Can YOU really homeschool?

I think a lot of Mama’s don’t homeschool because… they’re honestly not sure if they can really do it.

Their head starts whirling with how much there would be to cover… math, reading, writing, ancient civilizations, art, music, government, classic literature, essays, etc, etc, etc! Not to mention keeping up on our home and grocery shopping!

That’s a lot!! How do you do it all?

You. Don’t. Have. To.

Please don’t buy the lie that a child’s education is a very complicated thing that should be left to the state to manage.

Public schools cover way less ground than you can as a mom.

You know your child better than anyone.

You know what their brain and their hearts can handle.

There’s no better person on the planet to teach your child than YOU!

When you write down everything you’d like to teach your child, break it down and simplify, simplify, simplify. Do they need to be writing perfect sentences by age 6? Do they need to cover ancient civilizations at 7?   Do they need to be multiplying and dividing by 8?

Why no, no they don’t!

Start with the minimal basics and that is more than enough.

Just being present with your child and connecting with them is enough!

Playing with them is enough!

Reading to them is enough!

Cooking and grocery shopping together is enough!

YOU are enough!

You can do it Mama!!  You truly, honestly can.  Break things down into bite-sized pieces and KISS- Keep it simple, silly!

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Oh, and it shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg either.  Get simple, easy little books.  Buy used from craigslist or local facebook sites.  Ask other homeschool families if you can borrow some things (and then take really good care of them!)  Print things for free from learning internet sites.  It’s unbelievable how frugal you can educate your child!  You do not need some elaborate, expensive curriculum to do it!!

Simple, Frugal, and Fun Homeschooling

One of my most favorite things to do is to share with other mom’s who are considering homeschooling! I have had maybe close to 10 moms in my home to just show them what all I do and why. I have loved those times of sharing! But in case you haven’t made it over yet…

I’m not a veteran homeschooler and I have much yet to learn. BUT… I love that homeschooling can be (gasp) enjoyable and absolutely delightful!

My Motto: Behind everything I do is my homeschool motto, found in Deuteronomy 11. Love God with your whole heart. Teach your children as you sit, as you walk, when you lie down, and when you stand up. All of life is learning. If you teach your child to love learning, you’ve taught him everything he ever needs to know. Learning happens over a lifetime. It takes place all of the time… in the van, at the store, in your backyard, at the park, while making dinner, etc.

The greatest commandment is to love God with your whole heart. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Teach these two things to your children and you’ve nearly fulfilled God’s call for you as a mother!

So practically speaking, what is our main focus then?

#1- Bible. This includes memory verses, LOTS of memory verses! Before children can even read, they can be memorizing passages of Scripture!

This also includes you reading Bible stories to your children. The actual Bible event, not fairy tales or fables or bathtub boat pictures of Noah! Also, acting out the Bible stories after you read them! Talk about these precious events at all hours of the day, looking for opportunities to live out what you have read.

#2- Character- We go through these character cards and try to do one character quality each week. Each card includes the definition and an animal that displays that quality in nature. I teach my children the names of the character qualities (even if it’s a long word like perseverance)! Throughout the following weeks and months, I’m continually using those terms to remind them of that character quality and why it’s so important (honesty, humbleness, attentiveness, self-control, etc). We act out these qualities too! And we actually practice these qualities in real-life ways.

Speaking of acting out and practicing great things… we regularly have “Manners Practice” where we practice things like greeting a guest, picking up an item for someone who dropped it, saying “coming” when Mama calls for us, taking a seat on the floor when adults need the chairs to sit on, etc. My children beg me to do “Manners Practice” time!

The third most important thing we do in homeschool is to read! It’s such an amazing thing to read out loud to your child most every day! Read about everything! If all you ever do is read to your child, he’ll surpass a level you didn’t even think he could achieve! Our read-a-loud times have brought about the most precious discussions in our home. We try and squeeze in reading time wherever we can but my children especially like me to read to them at mealtimes. You don’t have to stop filling your brain just because you’re filling your belly! Mealtimes are a great time to learn!

What do I read to them?

A)- The actual Bible, of course!

B)- Bible Stories, of course!

