Tag Archives: projects

Homeschool Resolutions

New_YrsAlthough it seems I’m always assessing how well our schooling is going, there are generally two times of the year when I make big changes. The first is in August, as I plan for the new school year, and the second comes at the end of December, before school starts again after the holidays. Now, for the new year, I have several homeschooling resolutions:

1. Focus more on school during school time: I tend to get easily distracted with “life” during the school hours, so naturally, my children become distracted as well. For me, this resolution means that I’ll be unplugging the phone and leaving the computer off until after lunch.

2. Include more of the fun stuff: Some days, it seems that it’s all we can do to get the academics covered well. But part of the joy of homeschooling is being able to explore, investigate, and create together. Whether it’s taking nature walks, working on projects, or trying out new recipes, I want enjoyable activities to be a regular part of our school days.

3. Get dad involved: My husband has a full-time job during the day and then works a few extra hours a couple of nights a week. It’s hard to imagine that he’d have time to help out with the schooling, but there are some easy (and relationship-building) things he can do with our children. He can snuggle up with them on the sofa and listening to them read, or he can choose a story to read to them. Or, he could call out a few of those math facts while they sip cocoa together. Either way, the children would enjoy spending that time with him.

4. Make the most of trips: Because we have a lot of extended family living within a day’s driving distance, we often travel to visit and spend time with them. This year, we’ll make the most of those trips by using each one as the focus of a unit study. Before we go, we’re going to research our destination, locate it on the map, and trace our travel route.

All in all, I think it’s going to be a good year. Are you making any changes in 2010?

Yes, Dad Can!

laundryCN_8203Since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, most of our household chores have followed the traditional division of labor – I clean the house, fix the meals, and wash the dishes while my husband mows the yard and makes minor repairs around the home. Because he’s busy with work during our school year, most all of the homeschool responsibilities fall on me as well. I bring him in as principal when I need to, but generally, I do all the teaching. 

This past month we’ve had to change all that. I had a project commitment that was due at the end of June, and it was taking all my extra time to finish it up. Fortunately, my husband had some time off – he could take care of the things I couldn’t do. And he did! 

It’s been a good month, with a lot of quality time for Dad and the children. He took them everywhere I would have taken them – to the pool to swim, to the free summer movies, to music lessons, to friends’ homes to play. He listened to them read aloud and made sure the rest of their schoolwork was completed. He also took on one major household chore: the laundry. He washed, dried, and folded the clothes all month, enlisting the kids to help him with the process. He streamlined my system, making it easier and more efficient. 

What my husband learned: it’s fun doing things with the children, and relationships are strengthened when they spend time together. What I learned: Dad can do it!  He can help with school, run errands, and clean the house. He might even come up with better ways of doing things, making the chores easier for me when I take them over again. But now that I know, I might not take them all back. I think I’ll leave the laundry for him. 🙂

The Not-So-Grand Canyon

grand-canyon3This week, I’ve been working on a couple of painting projects for my niece and her husband. They’re building a mini putt-putt golf course, and their opening day is set for May 18.

One of the projects I had to do was to paint a mural of the Grand Canyon on two adjoining walls. Not an easy job, but I had a printed photo to use as a reference, so I thought I was ready to go.

The first day we had some errands to run, and we didn’t arrive at the site until about lunch time. After a late start, I worked on one wall of that mural for hours, stopping around 8 p.m. At first it looked like a big blob, said Cassie; as the mountain began to take shape, it looked more like a volcano, Lillie insisted. Despite all of my efforts, I decided she was right. Perhaps this Grand Canyon would only be adequate.

The next morning, before we headed to the putt-putt place, we searched the internet for a better reference picture. We found one, and when I went back to work on the mural, I decided to start on the second wall. In just a little while I had another mountain up – and it looked like a mountain from the canyon. The color scheme was totally different, though, and the two walls didn’t match at all.

It didn’t take long to figure out the first painting had to be re-done – covered over entirely with lighter colors. All eight hours worth of work from the previous day had to go. But some great lessons were learned in the process:

1. Find a decent reference picture before beginning a mural of the Grand Canyon and

 2. When you do a job, do it the very best you can, even if you have to do it over.

 Even if my children don’t learn the first lesson, I want them to learn the second. They saw me work hard on the painting the first day, and then they helped me paint right over it on the second. 

