5 Things I Learned While Homeschooling My Kids

I have taught my children a lot in the eight years we've been homeschooling, but I have learned a lot myself - both from our lessons and from my kids.

5 Things I Learned While Homeschooling My Kids

My children have learned a lot in the eight years we’ve been homeschooling, but I have learned some pretty important things myself, both from what we’ve studied and from my children. I am thankful that they are learning these lessons early and that I’m not too old to learn with my children.

Here are a few of the things I have learned while homeschooling my kids:

  • It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough. I spend a lot of time pursuing perfection in things that don’t matter. My children have taught me that I can release that need and move forward to enjoy life. This is especially true when it comes to art projects and the results of knitting or crochet projects. I want to scrap the whole thing and start over if I make a small mistake. The girls are showing me that imperfections are okay. I can just relax and enjoy the process and the finished product, perfect or not.
  • I don’t have to finish a book just because I started it. I can’t count the number of hours (days?) I’ve wasted trying to finish a book I really didn’t enjoy just because I had started it. (And I’m talking about reading for leisure here, not required reading for a school assignment. 😉 ) It’s freeing to be able to set a book aside or delete it from my e-reader if I’ve given it a fair chance and still don’t like it. I prefer to spend my precious “me time” reading something I really enjoy!
  • You don’t have to do something you’re passionate about every day to be committed to it. In the past, I have fallen into the trap of thinking that in order to pursue interests I’m passionate about, I really need to invest in each of them every day. Unfortunately, there really aren’t enough hours in the day to read, write, crochet, knit, and whatever else I want to do. Work, homeschooling, dishes, laundry, errands, meal preparation, and other tasks fill my days to overflowing already. I used to try to squeeze a few minutes of each activity into every day, believing that I really needed to if I was going to accomplish something and be committed to certain projects. My children have shown me that this isn’t necessary. As I watch my older daughter devour a book series to the exclusion of doing almost anything else for a couple of weeks, then turn to a knitting project she wants to complete the next week, then work on a Minecraft world she’s building the next, I realize that I can pursue my interests consecutively instead of simultaneously too. This makes my free time a lot more fun!
  • It’s important to balance work and play. My children have no problem with this one. They will lean towards play if I let them, but since lessons are non-negotiable, they quickly buckle down to do the work and get finished. Then they complete their chores so they can move on to whatever art creation, book, knitting project, or Minecraft world has their attention. I find myself wasting a lot of time procrastinating instead of doing my work, which means I lose all my play time. I need to follow my children’s example and get my work done so I have more time for my interests as well as spending time with my family.
  • Find work out of your passions. We give our children room to try different things they’re interested in. In the process, they’re learning what their strengths and weaknesses are, and they’re beginning to develop potential plans for work that focus on their strengths and their passions. My husband really loves sales, and that makes him a better sales rep. I love writing, so finding work that involves writing is a great fit for me. It’s easy to forget that work isn’t all about making money, but as I see my children follow their dad and me in thinking about work that capitalizes on things they’re passionate about and good at, I realize that if you can get work that relates to one of your special interests, you are blessed!

Bonus: Dreaming is good and necessary. My children dream big dreams about a lot of different things. They know that all of their dreams won’t come true, but they know if they keep dreaming and working that some of them will. Until I heard my kids’ dreams, hopes, and plans, I didn’t realize that I had quit dreaming. I’ve started again, and sometimes we dream together. I realize that not all of my dreams will come true either, but I know that some will if I set goals and work toward them.

As we continue our homeschool journey, I’m excited about what we’ll continue to learn together!

What have you learned from your children?

Want to see what other homeschool moms have learned in their homeschools? Check out the “What Mommy Learned in Homeschool This Year” blog hop with the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

What Mommy Learned in Homeschool This Year - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

5 Essentials for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

What are the essentials for self-care for a special needs homeschooling mom? Read my list and add your own!

