Oct 312014
Time management for teens doesn't come easily for everyone. Here are some steps to build accountability and responsibility in time management. - www.MiddleWayMom.com
High school is our last stretch of time we have to teach our children what they need to know before they are on their own in this big world of ours. One of my big concerns for the upcoming generation is how often they will chose what they need to do over what they want to do. I’m sure our parents worried the same thing!
Time management for teens doesn't come easily for everyone. Here are some steps to build accountability and responsibility in time management. - www.MiddleWayMom.com
When I was supervising, I saw time and time again that people would slack off, just for the sake of taking yet another break. Whether it was taking a smoke break, checking Facebook (or rather MySpace at that time), playing a game on the computer, or anything else that was away from the assigned tasks at hand. I get that everyone needs a breather, but there was a very real difference in the 20-something employees, and generation older than them. I aspire to help my kids have a work ethic, and time management skills like I observed in the older generation.
This type of work ethic is engrained in some people with their personality. In others, it’s a learned behavior. I believe we need to treat all children as if they need to learn time management rather than assuming they will pick it up somewhere along the way.

1. Use a schedule

     Each family will have their comfort level in how rigid their schedule is, whether that’s down to 15 minute chunks, a routine or flow for the day, or a checklist that can be done in any order. Whatever it is, creating a schedule helps one build skills in understanding how to work with their time. If you’re so inclined, build breaks into your schedule to create an environment that matches more closely with the workplace. On the other hand, you might not feel that’s necessary. Do what works for you!

2. Create clear guidelines and deadlines

     I do believe it’s necessary to outline expectations early on, and create deadlines. Again, your deadlines might be a to do list of work to be completed by the end of the week, letting your student chooses to schedule for themselves. Or, you may expect a specific list of subjects and assignments are done each day. We love Homeschool Planet to keep track of our deadlines and we use it religiously.
     Create clear expectations from the beginning with a learning meeting. As I was organizing Kira’s work for the year and wrapping my mind around how each class worked, I took just a couple notes of items I wanted to discuss with her. We sat down one day to go through my notes, and I talked about what I expected from her for the upcoming year in terms of independent work, quality of work, amount of effort, where I am flexible with expectations and where I’m not. All the notes I took on each of these things are in a document on our shared Google Drive folder for her to review if she ever feels the need. This also reduces how often I need to repeat myself if I can refer to her Learning Meeting document.

3. Learn to take productive breaks

     We all need breaks throughout our work day, but the question is how we use that time, and how long it lasts. I’m sure many can relate that a 5 minute Facebook break easily stretches out to 30 minutes, and we lose valuable time in our day! Especially the high school years when our kids are doing school for longer hours, they need to take some brain breaks, and they aren’t likely to jump on a trampoline or play ball in the backyard (because how cool would that be? LOL). Kira loves her Jumpcourse class, so when she’s feeling frustrated with one subject, she can take a 10 minute break by working on Jumpcourse. She’s still getting stuff done, but she breaks the monotony and does something she enjoys. The same goes for the workplace. When I was tired of sitting at my desk, I would volunteer to do the hourly checks in the data center, or find another task I could do away from my desk. Not all breaks have to mean walking away completely from productivity.

4. Ensure there are consequences

     Kira doesn’t get grounded when she is missing work, but rather priorities and schedules shift. If school work is not complete, she has to use her fencing time to complete what needs to be done. If she’s falling more seriously behind, we would need to refuse letting her go to a friend’s house on the weekend. “Do what you need to do before you do what you want to do.”

5. Follow up with love

     I’ve found this time in Kira’s life I feel more like a boss during her schooling than I did in years past. I don’t see her day to day work, but I review it periodically. I’m no longer an active part in her learning, so it’s easy to get into supervisor mode of just checking her work and giving her a review. I have to remember that I am her mom and have to follow up like one, while keeping her responsible. She needs responses sugar coated every so slightly if there’s constructive criticism, and a bit of grace when she’s really struggling with managing her time. We are working together to get her ready for college and future employment.
We can’t hold our child’s hand forever. There will come a point where we are only given glimpses of time to hold them and tell them we love them. The other areas of their life won’t include us, and that can be a really sad thought, but we can take joy in knowing we have done the best we know how in preparing them to be successful adults, in sha Allah.
 Later in life, work should not overshadow our religious duties, and our school should not overshadow our marriage responsibilities. Learning these skills will in sha Allah foster a healthy balance for our kids in their future.

How do you foster responsibility and time management in your student?

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Oct 272014
A start of a new series! "Super Homeschool Mom Fallacies" Today, we talk about organization. Do you have to be a super homeschool mom to be organized? - www.MiddleWayMom.com

A start of a new series! "Super Homeschool Mom Fallacies" Today, we talk about organization. Do you have to be a super homeschool mom to be organized? - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Do you wish you were a super homeschool mom? That you had it all together? Well, I’d like to help you with some perspective.

Homeschool Organization

Here’s the thing: you are as organized as you typically need to be. I remember a daytime talk show that featured a woman with an insanely messy house (before Hoarders was a thing), and the talk show host had a list of important items she needed to find in the case of a fire or emergency. Everyone expected her to fail miserably, but she knew exactly where everything was! Even through the piles upon piles of junk, she had some concocted system, even if no one else was able to understand it.

Yes, we all lose a bill once in a while, or lose that important receipt we need in order to return an item, but our day to day activities are normally in systems we are familiar with, even if they look chaotic to someone else. Do you know where you can find your socks and underwear for the day? Your keys? Wallet? Again, we may misplace one of these things from time to time, but on a regular basis, we have them because we need them.

Homeschool becomes part of your family system, and you find ways to make it work. There will be mistakes, and there will be times when you misplace something, but overall, you will have some type of system so you can find what you need, when you need it.