C)- Quality children’s books that focus on character. Not fluffy books without a point. And not about magical kingdoms and fairy tales and fables. But stories about feeding the poor, about learning humbleness, about giving yourself away. I have posted some of my favorite children’s books here and here.

D)- We also use our read-a-loud time to read history and science (you’ll see why below). Recently my boys have been crazy excited about George Washington. They’ve dressed up like him and drafted a Declaration of Independence and the whole nine yards. All from me reading to them!  We have enjoyed this book, this one, this one, and this one, to name a few.

Now on to “Academics”:

I think the greatest thing you can do for you and your child is to keep things simple and fun. Your materials and your schedule should be a blessing, NOT a burden!! I hodge podge my materials to tailor to each individual child. What fits their personality best? What sounds fun? What is simple? What is not overwhelming? What doesn’t require 30 minutes of Teacher Manual prep time the night before?! What is frugal? What did I find at a garage sale or receive as a hand-me-down? Could I use that instead of spending big bucks on something that will make me feel STRAPPED for time and energy!

I like briefly checking out used homeschool sites for easy, cheap ideas. My favorite store is Mardel’s, but I always have a coupon in hand! Or best yet… what could you use that you already own?!

One of my favorite things about homeschool is all of our homemade things! We have made homemade “Exercise Dice,” homemade money/ coin board games, homemade flashcards galore, and more!

Flashcards, flashcards, flashcards. What an incredible way to learn! Your children can do them with you while their jumping on a trampoline, doing a chore, or standing on their head (just hold them upside down so they can read them!) 🙂

Flashcards have taught my children their ABC’s, all of their phonics sounds, all of their Bible verses, synonyms/ antonyms, homophones, contractions, multiplication and lots of other math facts, music notes, and much more!

Repetition, repetition. Get out those flashcards every day! And they’re portable enough to take to the park or waiting room!

I also like to hang stuff on my walls. Well, I don’t like the cluttered wall part but I am actually totally fine with it. You know why? Because my children walk past it many times a day and they LEARN! I’ll take that over plain walls any day! Your child can make character posters or manners posters and hang them on the wall. You can write out important principles and hang them up. You can hang up your phonics words or shapes or letters, they sky is the limit! Hang up your Bible verse flashcards at the least!

Besides the walls in your home, placemats are also a great learning tool! Your child is sitting there eating and can have something of knowledge filling his spongy, absorbent brain! You can make your own and then laminate it. I’ve done this countless times for help with coins, words, letters, math facts, etc. Or buy a laminated map of the world or the USA and point out things each day! This helps your child understand there is more to the world than his little city!

I didn’t know this until my first son turned two, but children have an INCREDIBLE ability to memorize stuff! We are constantly working on memory work. The neat thing about this is that your child doesn’t even have to know how to read before memorizing all kinds of great stuff. For us, that means our favorite Bible verses, of course! But it could also mean poems, quotes from history, etc. One of the neat things about memorizing things is that you can practice reciting them when you’re in the van or out and about. It doesn’t have to take place during structured homeschool time! Make up songs, rhymes, motions, sign language, or just a particular rhythm; and repeat, repeat, repeat!

Okay, so in case you didn’t notice… I haven’t actually told you any specific homeschool “subjects” that we do. So here they are…

Reading.

And math.

End of post. 🙂

I’m partially kidding. We do other subjects like history and science and art (lots of art!), but we do those in a more passive way. Honestly, the thought of a big huge history or science book for my 7-and-under children makes my head spin. So for history we just read! We read all about history! I don’t know of a better way to learn! And for science we kind of just do it as we come across it. My husband and I have gobs of Creation resources from our college-searching days and that’s a BIG deal to us. So we read science from the Bible and study all that God made in nature, our solar system, our bodies, etc. When do we do this? As we sit, as we walk, as we lie down, and as we stand up, of course!  🙂   And on the weekends when Dada has more time for crazy science experiments!

I’m big on reading. If you teach your child to read well, they can learn endlessly! Once they learn how to read, they can practically homeschool themselves! Have you heard the quote? “In five years you’ll be the same person you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Reading changes lives! Reading gives knowledge, tons and tons of knowledge!