5 Essentials for the Special Needs Homeschooling Mom

Our homeschool is full of books, games, and resources that we use daily during lessons and to supplement the girls’ learning. But more important than any of that in having a successful homeschool are the people in our family! I am often told (and I know it’s true) that I’m much better at taking care of my husband and children than I am at taking care of myself. When I let self-care slide, our family and homeschool don’t operate as smoothly. Over the years, I have discovered that some things in my life are non-negotiable if I’m going to be the mother and wife my family needs. In my house, the essentials for the special needs homeschooling mom include:

  • Sleep. For a long time, I shorted myself on sleep, staying up late to complete everything I felt *must* be done for the next day to go well. This was not a good plan. I have paid for those decisions over and over with health issues and attitude problems. In my case, a tired mom is not a happy mom. I am learning that eight hours a  night is just about right for my body to function optimally. I have to leave tasks undone sometimes to get to bed early enough for that to happen, but it’s worth it. (My family is good enough to help me “catch up” the next day.)
  • Caffeine. I would love to tell you that eight hours is enough, but there are days that I need a little caffeine boost anyway—and there are nights that the eight hours just doesn’t happen. The caffeine mostly comes in the form of iced or hot tea or a diet soft drink. (I know. Those things are terrible for you. I’m trying to quit!)
  • Good books. I really need the chance to unwind every day with a good book. Sometimes these are Christian living or books about homeschooling, but often it’s a biography, memoir, or Christian fiction.
  • Quiet time (Bible reading and prayer). This should actually be the first thing on this list. It’s critical for me to spend time in Bible reading and prayer as soon as I get up in the morning, preferably before my kids wake up. If I don’t do this first thing in the day, it gets pushed later and later in the day until I’m doing it right before bed or not at all. My day doesn’t go as well when I don’t set the right mindset from the start and take time to realize that I’m not in this alone.
  • Creative outlets. It took me a while to realize that this is important for me. The opportunity to be creative ministers to something deep in me and helps me to continue to develop and grow as a person, apart from my duties as a parent or spouse. Creativity takes different forms for me in different seasons. Sometimes it’s writing. Other times it’s working on crochet projects or knitting. Occasionally I’ll get out a coloring book and crayon and relax with them for a while. For me, creative activities don’t have to be a daily thing, but I need to do them at least a couple of times a week to help me relieve stress and focus on something different and challenging.

Bonus: Exercise. I handle stress and life’s daily challenges better when my body is strong (and I’ve experienced the stress relief that comes with a good exercise session). It is hard to get into a routine when I haven’t exercised in a while, but once I make myself start, I find that I crave the opportunity to move every day! Even a few minutes a day, or just several times a week, can make a big difference.

What’s on your list of essentials?

To find out what other homeschools can’t do without, visit iHomeschool Network’s link-up “Things My Homeschool Couldn’t Do Without.”

Things Homeschool Couldn't Do Without - iHomeschool Network

 

 

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 6 Comments

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom - jenniferajanes.com

*Note: I received free access to the bloom course as a member of the launch team. All statements about the course reflect my own experiences and opinions. This post contains affiliate links.

To the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

I’m overwhelmed too. Job changes, cash flow issues, health concerns, work schedules, volunteering at church for VBS and other summer projects, a child whose need for therapy sessions and weekly infusions doesn’t stop for summer break, another child who has promoted to the youth group and has all kinds of new activities to attend (and be picked up from later than we’re used to), laundry, dishes, birthday parties to plan and attend. . . .

Is it any wonder I’m overwhelmed? We’re on summer break right now. What would I do if I was adding our homeschool schedule in with all that? I can’t even imagine.

Your circumstances are different, but you’re overwhelmed too. We’ve got to work through this so we can take care of ourselves and better serve our families. So what do we do?

