Learning Chalk Pastel Art

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This morning we had an art session and the kids tried chalk pastel art for the first time.

Marcus followed a Star Wars BB8 droid tutorial from Hodgepodge and Marissa found a picture she liked off Pinterest and used it as inspiration.

It was a great way to start our homeschool day and we’re thinking of making it a daily habit. There’s something so fulfilling about creating art.

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Peek-a-Boo View

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DSC01342

Dew drops glisten in

cottony strands;

Feathery breezes ruffle

stems of green.

Mysterious croaking

beckons the sleuth-

A pixie glitters near

velvety moss;

And whispering wings

caress silky petals.

 

January in Arizona

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Honestly, Arizona is not my favorite place to live, but I have to admit, it is rather nice in the winter months to be able to wear capris and go without a jacket. The temps are warm, but not too hot. The landscape is a desert of course, so there is always a chance of running into a snake or scorpion, but it has its own kind of beauty.

Homeschool Vs. Public School (An Honest, Real Life Comparison)

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There are all sorts of arguments for and against homeschooling and public schooling, but these are my family’s real life experiences with both and how we compare the two side by side. A little background about my family first: Both my husband and I grew up in the public education system so that was all we knew when we started raising our children. We also move around because of my husband’s job, and so my children experienced multiple schools in multiple states, as well as in two countries outside of the U.S. (Canada and Peru). You can read our story about how we became a homeschooling family, here.

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Mornings and sick days

Public school mornings-

  1. Wake up at a specific time, whether or not child had enough sleep.
  2. Get dressed and eat a quick breakfast. Often times, my child wasn’t hungry yet so I’d send them with a granola bar and apple and hoped they could sneak it in.
  3. During winter or on chilly days, bundle up with outside clothing such as jackets/coats, hats, scarves, mittens, boots, etc.
  4. Head out the door with backpacks, lunches, homework, text books, parent-signed papers, etc.
  5. Walk or mom drives or catch bus to school (depending on where we lived and the weather).
  6. Depending on the school, go straight inside and to locker or classroom OR wait in the school yard (regardless of weather) for the bell to ring, before lining up, and filing into the building one class at a time. Parents are permitted inside (it is a public building), but I always felt unwelcome by the staff unless I was there to parent-volunteer. Once I accompanied my 6-year old son into his school to help him remove his bulky snow suit. A teacher saw me and questioned why I was there before informing me that my son was old enough to take care of himself. (This made me realize how many times teachers and staff talked down to me, the parent.)

If a child wakes up not feeling well:

  1. Evaluate child. If it’s just a cold or allergies or a slight tummy ache or headache, tough luck! Send the child to school with the assurance that they can always call home if it worsens (and the teacher/staff allow it). If the symptoms are a fever or throwing up, the child must stay home, but an immediate call to the school is warranted or else I was sure to hear from the school later, chastising me for not informing them right away.
  2. Call the school and excuse the child’s absence. (As an introvert, this was always a stress-inducing phone call!)
  3. Get missed school work from teacher(s) so your child can stay caught up.

Homeschooling mornings-

  1. Wake up naturally, when child has enough sleep.
  2. Get dressed if going somewhere (or just because it’s daytime) OR stay in pajamas a while longer because pajamas are comfy!
  3. Eat a leisurely breakfast when child is actually hungry and enjoy it together.
  4. Um… the choices here are limitless. Go outside and play or for a walk/bike ride together. Or snuggle up and read a fun story together. Or go to a co-op class that is only twice a week. Or make a craft. Or help Mom with some housework. Or start right into lessons. OR…

If a child is sick:

  • There is no one to call (unless it’s a doctor). No absence(s) to excuse. No missed schoolwork to stress over. Snuggle up to your child and relax!

My family’s conclusion- While we found ways to simplify the morning routine when my kids were in public school (laying out clothes and making lunches the night before, for example), nothing beats the easy-going, natural mornings we spend together at home. And when my child is sick, there is no added stress or anxiety. 🙂

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Following a school calendar and rules

Public school- 

  • School days and hours are set in stone.
  • School policy and rules are set in stone.
  • Family vacations require notifying school in advance, often require every teacher’s permission, and are limited to a set amount of days per school year. They also require catch up/make up work when child returns home (or taking school work with them to stay caught up).
  • All absences must be excused by the parent within a certain time frame, with a valid excuse (which is up to the school to decide whether or not to accept). There is a set amount of allowed absences per school year. Unexcused absences may mean a penalty such as a parent fine or even a parent spending time in jail!
  • The school has the right to discipline your child for any reason.
  • During school hours, the school has more rights to your child than you, the parent.

