Thursday, January 15, 2015

#6 Utilize your team (aka older kids) in 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

This is the 6th in a series about teaching school with lots of kids, multiple ages and grades and little ones about.  These 10 things would have revolutionized my life, had I done them all from th beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

#6 Utilize your team (aka older kids)

  From a very early age, older siblings can and should help out in the home.  This is their training time for when they are moms and dads!  Kids can help in so many ways and schooling is no exception!  This is especially true as children get bigger and the family gets bigger.

  This does not mean you are shirking your own responsibility as parent and educator.  Letting your children participate in teaching and helping with school IS PART of THEIR SCHOOL!  It's  a huge part of learning and one that has mutual benefits for you all!  Everyone must learn to be a disciple and to be discipled!

  From a very early age I partnered up kids to do some school together.  This is before I was working with block schedules and one room school house teaching.  I didn't pair kids up because I thought it would be a great teaching opportunity, in truth I did it out of survival.  I had just had baby #6 and... well there was a lot going on in that period of my life.  I needed help.  My 7 year old (2nd daughter) was a very good reader but my 6 year old daughter was not (partially due to age and partially because

H was 7, helping M then 6 with school
she just wasn't going to be until she was older) anyway, the 7 year old thought it was a brilliant idea when I told her she would buddy up with a younger sister and do science together.  They read an ABEKA science reading book together and answered the questions.  It was a beautiful thing.  Big sister and Little sister loved doing school together and I often found them "playing school" but actually doing real work.
  I will admit that there was a certain amount of guilt that came in the beginning.  Feelings of shame that I was "stealing their childhood" or that I was "not doing my own responsibilities".  Quickly the Lord showed me how much the kids enjoyed it, how it strengthened their relationships and that they were learning a skill!  I wasn't stealing anything I was enriching!  Thank you Jesus!

  Utilizing your team isn't just about schooling though.  Its also there with everyday chores and food as well.  It's a complete picture where kids are helping and pitching in as needed because we are all a team... we are a family- it's what family does!

 Now lets utilize these little people!

  There is no "schedule" really to having kids help in school or with day to day stuff.  It just happens as its needed- don't be afraid to call on them on the fly!  Here are some ways and times I utilize my team:

H reading to the little boys

  • I have to leave the house for some reason.  my M12g LOVES science and loves to teach the boys!  She will step into my place and "do science" with them.  Still One room school house, but the teacher has changed.  A9b says he loves when M12 teaches science because "she makes it fun.  She gets very excited about what is being learned and that makes me more excited.  She also is very encouraging."  
  • Twice a week, on the same day, I have to bring my oldest to work and my A9b to physical therapy.  H13g and M12g will finish up any one on one school still left with the little boys and H13g usually plans a craft with them.  She loves littles and really enjoys being a teacher.  She will do a circle time, sing songs with them and do a learning craft.  This is all by her own initiative but I still count it as school!
  • Something in the house has to get done.  A little one needs attention, a baby needs dealing with, important phone call that can't be skipped.  Things happen!  Things come up!  Sometimes in these moments I might change the assignment a little in order to make it easier for the older one I am putting in charge but usually its pretty smooth.
    M and A doing a gardening
    assignment together
  • I need people to sit with new readers and let them read out loud.  Littles are always very ready to help with the listening!  Some of those littles are learning to read though and they too need practice.  I can buddy up older kids with younger kids in order to hit more than one bird with one stone.  With 4 boys learning to read and on different reading levels, it is nice to be able to split up that 20 min reading time over myself and 3 other big kids.  If I didn't do this I would be sitting for an hour or more just in listening to kids read and I do not always have that time.
  • "long assignments sometimes need 2 brains working it".  This could also be titled, "I only have so many computers/tablets and you need to share so work together".  I 'spose this isn't really teaching but still buddies up kids to streamline the learning.  Also when you buddy up an older with a younger, they help keep the younger on task and the younger kid feels a lot of pride with doing a "bigger assignment".
  • play games.  they usually need more than one person anyway.
  • when I was gone for 5 days.  I assigned teachers and students.  All the schooling still got done when I was away. 
    F15 doing real swimming
    lessons with D5
  • food: While I am working with a set of kids an older child can make lunch.
  • laundry:  hello!  someone please go flip the laundry (all my kids know how to do that!)
  • "I need some help"  this is heard often enough and often enough its said by more than one child.  I have "mini teachers" all over the place.  If you are a big kid and a little one needs help and you are close.. help out =)
  • little ones need to be distracted so I can work with someone on something.  Often enough we "rotated" old kid helpers and saved our big kid school for when babies were sleeping.  More on that in a later post about schooling with babies and toddlers.
  I know a lot of these idea are simple and " a given".  I think a big thing for us homeschooling moms is in actually utilizing the team we have.  So many things can get in the way of that.  Satan often tells us "we are failing, our kids aren't mature enough, they will all need
The "Reds" doing school
with the little boys, just because
they all thought it would be fun!
therapy!" and so much more.  The Lord tells us  to "find our strength in him, to train our children up, to teach them diligently".  As I said earlier... everyone is both a disciple and needs to be discipled. 

