Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Transitional Homeschooling

What is “Transitional Homeschooling”?  It is the type of homeschooling you do, anytime your life is in transition.  I can think of several times..
- New baby
-Caring for a chronically ill child
-You or your husband have a chronic illness
- Caring for an aging parent.
- Job changes- schedule changes
I am sure there are many other reasons, but this is a fairly good sample of possibilities.

It all begins well.. at the beginning!

Why are you homeschooling?

This answer will be different for each family. For me some of the reasons we have homeschooled, is to instill a love for God , a love of learning and a  love for family. I want my children to grow up seeking knowledge, having the tools in their tool belts to learn what they need learn as they face life’s adventures.

How you handle your transitional homeschooling will entirely be based on how you answered that question. There is NO WRONG ANSWER!

Once you have looked at the goals of your homeschool  and depending on the age of your children, transitional homeschooling can actually be very freeing. Generally during transitions, you will find that you strip down the fluff and stick to the basics. 

Our family happens to be a family that loves field trips and hands on activities, but truth be told, when you are struggling through a transition, these are not the best years for learning in that fashion.

In our 13 year homeschool career, we have gone through many transitions

Our Transitions

In our home we have dealt with….
~ A Chronically Ill Child
~ My Father Battled Cancer and Passed Away
~ My husband lost his job
~ I am now currently working outside the home
~ I currently have children at home, in school and in college..

In all honesty.. I think we have been homeschooling through transitions.. our whole homeschool career!

Depending on the Transition… your game plan will be different!

Before we go any further… whether you are going through a transition or not, you must bathe your homeschool in prayer. However, it is especially important that you seek the Lord’s face when you are facing transition, to ensure that you are not making rushed, emotional decisions.

The Transition is the Lesson

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of still ‘schooling’ through the transition, I encourage you to look at the transition as the lesson. No matter what the transition is, there are life lessons that are sure to be learned during it.

It’s okay to take a break from academics. This is real life! Sometimes- life really is the lesson!

New Baby- caring for sick child- sick parent- or you are sick- moving… these are times when you can consider making the transition itself can be the lesson. It will be a passing transition, and the life lessons that can be learned here are great.

When you are caring for an aging or dying parent, or even in my case, where I was simply making my dad a priority, you are teaching your children a wonderful lesson. Compassion. Prioirtizing. Putting what’s first, first. I am so thankful that when my father was battling cancer, that I was able to have the time to spend with him, without worry of a ‘school’ schedule. Sure academically, it was not our most productive. But rather than feeling behind, we picked up where we left off. We worked and played, and spent time with the person we loved so much. Even though they were small, they were seeing all of this.

Another thing to remember is when you are dealing with stressful transitions, your children feel the stress, and they feel your stress. And during times like this, you cannot expect them to have the best school year of their life. For some of these situations, getting through, is half the battle.


I remember focusing on bible time and prayer, because I needed it so much, and so did the kids. Academically, we concentrated on reading, when we did do our work. And then we supplemented with audio/video learning that could either be done in the car, or while I was working on something else.

Learn to at minimum accept help when it is offered… perhaps even get comfortable asking for help.

Are there classes that are taught by your homeschool group/ co-op that you can take advantage of during the crisis?

Is there a good friend who homeschools their kids, willing to take you child under their wing for a subject or two?  Are there friends, or kids of friends, that can come clean your house, or do yard work, so you can focus on the important things.

Take a look at what you have been covering.

Find resources that can help you teach those subjects.
When you have wee ones in the home, I would recommend lots of reading.. on the couch, or in the bed, read together as a family.  If you have readers.. all the way through high school, this may be  a way that your older kids can help with the little ones… sharing the reading responsibilities, have them help out with helping the little ones learn their reading as well.

Watching educational videos, lots of discussion.. you can watch a movie/documentary, have them write about, or dictate, or draw what they learned..

Now,  when your children are older, in junior high and high school, (feeling like you don’t have the time to take off) you will want to give them, perhaps, a more traditional type of education, even if that is not what you are typically used to. During transitions, it is not the time to rethink the wheel. You are going to want to look for something, laid out for you.. that they can independently work on their own, with minimal help from you.