Here is how I teach my children to read.

The Harding family wrote an e-book called “College by Age 12” and I was really curious what that looked like for them. I don’t think parents need to push for college by age 12, but after reading their book, I see that it is completely possible to have a child finish high school material FAR ahead of their non-homeschooled peers! One of the keys they mentioned was math. If your child can speed ahead in math, they could potentially be at a college freshman level by the time they’re 12. Or 14, or whatever. Now some children won’t be able to go as fast as others, but I do think children are way smarter than we give them credit for! As soon as my boys have mastered one concept, I introduce the next. I don’t care that a Kindergarten math book doesn’t introduce multiplication. If my son sees how 5 circles in 2 rows equals 10, we run with it!

Again, even with math, stick with what is fun and simple. Don’t choose a curriculum that is so extensive that it wears YOU out! Play gobs and gobs of math games! I think money spent on games is way better than money spent on elaborate curricula! Design your own flashcards, make your own worksheets! Print free worksheets online. And if your child just isn’t ready for a certain concept, back pedal and let him rest at the basics until he’s ready to move forward. But keep chugging along with math and your child might have their PhD by 21, like some of the Harding children! 🙂

Lastly. Many parents wonder, “Where should my child be?” Yes, you can check online lists of what certain grade levels learn, but as long as you’re always filling your child’s mind with knowledgeable things, you’re doing more than enough!

It’s not like you’ll hit your forehead one day and say “Oh yeah, math, I forgot about math.” You know best what your child should learn! The internet can help as long as it doesn’t burden you to do more than you both are capable of! You do have laundry and dishes and meals to tend to also! Which, having your children do chores is part of homeschool too! See, you were homeschooling and didn’t even know it! Chores are GOOD for your child, let him/her work you out of a job!

If a homeschool conference comes to your area, GO! I’m not recommending you go from booth to booth to be sold on all the best curricula (THAT is exhausting!), but go to hear the speakers and get inspired and fueled up!

You’re raising a World Changer! You can do this Mama! There is no better teacher for your child on the planet!!!

Our Favorite Children’s Books

I’ve posted our favorite children’s books before, so some of these are a repeat, but this is our most recent “Favorites” list in case you’re looking for some new books to add to your collection!  We own lots of books and these (as well as ones on my last post!) are the best of the best!

This is the only one I’ll give with a warning.  It teaches what sex is.  I think the illustrations are so sweet and so well-done.  I think it’s worded so perfectly so that parents can start at a young age being open with their child about sex.  I really like this book but I understand that some parents want to wait until their children are older to talk about this subject.  However, I think the earlier the better and that it should be a normal, open conversation as the child grows and matures.
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The True Story of Noah’s Ark (You will be in awe of the center fold out illustration!!!) and The True Story of Adam and Eve are amazing books to teach your child the REAL accounts of Noah and Adam and Eve.  The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL!!
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Ronnie Wilson’s Gift is a sweet story about how a child can give a gift to Jesus.  Giving a gift to someone in need is the same as giving to Jesus!

Sanji’s Seed is about a boy who chose honesty over greed.  When his plant didn’t grow like the other boy’s big beautiful plants, he still just took his empty cup to the king.  The king was pleased because Sanji came and honestly presented his empty cup.  Sanji was pronounced the next king because of his honesty.

The Jingle in My Pocket is a bit long, so maybe for age 5 and up.  It’s a book in rhyme to teach about giving, saving, and spending money.  The illustrations in this book are precious (as are the illustrations of the other books in this series).

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Trusty.  Good ole’ Trusty.  He’s a train who learns to listen to his Papa’s warnings in Trusty Gets Off Track.  And he stands up for honesty and what is right in Trusty and Ingrid Fibster.  We’re also big fans of Trusty Tried and True.  These books are pricey though, but we really like them.
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God’s Wisdom for Little Boys is a great book to teach your son great character.  It walks through different character qualities with a rhyming poem for each one and has beautiful illustrations.  God’s Wisdom For Little Girls is also great!

The Story of the Empty Tomb is a great book to read about Jesus’ Resurrection!  These little “Arch Books” are good little paperback books, we own several!
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The next three books are all “Little Jewel Books” and there are dozens to choose from on their website.

