2016-2017 School Year

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Ready or not, we commence another school year this coming week. I have changed a few things compared to last year. The biggest change is that we will school five days a week. Last year I did six days a week because I wanted to try it.

It was tiring but I just could not let go. I had to take the experiment all the way to the end of the school year.

Father, son and daughter picking up fireworks for July 4th

Picking up some fireworks for the 4th – one of the memories of the summer which is coming to a close slowly but surely

This year, we are going back to schooling Monday-Friday and taking the weekend off. I am hoping this will relieve some of the pressure I felt last year. It will give me a full day to catch up on my writing deadlines and housework. And the kids get a full day to free play. Knowing them, they will spend some of that free time coding on ScratchContinue reading »

I like to make the first day of school special. I don’t make it into a huge deal, but I mark it with a special breakfast menu (pancakes in addition to our daily oatmeal, for instance) and maybe an outing in the afternoon or early evening if we get everything done.

We will take pictures, of course. It’s the only way to gather up a couple of portrait-style pictures that – I found out – are needed for different things throughout the year.

For instance, last year, their piano teacher made them Christmas ornaments and asked me for nice head shots of the kids. She is an artist, not just a piano teacher, and likes to make crafts for her students at Christmas time. The best pictures I found of my kids were the school pictures from the beginning of the school year.

Then, for this school year, one of our homeschool support groups gave us school IDs. As such, they required nice head shots of the kids. Again, I reached for the school pictures from last year.

So I made a note to self, that we should definitely start every school year dressed nicely and with semi-formal pictures of the kids. You never know when you can utilize these portraits.

What about your first day of school? Do you have any traditions?


Starting to Homeschool – Looking Back at 2013

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Looking back at 2013, I can split the year in three sections, even though homeschooling is woven throughout:

1. January-May: preparing to start homeschooling in the fall, I spent my time reading and gathering curriculum. I taught the children in a gentle and relaxed way, with short lessons. We read a lot and worked our way through “Before Five in a Row.” They were both preschoolers.

My daughter gave herself a radical haircut in February and the incident haunted me for months. It still does, as her hair is still growing into what it used to be. I was running errands in town and my mom was watching my children. My mom forgot to put the scissors up. One can put the scissors up 99 times. It’s the 100th time one doesn’t, that the inevitable happens.

Children looking at a cat

My children at Camp Wesley Woods in Townsend, a few days after she cut her hair. This cat looks just like ours. They could not believe their eyes.

2. June-August: my sister, her husband, and their 14-year-old son spent the summer with us. She is a successful blogger in Romania and provided the much-needed inspiration and push for me to start blogging. Yay for older sisters who help younger sisters take new paths!

Extended family visiting Dollywood

From the left: the four of us, my sister, mom, nephew and brother-in-law. We enjoyed their company for almost three months – Europeans get amazingly long vacations, don’t they?

3. September-December: I started homeschooling my son officially, as he began kindergarten. My daughter is in preschool and I work with her too, according to her desire. She asks to do math every day.

Children being educated at home work on their projects at the dining room table.

My children working on their books in the beginning of the school year.

Homeschooling and blogging about it sure keep me busy. I enjoy it. I keep telling myself my children will grow up in a flash. Then, I will have all the time in the world to do whatever I might feel that I don’t have time for right now.

Looking Back at 2013


First Day of Homeschooling

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And… they’re off! No, not exactly. They are still here, at home. And yet, they are learning. A lot. Isn’t that amazing? Our homeschooling journey started yesterday, on September 1. Of course, Self-University Week started yesterday, too. When I made this schedule I did not know about this neat coincidence.

I dressed the kids up in their school uniforms. DD asked, “Do I have to wear this all the time?” She’s such a girlie girl, she wants the scoop on her outfitting options. “Only for school time.” She accepted it.

I chose to buy school uniforms because

a. children look cute in uniforms.

b. it helps them get into “school mode”.

c. we are a private school. Well, sort of.

d. we can use them on field trips.

The routine wasn’t much different than before, but we did take pictures.

First Day of Preschool at Home

DD and I

We started with our Accountable Kids morning cards, followed by a devotional. We are using GraceLink Kindergarten for our Bible story time. This week’s lesson is about Baby Moses. It find it providential, because when God came to me about homeschooling two years ago, He used the story of Baby Moses. Another neat coincidence for our first day of homeschooling.

DS tutored himself through Simple and Motorized Mechanisms from LEGO Education while I worked with my daughter on preschool activities. She was very eager to learn, but got silly after 10-15 minutes. That was my cue she was done. I sent her to play by herself, which she was happy to do, while DS and I tackled the 3 Rs for 30 minutes.

They had recess and lunch. Then, they had P.E. and art (drawing with chalk).

That was it. Easy, peasy, homeschoolese.

First Day of Kindergarten at Home

DS and I

However, it was not smooth. In the early morning, our cat left us a calling card on the living room carpet. Later on, as I reached for a box, I knocked down a tray. Glass shattered and contents spilled out. My husband and I spent fifteen minutes cleaning. Just when I thought I could start teaching, I noticed the magnetic letters I had chosen so carefully the night before for my son’s reading lesson were missing. DD had noticed them in my tote bag and put them back up where they belong. So I had to pick them out all over again.

How do I come up with the four hours of homeschooling instruction required by the State of Tennessee? I’ll tell you in a future blog post. For now, I covet your prayers on our behalf. We need wisdom to guide our children well. Thank you in advance for praying for us!

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