Math is always one of those subjects that people seem to love or hate, there doesn't seem to be much ambivalence about it.

When we started homeschooling, we assumed we would use Saxon and began with Saxon 1 for K. After almost a year of spending about 45 minutes to an hour a day on math, having my child grasp no concepts only "what was that trick again," and often having to postpone lessons because I would need a trip to the store to requisition supplies... I knew I needed a change.

I loved the idea of Asian style math, but I was afraid of teaching it. Also, what if my kids aren't "mathy" will they get it? I eventually found Math Mammoth and it was a wonderful fit. Based on the Asian way of doing math, super straight forward, one worktext, no teachers manuals or cumbersome manipulatives...I was sold!

Since we had already done Saxon 1, I questioned where to start in Math Mammoth, but since I wanted a better foundation than we had, we started in MM 1 in the spring of E's kindergarten year. She flew through 1A and we did 1B finishing in early fall of second grade. By the middle of first grade she was working a full year ahead in Math Mammoth. Math became a struggle and often brought tears. I loved the way Math Mammoth taught but I began to question if it was right for us. I hated the struggle, and I hated my daughter thinking she was "bad at math."

I decided that second grade was going to be different. After all, Tears don't facilitate learning. We started with a much more relaxed approach to math. We added in Right Start math games regularly, took our time, and began to rebuild confidence. By the end of the year we were running about a semester ahead instead of a year, and it seemed to be a much better pace. Though I am more than happy to slow down further if needed.

Here are a few principles I have learned in the context of our own struggles in math:

When Math Brings Tears:

1. Assess the situation

Is it the curriculum? Is it how we are using the curriculum? Switching math curriculum is not the end of the world, but it can cause gaps. Just be sure to think this through. Be prepared to go backwards if you have to in the new curriculum if you do decide to switch.

2. Slow Down

Sometimes its not what you're using, but how you are using it. This was the case with us. We just needed to slow down. Occasionally a child will hit a "wall" and just cannot get past it. Time is your friend here. Move on, come back in a few weeks. It's amazing what new scenery a few weeks can provide!

3. Build Confidence

If a child thinks they are bad at something, the chances of them succeeding at it are slim. Foundational concepts are key. Grant them time to truly master concepts before moving on. Let them feel successful. Be diligent, but don't rush.

4.Make it fun

This has been key. The thing is math just isn't "fun" for everyone. I know that is a total shock for some of you! ;) Games are fun for most kids though. The smile my kids give when a math game IS the "math lesson" for the day is a wonderful thing! Learning is still taking place. Skills are still being developed, as is a more confident joyful student.

5. Never sacrifice the relationships

Never underestimate the importance of the relationship. Nothing, not even math is worth fighting, tears, and anxiety. Be flexible, be aware of your child's struggles and needs, and meet them where they are. Grant them the gift of relationship-- whatever you have to give them -- a break, time, change, smiles, confidence, and ultimately you will give them success. Math is important, but our relationship with our kids is more important. Be willing to take a step back, reasses, regroup, and grant yourselves a new perspective.

Some of our favorite math games and apps:

The Game of Chips
Math Dash
Right Start Games
Math Rider (computer)

Sushi Monster
Math Bingo
Math Ninja
Hungry Fish
Math Songs Times Tables

Don't forget to check out how the other Homeschool Help Series 
bloggers answer the question: "Help! My Child Hates Math!"

When Math Brings Tears

by on 6:00 AM
Math is always one of those subjects that people seem to love or hate, there doesn't seem to be much ambivalence about it. When we st...
This week of the Homeschool Help Series is "History. How do you do it?" It's great timing because we just finished our first U.S. History unit.

Over our short homeschooling adventure, we have tried several ways of "doing" history, but this year has by far been our favorite. I admit it was quite a bit of work to prepare, but it has been well worth it!

To get an idea of what history looks like in our home this year, I thought I would take you through the unit we just completed.

