Uncategorized

Good-Bye Summer…August Recap!

So August has come and gone, September is approaching and time plan for the next month! What I learned this month is that I like the rhythm we have established so far. We do 3 days of the Knowledge Basket and I have scaled back his work box items by 50%. The scaling back of his work box items was a huge hit because over the last past week I have been doing “White Boards at Night”.

I first saw this idea on Instagram from a fellow homeschooling mama @homeschoolinginthed_ and she wrote a wonderful blog post about it that you can find here. This has proven to be the best swap out ever and he likes it. I think one reason why he likes it is because he is going through an independence stage and this gives him the opportunity to be independent. So White Board at Night is defiantly a keeper this year.

I have also started leaving him notes of appreciation on top of his morning box each day, this has proven to be a major day lifted for him and I get extra hugs when he finds them.

We also started going to Home-school Co-Op 2 days a week. It gives him the opportunity to hang out with other kids and I get 2 hours of down time to plan and have adult conversations. We also relaunched our Little Learner and Mom YouTube this month and have some exciting things coming soon!!

As for J he is progressing well with his math facts and grammar this year so far. We are still working on improving handwriting and writing sentences. He is doing exceptionally well with his reading we have moved into more chapter books on a regular. He recently finished the latest The Bad Guys Book 7 along side his reading buddy from @Melanin_Kids_Book_Club. How we love The Bad Guys Series, it will have you and your child in tears laughing.

For the month of September we will finish up our Safety Unit and then move into Chapters 2-4 of Real Science 4 Kids Biology we will be exploring Cells and Plants. Field trips to the Apple Farm, Zoo and Aquarium are in the plans. We will be doing fun activities about Fall in our Knowledge Basket this month. We are super excited about joining the Deep Space Sparklers Members Club and Chalk pastel this school year for art.

This month we kick off his requested study about Asia focusing on the country of China he so happy about this I let him help me plan this unit study!! We will be using the Beautiful Feet Around the World Part 1 Curriculum the first lesson is all about China!

September is looking really exciting I must say myself, but since we are pretty flexible with our learning at any moment things can do a 180. The best part of September is the anticipation of Fall coming. The warm smell of cinnamon and pumpkin spice is on the horizon. I am happy to see summer leave us but we plan to take one more trip to the pool and run through the sprinklers.

Until Next Time,

Little Learner and Mom

Uncategorized

New School Year and Focus!

I love this time of the year, the smell of new curriculum and school supplies is wonderful, but how do you decide on the perfect curriculum when there are so many to choose from? Better yet how do you home school and not go broke trying to do it.

This year I decided to use the same curriculum publishers I used last year and just add a few supplements. Brillant  right? BYE BYE STRESS!! Who am I kidding I don’t want to get into the habit of curriculum hopping now that we have found what works. No curriculum is 100% perfect you must be ready for those imperfections and adjust.

While planning this school year I decided to do some more research on Charlotte Mason and to include more literature based learning and nature studies. Doesn’t that sound poetic? We shall see how well this goes over with my child. I am a unit study homeschooler so I think we will be fine with this new change. I don’t claim to be a home school guru or a veteran, I just know what works for us.

As a homeschooling family you buy curriculum and may feel pressured to use it all, but this is one thing I have had to make my peace with and move on. The goal for us is not about completion it’s about learning, mastery and having fun. So how do you start the process? First thing first is make a plan, that also includes budget and research your curriculum choices yourself. Try as hard as you can to stick to your plan. We all been there and don’t beat yourself up if you detour from your plan.

Buying curriculum second-hand and the digital versions can help save on your budget (HP Instant ink is your best friend). Using your local library can save on books or renting certain textbooks from Amazon also helps. Take a month or two before you restart your new year and check your inventory and decide if you can stretch materials this includes school supplies. Sell some of your gently used items or check out a local curriculum sale. Facebook is also a good way to locate curriculum, I belong to several buy and sell groups and have saved a ton.

