Friday, February 23, 2018

Why We Homeschool ....

Let's Talk About Why We Homeschool{Homeschool Link UP}
When it comes to homeschooling.... Some people feel led by God.  Others do not like the influence of public schools will have since they may not share the same values. There are families that recognize their children need extra attention that the public school cannot provide.  Then you have families that homeschool from birth through graduation, and have strict plans to follow this through.  Others homeschool because they literally are so frustrated with the lack of support for their children, they just cannot take it anymore and they decide to homeschool.  While other families choose to evaluate their homeschooling each year to decide if they will continue.  We are probably a little of this and a little of that in our homeschooling choice.  We started out both by choice and necessity.

Briefly here is our story......

Where we lived in Indiana, homeschooling was very popular.  But since both boys were enrolled in special needs preschools, we decided to allow Joey to continue into public school for kindergarten.  We talked about homeschooling, but I had all these preconceived notions that were fed to me by the wrong resources.  In hindsight, I really wish we would have started while we were in Indiana!!

We moved to Ohio at the end of Joey's first year of Kindergarten, and we saw that he was not emotionally or socially ready to move into first grade.  We decided to enroll him into kindergarten again.  We talked about homeschooling him then, but felt pressure to put him into school.  Since homeschooling was not a popular choice where we were at in Ohio.

It was very rough.  I was balancing Brayden in a special needs preschool, and a very disruptive and emotional Joey in kindergarten in a separate town.  Poor Lydia I think was getting the short end of the stick, even though she was only a year old and the only one at home during the day.

We really liked Joey's teacher.  She tried so hard with him, both kindergarten teachers did.  I am grateful for all they did.  But the loud classroom environment was difficult for Joey.  His anxiety issues were emerging, and being disruptive and having outbursts was his way of dealing with it.  The outbursts were constant.  I volunteered at the school a lot, since I felt like I was there constantly.

At one point I was in the school more than I was at home.  Or he was at home more than in school.  I was picking him up within an hour of him getting there.  We started talking about homeschooling again, but the pressure was there to leave him in school.  It was a hard two years, and then he was sent to another school because there was not the type of special education department that Joey needed in our district.  Even though the teacher was absolutely awesome, the 2 hour bus ride a day was too much for Joey.  He was not getting better, and I was advised by the acting superintendent that homeschooling may be a positive option to try with Joey.  So we chose to pull him. 

Through all of this, poor Brayden was suffering in his education.  He seemed ok in kindergarten and 1st grade, but 2nd grade was bad.  He had a full-time aide, and started suffering manic episodes.  His aide was not doing her job, and we were scared at times for his safety.  I was not getting anywhere with the administration, and so we fulled Brayden also.

During this time, Lydia has started regular preschool with a wonderful teacher.  So here I am with a 4th baby, homeschooling two special needs boys and helping Lydia too.  I sought out all the wrong websites and thought I was doing what was right.  In hindsight, I would have changed a few more things.  I know I exposed them to a lot of topics, but I think I should have had a more Charlotte Mason approach with the boys.  I wish I would have used Before Five in a Row with the boys, and Five in a Row. 

But through this all, we were floundering with manic episodes, med changes, mood swings, early anxiety disorders, and so many other problems including speech delays and learning disabilities.  I learned from very early on to just leave the life ring around my neck to try and prevent myself from drowning.

When it came time for Lydia to start school, we sent her.  Loved her teacher, but had issues with the attendance officer and Joe's traveling.  So we pulled her, and bam homeschooling 3 kids now.  Caty was in the special needs preschool by then to help with her severe speech delay. 

By the time it was her turn to start kindergarten, we skipped public school altogether.  It just didn't make sense.  We were all in for the homeschooling long haul.  It's going to remain that way...for the long haul.  We were traveling by this point and I had found a way to balance traveling and homeschooling.

Now we have Joey a couple years from graduation, and Brayden is too. Homeschooling high school with special needs has been a daunting challenge for me.  The public school teacher education is in me....but it doesn't work for them.  Lydia is in middle school, and Caty is in elementary.  We are continually changing the way we do things, as the kid's needs also change.

