Your Worst Enemy

When you decide that homeschooling is the road you and your family will be taking, it is expected that you’ll get some resistance from people who surround you. Friends. Family. Helen from your playgroup network will surely have to share her two cents. However, the worst enemy that you will encounter in your homeschooling endeavor is yourself. It’s true! I don’t say this to deter you from diving in, or to scare you. But it is something that I’ve seen time, and time again, in my personal experiences and in others.

The worst enemy that you will encounter in your homeschooling endeavor is yourself.

How is it that you, the parent, the educator, the one responsible for your child’s success is the worst enemy to it? It’s simple, really. Your expectations. Not your expectations of your child’s abilities. Or of your expectations of their learning goals. But your expectations of your homeschool and of yourself.

Let me be a little more detailed in this. As a homeschool mom we have visions of grandeur. Perfectly organized bins with just the right materials. Colored pencils arranged beautifully. Beautiful original artwork hanging. Smiles and freshly baked muffins every morning during morning time. Oh, I can just see it now! I’ll wake up early, have my coffee, do last minute tasks and have my day ready when the kids wake up. We’ll spend the day learning and the kids will be engaged in whatever studies we have. Before we know it, it’s lunchtime and we are all gathered on the rug while I read aloud from a classic novel and all of my children listen intently. New subjects and topics will be introduced and the kids will grasp these new concepts and flourish and succeed immediately! We homeschool for Pete’s sake! Our children love to learn! Learning is what we do. We learn all day everyday. At night, I will reflect upon my beautiful day and look forward to tomorrow when I can homeschool again. Oh what a glorious feat it is. How successful my children and I are. We are just so put together, my days are filled with rainbows and unicorns.

Enter real life.

I wake up to my alarm and snooze it. Five times. Then when my alarm is done going off, I go back to sleep again until one of my older kids comes and wakes me up. I drag myself out of bed and make toast or eggs or even just unwrap a granola bar and open some gogurt. My sink is still full of dishes from the night before; my coffee pot is empty; my living room (where we homeschool) has a couch that is buried under 4 loads of laundry that need to be folded and hung and put away. Yup, sounds about right. We didn’t do a full days worth of school yesterday because we had a doctor’s appointment and went grocery shopping. My plans for today might as well go f*ck themselves because I’m already behind schedule. I feel like a failure. My kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. I really suck at this whole homeschool and stay at home mom and wife gig. But I trudge through the day.

My 1st grader reads to me from his chapter book. My kindergartener tells me about these bugs he saw outside and the ones he saw yesterday and quickly without using fingers does addition and subtraction facts in his head. My (almost) pre-k kid is counting into his teens and sorting his crayons by color. The youngest one is counting his cars to 10 over and over again. This is normal daily life. It seems uneventful, mundane.

Then I take a moment and look at my children and my homeschool with fresh eyes. My 1st grader is reading chapter books. He loves to read! He not only is amazing at decoding and using context clues in his reading, he truly comprehends what he is reading and has great voice and intonation as well. This is great! My kindergartener, doing basic math in his head without manipulative or counting fingers. He has a good understanding of number sense and is applying math to his everyday life. Pre-k kiddo is interested. in learning and has a genuine love of learning his numbers and letters. And little squirt down on the ground with his cars? He’s experiencing and absorbing all of these little bits of reading and writing and math and is learning just from being exposed. Perhaps I’m not failing as much as I thought I was.

I feel like a failure. My kids deserve better. My husband deserves better. I really suck at this whole homeschool and stay at home mom and wife gig.

I realize, I can’t be alone in this feeling. I want to be the best mom and teacher possible to my kids. Who doesn’t? Most of the time I feel like I don’t reach any kind of success as a mother or a teacher. I yell. I lose my temper. I don’t bake those damn muffins from scratch every morning. I don’t wake up early most of the time. I use my phone too much. I never get my laundry put away on a regular basis. It is so easy to see all of your faults. Your failures. Your shortcomings. It is so incredibly easy to let these consume and overwhelm your thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in bed at night and cried to my husband that I am not doing enough. That what I do I don’t do well enough. That I am failing our children and letting them down. And that, my friends, is the worst feel of all. I have let myself down. I have let my husband down. I’ve let down my parents and I’m sure many of my friends. But the thought of being letting down my children is a feeling that makes me sick to the core of my soul.

