Our Third Year Of Homeschooling

Yes, yes yes… I know!  Where have I been?  I have not written a word on here in so long. But I tell you it wasn’t for the lack of trying. This was our third year of homeschooling and we tried something new.  This year, we decided to join a co-op.  What is a co-op you ask? It is a group of moms who come together, whom have strengths in different academic areas, and teach the kids of the group. That is the most simplest way to explain it!

Let’s Try Something New!

The co-op we joined was different then others around. It is not like Classical Conversations or Tapestry Of Grace where the curriculum is pre-packaged. The admin of the co-op chose different curriculums for the four different subjects.  It covered history, geography, writing, and science. Many hours were spent looking at different curricula to find which ones would fit the co-op. I have to say, it was a year full of fun, excitement and frustrations but they were all worth it!

With being a part of a co-op, our kids had to participate in class.  They did all sorts of science experiments, hands on history, gave presentations, had to work in groups and learn how to work together even when there was a disagreement.

The photo above only captured a fraction of what the kids did while they were in class at the co-op.  We mummified a cornish hen (which represented a mummy in Ancient Egypt), wrote in hieroglyphics, had multiple presentations, and made cookies. Yes, we made cookies!

You asked, “Would you do a co-op again”?  Absolutely! But, there was a lot of good and some bad that went along with our year.  The two years previous, we were pretty relaxed. If we didn’t feel like “doing school” we would have documentary day or baking day or home economics day (which meant cleaning the house and grocery shopping 🙂 ).  We had a relaxed homeschool but not too relaxed.  We definitely worked on our school work, but there was no sense of urgency, no stress, just a get-it-done type of attitude. I loved it, but I saw lots of flaws in this way of schooling (for us).

Our oldest is a very grade oriented child. She loves getting up in front of classmates and show off (for a lack of better words) how smart she is. She loved being the smartest kid in the class.  Now that we homeschool, she didn’t get to stand in front of the class and talk about all that she researched.  So, for her, co-op was like being back in public school.  Our middle daughter really loved our relax learning environment.  She is not shy to say the least, but she gets stage fright. But by the end of the year, she was so excited to do her presentations and talk in front of the class. It was great seeing her almost comfortable presenting her subject to the class!  For our son, this was his first grade year.  He was placed in the 1-4th grade class.  I was a little worried that he would not be able to hang academically with the older kids… but he blew that worry off the fence!  He did great and had no problem getting up and presenting.  Actually, he loved it!  He was so excited when he picked to play Joshua (from the Bible) as his First Person Narrative!  He did such a great job and totally stayed in character!

It was a great experience but we (well… more like I) had a hard time trying to balance everything with such a strict homeschooling schedule.  For me, that was the frustrating part of the co-op.  Going from a relaxed atmosphere to a “this assignment is due next week” atmosphere was really hard… for me!  I will not lie, it stressed me out.  Finally, towards the end, we missed assignments, life happened (it was crazy for a while there) and it was ok! The joy of homeschooling… GRACE and I needed a lot of it! 🙂

Como Se Dice?

If adding a co-op was not enough, this year we also added Spanish.  My friend, who is a Spanish teacher for local homeschool groups, lives in our neighborhood.  I had asked her if she would be willing to teach Spanish here at our house if I could find another family or two who would like to join us.  She agreed! I was so excited because this meant that I didn’t have to drive 30 minutes into town for her to teach our kids!  I only needed to find one more family, they had 5 kids who took the class with ours.

Spanish class was fun and the kids did a Spanish country report… and made food for that report! 🙂 It was fun to see what different types of foods the kids came up with.  Spanish was not our oldest’s first choice but it was a good introduction to learning a new language. I think this coming up year we are going to try German… since it is part of my heritage!

To Be or Not To Be, That Is The Question?

