Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Holy Smurfin' Spanish Lesson

Today for Mom Class we started a new Spanish comic book. It's about smurfs. Amy did not want to EVER stop reading it. We finally went outside for recess. When we came back, we grabbed a snack and kept reading the comic book. I think we could read the whole thing in one sitting if I let us.  That's all I have to report about home school today because that's all we did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

With the Swing Set!

Today we:

read old Joy School books for Mom class

played on the swing set

played baseball

had a snack (oranges and crackers)

colored a picture

had to take breaks to deal with diapers and children not staying in bed, etc.

Yesterday's Movies

Here are some pictures and videos of yesterday:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 10

Last Thursday we bagged school to go to Logan to buy a swing set. (See post on for pictures.) Or you could call that school that day, whichever way you want. Friday I was undecided about whether or not to have school. If you counted the Logan trip, I had done four days. I was very tired and had quite a bit of homework to do by the next day. I ended up not doing it. (I share these things to catch up and keep the record, hopefully not out of justifying my choices as I want to find a good balance between disciplined and flexible about doing school.)

Today was another experiment: inviting cousins to kindergarten. Didn't go so well. I think the kids had fun. We made it through our opening routine and had a good mom school bringing toys out of Melissa's closet into the storage room so they had more space for their stuff. The kids were cute and helpful.

We then let the cousins each pick an activity and did it as we usually do kindergarten. Dress ups and dancing, lots of fun.

After the dress ups, kindergarten fell apart. Kids didn't want to clean up costumes. (Costumes seem to explode around the room.) Everyone wanted to just go outside to play. Amy didn't even want to call it recess or doing our closing routine, just go play.

I want to mention that I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to just go play with cousins. I could have gone to play and called it recess and kept up school. But it just wasn't kindergarten as I think of it. It became less about Amy and about our relationship and more just play time. I realized that in the future, when cousins come to play I just want to have cousin play, not kindergarten. Either we do kindergarten after cousins leave or have that be our off day when we don't do school.

Plus I was SO TIRED. We've had a lot of late nights talking about finances. (Matt and Melissa mostly.)

Still, we had fun today.

I have some good pictures and videos to put up here. I'll do it another day during closing routine. I just wanted to get this down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 9

Today we did:
For our exercise today we did a lot of dancing to music. We got carried away and had a great time.

Mom Class - Spanish lesson. We finished the comic book we started a couple weeks ago. It had a little fairy tale story. This is what I wrote to Matt on chat about Amy doing her lesson:

Two times I asked Amy if we should be done, and she declined.
We even read an extra short story and 3 poems at the end.
Also, she was trying to guess the meaning of words.
One Spanish word sounded sort of like patio so she guessed that's what it meant.
There was a word in the poem called la luna that we didn't know,
so Amy guessed that it was shined.
It was a great guess in context.
I think she even picked the right part of speech.
She also looked ahead at the pictures to guess what would happen.
We did a lot of guessing.
Her attention span was great and I was impressed with our comprehension.
I'm so proud of both of us but especially Amy.
We finally finished Mom Class at 4:00.
(Noel and Eliza had required a lot of attention, and the first two activities went way long.)
Next baseball, so we all went to the soccer field to play. (Noel's choice.)
It was sunny and warm.
We played a little baseball and a little frisbee, and Melissa and I talked about marching band.
Then I took the kids to Walgreens
(Amy's choice after I said Trafalga was a no.)
We picked up the picture I ordered yesterday. It's on the wall now. :)

Now that it's 6:30, we're doing our closing routine with Amy whining about wanting snack time. I told her that the next thing we eat will be dinner. She's mad. It was a long and fun day of school. I LOVED exercise, Mom Class and the soccer field.

To Answer a Question or Two

Many people ask me similar questions when they find out that I home school or when they find out what I do to home school. So I thought this would be a good place to put down a few thoughts about what I am wanting to do.

I decided (tentatively) to home school almost a year and a half ago when I read A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille. I continued to read a few other books that are the basis of the Thomas Jefferson model of education. I felt excited and terrified as I read them, full of anxious thoughts wondering if I'd be able to do it, mixed with a vision of the benefits that could come to my family if we had this kind of education. I spent the next year thinking A LOT about it. Things started falling into place in my mind. My anxieties pretty much went away. And I got excited. I planned one piece at a time the idea of how our kindergarten would look. Matt and I sought inspiration and felt that this was a great choice for our family.

So that is how we got there.