Homeschooling-

  • In the states in which we’ve homeschooled, we have been able to set our own school days and hours.
  • No absences to excuse or make up.
  • Family vacations may be anytime and for any length without anyone’s permission.
  • Your child is yours.

My family’s conclusion- We love the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives us. We are on our own time schedule and calendar which is really nice. We can vacation anytime of the year without guilt or worry. 🙂

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Socialization skills and peer interaction

Public school-

  • Each of my kids made some good friends at school. Contact with these friends was limited to between classes, recess (for elementary years) and lunch (if they shared the same lunch period). True friendships were nurtured outside of school hours.
  • My daughter’s middle school class were her only peers the entire year due to the class moving as one unit from teacher to teacher, as well as having lunch together, instead of each student having a separate schedule. This was what led us to pull her out of middle school. My daughter wasn’t accepted into any of the social circles no matter how hard she tried to fit in.
  • Each of my kids were bullied multiple times. Once, when my daughter’s situation became bad enough that it went to the vice principal, she (the victim) was required to apologize to her bully and that was that!
  • My kids always heard profanity in the hallways.
  • My kids often saw inappropriate, even disturbing behavior by other kids. Once, my daughter and her friends were exposed to full frontal nudity by a teenage boy who was mad at his girlfriend. (He was never disciplined.)
  • My daughter was exposed to drug fumes in her high school locker room during a lock down, and drug invitations were issued frequently on the bus.
  •  There was a designated smoking area for students in the front of the high school.
  • My kids learned how to stand in line and wait their turn. They also learned how to take instruction from different teachers. They were given responsibilities and given rules to follow.

Homeschooling-

  • Each of my kids have made good friends at church, in the neighborhood, at cub/boy scouts, in co-op classes, playing team sports, taking dance lessons, etc. These activities give more time for peer interaction since they take place outside of school hours.
  • At home there is no profanity, no drugs/alcohol, no immoral behavior, no immodesty, and no bullying. Of course, there is typical family behavior, such as occasional sibling rivalry and squabbling!
  • In real world settings, such as the grocery store, library, and playing with neighbor kids, my kids learned how to stand in lines, share and wait their turn. At home they are taught and practice good manners, how to be a true friend, as well as how to take care of their belongings and help care for our home.
  • At home my kids are free to be their authentic selves.

My family’s conclusion- We found that most friendships develop outside of school hours when there is actually TIME for children to freely interact and socialize. We found that all positive social skills are first learned and practiced at home. 🙂 We found the public school environment to be worldly, often lacking the moral standards and values we embrace at home.

♥♥♥

Quality of education

Public schooling-

  • Only secular knowledge is taught and God is not allowed.
  • Children are grouped by age and ability. Class sizes are large and teaching is aimed at the average student. My son who read at a college level in elementary was often bored and unchallenged. My daughter who caught onto concepts slowly, often struggled to stay caught up.
  • The curriculum and teaching methods are one-size-fits-all. Parents have little to no say in what is taught. Sometimes a parent may opt their child out of questionable subject matter (such as sex ed which is only taught from a worldly point of view), but sometimes they aren’t even made aware as was our case with my daughter who learned everything in sex ed EXCEPT abstinence.
  • Individual abilities and skills are usually not taken into account. My friend recently shared a true experience where her son in elementary school was not allowed to present his report memorized (as he had prepared) in order to keep all students “equal”.
  • Teaching mostly takes place in an uninspiring classroom setting in the form of lectures. Children must get their teacher’s permission to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Field trips are few and limited.
  • No child enjoys standardized testing. Most homework is unnecessary and only cuts into precious family time after an already long 6-8 hour school day.
  • My kids had some wonderful teachers, many average teachers and some bad teachers.

