Islam, Religion

"Quran Stories For Little Hearts" by Rose Marie

 

This series was compiled by Saniyasnain Khan and is available from Good Word Books, Amazon, and all the usual places one may buy books. If you are Australian and particularly from Melbourne, I recommend purchasing at IBC http://ibcshopping.com.au because they are a friendly bunch. The proprietor helped me sort through what I needed on and off until an hour after closing time, when he surely had better things to do! That kind of customer service deserves to attract business.

Unfortunately, this series is not sold in order. I thought this was very silly, but was comforted when the chap in the book shop said the Sura (chapter) and Ayat (verse) numbers were included in the footnotes so it wouldn’t be a huge job to sort them out. Murphy’s Law of Homeschooling struck when I got home and found that less than half of the books are drawn from one chapter only, so putting them in order was going to require significant collaboration between my non-Muslim self, Wikipedia, http://quran.com and a few others. Plus, the Quran makes no attempt towards chronological order. Who knew? (Apart from the billion or two Muslims out there!)

So, here is the series put into Quranic order to the best of my ability, just in case someone else ever needs it:

The Morals of Believers

Life Begins

Allah Made Them All

The First Man

The Builder of the Kabah

Uzayr’s Donkey

Ramadan and the Quran

How to Pray Salat

The People of the Book

The Two Brothers

A Unique Miracle

How Ibrahim Came to Know Allah?

Allah’s Best Friend

The Ark of Nuh

The Prophet Hud and the Storm

The Prophet Shuayb and the Earthquake

The King’s Magicians

The Pious Man and His Sons

The Prophet Yusuf and the King’s Dream

The Travels of the Prophet Ibrahim

The Sleepers in the Cave

The Story of Two Gardens

The Wise Man and the Prophet Musa

The Iron Wall

The Old Man’s Prayer

The Miraculous Baby

Allah Speaks to the Prophet Musa

The Prophet King

The Most Patient Man

The Light of Allah

The Ant’s Panic

The Queen and the Bird

The Treasure House

Luqman’s Advice to His Sons

Love Your Parents

The Gardens of Saba

The Angel’s Prayer

The Brave Boy

Tale of a Fish

The Travellers Prayer

The Rivers of Milk and Honey

The Honoured Guests

The Prophet and the Blind Man

You might ask why a Pagan would spend so much money on a series of Quran stories, particularly when she has most of them at home in a book called ‘Bible Stories for Children,’ retained from her upbringing. The chap in the Muslim shop did! As I explained to him, all these stories are important for cultural literacy, and it is my hope that my kids will read the Jewish, Christian and Muslim versions and *notice* they are all the same stories. That might not sound like an in-depth analytical exercise, but I only have very small children at present! What I didn’t tell him, because he didn’t require the long version of my education philosophy (especially an hour after the shop had closed), is that I think an education is supposed to teach us about people and their motivations. After all, we spend our whole lives with and/or avoiding people! Religion is one of the largest forces that shapes the way people view and interact with the world and its other inhabitants, so a lot of my time and “pocket money” will be devoted to the subject.

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

Advertisements
Islam, Religion

“Quran Stories For Little Hearts” by Rose Marie

 

This series was compiled by Saniyasnain Khan and is available from Good Word Books, Amazon, and all the usual places one may buy books. If you are Australian and particularly from Melbourne, I recommend purchasing at IBC http://ibcshopping.com.au because they are a friendly bunch. The proprietor helped me sort through what I needed on and off until an hour after closing time, when he surely had better things to do! That kind of customer service deserves to attract business.

Unfortunately, this series is not sold in order. I thought this was very silly, but was comforted when the chap in the book shop said the Sura (chapter) and Ayat (verse) numbers were included in the footnotes so it wouldn’t be a huge job to sort them out. Murphy’s Law of Homeschooling struck when I got home and found that less than half of the books are drawn from one chapter only, so putting them in order was going to require significant collaboration between my non-Muslim self, Wikipedia, http://quran.com and a few others. Plus, the Quran makes no attempt towards chronological order. Who knew? (Apart from the billion or two Muslims out there!)

So, here is the series put into Quranic order to the best of my ability, just in case someone else ever needs it:

The Morals of Believers

Life Begins

Allah Made Them All

The First Man

The Builder of the Kabah

Uzayr’s Donkey

Ramadan and the Quran

How to Pray Salat

The People of the Book

The Two Brothers

A Unique Miracle

How Ibrahim Came to Know Allah?