Nuts and Bolts of Transitional Homeschooling

Take a day, or a weekend, and plan what you and your children are going to cover. All those grand ideas you have in your head will better serve your family, once they are on paper.. or in a planner of sorts! 

There is a saying, what gets planned, gets done!  This will also help the kids know what's on the agenda, in an otherwise, perhaps stressful time!

Use workbooks for the basics.. to keep their math skills intact.. and handwriting or vocabulary, whatever basic skills you want them to keep working on, get them some workbooks to keep working on..

For grades 3 and up, there is Switched on Schoolhouse. You can spend an afternoon or weekend to get all set up and then have them continue working pretty independently.

MathTutor DVD – now this has helped us all along, even when not in transition, however, this is a great tool, when mom’s time is limited. These DVD’s can help your student by coaching them through their math. Now, this is not designed to go along with one particular curriculum, it will strictly teach the concepts.

At our local mom's night last night, one of our mom's, (Thanks, Gina!) reminded us how helpful Teaching Textbooks is.  You can learn more about them by visiting their website.. 

Los Angeles County Library One on One Live Tutoring – if you have a LA County Library card you can use this service! Live tutors will help you online with your homework!
If you are not in LA County, check with your local library.

Utilize Netflix or Amazon, for Documentaries on historical and sometimes scientific topics that you are studying.

There is a great company called ZeeZok, that actually sells study guides that go with movies, classic movies and newer movies, that turns them into an educational opportunity. We have used several of them, and quite enjoy them.

WORKBOX Type learning

Check Pinterest for some great ideas - http://pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=workbox

This is great for transitional homeschooling as you can gather up everything for each child, stick it into a box of your choosing. You can even set up an ‘appointment’ box – for appointment, or errands.. and a reward box to inspire them to help the family with their good natured obedient behavior!

Time 4 Learning
 Online fee-based curriculum through the 8th grade. May not be complete, but it has quite a bit available. And the kids can do this independently. Not Christian.

Khan Academy
Tutorials through highschool  Math, History, Science
Test Prep, Computer Science, Art History

Subscription service (fee) unlimited audio book rental

If your kids are small, I would recommend playing educational games to help them with their basics. Chances are if there is a lot going on, you are going to be limited on time you can spend with kids. Might as well have fun, while learning!
Rainbow Resource has a whole host of games.

List of Top Ten Educational Games

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Lean on God.  Trust Him!
Remember, He made our children very resilient! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Homeschool Conventions are Important!

Have I mentioned I love homeschooling? And I love homeschool conventions!!  If I had my way, I would spend all of my spare time at homeschool conventions around the country. Spare time! HA! That is funny, I actually don't have any spare time, do you? But I so enjoy fellowshipping with fellow homeschoolers!

This year I had the pleasure of attending both of our local conventions. I was able to meet up with friends from my homeschool group, meet up with friends that I have met on previous years while working the Growing Healthy Homes booth, as well as, meet up with vendors/friends that I have reviewed products for or have been able to get to know over the course of our homeschool journey! WHAT FUN!   Here is a photo of me and Heidi St. John, The Busy Homeschool Mom! I had not realized she was going to be at our convention, and was THRILLED when I walked by her booth on the way to mine! She was only a few 'doors' down from us!

At this last convention, I was able to hear the morning Keynote speaker both days, and what a blessing that was to me! The first day we heard Voddie Baucham speak on the Culture Wars. That was very good. Bringing it back to God! It was a great way to start the day, spending time around God's Word, before getting into the busyness of the day!  And then the second day we heard Jessica Hulcy! That was such a treat. I have learned so much from her during my homeschool journey. I was so thankful to be able to spend a few minutes with her at her booth... I forgot my camera!  I just LOVE HER!   My children LOVE KONOS!  She spoke to us about why we stand for homeschooling! What a wonderful reminder for all of us! Makes me think of Gal. 6:9 And Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. 

I was so blessed by just those two talks, and when you couple that with being around like minded people, discussing homeschooling for the entire weekend, there simply is no better way to spend a weekend!