This is Mohan is about a little boy that meets a missionary family and learns about Jesus.

A Truck and a Tricycle is about a little boy who learns to always pick up his things after he’s done playing so that others don’t get hurt on them.  Cleaning up your things is a way to show kindness to others.

Anthony Gets Ready for Church is just a simple book about how a little boy has to wash his hands, put on his socks and shoes, comb his hair, buckle his shirt, and grab his Bible to get ready for church.  
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Bible Memory Verses- Level Two

After our most simple verses were memorized, I started adding these one at a time.  Both my 5 and my 7-year-old now have 196 verses memorized!  Not because I’m so great or because they’re such geniuses but because we practice, we sing, we repeat over and over again, and we keep them out and handy or on our walls.  You child can do it too, one verse at a time!

Click here for 11 Tips on How to Teach Your Child to Memorize Bible Verses

Click here to see my list of Beginner Bible Verses for Age Two and Up.
Little children, keep yourself from idols. 1 John 5:21

Let us not love in word… but in deed 1 John 3:18

Give me now wisdom and knowledge… 2 Chronicles 1:10a

All unrighteousness is sin. 1John 5:17

…ye are the temple of the living God… 2 Corinthians 6:16

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 1 Timothy 6:8

Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Romans 12:9b

Be ye thankful . Colossians 3:15b

God is light and in him is no darkness at all 1John 1:5

The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. Psalm 33:5

We love him, because he first loved us. 1John 4:19

Wisdom is better than strength Ecclesiastes 9:16a

It is his (the wise man’s) glory to pass over a transgression. (to overlook someone’s wrongdoing to you) Proverbs 19:11

There is none righteous, no not one. Romans 3:10

Great is our Lord, and of great power. Psalm 147:5

Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath James 1:29b

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27b

Charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8b

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:6b

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself Mark 12:31a

And the Lord gave Solomon wisdom 1 Kings 5:12

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made Psalm 139:14a

If ye love me, keep my commandments John 14:15

Abstain from all appearance of evil 1 Thessalonians 5:22

If any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thessalonians 3:10b

…let us love one another: for love is of God 1John 4:7

In God have I put my trust Psalm 56:11a

O Praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him all ye people. Psalm 117:1

He that hath an ear, let him hear Revelation 2:7

Be content with such things as ye have. Hebrews 13:5

Follow me, and I will make you fisthers of men Matthew 4:19

Keep they heart with all diligence Proverbs 4:23

As for God, his way is perfect 2 Samuel 22:31a

As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. Psalm 55:16

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

We ought to obey God rather than men Acts 5:29b

But godliness with contentment is great gain. 1 Timothy 6:6

Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16

A wise man is strong Proverbs 24:5

God is my strength and power; and he maketh my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near Isaiah 55:6

Notes from Homeschool Conference

I recently went to a homeschool conference and got to hear some great speakers!  Here are some of my random notes!…

Below are my notes from Carol Barnier, who is HILARIOUS!  She had me crackin’ up!  Her website devoted to helping families with a distractable child (including ADHD and children on the autism spectrum) is here.

—“If you want to thrill me on our anniversary, don’t take me on a cruise, bring me home a quality microscope or a fetal pig floating in formaldehyde.”

—“Elimination diet- we tried it and the only thing it eliminated was family harmony!”

—“When we married, we were shallow and materialistic. We only cared about a nice car, big house, and stuff. We practically fell into homeschooling, kicking and screaming.”

—“When people ask, “Why do you have so many children?” Pull out a hole-punch card and say, “Doctor says if we get to 11, the 12th one is free, Daddy loves a deal!”

—“If you’re going to choose to homeschool…
-Say goodbye to your dust rag
-Purchase at least one denim jumper- the homeschoolers uniform
-Put an ABC chart in your minivan because you will homeschool there.”

—“If you put two homeschoolers in a room, you’re going to get three opinions.”

—“There’s pressure in the homeschool community to have quiet, calm, perfectly-behaved children. Be set free from this pressure!! Don’t react harshly to your child because you’re worried about how YOU look to others- that’s called pride.”

