Home School: What We are Getting RIGHT!


This totally goes against my nature of just wanting to tell you the funny things that happened or the things that went wrong…Today I am going to be like those happy-go-lucky, everything is awesome websites. I am only going to tell you what we’ve done RIGHT.  🙂

So here goes.  Nope. I’m really not going to be funny or sarcastic at all, only happy, flowers, and sunshine here today….

1. If experience is the best teacher, our boys attend the best school ever.  On our field trips, we have seen things like this:


Big Sur, California


The boys got to see humpback whales, swimming alongside this herd of sea lions:

sea lions swim otter close up

They can easily spot the differences between sea otters, seals, and sea lions now that we’ve observed them so many times.

oldsea lion bull

It has short flippers, no ear flaps, and colorful skin. This is a harbor seal. The waters here are TEAMING in them. They kept popping out of the water to look at us on the kayak.  It freaked me out a little bit.


What California offers in nature, DC offers in history. How we loved touring that place over and over again.


Every summer we explore the South.

redogator IMG_0183

The boys have been less than 10 ft from the alligators in Georgia.


See how this guy has long flippers, ear flaps, and brown skin? This is a sea lion.

20140521_093401 WWIIDC SmithCastle

Smithsonian Castle. Daniel loves to look through his DC board book and point to all the pictures saying “We went there!!  We went there!!”

ReflectingDAnDC ReflectingBrosDC President Joshua

Once he meets more people here, he will be fully back to his regular, Presidential self. I never realized how smart he is, until I became his teacher. Today he counted by 9s all the way to 108, with no help at all. I was SO excited.


The boys have visited the Lincoln so many times. They really love Abe Lincoln.

Need I go on?  😉  (I promise I’m never a bragger. My parents always raised me NOT to brag. But the thing is that this blog is supposed to keep mine and Alan’s parents in touch with what their grandchildren are doing. Therefore, today I’m going to engage in a little old-school boasting….

2. We picked the Classical education format, and that has made a huge difference. Classical Conversations provides us with a whole community of home schoolers to meet with, bounce ideas off of, and learn from. The boys just stand in awe of the kids that have been doing this a couple of years who have memorized so much already, and you know what? They are learning from them! Those kids are motivating them without even trying.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’re learning from our Classical Conversations book this week:

These facts are stepping stones to build upon. Next year, Joshua will enter Essentials, and he will dive deeper into these topics. For this year, just memorizing all of this is keeping us very busy. It’s a great challenge. So far, we have successfully memorized 25 states and capitals. The boys really enjoy getting to do geography every day.

Classical Conversations also has songs to help with history and grammar, and these help a TON. The boys can sing some serious information to you, and Joshua might do it if you ask him too. But don’t ask Caleb. He might cry if you do. Don’t worry. I make him sing them to me anyway, but let’s just say the whole song thing and Caleb mix like oil and water. I still think it’s helping him remember, though.

3. Skip Counting

So far we have not excelled at this, BUT this week I finally broke into the CC Connected website and found the exact songs they use at school, so that helped us a lot. We do have the song on CD too, but the CD is always in the car….

We’re getting better and better at the skip counting, and I think it’s going to pay off big time in their math lessons.

4. Pattern Blocks

These little suckers can be used for so many different things. They helped me out a lot, most recently, with teaching multiplication.


Our bulletin board!!

No, I don’t have a bulletin board, but I found this idea on Pinterest –you can find it here:http://clutterfreeclassroom.blogspot.com/2012/07/creating-display-areas-classroom-360.html for putting paper on the wall, outlining it in border, and bam. Instant faux bulletin board!  We just use tape to stick things on it, without hurting the wall.

Yes, hers looked better, with the black paper. I was out of black paper. Unfortunately, my white paper matches the wall….

The boys love it. They are always asking me to put things up on the board–especially Caleb.

(In the photo: colorful butterfly drawn by Caleb. Map work: Joshua, Math test: Caleb 100/A, Spelling Test 100/A: Joshua, Hand turkey and 6 farm animals: Daniel.)

