Going back to {home} school Part 2 | Organizing Made Fun: Going back to {home} school Part 2

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Going back to {home} school Part 2

I may not have mentioned this last week in part 1 of my interview with Lisa Pennington, but that girl can seriously build stuff! She's is a go-getter.  If it doesn't exist, she'll make it! She is truly inspiring and amazing.  Here are a few samples {just to make her blush}:

This is Lisa's utility room and the shelf she built, there's also the water heater cover she did, too!
She does incredible embroidery personalization in her Etsy shop:
Here she is making a pillow.
She even built this bench on her deck and made all the fabric elements and such - for SUPER cheap!
You can not believe how she made all this!
She planned a beautiful 25th anniversary party this summer for she and her husband's 25th!

I think she gets a little help from her kids, but she is truly amazing and really does get a lot done! Those naps must REALLY help! So, here goes a few more of my questions, and several from YOU!

1. Do you require your kids to get dressed every day for school? Casual or dressed up?
That’s a really good question! I do require them to be dressed, shoed, hair and teeth brushed, etc. before school.  I guess most people would think we are dressed up because my girls and I always wear dresses and we like to look nice every day.  Also, I do require the girls to fix their hair and not just in a quick pony tail at the base of the neck.  The boys are usually dressed as something from a superhero to a movie character (not Jacob, of course, at 19 he rarely dresses like Batman anymore).  I don’t care if the boys do that as long as it isn’t distracting from the school work.  I can often be heard saying something like, “Adam, take off that mask until school is over.”  If the boys are in normal clothes they have to at least have their shirts tucked in. 

To give you an idea, just today while I was writing this I called whoever wasn't busy to come to the front porch and I took their picture.  This is basically what we look like every day. (Hope and Elijah were working for my husband, so they didn't make it into the photo)

2. Do your kids ever do any other extra-curricular activities or sports or music lessons?
We measure time away from home very carefully and it is hard to convince us to do anything that separates us as a family or causes us to spend much time out of the house.

I should also point out that my husband isn’t into sports and we aren’t very athletic (a huge understatement), so sports have never been a draw for us.  That being said, there have been other things….girls’ clubs, debate groups, etc. that we have considered.  The way we make that decision is when one of the children asks to join one of these types of activities we look at everything (money, time, energy, benefit to the child) and decide if it fits into the vision we have for that child and our vision for our family.  Sometimes we do it, but more often we don’t.  It has been several years since we participated in any of those types of activities.

Music has been in and out of our life.  It became difficult to find a teacher that would work with us since we didn't want to do recitals or one that worked with our schedule.  Two years ago we found a music teacher who was excited to help us play at a local nursing home instead of doing recitals and she comes to my house for the lessons.  This was a perfect fit for our family, so I have four taking piano and one learning guitar right now.

Other things we have done over the years (but never all at once) would be horse riding lessons, community choir, homeschool co-op, film academy, scouts and local student orchestra.
3. a) How does she teach different grade levels at the same time? b) How does she organize homeschool stuff? How does she have the energy to do so much in 1 day ;-) c) What about homeschooling w/newborn? {I think you covered the energy part already}.
a) I use a lot of unit studies.  These allow us to all learn the same thing together.  I can just adapt it to the different age levels.  Right now we are studying world history.  I will read the lesson with everyone and we’ll all discuss it.  Then I will give assignments to each child, making it more advanced for the older ones.  Sometimes I will just have the littler ones draw a picture then do a simple oral report on it the next day.  They do math everyday, which of course we can’t all do together.  But I combine as much as possible.  All of the teens do the same writing course, the three younger boys and I do the same Apologia science, etc.

b) I organize my school stuff by going through it all at the beginning of the year and getting rid of anything we are not using.  I keep what I will use again in a few years, but it goes into our storage building.  What we are currently using I put in baskets and shelves.  Also, I bought a set of lockers a few years ago at a flea market and the kids actually use them like they would at school.  They each have their own locker and keep all of their own books and papers in there.  Every Friday we straighten the lockers, otherwise a few of my kids would never clean them and could face injury from the mess….not injury from the things falling out….injury by Mommy having a meltdown. 

