How Do You Do It?! (Homeschooling With Littles)

How do I homeschool while having 4 young kids at home?

Good question.

God’s grace. Prayer. Lots of tears and frustration. And then we just keep laughing and rolling with it. Please hear me – NO PERFECTION HERE.

So yes, I have 4 little kids under the age of 7. Kairi is my 6 1/2 year old daughter who is in first grade. Brayce is 4 1/2 and does pre-k work. Then my boys, Zeke and Parker, are 18 months old and 8 weeks old.

So many people ask me, “HOW DO YOU DO IT?!” I am not an expert and I am far from perfect and honestly perfection is not my goal. I seriously have to give myself grace daily. There are plenty of days we miss because we have a movie day instead. I am working on my consistency because I know that being consistent is better for all of us and will help my girls learn.

I just wanted to share with you today a few ways that I have found help me with homeschooling with little ones.

I use a box curriculum called My Father’s World that has everything planned out for me and even tells me what to say to teach my girls! Why reinvent the wheel?! This is my second year homeschooling and I love using a boxed curriculum. You can still modify it if you want, adding in, taking away, and changing whatever doesn’t fit your child. That is one of the huge pros of homeschooling. You get to personalize the learning to your child! Don’t fear that using a box curriculum will keep you “inside the box” like I did when I first started. I thought I would come up with my own curriculum and it wasn’t a couple weeks into it that I realized I had no idea what I was doing! If you think that you would like to homeschool but you wouldn’t do a good job or be able to, listen up – You can do this! There are tools out there for us to use. No one knows your child like you do!

This next one is KEY to our learning and my sanity – NAP TIME. The girls and I do school during the boys’ nap times. Our school day is about an hour and a half to two hours right now. So this is usually the perfect amount of time to have some focused time while the boys sleep. Today we did school in the morning while the boys were awake! Oh my! Everyone was more distracted and I could see Kairi getting frustrated more easily. It was noisy and hard to hear what was going on. I was holding a crying baby. And Brayce was having trouble finishing her work before playing with Zeke. Nap Time. Nap Time. Unfortunately that means I’ve had to give up my quiet time when all 4 kids sleep at the same time, but I know that is important for the girls’ learning.

However, I’m still trying to figure out how to get the boys to sleep at the same time. I am working on implementing a daily schedule for the 5 of us to follow during the days. I’ve never put my kids on a schedule, but as our family grows I am seeing the importance of one. If we don’t follow the schedule then the day passes without getting anything done that we wanted to. (Hence, a movie marathon day – or many episodes of Pokemon per request from the girls.) I’m looking at our normal routine and flow of the day and trying to nail it down to a flexible schedule. Jonathan and I discussed what were priorities for our family and then I put them into time slots through out the day. I’m finding that the schedule is going to really help with the consistency of the number of days we get school done and also I find that my kids function better knowing what to expect next.   

I also wanted to share one or two of the (million) things I am working on to improve for our homeschool days.

Something I want to add to our homeschooling with littles is to have more hands on age appropriate learning things for the kids. Learning doesn’t begin when they go to school. Learning happens all the time, or at least it can. Learning happens when they are only one year old. Zeke loves to figure out how things work. He likes to twist and turn things. He doesn’t have to be sitting down with a worksheet to learn. I want to make sure I have things he can take a part and try to put back together.

I want to do a better job about looking at the things in our day as learning opportunities. Homeschooling is not just when we sit down and do workbooks. Homeschooling is letting the kids cook with me and teaching them what we are eating, how to cook, measuring, etc etc etc. Homeschooling for us is hands on learning. At least that’s what I want. I tend to get lazy and just shoo them out of the kitchen. It’s easier to do things by myself then let my kids get involved. And that’s something I want to change. Taking the extra few minutes to let them help or teach them how to do something even if it’s not exactly the way I would do it.