—“There is no second-class status in God’s family.  You don’t have to feel inferior to someone who seemingly is a spiritual giant.”

—“Just like you don’t criticize a work of art before it’s completed, don’t criticize your child- God’s not done with them yet either.”

—“There are many advantages homeschoolers have over public school children.  For one, we don’t have to deal with our children being bullied on the school bus. 160,000 kids miss the bus daily to avoid bullying.  Truly an issue we don’t have to deal with.”

—“Don’t feel bad for your child if they are a sibling of a special needs child.  They have it easier than your child with special needs, they are the ones at an advantage even if you feel like you spend all your time on your SN child.  The sibling advantages:
-Less judgmental of others, they don’t think mom has to perpetually entertain them, they are more considerate of others that don’t fit in, they are independent creators that will grow up to do really neat things.”

—“You will always need patience, the need doesn’t go away, there will always be challenges that require patience.”

—“Your children are not really yours. It will change how you parent and homeschool when you realize you need to carry out GOD’S plan for your child, instead of your own.”

Notes from Todd Friel:

—“God is more interested in your holiness than in your comforts.”

—“God doesn’t say, ‘Oh, you’re a homeschool family, I’ll make your children behave perfectly.'”

Notes from Crystal Paine, Money Saving Mom:

—“Train your children so well at chores that they work you out of a job.”

—“Step back and look at all the work that needs to be done and realize your children are your God-given, built-in servants!  Homeschooling is a full-time job in and of itself, let your children do the chores.”  It is one of the best gifts her parents gave her, a strong work ethic.

—“It’s just a couch, it’s not worth anger or frustration or cutting into your daughter’s heart (young daughter put 5 cuts in the new couch using scissors).”

—“At the store when your children ask for something, simply say, “Did you bring your money?” If they have enough for something, let them buy most anything they choose. Later, when they get home and that $3 toy breaks, discuss the lessons of that.”  You don’t have to feel pressured to make a decision at the store whether or not to buy it, you ask them how much money they have.

—“It’s powerful for your kids to make a meal sacrifice (beans and rice for dinner) and give that money to children in absolute poverty.”

—“Shave 1-3% on your grocery bill next month. That’s do-able, achievable.”  Keep doing that until you reach a number that works well for your family.

—“To save money, just use less.  Use less meat, use it as a condiment instead of as a main (meat in a casserole/ soup instead of an entire meatloaf).  Use less laundry soap, dish soap, shampoo, etc.  I don’t know who writes those bottle instructions, but you do not need that much soap!  Try running a load of laundry with no soap and you’ll probably still see suds because of all the extra soap lining your washing machine from previous loads.”

“If you get a foaming hand soap bottle (must be this kind), you can forever make your own foaming hand soap for pennies.  Put a little CLEAR liquid soap in the bottom, fill the rest with water.  Wa-lah, foaming hand soap!  You can even add a few drops essential oil if you want it scented.”  (I’m going to try this with my Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds!)

How I’ve Taught My 3-Year-Olds to Read

My two older boys have learned to start reading at age 3 and were fluent readers who had mastered all basic phonics sounds by age 4.

BUT, every child learns differently, it’s more important to teach your child to love reading than it is to have them reading on their own by age 4!  Go at your child’s pace but constantly challenge them to the next level.  I’ve met wonderful homeschool mom’s who have children that struggle until age 10 to read, that’s OKAY, hang in there!

I think many books and curricula over-complicate things and make it so frustrating for child AND parent.  I’m all about keeping it simple, frugal, and stress-free!  Here’s how WE did it (but go with the method that helps your child best!)…

My biggest secret has been flashcards.  Repetition with flashcards, games with flashcards, hanging flash cards on the wall, and… some more flashcards!  That visual aid that you can repeat many times a day.  Seeing the words, repeating the words, continually adding new words.  They can do flashcards while they jump, while they play with toys, while they drop marbles into a jar, etc, etc!
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Step One: (Capital Letters)
From as young as they can start to comprehend, 18-24 months if possible!, start teaching them their capital letters.  Hang one letter at a time on your wall and point to it many, many times a day.  Keep reviewing previously learned letters by leaving them on the wall also.  You could also make a matching game (or an endless amount of other homemade learning games).  For matching, make two index cards both have the same capital letter, mix them all up, and ask them to find the two matching ones (two matching A’s, for example).

