Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Homeschool Open House 2007

Welcome to all the readers of Tiany's site, Less of Me ~ More of Him. I'm really excited about her giving us the opportunity for homeschoolers to get a peek into each other's days! This could be an entire day of sitting at the computer reading blog after blog! How fun! My eyes may be as tired as they were on the day of Rocks in My Dryer's Dog Days of Summer Giveaways!

A brief intro: My name is Lori and I have been married to Hubby for over 14 years. We decided during our engagement that we would homeschool, based on a family in our church who had older, homeschooled children. We were very impressed by their poise, godly attitudes, and intelligence. We have two children, Daniel, who is 10 and Emily, who is 12. We've tried many different types of curriculum and methods over the past 8 years, some with greater success than others.

Curriculum: For the past three years, we have been using Sonlight, a literature-based program, as the foundation of our homeschool journey. It has been a true blessing to our family. The literature my children read is incredible, opening their eyes to different times, places and people through engaging stories that capture their attention. Geography has become their favorite subject this year as we have been studying the Eastern Hemisphere, learning about vastly different cultures and world religions. I have been amazed to see how much their own faith has increased as they see the hopelessness of other religions.

Sonlight incorporates pretty much everything you would need in a homeschool program, except for math, p.e., and a foreign language. Through Sonlight, you can cover Bible, history, language arts, creative writing, spelling, geography, science, and more. It's an amazing program which has saved me hours of planning, shopping, and time at the library. I have previously used unit studies which, while they are a lot of fun and very creative, are also alot of work. While I was using one popular program, I would spend upwards of 10 hours a week preparing lessons and looking for books to use. With Sonlight, you get all the books you'll need for the year and at the end of the year, you have built a wonderful library of reading material for your children! I can't speak highly enough of this wonderful program.

For math, we have just this year begun using Teaching Textbooks. It's a WONDERFUL program. For those moms who like me are, ahem, less-than-gifted mathematically, shall we say, it is a lifesaver. Each lesson is thoroughly explained on a CD with easy to follow graphics. The lesson goes along with the text in the book, so regardless of which way your child learns better (seeing/hearing the explanation or reading the explanation) it's covered. Each and problem is explained on a separate CD, so if you aren't sure what the child did wrong, it's there. It's made math in our home much, much more enjoyable.

Rosetta Stone is a great program for learning foreign languages. It's a bit pricey, but well worth the money. It works on the computer as well, by showing you 4 pictures and saying the name of one thing in the target language. If you select correctly (it's just guessing at the beginning!) you are rewarded with a "ding" sound. It progressively moves you up to sentences and stories. It works amazingly well. We are using it to learn Arabic. My husband is from the Middle East and, while his whole family speaks English, it would be nice for us to be able to communicate more when we visit over there. Then I wouldn't feel so helpless when we go to the store or somewhere. They have practically every language you'd want available from Spanish to Mandarin Chinese!

A Day in Our Life: Our day generally begins with chores around 7:30. Each child has a checklist that must be completed by 8:30 (breakfast, beds made, dressed, hair brushed and a couple of assigned chores). Between 8:30 and 9 am, we start our school day by reading the Word of God and praying. Then we move into the more academic subjects. We don't really have an assigned order of subjects. Sonlight provides you with weekly lesson plans (did I mention I love Sonlight?!), so we just follow what is scheduled for that day, mixing up the order based on how we are feeling. I try to alternate between things that call for writing and things that call for reading. Otherwise I hear complaints of, "My hand hurts!" or "I'm tired of reading!" This way, they don't do either for long stretches.Most of our schoolwork is done on the living room couch. I've only recently begun really forcing them to do written work at the table, which is probably why my kids' handwriting is so poor. Oh, well, everything is done on the computer anyways these days!

Usually we break for lunch around 12:30. After lunch, they spend an hour in their rooms. This is so Mommy can have some "alone" time. Seriously, time alone is something I crave so this is a very important part of the day. After "quiet time" they finish up whatever is left over for their schoolwork by 3'ish. Usually, though, our work is done prior to lunch.My 12 year old daughter has recently begun to express an interest in doing her studies more independently, so I have started making a daily list of her assignments. While she's working her way through the list (at her pace and in the order she chooses), I work with my 10 year old son. This is really good for her, because she works at a much quicker pace than my son. Plus, I know it is beneficial to her to learn to budget her time and be responsible for completing a task without me standing over her. We still do Bible together and I always read aloud to the kids literature that goes along with what they are studying in history.

Advice: I think the best two pieces of advice I can offer, besides constant reliance on God, are these: 1) Be willing to change course mid-stream. Sometimes I have spent quite a bit of money on some type of curriculum, only to find it doesn't really fit our family. That's ok. It's a trial and error process when you are first starting out. Even if there are no extra funds to buy new curriculum, you'd be better off doing free stuff (lots of reading, worksheets from the computer, science walks, etc.) than trying to force something that doesn't work upon your children. Just acknowledge that it doesn't work and move on.

