike.  Josiah’s Daddy takes him out every Friday for a “guys day out.”

Don’t discount those kinds of relationships in your child’s life. What a learning experience!

Tip #4 Independence Day

I am always going to be “that Mom.” I am not a tough cookie. Contrary to popular belief. I can be pushed around. But…I’m okay with that. It’s ‘WHO I BE.’ It is in my nature to spoil and smother. I try and take excellent care of my guys. I would probably be that mom who would get up every morning at treat my family to a big breakfast of homemade waffles, scrambled eggs and freshly squeezed orange juice. IF I FELT GOOD.  I can’t be that mom.

Teaching my son SOME independence is the best thing I could have done for him. He also has had to learn life skills that his daddy didn’t know when he left his own home shortly after his 18th birthday to join the Air Force.

There is no shame in teaching your child to operate the microwave or scramble an egg. If you have a ‘little’ show them how to make a PB&J. A peanut butter sandwich was one of Josiah’s earliest achievements. When we lived in an apartment building with a downstairs laundry he was my launderer. We taught him how to operate the coin operated machinery. He was 11 or 12.

He has not suffered because of added responsibility. He is a compassionate and thoughtful young man. He knows to take my arm when the sidewalk is slick.

Assigning household responsibilities to your children is a MUST. Especially when you are chronically ill.

Tip #5 Don’t Neglect Yourself

It’s easy to put ourselves on the back burner. Most mothers are martyrs by nature. My own mother is an especially effective martyr. She was a respiratory therapist during my growing up years. It was not uncommon for her to go to work with Kleenex stuffed up her nostrils when she had a cold. She would look like death warmed over, but would still insist she could do it.

She still is like that. I have learned my own martyrdom at the feet of a master. There isn’t much a cup of hot tea and a hot bath won’t cure, granted…but sometimes you just need to take the day off. Or even the week. Just shut it down. Re-evaluate what you are doing (or not doing) and start again…slowly.

Just this past week, my momma reminded me that I needed to do what I needed to do. I am on a very, very strict diet. I get tired of making special meals for myself. It costs money we don’t have. It takes time I don’t have.

But in the end…I pay for it. So what is scheduled into my week this week? You guessed it. I have a date with some lean proteins and fiber rich vegetables. 

How does this self-care translate when you are homeschooling? Sometimes you will need to put yourself first. As hard as it may be. We can look at all our children might be missing. We can cry over what we are “costing” our family.

Here is a truth bomb. Our family wants US. And if having US means that we have to take to time rest/make special meals/go to doctor visits that is what it means.

I keep hoping that maybe one day Josiah will feel inspired to go into the medical profession. I could use a good nurse on speed dial.

So there it is, my friends. I realize that this has been a LOONNGG post. I have had a lot to say about the matter. Which, in all honesty, I generally have a lot to say about most things.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

I am going to leave with just a few quick resources today. I don’t want to give anyone medical advice, but I do have a couple of things I can link to.

Dr. Axe – This guy has an awesome site. I use his wisdom quite a bit. I have found it to be sound and biblically based. If you are interested in “food as medicine” you will find his articles really informative.

Essential Oils. – I am not an essential oil fanatic. However, I do have a few that I diffuse on a regular basis. I really like Rocky Mountain Oils. I use Immune Strength, Energize, Joyful Moments and Attention Assist depending on our needs. I used Immune Strength almost exclusively through the winter and I believe it kept us relatively healthy.

If you deal with arthritis and orthopedic issues, I recommend soaking in a hot tub. I use Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts exclusively.  There are other healing properties associated with the magnesium. I encourage you to research that out on your own.

I am currently reading Wired to Eat by Robb Wolfe. I am on a pretty strict eating plan, but am confident that some of his solutions are going to answer some of my needs. I encourage you to poke around his site a bit.

And some more stuff! Don't miss out on the great posts that my friends on The Crew have written. You can catch them below.

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

When He Can't Learn: 5 Tips on Homeschooling with Special Learners (5 days of...)

