Homeschool planning outside of CC

Proper performance requires planning! This is true of everything including homeschool. How do you form a homeschool plan?

I’ve written about this topic often here and my other blog, http://www.ccofsiliconvalley.wordpress.com.

My oldest is almost 8, and I’m teaching my kindergartener too. I’m also enriching my 2 year old and caring for my baby. It’s a busy fun year, that’s for sure!

Let’s get down to brass tacks.

A good homeschool plan is done in five steps.

  1. Know your goals.
  2. Form a schedule.
  3. Reverse engineer.
  4. Execute.
  5. Review and course correct.

Let’s start at 1. Know your family’s goals and mission, and goals for each child for his or her life while they are under your roof, and then for just this year. You’re starting big and getting small… like a reverse triangle. Start with ideas and then get tactical. Ask God about the big and the small. Trust that He has an opinion and a direction for you!

You should have overall goals for preschool, grades 1-3 and 4-5, 6-9, and 10-12th grades… your goals done have to be exactly as I’ve outlined it, but it’s better to work in chunks and then break them down.

Look at state standards. Look at some excellent homeschool curriculum’s scope and sequence. Compare and contrast. Narrow down your list of priorities.

If you homeschooled last year I hope you assessed your progress against your goals (I hope you set some basic goals last year!). If not start this year right by making some goals. You cannot proceed in planning well if your goals are unclear. Did I say make some goals? I mean it. Spend the most time here.

Good goals are smart ones. They are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. Are your goals smart enough? If not, retool!

If you “test” via standardized tests then know how to prepare your kid for that and scatter it into your year. It’s kinder to everyone that way!

For example by June 2020, my oldest will have completed Singapore Math 3A.

Now that you know your goals, form a schedule.

2. Form a schedule does not mean write down what you’re going to do every hour of the day. Again, start big and get small. Start by getting a calendar out and blocking out vacation time, field trip days, days you just know you will be “out” like holidays or birthdays. In my family every birthday is a free day, and every Friday is Shabbat preparation. Technically we could call Friday a home ec day, but I just don’t “count” those days in my planning activities.

For example, I have 8 days I am homeschooling in July, and 12 in August. The rest of the year is fuller until December and January, and then we ramp up again through May, and slow down in June. And I know I need time at the end of the year for assessments and planning, so I’ve accounted for those.

3. Reverse engineer. Now that you know what days you are planning to homeschool, and you’ve adjusted to include sick, travel, holiday, and field trip days, go pick your curriculum. How do you choose it? That’s a whole other topic and there are a lot of google searches that will satisfy your every curriculum question. So, get out your curriculum out one by one, and review the table of contents, lesson planning advice within the curriculum, and get a sense of the scope of that curriculum. Guesstimate how long you want to dedicate to each lesson or topic, and how long your child may take doing it. I literally count pages in some books, whereas in others I look more at topics. Some topics I cover daily such as math and handwriting and reading. Other topics I cover twice a week, once a week, or monthly. I loved executing a loop schedule for two years in a row. This year I will be a little more aggressive about my pace for my oldest child, whereas the younger kids can enjoy the loop schedule.

4. Execute. Okay it sounds simple, but when you are dealing with children and you who all have sin issues or sickness issues or unplanned events it gets complicated. But really, you have to actually do the work. Or else it will pile up and become a mountain that can feel overwhelming. Yuck.

5. Review and course correct. The great thing about a plan is you know where you should be at the end of a week, a month, six weeks and a quarter. So stop where you are and look at the roadmap. Make sure you’re steering well and the windshield is clean. If it’s foggy, go back and see why. Do you need to change your plan? Make up a day? Deal with a work ethic issue in you or your child? Have you been realistic?

Planning well is an investment that takes time. It took me six hours to finish, and I have about two more hours to put in until I am done. I have left to create my son’s homeschool planner. I am teaching him executive functioning skills, so he needs this planner in front of him. I started this idea for him last year. He will work within week-long agendas, and break them down into daily goals and tasks. I will sit down with my planner in front of him and we will work together. It will be fun… we will do it over tea and cookies or something nice so he learns to enjoy this time.

Alright folks! I hope this helps you!

Pencils and sharpies,

Robyn Cooper, mom to four little heros

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Older siblings | tough toddlers

Do you have many kids? I have four. It gets easier. Toddlers are hard! Babies are hard! Kids are hard!

My oldest is almost 8. He was a TOUGH toddler. But if a tough toddler means I’ll have an 8 year old like this, I’ll take him any day of the week! The awesome thing is that he WANTS to do the right thing. His moral compass developed this past year.

