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I Can’t Believe I Have A Kindergartener…

“The heart of God towards us is that we would learn to handle tons of freedom.” – Danny Silk

I was so struck by this quote that came across my newsfeed today. As a mom I often wonder if my fear of the unknown with my children hinders the freedom that I so badly want to instill in them. After losing two sons in two years, I unknowingly let fear make vows on my behalf and it kept our family from living in the dreams and daring faith that we once did.

Today while our family played at the beach close by our home, I wondered if I would even know how to handle the amount and kind of freedom that God so desires for me and my tribe. I wondered what that would look like.

Our family has gone after freedom for a long time. It’s been the reason behind jumping all into our family business. We wanted to be free. And that meant living unlike most of the people around us.

It is also the reason we chose to homeschool. Homeschooling has brought our family a type of freedom that I wish I had been able to learn as a child. For our kids, the world is their classroom. But it didn’t happen by chance. We chose each path that we went down. It’s the same as the risks we had to take with business. The same reason why we chose to buy a used van and not have a second vehicle. It’s the same reason why we chose to live below our budget so that we could be free to believe God for the impossible on the other side of the globe. It’s the reason why we even gave away and sold 90% of our belongings this year.

It’s because we so value freedom.

Does this look like the face of someone who is free?

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Sometimes I still wonder how the little girl who only had a 50% chance of living — the tiny one pound baby who was the size of a barbie doll when she was born — became this wild and fiery 5 year old. And now, just like that — I have a kindergartener. Two of them in fact…

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We value freedom so much that we were determined from day one in our homeschooling journey to equip ourselves with a resource team that expanded our freedom. We were linked up with an incredible curriculum company called Mother Goose Time.

Because of their amazing resources our family is experiencing a level of freedom that we haven’t in years past. Do yourself a favor and find your team — your village. Because life is much more free when others help you dare to believe the impossible dreams that you carry inside of you.

 

 

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7 Words That Changed My Life Forever

A few years ago I was struggling to keep up with the demands of our life. Heck, I still do. There is so much that has to be packed into any given day. And it can be overwhelming before I even get started.

One day I was complaining to a coach of mine about all of the things I HAD to do. I felt like I was spinning plates with every hand. But I also knew all of them were exactly what i was supposed to be doing. My coach interrupted and said, “You know Jess, you don’t HAVE to. You GET to.”

Mind blown.

You don’t HAVE to. You GET to.

Sometimes the stresses of homeschooling can overwhelm you. I get it. I SOOO get it. But as I was scrolling through my pictures from this last month, those 7 words flooded my mind.

We’ve been homeschooling the last year with a great curriculum team called, Mother Goose Time. They have been such a great resource in helping take away the overwhelming nature of teaching my children. They’ve also made the journey pretty fun.

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We are sitting at the table today going over our letter cards that my kids carry everywhere. And today, I get it. I don’t HAVE to. I GET to.

And I’m so thankful.

 

 

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Creative Tips for Homeschooling While on Vacation

Summer is a great time for family vacations. Since we are a year-round schooling kind of family, vacation posed a new level of preparation for us as a family this year. So I wanted to give you some practical tips for homeschooling while you are on vacation. Trust me – my tips have nothing to do with loading you down with school “work”. Instead, I hope they inspire you for the possibilities of creative learning when you are away from home.

This year, we went to the beach as a family. We had an amazing deal given to us, so we loaded up on a moment’s notice and headed out. Here’s what I brought with me for supplies…

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^^^That’s it. So how were we able to learn on the road?

I’m a firm believer that preschoolers and kindergartners need to focus on play as they learn their basics: numbers, letters, phonics (letter sounds), and handwriting. It was amazing to me as I saw my kids reviewing their year of learning on our summer vacation. Here are some examples.

When we arrived at the hotel, our 3 year old was in charge of finding the numbers on the elevator for our floor and finding our room number. He loved hitting the buttons. By the end of our trip – we was the official elevator man and would find and hit the numbers for anyone else who joined our family in the elevator. We counted seashells, and our steps to the car.

I used our letter flags provided by our amazing curriculum company, Mother Goose Time on the beach to go over our letter sounds. The kids would then go and find something that began with that sound (phonics). This is all part of pre-reading fun. And the best part is, we were getting a tan while doing it!