Here are some suggestions that are working for me:

  • Pray. I’m praying. A lot. I have come across some verses that apply to various situations I’m struggling with, and I’m keeping those close to read and meditate on throughout the day, and I pray them often too.
  • Read. I am spending time reading my Bible, but I’m also making time for reading something just for fun. My daughter and I have found a couple of Christian fiction books that we are both interested in that we are reading through together this summer.
  • Rest. I’m learning to listen to my body and to rest when I need to. No, I don’t get to take a nap whenever I want. (I wish, but my schedule and kids won’t allow it. 😉 ) I am, however, going to bed shortly after I tuck my kids in so that I can get some extra hours of sleep that I have deprived myself of for far too long.
  • Cut back. I’m taking a good look at what I expect of myself in a day, and I realize that I have a lot of unrealistic expectations. I’m slowly learning what I can actually accomplish in a day, and I’m moving the rest to another day—and completely eliminating those things that aren’t quite as important as I thought.
  • Get help. I have asked for help from my family and friends (help accomplishing tasks as well as prayer support or a listening ear), and I have also found help from Christian living books and the bloom online coursebloom has helped me to understand the rhythms of my household better, where my negative emotions come in, and how to change what’s not working. I can’t wait to see the difference it makes in our homeschool next year too! (In case you’re wondering, I highly recommend it, and registration ends Saturday, June 20, 2015, at midnight! This won’t come around again until 2016, so if you’re interested, check it out now.)

How do you cope with being overwhelmed?

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun - Want to make memories with your kids this summer? Here are 14 ideas for summer fun that won't break the bank! - jenniferajanes.com

My kids have looked forward to summer for months: a much lighter homeschool lesson schedule, warm days to play outside, more chances to hang out with friends as they get out of school, and all the fun activities! Many places have lots of free and inexpensive activities available in the summer for kids and families. They’re a great way to spend time together, let the kids stay in touch with friends (and make new ones), and keep them in enough of a routine that they don’t say they’re bored—while still allowing for plenty of unscheduled time for free and creative play. I have some ideas to get you started.

14 Ideas for Free or Inexpensive Summer Fun

  1. Summer reading program at the local library. Many libraries have reading clubs during the summer. Kids read a required number of hours, books, or pages, and they get rewarded with prizes or a party at the end of the summer. It’s win-win. Kids get added motivation to read, and there’s fun involved too.
  2. Splash pad or city pool. Our city used to have a community pool with a very small admission fee. That’s gone now, but local Rotary Clubs built a splash pad in that location a few years ago that is free to the public and open during the summer. It’s a lot easier on our water bill than running a sprinkler in the yard for hours on end!
  3. Movies in the Park. Our city shows a movie in the park every week for four or five weeks during the late spring and early summer. Other cities provide concerts, poetry readings, plays, and other community gatherings at little to no cost in their parks. Keep an eye out for newspaper announcements and flyers in local businesses announcing these events.
  4. Kids Bowl Free. Many areas have bowling alleys that participate in the Kids Bowl Free program, which allows kids (age 15 and under) two free games a day all summer long. All you have to do is pay for shoe rental each time, or buy a shoe pass for the summer. For a reasonable price, there’s a Family Pass available for parents, grandparents, older siblings, and babysitters to bowl two games a day too. Shoe rental is separate there too.
  5. Classes/workshops. Often, summer classes and workshops are offered through the public library (my girls are taking knitting again this summer), home improvement stores, craft stores, community colleges, and other organizations that use summer as an opportunity to invest in the community’s kids.
  6. Summer challenges. Last summer, BookGirl participated in the summer challenge offered by Clubhouse magazine, and she had a blast. We learned about this year’s Odyssey Adventure Club Summer Challenge last week when our magazine arrived, and we’re doing this year’s challenge as a family and are excited to start. (It’s open to everyone, not just subscribers.) Other children’s publications may offer a summer challenge as well. Check your child’s magazines!
  7. Neighborhood exploration. My husband and daughters are taking advantage of the nice weather to walk and/or ride bikes together. It gives them a chance to get some exercise, explore the neighborhood, and talk. We have also done some geocaching in our neighborhood as a family. This low-key time together can encourage kids to open up and give families the opportunity to share what’s on their hearts.
  8. Board games. Instead of turning on the TV or computer, some nights we enjoy turning off all our electronics and playing board games together. They provide learning opportunities as well as the chance for families to laugh with and talk to one another. My girls’ new favorite is checkers!
  9. Good old-fashioned fun. Sometimes simple is best, so bring out the bubbles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hopscotch rock, and ball and jacks. There’s a lot of fun to be had in your own yard or driveway!
  10. Go to the park. Many areas have one or more public parks. We enjoy meeting friends at the park for picnic lunches and play time until the kids are so tired and dirty that they’re begging to leave. It’s great fun as well as great exercise.
  11. Day programs. If your area is anything like mine, there are lots of opportunities for kids to go to Vacation Bible School, and many churches or youth organizations also have day camps for a small fee.
  12. Memberships. I used to think memberships to zoos or children’s museums were too expensive until I did the math. Often a year’s membership is approximately equal to the cost of two visits. So if you’re planning to visit anyway, save up the money for a second visit before you go, and buy a membership. Then you get unlimited visits for a year as well as perks for members only (these include things like free parking, discounts on special exhibits, and reciprocal agreements between that zoo or museum and others all over the country). It’s worth the investment!
  13. State and national parks. Is there a state or national park near you? They often have free and inexpensive programs, including festival days, exhibits, reenactments, and other fun (and educational) events going on. (They will often have passes for sale too, and they’re really affordable. These will get you into the special events for a year for basically nothing!)
  14. Summer movie programs. Our local Cinemark theater participates in Summer Movie Clubhouse, showing ten movies each summer that are rated G or PG and are appealing to kids. Admission is just $1 per person, or  you can buy a pass good for all ten movies for just $5 per person. We’ve been doing this for years, and my kids love it. (We rarely go to the movies any other time!) Check with your local movie theater to see if it has a similar program.

