Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Impromptu Playdate

today's wordless wednesday brought to you by 80 degree weather.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Secular Thursday: Iowa HomeSchooling Laws

I know this is late in the day, but with three small children and my own schooling to do, this is the only free time I get! So, tonight I will kill two birds with one stone. Bird #1 is SecThurs; Bird #2 is my first ever Blog Hop!

This Blog Hop Hosted by Kylie @ and the theme is to tell or show the things we are all required to do to meet our state requirements.

In the state of Iowa, compulsory age starts at the age of 6 through 16 before September 15. If the kid turns 16 on or after that date, they have to stay enrolled for that school year. Schooling is a total of 148 days, with 37 days (though not really defined) per quarter.

Every year parents must file a CPI (Competent Private Instruction) form to the school board secretary by August 26 of that school year. This form is 2 pages long and asks the questions of how long you will homeschool, what you will be teaching, the name of the books you will use, some lesson plans, etc. It also asks for vacc records, or a medical/religious exemption for vaccs.

Then, the form asks the parent to choose a schooling option, whether it will be a Supervising Teacher, or an annual assessment. If the teacher, you have to give their name and "folder number" (what they use to identify teachers). All the STs that I know of have a fee. If you choose the annual assessment option, you will have to turn in a report card from any correspondence school you may be using. It HAS TO BE ACCREDITED BY THE STATE for it to be legit. If you are not using a correspondence school you can create a portfolio. The portfolio must be evaluated by a licensed teacher (also for a fee, a I've been told. I am currently working on my degree so that I can be qualified to be a licensed teacher to use this option for FREE!). The teacher's evaluation (not the portfolio) is then sent to the school system. The teacher MUST BE LICENSED FOR THE SPECIFIC GRADE YOU ARE TEACHING. If you do not wish to use the portfolio option, there is the option to do a standardized test at the end of every year. They have a list of tests that are allowed to be used for this option. I do not know what they are.

And there you have it. I believe that is all that is required to legally homeschool in the state of Iowa here in the United States. It's an unwanted amount of paperwork and tape, but it can be done. I currently do not have to worry about it for another two years. Lily will not be cumpolsory age until then.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

This wordless Wednesday brought to you by PBS Kids

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up: SPRING BREAK!!!

School was out for the week, here in this house anyway. In my small town, they really don't have a Spring Break as I know it. They [students] end up with a 4 or 5 day weekend. So while my kids took this entire week as a vacation, everyone else had to go to school through Wednesday. Homeschool WIN!

And since we did very little this week, I will just share photos from this week. :)
(those viewing this through my LJ, the original post is at

Monday: We did some Read It-Write It-Draw It books for kicks. Then we headed out to the store so I could make mental notes of things I would like to have to make storing homeschooling supplies easier. As well as stuff and things.

Tuesday: Absolutely not a thing.

Wednesday: Happy St. Patrick's Day! We were set to have a play-date, but our friends were sick. :( However, they did drop off some tasty treats for us that EVERYONE enjoyed.

Thursday: It totally felt like SPRING today. All of the snow was gone and the temp rose up to 60 degrees F!! So we walked to ou rpublic library, then walked to our public playground/park, then walked back home. On the way home we greeted wild-life, such as two garter snakes and some bugs. :)

Friday: We got 4 inches of snow and spent the entire day in the house incredibly annoyed with Mother Nature.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Being a minority within a minority WITHIN A MINORITY sometimes makes me want to punch people in the face if they make one of those kinds of comments.

First, ethnically, I'm a minority. I am Hispanic, and in this incredibly small town in Iowa, there are like 3 of us. Two living on the same street (me and my neighbor). LOL. Normally this doesn't bother me. Even though English was my second language, I've mastered it to a point where I sound like the average American. Hell, I have better enunciation, spelling and grammar skills than most Americans I have met that are my age. But if I'm in a store, talking to my mother in Spanish when I'm on the phone with her, people start to stare. The customers stare, and then the clerk(s) look at me like I'm about to shoplift or something. (Yes, because a woman arguing with her mother on the phone while trying to keep her 3 small children from hiding in the racks and making it a jungle safari is there to shoplift.) I've even been FOLLOWED.

