Monday, July 20, 2009

Hi. I'm Tiffany.

Hi. I’m Tiffany. I am one of the bloggers & the official interviewer here at RRCH blogspot. I thought I might should introduce myself (& my family) since I’m nosing into everyone else’s business.

My husband, Tim, & I have been married for almost 7 years. Together we have a very blended family: His, Mine & Ours. Altogether there are 8 of us: Tim, Tiffany, Tiya, Taylor, Tyler, Tucker, Trevor, & Truman. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom & have been homeschooling our children for about 4 years now. Tim is a police officer in Denton a few days a week & farming around our home in Forestburg the rest of the time. Tiya is our only child that does not live with us. She will be a freshman this year at a public school in OK, where she lives with her mom. Taylor is almost 11 & will be starting the 5th grade. Tyler is 8, starting 3rd grade. Tucker is 4, Trevor is 3 & they are PK/K4. Truman is the baby, just 2 months old.

Our family lives on about 800 acres so most of our hobbies include the outdoors (excluding the winter activities for me). We like to spend our time fishing, riding 4-wheelers, gardening, & working on projects together. Tim is the ultimate handy man, but seldom completely finishes any project. I have a very long “honey do” list for him  Taylor loves being a little momma to her brothers & fits right in with all these boys; however, she enjoys her girl time with her friends & loves to scrapbook. Tyler is our ball player – he loves baseball. Tucker is following in his big brother’s footsteps & played T-ball for the first time this year. Trevor can’t wait to “be big enough” to play next year. On my personal time (late at night) I enjoy scrapbooking, blogging, and working on school activities for our homeschool.

Something about me that most people in this group may not know is that I was a single, teenage mom until Tim & I married.

My dream vacation with kids would be Disneyland & the beach in California. WithOUT the kids I would love to go somewhere tropical, sit on a beach with my hubby & enjoy the sun.

Our homeschool . . .

Our homeschool changes from year to year. I found myself homeschooling & not even knowing I was homeschooling, to homeschooling b/c I wasn’t impressed with the PS system, to homeschooling a child that needed the extra help. All these reasons I feel have been at the hands of the Lord. I truly believe a childs classroom is their mothers heart.

We have a small schoolroom (& are getting a BIG schoolroom soon!), but for the most part we school all over the place: My room, their room, the living room, the kitchen, outside, at the park, in their tree house . . . you name it, we’ve probably done school there. My desire is not to school at home, but to homeschool. The schoolroom is more of a central location for having everything in one spot & not strung out all over the house.
Pinpointing our method to one style is difficult. All in all, it is very electic. I love Charlotte Mason ideas & look to her teachings for inspiration, but I tend to use more Classical curriculum. However, I’ve found that curriculum I love isn’t always curriculum my children love. Seasons change in homeschooling, just as they do in nature. When I see it is time for a change – we do just that – find something that will work. This year will be my first year to use a computer based program for one of my children.

Tapestry of Grace
Winter Promise
Math U See
Easy Grammar/First Language Lessons
Writing with Ease
Heart of Dakota
Handwriting Without Tears
Switched on Schoolhouse

My favorite subject to teach? I love PK/K!! Just love it! History & Geography are my favorite subjects with my big kids. Which is funny b/c I did not like these subjects when I was in school.

A schedule: Oh yes! I am totally Type-A, planner, overly organized. That’s me 100%. We have a schedule(s); however, life is life & we rarely have a typical homeschool day that the schedule is actually followed. It is a great plan though. A normal school day for us is:
School (start by 9)
- PK/K with mom while big kids do their independent work
- PK/K with a big kid while I spend one on one with the other
- Snack time: Picture study
- Free time or “center” time for PK/K guided/independent reading for big kids
- LUNCH: memory work, classical music
- PK/K quiet time, Group study & activities with big kids

School is usually done around 3-3:30

It looks so simple all typed out. This does not explain that we are a REAL family. I do clean up at least 10 spills or messes a school day. I do have to stop a lesson to deal with a character issue. We do play hookie. If grandpa shows up with a watermelon we will stop & eat it – even if it’s not “Snack time.” I do have unscheduled teacher appreciation days for days they drive me crazy! The schedule exists, is constantly changing, occassionaly is completely followed, but something I would still say is necessary.

Benefits of homeschooling? There have been many. I love being the one to share the experience of learning with my kids. It is a wonderful feeling to see them excited about a topic or finally accomplish a goal. The little things are such a blessing; however last year God showed me another side of the benefits. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with cancer & only given 3 months to live (she did just that). Once we realized how short our time was with her everything was put on hold & the kids were able to spend as much time with her during the last 3 months as they/she possibly could. The time with her homeschooling gave them was a huge benefit. After she passed away they also had plenty of time to grieve. They didn’t have to go back to the normal hustle & bustle of school life. They were able to truly mourn as much as they needed.

Keeping it Real . . .

Bad days? Yes, we have them. We even have bad weeks & bad months. We’ve had a bad year too!

How do I handle bad days?
It depends if it is me, the kids, a kid, or just life’s circumstances. If it is me – I just have the kids do their independent work & then have free time OUTSIDE. If it is the kids – I scream & pull my hair out. If it is a kid – I send them to daddy! If it is life – we stop what we are doing, accept it for what it is & return when we are refreshed & ready.

Challenges in homeschooling?
It is difficult homeschooling in a blended family. Not all the parents always see eye to eye. Being a Step mom & a teacher has its own challenges, but the good far out ways the bad.