Allah’s Best Friend

The Ark of Nuh

The Prophet Hud and the Storm

The Prophet Shuayb and the Earthquake

The King’s Magicians

The Pious Man and His Sons

The Prophet Yusuf and the King’s Dream

The Travels of the Prophet Ibrahim

The Sleepers in the Cave

The Story of Two Gardens

The Wise Man and the Prophet Musa

The Iron Wall

The Old Man’s Prayer

The Miraculous Baby

Allah Speaks to the Prophet Musa

The Prophet King

The Most Patient Man

The Light of Allah

The Ant’s Panic

The Queen and the Bird

The Treasure House

Luqman’s Advice to His Sons

Love Your Parents

The Gardens of Saba

The Angel’s Prayer

The Brave Boy

Tale of a Fish

The Travellers Prayer

The Rivers of Milk and Honey

The Honoured Guests

The Prophet and the Blind Man

You might ask why a Pagan would spend so much money on a series of Quran stories, particularly when she has most of them at home in a book called ‘Bible Stories for Children,’ retained from her upbringing. The chap in the Muslim shop did! As I explained to him, all these stories are important for cultural literacy, and it is my hope that my kids will read the Jewish, Christian and Muslim versions and *notice* they are all the same stories. That might not sound like an in-depth analytical exercise, but I only have very small children at present! What I didn’t tell him, because he didn’t require the long version of my education philosophy (especially an hour after the shop had closed), is that I think an education is supposed to teach us about people and their motivations. After all, we spend our whole lives with and/or avoiding people! Religion is one of the largest forces that shapes the way people view and interact with the world and its other inhabitants, so a lot of my time and “pocket money” will be devoted to the subject.

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

Holidays, Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving in the Car, by Mrs. Warde

 

Every other year my father’s side of the family gets together for Thanksgiving. On those years we drive a full day’s journey there, spend the holiday with more than seventy family members, and drive a full day’s journey back home. No time to learn anything about the origins of Thanksgiving. There are a lot of ideas and lesson plans out on the Internet for learning about Thanksgiving at home, but not many for learning about it while in the car. Which is probably where half of families with kids are. So here’s my idea of teaching about Thanksgiving in the car (or plane)!

When planning a “car lesson” I try to consider how to give information, talk about it, ask for some form of output from the student, playing with the topic, and relate to it.

Give information: There are a lot of resources out there. If you already have a favorite book or movie to share, do that. We have just a few simple “First Thanksgiving” books including Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley, and one of my favorites, Samuel Eaton’s Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy by Kate Waters. If you have a tablet and can access the Internet in the car, Scholastic has some neat video tours and slide shows with historical reinactors. Be sure to include this fact: Thanksgiving, according to Holidays Around the Year, was made a National Holiday in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln.

Projects for output need to be simple because cutting and gluing in the car is not ideal! So I recommend making a Thanksgiving Activity Book from things you can print out from the Internet. Staple it together like a book and you won’t have to worry about papers all over the place. Pages to print out for various ages can be found at Blessed Beyond a Doubt, DLTK, and 3 Dinosaurs. I recommend at least one blank page or a draw-and-write page. Also, put a blank page in for the classic hand-traced turkey. This activity book can be as quick or as long as you think your kids would want.

Talk about it: You know your kids best. And who knows what questions they might surprise you with?

Play with it: This would have to be prepared ahead of time, but I think a fun idea would be for the children to color Popsicle stick puppets to act out what they’re learning. Incorporating what he knows into play helps my kinetic learner cement the information in his head. When my four-year-old joins in the play I can tell that he was listening.

Relate to it: Popcorn snack! This can be prepared ahead of time and keeps very well, especially if it’s authentically served without butter. Also, you’re traveling like the Pilgrims did, in a similar amount of personal space. You can talk about what it would be like to travel for several months in such cramped conditions. What about motion sickness, for example? When you get to your destination you’ll be dependent on your hosts for the Thanksgiving meal, just like the Pilgrims needed help from the Wampanoag to find food. And of course, you can always talk with your children about the things in your life for which you are all thankful.

This lesson plan can be adapted in length and depth to suit your own family’s needs.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

CF: Why I Homeschool, Classical Foundations 2014

When Reality Sinks In

by Apryl

A little over six years ago, I brought three little girls home to educate.  We were leaving a school system that I felt was failing them and heading into grand dreams of our new homeschooling adventure.  I had two third graders and a sixth grader, all of whom were bright, pleasant children.  This was going to be so much fun, and I had it all planned out.  There would be a lot of arts and crafts that tied in seamlessly with history and science.  Math would be hands on and exciting.  We would read great literature, study the Bible thoroughly, and write beautiful prose.  With all of this one-on-one attention, the girls would sail ahead of their public school peers.  It was going to be awesome.

Then reality set in.

We discovered how much the girls were just skating through public school without actually learning much.  My A/B Honor Roll sixth grader couldn’t do fifth grade math.  One of my third graders knew how to multiply, while the other had never even done it.  We had some catching up to do.

They were also used to being the best in their class, and never having to work hard at anything in school.  Suddenly the work was harder, and their classmates were just as smart as they were.  It was a blow to their egos, and it unsettled their self-esteem.

My beautifully planned-out curriculum was not going well, either.  I had chosen the Weaver Curriculum for its dedication to learning through the Bible, multi-grade flexibility, and for all of the hands-on work it offered.  Little did I know that the prep work required to implement this was going to wear me out and my older child didn’t really appreciate doing the same work as her baby sisters.