Second, I homeschool. Fifty percent of the people here are farmers, 40% are corporate workers in one thing or another, and the other 10% work here in town. Most parents send their kids to public or private school because they cannot make the time to homeschool, or just don't have an interest in doing so, and that's cool. I was a public school kid growing up. I was a LATCH-KEY kid because both of my parents were working, and my older siblings had their own lives going on. To each their own. But not many people homeschool. It's difficult. AND you don't get paid for it. PLUS you're stuck with your kids all day. :) I don't know many parents who find that appealing in the least. People keep thinking I'm SuperMom or something because I *want* to be with my kids all the time. (Though sometimes I would like a vacation)

Third, I am Pagan. When most people accept you homeschool, they think you do it for religious reasons, which is fine. But they automatically assume it's Christian based. But if I say no, I am not a follower of Christianity, a whole new stream of negativity is thrown at me, which is also accompanied by the last minority in this "list"--I'm a SECULAR homeschooler.

Religion is not frowned upon here. On the contrary, it's discussed quite frequently. My mother is a Christian pastor. She created her church, does her own thing, and we discuss the teachings of Christ, the older scriptures, and how it can easily meld with Science frequently. (I lucked out. My mom's not a crazy, she knows Science is fact built by many theories that were proven through extensive research and experimentation. But she also finds [and I agree with her] that it is overseen by Divinity [though we don't agree on who].) I study religion as a hobby and my husband and I both collect religious texts for educational purposes. I believe that you better understand people if you can better understand their beliefs, their faith system. My husband is an atheist. His only religion revolves around his nerd, lol, but he knows that if it is a healthy way of life, something that helps you be a better person, there is no reason to bring it down or "ban" it from the house. Everyone has the right to believe the way they are most comfortable as long as that way is not harmful to them or those around them. And though we do discuss openly about beliefs and the mythology surrounding those beliefs, it is never set as truth, because we have no proof. So I try and keep my religious views out of our schooling. I want my children to decide what they believe on their own terms. If my children ask me a question that's religion-based, I have no problem answering, but I always emphasize that it is what *I* believe, and that it is ok if they believe something differently because there is nothing to prove any of us wrong, so no one can be right or wrong.

But I digress...

I've learned that sometimes it's easier to just keep my big mouth (and I mean that in a literal sense) shut. It's not that I'm not happy being this or that, or being a "minority" six different ways from Sunday, but it seems that people just keep getting dumber. So when anyone finds out that I'm a Hispanic secular homeschooling Pagan mom and they feel like adding their negative two cents, I just want to slap them. Slap them in their pretty mouths. But instead I have to do it the easy way and just ignore them. Violence only ever teaches that it hurts to get hit, even if you are wishing you could smack them smarter.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lapbook Giveaway

Tristan over at Our Busy Homeschool is doing a lapbook giveaway. She bought a lifetime membership after already paying for one year, so now Hands of a Child is giving the rest of her membership (seven months!) FREE to one lucky person!

Truthfully, I'm hoping it's me. :D But, you should go and try a chance at winning it, too! Go click the above linked text!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Secular Thursday: Why Homeschool?

The past forever, everyone has asked us why we are choosing to homeschool our children. Like each of my pregnancies, this wasn't something I had originally planned. I had planned to work outside the home, have my children go to public school, until I actually had my children and watched them learn and grow.

My husband is a genius. While most people retain 50% of what is taught to them, he can retain 70-80%. I was a "gifted" student. Not anywhere near my husband (who graduated high school with academic honors without even trying) but still above the average. My children seem to have inherited our awesome. LOL

I have absolutely no problem with public school. Both my husband and I went to public school, and I know I have fond memories of my high school years. But academically, I was never challenged. I wasn't "smart enough" to skip a grade, but I was "smart-enough" to finish my tasks before all the other students and space out. When I was put in the Talented and Gifted program, the teachers expected us to already know everything; "You're a TAG student, you should know this". My education was stunted, I plateaued at an early age, and never felt motivated enough to challenge myself with other things.