For handwriting, we drew our names in the sand. This was by far our favorite. But all the while we had the best of times together. For us, that’s the entire point of life and learning — to be together as a family.

When I looked at the way our society sets up our days, most families spend very little time together. Everything we own and do has a cost. And for us, a second car or a larger home wasn’t worth the cost of giving up time with each other. I’m really thankful we decided to take the plunge in homeschooling. And I can’t wait to see where our classroom finds us around the world.

How about you? How do you homeschool while on the road?

 

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Make the World Your Classroom

Family has always been the foundation of my husband and I’s dreams. From the moment we met, we knew that family was the reason. Six years later, we’ve had our share of ups and downs. We’ve lost children and we’ve grieved. We’ve hoped and we’ve prayed. But we’ve always known the goal was family.

When I met Josh I was a traveling vagabond of a missionary. He chased me across the globe  and married me under the african stars, and one thing I loved so much about him was that his business freed him to go after the dreams God had placed in his heart. So when we had children and the question of homeschooling came to our minds, we knew we wanted our children’s educations to free us and them in the same way.

And it has. Homeschooling has allowed our family to travel and see the world. It has allowed us to make the world our classroom. And my kids get to explore life with all of their senses. It’s been a breathtaking journey to watch. I can only imagine how much more it will be in the years to come.

Yesterday, we were at the beach remembering the life of our son, Montgomery. It was a hard day for us, but the beach is the closest thing to heaven that we know and it always makes us feel close to the sons we have lost.

If you’ve read our previous blogs, you know we use Mother Goose Time Curriculum for our learning. The single most amazing aspect of our curriculum company is that their resources are portable. They are prepackaged, organized and even prepared for me.

Think about the possibilities of a portable homeschooling program for a minute. That means that our learning is not confined to our family’s four walls — but we can make the world our classroom.

Yesterday, my kids were using some of Mother Goose Time’s experiencing God curriculum. On one of the saddest days for our family, while at the beach, the sky filled with rainbows. There were nearly a dozen by the time we left! We had just been covering the story of Noah, and my three-year-old shouted out, “Mom, you make rainbows with water and sun!” He had remembered our time learning about how rainbows are made. I was so excited to see the beach becoming our classroom that day.

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How about you? How does your family broaden the walls of your “classroom”?

 

 

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Living Supernaturally While Homeschooling

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It’s no secret we love Jesus. He is the reason we breathe, and we as a family have set ourselves to living out His dreams for us in each day we are given.

I meet many families who desire to live their lives supernaturally but don’t know where to start in bringing their children into that process. Usually the answers I give them aren’t what they are looking for.

Yes, we’ve traveled the world. We’ve seen the blind see and hundreds if not thousands of people come running to the Anointed One — this man, Jesus whose coming turned the world upside-down, and whose return will be the same. People often get excited about the wild stories we share about God working in the earth. They want the same results without the cost of getting there.

Because the truth is, there is a cost.

The same is true with teaching our children about God while they are little. I still remember the night when Tuck, our 3-year-old said he saw angels in our home. Everyone was so excited and in awe of his child-like faith. But in the next breath he said, “I’m going to trap them”. I wanted to roll on the floor with laughter. I think all of us did.

And that may be the point. Living supernaturally is natural to us. But we can’t get anywhere without a foundation. That’s why I am so passionate about laying a foundation of scripture in my children’s lives. They may have all the supernatural experiences God can give, but without His word to navigate them, they miss out on so much more of who He is.

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I spend much of my time instilling the basics of God’s word in my kids. Our amazing curriculum team, Mother Goose Time has great tools in making sure our kids have His word integrated into their learning.

How do you integrate God into your learning? Are you living God’s dreams for your life? For your family?

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Tailoring Your Curriculum to Fit Your Homeschooling Needs

For the last year our family has been teaming up with an amazing curriculum company called Mother Goose Time. I stumbled across their amazing resources after being overwhelmed and stressed at how to go about homeschooling my tribe. It’s one of the best decisions our family has ever made.

Now, I know many veteran homeschooling moms who have sworn off curriculum use in homeschooling. While I understand where they are coming from, I wholeheartedly believe that giving yourself a place to work from in beginning to teach your children is a must. For many of us moms who have embraced this lifestyle, we carry many hats. I cram 3 full-time jobs and more into my every-day schedule. It’s tough. It requires many cups of coffee but it is our life . And honestly, I wouldn’t want it any different.