That concludes this blog post.   I hope you have enjoyed this overview on utilizing your team (aka older kids)!  Other topics to come in this series, in no particular order, are:

  • One Room School House Teaching
  • block scheduling/4 day school week
  • 3 hour limit
  • schooling when they are ready- don't stress until then
  • sickness in the house and new babies
  • utilize your team (aka older kids)
  • schooling with toddlers and babies
  • FEED the people
  • Making an "unschedule" for your home

    Tuesday, January 6, 2015

    #5 sickness in the house and new babies in 10 TRICKS OF THE TRADE when Teaching School with a crap ton of kids everywhere- lol:

     This is the fifth in a series about teaching school with lots kids, multiple ages and grades and little ones about. These 10 things would have revolutionized my life had I done all of them from the beginning.  Enjoy and hopefully they help you a bit too!

      We are currently battling a virus (or two) in our house right now.  With so many people in our home, one sickness can last forever!  We basically get sick every year around or just after Christmas and are sick until March.  In honor of having half the family down with a cold, I figured it would be a GREAT TIME to talk about how to homeschool through sicknesses and new babies (cause.... they kind have the same effect on the house right?)

         There is no "magic ticket" to getting through virus's and babies.  While being sick or having a new baby does not automatically mean you can't do school but it sure can make it nearly impossible!  So how do I survive?

    "I QUIT!"

         Fancy advice huh?!  It is not an insane thing to admit the limitations of ones household.  Taking a step back is not failure- it's smarts!  Saying "I quit" for a while does not mean no one is learning, or that we will get behind or that I am negating my responsibilities.  It just means we are taking a break from the rigors of schooling norm.  Sickness we ride out as we never know how long they will be here.  A new baby I take at least the first 6-8 weeks off.
         Another thing to note is that these breaks often bring about so much learning.  Letting your kids have some time off will allow them to process all that new information and you will probably see it showing up in small and big ways!  You will be surprised on how much they continue to learn when on break.

      Now that we have a right spirit about our time off.  Lets look at what the breaks actually looks like and what can be done.  You will see that even though we are not doing the regularly scheduled schooling, we are still doing school stuff and still learning!


      Lets not roll our eyes and pretend like we don't use it, because we do.  I will say though that in my house,  it is used conservatively.  We do not have cable.  We do not have video games.  We limit time and types of activities on tablets and computers.  We do have computers and netflix ;)  This is because we believe too much of a good thing can be bad and we want to teach our kids how to view technology and make good choices with it.  When new babies and sickness are in the house though, we use technology more.
      I use it because sick kids can do a lot of review but may not be able to process new information plus, if they are not sleeping they are usually bored, especially the older ones.
      When a new baby comes I am not always available and this is a good way to give some teaching responsibility to "someone" else.  We will not judge eachother on that fact that that "someone" is a computer.  Heres what we use:

    One of our FAVE history series
    to watch!
    • netflix and youtube history and science movies and documentaries.  Last year we were sick from Jan-feb!  We still did 2 months worth of history by watching documentaries and then talking about them, drawing pictures and that kind of stuff.  Don't worry that they didn't do a writing project, They do so many writing applications throughout the year that it really does not matter that they are not doing any while sick.  If they are not sick and its a new baby thing and you do have older kids- go ahead and assign a writing project or have them make a play or develop a puppet show about what they learned for the littles. (this is part of using your team; a future post).  Of course, if all your kids are say 6 and under most of what you will watch is stuff like... the magic school bus.  It's all good, don't worry!  And if the 6 and under crowd do not want to watch the doc on...lewis and clark that the older kids have too, thats alright too.  Its not really that big of a deal.  When that set is older they will learn about Lewis and Clark then.
    • computer programs.  Math can be kept up if sickies are not too bad or if its a new baby thing and you have kids who can do math without you like with Teaching Textbooks or Khan academy. Reading/phonics can still be done on reading eggs

      or teach your monster to read as they are online or even abc mouse!  Again only if your kids are functioning well enough to do them without you. Learning sites such as always icecream and clever dragons, brainpop, and discovery ed, or animal jam are all great places where they can go and research or just play and still
      be learning.  I really like always icecream and clever dragons because they send me a progress report and tell what they were learning.

  • tablets.  There are so many great free to cheap apps.  Load up a file on your tablet with that childs name with the things they can do if you say "go do school on your tablet".  Put learning games you like on there only.  Looney tunes phonics, math lite (different grades), multiplication bubble are some of our faves! 

    • Living and learning

           There are many things you can do without technology.  A lot again depends on if you can be involved or not.  Are the kids and you sick?  Did you just have a baby?  Can you be involved?  Can you use your team and have an older child lead the group or part of the group?  Again a lot depends on the ages and stages of your children so glean what might work for you and toss the rest out ;)

      an old picture of my girls reading after I had had baby #5
      • reading books
      • playing board games, card games, making their own games!
      • letting older kids plan and make meals (with your approval)
      • giving the kids a theme and have them build it (legos), act it (a play),  illustrate it (art), write about (writing), cook something (math skills); the sky is the limit with themes! (I do this a lot!
        The theme was
         little house on the prairie!
      • Combine a theme with watching something.  Even little kids can watch some fun mini docs on youtube about things and then go and do something with that theme!)

