Saturday, August 11, 2007
Homeschool Open House 2007: How Our Homeschool Jouney Evolved
Tiany @ Less Of Me~More Of Him is hosting

*click above for details*

I am a Christian Homeschool Mom of 7 wonderful blessings. We are going into my 6th homeschooling year. I am currently homeschooling my four oldest children, although my 4yo has eagerly jumping into Hooked on Phonics Level 1.

I started homeschooling my oldest daughter a month before she turned six. My oldest son (4yo at the time) didn't take much of an interest in school, so I just focused on her. I must admit, I didn't do much research before I began, but it was what the Lord guided me to do, homeschool! At the time I didn't know there was such a variety of homeschool styles and curriculum , so I did what I was familiar with, traditional textbook-style. With only homeschooling one child, it wasn't so bad, we did a little bit of everything, math, language arts, science, social studies and art. Near the end of the year, my son perked up and suddenly wanted to do whatever his big sister was doing and so I googled "homeschool curriculum" to see what would pop up.

I knew now that I was getting ready to homeschool two and take care of three little ones, I couldn't just wing it like I did the first year, so I looked into a great, but slightly pricey curriculum, Calvert. The reason I was so hooked on Calvert was because,
A) it was the first in line to show up in my google search
B) it was a highly rated- standard wise (which I thought was the most important thing at the time)
C) everything was laid out for you in their teacher manuals.

So after giving them both the online placement test, I purchased the 1st grade curriculum for my son, and 2nd grade for my daughter, academically they both a year ahead.

At the beginning of the year it went slow, but smooth. I kinda started getting the hang of it are was able to juggle our schedule pretty well, but then something awful I thought. I was teaching my daughter something in science, (I can't remember what) and my son overheard us. He once again took an interest in what she was doing and wanted to partake in it. Now you may think this is terrible of me, but I tossed the idea of him learning what she was learning away!

"How could they both learn the same thing when he is a year younger?" I argued with myself. So, R did her lessons and J did his. And so it was written and so it was done!

Year 3: Two more additions to our homeschooling year! OY! What am I going to do??? How in the world am I going to manage to homeschool 4 children and take care of a baby, plus do all the other chores and tasks that needed to be done?! Without really researching homeschool curriculum over the summer, I researched the best schoolbooks used in the highly rated public schools since I knew there was no way I could afford to do Calvert again. I did however recycle some of what we had, like the reading, history and science books. I then purchased the best selling phonic workbooks, the best math books, the best science books, you name it, I got it. The main problem still remained, HOW WAS I GOING TO HOMESCHOOL 4 CHILDREN THIS WAY???

I figured out the solution, I'll buy a how to book...for classroom teachers-LOL! Who was I kidding? But I did it anyway, I bought about 3 or 4 "How to Manage Your Classroom" books. Wow, there was some good stuff in there, one problem, a lot of the suggestions were based on HOMEWORK! So I took some notes on the suggestions I could actually do and tossed the others aside.

Not even a month later I was STRESSED O-U-T OUT! On top of that, I was pregnant again. So we took a break from school--a LOOOONG break. I wasn't going to do any school until after baby #6 was born.

After V was born I decided to start back up after the New Year (V was born a couple of days before Christmas.) Things still weren't like I planned, we hit a few bumps here and there. Finally summer came! They did not complete a full year, but I wasn't too worried, because they were a year ahead. By Florida law they had to be evaluated yearly and they passed, so I was happy, but not satisfied.

During th summer, I did a LOT of praying and asked the Lord to guide me what to do. I finally decided to google everything and anything homeschool. That's when I came across the term "Unit Study!" I felt like I had breathed a breath of fresh air.

I finally found a method that incorporated all my children PLUS, it integrated different subjects! WOW, just what I needed! I came across many different unit study programs. The 3 main ones I looked into was: Weaver, Konos, and Heart of Wisdom.

All of them were great, but I had to decide which one I was going to use. I knew I wanted something Bible-based, all of them were, so that made the decision even harder. I have to say, Weaver was my top choice in the beginning, but at the time I couldn't afford it due to a family situation that had unfortunately happened. A family member had gotten into a car accident. Praise the Lord everything turned out OK, but she needed attention and the fact that she was now living with us meant we needed to cutback in certain areas.

I then turned to Konos, another great curriculum! (If you use or are going to use Konos, you can find the Konos Queen HERE!)I asked a friend about it and she gave me one of the Konos Volumes. The only problem was the book was an older version and it had been used...I mean used! Notes were written in it, pages were torn out and the book list was outdated. I later found out that the book was not originally hers. I tell you, it did come in handy though, I finally got to see what this whole unit study thing was all about. (We do use some Konos units.)

