Posted in Homeschool Information

The Key to Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

It’s the time of year when homeschool parents typically experience burnout. So, I’ve been thinking about the key to avoiding homeschool burnout this week. As I chatted with my husband one day, I realized that, for me, “keeping fresh” centres around one thing – one of the things that I consider to be a wonderful advantage that we have as homeschoolers – Flexibility.

I love to take advantage of our flexibility as homeschoolers!

Flexibility with …

Our Homeschool Day

I realized early on, from chatting with many homeschoolers at first and then through working with my son while my daughter was a toddler, that keeping traditional school day hours isn’t necessary when homeschooling. We can get so much done in merely a few hours, leaving time for all of us to enjoy interests and pursuits together or separately – and not feeling burnt out because we still get down-time, even though we participate in many outside activities.

I also have never worried about what time my children get up in the morning. When they were younger, my daughter slept in until 10am and my son was up by 7am at the latest. As they got older, and approached the teen years, they both started to sleep in until around 10am or even until closer to noon. They’ve always been able to go to sleep and wake as their body rhythms dictate and I am so glad that we have been able to accommodate that in our homeschool.

At age 15 and 20 now, they are still easily able to get up on their own when they need to go to an early dance class or work respectively. Not fighting my kids over sleep for all these years has definitely helped us all keep less stressed.

Field Trips

At times, we find out about an activity that would make a great field trip at the last minute. So, we simply drop everything and go! Sometimes I can tell we need a change of venue and dropping everything and going on a field trip is exactly what we need. Instead of a field trip, a good change of pace can also be as simple as a walk or relocating to finish up homeschool work outside.

Scheduling Homeschool Breaks

I can feel when I need a break from homeschool or my child needs a break, or all of us need a break! I’ve always liked making the announcement, “Guess what, no school today,” or “Guess what, no school this week.” There are so many things we are interested in doing that we are rarely bored – from fibre arts like knitting, to drawing, to writing, reading, or relaxing and playing some video games. There is plenty to do and enjoy.

Curricula

A wise homeschooler I know once said that you should never be a slave to curriculum, it should be your slave. If I want to cover a subject a different way for a time, I do. For instance, when studying the World Wars, we’re likely to play the board game, “Axis & Allies” to learn about it. We love using board games as much as possible in our homeschool (and puppet shows when my kids were younger)! I also don’t worry if we leave things out of the curriculum – with Tapestry of Grace (which we often use as our core curriculum) that is expected anyway, as you can’t possible cover everything in it; it’s like a buffet of options

You Can Be Successful at Avoiding Homeschool Burnout

Acknowledge that you and your kids all need a break sometimes. Remain flexible so you can enjoy all those unexpected moments that come up and can enjoy your children while you homeschool.

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly

Please note: This article was originally published in January 2011 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Posted in Resources, Reviews

Yesterday’s Classics – Review

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be—
I had a mother who read to me.
—Strickland Gillilan

Yesterday’s Classics publishes classic literature for children: classic books from 1880-1920.  I received the Yesterday’s Classics E-book Package in exchange for an honest review 🙂

PhotobucketWow!  225 great books for homeschooling and for your children’s enjoyment that can be downloaded to your Kindle, iPad, iPod touch, or other reader, or simply read on your computer, or even printed out.  These books include titles that are used in the Ambleside Online, Heart of Dakota, Living Books, Pageant of History, and Tapestry of Grace curricula, and more.  We have been reading Famous Men of the Middle Ages, Our Empire Story, andPhotobucket Our Island Story,  as part of the recommended reading in our main homeschool curriculum, and it is so nice to be able to sit on the couch together and read from my iPod touch instead of reading the free versions on the computer (that are not downloadable).  Also unlike the free versions, these books each have a Table of Contents, which is SO useful – I always find it hard to find specific chapters on free online versions, especially when there are no chapter numbers on the freebies and your curriculum lists the weekly reading by chapter number!  And when you’re reading on a reader, it actually saves where you are in the book so you don’t have to remember.

Photobucket

The download link allows you to download your books in several chunks.  This takes a little bit of time, understandably for 225 books! Once I transferred them to my ipod Touch, they were available in iBooks and I am able to view them by Title, Author, and Category.  With the download, you are also provided with pdf files containing full instructions for downloading your files onto your e-reader, a handy guide for choosing e-readers if you haven’t already, and lists of all the books arranged by genre, by level, by Photobucketauthor, and by title.  Your purchase is absolutely risk-free!  We will be using these e-books throughout our homeschooling years!