Another thing is don’t buy everything at once so you don’t feel overwhelmed. For example I bought my sons language arts curriculum in March and then his math curriculum used in May.  Ebay is also a homeschooling families BFF but be careful that you’re not over paying in shipping, I have seen some sellers offer a book for $6 and the shipping is more than the purchase price. Pick curriculum that is within your budget and is realistic for your child, I am the first to admit I have gotten caught up in all the pretty and cool curriculums with all the frills. Let’s not forget the Dollar Tree but self-control is a must in that place because those $1 add up fast.

Beware of the Target dollar spot! Oh, how I looooove the Target dollar spot. Pay attention to inside of the workbooks and cards. They may be duplicates from the previous year, that you know you have already purchased. Now I do love all the cute little decorations and classroom tools they offer, but exercise caution. Make a rule to get rid of old before buying new cuts back on clutter. I started purging my office and classroom in January. Purging doesn’t mean you have to buy anything it just gives you some clarity and it just feels good! Get what you need and set your splurge budget to a $10 limit.

Another area I went crazy on last year was school supplies🤦🏾‍♀️…this year I wised up and went through my school supplies inventory and realized I had enough items to carry us through and I walked out of Wal-Mart only spending $13 vs $50 last year.

I learned to have some self control when home school shopping this year!

Another area I did some reflecting on was how much I was spending on having books spiraled or comb bind. Last year I spent $72 on this expense, Yikes! So every month from February – July I set aside $20 and purchased my own Marigold 19-hole Letter Size Comb Ring Binding Machine! Problem solved and the one I picked came with a set of binder combs and I bought Fellowes 52326 Plastic Comb Bindings, 1/2″ Diameter and Fellowes 52383 Plastic Comb Bindings, 1″. No more trips to Office Depot, money saved!!!

Now lets jump into it….

There are two resources I always keep in my arsenal since we started our homeschooling journey when my son was a preschooler. The first being the What Your Child Needs To Know Series and secondly The World Book Typical Course of Study. Each of these resources are grade specific and cover everything.

The Curriculum choices 2018-2019

We decided to continue to use The Good and Beautiful Language Arts curriculum this year he is moving into level 1 check my most recent blog on why we choose it here. We started using the Harcourt 1st grade Reading Skills book over the summer so we will be finishing the 1st grade book and moving into the 2nd grade book soon. I have also invested in the 1st grade Spectrum Language Arts that we will move into once we have finish the kindergarten book.

We will be doing spelling work more often this year so I decided to use All About Spelling Level 1 as a supplement. My son has moved away from sight words and so I decided to use Mrs Wordsmith HE LOVES IT ….click link to save 10% !!!

We are also using The Good and Beautiful Science curriculum and we have chosen Safety, Water, Introduction to Energy and Meteorology. We are also using Sassafras Science Botany and Earth Science a literature based science curriculum. We finished Sassafras Zoology this past school year and really enjoyed it. I decided to keep the Amazon Stem Club so we will be using our monthly boxes to help with Stem. My son is a coder and we have Dash from Wonder Workshop, Sphero 2.0 , Osmos   and he likes Code Sparks and Scratch Jr. My son loves science and I wanted make sure I was feeding that love, so a supplement I have Real Science-4-Kids Focus On  Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology and Astronomy. We wont be working through all the books to completion but we will pull from different areas to study.

For math we have decided to stick with Math U See Alpha (Mastery) as our spine and Horizon grade 1 book 1 and 2 (Spiral) as our supplement. We are also using additional resources from The Moffat Girls Math Made Fun 1st grade and using the Lakeshore Learning Math Journal.

Moving on to handwriting we are continuing with Learning Without Tears 1st grade and The Good and Beautiful Level 2 . For our second term we will start WriteShop A We are also doing copy work, journals and writing letters to family and friends.

Critical thinking and logic skills are a daily routine for us and I have chosen to use Lollipop Logic,  Can You Find Me, Building Thinking Skills and Mind Benders from the Critical Thinking Company. We also have a variety of Thinkfun, Smart Games and MiniLuk products. I also have a few crossword puzzles and Sudoku books.