 It’s turning out to be a grand canyon after all.

Abstract Fun

abstractOnce a week, I teach art lessons from my home to homeschool students. Most of our projects involve drawing or painting from life or photographs. But as we are finishing up the classes for this year, we decided it would be fun to have a day of abstract art.

I have a class of boys ages nine to twelve that meets every other Tuesday, so yesterday we gave modern art a try. We used several different methods of painting the masterpieces, the best being spatter painting. It was an easy and (according to the boys) a very enjoyable project. This is what we did:

1. First, each student put on a paint shirt if they weren’t wearing old clothes. Painting can get messy!

2. Then, for each student, I supplied a half sheet of posterboard to paint on. We went outside and nailed the posterboard to a tree with just one nail in the center at the top.

3. Next, they chose the colors they wanted for their paintings. We used craft acrylic paints, and they squeezed them out onto styrofoam plates (their palettes).

4. The students then chose the brush or brushes they wanted to use. I had a container on the ground with brushes of all sizes, including larger house-painting brushes. I also had a container of water available for them to wash out their brushes when they needed to.

5. Then the paint went flying! Each boy stood in front of his paper and spattered the paint by using quick flips of the wrist.

It was interesting to me to see how deliberate the boys were in their choice of colors and where they made the paint go. Each painting was a unique original, and, by the boys’ reactions, a lot of fun to create!

Daddy’s Night

If you’re like me, you have some extra projects you’d like to get to. Perhaps you like to sew, crochet, scrapbook, or write. And if you’re like me, you have a hard time fitting it into your schedule as a homeschooler.

I like to think that I can spend a couple of hours every night after the children are in bed working on projects. This sounds like a lot of time and a good plan, but it rarely works out. Evening activities such scouts or church mean that the children go to bed later than planned; by the time they’re all tucked in, I’m usually too tired to work on anything. Fortunately, we still have our weekly Daddy’s Night.

 It all started a couple of years ago, and it’s one of my favorite traditions. On a Friday or Saturday evening, we rent a movie or borrow one from the library. Then, when Dad arrives home from work, I disappear — to the bedroom, the study, or the store – wherever I need to go to do what I need to do.

 While I’m gone, Daddy steps in and takes over. He makes supper, usually something simple, such as frozen pizzas he can top with extra cheese and pepperoni. The children enjoy creating the pizzas with him – they’ve come up with some creative topping designs.  One of the children spreads out a towel on the floor of the family room to use as a tablecloth, and the pizza is served as the movie begins. Dad usually provides a special dessert, too– ice cream or honey buns or popcorn.     

 Sometimes Daddy decides to take the children out instead — maybe for supper and an extra-thick milk shake. But whatever they do, I can relax and enjoy the bit of free time, knowing that all are well-fed, cared for, and making special memories with their dad.

Mom’s Day Off

When Valentine’s Day came around this year, I decided I didn’t want candy or flowers, the two items my husband usually gives me. Instead, I told him, he could make a coupon for me – a coupon for a day off.

That’s just what he did. My coupon said that on the day of my choosing, he would take the children somewhere for an all-day adventure, and I would have the house to myself. I wouldn’t have to clean a thing – just enjoy the day.

I cashed in my coupon this past Saturday, and they headed out the door around 9:00 am. They were going to go to a few yard sales and then downtown to wander around and visit the library. If he ran out of things to do, he said, he’d take them to visit his mother until it was time to come home.

My dream day off wasn’t one of shopping or taking naps – I was craving uninterrupted time to finish up some projects I had started long ago. I was so excited and looking forward to the free time. After all, it’s often hard to find uninterrupted time even in the bathroom when your children are home with you all day.

It didn’t turn out quite how I expected, however. Of my long list of projects, I only completed two. I did wash a couple of loads of laundry just to feel as if I accomplished more, but I didn’t even get them folded. As it turns out, I think I needed a whole week off to get my projects finished up.

Now, though, I’m not longing for a big block of quiet time like I was before. I’m quite content with my fifteen minutes here, thirty minutes there, maybe even an hour of semi-quiet time while the children are engaged in their own activities. At least that way I don’t feel discouraged that more isn’t accomplished. And maybe next time…hmmm…maybe I’ll ask for the whole weekend.