Saturday, January 28, 2017

Hope, Dreams & Goals For Our Year Ahead


Well the start of a new school year is already upon us! Once again I have teamed up with some of my Australian Homeschool Blogging friends to bring you four weeks of 'not back to school' blogging fun.

Over the coming weeks we will all be blogging about our year ahead, and what we envisage that to look like for us. At the bottom of each 'not back to school' post you will find links to the other bloggers that have joined in. Simply click the image and it will take you to their blog and their post on the same topic.

This is such a great way to get a well rounded overview on differing ideas. Two heads are better than one, so the saying goes and when it comes to planning for and setting up your year ahead this is definitely the case.

If you are interested you can view past Not Back To School Blog Hops at this link.

Our first themed NBTS post is one of looking ahead, one of dreams of the future and of the goals we've laid down, not only for ourselves, but for our children, our family and our homeschools.

And so as Walt Disney said:


We've had such a tumultuous eighteen or so months that our lovely homeschooling groove really has fallen by the wayside. We kept up our academics as best we could but it was very haphazard and snippets of time were grabbed when we could get them. Then there is the constant battle of the screens in all of the their various forms that have invaded our days and have affected how they pan out.

Now I take full responsibility here for that one. I spent many years fighting screens, and not allowing mindless game playing, until finally giving in to the dreaded peer pressure, which at the time was Minecraft. This it seemed, has opened the flood gate. I know I am in a place where it can't be closed and in all honesty I don't want to close the gate completely. There are many valuable uses for the various screens and let's not forget the joy my kids derive from them. We all need a little mindless downtime here and there.

As most of you are aware we were also experiencing some major life trauma's and my guard was down a great deal of the time. I just didn't have the emotional capacity to worry about my dying friend and how much time my kids were spending on screens. After all my kids are all fighting fit and healthy, my best friend was dying before my eyes. And so the kids easily gravitated to their screens more and more. Whilst part of me regrets allowing that to happen, I am choosing to give myself some grace here. Last year was a majorly 'sucky' one and I know I was doing the best that I was able to do given the circumstances.

We've also moved from a very home centered school day to one where we partake in two relatively academic co-ops. These have been a wonderful addition to our lives in many aspects, but in part they have also made learning at home with just one's brother or sister appear a little boring.

So, whilst I do have a long list of hopes, dreams and goals for the year ahead, my number one focus will be on bringing back the joy into our homeschool. Bringing back our focus, our routines and connecting our hearts once more so that our days at home together, albeit different, are just as joyous as the days we spend with our co-op friends, or the time the kids are playing with their screens.

It's called balance isn't it and that is my main driving force for the year ahead. Bringing back the balance.



What about you? I'd love to hear what your hopes and dreams are for the year ahead. Please share them in the comments.

Don't forget that there are some other wonderful Homeschooling Blogs joining me in this post, just scroll down a little and click on the images to be taken directly to their posts about their hopes and dreams for the year.





Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Easing In To A New School Year



Can you smell it?

The wonderful smell of a new year, with all of it's gifts just waiting to unfold before us.

The plans have been made, the books have just about all arrived, shiny new stationery is sitting here just waiting to be picked up and used.

If you're anything like me, the days just before a new school year are always somewhat bittersweet. I still yearn for the long, carefree days of summer, but at the same time I am so eager to get back into some kind of regular routine.

Eager to open up and begin exploring all of the possibilities that a year ahead of learning will bring. Eager to jump right in and fill our days with all of that learning goodness.

However, the kids on the other hand aren't generally as enthused as I am to begin a new year. Now please don't misunderstand me here, they are always happy to get started again and are especially eager for all of their regular activities, classes and co-ops to begin again but after such a long summer break it does take them a while to find their groove.

These are always the moments when I consider year round schooling once more, however I know for at least this year that's not how we're going to roll. When the children were younger and we were a great deal more relaxed in our homeschooling, year round worked for us perfectly.

Now though as the kids are all growing so quickly and things have gotten somewhat more structured, sticking relatively closely to school terms is what's working. Not forgetting that we are now heavily involved in two co-ops that also meet many of schooling needs and both of these fit within the regular Australian school terms of four per year.

Anyway, I digress. Today I wanted to chat about the first couple of weeks of a new year straight after a very long break from regular lessons.

I learned very quickly and very early on in our homeschool days that the kids find it incredibly difficult to simply jump back to all that is expected on the first day of school and often times they are still struggling to find a good groove into the second and third weeks of the year.

This is where I've learned to slowly ease us back into things extra gently. It makes the transition as simple and smooth as possible for everyone.

So this is what works for us, not saying it is the best way, it's just something that seems to work well here in our home.

You would think that I would want to jump everyone very quickly back into the 3R's and of course we do need to get back to the basics of homeschooling. However that is not at all what I do.

