A Happy Hearts Homeschool Day

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This is our seventh year homeschooling and it’s bittersweet for me because it’s my last year with my beautiful daughter. She was recently accepted into the university of her choice and will be starting in the fall. I am really happy for her, but I sure am going to miss her. I’m so thankful we homeschool as I am cherishing every day of her senior year with her.

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The morning view from our wee back porch.

I get up when my husband does, which is usually between 6:30 and 7:30 am. I make up his lunch and kiss him goodbye. Then I make myself a soothing cup of herbal tea and take it back to my bedroom where I cozy up with my scriptures and my journal. I love this peaceful, spiritual time. ♥  Marissa girl wakes up just in time to watch her online science class, streamed live at 8:30 am. I bring her a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate and give her a morning hug before I shower, dress and start a load of laundry. ♥  Marcus usually wakes up between 8:30 and 9am. He begins his day the same way I do, with his scriptures. 🙂

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We call this time our Morning Roundup

Sometime between 9:45 and 10:30 am, the three of us gather at the dining table for a hot breakfast. Then, we enjoy some time together. Lately we’ve been taking a morning walk. Sometimes we create art or listen to a Maestro Classic. We often read from our current read aloud. On Mondays we choose a scripture verse for the week and the kids write it out in their scripture journals.

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Marcus and I watch his online classes at the dining room table.

Around 11:20 am, give or take a few minutes since it’s a live class, Marcus and I tune into his online history class. I enjoy this class as much as he does. I even take my own notes! (I am convinced Brother DeGraff is the best history teacher ever.) Marcus’ online science class follows, and Brother Lloyd really makes science fun. We usually snack during science.

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Marissa’s online English class is the same time as her math. She wisely chooses to watch math live and her English recorded. That way her math teacher can help her during class. She can message him and he answers her questions on camera.

Meanwhile, Marissa watches her online math class, followed by her online history class, from the comfort of her bed. ♥ After both classes end, Marissa watches her English while Marcus and I tackle a math lesson together.

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On Wednesdays this month, Marissa had an art class at a nearby art academy. She chose to focus on her sketching.

We end up eating lunch around 1:30 pm. Marissa sometimes eats her lunch in her room as she finishes up her assignments. After lunch, Marcus helps me tidy up the dining room and kitchen. ♥ For the remainder of the afternoon we do whatever we want. Sometimes we go swimming in the clubhouse pool. Sometimes we run errands. Sometimes we create art or make a craft. Sometimes we do a science lab. We usually read our own books.

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We recently discovered some desert gardens only ten minutes away.

There are no online classes on Fridays so we often use that day to go on field trips or have a full day of science experiments or art. On Friday afternoons, Marcus is allowed to play Minecraft with a friend who lives in New York. ♥ David comes home anytime after 5 pm. We eat dinner as a family and usually watch a movie or some TV together. ♥ On Wednesday nights, the kids have youth activities at our church from 7 to 8:30 pm. ♥ We end our day with family scripture study and prayer. We try to be in bed by 10 pm.

♥  Linking up with Simple Homeschool. ♥ Thanks for reading! ♥

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Field Trip To Tohono Chul Gardens

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Recently we discovered a lovely desert park only ten minutes away, called Tohono Chul.

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This park features ten gardens and two trails.

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It has amazing sculptures, all by the same artist (I forgot his name), made out of recycled materials. Our favorite was this horse.

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And a really cool vulture.

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I think this was my favorite spot.

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My kids loved this fountain in the garden for children.

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This is definitely a place we will revisit often.

Kid to Kid-Homeschool Q&A

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These are actual questions public schooled kids have asked my homeschooled kids:

Q: Don’t you want to go to school? 

A: “No. Been there, done that, I am never going back!” -Marissa 

A: “I do want to go to school if it’s my Liahona school, which I have visited. But if you’re talking about public school, then absolutely no.” -Marcus  (Liahona is an LDS-based private school which has an amazing online distance program which we utilize.)

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Q: Are you ever going back to “real school”?

