family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Kids in the Kitchen

I love spending time in my kitchen. It is my happy place. I love baking bread from scratch and cooking up delicious meals for my family…and sometimes, the meals aren’t so delicious! I used to make homemade egg noodles pretty frequently, but haven’t made them in quite some time.

Harper has recently taken an interest in helping me in the kitchen. She helped me make the cake for Addi’s birthday party. She’s so much fun.

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Look at her sweet face!! She was so excited to use the rolling pin.

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I loved watching her watch me and what I was doing. She asks so many questions in her sweet little voice. IMG_0103

Egg noodles don’t have to be perfect. Once I had finished cutting them one way, I let her have at it. She actually ended up not pushing hard enough to cut most of the noodles, so I had to go back over them. She had a blast.

I am a HUGE fan of getting the kids involved in the cooking. My mom always had my sisters and I in the kitchen with her. She never worried about perfection if we were making something. She wanted us to learn how to cook. I want the same for my kids. I want them to be confident in the kitchen. The older girls are at an age where we feel comfortable letting them stir things in pots or pans on the stove top while we watch. I’m wondering when the fear of injury will go away.

My favorite day was when they learned how to make their own toast. Addi especially loves to make toast for herself and her sisters. I love that I can go a little slower on those mornings. They love feeling a sense of independence, and I love seeing them grow.

Do you encourage your kids to join you in the kitchen? I really can’t recommend it enough! Cooking is such a valuable “life skill” for everyone to learn!

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ADHD, homeschool, kids, recommendations, Uncategorized

ADHD: What Has Helped Us

ADHD

Here we are, 18 days into the ADHD and dyslexia diagnosis. I immediately started implementing some of the things that were suggested by the doctor. I also did some research for my holistic ways to help with ADHD since even the doctor didn’t feel medicating would be necessary for her. I am so thankful for that. I am NOT a doctor, so don’t take this as medical advice. I am just sharing what has worked the best for us.

10 minute breaks- I started doing ten minute breaks in between every subject. Listen, when this was suggested, I honestly wanted to cry and scream. “It is already a battle and takes way longer than it should for school. Now, I’m supposed to add in constant breaks?” Do you know what happened on the first day? She finished HOURS earlier than she had without these breaks. It has continued. The breaks are just enough for her brain to get a break, and then she is ready to dive back in and learn. We are finishing school at the time we should with these ten minute breaks sprinkled throughout the day versus less breaks and finishing at least two hours later than we should. Hallelujah.

CALMThis is a supplement that I started trying for one of my daughters that struggles with her big emotions. I realized that it would probably help with ADHD, and it sure does. It is basically a coated piece of chocolate; no yucky flavors or textures. I don’t do this every day (hello, expensive)– just on days that I can tell we may need a little extra help. It’s so great, and I highly recommend it if you have a child with big emotions that overwhelm them also!  I also really want to try out FOCUS, but I haven’t yet. The Relax-a-saurus is also a good option, but I personally am not a fan of all of the ingredients I can’t pronounce. It’s much more affordable though, so do what you need to!

FOCUS roller bottle- If you are new here– I love essential oils. I immediately sought out advice from other moms who found oils that worked for them. This focus roller bottle smells wonderful and helps so much. It is 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops of cedarwood, and 5 drops of vetiver in a roller bottle; then topped with a carrier oil. These are all really calming oils, so this would be great at bedtime as well. If you also use oils, you should check out the pocket reference. I use this all the time for finding oils to help with ANYTHING.

Wobble Seat– I bought one of these three years ago. Goodness the wiggles. I hated it at the time because she would play with the seat more than sit on it. It was just one more distraction. I pulled it back out after the diagnosis. It’s great. This disc sits right on top of the chair. She can sit in her seat and wiggle as much as she needs or wants to. This is great if you have kids that like to tilt their chair as a form of wiggling. No more flipped over chairs.

 

Again, I am not a doctor. I am not giving medical advice. Check with your doctor if you have any questions.

Doing these things has been such a game changer in our homeschool routine this month. Her grades have already improved. She feels more confident. Our days haven’t been perfect, but I don’t feel like I want to quit homeschooling anymore. I honestly was so fed up and feeling like I must be failing in every way. Now I know that we all just needed some readjusting for everyone to thrive.

