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The “H” word…and favorite reads!

I cannot believe I am actually saying this, but we are going to HOMESCHOOL this fall! This is crazy. And I am terrified and over-the-moon excited at the same time!! Let me tell you, I was the mom that was saying last summer, “I can’t wait to send him [our eldest son] to school 5 days a week!” And suddenly this summer I had a turn of heart. I’m not sure what it was. If it was God nudging me that way or a sudden realization that time is moving quickly.

I calculated the hours he would be at school, and he would almost be spending more time with his teacher and classmates than me!! WHAT??!!! That just doesn’t seem right in my brain. I’m already at home with the younger two kids, so why would I want that?! I never thought that I would be homeschooling, simply because it just didn’t cross my mind as a possibility. Plus there is some pretty hefty baggage that goes along with homeschooling. I didn’t want to raise socially awkward children, or kids that couldn’t play well with peers, maybe I would accidentally develop extremely odd personalities in them… {I’m all for a bit of weirdness, but I also recognize that I have the potential for more than the average weirdness level! My mama always told me “weird is good!” ha!} Anyways, after doing some research I discovered that homeschool has come a LONG way and that more and more people are picking this option for their families. I also have a wonderful friend who homeschools and has such a cool head about the whole thing. If it weren’t for her and my husband giving me the push to try it, I know I wouldn’t. But when my husband said he thought I should do it, I nervously stepped on board. I think we made that decision toward the beginning of the year, and I can’t tell you how excited I am getting for it. Like loosing sleep excited! It’s almost like he liberated something inside of me when he gave me his blessing. I still have little moments of panic, but overall I am all positive about our decision. We are taking it one year, one child at a time. Just because we made this choice for this next year, does not mean that we have to do it forever. But if I didn’t do it, I might always wonder…

There are so many resources out there and groups to connect with. Our city has a local Homeschool Co-Op called HATCH {Hudson Area Teaching Christian Homes}. My son will be in the kindergarten class there that meets 3 Mondays a month from 9-12. I love that this still gives him some “school” time with other kids and teachers. If all goes according to plan, he will be involved with this group through high school. The curriculum we are choosing to do at home is called Sonlight. It is a literature based program which means we will be reading a lot! I love this!! Both he and I are book worms! He will do some reading on his own and then I (or my husband or grandma or grandpa…) will do reading out loud too. Sonlight has amazing book lists and I recommend them to everyone to look at! You can request a FREE catalog online and then see all the books they recommend for each grade level. Or just browse online at the lists. My poor catalog has gone everywhere with me! I love it! {Remember how I said obsessed??} A great resource! Sonlight also has a summer reading program if you are interested.

Now I still have the social thing in the back of my head. Truthfully that is what holds me back the most. But when I looked at our schedule we will have weekly “stuff” 5 days a week without even really trying. Co-op, Library hour, Awanas, State Park class, Sunday School, sports, playdates, field trips…  I think we are going to be ok.

So kindergarten here we come!!  I’m currently re-doing our basement space to make it work for our school time. Let’s be honest, school time at the kindergarten level is a whole lot of play and “projects.” So it will be made up of a lot of books and art supplies.  Oh YES!  That sounds awesome to me!!  Back to school supply shopping might be a little too fun for me.  I’m going to have to watch myself. Did you know that JoAnn’s has a large school section made for teachers and kids? Grab your coupons and make a trip.

And do you know my favorite way to build your children’s book and game collection?  Goodwill. I have never been a Goodwill shopper until this summer when I discovered that they have excellent children’s books. The average is 99 cents to $1.99.  And every week Wednesdays-Saturdays a certain color tag of books goes on sale for 20 cents a book. If you go on a Thursday all the children’s toys and games are half off too. Wow! Maybe I just have a wonderful Goodwill near me, but I’m telling you I have gotten some major deals. I have a list of books and games that I’d like and I just keep an eye out for them whenever I go. And if i’m too excited about a book to wait to find it at Goodwill, I look on Ebay. Some good deals on there too! And if all else fails, Amazon.

Another great way to figure out what books/games/projects are suitable for the age of your children is to request some of the homeschool catalogs. Even if you have  no interest whatsoever in homeschool, it gives you ideas for what might be interesting and stimulating for your children at different ages. These homeschool companies have dedicated themselves to finding the best for their curriculum, so you can bet you are going to see some awesome resources listed. A few favorites right now are Sonlight, Timberdoodle, and My Father’s World.

Finally, I thought I’d share some of our “reads” right now. Starting from the littlest member of our family.

Bergen is digging the Usborne “Baby’s Very First Touchy-Feely” books. Of course the girl, Jamie, that I buy these books from, said that baby would love them and you just kind of think “yeah yeah yeah,” but these are totally loved. They have bright pages with lots to look at.

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Another Usborne book is “First Thousand Words in English.” This one makes a great interactive book because you can use it as a look and find book. It also will be a tool for us for spelling words with homeschool. My sister-in-law is from Germany so their family is bilingual. For that reason we are going to learn some basic German during Homeschool this year.  “First Thousand Words in German” is on my list of books to buy from Usborne.

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Another great Usborne book is “The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia.” My 5 year old spends major time looking through this book. And it has internet links so we can use my phone to see even more information/videos. It has a great binding on it too…library binding=flexible and durable.

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Jamie is awesome and Usborne books are fantastic so if you’d like to order any for your family, as gifts, or for the neighbor kid, you can order right here. Ok. Enough about Usborne.  :)

The Berenstain Bears anyone? I grew up with these books and I think they are some of the best. This is a new one to me that we found via a homeschool catalog–“Big Book of Science and Nature.” It covers holidays, seasons, weather, nature and science.

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A classic from my childhood. Fern Hollow books. I think the Seasons one is my favorite. You can buy just the Seasons book, or you can buy the “My Fern Hollow Bedtime Book” and it comes with the Seasons book, plus 4 other short stories!

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A few chapter books that we are reading out loud as a family right now are “The Boxcar Children,” “The Littles,” and “Farmer Boy.”

One of my favorite juvenile book series is called “The Penderwicks.” Seriously. I LOVE these books! A darling story about a young family and their adventures. The writing is wonderful. I have read each of the 4 books and they are all delightful!

Cover of "The Penderwicks"

On my bookshelf you will find these books right now. I had to buy my own copy of “One Thousand Gifts” so I could highlight and underline all over it. Lots of wisdom in this book. Especially for mom’s. The writing is not for everyone…a bit flowery and abstract. Speaks to my spirit though.
“Notes From a Blue Bike” is another good one. Even Tony enjoyed reading this one. Just a story about life…”The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World.”

I haven’t dug into Jen Hatmaker’s “Interrupted” yet, but I hear it’s phenomenal. It’s waiting for me next.

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So there’s some summer reading ideas for you and your family. I am a book worm and Love Love LOVE reading. Weekly trips to the library around here! So I’m always on the hunt for another great read. Please share your favs in the comments to feed the addiction!!!  PLEASE!  {My dirty dishes don’t want to be washed! They’d rather I read!}