Friday, November 2, 2012

Short Version of Homeschooling (in Alabama)

I had a reader ask a question on how to get started in homeschooling and choosing curricula. She also lives in Alabama and I thought I'd just make it a post in case someone else had the same question.

To make a long story short, you get to choose which curriculum you think will work for your family. Each curriculum has different levels of study. Some are Bible based others are not. This will take some time on your part to choose what is right for your family.

Here are some of the more well-known curricula to help you get started:

My Father's World
RightStart Math
Saxon Math
A Reason for Spelling
Handwriting without Tears
Getty-Dubay Italics

Click HERE for reviews of different curriculum we have used.

Another great option for you would be to attend one of the Homeschool Conventions. You can find more info for Alabama conventions here:

Another good place for information on homeschooling is

If you are not a licensed teacher, you will need to find a cover school. There are several types of options with this.  You can choose something local to you that offers classes or you can go in the opposite end and find a cover that only requires you turn in your paperwork and number of days completed. (Alabama has VERY flexible rules regarding homeschooling.)  Each cover will have its own set of requirements; possibilities include: statement of faith, curriculum list, grades, ACT testing, etc. You will have to do some research on this one.
I remember getting a bit overwhelmed with all the choices in the beginning, but as you begin to research you will whittle away the ones that won't fit and your list of choices will become smaller.  If you have further questions (and I'm sure you will), please feel free to contact me at missbecky75 {at} gmail *dot* com

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Natural Candy Store Giveaway

Milk Allergy Mom is having a giveway through this Friday! Allergy-free and All-Natural!  Head over here to enter.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Daily Routine

We are about five weeks into our 2012/2013 school year and are still trying to establish a routine. Mostly because for the last three weeks we have always added something else to our schedule.  The first week included our first co-op meeting. The second week included our first day at CC and the third included the first Cub Scout meeting.

Adding one thing a week may not sound like much, but I have "issues" with change... but that's a whole 'nother post in itself. :)

So before I get to our homeschooling routine, here's a list of what we do outside of the home on a regular basis:

  • weekly CC classes
  • every other week co-op classes
  • two boys in Cub Scouts
  • Bible classes
  • counseling sessions 1-2 times/month (another post)
  • 1-3 field trips/month
  • of course errands and grocery day, too... gotta feed these boys!
  • adding soon: swim lessons
  • starting in October: Nicely Bright classes 1-2/month

Now for our at-home daily routine... which we are still working the kinks out of, mind you. :)

5:45am make Jeff bfast
6:20am boys start waking up

7:30am boys eat bfast
            chores/get dressed
            table work (Bible, grammar, spelling, reading lessons, minute math, etc)

10:30am I start making lunch while they finish up
11:00 - 12:15 Lunch Break

12:15pm CC Memory Work / Notebooking
               Math - Witt and Nathan

1:30pm Witt and Nathan rest/nap time
             Will gets 30 mins computer game time

2:00pm Nathan 30 mins computer game time
             Math - Will

2:45pm Witt 30 mins computer game time

4:00pm Afternoon chores (run through the morning chores again)
4:30pm Start making supper

8:00-8:30pm Bedtime

The times are NOT set in stone.  We still have flexibility for things that take more or less time, but it's a pretty good rough estimate. 

How do you help your day run smoothly?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Minute Math

Although my boys are VERY good at math, the timed practice pages kinda throw them for a loop (especially Will).

We started out just timing how long it took to finish the practice page and graphed the time.  The idea being that if we used the time would go down and we could see that graphically as positive reinforcement.  

Well, let me just say that didn't work. Sometime it would take 2 minutes, other days it could take 7 or more!

Then I saw this video and it just clicked! Minute Math!

Decrease the number of practice problems and give them 1 minute to finish. If they don't finish in a minute, they redo the same set the next day.  Easy Peasy! :)
You can print a copy of her Multiplication board at Teaching Resources.

I took it a little further so I could include all three of my boys who are on different math levels.  I created 5  pages in Excel that were similar to hers for the abacus, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division. Then I just slide the printed sheet into a page protector and the boys use dry erase markers. 

Here's our take on Minute Math:

... Set timer for 1 Minute...

Finishing up Minute Math:

I've got to say that this has made a HUGE difference in our math practice. Since they know it's only 1 MINUTE long, there is no more whining and moaning before we get started!  (although there is some afterwards as shown in the video. LOL!)