Step Two: (Sounds of Letters)
Once they can  ID all 26 capital letters, or even before, you can teach them that each letter makes a sound, and that each capital has a lowercase.  Teach them the one most basic sound for each letter of the alphabet (don’t worry about explaining to them that the A can make a few different sounds, etc).

“The A says “a” as in hat, bat, cat.  The E says “e” as in bed, pet, led.  The I says “i” as in pig, sin, hit.  The O says “o” as in hot, mop, doll.  The U says “u” as in up, rug, cup.”

Step Three:  (Sounding Out Simple Words)
After they know each capital letter and its most basic sound, they can start combining letters to read simple words!  Make flashcards for one vowel sound at a time.  I make a flashcard for every word I can think of that makes that sound.  This gives them a wider knowledge of words.  For example, bat, hat, cat, mat, rat, sat, pat, at, etc.

At first, sound out the word for them to show them how its done.  Next, have them sound it out by themselves.  Then graduate to slightly harder words for that sound, like… clap, flap, slab, stab, flat, snap, grab, trap, black, track, snack, stack, crack, staff, strap, etc.  Once they’ve mastered the “A,” go on to the next vowel, but keep continually reviewing those “A” words.

Step Four: (Lowercase Letters)
At any point after learning their capitals, you can have them start learning the lowercase letters also.  Start with the easy ones first, the lowercase letters that match their uppercase ones… c, f, j, k, l, m, o, p, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z.  Again, any sort of matching games work great for this (have your child match the capitals to their lowercase).  Once they master the easy ones, start adding in the harder ones like a, b, d, e, etc.

Step Five:(Phonics Sounds List)
Okay, so your child can ID all 26 letters of the alphabet in capital and lowercase!  They know the most basic sound that each letter makes.  They can even read simple words like hat, cat, bat!  Now what?

A simple phonics-sound list to go by is all you need as a parent.  Start teaching your child one phonics sound at a time.  For example, show your child how the CH says “ch.”  Make flashcards for every “ch” word you can think of and help them master them!  “Chin, chop, chat, check,” etc.  When they master the first phonics sound, go on to the next one.  Keep reviewing the ones they’ve previously learned.  Never stop reviewing!  Make as many flashcards as you can to increase their repetition and number of words that they know.

Step Six: (Sight Words)
Anywhere in the above process, and as soon as they are ready, you can also have them start to memorize a few sight words, using flashcards of course!  “And, the, so, me, I, do, we,” etc.  Continually add new sight words each week to increase the number of words your child can read!

Don’t forget to let them read BOOKS too!
After my children start their first phonics sounds, I attempt to start very easy little books with them.  Actually, my homemade ones have been our favorites.  You can make your child a book, putting together all the words that they know.
DSCN9104 DSCN9105If you read books with them that contain words they do not know, show them those words so they can start to learn them!

When my children start to read words I’ve never taught them I feel like a miracle has taken place!  It is such a JOY to watch this happen before your very Mama eyes!  By the time you get close to the end of your phonics list, your child will most likely already know those last few sounds without you ever having even taught them!  It’s a miracle!  🙂

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I had gotten my phonics list from a little book that was given to me, “Happy Phonics.”  I didn’t follow all their ideas, games, or ways of teaching.  I basically just used their phonics list in the back of the book and started working my way through them with my child.  I’m a rebel like that!  🙂

Phonics Groups/ Sounds From “Happy Phonics:”
th- thin, that, with, bath, etc
ch- chin, chop, chip, much, etc
sh- wish, ship, cash, shed, etc
wh- whip, which, when, etc

a3- ball, car, art, star, park, fall, wash, etc

ee- see, tree, seed, sweet, three, etc
ea- eat, treat, beach, wheat, dream, etc

er- her, fern, sister, herd, etc
ir- first, thirst, sir, bird, birth, etc
ur- fur, burn, hurt, turn, etc
wor- work, word, worm, worth, etc
ear- earth, earn, learn, search, etc