We will continue to homeschool the boys since I know that they will never fit into a square box of a normal classroom.  Lydia and Caty we are keeping an open mind.  Neither has any interest in going to public school.  But as Lydia gets older, she may need extra classes if she decides on veterinary services as a career.  Caty is the same since she wants a culinary career.

We have had an interesting road that led us to homeschooling (and believe me not all the details and frustrations are even  It's not all blog photos and roses.  There's tears (from all of us) and frustrations.  But we have had some awesome experiences both in the classroom and in our travels.  I am grateful to get to see our kids grow. 

The only change I look back as something I wished I had done different is, I would have never sent them to a public school in the first place.  The outside pressure to just send them to school was great, and we caved too quickly.  I think back of how much drama and frustration and heartache we may have avoided had we never entered the public school setting.  I also would not have gotten to meet some pretty great teachers, but still wonder...what if?

I saw this hilarious meme the other day....

Why do you homeschool?  Was it by choice?  Were you not given another option?  I would love to hear your story!  Do you plan to continue homeschooling?

Linking up with other Moms at Homeschool Review Crew....

Homeschool Review Crew Weekly Link Up

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Meme Thursday

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Bytes of Learning Review - UltraKey Online Family Subscription Review

We recently had the opportunity to review the UltraKey Online Family Subscription - 1 year from Bytes of Learning

UltraKey Online Family Subscription ($29.95 - $49.95 depending on family size)  is an online typing instruction program that can be used on laptop, desktop, and even Chromebooks and iPads (with a full keyboard).  Created for ages 8 through adult, students are introduced to the beginning keyboarding skills using the age old home row as the basis.  They are guided gently through video instruction and interactive graded typing exercises.  

When I first mentioned that we were going to be reviewing an online typing program, I got an eye-roll from Caty.  She looked at me and said, "I can type good enough on my computer already, why do I need this?"  I explained that she is not typing properly and this makes a difference in her hands being tired.   It also can affect her later in life with possible carpel tunnel issues.  

After the first week, she now begs to go on and work harder on her typing skills!!  That's saying a lot!!

When you first login, your student can take an assessment to see where they are at for their skills.  This allows the program to adjust to their needs.  If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed and not sure what to do next, there are plenty of videos to help you get going on your learning journey.

Bytes of Learning wants to ensure your student's success by not only providing easy to access videos above, but also provide a downloadable User Guide.  The User Guide explains the videos that are available for students to watch, and include actual screen shots.  So it depends on which type of learner your student is.  Caty has done well watching the videos versus using the User Guide.

As your student progresses, there are reports and certificates as they master each level/skill and letter section.  (We are working on our first certificate.)   Since Caty has a visual issue that has caused some learning disabilities, she does struggle with copywork and even watching the screen and trying to type.  The first assessment test did totally cause her a lot of frustration.  But after making her way through it, she saw how much she had to learn on her report.  After her first couple lessons, she started feeling more comfortable with keeping her hands on home row.  She now insists that she needs to start with her typing when she starts her schoolwork now.  

Playing in the Game Zone is an added bonus for Caty.   The Game Zone turns typing practice and lessons into a fun game that she can earn points with.  I like the games for her as she gets better.  Many of them are a little advanced for her with spelling, etc. But she did have a lot of fun playing the Rhymin' game.  The games are not cartoony, so if your student is older they won't feel like they are too "babyish".  The games are enticing Caty to practice more.  

I can see gradual improvements in Caty's typing skills already.  Even with her learning/vision disabilities, progress is being made.  Her typing into the Minecraft chat box has improved.  And we all know how important that is!!  She really Loves getting onto UltraKey, and looks forward to this in her daily lessons.  I recommend you check out this very affordable option for your family.  Keyboarding is an important skill in our technological era.  And it will definitely help students to learn the proper way to avoid strain and possible carpel tunnel issues in the future.  Take a few minutes to check out all that Bytes of Learning has to offer.  

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review the UltraKey Online 1-year Family Subscription from Bytes of Learning.  Click on the link below to visit their blogs and find out how they used this product in their homes.

UltraKey {Bytes of Learning Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Monday, February 19, 2018

Heirloom Audio Productions - Wulf the Saxon Audio Review

Do you like adventure and action when studying "boring" history?  We had the opportunity to review the newest historical audio drama, Wulf the Saxon by G.A. Henty ( 2 CD set - $24.97) from Heirloom Audio Productions.  No more "boring" history here.