Also, I realize that not everyone is like me. Everyone’s situation and experience is different. If medicine is what your child needs, then please don’t feel like you are doing wrong. Some kids really need it, and it saves them from a lot of struggle and hurt. If these things had not started helping my child, then I would have talked to her PCP about going the medication route.

Homeschooling has given us so many freedoms and options when it comes to the diagnosis’s. We have more options than the parents of kids in public or private school. I recognize and understand that. I am simply sharing our journey, so please don’t feel like you are being judged or making the wrong choices. We are all in this together and doing the best we can. We’re on the same team. ❤

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homeschool, kids, sponsored, Uncategorized

Nat Geo Kids

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I received this product for free from Moms Meet (momsmeet.com) to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

I’ll be honest. I practically begged Moms Meet to select me for this program! As a homeschooling parent, I am always looking for really great educational books for my daughters.  I never struggle with getting rid of “stuff” in our house until it comes to books. Save all the books! National Geographic kids is so cool, and I literally jumped up and down when I saw that I got selected to share this with you. The pictures in their books are so incredible. The facts and information that they give are wildly entertaining. I also never knew that there were Nat Geo kids novels!

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The National Geographic Kids Almanac is the most popular kids almanac on the planet. It is such a great boredom buster for your kids! Even if they aren’t at the age for reading, the pictures will captivate them. Did you know that a group of leopards is called a leap? The almanac is filled with all kinds of fun facts like this. Kids are invited to participate in the Lions Forever Almanac Challenge for a chance to win a $500 gift card to host a lion conservation party! You can head to natgeokids.com/almanac for more information on this opportunity. The contest ends on December 3, 2018. The website is full of really cool videos, games, and extra information.

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The almanac is so visually eye catching. It is presented in a way that there is something for every kid. It’s such a great addition to our homeschool library!

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Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret engages your kids on all levels. The narrative, code-breaking, puzzles and storyline will keep your child engaged and encouraged to observe, reason, and problem solve. The novel features kids and cultures from all around the globe. It is fact-based fiction that is inspired by the real-life adventures of real National Geographic explorers. Every book contains a Truth Behind the Fiction section and profiles real explorers and their work. You can send your pre-order or purchase receipt for The Nebula Secret to National Geographic Kids and receive a FREE digital issue of National Geographic Kids magazine that features Explorer Academy games. Email your receipt to exploreracademy@natgeo.com to take advantage of this special offer. Since I know many of you will ask, this novel is geared towards ages 8-12.

My daughters are 8, 6, and 4 years old. My 8 and 6 year old loved it. We read a chapter before bed each nigh. It was obviously too advanced for my four year old, but she would come and go enjoying parts of the story.

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I have found myself reading the Weird but True book.  I brought them over one day that I was babysitting my nephews. The seven year old didn’t want to go to bed because he wanted to continue reading. I went to a football game with his family and brought the 2019 Almanac for him to look at (because most 7 year olds don’t want to watch a football game or cheerleaders). He was quiet as a mouse reading through the Almanac.

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This girl was so excited to pick up this National Geographic Kids book from the book fair. She kept jumping up and down, and I gave up on getting a clear picture of the whole cover. ha!

I encourage you to pick up any National Geographic Kids book that strikes your fancy. They are all so incredibly well done and get two thumbs up from all five members of our family!

ADHD, dyslexia, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Our Journey to a Diagnosis- Part 3

You can read part 1 and part 2 if you’d like to catch up.

When we had last left off, the first part of the screening was complete. We went back to finish up the screening, which was very much like “part 2” of the journey. The only  difference is that my daughter was EXCITED to go instead of feeling nervous and unsure. That was a huge load off of my mind. At the end, Dr. C said she had all of the information she needed, but that it would be several weeks before she would have the scoring completed to give us the results. With the time of year, there were MANY kids being screened, and she was pretty swamped. I finally got the call that the results were ready, and we scheduled an appointment to receive them.

I really wanted to ask her to just tell me over the phone so I could be ready with questions, but I resisted. I’m working on my patience. ha! Our appointment was yesterday. Dr. C is so sweet and gentle. She wanted to go over what tests she performed and how our daughter scored on them. I’ll share the list, which could vary by where you live and what your doctor feels necessary. I’m guessing it’s pretty similar across the board, but again, I’m not certain of that.

