Redeeming Stolen Time

**Vulnerability Alert**

On Sunday afternoon, I had time stolen from me. Our home was broken into, cleaned out, and vandalized. As I looked at our smashed desktop computer –while realizing that all of our other computers were gone– I wondered how I was going to keep going with school. My mind gave me ideas, but they weren’t registering in my thoughts. All I could see was stolen time…

Even in this, I saw blessings.

The first was that school wasn’t going to stop over a damaged computer as I had my backup curricula and activities out and ready–none of which was damaged.

The second was that our desktop was repairable and I had a spare monitor that worked. No files were lost and we were able to resume computer work the next day.

The third was that the cleanup was easier than we thought it would be! The biggest pain was the broken glass, but everything else was a matter of putting things back in place.

Lastly, our children showed true resilience. Our routine has been shaken, but the beauty of homeschooling is that you can adapt quickly and sometimes in the worst of situations.

So, how do you redeem stolen time in your homeschool?

  • Don’t try to jump right back into it full throttle! Didn’t you start the next day? Yep, I did, but with minimal work being done. We took time as a family to process what happened. Although school work was being done, that was much more important. If the kids wanted to stop, we did.
  • Do something fun! Get out and go to a family favorite place–somewhere where you can let loose for a little while and have fun. It will help to recenter you and destress everyone!
  • Make some changes! Sometimes this is the best thing to do. In order to maintain your level of organized chaos, you may need to change a few things in light of what has happened.
  • Be there and present for each other! Redeeming time will be tough on everyone and it’s important to not get so caught up in doing so that you miss signals your family may be sending.

Keeping it short and sweet. Wishing you God’s best and Godspeed as you redeem any stolen time!


Pokemon Go or Pokemon No?

I know that many of us steer clear from things tied to popular TV shows, but I implore you to take another look at Pokemon Go — even though the thought of doing so makes your flesh crawl!

I want to share with you the four ways that my family, as homeschoolers, have used Pokemon Go to not only enhance our homeschooling efforts, but also improved our family relationship!

  1. It is something that we do together. Why is this one first? It’s because the most important. I still remember the day that my husband came home from work raving about it, so I started with it and then our oldest daughter began to play as well. Our quest to fill our Pokedex has fueled many walks in the park, random cruises through our city, walks around or neighborhood, and quite a few interesting field trips. It is one thing that we as a family have bonded around.
  2. It leads to some great educational research! We live in a place FULL of historic landmarks, most of which are Pokestops. Now that we’ve gotten over the initial craze, we have started to stop, read, and research what is written on historic markers along our streets and learned some very interesting history lessons. One drive around town lead us to our city’s first pay phone, which we never knew about! It also lends itself to map study.
  3. It encourages exercise! We have started walking and running more, getting those steps in so that we can hatch a 2km, 5km, or 10km egg. What we hatch might not be all that great, but we are getting out and being active. Many of our favorite attractions contain Pokestops, so we will go somewhere just to walk and get them all in.
  4. It’s a great party activity. Back in July, we took a group of friends and family on a trip with us to celebrate our oldest daughter’s birthday. One of the things that we did was had a Pokemon Lure Pary! Imagine 10 people in one place gathering Pokemon and celebrating at the same time!

While I know many, if not most, don’t share the same excitement about Pokemon Go, I just wanted to give you a few nuggets to think about!


Slayers: Finale

I hope that you have enjoyed this series and I’d really like to know what you thought about it. You can eliminate each one of these Slayers in your heart and mind and have a great homeschool year!

You may have seen these mentioned on other pages or blogs that I run, but I wanted to share them with you personally. I’ve been where you are. I still battle with a couple of these myself!

Are you ready to #SlaytheSlayers? I know that I am. Our children are counting on us to do it. They need us to do it. We need to do it for ourselves first.

You want what’s best for them and for you…it all starts with Slaying the Slayers!

Slayer #7: School is best…

Now I will say that sometimes this is true.  Things do happen, kids do ask to go back, you do have that yellow bus envy.