As to the future... I do not know what it will hold. I am hoping that I can have a similar experience as the last year of my life where ideas fall into place about my family's needs in the upcoming year. I hope to home school beyond this year, but I plan to take it one year at a time. My opinion is that I do not even know the questions to ask God about my family for five years from now right now. So I will take it a year at a time and be prayerful. One idea of Thomas Jefferson Education is that the parents are the experts for their own family and get to choose what is best for them. I love this. I intend to do that with God's help.

TJed - as it is commonly referred to - is a philosophy of education rather than a specific curriculum or method. I like it quite a bit. I know there are tons of other philosophies, curricula, and methods out there, and I have only become familiar with a few. I imagine I will learn and adopt other things as time goes on. For now, I am following some principles taught in TJed applied to my family situation. Also, we do things the way we do because what we are doing is good for my mental health - an important consideration. I can think of how I would have been likely to try to implement home education principles a few years ago, and it would have been stressful. This does not feel stressful to me at this point. I want it to stay that way, and that is another reason for me to try to plan one year at a time. I have a few thoughts for next year, but really they are very few at this point.

Another thing that I have learned and developed opinions about is proper timing for academics. This is my opinion, and if you do not agree with it, I respect that. I am trying to come to a place of not judging others, so please do not be offended that I might think differently than you do. Every parent is the expert in their home, so if you do something different than this, that's fine. OK, there's my disclaimer.

I have read things and heard others speak about the potential harm of too much structure and too much academic emphasis on young children in their education. I believe that sitting at desks doing worksheets and pushing children to learn to read can be harmful for children. I think many children are not ready physically, emotionally, socially, on many levels for the rigors of school.

I also think that there is a plague (if I use that word, do I sound extreme? I can just say problem if you like) of children hating school and therefore hating learning. As a student myself, I was motivated and somewhat interested, but I wouldn't say I looked forward to going class and doing my homework, even when I got to pick my classes in college. And I know many children hate school and schoolwork far more than I ever did. This is something I am hoping to avoid by home schooling if possible.

For those two reasons, our home school this year focuses on fun, on Amy choosing, about having just enough structure to know we will have school time and to follow a pattern. (I love routines and not schedules.) Amy and I are getting into the habit of school which will serve us well in the future when we get more structured. I do want Amy to learn things this year, and I think that she learns a lot through playing, through choosing, through pretending. I also think one of the most important things for young children is to get love and attention from their mother. We all know how difficult it can be to make time to focus on our children - not just their physical needs but just being with them. I now have scheduled time to be really present with Amy, playing with her and teaching her. And the other kids join us in that environment when they are awake.

In the future, there will be more structure. I don't know what that looks like, and much of that will be up to Amy (and other children as they get older.) I have no specific time frame when I hope Amy learns to read, write, add, etc. I DO know that I do not want to push any of that on her. If she is uninterested in reading until she's 8 or 9, that doesn't concern me, at least not at this point. I may do things to introduce her more and see her interest; I may not. We will see. If she takes an interest in learning to read and wants to work hard at it starting today, we will start today.

I hereby reserve the right to change opinions and ideas in the future. :) That will likely happen. For now, this is where I stand. I am very happy with things as they are in our family now. I feel we are on a good path and are doing what God wants us to do. That is a huge comfort for me.

I am very excited in my own studies right now. One tenet of TJed is You, not them meaning parents requires rigorous education of themselves and set an example that older children will follow. They require things of themselves while seeking to inspire children. I am taking part two of a class I took in the spring that is AMAZING, teaching me to study looking for truth, finding principles and pondering how to apply them in my life. I learn study skills that help me mark books in a way that I can return to them and remember the great things I learned and can discuss them well with others. I am also attending seminars and other classes. (Just finished a four week course called Building a Mind of Steel - it was great.) I still go to therapy and sometimes to my support group to help me continue to improve my mental health. Matt is also studying and doing some awesome things to work towards his dream and fulfill his unique mission in life. These things are important and exciting to us. We have learned a whole lot, and it has blessed our family.

I am so happy to share resources and principles I have learned with others. If anyone who reads this blog is interested in learning about any of the things I have shared, please ask me. If we are friends or family, let's get together and talk. If you aren't at all interested or think I'm completely nuts and that you would never do the stuff I'm doing, I can respect and appreciate that too.

I will give a few references here as there are a few things that have impacted me a whole lot. I think they are very valuable.

The website for Thomas Jefferson Education is

The website for my class I take (and others that she offers) is (Even the website is exciting to me.)

You can learn about Building a Mind of Steel and many other things that this company has to offer at I think they have some wonderful things to offer.

