Thursday, April 29, 2010

Schoolhouse Expo Day 2

Today was the second day in the pre-conference portion of  The Schoolhouse Expo.  All the speakers for tonight were from the Clarkson Family.  I had never heard them speak before, nor had I ever heard of their ministry.... it seems I am always learning something new about homeschooling, and the resources that are out there....  I think it is one of the reasons I enjoy homeschooling so much.... because I am learning just as much as my kids do.

I wish I could say I got to sit still and listen to the whole 3 sessions..........  I deeply wish I could have.... but God in His sovereignty had a different plan for my evening....

I was able to hear all of Sally's presentation.......... (in-between the  rescuing of mildly traumatized puppies, from a very well meaning 3 year old....... and snack happy growing boys).......  I enjoyed very much, her analogy's between the seasons and the day to day life of homeschooling our children.  Someone asked on the Facebook page for the Old Schoolhouse Magazine, what season of life we were in currently, with respect to homeschooling.  I found that a hard answer to quantify.  I feel like I am in the middle of all of the seasons, a different one with each of my children.  I am in Spring with my 3 year old.  Everything he does and wants to know about is fresh and new.  My 7 year old is a combination of Spummer ( spring and summer )  He is full of life, and loves to live it..... and we are working on building Godly truths into his life.  My 14 year old, is in the midst of Flummer.  She is transitioning out of the daily building and molding, beginning to take ownership of the truths she has been trained up in, and we are growing towards the harvest.  My 15 year old ( 16 in a few weeks)  Is in Fall-ter. ( no pun intended... but it isn't a half bad one) ........  He knows, the truths.... he has been trained ( and really still is being trained)  and we are in the winter of being still and waiting, IN hope, that he will continue to let God shape him into a godly man, fit for service in the kingdom of God.  Prayerfully waiting on God to reveal to him what he would have him "do".
It was encouraging to hear all of Sally's stories about her children, and how God has grown each one of them up to be the exact person He intended for them to be.

Next up.... and equally "disrupted" in my ability to concentrate on it exclusively... was Sarah Clarkson.  This young woman is a lighthouse to the world.... wow!  She spoke on how Literature is important in helping your child develop his or her view of the world and their place in it.  I can't wait to listen to this again on the MP3 when they come out in May. I really enjoyed listening to her read aloud.  She made the words of the story jump to life with her tone, inflection, and accents.

Lastly was Mr. Clay Clarkson.  I will confess I got to hear about 3 minutes of his session.  I will for sure listen to the taped version.....  In the midst of the 3 minutes I did hear was him outlining different homeschool philosophies....  and how he felt that the approach he called "whole hearted" was what he discerned was a Scriptural Approach.  I am interested in getting his book, to delve deeper into his statement.

Minus the crisis's that kept me from listening to the evenings offerings with rapt attention..... this installment of The Schoohouse Expo was exactly what I anticipated and MORE.  It was full of wonderful encouragement, information, and resources.........  I know that the full three days of the Expo ( May 12, 13, 14 ) are sold out for "live" attendance.........  but they are allowing people to purchase the ENTIRE 5 days of audio.... so go get your Expo to Go ticket and don't miss out on a moment of the information and encouragement that are to come......

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Explode the Code.... Online version

I have always know that Explode the Code was great curriculum for phonics and word building skills.  Years ago I worked at a small private school, and this is what they used in their classrooms. I have always been eager to try it at home, but was leery of using yet ANOTHER workbook.  Not long ago, I saw someone post a question on a discussion board, asking if anyone had used Explode the Code online.  I didn't know they even HAD such a thing........ so off I went to look at the website.  I was intrigued by the way that it worked, and how interactive it was in the demos.  Then came the price.  It was $60 to be able to access it for a whole year.  So I decided to pray about using it..... and talk it over with my husband.  We talked later that night, and decided that if nothing else, we could try it, and see if it helped Hunter improve his reading skills. The next day, came the answer to prayer part.  Another homeschooler posted on a discussion board that Homeschool Buyers Co-op** had Explode the Code on a group buy.  So I went there, and it was half price.  I miss out on a couple of months of the "year" but for the price it was worth it.