My thoughts on this are short. Before you make that move, I want you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Why did I start homeschooling?
  • Am I sending my child back into the situation that made me pull him/her out?
  • Do I need to change some things?
  • Is there a chance that they will be put back because we were unconventional in our methods?
  • What am I going to be inviting into our home?
  • Is part-time homeschooling an option in my state?
  • Is there an alternative to the neighborhood public school?

Have I put my child in school? Yes, I did and I did it because I became a substitute teacher. I put her in the very Christian school I graduated from and ended up getting a long term sub position in the elementary school right around the corner from the school. I was able to drop her off, got to work, and I was in the parking lot before she got out. It wasn’t always that way, but I made sure that my husband and I stayed on top of everything!

It was temporary because history repeated irself — a high achieving child was not being cultivated or challenged, which was what I went through as a student there years before. Your story may not be my story, but I urge you to think about the decision long and hard.

Remember that you get them at their best…not when they are bogged down and tired.

Remember that you get to tailor their learning to their interest.

Remember that you don’t have to deal with budget cuts or new teachers in the middle of the year.

I’m here if you need a listening ear!

Slayer #6: I Don’t Know How to Teach…

Yes, you do. You just don’t realize you’re doing it, that’s all. When you see  your little one mimicking you, you’re teaching them. When they ask  you can they help and you tell them how to do what you’re doing, you’re teaching them. When you put your newborn on the floor for tummy time, you’re teaching them. When you back away from a standing baby so that they will walk, you are teaching them. When you read or sing to them, you are teaching them!

So, what were we talking about?

I know you’re scared. You don’t want anything to go wrong. You feel like they won’t listen to you. They will tell you that you can’t teach them. But, as the saying goes, “When one teaches, two learn!” This is a time for you to learn together. It’s about knowing how you you communicate and how they need to understand in order to do what they’re being asked. That was one thing I learned while reading Cathy Duffy’s book— I learned my teaching style, my child’s learning style, and the best curriculum to use for the both of us.

There are resources out there that are literally completely scripted that you can use until you are ready to do things on your own. Remember me mentioning Heart of Dakota? Their teacher’s guide tells you exactly what to do! Get the books that they recommend and follow the plan — everything is written out for you down to what pages to assign for practice! There are others, but this just so happens to be the first one that comes to mind for me.

If you’re not the book type, look into online programs such as Time4Learning or Monarch. Also check out Switched on Schoolhouse, a CD based curriculum. With these, all you have to do is set things up, and they pretty much run themselves.

Also, remember to look for help around you. Research co-ops and tutorials in your area for those things you aren’t quite the best at articulating.

You can do this!

Slayer #5: Keeping Your Talents Hidden

We’ve all had those moments where we didn’t want anyone to know what we could do because they would ask us to do it every time they see us, right? The same feeling applies to our children, believe it or not. Think about the millions of times they asked you to make a funny voice, to sing a song, to dance, etc. Even though you get tired of doing it, you do it anyway because it makes them smile.

On the flip side of that, there are some who don’t want their children to know that they can be that way because they feel like they would lose their respect. That’s not true. Our kids need to know that we are human and have not been adults all of our lives. Show them the things that make you happy.

Hiding your talents and interests from your children is a huge disservice to the both of you. Deep down, they wish that you would do those very things with them, so it’s time to get out of yourself and get in tune with them. Our delight in things show by how hard we are on them when they aren’t near perfect with it. We won’t let them know that we even know how to do something until they ask us why we’re so hard on them about it. Their eyes get wide as plates as they hear our passion come out!

No matter how archaic you may think your talents or interests are, they are worth teaching to your children. Plus, they’ve already seen you sneaking and doing it anyway, so deal with it! You’re allowed to be a kid every now and again. I do it all the time!

Teaching your children reveals and reignites your passions and what makes you special. Why would you miss out on doing that? If you don’t know or remember what your talents are, then take a moment to examine yourself. Don’t let crisis be the reason that your talents come out!