Which leads into my major struggle: MESSES. I don’t like messes. I like things to be clean and organized. I like for my house to be put together and having kids home all day creates a mess, a lot of messes. Homeschooling children creates a mess. And well, kids are just mess makers. I’m working on it, really I am. Teaching and letting our kids be independent is a struggle for me because I am having to accept there will be a mess to clean up. A silly example is not putting lids on their cups. Brayce gets busy dancing and singing during meal times and knocks over her cup all the time. But I can’t have my kids drinking out of sippy cups forever. It’s a learning moment, for the both of us. My kids love science experiments and making crafts – hello! big mess! But I have to start including these into our days despite the mess. Because what I am learning are messes are fun!

AND LEARNING SHOULD BE FUN!

And so what we do is just keep doing it! Not giving up because I know our WHY is bigger than our HOW. 

Choose a Job You Love

I think the saying goes, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I say Bologna.

I chose a “job” I love; yet I work everyday. I am a stay at home homeschooling mom. I chose it. I love it. But it is work. Hard work.

See that little one in the middle? Here’s a close up:

Yes, he’s cute. But he’s an ornery mess. He’s a full time job by himself. He’s a good boy, but I could spend my whole day picking up behind him. He’s into everything. And that doesn’t include mothering my other 3 kiddos.

Today we did school in the living room on the floor… while the boys were still awake.

That was work. Loud, crazy, yet fun work.

I’m an introvert. A major introvert. That boy I was talking about above? He’s an extrovert. A loud, busy, has no clue about other people’s space extrovert.

Work that I love though. But work.

Homeschooling 2 girls is work. Yet, again work that I love.

How do I do it? How do I homeschool while having 4 kids? God’s grace. Lots of prayer. And we just have to keep laughing and rolling with it.
I love this job that I chose. But it is work. And that’s ok. Be encouraged. That the job you have can be work and you can love it.

Our Families 4 Core Values

We are not a driftwood family.

I, Jonathan, was a sophomore in high school and I was excited for school. This usually didn’t happen to me, school was usually something I slept through and then got a B or C on a test and went on to the next grade. This year though I was pumped. I was taking a class that I found very interesting. It combined my love for history and my love for things that were so outlandish they couldn’t possibly be real but they were cool. It was Mythology Class.

My first day of class I walk into the room to see Mr. Bennet standing at the front of the room. I had heard about him but seeing him was completely different. He was a slender, grey haired, giant standing awkwardly at the front of the room. Imagine him as the oddball professor in a movie, who was just a little quirky and had a mustache that wiggled as he talked. He seemed like a fun yet odd man, but none of that could have prepared me for the first thing he said to us in that class. Each year he would begin his classes with his famous “Driftwood” speech. My paraphrased version goes something like this: “There are many kinds of wood that have all different kinds of uses. They achieve something and go somewhere on purpose, but not driftwood. Driftwood doesn’t really do anything and never arrives anywhere on purpose. So don’t be driftwood. Don’t float in and out of my class physically or mentally. And if you are driftwood, drop my class now.”

Please be glad I shortened that because when I think back to it, I’m pretty sure it lasted about 90 minutes. But still to this day, years and years down the line, I still remember that speech. I remember the driftwood that “never ends up anywhere on purpose.” It is really a lesson we can apply in so many ways. We see people apply it all the time in their careers, for their kids, and even in businesses and churches. I really believe though that if we don’t get this concept in one area of our lives, we might be missing something huge. This area is in our family.

As the “man of the house” there seems to be a certain amount of pressure. To lead and to steer our family to where it is supposed to go is the weight that we as fathers and husbands bear. It is the authority I believe that has been created into families and given to us by God. Some fathers do this well and others seem to let chance and circumstance guide their family. Like driftwood, I see numerous families go along until one day they look around and realize they have landed somewhere, and many times they don’t like where they landed.

I don’t want that. I won’t have that. And so to my family I want to say, “We will not be a driftwood family.”

And so here are my family’s core values. These are the things we believe in and live by. These are the things we hold close. This is how we avoid being driftwood.

DISCLAIMER: As you read these values you will notice an absence of 
God and Jesus. This is because I believe that Christ is not a value 
of our life; He is our life. We are a family centered around Christ,
because when you have truly accepted what Christ has done for us, I 
don’t believe that is a value you hold, but it is a way you live. And
when you know Christ, there is no other way to live, than to live for
Him, and that includes our families.