Unit One: Native Americans
6 Weeks

Spine: The Complete Book of U.S. History

Books Read: 

Read Alouds: Who Were the First North Americans, If you Lived with the Hopi, North American Indians, If You Lived with the Iroquois, If you Lived with the Cherokee, If You Lived with the Sioux, Om Kas Toe, Naya Nuki (audio) 

Readers: Matchlock Gun, American Girl Kaya series

Engaging the learners:

I applied a lot of discussion to our readings. We talked, asked and answered questions, did notebooking pages, and worked on memorizing history sentences from our timeline cards. This has been my favorite part! It has kept our history studies from being a mile wide and an inch thick, and the kids have engaged the material and enjoyed the process!

Projects completed:

We very much enjoyed the Scholastic ebooks Easy Make and Learn Northeast Indians, and Easy make and Learn Southwest Indians. My kids LOVE cut and paste projects and these perfectly met that need! This also kept me from feeling the need to do too many elaborate projects and overwhelm myself which i have a tendency of doing!

A few samples:

Pictograph Dictionary


Iroquois Village Scene


Pueblo Village



Iroquois Longhouse


Beaded Belts and Head dresses

Playing a Hopi children's Game: shooting an arrow through rolling hoops!


Final Unit Project: For our final unit project, (we have one bigger project per unit planned) the kids constructed Tepees. It was a great end to a great unit! 



It would be easy to camp out longer here as there is so much to learn, but I know they have learned so much and even more importantly, the learning process has been a blast! To hear my daughter say she loves reading now all because of the American Girl Kaya series has been an amazing blessing!

Planning out our own history took some work up front but the targeted individual approach has been well worth the effort!

Want to see how the other Homeschool Help Series 
Bloggers do history?

We are so enjoying Brave Writer this year and since I have been sharing so much about our experience with Brave Writer, it seemed logical that we would need a giveaway!  I did a review of Brave Writer here, a post on our version of Teatime Tuesday (Poetry Smoothietime) here, a post on Routine and Relationship Inspired by Brave Writer) here, and Partnership vs. Performance Learning here. Can you tell we are learning a lot?!? Have you been wanting an opportunity to try out one of Brave Writers' great products? Here is your chance!

Enter to win a free copy of either Brave Writer's Partnership Writing (ages 9-10) OR Jot It Down (ages 5-8) -- 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Brave Writer Giveaway!!!

by on 3:38 PM
We are so enjoying Brave Writer this year and since I have been sharing so much about our experience with Brave Writer, it seemed logical th...
One of the great concepts of Brave Writer is their explanation of the stages of writing. That as a young writer grows so does his needs from his teacher. We don't expect essays from kindergartners.

However, these stages don't just show up in writing...learning in general is a process. In Partnership Writing, author Julie Bogart explains how we as parents have no problems helping our child with other schoolwork but feel that if we help our child with writing it then no longer becomes "theirs." This is a great thought, however, if you are anything like me, this has been an issue in areas outside of writing as well! Partnership Writing has inspired a whole new thought process in me on partnership learning!

In math, if they need your help you may wonder are they truly getting it? Do they understand it if you have to remind them of the next step or to slow down...In reading comprehension-- if I have to repeat what I read certainly they are missing something, right??? If I have to repeat the dictation 5 times, is it even effective?

We constantly question our methods and wonder if in the end our children will have truly learned. However, we often cheat them out of the learning process in a rush to have it "learned." What about if we allowed ourselves to think that it was ok to do the math page alongside our child helping each step as they needed...not being frustrated that they need our help, but understanding that our help is actually teaching them. Changing our focus from expecting immediate performance in the beginning to partnering in learning and allowing the process room to work. Perhaps by the end of the math page they can work the last few problems alone? And if they don't? You were right there alongside them to see the need for a different approach or more practice.

I know it has been a challenge for me to stretch myself in this area. Spelling words not spelled correctly? No problem! That is why it is a spelling word so we can learn it! If it was easy we wouldn't have to take time to learn it. Key word here: Learn. Sometimes I expect it to simply be understood and "learned" after the explanation or initial lesson. This just isn't realistic sometimes. We need to partner with our children to engage them in the learning process-- allow our children the freedom to "learn," not perform.