There were tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth.  From the kids, too.

So, two months into it, we threw in the towel on Weaver.  Reality had hit and it looked nothing like my pipe dreams.  I looked closely at the girls’ learning styles and their gaps. We ended up going with Sonlight because it was literature rich and Christian based.  It also gave us the flexibility to customize the work to fit the needs of the child.

10019921413_9e985fd1d5_c

Over the years, I found that being flexible is what worked best with my children.  There is no one curriculum that will fit the entire spectrum of their needs.  While boxed curriculum is a great starting point, eventually it was crucial for us to break out of the box and fill our needs with bits and pieces from other sources.  I also had to let go of my own ideas of what was fun or interesting.  For example, my kids never embraced the whole notebooking thing like I hoped they would.  I had to accept that, and be willing to drop that from our plans.

Eventually we outgrew Sonlight, but it had held my hand through a few years of learning to plan lessons and to make sure all the basics were covered.  Now, in their high school years, I am able to pick and choose freely among the myriad of curriculum choices to make sure each child’s needs are met with the minimum amount of angst.

But in the end, that is the beauty of homeschooling.  We aren’t marching to the same deadlines and rules to which the school system must conform.  Our kids reap the benefits of a truly customized education.

Born and raised in Tennessee, Apryl is a southern girl at heart.  She lives out in the country with her husband and her daughters (13 year old twins and a 16 year old).  After having an unfulfilling public school education herself, and struggling to find peace with the education her girls were receiving in the public school system, she made the choice to homeschool.  When they began their homeschool journey, the girls were 3rd and 6th grades.  Now she is happily coaching three teenaged daughters through their high school years.

Geography, Subjects

Teaching World Geography to Younger Students

by Jane-Emily

When my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, I wanted to do something fun that would get her ready for world history in first grade.  I had already planned to use Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World series in 1st-4th grade, and I love travel and learning about other countries!  So I planned out a year of world geography for a five-year-old.  I did not use any packaged curriculum; the ones I had seen had a strong emphasis on Protestant missionary work and that was not my focus.

I bought two books:

I also put a world map and a map of the USA in the hall.  Everything else I checked out from the library.  It hardly cost a thing.

I planned for thirty weeks by choosing thirty countries or regions of the world with the atlas as a help: Scandinavia, West Africa, Japan/Korea, and so on.  I also made a little passport, just a little booklet with heavy blue paper for a cover and a bunch of plain white pages, sewn together with heavy thread.  I put a fancy gold seal on the front (it said “Home Made Candies” but who cares?). On the inside cover I put a picture of my daughter and her basic information, just like in a real passport.  I ruled lines on the pages, dividing each one in half, and labeled the sections with country names.

With my master list in hand, I visited the library each week and checked out a few books about the upcoming topic.  This is very easy to do: Just go to the non-fiction section of the children’s room, look for the early 900s, and you will see shelves of books about other countries arranged geographically.  Many of these are part of “countries of the world”-type series for older children doing country reports, and can be handy for you to look through for recipes or other information. You’ll also find books to actually read to your young child, often “kids in other lands”-type books or maybe some neat history.  Those are fun.

The other books I looked for were folk and fairy tale collections for each region of the world.  Libraries usually collect lots of folk tales, and these are found in the 398 section of the non-fiction collection.  They are not arranged geographically, so you must search in the catalog for specific topics: Just type “folk tales Caribbean” or whatever you’re looking for, and something will probably come up.  You could also find books about world religions in the 290s; there are many good books for young children with the “I am a Hindu” sort of theme.  World holiday books are good resources too (early 390s).

Each week, we wodkchildrenuld start with the atlas and the Children Just Like Me book.  We would read about one or more children, find their homeland in the atlas and talk about what it would be like to live there–not for a very long time, we are talking about 10-15 minutes here.  Later in the week, we would read a story or a folktale (or three or four).  And later again, we would cook something yummy, play dress-up or a game, or otherwise try something fun and new.  I am still cooking the spinach and egg recipe we made for Greece!  We did this three days per week, and most of that time was spent on folktales, play, or cooking.

At the end of each week, we would fill out our passport to show that we had ‘visited’ the country.  I collected stamps when I was younger and I have my collection stashed away in my closet, so we would raid it for good postage stamps and stick them in.  You could also draw something, print pictures, or just find a cool rubber stamp to use.

This plan worked very well for my older daughter’s kindergarten year.  We had a lot of fun and she got plenty of ideas for imaginative play.  In particular, one girl who lived in the Amazon jungle attracted her, and for months she would play that she lived in the Amazon.  Even now, she remembers many of the activities we did.

When my younger daughter’s turn came, I actually did this plan for first grade while her older sister did modern history in our four-year cycle, so that they could start ancient history together the next year.  She insisted on a purple passport, and again we had a very good year learning about the world.