But as a mom launching out into the deep of learning with my kids, I needed an anchor. I needed a map. I needed help in navigating where I was going. Even if the wind would blow and we would move in another direction, if I didn’t have a boat to travel on, I would be braving an unknown “ocean” of learning with nothing. That didn’t sound like a good plan for me.

I found Mother Goose Time through another mom who was blogging about her journey. I loved their illustrations because I was so put off by curriculum companies that hadn’t changed their illustrational content in decades.

Let me invite you into how our family customizes our learning journey with Mother Goose Time.

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Each month we are sent a large box with 90% of everything we will need for that month. All of our crafts are pre-prepped and ready. Honestly, all I have had to purchase this last year was crayons, paint and scissors. I saved myself hours of time prepping projects through utilizing this great team.

The two tools I use each month to customize is our planning journal and teacher guide.

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Our family has started a 4 day a week homeschooling plan. This helps us with all of the other goals we have for our lifestyle. I will go through the planning journal and circle which crafts fit our family best for that month. I love how they show us what the finished products look like. It helps me stay excited about what we are doing.

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Next I go through our teacher guide. Each day has 4 lessons that can be included. We customize which work for our goals that day. And I create my own version of the day by utilizing the black planning section in our learning journal here.

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What is even more amazing is that our curriculum is quite portable. As a traveling family this has made me feel freedom in teaching and learning with my kids.

How do you customize your curriculum to meet your family’s learning needs?

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Simple Homeschooling: How to Plan Without Missing Your Purpose

One of the greatest obstacles I faced in beginning homeschooling my children was finding my way in organizing all the resources at my fingertips. It was overwhelming! But I did eventually find my way. Ironically, the simple approach to planning and life was what best suited my family.

In the beginning I made the mistake of trying to teach my children 6 hours a day. I over scheduled and over planned and burnt myself out by week 4! Then one day I had to face the facts. Our family’s needs outweighed my desire for perfection.

I simplified our days — and life has taken off ever since.

Our family, like yours, is different from everyone else around us. For us, our home is a constant merry-go-round of life each day. We run a business, an international ministry, I’m an author and blogger, and we homeschool and run a community program here as well. Life is FULL. But it’s not meant to be overwhelming.

One piece of gold I have discovered this year is that when life is too overwhelming, it usually means I have taken on burdens that are not mine to carry — or that I am operating outside of the dreams God has for me.

So my goal for our learning is simple: to live a lifestyle of learning. Now, I’m not talking about un-schooling. I’m not that kind of mom. There are many out there and I’m cheering you on. But for us, we want to be focused on what we are going after and intentional about what we are pursing in education. I’m talking about living out the dreams God has for our family while accomplishing our learning goals. These two needs compliment each other rather than competing with each other. See the difference?

Our learning team is Mother Goose Time Curriculum. We absolutely love this company because they have brought so many resources to our fingertips since our learning journey began. As a traveling family, we’ve really been able to customize our learning through their amazing pre-prepped materials. I can’t tell you how much I’m thankful for them!

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This is our planning journal and teacher’s guide. These two books are all I need. I love this because instead of having an outside planning book, I can utilize their resources and streamline my approach to planning.

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Mother Goose Time gives teachers blank pages in their planning journal to customize your learning and approaches to their products. This is probably one of the greatest resources that MGT has given our family.

I can approach our learning in the exact way that fits us each week. And planning has simplified our lives and made our learning journey that much more exciting.

If you’re a homeschooling family looking to find your way, I’d encourage you to ask yourself if you know your “why” and what you are going after. When you know those things, the sky is the limit.

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Bible Verse Memorization in Preschool

Have I tripped you up already? The word, “memorization” can make any homeschooling parent weary. It is a hard line to toe for those of us who grew up in education systems that rewarded memorization over retention.

I was one of those students. I maintained great grades because I was gifted at memorization. However, I retained very little of that information. For most of us on this journey of homeschooling, we have set out on this path because of wanting something better for our children than what we received.

But before you “throw the baby out with the bath water” let me offer a third way.