_y – my, by, shy, why, try, etc
___y – windy, silly, happy, puppy, etc

ai- rain, train, maid, mail, trail, drain, etc
ay- say, pray, day, clay, spray, etc

oi- oil, boil, coin, point, moist, etc
oy- toy, boy, joy, etc

au- haul, fault, launch, etc
aw- saw, jaw, straw, yawn, etc

sion- vision, session, mission, etc
tion- action, nation, station, fraction, etc

ch (2)- echo, chord, Christ, etc

ea (2)- bread, pear, head, sweat, leather, etc

c (2)- cent, city, circus, center, prince, etc

g (2)- gem, page, giraffe, gel, etc

ou- loud, out, mouth, pound, etc
ow- cow, brown, down, crowd, etc

oa- boat, goat, soak, toast, foam, loaf, etc

ow (2)- snow, show, throw, blow, etc

oo- too, food, moon, broom, zoo, etc
ew- new, blew, chew, threw, screw, etc
u_e- cute, blue, glue, tube, rude, etc
ui- fruit, suit, cruise, etc

gn- sign, gnat, gnaw, etc
kn- knot, knew, knee, knit, etc
wr- write, wrap, wring, etc
__b- lamb, thumb, plumber, etc

-ould- should, would, could

ph- graph, phonics, physical, orphan, elephant, etc

ou (2)- four, pour, your, etc

oo (2)- book, good, foot, shook, etc

igh- high, sigh, night, fight, bright, etc

eigh- eight, sleigh, neighbor, weigh, freight, etc

_y_ – hymn, myth, system, etc

ou (3)- you, soup, group, youth, etc

augh- taught, caught, daughter, etc
ough- brought, sought, thought, etc

ie- chief, grief, priest, piece, cookie, etc
ei- (i before e, except after c)- receive, conceive, deceive, etc
ey- key, honey, turkey, monkey, etc

ey (2)- they, obey, prey, etc

One thing that this list didn’t teach was that the vowel says its name when there’s a silent e on the end.  So you could make flashcards for…
A- rake, made, lake, gate, etc
E- theme, scene, etc
I- bike, ride, file, side, etc
O- nose, tote, mode, sole, etc
U- (is included in above list)- tube, cute, flute, glue, etc

I’m sure you’re done reading this post by now, but one more thing!… After my child has mastered this list, I jot down troublesome words that they come across in a book and make a flashcard out of it.  We practice it until they know the word well.

Hope you enjoy the “miracle” of teaching your child to read!!

My son who is 4 years, 4 months reads at this level right now, you can do it too!…
06-08-2014 102 DSCN9106

Quotes from Michael Farris

I recently read a book by Michael Farris, president of Home School Legal Defense Association.  Although the book was for Dads, it intrigued me so I jumped in.  He covered a wide variety of subjects and had some really good points that are worth repeating.

Quotes from “The Homeschooling Father” by Michael Farris:

“Let me say that I am all for a liberal arts education. I believe that this part of a home schooled child’s education should be fully completed by his or her parents before he or she leaves home.”  (Get your ‘liberal arts’ education at home, not by paying big bucks at college for it).

“I do not believe that college should be used as a substitute for a proper education in childhood. Build a base that is deep and wide at home and then use college primarily as preparation for a career. And pursue college alternatives that are available for the career path you have chosen.”

“If you were to choose only one method (college or apprenticeship), apprenticeship will beat classroom instruction every time.”

“When we talked and planned in the 1950s and 1960s we never dreamed that secular humanism, New Age curriculum, or condoms would be the subjects of instruction in the public schools.”

“Don’t just pay big money for college and assume you did what was best for your child. That same $50,000 could start up your child’s small business instead of buying English literature. Don’t pay extra so your children can learn philosophy and a Christian world-view, those should be taught at home. If you want your children to have supplemental, specialized training in developing a Christian worldview, send them to the two-week program offered by Summit Ministries. If you want them to spend some time getting well rounded and enlarging their frame of reference, send them on a short-term missions project to another culture.”

“I am simply urging that the majority of the time and expense of college should be spent for career preparation, not personal enrichment.”