We had been using TATRAS  (Teach America to Read and Spell ), here at home with Hunter for the begining skills and word blends.  This is a WONDERFUL program, and I will still wholeheartedly recommend it.  It teaches ALL the sounds that letters make, teaches the student to decode their words through these sound combinations. It has great lists of words, to use as spelling words for K-6th grade, and it teaches writing skills as well. The only drawback was the lack of interaction.  This is were Explode the Code excels.  It re-enforces the blends that are at the begining and endings of words. It also helps to strengthen the "hearing" of difficult vowels to assist in common "e", "i", and "o", "u" spelling and pronunciation errors.

The other benefit to Explode the Code Online is the instant assesments it gives the parent.  You are able to see exactly which areas your child is having difficulty in.  It gives you suggestions to work on when you are away from the computer, to help your child better learn a concept.  We have worked on the suggestions while we are running errands around town.... it has made car time more productive.

I feel that this has improved his reading skills.  He has been a slow reader, and that is fine, I am not expecting him to pick up a copy of War and Peace anytime soon.  My goal with the program was to help him begin to see past each individual letter as a sound, and get a better grasp on what we call "two letter teams" , so that his speed and comprehension would begin to improve.  After 10 or so days working online, we have seen him start to pick books up on his own and read to his younger brother. He no longer rolls his eyes at me and huffs and puffs, if I ask him to read something.  He has read 2 entire library books, on his OWN, with help sounding out some of the words....  I believe the program has improved his confidence with reading, and the instant feedback it gives him is the key to his success.

Head on over to Explode the Code online, and see if it would be a fit for your young reader ( K- 4th grade).  The demos on the website are great. 

**  Homeschool Buyers Co-op is a business that seeks to serve the homeschooling community find curriculum at a discount price.  It works on the premise that when a school district purchases it's curriculum, it recieves a discount for it's quantity order.  The Co-op provides that same service to single homeschooling families, allowing us to band together under their "umbrella" to get the better price.  To check them out, click here. It is free to join and recieve the information about what they are offering, and often the deals they get are extrordinary.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

busy, busy, busy...........

It has been busy around here.
I was remarking to a friend the other day, how we drag through the winter.... with its short, cold days, cooped up with the kids, dreaming, hoping, praying for spring to come so we can shoo them outside to play for some peace and quiet.
It seems like every year when spring rolls around, I get so busy I start to long for the quieter days of fall and winter.

Clearly, I need to work on my contentment issues :)

In the last weeks we have had family up for a visit,  a dog whelp 8 puppies, 2 momma goats die, three goat kids to feed, (which were then sold.)  Then 2 more goat kids to bottle feed,( and are still feeding)  all while homeschooling, preparing for Ladies Fellowship Retreat, and working on getting ready for our Mexico Missions Trip....  Oh yea... and Tayler started up softball again. 

God knew that I needed to hear some things from Him in the midst of all this hecticness.... so he had a plan.

First there was night ONE of The Schoolhouse Expo.  It featured Malia Russell.  I had really wanted to hear her speak on Teaching the Difficult Child.  It was probably the sole reason that I even wanted to attend the Expo.  To get to this lesson, that I just KNEW I needed to hear, I started listening to the first half of the session, and it was on Managing the Multi-Level Homeschool.  I have 3 schooling, and it is a pretty wide spread, so I figured I could listen and see what tips jumped out at me.

Let's just say that things didn't "jump" out at me.  It was more like being whacked over the head with a two by four...........  I had been struggling with feeling "fed up" with what was happening in my home each day, the lack of discipline, or what I was perceiving as laziness in my children.  I was feeling overwhelmed in completing course work... the list could go on and on.........

