Happy Hearts Homeschool

Homeschooling at home and abroad

Welcome Home!

Elder Madsen returned home on Thursday from his 2-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where he served in the Canada Calgary mission.

Some of our extended family met us at the airport to welcome him home.

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After the airport, we drove to a Training Table restaurant for lunch.

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More pictures to come. It’s so good to have my boy home. He plans to return to BYU (Brigham Young University) next January. In the meantime he is adjusting to life as a return-missionary and enjoying some quality time with his dad who has to return to Lima, Peru in a week.

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Exploring Green Canyon

I feel so blessed to live in the beautiful state of Utah and be so close to some fun canyons.

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There’s something so peaceful about the canyons here, and the weather was perfect for such an outing today.

I can’t wait to return when Autumn is in full swing.

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Not Back to School at the Zoo

We had friends visiting from Canada so Marissa took a day off from her classes and we spent the day at Utah’s Hogle Zoo.

Here are some of the highlights-

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We love these whimsical giraffe.                    Listening to a guide talk about ferrets.

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Watching the real life giraffes.

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This giant elephant made lots of noise and his trunk was a favorite perch. But, the live ones are fun to look at, too.

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I thought the elephant enclosure was nice.  

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You’re never too old to pose in an eagle’s nest!

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Or play in a hollow log!

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We could watch these guys swim all day.

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                                                                                                                 The gang!

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How does he sit there for so long with his mouth wide open?    I bet he wishes he could snack on this bright fellow!

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This big guy didn’t look too happy.                  “Now, where to next?” Marcus was the map guide. 

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Happy Hearts Fall 2014

Here is how our fall year is shaping up-

For Marissa Girl, who is in her Junior year of high school, she will take her usual online courses (Algebra, English, History and Science) through the awesome Liahona Academy, plus she has dual-enrolled at the local high school, just for the first trimester which ends November 18th. This will give her 2 additional credits towards her high school diploma. She started these classes last Thursday.

She is taking a watercolor art class and a veterinary assistant course. She is also taking her third year of Seminary, which is an LDS (Latter-day Saints; short for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) scripture study course for youth in 9th-12th grades.

I have to explain why we occasionally dual-enroll when we dislike public school so much. Well, Marissa would be going to the school’s campus for Seminary anyway, and we’ve worked with this particular high school before with my oldest daughter, Darcie. It was a positive experience and gave her some extra credits easily enough. It’s only temporary, for one-third of the school year, and she will not be taking any state tests since her diploma will be through her private school.

Here is some of the content Marissa will be studying, plus some of the curriculum she’ll be using this year in Liahona-

History- 1860 to present day, including the Civil War, 2 World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, the Great Depression, 9/11 and LDS Church history.

Science- Human and animal Biology

English- Rhetoric, persuasive writing, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Aesop’s Fables, Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, The Book of Mormon, The Federalists Papers, The Gettysburg Address, The Republic by Plato, The Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Juster

Math- Saxon Algebra One Student Edition

 

This will be Marcus’ 2nd year with Liahona Junior’s 5th & 6th combined class. Last year rocked! We love his teacher, Sister Rowley. Through her class, he will have English, History and Science. I’ll continue to teach him math and I have 2 fun units planned (Around the World in 80 Days & Greek Mythology). I also need to look into a typing program for him, and since we have a Peruvian girl living with us for several months, she is going to give Marcus some Spanish lessons.

Here is some of the content Marcus will be studying, plus some of the curriculum we’ll be using this year in both Liahona Junior and Happy Hearts-

History/Geography- Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History, Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (this will be a unit I’m creating)

Science- Physics (force & motion, electricity, atoms, magnetism)

English- Spelling Smart by Cynthia M. Stowe, National Geographic Treasury of Greek Mythology (part of a unit I’m creating), Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordin

Math- Learn Math Fast System Volume 2 (fractions, percentages, greatest common factor, cross canceling, decimals)

Other- Typing, piano and Spanish lessons, Boy Scouts

Reading together- Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Marry Poppins by P.L. Travers, The Fourth Nephite by Jeffrey S. Savage, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kimpling’s Just So Stories

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Reading on his own- Because of  Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck, Hazzardous Universe by Julie Wright & Kevin Wasden, How to Train Your Dragon Book 8 How to Break a Dragon’s Heart

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Studying the States

Here are some ideas for studying the United States in your homeschool:

DSCN1282We created this state quarter book using these printable worksheets from apples4theteacher.com

It took my son approximately 3 months to complete his state quarter book. The states are listed in the order they joined the U.S. beginning with Delaware and ending with Hawaii.

Each worksheet pictures a state quarter and prompts the child to list some specific facts about each state.

This state unit is especially fun if your child has a state quarter collection.

Last year, Marcus created a smore flyer. I wish I had it here to display for you. A smore flyer is an interactive, online flyer. Marcus created one all about the state of Maine, listing facts and adding pictures of lighthouses, etc. It was very cool when it was finished. This is a unique way to do a state report.