What’s your family’s favorite summer activity?

Posted in Homeschool, Parenting | 6 Comments

Join Odyssey Adventure Club for a Summer Challenge and Movie Ticket Giveaway

As an Odyssey Adventure Club blogger, my family enjoys a complimentary membership to the Odyssey Adventure Club. (We have listened to and loved Odyssey for years, so this was a great opportunity for us.) We just saw this summer challenge (June 1 – August 31, 2015) in Clubhouse magazine last week (we pay for our subscription!) and are looking forward to participating. This is such a great opportunity for families that I’m excited to share it with you. I hope your family is blessed as you serve God together and spend time with each other this summer!

Join Odyssey Adventure Club for a Summer Challenge and Movie Ticket Giveaway

Take the plungebanner banner

Summer . . . a time that kids pine for during the school year and parents may anticipate with something akin to dread. Fearing refrains of “I’m bored” or hours spent on the couch playing video games can make moms and dads nervous about the long, hot months stretching before their family. Focus on the Family’s Odyssey Adventure Club offers an answer, encouraging parents and kids to embrace faith and fun with the Take the Plunge Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse magazine’s Summer Challenge.

Take the Plunge

The Take the Plunge challenge features:

  • Master Mind Monday — commit God’s Word to memory
  • Ways to Play Wednesday — spend active time with your family
  • Faith Sharing Friday — share God’s love with others

The Take the Plunge challenge helps families memorize at least five verses, engage in five activities together and share their faith with five people before the school doors swing open again. Those who sign up will receive an 11-week plan with suggested verses to memorize, activity ideas (such as visiting a war memorial) and ways to witness (such as passing out popsicles at the park with an invitation to your church), making this challenge the perfect tool for parents who want summer to be a time of spiritual and social stimulation for their kids.

“Research tells us that the more senses we involve when teaching children a principle, the more likely it is to stick,” Plugged In editor and Adventures in Odyssey podcast host Bob Smithouser says. “Bible memorization by itself is great, but it becomes even more powerful when put into action. Know it. Share it. Live it.”

Families who sign up to take part in the challenge at www.whitsend.org/summer will have access to weekly verses to memorize, ideas for family fun and suggestions for service projects that allow a family to share their faith. Additionally, anyone who signs up to participate in the Take the Plunge challenge will receive a free scene from the latest Adventures in Odyssey album, as well as a free story from the book Strange Journey Back.

A Bonus Contest

From June 1–5, tell us in 30 words or less how you are going to take the plunge to deepen your faith this summer for a chance to win a family four-pack of tickets to the theatrical release of Beyond The Mask June 5th weekend and free access to the Odyssey Adventure Club all summer long (June, July, August—total $85 prize value)!

