A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

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The Next Step on Our Journey: A Revolution

Revolutionary Period (1754-1785)

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We’ll start the revolutionary period at the beginning of the French and Indian War (1754). It’s difficult to hold a discussion about the causes of the Revolution without a basic understanding of the political, military, and social setting in the second half of the 18th century, and many of these are strongly rooted in the French and Indian War. Of particular interest is the relationship between colonial leaders, British Parliament, and King George III. With any military conflict it’s very easy to be drawn into a discussion of battles, tactics, leaders, and campaigns. With younger learners this can quickly become overwhelming, I suggest focusing on campaigns, the big picture, as it were. You can use names, especially if they hold local relevance, but, I suggest not making a list of persons and places the focus.

I am so excited about the next step on our journey. We are not yet finished with colonial history but I wanted to go ahead and give an overview of what was coming next month to afford time to prepare and gather any resources. Our family volunteers as living historians and costumed interpreters for a local historical site. We have spent a great deal of time focusing on the time around the American Revolution and are excited about our upcoming study.

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Our focus will be on the “why” of the Revolution, how it affected the general population, the outcomes, and any interests of the children that arise during the study. I will cover some of the key battles with them but not focusing on dates and details.

One of our favorite resources for studying this time is the Liberty Kids video series. This series is one that the children love to watch and it teaches so much history.  We don’t watch a lot of movies in our house but we have found these to be worth the screen time.

We will also be continuing our American History Art Program. There are lessons on the Boston Tea party, Revolutionary War Uniforms, Paul Revere, George Washington and more that will tie in very nicely to the American Revolution.  If you are looking for an art program I highly recommend these chalk pastels. For more information read my full review.

We are looking forward to field trips to Tryon Palace, Historic Bath, and hopefully Brunswick Town.  We will be reading a variety of books on the Revolution. My son is especially fond of Revolutionary War flags and will be working on a project in conjunction with the flags and history.  We will continue studying selected chapters from America’s Story Volume 1 by Master Books.

I found this resource after I published the list of October Resources. I’ll be updating the list but in case you already downloaded it, check out this faith based movie about the American Revolution, Beyond the Mask. You can download it for as little as $3.99 and there is a free unit study to go with it here.

A couple additional resources that may be of interest to you are the current sale on Discovery Education Streaming Plus at the Buyers co-op. This is a great collection of educational programming. They also have a sale on Jim Hodges Audio CDs right now. He has several different collections that would work well with early American history.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

If you are looking for a more in-depth premade course on the Revolution you can check out this 9 week course at School House Teachers. They are currently running a special and you can get monthly membership for less than $10 a month for the whole family.

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The Lifegiving Table

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I am so excited about the upcoming release of Sally Clarkson’s new book, The Lifegiving Table. I have had the privilege of reading the first four chapters of the book and I can hardly wait to have the rest of it in my hands. I had the privilege of reading her book The Lifegiving Home and even hearing her speak. It was such a blessing to me and my family as I learned so much about making my home the home I always wanted it to be. A place of love and discipleship for my family and all those who enter our home.

I am looking forward to focusing on making my table a place of growth and discipleship. I want to use that time and place to disciple my children, love our friends and neighbors and grow in Christ. I will be going through this book chapter by chapter and writing about my thoughts and lessons learned.  I will be blogging here about the book as I go through it but I’d also like to invite you to join me in a private Facebook group where we can discuss the book together and pray and grow in a safe environment. Click here to join our book study group: Dawn Peluso, Schoolin’ Swag Book Study. I pray that we can all learn and grow together through this study. The book releases October 3rd and we will start our study on October 9th to make sure everyone has a chance to get the book prior to our start.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

 

 

 

An Ox Cart Ride..Colonial History Week 2

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Most of this week’s history centered on a field trip. We took a couple of days and visited Colonial Williamsburg. We always enjoy our trips there and this was no exception. We spent two days in Williamsburg and were able to see a variety of historical trades, buildings, and experiences.  The favorite part was a chance to ride in an ox cart. All three of the children loved it and have been talking about it since we returned. They loved making the connection with the oxen used in the old video game Oregon Trail.  My daughter loved the weaving looms and wants to go back one day when they are dyeing the threads. She is even asking for a table loom for Christmas. My oldest son thought that the little skit we went and saw was quite funny. They explained the history of hot air balloons in a very fun and comical way.

