• Homeschool,  My Book,  Personal

    My Random Life Update

    Hey guys!

    So here is what’s going on lately. I’m doing this in list form, because like the title says-it’s random.

    My husband passed his dissertation defense.

    When Josh told me the good news, I got a bit emotional.  There may have been tears in my eyes. It came out of no where.  My throat got tight and there was a catch in my voice.  I could hardly speak.  It’s hard to believe that we began this journey four and half years ago.  This May Josh graduates with a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration.  I’m so proud of him. But mostly thankful that God was with us every step of the way.  Now we wait and see where God leads.

    The paintings for my book are almost finished.

    Sara Jo from Bryarton Farm has been painting the illustrations for a year now. I couldn’t have done this without her.  (Sara, you are amazingly talented, beautiful and real!  Thanks for pouring yourself into this project with me!) After I receive all the illustrations, I’ll move on to finding an agent who will get the book to a publisher.  The process is complicated and the odds are not in my favor. But God is bigger than the odds.  Right?  He’s the One who moved me to write this book. I will trust Him in the outcome.

    Homeschooling is kicking my butt.

    We’re in the middle of second quarter exams.  Did I mention homeschooling is kicking my butt? I consistently have to remind myself that what I feel doesn’t define who I am.  Feelings can be liars.  So often, I feel like I’m not doing enough. I feel like everything I’ve taught them has gone in one ear and out the other.  But it isn’t true.  And a little encouragement to you homeschool mamas out there- your children hear you.  I’ve learned more about Jesus when I feel weak and worn than when I feel like I have everything together.  Lean into your Savior.  He is enough.

    Juicing will be an adventure.

    I say adventure, but I’m not sure what kind of adventure it will be.  On March 1st, I’ll be starting a seven day juice fast.  People give me weird looks when I mention juicing-as if I’m an alien or something.  I encourage you to do the research-if you juice correctly, it can be extremely healthy for you!   In my own personal experience, I know that the food I eat directly affects my health.  After I juice for week, I’ll be eating whole 30.

    Amazon shopping is one of my favorite things!

    The dress and scarf are from Amazon. Together, they make one of my favorite outfits. (The boots were from amazon, too.  But they must have stopped selling them because I can’t find the link.) The purse is a great color with the blue dress!  It’s small and compact. I only carry my wallet and keys, and maybe a book to read-no extras.  My favorite thing about Amazon is that I can shop from the comfort of my home.  There is no waiting in lines wondering how long my four children will last before they go insane.

    Outfit-Maxi Dress

    So, there it is.  A random life update.

  • Homeschool

    Homeschool Scheduling Tips: What to do when you feel like it’s too much

    I’ve been there.  That place where you find it hard to juggle all the “homeschool scheduling stuff”.  I mean, seriously, how do you fit it all in?  Why is it so hard?  What can you do to make it all fit!?

    Right now, I have a fourth grader, second grader, first grader, and also a preschooler.  As I’m writing this down, I’m sitting here thinking, “Whoa, I’m crazy. For real, I must be insane, right!?” Well, I’m not going to make this sound prettier than it is. As much as I love to teach my kids, sometimes they drive me nuts, and sometimes I feel like I’m on the edge about to fall into the abyss of insanity.

    Homeschool Scheduling Tips

    When I’m at the edge, it’s then I review our homeschool schedule.  As I go through the schedule, I remind myself of what I’ve learned in the past.  These tips help me gather myself again.  It forces me to chill out and not freak out.

    Tip #1 is to be flexible.

    I cannot tell you how many times I’ve changed our homeschool schedule-it’s too many to count.  Why? Because our lives are constantly changing.  We went through the newborn phase, the potty training phase, and also the wretched terrible threes (they say it’s the terrible twos-they’re wrong!).  In those times of life, it’s good to be flexible.  Babies need diapers changed.  Potty training doesn’t happen magically, unfortunately. Those moments when your three year old chooses to go crazy with a temper tantrum-well, those are opportunities to train them in character. (Also, remember education without character is worthless.)  Be flexible when the obstacles come.  Be willing to veer off course in order to catch your breath.  Ask yourself these questions: What are our homeschool priorities? What is overwhelming me about homeschool?  Do I need to be more flexible in this area?

    Tip #2 is to train yourself to be a morning/ night person (whatever floats your boat).