Homeschooling-

  • Both secular and spiritual knowledge is taught in our home because we believe that both make up a whole education. God is welcome. Prayers are said. Scriptures read.
  • Children learn together regardless of ages and abilities. Children can learn at their own pace and really nail a subject (such as a math concept) before moving on.
  • Children get one-on-one attention and learn in a variety of ways, including their preferred learning style. Parents can tailor the learning to their child’s individual needs.
  • Parents have full say in the curriculum and subjects taught (what and when). Subjects, such as sex ed can be taught with our family values in mind.
  • Children may choose which subjects to research. When they are personally interested in the subjects, they retain more of what they study. Children also have more freedom with the books they read.
  • The home and outside world make up the learning environment, making for more hands-on, creative learning. Fidgety children can stand and move around as they wish. They may use the bathroom and get drinks and snacks freely. Lots of field trips can take place.
  • The parent is always aware of how their child is doing, so testing is only done periodically and only on the actual subjects taught/learned. In the states we’ve homeschooled, my children were not required to waste their time taking the standardized testing. There is no homework and daily subjects are covered in two to three hours instead of six to eight.
  • The teacher (mom and/or dad) is fully invested in the child’s education and no teacher will love their student more. At church and in co-op classes, plus outside lessons (piano, dance, soccer, etc.) children are exposed to other teachers.

My family’s conclusion- We appreciate having the full say in what and how our children learn. We love learning in a spiritually safe environment. We love spending our days together. Childhood is fleeting and I only get eighteen short years, if I’m lucky, with each child before they are grown up and leave home. 🙂 Sending them to public school feels as if I’m throwing them to the lions while missing out on too much of their childhood.

♥♥♥

End conclusion- These experiences came from ten different public schools within three different states, plus Canada, and from seven+ years of homeschooling. While there are pros and cons to both public education and homeschooling, for my family we can honestly say that homeschooling has more benefits and serves our family better than the public school system. For us, it is a superior choice for educating our children. Also, my daughter, who was homeschooled in her high school years is doing extremely well at her university. 🙂

Weekly Nutshell

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It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these kind of posts. Honestly, our life at the moment seems a little too mundane. At some point, Marissa will start up some art classes, but she’s thinking of waiting until next month to do that. For now, it’s just their youth activities (through our church) once a week and homeschooling and family time, which has been mostly hanging out at home since some of us are still dealing with coughs. The kids haven’t made friends here yet, which makes me sad. It’s not easy to make friends when you live in a quiet apartment complex and you’re still new to the area. I need to make contact with a homeschool group (I know there are a few out here, but I’ve only had email contact with one group so far and I have to catch them on a once-a-month park day which has yet to happen).

But we did celebrate my baby girl’s birthday and that was fun.

And today, my sweet daughter and I took a scenic walk together.

We also finished reading, Nightmares!, this week. We really liked the story. Marcus and I are still reading, The Mysterious Benedict Society, together and soon Marissa and I will be starting Little Women.

Hope your weekend is pleasant.

 

Our Current Reads

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Our new year has started off with all of us catching colds (two with coughs) and one of my teeth becoming painfully sore and then requiring a root canal, which was done today. Sigh. We started our homeschooling back up last week, but all we did was a little math and the kids’ online classes. This week we’re still running half-steam. I’m so glad we homeschool so that we can go at our own pace and take it easy when we need to. I can’t imagine having the hassle of calling a school and begging them to excuse my children while they are home sick, then worrying about how many days of school they are missing and if we will be penalized for it, plus catching them up. Or forcing them to go to school with a bad cold and exposing other kids to their germs. It’s so nice to be on our own calendar. Just one more reason to cheer homeschooling.

The best part of taking it easy is that we have more time for reading. Here is what we’re all reading, separately and together-

451        Beast

Marissa is reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury for English and The Beast Within by Serena Valentino just for fun.

Sorceress          Benedict Society

Marcus is reading The Sorceress by Michael Scott. Together, we are reading, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

Nightmares!            Emma

Also, the three of us are reading, Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller. We’re really enjoying it. And I am currently reading, Emma, A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith.