We use RightStart Math, which utilizes the AL abacus.  The example abacus page (shown below) requires you to color in the abacus "beads" with a dry erase marker. To reduce counting and encourage visualizing groups, use one color for the first 5 beads and then change to a second color for the second five (see my video for example).

Those are the math drills that work for us!

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This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Preface: I like to get the mail. It's my 1 minute of peace & quiet in the day filled with sunshine, a breeze if I'm lucky, and hopefully some goodies in the mailbox. Jeff learned early on that I like to open my own mail... especially boxes with my name on it!  Strange, maybe, but true. :)

Last month, the boys and I spent the day with our homeschool co-op. Jeff was already home when we returned.  I unloaded the backpacks from the truck and sent the boys inside.  Then I went to check the mailbox... NOTHING. :(

So I go inside the house and head for the refuge of my bedroom (after being cooped up in a vehicle with all three boys).

Guess what I found.  Just guess. I dare you.

A Young Living BOX addressed to ME on my dresser. OPENED!!!!


Couldn't believe it.

Jeff opened my box! That dirty scoundrel! ;)

So I head back to the kitchen to find my beloved and tell him that he should be spanked. oh yes, I did.

He looks confused and asks, "Why?"

I act terribly disappointed and try not to laugh, "Because you OPENED my Young Living BOX and rifled through it!!"

His answer???

Oh, it's a good one.

So good I had to write a whole post about it. :)

Here goes:

"I NEEDED some Peace & Calming 
I knew it was SOMEWHERE in that box!" 

LOL!  He was willing to face the wrath of his wife over some Peace & Calming Essential Oils.

Yes. It's that good, folks!  :)

If ordering, please use my Referral Number: 1296503
Young Living's Peace & Calming Essential Oil

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

New Tiger in the House!

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chores for Boys

At the beginning of the last school year, I created some chore charts for the boys.  We tried check-off lists, we tried moving the chore title from the "ToDo" column to the "Finished" column.  All these "extras" just took up more time and one was honestly just one more thing to take care of.  Instead, I opted for a single list for all the boys.  They go in order every day and they do the chore together if it is at all possible.  

I have found that doing the chores together result in less whining and complaining.  We've even ended up with some "inside jokes" from working alongside each other so much. :)  I wouldn't say the chores are fun, but they are at least tolerated and they get done. 

This year, I plan to update the chart with a few more extra items since they are a year older, but in the meantime I thought I share what works for us.

Here is their every day chore chart. This is where they start each morning: 

Take Vitamin, Clear their place from breakfast, Unload the dishwasher, Brush teeth and hair, Make beds, Pick up toys throughout the house,  Fold towels and put clean laundry away, Hug your Mom, Find your shoes.

Below that are the boys' individual chores: Will feeds and waters the dog, Nathan opens the blinds and empties the compost, and Witt puts the couch pillows on the couch (because they always end up on the floor) and makes sure the cabinets are closed in the kitchen.

At the end, are the daily chores. 
Monday: Clean the Sunroom; Tuesday: Grocery/Errand Day; Wednesday: Trash; Thursday: Remove Sheets from Bed; Friday: Floors (my chore)

When the boys are at "Brush Teeth & Hair" on the EveryDay chart, they are in the bathroom (hopefully! LOL!).  So while they are in there, I have this chart posted on the back of the bathroom door.  Here are their bathroom chores:

Brush teeth, Put brush & paste in drawer, Wash out the Sink, Brush your hair, Put dirty laundry & towels in the basket, Close the Closet doors, Flush the Toilet and Close the Lid, Close the shower curtain, Make sure there are hand towels handing neatly. 

Referring back to the EveryDay Chart, the chore after "Brushing Teeth" (which we could also sneakily call "Cleaning the Bathroom"), is "Make Your Bed". So they head to their bedroom (which they all share). This is the chart that hangs in their bedroom:

Get Dressed, Dirty Clothes in the Basket, Hang up clean clothes, Close dresser drawers, Make your bed, Close the curtains on your bed (they have bunk-beds with curtains), Put books away, Close the Closet, Take dirty clothes to the laundry room

Even my 5 year old (who was 4 when we started this chart), knows what every picture means and which order to do his chores in.  It's not that huge of a deal if they go in a different order, but the routine of it all seems to help them remember to get it all done.