Jajane-emilyne-Emily homeschools two daughters in California.  She is a librarian who loves to quilt and embroider, and she’s a Bollywood addict.  Her favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. She blogs about reading at Howling Frog Books.

Nature Studies, Science

April 2013 — Early Winter

by Rose-Marie

Previous post: Late Summer – Early Winter

I was *terribly* impressed by this first picture here! I really think her drawing skills are improving, though we have quite some way to go before achieving brilliance in the style of the Edwardian Lady’s journal. (Which is not necessarily a goal, but is certainly something to sigh wistfully about.) While I did have to remind her to give it legs, anyone from our part of the world would recognise this as a crimson rosella. These rosellas are seasonal visitors to us and they are so gorgeous I can’t help but love them, even when they are making a mess in my veggie garden!

aged 6, grade Prep

This next picture was from our trip to Steavenson’s Falls, which we chose, for our nature study tours, as our ‘wet woodlands’ location. I’m not 100% thrilled with the site because there are a few too many invading blackberries and I’d rather there weren’t, but it is accessible and we don’t need to worry about coming back one day and finding it closed indefinitely for regeneration. I’m really not sure about the colours, but that is definitely her standing beside the waterfall.

aged 6, grade Prep

Another spot we visit on our nature study tours is St Clair. There is nothing particularly remarkable about the site. It appears to be the location of an old township but is pretty much a paddock up in the hills. One of the major terrain types in our state is the alpine area, and this is the closest we can get that is accessible all year around, since it is a through road. And, this is very important, it doesn’t cost us $50 to access like the ski resorts do in winter! Daughter was disappointed there wasn’t any snow *again* but we got to see some sedimentary rocks just like the ones David Attenborough was talking about on the documentary we’d watched recently. Almost as good as snow is seeing things she’s watched on documentaries. A very simple picture, but you’re seeing the sedimentariness of those rocks, aren’t you?

aged 6, grade Prep

This picture was drawn at home. We looked out the window and saw a couple of young kangaroos fighting, with the swamp wallaby on the opposite watching them too. It was such an amusing picture (to me, anyway) that I suggested she draw it into her journal. For some reason known only to herself, she drew a mother and a joey instead. *shrug*

aged 6, grade Prep

You remember those ants we saw at the Hattah-Kulkyne national park? Well guess what? They were still there this time!

aged 6, grade Prep

And this picture is from another site on our nature study tour, the estuary at Barwon Heads, where we go to look at mangroves. Mangroves are cool. I really like this picture book, Mangroves by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen, which I think is out of print at the moment. Rhyming books that you can read more than once a month without wanting to dig your eyes out should never go out of print. Boo hiss.

aged 6, grade Prep

Next post: May 2013 — Early Winter

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

Parenting

Finding Joy Amidst the Chaos

wake-up-call_0006

by Kristin

It’s 2:00 a.m. when I hear the pitter-patter of little feet on my bedroom floor. They are getting closer. I hear my son say, at a decibel that is far too loud for 2:00 a.m., “Mom….” I quickly wave my hand in an effort to shush him and get him out of my room as quickly as possible. I can already hear the baby stirring. Nothing good can come of this.

I throw the covers back. I’m sweaty from the night’s sleep, what little I’ve gotten, and as the cool air of my bedroom hits my skin I’m covered in goosebumps. I grumble a little under my breath. I’m tired. WHY is he up? I drag myself to the hallway where he stands waiting for me. Doesn’t he realize that lack of sleep and Mom do NOT get along? I grumble something about it being too early to be up and send him back to bed. He tries to protest, but I shut him down and he reluctantly heads back to his bed.

I breathe a sigh of relief. I can hear my pillow calling me just feet away. I slip back under the covers ready for sleep only to hear the crinkle of the pack-n-play mattress next to my bed. The baby, he’s still stirring. I roll over, my back to his bed, and convince myself that he’ll go back to sleep. He has to. I’m too tired to get up again. Nope. Baby is awake.

I drag myself out of bed, again, this time reaching for the baby. He feels like he weighs a thousand pounds. I was not cut out for this. I need my sleep. I carry him to the couch and settle in to nurse him back to sleep. Twenty minutes pass by and he’s still wide awake. Thirty, forty, fifty minutes, then an hour have gone by. I decide to lay him back down in bed. Surely he’s tired and will go back to sleep. Nope. He begins to fuss. I’m afraid he will wake my husband, or worse yet, my son. I take him back out of bed and attempt to nurse him to sleep yet again.

He kicks and flails, his little hands grabbing and patting my face. Doesn’t he know that it is now 3:30 a.m.? I’ve been up for an hour and a half. My patience has run thin. I lay him next to my husband with an exasperated sigh. The good man that he is, he smiles at the baby and says, “Let’s go out to the living room,” and then promptly takes him from the bedroom. I breathe a deep sigh of relief and allow my head to fall into the pillow and my eyes to close. Sleep.