Designed to bring history alive to your children, Wulf the Saxon can be enjoyed by every member of the family.  Either sitting in your living room or driving down the road, you are taken back in time to England to the land of knights and kings.  The Normans and Saxons.  Constant upheavel in the rulership of England.  There are dukes and earls.  

The story starts out with a young Wulf learning a hard lesson in humility.  He is forced into realizing the importance of friendship.  But he quickly earns back the respect from those people that had originally disciplined him.

As he emerges in society, he is caught in a shipwreck with many men that he knows.  They are taken captive by the Normans.  Just when things started to look better, the plot twists and the men are left guessing about their future.

The story of Wulf the Saxon takes you and your family on an exciting rollercoaster adventure.  Wulf the Saxon (as with all of Heirloom Audio Productions) is told from a Christian point of view.  Even though they are depicting violent situations that have occurred, they not only preserve historical accuracy, they make sure the entire family can enjoy the story.

We love Heirloom Audio Productions due to their differences in presentation.  Wulf the Saxon is not just an audio book.  Those can get boring as you listen to the same voice reading all the different parts with only a slight variation in their tones.  Wulf the Saxon is an audio drama or theater presentation.  Music is playing in the background, voices raise and lower depending on the part that is being read.  Actors are cast based on their voice tones to really bring that character to life.  

You are being totally immersed in the story and can feel like it is happening all around you.  This is such an inventive way to listen to audio stories.  It brings to mind the old radio dramas that families would listen to, prior to having television sets in their homes.  Even when the kids start to roll their eyes at the thought of a historical fiction story, their attitudes change as the audio drama emerges with twists and turns and Screams along with demanding voices bellow from the stereo speakers.  They are suddenly begging to listen for a few more minutes, because we cannot possibly go into the store yet.  We have to hear what is about to happen!!

Heirloom Audio Productions also offers The Live Adventure Club Online.  I encourage you to check out this awesome resource.  Included are study guides for each of the Heirloom Audio Productions...and there are several from all time periods of well as downloadable textbooks books to study history.  These are the classic history books, not the fluff that is being taught today.  There are also several historical radio programs that you can listen too.  You can easily purchase other Heirloom Audio Production Titles inside of The Live Adventure Club Online and listen/download them to your computer.

You can also follow The Live Adventure Club Online blog and the writers share information about new movies in theaters, and many other important topics in our society.

We have been very grateful for the opportunity to review Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions.  We literally have just finished reading about this time period in our history curriculum.  It brought to life what it was like to live in this time period to the kids.  I encourage you to check out Wulf the Saxon for your family, or any of the other audio drama productions from Heirloom Audio Productions.

Several members of the Homeschool Review Crew were given the opportunity to review Wulf the Saxon from Heirloom Audio Productions.  To see how they used this in their homes, click on the link below to read their thoughts and feelings.

Wulf the Saxon {Heirloom Audio Productions Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Menu Plan Monday

I've been working really hard at planning our meals, and make sure we stick to our meal plan.  There's been a couple of slip-ups, but usually it had to do with a forgotten supply or too many leftovers.

Sunday February 18
Breakfast - Bacon & Cheese Biscuits
Lunch - Fried bologna and Chips
Dinner - BBQ chicken strips, corn and mashed potatoes    

Monday February 19
Breakfast - Eggo Waffles
Lunch - Packed lunch
Dinner - Lasagna Soup

Tuesday February 20
Breakfast - Pizza rolls
Lunch - Cheese quesadillas/rollups
Dinner - Chicken parmesan with noodles

Wednesday February 21
Breakfast - Juice and doughnuts
Lunch - Packed lunch
Dinner - Shredded chicken tacos

Thursday February 22
Breakfast - Cinnamon Biscuits
Lunch - Gravy and toast
Dinner - Ravioli casserole and garlic bread

Friday February 23
Breakfast - Pancakes & Sausage
Lunch - Potato Soup
Dinner - Dinner out (Homecoming Dance/Game)

Saturday February 24
Breakfast - Fruit pizza with oranges
Lunch - PB & J quesadillas
Dinner - Orange Chicken with rice and eggrolls

I still use the table I created in Word.  I keep our schedule listed on it, so that I can make sure I am planning meals that are not time appropriate.  You can read more about how I plan in this meal planning post.