However, in the eyes of my children and in the eyes of my husband my failures are minimal and my successes are what they see. They see a mom who loves her children so fiercely. A mom who would rather spend her time at home with her kids than anywhere else. A wife who tries (albeit she isn’t always successful but man does she try) to keep a clean house (and do all of the laundry). A mom who will never give up on her children no matter what the circumstances are. Who sees their true potential and strengths and spends her days and nights trying to help them grow into the best person they can be. A wife who doesn’t want to buy herself new clothes (even though she’s lost 40lb) because she’d rather spend the money on the kids. A wife and mom who is on her phone researching articles and strategies to help her kids succeed and help her be a better wife a mom. They see me as loving, selfless, happy, and my favorite, “nice”. (I don’t know why but my kids like to tell me what a nice mom I am and it makes me smile and laugh every time).

What if instead of beating myself up for all of the negative stuff I see in myself, I tried to look at myself the way my kids see me?

I spend so much time looking at all of my faults, failures, and shortcomings that they become my view of myself. I don’t see all of the positive influences I bring to my family and home. But my kids do. My husband does. My friends and family sure as hell do. What if instead of beating myself up for all of the negative stuff I see in myself, I tried to look at myself the way my kids see me? I can just imagine how happy and successful I would feel if I looked at myself and saw all of the “good” that I am and that I have to offer. I have a feeling it may be the same for you. If you want to be successful in your homeschool, first you have to knock out your worst enemy: yourself.

2019, I’m Still Coming For Ya

We are 52 days into 2019.

Shit.

Every year I choose a motto for myself to live by instead of resolutions. I do this because resolutions are so easy to fail at and difficult to keep the momentum going. Usually once I mess up on a resolution I tend to “give up” on it and then forget it all together. Choosing a motto allows for me to have room for “failure” and the opportunity to get back on track. My motto can help me make decisions and create new goals throughout the year. My 2019 motto is: Live Your Best Life.

Why did I choose this motto? Well, I’m glad you asked. 😉

As 2018 was coming to an end, my family and I made some decisions about our lives regarding our goals, our future, our relationships, etc. One decision led us to end a friendship that we had had for some years with a family that we felt was not contributing to our lives in a positive manner. We made goals for our education/homeschool. We made decisions about our budget and finances. We discussed our long term goals. What activities we wanted to do again or what new ones we wanted to tryin 2019. Overall it was really emotional, exhilarating, motivating, and trying.

As 2019 took off. My eyes stayed on my motto: Living My Best Life! Every decision I made, every opportunity I had, I was going to make sure it was going to contribute positively to my life, help me meet my goals, and help me live the best life I could. Then I hit a brick wall. It was like nothing was going right. I was questioning decisions I’d made. I was have doubts about my self-worth. My motivation to get up and attack to the day was gone. I didn’t want to work out. I didn’t want to do my housewife duties. I was binge watching shows about murder and other depressing topics. (This is totally a guilty pleasure of mine and my husbands and always has been). I finally got to the point where I just felt like I was existing and not contributing to my family because I wasn’t “valuable” to my family. I was not what they needed and surely not what they deserved. It. Was. The. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

Luckily I have a support group who know my struggle with OCD and GAD all too well…(my husband, my mom, and my closest friend). This support group who is always available and talk me down from my OCD mindset, listen to me go on about my anxieties over and over and over (thanks OCD), and who build me up. On top of all that, they are brutally honest. The truth hurts sometimes, but it’s important to hear.

These three people helped me identify the flaws in my thinking and behavior and at first were comforting. They gave me reassurance. They tries to build me. They reminded me of the amazing things my family and I are working towards and what I do to contribute. When none of that worked, the messages that were not so “gentle” began to come in. They were rough. But they were true. Messages telling me that I needed to get over whatever the f*ck was getting me down and to do what I needed to do. To pull my head out of my a*s and look around. To quit b*tching and find a solution. (There was more to the messages, but you get my point.)

Tough love always works for me. I don’t know why. So I made some changes to my daily routine. I began to consciously work on improving my view of the world and to see what I was positively contributing to my family. I made an effort to recognize what I did that was beneficial to my family, especially my kids. I made a conscious decision to stop with the negativity and to bring on the positivity.

It worked.

