Preparing to Homeschool (in Kansas)   Leave a comment

Preparing to Homeschool collageMy sister-in-law is preparing to homeschool her daughter, who is the same age as my oldest child. Since I’ve been doing this for so many years, she has asked me for advice. So, I’ve been thinking about what things from the last decade of reading and learning are the things that feel like the most important to pass on to a parent just getting started. In order to keep all of these thoughts in one place, and to maybe be of use to anyone else about to get started, I decided to turn it into a blog post so she can take her time going through it. So here we go.

Kansas-Specific Stuff
In Kansas, homeschools fall under the laws regarding non-accredited private schools. You follow this same procedure whether you’re preparing to homeschool your own child or start a non-accredited private school for others to send kids to.

  1. Register as a private school with the Kansas Department of Education. This site has the link to the online form, as well as links to PDFs of the actual statute that applies to homeschoolers, and forms for mailing in if you’d rather register that way. One thing to note: if you register online, they do not provide you with a copy of your form, so be sure to print or screenshot your registration before you submit it. You only need to register once. If you move, submit a change of address, but otherwise, you’re set.
  2. If you’re removing your child from a public school, let their current school know that they are transferring to a new school. You are a private school now, so if they seem unsupportive of homeschooling, you don’t have to call it that.  But definitely do what you need to do to get a copy of your child’s records. My kid never went to public school, so I’ve never had to do it, but it should be as simple as giving them your private school information so that they can forward the records.
  3. Take a deep breath. Now is when you start making choices and that is both terrifying and liberating. You can do it.

Other Kansas rules of note: CHECK has a pretty easy to understand write-up of the specific wording of the educational requirements. Basically, you have to provide a public school equivalent education from competent instructors. I’ve never met a homeschooling parent that wanted their kids to be dumb, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Just make sure your kids are making educational progress and following a curriculum of some kind that includes academic subjects and you’ll hit the legal requirements almost on accident.

Making a Game Plan

One of the best things you can do, before you look at a single  curriculum or make a purchase or research a thing is to sit down and decide what your true goal is. This can be done as a mission statement, or as a list of goals/standards to complete, or a description of what you want school time to look like. 

  • Creating a Mission Statement/Set of Standards

Once upon a time, I went through this series of posts to come up with my end goal for educating my daughter. But there are other options for going through that process.

http://www.blessedbeyondadoubt.com/homeschool-mission-statement/

https://thecharactercorner.com/our-homeschool-mission-statement/

  • Determine Your Educational Learning and Teaching Styles

Every kid has a learning style (or two or three). Every parent has a teaching style. At the point where those intersect (with minimal compromise), you’ll find your ideal homeschooling style. For reference though, there are articles and quizzes that attempt to help you determine how you want to do things.

https://simplycharlottemason.com/five-homeschooling-styles/
http://eclectic-homeschool.com/what-kind-of-homeschooler-are-you/

  • Determine Your Planning/Recording Style

Some people need everything written out ahead of time. Some people find that daunting. Some people are excellent at recording every moment of what they’ve done with their chidren. Some people are struggling to remember what they did two weeks ago so they can get it written down. Technically, in Kansas, you are required to keep records. There is almost no guidance regarding what that should look like. I tend to go with a planner where I write down what we got done. And this year, I had some spare pages about every two months that I’ve been using to put in pictures of our work and activities so it can work as a portfolio of sorts when it’s done. No one way is the right way. The following two videos basically show opposite ends of this spectrum.

I’ve also used this planner before: https://www.proverbialhomemaker.com/relaxed-mom-homeschool-planning-system.html

  • Decide When to Start

If your kids have never gone to public school, this is more of a question about what age to start at. For that, I recommend following your kid’s lead. No matter how excited you are to start, wait for them. Trust me. They will show you when they’re ready.