4 Core Values:

We are the Greatest Influence

As a family, I believe that we are the greatest influence in each other’s lives. We are the ones we live with, eat with, talk with and put up with. Meaning we have the biggest impact on each other more than anyone or anything else. Because of that, we will maximize our influence. We will not dole out the responsibility of being the main teachers, pastors, mentors, comedians, and friends out to anyone else.

Prime Time is Family Time

The best part of our days are when we are all together. Those family moments that we make around the dinner table and reading on our huge sectional are priceless. We will not sell them away for more time, more money or more of anything else.

Better Together

A family that stays together . . . well stays together. We are a family that is better together than we are apart. We will be best friends because we do everything together. In a world that has so many things that sends the family in different directions, we will stay together. If one person does a sport or activity then the family is there with them; that’s the way we role.

Love Like We’re Not Scared

We will be a family that loves like we are not scared. We will give because that is love. We will accept because that is love. We will walk into someone’s mess because that is love. There may be some scary things that come with loving in that way, but we will love like we’re not scared. Some people may warn that doing some of the things we do out of love will invite negative results into our family, and that is true, but if I can teach my children only two things in life then I want it to be to love God and to love others.

So no, we will not drift around aimlessly, but we will be a family on purpose. Years down the road when we look back we may see we have missed some things in life, but I believe we will see we have gained so much more.

—  Jonathan, husband and dad of the family

Don’t Be Vanilla

When I was a kid, I only liked vanilla ice cream and on a regular cone. I didn’t care that people said: BORING. I liked my scoop of vanilla ice cream and I wanted it on a regular cake cone. I didn’t like anything else.

Vanilla

I’m not sure when I tried a different kind for the first time. I’m not sure when I first licked my now favorite kind – chocolate chip cookie dough. But at that moment, when I took a chance to do something unfamiliar and different, vanilla was no longer my choice, my only choice.

I think life is like that sometimes. We stick to what is comfortable, safe, and familiar. I would swear up and down I did not like anything else. But that was a lie. The truth was, I didn’t try anything else. How did I know I didn’t like rocky road or chocolate. I wasn’t willing to try something new. I wasn’t willing to take a RISK. I do remember my first bite of cheesecake. I swore I didn’t like the stuff, I was working at a restaurant as a waitress and one of the cooks put it out on the serving line for the waitresses to eat if they wanted a bite. I said I don’t like it and then took a bite. OMG. I then realized what I had been missing.

What if we are never willing to take a risk in our lives? We will never see or experience new things. We will miss so much. We could miss out on the good things God set out before us to do in our lifetime. New things that could change the course of our lives. New, hard, uncomfortable things that become our heart’s desire.

I’ve been scared, nervous, fearful, and doubting. I’ve been listening to the voices in my head that whisper to me, “You can’t handle this. You’re not strong enough. Why are you even trying this? Put the spoon down. Your life is so perfect how it is. You don’t want to make a mistake. If you do you will embarrass yourself. You’re not good enough. Don’t mess it up. Stick with comfortable. Stick to what you know.”

Like I mentioned chocolate chip cookie dough on a waffle cone is my favorite ice cream now, but even though that is different than my original scoop of vanilla it has turned into vanilla. It has become comfortable. I don’t venture far from it.

Risk is scary. But to take a risk means stepping out in love. It means putting our trust in something bigger than ourselves, Someone bigger than us. It means we are willing to let go of what we know for something that might be beyond our reach. We might have to learn something new. We might have to rely on someone else to help us. We might get hurt and bruised. It means we are not ok settling for average. We want to be awesome. Risk means we want to love in a big sort of scary way.

But we can stick to eating our vanilla ice cream for 80 years or we can go to Baskin Robbins and try every flavor with enthusiasm until our time has come to hear: “Job well done, good and faithful servant.”

Weigh In Wednesday 2

Hi There! I’m just checking in for my Weigh In Wednesday! 

  
This week I didn’t do much. Notice the workout shirt and headphones while sitting on the couch. And by that I mean I can only think of one thing I have changed (so far). I haven’t had a Coke Icee since my last post. Woot! Woot! Yay for quitting a bad habit. 