My kids have perfectionist tendencies (can't imagine where they get that from!) ;) I only serve to debilitate them when I expect perfection at the gate. I need to give them room to flounder, make mistakes . . .learn. What a blessing that I get to be a partner alongside them for this great endeavor!  The shift from performance learning to partnership learning has been eye opening and has brought much freedom to the learning adventure in our home! But oh is it still a challenge for this perfectionist mama!

Once in a while a teacher in our lives got it right. I had one such teacher in second grade. I remember a lot from that year. I remember getting to bring a teddy bear to school each week. I remember crying over division and my teacher comforting me. I remember learning money and the demonstrations she did. And I remember the special week when we got to bring home the class teddy bear and journal our adventures with him. I remember taking the bear with me to my sisters high school softball game and writing all about it.

I think somewhere during that year, seeds were planted in me that lasted forever. One of which was a love for writing.

I am passionate about writing...well, at least I was once upon a time. When a decade of journals got destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, I have yet to once again journal with the fervency I once did...but I do yearn to get back to it...

Journaling with my kids is another story. I have never required it of them. In fact, classical educationists kind of frown upon journaling with its encouragement of incorrect sentence structure and inventive spelling. Original writing can even stress some kids out, trying to focus on the mechanics of writing along with original sentences. We are more the copywork/narration/dictation folk.

But every once in awhile...we leap out of the box. Yes, leap. I never was one do something small.
We are gearing up for a year long journaling project...idea courtesy of my own second grade year. The idea behind Road Trip Journaling is that Hugh the Hippo and his backpack filled with his very own journal will travel to our friends across the United States and each child who Hugh visits will get to keep him for a week and fill the journal with all of their adventures, hopefully a few pictures, and maybe even a postcard!

One of the added bonuses is that this project can involve children who are homeschooled or who school outside of the home.

At the end of the adventure Hugh will journey home with his journal bursting of all his adventures! Upon his return we plan to scan each of the pages and make a memory book for each child that participated.

We are very excited to get started on our first journaling adventure!!! I hope we are able to make an enormous amount of wonderful memories for the many kids who meet Hugh and share on his journey!

A fun way to engage our kids, get them writing, meet new friends, and maybe learn some geography along the way!

Maybe you have a friend at your house eager to go on an adventure?

Don't forget to check out what the other Homeschool Help Series bloggers have to say about Journaling!

Road Trip Journaling!

by on 6:00 AM
Once in a while a teacher in our lives got it right. I had one such teacher in second grade. I remember a lot from that year. I remember get...
I have mentioned a few times that we are new to Brave Writer this year-- a writing/language arts program. There are two main concepts that completely hooked me at first and resonated deeply when I began to research Brave Writer-- the ideas of routines and relationship. Brave Writer has done more than inspire our writing this year, it has inspired our entire homeschool.


For the first time since we have started homeschooling there is no schedule printed and hung in multiple location around the house. In truth, I never felt the need to stick closely to the schedule, but it stressed me out occasionally anyway.

The idea of routine verse schedule has always resonated with me. From the time my first newborn was in my arms it made sense to follow a routine...not a schedule, not watching the clock ... not forcing what is often natural. From breastfeeding to nap times, we followed the natural rhythms of our children and gently helped them establish routines. We never became slaves to the clock. I refused to tell a crying baby it wasn't time to eat yet. We did what we could to establish consistency and amazingly every one of my three children settled into predictable patterns of routine. When growth spurts, teething, or the phases of the moon messed with those routines...we went with it. Routine...gentle, natural, and flexible.
This school year we have no schedule. No spread sheet, no color coded table...<gasp> I know. Shocking isn't it! At first I thought I needed those things-- even if I never followed them before-just knowing they were there made me feel efficient. I am the kind of person that makes the too do list and then never looks at it again...

Amazingly, we are about to start our seventh week of school and having the smoothest days we have ever had.(well...excluding this past week!) All without a schedule.
Routine. Loving it!


"It's the relationship silly" is one of the concepts of the Brave Writer lifestyle that called to my soul. My children are the reason I do what I do. They are so much more than teaching styles or curricula. They are precious little people who God has created for a purpose. Looking back on the first few years of my oldest daughters life I have so many regrets. Always looking for the next step or milestone. Unintentionally wasting precious moments of little. I spent way too much of our first homeschool year pushing my daughter to finish the lesson plans for that day. Or "catch up" to where we were "supposed to be."