I manage to sneak in a quick hour of sleep before my husband texts me to tell me to come get the baby. He’s finally sleeping. Once again, I drag myself out of bed, each step taking more effort than the one before it. I transfer the baby back to his bed in hopes of a few more hours of sleep. One measly little hour later, I hear the click of a doorknob. Boy Number One is back up again. This time, there is no convincing him to go back to bed. I guess it’s a 5:30 a.m. wake up call today.

I’m tired…..so tired. We go to the living room. I turn on the TV. Cartoons and breakfast. Maybe I can sleep a little on the couch. No, he wants to talk. Soon, it’s time to wake up the girls. We have a to-do list a mile long today. I realize that if I’m going to get everything done, I need to start now. You see, we have to bring lunch to a friend at 10:30 this morning. Homemade macaroni & cheese, her request.

I start the water for the noodles and prepare the pan for the cheese sauce. I can’t find the shredded cheese. It’s missing. I had just purchased it the day before, how could it disappear? We spend several minutes searching for the cheese only to find it in the sack, on a desk chair. Of course. It was left out overnight. I take a chance and dump it into the pan. The water is taking too long to boil. It’s not going to be done before I have to take Son Number One to preschool. I instruct the thirteen-year-old to watch it while I take him.

I return back home only five minutes later to drain the noodles and mix them with the sauce when I realize that I’ve forgotten to buy a disposable pan to bake it in. That’s okay, CVS is just a few blocks away. I’ll run there. Baby is back awake. I hand him off to the thirteen-year-old and run to the store, promising to be back quickly. They don’t have what I need. Figures.

It’s now 9:30 a.m. I still have to run to the mall and pick up a gift for my friend that I had dropped off for engraving the night before. I don’t have time to run to another store for a pan. It’s okay. I’ll just use my regular glass dish. I open the junk drawer and dig for a Sharpie. It’s not there. Why would anything be easy today? I send the six-year-old on a hunt for the marker. She finds it, I’m not sure where, but I quickly write my name on the pan and put it in the oven. My macaroni and cheese takes 30-40 minutes to bake. I’m running out of time quickly.

I spend the next little bit getting the six-year-old ready for the day and putting the baby back to sleep again. The thirteen-year-old agrees to stay with the baby while the six-year-old and I run to the mall and to drop off lunch to my friend. Six-year-old and I were gone only thirty minutes before the oldest calls to say that the baby is awake again. What is with these kids? Sleep: It’s good for you! I beg her to handle him for a bit. I’m running late. It’s 10:30 when we leave the mall. I have a ten-minute drive to get to my friend’s house.

We drop off lunch and chat for a little bit before leaving to pick up the four-year-old from preschool at noon. We arrive back home to find an exasperated thirteen-year-old. She isn’t exactly a kid or baby person. She manages okay, but doesn’t enjoy it. I take him from her. I’m exhausted. All I want is a nap. Time to nurse the baby. He falls asleep. I lay him down and start lunch for the rest of the minions. Can you believe that? They expect me to feed them!

It’s now 1:30 p.m. I have 1.5 hours before the oldest has to be at school for show choir. I gather the troops for a little school. It’s always harder with the four-year-old home. The six-year-old is about as distractible as they come and spends the next hour bouncing back and forth between school and conversation with her brother. I’m tired of redirecting. I’m tired of attempting to keep her on task. I’m tired of arguing with the thirteen-year-old about how much she has to do. I’m. Just. Tired.

The baby sleeps most of the afternoon and I have to wake him to take the oldest to show choir practice. I want to cry. Exhaustion has consumed me and I no longer have control over my emotions. Frustration pours from me in everything I say and do. I need sleep. I’m quite certain that I cannot continue the day, yet somewhere I find the strength to keep going. I suppose because I have no choice.

Dinner time comes and goes and it’s time for dance classes. I drag myself to the studio, now with a raging headache. Why do I always get headaches when I’m tired? The baby is tired too. He fusses. I put him down to play on the floor. He doesn’t want that and begins to shriek. I place him on my hip. He squirms and fusses, arching his back. My arms are on fire from fighting him. Is it time to go home yet? The four-year-old is pulling on my arm to get my attention. I restrain myself from letting every ounce of frustration from the day break free on him. He’s bored. He wants to go home. Me too, buddy, me too.

Once home again, the day winds down with baths and bed. Jammies for the kids, sweatpants for myself. I nurse the baby to sleep again, hoping it’s for the night this time. The house is quiet and I finally allow myself to relax. Sleep. It’s hitting me hard and fast.

Chaos. It’s everywhere. It is the summation of my life with four children and a husband who works long hours and attends college full time. I’ve never handled it well. When my life feels like it’s spinning out of control or I have too much on my plate, I get overwhelmed.

