Hurried Homemaker- for supermoms short on time -
The longer we homeschool, the less structured we get. And that is actually a really good thing! At this point, the kids essentially lead the majority of their learning. My 4yo naturally learned to read and write – because she wanted to. Does she do either perfectly? Um, she’s 4! I think you know the answer. My 11yo is a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) girl. But, one thing they both share is their love of learning.
Several months ago, I noticed two words that are repeated by both girls a lot: “I wonder …”
These two words prompted me to begin what is now, essentially, the basis for our little “school”. Each of the girls has their very own Wonder Journal, created just for them. The idea is simple: write down everything you “I wonder …” about. Then? Get to exploring! We read, watch videos, and Google until their “wonder” is satisfied.
What kinds of things are in our Wonder Journals?
- 4yo recently wondered how plastic is made. We read about plastic. We watched videos on plastic being made. We made our own plastic. Then? We learned about recylcing plastic.
- 11yo recently wondered how engines are made. She researched different kinds of engines for three days. She is currently building her own.
The kids write in their Wonder Journal any time of day or night that they experience that “I wonder …” thought. When they get the urge to explore one of their wonders, they do (which is usually daily). Then, they record what they’ve learned. Bonus – this helps with writing, sentence structure, etc.
How to make a Wonder Journal:
- 1″ white binder
- notebook paper (I printed practice handwriting lines for the little one, but used regular notebook paper for the oldest)
- your own little creative cover
It is so easy and fun!
Homeschooling is such a blessing to us. Being able to do things at our own pace, on our own schedule is absolutely perfect for us. When all goes according to schedule, we get up and do a chore, school, lunch, finish school, chore, playtime, dinner, etc. I have a cleaning routine in which certain areas get cleaned on certain days. But there are many weeks in which all does not go according to schedule. The kids are learning daily, no matter what. However, we sometimes get behind on regular things, like housework or cooking and loading up the fridge with grab-and-go items. The last 2 weeks were get-behind weeks. We had company in town, then hubby went on the road. You know … life happened.
Solution? Yesterday was what I like to call “Real Life Day”. We occasionally have these, to play catch up. We sat down and the kids made lists of everything we didn’t get done (but should have) over the last 2 weeks. And we set forth a plan to get it all accomplished. While the kids help with housework most of the time, days like this are extra-special because I love seeing them not only work together, but work with me, toward a common goal. There is just something about teamwork that makes my heart smile.
Late in the afternoon (after all our goals were accomplished, but before dinner need to be made), the little one wanted to play “store”. I decided to grab this opportunity for a play-lesson. She brought me about 5 items from her play-kitchen and we gave each item a price tag. When we “checked out” of our store, we added up the items using a small white-board (no calculators in this store!), and voila! Lesson! I wrote in black, she wrote in pink. We used a number line for this particular lesson, but we use lots of different materials for math (but that’s for another post).
These are the moments that I love the most – getting a valuable school lesson in with play. What better way to learn, than through fun?
We have never had a dedicated “game night” at our house. We don’t do family time with any kind of schedule … we prefer to just let it flow, naturally. When my husband is out of town over the weekends, the girls and I usually do a Friday night movie. When he is in town, we usually wind up playing a game a few nights a week. We thought it would be hard to find games that both our kids would enjoy, given their age difference (they are 11 and 4). But, we just started trying out games and found success with Uno, Go Fish, Sorry, Rumikub, Chinese Checkers, Monopoly, and Clue.
The other morning, my oldest had the idea of Charades. What a fantastic idea! But we would have to find a way to make it work for everyone. So, the girls and I sat down and came up with a list of shows/movies that they both are familiar with. We developed a list of 8 shows/movies, so that everyone would get 2 turns – seemed like a good idea for the first night.
I realized that there were probably a couple words that my 4yo would not be able to read and included a picture along with the title. This helped keep the game focused on fun, not on reading.