My support group has been the single most helpful thing to improve my mental health and help me cope with my tendency toward anxiety. It is WONDERFUL. I am convinced it could help every person on the planet if they would apply the teachings. They have many meetings all around. If I know you and you live close by, I would be happy to take you along on Wednesday nights. I don't always go, but I am happy to go to introduce someone and help them get comfortable. Even though I don't go often, I apply the principles almost daily, and they help so much. Their website is

Of course, let me not forget my favorite and most life-changing source of truth. Many who read this share this view. I seek to determine with everything I learn, if it is in harmony with principles of the gospel for me to decide whether to bring it into my life.

Please comment here or talk to me personally if you want to learn more about any of these things. I am so happy to share what I have learned - I really want to in fact. If you have questions or even criticisms, I am open if you are respectful.

Day 8

I missed posting yesterday as at the end of school I was - as I say - bonkers. A bit overstimulated and ready for a breather. And Amy promptly fell asleep beside me. So we didn't do our closing routine. But we did have school. It looked like this:

Mom class was a chance for me to get a few things done on the computer. Originally I had planned to find and order a picture from Walgreens that I've been wanting then go pick it up with Amy, frame it, and put it on the wall. That would have been the Mom Class. And it would have been a good Mom Class. Turns out, THE and Melissa needed to leave, and I became babysitter making it not possible for me to leave my kids with them to take Amy to Walgreens. So we ordered the picture and did a few other things on the computer. As it turns out, it was not that informative for Amy as I mostly just clicked on stuff and typed in my information. So I decided I don't want a Mom Class of me doing computer work very often - unless I'm teaching Amy how to do the computer or it's somehow more interactive. Still, I can't complain about the things I got done that I wanted to do.

For Amy's first activity, she decided she wanted to pick a swing set. I told the kids that if they wanted to, they could all contribute their birthday money this year, and we would buy a swing set. They agreed. (We assume Eliza would agree.) So we looked on ksl and found a swing set that Amy and I both really like at a very good price. Now I want to see if we can get it.

By this time, I think we were both ready for some activity that made us move. Eliza and Vidalia were awake, so we all went outside for... baseball. :)

Then we had snack time. Amy's hoping to remember snack time every day. (I think she likes being in charge and is hoping to get away with more snacks than I usually let her have - or maybe more sugary ones. I really don't mind her having an afternoon snack if she had a good lunch or especially if it is healthy.)

Finally, Noel joined us and we played Sorry! again. That's where things went crazy. Eliza and Vidalia both wanted on my lap. Eliza was being a dangerous monkey or crying. Those were the only two options. Noel was rather touchy. She was disappointed if she didn't get what she wanted, and she's really not old enough to remember the rules of Sorry! and stick with it. But Amy is. So that was a tricky balance. I finally won. THE and Melissa finally got home, and we all took a break.

My favorite part of yesterday's school was outside. That was a good one. And I hope we can get that swing set!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Day 7

Today's Mom Class was a Family History day. We looked at more of Amy's baby book (same as last week.)

Amy chose baseball first. It's a beautiful day.

Then she asked Aunt Melissa (who is staying at our house with her family) to babysit sleeping Noel so we could go to the park. She invited her baby cousin Vidalia to come, and we brought Eliza too. That was a little crazy but still fun. Eliza tried to dive on her head out of the swing, and Vidalia had no fear climbing to the top and sliding down.

We finished up with a game of Sorry! Amy wasted me. She had one guy in home when I had all my guys in start. (She sorryed me when I was barely out with one guy two different times. It took me 36 turns after Amy was done to finish.)

Fun day of school!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 6

This week the entire class of the Parks Family Home School (aka Amy) got sick. Tuesday she put herself to bed. So much for kindergarten. Wednesday she stayed in bed all day. Thursday she was better, but I still thought she should have a nap. So... today we're  back! Wahoo!

Today we set up a bed for Mom Class. (Uncle THE and Aunt Melissa and Cousin Vidalia are coming to stay with us while they look for an apartment.)

Amy's choices today were:
Nice pirates. Our neighbor, Lincoln joined us for that one.
Sprinklers. Lincoln and his sister, Quincey, and Eliza joined us for that one.
We finished up by watching Dr. Seuss's The Sleep Book movie. It nearly put us both to sleep.

More next week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 5

These post titles are not very interesting. We'll see if I come up with something better.

Today we had:
Mom Class - look at Amy's baby book
Activities -
Play house
Build a foam castle Amy got for her birthday
Recess - baseball as usual

This is the castle we made. We had to buy a hot glue gun to put it together (which we did we we happened to be at Target last week.) We lost the instructions, so we made it up. Some things we did different than intended, but Amy kept saying, "This is just how I wanted it." So she's happy. That's what matters to me.