Geography this year I have decided to use Evan Moore Daily Geography and DK Geography. Additionally included literature based learning in this area as well, we will be reading My Weird School Geography and the Horrible Geography series. I also have some Montessori Inspired activities planned.

I decided this year to introduce history and we are using Beautiful Feet Around the World literature based curriculum. We will also continue our African Studies throughout the school year picking influential African-Americans and countries in Africa to study.

For Spanish this year we are using various materials. Again keeping with my goal of creating more of a literature based focus, I have complied a library list of bilingual books for us. I am also going to make more of an effort of speaking to him in Spanish more often, as well as reading and writing in Spanish.

I hope I created a learning environment that is inviting, hands-on, fun and didn’t break the bank!! I let go of some of our monthly box subscriptions because a lot of them we hadn’t had a chance do them. Gave away tons of classroom resources to friends and learned to say NO to the latest classroom frill.

It may seem like a lot but we rotate our electives and concentrate on the main areas of study math, writing, reading and interest led studies. If you are interested in seeing a complete list of our 2018-2019 Curriculum choices please click here for a compiled list.

Are there any new school year adjustments you have made to your homeschool ?

Until Next Time!

Mom

Uncategorized

Why We Practice Mindfulness

This is dedicated to Mrs TaJuana Blakely owner of Tiny Yogis

My son has been taking private yoga lessons for almost 3 years and he has truly enjoyed his lessons with Mrs. T the owner of Tiny Yogis. One the reasons I decided to start yoga with him was because of his medication Keppra for his epilepsy. One of the side effects of Keppra is mood swings and hyperactivity. My son some times could have slight mood swings and he could be hyperactive but it wasn’t anything that was majorly concerning to us when he first started the medication at 1 years old, but then things started to change when he turned 3. He began exhibiting Keppra Rage behavior and getting depressed. We needed to get this under control because I saw him really struggling.  I brought it to his neurologist attention and the first thing she suggested was a different medication that came with an even longer list of side effects. My husband and I said absolutely not, then I asked her about vitamin B12 which I had read could help and she said we could try to see how it works.

FullSizeRender

As a mom observing my son during those moments of his frustration I felt helpless. All I could do was try to hold and comfort him. There were nights I found myself in tears when he would have these fits of just feeling sad, then the dreaded “Keppra Rage” would hit. His medication was blessing but at the same time it was changing my son and we needed to step in, because going on another medication was not option for us.

Some may say he was just being your typical threeanger, but as a mom and professional who once worked in the field of child development and care, what we saw was not threeanger behavior.

One day I read an article about meditation and yoga for children who had seizures and dealing with the side effects of the medications. I decided let’s give this a try , I contacted Tiny Yogis and explained what we were dealing with and that we wanted to establish a calming routine for him. I was relieved when the owner told me she had experience with working with kids who were epileptic and she could work with him. She came over and we all went to work and I couldn’t be happier.

Studies have shown that kids who practice mindfulness have the ability to self regulate their behavior and can better deal with conflict resolution among their peers. Mindfulness also lowers stress levels, improves concentration and builds self-esteem.

The good in me sees the good in you!

After a month of yoga and implementing the mindfulness routine, one day he stopped right in full frustration mode and closed his eyes and said in a calm voice “peace begins with me” and taking mindful breaths. Imagine my expression seeing my frustrated child completely shut it all down and calm himself and after 3 mins he was at peace and calm and ready to restart. Talk about WOW!!! Not only had he learned to calm himself he also learned to recognize when he needed to take a few minutes and step away. To watch my 3.5 year old do something most adults are not able to do at 30 was astonishing.

My hope in writing this is that a parent who is dealing with the side effects of any medications or behavioral issues will give mindfulness a try before making the decision to change medications. I am not doctor so this isn’t me giving medical advise it’s just letting you know do your own research first.

Peace begins with me…the student has now become the teacher.