He was strong willed and high spirited. I mean STRONG-WILLED! Last night all my boys watched a nature show with me, and my oldest wanted to hold my hand. What a true pleasure! And now he helps keeps all three younger siblings in line and doing well (not to say we are without moments of teasing and fighting – Plenty of that happens!! – but he genuinely cares for his siblings.)

Pic below is him with our baby.

As a parent, he put my training wheels on. I know there are tougher kids than him, but he was (and can still be) really tough.

As a tot, he used to get upset when he was disappointed. Upset meant a full on 30-45 min meltdown… screaming, sobbing, trying to hit me. He’s also a sensory seeker. That curbed around 3.5 yo, along with the development of some impulse control and understanding for delayed gratification. He’s incredibly bright… and always wanted and wants to know why and how… when meant he was always experimenting in his world… and creating problems for me. He needed to know where the arrow was pointing, so to speak.

Love and logic helps me a lot for him and younger kids.

Also, we did a ton of “peacetime”, visualizations, and time in’s when he was a tot. Tons of affirmations too. We still do these. We did lots of massage to reconnect – All my kids have enjoyed and still love these. I tomato-stake my kids when they are disagreeing. This diffuses things.

Now that you’re managing a tot plus a baby, it helps to have busy bags available that you take out ONLY when you’re occupied with the baby… something you know your toddler will love!

Look up http://www.activemamas.wordpress.com and search ^^^ those terms. Some of our early pre-K education is in that blog too.

Hope this helps some of you with these trying times!

Two days and three days

Seems like I have two or three great nights and then a hard one.

I hope this makes you feel better ladies. I’m a fourth time mama, and as confident as I should be (and generally, I feel prepared), I have nights of total frustration and meltdown too!

Each baby and experience is new and different. I hope you give yourselves grace in your own journeys. Don’t expect to only improve… you’ll take three steps forward and one step back along your journey of motherhood. And this is normal.

No one has this parenting thing figured out. You and your baby are unique in the world. Your family is special, whether it’s a family of two or twelve! And you’re all adjusting, including baby! Baby is adjusting too!

Did you ever think of the mind of your baby? Sure you have because you’re a mother now!

I wish babies could talk! But they do, in their own ways. They express fear and joy and comfort and interest and pain and confidence.

I love motherhood, and all it’s humbling ups and downs. I hope you learn to embrace the brokenness that is parenting. I’m convinced God uses this to help mold and shape us, and being molded and shaped is not always pleasant.

The metamorphosis

I was writing to another mama, and it inspired me to write this to you all.

Some of us dream about being a mama when we are just little girls. Others of us rejected the idea of motherhood, and became pregnant anyway. But regardless of where we fall on that spectrum, I think motherhood comes as a shock in many ways. Most of us don’t have a mother who sits us down to explain all “the feelings” that happen. And as we get farther away from one stage, we forget its woes, so when we have grown children we will likely not fully prepare them either.

A new baby comes with some “letting go”. You’ve let go of being “young and free” (relatively speaking). You’re no longer allowed to be selfish (what I mean is you can no longer do things just for your own sake)… you have to PLAN to take care of yourself… even go to the bathroom. You’ve got to time everything now! You may mourn being able to eat a warm meal, or (surprise, surprise), as your precious babies acquire language, to complete a sentence (or a thought!) uninterrupted! You may mourn FOR your older child(ren) who lost their throne as only child, or youngest child, and now have to share your time, space, and energy.

You may mourn your independence. Babies expose our needs for help. And we ALL NEED help, but it’s hard to admit, especially for those of us who fancied ourselves as self-sufficient. This is even harder for those of us who were under-valued or mistreated as we formed our identities.

You look at your children, and you reflect on your own upbringing. And if you were short-changed in any way, those feelings surface. Flashbacks and anger and sorrow and all kinds of feelings rise up. We don’t exactly know how to handle this… no one taught us if this is you. No one told us, we were mistreated because our folks were mistreated. The cycle wasn’t broken. So now you look at your baby, and you think, “how can I?” And you are overwhelmed. Just overwhelmed. Each step feels like a mountain. But you’ll be different, Mama. You’ll rise to the occasion. You’ll break the cycle and you’ll change the map. Because you were born for a time such as this, and God gave you this dear one. And He is your right hand. His word never fails.

Children expose our short-comings. All those things you dislike about yourself? Your children will hold a mirror up to those things because as they grow, they will likely either replicate them, or react to them – this is unintentional of course. And you’ll have to face the dragons: your own reality.