If your kids have been in public school, you need to decide how long you’re willing to allow the transition to take. There is a thing called deschooling. Basically, it’s allowing your kid (and yourself) a period of extra time to get all the public school routines out of your system. I’ve never seen it discussed better than here, so I won’t repeat the stuff that she says wonderfully: http://www.beverlyburgess.com/deschooling-how-to-know-when-you-are-done/

  • Now, You Pick Your Curriculum

I started homeschooling my oldest at a point when my husband was unemployed, so I had to do everything basically for free. If that’s somewhere in the realm of your budget, there are a lot of places to find free things.

http://www.allinonehomeschool.com (Easy Peasy. It goes K-8 and has a companion site for high school. This is my default. I only don’t use it for everything because my kids struggle to focus when using the internet for school. But the materials are great and everything is free. If you decide to use it, definitely join the Facebook groups. They are super helpful.)

http://www.amblesideonline.org/index.shtml (Ambleside is hardcore Charlotte Mason. It’s going to be very different from public school and it is quite rigorous, but for some people it’s perfect.)

https://www.ck12.org/student/ (I’ve never personally used CK-12, but it seems to be popular.)

http://oldfashionededucation.com/ (This probably falls somewhere between Easy Peasy and Ambleside Online.)

http://www.blessedbeyondadoubt.com/free-homeschool-curriculum/ (And there are more.)

If you have a larger budget than zero, there are curricula that will meet it. I enjoy reading curriculum choice posts from other homeschoolers, even when I’m not looking for new stuff. Around July and August, you can find a TON for the upcoming year. I’ll probably do one for next year because we’re making a lot of new choices this year. You can get a good idea of what’s out there and what kind of quality it is from here: https://cathyduffyreviews.com/

That’s a ton of information. And really, that’s just scratching the surface of what’s out there. But anything more would probably cause exploding brains. So take your time, and just know that you love your babies. You want them to be the best they can be. So whatever choices you make will be okay. Also, if you decide something isn’t working, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You’ve learned something new about yourself or your child. Take that information and make a new choice. Education is a marathon, not a sprint, and most of what we’ll teach our kids is more about teaching them how to keep learning when we’re done with them.

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Life of Fred   Leave a comment

Elisebeth is good at math. It is not a struggle for her. But she struggles with it. She doesn’t like the repetitious nature of it. She finds most math curricula boring. It becomes a fight to get her to do it. But she loves Life of Fred. I feel like it’s not enough though, so I’ve started looking around for coordinating printables or activities or something. There were a few sites where I found some extra activities for the early chapters of Apples. I found some cute generic notebooking pages to go with the first two sets of books. But I didn’t really find anyone that had done a consistent job of gathering activities and printables to go with the whole series. So I think I’m going to tackle it. I don’t know that I’ll be 100% consistent about getting things posted (or even figured out). But there appears to maybe be a need for it and I’m going to be hunting for the stuff anyway, so I might as well post it. She’s already on Chapter 10 of Apples, so that’s where I’ll start. But since I found stuff for the earlier chapters, I’ll link some stuff here just to get things started.



Life of Fred – Apples

LIfe of Fred fans Facebook

Overview of the Series – If you scroll down, there is a listing of topics by book.

Apples-themed notebooking pages – Scroll to the bottom of the post where she links to the pages for the first four books.

Some overall ideas for use with the book

Is Life of Fred enough? (includes information about things that are good to add on)

Teaching Money with LoF. This includes free printables to use as you go through at least the first four books.

An interesting post about math journals (with lots of other links and info).

Chapter One

An excellent example of activities to go along with the book from Noah’s Ark Homeschool. These are actually exactly what I’m thinking of doing, but she stops at Chapter 8.

Peanut Butter and Prosecco

Chapter Two

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Peanut Butter and Prosecco

Chpater Three

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Four

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Five

Another Noah’s Ark Lof lesson.

Chapter Six

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Chapter Seven

Another Noah’s Ark LoF lesson. 

Chapter Eight

The last Noah’s Ark LoF lesson.

