Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sarah

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S!

Real Moms, who face different Obstacles and Challenges as they homeschool their kids, yet put their trust in their King, Jesus Christ, and Stand firm in what the Lord has called them too!

Today I am so excited to introduce you all to my friend Sarah!  Sarah is very new to homeschooling but has found this lifestyle to be a breath of fresh air compared to life when her girls were in public school. 

Sarah and her girls

Me: "Hey, Sarah. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me interview you about your homeschooling experience"

Sarah: "No problem Andrea. I love chatting with you!"

Me: "So tell me a little about yourself and your kids"

Sarah:  "Well, I have twin girls, Alex and Zoe who are 10. I didn't decide until I was 30 that I wanted to have kids at all, and then only one. But God had different plans for me and blessed me with twins. I work part time from home as a computer consultant, so I keep very busy. We love to just be at home in the country with our animals. We all love animals and have quite the little farm going here with dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, llamas and geckos. We even started our first ever garden, that we are hoping makes it with all this rain and no sun. The girls came up with the idea that if we actually do grow stuff, that they want to paint their thumbs green to show off to Daddy that we really do have green thumbs!"

Me: "Have you always known you wanted to homeschool or are you what they call an 'accidental' homeschooler?"

Sarah: "Well, if you'd told me 2 years ago that I would be homeschooling my kids, I would have laughed and said you were crazy!"

Me: "What made you decide to homeschool and how long have you been doing it for?

Sarah: "My kids always struggled in public school with the insane amounts of homework and with staying focused. I didn't think I had an alternative to spending 2 hours a night helping them with homework, starting in first grade even! I thought the complaining about being bored in school, couldn't be fixed. I got used to hearing them say; "I got left behind again today in math" or "I got left behind and couldn't finish", on a daily basis! I think something inside me just snapped and I didn't want to hear another "I got left behind" from them again. I remember thinking "so much for the No Child Left Behind concept!" After running into an old friend who had pulled her kids out of public school the previous year, and hearing her story, I realized right then that public school was the problem, not my kids, as the school was trying to have me believe! We have technically just finished our first full year homeschooling, but it has really turned into a journey that doesn't end. We learn from the world around us, and there isn't an end to that!"

Me: "What would you say has been the hardest adjustment to having your girls home instead of away at school?"

Sarah: "I honestly can't think of anything that was super hard about having them at home except maybe trying to figure out what to do with them during my OB appointments!"

Me: "Do your girls miss going to school and ever make comments about wanting to go back?"

Sarah: (laughing) "Nope! Never!"

Me: "What has been the most rewarding aspect of homeschooling?"

Sarah: "Every day I am amazed at how close our family has gotten. The quality time we get as a family is priceless. I remember when my husband would get an evening here and there with the girls back when they were in public school. Yelling, tears and hours of homework were the norm; it wasn't pretty. Every time now when Shawn takes the girls fishing, I have to remind myself how lucky we are that they get this quality alone time with their dad."

Me: "What have you learned the most about yourself since beginning this homeschooling journey?"

Sarah: "That I really enjoy parenting my girls. When they were in public school, I never felt like I was really parenting and I realize now that I was letting someone else have authority and control over my kids. I was pretty selfish with my time and thought everything was about me. Now, I've swung to the opposite side of the pendulum!"

Me: "Have there been days/times you felt like throwing in the towel with homeschooling? What encouragement would you give to any mom out there who is feeling discouraged or not excited in homeschooling her children?"

Sarah: "Duh, yes! I would think it's normal, or at least I hope it is, to feel this way at times. The world tells us that what we are doing isn't normal and we are going against what society thinks our kids should be doing. Anytime I feel frustrated, we stop and take a break from whatever it was that was frustrating us. If something I decided to do for a day isn't working out, then I just drop it and listen to the interests of my girls. I have realized that if I listen with an open mind, they will show me what they are interested in and how they could go about learning it. It usually isn't the way me and my public school brain would have thought at first, but for them, it works!"

Me: "Thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciate it so much"

Sarah: "Anytime! It's fun just getting together to chat while our kids play."

Just in case you missed it, here are the first two in the series:
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Introduction
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sandi

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Monday, June 25, 2012

The end of another year!

It is hard to believe we have wrapped up our 3rd year of homeschooling.  What a fun year this has been!  Probably the best so far.  The longer I homeschool the more I can't imagine doing anything else!  How about you? 