A: “Define your definition of ‘real school’ because I am doing real school”. -Marissa

A: “What’s considered ‘real school’? I had a great education at home. I didn’t miss out on anything. You know how a lot of people like the processed stuff? That’s what public school is. It’s processed. It’s edible, but it’s gross.” -Darcie

A: “I am at a real school, but if you are talking about public school, well, my school is just as real as public school. But, I will never be going back to public school unless I am forced with unbelievable amounts of force!” -Marcus (my dramatic one)

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Q: Are you antisocial? Do you know how to interact with kids your own age?

A: “Just because I’m homeschooled, doesn’t mean I don’t see and talk and hang out with friends my own age.” -Marissa

A: “We have friends all over the world and we have friends of all different ages.” -Darcie and Marissa

A: “I’m talking to you, aren’t I?” -Marcus

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Q: Do you actually want to be homeschooled or do your parents force you?

A: “I want to be homeschooled. I have been to public school and I didn’t like it. I can feel the spirit when I learn at home and that is something I cannot get at a public school.”          -Marcus

A: “I enjoy being homeschooled more than I enjoyed going to public school. I’m getting better experiences at home than when I was at pubic school.” -Marissa

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Q: Do you know anything about the real world? Aren’t you sheltered? 

A: “No, I’m not sheltered. I’ve probably seen more of the real world than you have.”           -Marissa

A: “I think I might actually know more of the real world because I’m actually able to spend more time outside.” -Marcus

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Q: Are you homeschooled because you’re Mormon? 

A: “No. In fact, most LDS kids we know are not homeschooled.” -Darcie and Marissa

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Q: Do you just sit around and do nothing all day?

A: “No, I don’t sit around all day, but I do have more free time. I can take a break whenever I want. I also read whatever I want at any level.” -Marissa

A: “Not at all! In fact, usually when I wake up, I have more energy and I finish my school work in about three hours and then I am free to do whatever I want. I can read a book, I can go swimming, I can play a video game. The possibilities are endless.” -Marcus

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Q: Aren’t there gaps in your education? And how will you take the ACT/SAT and get into college?

A: “Yes, there are gaps in my education and there are gaps in your education too. Public education is filled with gaps! I knew things in my first semester of college that my public schooled peers had never learned.” -Darcie

A: “I took the ACT the same way you will take it. I studied with a book. I took practice tests. I went to the nearest testing location. I did well enough on it that I was accepted into the university of my choice.” -Darcie

Marissa has never been asked this question and suspects it’s because she looks years younger than her actual age, but she was recently accepted into a university as a homeschooler, so yes, it can be done! 🙂

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Q: How do you like homeschooling? Or…What do like about homeschooling?

A: “I love homeschooling! I get to sleep in. I can go at my own pace. I can explore my interests. I can spend time with my family.” -Marissa

A: “I like that I can get up every morning, stay in my pajamas. I’m not forced to get up at six in the morning and go to school. I like how I can choose what I’m going to learn.”          -Marcus

Stalactite/Stalagmite Experiment

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We found this simple and fun experiment in, The Everything Kids Science Experiments Book.

Your child will need the following items-

  • one large glass
  • two small glasses
  • tap water
  • a spoon for stirring
  • Epsom salts
  • cotton string
  • wax paper
  • paper towels
  1. Prepare a space for this experiment where it can sit untouched for at least a week.
  2. Lay down a layer of paper towel topped by a layer of wax paper. (The paper towel makes clean up easier.)
  3. Have your child fill the large glass three-fourths full of water.
  4. Add a generous amount of Epsom salts to the water. Stir with the spoon to dissolve. Keep adding salts until no more can dissolve and a little bit remains undissolved.
  5. Divide the saltwater into each of the two small glasses.
  6. Arrange the glasses a little bit apart from each other on the wax paper. Cut a length of the string, long enough for each end to rest in a glass and stretch across the space between each glass.
  7. Check the progress every day and watch what happens!

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Hopefully you can see the difference from the picture on the top to the one on the bottom, a few days later. I’d have your child straighten the string more than we did, but it still worked out great. It’s really been fascinating to see the difference from day to day.

Here’s a video I found on Youtube. This lab can tie into learning about caves and also about icicles.

Weekly Nutshell

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Last weekend, we created three more “little boxes of love” to mail out to young cousins, and my daughter in college who asked me, “Don’t I get one, Mom?” 🙂

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While Marissa created heart wands, Marcus created new chalk pastel art cards for two of his friends, his big brother and his big sister.