But recently, I had a large dose of perspective. The friend I brought lunch to? She lost her son, a twin, just a little over a month ago. He simply did not wake up in the morning. We’ve all said, thought, and been told to live life to the fullest, because you just never know what tomorrow holds, but never has it hit so close to home for me. My dear friend will never hold her baby on Earth again. He was just seventeen months old with beautiful blonde curls and the sweetest smile. I know she would give anything for the chaos that is my life if it meant having her baby back. She would stay up for hours each night, if only she could rock him one more time.

I now look at my children, even through exhaustion, with joy. I choose to be thankful that God entrusted me with their care on this Earth. Every moment I have to spend with them is a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of every day life, to get frustrated with the messes and lack of sleep, but I now choose to look at those moments as blessings, not curses.

Hold your children close and embrace each moment with love. Everyone is tired or crabby? Math can wait another day. Snuggle on the couch under a blanket and read a book or call it a movie day. You’ll never regret the love you share with your children, but you may regret NOT sharing those moments with them. The chaos that comes with having a family is a blessing…..embrace it each and every day.

vinnie-j

Holidays, Veterans Day

Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day with Mrs. Warde

by Mrs. Warde

For the first holiday in our series going through The Big Book of Holidays Around the Year we will be observing Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day if you’re Canadian or Australian). Before learning about Veteran’s Day in preparation for this lesson I probably would have told you that Veteran’s Day was on a specific day of the week like Memorial Day. Nope, it’s always November 11th because it celebrates the Armistice of World War I.

I had hoped to have a book reviewed for this by now, but I have a bad cold and I’m not going to the library like this. Holidays Around the Year recommends the chapter book Veteran’s Day: Remembering our War Heroes and the website www.teachervision.com for more information. I really liked Brain Pop’s video on 9/11 that we used in September, so I went to look at their video explaining war. However, you have to pay for those videos. While they have a homeschool purchasing option it is too much for us at this time. Under its Veteran’s Day links the teachervision site has a few short videos for different ages. Here’s the one for grades 1-5.

There is also “The Story of Veteran’s Day” which I will read to the kids, as well as various activities for different ages. You can access seven different activities for free on the site before you have to pay for it.

I’ve always made a point to purchase the fundraiser poppies, but until I was preparing for this lesson I had no idea why the poppy was used as a symbol. It is because of a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor and soldier, during World War I. From Holidays Around the Year: “His poem refers to wild poppies that began to blossom on the gravesites of soldiers in the fields. This stirring natural event provides an interesting science link: Poppy seeds can live dormant underground for years and years without growing until the soil around them is disturbed. The dormant poppy seeds in Flanders fields were given a chance to grow when the gravesites were dug.”

Here is the poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We are going to make a point to go out on Monday and find a veteran selling poppies. If you don’t have a veteran in your life to have your kids talk to, this might be a way to find someone willing to talk.

We will also make our own poppies. I found 11 Poppy Crafts for November 11 at momstown arts and crafts. We will likely be doing one of those, or one of the poppy ideas on the Memorial Day kids classrooms activities crafts board on Pinterest. We will be keeping whichever poppy craft we do up for at least a month since the idea is to remember, not to remember just once and then forget for another year.

If you’re interested in how our observation of this holiday turns out I’ll be posting about it on my blog the day of or the day after.

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

Holidays, Veterans Day

Veteran’s Day/Remembrance Day with Mrs. Warde

by Mrs. Warde

For the first holiday in our series going through The Big Book of Holidays Around the Year we will be observing Veteran’s Day (or Remembrance Day if you’re Canadian or Australian). Before learning about Veteran’s Day in preparation for this lesson I probably would have told you that Veteran’s Day was on a specific day of the week like Memorial Day. Nope, it’s always November 11th because it celebrates the Armistice of World War I.

I had hoped to have a book reviewed for this by now, but I have a bad cold and I’m not going to the library like this. Holidays Around the Year recommends the chapter book Veteran’s Day: Remembering our War Heroes and the website www.teachervision.com for more information. I really liked Brain Pop’s video on 9/11 that we used in September, so I went to look at their video explaining war. However, you have to pay for those videos. While they have a homeschool purchasing option it is too much for us at this time. Under its Veteran’s Day links the teachervision site has a few short videos for different ages. Here’s the one for grades 1-5.

There is also “The Story of Veteran’s Day” which I will read to the kids, as well as various activities for different ages. You can access seven different activities for free on the site before you have to pay for it.

I’ve always made a point to purchase the fundraiser poppies, but until I was preparing for this lesson I had no idea why the poppy was used as a symbol. It is because of a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor and soldier, during World War I. From Holidays Around the Year: “His poem refers to wild poppies that began to blossom on the gravesites of soldiers in the fields. This stirring natural event provides an interesting science link: Poppy seeds can live dormant underground for years and years without growing until the soil around them is disturbed. The dormant poppy seeds in Flanders fields were given a chance to grow when the gravesites were dug.”

Here is the poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

We are going to make a point to go out on Monday and find a veteran selling poppies. If you don’t have a veteran in your life to have your kids talk to, this might be a way to find someone willing to talk.