 

A search on You Tube will produce several different videos of songs to help children learn the 50 states. There are also videos for some of the individual state songs. I’ll let you do your own search if you don’t mind!

Give your child a blank map of the U.S. so they can write in each state.

 

Read Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown, together and then give your child a paper Flat Stanley to color and cut out. Mail Flat Stanley to someone you know in another state. Have that person take a picture with Flat Stanley and mail the picture with Flat Stanley back to your child. My daughter did this in her Kindergarten class. She mailed her Flat Stanley to her uncle, in Wisconsin, and he and his wife, who is a school teacher, created this adorable book for my daughter:

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Have your child locate the state Flat Stanley visited on a map.

You can find the official Flat Stanley project HERE. You can find templates for Flat Stanley, and make sure to check out the photo gallery.

And, this link will take you to a Flat Stanley website that looks fun. You have to create an account which is free.

I’d love to hear other ideas for helping children learn about the states.

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Been a Little Busy

I didn’t mean to go so long between posts, but life has been a wee bit busy here. The kids and I are home in Utah right now. Hubby is still working his project in Lima, Peru. I miss him a lot, but sometimes with his job, living apart like this can’t be helped. I’m looking forward to seeing him in September for 2 weeks.

We’ve owned our house here for 2 years, but have spent half of that time living in Peru, so we have a jungle growing in our flower beds. We have been spending a lot of time weeding. We’ve also been de-cluttering the house and garage. We’re in preparation mode right now as my son is returning home on Sept. 11th from a 2 year mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has been serving faithfully in Calgary, Alberta. We are so excited to see him again, and we are having an open-house for friends and family after his “homecoming” talk which he will give in our Sacrament meeting (one of our Sunday church meetings) on Sept. 14th.

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So, that’s what’s been keeping me busy. My daughter, Marissa, just started some classes at the local high school. She’s only taking these classes for the first trimester here, which goes ’til mid-November. I’ll write more about that when I post our fall homeschool schedule. She also will be learning how to drive which gives me a tiny bit of anxiety. I just can’t picture my baby girl driving!

We also have a guest staying with us through mid-January. She’s Peruvian/Canadian (She’s Peruvian, but spent most of her childhood in Canada) and she’s here doing some volunteer work teaching English to children and just living like an American teenager with my daughter, Darcie. It’s fun to have her around and she’s a super gardener. We hope she’ll consider applying for the university here, which Darcie will be attending next January.

I’m working on some homeschool posts and currently I have 3 drafts waiting to be finalized. There’s just been so much keeping my attention elsewhere. Plus, I have been planning Marcus’ homeschool year. Even though he’s now a distance student through Liahona Academy, which I LOVE, I’m still teaching him math and I’m planning two fun units, plus gathering up some classics I want to read with him this year. More on that to come.

Thanks for reading! It means a lot to me.

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Why We Homeschool

We started homeschooling when we reached a breaking point with the public school system. It wasn’t the teachers. It was the system. We can no longer trust our children to the system. Oh the stories I could tell you from our personal experiences, but I won’t go into all that here. I just want to say that for the most part we had some lovely teachers and if only they had more say in what they teach and how they teach, but they don’t. They are at the mercy of the system.

However, here is a list of things my kids definitely do not miss about public school-

rushed mornings

waiting outside (in any weather) before school begins

forced quiet during lunch

eating lunch alone at a desk

forced recess outside

hall passes to use the bathroom or get a drink of water

forced times to use the bathroom

bells and 5 minutes of rushing to get to the next class

spending the entire middle-school year with the same group of peers in every single class

hours and days of mandated state testing

dealing with a bully on a daily basis

exposure to drugs in the locker room

forced subjects to research and report

hours wasted on homework

deciding what to wear every day

popularity or lack of popularity

make up days

the rigidity of the school schedule and calendar

favoring the minority over the majority

Once we started homeschooling, we realized there are many benefits and virtues to keeping our children home. For me it comes down to 3 things-

1. Treasured time with my children that I wouldn’t have if I sent them to school for 6-8 hours, 5 days a week, 180 days a year. That adds up to at least 1,080 hours per year of time I’ll never get back with my children (and that’s not including homework hours).

2. For us, homeschooling puts God back where He belongs- in every aspect of our lives. We can pray to Him and include Him in every part of our daily life. What a difference that makes.

3. Homeschooling protects my children both physically and spiritually. At home they are free to be themselves and our values are embraced. At home they are nurtured, valued and protected.

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ABC Picture Book Project

My son made this cute abc picture book during his first year homeschooling. This project was very inexpensive because we used supplies we already had on hand, and it wasn’t overwhelming because he created one page a day until it was complete.

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Here are the supplies we used:

White or light colored cardstock

Sheet protectors

2-3 individual binder rings (yarn or ribbon would work also)

Magazines, clip art, pictures (anything your child is allowed to cut up)

Alphabet stickers (optional)

Crayons, colored pencils or markers

Kid safe scissors

Glue stick

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Each page has the alphabet letter somewhere on the page.