Turning In the Keys   Leave a comment

We are moving. And for the first time since I was a kid and had no control over these things, it’s not just across town. We’re moving to a new town. And the whole thing is confusing and everchanging and immediate and confusing (did I say confusing?). I have lived in this town for all of my life, give or take a year or two when I was a kid. My family is here. My husband’s family is here. We have quite possibly the best library in the world. It’s so supportive of writers and provides such excellent programming for children. I love it. And I will miss it and all the wonderful people who work there that have gotten to know me and my kids (at least by face, if not by name). We have gone to the same church since before we got married. We’ve only ever gone elsewhere once or twice while traveling.

Overall, it’s scary, even if it’s also really exciting. We’re not moving ridiculously far away. Only about an hour away to the Kansas City area. Close enough that we can still come back here for a somewhat weekly tabletop game with my brother and friends. Close enough that we won’t have to miss holidays with family. Close enough that they can come visit us fairly often. But just far enough away that if the car breaks down, I’ll think twice before calling up my mom to come get me. Just far enough away to feel like another world on days when I’m lonely.

Originally, we were moving in another direction. South, to a smaller town, and we were supposed to be moving down there around this time. So I “turned in my notice” as a Sunday School teacher and prepared myself to beginning looking for a new church home. As much as our church has been home for over a decade, we barely make it on time when we live 20 minutes away. There’s no way I’d get us to church if we were driving an hour to do it. So our last Sunday came. And I decided that I could see a little bit of what was going on in Topeka before we left, to sort of get me ready for visiting new churches. So we spent a couple Sundays at other churches. But today was Thanksgiving dinner at our home church. And a special musical key-1546278program. So back we went. And somewhere in the middle of the service, it dawned on me that I still had a set of keys to the church.

I was tempted to just keep them. We haven’t yet found a new church, so we’re still members there. I plan to continue sending our tithe there until we find a new home. So why not just keep the keys? But we won’t typically be going there. We won’t have responsibilities that require us to go there when others aren’t there already. So why not give them back? In the end, I gave them back, turning them in after the service was over. But it felt like such a final thing. After a couple Sundays elsewhere, I thought I was doing okay with this whole moving thing. Now, I realize I’ve still been holding onto things that make it seem unreal. And that’s no way to cope.

So I’ve turned in the keys. And now I’ll get back to work finding us a new home. And packing. And preparing us for our new life in a new city. Even if I’m a little terrified.

Posted November 15, 2015 by Maidenfine in Church, God, Randomness

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Old Stories, New Beginnings   3 comments

This last Saturday, I went to the Local Writers Workshop at TSCPL (my local library). To say that Topeka is a good place to be a writer would be an understatement. My favorite librarian has worked for over a decade to grow a community that is writer-friendly. She started with NaNoWriMo and once that hit critical mass, she worked as a librarian to offer first pre-writing seminars, then editing seminars, then branched out into the Community Novel Project (and really, they would not have had writers the first year if she hadn’t grown a close-knit NaNoWriMo community first). And now they offer workshops, fairs, and programs for writers year round. It is seriously the best support network a writer could ask for, and I am thrilled to have it.

Back to the Writers WorkshopNotebook, Folder, and Pen

Spending an entire morning talking about writing and the business of it and the future of it and the doing of it. . . It was inspiring. And I’ve been thinking ever since about some projects that I’ve maybe let sit for too long. So I’m going to be working. Somewhere, I have the Sims 2 Community version of The Mansion (complete with pictures) saved in a file. Since I have determined that The Mansion will be barely recognizable once I’m done revising it, I’m going to figure out a way to republish the original version. Maybe I’ll do a freebie PDF or something. We’ll see. I have to find it first (but I’m 98% sure it’s on a CD so I just have to find the CD). I wish now that I’d never taken it down, but I thought my chances of traditional publication would be better if it weren’t still up on the Sims 2 site for free. I’m sure that whole community is non-existent now anyway. But for the people who loved that original version, I want to make it available again.

As I look for that, I’m going to be going back to the drawing board with the story somewhat. Basically, I’m going to go back to what the story was supposed to be and rewrite it. I’ll be doing a lot of prewriting thought experiments that I will put up here. Hopefully, they won’t get boring for the people that don’t come here for my writing stuff. We shall see. Once I’m sharing here regularly again, I’m sure some of my other stuff will get posted too. Weight Loss Wednesdays were always popular and I definitely need a little weight loss accountability in my life again.

