July 31, 2012

We are crazy about the Olympics!

We are loving the Olympics being on!  When Ruthie was over, the kids made up a new Olympic sport...pillow skating.  Gold all around!

July 27, 2012

BIble study

We had the first session of our Thursday night ladies bible study last night.  I am so grateful to be part of such an amazing group of women.  Such diversity in age, life experience, current circumstances and walks with God.  Makes for incredible discussion.

July 25, 2012

Sewing lessons

Granny had Maddie and Ruthie over for sewing lessons.  They both made an adorable skirt.  Maddie has well surpassed me in her sewing knowledge (she had me at the first stitch).  So fun to get to do this with Granny.  For a special treat, the girls got to spend the night there afterwards.

July 24, 2012

Homeschool Books

We got the last of our homeschool books in today.  I am feeling one part excited and one part overwhelmed!

July 23, 2012

Love her attitude!

Maddie:  "I think I am glad I got Diabetes.  I  mean it is not what I want and it is hard, but I think it will bring me closer to God."

Love yer!

July 21, 2012


Fun night with the Norton's watching the Suns for Jimmy Buffet night!

After the baseball game, a Jimmy Buffet cover band rolled onto the field for a concert...

July 18, 2012


We signed the kids up for their first official homeschool programs.  Zoocademy at the Jacksonville Zoo.  This unique experience for Home School students is a six-month series of programs covering a range of topics in Biology, Zoology, Environmental Science and Conservation. Classes meet for three hours, once a month from September through February.  Students in each age group will experience hands-on, engaging activities, including up-close animal encounters with our Animal Ambassadors and tours within the Zoo.

Jake and Maddie will be in separate classes.  Here are the topics they will each get to learn about:

July 17, 2012

Surf Camp

Maddie is doing surf camp this week with two of her friends, Emily M and Emily B.  They love it!  Jake is tagging along playing in the ocean and making sand castles with Maggie (Emily B's sister).  Both kids are exhausted when they get home.  I just found them both in their beds asleep at 3:00.

July 14, 2012

General Homeschool Plan

I’m thinking the general schedule would look something like this and then we will insert in any programs / activities as they are scheduled (e.g. Zoo/MOSH/Cummer homeschool programs) and co-op trips/activities (with Christ’s Church big group).  The things in red are things they would be doing with other kids.  Additional info/thoughts are below the calendar.

9:00 a
School work
School work
School work
School work
School work / Field Trip
10:00 a

11:00 a
12:00 p
1:00 p
Track / PE
Play outside
Track / PE (maybe PE group/class)
Play outside
2:00 p
Read / Creative (and finish any school work)
Read / Creative (and finish any school work)

Read / Creative (and finish any school work)
Read / Creative (and finish any school work)
3:00 p
Free time
Free time
Free time

4:00 p

Library / fun activity / errands
Maddie dance (4:15-5:15)

(plan, shop, cook)
Maddie guitar (date/time TBD)
5:00 p
Maddie Dance
Jake soccer

Jake soccer
6:00 p
Jake activity (TBD)
Wed night church
7:00 p

School Curriculum:  We’ll start by 9am each morning going through the school curriculum.  I’m thinking our first year we will go with A Beka which is a curriculum that private schools and homeschool groups use.  I can get a whole kit for each grade that has the parent and teacher workbooks.  It is laid out for a 180 day school year with detailed plans for each day.  They would get to do a wide variety of subjects (not just reading and math like they do now)…Reading, writing, spelling, math, Bible, science/health/manners, history, geography.  When the weather is nice we can go do our school work at the beach or at a park one day during the week (and invite some friends to join us).

Reading Time:  We’ll spend at least 45 minutes each day reading.  Some will be on our own and some will be me reading to Jake.  This is in addition to the reading curriculum we will be going through.

Co-Ops:  We could be part of Mel’s co-op the first year while we get the hang of things.  They meet every Tuesday and do scheduled programs together (e.g. science unit, history unit, etc) as well as field trips.  We could decide to move to a different co-op for the next school year if we want something different.  We’ll also be part of the general MandarinChristian (Christ’s Church) homeschool group.  Their co-op has 200 kids and is closed for this year, but we can be part of their general homeschool group that has various activities, programs, field trips we can be part of this year. 

Homeschool Programs:  There are a lot of dedicated homeschool programs we can participate in such as:
·         Zoo – the zoo has a once a month program aboutanimals for homeschoolers
·         MOSH – once a month they have a science program just for homeschoolers
·         Art/Cummer – there are art programs and activities at the Cummer
·         PE – there are lots of different PE groups and sports programs for homeschool
·         Theater – there are different improve classes for homeschool
·         Plus lots more:  art, music, cooking, languages, etc. – here is just one listing of some of them and here is another

Field Trips:  We could do field trips with Mel’s co-op and the Christ’s Church co-op.  They go a variety of places…some just for fun, and some with educational programs built around them.

Mission days:  We’ll have mission days once a week or every other week.  We can volunteer with various organizations or pick one that we go to every time.  I’m thinking we can help assemble or distribute grocery bags or something like that.  Once we meet more families, we can even do some of the mission days with them or they may already be some established groups that go.

Cooking Days:  One day a week we’ll have the kids go through a recipe book and pick something to make (we could even look into some kids cooking classes).  We’ll go to the store and they can pick out all the ingredients and make dinner.  Maybe we could eventually have a garden and we can use items from our garden…maybe something like this.

We're Homeschooling!