c) It is definitely harder to do school when there’s a new baby.  First I would say to give yourself a break.  If you only get a little bit done or nothing at all…it’s OK.  Your kids will be fine.  Ask your husband to help at night with 15 minutes of something simple if you are feeling like a useless lump of baby poop and spit up (I still feel like that sometimes and my baby has been out of diapers for a year!).  A new baby grow so quickly…..I’d rather hold baby and catch up with school later when the baby isn't a newborn anymore (OK, now I’m sad).
4. How does you organize keeping the child who eats all day full? Or deal with the kid who takes an hour to eat a half a sandwich?
I haven’t had this specific issue, but I don’t know if that is because my children don’t struggle with it or if I haven’t allowed it.  I do have some that seem hungry all day, but they know that they aren’t permitted to eat until it is meal/snack time.  Even an especially hungry kid needs to know that there are boundaries and they cannot just graze all day.  That isn’t healthy.  I would be considerate of their need (if it was need and not just a bad habit) by offering them an extra snack of fruit or yogurt during the day.  If they didn’t want to eat that then they can wait until the next meal.  

I often get the question about the child that takes a long time to eat.  In our home there is a set time to finish your meal.  When meal time is over you are finished and you must immediately carry your plate to the sink (without eating while walking to the kitchen, you are finished when you stand up from the table).  If you didn’t eat quickly enough then hopefully you will remember that the next time.  If you didn’t eat it because you don’t like that particular food and are happy to skip it and wait for dinner, you would be having that meal again for dinner.  I wouldn’t give them any attention or pity.  I wouldn’t show concern (even though my mother’s heart might occasionally hurt to see them suffer).  I’d just be cheerful and let them figure out that they better eat when it’s in front of them or they will be hungry.  I’d let them know I care, but I wouldn’t bend.  I know it sounds hard, but the reality is that they need to learn to take care of themselves and be respectful of others and it is your job to teach that to them.

5. What kinds of extra activities, if any, do you and your kids do? Does she have to say no to a lot of extra things, or helping other people?

I love this question!  I would say that the outside activity we love the most is helping others.  I say no to a lot of requests for parties or play dates, but if we can help someone we will make sacrifices for that.  It is so much more worthwhile than soccer or violin.  I mean no disrespect to soccer and violin, just measuring it against serving others and the time we can spend away from home.  Our family serves in our community in many ways and we love to help a friend in need.  If it’s a meal for a sick neighbor or cleaning someone’s house after a loss, helping a friend paint their house or baking cupcakes for a bake sale to raise money for someone….we try to do all we can.  I would say that we do something unplanned in service about twice a month.  

6. Do you have things/places to go during the day and how do you deal with that and home-school? { i.e., doctor’s appointments, shopping for groceries, etc.}

We never have doctor appointments, but we do have several of the children in orthodontics.  I schedule those appointments as close to noon as possible so I can, hopefully, have school finished and we can come home, eat lunch then go right into rest time.  

My grocery schedule changes.  I shop once a week.  When the kids were little I would go when James got home from work.  I’d feed everyone then go alone while he stayed with the children.  Now that I can leave during the day, I go on Monday at lunch time and I take one of the children with me to help (varying which child gets to go).  It is a nice time to spend alone with one child and I can use the help because we almost always fill 2 carts. 

Thanks so much Becky, for having me here these past two weeks!  I love talking about organizing and homeschooling.  I just want to add that I am a mess and have hard days and easy days,  But the thing that keeps me going is just stopping and taking a breath.  With two adult children I can now say as an official "older" woman that it passes so quickly and you will regret not just enjoying your family.  I want to encourage you all to spend a few minutes each day straightening your world, don't be afraid to say no and most of all....slow down and appreciate what you have.  Thanks again!
Isn't Lisa amazing? She did a lot to be able to be interviewed here. Was this helpful to any of you? Let her know...leave a comment telling what you thought was the most encouraging, informative, or fun thing you read!

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