Monday Night: Following dinner, everyone worked together to clear the table. While hubby & I did dishes and caught up from the day, the girls got ready for bed. We all met in the living room for our first family game of charades. After going through all 8 titles, the little one was so jazzed, she asked to do it all again. And so we did. What fun!
So guess what? Tuesday morning, the girls and I decided it was definitely happening again. This time, we chose 16 book titles. Another night of family charades success!
The best part? Yesterday, while I was making dinner, I heard my girls in the other room playing charades! This will definitely be something we add into our game rotation!
Being a home schooling family has its advantages, more free time being one of them. I love that my kids choose much of their free time to play creatively – making up puppet shows, creating their own scenes as characters from their favorite books/shows, creating music videos on their iPads, writing songs using their voices and instruments, and so much more! But there are also all these wonderful technological devices that we so love – the iMac, their own iPads, the Apple TV (can you tell we’re an Apple family?) – that can be distractions from using their creative little minds. We decided that even thouh the kids didn’t watch much TV, they were beginning to spend more time than necessary on their other devices. We found a way to limit that technology-time. Enter … the Gold Coin System!
WHAT IT CONSISTS OF:
- Gold coins bought in the education section of my local office supply store
- An old lunchbox/cookie tin-like container
- 2 candle holders spray-painted with chalkboard paint (each kid’s name is on their jar)
HOW IT WORKS:
Gold coins are NOT earned for performing their decided-upon home responsibilities (some of you call these “chores”). Why? Because we are a family and we ALL live in this house. Therefore everyone must contribute.
Also, coins cannot be bargained for (“If I do XYZ, can I get 2 coins?”).
Coins ARE earned for …
- Going above and beyond the call of duty (ex – instead of just putting books back on shelf, noticing that the shelf is getting messy and straightening it up)
- Being especially helpful to a sibling, parent, friend, or stranger
- Doing something positive out of their comfort zone (for our youngest, this is stuff like initiating a conversation with a new person, trying something new, etc)
- Oftentimes we give coins when we notice excellent teamwork
- Taking care of their responsibilities without being asked to do so
- Other times at our discretion
Coins can be spent as follows (all are with permission first):
- 1 coin/10 mins of technology time (approved games and websites only)
- 2 coins/show (most shows are 20 mins) *
- Occasionally coins can be cashed in for stuff – items in the $1 bin at Target, Target gift cards (read about how we started that here) a sweet treat, or other “want” (new nail polish, etc)
- Stay up a little later
Coins can be lost! Being nasty to a sibling, disrespectful to a parent or other authority figure, refusing to perform responsibilities, etc. – these are all ways to lose a coin.
* We like to have a family movie night (at home). When we do, we choose a day in which everyone has been well-behaved and no one turns in coins for these family-movies. These are a gift!
It has been really fun and interesting to watch how each of them uses their coins. Our oldest loves to save hers up, while the little one would use them up as fast as she gets them if we’d let her. It has been great for all of us … even more family time, lots of creative play, and less technology time and “I wants”.
I was asked to participate in a link-up by the amazing Fawn over at Happy Wives Club, and was honored to be invited. Although I was asked if I would only include a small list of reasons I love my husband at the bottom of a regular post, I just couldn’t do that. I felt like my husband needed his very own post on my blog. Since I rarely talk about our family specifically on here, you know it is kind of a big deal. But you know what? He’s kind of a big deal.
If you follow me on Twitter (@rhianapfaff), you’ve probably seen us tweet SHMILY to one another, or rib each other about something or another. If not, then I will tell you, he is the amazingly talented Gary Ray (shameless promotion). So, without further ado …
I love my husband because …
- He is a leader, our leader.
- He books our workouts with the trainer at 8:30am (instead if the 7:30 or 8am he would rather do)
- He is an amazing father!
- He volunteers at our church, and is so awesome with those kids.
- He works hard so I can be home with our kids.
- When I said I wanted to home school our kids, he supported it fully – and he continues to support and encourage me.
- He is a pretty calm person, which I need!