Yesterday’s Classics also offers paperback versions of all these books (shipped within the US only), which cost $7.95 to $19.95 each.  If you bought all 225 of these, not only would they fill a large floor-to-ceiling bookcase in your home, but they would cost a whopping $2495.75!  You can also buy these titles to download individually, but if you download these files individually for your computer or e-reader, the cost would total $648.80.  From now until May 31st, this Yesterday’s Classics Package (in Kindle or EPUB format) is available for just $99.95 US.  Click below for more details and to purchase…

To see how others in the TOS Crew liked their Yesterday’s Classics collection, click below:

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Posted in Reviews

Tapestry of Grace – Review

Tapestry of Grace is an award-winning, multi-level, integrated, 4-year, classics-based, Christian curriculum for the whole family.  This curriculum covers the humanities:  history, church history, literature, geography, fine arts, government, philosophy, and writing & composition. All you need add is math, science, and perhaps a foreign language. If you are familiar with The Well-Trained Mind, Tapestry of Grace (TOG) fits perfectly into that Classical style of homeschooling, with each period of history covered in a 4-year cycle repeated throughout the 12 years of school in an increasingly detailed manner.  Learning levels are divided into Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric stages, according to the Classical philosophy.

We chose to review Year 3 Unit 3:  Nations Uniting and Dividing.  The download of the Digital Edition consisted of 3 easy steps, which has now been streamlined even more into a one-step process. TOG is divided into the following sections:
Threads consists of the objectives and goals of study for the week, viewed across all levels of the program.  Each Learning Level is colour-coded, to make it easy to see at a glance which level you are viewing on the page.

Reading Assignments includes both a primary resource page, and an alternate list in case you can’t find the primary resources in the library, or if you want to delve deeper into the subject matter.

Weekly Overview Pages is a checklist, which includes all of the assignments for the week, including vocabulary words, things to add to your timeline, and important people to learn about.

Writing Assignments include writing assignments from writing paragraphs, to writing plays, for each grade level from Gr. 1 through 12.

Student Activity Pages include worksheets, questions, and assignments for the students, and accountability and thinking questions for older students.

Pageant of Philosophy is a fantastic part of TOG that I’m looking forward to working through with my children when they are high school age.  Major philosophies through history are explored in play format.

Teacher’s Notes, which are absolutely exhaustive, and include excerpts from The World Book Encyclopedia.

Supplements include extra information, maps, and templates for projects.

The Loom, which is available either online or as a companion CD.  I found this to be one of the most important parts of the curriculum, especially the Supporting Links section, which included links for activities and readings that are mentioned in the Assignments and Overview pages.

We also received the Pop Quiz CD for Year 3 Unit 3.  Although designed for the Homeschool Dad to be involved with the kids through summaries and quiz cards, we found it very useful to listen to the CD as a family for an overview of the material we were about to study for the week. The narrator is conversational and easy to listen to for kids and adults alike.

My son being in Grade 4 this year, we focused on the Upper Grammar level of the program, with my 5 year old daughter joining in here and there with some Lower Grammar activities and books. Our Unit started with studying “Westerners in Asia”. We had a terrific time learning about China and Japan. Both my children enjoyed learning how to write some Chinese characters, sampling some Chinese food, making origami, and reading absorbing books such as “Shipwrecked! The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy”. Even I learned a whole bunch and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We then continued on to learn about the Crimean War, the Civil War, the Plains Indian Wars, and finished the 9 weeks of the Unit by learning about inventors such as Bell, Pasteur, and Edison.

I found TOG easy to use – I would spend a bit of time each Sunday looking over the coming week and printing out about half a dozen student pages, etc. Currently we are gearing up for our Unit Celebration. I’m really excited about our first one.  Instructions and suggestions are included in the Introduction of each Unit for organizing one. In general, the children’s work is displayed and presentations are prepared for an audience of their father and/or other family and friends. If you’d like to take a peek of what a Unit Celebration might look like, check out this site – I just love what this mother has done with her children – what fun.

Although many people claim that TOG is only for those homeschooling MANY children, I have found it works beautifully for the two that I have and I enjoy learning the same basic subject matter with both children at the same time. I have also found that it helps me keep on task in our homeschool, and keeps subjects like History and Geography from falling off our schedule. Some of the books we’ve read as a result of TOG are real gems that I know I wouldn’t have picked up from the library otherwise. The creator of TOG is a homeschool mom of several children and she suggests that the best time to begin using the curriculum is when your eldest child is in Grade 5.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to review Tapestry of Grace.  We have found a curriculum that we’ll be using for the rest of our homeschooling years. I love TOG so much that I will be holding a Tapestry Tea in the coming weeks to show fellow local homeschoolers what TOG is like and so that I and anyone attending can order TOG at a discount. Being a digital product, TOG is non-resaleable and non-returnable, but you can download a free sample of TOG (does not include The Loom) to see what it’s all about. In general, the following choices are available for ordering TOG, but do also check the particular year you are ordering, as specials are available for certain ones:

Individual Unit:  $45
Year Plan: $170
Year Plan + Print package: $270 (it might not be a bad idea for brand new users of TOG to order the Year in print in addition to the DE unless you’re very computer savvy)
Year Plan + bonuses: $250 – includes Map Aids and two of the following of your choice – Writing Aids, Lapbook Kits, Evaluations (Tests), Pop Quiz
Pop Quiz:  $15 per CD set for one Unit OR $50 for the whole Year set of CD’s

Love, Luck &
Laughter,

Kimberly