Thursday, February 11, 2016

Do Homeschoolers REALLY Need to Worry about Socialization?

~ Note: I wrote this to be a Facebook post but it ended up so long that I moved it here. I'm not particularly eloquent and there is a plethora of blog posts and articles that deal with this topic. This is just what I wanted to tell my loved ones about socialization. ~
So last week, I started posting a little about how homeschooling works for us. Today I want to mention socialization. The first question people tend to ask when they find out someone homeschools is, "What about socialization?" I have lots and lots of ways I could answer that question but today I thought I would just give you a glimpse of our schedule this week and let you judge for yourselves.
Monday: Homeschool Co-op - We get together with about 30 other families and hold classes all day. The kids range in age from newborn to teenager. There's somthing for everyone and each kid has a group of friends that they get to hang out with.
After co-op is scouts for the boy.
Tuesday: World Cultures Day at the library. I started this group that gets together once a month and the library and the kids have the opportunity to do presentations on what they have learned about the month's country. We usually have 5-10 families participate. After the "official" meeting, we usually hang out in the kids section of the library for a couple of hours. The moms talk, the older kids hang out together, and the little kids play with the in-house toys.
Emmy works part time at a local fast food and I dropped her off before our meeting and picked her up after.
Wednesday: Eli babysits a couple of kids in our neighborhood two days a week for a couple of hours each time. They LOVE him and ask their mom every day if he's coming.
I dropped Emmy off at work again.
Miri had a doctor's appointment in Salt Lake. She's diabetic and has to do one of these every three months. She gets checked out and then has the opportunity to ask the doctor any questions she has. She usually does have questions and they have a good talk about her disease. Then I take her out to lunch where I let her choose and order her own meal. She's not afraid to ask the server for whatever she needs. (Like I was at her age.)
Then I picked Emmy up from work.
In the evening, there were the youth activities at the church for the older kids.
Thursday: This morning we had a homeschool Valentine's party with about 6 other families. It was mostly for the younger kids but the older ones went and played with the littles anyway. The kids were able to play together for about 3 hours.
This has been a particularly busy week for us but it's not uncommon for us to have this much going on. Co-op runs all through the school year except December. We plan on having World Cultures year-round. In the summer, there are park days at least 3 days per week with 10 or more other families. We also have group field trips at least bi-monthly, mom's support group every month, a monthly board game day at the library, a monthly teen activity, monthly trips to the swimming pool and the local "funplex." There are also opportunities for dance, music, art, and swimming lessons. And when a mom in the homeschool community sees a need for something new, we fill it. I'm starting a monthly polymer clay group that will include teens and adults; other moms get together and do book discussions, crafts, and discuss specific homeschool philosophies.
So, the next time you ask a homeschool mom, "What about socialization?" and she rolls her eyes, don't be offended. She just knows that the real problem with homschool socialization - for many of us anyway - is not overdoing it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Molly Weasley's Bell-Sleeved Sweater - Yes, I am Making One!

It took me more than a year but I finally finished the afghan I started when I was pregnant with William.

I've been wanting Molly Weasley's bell-sleeved sweater in the second Harry Potter movie ever since the first time I saw it.

So, I've been looking all over the internet for a pattern and I can't find one that looks right.  On most of them, the sleeve is way to baggy (the flare is supposed to start at the elbow, not the shoulder) and the shoulder sags something awful (I realize most of them were just costumes but really!) and most of them were just way too big.  The sleeves on one of them hung past the wearer's knees!

Anyway, I got the book "Charmed Knits" from the library 'cause I heard there was a pattern in there and I was sooo disappointed!  It had all of the opposite problems.  The flare began way too low and the shoulders were all puffy-looking and just weird.

And don't even get me started on the colors - why do people seem to think that the sweater was rainbow-clown colored?  I saw a lot of burnt orange and sage green; you know, seventies-upholstery colors.  Luckily, that's easy to fix.  I'll just buy decent colors.

So anyway, I decided I'd be better off just making my own pattern.  I've never made a pattern for anything more complicated than beaded socks before so this will definitely be an undertaking!

I started on it last night and in three hours, this is how much I got done:
Hubby kept complaining that I was unraveling more than I was crocheting.  (Have to get it just right, you know.)
And before you start commenting on my hypocrisy concerning the colors - I'm only using these because they are what I have on hand.  Right now I'm just making the pattern.  I didn't want to go out and buy yarn for a project that may or may not be beyond the scope of my abilities.  This will probably get completely unraveled and rolled back onto the balls when I am done.  I'd like to do it in the muted colors of the one in the movie if I can find the right yarn.  If I can't, I'll be doing it in some other combination completely. (But no rainbow-clown!)

Hopefully this project won't take a year to finish and I will keep posting updates on it.  If I am successful at coming up with a better pattern than the ones out there, I will share it here on my blog.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Gospel Study: The Firm Foundation

Eventually, I'd like to cover all of the subjects we study in our homeschool and show how we do it and make curriculum suggestions, etc.  I am starting with the gospel lessons because that subject reflects what is most important to me and my goals for my children.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) so these ideas and book suggestions are going to reflect my beliefs.  Feel free to take them or leave them as suits your needs.