Lily is currently going to a private preschool, and though the standards of that preschool are higher than the public school's she is STILL two years ahead of everyone in her class. Iris, who is two years younger then her older sister, is also two years ahead of most children her age. Because of their age, I cannot put them in a higher grade. Because I cannot put them in a higher grade, they are stuck with the children their age, who are at a different level, and get bored. Because they get bored, they end up being naughty. Lily has gotten into the habit of painting all over herself when she is done with an activity b/c everyone else is still busy with theirs. If she finishes early, which she usually does, she gets bored and then gets up and leaves the room. Sometimes, she just straight up refuses to participate.

What I've come to know about my children makes homeschooling the best opportunity for our children to learn. I know how Iris learns. I know how Lily learns. I know what works with what children and can adjust to better suit their learning abilities. In public school, the problems assessed would only be the majority. Unfortunately that would not work for my children, since they are not part of the majority. Also, I have more one-on-one time with each child, since I only have three children and not 16.

One thing that seems to go along with the "why homeschool" question is socialization. What irks me about those statements is do they honestly believe I'm going o keep my kids cooped up in the house all day every day? There are activities that they can be placed in with other children. Sports, of all shapes and sizes are incorporated AND we take them to areas where there will be children their age that they can interact with, such as the park, or the play area in our local malls. (By local, I mean 30 minutes away.) I am a social butterfly. I LOVE people. I cannot imagine not having my children out and about making new friends and acquaintances.

For now, with how "smart" our children are, homeschooling is the best option to better harness their awesome. And studies show that there is a direct correlation between my kids and awesome. :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

2010-2011 Curriculum

I can't afford it. No matter how cheap someone can find it, we just do not have the money to buy any sort of curriculum in any subject. So, what do I plan to do? Completely pull it out of my butt and do the lesson plans myself. I think my brain just imploded.

I am at a complete loss. OK, maybe not a complete loss, but I'm still at some sort of a loss. Lily is supposed to be in pre-K next year. She was going to go again to the preschool that she is going to now, but she's been deliberating because shes been bored out of her mind. We are almost completely done with her Kindergarten workbook. She's been retaining everything; I'm super proud of her. So for now, I will be "reviewing" most of what she's learned in pre-K and K, and starting 1st grade work with her next year. There are some things I want to make sure she understands and has in her head before "leaving" Kinder.

I have NO IDEA what 1st graders learn, so I'm pulling ideas out of thin air right now:
  • I've planned time for Foreign Language (which will be Spanish, French, German, and Chinese)
  • We will have time for Phonics/Reading, Writing & Spelling, sentence structure
  • addition and subtraction as well as skip counting; sequencing and sorting
  • I'm thinking of covering the Human Body for Science; muscles, digestive system, nervous system, skeletal system, endocrine system, the like. The weather and seasons, astronomy, states of matter.
  • Start off with US history in the fall, starting with the States, and then Iowa and Nebraska and working from there. Later doing Britain, medieval times, Ancient Greece and Rome.
  • I want to make time for art, music, and physical play.
Once I have a schedule set out for when to do what and for how long (like Foreign Language will be an hour long: 15 minutes per language) I'm hoping to be able to plan out the ENTIRE year. If any of you readers out there do, or have done 1st grade, what have you done and do you have any advice? All comments are welcome!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lesson Plans for the week of 8 Mar thru 12 Mar 2010

note: Along with English, we are currently learning Spanish, French, German and Chinese. Spanish is my first and native tongue, and my husband already knows French. We are having a lot of fun learning these languages with the girls. When I post "Foreign Language" I am only writing about which topic we are going to do. We are learning all of these languages AT THE SAME TIME.

Monday: bookwork: Hh, is, counting up to 12, shapes, sorting, nickels, our home address and telephone number, living things; foreign language: yellow and body arts; bookwork: Gg, review Aa-Gg, stop/go, yellow, sort 'same', the kitchen, habitats, trace lines, patterns; tummy and standing time, play with different textures, read: nursery rhymes

Tuesday: bookwork: Ii, are, count to 12, shapes, the arts, dimes, clean community, mammals; foreign language: green, body parts; bookwork: Hh, stop/go, green, same/different, what does not belong in a house, habitats, trace lines, patterns; tummy and standing time, play with different textures, read: colors

Wednesday bookwork foreign language: blue, body parts; bookwork ; tummy and standing time, play with different textures, read: nursery rhymes

