When Homeschooling is Hard

How was your first month of homeschooling this year?

Here’s how ours began: at 4am in the morning of our first official day of school, Sparky came running into our room. “I’m sick!” he gasped. Then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.

The rest of the day went downhill from there… or rather uphill, as in rolling a boulder up a hill. That’s how much effort it takes to begin a new routine and get the kids back into the school groove. That first day of school, I felt like a zombie trying to herd a pack of monkeys. As soon as one child would settle down to work, another would get up and wander off. Or one would complain that the work was too hard, or start drumming on his desk. All day long I found myself barking, “Sit down! You’re not done your work!”, “Stop talking and focus on your math!”, and “DON’T WAKE THE BABY!”

By the end of the day, I was in the doldrums of discouragement. And I was asking myself, Why is homeschooling so hard? What am I doing wrong?

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Report Cards

For my first several years of homeschooling I did not keep track of my kids’ grades.  I corrected their work and made them fix their mistakes but did not maintain a grade book. I had a general idea of where they were at and what they needed to improve, so it seemed like more work for me.

About 5 years ago, I decided to prepare report cards for a number of reasons.  My homeschool evaluator encouraged me to.  I wanted to confirm my assumptions about their progress.  Finally, my kids were wanting to win a prize at the dentist office based on their report cards. What I did not realize was the incredibly positive effect the report cards would have on our homeschool.

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Story of Civilization Book List and Pictures

Have any of you used the new Story of Civilization curriculum from Tan? This year, our family will be delving into Ancient History. In past years, I was quite satisfied with using the popular Story of the World, vol. 1 for teaching Ancient History. This year, because I really like the audio CDs, we’ll be using the Catholic version, Story of Civilization.

Yes, I ordered the whole kit and kaboodle – activity book, test book, teacher’s guide, time line, CD’s, and text book. Everything except for the DVDs. When the books came in the mail, everything looked great… except for one thing: when I looked at the teacher’s guide, there was no book list of recommended reading for each chapter! Picture books and novels are really what makes history come alive. So….

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Our Homeschool Room

As promised, here is a tour of our homeschool room. When I first began homeschooling my two oldest, we lived in a town house. We turned our finished basement into a little school room with a table, cabinets, and a chalkboard. After a  year or two of that, I got tired of spending most of our waking hours in a basement that hardly had any natural light. We moved up to the dining room and kept the kids’ books in bins on the sideboard table. The toddlers played in the adjoining living room while the bigger kids studied at the dining room table. When our fifth baby was born, we began to feel a little crunched in our townhouse. So a few years ago, we moved into a house that allowed us to have a school room on the main floor:

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WWII, the Battle of Britain, and Great Summer Reading

Well, she’s done it yet again. My daughter Carolyn (aka Big-Sis) has written another novel. As the oldest of six kids and an avid reader, she knows what makes a book appealing. My boys devoured this one.

The Badge of Kenley’s Legend is a historical fiction that takes place in England during WWII. A plucky orphan boy  overhears a German spy’s ploy to destroy the Royal Air Force Kenley, the base where his beloved brothers are stationed. Stuck in the countryside as an evacuee, he sets out to warn his brothers in order to save them from impending doom.

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Tour a Home School

One of the things I enjoy during the summer is cleaning out and reorganizing our homeschool room. I’m often on the lookout for new ways to organize and for fun, creative ways to use our space. So,  I asked some of my friends to share pictures of their homeschool rooms. Here are four homes for you to tour, along with commentary from the moms.

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Homeschooling on a Budget

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an unlimited budget to spend on school books????  You know, where all of that “nice-to-to have” curriculum actually becomes yours instead of just gazing wistfully at it at a homeschooling conference. Alas, many of us are on a strict budget (and it is a good thing because it keeps me from overindulging)!  I love to buy books!  For me, there is nothing like getting a whole box of books in the mail.  Unfortunately, I only have so much money and space to store all of my treasures.

Here are my top 5 tips for staying within a homeschool budget!

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For the Love of Latin

I love Latin. Ever since my highschool trip to Rome, where Latin phrases adorn the walls of churches, I have admired the logic, beauty, and timelessness of the Latin language.

But I also know that when we consider the myriad of subjects and activities we wish to include in our children’s curricula, it can be easy to put Latin on the “nice but not necessary” list. After all, Latin is a dead language, right?

Not quite.

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A Father’s Rules for Discernment

Happy Father’s Day! Here’s a post my husband wrote for the Dads:

Do you ever wonder how God intends for us to cope with, or better yet master, the daily demands of life?  I do.  If you’ve read any of Mary’s blog posts, I imagine that you’ve found her to be inspiring – as do I.  How does she do it all?  Our house is always impeccable, the children are excelling in their studies, the bills get paid on time, she has a large and growing number of friends, she’s written three (or is it four now) books, and she seems to always have time for the essentials. Then, there’s me… So, I couldn’t help but wonder, how does she do it? 

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Super Special Fathers

They come to church on Sunday mornings, a father and his son. Although we try not to stare, we can’t help but notice because there is something so beautifully edifying about this pair. The father, large and strong, carries his son, thin and frail, into the church. He places him on the pew and gently props the limp boy, whose arms and legs dangle uselessly, against his own muscular build. The boy is about twelve. We don’t know their names or their story. We don’t know the medical condition that renders the boy so helpless. Yet my husband and I both agree that no music is as moving and no homily as uplifting as the sight of this father and the love he bears for his son.

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