Learning an Instrument – Facebook Live

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Today I tackled learning an instrument and hopefully shared a lot of tips that you can use. For instance, I told you to buy a Yamaha Clavinova – the least expensive type they have. This will save you from having to pay a piano tuner for the rest of your life.

Girl playing piano

Our daughter playing piano in church

Also, I told you to buy a violin from Amazon. Don’t mess with rentals because it is just not worth it. Violins can be resold easily. Get on a forum for homeschooling parents and watch it for six months. Somebody will be selling a violin – guaranteed. Continue reading »

Science Olympiad – Facebook Live

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Science Olympiad does not equal Science Fair. Many people have never heard of Science Olympiad and they assume it is a glorified Science Fair.

Occupy Mars

His Occupy Mars hoodie reflects his interest in rocket science, which he can hone during Science Olympiad.

Science Olympiad is a national tournament where teams compete for prizes and trophies after they qualified within their state. Every state declares one winner. The winners meet at an annual event, usually on a university campus. Last year, for instance, they went to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Continue reading »

Decluttering the house to make room for your new dual office

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Creating a successful work-from-home and learn-from-home experience depends on the space available. For many of us, home feels a little small if more people in the family are at home for school and work. During a time of social distancing, there has never been a better time for taking stock of what is in your home and making space to create a dual office that works for both work and school.

Milk and cookies

Have a cup of milk and a slice of banana bread while you read.

Homeschooled students can provide solutions, making more space and realizing what they can live without. You don’t have to become extremely minimalist in order to make a major change to your living space. Here are some ways to get started.

Make Good Use of Built-Ins and Wall Space

If your home already has built in shelves or a space under the stairs, or you add some, these additions can help you make the most of small spaces. Home remodeling is very popular this year, as you might expect, according to the Homelight Q3 Survey of Real Estate Agents.

Consider nooks in a larger kitchen, the area under the stairs, or any unusual shapes in rooms around the house as potential places for a new desk that your kid or teen could call their own.

When teens and kids need a whiteboard for working problems, make space on the walls in order to save the space and clutter that easels would otherwise need. Even small spaces work you’re willing to do a little redecorating.


Get Kids and Teens Involved

Once you’ve made use of the space you have, it’s time to see what furniture, clothing, or items that your family could stand to donate or throw away. Rather than handing down a plan from above, get teens and kids to walk through the house with you, evaluating what isn’t being used and what would be helpful to someone else. Is there an area that always gets cluttered that needs a new organization system? Let them help design it.


Consolidate Items You Cannot Donate or Throw Away

Many of us are sentimentally or practically tied to our possessions, so don’t assume you can only declutter if you are ready to get rid of the things you own. It’s possible to take advantage of storage space through, for instance, better stackable boxes that allow the entirety of a closet or nook to be filled with items. By moving items you need to keep and organizing them to take up the least possible space, you give yourself a better chance at an excellent dual office.


Let Kids and Teens Have A Say

Let your kids or teens help design the dual office. Whether your budget is for one or two new office supplies or is big enough for a new desk or chair, you can let them do some of the fun shopping after the tough choices of cleaning and organizing the house with you. As a result, you both like the dual office much more as well, and look forward to the time you spend there.

20-minute Rule – Facebook Live

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Yesterday I spoke about a Charlote Mason principle which I call “the 20-minute rule.” Charlotte Mason was an English educator in the 1800s. Schools around the world still use her principles, thanks to the influence of the British Commonwealth. Homeschoolers love Charlotte Mason because it teaches gently and efficiently.

Soap Droid

We have been making soap for fun. Here’s a droid.

I am not 100% Charlotte Mason in my philosophy of education, but I like a lot of her principles. The 20-minute rule should not be taken literally and robotically. Charlotte Mason suggested 20 minutes of active instruction time as a great rule of thumb for teachers. Children can pay attention for 20 minutes. At least, we should strive to help them achieve this level of concentration. Continue reading »

Teaching Tolerance – Facebook Live

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Last Sunday, at 4pm EST, I talked about teaching tolerance. We have been losing friends over political issues left and right – all of us. On top of that, we have had to learn to simply not talk about politics to anybody.