WISC-V
This tests verbal comprehension, visual spatial, fluid reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. Our daughter scored in the 81st-99.6 percentile in all but working memory and processing speed. This is apparently very common in children with ADHD. Those percentiles were DRAMATICALLY different. The full-scale IQ is given. They also give a “general ability index” where they remove the scores for working memory and processing speed. According to the information we were given “The WISC-V is an individually administered, comprehensive clinical instrument used to assess the intelligence of children.”

WIAT-III; selected subtests
This tests Early Reading Skills, Reading Comprehension, Sentence Composition, Word Reading, Pseudoword Decoding, Spelling, Listening Comprehension,  and Sentence Composition.  According to the information we were given “The WIAT-III is an individually administered clinical instrument designed to measure listening, reading, writing, and mathematic skills.” She was only given select tests for reading since that is the area of concern with dyslexia.

BASC-3 Parent Report Scales
Conners 3 rating scales- parent

These were two large forms that I filled out during the first day of screening.

 

Then, she read went over her findings with us. Based up on her testing and findings, our daughter has been diagnosed with ADHD and a mild specific learning disorder, with impairment in reading (which is how they say dyslexia now).

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I said in my brain “I knew it.” When your mama heart tells you that something is going on, listen. But, I always second guess myself and kept thinking “what if I’m way off?” I certainly didn’t want them to find anything. I don’t want to see her struggle. But, I was prepared to hear it.

What I didn’t really prepare myself for is the “what now?” feelings. I have never struggled with any of these things. ADHD has many options for treatments and ways to cope with it. I am not going to talk about those on here because, quite frankly, I don’t want to hear the opinions of others in regards to whatever decision we make. Plus, every child is different and what works for us may not work for you. What works for you may not work for us. She did suggest frequent breaks during the school day and giving her an outlet for extra energy.

I would love to hear any tips for dyslexia, as this is COMPLETELY new territory for me. We were obviously given some tips. Here are some examples:

-Give her additional time to finish reading assignments
-Allow her time to read books that interest her
-Encourage her to read aloud to herself or someone else
-Encourage her to sound out letter-by-letter words that she doesn’t recognize
-Talk to her about what she is reading and praise her for doing it
-Use a reading device to help her gain familiarity
-Use large print to help with sounding out words (never thought of this one!)
-Provide extra space for writing
-Allow her to orally answer test questions
-Reduce stress and anxiety by allowing her to integrate coping skills

 

Dr. C said that it’s really good that she’s homeschooled because it allows her the one on one attention that is really beneficial for these circumstances. (I almost asked to get that in writing for all of the anti-homeschooling people in my life.) It was nice to have her full support. I had another fear going into the testing. Because I am a mom, and we all doubt ourselves constantly, I have worried that I’m failing her in every way. Having these test results given to us and seeing that she is far above average in every other subject outside of reading and spelling made me feel a huge sense of relief. She is thriving. I never doubted how smart she is, but I doubted my ability and decisions as all moms do.

Dyslexia is a whole different ballgame that causes kids to struggle in reading and spelling, so I have to adjust and learn to teach the way that she learns. I didn’t sleep very well because my mind was racing last night and this morning about all of this information. Once we make some adjustments and see what helps and doesn’t help, I’ll write up a post and share those things. Dr. C feels confident that once we figure out what works for her, no one will even be able to tell that she has dyslexia. She won’t outgrow it, but she will cope and overcome the obstacles.

For now, our journey has ended. We have a diagnosis. We know what we are facing. We are linking arms with her and facing it head on. This will not define her. It is just another part of her sparkling personality. Will you link arms with us and pray for us as we embark on this journey and figure out what will work best for her to thrive?

If you are local and looking for someone to do similar testing, send me an e-mail and I’d love to give you the information on who we saw.

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homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Autumn Preposition Word Search- Free Printable

Hi, friends! I’ve got an exciting freebie for you!! To celebrate the official start to fall, I have a free word search for you from Education.com!

