• Book Nook,  Books,  History,  Holidays

    Annie’s Thanksgiving Bookshelf

    A friend asked me today for Thanksgiving book recommendations, which prompted me to pull all my mine down from their high shelf. The kids quickly flocked around to see their old holiday friends back again. I hope these stories will warm your hearts in a season of gratitude. (Books are listed in order from youngest ages to oldest.)

  • Cottage School

    Homeschooling Tips

    If you’re like many families across the United States, you may have decided to homeschool your kids this year for the first time. Research shows that growing numbers of families are choosing to home-educate in lieu of trying to manage distance learning for their children. This is a difficult time for all families, and we hope to offer some encouragement to those new families who are homeschooling. Here are a few practical things to remember and consider if you find yourself “suddenly homeschooling.” The time you spend homeschooling will likely be far less than what you may have been used to when your kids were in a traditional environment. That’s…

  • Cottage School,  Curriculum,  English

    Making Sense of IEW: The Writing Process

    This is the last part of our IEW series. If you missed the first two, you can read about Student Resources here and Teacher Resources here. This article will focus on the most important part of composition–the writing process! IEW may seem like it complicates the writing process, but actually, it breaks it down into meaningful tasks, which help a student build a paper of substance. First, the key word outline (KWO) teaches students to find the most important words from the source(s). Don’t skip this step or seek to alter this part of the process. The KWO teaches students that a paper worth writing, or being read for that…

  • Art,  Cottage School,  Curriculum

    Curriculum Spotlight–What We Use for Art

    New school year plans mean new supplies, new calendar planners, new outfits, and new curriculum. Most people like all the new shiny things, but for me, the best part is the curriculum planning. I love pouring over a new book to see what we will study and how to make it our own. To be honest, when I chose ARTistic Pursuits Volume 2, I wasn’t particularly excited about ancient art. Wasn’t it really all clay and paper and primitive sketches? How could these Ancient Near Eastern cultures be relevant to our elementary students? But as I flipped through the pages and began to lay out a plan, I could see…

  • Cottage School,  Curriculum,  English

    Making Sense of IEW: Teacher Resources

    The Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW) provides so many resources for teachers that it can seem overwhelming. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Look at it as IEW is willing to train you to be the best composition teacher you can be for your child.  First of all, Teaching Writing: Structure and Style (TWSS) workbook and videos are so important if you are clueless on how to begin teaching writing. These resources are expensive though. One of the best ways to curb costs is to go in with other homeschool moms to split the bill. The benefit of this is saving money as well as learning how to teach this…

  • Cottage School

    Resolving Conflict at Cottage School

    Conflict is part of life, and although our families get along well, our time together at cottage school is not immune from the arguments and fights that spring up between kids. We are thankful that we are able to work with our kids through the conflict since conflict is an opportunity to grow. Here are a few things we have learned along the way.   1. Tools we use for resolving conflict: We have taken time during our morning opening time to use some of the lessons found in “The Young Peacemaker” by Corrlette Sande to give us a foundation and framework for speaking with the kids about the details of…

  • Curriculum

    New to Homeschooling: How to Choose Curriculum

    Several years ago as I was thinking about homeschooling my son, I sat down with my mom and mother-in-law a few different times to pick their brains about all things homeschool.  My mom homeschooled my brother and me, and my mother-in-law homeschooled five, yes, five boys! One of my top questions–because it’s one thing to be homeschooled, it’s another story to homeschool–was “how did you decide what curriculum to use?” Their answer was somewhat disheartening to me–they both said basically there weren’t a lot of options to choose from if you were homeschooling in the 80s. In one sense, I kind of envied the simplicity of picking one curriculum from…

  • Cottage School,  Curriculum,  English

    Making Sense of IEW: Student Resources

    In order to teach composition in cottage school, I wanted to choose a curriculum proven tried and true. Annie and I had a year’s experience of using the Institute for Excellence in Writing’s curriculum with our oldest girls, and we already could see some of the benefits of this method. The problem with any writing curriculum is that it’s not easy to teach kids how to write. It takes time, patience, and consistency. It requires a parent willing to do the hard work to understand the material well before teaching it. The great news about IEW is that you don’t have to have an English degree, like me, to teach…

  • Art,  Books,  Cottage School,  Curriculum,  English,  Science

    Cottage School Life Fall 2020 Schedule

    One of the advantages to having a small cottage school is the ability to change and adapt our schedule each year. We began our cottage school three years ago with less children and obviously different needs since they were younger. As our group and our children have grown, the classes at cottage school have shifted. This year one of the changes for us will be adding some of the “younger” kids to our IEW class (last year just our “older” kids were in IEW). Another change we are adding is a preschool class for our little kids who haven’t previously had a formal class at cottage school. Here’s a quick…

  • Curriculum,  Learning Disabilities,  Technology

    Integrating Technology into Homeschooling

    The question of whether to incorporate technology into homeschool is one I have thought long and hard about over the years. While our family has always tried to have a healthy balance concerning technology, I noticed it creeping into our lives in more ways than I would have liked. Now that we know two of our children have specific learning disabilities (dyslexia and dysgraphia), I have learned to cautiously welcome educational technology or programs that allow my children to access the material they need for learning.  Here are some thoughts to consider on utilizing technology in your home learning environment: Do you have the proper internet safety measures in place…