My husband and I bought the BeachBody workout program: 21 Day Fix. Why did we choose this one? Someone recommended it to me, it says it’s great for beginners, it is supposed to be a good program for losing weight and because it comes with a nutrition guide/eating plan. 

So now we just have to do it. We received it several days ago, but haven’t started or worked out yet. Hey, just buying it was a good step. Baby steps. 

My next step is to make a grocery list and a meal plan using the nutrition guide. We are going to start this on Monday, because all good diets start on a Monday, right? So when I check in on Wednesday I should have 3 days done. I’m putting it out there. 

I did go ahead and weigh in because my husband said I had to. Why start a weigh in Wednesday if I’m not going to follow through? 

Well, I am down 3 pounds. (218) maybe it will all fall off that easily. Ha! If only. 

Let’s Go Wild

Today we went to a wild animal safari near our home for the first time. Goodness it was fun. I don’t really have anything else to say besides that.

When we first got there we went through the driving trail. There were tons and tons of different animals. Every kind! We loved it. The kids loved it.


We love making so many fun memories with Papa and Nani. We know how lucky we are to be able to do that!

  
  

This was my favorite part! I pet a giraffe today! Seriously, how awesome is that?!

Papa’s boy!

I had no idea that the snake I let my children hold today was a boa constrictor. They loved it. So crazy!
  

This girl wanted a peacock feather so bad. And Nani and her found one.

Then the girls got to ride a camel! 

But really they loved riding the horses and didn’t want stop. Zeke’s smile was awesome the whole time.


What a fun day!!!

Homeschool :: MFW 1st Grade Week 5

We had a great week back to school!! We took off several weeks for a maternity leave/Summer break and jumped back into our My Father’s World curriculum where we left off, but in our new school room.    

Kairi loves math and art!

I love being able to encourage the girls to work together to accomplish a task. I feel it’s such an important thing for people to know how to do. Yet, when I was in school I remember always having to do my work alone or else you got in trouble for cheating. And now I don’t work that well with others. So that is something that is important to me that I want to teach the girls. Their whole lives they are going to be working with others and now is a great time to start teaching them how to do that. I always encourage them to learn from one another, use kind words, listen, share and take turns. 

Brayce learned about counting by 2s and what a pair is. My colorful socks were a great tool to do that.

I love my Braycee and that she can learn when she is laying down, moving around, taking breaks and that she’s able to go at her own pace.

Kai started learning sight words this week. My Father’s World teaches Phonics, but I also wanted to add in sight words to help encourage her with her reading. She gets frustrated how long it takes to read a book by sounding out each letter.  

Today during school Brayce looked up at me with a big smile on her face. Proud of herself for completing a page in a workbook and wanting to show it off to me. In that moment I was so grateful that I was here. I get to be here for all her moments. The good. The bad. The hard. I get to be the one to celebrate with her. I get to be the one to hug her in sadness. I have the responsibility to teach her and train her. And today and everyday I am so grateful for this amazingly rewarding hard opportunity.

Thursday we had an appointment to go to but ended up having to cancel it. Since we were already in the car ready to go I thought it would be perfect to go get donuts and head to the library. We had a great time. We spent 2 hours there checking out books, playing on the computers and reading. I’m looking forward to doing this a few times a month.


   

When we got home the weather was so great we stayed outside and played and ate lunch outside.

Thursday we learned how to learn with distractions and noise around. 🙂

And Mommy learned why we do school during Zeke’s nap time. 

Kai practiced her sight words while hula hooping today.

Friday is exploration day. We had a lazy day watching movies & I even got in a wonderful 2 hour nap! Around 5 o’clock we  headed outdoors to explore. We walked around our neighborhood and rode around on the golfcart.

In our Science book this week it was all about trees. So we looked at all things trees while we were roaming about.

I loved all the questions the girls thought to ask. And how hands on it is to get outside and actually see and feel the things you are learning about.

   

  
  
  
  

Bark Rubbing later turned into coloring on the tree. Tree art!
  

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again (and again) I love homeschooling my children and they love being homeschooled.