Send your entry to contests@whitsend.org. Two winners will be chosen to win each day June 1-5 and announced on the Adventures in Odyssey Facebook Page.

Entries will be chosen based on creativity and writing skill. Rules are available at whitsend.org.

Posted in Faith, Family, Fun, Parenting, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Year-End Field Trip: Mid-America Science Museum

 We recently took a year-end homeschool science field trip to the newly renovated Mid-America Science Museum in Hot Springs, Arkansas. You need to go!

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I wrote it to share about our homeschool field trip, and for no other reason. I received no compensation or discounts for this post or our trip.

Our Year-End Field Trip to Mid-America Science Museum

This year my lifelong best friend and I decided to do science together. We did the lessons individually at home and then got together every few weeks to discuss and do activities related to the chapters we had read since our last meeting. It was a lot of fun, but we all had spring fever towards the end, so we decided to plan a year-end science field trip to motivate us to push through and finish. Our destination: the newly renovated Mid-America Science Museum (MASM) in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

We have been to MASM many times before, but this was our first visit since they finished a major renovation project. The difference was amazing, and we were excited to explore what they have added since the last time we were there.

Some of our favorite activities of the day (which all happened to be new):

The brand-new Skywalk, including the Teleidoscope and the rope netting play area.

Teleidoscope on the Skywalk at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

rope netting on Skywalk at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The new Gyroid Climber, which provided us with some interesting discussions about why you never end up where you thought you would!

Gyroid Climber at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The electricity exploration area in the Tinkering Studio.

Tinkering Studio at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

The two-story interactive water feature that anchors the Fluid Motion Workshop.

water feature at Mid-America Science Museum - jenniferajanes.com

And although it wasn’t my necessarily my kids’ favorite exhibit of the day, the 3-D Rain and Terrain sandbox still has me thinking. How did they use an XBox 360 to sense and project changing elevations onto the mountains and valleys the kids were creating?

If you haven’t been to Mid-America Science Museum lately, you need to go!

Posted in Homeschool | 2 Comments

Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman {Review}

Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman {Review} - jenniferajanes.com

Note: I received a free copy of  Never Say No by Mark and Jan Foreman from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids by Mark & Jan Foreman

When I began reading Never Say No: Raising Big-Picture Kids, I was swamped with projects and deadlines and wondering why I had committed myself to reading this book. But by the time I finished the introduction (and had underlined at least a quarter of it), I knew that I needed to read this book. I have struggled with being intentional in parenting my children, and this book promised to help me raise kids who find God’s purpose for their lives and say a resounding “Yes!” to what He has for them.

That’s what I want—for my children to find the reason God made them and serve Him and others through the pursuit of that passion. The more I read, the more I realized that this being intentional, this parenting the way my heart longs to parent, is much easier than I thought. The Foremans encourage parents to really enjoy their children, to take delight in spending time with them and to watch how the relationship flourishes (and the discipline problems diminish) as the parent-child bond grows stronger. (While the Foremans advocate saying “yes” to your children, they mean it in the context of taking time to play with them, read to them, etc. when they ask, being involved in their lives. They do not mean “Never Say No” in the context of not setting limits for children.)

There is a lot in the book, from stories the Foremans share about how they raised their children and the struggles they had along the way, to Biblical wisdom and questions to ponder as you examine your relationship with your children. The book is easy to read and would make a great small-group study as well as independent reading, and it covers parenting infants through young adults, which means it will touch a lot of parents.

The book has helped me realize that parenting with intention isn’t as difficult as I thought. It involves praying for my children and spending time with them, enjoying life together. I am looking carefully at my daily activities and priorities, which also involves setting aside certain things, at least for a season, to have more time to spend with my children, showing interest in the things they’re passionate about and really listening to them as they talk to me. I have a long way to go, but I can already see the delight in their eyes as they realize they have my undivided attention.