Granted I feel like I wasted nearly 50 days of 2019 being so negative and not using my motto. But the great news is there are still over 300 days left in 2019 for me to live my best life, and I’m not going to let a little hiccup throw me off the tracks. 2019 has thrown some challenges at me and my family already that we’ve dominated.

Now as I get back on my A game, I want to be more active on my blog and to connect more with other homeschooling families. I recently did a “follow train” on instagram that allowed me the opportunity to meet, connect, and chat with literally HUNDREDS of homeschooling families. And sure enough, a lot of them have the same struggles I do! I definitely want to spend the rest of this year meeting and establishing relationships (near and far) with other families. It is so motivating and inspiring to see all of the other homeschoolers out there kicking ass and choosing homeschool as the education avenue for their families. And I choose to be more active in my sharing and documenting of our homeschool journey.

2019, still going to live my best life!

Place Value Puzzle

As I *slowly* get back into the swing of things after Christmas, I find myself spending my Saturday evening planning, prepping, and creating activities and resource for our homeschool. Let’s be honest, these days spending a Saturday night creating school activities is something I not only enjoy but look forward to! If I could make a living making “stuff’ for education I would. However, my time is in high demand and that is a dream I’ll have to put off for a little while longer.

Tonight I was making some activities for new skills but also for review for the first half of the school year. One skill I wanted to revisit (and then build upon) was place value. Although my first grader zipped right through place value through the hundreds with ease, it’s been awhile since we worked on it and expanded notation is something that I know could use some review, especially before we start introducing the thousands place value, etc.

Alas, I made an easy no prep place value puzzle that requires the child to match the standard form, the expanded form, and the base ten block image. I love activities like this because 1. there is no prep (after the initial printing, laminating and cutting – hooray!). 2. It can be done as an independent activity while I work with another kiddo. 3. Kids can never have enough number sense practice, it is the most important building block to being a strong mathematical thinker!

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Since all of the puzzles have the same pieces/shapes you can add a colored dot or number to the back for self checking. I usually just drop in and check progress in the middle of their work and check it for them at the end.

This puzzle set comes with 18 number puzzles. Check it out and download yours here. Tag me on Facebook or Instagram (@teachmeimyours) and be sure to give me a like or a follow!

 

 

Mid Year Review

As the end of the year is quickly approaching, it’s a time where many people begin making resolutions and goals for the new year. This time of year lends itself to assessing and focusing on the first half of the homeschool year.

The holiday season is such a unique time. The days feel happier. People are cheerful. It’s a time of love and support and all those feel good feelings. It’s a perfect time for me to look at my homeschool from the outside because my attitude and mood tends to be elevated and I am able to see the “failures” or areas that need improvement with a positive spin and not feel deterred or discouraged by the less than perfect.

Evaluating and assessing your homeschool is important! Taking time to find what has been working and what hasn’t is imperative in creating a successful learning environment for your kids. A successful homeschool is always changing and adapting to the needs of the students and to the skills and strategies that you are using. I would do the same thing when I was teaching in a classroom – using this positive and happy feeling to prepare my classroom and my teaching for the rest of the year. Doing more of the successful and finding ways to improve the not so great.

It’s important to always remember that no homeschool is perfect. Yes, we see those classrooms and activities on instagram and facebook and think “If only I had ______.” My homeschool would be better. Get that out of your head. I whole heartedly believe that parents are the best teachers for their children. No two homeschools are the same. No two children are the same. And we should never try to be the same as someone else.

I have made a short mid-year review reflection sheet. It is meant to help you identify your areas of success and your areas that may need some revamping or a little more attention. Fill out the form and take the time to create steps to meet your goals. You’ll notice that there are only 2 spots ofr areas to improve on in your homeschool, that is for two reasons. The first being that you need to create manageable goals and by only choosing two “things” to focus on, you are able to develop a better plan of action. Secondly, if you were to focus on thinking of “negative” aspects of your homeschool you would feel discouraged and that is the opposite of what we’re trying to accomplish!

One of my main reasons for creating this blog was to collaborate and help other educators and homeschoolers. If you are struggling to find a solution or ideas to improve your homeschool (or classroom), I’d love to connect to problem solve and strategize together! Simply fill out the contact form and we can work together.

Get the mid year review here: Mid Year Review and be sure to contact me to collaborate!

 

 

Play Doh Ornament Counting

Happy Saturday!