This week and last, the girls are participating in two different VBS programs as well as swim lessons.  After this week we will continue with some summer learning, including Harmony Art (art/music appreciation) and summer nature study.  We are doing our own summer reading program and regular review of math too!  "Mooki" will continue in summer piano lessons, group lessons though, not one-on-one.

We have come to the end of our year long "travels" all over the world through our Expedition Earth curriculum.  Here are some of our final photos!  I highly recommend this to anyone seeking a fun, hands-on world geography program for your kids!

Locating the country on the map!

New Zealand


The Artic

Maps & Flag

Showing off their favorite animals!

All the country labels added to Continents Poster!

Thank you so much for joining us this year on our homeschooling journey! 

Just in case you missed it, I am doing a summer blog series called "Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S".  Here are the first two in the series:
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Introduction
Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sandi

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Meet Sandi

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S!

Real Moms, who face different Obstacles and Challenges as they homeschool their kids, yet put their trust in their King, Jesus Christ, and Stand firm in what the Lord has called them too!

Since today is the first day of summer, I wanted to start the Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S series. I will be posting a new conversation each week (every Wednesday) throughout the summer! I hope you are blessed and encouraged by this!  I am starting out with a very "seasoned" homeschool mom, Sandi Queen!

Queen Family
Me: "Sandi, thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to chit chat with you about your homeschooling experience! I'm excited to be interviewing a "seasoned" homeschool mom!

Sandi: Thank you for giving me this opportunity, Andrea.

Me: "Can you share a little about your family and how many years exactly you have been homeschooling?  Is this a decision you have always known you would do or is it a decision you made unexpectedly?"

Sandi: The Lord led us to homeschool our children when our firstborn, Kiley, was 7 months old. She will turn 26 this October. Our three daughters have all graduated from homeschooling and work full-time for our publishing company, Queen Homeschool Supplies, while I am still homeschooling our three sons. Since our youngest, Jeremiah, is just ten, I've got awhile to go yet!

I began reading to our first child when she was born. When we were at a friend's house one evening, I was reading to Kiley (our 7 month old) and Tara, her 3 year old daughter. When I finished, I said to my friend, "Just think - before you know it, she'll be going off to school!" My friend's response was, "No, my kids are never going to school. I'm going to homeschool them." I began the barrage of questions that, a few years later, became common questions asked to me by others - "What's THAT?" "Is that legal?" "How do you get started?" It's funny how things turned out. My friend never did homeschool her children. But her words stuck in my mind and my heart. I just knew this was the Lord's will for our family. Once my husband agreed, I was set. At 7 months of age, Kiley officially became a homeschooler. Seven months later, her sister Casey entered the world and became our second student. Since I've read to them and taught them since birth, I believe that's when homeschooling begins. And since learning is a natural process, even after graduation, it never really ends.

Me: "If you could name your top 5 favorite things you love about homeschooling your children, what would they be?"

Sandi: Hmmm...there are so many. I guess I would summarize my favorites as these:

1. The ability to be absolutely certain that what my children are learning is in accordance with God's Word. The Bible is most important, and we live our lives with It as our Guidebook. Since we write or publish all materials our children use for school, I know with all certainty that they are not being exposed to things that would be contradictory to our beliefs as Christians.

2. Togetherness. We live in a very rural area. The schoolbus picks our neighbor children up while it is still dark outside, and drops them off just as it is getting dark again. I can't imagine, nor would I want to experience, my children being away for that length of time every day!

3. Flexibility. Whether it's traveling to conventions to sell our books, performing musically for another church or church camp, riding in a bicycle race, or even just dealing with a health or extended family crisis - all things we've experienced, homeschooling allows us the flexibility to focus on these things while still getting our schooling in.

4. Time to focus on interests. Most of our kids are heavily involved in our church's music ministry. Several play musical instruments to accompany other singers, as well as singing together as a group, and also being part of various choirs and ensembles. They have played and sung at Christian camps and other churches, as well as at nursing homes. All this requires much practice, which requires much time. Since this is the Lord's work, it is of utmost importance to us as a family. Homeschooling affords them the time to practice during the day as often as necessary, as well as the ability to go to a funeral service and play the music for the grieving family without having to worry about missing school.