Separating from being the mom & the teacher. I can’t; however, there are times I wish I could. How nice it would be to just send a note home. Lol It is impossible. We homeschool – mom is the teacher. There is no role playing. It is what it is.

Subjects I haven’t enjoyed teaching
I hear a lot of homeschooling mothers say they love to teach their kids to read – Not me. It tends to be a lot of pressure & I just worry so much that I’m not doing it right. Science is fun, but not really my thing, so my husband usually does life lessons in science & I throw a little curriculum in here & there.

Many. I have chores, they have chores, we all have chores & none of us get paid. We are a family, we live on a farm & we all have to pitch in to make it work. We reap what we sow.

I don’t’ know if I’ve hit the “Burned Out” time of schooling, but I have experienced the “Worn Out” times!

When times get difficult I whine. I pour out my heart & soul to the Almighty. Okay, honestly, I’m human . . . First, I try to handle it. I can fix it – I’m a mom after all – that is my job – to fix things, make them better. Then I usually make a bigger mess, realize I can’t fix it, in fact, it isn’t my battle to fight – it is God’s. He is not surprised at the situation, He makes no mistakes, & chances are He is trying to teach me something through the difficult times.

Advice for newbies. I don’t quite feel qualified in this area yet; however, I will say – don’t compare yourself, your children, or your homeschool to others. Homeschooling doesn’t mean perfect. We all have our own struggles & battles to give the Lord. Lean on God for understand & guidance – He will direct your path. While your waiting for direction – read Educating the Wholehearted Child & if you are still waiting when you are done with it then read Cathy Duffy’s Top 100 picks.

That’s all folks. If you enjoyed my interview & would like to hear more about our homeschool visit my blog Rockin' C: Teaching 2 Many Diligently

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Homeschool Favorites

What is Lifestyle of Learning?

In my experience it is very similar to the very popular social communities, Facebook & MySpace - only better geared for homeschoolers. It is a wonderful homeschool community with several of the same features as the other well-known communities. You have your own "profile," an option to share pictures, e-mail, instant message chatting & my favorite - join groups. The groups are mostly homeschool related & are fantastic for bouncing information, sharing ideas, or helping others with their homeschooling journey. It is great way to expand your homeschool community & gain new homeschool friends. There are so many great features to this community - you have to check it out.

Brenda Sain from The Tie That Binds Us & the creator of Lifestyle of Learning really out did herself when she add curriculum reviews to Lifestyle of Learning. She & several other homeschool mothers got together & have begun reviewing homeschool curriculum. I have really enjoyed their reviews. I've even found new curriculum to add to our collection. One bonus to these reviews is that each mother has a different homeschooling style, so there is a variety of reviews, as well as opinions. I encourage you to visit their site:
Curriculum Choice Homeschool Review Blog

And while you are there - pick up The Homeschool Gadget Toolbar. This toolbar is awesome & the download is super fast. You have instant access to a search engine, top homeschooling blogs & sites, chatting & so much more. I LOVE IT!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Meet Kari: Part 3

What about "EC" (Enrichment Classes)?

What made you begin Enrichment classes?

When Liberty was 4 we heard about Enrichment Classes in Sherman. I had never heard of that before. We called, got in and started. We both fell in love with the classes and I with the concept. I felt like this was the thing that was missing with Jessie and Hiedi's homeschool experience. One day during orientation the EC director, Karen Tooley, announced that she would like for someone to consider starting another EC group. Their group had gotten so big, they were limited on space and their waiting list about 23 families long. She thought if another got started it would help that situation. Well, I took up the idea since I didn't like driving to Sherman each week. I thought it would be nice to start one closer to home. I talked to Karen, she helped me with all the details of setting up our own Enrichment Class and the rest is, as they say, history. The Sherman group was so organized that it made the whole process of starting up our own classes fairly easy. The Sherman group had 3 board members so I thought we should have 3 board members. The first three were Nicki Truesdell , Maggie VanDolah and myself.

What is your favorite thing about EC?

The camaraderie between all the kids. I love that they have a 'school group' that they are a part of. School is a major part of growing up and I think EC is just an added benefit that gives kids something to belong to academically. I have observed over the years that some children don't take their school work as seriously as their parents might like for them to and EC offers a little academic competition and accountability with their peers that helps them see for themselves that they need to step it up. I love my children being exposed to other adults that have something to offer my kids that I can not. I always use Dainah Blalock as an example. She is a wonderful mentor to my daughter in the area of writing. I love that there are classes offered that I just could not offer at home, like Color guard, drama, etc. There are also classes, like history or literature that we do offer at home but the added dimension of a group discussion enhances the study so much. And I can not leave out the fellowship the moms enjoy. There is so much to be gained from so many of the moms and dads that attend EC. I just love our group so much!

What have been some of the challenges with being the leader of this group?

I am sure they are the same challenges that are common to anyone in leadership. I have to continue to go to the Lord and ask Him for wisdom.

If there are any changes you could make for EC what would it be?

I would love for our program to be 5 hours instead of 4. It is not an option for us because of the availability of the church. The other change would be to build or buy our own facility suited to meet the needs of our homeschool community at large.

Kari, I have really enjoyed working on this online interview with you. Thank you so much for sharing with us. You are a wonderful Christan, mother, homeschool parent & friend. You & your family are an inspiration & our EC group is privileged to have you. THANK YOU!!