The other thing I’m going to be doing is revising my 30 Days to PreWriting. Because it contains so many links, it needs going over every couple years. And the way Kindle stuff works, if you own the book when I update it, Amazon updates your version for free. So now would be the perfect time to buy it. You can get all the current links and information, and bookmark what you want. Then when the new edition is finished, you’ll automatically get all the updated prewriting goodness. I will aim for finishing the updates before October 1st for all the pre-nano work that people like to do.

From where I’m sitting, the next year looks pretty darn good. Let’s get to work.

Posted August 16, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

The Real Problem   2 comments

I had an epiphany.

I’ve had this project I wanted to work on, for over a year. But every time I had a chunk of space, I couldn’t get into it. And not even just couldn’t get into it. I mean I had this feeling like I shouldn’t even be thinking about it even though it’s a project that I love and can get fired up about and can be turned into a vehicle to get more of my writing out there. All of the positives of this project meant nothing, when the feeling came up to make me feel bad about the project. Now, some people might say “That’s God telling you not to do it.” Those people would be wrong. In fact, I’ve very clearly received a kick in the pants from God on this very issue. It surprised me, because I hadn’t realized until that moment that God had anything to do with it. The writing didn’t seem particularly godly, and the person I’d be working closely with is not a Christian, so it never dawned on me that it was of interest to God beyond the principle that all things should be done as if for the Lord.

So it wasn’t God holding me back. What was it? It would seem like something God wanted me to do, once I knew was something He wanted, would be pretty high up in the priorities, right? But still that feeling nagged at me. And finally, I figured out what it was. And once I really truly figured out what it was, I was able to unpack it and examine it and put it away. But just in case it should plague other Christian writers, I wanted to speak about it here.

BookshelfI was a writer before I was a Christian. Whether you count from my childhood decision to follow Christ or from my adult decision that led me back to God, the fact remains that I was a writer first. I learned to read, so that I could write. I have a vivid memory of being about five and I was writing something, but I didn’t know a lot of words, so I had to ask my mother how to spell just about every single word that I wanted to write. How she was so patient, I will never know. What I was writing, I have no idea. But I remember the incident very clearly.

All that to say that many of the stories locked in my head are not “Christian” stories. I would estimate that about 90% of my characters are not Christian. Do I love Christian fiction? As long as it’s good, yes. I have a great appreciation for Christian romance novels because I feel like I’m getting two love stories for the price of one. There’s the love story between the two individuals and the love story between God and Man. They are often very beautifully written and I love the way the chosen Scriptures speak to the conflict. But I cannot write Christian romance. I have tried. It is not what God has gifted me with. It is not inside me to produce. And that is the real problem I’ve been having.

Several years ago, a member of our church was asking about my writing and asked if all my stories had the Gospel in them. I said no, because that’s the truth and their response was to ask “Why not?” And the unspoken part of that question, the part that I heard, though it wasn’t said, was what kind of Christian writes stories that don’t contain the Gospel? What kind of Christian writes stories where the express purpose isn’t to convert the masses? What is the point of writing, as a Christian, if it’s not to bring others into a greater understanding of God’s desire to be in their lives?

And all of that unspoken junk has kept me from really seriously writing since then. I was in a lull at the time and even when I’ve attempted to break from that lull, that sense of shame, of not measuring up, has pulled me back. So, here, for others who may struggle with this, or for me, if I should need to hear it again in the future, I answer those questions.

All of Heaven and Earth proclaim the glory of God to those who have ears to hear. Everything beautiful points to God. He does not have to sign his name at the bottom of the painting for us to know the strokes of the Master who created it. I do not have to shout to those around me for them to see Him at work in my life. In fact, many won’t listen unless you speak softly. Christian literature is for Christians. Atheists and agnostics do not purchase the latest Love Inspired titles. They do not read Karen Kingsbury books. Christians do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There is a place for those works.