It has been a long time since I changed that in our homeschool...but even still one of my kids will occasionally ask the question that now makes me cringe: "Are we behind?" No matter how many times I tell them we can't be behind...we set the pace. As long as we are diligent we are sins of the past linger and cause the kids to question an otherwise perfectly engaged homeschool day.

This past week, with a crazy weekend, no school on Monday, and a few rough was time to break the routine for the sake of the relationship. Friday became beach day with Grandma. Sun, sandcastles, and smiles were just the thing to break the downhill spiral we were on and restore us to the place where we like each other again. Monday will be so much better for it! And I am sure I will sometime in the future have to assure my children that no, our day at the beach did not put us "behind."

Homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint. As is parenting. We want them to like us when they move out. No, I am not advocating being their best friend and not the parents we need to be...and I am not advocating anything less than our bests, but I am advocating elevating the relationships above the tasks. When math brings tears...break out the tea pot...(or a smoothie).

Routine and Relationship

by on 9:31 PM
I have mentioned a few times that we are new to Brave Writer this year-- a writing/language arts program. There are two main concepts that c...
This summer I forayed into the wonderful world of Brave Writer. After a rough start in the writing area with my oldest, I was desperate for something that would encourage and blossom my natural writer instead of send her into fits of tears like our current curriculum was doing.

This is the child who wrote books of songs and poems for fun....who brought me pages of copywork from Little House on the Prairie books just because she liked what it said. This was NOT a child who should be crying from writing.

I have been greatly inspired by Brave Writer and the Brave Writer lifestyle. In fact I have a few posts in the queue in a series I have deemed "'Brave Writer' inspired."

And what better way to kick off a Brave Writer inspired series than with a review and giveaway!?!

Understanding Brave Writer was a challenge at first. It seemed like a lot of ideas but I was unable to understand how they all came together. The more I read, the more Brave Writer began to take shape and I could see what the Brave Writer lifestyle looked like day in and day out.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle

One of the main concepts that attracted me to Brave Writer was the idea of the Brave Writer lifestyle. While I differ in the desire for formal spelling and grammar, I appreciate the integration approach of language arts in BW. Routine over schedule and the importance of relationship are integral parts of this lifestyle and these concepts alone have revolutionized the way I do things. The focus on a language rich environment and incorporating nature studies, weekly movies, monthly writing projects, poetry teas, copywork, narration, and dictation into a regular routine makes sense to me. Flexible progression of language arts skills... this makes sense.

The Writer's Jungle

The Writer's Jungle is the heart of Brave Writer. I took the plunge and bought The Writer's Jungle from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. I will be honest here, I got bogged down for quite awhile here. It was a great read, but it was HEAVY with so much information it was a little overwhelming. It took months to wade through the jungle, trying to understand what the Brave Writer lifestyle was all about. The read was definitely worth it but probably the most difficult part of reading it was the realization that I would have to read it several times through in the next few years to grasp the fullness of all that was there. I bought the ebook but there were numerous times I wish I would have had a hard copy in front of me. I took notes, but it was one of those books you want to post it note, mark up, highlight, and star. I had to settle by listing the chapter and making notes digitally. The Writer's Jungle is the overview of the Brave Writer lifestyle. You can do "Brave Writer" with just this, but the author has also produced several resources that help flesh out the process if you need assistance...which I did! Reading The Writer's Jungle was like a thorough yet crash course in being your child's writing coach. It is so full of great information, I will revisit those pages again and again!

The Arrow/Boomerang

This is one of the highlights of BW for me. The Arrow/Boomerang, as described by the BW website is "a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel." You can purchase a year's subscription with the newest issues, but you can also buy back issues from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. The latter option worked best for us as we could pick books we already had planned to read this year. The Arrow is geared for grades 3-6 and The Boomerang is for grades 7-10.