5. Being able to focus on educational interests and work at our own pace. Every child is different, and has different interests. Our son Luke spends hours some days making hand-made paracord bracelets, which he sells on our website and at conventions. He is learning new knots for different designs all the time, and custom makes bracelets all the time for people who have specific requests. He just picked up this interest one day and has gone with it. Our daughter Casey has been designing book covers and doing editing work for other publishers as well as for us since she was in high school. Homeschooling has allowed them to pursue interests such as these without being forced to sit in a classroom doing busywork for hours each day. It has allowed them the opportunities to do REAL things that they are interested in, and to see how their skills can be used in the world.

Me: "I know you have faced some challenges over the years in the midst of homeschooling your children. How did you make homeschooling work during those more difficult seasons?"

Sandi: Yes, our youngest son, Jeremiah, was diagnosed with cancer at age 3. He was in treatment for 3 1/2 years, every single day. That was 7 years ago, and he is still on a protocol every day. These things not only take much time, but they add a heavy stress burden to a family. Being away in the hospital with him for weeks, having to travel to our "local" hospital (2 hours away) weekly for spinal taps and chemo, having a visiting nurse come daily for chemo administrations, dealing with a 3 year old with a needle inserted into his chest which must remain for 3 weeks without getting bumped or rolled over on, and so much more, definitely takes it's toll. But homeschooling allowed us to be able to continue getting schoolwork done during this time, as well as to still be able to be there for each other. My other kids were there, every step of the way. They were there to hold Jeremiah's hand while the visiting nurse attached the IV bag to his mediport. They were able to make the 4 hour round trip to the hospital and back each week (and later, each month) with us, keeping Jeremiah from being afraid, as they joked and laughed with him in the backseat, discussing where we would go for dinner after the hospital visit. They were there when, after a spinal tap with chemo shot into his spinal column, he threw up in Walmart from chemo-induced nausea, and when he laid, nauseous from yet another of these same procedures, across my lap at his favorite restaurant, unable to even think about food, while the rest of us ate.
So many lessons were learned that they would have missed, had they been sequestered away in their separate schoolrooms in their separate schools, while my husband and I took care of Jeremiah alone. I have written a book, "Homeschooling Through Adversity," which is also available on CD, which tells how the Lord brought us through this time, and another book, "Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death: One Family's Journey Through Childhood Cancer," which chronicles the day to day life we lived during the 5 year time period beginning with Jeremiah's diagnosis. There is way too much to share here! But, in a nutshell, homeschooling during this time allowed our family to grieve the loss of Jeremiah's health and the loss of having a "regular," healthy family together, and to support each other. Though some of the day to day things my children saw and experienced during those times were indeed scary to them, I know it would have been far more frightening to them had they been away from home for ten or so hours each day, and had no idea what was going on with their little brother. 

Me: "You have had several of your children graduate already. Was it as hard as some might think to homeschool during the high school years? What are children, who have graduated, doing now with their lives?"

Sandi: Homeschooling through high school was actually easier than when our children were younger. The books we publish, written for our children, are based on the Charlotte Mason method. We have always used living books as a base, and have been big on teaching the children to find out "why." I wrote a book for them, "Learning How to Learn," which is a curriculum that teaches the user how to use research materials, so that they are equipped to find out whatever in life they want to know. From the beginning, once they could read, they were required to do daily research. Our history program, "A Living History of Our World," science series, "Discovering Nature," and geography series, "Bringing the World to Life," as well as our Bible studies, all require the child to research and find out things, then record their answers in their own words. I believe that's why our kids are so strong in learning how to do new things. They have been trained from an early age how to find things out!
We have six pretty amazing kids. :o) All have become authors when they were still being homeschooled. Jeremiah, at age 10, is now writing his first series of books with his two older brothers, which will be published within the next year. They all earn royalties on the sales of their books, which in part encourages them to find out new things and write even more. Our daughters who have graduated continue to work for us, running the office, dealing with wholesale accounts, running the warehouse, attending conventions, as well as developing and creating new products. They write books, proofread and edit, and design covers. Our daughters Casey and Haley are avid photographers, and have taken many of the photographs used in our books and on the covers. Casey has done book covers for other publishers as well, and also edits for others. Kiley most recently wrote two of the volumes in our "Discovering Nature" series, including the best-selling, "Our Animal Friends." And Haley is working on an art history program for publication. 

Me: "What advice would you give to any mom who is just starting out with homeschooling or contemplating the idea??

Sandi: Pray! Seek the Lord's direction for your family. 

Me: "Thank you so much for giving of your time to answer my questions.  Your years of experience with homeschooling is going to be such an encouragement for other moms!"

