A Christmas Tree, Some Books, and a Challenge

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
The Christmas season is in full swing. We've got the lights and the tree up, my oldest spent some time at Amma's house making Christmas goodies. 
The baby is very excited about the tree, he even wanted the tree to hold him! He loves to have other people hold him and he reaches out his arms as his way of saying "hold me!" and he has done that with the Christmas tree. He loves the lights, he loves the ornaments, he loves the branches. It's all fun and exciting, he was so excited the first few times that he started laughing hysterically when he saw it. I suppose that if I didn't know better I would probably find a decorated tree inside our house pretty funny too!
In our homeschool this week…
I shared in other posts this week about the learning that we are doing. My oldest is excited about learning to read and spell. We are using several different methods, I shared some of those in a post.
We have been taking it pretty easy with the holidays but since he is so excited about learning we have been spending time on stuff that he wants to learn about.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
When they show an excitement about learning something - go with it! Foster that love of learning!
My favorite thing this week was…
Watching my boys play together! They adore each other and I couldn't ask for more!
Things I’m working on…
Getting my entrepreneurial endeavors to the point that I can work those alone and be able to focus more time and energy on homeschooling. I really want to be able to 'retire' from my home preschool within two years. I want to be active in homeschool groups and other daytime activities.
I’m reading…
A link or quote to share…
On my other blog I am preparing for a Habit Building Challenge that will be in the month of January! I would love to have you join the challenge if you have a habit that you would like to build! It will help you get your new year started off right! The habit can be anything, click the image below for more info:

“You will never change your life
until you change something you do daily.
The secret of your success
is found in your daily routine.”

–John C. Maxwell

For the LOVE of learning!

One thing that I absolutely LOVE about home education is the fact that the love of learning can be cultivated and not squashed! I remember being a child and I loved learning, but I really did not like school.

I really love being able to cultivate my son's love for learning. He's so excited about learning new things (both of them are, but I don't quite consider myself homeschooling the baby yet - though I know that I'm teaching him a great deal!)

Right now my oldest is excited about learning to read and learning to count to one hundred. Not only do I get to be the one teaching him these things and watching him learn but I get to go with the flow and teach him as he has the interest.

Taking advantage of that is amazing! He doesn't have to feel pushed into learning something that he has no interest in yet, nor does he have to be held back and wait for something the school system is not ready to teach yet.

Isn't this the way learning is supposed to be?

It really is an adventure because I don't always know what is going to work when teaching him something. I was baffled at how to teach him to read because I was trying various "systems" and it just wasn't clicking.

Then I had the thought to sit down and write out the word AT. He sounded it out pretty quickly and then I added an "S" in front of the AT and he sounded out sat. He was so excited! We high-fived and I wrote out a bunch more AT's and started adding new letters in front of them.

In no time at all he had sounded out all of the three letter AT words in the English language! He was so excited and as soon as he could he started showing people his list and reading it to them.

We went through the same process with the IT words and he was equally excited!

Now he's focused on learning how to count to 100 so today I'll teach him 30, 40, 50 and so on. Now that he grasps the concept of 21, 22, 23... he can apply it to learning the bigger numbers. I think that he'll be able to count to 100 if not by today then by the end of the week for sure!

Favorite Educational Activities!

It has definitely been too long since I've posted! We've been very busy and making good progress, it's good that we're doing Pre-K for my oldest this year since there is so much going on and I have so many young kids in my daycare. It helps me to feel more relaxed about homeschooling Pre-K than if it was Kindergarten.

I want to share some of our favorite things!

This dry erase activity center was a birthday present and is now one of our staple homeschooling items! Just take one tracing sheet and it now has a lifetime of use! We use worksheets over and over with this! 

This is especially useful for things that require a lot of repetition. My 5yo is now able to write the whole alphabet and has used it to learn how to write his name as well as other things. I've also used it to write out words for him to learn to read. It's a great way to teach phonics!

This fun game teaches a lot of math skills! It teaches spacial reasoning, balance, counting, hand eye coordination and imaginative thinking. It also encourages fun time for family members!

This pattern block game is great for many reasons. The pieces are magnetic and so is the board, making it easier to keep the pieces where they are supposed to be (and less likely to get lost!) The cards have two levels making the life of the game even longer. So far this has provided many hours of fun learning! It's great for traveling too with the handy case that comes with it!

This fun spelling puzzle helps them to get excited about spelling words. The pieces only fit on the right word and the kids get so excited when they've spelled a word. This has been a big hit for not only my oldest but many of his friends who come visit!

The Leap Frog tag system is an excellent learning tool! There are countless books to choose from and even a couple of maps that I have my eye on. There are so many skills that it teaches, fun games, awards, and more. It's interactive, fun and teaches a lot!

The Leapster Explorer is a handheld game system that has a lot of educational games. It can be a little too much fun at times and I typically have to limit the time on this simply because it is a handheld game. 

What are your family's favorites?