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Here are the links to download the PDFs for the word search and answer key:

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Prepositions_word search_autumn_leaves_answers

Celebrate Fall by using spelling skills to search for these words. Head on over to Education.com to find more resources and printables just like this.

homeschool, recommendations

Plum Paper Homeschool Planner Review

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I am so excited to share this Plum Paper planner with you! These planners are completely customizable! I LOVE that they offer a homeschooling version, as the options are incredibly limited for those of us who homeschool.

Let’s start with the cover. They offer so many options for prints and colors on the front cover- florals, stripes, geometric prints, teacher quotes, etc. The year, name, and school name are all optional. It is free to customize however you want. There are so many different shapes, colors, and fonts to choose from when it comes to the customization. The cover is tear proof, water resistant, and super sturdy.

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You also get to choose what month your 12 month planner will start at. Mine is set up to start in August of this year, since our first day of school is August 13th. I love how colorful everything is!

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This is what the first page of each month looks like. I love that we can set goals for each month, and have all of the important information all together on one page.

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Each month also has the usual monthly layout. This is great for keeping track of field trips and special activities, along with holidays and school breaks. Then, it’s broken down into weekly planning. We use Abeka homeschool curriclum, and it is easy to write which lesson we will be doing each day. I like to color code things, so I use the girls’ favorite colors for their lesson plan. There is room for 6 subjects each week, along with a place for checklists and notes.

Now, for the homeschool pages:

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Isn’t that beautiful! All for homeschooling families! I added an extra homeschool section to mine for an additional $2, so I have a section for each of the girls. There is also an attendance record page, which is really great for those of you who live in a state where you have to log your hours. I love that this is a planner and grade book in one.

There are also sections for notes and checklists, which you can add more pages to if you’d like for a few extra dollars.

 

 

Plum Paper planners are incredible. You can go to their website and see just how many options are available. They also have this planner for teachers, and offer normal planners for those of you who just love to be organized.

If you are wanting to purchase something, leave your e-mail in the comments section (or shoot me an email at myfourarrowsblog@gmail.com) and I can send you a 10% discount!

**UPDATE 9/10/18: Plum Paper has made a recent change. I cannot send you a discount if you have already set up an account with them. If you would like me to e-mail you a discount code, let me know what e-mail is available to receive a discount. I can still send codes and would love to send YOU one. **

 

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I was given a slight discount in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and photos are my own.

family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Why We Homeschool

One of the first questions that I get when people find out that we homeschool is “WHY?!” That is, after they say “I would never have the patience to do that.” (Spoiler alert: I AM NOT PATIENT.) I figured that a lot of people are curious about this, so I’ll just write it out here. I also know that many people think about homeschooling, so maybe this post will be helpful when it comes to listing the “pros” for choosing to homeschool.

1. Different learning styles– No two children learn exactly the same. My two oldest children learn in completely different ways. I am able to work with each child individually, and help them learn in a way that they understand. It really stretches me, as I learn a certain way and sometimes have to switch up how I teach. Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Some kids also aren’t ready to start school super early in the morning, so we are able to get a later start and have more clear minds and better focus. I can allow my child to fidget in their seat (or stand), as long as the work is getting done, without disturbing other classmates.

2. Customizable education- One of my children struggles with phonics. I actually decided to pull back and have her start with a grade below for her phonics class so that she wasn’t getting drug along. If she were held back in an entire grade, she would be bored to tears because she excels at all of the other subjects. If we don’t like a certain subject in the curriculum we have chosen, we can pick something else that works better for us. Being able to mix and match for your children’s needs is a huge help, and probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. They could also be bumped up a grade in a certain subject without being overwhelmed in others.

3. Freedom- We are not bound to a strict schedule. We don’t take snow days off. We can take warm weather days off and enjoy a “sun” day. We can travel at a different time of year than just June/July when most people are traveling. We can take school work with us when we travel if it is needed. Sickness happens. Sometimes, sickness knocks you down for a week or more. Our kids aren’t left behind in the dust; we are able to pause and pick back up when everyone is back to feeling great. Thankfully this year, we have only had one instance of sickness that made us take time off from school. When we lived in Oklahoma, there was constant major sickness that would have caused the kids to be in trouble with the school for missing so much.