What gospel curricula have I tried?

Over the years I have tried various methods of teaching gospel lessons in our homeschool.  At the beginning, I used the Gospel Art Kit from the LDS church.  It doesn't seem to be available anymore but I think the Gospel Art Book is the same thing only in bound form.  Anyway, we would look at the picture on the front and read the story on the back and then discuss for a few minutes.  For some reason, that never went over very well with my oldest two girls and we've just never gone back to it.  We seem to be a worksheet-style family anyway.  I may try it again sometime or maybe not.

When the kids were little, I subscribed to the Living Scriptures videos and one year I decided to try those for our gospel study.  We would watch the video and then read the story directly from the scriptures and color a page from the coloring book that came with the video.  That was great for the littlest kids but I needed something a little more.

So then I discovered Discover the Scriptures.  This is a program written by a homeschool mom for homeschoolers.  There are two levels of the Book of Mormon lessons so I started with the lower level.  I really wasn't that impressed.  We do our scripture memorization together as a family so we didn't need those pages and my kids tend to be reluctant writers so the copywork was no good for us.  There are a lot of pages where the assignment is to draw a picture of something from the story.  Once again, it didn't work.  My kids love to draw but not when they are told what to draw.  And, the kids found the program boring.  The one thing I liked about the program, however, is that it uses the Book of Mormon Stories book also available online on

What am I using now?

So that led me to what I'm using now for early elementary gospel study.  I'm still using the Book of Mormon Stories book mentioned above but I've made my own activity sheets to go with it.  I realized that the main thing I wanted my five-to-nine-year-olds to get out of gospel study is the stories.  I mostly want them to know the stories.  The deeper meanings and doctrine involved can and will come later.  But the stories are the foundation of an understanding of the gospel.  That simplified things a lot.  My goal became to simply keep the stories in their heads for a few days to give each one a chance to sink in.  Now, don't think we spend 4-5 years doing just the Book of Mormon.  Just because it's the only book of scripture I mentioned above, doesn't mean that it's the only one there is.  Just like in the rest of the Church Educational System, there are four divisions among all of the scriptures.  Besides Book of Mormon Stories, there's also Old Testament Stories (online here), New Testament Stories (online here) and Doctrine and Covenants Stories (online here).

I still do the Living Scriptures videos and coloring pages for Kindergarten but I'm now using the Scripture Stories books and my own activity pages for first through fourth grades.

Well, that's good for early elementary, but what about upper elementary grades?

This image might be a little misleading as the
book is only available as a digital download.
Oddly enough, we are using Discover the Scriptures for fifth through eighth grades.  My complaints about the easier versions just don't apply to this age.  There's still the memory work and the copywork and we do those or not according to our needs.  No more drawing pages so that's not an issue either.  Sometimes there will be a project assigned that the student doesn't want to do and I will let them skip it. For these years, they use the actual scriptures as the main text instead of the Stories readers.

How about high school?

High school should be the easiest level for gospel lessons (at least for Mom) as they can now go to Seminary.  (I say "should be easiest" because I have a daughter that refuses to go.)  We have release-time seminary here so I can either send them over to the seminary building by the high school for a period or we are lucky enough to have a homeschool seminary class in our stake.  So our kids have a choice.  If you live in an area with early-morning (or some-other-time-of-day) seminary, there you go - you can enroll them in that.  There are options for doing home-study seminary but I don't know what the requirements are if you want them to "officially" graduate from seminary.

What does all of this look like put together?

Kindergarten - Living Scriptures videos and coloring pages
1st Grade - Old Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
2nd Grade - New Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
3rd Grade - Book of Mormon Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
4th Grade - Doctrine and Covenants Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
5th Grade - Discover the Old Testament
6th Grade - Discover the Life of Christ and Discover the Acts of the Apostles*
7th Grade - Discover the Book of Mormon for Grades 4-7
8th Grade - Discover the Latter-Day Prophets**
9th through 12th Grades - Seminary

*We do these faster so we can get through the entire New Testament in one year.
**This constitutes our Doctrine and Covenants/Church History year.

So now if I put all of this together, this is what our gospel curriculum will look like this coming year:

Kjeri - 11th Grade - Seminary either at the high school or the homeschool group
Emmy - 9th Grade - Seminary either at the high school or the homeschool group
Eli - 6th Grade - Discover the Life of Christ and Discover the Acts of the Apostles
Miri - 4th Grade - Doctrine and Covenants Stories and Mom's Activity Pages
Josie - 1st Grade - Old Testament Stories and Mom's Activity Pages

Is that all?