I love how these issues are designed. Each week has copywork and dictation, and it goes through why that passage was chosen and how to teach it. Each month covers a literary element found in the book. The ideas presented here are great and have given me so many ideas of how to implement further the BW lifestyle. Lastly, the way The Arrow teaches dictation is wonderful. Both my daughter and I needed a little hand holding in this area, and while before dictation produced tears, I now hear "I love this! I am great at this!" Definitely better than tears!

One of the greatest parts of The Writer's Jungle is the great understanding and explanation of the developmental processes of a writer. We are so careful to be developmentally appropriate with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers-- never expecting sleeping through the night at birth or potty training too early...yet, all thoughts of the developmental process are off when it comes to writing-- we just expect it. Brave Writer clearly articulates the stages of a writer and how we as parents and teachers can help our children move smoothly from one stage to the next. Jot it Down and Partnership Writing are two of Brave Writer's newest resources that greatly explain these two stages and how to implement them in your home. Honestly, just reading through them was worth the money even if I never used it (which I plan to!)

Jot it Down

Jot it Down is a year long writing program for kids ages 5-8. It outlines month long writing projects for this age group, including how to do them step by step. These projects are so fun! I am planning to implement several of these this year with my 6 and 8 year old. My kids don't even see these as school let alone writing. It is just fun!

Partnership Writing

Partnership Writing is a year long writing program for ages 9-10. Out of all the Brave Writer resources, this may be my favorite...(perhaps because this is where we are with E so it is the most helpful for us right now!) PW outlines writing projects with step by step instructions--the what to write for this stage. PW gave me a much clearer understanding of what the BW language arts routine should look like. The sample schedules are also very helpful.

There is more...The Wand (for early readers and writers), high school materials, online classes...Brave Writer will remain a wonderful resource for years to come.

How We are Incorporating the Brave Writer Lifestyle:

I am a fan of the classical writing philosophy. I loved Writing with Ease...the thing is, my daughter didn't. It made my natural writer cry. So I had to stretch myself and my ideas and get something that would work for her. Enter Brave Writer. I still believe in classical writing, but I have found a way to blend some of the classical ideals with the more relaxed, relationship oriented, routine based nature of Brave Writer. I am in love with the result! This schedule has a classical bent to it, but it is where we are comfortable for now.

Monday: Copy work via the Arrow, discuss The Arrow passage
Tuesday: Dictation via the Arrow
Wednesday: Written narration
Thursday: Oral narration/dictation
Friday: Free Write/Writing Project


Poetry Teas (we do Poetry Smoothie's!) This has been a serious highlight of our school year and we may soon try to incorporate it weekly.
Movie Nights (We did these regularly before, but now I am more intentional about asking questions, and creating environment for discussion. Digging in, asking questions like "should" and "ought" make them think, and is wonderful for helping them develop a Biblical worldview as well! Besides, how fun is it to call movies school!?!?)

A Few Personal Differences...

BW is a complete language arts program and for many families, covering grammar, spelling, and vocabulary through this manner is sufficient. I am no Julie Bogart, so I believe her, I do. The author of Brave Writer suggests having an intensive grammar year once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school. It seems reasonable, it does. But I am a bit paranoid so I feel compelled to add formal grammar and spelling each year. I like sentence diagramming, what can I say?!?! I do think eventually I will give in on the spelling...maybe in middle school! ;)

Being a believer in classical writing I am more a fan of copy work, dictation, and narration that inventive spelling and original writing. However, I have found that with Brave Writer I can have both. I focus heavily on copywork/narration/and dictation, but we are also enjoying Friday Free Writes here and there and the month long writing projects are so much fun!

Brave Writer Inspired 

So the truth is, Brave Writer has more than revolutionized writing in our homeschool-- there are so many aspects of our schooling that have been impacted by Brave Writer-- routine verse Schedule, relationship, Partnership Writing (Partnership Learning)...  More to come on all of this soon!

Giveaway Coming Soon!!!

Now for the fun part!!!! Brave Writer has become a wonderful part of our homeschool, and they have graciously agreed to give away the winner's choice of either Jot it Down or Partnership Writing

Keep watch for the announcement this week!!! 

Brave Writer: A Review

by on 11:10 PM
This summer I forayed into the wonderful world of Brave Writer. After a rough start in the writing area with my oldest, I was desperate for ...
Huge sigh...