I love Saturdays. Saturdays are my days of preparation and planning. I spend my morning (and some times early afternoon) planning the upcoming homeschool week and finding/creating/brainstorming ideas for the lessons and skills we’ll be practicing.

Today I’ve been adding some more winter/Christmas items to our December/Christmas thematic unit. My kindergartener has mastered his teen numbers (with a lot of resistance) and is working on counting into his 20s now. He absolutely LOVES play doh. He also loves anything Christmas. Put the two together and we have a fun little activity sure to keep him engaged while also encouraging him to practice.

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My older 3 boys just finished an art class last week and they did a lot of work with clay and practicing pressure and fine motor skills making “snakes” and “balls” or beads. This is a difficult skill sometimes for kids but is great for them to practice. So in addition to number identification and counting, some motor skills are also thrown in. You can add patterns and even and odd into it too if you felt inclined.

The activity was a hit and I think will help him with his 20s as we work towards mastering those. It isn’t always easy with this one to find engaging activities so if one does the job, it is a big deal!

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You can download this freebie here: Play Doh Christmas Ornament Counting It includes a tree mat and ornaments with numbers 1-30. I laminated mine for durability and to keep them clean for future use. You could slip the tree into a gallon ziplock back if you don’t have a laminator. I hope you enjoy!

If you use this freebie please post a picture and share! Tag me on instagram @teachmeimyours or on Facebook (Teach Me I’m Yours). I’d love to see it in action in your home. Merry Christmas!

Did You Miss Me?

It’s been awhile… Did you miss me? 😉 

Between all of the kids’ extra curricular activities, a small family vacation, holidays, parties, and a killer cold that took all 6 of us down – I am finally back!

We had a lot of fun with school in October and November. For the “holiday” months (October -December) I decided to create thematic units. Thematic units have so many benefits and help keep motivation for learning going when exciting holidays are approaching, plus it really reinforces the core theme into every lesson for a greater understanding. 

I’ll be sharing our themes and activities in later posts. For now, I want to focus on the end of the calendar year and what that can mean for us homeschoolers. 

It’s nearly December and the calendar year is coming to an end quickly. The academic school year is about half over! Although this is only my 3rd year of homeschooling, in my previous teaching experience this time of year lent itself to reflection and planning. It allowed a time to decompress, assess, and hit hard when the new year came. I still find this to be true for homeschooling. As with any classroom or homeschool, there are ups and downs. Successes and failures. As the year winds down, take this time to reflect and relish in your successes and find solutions to dilemmas or problems you’ve encountered so far. The Christmas season always makes me feel so joyous and motivated and inspired, as it does so many others, that it is a great time to do this!

I’ve attached a super simple mid year evaluation for you to complete. (Mid Year Review) You can use it to help you reflect, assess, and improve your homeschool from the inside out. The continued focus on improving, growing, and learning as your progress through your homeschool is extremely important and necessary! No one homeschool is perfect! As your kids grow, mature, and expand their minds, as does your homeschool, your style of teaching, your goals and routines. It is an ever-changing process that cannot be stagnant or you and your children will be let down. 

Since it is necessary for your homeschool to grow and change as your children and you grow and progress, I believe that creating a curriculum that is unique to your homeschool and your child(ren) is of the utmost importance. Check out my post Curriculum… What Do You REALLY Need? about how to create your own curriculum and the resources I use to help me plan mine.

I welcome you to reach out with questions or obstacles your are facing in your homeschool. I do not have all of the answers, but sometimes a fresh perspective or outside conversation can help turn things around! Please e-mail or leave a comment on here so we can connect and collaborate so that you (and especially your children) can have the best homeschooling experience possible! 

Remember, homeschooling is privilege!

Tedious Teen Numbers

This morning I got up at 4:30 am. No, that is not a normal routine for me (although I wish it was and am trying to be a better morning person). My youngest woke up FIVE times last night. Along with the constant wake ups, my second born was in bed with us and he tosses and turns and flips like a son of a bitch. Needless to say, when I went to crawl into bed at 4:30 after getting the “baby” back to bed and my husband’s alarm started going off I just said, “f*ck it”, and got up for the day.

One nice thing about getting up so early is having that time to myself that I don’t usually get, like, ever. I’m not complaining, I love my kids more than life itself, but with 4 young kids, there is rarely a moment in the day where I am not being touched, holding, or tending to a little one. So 4:30 am coffee and silence and no one touching me is pretty sweet in my book.

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