In preschool, memorization actually is key to learning. Can you still recite songs that you learned in preschool? I can too. They stick with us. So, memorization isn’t always a bad thing.

In our school, we utilize memorization for songs, letters, letter sounds (phonics), numbers, and even memory verses. Each month, our curriculum team Mother Goose Time Curriculum, sends us an “Experiencing God” add-on that includes a variety of ways for us to explore and experience Jesus in our learning. One of those ways is through memory verses.

Now, trust me, I have heard the arguments against Bible memorization. I too want my children to live and breathe the Word. I want for His word to be so richly inside them that they naturally live supernaturally. But without knowing His Word, none of this will be possible.

Here is our June memory verse.

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I love these cards and laminate them each month. I also put a key ring on them and keep them for when we travel. Our kids love these and remember them more than anything else we learn.

I’d encourage you to look into memorization in your learning journey as a family. And while you’re at it, check out our resource team at Mother Goose Time.

 

 

 

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Mother Goose Time Summer Review Tools

Summer is such an exciting time for our family. For yours too, we hope. I love that instead of looking forward to school being out for the summer, my kids have learned to be excited about making learning a lifestyle year-round. We love learning! What’s more is that our schooling team, Mother Goose Time Curriculum gives us such amazing resources that we utilize in the summer for review.

Let me show you some of our tools…

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These are our alphabet flags. They are literally my favorite thing that I have in regards to schooling. I laminate them and punched holes in them with binder rings so that we could use these for years to come. Keep in mind that kindergarten and first grade is so focused on phonemic awareness that our letters are so very important and useful. I also love that these tools are portable. As a traveling family, we can do school anywhere. That’s the greatest gift our family has received through taking the leap into homeschooling. The world is our classroom.

Here is the back of these flags:

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The other we-can’t-leave-home-without-it tool from Mother Goose Time is our letter review books.

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My kids love these because they are just their size and they can review their letters whenever they’d like. They often “play” school and will reenact our class times. I laminated and put these on rings as well for longevity purposes.

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You can also use these for sight word practice. We do not learn site words until kindergarten. But Mother Goose Time does a great job of giving preschoolers a head start on this area. And no matter what your preference on timing for introducing different parts of the foundation to learning to read, these resources are yours to keep with Mother Goose Time. You can use them for years to come!

Our single greatest focus this summer is review when it comes to our letters and letter sounds. I am a big believer in building a great foundation in phonemic awareness before thrusting kids prematurely into beginning reading. If your child has a strong foundation in phonics, reading will follow.

How do you use your summer for schooling? What are your goals for this season as a family?

 

 

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Summer Review for incoming Kindergarteners

Yes, we are those people. The kind that school through summer. But not for the reason you might be thinking.

We homeschool through summer because we’ve been able to create a lifestyle of learning in our family. Our kids love learning. They don’t have the misfortune of believing that learning is meant to be had between four walls. They have really learned that the world is their classroom.

We currently have a 4-year-old who will be 5 in kindergarten and a 3 year-old who will be 4 in kindergarten. Since our 3 year old has passed his kindergarten assessment, he will be joining his sister in kindergarten this coming school year. I’m thrilled because I get to keep both my kids in the same grade — one curriculum, one lesson plan, etc. And my kids are thrilled because they love learning together.

One of the greatest review suggestions I have for moms of incoming kindergarteners is to focus your summer on phonemic awareness — that is, letter’s and the sounds they make. I also encourage moms to search for a checklist for their child’s incoming grade and its requirements. For me this gives me an assessment that I can look at for each of my children. I can see what they are proficient at and what they may need help in. And that’s how I structure our summers. I use the word structure loosely because summer and all year really, our schedule is flexible depending on our family’s goals and priorities.

Today, we have been reviewing letter “A”. We were able to make an alligator and paint which is my children’s favorite activity. I often get asked how I come up with great craft activities to reinforce our lessons. I always laugh when I hear that question because of the answer. The answer is, I don’t. I have a great homeschooling resource team at Mother Goose Time Curriculum. They have made our learning journey this year that much more amazing by providing our family with pre-packed lesson plans and themes for our lessons. I love it because the time I save not having to prep means that I can create more lasting memories with my kids.

Happy summer! What dreams is your family chasing this season?

 

 

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