Why are homeschool convention important? It is not simply because you can get great discounts in the vendor hall, and you can!  The real reason is, you need to have your tanks filled. All school year long you are giving to your children, to your entire family. You are wife, mom and teacher. When you attend a homeschool convention, you walk away, inspired, renewed and equipped to handle the year ahead. You will remember why you are homeschooling. You will reminded to focus on Christ, not your circumstances. To lean on Him, always, and He will guide you, sustain you, and nourish your soul! You will be equipped with practical hands on tools that will help through the day!  And yes, you will find excellent discounts in the vendor hall! Did I mention.. you will have the opportunity to meet some of your favorite homeschool people?

Were you able to attend your local homeschool convention? If not, I urge you, to find out the dates of your local convention next year and start saving and make plans to attend. Your family will not be sorry!  Even if you must travel to get to your nearest convention, it will be worth the effort and worth your journey!

Happy Homeschooling!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life on Fast Forward

My blog has become very quiet, as my life, as become more busy! I have meant to sit down and blog for sometime now, but simply have not had the time. I know, it's summer, right? You would think it would be slowing down, but it hasn't quite yet for us!

Our family has been running double time  since about mid May!  You see, two of our sons graduated from High School this year. Our first set of High School Graduates!  And in Mid May our church held it's Annual Spring Banquet. This is what our church does every year for the high school students in our youth group as an alternative to prom. They all head down to the Disneyland Hotel, and have dinner, make memories and honor the graduating class. This year we had two... and two other high schoolers.. the whole family headed down to mark this occasion and I am so glad that we did!

Then just a few short weeks after that was one of the Great Homeschool Conventions here in Southern California. I had the privilege of working the booth and speaking on behalf of Growing Healthy Homes.  I just love homeschool conventions! Well I should actually say, I just love homeschoolers, so I love homeschool conventions. Thousands of families who have the same mind set on education! Oh, I could spend every day chatting with families!  It was also great fun meeting up with friends that I have made online, as well as, vendors that I have had the privilege of reviewing their products. And it was equally exciting to see members of our local homeschool group at the convention! (I am looking forward to another convention in a few weeks from now!)

Just one week after the homeschool convention we had our Homeschool Graduation! We celebrated the graduation of both the 8th graduates and 12th grade graduates. It was such a lovely time.  I am always challenged and encouraged by the words and scriptures that parents share with their children to either stay faithful during their final years of school, or, as it is in my case, as we launch them off into the world.

Things are beginning to slow down around our home.. well a little bit.  One of our high school graduates is currently working to help pay for his college bill next year.  Three of our children are off at Teen Camp with church this week.  And in a few short weeks, following the next homeschool convention, one of my sons is heading off to the Philippines on a church misions trip.

As we work each and everyday, I find comfort in this verse..
Luke 19:13, "...Occupy till is come."

We are busy occupying until He returns. And as we do, we give God all the glory! I am so thankful for the grace of God, that has allowed me to to teach my children for the last 12 years! We have 5 more years to go! I am thankful for God's enabling!  I know that if it weren't for God, our family would not be where we are today! He is faithful!

Praying for you and your family, praying for God's grace and God's enabling as you strive to live for Him, and to raise your family to bring glory to God!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Genesis Code

Recently I had the opportunity to review a movie called 'The Genesis Code".
As a conservative Christian who believes in a young earth. I am a Creation apologist, and as such, I was excited to see that a movie was going to use science to prove the Genesis story, which I have already seen demonstrated in the past.

However, as I watched the movie, that is not what I found. This movie tried to use physics and the theory of time dilation to prove that both the view of young earth and an old earth can coexist based on your perspective... ie.. God's perspective or ours.

And that in the end, both were correct. While I am not a scientist, and I cannot go into all the reasons why I disagree with this, the one thing I know for sure, is that I disagree with what this movie is promoting, and therefore, I simply cannot endorse this film.

If you would like to read a more educated view and opinion of this movie, I looked up to see if the fine folks of Answers in Genesis had anything to say on the film, and fortunately they did. You can check out their thoughts here.

Cowgirls N' Angels

If you are looking for a film for the entire family, then look no further. Cowgirls N' Angels is a film that your entire family will enjoy, whether you have boys or girls, this will be a film that will keep their interest! And even mom and dad will enjoy this family friendly film! 

There are even some faces you will recognize in this film, such as, James Cromwell, Bailee Madison, Alicia Witt and Jackson Rathbone!  