There was one final unit study to look into which happened to be the one I chose, Heart of Wisdom. The reasons I chose HOW:
  1. It was Bible-based
  2. It was in an e-book format (I had enough homeschool books lying around the house)
  3. It fit within our homeschool budget
  4. I could buy the units one at a time
  5. PLUS, I really liked the HOW teaching approach! (I even bought the Book)
We began our 4th year in October. Our schooling was a little more relaxed, but I still stumbled along the way. I needed help, this was new to me and I needed some advice, but I was too nervous to ask, so I joined the HOW forums. They helped a little, but I still needed something more.

One of the ladies from the forum blogged at Homeschoolblogger. At the time, the word blog was foreign to me. Anyway, I poked around HSB, didn't have a clue what I was doing...then left.

I still struggled slightly with the unit study concept, so in late November 2005 I decided to give Homeschoolblogger another go. This time I read comments and started going to different blogs and found mothers who were in the same boat as me. I couldn't believe I wasn't the only one struggling! I guess sometimes we imagine that no one else could possibly be going through what we are going through, but there are. I even emailed some people asking for help--emailing was another new thing for me at the time. EVERYONE was extremely helpful!

I began to go everywhere and read everything and anything that I could, I even saw that people were mix and matching their curriculum--WHAT?! I thought that was unheard of, taking a little bit of this from one program and mixing it with that. Not only that, some would buy one Math program for one child and another math program for another child--How SHOCKING! OK, so I was a little naive, sue me.

This made me really look at each one of my children and see how they comprehended learning the best. I knew I needed a little something more, but I couldn't go out buying everything. That's when I came across another mom's blog who was also using Heart of Wisdom. She introduced me to Ambleside Online, a FREE online curriculum using the Charlotte Mason method (Robin -the HOW founder- intertwines this method of learning with hers.)

Ambleside Online was a true blessing! They have a wonderful selection of literature books available online for FREE!!! BUT, before I was going to just jump into another homeschool curriculum, I wanted to test it out. So, for one week we did the AO schedule. The children LOVED it! It was relaxing, it fit into our schedule and best of all, we were all learning! This was the first time in 4 years that I actually felt like I was a true homeschool mom! I know that may sound weird to some of you, but to others parents, I think you know exactly how I felt.

Fast forward to our 5th homeschool year (now). We started this school year off with a field trip/vacation to NC- where I currently live. To make a long story short, while we were there (here) we planned to move by early next year. I also discovered I was pregnant with baby #7!

When we got home (in FL) the packing began. We had to do more than just packing though, we had a little farm, with sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, dogs, cats, a donkey and a horse. Sadly we had to find a new home for our pets. Thankfully we found a home for them where they would not be butchered. My aunt and uncle are taking care of the horse and donkey until we can move them up here....Anyway, my point is, we did a lot of unschooling.

Since we were not going to be with the animals much longer, our schooling focused a lot on them.

Now that we're moved, we are a tad behind, but we've been doing school throughout the summer. Since I just had a baby, our homeschool this coming year is going to have to be flexible, semi-structured, but definitely flexible. Plus, there are upcoming events happening that are going to make some of our homeschooling days even more challenging. (I plan to blog about those events soon, until then please stay tuned.)

I have listed the curriculum we are using on my sidebar with links, so your welcome to have a look see. Plus in our everyday life we are learning lessons. One thing that we do that isn't listed is, I have them do dinners on the weekend which we classify as school. They also really enjoy making dinner when guest come too, which is a HUGE help for me, while they tend to the kitchen, I can tidy up the house.

As far as where we homeschool, right now we just do it around the house, and outside, but in FL we had an empty shed that my loving DH converted into a schoolroom for us. This is one thing we definitely miss in our homeschool day, Plus, it's kinda sad that all the hard work he put into just to make our homeschool day easier was left behind. He's always thinking of other, oh I LOVE that man!!!

As far as any advise I to give, I'd have to say first PRAY!!! Then if you can do some research, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't have a local support group ask us here in Bloggy Land, there are many of us out there willing to help you the best we can.

Homeschool Resource books I recommend would be:
When choosing a curriculum, try not get overwhelmed and don't worry about picking the highest rated, most expensive curriculum out there, they are all good, believe me, I tried them all...just kidding. Just choose the best one for your family, of course there will be some trial and error, but the Lord will guide you to which one is right, and when you find it, you'll love the feeling.