We will also make our own poppies. I found 11 Poppy Crafts for November 11 at momstown arts and crafts. We will likely be doing one of those, or one of the poppy ideas on the Memorial Day kids classrooms activities crafts board on Pinterest. We will be keeping whichever poppy craft we do up for at least a month since the idea is to remember, not to remember just once and then forget for another year.

If you’re interested in how our observation of this holiday turns out I’ll be posting about it on my blog the day of or the day after.

Mrs. Warde is a stay at home, homeschooling mother of three and a Pinterest addict. She has too many craft projects started to mention, though very few are ever finished. She blogs mostly about homeschooling and sometimes about preemie issues over at sceleratusclassicalacademy.blogspot.com

Homeschool Wisdom, Household Help, Organization, Parenting

In the Beginning

by Briana Elizabeth

There’s always chaos in the beginning. The universe, Genesis says, was formed out of chaos. It’s no different with homeschooling. So, if you’ve decided to homeschool, I congratulate you on your life changing decision. It is still a brave and wild thing to do, and, because I want you to succeed, I’m going to lay some tough love on you.

First, I will tell you that I was the most disorganized person ever, and if you had told someone twenty-two years ago that I would have seven children and be organized, they would have split their face in half from laughing so hard. I was also the least patient, and cared not one whit about making a home, let alone homeschooling. So, I’m going to begin with some bold truths as I’ve learned some hard lessons, and I want to save you that pain.

Homeschooling will exacerbate your family’s problems. It’s like a magnifying glass, and you need to expect this, so that you know it’s not the just the decision to homeschool that’s made you all feel the pressure of close quarters. You need to know this upfront and really look at your family life and parenting style truthfully. If you are a yeller, there will be even more yelling. If your house is disorganized, you will become even more disorganized. If you lack habits of timeliness, then you will fall behind and be late even more. If dinner time comes and every day you are staring into the fridge, wondering what you will feed the family, that will now happen with every meal, because now you will have them all home for every meal.

The good news is that the good habits and virtues will also be brought to the forefront, but since you have all of that under control, I’m just going to give you the pointers I wished I was given those many years ago.

 The first rule of homeschooling in our house is “Begin with the End in Mind.” Now, that can mean planning, as you start with what you want your child to achieve by their 12th grade year and work yourself backwards with a schedule, or it can simply be a way to make sure that you have controlled what you can control during the day so that your day ends in peace, thus promoting household harmony and good feelings about homeschooling. You are going to have to do this school thing day after day, year after year (perhaps), and when you start going to bed hating the fact that you have to get up the next morning and teach your children again it will be impossible to maintain any sort of peace.

Look, God took chaos and ordered the universe. We are not God, and our universes are much smaller, but we can order our homes, especially with His help. If I, the most disorganized (yes, ask my mother) yeller can learn to keep a home that is reasonably clean and ordered with some ‘pretty’ thrown in for good measure; if I can learn to bridle my tongue, I know that God works miracles and can do the same for you. But, a warning, things may look worse before they get better.

So what can you do to manage the daily chaos that will happen when your family is together most hours of the day, most days of the year?

Like all famous generals, you need to have a plan.

Homeschool is about order and wonder. Without order, there can be no wonder. That is not my idea, it’s a very old idea, but it’s a very good one so I’m bringing it out and dusting it off.

The biggest piece of wisdom to share with you about the ordering of your homeschool is that teaching is a full-time job. Meaning, you can’t stop your teaching to go dust the living room. You will then pick up a basket of laundry and end up on the second floor, putting it all away, and then you will find another thing that has to be done and there will be no schooling done the rest of the day. So, rule # 1 is that during school time, no chores get done. Obviously, if you have one child in kindergarten, your hours of schooling will not be like mine, which run from about eight-thirty in the morning until about four in the afternoon with a lunch break.  So, if you adopt that rule, you can automatically see how everything needs to shift to accommodate the time you are schooling.

dscn1801

Beginning with the end in mind, you need to get the house under control so that you are just maintaining order once school is done for the day. If your kids are old enough to help and aren’t helping, this is the time for them to learn how. Their future mates will thank you for these habits!

If you have children that are old enough to fold laundry, then by all means, show them how. Fifteen minutes of folding before school starts in the morning is a lot of work done. If another is old enough to learn how to use the washer, again, by all means, show him how. They are not incapable, and you underestimate their ability if you don’t give them the privilege of helping the family in such a fruitful way.

Now is also the time to teach them how to load and unload the dishwasher. In our house, the dishwasher is run three times a day and that job cannot go to me all the time or no teaching would get done.

It is a grace and a blessing to teach your children to serve each other this way. Charity begins in the home. The bonus is that when they leave your house for college, they will know how to do their own laundry. Call it home economics and give them credit for it, even.