Passing On The Liebster Award

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I honestly never expected to be nominated for the Liebster award, yet alone twice, so thank you, thank you, Seed to Seedling and Katie’s Home for such an honor. I appreciate it! You both have lovely blogs that I enjoy following.

liebster-award

Here are my answers to the questions Seed to Seedling posed to her nominees:

1.  What is something that you appreciate today and why? Today I appreciate just being me because I am so blessed!

2.  What is something that you recently learned? I recently learned how to ski for the first time in my life! It was a lot of fun.

3.  What is something that you love about yourself and why? I love how I march to my own beat instead of following the world’s expectations. I love this because I’m not looking to the world for acceptance and self-worth.

4.  What is something that you had always wished to do and (have) achieved? I had always wished to see Italy and I was able to do that last March, with my husband for our twenty-third anniversary. It was a dream come true.

5.  What is something that you still wish to do before you pass on? I would like to visit England someday and see where my Great Grandma Nellie grew up. She used to tell me stories from her childhood in England, before she came to America.

6.  How many languages do you speak? I speak two, but my Spanish has a long ways to go.

7.  If you made a New Year’s Resolution for 2015, did you work towards it throughout the year?  If so, in what way? The biggest goal I worked on all year long in 2015 was studying The Old Testament in depth as I read it from cover to cover. I only got as far as 2 Samuel, so it’s a continuing goal that will probably take me well into 2017.

8.  What is one way in which you live authentically? I live authentically by staying true to my beliefs and values instead of lowering or changing them to match the trends of the world.

9.  What is one of your own ‘natural highs’? I love the natural high of curling up on the couch beside my daughter and watching a chick flick together.

10.  What is your wish for the world and how do you work towards it? I truly wish for world peace and I do my part by trying to be Christlike to everyone in my life.

11.  Direct us toward your favorite post on your blog, and tell us why it is. I like The Blessings of Time post because it sums up what I love most about homeschooling.

 

And from Katie’s Home

  1. Favourite season? Autumn is my favorite season because of the colors.
  2. Favourite childhood memory? Going on a weekend trip with my favorite aunt and uncle.
  3. Favourite flower? Pink roses
  4. If you could have a superpower what would it be? I always dream of flying so that would probably be the one.
  5. Savoury or sweet? Sweet (chocolate)
  6. Beach or Pool? I prefer the beach because of the ocean view and the sand.
  7. Favourite piece of clothing? My fluffy bathrobe! It just makes me happy!
  8. Are you a recipe follower or recipe creator? I tend to follow most recipes, but once in a while I create my own just for fun.
  9. Most disliked household chore? It’s a toss up between dishes and laundry, simply because they are the two that can pile up the fastest and always need doing.
  10. Favourite boardgame? Clue, although I just learned Sequence and I like that one a lot.
  11. Favourite style of music? Michael Buble type songs

Here are the nominees I have chosen (in no particular order). I chose them because I already follow their delightful blogs and I only follow blogs that inspire me:

New Creature in Him

Not Your Typical Homeschool Mom

Mother of Noah

Love, Laugh, Learn, Teach-  Homescho0l Diaries

3 Kids and a Gluestick

Salted Raisins

Cozy Cabin Press

Young Smarties

Adventures in Teaching My Own

The Princess, The P, and Me

Pitter Patter and Constant Chatter

Instructions for New Nominees:

~ Create a blog post on your site, answering the questions I have provided below.
~ In your post, be sure to link back to the blog that nominated you (me!) with a thank you and a shout out.
~ After completing the questions, add a section listing your 11 nominee choices, with links, for your favorite blogs with under 200 followers (preferably ones that have not been nominated before).
~ Provide your nominees with these instructions and give them 11 questions to answer.
~ Notify your nominees and provide a link to your post so they know what to do.
~ When you’re all finished, come back here and comment with the link to your post so I can read your answers!
My questions for my nominees are:
1. What do you enjoy most about blogging and why?
2. What is your favorite book (one you re-read often)?
3. Who in your life inspires you most?
4. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
5. What is something that brings peace into your life?
6. What was one highlight of 2015 for you and your family?
7. What is one thing you look forward to in 2016?
8. Do you sing in the shower?
9. What color do you wear most often?
10. What is something you collect and how/why/when did you start?
11. What is your favorite saying/quote?
Hoping all of my readers and nominees are having a terrific start to the New Year. Thanks for reading!