    I hate mornings, but God gave me four little monsters that rise at the crack of dawn.  I had to train myself to become a morning person.  It was that or become insane – just kidding (well, half kidding).  Get a friend to keep you accountable.  I asked a friend if we could text each other every morning for a certain amount of time.  The accountability helped me train myself to be a morning person (Beth! You are awesome!!).     I also recommend getting a Bible Study.  I love waking up knowing that I get to dig into God’s Word. It gives me something to look forward to. Another suggestion is to make a routine checklist. I’ve mentioned it before, but I LOVE LISTS!  Write it down and stick to it! Ask yourself these questions: Do I need to train myself to be a morning or a night person?  What do I want to get done at this time?  How much time do I need to get it done?

    Tip #3 is to set a timer as you teach each subject.

    In others words, budget your time. This tip changed my life.  I tend to talk, talk, and talk some more.  It drives me crazy, so I know it has to drive my kids crazy.  I used to think that I couldn’t stop the math lesson until my kids understood the lesson for that day.  But kids learn differently.  The time it takes one child to learn a concept may be different for another child. Not every child learns the same way or at the same speed. A timer helps me to focus more on the quality of what I teach.  Ask yourself these questions:  Do I tend to over-teach a certain subject?  Would setting a timer help?  If yes, how much time do I need for this subject?


    Tip #4 is to focus on quality over quantity.

    The goal is to have my children understand the material so well that they are able to teach it to me. Don’t misunderstand me – quantity matters, but not at the cost of quality.  Ask yourself these questions: Am I rushing to get through the book? In what ways can I balance the quality and quantity of the material? ( For us, this meant going to a year-round homeschool schedule.  But every family is different.  Find what helps you balance quality and quantity.)

    Tip #5 is to spend time with Jesus.

    If we want to be great teachers, then it makes sense to follow the greatest teacher of all.  Without Jesus, my days explode.  Teaching becomes empty and worthless.  My homeschool fails when I fail to live in His grace and power. The days I spend in God’s Word are full of Him and His hope. His Word keeps me grounded, His Word is my hope in homeschooling. His word is your hope, too.   Fill yourself with Jesus.  The more we learn from Christ, the more we will teach like Him.


  • Homeschool

    Steps To Teaching Dictation

    We’ve been including Dictation since September. It has changed our home school for the better.  When I first began researching HOW to do dictation, there weren’t very many resources out there that explained it in detail. I wanted a step by step list of how dictation worked. I’m a list person.  Lists make me happy.  I wanted to know the nitty-gritty details so I could teach it to the best of my ability. After researching blogs on dictation and watching YouTube videos, I came up with our own way of doing Dictation.

    Steps to Teaching Dictation in Homeschool By Rachel Dawn

    Before I share how we do dictation in our home school, I want to encourage you to do what works for your family.  Dictation has worked tremendously well for our home school, but if you try it for a month or two and it isn’t working, throw it out.   What works for my family may not work for yours, and that’s OK!  Every family is different, and no two home schools will be alike.

    Here are the steps that we follow when we do Dictation.

    A Guide through Dictation:

    1. Pick good literature that your child loves. (Examples include the Bible, Shakespeare, The Boxcar Children, and The Chronicles of Narnia.)
    2. Pick a sentence from the literature you’ve chosen. Remember, you know your child better than anyone. Pick a sentence that is both attainable but also challenging.
    3. Say/Dictate the sentence 3 times and have your child repeat the sentence after you. Depending on the length of the sentence, you may want to break down the sentence into phrases.
    4. Go over spelling words. Pick out the words your child doesn’t know how to spell. Spell the word for them until they can spell it back to you.
    5. Go over new punctuation. Teach what a comma (or other punctuation mark) does, and where it is in the sentence.
    6.  Say the sentence 3 times again. Exaggerate the punctuation slightly. Be sure to change your voice when a character is talking, and pause deliberately for commas so the child repeats the sentence correctly.
    7. Have your child write the sentence. I allow three more readings (where I read the sentence to them when they ask) of the sentence while my kids are writing. I do not read it more than three times.
    8.  Check for errors.
    9.  Have your child review their mistakes and make corrections.
    10. Go over the eight parts of speech for the words in the sentence. Start small by asking them where the nouns are, then gradually over time ask them to find all eight parts of speech by teaching a new one each week or so.
    11. Diagram the sentence. Start small by asking them to diagram the subject and verb. When they are confidently diagramming the subject and verb, begin teaching more about diagramming.

    I treat these steps more like a guide. My older two kiddos do all the steps that are listed above.  But my six year old doesn’t. Every student is different.  It’s one of the reasons I love homeschooling so much.  I can be flexible.

    Feel free to change the list for your family’s needs!  If you want to get rid of a step, then do it.  If you want to add your own step, go for it.

    Hope this helps!