This week I’ve chosen to talk about SIMPLE Homeschooling ideas for when  you are facing complications.

Now I’m not about to throw 422 points and solutions at you. I GOT NO TIME FOR THAT! What I am going to do is give you 5 (Just 5) Tips that have worked for me. They might be oversimplifying things. They might not directly deal with your particular need. HOWEVER, use what you can and stuff the rest in your closet.

Actually. Don’t do that. If your closet is anything like mine….

Today I want to talk about those homeschooling when you have those special kiddos who might learn differently than others. In fact, you might just wonder if they ever learn anything at all.

Or  you might have clicked on the title of this blog post ready to "let me have it."  You understand that no matter how the great the challenge your child is LEARNING.

Amen, sistah...Or brother. Your child IS learning. It might be slower. Your homeschool days might be filled with wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But there is learning going on! But remember how it felt when you didn't know what to do? Or where to turn next?

Now, my son is dyslexic, has dysgraphia and has dyscalculia. He also has ADHD.

I have had just a few years to bang my head on my prettily set table work out a few things. I want to share a few of those things with you.

Tip #1 – Don’t Try and Eat the Elephant All at Once – It Takes TIME

Huh? You’ve heard that age old question. How Do You Eat an Elephant? The answer is: one bite at a time. We are in a marathon here, my friends. Not a sprint. Nobody is coming to evaluate today. You need to set long term goals, but don’t panic if you don’t see results in the short term. Take a deep breath and make a plan. Work that plan. But don’t despair if you don’t see results in YOUR time.

Tip #2 - Label Much? Be Careful.

Using labels can be controversial in the special needs community. On one hand you NEED to know what you are up against. You need to know what path or direction to take. What kinds of helps are available? What do I need to look for? How can I most help my child? AND you need to be armed to try and explain some of these difficulties to family and friends. This is most helpful when you have a overeager relative (who isn't quite a fan of you homeschooling in the first place) ready to drill your child with multiplication tables or obscure historical facts. If you have a child who is on the spectrum you might have to education family members about why your child has certain behaviors. In this regard it is important to have a "label."

On the other hand, we don't want to tie our children down with these labels. "You won't be able to do this because....You can't do this because...." I have found that the label makes it easier for me to find a solution, but it doesn't mean I expect any less than what I believe Josiah is capable off.  Now that Josiah is older he is able to understand some of those issues he has struggled with AND it helps him take greater joy in what he has accomplished. BUT (and this is a big one), it doesn't mean that he gets to be a slacker. If you have teenager YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN!

Tip #3 - Pick Your Battles

There are going to be many. Just chose the ones that are worth fighting for. I decided many years ago that my house would be one of peace. I was not going to be the adversary. On a practical matter, I decided that because Josiah was dyslexic that we would leave the reading for reading instruction only. I read aloud history, science…even math. We used (and still use) read alouds for free reading. Some of those things that I imagined in my head would be wonderful to teach my son (like Latin and Basket Weaving) were just not going to make it on the list of important things.

Tip #4 - Don't Expect a "One Size Fits" All Solution
This is so important. Just because the curriculum says it will cure all your woes doesn't mean that "it will cure all your woes." In fact, there isn't a perfect curriculum for any student. We have to make it our own. That being said, there are curriculums and programs that work better for some kids. We have always enjoyed a more eclectic style of homeschooling. Finding out what works best for you is a matter of trail and error.

This is where your Super Powers come in. You will need a whole lot of patience and tenacity. You will need to read and research. You will need to let some expectations go and pick up some new ones. I am a big proponent of using what I have and have access to. Because I am a curriculum reviewer this means I have access to quite a lot of great stuff. It's not always a great fit for us, but I chose to make it so. I might shorten lessons or work through the curriculum at a slower rate. I might even skip certain parts altogether. I have been able to add more independent work as Josiah has gotten older, however, there is still a lot of teaching and instruction he requires. This is what I signed up for. I'm in it for the long haul.