It's been one of those days. You know the kind right???

We started late, but I was intent on redeeming our day. Since it was already ten o'clock and all that we had done was piano and Bible, I threw caution to the wind and decided to make smoothie's and have Poetry Smoothie-time. I mean, why not? Who cares if we took yesterday off and I have this now compulsive need to fit 5 days work of school into 4. Who cares if the other family we do science with on Tuesdays will be here at 12:30? It's the relationship, silly!

And assessing the potential disaster of the day: (4 days of sleeping at grandma's, non stop swimming, treats, friends, and movies, combined with late nights including last nights Star Wars with dad until 10pm)... yeah, smoothie poetry it is.

About 2 minutes in J (who is usually napping during poetry smoothies) pours smoothie all over herself. Yeah, maybe those $.50 margarita smoothie cups are a bit wobbly for a 3 year old...

Deep breathe. It's just a mess right?

I grit my teeth, force a smile and carry on. Smoothie time was an otherwise success and we move onto math.

An hour and a half later I am well past done but the math is not. Ok Ok telling me I should have cut it off earlier is not helpful NOW. I know I know...

Moving on to reading...

What are you doing?

Trying to read it. can you be reading if the card is in my hand and you are looking everywhere BUT here. You can't read the card if you're eyes are up down and all around!

Who knew A said /e/ and g said /ch/?!?

Yeah, maybe we shouldn't move on because honestly, it got ugly. really ugly. Somewhere past me pounding a wall and locking myself in a bathroom I gave up. Have I mentioned I am hormonal right now?!?! Ugh. Some days I should lock myself in a room.

We survived science with our friends and even managed to get outside and play a hoop and arrow game like Hopi Indian children. (ok, really I was trying to keep everyone outside to not wake j up from her nap). Piano lessons completed and some playtime with friends.  All good.

Well there was that moment C threw the Candy Land pieces across the room and my eyes almost popped out of my head.  And the time I threatened warned the three year old that if she didn't take a LONG nap there would be no gymnastics. And the time I looked at my 8 year old like she had lost her mind when I told her to do something and she continued playing her game with her friends....I mean other than those times (and  the other times I refuse to acknowledge even happened) one died (a little friend did get stung by a wasp though). Moderate success right? OK yeah, no. When survival becomes the benchmark... we are all in trouble.

Sigh. Again.

We dragged everyone to afternoon gymnastics ... I did manage a run by Circle K because $.69 really large Diet Coke is needed on days like today... at gymnastics of course I had to park in Egypt because the parking lot was full...ended up skipping evening swimming lessons because well, if you can't find your bathing suit you don't go to swimming right? (Sometimes reality discipline benefits me more greatly than I admit!)

Left the older one at the gym and headed home. Pajama time. Who cares if it is 5pm. I need you ready for BED. The three year old went in the bath because...well it takes longer than a shower and I need a minute. Somewhere between the I need a towel!!! Where are my pajamas?!?! and finding poop on the bathroom wall...

ummmmmm ewwwwwwwww?!?!?

Good thing soup was on in the crock pot or dinner might not have happened.

Netflix time.

ugh. Didn't I say no more Angelina Ballerina? I don't like the attitudes...change it...(truth is I bet her attitude was better than mine today!) 

Jake and the Neverland Pirates it is. Yey hey No way is better than Angelina Ballerina right? OK maybe not, but I am over it at this point.

Then back to pick up E at the gym who is in tears because her coach "yelled at her" . . .

oh.gracious.goodness I know how her coach feels...

insert lecture about how shutting down and wasting 3 hours of gym time because of a pity party over her coach's expectations is not fair to her coach, her, or us...

oh goodness, I should get a medal for this today. Do they give epic parent fail medals?


But wait...

C refuses to heed sisters warning and opens the car door anyway...only to bang a piece of furniture listed for sale in the garage...yeah. Guess I will lower that price...and now the car is scratched.

Insert lecture on thinking you know better and not listening to instruction...

Off to bed he goes because I am done.


Is the room on fire? Because if not, there is nothing you need from me. 

