Here we are nearly 3 weeks into the new year and I haven’t done a single ABC’s of Homeschooling post! In fact, I haven’t done many posts at all! There’s been several things going on over here. We got back into school after a long break (sorta, more on that in a minute,) we got a baby cockatiel, we’ve been sick — not very fun, and we’ve got some new and exciting things planned for the 2nd half of the year. Let me catch you up on what’s going on at Faith Family Home School right now!

Kicking Off the New Year

One of the things that every homeschooling parent will tell you (if they’ve been doing this for more than, oh, six months) is that it’s hard to get back into the groove after a break! That’s one reason we try to keep breaks short and take more of them, and school more year round.

KNOWING THIS,.. I let us take a really long break around Christmas anyway.

It wasn’t smart…………….but it was fun. =)

If you find yourself in this boat you have to keep paddling anyway, you can’t just throw your hands up in the air and hope for the best. (Believe me! I know!)

The first thing we do is we start off slow. I don’t expect to do a full day’s work on the first day back and so I don’t even try. Shoot, I don’t even try to do a full WEEK’S worth of work the first week! My main goal is retraining ourselves to get up and get started on school instead of lazing in pjs and watching cartoons or whatever.

The second thing I do is remember to be patient and consistent. I remind my children what their expected and acceptable behavior is, what our goals are. Be patient as they try to push those boundaries but hold those boundaries. “We WILL do school, we will do ‘this’ much today, let’s do this, okay?”

Another thing that’s helpful is taking short breaks. Even if it’s just a break to play a racing clean up game or a snack break. Take a minute to swap out the washer and dryer and fold a load of laundry together – SOMETHING. And then get back to the books.

And if the extra long break was unplanned and you’re now “behind” on your schedule, don’t try to double up on everything all at once! The extra stress is likely to cause the kids to bog down and run on slow mode. We usually double up on one or two things at at time until we’re caught up, then double up on something else, and so on. So take a minute, count the lessons, map out a plan and write it down. YOU will feel much better and less stressed out – and you’ll pass that on to your kids.

So now that I’ve said all that, I’ll say that’s how our first week back to school after Christmas STARTED. And then I got sick. =( For a week I felt awful and we didn’t do school. So we had to start our slow process all over again. And that week my daughter was sick, so we stayed slow, and this week was my son’s turn, so we’re still taking it easy. But as long as you keep chugging along, you’ll get there!

Oh, and look! For the new year, a new look for the bulletin board! I don’t know if it’s going to help us get school done but it makes me feel more ready to try. =)

Live Animals

So if being sick and detoxing from holiday laziness overdose wasn’t enough… we should add a baby bird into the mix, right?

Seriously, he was the “ugliest duckling” (and yet oddly cute) when we brought him home and now he’s grown on us and he’s just all sorts of cute.

Last Wednesday we all took a trip to a local pet shop and brought home a two week old baby Cockatiel. We’ve only had him 9 days and already he’s grown so much! Meet “Captain Jack.”

I’m amazed how quickly he’s growing! The kids are daily ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the changes.

Much of our time in between our slow schooling has been taken up with holding, cuddling and feeding this little guy, while reading and learning about pet birds in general and Cockatiels specifically.

We’ve learned what pin feathers are, why they’re also called “blood feathers,” that the real feather is actually INSIDE the pin feather, that birds grow quickly!, and fledge at a much younger age than we thought. Our little Captain Jack could be taking his first flight in only 2 or 3 weeks! Next week we start introducing solid foods!

Having a pet and learning to take care of it may only help us learn more about THAT particular animal, but it’s great fun researching and reading and then observing our pet for what we’ve learned. It’s a great research/scientific/observation process in action. Especially cool is that I learned Princess can volunteer at the pet store a couple of hours a week after she turns 12. Not only will she learn how to help take care of all the other animals as well, but she will learn about helping customers and working and doing a good job. **  At any rate, Faith Family Home School now has a class pet. =)

Here’s a few of the sites I’ve found helpful and bookmarked for future reference.

I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of our little Captain Jack in future weeks. ; )

Music and More

We’ve got a couple of exciting things coming up for the second semester of this school year. The first one is that Big Daddy, Drama Queen and I have signed up to take some informal guitar lessons at church starting this Sunday. Big Daddy and I already play a little… Drama Queen is BeSiDe HeRsElF! She has an interest in music and has been wanting to learn to play guitar. You should see her tiny hands! But we’re going to see if she can get the hang of learning to play on a full size guitar. 8 year olds have learned to play before..we’ll see how this goes. =) She has quite the singing voice, too, and I’m excited to take the first step in encouraging an interest of hers.

This is especially exciting because I just did the same thing with her older sister, coming up with a really good idea for her in her area of interest. Princess has an interest in fashion design. And after she drew a design the other day I got a really good idea. A really.. reallly.. good idea. *waggles eyebrows*

Princess has now been given the task of designing 6-12 more outfits and then picking one to make. She’ll have to make or combine patterns, go shopping for materials on a budget, and sew the outfit for herself to wear. She loves this idea. And so do I! Also, we’re going to be subscribing to a couple of magazines we’ve carefully selected for girls 8-12 so she can observe the fashion trends in the magazines. And we’ve (well mostly she’s) been finding tutorials on youtube for drawing figures so she can practice drawing clothes on people standing in different positions. She’s already drawn a few more and she’s really taking off on this project with gusto!!

What I love most about both of these, the music and the fashion designs both, is the ability to help our children pursue their interests so fully. It’s A PART OF school. Maybe their interests will change. Maybe not. Either way they’ve gained a new skill. ; )

So that’s the wrap up on what we’ve been doing in school in the Oliver house the past few weeks. Phew! Wasn’t that a lot?? I wonder if this is any indication of how 2012 is going to go?? ; )

Link up to the ABC's

Don’t forget to hop over to Dawn @ The Momma Knows to catch up on everybody else’s M posts. You can find all of my ABC posts here. Also, please forgive the camera phone pics — I know they’re not the best!

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Hey, y’all! I’m Amber and I wear many hats. I drink a ton of coffee and I’m constantly sweeping crumbs off the floor. After 18 years of homeschooling, I’m getting close to graduating my third child and now we are starting over at preschool with our fourth, Lil Miss Mouse. She keeps us young and she’s the main reason for my excessive coffee consumption. Drink up!