There is no judgment in these pages, only encouragement and gentle guidance toward a way to parent that creates and respects boundaries for both parents and children. It’s a book that I will return to and will recommend to other parents for a long time to come.

Posted in Book Reviews, Parenting, Review | Leave a comment

Our Homeschool, The Beginning (Why We Homeschool)

Why We Homeschool - jenniferajanes.comMany people assume that we started homeschooling because we have a child who needs (and thrives in) the one-on-one, flexible, hands-on learning environment we can give her at home. That’s not true. Our homeschool journey began a few years before she was due to start school, and it took my husband and me by surprise. (It might surprise you too!)

Our Homeschool, The Beginning (Why We Homeschool)

I had it all planned. My older daughter would attend the elementary school just a few blocks from our house. When the weather was nice, my younger daughter and I would walk her to and from school. In the afternoons, we would chatter away about everything she had done that day, returning home to freshly baked cookies and glasses of milk I had prepared earlier. We would do her homework each night with no tears, I would tuck her into bed, and she would drift off to sleep. The next morning we would do it all over again.

Of course, I knew that our life wouldn’t be this idyllic, but I was allowed to dream, right?

I grew up in public schools. I taught in public schools. Both my husband and I had family members serving in the public school system as administrators, teachers, counselors, and aides. We had turned out okay. We believed in the system. It was the only choice for our kids.

Or so we thought.

When BookGirl turned three years old, I began to think about kindergarten round-ups, which of our school district’s elementary schools would be the best fit for her, and of the school day scenario I’d imagined in my mind over and over again.

And I began to question everything.

I couldn’t understand why I was doubting if public school was best for her. Homeschooling kept coming to mind, but I knew very little about it, other than the fact that my best friend had homeschooled for one year in high school and that kids facing disciplinary action in the public schools I taught in would often withdraw before their hearings to “homeschool.”

I replayed my perfect day tape in my mind often, excited about the prospect of partnering with great teachers in my daughter’s education. But homeschooling kept coming to mind. Finally, one night I confessed to my husband, “The more I think about BookGirl starting kindergarten, the more I think about homeschooling. Why is that? I don’t even know anything about homeschooling!”

To my shock, my husband replied, “I know. I keep thinking about homeschooling too.”

I quickly replied that I thought we should “pray about it,” but I knew we were sunk. If we were independently thinking about homeschooling BookGirl without even understanding what homeschooling was, what were the odds that God would let us off the hook?

We continued to be haunted by the idea of homeschooling, so we finally gave in and decided that the year before BookGirl was supposed to start kindergarten would be our “trial” year. I would work with her on age-appropriate concepts that I wanted to make sure she knew before kindergarten anyway, and we would see how it went. In the meantime, we would try to figure out what homeschooling was all about.

That first year went well, so we dove in with both feet. Here we are, eight years later, and still going strong. Our homeschool doesn’t look like it used to (public school at home). My understanding of homeschooling as a lifestyle of learning has developed through the years, and we now have a good mix of curriculum, field trips, and other life experiences to round out our days.

It’s true that we began homeschooling in response to a still, small voice we couldn’t ignore, but we have discovered new reasons every year why it really is the best educational option for our family.

To read more about why families homeschool, check out the stories of the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

Why We Chose to Homeschool - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | Leave a comment

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning - jenniferajanes.com

What Special Needs Taught Me About Learning

My education consisted of very traditional teaching methods that involved lectures, diagrams or notes on chalkboards or overhead projectors, textbooks, workbooks, and worksheets. Hands-on projects were reserved primarily for science, and they weren’t in abundance there. It worked for me. My brain effectively processes and stores information received through visual and auditory methods.

One of my daughters also thrives on learning using primarily her eyes and ears. Her learning style is very similar to mine, so I know how her brain processes information, making it easy to choose curriculum for her and keeping me pretty comfortable in my role as former classroom teacher turned homeschooling mom.

Then my other daughter started kindergarten. It quickly became evident that her brain doesn’t process information the same way mine does. The traditional textbooks, books, workbooks, and explanations didn’t help her much. To get the information into a form that she could do something with, I was forced to get out of my auditory-visual box and do hands-on learning as much as possible.