Yeah...deep breath.

Life with littles, right?

Thankfully every day is not like this or well...yeah, I would be institutionalized or my kids would have no chance of normal.

I think its days like these that I realize how blessed I am. Because these days aren't normal. My kids are great kids. Obedient, respectful, loving...sure they argue and get sassy, make messes, wreak havoc, and lose their clothes...but hey, they're kids. They're learning.

It is easy to despair on days like today. To question your parenting or your sanity...but the truth is, kids aren't perfect...they are in training.

They will have days like this. We will do and say things we regret. We make mistakes, so do they. We apologize, hug and cuddle and move on. Discipline is about

And how grateful I am. Thankfully, God doesn't expect perfection from us...He disciplines us...teaches us, trains us, molds us into who He wants us to be...sanctification is a process. A process days like today show me I am not quite as far as I would have hoped...

Training kids is a process. We must teach how to clean up a room, how to make a bed, how to answer respectfully, how to be kind and share, how to have self control. And there will be times we get it right, and times we don't...

So on days like today I will try to remember that my kids are amazing, and they are growing, and learning, and are still little . . . and in training. Better yet? Tomorrow is a new day.

It's Training Silly . . .

by on 6:00 AM
Huge sigh... It's been one of those days. You know the kind right??? We started late, but I was intent on redeeming our day. Since i...
"Does everyone read this?" My eight year old asks as she enters the schoolroom.

"Everyone read what?" I respond.

"Does everyone read these books?"

I sat there baffled for a moment trying to figure out who was "everyone" and what "books" she was talking about. Then it dawned on me.

"You mean all other third graders?

"Yes, do all third graders have to read the same books?"

She was referring to her current assigned reading: The American Girl Kaya series.

Once it finally registered what she was talking about I just smiled as I explained to her that no, not all third graders have the same schoolwork. Since we homeschool, I get to choose the books I think she will enjoy and that would be a good fit (ie. what will challenge her yet interest her).

"Oh" she responded in typical eight year old fashion, smiled, grabbed her book, and happily went on her way.

Such a simple everyday conversation, and yet so incredibly profound. You see, one of the greatest beauties of homeschooling is our ability to develop individualized curriculum to meet our children where they are and to meet our own educational goals . . . and of course to help them enjoy the journey as much as possible.

I strongly desire to develop a deep LOVE of reading in my children, not just develop strong readers.

For Kindergarten and part of first grade the goal is to get them reading as fast as possible. Readers take up most of their brain energy for reading at this stage (learning to read is hard work!) and as soon as they can handle more we hit the library for whatever gets their interest.

Since I am so terrible at the library (as in pay $10 in late fees for a $3 book!), the Sonlight readers are great for us. Each year I buy a Sonlight readers set and in the past E could pick what she wanted to read and if there wasn't anything vying for her attention, we would go to the Sonlight list and pick the next book. I give choices that I am ok with, but then she has some invested interest as well-- she chooses from my selections. This is how we handled first and second grade.

This year for third, we are doing it a little differently. This year we purchased the Sonlight Core D readers to go along with our History. Those along with many of the American Girl series that correspond to our time period have been scheduled as readers.

Having "school" books like American Girl Kaya, Kirsten, Felicity, and Joesphina, don't seem like schoolwork at all!

They are books that have a decent reading level, tell a good story, and help bring the history we are studying alive. The smile on my daughter's face whenever she is assigned one of these books to read is priceless! Maybe not "classics" but certainly effective in developing a love of reading!

This is the first year our readers have corresponded with our history studies, and while I certainly don't think it necessary or even always beneficial, it can be a great experience. With many of our read alouds and readers tying into history along with lots of hands on projects, the kids are having a blast learning!

It can be challenging finding books that hold your kids interest but are also challenging to help them develop reading skills, but honestly, I have been beyond thrilled with the Sonlight lists and they are our go to books every year!

Currently being read in our homeschool:

E: Kaya's Hero

C: The Queen Bee (All About Reading Reader)

Read Aloud: Winn Dixie

Audio book: Naya Nuki

Check out how the other Homeschool Help Series bloggers 
have to say about reading


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