Children make you become confrontational to a degree. You will have to either protect yourself, or your children from people who love and don’t love you, from those who mean you well, and from those who mean you harm. Your in-laws, your siblings, your parents, your friends, even your significant other, and definitely

strangers … once benign relationships… now some of them have formed opinions and these opinions are both offered and pressed on you without invitation, and some people are offended when you don’t comply.

I find the issues around children and child-bearing to be polarizing and I’m not sure why but I do know it heightens the intensity of emotions for moms. OB or midwife. Homebirth or c section. Drugs or no drugs. Circ or intact. Cosleep or own room. Vax or no-vax. CIO or attachment parenting. Bottle or breast. Just wait till your kids get to be school aged! That’s a whole new ball of wax! You’ll soon learn to shut out and drown out negativity (I hope you do!) and take in all information like a buffet, picking up what you like and leaving behind what seems unsavory to you.

I’ve learned that the hardship of new life is par for the course: feeling blue sometimes, feeling unprepared, the tears… they help contrast the sheer jubilation that the same life will continue to bring you. You’ll be caught up in the beautiful thing that IS life itself: a contrast of emotions, wrapped up in relationships. The old saying goes: better to loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It’s true. I’ve lived enough life to know I’m not guaranteed time with loved ones, not even my children. So I choose to live life sober minded, erring on the side of optimism and excellence, and to make choices that bring me and my ship (my family) just one baby step closer at a time. For us, we are inching our way towards Jesus. For you… well, you get to make that choice. And this is not a religious post. This post was just about why you have all these BIG FEELINGS.

This is just a SHORT list of things that are changing and will need to change. It happens rapidly. We are exhausted, and barely have time and energy to meet basic needs, much less tend to these larger issues! But they are pressed on us.

Add a labor story, a good one even, but especially if you had a traumatic one, and the whole issue of recovery has become four-dimensional. I’ve had both. If you’ve had to physical abuse trauma before this can be especially difficult. If you’ve had prior trauma, this can resurface another layer of issues.

What we are contemplating… motherhood… is no simple task. No wonder you are grappling with the change. No one really prepares us for this change or warns us about what happens on the outside and the inside. It’s a big deal. And we undergo this metamorphosis at the same time… we go through it simultaneously, experiencing it on the outside and the inside, multi-dimensionally.

So some of us feel lonesome, worried, fearful, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, incompetent, fully able, blissful, elated, grateful, guilty, and unappreciated… name a million other feelings and include them… and they all apply, and they happen simultaneously, in a swirling pool of emotional soup.

When you are ready, lift your eyes and your heart up to the future. You have the opportunity to create your own winning family culture. Decide what you’re about, even if there are just two of you. Make the decision independently, and with your SO if you have one, and when your children find their self-expression, include them too! Ask God about it too. He has a plan for you!

The point is, MAKE the decisions. Don’t waffle in the wind. Make the choices and stick by them. TRUST your instincts. God gave YOU them and they are for self-preservation and protection. (Unless you find yourself to be untrustworthy with thoughts of self-harm or harm to others… if this is you, get help. We ALL need help. Trust me!).

If you’re feeling something new, or old, it may help you to journal, draw, paint, listen to music, create music, express, say, etc. Try to sit with yourself and feel your feelings and know it’s okay! It’s okay to feel blue. It’s okay to feel happy! It’s okay to kind of mourn the way life was before as you have gone through your own metamorphosis too.

The point is, this metamorphosis probably has you FEELING. There is a REASON for all those feelings. Make some decisions about your loves and your lives as life meets you. If you’re reading this, then life has certainly met you!

Feel free to write about your feelings here. Judge free zone.

Safe breathing, fourth trimester, ppd, and loving your body

Baby’s airways are smaller then their pinky (i believe). They require a two finger width between their chin and chest to breathe safely. This is also true when you’re baby wearing, or when they are in a baby seat.

If your baby’s head is dropping in either situation, fix it. One solution is to roll a hand towel or burp cloth to prop right behind their necks. Another solution is to just lay them on a flat surface. My babies sometimes like a pillow under their knees and they’ll sleep longer. If your baby has reflux and doesn’t like being flat on his back, you could prop him up (on something appropriate) and still put a pillow under his knees, but you run into the same problem of a droopy head.

My favorite thing to do is to wear a baby, because it’s easiest to monitor them. But I know it’s just not always possible.

Most of us are in the fourth trimester (first three months of baby’s life). Once you pass month three, somehow the fog lifts and life gets much more manageable. For most of us, after-birth pain will be gone, hormones will stabilize, and baby will establish a routine if you’re respectful and observant of how he communicates with you.