But what about all the awesome, organized homeschooling rooms I see online?

You know, I’m a tiny bit jealous of those rooms, too, but let’s be real. How long do all the crayons stay right-side up, perfectly sharpened in their holder? How long does a stack of paper in a bin stay lined up ever so perfectly? People take pictures of completed projects before they are lived in, or in their best state. And for those where their house always looks like that, well, some people are more particular about having a neat and orderly home. Some people really enjoy it (I’d like it if they could rub some of that off on me!), and they don’t mind spending hours a day keeping their home in prestine condition.

And let’s face it, those people, the super homeschool moms, if their kids were in school, they would likely be president of the PTA, volunteering at every other field trip, and working part time as the class helper. They enjoy it, and that’s great for them! Maybe their budget is a mess, or they have a hard time controlling their emotions when PMS time comes around. Everyone has their struggles and their strengths.

Take heart, fellow homeschool mom. I’m not a super homeschool mom either. I know where to find everything I need, but there’s no way I would take a picture of it in its current state.

What systems do you have for your homeschool that may not seem organized to others?

Photo credit: tome213

Take pride in your homeschooling ways, even if the dishes are piled up!

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Oct 242014
Some things that matter, and some support not normally given - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Some things that matter, and some support not normally given  - www.MiddleWayMom.com

I’m always excited to work on projects with the fabulous bloggers of iHomeschool Network, and working together to compile The Big Book of Homeschooling Ideas is no different. I’ve learned so much from these ladies, and I was happy to contribute pieces that I felt I had to offer. I’d love to share with you why I’m passionate about the chapters I wrote, and why I hope you’ll pick up the book. Each author is passionate about their topics, just like I am, and you can tell through their writing. First, let me introduce the book and the bundle sale happening right now!

Why you’ll love the bundle

From now until November 10th, you can get BOTH The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas and all 23 MP3s from iHomeschool Studio for 50% off! The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas alone is worth the $15 with topics ranging from pregnancy to high school, curriculum to encouragement, and family time to mama time.

iHomeschool Studio really beefs up the deal with both fun, relevant, and heart warming topics. It’s great to listen to in the car, while you’re cooking dinner, or at the end of the day when you want to rest your eyes.

We’re even giving away a bundle! No worries, if you purchase it now, you’ll be refunded right away when you win. Enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.

Bundle Sale! Big Book of Homeschool Ideas AND iHomeschool Studio mp3s!

Getting Started with Credit-by-exam

Our family has spent time focusing on credit by exam through CLEP, DSST, and AP exams, and I wanted to share some tips on getting started. I wanted people to see that it’s not just for the elite, Harvard-bound students, but our everyday, driven students can achieve lofty goals with a carefully set out plan. Credit by exam has been a way to drive Kira to higher goals, and to in sha Allah (God willing) save our pocketbook when college time comes around. I feel passionate about helping our children get through college without crippling debt, and paying for four kids to get through college at sticker price just isn’t in the works.

Where to Buy and Sell Used Curriculum

I spent seven years as a single mom, but even more than that as a broke mom. Starting out as a mother in high school, and getting laid off shortly after getting married made for some trying financial times in my past. While we are not affluent at this point, alhamdulilah (Praise God) we are comfortable. I no longer have to worry about how I’m going to buy groceries, or pay the electric bill, but the idea that I need to be careful how I use each dollar is engrained in me. Paying full price for curriculum is something I only do when absolutely necessary. I know that new homeschooling families tend to spend more than they need to, getting expensive curriculum, stocking up on items they think they’ll need, and simply being unaware of how to shop around to find the best deal. In sha Allah (God willing), this chapter on buying and selling used curriculum helps ease the financial strain of homeschooling for families and stretches those dollars for other uses.

Transitioning to a Virtual School from Public School

I’ve talked about the pros and cons of a virtual school, and why in the end I recommend a virtual school to most, but not all, new homeschooling families. A virtual school is kind of like taking your entire public school home with you, and there are some aspects that must be prepared. Even just transitioning to being together all day takes time and effort. There were many ups and downs for Kira and me her first year in virtual school as we were both figuring out our roles, and honestly, I was getting used to being around a 10 year old all day. I know there’s some pressure in the homeschooling community to bypass a virtual school entirely, but I wanted to offer some support to those that are taking this step as it seems there isn’t much out there in the blogging sphere.

It’s been such a pleasure to work together with so many passionate homeschool bloggers. I hope you’ll hop over to visit some of the other authors, and read why they are passionate about the chapters they wrote as well.

Join the author blog hop!

Yesterday, Carisa shared why she wrote about Homeschooling Tots, and she is giving away her Animal ABCs Bundle.

Tomorrow, join Marianne as she talks about why she wrote the chapters Homeschooling Teen Girls, The Power of Interest-led Learning, and Raising Kids With Vision. Marianne will be giving away a DVD/study guide bundle of Intrepid: The Zac Sunderland Story – Part 1, Part 2 and Wild Eyes: The Abby Sunderland Story.

Of course, don’t miss out on all the other authors! There are giveaways happening throughout the month, so you’ll want to make sure to hop along with everyone.

I love the bundle sale, but if you’re only interested in the book, use the coupon code homeschool to get $2 off your purchase. Remember, this is only good until November 10th!

The Big Book of Homeschool Ideas - with promo code!

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Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival - Eid for Kids Book

Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival – Eid for Kids Book

You might remember when I reviewed Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah and how impressed I was with their debut book. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to review their second book, Ilyas and Duck and the Fantastic Festival, I think I’m a fan for life. They’ve done it again, with crisp, interesting images, a fun story line, and tidbits of knowledge sprinkled throughout in unexpected places, and this time centering Eid for kids. The Ilyas [Read more...]

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