I am so excited that we will be homeschooling next year.  It is something I have been thinking about for a long time, but never thought I would be able to do it (for a variety of reasons).  During the last 6 months to a year I have really been thinking more and more about and praying about it a lot.  I got to the point that I was sold on it, but Sam really wasn't sure about it.  We have finally gotten to a place where we are in agreement to go for it.  I am so excited about all that we will learn and get to do...hands on learning and a less hectic schedule, which will allow for us to do more extracurricular activities.  Here are some excerpts from various studies I put together to help Sam feel more comfortable with it:

Homeschool Trends & Reasons

Across the county, an estimated 1.5 million children are home schooled and that number's growing. In the span of eight years, home schooling has grown nationally by almost 75 percent.

In 2007, the most common reason parents gave as the most important was a desire to provide religious or moral instruction (36 percent of students). This reason was followed by a concern about the school environment (such as safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure) (21 percent), dissatisfaction with academic instruction (17 percent), and "other reasons" including family time, finances, travel, and distance (14 percent). Parents of about 7 percent of homeschooled students cited the desire to provide their child with a nontraditional approach to education as the most important reason for homeschooling, and the parents of another 6 percent of students cited a child's health problems or special needs.

Home schooling, once dismissed as a fringe activity practiced by head-in-the-sand reactionaries and off-the-grid hippies, is now widely considered an integral part of the mainstream education system. Growing more common every year, the practice has gained attention due to home-schooled students sweeping up scholastic and athletic honors at national competitions and high-profile politicians opting to teach their own children at home (Lyman, 2007).

Some think that boys’ energetic natures and tendency to physical expression can more easily be accommodated in home-based education.

There is much evidence via multiple studies that shows the benefits of homeschooling across many dimensions and there is no empirical evidence that homeschooling causes negative things compared to institutional schooling.

Excerpts from various studies and articles…

Standardized Tests
·         Studies showed homeschoolers typically academically outperformed children receiving a public education on standardized tests by approximately 30 to 35 percentile points in all subject areas.
·         Drawing data for the 2007-2008 school year from multiple standardized testing services, the national average percentile scores were higher in all subject areas by at least 34 percentile points, and as high as 39 percentile points.
·         Homeschooled kids score above the national average on college admissions tests.
·         Mean scores on every subtest on standardized academic achievement far surpass those scores of publicly schooled students.
·         The mean of subtest scores were at least in the 80th percentile for homeschooled students.
·         Homeschool students tend to score above the national percentile on standardized achievement tests such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills.
·         Homeschoolers are scoring higher on SATs and ACTs than non-homeschooled students.


·         Homeschool students go to college and to fine colleges in disproportionately high numbers.
·         children from home education programs had higher first semester, first year, and last year grade point averages than their peers
·         Colleges are starting to actively recruit homeschoolers.

Studies have shown that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than are those sent to school.

Recent research is changing opinions about how well-socialized homeschooled children are. While there is a common misconception that homeschooled children may be more poorly socialized than their publicly educated peers, this may not be the case. In a meta analysis of 24 studies about homeschoolers and socialization, Dr. Susan McDowell concluded socialization was a "non-issue."

Another often-cited study is a survey conducted by Dr. Gary Knowles, a University of Michigan Assistant Professor of Education. For the study, Dr. Knowles surveyed more than 50 adults who had been homeschooled as children. In the study, Knowles found that more than 75 percent felt homeschooling had helped them learn to interact with others as an adult.

In 2000, Dr. Patricia Lines of the Discovery Institute studied the socialization of homeschooled children. She found that homeschoolers were well-adjusted, and experts were unable to distinguish homeschooled kids from children receiving a public education. In fact, homeschooled children also demonstrated fewer behavioral issues than their public school peers.

Additional studies have shown that homeschooled children participate in many activities outside of the home, which allows them positive interaction with not only their peers, but a variety of age groups.

·         The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
·         Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work
As the "socially challenged" homeschool kids are out and about interacting in real life situations, the government students are "socializing" under a controlled environment, behind four walls with a controlled group of people (also known as their peer group).
People like to assume that if a child attends a traditional school, he or she will automatically have awesome social skills and never be lonely/an outcast/"weird"/anti-social, etc, but I think we all know that's not really the case. Are there socially challenged homeschoolers? Of course there are. But for everyone one of them you should me, I can find you at LEAST one traditionally-schooled child who is equally socially challenged (and probably more than one, simply because there are more kids in traditional schools than in homeschools). Homeschooling doesn't magically result in lack of socialization any more that traditional school magically results in great social skills
I don't think we're isolating our kids,” Jennifer said. “We're giving them a very strong foundation so that when they go out in the world they're able to be a strong model in the face of negative influences rather than being influenced by those negative things.”

Homeschool students have shown themselves to be more creative.

As Adults
The research based on adults who were home educated is growing; thus far it indicates that they:
·         participate in local community service more frequently than does the general population,
·         vote and attend public meetings more frequently than the general population, and
·         go to and succeed at college at an equal or higher rate than the general population.
·         Internalize the values and beliefs of their parents at a very high rate.

Another study found that 94% of homeschoolers keep the faith and 93% continue to attend church after the high school years. But a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation.

Transitioning Back to School
Most home-schooled children who switch to regular school do so successfully, he said, fitting in academically as well as socially. The key to a smooth transition, he said, is preparation.

July 12, 2012

Summer Fun

Jake's buddy, Cal, came over to play.  The backyard heat got to them so they came in for a little game of Battleship.  We are loving our summer so far!

July 11, 2012

Guitar Lessons

Maddie had her first guitar lesson on Tuesday.  She loved it and can't wait until she is able to play some songs for us.  She was up early this morning to practice. 

July 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Maddie!

Happy birthday to my strong, brave, funny, smart, compassionate, sweet 10 year-old...who is also excellent at Uno according to Jake!


Just what we needed....a nice family vacation to Sea World and Aquatica.  We got to celebrate the 4th of July (although we were so tired from the day that we couldn't even stay up for the fireworks) and Maddie's birthday there. It was very hot, but very fun.