Home, Homeschool

10 Popular Questions I Receive About Homeschooling

Preschool curriculum I use occasionally-Bought on Amazon for a few $!

We have been a homeschool family for about four years now (preschool through second grade) and I have been asked countless questions. I try not to take offense to some but rather use it as an opportunity to educate. Not very many people choose this route of education for their children, therefore they make assumptions.

Here we go:

1. How long do you plan to homeschool?

This is the most popular question I get. And my answer has always been the same, “I don’t know.” There could be many challenges thrown our way in life where we would have to put our children in public school. I am grateful that there is always that option in case something happened. I could get terribly hurt or sick, our finances could plummet, my kids may chose to go to public school, and many other factors. I can’t guarantee anything when it comes to this. If I had it my way, I would love to continue homeschooling until my children graduate.

2. What kind of social activities do your children receive?

This one blows my mind. I get that this is a common concern with homeschooling but it gets under my skin sometimes. Yes, we do “social activities” but not near as much as a public school student would get. Is that wrong? Not in my opinion. I talk with my children 24/7. They are receiving verbal communication with other people. What I love most about homeschooling and socializing is that I get to choose who they socialize with! I get to choose their groups of people they communicate with. I know that they are hearing and speaking with people who will build them up and be kind to them. We spend time in Girl Scouts and church. Our children do not need to be around twenty children their age daily in order to have socialization.

3. What curriculum do you use?

The curriculum we use is the LifePac series by Alpha Omega Publishers. We have continually used this curriculum since Kindergarten. I did a blog post on this in the past. You can find that here. We love this curriculum! It is affordable for us and its student-led. Being student-led really helps me as a teacher. Jessica is able to do the majority of her lessons alone with little help from me. Kindergarten involved more of my time, but after she learned to read, she was able to do a lot of it independently. I plan to use this curriculum for as long as it works for us!

4. Do you homeschool all year?

Yes and no. It mainly depends on our year. Most of the time, we do! BUT…we take more frequent breaks than public schoolers. The LifePac curriculum is broke down into 10 units (except Kindergarten). One unit typically takes one month to complete. The way we break it down is easiest for us but doesn’t have to be this way for everyone. We do one unit the first three weeks of every month and the fourth week is our “break week” before starting the next unit. Week 1, 2, & 3 we do one whole unit (all subjects). Week 4, we rest and I prepare for the next unit. So we typically will do a unit starting in August and go all the way to May. Then we do a light break throughout the summer. Honestly, my children will learn year round because I use every opportunity to teach them when the conversation arises.

5. Do you like homeschooling?

Yes! I LOVE being able to stay home with my children and teach them what I feel is important. My husband feels the same way. It helps so much to have a spouse who agrees with this way of life. I love being able to use my degree to teach my own children. I love being able to teach my children from the Bible! I love to know where my children are at all times and how they are learning. If they are struggling on a subject or topic, I am the first person to know and the first person to help them. We are able to learn at their pace and we can always slow down or speed up depending on their current knowledge of a topic. I feel like they learn 100% better from their mom than they would with a different teacher and a classroom full of kids.

Do I always enjoy it? Honestly, there are times when its hard. There are times when my patience has vanished. There are times when I don’t feel motivated but I do it anyways. It’s become my job. I invest so much time and energy into my children’s education that it becomes overwhelming at times. I know that their future depends solely on me. I don’t take that lightly. I would never want my children to look down on me for not teaching them something they should have learned. But, every job well done can be stressful. It’s just part of it! The advantages outweigh the disadvantages and the stress is worth it to me!

6. How do you do it all?

I can’t help but laugh every time I hear this one. I am amazed too! I have no clue how I do it all. Maybe its the coffee and prayers!

