Bohemian Homeschoolers: The Blog

A supportive and encouraging network of homeschooling parents

Happy New Year!

Merry-Christmas-Happy-New-Year-2013-1
The new year is a time to reflect on the past and plan toward the future.  It’s the time when recognizing your failures is a good thing.  So here are a few of mine that I plan to work on…

1. I yell far too much.  One kid is crying because he can’t find his toy, one is begging for snacks (because she didn’t eat her lunch), and the other is banging on the piano.  The next thing you know you are screaming like a tea kettle.  It’s not something I am proud of and is super counter-productive.  I plan to work on that this year.

2. We don’t do enough projects.  Kids learn so much just from getting in there and getting their hands dirty.  There are SO MANY benefits from hands on learning.  All it will take is better planning on my part.  And that leads me two number three.

3. I need to be better organized.  With our house and our time.  More planning, better time management, and letting the kids help out more will not only help me stay on top of things and free up more time for other things.  We will make this make this year.

4. I will do my level best to find a way to minimize the fighting between my kids.  Some may think this is wishful thinking, but the fighting is about to drive me bonkers!  Whether it be special, one on one time for each kid with either Mom or Dad, or providing them a special place for them to have some alone time, or even just getting them outside more…. something’s got to give.  We will do our best on this one.

Here are some goals the kids told me they wanted to work on.  🙂

Isaiah’s goals for the year.
– Eat more vegetables, work hard in school, to build his K’Nex roller coaster all by himself,  and explore the world.

Lily’s goals for the year.
– Stop watching television, but not video games.  🙂  Do more exercise.  “I want to do this, you know?  It’s New Years!”   <– Direct quote!  Ha ha ha!

Ezekiel’s goals for the year.
– “I want to make Spiderman.”  “I want to watch Avatar.”  Ha ha ha!

So here are our goals and resolutions.  Tell us what things you would like to work on in the coming year.
Happy New Year!!!!

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Election Day Survey

I love doing surveys with my kids.  It’s a fun (and sometimes hilarious) way to get into the mind of a kiddo and find out what they think about the world.  Today, in honor of the election, I decided to do an Election Day survey!  I hope you enjoy.  🙂

Isaiah, 7 yrs. old

What does a president do?
– “They help people with heath care.  They tell people what to do.  They help the poor.”

How do you become president?
– “By winning the votes and telling people what they are gonna do for them.”

If you could vote for ANYONE to be president, who would you vote for and why?
– “Ron Paul.  He’s really good.  He helps people, and even my mom and dad voted for him.  And I think he should be president.”

If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?
– “Feed the poor.”

Who do you think will win the election, Obama or Romney?


*Whispering to himself, talking about Romney and Obama’s pros and cons.  😉 *
– “Obama.”  Why?  – “Well, he’s been president for four years, so I think been a really good president.  So I think the judges will think he’s worthy enough.”

Lily, 6 yrs. old

What does a president do?
– “Helps stuff…people.”

How do you become president?
– “Somebody’s like, Hey, I want you to be pre
sident so I can vote for you!”

If you could vote for ANYONE to be president, who would you vote for and why?
– “Barak Obama.  Because he is a really nice guy.”

If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?
– “Help food care.”

Who do you think will win the election, Obama or Romney?
– “Obama”  Why?  – “Because I think he’ll have the right answers.”

Ezekiel, 3 yrs. old

What does a president do?
– “Buy the city and buy bibles and buy the horse, and they buy Halloween for me.”

How do you become president?
– “Read the bible, read the story.”

If you could vote for ANYONE to be president, who would you vote for and why?
– “Spiderman.  That’s what I’m talkin’ about!”

If you were president, what is the first thing you would do?
– “I’d play Michael Jackson in my room.”

Who do you think will win the election, Obama or Romney?
– “Romney.”  Why?  – “Because he’s gonna get on my bicycle.”

 

 

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What the @#!$%& am I Doing?!

I think every homeschooling parent has asked themselves this question. 

“What am I thinking?”
“What makes me think I can do this?”
“I don’t have a degree!  How am I suppose to teach?”
“Am I going to screw my kids up?”

These questions and doubts about our ability to teach our children come at us from all sides.  Maybe our parents made a comment in conversation.  Maybe you can’t help but compare your kids to your awesome super-mom homeschooling friend’s kids who seem to be completely ready for an Ivy League college at the age of four.  Maybe that kid at the park acted more “normal” than your kid.  Whatever the reason is, there are a lot of them around and they ultimately result in us doubting ourselves.