And this is Eliza trying to get the camera:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Day 4

Today we were off to a late start. After a late night last night, I slept some this morning which delayed my studies which delayed everything else. That's allowed.

We also had to wait until Amy cleaned up the mess she and Noel had made in the family room where we have school.

We finally got going.

In all of Amy's prayers at kindergarten this week she has prayed that we will be able to find each other if we get lost. It's awesome.

Today's Mom Class was pulling weeds. There were bees around the weeds so Amy was hesitant. She thinks she's more help than she is at weeding at this point. She mostly stayed by me, though, so that was good. Noel joined us at this point.

Amy and Noel both agreed that the first activity after Mom Class should be "Ladies" although Amy added "Superheroes." She sang a song she learned this summer from her cousins:
"Hero of the day, save my life, save my life."
As the super hero she saved people in the following situations:
near a dragon
touching a volcano
stuck in a window well
went into the kitchen and got flat because the person got in the "cuvurd" (cupboard)
went in the oven
lived by bears

I was amused. :) During "Ladies" I took another little nap. It's not how I really want to do kindergarten, but I was having a rough time of being awake. (2:30am was bedtime last night. Glad I don't do that often.) The girls just kept playing and were nice about it.

Noel chose stamps next. Before we were too far into that activity, I left to take Eliza to bed. This home school day was rather interrupted.

Getting the girls to clean up after stamps was a little crazy so we had another little break.

Finally - baseball.

I'm grateful for the things kindergarten is already helping us to do - clean up after ourselves, play together, teach skills, keep good records of what we are doing, get around to projects (a little anyway. Those weeds have been calling my name forever.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 3

Today during mom class, we read part of a Spanish comic book, texting Daddy the words we didn't know. Amy's attention span was impressive, and the story was fun to read.

Baseball I think is a daily feature. Today it was Amy who threw the ball over the fence. Whoops.

We played Ladies again today. The main feature of the game was my birthday party. We also read some books as the ladies.

Noel joined us part way through "Ladies."

Noel chose Show and Tell for the next activity.

Finished with double activity - snack and "Do Bunnies Lay Eggs?" During the Summer, Amy asked my mom if bunnies lay eggs. That was on the day she was brainstorming kindergarten activities, so Grammy wrote it down. So today she made up what that means. We all sat on M&Ms with a bunny on our laps. We chanted "Bunnies, bunnies, hatch." Then we at the M&M. Awesome.

Quotes of the day:
A: I have to walk on tippy-toes so I look 6.
M: I don't have to do anything to look 16. [Amy had told me I was 16 in "Ladies" today.] I already look 16.
A: Yeah, cause grown-ups don't grow.

I think she meant I could be 16 because I would already be grown up. I was glad and amused. I had really meant that I look 16 because I get that a lot.

In the following discussion, all quotes of Noel's are said with a whiney voice.
N: Mom?
M: What?
N: I burped.
M: You burped? And then what happened.
N: I whined.


Another fun day of at-home kindergarten.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Day 2

Today was day 2 of kindergarten. This is what Amy chose to wear:

Here is Amy doing a stamp activity:

Things got off a little slower today so we had less time for kindergarten because of some choices the kids made. We still had fun.

For Mom class today, we did a project. Amy helped me print papers for Joy School.

Amy chose stamps, snacks, rest time, baseball, and playing "ladies" for our activities today.

Grand Opening

Yesterday was the Grand Opening of the Parks Family Homeschool. [lots of cheering]
We had a great time. Amy said some funny things, and loved doing the activities.

This is a video of Eliza dancing.

I wrote this yesterday, and then the computer freaked out so I couldn't post:

Today is the Grand Opening of the Parks Family Homeschool. It was the first day of Amy's at-home-kindergarten.

Quotes from Amy:
A: Let's do swords.
M: Ok
A: Do we have swords?
M: I don't think so.
A: Let's build some right now.

A: Sorry, Mom, that you are kind of bad at making the swords that I want.

Today we started with our opening routine:

Then comes Mom class. Today we looked at Mom's baby book.

Then Amy gets to choose.

  • Baseball
  • Make swords.
  • Sword fight. (Lots of giggling.)
  • Rest Time
  • Snack
  • Dancing
  • Act out Mickey Mouse story
  • Act out pirates
Finally we do our closing routine. Record what we did. Hang up art on art wall or put in binder.

Amy asked that today we finish with a Bible Story.