Malia started the session by asking the question "Who is in charge?"  She used the "Oatmeal for breakfast" test to help you see if you are seen as an authority in your home.  If you are making breakfast, and your child/children come out and ask what is for breakfast, and you reply oatmeal..........  If they roll their eyes and complain, or beg for cereal instead, or refuse to eat it..........  you are not seen as an authority in your home.  If the child/children say... ok... and go about their morning....  you are seen as the authority.
After checking my kitchen for hidden cameras, because clearly they were hiding somewhere or she would not have had this example...........  I was awakened to the fact that the main reason for my feeling so overwhelmed, and out of control, was because I had let it get that way.

Her fixes for this problem were to teach and to train your child.  To quietly take the time....... to correct undesired behavior.... AS IT HAPPENS, and for certian issues, to teach and train over a summer break from school.  She spoke of saying to yourself, "I love my child more than _____"  ( whatever you are doing that you will need to leave to go and correct the problem) ....  I knew this.... I have given this as advice to other moms.......... but I had become lazy, and needed a bop on the head to correct my vision.

Thank you Malia for being God's vessel, and speaking the truth that night.

The next thing that God needed me to hear, He gave to me in the form of a devotional.  One I was asked to write and give.  It was for our Ladies Retreat, and the theme was Women Under Construction.  My section was on Maintence.  I needed to fabricate a 20 min lesson on this topic.  IT WAS INCREDIBLY HARD!  I think the main reason it was so hard........... is because it is the part of my Christian life I struggle with the most.  I read christian literature, listen to christian music..... but where the rubber meets the road.... I am not so good at opening that Bible up everyday and reading it.  Many days I hit the ground running. There is always soemthing to be done.  Before I know it, I have gone all day and not cracked my Bible open.
This has directly led to my laziness with my children, and my feelings of "fed-up" and "disconnected".

For my devotion, I used the example of a lamp in a lighthouse.  They were lit by a single kerosene lamp.  A good light house keeper, keeps the glass clean, so the light will not be dimmed by the build up of soot.  He makes sure that the wick is trimmed, and that it reaches deeply into the oil.  He makes sure the oil is filled to the top of the lamp so the flame will not go out in the middle of the night.  He makes sure that the glass cover is over the flame, so that when the winds blow fiercely, the flame may flicker, but not go out.

Oh how our Christian lives are supposed to be like that lamp.  Well tended and maintained.  Am I cleaning the glass from the soot of sin, that weakens my testimony before others?  Am I letting God trim me, and shape me so that my flame can be brighter?  Am I deeply drinking from God's Word so that I may have fuel in times of struggle?  Am I covered in the fellowship of my Lord?  Is he sheltering my flame for Him when I am in the midst of lifes storms?

Sadly, I must answer that I do not make the time I should to be refreshed by my Creator, the Architect and Designer of my life.  This lack of priority, shows itself, and I need to remedy it.  Praise God for His tenderness in showing me these areas I need to work on, as a woman, a wife and a mom.

After these little reminders, I have re-committed to teaching and training my kids, and meeting with my Lord.  The last two weeks have been much more of a joy, than work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Schoolhouse Expo Day 1

I am so excited!

I woke up this morning with a bit of the blahs....  My husband is stranded out of town with a broken down car, and what was supposed to be a overnight trip has turned into 3 and I am not sure when he will be back.........  So with that looming on my horizon, I was a bit apathetic about my day.

I sat down to check my email and there it was!!!  My excitement for my day returned!  I was reminded that today was a day I had been anticipating with great joy.  It is day one of the Schoolhouse Expo!

Today is the Webinar with Malia Russell.  She is going to share her tips on Managing a Multi-level Homschool and How to Homeschool the Difficult Child.  Both of these topics hit home for me, I have Highschool and Elementary students, and there are certianly those that are more difficult than others to get to do their work.

I hope you will be listening with me, there are still tickets available.  Go to  I will try to get back on here later this evening and share the things that I have learned from tonight's presentations.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...