The last bit of advise I have to give, but definitely a key point, DON'T STRESS!!!! Enjoy your Homeschool adventure and most important, ENJOY YOUR FAMILY!!! Make your homeschool years loving and memorable!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing. :)


I really enjoyed reading your story my SSiC. [0= I loved the most when you said...
"The last bit of advise I have to give, but definitely a key point, DON'T STRESS!!!! Enjoy your Homeschool adventure and most important, ENJOY YOUR FAMILY!!! Make your homeschool years loving and memorable!"

That is SO true !!! The best advice EVER. [0;

God Bless my SSiC
In Him<><
Mary aka Canadgirl

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a great and honest post. We have all been there in one way or another.

Blogger Melissa Markham said..., you really have run through the gamit! You know, each year we have tried something different with varying degrees of success. But each year, we get a bit closer to where we need to be and what works best for us. Have a great year!

Blogger Theresa ♥ said...

Hi Amber,

That was quite a post! I've enjoyed reading about how your homeschooling has evolved.

I think you will really enjoy Real Learning. I know it will be one I re-read each year. I actually have two copies... one for me and one to borrow out. LOL


Blogger diana said...

very interesting. i'm enjoying this open house thing just to read how home schoolers do it all and how it can be tailor made to your family. sounds like you're doing a great job. thanks for the pictures - now i can picture you and your class.

Blogger diana said...

oh, and thanks for the email :)

Blogger chickadee said...

that was a great post. it seems like you so rarely go into that much detail about your life. i feel like i know you better.

and you old homeschool room was awesome! i'm so jealous.

Blogger Lori said...

What a great post. You are so organzied. I love your schedule and tips.
It's so nice for you to be able to be flexible with your home schooling.

Blessings, Lori

Anonymous nikki said...

WOW ! Great post and your blog is lovely . ~ Nikki

Blogger Momma Roar said...

We are long lost twins! Hee hee - you know, I don't know if I ever realized what curric you did use. But I was in the same boat - with the same 3. You may have read that we use Weaver - starting vol 1 tomorrow, as we just reviewed, last week, what we did last year in Interlock. I love HOW - I'm just not sure how to incorporate it yet with my children being so young - I was pretty active with that list last year - I even helped Robin enter in a lot of info for the unti books' links section of the HOW page. I've never looked into AO a lot, but we do really enjoy Weaver (ebay!!!!) And Amber, from this post, I know we are long lost twins b/c of the books you bought - ME TOO! Remember I told you I was shopping at amazon? I got Ruth Beechick's new one (EXCELLENT SO FAR) and one called homeschooling at the speed of life.

Oops, sorry this got so long. I'm glad you shared all this, I really enjoyed reading it!

Blogger Amber said...

Thanks Leigh Ann, I forgot tho Add Ruth Beechick's 3Rs!

BTW, you can "RAMBLE" on my blog any time;)

Hi Amber,

Thanks for the mention and the links for HOWTA. I love this post. Every homeschooler should write their journey. It would be such an encouragement.

Great photos too. I just finished reading "Lessons from a Ranch Horse" by Mark Rashad. I think you like it. Its a secular book but full of animal wisdom and good lessons.

I recently wrote "An Easy Way to Make Homeschool Decisions" on my blog. Praying and following God in faith is the answer. He always provides.

Thank you for being an encouragement to all of us.


Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

Hi Amber - I just passed an award on to you. Please drop by and check it out.

Blogger Alycia said...

What a great post Amber! I loved reading about your homeschooling journey and can't wait to take a peek at HOW. Oh, and I love your classroom at your old house!!! How beautiful and sweet of your husband!! Blessings to you my friend!

Blogger Carrie! :o) said...

I just loved reading this, Amber! Your advice of not to stress is so important! I always have to remind myself to just *go with the flow*. :o) Loved your pictures, too!!! What a super cute classroom!

Blogger MorningSong said...

Such a great read! I love your old classroom! I bet that is a big loss to your schooling world!

Thanks for sharing this! I am beginning and I am only working on Pre-K4 stuff but I am overwhelmed. I've taught 2 lessons and my daughter is not starting off well. Once I get her seated we are fine but that has been our problem. I want her to have fun and we are fighting to sit down. We only have a 10 minute reading lesson and are beginning the basics of handwriting but I am getting discouraged already! She loves to do the work - it is the stop playing part she is resisting. I am glad I am starting this now b/c when my son is ready to join in I will have found my way a little bit. He is more interested in what I want to do than her. I give him toys to distract him and HC wants the toys and JB wants to learn. Aghh!! :)
I guess we are having growing pains. Any advice?? I cut back when she resists but I want to start the teaching process this year. I want her to know learning is fun and necessary. I am not freaking out, just feeling like I don't know what to do next. She only wants to cut and glue. Oh well. We will figure this out soon enough!