There are not many things that are predictable about homeschooling, but one thing that is absolute, is the lack of confidence you will have in yourself.  You will never feel like you are doing as good of a job as you could be.  You will lose your temper.  You will question yourself daily.  YOU WILL CRY.

Okay, now that I have sufficiently scared the crap out of all future homeschoolers and buried all of the current homeschoolers in a pile of guilt, let me get to the good part.

YOU ARE NORMAL.  YOU ARE OKAY.  YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB.

Like I said earlier, every homeschooling parent has questioned themselves.  We’ve all felt doubts, frustration, guilt, and have certainly wanted to throw in the towel from time to time.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  In fact, that’s good.  It means that you care and are concerned for your kids.  That you understand there is always room to grow.  These are signs of a great homeschooler! 

So, how do we combat these feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and guilt?

One, cut yourself some slack.  You are learning just as much as your kid.  You are daily trying to master a system that is daily changing.  Why is it daily changing?  Because your kids are daily changing.  What interested them today may not interest them tomorrow.  The kiddo that was so excited to do school yesterday may have to be dragged to school by his ankles today.  That’s just the way it is.

Two, be flexible and PICK YOUR BATTLES.  If your kid doesn’t want to do math today, don’t make him.  One day without math hasn’t killed anyone and if you try to force it down his throat he will go into “shut down” mode.  And that is a place where things might get done, but nothing is ever learned.  I assure you, just pass on the math.  Now, on the other hand, if they go all week without doing math, you probably need to address the problem.  It could be that the curriculum is boring or not challenging him enough.  It also could be that he doesn’t understand the lesson and is trying to avoid having to push himself or even ask for help.

Three, don’t beat yourself up.  Remember, as long as you are trying, you are doing a good job.  There is no “right” way to homeschool.  Stay involved.  Talk to your kids and find out what they are interested in.  Continually introduce them to new things so that their interests will expand.  And if you feel like something isn’t working, ask your kids what they think.  They will tell what is on their minds.  Listen and figure out new ways to make things work better for them, and you.  And if you have a meltdown in front of your kids, and say go into your bedroom and cry into your pillow like I did last week (Yep, it happens to us all.), talk to your kids about.  Don’t hide this stuff from them.  Explain that this is hard for you too sometimes, and that you all are a team.  That you need them to help you by listening, staying still, losing the attitude, etc.  They will really appreciate your honesty and will respond accordingly.

Homeschool is something that should be experienced, not suffered through.  If you feel this way, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t homeschool.  But it might mean that you need to loosen up a bit and change up your approach, and changing your approach doesn’t mean you are doing something wrong.  It means you’re still learning and growing in this experience.  Homeschool is about focusing on the journey rather than the destination.  Go with the flow and have fun.

Happy Homeschooling!

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Be Flexible

As we begin our second week of school, I’m finding that things aren’t completely going as planned.  Not that things are going badly, it’s completely the opposite.  It’s really just little things…like I allotted four hours of school for my kids each day, and I’m lucky if they go for three.  Since we’re doing a new kind of school, it’s been very trial and error.  I’m finding all the little ins and outs of doing an online school, and that means adjustments are bound to be needed.
Now there was a time when all these little things would eat at me.  I would feel like a complete failure because I didn’t foresee every hurdle that was waiting ahead.  I would get extremely frustrated and stressed out because my kids get distracted and burnt out before the four hour mark.  To put it plainly, I would be a basket case!
One thing I have figured out over the last couple of years, the last year especially, is that nothing will work out exactly as you have planned and because of that you have to be flexible.
If I forced my kids to go for the complete four hours, not only would their scores be less than their best, we would be at each others throats.  I would be screaming my head off for them to get to work, and they would inevitably end everyday in tears.  I don’t know about you, but that is not what I want their school experience to be like.  Homeschool is about doing something different.  Creating a loving and encouraging learning environment.
So if there is something that you are finding difficult, maybe your kid hates math or won’t  stay focused when you want them to.  Remember, this is homeschool and you are in control.  Maybe you need to find a way to make math fun, or have math only once or twice a week rather than everyday.  If your kiddo is fidgety or easy distracted, maybe you need to find hands on projects for them to get them excited about learning.  Or even have surprise dance parties in the middle of the day to shake things up a bit.
Bottom line, you have taken on a huge responsibility, but it doesn’t mean you have to take it too seriously.  Be flexible and have fun!  You’re kids will learn better and enjoy learning so much more!
Thanks for reading.  Happy homeschooling!