Oh yes, we just went there… The girls did a fun 6 week class on Shakespeare, that 2 fellow moms put together.  My friends did such a good job planning it, teaching it, and made it so much fun.  Who knew Shakespeare could be fun!  For the final day, the teachers planned a trip to the Shakespeare Theater in Orlando to watch the performance of The Tempest.  Our oldest wants to read more works by Shakespeare now! Thank you so much my friends!

Oh Where Did Those Shoes Take You?

I am so glad I did this.  At the beginning of the school year, a group of us (outside of the co-op and the homeschool group) scheduled monthly field trips to a local, privately owned, springs. It was an inexpensive monthly field trip in the great outdoors of Florida! The kids has so much fun with all the hands on learning! They investigated every thing from water ways, bugs, to microscopic organisms, to animal skulls and bones, and so much more! I am really happy we were able to go on a monthly field trip and that it was already planned out.  All we had to do was just show up!

Where Did That Rabbit Come From?

To add the our crazy life… We adopted a bunny!  Funny story. Our neighbors have a couple of bunnies, snakes, big dogs, and they just love animals!  While they were on vacation, somehow (while the animals’ caretakers were cleaning out a cage) the male and female bunnies mated.  A few weeks after our neighbors got back from their long summer trip, their oldest daughter’s friend saw that the bunny had given birth to 5 babies!  Both mom and dad bunny are show bunnies but they are different breeds.  That means, we can not show the bunny at the fair. That is ok, she is our little bunny and we love her. Her name is Agnes or Aggie for short.  Which is fitting seeing the our neighbors are alumni of Texas A&M… the Aggies.  It was such a beautiful thing watching Aggie grow up and get bigger! We got to hold her before her eyes were open! It was a beautiful thing! She is a mix with Holland Lop and Mini Lop and we were able to bring her home on October 31st! So cute! (P.S. if you are wondering what is on Aggie’s head, it is a faux raccoon hat!)

 

Oh The Places You Will Go!

To go along with our monthly field trips, we had a few other field trips throughout the year.  One of our favorite field trips was the Alafia Rendezvous. It is an encampment from the 1800’s. It is so much fun and this time, my husband was able to join us! I love it when he can participate in anything school related!  Of course we went to the library… what homeschooler doesn’t do that! 🙂 We took a fun trip to Sea World. I have to say, Sea World has to be my favorite amusement park in Orlando. We have been a few times since moving to Florida but this time we did things we normally didn’t do, which included feeding the sea lions! Yummmm, fish!  In the late spring we had a death in the family so we drove the 22 hour drive home to be with family.  While up there I took the kids down to our ole fishing hole! It was so peaceful out there.  Then to end our school year, we went to the FPEA Homeschool Convention!  Man, that was fun!  A highlight of that trip with taking the kids to Medieval Times.  It was fitting that we went there, because we studied the Medieval Time Period in our history class!  I loved watching their faces as the show went on!  It really got your heart pounding!

What’s Next?

I am looking forward to our next school year. We will be studying U.S. History big time so I am hoping to have some really cool field trips! So much to go out and see!

 

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I would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment at the bottom! If you liked my post and would love to hear more of our adventures, please follow me so you get the newest post!

 

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Help! We’re About to Start Homeschooling!

How do we even know where to start homeschooling? I am about to panic! 

Back in February of 2013, my husband, Dan and I were at the cusp of making the decision that would change our lives… The decision to homeschool.  After lots of prayers for guidance and meeting so many people who homeschool, it had become the topic of our conversations.  Once we made the decision more questions came!  Where do we begin?  What do we need to do to let the state know we are homeschooling?  Are there any support groups?  What about standardized tests?  What are Co-Op groups?  How will my parents take this?  Am I able to handle teaching my own kids?  I am sure most of the homeschooling parents have asked themselves these questions.  It is a big decision and should not be taken lightly!

At this time of finalizing our decision, I heard about a local homeschool group who was having a Homeschooling 101 meeting with Q & A afterwards.  Dan and I lined up a babysitter and went to it and we were so glad we did!  All the questions we had, and then some, were answered.  It made the transition to homeschool a much easier journey then we expected!