Slayer #4: Working In/Out of the Home

It is a battle to work and homeschool, but it is not impossible! To be honest, we do it every day. My husband and I both work and work opposite schedules from each other. He works at night and is home during the day and I work during the day and am home at night. I run both a brick and mortar business and an online on. I also help my brother and best friend manage their businesses. So, as you can see, it is doable if you have a plan in place.

Homeschooling at night is becoming a trend as is starting later in the day. I have suggested this for parents who work outside the home during the day. If you live a polar lifestyle as I do, use that to your advantage.

So, how do you make this work?

  • Take the time to help your child(ren) become independent or self-directed learners.  This is not an easy thing to do and it takes time, but it will help you more than you know. Create a daily work binder for your child with checklists of what their assignments are for the day.
  • Choose a curriculum that is easy for someone else to implement in your stead. This is my saving grace when I had to be away from home during the day. I plan things out and make sure that my husband and oldest daughter know what needs to be done on that particular day. We even developed a Mommy Day Out schedule for them to follow.
  • Set up a email account for you and your child to communicate during the day. I did this last school year and it helped me to stay on top of what they were struggling with. They can ask me about things, send me things to explain, etc, and they are able to stay on track.

That’s for those who work outside the home. For those who have an in home business or job:

  • Realize that everything above still applies!
  • Have definite working hours. Set those boundaries early and stick to them! If you need to have someone to come in during your working hours just so you can fulfill the tasks of the day, make it happen! It’s important that you develop this as a part of your family routine.
  • Don’t work in a common space in the house. If your office is in a place where there is not a door that can be closed and locked, you might want to move because you most definitely will be constantly interrupted.
  • If you do have to, work alongside your children. Yes, this may seem contradictory to what I just said, but hear me out. Sometimes you will have to work in the same room because you don’t have that help or that space where you can lock yourself away in. If you have one large space in  your home, set up stations for everyone to work in and have rules in place for when you are working, especially if you have to be on camera or on the phone.
  • Let them help you! Learn to use your family. Those mundane tasks that you don’t like to do? Teach them how to do them and see how much more you will get done. They might actually enjoy doing it and it just might free up more time!
  • Take the same time off that you set for them. Believe me when I say that there’s nothing worse than trying to work when the kids have a day off, which does exist in the homeschooling world. To keep you from duck taping them to the wall, have a plan ready and leave your tablet and laptop at home! Be present in the moment.

I’m going to leave you with this one. If you need help here, please reach out!

Slayer #3: Family Dynamics

You have more than one child, right? So do I! Our girls are 13, 8, and 3, so know that I understand.

You have children in different grade levels, that learn differently, that needs different approaches, that have special needs — I am with you on all of that!

The first thing I will tell you is to do as much as you can together. There are curriculum resources out there written specifically for multiple child households. One of my favorites is Heart of Dakota. Also, take the time to come up with a schedule that will allow you to get this done.

We teach our girls together and then in individual blocks. We have a morning meeting and then from 8:30-10 is teaching time for the oldest, 10:15-11:15 is teaching time for the middle, and 11:30-12 is teaching time for the youngest. This works for us because all three girls are able to get the time that they need.

But you have help! What about those of us who don’t? I am a single parent who is trying to homeschool or my spouse isn’t on board with homeschooling. What about me? Co-ops or tutorials that don’t require parents to teach are one option for you. Then, you work with your child in the evenings and on the weekends. Yes, it is still a classroom envrionment, but it still helps you get the job done.

One of my friends hired a sitter to help her with homeschooling as she is a single parent. All the sitter has to do is make sure that the kids get their work done while she is at work. During my working days, I was able to have my oldest daughter with me (I worked at a daycare) and I used my work breaks to work with her.

For those of you whose spouse or significant isn’t convinced that you should homeschool, take the time to address their concerns because it’s important to find out where their head is. There just may be things that they either don’t know or don’t understand about homeschooling. They may be thinking that something is going to go lacking because you choose to homeschool — all of these are enough to make you say, “Forget it! I’m putting them in school!”

What I want you to know is that you have options! There are online programs, part time schooling programs, drop in programs — all of these are designed to help you to start and continue to homeschool…. If you need help, please let me know!