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4. Our values are reinforced- We get to decide when and how our kids learn about sex, drugs, etc. I just heard a statistic that made me sick. The AVERAGE age that kids start sexting is TEN. What. on. earth. TEN! Kids have found crazy ways of getting high that they think are perfectly harmless. I don’t want my kids robbed of their innocence. I’m not going to bury their heads in the sand and hope that they never ever learn about these things. That is stupid. But, I want them to learn about sex from us. I don’t want them learning from the peers who heard about it from their big brother/sister. I want them to learn about it all in a healthy way. (For the record, teaching that sex is evil is also NOT healthy..) Girls are developing eating disorders as early as 9. Suicides are happening at an absurdly young age. How do these kids even know what this is? How do they know how to go through with it? I don’t understand.

5. Life skills are taught- There are only so many hours in a day in schools. Classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers have a LOT on their plate. Test scores have to be high for schools to receive “enough” funding. (I use enough loosely, because no school receives enough funding.) Kids are coming out of school knowing how to take a test, but lacking any real life skills. How many of you learned to do your taxes, grow a garden, or write a check? A lot of kids don’t even know how to do their own laundry when they graduate. With homeschooling, I am able to teach the typical educational classes along with really important life skills that will help them be a successful adult. Test taking doesn’t help you with a darn thing.

6. Time- Our school day is shorter than the traditional school day. We don’t have to line up single file and spend 15 minutes each time on bathroom breaks. We are able to work through the material at our pace, not getting bored of a concept that is understood or rushing through one that is not. My kids get enough time to eat their entire lunch. There is just a lot more time for everything that is important.

7. Socialization- Wait? Did I just write that a BENEFIT of homeschooling is socialization? But, my kids don’t know how. Aren’t homeschoolers freaks that don’t know how to socialize? Let me just say that I went to public school my whole life, and I am super socially awkward.. so that clearly is a silly argument. HA! My kids socialize with EVERYONE! They aren’t afraid to say hello to a grown up in the grocery store. They know how to play with and encourage kids younger than themselves. They make friends everywhere they go. The neighborhood kids are always ringing the doorbell wanting to play. When we go to the park, they are instantly friends with whomever is there. If the park is empty, they are disappointed that they don’t have friends to play with. The biggest misconception about homeschooling is that kids won’t know how to socialize. Homeschooled kids know how to socialize with everyone; they just aren’t forced to associate with certain people.

 

These are just some of the biggest reasons why we chose to homeschool. I know that I will receive a lot of criticism– why, I will never understand. I will never understand why people act like my decision affects their lives.

Homeschooling is not easy. It takes up a lot of MY time, as I am planning for each day and putting things together for the lessons. It is frustrating when you feel like you have explained a concept every way possible, and your child is still not grasping it. Have you ever TAUGHT  child to read? My goodness. It’s hard. This is my fourth year of homeschooling. There are days I want to quit. But, then I ask myself why I started this in the first place. Homeschooling wins in my mind. Hands down. It is something that I have spent a lot of time praying about; since my babies were born. It is not something that I just dove into head first without really looking at the options and thinking it through

If you homeschool, why did you choose to do so? What are the biggest misconceptions that you have found people to have about homeschooling? Or, if you don’t homeschool, what are some misconceptions that you have about homeschooled kids? What comes to your mind first when someone says their kids are homeschooled?

 

**I also want to say that there are so many curriculums that offer videos. Your child can get a private school education from the comfort of your own home. Many curriculum choices have an accredited option, so college is much easier. There are SO many misconceptions about homeschooling that cause many people to not go through with it, even though it is their desire.**

 

I feel like I also have to say that this is also not meant to be an attack on public schools. I have so many friends that are phenomenal teachers and I have so much respect for them. They do an amazing job. Schools ARE underfunded and programs are getting cut constantly. That is NOT the teachers’ fault. They do the best they can with what they have, and are spending a lot of money out of their own pockets to make sure they can give their students a great education. So, please, if you are a teacher, know that I love and respect you a ton.

family life, homeschool, recommendations

Homeschool Update

Happy Thursday!!

I have to start every post that way so that I can remember what day it actually is. I feel like the days have started to just blend together. Harper has been battling some virus that has left her super congested. She had a very croupy cough for a few days, and now the other stuff is just left behind. It makes it difficult for her to sleep well, obviously, so we don’t sleep well either.