Tip #5 – Live a Life. Focus on the JOY

Take advantage of your daily life to help your kiddo learn. We bought Josiah a watch with an analog face when he had trouble telling time. We have him keep money in his wallet so he is forced to count change when he wants to purchase something. He gets to email his friends and cousins (via a secure email) so that he can learn to express himself with written words without a momma’s interference. He has chores he is responsible for every single day.

When things get hairy and something seems too difficult to learn we bring out the board games, go on a nature walk or find another way to grab a hold of that thing. He gets follow interests like music, swimming and video games. He even contributes to our church by vacuuming every week. My point is that we need to fill our kiddos lives with things that will provide confidence and help them function successfully in the real world. Josiah’s identity is not wrapped up in how he reads or learns math.

Shew. Hopefully, I’ve given you nugget to bite on.

Below you will find a few resources you can check out.  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

Growing Hands-On Kids - this blog is a treasure trove of hands activities for any kids. She has a great section for special needs. I LOVE this article on how to help with handwriting difficulties in the elementary-aged child.

Got a Fidgety Bidget? A few years ago I created these Brain Breaks to help me give my own Fidgety Bidget some time to wiggle it out. The link will take you to google drive. Just print them off and laminate. I like to keep ours in a small plastic container. Through the course of your schooling time have your child/children draw one out and do whatever is on the card.

 A Simple Spiral bound notebook. You heard me right. This might be the greatest tool invented in the history of man. Besides contacts. And air-conditioning. And chocolate ice cream with peanut butter chunks. We use spiral bound notebooks for all manner of things. I use them to record Josiah's assignment lists so he can mark them off when he completes them. He has one he can doodle in while we are listening to an audio book. He has one he can take to church and doodle in while the sermon is being preached. Listen. This is not taking away anything from his Daddy's preaching. Josiah can actually pay attention better while he hands are busy. I won't insult your intelligence by linking to one on Amazon. You know where to find them CHEAP.

I am going to talk more about this later on in the series, but you MUST utilize audio products you have a struggling reader. I can't remember when, but I reviewed a science curriculum on astronomy from Apologia and this time around they had sent me an audio CD. It CHANGED. THINGS. This link will take you to some of those products.

Games and More Games! They will teach in ways that you can't. For educational online games we liked Reading Eggs and Read, Write & Type. Most board games have some kind of educational value. Don't discount those for teaching concepts.

Don't miss any of the FANtabulous posts my friends on The Crew have written. You will be blessed!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World (5 Days of Homeschool)

It’s that time again.

Time for a Homeschool Blog Hop! I know you’ve been waiting anxiously for this one.

Twice a year, my friends from the Homeschool Review Crew do a 5 Days of ….. Take your pick. We’ve talked about all kinds of things. Things we really can’t do without in our homeschool. And on it goes.

This time around we were given the assignment to talk about anything we wanted to!

Within reason.

It has to pertain to homeschooling.

And I’m sure they would rather I not pontificate on the finer points of Downton Abbey.

There are many.


I chose the far-reaching and thorny title of Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World.

What does that mean exactly, you say?

I am not going to sugar coat it for you.

Homeschooling can be HAAARRD.

I don’t want to frighten off any potential homeschoolers here, but there will be times you feel absolutely. Lost.

There is a light at the tunnel, however. IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH EVERY MINUTE!

And here is where this blog hop comes in. There are things that life is going to throw at us that will threaten to knock us out of the boat and into the creek.

Not that I’ve seen many boats you can actually ride in an actual creek.

I hope that you can hang out with me this week. You can catch me giving my best advice on:

When Things Go Wrong: 5 Tips on Homeschooling when you are Burnt Out

As you can see, I’m using the magic number of 5 this time around. I love giving practical advice that you can go back to when you need it. Plus, it keeps me from rambling on and on and on. And on.

Enjoy! And be sure to give me some feedback.

Oh...and by the sure to check out all of the FANtabulous posts that my fellow "Crewers" will be putting out this week.

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017
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