My favorite part might have been the hot chocolate. Colonial chocolate is very rich and dark with added spices. We had a bit of a sample in the tour of the coffee house. We always enjoy seeing the various trades and how they did their work. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is amazing. My husband enjoyed watching a new addition to Williamsburg, ax throwing.

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The primary focus of this visit was to learn about the colonial period but we also went into the Revolutionary war period a bit with some dialogues about freedom and rights. We had a chance to hear ‘Marquis de Lafayette’ and ‘James Armistead Lafayette’ speak as they gave their perspectives on the war from that of a French man who came to help us fight and a slave who was volunteered to fight as a spy and later freed after much help from Marquis de Lafayette.

While touring the Getty house they had the opportunity to learn a bit more about what education might have been like for the children in that home during colonial times. They saw letter dice that were used to play games (much like Boggle today), puzzles, and cards. They learned how to play a new card game Kings in the Corner. This was a fun game that they have already played several times at home since we returned.  It reminded me of a cross between solitaire and Skip Bo.

In addition to the field trip my son worked on his puppet show and my daughter started doing the prep work for her basket weaving for their projects this month. We also planned out the colonial dish that we will be trying this week, stuffed pumpkin.

Next week we will spend more time in  America’s Story Volume 1 which we are using for our spine for this portion of Our Journey Through History. We also want to do another lesson in the American History Video Course from them this year to tie into our history.  If you want to learn more about their art courses check out my review.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

The Hard Days

As a new homeschooler it can be easy to get frustrated or to feel like you aren’t doing something right when the days are hard. Sometimes it does mean that you need to change something in your school day, maybe the schedule, maybe the curriculum, maybe the order of events. However, often it simply means it was a hard day. Almost everyone gets them, and the few who have said they don’t mention that they did and now they just know how to mitigate them when they start.  I knew what I do when the hard days come but I wanted to be able to share wisdom from lots of different moms that have walked this road.  We want to help you build a library of ideas to turn to when the hard days come and we want you to know that you are not alone on this journey. It can be hard but it is worth it! So I asked the homeschooling moms over in the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook group what they did when they had hard days.

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The two most popular answers are probably not surprising to anyone: prayer and chocolate.  Those are probably my first go-to choices as well. In addition, here are some other ways to help the hard days.

  • Switch it up and do a day of educational movies (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Discovery Education are common choices for finding those)
  • Go outside for awhile and get some energy out or do some nature study. We even enjoy taking the books outside and doing school outside on nice days.
  • Remember, that is isn’t hard just because you homeschool. Everyone has hard days.
  • Stay Flexible and adapt as needed.
  • For some folks, its not flexibility but the schedule that helps. Knowing that no matter what else is going on in life at a certain time they are doing school.
  • When things seem to be going downhill take a break and enjoy some songs and movement to change the mood and re-energize.
  • Take a break and take some time to talk about what is going on, maybe even over a glass of hot cocoa or some other favorite treat.
  • Go on a field trip. Take the day or afternoon and go to the park or a local museum.
  • Take the day off, use the flexibility to have a day completely off to regroup and try again.
  • Coffee, we can’t forget coffee which is almost as popular as the prayer and chocolate option 🙂

 

The last common reason I want to discuss is “The Why”.  We all chose to homeschool for different reasons, for some it was bullying in the public schools, for some it was religious conviction, for some it was a educational goals and still others have a variety of personal reasons. No matter what your reason, when the days are hard remembering that “Why” can help us to push through and do what needs to be done.  I have found that having a spouse or a friend (or both) that you can turn to on those hard days that will remind you of your “Why” can be very beneficial. I am personally blessed with both a spouse and friends that will remind me on the hard days and show me that it is worth it.

I hope that you have a great year and remember these ideas when the hard days come. I also invite you to join our Facebook group, Schoolin’ Swag, where we share free and cheap homeschool ideas as well as provide a tribe of support.  Share with us in the comments what you do on the hard days.

If you are looking for a lesson planner, contract, or other resources to help you on this journey, check out our free Resource Library.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

A quick reminder that Sally Clarkson’s new book, The Lifegiving Table, is available for pre-order and I will be running an online study of the book starting next month once it is released. We would love to have you join us for the study.