Thursday bookwork foreign language: purple, body parts; library; bookwork ; tummy and standing time, play with different textures, read: colors

Friday bookwork foreign language: white, body parts; parents as teachers; bookwork ; tummy and standing time, play with different textures, read: animals

Note: if you have noticed from my weekly wrap-up posts, I don't always stick to my "lessons". most of the time I just wing it and do something they suggest or I'll end up with a headache, but I find that writing these down and at least having some form of idea what I'm going to do that day helps me acquire less stress.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Weekly-Wrap up

QUICK NOTE: I am currently in a hurry as we are about to have lunch and then head to the Henry Doorly Zoo, but I have tons of pictures and videos to add to this post. Check back later tonight to view them!

Monday: Iris finally traced curved lines! It was our first day doing bookwork, straight out of the book, and she did such a great job I was in a great mood all day. Lily did her workbook review and journal and we worked on shapes and colors in Spanish.

Tuesday: It was Dr. Seuss's birthday! We had a pretty lazy day at first, just reading a bunch of his books. Then, after reading Bartholomew and the Oobleck, we made our own oobleck. Iris pretty much painted herself with the non-newtonian fluid while Lily decided to play in the cornstarch. Rose was our supervisor.

Wednesday: more bookwork and workbook review. Nothing too exciting.

Thursday: We did the color of the day, Green, in French (vert), Spanish (verde), and German (grun), and they hollered it every time. They even said it in Chinese (lyu). After that I decided I REALLY needed to clean my house because it was a wreck, so they helped me out in that department. Note to self: they are terrible sweepers. So after I fired them from using the brooms, they sat down and played video games on their computer and their Leapster2.

Friday: We did not a damn thing. I was horribly ill and stayed in bed all day. My husband stayed up and watched the kids for me and they horse-played.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Secular Thursday: Patience is a Virtue...

...especially if you're a homeschooler.

Last week, my husband made a chart of colors with all the colors written in different languages. After the girls sat down on the couch, he pulled out the color blue and said the colors to them in English, French, Spanish, and German. Rose is 7 months old. She didn't care. Iris, who is two, had gotten up in the middle, gone to the toy box, and had begun to play with something random. Lily, being four, had stayed put, but had totally spaced out. So when their dad repeats the color and then asks them what that certain color is in a specific language, Iris isn't paying attention and Lily's automatic response is "I don't know." My husband: "Did anyone else just get a sudden headache?" I snorted at that moment, trying to supress my laughter. He then goes on to say, "You know, each day I keep getting more turned off on the idea of homeschooling." "Why? Because how frustrating it is that they don't want to pay attention?" "Exactly."

Like I said, I could only laugh. I deal with this every day. Every day, when we sit down for an activity, Lily spaces out in the middle of doing bookwork. You can ask her to draw a rectangle, and it will seem like she's doing just that, until, halfway through the rectangle, she's doodling. You ask her what she's doing and she stops and stares at her doodle and responds with her usual "I don't know." *head-desk* Iris gets distracted almost immediately after given an instruction. A simple "can you draw a circle for me, please?" and as soon as she picks up her crayon she's completely forgotten what you just asked her. Most of the time they sit down to do a certain activity that involves their undivided attention, like writing or math, I have to snap my fingers in front of their eyes and go "FOCUS!" or it will never get done. I've learned to be patient.

I am a very impatient person. I was kind of spoiled as a child. Materially, I wasn't given everything I wanted, but my emotions were always tended to immediately. If I was angry, you had to console me, NOW. If I was hungry, you had to feed me, NOW. If you had upset me, you had to apologize, NOW. So when I work with my girls and they don't do it NOW, it can get quite frustrating, especially when it's not just spacing out but downright defiance. There have been days when I just want to pull a Homer Simpson and throttle them, but I always try and leave a room when I get too irritated.

Patience was something I had to learn when I began staying with my children full time. If I got too angry or frustrated with them, I usually had to put my own self in time out. I'm not saying I don't get angry now or that I'm anywhere near perfect where patience is concerned, but I do my best, and I have gotten better over the past couple of years. It's not easy and a constant work in progress, but every homeschooler knows how much patience is needed.