Monday, 27 February 2017

My Anti-bonkers Scheme!

"Do we have to do school today Mum?"

"Can I just play with lego?"

"I'm really tired today"

"This lesson is too hard!"

I'm sure we've all heard these delightful persistent comments as home school mummies at some time or another! 

Or maybe you've heard this? ...

"What do I have to do again?"

"I can't remember what you said to do"

"I was just looking at this picture ... I'm almost finished ... almost"

"What subject am I doing now?"

"Oh, no, I didn't get that quite finished ..."

 I was beginning to hear myself giving too many instructions and reminders time and time again, and I thought to myself ... this has got to stop or I'll go completely bonkers!

I planned and initiated an intense, organisational program, that I completed in one month, to establish order and structure in our home school days ...

... pppffffffttt yeah right!

You know what I use?

A 49c exercise book!

I call it our 'day book' and each child has one ...

... here's what they look like ...

They begin with the day and the date, and then I write out what is required for each child to complete each day.

The circles are their 'check-point' (a.k.a. the silent motivator!) 
My children know that when their check-points are ticked off (and their space tidied up), then they are free for the rest of the day! Obviously, I do require them to show me their completed work, so that I can make sure that they ARE ACTUALLY doing it, and doing it to a high standard! 

Here's the reasons why I love this method ...

#1.    It's so easy
#2.    It's very cheap
#3.    It's easy for the kids to follow and understand
#4.    I know that the kids are on track with their learning each week
#5.    It's great for writing little reminders and encouragements to them
#6.    There's no need to be 'precious' with them, as they cost so little!
#7.    A written record is kept in these books for their reporting
#8.   **My most favourite part** ... the kids motivate themselves!
#9.    I can add as little or as much as each child needs, or according to our days other                       activities.   

I also try and plan a week, sometimes only a few days, ahead ... but that's more for my benefit than the kids (consider it my 'anti-bonkers scheme'!)

There are weeks when I don't use these books for one reason or another, and let me tell you, it's so incredibly noticeable ... not in a good way. There's more distractions, less being achieved, and less productivity in general.  

These small little investments 
have had very big rewards!

When I first brought the exercise books, I wrote some reminders and encouragements to each child in the front of their own book ...


... and that's it! Our easy peasy way to be productive and stay on track!

(**Disclaimer ... these books are not magic wands and by no means solve issues such as stated in the following examples: sibling rivalry, world hunger, who's unpacking the dishwasher, or who spilt the maple syrup on the kitchen floor**)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Our Inspiring English Unit!

"Through hard work, perseverance and a faith in God, 
you can live your dreams".

For this term in English, my two eldest children (year 10 and year 7) are studying the novel 'Gifted Hands' by Ben Carson, M.D.

So that I could effectively help my kids with answering some of the questions if needed, I decided to read the novel for myself. I devoured it in two days, it was such an inspiring read!
His life story and the dedication of his mother, who was determined to have her sons believe the best in themselves, is powerful.

Ben Carson becomes a world-class pediatric neurosurgeon at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. Growing up in poverty-stricken Detroit with his mother and elder brother, Curtis, Ben could have never dreamed of the future that lay ahead for him. When 9-year-old Ben's father abandons his family, his heart is broken with the hurt lasting a life-time... (read the rest here)

“By reading so much, my vocabulary automatically improved along with my comprehension.” 

I learnt a lot through this book, as a Christian, as an individual, but most of all, as a mother. I'm encouraged by the strong will and the sacrifices of Sonya Carson, and I could only pray that my influence on my childrens hearts, minds and lives will be anything close to hers on her boys! 

"My favorite subject was recess. Fortunately for me, I had a mother who believed I was smart."

If you've not read this book, I really encourage you to. 
It makes a great English unit for our children to learn the requirements of the English language, but even more than that, it implants a contagious zeal into their hearts to be the best they can be in whichever area they choose; to put God first, to treat others with respect, to use the gifts and talents God gave them for the benefit of others, and to keep on keeping on when things seem to be impossible.

“No knowledge is ever wasted.” 

I've found some links for you, in case you're wanting to use this book as a resource for your childrens learning, or just to read for yourself! For study guides, click here, here and here. You can purchase the book for yourself here, here, or here! Also, here is a link to FREE Ben Carson note booking pages and handwriting... love free stuff!

“God has an overall plan for people’s lives and the details get worked out along the way, even though we usually have no idea what’s going on.” 

I hope you and your children enjoy this biography as much as we have! 

What an inspiration Ben Carson is to so many! 
Praise God for his wonderful, life-saving, gifted hands!

(Linking up with this blog here!)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Our Little Chef!