I would also wanted to mention that Not Consumed is having a great sale right now. She has her hymn studies as well as some of her other products on sale. We really like her missionary study “To Every Nation” and plan on getting her JOY prayer cards soon.

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Finally, Schoolhouseteachers.com is also having a great sale right now through the end of October.

Sale Pricing:

PreK-8 (Limited Membership) $9.95/mo. (reg. $14.95) using code: CORNCOB , or

PreK-12 (Ultimate Membership) $10.95/mo. (reg. $19.95) using code: SCARECROW

Bonuses include: two FREE fall-themed PRINT back issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, a bushel of digital goodies and, members automatically qualify to receive FREE ongoing issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine in the mail. Next one releases January, 2018!* (see overseas restrictions ) There are over 340 courses included in your Schoolhouse Teachers subscription!

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This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Colonial History: Week One

While we learn and grow over the summer we take a long break from our formal schoolwork. This works well for our family during the busy summer season. We try to wrap up most of our studies by Memorial Day and we start back our formal schedule the day after Labor Day.  Thus we enjoyed our official first day of school this year.

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We got started with our history program by spending a bit of time looking over America’s Story Volume 1 which we are using for our spine for this portion of Our Journey Through History. Then we enjoyed a chance to discuss the various ideas that we would be studying this month. The children had a chance to choose their independent projects, we enjoyed some read-aloud time, and started planning our family timeline of US History.

The kids loved looking at the pictures and timeline that were in America’s Story. We have the digital version so I put the pictures up on the TV screen so they could all look at one time without having to crowd around the computer screen. In hindsight, I will probably get the paperback version of the next volume so they can look at it on their own but putting it up on the screen worked did give them a chance to see it. I think that having it in paperback would make it easier for them to go back and use it as a reference after I had read it aloud and to see the pictures a bit closer than the TV screen allows.

For our read aloud we worked on If You Lived in Colonial Times . This was a great book that follows a question and answer format giving common inquiries and age appropriate answers. It can be read as a whole book or they can just pick the questions that are interesting to them while focusing on early colonial times in the New England area. I read about a third of the book to the children and they are planning on reading the rest of it on their own because they really enjoyed it.

We also had the chance to do one of our ‘You Are an Artist’ Chalk Pastel lessons. The children drew pilgrims and they loved it. The drawings turned out adorable and the children were proud to display them.  The lesson only took about 15 minutes and everyone had a good time. We are using the American History Video Course from ‘You Are and Artist’ this year to tie into our history.  If we finish that one up we may add the landmarks course to it as well.  If you want to learn more about their art courses check out my review.

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Both children are excited about the projects that they picked. My daughter is going to be working on weaving a basket. In addition to learning this new skill for our history she will be able to enter the basket into our state fair.  My son decided on a puppet show featuring colonial children. He has been hard at work this week creating stick and paper puppets, complete with colonial toys.

Last year the children did a video about various colonial games for our North Carolina Junior Historians. If your child is interested in the games colonial children would have played,  please check out their Youtube video: Colonial Children’s Games.

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Next week (assuming our impact from Hurricane Irma is not too great) we will be sharing about  field trips, some colonial cooking, and project updates. We cheated a bit on our field trip schedule and started this summer with a trip to Roanoke Island. I’ll share some pictures and information next week about the trip to Roanoke Island.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History. The colonial resources are already in the free resources and October’s Revolutionary War resources should be posted sometime next week.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

 

But What If I’m Not Artistic?

Today, the kids had so much fun with their art lesson, even the 3 year old who decided coloring the whole page was far better than actually drawing anything.

 

When we started homeschooling my husband and I had many conversations about our goals and vision for our children. Among many others we wanted to make sure we were offering our children a well rounded education that allowed them to pursue their talents, be exposed to a variety of things, and eventually have the skills needed to become successful productive adults. While neither of us is naturally inclined to artistic pursuits we wanted our children to have some instruction in that area.  For several years I did crafts with our children and tried to find time to work in an art curriculum. However, it tended to be overwhelming or would get pushed to the back burner for other subjects.