We ended up joining the homeschool group!

Tampa Bay HEAT

As I have mentioned in other blogs, we ended up pulling our girls out of public school in March of 2013.  The Friday before spring break was their last day of school.  We thought it was a good time to pull them out seeing as they were about to go through the pain which is called FCATs.  The FCATs are the standardized tests that Florida puts there students through every spring.  Throughout the year, the schools teach what is going to be on the test and makes it very stressful for the students.  Seeing as we had enough of the Florida school system, we were not going to give the state the pleasure of putting our kids through it!

First day of Homeschool Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool
Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool Copy right by Holly Hedman

First day of Homeschool
Copy right by Holly Hedman

The Monday after spring break was our first day of homeschool.  We celebrated our first day of homeschooling by taking a cake decoration class through our new homeschool group, the Tampa Bay HEAT!  We decided to join this group because of all that they offer and because they were the ones who really helped us become homeschoolers.   Some of you are saying, well that is not schooling. Yes, you are right in that it is not reading, writing, or arithmetic, but it is art, something public schools continue to cut.  I wanted to start our homeschool journey with something that our kids love, art!

Breath, it’s okay!

Girls Hard At Work Copyright by Holly Hedman

Girls Hard At Work
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We are now in the middle of fall semester and I am starting to be able to breath again!  I will tell you, I have changed my curriculum already and am not really doing the curriculum that I started off doing.  But, that is okay!  Before we began I was told that I would change my curriculum a few times during the first year… no joke!  You have to find a path that fits you, the teacher, and your kids, the students.  Now that I have changed my curriculum, I feel more relaxed because I can understand what I am suppose to be teaching better!  Ahhhhhhh (a sigh of relief )!

Love Our Homeschool Group!

2nd Place In Our Conference Copyright by Holly Hedman

2nd Place In Our Conference
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Since March, we have done all sorts of classes, activities and sports with the Tampa Bay HEAT!  We have gone on field trips, done classes and I coached volleyball for the 4-6 graders (so our girls got to play too), play flag football and more!  If you are about to begin homeschooling; first look at your state’s regulations for homeschooling and know what is required to run your homeschool!  Then, I would suggest talking with people you know who homeschool.  Once you have decided to homeschool, look for a homeschooling group that is close by!  Homeschool groups are not essential but it makes you feel connected with other families that homeschool!  If there is not a homeschool group by you, maybe start one up.  Start with playdates or mom’s nights outs.  From there the possibilities are endless!

Wishing you the best in your homeschooling journey!

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

First Year of Schooling in Florida Continues

“How we became a homeschooling family” was my original title for this article.

I have to tell you, I had a whole blog article pretty much all written up about why we pulled our kids this past March from public school and are now a homeschool family, but I decided to scrap it.  As I would read over the article to proof read and add to it, I felt like all I was doing was being a “Debby Downer”.  That is not me!  Yes, the school here was not up to par with what we were used to and my girls did not have proactive teachers like we had in Tennessee.  But, the school in general is a nice, new, and is big.  They are also really good with students who have an IEP.  But as I was writing my previous blog (the one I deleted) I realized that it is our job as parents to be proactive for our kids, not the teacher.  I had a change in heart and decided to write something more positive then negative!

Vacation Time by Holly Hedman

Vacation Time by Holly Hedman

Oh my, so it begins!

With summer coming to an end (not sure that ever happens here in Florida), getting back on a schedule has been the first and foremost thing on my mind.  I am such a night owl it has been hard for me to think about having to get up earlier then my kids so I can have quiet time to drink my coffee, read the Bible, and Facebook/emails/play on my iPad.  Since we just got back from vacation, I have had a hard time going to bed before 11 pm (well, that is my normal bed time) but I have done really well with getting out of bed, with an alarm, before my kids.  This morning I was enjoying my quiet time so much I let the kids sleep in! 🙂 I love slow mornings!