“The vast majority of people engage in dating based on the criteria that the other person is interesting and attractive. We teach our daughters to only pursue a relationship when both the young man and the daughter are prepared for marriage and that he appears to meet the spiritual standards the parents and daughter have agreed upon for a husband. Dads, your first job in this area is to secure your children’s commitment to following these principles in relations with the opposite sex. Don’t wait until they are 16-17. You will have waited far too long.”  (Talk to your children about purity from very young ages and repeat many times over).

“By the time I was in junior high, some of my friends were engaging in sexual intercourse. After all, they had been “going with girls” for years and were tired of waiting for “the real thing.”

“The vast majority of parents want their children to abstain from sexual relationships until marriage. However, we have failed to see that abstinence should include emotional abstinence as well. In other words, if we permit our children to develop boyfriend-girlfriend relationships before they are ready to get married, we are simply asking for sexual temptation.”

“We can’t ask our children to stay sexually pure while allowing them to be engaged in emotional romance and playing the boyfriend/ girlfriend game in elementary and junior high schools.”

“Preparing your sons for marriage: A man is not ready for marriage until he is ready to work and take care of his family’s finances.”

Chucking College

I recently heard Melanie Ellison, author of “Chucking College” speak and thought she had such great points on college educations.

High cost of college, massive amounts of student loan debt, wasted time learning things that don’t matter, loss of income while attending school, absence of hands-on apprenticeship skills that are very valuable in the marketplace, and the obvious horrid influences of alcohol and partying, among other things.

Yes, some jobs require a degree but Americans waste THOUSANDS of dollars on “higher education” while ignoring the most valuable assets to an employer… a hard work ethic, dependability, a sharp mind, entrepreneurership, and SKILLS that they gained by WORKING in that field. There are plenty of options to study specific fields (at home, online, certification programs, apprenticeship, etc). A 6-year, expensive degree is most often not a company requirement!

This HILARIOUS video about sums it up.

Date-Less Homeschool Lesson Plans

I recently went to a homeschool conference and heard Linda Hobar speak, among others.  She had such a great idea and I’ve already implemented it into our homeschooling.  The “date-free” or “date-less” planner!

You basically make all the lesson plans you want for your homeschooling (whether you do this by quarters or whatever).  But don’t put it on calendar pages, don’t put it in a date-d planner, don’t write dates anywhere on each day’s plan!!  Don’t date anything!

Now you have built-in flexibility!

If you miss a day of “school,” you just go to the first unfinished lesson plan and do it.  You don’t have to feel guilty for being two weeks behind.  You don’t have to feel like every Monday thru Friday HAS to be “school.”

Freedom!!  I love it!

I’m already a pretty relaxed scheduler when it comes to our “lesson plans.”  Linda stated that since public schools have to do 180 days of school, you could simply write out 180 days worth of lesson plans and know that as long as you get them done in a 365 day period, you are right on track.

We do accelerated homeschool so I don’t follow that 180-day rule, but for those of you that do, why not try the “date-less” planner idea to give you a little more flexibility?!

Here are my sons “date-less” plans for next week (I print off a new sheet each week, because they change what they’re doing that often!)  Note, there are no dates mentioned, not even what day of the week they “should” be done!  (Caden is 4 years, 3 months.  Alex is 6 years, 10 months).

DSCN8800DSCN8801One other thing she suggested is that you have your child highlight items as they complete them.  That way you can still see what was originally on the list!

You can eventually add dates to your planner… once that day has been completed you can write the day you completed it!  🙂

A few of my other notes from other sessions at the homeschool conference…
You never look back and say “We never finished that math program.”  Does your child know how to love others? How to pick a great spouse?  Remember what’s most important in your child’s life as a whole.

Don’t reprimand them over academics, not “getting” math is not their fault.

Just sitting with your child while they are working will settle their brain.

When they resist, sometimes you just need to step sideways (in math, for example) and enrich them before moving forward. Don’t bombard them with too much of the things they’re resisting (math, for example). This discourages them.  Sidestep it until you have them on-board again.

A child may have a fear of success… they know that if they do well mom will only give them even more work/ higher expectations.

For gifted children, or pretty children for that matter, compliment their character only, not the gift (makes the child prideful).