Blogger Lori said...

Come and check out my blog when you get a chance. I've tagged you for a name meme. Maybe you've been tagged already. I just wanted you to know that your blog blesses me everyday.

Blogger Just Mom said...

Loved reading about your journey.

Your advice about asking people in bloggy land... ABSOLUTELY! I can't tell you enough how helpful you, Leigh Ann and Dawnelle have been. And this Homeschool Open House is fabulous. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU.

Blogger Short Stop said...

I loved reading your homeschooling story! I've often wondered what went into the decision to homeschool, how to choose materials, how to care for little ones at the same time. Seeing all of you homeschooling moms on here makes it seem possible, and quite rewarding for you and for your children! Thanks for sharing this and all of your great resources! Sarah

Blogger Highday said...

Loved reading your post, Amber! So honest and genuine. Thank you!

Blogger Momma Roar said...

New Bern, North Carolina

Will blog 4 Pepsi! LOL

Blogger jennifer said...

I feel like I wrote this post! Thank you for sharing. I am past the initial years of stressing whether I am doing what I need to, as the proof is in the testing. But it was so refreshing to read your post and realize that we continue to share so much on common.

I had a schoolroom that was very similar, then my husband had a car accident and we moved for school(for him) now house is a sweet, small, charming, in city home. But we have a huge garden in back!!!

Blogger Kay in PA said...

I enjoyed reading about your experience and seeing the pictures. My dd says your school room looks like a "real school" LOL...and I pointed out to her now neat it was.

Blogger HsKubes said...

I have enjoyed visiting your open house very much. ;o) We, too, started off with what we knew, traditional textbook, but have branched way off since then.
Thank you for sharing your homeschool and thank you for visiting me. ;o)

~ Christina

Blogger MorningSong said...

Hi Amber - I have a little surprise for you at my blog.

Blogger Brandy said...

My daughter is 3 years old, she is my only child. I have always felt that I would homeschool but this year I started doing some very simple tracing letters and matching worksheets and she does not like it. She like the worksheets but she doesn't want to take any instruction from me on how to do them. This has made me think maybe we will never be able to work together in this way. This makes me sad to think about, but I just don't know. This is such a big thing. Thanks for your post!

Blogger weavermom said...

Amber - what a great post! I loved reading about your journey to the curriculum that is right for you and the family.

I looked at Konos & HOW too. Also Father's World. It's great there are so many choices, but it's SO HARD BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY CHOICES! :)

I'll have to come back and re-read the don't stress part. This is our first year "registered" and for some reason that is making me feel stressed about it.

Thanks for posting!

Blogger Jacque Dixon said...

This was great- and LONG!
I loved reading ALL of it!! I loved seeing your animals... :(
and, it was interesting seeing your schoolroom. We have one of those, too... but it has been so much easier to homeschool in the house, and I hated walking all the way out in the blinding snow with all the Babes! ... so we have all of our scrapbooking/craft supplies out there. I guess that's part of our homeschooling too!!
This was lovely, Amber.
Great article!
Missing you and hope all is going GREAT!
Love, J

Anonymous Marsha said...

I really enjoyed your post, Amber. It's amazing how most of us struggled with the same doubts and curriculum craziness in the beginning. I am SO glad that I'm a semi-seasoned veteran now! Now when I change curriculum completely or tweak things a bit, I do it without stressing out and with more certainty and conviction (and less self-doubt!).

You are a blessing to so many!


Blogger Mary@notbefore7 said...

Popping by on my Open House Journey and taking notes! Thanks for such thorough information girl. You amaze me - 7 kids and kicking it! I pray this year goes well for you as you have begun now. I know that the living situation and little baby must add some "challenges"!

Anonymous Adena (cre82learn) said...

OH MY!! do we have ALOT in common!! I used to live in NC, now live in Fl. Also, quite a few blessings...5. Used KONOS, love HOW and use Adam to Messiah. I found you listed on the Blogger Friend Training School list. I love your header and immediately recognized the beautiful dogwood flower. Come over and visit - I just put up a homeschool giveaway.

Blogger 文章 said...

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How Honored
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