Category Archives: Homeschool

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Amy’s Farm Review

This month we took a field trip to Amy’s farm in Ontario, CA. At first sight, I was unsure whether to drive in or park outside. I took a chance unsure and drove in. With cows on either side of me, I pulled right into a small parking lot.

As we looked around for a few minutes we were met by Farmer Stephanie our tour guide for the day. She gave us the ground rules, then we headed for the garden. This garden is the stuff dreams are made of! I aspire to have a garden this fruitful one day and seeing this really encouraged me to keep trying to grow my family food.

Look at this beautiful kale!

The kids got to pick a leafy snack for the piglets.

Until now I didn’t know okra flowers were so beautiful. 

Once we left the garden we went to feed the piglets and see the goats. We learned that these goats only had bottom teeth so their nibbles wouldn’t cause any damage.

The chickens shook their tail feathers and the goats competed for the dino kale.

Then it was off to meet a Jersey Cow named Donut. She made 5 gallons of rich creamy milk a day.

The kids brushed Rocky.

Then we were off the milk Martha.

I don’t eat pork at all (or generally allow my family to due to environmental racism) but K loves bacon and since this farm offers organic, responsibly sourced meats, he splurged and got a few packs.

This was a great outing for the kids! Amy’s farm is open to the public most days of the week and it’s free unless you are paying for a tour. If you are in SoCal and looking for something educational to do with the kids stop here and check it out. I would even splurge on the tour.

How to Teach Your Kids Emotional Intelligence

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Kids feel so much and have such a limited vocabulary. Teaching children Emotional Intelligence techniques allows them to better handle stress while helping you as a parent stress less. It may seem like a big task but once broken down it’s really easy. Make these tasks habits and you will see a big change in the way your child communicates with you.

1. Quiet time – Some days my kids are extra whiny. This is so annoying to me, they get whiny I get frustrated, they whine, I’m irritated it is a vicious cycle, and next thing you know we all need a time out. Taking time out in the morning for no reason at all works wonders. I have my kids pick a square and for 3 to 5 minutes we all sit and are still. Teaching children to pause is a very important thing in a society that values speed over quality.

2. How do you feel? This may be simple but many parents, especially of young children, don’t ask their kids how they feel. These conversations equip children with the proper vocabulary to express their feelings. For example, one can be frustrated but not angry, to children those lines may blur. Having these conversations also fosters empathy.

“Mommy, are you mad?”

“No, I am frustrated.”

“Can I help?”

“Yes, can you hand me that.”

Our vocabulary may determine if or even how our feelings have or can be changed.

3. Share how you feel. Simply sharing how you feel teaches your children how to share what they are feeling. “I feel ….. when…”

Equipping children with tools for effective communication makes them more confident and allows you to teach them how to appropriately manage their emotions.

If you enjoyed this check out How to be an Emotionally Intelligent Parent. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my book How to Lead With Emotional Intelligence for practical application of EI in your daily life.

 

5 Ways to Be An Emotionally Intelligent Parent

Have you heard of Emotional Intelligence? It’s a buzzword that has been going around the past few years. Heres the scoop. It basically means the ability to control one’s emotions and even the emotions of others. So the higher your Emotional Intelligence (EI or EQ) the better you are at keeping a grip on life. Pretty cool right!

So here are some tips on how to use Emotional Intelligence to thrive as a parent.

  1. Be Aware: Wake up, feed kids, brush teeth, clean, school time, snack time, clean, homework, dinner, clean….repeat. If you are like me throw in some breastfeeding sessions, diaper changes, errands, phone calls and meds (for grandma). Wait! What about “me time”? Sometimes we can get so into the routine of the daily grind that we forget to check in with ourselves. It is so important to take out at least a few minutes alone to see how we are feeling and most importantly why?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
  2.  Be Real: When you don’t know how you feel its easy to speak with more or less force than may be required when communicating with your kids. Good news is you can always stop and ask yourself, “Is your response really the best response”? If not simply apologize. Our kids are learning how to adult by what they see us do more than what they hear us say. So take time to slow down and self-correct.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  3. Be Honest: Why do you feel the way you do? Is your child really doing something harmful or are they simply being a child? Are you frustrated, tired, or overworked? Ha! That last one is not a real question. Of course, you are! This means you may be acting out of your feelings rather than your child’s actions. I once heard it said that kids get in more trouble at the end of the day not because the kids are worse but because the parents are tired. Try to make it a habit to give more grace as the day goes on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
  4. Be A Kid: Take out some time to play. Seriously! Taking time to play with kids makes it easier to think like one. When you try to see the world through a child’s eyes you open up the door for grace. One of my favorite things to do is to have my kids take pictures with my camera. As I scroll through I am able to see things from their perspective and it really helps me appreciate their worldview. In fact, all but the first and last picture in this post were pictures taken by my kids. Even AR (18 mos)  got in on the fun.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  5. Be Realistic: There is no such thing as a perfect kid, and there is no such thing as a perfect parent. However, in order for you to have the best relationship with your child you need to be able to look inside yourself and understand your behavior so you can better shape the behavior of your child.