- He believes in me and our kids.
- He is good with money.
- He loves me, even when I don’t deserve it.
You may or may not know that I became a fan of photography after my parents gave me an awesome camera as a “thank you” present for planning my little sister’s wedding about 3 years ago. I am no professional, but I really enjoy taking pictures, learning more, and trying to improve. I joined Clickin Moms (no, I am not sponsored or affiliated with them in any way) and have really improved a good bit since. I still have a long way to go, but I am enjoying the process.
I became aware of the Nurture Photopgraphy Fall Photo Challenge through my Twitter friend, Veronica Armstrong (her blog is awesome!), last week. I thought “why not?” and decided to join up on the challenge this week. The autumn colors here in Nashville are gorgeous right now, so I took the kids out to collect some leaves and grabbed a couple shots.
Here are my orange/warmth photos:
We do not give our kids an allowance or reward for doing “chores” around the house. Matter of fact, we rarely even use that word. It is our opinion that our kids should participate in the upkeep of the home because, well, they live here too. We feel that we are teaching our kids to contribute to the running of a home – and this will serve them well as they have roommates and, eventually, spouses. Each kid has different responsibilities that they have to take care of. They also have several that we require that they do together, as a team.
We also do not reward for “good” behavior. We feel that if you only behave to earn a reward, you aren’t doing it for the right reasons. We strive to raise our kids to WANT to do the right thing, and to do it. No reward needed.
That being said, we DO like to reward for above-and-beyond help and exceptionally helpful behavior. Sometimes it is just a “Thank you so much for your extra work this week. We really noticed it and it was awesome to have all that extra help! You rock!” Sometimes, we grab a frozen yogurt and tell them how thankful we are over a sweet treat. And sometimes, it is a $5 gift card to Target.
The gift card is definitely one of my favorites! I always keep two on hand and love to see their faces light up when I dole them out. Even more fun? Watching them trying to choose how to spend their precious $5! And, of course, it is awesome to see math skills at work in a real life situation.
What is your special way of thanking your kids?
This post is not sponsored by Target. However, it is fully endorsed by my kids – who have just successfully chosen some cool toys with their recent aquisition of a $5 Target gift card each.
I don’t know about you, but one of my LEAST favorite chores each week is choosing our meals. I love the cooking. I really love the eating. I can even tolorate the grocery shopping. But the deciding? I hate that part. (That is actually true about me in far more ways than just meals, but I digress.)
I finally decided this past weekend that the entire family should know how much I detest this particular chore of mine. Since we are ALL eating, and since during almost every meal I have to hear about how someone didn’t want this or like that … well, I figure we can ALL contribute to the list. And so it was.
My girls got together in the school room and made a list – each choosing 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 snacks, and 2 dinners that they really want. Meanwhile, the hub and I sat in the kitchen choosing the other 3 of each meal. We put the lists together, made a meal plan and a grocery list. Who knew it could be this easy?
So far, this seems like an awesome plan … we’ll see if it continues to work out well for us. Does your family have a challenge when it comes to selecting meals? How do you keep the peace?
UPDATE 8/9/12: Ack! Putting the sugar detox on hold until AFTER my daughter’s birthday next week. I can’t miss out on cake! Btw – so far, lots of headaches! Will start over again on 8/20/12.
We just got home from a long weekend away at a wedding. It was a beautiful and fun weekend, full of good company, food, and wine. And so, in the midst of settling into our new house, dealing with the changes of Hashimoto’s, planning a fundraiser, and getting ready to begin the school year of home schooling 2 kids … I am starting a 21-day sugar detox. Call me crazy. I am. But, in case you’re interested in doing it too, here is what I am doing:
If you want to join me, please do and link up or comment here! Wish me luck (or rather, my husband and kids luck in dealing with me for the next 3 weeks)!
I am in no way advertising for this company, I simply wanted to share with my readers what guidelines I am following.
The 21-Day Sugar Detox did not compensate me for this post.