There is also a place for the works of Christians that do not keep to those tight restrictions of content. There is a place for works by Christians that are relatable for non-Christians. There is a place for Middle Earth and Narnia, worlds where perhaps the Gospel is there, but it isn’t obvious and it doesn’t beat you about the head. That place is where my foul-mouthed, gypsy-cursed Hungarians belong. That is the place where my timid, pyrokinetic redhead belongs. That is the place where my genetically-altered government assassin belongs. That is where my writing belongs. It belongs on a shelf not labeled Christian, where someone might pick it up, and believe that it is beautiful and be interested in the soul that it came from. And when they go looking for that soul, they will find this place. This little spot on the internet where I have poured out my heart about what God is doing in my life. And I have been vulnerable and imperfect and I’ve shown a true face to the world. And maybe, on that day, they’ll believe.

And maybe they won’t.

It doesn’t matter. What matters is that all things beautiful show God’s face to the world. And I want to write beautiful things. And no matter what I think a Christian should be writing doesn’t matter. Because a Christian should be writing what is inside them to be written. Especially when God tells them to.

Posted February 18, 2015 by Maidenfine in God, Writing

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Posts Not Written   1 comment

It’s been a weird year. And I’ve thought of more posts in the last few months than I normally would in a whole year. But I’ve been struggling. What is worth writing? What matters enough to put out into the world? I’m sure these are questions every writer asks (probably over and over and over and over). But more than any other time, I’ve been answering those questions with “When in doubt, don’t.” Sadly, that means not much going on in the post writing department.

Another hurdle has been my relationships with other people. I feel like I’ve spent the last year or two putting more effort into my relationships. For that reason, most of what I want to write about involves other people. Where is the line between writing something thoughtful and writing something that will hurt people close to me? How many of my thoughts and observations are not appropriate to be shared because I wouldn’t just be sharing me, I’d be sharing them too? Private things about me, don’t necessarily bother me to be shared because it’s my choice to do something public. But my husband didn’t start this blog. My mother didn’t start this blog. My children didn’t start this blog. So when my life intersects with theirs, it become hard to decide if what I’m writing is okay to share, or if it needs to be in my own personal journal instead.

These are the things that stop me from writing. These are the things that have left countless blog posts as simply wanderings in my own mind. I am hoping to get some things started in 2015 and hopefully they will lead to more blog posts here from me. But no guarantees. Life is good. God is good. But not everything about it all is meant to be shared. And I’m trying to figure out where that line is.

Posted January 4, 2015 by Maidenfine in Writing

Aaaaand I’m Back!   Leave a comment

So I’m back, in more ways than one. I’m back writing, and I’m also back at my free WordPress site. It was an interesting foray into paying for hosting and all that, but it was too much pressure. Pressure to keep to a set schedule to try to build a following so that I could maybe make money from the site in order to pay for the hosting I couldn’t afford. Pressure to write, even when I didn’t feel like I had anything to say, because there was a bill to pay now. I greatly prefer free, where I can write when I need to speak, and not worry about it when life gets crazy or I feel like I have nothing to contribute.

I spent a few hours yesterday moving as many posts from the last two years as I could get. I didn’t get a backup saved before my hosting expired, so I had to use the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine to retrieve the posts from old copies. There were still a few I couldn’t get. And most of them with pictures no longer have them. But somewhere on my netbook I know I have them all, so I’ll find them and put them back eventually. Maybe. I may just call it good enough that I retrieved all that writing.

It’s been a very tough couple years. I’ve learned what it truly means to trust God to provide for your family. And what it truly means to surrender your future to Him. I’ve had moments of profound thankfulness that I homeschool, and moments where I wondered if it was the right thing when our life has been so hectic. But that same craziness that made me wonder if my daughter would fare better with the regularity of public school, would have meant changing schools enough times that it would have been even more traumatic. I pray that our life will be mostly restored soon, but I know that in some things, we still have a long way to go.