Almost 6 and no longer taking Keppra and approaching his 3 years seizure free anniversary he is doing great. We incorporate mindfulness in our home school day and every night before he goes to bed. I have even picked up doing daily meditations early in the morning before I get out the bed. There are days when he can sense I am having a hard day and he will say Mommy you need to take a break, close your eyes Mommy and repeat after me… 😉

So all is well 80% of the time, he is still a typical kid and has his moments but its all about growing up and how we as his parents handle those little moments. Not saying this may be the answer for all children , but it has worked for us. I understand all too well what it means to have a child with health issues and if I can help ease that stress just a little for another family then this post was worth writing. If you happen to be in the Atlanta surrounding area check out Tiny Yogis , she host classes all over the city and she is great with kids!

Here are few of our favorites mindful materials:

Until Next Time,

Little Learner and Mom 📿

The post contains affilate links at no additional cost to you.
Uncategorized

The Knowledge Basket

This past school year we tried our hand at Morning Baskets…. epic fail on my part!

I liked the idea of having a special little ritual that could help jump-start our day, but for some reason I just couldn’t get it together. I honestly think the name of the basket is what was throwing me “Morning Basket” and I needed to really fine tune this area or drop it.

Our days start pretty early my son is up by 5:30 -6:00 am and I am up at 5 am most days myself. You would think a morning basket would be perfect for us right? Wrong🤦🏾‍♀️!!! We just couldn’t find our rhythm to add it to our mornings.

Traditionally a “Morning Basket” has a devotional, read aloud, fun activities and some sort of learning activity.  All the items that are supposed to be in the basket we did at the table or in our work boxes, so I felt like it would be repetitive and my son very much dislikes repetition.  He definitely called me out on it several times during our attempts of Morning Basket time !

So this is what I decided what was throwing me off…

I love the morning basket concept and I think it would really be a good addition to our home school, but I needed to think outside of the box and really figure out what worked for us. The first thing I did was change the name, our basket is called the “Knowledge Basket”, by removing the name I know longer felt pressured to have to do it in the morning or everyday. We do our “Knowledge Basket” 3 days a week anytime of the day. I also slimmed off the items typically found in a Morning Basket. Our Knowledge Basket consist of these subject areas:

  1. African American Studies- A Child’s Introduction to African American History: The Experiences, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country
  2. Interest led topic of his choosing (National Geographic Readers: Lizards and Fly Guy Presents: Snakes )
  3. Big Journal and Mindfulness materials
  4. Art and Music Appreciation
  5. Poetry

The time spent on these items would only be 30 mins, so if we don’t get to something that’s okay we can just save it for the next time. I also decided to rotate our items every 2 weeks or sooner if it needed. I also enlisted my son help and asked him what he wanted in the basket. Now some may say where is the read aloud and all the other items that is supposed to be in the basket. Those items are spread out over the course of our day. Almost 60% of our curriculum has some sort of literature that goes along with it and we read from 3 chapter books every night before bed. We also read at meals and have prayer throughout the day so we are covering everything but just not throwing it all in the basket.

Here is the $50 dollar question, has the new basket been a success? You bet it has been not only has it been a success my son now goes to the basket every single morning and pulls his Mindfulness Kids Cards and Breath Like a Bear book. He also revisits the basket on his own throughout the day looking over the materials. So our Knowledge Basket has now transformed into the interest led basket and he knows he has the freedom to go to it anytime he wants and because his interested materials went in it, the basket is more appealing.

So what is in this weeks basket?

I love our version of the Morning Basket, it is a perfect reflection of our family and our needs. The most important thing is my son had a hand in its creation and he LOVES IT!!! So if you are thinking about implementing a Morning Basket in your home school, I highly recommend that you make the basket your own and limit the amount of things you put in it and realize you don’t have to do it everyday or even in the mornings. The way I look at it this basket it’s just another way of bonding with my son and letting him know I value his contribution to his learning and our family.

Until next time,

Mom