2) Spend some time deciding what your goals are. This is immeasurably helpful. Everyone thinks homeschoolers are home all day. Ha!! Nothing could be further from the truth. There is so much out there to do - science classes, co-ops, enrichment programs, piano lessons, etc. But if you have your goals clearly laid out, you can use that to determine what is really worthy of your time and money. I include in mine character and spiritual goals - not just academic ones. After all, I'm raising a person, not just a student. It's far more important to me that my dear, sweet children make a decision to follow Christ and be able to be kind and compassionate than to be able to accurately diagram a sentence.

So that's our homeschooling life in a nutshell. Well, it's a rather large nut, I guess. Maybe I should say that our homeschooling life in, oh, a grapefruit! Thanks for hanging in and reading this novel. I'm really looking forward to reading everyone else's posts and getting some new ideas!!


Melissa Markham said...

I am really enjoying reading all of these great posts! Thanks for sharing your homeschool adventure! BTW, I wholeheartedly agree with your advice. We too had to switch our plan in mid-stream one year. We are grateful for this flexibility!

Kristi said...

Thank you for inviting us into your open house! I agree that we as Mommies need a little time to rejuvenate, too! We have nap time in the afternoons. Shhh! Don't tell Jesse it's for me. He thinks it's for him!!

Joy said...

Yes, I am also staying up way too late looking at everyone's blogs!!! This is too fun!
Sounds like we are similar in our way of schooling. I love the Sonlight books, but I mix and match them. I'm also challenged in Math!!! And I just LOVE Teaching Textbooks! It is going to help me so much with my daughter who is like me! My son just does it all on his own... phew!
Thanks for sharing!

Theresa said...

I can tell I'm not going to get much done today! I am only on #10 LOL! Thanks so much for sharing this with us. We are considering Rosetta Stone.

Have a blessed day!

#14 on the list

Anonymous said...

Oh, the wonderful books that you get to read with Sonlight!


Rebecca said...

I was very blessed by coming to your site through Homeschool Open House. I am a young Mama of two 3 and 1, and have planned to homeschool since before I was married nearly five years ago. Neither my husband or myself were brought up in a homeschool environment, so I am learning from...BEHIND scratch! I am really enjoying all the wonderful tips and advice everyone shares.

Thank you! Rebecca from

Anonymous said...

Thnak you for your post! I love the part about us raising people not students!

Be blessed!

Amber said...

Thanks so much for this. I am a new homeschool mom and we chose Sonlight to use for our first year. We are very excited. I was glad to read your enthusiasm for the curriculum too!

Andrea said...

I really enjoyed your post. Thank you for opening your homeschool up to us. I love your comment about raising people, not students!

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing and for the tips too, there great!

God Bless

Mrs said...

Wholeheartedly agree with your second tip. Setting goals will eliminate the unnecessary! It will also narrow your curriculum choices considerably.

Great open house!

Christie said...

Thank you for sharing with us!! I appreciate the great advice.


Bren said...

I enjoyed your open house! Thanks for sharing!

Tiany said...

Thank you for participating in the Open House! It has been such fun putting it together and this is the icing on the cake for me, visiting you all! Wonderful post!

When you get a chance please email me so I can get some gifts to you! :-) Please put "Top 20" in the subject line of the email!

Hugs & Blessings,

Kelli said...

What a great post! I really enjoyed learning more about your days. We love Sonlight too! I will have to look into that math program...I am one of those less-than-gifted mathematical people for sure. :0)
We have quiet time at our house mom did the same thing, even when we were teenagers!
Thanks for having us over!

Leeann said...


Even though I have known you for years, this was fun to read and get a clearer vision of what your homeschooling life is like . I enjoyed it!


Katie said...

Thanks for telling us about your homeschool! I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot - you had some great, helpful tips!!

JoAnn said...

I really enjoyed reading about your homeschool. I totally agree with switching curriculum if it isn't working. That is one thing I had to learn the hard way.

Have a great year!

Karla said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing!

Mary aka Canadagirl said...

Thanks for sharing. (0= I really enjoyed getting a peek into your homeschool.

God Bless
In Him<><

eclecticeducation said...

I think I'm going to have to check out this Teaching Textbooks. I have been concerned about jr. high and highschool math (my son is in 6th) and had no clue what I would be using, but I think your the 3rd person who has recomended it. So I'm going to check it out. Thanks for sharing! :)

~Lynn #60 on the list.

Sheri said...

Thanks for letting us look into your day!!

JacciM said...

Great blog :) Thanks for sharing all about your homeschooling days and such. That's great advice to make sure you have set goals for where you want to be, btw. Thanks!

Sonya said...

Great post! I enjoyed learning about your homeschool. It sounds wonderful!

Ruth said...

I have been trying to visit all the open houses a little at a time. Thank you for sharing your homeschool. I have enjoyed visiting. I would also like to try Teaching Textbooks.


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