Our school days typically start around 8 or 9 in the morning. We always get dressed before school. We aren’t the PJ homeschoolers. It usually takes 3-4 hours to complete the days school work. Some days more, some days less. Since LifePac is student-led, I am able to do bookkeeping for our plumbing and rental businesses while we home school. It involves a whole lot of multitasking but I somehow manage. After school is finished, I switch roles and do housework while the kids play. The afternoons are spent with family. We never do school work in the afternoons. Another benefit of homeschooling, no “homework”! Technically, all of our work is homework but we just get it all done during typical school hours.

There are days when I don’t do it all. The house sometimes looks pathetic. Laundry that needs to be folded just has to wait a whole week. Dishes have to wait until nighttime. The floors just get cleaned when I have spare time. But that’s because I feel like their education is more important than daily folded laundry or an always spotless floor.

7. How can you stand to be around your kids all day?

I sometimes take offense to this question. I probably shouldn’t but it sort of makes me think that my kids are just horrible to be around all the time. I absolutely LOVE being with them all day! I always wanted to be a mother and I knew I would be like this when I became one. My husband knew as well. It doesn’t bother me. Instead, I sometimes ask “How can you NOT want to be around your kids all day?” I find joy with my family. I involve them in everything I do. I cook, they cook. I clean, they clean. I play outside, they play outside. We do life as a family!

Drake sorting his monster numbers!

8. Why do you homeschool?

We homeschool because it works best for our family. Easy as that. We feel like our children learn best when they are learning from us and getting one-on-one instruction. We love the advantages of homeschooling. Our children are rarely sick, they are always safe at home, they are learning from their parents instead of someone else or other children, they are not bullied, and they learn about God everyday! There are 10x more advantages than disadvantages from our standpoint.

Jessica doing her math subject!

9. How much does it cost?

This question just depends on what curriculum you decide to use. I believe that you could manage a free curriculum for preschool and kindergarten. It would be more difficult to manage a free curriculum for higher grades. You would spend many hours searching sites to get free worksheets and things to print.

We use Alpha Omega’s LifePac series. You can read more about their curriculum here. They offer sample pages in each subject to look at.

Their Kindergarten set is the cheapest at $98.95. The kindergarten set only involves 2-subjects: Math & English.

Their First Grade set is probably one of their more expensive sets at $413.95 because it comes with several reading books and five subjects.

Their Second Grade set is $314.95 for the complete set of 5 subjects.

I typically buy new curriculum each December when they have a Christmas sale. This year, I will be purchasing the Third Grade set valued at $314.95 as well.

Each curriculum is priced differently. There are more expensive brands and there are some that are lower. This series fits our budget and works well with our children.

10. Is it difficult to get started?

Nope. In Arkansas, its rather simple. All you have to do to get your child started is register them and start a curriculum! If you live in Arkansas, you can click here to fill out the notice of intent. You have to register before August 15th of every year. They have a form you can submit online or one by paper. I always register online sometime in July. Later on, they will send an email sometime in August that your form was submitted and registered.

If you have found this helpful, please leave a comment! If you have more questions, I would love to help you! I love talking about homeschooling!

First Grade, Home, Homeschool, Kindergarten, Preschool

FREE First Day of School Signs

Most parents adore these first day of school signs and I am one of those parents! Since I couldn’t ever find signs that are special to my children, I just custom made some myself. And because you are reading this post, you are lucky enough to get these editable signs for FREE!

If you love the signs and decide to use them publicly, all I ask of you is that you mention my blog (Raising Children and Chickens) wherever you post it online and leave my website link on the bottom of the sign! Also, please do not sell this sign anywhere.

You must be able to access Microsoft PowerPoint in order to download these files. Also, you may not have the same fonts that are used in these documents so feel free to change them as you like.

Our daughters first day of first grade!
Our son’s first day of (pre)Pre-School!

If you have trouble using these documents, I won’t mind a bit to edit the file for you and email it to you! Just leave a comment if you need help.

Please consider following my blog and pinning this post to your Pinterest board for future use!