Here is how the producers describe the movie....

Cowgirl's N' Angels is a heartwarming movie that tells the story of Ida, a feisty and rebellious young girls, who has dreams of finding her father, a rodeo rider.  While searching for her dad, she connects with the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a team of  young female rodeo riders run by former rodeo star Terence Parker.  Recognizing Ida's innate talent for trick riding, Terence recruits for her their ranks.  Accepted wholeheartedly by her new 'family', Ida finds a new passion that redefines her life, and may also help her find the father she's been searching for. 

What is the Creative Learners take?

This film has got a great story line, full of adventure, mystery and a rip roarin' good time! And all this with a great message.. and nothing that you have to shield your children's eyes from!  My 12 year old daughter thought it was wonderful!  She loved watching the horses, and the girls as they do tricks on the horses! She thought the movies was "Exciting!" and Fun!"

You will find yourself, laughing and cheering, and it you don't watch yourself. even crying.. just a wee bit! 

Check out Cowgirls N' Angels on Facebook  and you can catch the trailer below! 
Cowgirls N' Angels is in theaters now! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Special Mothers: Omnipresent God

As a mothers of special needs children, I believe that we have come to realize that we depend on God every single day of our lives. For most of us, we rarely fall into the pattern of feeling self sufficient. Understanding that we wholly need Him to sustain us!

We also have the wonderful gift of seeing God in our children, both the children with special needs and our children without special needs. We see Him in their struggles and in their triumphs.

Our daily life requires a close walk with the Lord, for we are not able to carry the burden alone. If you are a Special Mother with a Special Children, check out my post today on CWAHM, called Special Mother's: Omnipresent God. 

A Plus TutorSoft - Pre Algebra - A Review

As you know, math is not a favorite subject around here. For me or my children. The main reason for that, is that I did not excel in math as a student, therefore I often struggle with feeling inadequate to teach them. My kids struggle with some of the same issues I did as a child as well.  When you add those together, it makes  a very difficult combination.

Because of both of these factors, I have been put on a journey to find math curriculum or products that will help me help my children. Today we are going to take a look at the program A Plus TutorSoft.

We have been using their CD program. (They also have books, and online programs) I have been very pleased with this program. It is complete, affordable and versatile.  When you purchase the CD program,  you are purchasing a complete math curriculum, with parental tracking, lesson plans, the math text, mutli-media lessons and interactive Q & A's, worksheets and exams (both with solutions guide) and progress reports!

What is the Creative Learners take on A Plus Tutor Soft?

We were using their Pre-Algebra Program with my daughter. She is a very reluctant learner, however, we were able to have her sit down and use this program.

The first few times we used the program, I sat down next to her. I did this for two purposes. One, for the purpose of review. I wanted to be able to see first hand how the program worked and how she worked with the program. Also, I wanted to be available in case she needed help or direction.  And then after a few lessons, I left her on her own to see how she would do, using this program independently.

We sat down together and started with the mutlimedia lessons. While we were sitting together she did very well. There were a few times that I needed to help reiterate something that was said, in order for her to understand. However, she would then be able to understand and proceed to the Interactive Q & A that would give her immediate feedback on whether she retained what she had just learned. She was able then to either go on or go back and relearn what we had just covered.  I found that when she used the program on her own, she needed to go back and revisit the information more than when I sat with her. However, I do not feel like that is due to any program failures. My daughter has a short attention span, and is easily distracted.  And without me sitting there, she was not always able to stay focused. However, this is typical of all of her studies.

However, with A Plus Tutor Soft, it was able to keep her interested, because it was interactive. She liked that the text was read to her. That helped her to listen and learn. I should also mention here that she has dyslexia, so we love the fact that the text is read to her! (The full curriculum book is also available on the CD. Your child can also read that on their own)  We also loved the fact that when she was stuck, she could listen to the text again, and in the end she would understand what was being taught. She also really enjoyed the Interactive Q & A. The Q&A section proved to be motivating for her to get through her work! That is a huge plus!

I have been very happy with A Plus Tutor Soft.  Another bonus to this program, is that you are able to use each level with more than one student. So if you have several kids in your family,  you will only need to purchase each level with your children.

You can currently purchase A Plus Tutor Soft starting at $79.99.