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She thought that getting a breathing treatment was super amusing. I’m glad she thinks it’s fun instead of torture.

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As you know, I homeschool the big girls. We use Abeka curriculum this year, and it is my favorite. I’ve tried a different curriculum every year- in a search for one that works best for us. I love Abeka. If you don’t know, there is an actual Abeka academy where they teach classes. It is also the curriculum taught in most Christian schools. They do streaming or DVDs of the classes at the academy that you can purchase for a hefty amount of money. We didn’t purchase these, but they sent an e-mail offering a free 15 day trial of streaming. Sign. Me. Up. We have had stuff going on every weekend, leaving me feeling frazzled and unprepared for the week ahead.

It has been life-changing for this month. The girls have been so excited to watch their classes each day. I fully believe that the excitement will wear off quickly, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying it. Everything is exciting when it’s new. I think we are going to try and save up to buy them next school year.

I have been able to go back and start phonics from the beginning for one of my children that struggles with that area. I’ve observed the teacher’s tricks for teaching the rules, etc. and it will help me teach her a lot better, since I don’t remember ALL of the tricks we learned in school. (Do you?)

img_2940This sneaky stinker finds a way to get into trouble during school. She got sprinkles and had dumped them everywhere. I found her like this in her bedroom. It’s a good thing she is cute.

All of this to say, I think Abeka will be the winner for our homeschool from now on. It was always recommended, but so expensive that I tried to find something else. If you are interested in Abeka, you can e-mail them and ask about a trial of their video streaming. There are also sample videos that you can check out. There are a lot of worksheets with this curriculum, but that really helps to reinforce what is being taught.

This is absolutely not sponsored at all, I just want to share what we love because I have many friends that are thinking about homeschooling their kids. I’m happy to answer any questions that I can, but I am certainly not an expert!

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family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

Homeschooling Multiple Ages

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Many homeschool families are balancing many ages and grades with their children. This is something that had me incredibly nervous this year. Chloe is doing 1st grade, Addi is doing pre-k, and Harper is making messes. 😉 Now, we certainly are not the first family to face this, but I wanted to share some of the simple things that have worked for us so far.

  1. Combine where you can This is by far the biggest help. There are many things that Chloe is learning that I know Addi can learn at the same time. Especially in the beginning, when most grades are simply reviewing what was learned the previous year. If I am making copies of worksheets that I know Addi would enjoy, I make sure to make doubles.(Please do this legally. Our workbooks are not allowed to be copied, but the worksheets in the teacher books are.) I can teach a subject to both girls at the same time, and it is so much easier. They really enjoy it, too!
  2. Take turns Both of my girls are at ages where they cannot read. Chloe is learning right now, so it’s getting a little easier with her. Sometimes, they both need my attention on different things. I try to plan and give Chloe work that she can do independently while I do work with Addi that requires more attention. It helps that Addi’s work is much shorter, so I get one on one time with Chloe later.
  3. Let your younger children get bored If you start off with constant entertainment, they will expect that every day. The best thing you can do for yourself, and your children, is to let them be. Make them figure out a way to entertain themselves. Harper mostly looks at books, plays with puzzles, and pretends she is a puppy while school work is happening. It is so much easier than her expecting me to do special projects with her each day.
  4. Make it fun Learning should be fun! If you make sure that your children are engaged and actively learning, things will go so much better. This also helps keep all ages entertained at once. We shake things up and use random objects in the place of our counting blocks for Math. Since it is autumn (my favorite) we are doing a lot of themed science work. I honestly cannot wait to do some pumpkin guts exploring.
  5. Take brain breaks I have found that taking a few breaks to get out the wiggles and refresh seem to really help. My girls have quite the bond, and they really love all getting a chance to play together in the middle of our school day. This also helps Chloe to not feel jealous that her sisters are playing without her.

There have already been many days where I tell my husband that I want to quit. Homeschooling is hard. It’s stressful and a lot of work. But, it is so worth it. I have seen Chloe grow so much already. I see Addi learning more and more. Harper watches and I can see her wheels turning. I get a very unique view as a homeschooling mom. I know that it is not for everyone, and it may not stay for us. Right now, it’s a blessing.

What are some of your tips for keeping younger siblings happy?