And, yes... I still have to get after them to keep going.  Especially the 5 and 6 year old who seem to always be off in their own little world. :)  Will is going to be 10 next month and he just zips on through.

What chores do you have your children do? What kind of system works for your family?

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Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of Classical Conversations

The boys and I attended our first Classical Conversations classes today.  Each of them are in a different class. I'm actually excited about that since they will all have an opportunity to have their own time away from their brothers.

I stayed in Nathan's class to help the tutor today.  What a fun morning! It was so much fun to watch them soak up information like little sponges! Mid-class, one of the boys started talking about how Neil Armstrong had just died.  These boys (1st & 2nd graders) start having an intelligent conversation about Neil Armstrong!  I was just so impressed!

After morning classes were over, the consensus was unanimous: They all had a BLAST!

On the way home, I hear from the back seat (sung to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious")

Kingdom, Phylum, Class and Order, Family, Genus, Species  :)

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Witt Wants to Read

So on the very first day of school, Witt is up at his normal 6:15am.  As Jeff and I are eating breakfast before he leaves for work, Witt announces that he wants to learn to read.  As far as I know he has never even put together 3-letter words, so I get out the Fishy Phonics card game.

Basically, the card game is set up to where you are supposed to ask if the other player has a word that starts with a letter. However, he wanted to READ... not just pick a letter. So I asked him what the first sound was... then the second...and then the third. He put them all together and was so pleased with himself!!

He read the WHOLE DECK while Jeff and I finished breakfast!

"Mama, can I read now?"

"Yes, Baby. You sure can!!!"

As his brothers woke up, he proudly shared that he could now read! :) What an exciting morning for him!

Oh, and later in the week we began using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and he completed 17 lessons within two days!

First week of Kindergarten was a SUCCESS! :)

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Back to School

Well, we've started our third year of homeschooling! This year I (formally) have THREE students! Witt is in Kindergarten, Nathan in 1st, and William is a 4th grader! 

I must admit the past week has been a bit of a challenge.  They each learn so differently.  Will is more independent and driven by the clock and break-time; Nathan is pretty laid-back but will say he only likes math, and Witt is surprisingly quite the perfectionist (he gets upset when he doesn't do it as well as he wants to).

We are beginning our first year of Classical Conversations. I think this is going to suite each of the boys very well, but in different ways as well.  Will loves facts and CC is a fact-memorizing giant! :)  Nathan is extremely mechanical and hands-on, but he also extremely silly! He is really going to enjoy the hand-motion portion of the memorizing and I think he's going to be smitten with the science labs.  Witt is my little social man... and my singer.  He's going to love the songs and all the conversations! 

Beyond CC, not too much has changed in our daily line-up of curriculum choices; however, we have had quite a successful addition this year: a personal journal! All three of them are loving it!! 

Will writes about his day (facts & tangibles), and of course, he draws trains.

Nathan's journal is filled with "I wish" statements (my little dreamer!).

Witt, although he loves it, has trouble each day deciding what to draw because he wants to get it just right...note all the eraser marks! (Bless his sweet, little heart!)

I love these boys! Even though they sure can try my patience, I adore them. I am so blessed to have the opportunity of teaching them for another year.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Witt's Map (age 4 1/2)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Dr. Seuss on a Budget

When my Mother-in-Law keeps the boys, one of my favorite things to do is shop the local thrift stores. Usually for books! This past week, I had such the opportunity. :) YAY!

It was a great day for book shopping, too! I found all kinds of books on presidents (a study that is coming up shortly at our house), an assortment on different types of animals (beetles, belugas, arctic penguins, etc), several early readers for Nathan and more advanced readers for Will (who is DEVOURING books at night before bed!).

I was also on the look-out for Dr. Seuss books with hopes of including them in our "celebration" of his birthday on March 2.  Not only did I score two of his books for less than $1 each, I also lucked into a Dr. Seuss 4-Board Game Treasury (ages 4-8) for less than $1! WOO HOO!


We already have "I Can Do That":

So now we're set for a day of games! (Perfect for this time of year while we're all under the weather.)

I've also set up a Dr. Seuss Pinterest Board for many of the Dr. Seuss activities I've found online. I believe everything I've pinned is FREE, too! 

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