Day one will see us gathering together at the table, chatting about the year ahead. Even though we continually do this in a less formal manner throughout the summer break I always like to make sure we have a more formal discussion about some of the plans ahead.



From there we will have a look through the new offerings in our morning basket and hopefully get somewhat excited about what we find! I'll try and have the kids guide me here with what we actually begin from the morning basket, but it always involves lots of reading and generally some drawing.

We will most likely head out for a casual lunch to celebrate our first official day back and folks that's about it for day one of a new school year. We may come home and watch a movie together but really it is a very laid back, casual day.

Now day two is where things can get weird. Day one is generally always a pretty great day and therefore I'm super keen to add in a bit more the next day and I've learned from experience, trust me, that this is the day the heels will dig in. So this year I'll be trying my hardest to simply allow day two to flow, if the mood is great I will have an art or science lesson prepped and ready to go but if we don't get to it then that's ok too. There's always a documentary to watch together.

Over the coming days we simply and slowly begin adding in little chunks of extra's. A history lesson here, a maths lesson there and continue along that way until we are back into our regular days and routine.

Which in my head this year see's us following this basic structure. On a day in which we have no co-op and are home all day it will look like this. Begin all together with our morning basket, break into our independent rotations, with morning tea during this time and follow that up with an after lunch session of art, science, history or geography. I will try at some stage to come back and post in more depth about how we structure our days.

So it really is a quite simple way to start the year off but at the end of the day if we don't have our kids hearts then we also don't have their minds. Therefore working together in a way that mutually suits both of us is simply the best way to get our year off to a great start.

If you've struggled with the back to school blues with your kids I encourage you to let go of the long list of items to be checked off your list and just allow the first couple of weeks of your year to flow in gently, like a beautiful, slow flowing tide. Trust me, you will be rewarded in the long run.

Here's to an amazing year of connection, fun and learning in your homeschools.



Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Homeschooling Help Booklet - Free Printable



I've been helping out a couple of friends with preparing for their year ahead in the homeschooling world. For those of us that have been doing this for years we know how crazy it can get when trying to make the best possible decisions for your children, your homeschool and your family environment.

It's easy to get caught up in the frenzy of what all your homeschool friends are doing and comparing your list of ideas against theirs. It is always in these moments where we need to come back to us. To our children, to our family and to the things that we hold dear.
To help my friends in a way that is as least overwhelming as possible I put together a very simple Free Homeschooling Help Printable Booklet.

It contains all the important stuff when it comes to thinking about the year ahead. Not only what we will utilise for specific grades but it also covers some of the heart stuff. The things that are truly more often, more important than the subjects and the resources.


The booklet is twenty pages, with a very no frills design. Simply print it off, grab a cuppa and start completing it. If you're anything like me though you'll work on this over quite a few different sittings.

If you have friends that are new to homeschooling or that may be feeling a little overwhelmed please share this blog post with them.


Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Homeschool Blogs To Read

Well the new year is definitely under way and whilst we are still on school summer holiday break I am busy gathering supplies for and organising our year ahead.

For the second year in a row I have decided to team up with the Homeschool Review Crew once again, to bring you all some great products, that we use and review in our home.

I love reading homeschool related blogs, so much great stuff to glean from them. if only there were enough hours in the day to read each and every post that all of you wonderful homeschool mumma's take the time to create.



This year I thought I would share some of the blogs that are also part of the review crew this year. You're bound to find something here that interests you. There's such a wide variety of bloggers and the areas in which they focus on.

So go, grab a cuppa, or if you're in Australia, a cool icy drink and enjoy some time getting to know a few new to you homeschooling blogs.

Footprints in the ButterEvery Bed of RosesDouble O FarmsFamily Faith & FridaysCircling Through This LifeAt Home: where life happensHomeschool Coffee BreakA Net in TimeGypsy RoadCounting PineconesOur Life ~ Home and SchoolTots and Meluvnlambertlife.comDelightful LearningMom's PlansA Learning JourneyThis Day Has Great PotentialWeiser AcademyAs We BloomHomemaking OrganizedMountain of Grace HomeschoolingA Stable BeginningHome Sweet LifeThrough the Calm and Through the StormOur Worldwide ClassroomA Glimpse of Our LifeSan Gabriel FarmTrout WifeCastle View Academy homeschoolCreative Madness MamaDoodleMom's Homeschooling LifeGift of ChaosMcClanahan 7Cross Rhodes AcademyApron Strings & Other ThingsApron Strings & Other ThingsMama’s Coffee Shop BlogThe Country HomemakerGod's Writer Girl's BlogHomeschool Review Crew

I'm looking forward to another fun and productive year on the review crew. Can't wait to bring you our first lot of product reviews.

Review Crew

Happy Homeschooling,
Kylie

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