Take it easy on yourselves! It’s hard right now, but you’ll bounce back soon! And you’ll miss the earliest snuggles your baby can give you, these are very dependent little creatures who still accept all your kisses and hugs without any protest. The day will come when he will wipe your kiss away, and say “no!” to a hug, even if he’s kidding! You’ll realize how precious and short these days are! The baby grunts, the tiniest yawns, the fuzzy chicky hair… the squirmy body, the tiniest hands and feet. I love all of it!

Try to drink it in, even though you’re fed up, exhausted, sleep deprived, malnourished, dirty, smell foul, and covered in stale milk. Drink it in, even though the laundry is piling, and people are pushing you around, and you’re unsure of everything. Drink it in, even though you don’t know which way is up, and you’re making mistakes, and you’re forgetting things. Try to take a deep breath and drink it in. Make a decision to draw in your baby right now and bond together in bed as much as you can.

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Close your ears to criticism. Do what you feel is right and best.

Appreciate your mangled body. God used it to give you a baby. So love your body back. Take a shower. Say thanks to the tears that fall – let them fall. They are a sign that you care deeply. No, you’re feelings aren’t flaccid and flat. Your feelings are full of emotion. And that’s good. If you’re drowning in depression, call for help. It’s okay to need help. It’s crucial you get it. We ALL need help.

And now, Mama, find your voice. Deep inside, regardless how you feel on the surface, God has made you a lioness. I know this because He made you a mother. He placed instincts in you that equip you for this high calling. You must find your voice and let it rise. You AND your minime need you to find your voice. You now represent two. Or three. Or twelve. Regardless of how many children you have born, or buried, your children need your voice to be kind and gentle, and firm and strong, and patient and generous, and clear and determined.

Raise a glass to you today. You deserve the fireworks.

The first 24 hours

I’m a fourth time mama. My baby was born yesterday morning at 9:03am.

While all babies are different, I thought this might encourage you.

I’ve successfully nursed all three other babies and am starting the nursing with my first right off the bat.

Here’s what I’m dealing with even though I have plenty of experience. My babies are all tongue tied, so until I get that fixed, my nipples are really sore. I know we will face engorgement and an overactive let down.

This has been my most difficult labor and my first traumatic one, so healing will take longer… at last three weeks and up to six weeks. Even though I didn’t need a c section, it will still be long. On top of being sore up top, my bottom half is more sore than it’s every been and I’ve suffered a third degree tear which means my anal sphincter had to be sewn back together… but only superficially. It could be worse. Some women’s entire rectum is torn open. My pubic bone was impacted somehow so I can barely walk… it’s a little better a 18 hours after the birth, but the worst healing day will be tomorrow.

And I see so many moms here asking about cluster feeding. Here’s what my newest baby has done so far… which will show you how nonstop it is on day one while baby is working hard to get the milk to come in… and I already have some milk, but it’s not the big engorgement milk that will hit on day three or four.

Last night I had one three hour stretch of sleep, and a two hour stretch of sleep. I had a nap of one hour today and consider that a major blessing. Otherwise, very very broken sleep that was less than an hour at a time, with much of the night actively nursing.

12:10pm Ibuprofen (take 1 every four hours)

1:45pm nurse left

3:20 pm right nurse and left for an hour

4:30pm right

5:23-5:34pm left

6:47pm 2 ibuprofen

7:37pm and 8:19pm right

8:43pm and 9:32 left

9:45pm right

10:15pm left

11:15pm right

11:45pm left and hiccups

3/28/19

12:05am left

2 ibuprofen

12:23 and 12:37 am left (I SLEPT 3 HOURS)

3:39am right 10 min (1st bm for mom) milk in!

3:53am right football hold 10 min

4:10am left 27 min

4:45am left 15 min

4:49am left

5:24am right then left

6:28 am left (I SLEPT TWO HOURS)

8:30am first pee, 2 ibuprofen

8:35am right 25 min

9am left 30 min

9:30am left 30 min pee diaper

11:30am hair wash

11:30am right then left and sleeping

12pm left, 12:23pm left (I SLEPT 1 hour)

3:09pm right, 2 ibuprofen

3:30pm left

4:30pm right

5pm left

6pm right

So here’s what’s helping me. First of all, my mom and sister are here helping with my three kids. I’m not obligating myself to ANY housework or cooking AT ALL.

My midwife told them I’m to stay in bed a full week… like I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom.

I sent my husband to work now, and he will take off of work after my sister and mom leave… that buys me three weeks of recovery time, which my body really needs right now.