Official First Day of School by Holly Hedman

Official First Day of School by Holly Hedman

Oops!  Off my schedule already.  

My plan was to have them up by 7 am so we could start by 8 am and be done by 11:30 because I am teaching a PE class for a Classical Conversations group.  Basically, I was not ready for our first 2 full days of homeschooling.  I am sure at some point in time things will run more smoothly.  I am sure I will have days where we get NOTHING done (not looking forward to that) but we will keep pressing on and moving forward!

First full week of schooling.

This weekend I am going to organize our classroom so we can start our first full week of schooling without feeling overwhelmed.  I am excited about using My Father’s World for our main curriculum.  They have it all planned out and it allows you to teach multiple aged kids at the same time!  Also from MFW, we are using Spelling Power.  For math I decided on Teaching Textbooks because I am not a math savvy person.  I also decided to use Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for Language Arts.  The homeschool group we joined has a plethora of great programs but one that stood out to us was the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program.  We used the first day of STEM, which meets for over 3 hours, as our first day of school!  Luckily, our first full week will only have volleyball and CC PE for extra activities.  But in September everything starts up.  Dance two days a week, volleyball with games and practices, MOPS homeschool activities, AWANA on Wednesdays, STEM on Thursdays,  and CC PE on Fridays.  This should be interesting.  Crazily, I scheduled too many things for the afternoons but with doing that, I think it will keep us on the ball to get our work done so we don’t have to do it later in the afternoon!

I know this all seems like first timers syndrome, so much out there to do seeing as we are not tied down to the public school schedule and I am sure some of you are yelling at me through my computer telling me how crazy I am for planning so much our first year of homeschooling.  But that is me, I jump in before looking. Sometimes it end up be OH SO BAD and other times it was the best decision I could of made.  So with a little guidance from the Good Lord above we will have a great first year of school!  This is an exciting journey and I can only pray to God that He has chosen this path for us for a reason and that we (all of us) will survive! 🙂

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!

Life is always changing, so you have to be ready to change with it!

How about that, we now live in Florida.  Never thought I would live in this state.

Roasting Marshmallows Copyright by Holly Hedman

Roasting Marshmallows
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We are a family that loves the rugged outdoors, being on the lake fishing and sitting outside by a campfire on a cool night.  Oh, yeah, now that’s the life!  But now we have traded that for palm trees and white sandy beaches.  A person could get used to that… I guess.

For a lot of people Florida is where you go for vacation, snowbird in the winter or retire to.  Then you have those people who end up in Florida because of work or to be with family that have moved down here.  For us, we are here because of work. The Army decided that my husband was needed down here, so here we are.  Florida is growing on me, ever so slowly.  Not sure I will ever feel at home like I did in Tennessee but I will keep a positive attitude and embrace the fact that I am living in Florida.  I know, you are probably saying that I am crazy, what is not to love about Florida.  Well, I am a true northern girl through and through and I love the 4 seasons.  I know, I know, I am crazy for loving the snow and cold but I really do!  Time to face the fact though, we now live in Florida!

First Day of School 2012 Copyright by Holly Hedman

First Day of School 2012
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We moved here in August of 2012 about a week or so before school started! I have to say, I was getting excited for the girls.  I was ready to get our life back to a normal schedule and have them in school.  Also, I was ready for my son and I to have our one on one time.

I have always enjoyed getting ready for the first day of school!  There is always an excitement about it and an anticipation to the new school year a head.  This year was even more exciting because we just moved to Florida and our kids would be meeting new kids and making new friends!  With the girls all registered at the public school and ready to go, it was time for school to start!

First day of school, how exciting.