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Marissa now has a Wednesday art class at a local art center. It’s during the day and there’s only one other student. So she gets lots of one on one attention. She’s working on her sketching and using the art kit she received for Christmas.

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Isn’t this a cool sculpture? It’s just outside our local library.

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This week Marcus started a fun science experiment building his own stalactite and stalagmite. I think it’s working! We found this experiment in this fun book.

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In case you’re wondering how Marcus’ plant experiment is coming along, the radish plant growing on the right, in a magnetic field, seems to be growing faster and taller than the control on the left. Meanwhile, the marigolds are just starting to poke their way out and seem to be in a tie. Only time will tell!

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And that is our week in a nutshell. 🙂

Homeschool With Confidence

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I have been on a homeschooling journey for seven years now. If there is one piece of advice I could give to every homeschool parent out there, especially newbies, it would be this:

Believe in yourself.

When you are exploring different homeschooling philosophies and methods, from Charlotte Mason to Waldorf education, to eclectic to unschooling, and you start to feel uncertain… Believe in yourself.

When you are researching curriculum and you marvel at all the choices out there, and you wonder how you will afford it all and how you will know what will actually work for your child… Believe in yourself.

When your mind starts swirling around all the subjects of traditional education, such as: history, science, math, reading, writing, music, art, health, physical fitness, etc. and then you start to think about schedules and fitting it all in, and then it hits you that you actually took it upon yourself to educate your own child… Believe in yourself.

When you are reading other homeschooling blogs and you look at other homeschooling families in action, and you’re tempted to compare… Believe in yourself.

When neighbors, friends, family and strangers criticize your choice and right to homeschool… Believe in yourself.

That’s right, take a deep breath, relax and believe in yourself. YOU can do this homeschooling thing. You’ve got this!

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So, if you are worried about teaching your own child, remember, you have three things already going for you: First, you are your child’s first teacher. You already teach your child. Second, no one knows your child like you do. Third, no one will be as invested in your child’s education as you are. Believe in yourself and your ability to homeschool.

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Here are some homeschooling truths I’ve learned along the way-

  • There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. 🙂
  • It is not essential to follow a homeschooling method or philosophy.
  • Nor is it necessary to spend oodles of money on fancy-smancy curriculum.
  • However, if a particular method or curriculum appeals to you, go for it…
  • And make it your own. Tweak it to your heart’s desire. Mix and match. Anything goes!
  • If something stops working, it’s okay to abandon it altogether and go in a new direction.
  • Not all subjects need to be tackled at the same time or even in the same year!
  • And they certainly don’t need to be taught the same way as public school.
  • Learning takes TIME, but it’s not a race.
  • It’s okay to have days where all you do is read to your child. 🙂
  • Homeschool blogs are fun to read as long as you remember that every homeschooling family looks and functions differently, and that’s okay.
  • In other words, don’t compare! Your family’s uniqueness is what makes your family awesome.
  • The only opinions about your choice to homeschool that matter are your own (you, your spouse and your children).

You’re welcome.

Valentine Cards & a Box Full of Love

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We enjoy mailing holiday cards to my younger nieces and nephews. What young kid doesn’t enjoy receiving their own personal snail mail? We usually buy a variety of dollar store cards and write personal messages in them and include some stickers as well. For Valentine’s Day this year, we decided to make our own cards and then I got the idea to create a little “box full of love” for each family.

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We bought inexpensive craft supplies from the dollar store, and Target and Michael’s dollar bins. We found pink feathers, foam heart stickers, pom poms, ribbon, washi tape, paper straws, tissue paper, heart shaped dollies, paper shreds, chenille sticks, etc.

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Marissa and I have been making cards like these.

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Marcus is really liking chalk pastel art at the moment. He made these masterpieces for his boy cousins.

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For the boxes, I layered the bottom with paper shreds and then I put random craft items and sticker sheets on top, added the homemade Valentine cards, and last I put in a little treat for each child (this one was for my brother’s two daughters). Then I decorated the inside box tabs with washi tape, and ta da! A little box full of love. I figure my nieces can make good use of the craft items.