Sandi: Thank you again, Andrea, for the honor of being interviewed. I pray my words will be the blessing and catalyst that some family needs to begin their homeschool journey.

Just in case you missed it: Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S - Introduction

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S Series

Coming Soon!

Summer Blog Series...Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S

On a recent visit to the beach I got to view this amazing and ginormous rock, known as Haystack Rock, off the Pacific City coastline.  What a breathtaking sight!!   This rock stands 327 feet tall and is the fourth largest sea stack or off-shore monolith in the world. 

 This rock has stood firm & immovable in the midst of countless storms and the never ceasing waves that crash against it.  It is a strong, solid, and awe-inspiring mass to gaze upon!  

I am inspired by so many moms who, like this rock, are immovable, unwavering, and uncompromising in their commitment to homeschool.   Despite storms that come their way they do not budge.  

Homeschooling R.O.C.K.S!

Real Moms, who face different Obstacles and Challenges as they homeschool their kids, yet put their trust in their King, Jesus Christ, and Stand firm in what the Lord has called them too!

Over the summer I am interviewing ladies from around the country, some are brand new to homeschooling while others are seasoned homeschoolers.  They will be answering questions such as: How did they come to the decision to homeschool?  Have they always known they would homeschool?  Were their kids in public school at one point?  What is day to day life like for them?  What have been the hardest adjustments?  The most rewarding aspects?  The biggest challenges & obstacles?  How do they balance everything?  Do they ever feel like throwing in the towel with homeschooling?  What are their goals and purposes in home education? 

You don't want to miss what these ladies have to say!  They will make you laugh, cry, and confirm you are not alone on this journey or in your day to day struggles!

Ultimately I am able to stand strong in life and in my decision to homeschool because God is my Rock.  We have chosen to build our lives and our family on a solid foundation.  He gives me the strength, courage, and determination each new day!  The longer I homeschool, the more solid I stand and the more concrete I am in my decision!  Nothing and no one could convince me otherwise!   

"I love you, Lord; you are my strength.
 The Lord is my ROCK, my fortress, and my savior;
my God is my ROCK, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety" - Psalm 18:1-2

 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into
practice is like a wise man who built his house on the ROCK" - Matthew 7:24

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Dear Homeschooling Journey Blog, where have you been?

I haven't posted in a while, thanks to my computer being hit with at least 10 severe viruses.  I have not had access to our main home computer for several weeks now and that is the one I use to blog on.  We actually need to wipe our computer out and reload all the programs back on, but haven't done that yet.  I am a little hestitant to even be using it right now.  Its pretty scary when one second everything is fine and the next it appears that all your documents, photos, videos saved on your computer have been wiped out.  Thankfully my mom, who is a computer tech, was able to retrieve and save everything.  ALWAYS HAVE YOUR PERSONAL FILES SAVED ON A BACKUP!!!  Also be very careful of messing around on Google Images.  I was using this program often to find fun photos to use on my blog and didn't realize it's a feeding ground for viruses....I learned my lesson and will not use them anymore.

So I wanted to update everyone on how things are going with end of our year!!  We still have a tad bit more to finish up, as other things have taken precendence over the past few weeks...things like SUNSHINE!!  Lol  We also had a wonderful trip to the coast with my parents which was so much fun until the end when I got very sick after giving in to temptation and eating wheat/gluten! 

My oldest did her first year of standardized testing through Family Learning!  She did really well scoring in the 99th percentile.  It's a great feeling as a parent to see your child score so well...but at the same time the scores will vary over the years and I need to remind myself that is NOT what homeschooling is all about for me.  If you need some encouragement in this area check out my 4 week series called, "Stepping off the Beaten Path"

For Expedition Earth we have New Zealand, The Artic, and Antarctica to finish up.  Normally I would spend 2-3 days per country but as we neared the end and I realized I was a tad behind we have been completing two countries per week! 

Here are some photos of the countries we have "travelled" to over the past several weeks:

Finding the Countries on the Map!

South Africa






Here they are showing off their favorite animals!

Maps & Flags

Other things we've done:

  • Pray for the people of each country
  • Read about Children from the country
  • Read from "Window on the World" and "Usborne Living World Encycopedia"
  • Listen to songs from "Wee Sing Around The World"
  • Read about missionaries from YWAM - "Heroes for Young Readers" series!

 Thanks for stopping by!

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