Homeschool

How I Use Amazon’s Alexa To Help Me Home School

(This post contains affiliate links. By signing up under my link, I get a small commission.)

If you’ve been around the internet long enough, you’ve certainly heard of the gadget Amazon has created called Alexa. We never heard of it until a couple Christmas’s ago when our parents gifted us one.

If you haven’t been lucky enough to hear of it, let me fill you in. Alexa is a speaker and/or video device that you can ask questions, play music, make video calls, play shows, etc. The options it can provide are endless. To relate, Alexa is much like iPhones Siri. Learn more about Alexa here.

We have the first one they created that is basically just the speaker tower like this one. This Christmas, we were gifted by our parents the newest one like this one called Amazon Echo which is a speaker and video screen. I’ve also ordered this cheaper and smaller Echo Dot to put in our daughters bedroom. I’m really looking forward to it coming in.

Here’s how I use Alexa to help me homeschool:

(Even if you don’t homeschool, these are ways Alexa can help you in your home or with your children!)

  1. Timer– You can say “Alexa, set a timer for 5 minutes.” My daughter uses that when she is doing her math facts everyday. She gets 5 minutes to complete 100 problems. I bought two different cheap timers you can get at the store and neither worked properly.
  2. Alarm Clock– You can say “Alexa, set an alarm for me.” I plan to use this on my new device for my daughters bedroom to wake her up on school days. And they have some cute alarm sounds!
  3. Intercom– You can have Alexa send a voice message from one device to another in your house. So, for example, if my daughter is upstairs in the classroom finishing some work and lunch is ready downstairs, I can tell Alexa to announce on all the devices that “lunch is ready, come eat”! (You have to own more than one Alexa for this to be an option.)
  4. Amazon Storytime– Alexa also has skills you can enable through the Alexa app. If you enable the skill “Amazon Storytime”, she will read your children a story. It’s actually really cute!
  5. 1-2-3 Math– This is also another skill you can enable through the app. If you tell Alexa to open 1-2-3 Math, you can pick a difficulty level and she will ask your child math questions. I use this during our down time like when we are waiting on lunch to finish cooking. There are more math apps she can play as well, but I like this one the best.
  6. General Questions– Alexa can answer any general questions we might have while learning. If we aren’t certain what season it is, or the date when doing our calendar, or the capital of a state, we just ask Alexa. With our Amazon Echo Show, she can play educational videos for us or show images.

Other benefits of Alexa:

  1. Playing music– This is my favorite ability of Alexa. I like it even better on the Amazon Echo Show because it shows the lyrics on the screen. You know what makes cooking meals everyday not so boring? Dancing to music with Alexa!
  2. Video & Voice Calling– My children especially love this feature. They are able to see their grandparents from a different state while they talk to them. My daughter also gets the opportunity to see and talk to her pen pal!
  3. News & Weather– Want to know the headlines in the news or what the weather is like today? All you have to do is ask her! How convenient!

This is only a small list of how we use Alexa during school and personal time. She has so many capabilities and some I haven’t even learned yet!

Do you use Alexa while you homeschool? If so, tell me how you use Alexa! I’m always looking for new ways to have her help me!

*It would mean a great deal to me if you followed me on Pinterest! Search for Raising Children and Chickens and click follow. *

Homeschool

How I Decorated Our Home School Classroom

When we moved into our current house, I was desperate to have a room dedicated to homeschooling. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a paint roller and make the room above our garage a classroom! Eventually, I was able to find time to start on it and even though it’s not completely finished, I cant wait to start using it!

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It may not look like a traditional classroom but when you only have two students, it doesn’t have to. It’s worth mentioning that one student is a toddler, hence the toys.

We plan to begin school in our updated classroom on January 7th following our holiday break. What makes it even more special is that the toddler will be doing some lessons too!

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I’ve created a weekly focus board for both children but mainly for the toddler. They will be learning the presidents and states each week on top of their normal curriculum.

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I’m certain we will all enjoy the new space!