Seeing as we were living with friends of ours till our house was finished being built, I drove the girls to the bus stop in our neighborhood.  This way we could start meeting our neighbors and start making new friends.  So, bright and early (actually it was still dark as you see in the photo above) we were all up and getting ready for the day.  Once we were all done with our morning routine, out the door we went.  I have never driven my kids to school and waited in that crazy car lane and I wasn’t about to start now.  By driving them to our subdivision instead of driving them to school I was able to have some adult conversation and got to know our neighbors!  Oh yes, even mom got to have some chit chat time and I looked forward to it everyday.

In September I was able to close on the house (yes, I said I… my husband was off on a his 2nd or 3rd trip since moving here so I got to close on the house… All By Myself with POA in hand and a pen that luckily never ran out of ink!) and that night we slept on air mattresses in our new home.  Two days later the first two PODS came (we pack and move ourselves and the military pays us to do it) and the unpacking began.  It felt so good finally being in our own home with our own stuff, since we were technically homeless since the end of June.

Our walk to the bus Copyright by Holly Hedman

Our walk to the bus
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Now that we actually live in our house, I no longer had to drive every morning and afternoon to the bus stop, we walked.  I have to say, I really enjoyed our 3 block walk to the bus stop.  Now with the cooler temperature in the morning, there were times where we walked to the bus stop in the fog (I loved it)!  The fog reminded me of Monterey, CA and the crisp morning almost made it feel like fall! OK, I guess Florida is growing on me now.

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!

A New Journey

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Oh, the life of a Soldier and his family! 

We started off our journey together back in 1995 (um, yeah, I just dated myself) when Dan and I were married.  Our first move was to Oklahoma for 6 months of training.  We actually enjoyed Oklahoma, but we were there in the winter so we didn’t have to deal with the heat.  Once training was done, off to North Carolina for 5 1/2 years. We had many adventures during our time there but I will save those for another time.

Our next duty station was in Tennessee and that is where our first daughter (the brunette in the photo above) was born.  Beautiful Tennessee was home for 3 1/2 years then, while pregnant with our second child (the blonde in the photo above), we moved back to North Carolina.  This time we only lived North Carolina for 2 years and then the Army sent us out to Monterey, CA!  Oh, how fun it was to there!  We really enjoyed Monterey, so much to see and many adventures were had.  While there our oldest daughter started Kindergarten.  She was only able to do one semester there and then off again.  Eighteen months was not long enough… so many more things I wanted to do while there, oh well!  We left California in December while I was 8 months pregnant with our third (the boy in the photo). This time we moved home to Illinois for 6 months and then landed in Tennessee again.

Point Lobos Copyright by Holly Hedman

Point Lobos California State Park                                     Copyright by Holly Hedman

Yes, being a military family… it is never a dull moment.  I have to say, as much as we loved living in Monterey,  Tennessee truly felt like home to all of us.  It is truly beautiful in Tennessee with the rolling hills and big oak trees.  Have you ever experienced Tennessee in the fall? Oh, my!  The colors are just amazing, the crisp fall air, leaves falling everywhere and the aroma from the smoke houses (that is how the dry tobacco) makes for the best autumn!  We thought we were only going to get to stay in Tennessee for 2 years, but we ended up staying for 3 years.  It was so nice not having to move for awhile but it made it soooooooooo much harder to move for many reasons. One reason was because we knew it was the last time we would live there.

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Moving Day

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Boxes in every room

Every move we have made has been an adventure and we really enjoy living in different areas of our great nation! But, each move has been a little bit harder because you leave great friends.  Once we added kids in the mix, moving became even more difficult because we are disrupting their sense of “normalcy” and taking them away from the friends they made.  But moving day came and it was time for our next journey, this time to Tampa, Florida.  This move was particularly hard because we all made such good friends and had a GREAT school that the kids went to. We loved our neighborhood we lived in and love having the pond behind our house where we would go fishing all the time!  We were happy there.  But, here we go again… All packed up and ready to go and see what our next adventure brings!

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Pond behind our house.

 

 

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Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!