I hope this helps! Click here to find out How To Teach Your Kids Emotional Intelligence. You can also pick up a copy of my book How to Lead With Emotional Intelligence for practical ways to apply EI to your daily life.

5 Things to Consider When Deciding to Homeschool

 

So you’ve decided to homeschool or you are at the very least considering it. Its easy to get so bombarded with curriculum ideas and homeschooling styles that you forget a few of the basics. Here are some things I feel you need to know.

  1. State laws – Different states have different laws in place. Some states are very hands off suggesting you send in a letter of intent to homeschool while others require more due process or they will mark your child as absent from their local public school. To avoid legal action find out what your state laws are concerning homeschooling and use your findings to decide which homeschool route is best for you. You can find out what your state requires here. We choose a state charter and explain our reasons here.
  2. Motive – Why are you choosing to teach your child at home. Religion? Content? Content delivery? Freedom to travel year around? Show business? What ever the reason keep it in mind. You will likely need to remind yourself at least once a year why you choose to embark on this wonderful journey. This will also help determine which homeschool style or styles will help your family reach their goals.
  3. What’s the deal with socialization – I think every homeschooling parent has been asked this questions at least once, “What about socialization?” If I am in a chatty mood I will ask, “What about it?” Then listen as they find a way to politely ask, “Aren’t you worried your kid will be weird?” The worry is that the homeschooled kid will grow up without friends and become the awkward co-worker that doesn’t know how to make small talk around the water cooler. Rest assured I don’t intend for my child to grow up and go work for someone else. My hope is that by raising my children outside the system they will be able to imagine and freely create innovative ideas that will allow them to provide jobs not work them. We are in such a interconnected society it is easy to put kids into extracurricular activities, take them on field trips or even travel the world. My objective is to equip my children to live their best life. Having friends and being a friend is on the list of things to make that happen but it is not the top of the list.
  4. Curriculum – This is tricky because in my opinion it depends on the age you start. The younger your child is the less curriculum they NEED so take that time to explore what works for you. When you find one you like use it until you outgrow it. For math I use Horizons workbooks, for English I use a personalized curriculum from a friend, and for social studies, geography and science we wing it. I do use common core standards as a guide for creating content though. DO NOT SPEND A LOT ON CURRICULUM. There are so many buy/sell/trade groups online that allow you to purchase used curriculum so you can see if you like the program your interested in.
  5. Time – If you take out recess, lunch break, distractions from other kids, traveling to and from classrooms the average child spends less than 4 hours a day actually receiving education instruction. Keep this in mind when structuring your day. You are not teaching a group of 20 (unless of course you are) so you do not need to structure your day as such. Last year we had a clear schedule you can see it here. This year we have an order but some days are shorter and some days are longer. Just the other day SJ finished school a whole hour early! We were both surprised and proud. She simply went through all her assignments for the day and was able to go play after. There is no rule that says all four hours (or less) of instruction have to be done at once. You can break it up based on your schedule. Do you both work best when you sleep in? Great! School starts at noon! Are you night owl? Start school after dinner. You can even do math at sunrise and English at dusk.  Explore and see what works best for you there is no hard fast rule.

Homeschooling is awesome! Its freeing in that my children are able to learn in an environment tailored to their needs by a teacher who is personally invested in their growth, me! Please comment below with any questions you may have. I hope you take the plunge!

