Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tips For Household Management

Having your own family is a wonderful thing. Being married, having a lifetime partner, raising children, it is all an experience like no other. Sometimes we get so bogged down in everyday life that we forget this can be the most interpersonal relationship we will ever have. Typically speaking, we only have our children for 18 years; compared to an average lifetime, that is hardly any time at all. Having a game plan of how to keep it all running smoothly is a great idea. A few key tips to keeping it altogether are to decide what cultural principles are important to your family, listen to each other's viewpoints, communicate openly and fairly, do not be afraid to apologize when needed, and have fun together.

Decide what cultural principles are important to your family-
This seems like a simple step, but it is a good foundation for future problems. By examining what direction you would like to see your family in helps to mold your day to day interactions. If your life is faith based, obviously your focus will be God centered and the rest of your life will be molded around that. You should decide if ideally you would like for both parents to work, or if one will stay at home with children, which that will be. These a big decisions that should not be taken lightly. Even if it is not affordable for a parent to stay home at the present time, yet that is what you desire, put a plan in motion to help achieve that goal.

Listen to each other's viewpoints-
Listening is such a crucial step in relationships. Listening allows the other person/people to know that you have interest in what they are saying and that they are valuable to you. The steps of listening are: receiving, understanding, remembering, evaluating and responding. I state these to remind you that responding is the last step. We should not interrupt our children/spouses in the middle of their conversations. It is very important that we complete the other steps before responding in order to effectively communicate. Remembering is also very important, to make someone feel that they are significant, we should remember what they take the time to tell us.

Communicate open and fairly-
Open verbal communication in a family is very helpful in keeping the household running smoothly. Everyone has their own opinions and needs and should be able to express those. One key to verbal communication is to distinguish between facts and inferences. To have a productive conversation, inferences should be held at bay while the facts carry the conversation. This makes it easier for the message to be received openly and clearly. Polarization should also be avoided, try to keep the conversation centered. Do not go from one extreme to the other, use fair conversation. Remember that this is your family and you want the relationship to be as strong as possible. Use words in a productive manner rather than a self destructive way.

Don't be afraid to apologize when needed-
When being part of a family, things can happen or be said that should not have. When this happens, feelings get hurt and the relationship suffers because of it. Often times people are too afraid to apologize and admit to wrong doing. By admitting you were in the wrong is essentially admitting that you have fault; that is ok. There is no one that is perfect, anyone that says they are would be a lair. By admitting your own imperfections and wrongdoings you are letting your family know that you recognize the importance of their relationship in your life. Doing this only helps to strengthen the home.

Have fun together-
Do not forget this step, it is a big one! Find ways for your family to enjoy being around each other. Play games together in your free time; whether board games, card games, sports, bike riding, whatever your family interest are, do them, together. Also go on vacations as a family unit. Even if you can not afford weeklong vacations you could always go camping, go visit out of town family, just get out of the everyday mundane rut. This will help you to bond on a daily basis and avoid having your relationships to fall into the deterioration stage.

All of these steps should help you to maintain a happy, well balanced home. We buy insurance for everything from electronics to houses; think of these steps like free insurance for your family's relationship. The only cost is the time it takes you to implement these into daily life. By doing so, all members of your household will realize what a significant role they play in your life, and they will know that they are valued. I believe being proactive is the best way to keep relationships focused and healthy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sometimes, you need to switch things up a bit.

One of the major advantages of homeschooling is the freedom that is given to your family.  It is amazing how quickly that freedom is forgotten and a rut seems to be built {or dug}.  Money, time, stress all seem to get in the way of bringing back the fun and enjoying your children, which is one of the main reasons I decided to homeschool in the beginning.  There are numerous resources available to aide in keeping things fresh and exciting.  One site I really enjoy is  Kidsactivitiesblog.  This homeschool mom has tons of creative and inexpensive ways to keep children engaged and keep learning fun.  It is all a matter of realizing things need to be freshened up a bit and putting action behind that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Classical Conversations

Choosing a curriculum can be the most laborious part of homeschooling.  There is a ton of second guessing whether or not your choice is the correct choice for each child, and if it will work with your teaching style.  I get headaches while reading through all different materials because I can feel the stress mounting.  WHAT you choose to teach your children is kind of a big deal; these are their building blocks for their whole lives.