 I had him write in a few words to give him some writing practice. He drew some of the pictures instead of finding them.

Your child could also make a cover page for their book.

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Dune Buggy Fun

Our last adventure in Peru for a while. It was so much fun to visit Ica and the Huacachina Oasis, surrounded by sand dunes. We rode in a dune buggy and went sand boarding. Here are some of the pictures-

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How We Became a Homeschooling Family

This is a reposting, but I added in some details that I think are important to our story.

It’s important to note that before our youngest came along, my husband and I had always sent our children off to public schools without question. That was all we knew and that was what was expected of us.

Our homeschooling journey began in Ontario, Canada. We had just moved from Arizona and it was the first day of school for our four children. Our oldest was enrolled in the public high school and our other three were enrolled in the combined elementary/middle school. Our youngest was 6 and this was to be his Kindergarten year. But as we stood in the school office, imagine our surprised to hear that our little boy was already placed in a first-grade class because, while he’d been too young for Kindergarten in Arizona, due to his late birthday, he was suddenly too old for Kindergarten in Canada.

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I was deeply upset, knowing that my son was not ready for 1st grade. He was still learning the sounds of his letters. We tried to explain this to the office staff, but they were unsympathetic and impatient with us. We politely requested to speak with the vice principal or principal, and we were promptly refused. Dejectedly, we followed a staff member to our son’s classroom and I left the building with tears in my eyes.

So, we rolled with it because what choice did we have? We told ourselves that our bright little boy would be just fine. My husband even bragged to his co-workers that his son was skipping a grade. It did bother us that he was considered to be “behind” his Canadian peers from the get-go. We told ourselves we’d just have to catch him up. We’d work with him after school. We also asked his teacher for extra help, which never came.

Four months later our sweet little boy was completely miserable, and so was I. One day he even ran away from the school yard in the direction of home. Luckily his sister saw him and caught up to him. She was so upset by what had happened that the office phoned me. They acted like it was no big deal, but my boy was demonstrating how unhappy he was at school.  The whole novelty of going to school with his big sisters had worn off and reality had set in. His teacher had given him D’s on his first report card. It had gotten to the point that every morning was a battle to get him up and ready for school. He’d cling to me in the school yard and I’d literally be pushing him inside the door when the bell rang. And trying to work with him at home was a joke. He was so worn down and discouraged from 6 hours of forced learning that he shut down at home.

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And that’s when I realized that something had to change. The first year of school should be FUN. It shouldn’t be torture. But, what to do? I was at a loss until a friend of mine gave me the inspiration to homeschool. She was a homeschooling mom herself and she assured me that it was not rocket science. So, I talked it over with my husband and I prayed about it and then I did something I’d never done before. I went against tradition and I pulled my son out of the public system and I took complete control over his education.

In Canada, homeschooling is a protected right, just like in the states, and in Ontario all that was required of us was to notify the school in writing. I told my son’s teacher what I was doing, and she was supportive of my decision. As far as the school was concerned, she was the only one supporting us. When I turned in my notification to the office, I was requested to stay in the office until the vice-principal could meet with me. He saw me right away. (Now I could see him!) He sat down across from me and proceeded to tell me that I was making a huge mistake and was about to ruin my son’s life. He even used our moving as one of his reasons, saying I’d already uprooted him to a different home and now I was going to confuse him even more by pulling him out of school. He continued by claiming I was overly-attached to my son, and he even said that surely I had better things to do with my time! By the end of our meeting, I felt so belittled by him that I was in tears. I remember stating that I had every right to homeschool my child as I stumbled out of the room.

I went home and collapsed. I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing, but the vice-principal had really upset me. I listened to a voice mail he left on my phone a couple of hours later (there was no way I was picking up to talk to him again) promising me that my son would now receive help from the school twice a week, in order to catch him up! I think that message only fortified my resolve. I sent my husband to pick up our son from school that afternoon. It was Valentine’s Day because we had decided we’d make the class Valentine’s party my son’s last day. My husband ended up speaking to the vice-principal who called me an “over-emotional” mother. My husband told him a thing or two! And when the principal once again brought up the help the school was suddenly willing to offer our son, my husband replied that it was “too little, too late” and added, “My wife will give my son all the attention he needs every day now.”

And then he marched out of that school, hand in hand with our son.

Within a couple of months afterwards, my son was writing his letters and beginning to read. All he needed was SPACE and TIME to breathe and just be a little boy. Most importantly, he was happy again.

It turned out to be a life changing decision, definitely for the best, and we have never looked back. Why would we? My baby boy and I were having too much fun together. Homeschooling has truly been a rewarding experience for us and that is why I want to share our experiences and give encouragement to others who are also braving this less-traveled, often-ridiculed path. I want to say to you, “It’s so worth it!” Because it truly is.

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