Our oldest daughter (13) absolutely loves to cook! 
So much so that she's collecting cooking books, creating her own recipes, and forever asking to be in the kitchen!

As her parents, we obviously are wanting to support her in her interest (that doesn't show any signs of changing!) and give her opportunity for growth and the chance to learn from her sometimes not so edible creations! 

We're so thankful that homeschooling allows these extra opportunities.

But ...

We seemed to be always clashing with when we were both wanting to be in the kitchen!

So my husband and I came up with this plan ...

... We would give our eager little Chef one night per week that is hers for her cooking night. (She can cook as many or as few dishes as she likes; entree, main, dessert, drink, etc.)
Thursday night works best for us all, so Thursday night it is! 
When we shared this with our daughter, she was thrilled to pieces!

There are, of course, some 'non-negotiable' rules that she has to follow ...

#1.  Plan your menu BEFORE mum goes shopping (usually Monday or Tuesday)
#2.  Write out your own list of ingredients needed when shopping 
(I use grocery money that I would normally use for that meal)
#3.  Please keep it budget friendly and healthy
(I can still 'rule-out' any meals too expensive, unhealthy, or difficult etc.)

#4.  Start with a clean kitchen, end with a clean kitchen 
#5.  Read and re-read all methods carefully BEFORE cooking
#6.  Try (as best as possible) to have the meal on the table before 6pm
#7.  Keep going, and never give up
#8.  Have fun!

We've found that this is such an easy way to support her love of cooking! 
It really works well (and I really enjoy the night off too!) 

As an extra addition to her cooking 'education', she keeps her own recipe journal as well (her own idea!) It contains recipes that she's tried and are now favourites, and recipes that she's developed herself over time. I can just see her cooking for her own family from this lovely book full of delicious meals, cakes, biscuits, desserts and everything in between! 

When time permits, I allow her to bake at other times as well, so she's not restricted to only Thursday nights.

And, as you can see ... my younger children have no problem with dressing up for the occasion and being our happy little waiters! They are sooooo cute! 
(Look at that tie and those braces, and those gloves and pearls! They melt my heart!)

The last meal that our daughter cooked, she asked if she could create her own menu too (we said yes), so that was designed and printed from Word, and placed on the table at each setting. We've also said that she can have fun with the decorating of the table, and again, the younger kids enjoy helping with this as well! 

Tonight her meal (as in pictures above) was an Asian Mince, with mashed potato (we 'judge' her meals, like she's asked us to, and all said that veggies would have been nice in it too, but it was sooo yummy!) and then mini apple pies (that she made from scratch!) with custard for dessert, delicious!

This is fast becoming a fun family night together and we're so very proud of our little Chef!

I think this quote says things quite perfectly ...

Have a truly blessed week!

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Key To A Great Home School Room!

 Creating a space to home school is not always the easiest task to accomplish. A lot depends on the home you live in and whether or not it has sufficient space to use in the first place. Then there's the budget to factor in, the time it takes to organise stuff, and it can sometimes become quite overwhelming.

We've not long moved into our first ever own home, and so the excitement of 'fluffing our nest' was still fresh. However, the room we chose initially for our home school room, was a long and narrow rectangle. By the time we had enough table/desk space down each side, there was the itty bittiest little walk way that we squeezed ourselves down to move from one end of the room to the other. Needless to say, with five people in that room daily, it soon drove me nuts!

After much discussion (and a hint of persuasion) with our eldest son, we settled on swapping bedrooms around; with him having the narrow room (which works brilliantly for one person!) and the school room being his old, slightly larger square shaped room. A whole day later, three or four large garbage bags full, and unwanted items bagged for Vinnies, our son had his new pad, and we all had our new school room ...

 I think what I love the most is that we have space now to keep 'like things' together. Books are all in the bookshelves, chairs are all at their proper desks, stationary is all together for easy access, and the children each have their own pigeon holes to keep their own work together and in one place (for the most part!)

 That desk in the middle of the room, I have since commandeered for my own desk to use for my bullet journaling, sketching, school planning and anything else I need it to be for! It sure beats sprawling everything out all over the lounge room floor in everyones way!

 What I also love, is that we've been able to make this space so personal to our families likes. We've got maps on the walls, projects that the kids have completed, information posters, and my most favourite ... our artworks that we've all created!

Let me assure you though, that it's not always this clean! 

We don't just stick to this room for our studies though, sometimes we use the lounge room, the small kitchen table or the dining table, sometimes even outside. But now there's no more squeezing ourselves between tables and chairs, and there's plenty of room for everyone to be comfortable! 

The key to making your space work, however big or small, is to be content. Nothing has to be fancy or expensive. I didn't spend a cent on this room, I just used what we already had, made do and made it fun and personal!

And we all love it!

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