Now is also the time to wrangle the household schedule. I’m not talking about who has karate or soccer or piano, I’m talking about how you order your day. Don’t worry, I didn’t have a schedule, either, when I started, but this is easy to accomplish.

I start out the night before by making sure my coffee maker is ready in the morning, so that all I have to do is hit the button and go back to bed while it brews. If you have a timer on yours, bonus! Really, the day just is nicer when you aren’t waking up to have to clean the coffee pot, and work around a huge sink full of dishes.

When I get up to get some coffee, I stop at the washer and throw in a load. My reward for this first task is coffee.

As I sit and drink my coffee, I look over my planner and see what’s to be done that day. I also check my menu and before I even make breakfast for everyone, I make sure I have everything I need for dinner. Did you get a little scared there? Don’t, this is the easiest part, but the part that matters the most in the ordering of your day.

My second golden rule of homeschooling is to make sure you know what is for dinner by 10:00 a.m. The application of that rule has saved me from more catastrophes than I would want to list. How do I do that on a daily basis? I make a weekly menu with the weekly sales flyer in hand, and I shop by my menu. That way everything I need is in the house, because another “time suck” is running to the store to get last minute items. That happens occasionally, we’re human after all, but I cut the chances of that happening with a menu.

 So, drink coffee, look over the day, and start dinner. That sounds crazy, but think of this: If you were leaving the house at 8:00 a.m., and would be walking back in the house at 6:00 p.m., what would be the first question from everyone in the house when you got home? “What’s for dinner?”  And you’d learn quickly that you had to have a plan for dinner for when you got home. This is the same. The kids are going to wake up, the day is going to start, school will be rolling,  and before you know it, school will be over and you will be tired. The kids will want to go off and play, and you will not want to haul yourself to the store or think about what you are going to make. This way, you finish school, you roll right into dinner, and everything is under control. Chaos is kept at bay. Then dishes get done, people relax, and you’re ending your day on a peaceful note, which makes your getting up and doing it all over not such a grueling task.

 Which brings us to my third rule of homeschooling: You must read their books. You can skate by a year or two when they’re young, but the snowball effect will start and by the time they hit high school and if you haven’t read one book on their list (begin with the end in mind) you will hardly be able to catch up with them. How do you have a conversation about a book if the book hasn’t been read by both parties? Yes, there are all kinds of shortcuts around this, curricula made so you don’t have to read them, but you didn’t get into homeschooling to shortcut, did you? Look, this is the education of your children, and these books that they will be reading will shape them. They can fill out questions and write paragraphs or papers about them, but the real learning is when two people discuss the book. Not only will the book become a treasure to them, but sharing it will build your relationship. And that is priceless. Add to that when the siblings read the same books and say, “Oh, wait until ninth grade and you read The Once and Future King!” That stuff is magic. The conversations that happen after a few children have read the stories, and the anticipation of joining the familial club of those who have read the story. Truly, it is the magic of family and life and of people who love each other. So, at the least, stay a full year ahead of them so it gives you time to ponder the books and the ideas contained within. When you connect ideas and authors, you don’t leave their education to happenstance and formulas. They will get the best they possibly can from you if you do this one thing alone. That’s not to say it will all fall to pieces if they have to fill out questions on some books because there was a family crisis, but don’t let that become the norm.

knitting

My final rule is to find friends and carve out some time for yourself and your mate. Take up a hobby. Make sure you take time to reconnect with your spouse. Homeschooling is a lot of sacrifice, and the payoff is far off. Your marriage and your self cannot be left to rot as martyrs to homeschooling. Education is about instilling a liturgy of life and a culture of learning that will hopefully be passed down through generations of your family. This is heady stuff. You can’t give what you don’t have, so the cultivation of your own life cannot be left as an afterthought. You also can’t place the weight of decompression from this on your mate. I mean, yes, by all means, they are a parent also, but you don’t want your spouses arrival home to nothing but a litany of offenses of the day and complaining. And you will complain because homeschooling is hard. Parental discipline and decisions are a shared responsibility, but your spouse who also has worked hard all day and dealt with disappointments doesn’t deserve to be the sole bearer of your venting just because they are also parents. This is where friendships with other homeschooling parents are so valuable. It may take time to find them, and now a days we sometimes find these friendships online, but don’t stop seeking them out. And the friendships online can be just as, or even more valuable. You need them, and they need you.

You can do this, really. There are tons of us out there doing this now, in all walks of life. If I can, you can. I remember when I was going to take the test for my driver’s license, and I was terrified, my mother said to me, “There are terrible drivers out there. If they can get their license, so can you.” Truly, if I can do this, so can you, so take heart, adjust the sails, and start forth on this incredible, life changing, utterly fulfilling journey.

Briana Elizabeth is a wife, mother to seven children ages 23 to 7, and caretaker of one Amazon parrot, two dogs, and two cats. When she’s not planning lessons or feeding people, she paints, knits, and writes. You can follow her blog at www.justamousehouse.blogspot.com