Slayer #2: Time

This is one that I get a lot and patience usually follows! I understand that you have quite a bit going on, but do you know that homeschool days are shorter than public or private school days? Where I live, we are only required to have a 4 hour day and it doesn’t have to be done in one sitting, nor does it have to be all done at home! Think about that for a second.

There is a trend now in the homeschool community of the one-hour day and I am enjoying learning morea about it myself. Why? If you really think about it, when you do things in a way that truly interest your child, that may indeed be all the time that you need.

Now, for those of you working parents reading this, I am going to get to you in another Slayer post, so just sit tight. No spoilers here, though.

What I want you to do is realize that learning can and will happen at any point in time in any given day. The trip to the grocery store touches almost every curriculum area known to man. Think about it! Pumping gas, washing the car, changing a diaper–remember me talking about life lessons?

If you’re reading this and you say that you run a home business, I am going to address that right along with the working parents, so hold on.

What you have to understand is that teachable moments occur all of the time. How many times in a day do you say, “Lesson learned?” It is because we are in a constant state of learning.

It all comes down to balance, knowing your kids, choosing the best tools, and getting the family on the same page.

This one was short because there are a lot of issues that are tied to time that I’ll cover in other posts, so hang on!

Slayer #1: Money

Why did she start with  THAT?! Yes, I know. I put the worst first for a reason — I wanted to go ahead and get it out of the way! Whether you are a homeschool mom or not, this is a problem, but I am going to be directing this series at the homeschool mom specifically.

Outside of homeschool registration with an umbrella school or using an online program, you can homeschool for free or close to it!

This is one of the first reasons I get for why people are hesitant to homeschool –the cost. I chock this up to not knowing what’s out there for you! May I ask how much research you have done? I ask because there are free and low cost options out there for you and, if by chance there isn’t, put your thinking cap on and create  your own.

You know your children better than anyone and understand how they learn best. Let your fingers do some walking and see what is out there. There are hundreds of Facebook groups out there full of people blazing the same trail that you are and can make some recommendations, but know that there are differing opinions, so keep your goals in mind.

Use the resources that are around you! When was the last time you visited the library? Your local librarian can be of a lot of help in your journey. If you don’t have a library card, get one! There is great value in teaching from real books! That reminds me of the time I read the book “One Foot, Two Feet” to my daughters. That book covered counting from 1 to 10, grammar, and plurals. Math and Language Arts were done for the day! They practiced writing the words, counting, and finding plurals of common words. This is one reason why I hold very tightly to books that offer such possible solutions. Does that mean it’s time to look through the bookshelf? Yes…yes, it does.

Dollar stores are your friend as well. I know I LOVE the teacher aisle in the dollar store and have found some awesome stuff, while only spending $20 for three kids!

Attraction memberships are my next tip. What? I thought you were talking about NOT spending money! I’m trying to, but I can’t let this one go and I’ll tell you why. A fellow homeschooling mama bought memberships to every attraction and museum she could where we live. She used our local zoo as her science for the year. How? They studied an animal a week! They made a list of all of the animals in the zoo, noted times for keeper chats (where the kids could ask the animal caretakers questions and hear a presentation on that particular animal), and made a schedule that ensured that they were able to study as many animals as possible. Since we’re allowed to bring food into the zoo, they made lunch for themselves. They also got their exercise in because of all of the walking that was required — they were not allowed to ride the zoo tram at ALL! They took pictures, made notes using what they read at each exhibit, etc. PLUS, they were able to do this while traveling because they got free or discounted admission to zoos all over the country! It’s the same way with museums. Depending on the type of exhibits, you can pretty much study anything! Look at their websites for teacher’s guides and activity packets as well.

Lastly, never forget that life itself is the best teacher! There are lessons in anything and everything! Studying measurement? Get in the kitchen and cook something or build something outside. Want to start teaching home economics? It starts AT HOME. Looking for a creative way to teach spelling, walk or drive around and look for errors in signs. Teach history by visiting historical landmarks around your city.

You can do it, but it’s going to take work! And, if you need help, please reach out! That’s why I am here…

Slayer #2 is coming on Wednesday!