Then I found the “You are an Artist” chalk pastel program. We tried one of their free demonstration lessons and the children were hooked. They enjoyed the calm easy style of the lesson, the resulting art work, and the affirmation that everyone is an artist. As a parent and educator I loved that they were getting quality instruction that was easy and did not require additional time on my part. An added perk is that they didn’t need a lot of hard to find or expensive supplies. My three children share a box of inexpensive chalk pastels and paper. Those are the only supplies they needed.

This year we are even more excited because we get to combine our passion for history with these amazing chalk pastel tutorials. I love using other subjects to reinforce what I am already teaching.  We will be using this great chalk pastel American History course as we go through the semester. Many of the lessons tie into  Our Journey Through History.

We started this week with the “Early Colonist” lesson to tie into our studies of Colonial History. This is a fun and easy way to incorporate art studies with our history. Maybe you aren’t doing US History or you want to focus on other subjects. You are an Artist has a variety of lessons that could be incorporated into other history studies, science, seasons, and even lessons specifically for preschoolers. You can check out all of the options here in the online shop.

 

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

Fall Family Fun!

Some folks are still holding on to the last remnants of summer.  We are wrapping up a family vacation and get ready to begin our school schedule and fall is on my mind. I truly love each season. Fall brings the return to a familiar routine, pumpkins, camping, cooler temperatures after a hot humid summer and we look forward to all it has to offer.

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I have found that including a bit of seasonal fun in our school time can be a great way to keep things fun and interesting.  Hiking in the woods and drawing pictures in our nature journals, candy corn math, and pumpkin day are all ways we have incorporated fall into our schooling. We also enjoy hot apple cider with our read alouds and pumpkin bread for breakfast.

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If you are looking to add some easy art to fit the season try Fall art lessons which are great for all ages or if you just have preschool children this preschool course. These are great easy lessons to teach a bit of art while keeping the seasonal theme. These fall courses are actually on sale 30% off starting today through Saturday.  Last year we also did the q-tip fall leaves paintings above. The children used a paint brush to do the trunk (we helped the toddler with that part) and then used a q-tip and fall colors to make the leaves on the tree. They had so much fun with that project.

If you want to incorporate some fall into your math and science check out some of the resources below for lots of free printables and ideas.

Fun Fall Math Freebies:

Candy Corn Math

Candy Corn Activity Book

Candy Corn Decimals

Pumpkin Measurement

More Pumpkin Math (including things for upper elementary/middle grades)

 

This is a great list of Pumpkin and Fall STEM activities.

Finally, if you are looking a way to incorporate various holidays and special days this September resource is inexpensive and has a wealth of information.

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In addition to school activities we try to have a fun ‘bucket list’ of activities to enjoy each season. Some of those things stay the same from year to year and some change. We try to keep it low key and don’t stress out if we miss something. Some things we  included this year are drinking apple cider, going to the pumpkin patch, making an apple pie, and taking a family hike. Feel free to change things around to fit your families interests.

Also, just a quick reminder that our History Through Flags Giveaway ends Tuesday, September 5th.

I’ve added our fall list as a printable in our Free Resource Library.  Sign-up to receive the link and password to the library. We are adding several new resources each month. You will also receive our bi-weekly newsletter to keep you up to date on all the new stuff we have going on.  Please use the resources in your family as you see fit. If you’d like to share, we ask that you  give friends the link to the blog so that they can sign-up for themselves.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

History Through Flags Giveaway

Just popping in with a quick note, if you have not liked our Facebook page yet, you may want to check it out. We have a giveaway going on this week for a free copy of our History Through Flags Curriculum.  This curriculum shares bits of US History and connects with with period appropriate flags. I will be giving away one free copy on Tuesday, September 4th through the post on the Facebook page.

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Check us Out on Facebook at Dawn Peluso, Schoolin Swag

We look forward to connecting with you on Facebook as well as here on the blog.

 

But I don’t do animals…or using 4-H in our homeschool

 

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When I talk to folks about 4H it isn’t uncommon for people to say, “we don’t do animals” or “I don’t have room to raise show animals.”  There is a misconception that 4-H is all about animals and agriculture. Those are certainly parts of 4-H and my son has enjoyed entering chickens in the county fair, showing a pig, and is currently raising turkeys. However, that is only the tiny tip of the 4-H iceberg. You can spend years actively involved in 4-H and never deal with animals if that is your preference. So if 4-H isn’t just animals, what is it?