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Our First Day of School

My little ones, Isaiah and Lily, on their first day of school.

Today we started our new school.  We have been traditional homeschoolers for the last two years, but this year we decided to do something a little different.  We enrolled in an online charter school.  I was a little reluctant at first because I have never had anyone else involved in their education, and I am not a mama who gives up rank easily.
But, aside from the fact that this school pays for my kids to go to karate, it also creates the curriculum for me.  I realize this would be a red flag to most homeschooling parents, but I have never been that confident in my ability to design curriculum, so having someone else do the dirty work for me is a great relief.
Anyways, the day couldn’t have gone better.   Well, maybe if my toddler had kept his underwear on and didn’t play in the bathroom sink so much.  Yeah, that would have been an improvement.  But the big kids did great!  Not only did they start a completely new school than what they are used to, I introduced a new schedule and chore chart today.  Nothing like a triple threat Monday.  🙂
They took it like champs.  They stayed focused and on task during school, which was honestly more than I expected.  Of course, the mid-day Just Dance 3 break didn’t hurt.  😉  They finished almost all their chores…hey, it’s the first day so I cut them some slack.  And we stayed ahead of schedule most of the day!  This is a first for us, I assure you.
All in all, it was a fantastic day, and I couldn’t have asked for the first day to go any better.
I am very much looking forward to the progress they will make in this new program.  They really love it and I could tell, just in the first day, that they are going to do amazing!
Happy homeschooling, everyone!

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The Importance of being Outdoors

Greetings Homeschoolers!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
It’s weekends like these that have us all planning fun filled time outdoors.  Be it the park, the beach, camping, or fishing…we all love to spend our long weekends outside.
Besides it being tons of fun, there are many other benefits to spending time in nature for the whole family, especially kids.
1.  Vitamin D.  The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight.  Vitamin D is important for a myriad of reasons…
-Helps the body absorb nutrients, including calcium and phosphorus.  Which means healthy bones and a strong immune system.
-Helps regulate blood pressure and improves cardiovascular strength.
-Helps reduce stress, tension, and fights depression
-Helps relieve aches and pains.
-Reduces respiratory infections.
-Aids in insulin secretion.
And this is just to name a few!  And honestly, that’s enough to get you outside!
2.  Outdoor play helps kids stay fit and healthy.  Plus with the aid in insulin secretion, it helps prevent diabetes, which has become an increasing common problem in children today.
3.  Helps prevent nearsightedness.  Kids need to be outdoors in order to develop their distance vision.  Being inside all day, either in front on the T.V. or even reading promotes nearsightedness in children.
4.  Aids in concentration and hyperactivity.  Children who spend long periods of time watching T.V. or playing video games have a tendency to be impatient and have shorter attention spans.
5.  Studies have shown that being out in nature makes you nicer, and in turn helps children in their social interactions.  So essentially making them better at making friends.
6.  Because kids are more likely to use their imaginations, their own inventions, and creativity during outside play; kids naturally become more creative and imaginative.
7.  Better grades.  Because spending time outdoors helps kids concentrate and encourages critical thinking, kids test better.  In fact, schools with environmental programs have shown to have higher scores in standardize testing.

The amount of time one should spend outside really varies.  Obviously, there are harmful effects from over exposure to UV rays.  Doctors recommend at least an hour a day.  The safest times to be outdoors are early morning and late evening.  The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.  And of course, remember to always wear sunscreen.

Some activities you can do in your backyard or local park…
-Make a leaf collection.  Find 5-10 different leaves and look up what kind they are.  Now you also have an art project.  Glue the leaves to construction paper, and write down what kind of leaf it is.  Make a book with a three hole punch and some yarn.  My kids and I did this last year and they loved it!
-A scavenger hunt.  Write down random things; a tree, a butterfly, something orange.  This is something you can do at a park, in the backyard, while taking a walk, or even in the car.
-A picnic.  Nothing to really say about this one.  Backyard or park, picnics are fun and you don’t have to clean the kitchen afterward.
-Start a dirt garden.  Dirt gardens are genius and I am seriously wanting to start one.  Essentially, they are just patches of worked soil that your kids have carte blanche to play in.  Dig it, bury it (anything you don’t want buried, put up very high!), and find it.  My kids have dug up worms, rocks, and even old toys.  It’s like discovering buried treasure!

If this isn’t enough to get you outside, I don’t know what will!  Get you kids outside.  They will be happier, healthier, and smarter for it!