That's not even close to all there is to learning the gospel.  Don't forget:

  • Family and personal prayers
  • Family and personal scripture reading
  • Scripture memory work (Pres. Hinkley challenged us to memorize one per week)
  • Hymn/Primary song practice
  • Family Home Evening
  • Ward and Stake Youth Activities
  • Sunday Meetings
  • Primary Activities
  • Scout Activities
  • Impromptu discussions of gospel teachings
  • Parent/Child Interviews
  • Discussions of history and science topics in which gospel doctrine is incorporated

I'm sure I've missed some things but you get the idea.  Now, don't get me wrong, we aren't nearly perfect at doing all of these things but we can all pick and choose the things that are important to our families.

How do I schedule gospel lessons?

Well, I'm a believer in lots of short lessons rather than fewer longer ones so we do all of our subjects every day - including gospel.  The resources listed above are easy to schedule; I just figure out the number of days we are going to have school and the number of pages there are in the book and divide accordingly.  In almost all cases, it works out to one page per day.  The main exception to that is the sixth grade in which they do two of the Discover... books.  I want New Testament to only last a year at a time and they've divided it into "Life of Christ" and "Acts of the Apostles," so that year will be two pages per day.

How do I grade gospel lessons?

They either did the lesson or they didn't so these lessons get a 100% or a 0%.  Easy peasy.

Keep in mind that this is just one family's way of doing gospel lessons and may not work for you.  The key is to figure out your teaching style(s) as well as your children's learning styles and go from there.  Hopefully this information will help get you going in the right direction.  If I missed anything, let me know in the comments and I will get back to you.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Beef Enchiladas with Green Sauce

I really should stop calling these "Recipe of the Week" as I don't post them nearly that often but I guess it's too late to change it now.

Anyway,  we love these enchiladas!  I use what my local grocer calls "taco beef."  It's coarser than ground beef but finer than stew meat.  I really like it for my Mexican dishes.  If you can't find "taco beef," ground beef will do just as well.

Beef Enchiladas with Green Sauce

2 lbs taco beef or ground beef
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
9 large flour tortillas
1 can black olives, sliced
28 ounces mild green enchilada sauce
1 lb shredded cheddar cheese
optional: salsa and sour cream for serving
Brown your meat in a large skillet.  Drain if needed and add seasonings and about 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Roll up a couple of heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture in each tortilla and place in 9x13 inch baking dish.  When they are all in there, scatter the olives on top, pour the rest of the sauce over and cover everything with cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes and serve with salsa and sour cream (or without).


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Homeschool Grade Sheet

I know a lot of homeschoolers don't believe in grades.  Honestly, I don't really either.  My state doesn't require them and in the elementary years they don't really mean anything.  I make the kids redo their work until they get it right anyway so they all get straight A's, right?  Actually, I have a couple of reasons for doing grades, even though I don't really believe in them.

1. Motivation:  Some of my kids are motivated by those big letter "A"s at the top of their work.  And once in a while I will offer a reward for good grades, which in our house mostly mean they worked hard to learn the stuff we are studying.

2. High school transcripts:  In high school we need to keep track of grades for their transcripts.  Colleges will want to see them.

3. Practice:  When they get to college, they will be graded on their work.  They might as well get used to it now.  It's also given me a chance to practice keeping records for their high school transcripts.

Ultimately, it's up to you (and possibly your state) whether you record grades for your homeschool or not.  If you do and you want a form for record keeping, this is what I use.  Hopefully it will help you:

You can download the editable Excel version here.  It's in the same file as the planner pages so if you downloaded those, you already have these.

You can download the write-in pdf version here.

The font used in the downloads is Space Woozies and can be found here.

The font used in the image above is called Sunshine Poppy and can be found here.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Sweet and Sour Meatballs

My family loves this recipe.  I usually make it with pineapple tidbits instead of the crushed so I can pick it out...  I know, I know.  But if I made only what I like and won't pick stuff out of, my family would suffer greatly!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
1 can of crushed pineapple
1 tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
24 meatballs
 Mix all ingredients except meatballs in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until well blended.  Add meatballs. Simmer for 10 min. Serve over cooked rice.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Homeschool Calendars

I keep two kinds of homeschool calendars.  The first is my yearly at-a-glance calendar.  Here is what it looks like along with a few notes on how I use it:

I also keep a monthly calendar to which I can add field trips, birthdays, vacations, and other important dates.

When planning my year, I usually start with Christmas or Thanksgiving and work my way out.  We do 4-6 weeks on and 1 week off except at Christmas and in summer.  I usually start the first Monday in September.

Actually, this year we really won't have a stopping and starting point.  I plan on just continuing what we are doing, and when we finish a book, we move on to the next one.  We've had way more breaks this year than planned because of the new baby and some personal issues so I plan on schooling right through the summer (knowing that we will probably have lots of breaks in there for fun stuff - camping, day trips, etc).  So our school year will "begin" in September but really it will mostly mean new school supplies and decorations in the schoolroom (also known as the living room - that's the price you pay for homeschooling 5 kids in a very small house).

You can download both of these calendars here.
The font used in the Excel version is called Space Woozies and can be found here.
The font used in the images above is called Sunshine Poppy and can be found here.