Berries on a trail

The reason? Everybody tends to get upset and worked up about politics these days, unless you agree with them.

So here we are, just two days away from the most important presidential election of our lifetime – if I can take the liberty to say that. Do you think public schools teach tolerance? I doubt it.

Every time you turn around, you see an article in the press about some crazy high school principal who accepted a new crazy rule, but refused to accept an American flag T-shirt on a student. Public schools embrace liberal, left-leaning ideas all the time, while punishing conservative stances. Like, really, do you have to be a conservative to like and respect the American flag? This is the kind of times we are living in, folks.

Anyway, I will get off my soap box. I talked at length about what to do with the kids to teach them tolerance. Just because somebody disagrees with you, you do not have to get all bent out of shape. Listen. Listen. Just listen. Maybe you will learn something. They will not convince of their position, but at least you will learn why they accept the things they do. And that will help you help them understand your point of view, if they allow you to present it.

Fall Break

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For the first time ever, we are taking a fall break this week, for several reasons. Our son has a birthday this week. The rule is, we do not do school on the kids’ birthdays. This Tuesday is Election Day, in case you have been living under a rock. And we do not do school on Election Day, either.

Hiking with Friends

Two weeks ago, we hiked at Ijams Nature Centre with friends.

Then, my husband has a birthday this week, too, and it is a milestone birthday. That’s three days out of the week. The fourth day is our hiking day (our co-op, in a sense). So why should we do school for one day this week? I gave them a break. Continue reading »

High School Planning – Facebook Live

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The latest Facebook Live event dealt with planning for high school. My children are in 5th and 7th grade resepctively, but I am looking ahead and making plans for high school.

Boy Playing Piano

Our son playing piano in church – he is tall for his age, so he already looks like a high school student.

In all honesty, I planned for their college experience when they were preschoolers. Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” Why did I want to homeschool? To prepare them for college better than a public school would. This “end” determined my beginning. I had full confidence that homeschooling my children would prepare them for college more than sending them to a public school. Continue reading »

Our Weekly Bread: 11 of 36

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This week, we used the sourdough starter to make sourdough bread. When you have a bread machine, you skip all the kneading. It only took ten minutes to measure ingredients into the machine and push start. Three hours later, we had this amazing bread loaf which everybody loved. I tried a little piece to see if I will react to the gluten. Since I did not, the next day I had a bigger piece. So far, so good.

Sourdough bread

The kids and I made this sourdough bread.

Next time I make it, I will use bread flour, just to see the difference. This first time, I used all-purpose flour. The recipe allows for either, or. Continue reading »

Wild and Free – Facebook Live

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This week I spoke about the Wild and Free Community. It is a co-op of sorts, but without books. We just go hiking. We keep the group small, no more than 15-20 families, depending on the number of children in each family. That is already too large to manage. Imagine a group of 30-50 people walking around through a city park or a trail in a state park.

Andrews Bald

My children on the Andrews Bald hike last week

Realistically speaking, not everybody can make it every week. Therefore, we have never had all 15 families show up. The biggest I have seen it in my 14 months of Wild and Free was maybe 7 or 8 mamas with their children. Continue reading »

Our Weekly Bread: 10 of 36

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The kids and I have started on a sourdough bread recipe. This week, we made the sourdough starter. This will have to ferment for at least two days before we can make sourdough bread in the bread machine.

Sourdough Starter

Making sourdough starter

People either love or hate sourdough bread. I happen to love it. However, I have had to stay away from gluten for the past four years, due to gluten intolerance. As I have progressed more in my allergy treatment, it seems that I can timidly have a serving of gluten once a week or so, without pain and bloating. Continue reading »