It was difficult at first, but I incorporated more and more multisensory activities. Gradually, I realized how much learning takes place doing the daily hands-on activities that make up our days, and I began to use those teachable moments to full advantage. Instead of relying solely on curriculum, reference cards and charts, and books, I discovered how many basic math skills can be “caught” while playing board games together. Measurement can be reinforced through cooking and working on crafts projects. Reading practice is everywhere. Field trips have been a very effective way to teach science and social studies (and to jumpstart studies on subjects we haven’t touched on yet), and science also happens while observing the world around us. These observations often lead to research and projects I would never have thought to do with the girls (like the time we studied the Arkansas Chocolate Tarantula after seeing one cross the road on the way home from a specialist appointment).

I have found that homeschooling is really about developing a lifestyle of learning, and that is the best way for both of my daughters to learn. I order books and curriculum every year, and we use them every day, but much learning takes place in the natural flow of our days, from running errands together to doing household chores to planned (and unplanned) field trips. I used to see these as interruptions to our “real schooling,” but now I embrace and actively seek them out. I know that my children are not only learning academic concepts in these moments, but they are also learning life skills and developing a love of learning that will serve them well throughout their lives.

I’ve also seen how much I discover alongside them, and I try to be a role model in this lifestyle of learning by allowing my children to see me research topics that interest me, learn new hobbies by pursuing them with passion and lots of practice, and read a range of topics and genres.

Having special needs in our family taught me that there’s much more to learning than the book stuff. That’s important, but we’re pushing through to a lifestyle that keeps us open to the wonder and excitement all around us.

How does your family embrace a lifestyle of learning?

You might be interested in:

Want to see how other homeschooling families embrace a lifestyle of learning—and why? Check out My Lifestyle of Learning with the bloggers of iHomeschool Network!

Lifestyle of Learning - iHomeschool Network

Posted in Homeschool, Special Needs | 3 Comments

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus Review

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus Review - jenniferajanes.com

*I received a free digital download from Propeller Consulting, LLC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus

Life has been a little stressful lately, and one thing that helps me to combat stress and get my thoughts off myself and my circumstances and back onto God and His ability to solve any challenge I face is praise and worship. For that reason, when I was offered early access to the new Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus album, I took it. Who doesn’t need new music to listen to?

I haven’t listened to a lot of Christy Nockels music in the past, but I have heard enough that I was interested in hearing more. I wasn’t disappointed. Let It Be Jesus was different from what I expected. I guess I thought that it would be more upbeat, like many modern worship songs are (and I love them!). There were a few songs like that on the album, but most of the songs on Let It Be Jesus were very deep, rich, and mellow, full of Scriptural truth that ministered to my spirit and brought peace and comfort to me. The more I listened and focused on Christ and what God says about me (and my circumstances), the less fearful and anxious I was. It is exactly what I needed in this time of uncertainty and stress.

This album has been a great addition to my music playlist. It’s great to listen to and keep me grounded while I prepare meals, fold laundry, and wash dishes, and it is a wonderful addition to my early morning devotional times as I try to start my day focused on God and His Word.

This may be my first full Christy Nockels album, but it certainly won’t be my last.

Connect with Christy Nockels on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and find the album on iTunes.

Giveaway for Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels

FlyBy Promotions/Propeller Consulting, LLC is offering a download code so one of you can get a free digital download of this album! They have a few words to share with you:

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Now, giveaway details from me:

  • The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. ages 18 and older.
  • The giveaway ends on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 9:00 pm CDT.
  • To enter the giveaway, leave a comment sharing why you would like to have Christy Nockels Let It Be Jesus album.
  • Only one comment per household.
  • Duplicate or “extra” comments or comments left after the giveaway ends will be deleted.
  • The winner will be chosen at random using the plug-in And the Winner Is.
  • The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the end of the giveaway and will have 24 hours to respond with the requested information. If the information isn’t received, another winner will be chosen. The information will be passed on to FlyBy Promotions so they can send the download code!
Posted in Giveaway, Music Review, Review | 5 Comments