      • ombine it with watching something.  Even little kids can watch some fun mini docs on youtube about things and then go and do something with that theme!)

      • send letters to friends and family
      • go on walks and discover fun things, even if its in your own back yard
      • find some fun science experiments you can do at home (pinterest and yourtube)
      • everyday household chores and going ons are still learning things!
      Thinking outside the box!
           This is more for new babies than sickies.  When we are really sick, about all we can do is drink tea and watch videos.  With new babies and kids say... 9 and under, they usually need a little more instruction as they are not as independent and I want to keep them motivated to want to learn.
      • LET THEM PLAY!  novel idea huh!
      • handwriting with shaving cream during bath time on the walls in the tub (I taught 2 of my boys their letters doing this when I had a baby in December)
          They wanted to do a tea party after my
          oldest two read about "high tea" in a book
      • shaving cream plus food coloring makes for an art lesson and writing!
      • painting in the tub period is awesome.  tape the pages to the shower walls, let them paint, give them a shower, clean your walls: you now have beautiful paintings and clean kids and tub!
      • math can be done in the tub too- get out  your measuring cups!
      • get a box.  give them crayons.  this is always great fun!
      • get the comics out of a newspaper and let your kids white out the words and re create them!
      • make a video message for a friend or relative
      • tell them they are news reporters and they can make a news paper or...(wait for it) a tri-fold brochure! (so maybe you need to know me and my kids personally to see the humor in that one)
      • have a costco?  go get some boxes.  they can color them, sit in them, build with them, make a train our of them.  put christmas lights in their- fun!  Tell them to do things like put them in a straight line or curved line, or two by two.
      • play games like simon says and red light green light (crawling edition)
      • buy cheap tp and let them make mummies out of their stuffed animals.  Watch prince of egypt and a doc about mummification.
      • have a jar of money?  let them sort it and count it.  Give them a dollar, take them to $tree.  They adore you for at least a few days.
      • take a regular coloring book and make it a color by number or letter!
      • use your imaginations and google.

         Remember if you WILL be using technology or creative ideas to replace normal school for a while, YOU CAN MAKE IT MEANINGFUL!  Just know your game plan so that when those "times" hit, you know what you are doing!

      What about when we are well or when baby is older and we jump back in?  Are we behind?

           Well that all depends on how you look at it.  If you have younger kids and curric and schooling in general is more of a fluid thing then don't stress keeping up with curric.  You can look through the math book and take out pages that were skills they did on the tablet.
        Were you going through a stufy on indians in your history curric but for the past month you did it all with videos- count it!  you passed that section move on to the next!
           With older kids if they are going through a set curric it can be a little more tricky depending on your curric.  All of the curric I have chosen to use are things that I can easily have my kids catch up on if they have to have a break eg: Queens LA has 180 lessons, one for each day of school for one school year.  If my older kids take 10 days off because of sickness, its pretty easy for them to double up and catch up!  My history program (mystery of history), I usually will look at the lessons for that week and find documentaries so that we are not missing.  One doc can sometimes cover 5-8 lessons (like when we were learning about British monarchy).  TT is easy to double up on and Khan I really don't worry at all since they can move up several levels with one mastery challenge

        So do I try and make up the work?  Well with my older kids I do.  With my younger kids, no I really don't.  I will have them "make up" on a math book but thats so easy its not really like making anything up.  I just make sure we finish the book before the next year.  Everything else is subjective.  I hope that made sense.

      That concludes this blog post.   I hope you have enjoyed this overview sickness in the house and new babies!  Other topics to come in this series, in no particular order, are:

    • One Room School House Teaching
    • block scheduling/4 day school week
    • 3 hour limit
    • schooling when they are ready- don't stress until then
    • sickness in the house and new babies
    • utilize your team (aka older kids)
    • schooling with toddlers and babies
    • FEED the people
    • Making an "unschedule" for your home
    • FREAK OUT!

      Sunday, January 4, 2015

      In Memory of Athan #athansrainbow

           A family in our homeschooling community recently lost their son Athan, at the tender age of 2 months, from heart failure.
      My heart breaks for them.
      I can not imagine what they are going through.
      No words seem right to comfort.
      I do trust in the Lord to keep them in his perfect care.

      In honor and memory of Athan, I would like you to join myself, my daughters (F15g has a crochet business, Styles by Faith,  and has donated lots of items), and my local homeschool community in making hats to send to "Little hats, big hearts" to help them meet their goal of 1,000 hats by January 21st!
           Athan will be forever loved and forever missed but he will also be forever remembered.

      Please include a note in your package "in memory of Athan #athansrainbow" and send to:

      Anne Schullo
      American Heart Association
      208 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1500
      Chicago, IL 60604

      If you share this post please hashtag #athanrainbow to show support to Athans family