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Criticism

“When the atmosphere encourages learning, the learning is inevitable.”
― Elizabeth Foss

Our decision to homeschool was met with many different reactions.  Our friends who homeschooled were elated and very supportive, our friends who didn’t were extremely skeptical, and most of our family down right disapproved.
Many of the people who didn’t agree or understand our decision had questions like; “What about friends?”, “What about extra curricular activities?”, “What about prom?”, “What about college?”.  All of which we had, what we thought, rather simple answers and solutions to.
Still, since the announcement of our decision was made while our oldest was still very young, no one concerned themselves too much with the matter.  That is until, 5 years later, when we started our son in his first year of homeschool.  This was when something new reared it’s ugly head…criticism.
Now, all of a sudden, everyone was a child psychologist.  Telling us our children were unsocialized an really needed to be around other children more.  Also, we came to find out that we knew far more certified educators than we realized.  These criticisms usually encircled my oldest’s reading ability.  His cousin was the main comparison.  This was something that never made sense me, because my nephew is more than two years older than my son.  I didn’t pay much mind though.  I knew that if he was given the time and the encouragement, it would come.  I didn’t force him to read everyday, but he did.  He had a passion for learning to read.  A desire to be in that “club” of readers.
I tell people jokingly, that Isaiah taught himself to read.  I say it jokingly, but it’s pretty much true.  He worked at it daily.  He would read movie and video game titles, street signs, anything familiar.  After that, he exploded, reading whole comic books in a matter of days, reading the nightly bedtime story to his little sister and brother, reading subtitles in foreign films.  Heck, I have to watch him, cause he will read my Facebook feed over my shoulder.  Some of that stuff is not for kids!  😉
Today, my children tested for their online charter school.  They both yielded very high scores.  And my Isaiah, who everyone thought was so behind.  Who everyone thought needed more “conventional” teaching.  And who is going into the second grade this year, showed that he is not only proficient in reading, but that he is in fact reading on a near fourth grade level.  The same level as the cousin he was continuously compared to.  Of course I am beyond proud, and it is a real “in your face” to my personal critics.  But mostly, I’m just thrilled to know, that I really am doing it.  I really am “teaching” my children.  I use that term loosely, because truthfully I mostly just step out of the way and provide an atmosphere of encouragement and learning.

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Life Is School

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”   -John Dewey

Once after I sheepishly admitted to one of my friends and fellow homeschoolers, that my children and I had not had school that entire week, she laughed and said, “Life is school.”
These words have stuck with me ever since.  Life is school.  There are always learning opportunities all around us.  Anywhere.  Anytime.
It can be anything from counting with you child the number of rocks in his pocket, to asking your daughter what color each of the flowers are that you see as you take a walk through the park.
Applying these words to your daily life will also encourage a love of learning in you children.  How great is that!?!  Because they won’t feel like they are having “school” crammed down there throats.  Rather they are just hanging out with Mom and Dad.
The world around you is your classroom
and class is in! 

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Trial and Error

If there is one thing I have learned recently from homeschooling, it is that homeschooling is NOT an exact science, but rather trial and error.
One thing that works for this one may not work for the other…and that’s okay!  It’s pretty silly that it took me this long to figure this out since this is one of the biggest reasons I homeschool in the first place.   I like the idea of creating a curriculum that highlights their strengths and improves on their weaknesses.  Nevertheless, I was stressing a lot and feeling very inadequate because I could not get them to grasp certain things.  Luckily, I have brilliant husband who encourages me!  He simply said, let them work at their own paces.  They’ll get it when they get it.  Words to live by!!

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Welcome to the Bohemian Homeschoolers Blog!

Yay!  I am so glad that you have come to see this blog!

First let me introduce myself.  My name is Mandie.  My husband, Thad, and I have 3 totally amazing kids.  Isaiah, Lily, and Ezekiel.
I have been homeschooling for about 3 years now and have never regretted that decision.
It’s not always easy and is sometimes down right tough, but I wouldn’t trade anything for these moments I have been able to share with my little ones.

Now, lets talk about Bohemian Homeschoolers.
Bohemian Homeschoolers was a Facebook group I started my first year of homeschooling.  I really needed the support of other, more seasoned homeschoolers than myself.  Afterward, I realized that a lot of people could benefit from such a group.  Since then, the group has turned into a page, and is available to anyone who needs ecouragement in homeschooling.

Please join us on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/BohemianHomeschoolers?skip_nax_wizard=true

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