I’m keeping my bladder empty. I was given a catheter in the hospital, and I get frequent UTIs anyhow, so I also take D-Mannose with cranberry every single morning, along with prenatals, electrolytes, probiotics, chloroxygen, herbalmeucil, and colace. At night I take Dr Schultz formula 1. These are all to keep my stool bearable while I’m healing. I can not afford to mess my stitches up.

I am doing tons of skin to skin… and I sleep with my babies, so the only reason baby cries is from wet diapers, hunger or gas, but never because he feels insecure. So some of those nursing sessions above in the middle of the night, I am able to side-lie and go into a haze of sleepy time even if I’m not sleeping. I’m better at that when I’m on my left side for some reason. I’ve always favored the left side for my babies… I think it has something to do with the way our brains read emotion. It’s processed in right brain, so your perception crosses over to left side (maybe I could explain it better, but it doesn’t really matter).

For nipple care, I’m putting some breastmilk on them and air drying. This is much more healing than lanolin. If you don’t have milk yet you could use coconut oil.

Also staying hydrated is wonderful and necessary. So before my husband goes to work I ask him for that battery of supplements I listed before.

So listen, I know not all moms have this amount of help. And I know many of you struggle with supply.

Here are some tips…

Let down has to do with how relaxed you are. Figure out how to be calm about nursing.

Every time your baby nurses you should drink too.

Keep your bladder empty.

Take a shower or bath when you need it.

Eat lactogenic food (fenugreek tea (“mother’s milk tea), lactation cookies, granola bars…)

Avoid gassy or acidic food if you notice your baby is gassy

Feed on demand

Snack when you’re hungry

Hold your baby as long as you want, skin to skin helps your body produce milk and regulate baby’s temperature too.

Don’t expect milk to really be in until day 3-4… and until then your baby will be fussy and want to stay attached to you because he’s “putting his order in” for milk to come.

If you’re pumping, that’s great, but it’s not a true indicator of how much your baby is pulling out of you. Double pumps do about 80% of what a baby will do.

Nursing is so hard. They call them tough titties for a reason. Get help. Hire a lactation consultant. Get the latch right. Re-latch your baby every time it hurts. You’re both learning the right way to do this.

Kellymom.com is a great website with sound information.

If you need to supplement you could try an SNS (supplemental nursing system) before completely going to a bottle because then baby will still stimulate your supply and not get used to the quick flow of a bottle.

Check out your local Le Leche League group, and check your hospitals and midwifery groups for free breastfeeding support groups. These mom friendships will really help you with much more than only nursing… but also questions about poop, sleep, discipline, weaning, development, and much more.

Babies love to be “on you” and expect to remain near you, especially for the first three months. Try wearing your babies – this is wonderfully freeing, and great help if you have more than one baby. I have five types of carriers and I use them at different stages past even two years old.

Here’s how to decipher newborn language:

“Neh” hunger

“Eh” burp

“Heh” discomfort

“Eair” gas

“Owh” sleepy

Lastly, if you cannot or don’t want to nurse, please toss the guilt aside.

If you don’t have as much help, then pick the things on two ends of the spectrum. Pick the things that stress you the most that you can creatively fix… think outside of the box for them, really work hard on finding these solutions… figure out what you can compromise and tell yourself to be okay with it. Pick the things that help you the most and really prioritize them.

For me, my food standards for my kids disappear. Since I have others caring for them, whatever makes it easy for them is what goes. I buy premade snacks, processed food, and all the things I normally wouldn’t do to make it easy for them. I use Instacart so they no one has to shop or leave to get the food.

My home organization standards fall. I’m not cleaning right now, or doing laundry.

My social requirements disappear. If people are here too long, I politely ask them for privacy to sleep. My sister and mom both suggested I start walking around- I reminded them both what my midwife said, which was three weeks bed rest with the first week only going to the bathroom. Otherwise I’m to stay in bed.

The things I need the most are to heal my undercarriage, to nurse my baby, and to stay nourished and love on this new baby. ALL my energy is going here and no where else. And I have NO guilt or frustration in other places – this is a choice… because I could bend and sway these choices. But I’d pay for it, and so would my new son, so I don’t.

I hope this helps some of you to set some wonderful expectations of yourselves and your babies and your family.

Get strong and stay strong. Some of you have tough families with blurry boundaries. Make decisions that are right for you and don’t feel you need to explain them. At the end of the day, you answer to God, yourself, a significant other (for some), and your baby. No one else has to live with your choices, do they? So be a tough mama, and love strong and love well… this includes loving yourself and finding grace for yourself. This will happen all of motherhood. Grace is a big word that you need to learn to love. Forgiveness is another one. Start with you and let that kind of depth of love permeate to your babies, and you will walk beautifully in motherhood.