Product Review – Adapted Mind

I am pretty excited to share with you my thoughts on the website Adapted Mind. The company “turn(s) real math into a delightful game”. We signed up for this website in June to serve as a supplemental game for SJ to keep her math skills sharp. The site offers both a family and school account. We signed up for a family account. We received a free month so we tried both the reading and math programs.

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Ease of Use: Lets talk about the math segment first. When the student first logs in they are given an assessment that determines where in the program the student will start. They are then walked through a series of games. There are three modules that are recycled throughout the lessons. The equations change but the format stays the same. SJ was able to stay engaged due to the offering of badges for reaching program milestones.

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There seems to be at least 100 badges. I will catch her exciting the game to check her dashboard for the next available badge. Each “lesson” as it is called provides an assessment of what the child has “learned”. This portion of the program can use revising since the lesson is only taught if the student gets the question wrong. This is frustrating for SJ so I teach her a lesson offline and then allow her to play the game to make sure she understands the concepts. Please be advised this program uses common core so that may be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel.

The reading section of the site features Fairy Tale characters that can be unlocked through the progression of the program. This part did not have an assessment and SJ quickly grew bored of the program despite the unlocking feature the site offered. It seems this section was an afterthought so we opted out of continuing the reading section of the site but we did keep the math.

Introducing New Concepts: In the math section there is no formal introduction of a new concept, topic, or idea to the student. If your child is a perfectionist like mine and the suddenly are faced with an unfamiliar equation then are immediately quizzed it can be daunting. However, the progress report is visible to the student. SJ’s goal is all green’s.

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Parent Resources: Adapted Mine offers worksheets! These worksheets make preparing the student for the upcoming topic easy. They are very plain but serve as a great guide. You can write the problems on a white board and use manipulatives. They take the guess work out whats next while allowing you to see what grade level your child is currently working in.

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My favorite feature is the email the site sends at the end of the day. The email lets your know how much work your child did. What they need to review and where they excelled.

AdaptedMindEmailIt also allows 5 students per family account that is $2 a month per student! I recommend checking it out. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as some other sites but it may be worth giving a shot for a free month. Sign up for you free month of Adapted Mind here.

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola reminds me of early morning hikes, field trips and play dates. It is an all around healthy, easy, guilt-free comfort food. Its also extremely versatile. My kids love to help in the kitchen so this is a recipe they can do alone without much interference. It involves measuring, self awareness, and critical thinking. I ask the following questions to keep them engaged and learning.

What ingredients do you think will make you full? Why?

Which ingredients are sweet?

Why honey instead of sugar?

Which ingredient did we use they least of? The most of?

Once you start asking your students questions more questions will naturally come about as you explore what you are doing and why. Remember it doesn’t have to be a well planned lesson to be a lesson. Look for ways to teach your children as you go about your regular activities.

This is our go to recipe but feel free to sub out ingredients and please let us know your tasty combinations below.

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Homemade Granola

3 cups quick oats                                                                                                                                     1/2 cup honey (replace with Aguava to make vegan)                                                                     1 cup peanut butter                                                                                                                               3 tbs protein powder                                                                                                                             1/2 cup chopped walnuts                                                                                                                       1/2 cup sunflower seeds                                                                                                                       1/2 cup raisins                                                                                                                                         1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all ingredients. Pack down into a lined square pan and refrigerate for 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

** If you want granola but not in bar form you can make these into balls or cut the amount of peanut butter and honey to make it more like a crumble.

 

Vegan Pancakes

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We’ve been a dairy free family for some time but transitioning to a mostly plant based diet has been fun especially when one member of our family is gluten intolerant. Its easy to replace meat with bread especially when snacking so I was on the hunt for a gluten-free pancake my husband could enjoy.

This simple recipe yields 6 medium sized pancakes

1 1/4 cup of gluten free flour (I used 1 to 1 baking flour so wheat flour will work as well, do not use coconut flour)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup water

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (plus an additional tablespoon for pan)

5 drops Young Living Tangerine Vitality Essential oil.  (We love the combination of citrus and cranberry. Fresh cranberries in the batter makes delicious pancakes.)

Mix all dry ingredients add wet ingredients. Stir well. Place a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once skillet is hot. Drop dollops onto griddle or skillet, flip when it bubbles. Cook another two minutes. This taste great with homemade 15 Min Jam. Enjoy!!