This year we have chosen Classical Conversations as our curriculum path.  This is a very different form of education that puts it back to a "classical" model.  Essentially all of the children learn the same basic things, allowing the older children to delve deeper into the subject than the younger.  This curriculum is very in depth and focuses on subjects that are fundamentally lacking in the public school system.  My 6 year old daughter can locate places on a world map better than Eighth graders that I know.  We are only halfway though with our first year, but I am very impressed with the quality of education that my children are receiving.  I found an article by a veteran CC family that highlights this wonderful program, you can find it here on Homegrownlearners.  She provides much more insight than I can, but I love her perspective on the whole system.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sometimes you just need a break, we call those times "Field Trips"

Being in the house daily tends to lead to monotony which can get rather lonesome and boring for all involved.  We like to break up that feeling by taking Field Trips.  I have learned that if we call them that, they sound educational.  They actually are educational, it's just that I have to do no prep work aside from driving to the location.  One of my children's favorite places to visit is the  Children's Museum of Winston Salem.  A little tip for home school families, there is a discount!  If you bring your eligibility letter, children get in for $3/each and the teacher is FREE!

All three of my children, ages 6, 8, 11, love to visit this Museum.  There is a lot of hand's on play, as well as fun climbing structures and building opportunities that really open the mind.  

One of their favorite exhibits is the mock Krispy Kreme factory.  My children love to set the timer, "make" the doughnuts, put them on the conveyor belt, box them and then load them into the truck.  I sit back in pure awe of how much enjoyment they get out of this activity.  When we visit, they usually spend about an hour right here, "making doughnuts.  
Another crowd favorite is this contraption.  This is called the Kaleidoscape and I was told by an employee that this is the only one of its kind in the US.  A woman spent her life developing the plans for this and was able to see it come together when she was in her 70s.  The structure is made of bungee cord type material.  There are multiple openings that children {and adults} can climb up into; once inside you can run free up top.  The outside of the structure has 4 balls that are out of the same material, children love to swing from them or play dodge ball.  

Some of our favorite days are spent at the Children's Museum.  It is a great place to escape the every day and reconnect as a family.

Happy Halloween!!!

Part of being a homeschool family means that you spend A LOT of time at home!  One would think this should lead to a spotless home, but quite the opposite is true.  We LIVE in our home, it is not just a transition pad.  This weekend we were free from soccer tournaments, so I took it upon myself to browse Pinterest for entryway organization.  We are hitting Fall which means coats are suddenly becoming slipcovers for our couch...not exactly the decor I'm going for.

As it would turn out, there are thousands of entryway ideas; not many that would work with this small space coming into my home from the garage.  Just when I was about to give up, I found this inspiration for a perfect solution from shanty-2-chic.  This project took a few hours (well, actually more because the finish nailer was not cooperating, I think it was still on summer break).  All in all it was a great use of a Saturday morning that was finished off with trick or treating.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

So often asked "WHY"? Here is one piece of the puzzle.

When a family chooses to remove their children from public school and begins to homeschool them, so many people are curious as to why one would choose that.  I know some homeschool parents see it as degrading that someone would question their parenting, I just see it as general curiosity.  Even though it is becoming much more common in our society for families to homeschool, it is still not the social norm.  There are many factors that played a role in us pulling our children out.  Ultimately, we just want what is best for them, as I would hope all parents can say.

Last week I came across this article, The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland, which was very thought provoking, and says so many things about public schools so well; things that I was having trouble articulating myself.  I feel that "the system" of American public education has placed too much pressure on our children at a young age.  I look at my own childhood for reference.  I graduated top of my class with a 4.0 GPA, took AP classes and have never had trouble functioning in this world.  I was not forced to learn so many sight words per quarter, expected to take AR test, homework beginning in Kindergarten or benchmark testing when I first began school.  I remember playing in Kindergarten, I remember centers, I remember having fun!  My older two children attended Kindergarten in public school.  They did not experience the same joy that I remember.  My middle son would come home stressed from school, with dread of having to do homework, he was 5 years old!!

When I reflect at what the article says about the system that Finland has in place, the fact that these children are more than making up for what they did not do in Kindergarten, I am pushed to believe that the United States has it all wrong.  Just because this is what our system has in place does not make it the best system to be using.  We need to stop placing societal pressures on our children at such a young age and allow them to explore and learn on their own.  Do we want to create robots that are able to function without joy or passion, or raise a generation of adults that are free thinkers and innovators, excited about what they have come up with?

Monday, September 28, 2015


This blog will be about the everyday UPS and downs of homeschooling and spending all day, every day with your children.  This is real life, this blog will reflect that.  If you're looking for sugar coating, head to the bakery ;).


Hi, my name is April Ottone.  I am a 30 (<---those numbers are hard to type!) year old mother of three crazy amazing children.  Last year my husband and I decided to pull the oldest two from public schools and begin homeschooling all three of them.  This hairpullingout wonderful journey has taught us many more things than we ever could have imagined.