This hangs on the fridge.  The kids can see if they have a cooking assignment.  This also helps when I'm making the grocery list.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!!  See you at our Weekly Recap!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ohio History, Math Review, Life Sciences Tour and the Olympics!!

It was an interesting week.  The first part of the week Lydia traveled with Joe to Tennessee for a few days.  They were only gone 2 days, but it was a quiet two  But we started getting lots of snow.  I really just wanted to hide.  I successfully managed to do that for everyday but Tuesday and Thursday this week!!

This week, I started a couple month Ohio History study with all the kids.  The boys need an elective, and the girl's haven't covered Ohio History yet (minus the stuff that we studied part of our American History).  Our state historical society actually put together a program for public schools online, but we can purchase it as homeschoolers at an extreme discount.  Ohio as America is completely laid out with printable reading lessons, and even videos specifically created for this curriculum.  This week the kids learned about primary/secondary sources for studying history and what timelines are.  Review for some, new to others.  Sort of....because we have been working on a timeline in our ancient history class this year.  But it did show this week the different ways that you can use a timeline.

I have started skill level reviews on all Math levels this week.  The kids will continue with review topics through the end of this "school" year.  The boys are also working on financial literacy math as well.  We'll work on this through May.

The girls have been begging to start gymnastics again.  But it's so expensive through many of the area gyms.  A friend of ours shared a nice gym that you only pay for classes you attend!!  I was super excited...the class times offered even work in our schedule.  So the girls started this week.  I had them both attend beginner.  And he worked them to death.  Which was good and bad, because they had to cheer at a basketball game after class.

I had them wear their uniforms to gymnastics because we were cutting it close to get to the game on time.

Caty got a surprise this week...we ordered her an electric drum kit.  She was super excited...and I think Daddy likes it too!

Brayden and Joey both went to the Bingo Social event this week.  Brayden loves Bingo!!  Joey played much longer this time than he did last month.

Joe and Lydia came home early from Tennessee.  She decided she had to use counting blocks to do her math.  My OCDs drove me crazy as she was counting such high numbers with blocks.  I have since hidden the LEGOs for this activity.  She only successfully managed to draw out her lesson.

To finish off our oceans science study, we had a field trip to the local college.  They have a large marine science studies program.  We were very excited to get a tour of their herpetology lab also.

They did a presentation on marine mammals and talked to us about coral regrowth projects.

Looking at a cast of a whale tooth.

They have a lot of tanks set up for learning purposes and the students are even learning coral regrowth in Northwest Ohio.  This was a very interesting topic that he spoke to us about.  They are working with an area in the north of South America with this project.  They send several students every semester.

More from the herpetology lab

Opening night of the olympics.  We watched Eddie the Eagle and the opening ceremonies.  I set out a theme of food and snacks to enjoy as our dinner that night.

The next day we didn't have drum lessons, so we did a surprise trip to Build a Bear with Caty's friend.  Caty was super excited to get Peter Rabbit.

Then we rushed back home for a cheerleading clinic with one of the local high schools.  The Special Olympics team was then invited to cheer during the basketball game.

It got loud at times, so Caty hugged on her new Peter Rabbit.

It got better when she won a raffle prize of brownies.

I was able to get a little cleaning done in the living room.  We removed one of the desks that the girls are not using.  Added a book shelf to hold their current books.  It cleared up some space in our walking area.  Since got the bigger dining room table, it had been feeling a bit cramped.

 That was our week for the most part.  Joey finished reading Wonder.  Brayden will start it next.

Brayden finished The Borrowers

Lydia finished the next Book in the Circle C Stepping Stones Series.  I ordered the next level from the library for her.  It sometimes takes a couple of weeks to get them, so I thought I would get a head start.

Caty started a new series I discovered by accident one day.  The Next Best Junior Chef Series.  This is the first one.  The second one comes out this week and then the third in July.  She loved the first book!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful week!!

Linking up with other moms at...

Homeschool Coffee Break

and Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Weekly Wrap-Up

and Homeschool Review Crew