A Great Start

My kiddos were eager to start lessons again and we’ve now almost completed our second week back at school. I must say that if we can maintain the momentum with which we began, this year will be lovely!

school supplies I’d like to think that my children’s eagerness to get back to school was due to the fact that they love to learn, but I’m afraid it was more because their neighborhood friends began to disappear every day. At any rate, I’m hoping and praying that this enthusiasm will continue throughout the entire year as we memorize Scripture and as some of my kiddos learn the sounds of the letters, while others study fractions and explore how the human body functions.

Now, I’m not much of a list-maker, but I’ve always benefited by writing out my goals for a new year, whether it’s a new school year or a new calendar year. While my number one goal as a teacher is to instill a love of learning, there are many things I resolve to do every day to accomplish this goal and I’ve managed to keep my “school year’s resolutions”… I know that today only marks the eighth day of our school year, with many days left to go, but it is certainly a good start, right?

One thing I need to work on is encouragement. I suppose encouragement can show itself in many forms ::

  • Helping the kids through a rough problem, while ensuring them that they can indeed do it
  • Providing opportunities for them to excel in an area of interest
  • Allowing ways for them to encourage and uplift each other

Whatever form it takes, I need to remind myself that my kiddos need my encouragement, no matter how difficult it may seem at the moment.

There are so many great things in store for us this year…. I’m exhausted just thinking about it all! To stay refreshed and rejuvinated, I’ve finally connected with other homeschool families in our community, which was something my kids and I really need this year. We now plan to go on some fun field trips with this new group, connect with old friends who homeschool, and continue to learn about life and the world around us.

I am so excited!

Going back to school is an exciting, fun and sometimes, hectic time. To calm the butterflies and build your kids’ confidence, Hallmark has put together this great resource to encourage moms like you. Just for sharing a bit of advice, you’ll be entered to win a prize package valued at $500… Check it out!

GIVEAWAY!
You can also win a $50 Hallmark gift card, right here at From Dates to Diapers! Just leave a comment here about your kiddos’ first day, week or month of school. I would love to hear about any fun traditions you may have started this year. You may receive additional entries (up to one per day) by tweeting a link to this giveaway, using the hashtag #D2Dgvwy. Be sure you leave me a separate comment for each tweet. A winner will be chosen, and contacted via email, on September 30th.

This post and giveaway are sponsored by Hallmark. The views and opinions are mine.

A New School Year Has Begun

We made it through our first day back at school.

How’d we do?

Well, I only raised my voice a few times, but never in anger. The computer and telephone remained off during lessons, and we finished everything on today’s agenda. Well, everything we finished went on today’s agenda. wink, wink

My kiddos did so well.

I took joy in teaching them.

It was a good day.

Tips for Teaching a Middle Schooler at Home

For those who don’t know me I’m Tonya and a friend of Christine’s.  While Christine is off having a much deserved vacation, I’m one of the lucky bloggers who she asked to write a guest post.   I was a little stumped as to what I should write about at first, but then I got to thinking about what Christine and I have in common.  We both have twins and we both homeschool.

So I decided to go with a post about homeschooling.  I thought I’d offer up a few tips that I’ve learned in the hope of helping others who are considering homeschooling too.

Although my 13 year old son went to a combination of private and public schools until he began 7th grade, we decided that homeschooling was going to be the best approach for him for at least the remainder of Middle School (Jr. High) and possibly High School too.  We learned very quickly that moving a child from a traditional school into homeschooling was going to be quite a challenge.  He thought he was on vacation, we insisted that he in fact wasn’t.

So here are my 5 tips on helping your homeschooler and you survive the school year.

TIP 1 – STRUCTURE & ORGANIZATION

Have your child get up at the same time each morning and go through a normal routine as if they were going to a traditional school – so breakfast, shower, morning chores and getting dressed.  This helps to establish a routine and start them off in a mindset ready for their school day.  Let them know what their day will consist of.  Make sure that their work environment is clear from distractions (such as video games and television) and they have everything available that they will need such as stationery supplies and paper.

TIP 2 – FIELD TRIPS

Just because you are homeschooling doesn’t mean that field trips aren’t important.  They are beneficial.  Whether you choose to visit museums, art galleries, a farm, the beach or the dessert, hands-0n activities can be very educational and make learning fun.  Here’s an idea:  if you are heading off on a hike, give them a trail map and have them identify things along the way such as insects and plants.  Maybe the could take some time to sketch what they see or you could take photographs so they can look up each thing they have found when they get home and do a report about it.