6. Pre School

We are very much doing pre school too. Daniel is making rapid progress. He will probably finish the entire K3 curriculum by January. Ya’ll this boy shows up to WORK. You have to come PREPARED with lots and lots of work for this industrious little sweetheart. Oh, and he tries to hang in there with the big boys. You should hear him singing the infinitive song.


I try to include fun quiz games wherever I can. Things got a little TOO competitive with this game today, though. I guess these boys do have a little April in them after all!


Awards on Wednesdays: 1. It gets us over the hump. 2. Good work deserves to be recognized. 3. It makes them SO happy. The boys saw that Joshua’s birthday (also our school holiday since I make the schedule) is on a Wednesday, and they said, “We still have to have awards though!!!”


This is “the reading corner.” This has been a huge hit. Plus, when the boys are being too chummy during class, I can just send one to the reading corner with his clipboard–preferably Joshua. Joshua, as he is getting older, has proved to be a very good independent worker.


Make a BIG DEAL out of genuinely good work. I took a picture of Caleb and his cursive A the first day of cursive lessons, and now every time Caleb writes a letter, like the Q in the photo above, he asks, “Is this good enough for a picture????”

However, I do not whip the camera out for every letter. I try to always be encouraging, but I save the “big deal” for what they’ve done really well.

I think Handwriting is Caleb’s favorite subject for 2 reasons: 1. The Big Deal  2. PreScripts books have a drawing lesson with every single writing lesson. It’s an artist’s dream come true. The boys scan the book and count the days until the next “free drawing” day, as most of the days have instructions to follow.

11. Christian education

This week I’m teaching the boys about contentment. Bible verses are scattered throughout the whole curriculum. I just love it. We don’t do a “Bible class” with tests because I have a distaste for turning God’s word into drudgery. When you lead a horse to water and oats, you don’t shove their nose into the bucket, and as for the oats, it isn’t unheard of to salt the oats. I want to create a thirst for God’s word, not cram it down their throats. Do you know what I mean? So we discuss Bible verses in the morning and throughout our character lessons and memory work, but I’m not putting a grade on it.

I know that may sound odd to the always Christian-schooled crowd. I don’t know. I never attended any Christian schools. I just know that since it wasn’t a “school subject”, I was more apt to study my Bible as a pre-teen and teenager. I hope that will be the case for the boys too.

Let me reiterate here:  we ARE teaching the Bible. We are NOT teaching it in the classroom setting, with tests and such.

12. Reading Help  Caleb is now reading on a 2nd grade level. boo-yah!  Joshua is now reading on a 6th grade level.

13. The Whole Big Brother Thing

Sometimes, they all love JD so much that they aggravate the snot out of him, but overall I think it’s wonderful. My prayer for JD is that he will turn out to be a calm and easy-going person–like those cats that are handled too much by little kids…..Did I just compare my baby to a cat?? I’m sorry. I adore our little JD. I do like cats, so that’s actually said with lots of love.

In spite of all the over-handling, JD breaks into a big smile every time he sees his bros. He totally understands that they love him.

I love how they are learning to love and nurture a person that is smaller and more helpless than themselves. I don’t even have to bring JD in from the car anymore. Joshua does that. That’s pretty exciting when you have several things to carry in!! We also moved Daniel’s car seat to the third row, and the boys take turns buckling Daniel in for us. Any parent who spends 10 minutes everyday bucking and unbuckling multiple littles into the car understands why this is such a great deal for us!!!

14. Caleb the Math Super Star

He’s not just good at cursive and art. Caleb is a math super-star. He makes a 100 on all of his speed drills. He aces all of his math tests. He and Joshua are actually using the same math book, only Joshua is a few months ahead of him.

Both boys have their own strengths, and I’m enjoying figuring that out and catering to it.

God made us all, but he did not create us all to be the same person, and I love that.

“He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”         Isaiah 40:29-31



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