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I’m officially reviving our former “Beauty in the Mess” Blog Series (you can view the archives here). Beauty in the Mess is a blog series where I count God’s blessing in my life and the gifts He has given me – sharing both the messy AND the beautiful! Because our primary focus as a family right now is homeschooling our eldest (read about that here, if you missed the announcement!), blogging is going to have to take the back burner. That said, I’d like to continue to share, at least a tiny bit, what’s going on in our lives. So this is my compromise. I don’t plan to be come a “homeschooling blogger” because ain’t nobody got time fo dat – plus there are so many other great homeschooling bloggers out there! – I will share a few snippets here and there of some of our good homeschooling moments (and maybe a few of our messy ones, too!).
I officially filed our “Intent to Homeschool” with the North Carolina Department for Non-Public Education about 5:30 AM this morning. They were not accepting applications for the upcoming year until today. So that is one thing off of my list!
We started homeschooling for 3rd grade on the first of June, even though Ezra didn’t finish 2nd grade until June 11th. My two big reasons for homeschooling during the summer are to 1) ascertain what he knows before we invest in curriculum, especially for “building block” subjects like math and language arts where concepts build upon one another and 2) to keep this child BUSY! We are working hard to reduce screen time for both of our boys, and that is leaving us with a lot of time in the day to fill!
I also spent a good chunk of this past month getting organized and arranging a homeschool space for us. My office room (you can see “before” pictures here) has been transformed into a homeschool staging area, with a table for the boys and lots of different bookshelves. I have to give a huge shoutout to Clutterbug for helping me have some true lightbulb moments and insights about the kind of organization I need to succeed! Thus, I’m using a lot of visual organization methods like using shoe organizers and file folder organizers. It may not be the most social-media worthy homeschool rooms, but so far it’s functional, and that’s all that matters!
We spent 46 hours on “school” in the month of June. I’m using Clockify to keep track of everything we are doing. This is a free online application that I was already using for my marketing job, so I just created a separate “workspace” for school. Clockify makes it very easy to toggle back and forth between workspaces, making it very easy to track both my work and Ezra’s school throughout each day. I can even have timers running in each workspace simultaneously, for those moments when he’s working independently and I’m sneaking in some work time! In my “work work” workspace, I am using the traditional “clients” and “projects” as they were intended. In our homeschool workspace, the “clients” are our subjects and the “projects” are our various curriculum, books series, documentary series, etc. I can pull reports up at any time with variations of data, depending on what we want to show and to whom.
As you can see, we spent the BULK of our time on history! While I have found a history curriculum that I LOVE, I’ve decided instead to do an overview of US History by doing weekly unit studies of each of the 50 states, following the format of Confessions of a Homeschooler’s Road Trip USA Curriculum. This was something I purchased way back in 2013 and filed under “someday” and completely FORGOT that I had. I’m not so much using the curriculum as much as I’m using the format and order of states that she recommends.
We are supplementing with books from our local library. We are SO BLESSED to have access to North Carolina Cardinal system, which allows us to request items from libraries all across the state and have them delivered to our closest library, which is only a mile away! I can pop into the library two or three times a week, grab our “holds” off the shelf, check out, and be out the door in about 10 minutes. It’s a HUGE time saver!
Now that I have that figured out, I hope to put things in a bit more balance for July and spend more time on math review and language arts. We don’t have a math curriculum but I have purchased our language arts curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful. It came Saturday, and I can’t WAIT to dive into it with Ezra. We are starting with level 2 – which is currently 40% off!, again, to ascertain what he knows and close up any existing knowledge gaps.
The other curiculum that we purchased right away was Handwriting Without Tears, which we are working from the beginning. One big reason for homeschooling Ezra is that his penmanship skills are delayed, he does not form his letters correctly, nor does he use paper space properly. This was starting to cause serious issues as the work load and writing load increased at school, causing a lot of frustration for everyone. I’m hopeful that with a lot of review and practice, we can retrain Ezra to form his letters in a consistent way that will make it easier for him to do writing assignments in the future.
Rather than share all the resources we are using within blog posts, as might be my norm, I’m going to just share the Google spreadsheet where I’m tracking all of the books, documentaries, videos, and more that we are using as supplement to curriculum in our homeschooling. Right now, everything is listed but nothing is linked. Eventually, this document will contain affiliate links.
You can access this document by clicking the image below:
Overall, Ezra is thrilled to be homeschooled. At the end of second grade, this was an assignment he did for his journal at his traditional school about his summer plans, which include homeschool, math, multiple recesses, coping skills, fitness, reading, and church:
Ezra is still a special needs kiddo, so we continue to have behavior issues. But my heart has softened toward him a ton as I have refocused on his capabilities rather than his disabilities.
I am loving see him make connections and combine things we have learned. For example, in the novel studies we are using to go alongside the Capital Mysteries books he is reading as supplement to studying Washington, D.C., there are questions about figurative language (simile, hyperbole, alliteration, and onomatopoeia). Last night, we were reading together with Little Brother and he started identifying hyperbole and onomatopoeia in the text, without any prompting! I was so proud!
I am actually enjoying spending time with him, something I haven’t been able to say for a long time.
Us on a date to the grand opening of a local coffee shop that employs individuals with disabilities!
If we are having any challenges, it is (surprisingly) with Little Brother. He is adjusting not only to Ezra being home from school all day, but also Mommy spending more focused time with and attention on Ezra. This has resulted in some jealousy and acting out for attention. I am trying HARD to balance my time between both boys and make sure that LB gets his own “Fireman School” projects to work on, as well as one-on-one reading time with me and fun one-on-one dates with both myself and Daddy. But it’s still hard. Three is a hard age, period, but especially for active little boys. Right now, managing him has been the challenge. So pray for his heart and emotions that he will adjust and FEEL our love and care for both him and his brother. Pray that we will have wisdom in how to include him in our homeschooling, especially during the summer when he’s not in preschool.
The other big struggle is just – overall – time management. Homeschooling has put a LOT on my already too-full plate. I have about one more week in my summer college course semester (in which I’m taking six credits) and I’m still working part-time at my marketing job about 5-10 hours per week. I substitute as a pianist at our church many Sundays. Then there’s the housework and laundry which we aren’t even going to talk about because I’m so behind!
I’m learning how to lean in more to God and just take one day – one breath – at a time!
I want to share one BEAUTIFUL homeschooling moment we had, to close out this post:
We are memorizing Colossians 1:14-18 (KJV), our school’s theme verses. We are also reading a Bedtime Math book, a Christian-based science book, and a devotional most evenings that we’ve had on our shelf for a long time, Indescribable: 100 Devotions for Kids About God and Science. We call this time “Bedtime School.” I admit, most days I’m completely exhausted by the time we get to this point of the day and many times I wish I could just put him to bed without Bedtime School.
But here’s what happened that evening:
Verse 17 (KJV) says this: “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Day 6 of our Indescribable Devotional, entitled Holding It Together, was based on this verse! Underneath the title, the Scripture read this: “[Christ] is before all things, and in him all things hold together. – COLOSSIANS 1:17 NIV”
Ezra looked at me incredulously, his eyes grew wide. His body began to vibrate with excitement as he jumped up and said, “THAT’S THE SAME VERSE!” He jumped off the bed, landing with a great THUD, and grabbed a piece of paper off the floor. Without any prompting, this is what he wrote:
It was such a precious moment, and confirmation that we are doing exactly what HE needs to grow and flourish! Thank you to everyone who has showered us with love and support during this transition! I feel this throughout every day!
Click through this gallery to see what else we’ve been up to in June!