TIP 3 – PHYSICAL EDUCATION & ART

One of the benefits of homeschooling is that you are able to add more time for art and physical education into your child’s schedule.  Unfortunately too many public schools in the U.S. are cutting back on these fundamental learning experiences.  Have your child hand make greeting cards that your family can use throughout the year, maybe writing a little poetry for some and paint masterpieces on butcher paper that you can wrap gifts in.  Take them outside to build things like this or keep an eye on sites such as The Crafty Crow for a plethora of crafts for all age groups.  For physical education take them on hikes, ride bikes, go to the beach for some boogie boarding fun, or have them join a sports team.

TIP 4 – VOLUNTEER

Get your homeschooler involved in volunteering.  Not only will your child be contributing to helping a local organization and people in their community, but it will give your (older) child work experience and job skills.  Here are a few links to get you started.

TIP 5 – FRIENDSHIPS

I feel that it is imperative that homeschooled children maintain friendships.  They spend a great deal of time in solitude studying, however they still need to communicate and play with children their own age.  Organize play dates or get them involved in groups, whether it be scouts, church groups, sports programs or extra classes outside of the home.  Seek out other homeschooling families in your area for field trips or study groups.  It will help their social skills.

You can learn more about me and my family over at my primary blog A day in my life …

School Year’s Eve Resolutions

JuiceBoxJungle has a funny show (see my sidebar) about Losing It that helps you feel better about yourself as parent and reminds you to enjoy those crazy times, as well as the calm ones. What better time to remember this than the beginning of the busy new school year?

Cookie Magazine and the PTA are debuting School Year’s Eve this year, to celebrate the start of the new school year and education, by encouraging party-throwing and resolution making. They’ve asked me to talk about my own School Year’s Eve resolutions.

We start school the day after Labor Day, this year. As a homeschool mom, I think I offer a unique perspective on creating goals – resolutions, if you will – for our upcoming year. Here they are ::

schoolworkonthefloor I will daily remind myself why I am homeschooling :: God has given me a mighty job in raising my kiddos for Him and teaching them at home. But, I can’t lose sight of the fact that I am ultimately doing this out of obedience to Him and love for my kiddos. What He has called me to do, He will equip me to accomplish. He may have to equip me with extra patience this year!

I will turn off the computer and phone during school-time :: It is so easy to lose focus, but My kids’ education comes first. Work comes second. Every day.

I will not raise my voice in anger :: With six kiddos, four of whom will have a daily school schedule, I will have to work extra hard to accomplish this goal. I can do it.

I will not expect too much of my kids :: Reminding myself of their age and maturity level will help me treat my kiddos with more respect. They may only be able to sit still for read-aloud time for 25 minutes. That’s okay. They’re young.

I will not get down on myself :: God is in control and will give me the strength to face each new day with a fresh desire to serve Him. Of that I am sure. Just as I won’t expect too much of my kiddos, I will set realistic expectations on myself, as well.

As much as I am not a scheduled sorta gal, I look forward to the daily routine as we head back to school.

But, first… VACATION!!
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This post is sponsored by Cookie Magazine. Of course, the views and opinions expressed in this post are purely my own, and are not influenced by the sponsor.

Summer Break is Almost Over

As a homeschool family, we plan for the coming school year in different ways than most families. While you may be out shopping for school wardrobes and backpacks, this Mommy is already taking personal study breaks and making sure her home library is overflowing with a year’s worth of books for her inquisitive and eager young minds to devour.

I can venture to guess, though, that we have one thing in common when getting our kids ready for classroom learning – stocking up on school and art supplies. One of my favorite parts of beginning a new school year is sitting with my kiddos on the floor in my living room, as we fix up our binders with crisp lined paper, sharpen our new pencils, and open our new boxes of crayons.

This seems relaxing to me, in a way; a sense of escape from my own back-to-school stress and jitters. Being a homeschooling mommy can be very overwhelming and many things go through my mind as we near the first days of a new school year… Am I prepared? Do I have everything I need? What if I’m not ready? Did we not take enough time for summer fun? Did we take too much time?

I have to say that in the midst of my back-to-school jitters, I feel blessed, as both my children’s mother and teacher, to have an extra advantage as we start our lessons after our little break. I know exactly what my kiddos did over the summer, what concepts need to be refreshed, and that we can skip the lessons on light refraction and move straight to review because they learned all about rainbows during their summer play in the sprinklers.

You and I may prepare in different ways, or have different concerns about the upcoming school year, but maybe we all need to shake the jitters and enjoy these last few weeks of summertime. After all, our kiddos are only young once.

Lots of us are gearing up for school – an exciting, fun and sometimes, hectic time. Hallmark has put together a great resource to help you calm the butterflies and build your kids’ confidence. Just for joining the conversation you’ll be entered to win a $500 back to school package – Check it out.