 

4-H is groups of children getting together and working on a large variety of topics. We couldn’t participate in all of them if did nothing but 4-H and skipped all of the rest of our schooling. There truly is something for everyone: animals, STEM, leadership, citizenship, healthy living, public speaking and so much more.  In the practical day to day that can look like cooking, Lego robotics, making slime, bug collecting, plant identification, state fair projects, history presentations, horse riding, painting, healthy eating classes, exercising and more. Some clubs focus on one aspect of 4H (such as livestock or horses) while others try to give more of a variety and overview.

My children were blessed to find a club that gave them an opportunity to learn about something different each month.  They had opportunities to serve in their community through teaching a science lesson, making cards for veterans, serving at a banquet, and much more. They learned about engineering through Legos, they planted different plants, made cupcakes, test gliders for aerodynamics and learn about geocaching.  Their experiences in 4-H have truly grown them into stronger leaders and speakers as well as enriching other areas of their education.

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This past year my son did jump into the world of livestock showing by raising and showing his first pig. It was a challenge but a wonderful and growing experience for him. He hopes to continue this for many years. In many counties there are farms that will keep the animals on site and allow children to come care for them so that even those who do not live in a place where they can raise their own can get this unique experience.

Now that you have a general idea of some of the variety of opportunities that 4-H has to offer, how does that translate into our homeschooling? Public speaking and leadership are one of the areas that were important to us as a family but can be a little more difficult to cultivate. 4-H presentations have been a huge asset in that area. One of the big programs that 4-H offers participants is the presentation program. Each participant can choose a topic from a huge variety of subjects (we have done everything from fishing to bread making to flags of the American Revolution). The child then prepares a presentation on that topic. The length varies based on the age of the child with the youngest being from  3-5 minutes. The participant can have visuals to accompany the presentation as well. (The picture at the top of the post is my daughter practicing her first aid presentation this year.) The child practices and then has an opportunity to present it at the county level. If they do well, they can advance to district and for participants nine and over they can compete to move on to state presentations.  I have seen my children, as well as the others in our club, grow so much in their speaking, poise, and confidence through this process.

Another area where 4-H can be used in homeschooling is the 4-H project record book. These are records the students do to highlight their work on a particular project. It involves planning, documenting, writing skills, and more. These have been an asset to our writing curriculum as I find my children work harder on writing when they feel like it is something ‘real’ as opposed to just a random writing prompt.

4-H also offers lots of different curriculum books that can be completed to help with different subjects you may be learning about particularly related to science and health. Right now my son is doing one related to pigs to complement his raising and showing of the pig and my daughter is working through a first aid curriculum because that was an area of interest for her.

I truly feel that 4-H has something to offer every child and is an under-utilized resource. I highly recommend talking to the 4-H folks at your local cooperative extension to see what programs they offer that may benefit your family.  If you are in NC you can find out more about NC 4-H here.

 

The 4H pledge

I pledge
My Head to clearer thinking
My Heart to greater loyalty
My Hands to larger service
My Health to better living
For my club, my community, my country and my world.”

 

 

I thought I was finished….

Do you ever hear that phrase or some variation of that phrase? As my children get older there are things I want them to complete independently and with a toddler I can’t always focus all of my attention on the school age children.  We found that they would finish up one small task and if I wasn’t focused on them they would start playing or doing something non-school related.  Then when asked they would say ” I thought I was finished”. They knew they had other subjects but without a clear guide to what was next they moved onto the things that wanted to do and not what needed to be finished.

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So, I created a weekly contract. We typically do school four days a week (thus allowing a day for field trips, events, appointments, house cleaning, etc). Their contracts help keep them focused and lay out what needs to be done each day as well as a section for things that should be done by the end of the week. They know that if I am not available when they finish a task they are to work on their contract work until I can be with them.

We have found that the contract gives us the right combination of flexibility and accountability to keep things on track without added stress. I also only print a few weeks worth at a time so that if our needs change I can edit the contract.

Our contract will obviously be different than yours depending on the needs of your family. However, I have included a copy of the template that I use in our free resource library so that you can have a starting point if this is something you would like to include a contract in your home school. You are welcome to download it and adjust it to fit your family. If you wish to share it with those outside of your family, we ask that you share a link to this blog post and have them download a copy for themselves.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

 

Resource Library