A quick look at the last couple years:

September 2012 – My husband, under the leading of God, quit his job. A debt collector, attempting to collect on one of our medical debts, garnished our bank account (i.e. wiped it out), causing us to be behind on our house payment. Despite turning in over $3000 worth of past due bills to his 401(k) in an attempt to receive funds for economic hardship, they approved around $300. That didn’t even catch up the house, much less the utilities that were near being shut off. When he quit his job, we were able to cash out his 401(k) and catch everything up. We hoped this would be a short time of unemployment, since we were being obedient to God and he’d been working for 8 years there, so we figured he had established himself as reliable.

20130413_142226January 2013 – We ran out of 401(k) money. Thankfully, we were able to get our taxes done quickly and with our large refund, we floated a few more months.

May 2013 – Despite our best efforts, we lost our house. We moved out and into a house with my father-in-law. It’s actually a little bit painful to look back at posts from our old house. There were problems with it, but it was ours, you know? I cried as we drove away for the last time.

July 2013 – After a mass of crazy paperwork stuff, we got my husband’s pension money. Our tax refund had run out in May. We got the money just in time to pay rent on the new place we’d been living with my father-in-law (he’d covered our first month there).

August 2013 – We discovered that I was pregnant. In July 2012, we had felt God calling us to let him be in charge of our family size and He had promised us a son. I was beginning to think the promised son may be a long way off when I started being fatigued and occasionally nauseous. I ignored it for several weeks until my husband insisted that I was pregnant. I took a test. It was positive. Very few members of our family met the news with happiness.

20130531_191228
October 2013 – The pension money was gone. We were going to lose yet another place to live. I prayed nonstop for God to keep us from being homeless. Nothing happened. Then, I owned up to my fear of homelessness. I gave God control and acknowledged that even if we became homeless, He could still care for us. The hymn, Have Thine Own Way, Lord, grew exponentially more meaningful.

November 2013 – In the midst of moving, after 13 months of unemployment, my husband finally got a new job. As a pizza delivery driver, making less than minimum wage part time. I was struggling with fatigue and morning sickness and my husband was working every hour he could get as we tried to pack and find a place to go with no income to pay for it.

December 2013 – A member of our church family took us in temporarily. Our landlord, feeling that we had taken too long to move (despite the fact that she never evicted us or gave us a deadline to get out), changed the locks on the home we were leaving. She refused to allow us to get the rest of our belongings. The value of the belongings was such that we will require a lawyer to take he to court in order to resolve this. We have yet to find a lawyer.

We also have yet to find a plElijah Paulace to live. We applied with public housing, but have made very little progress. On April 1, 2014, we welcomed our promised son into the world. Elijah Paul is the spitting image of his big brother. Unlike his big brother, he has a working thyroid (and that is literally the second question people asked after what he weighed and such). He is a very calm and mellow baby who took to breastfeeding right away. He has brought me such immense joy.

So, we’re still technically homeless. Or maybe it’s technically not homeless. I’m not sure. And when we get a place, we will have no dishes or pots and pans. We lost a large portion of our school supplies and all of the children’s books. But we have our family, and we’re healthy, and in the last 7 months, my husband went from delivery driver to assistant manager to store manager. It’s pretty much unheard of. When I was younger, I worked as a delivery driver for 9 months and couldn’t even get a raise when a coworker commented on how hard I worked. Most of the managers I had, had been working in the industry for several years. We know that his advancement comes from God. And we are very thankful, especially since it means that we no longer need to wait on public housing. We can being to set aside money and start looking for a new place to live. I am hopeful that if we continue being faithful, we’ll be in a home of our own again by the end of August. God has seen us through times that made me weep more intensely than I ever have in my life. But in those moments, I felt Him so strongly. There were days that I literally felt Him changing me. And it was painful and beautiful and intense. But I am better now for all of it. And despite the fact that we’d hoped to be on our own again before the baby was born, I was so thankful to be somewhere that I could get help with the older two as I recovered from childbirth. On our worst days, our church family has been there for us. They are most certainly the arms of Christ wrapping around us in our need.