Learning at Home :: Beyond the Books

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on October 4, 2012

My older kids are off at school all day, as most of you know, leaving me with my three youngest for seven wonderful hours each day. I definitely miss Ethan, Zach, Julia, and Josh all day, but I am really enjoying the time I have with only my younger kiddos at home.

Each morning I work with Ben and Noah, plugging away in all things kindergarten and 1st grade, until lunch time. Timmy sits with us for a while, but grows antsy pretty easily. As is to be expected, his two-year old little body just wants to run and jump and play.

Actually, Ben and Noah’s little bodies can’t sit still for long either. They can only handle “book work” in short spurts. Which is why we incorporate quite a few different ways of learning.

  • We get up and move. With the warm weather deciding to stick around, we like to “move it, move it” around here in the house. We dance and sing to The Music Machine and Bullfrogs and Butterflies. We also play The Skip Count Kids and have made up fun little dances to each song. These songs teach Bible stories and multiplication facts (respectively) and make learning about the world around us lots of fun.
  • We watch LeapFrog episodes often. When my twins were little, we would play The Letter Factory every single day. They loved that video! (Yes, this was way back when we played the good old-fashioned VHS tapes!) Now, there are five different episodes from which to choose – all available on Netflix - The Amazing Alphabet Amusement Park, Numbers Ahoy, Numberland, and Phonics Farm.
  • There is always something to be learned from George, the curious little monkey. In fact, Timmy is obsessed with Curious George episodes, which can be quite educational at times. Cultural diversity, creativity, love of adventure, and how things work are only some of the lessons learned through George’s escapades.
  • We love to play games and search for information using apps on our Samsung Smart TV. With access to loads of ebooks, and the ability to browse the internet, I’ve made our Smart TV a virtual white board. But more than that, we keep learning fun with all of the educational games available. I am very pleased that I can include my kiddos screen time as school time.

How do you incorporate modern technology and social platforms into the education of your kids, whether you teach at home or not?

This is post 3 of 8 Samsung Smart TV with Motion Control sponsored posts. All opinions are mine

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A New Chapter

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on August 23, 2011

My parents lovingly devoted much time and attention to my education, sacrificing much to teach me at home. From second grade through my high school graduation, I never once wished it any other way.

All through my childhood I believed that I would home school my own kids. With each new school year came much prayer and discussion regarding our children’s schooling. Never was there any doubt that I would teach them at home.

This year, as I began a mental inventory of our school books, made lists of all the things we needed, and began to plan for a new school year, I felt the Lord guiding our family down a different path. Doors opened, things fell in to place, and my oldest four kiddos – the twins ready to begin 5th grade, Julz going in to 4th, and Josh eager to start 2nd – will each soon be introduced to a new and different experience – a classroom full of children their own age.

As excited as my kiddos are, they will be the first to admit that they are also nervous to start a new school year away from home. I know that they will flourish in this new school of theirs. They will learn many new things, make new friends, and gain a sense of freedom and identity.

But, I am nervous, too. Nervous about how each of them will manage sitting still for hours at a time. Nervous knowing that they may struggle to catch up in math. Nervous about them fitting in and not alienating others with their passion. Nervous about whether or not we have given them the foundation they need to stand up against worldly pressures and the temptation to be catty and trite.

This nervousness, mind you, is not based on doubting our decision to place them in a local school away from home. This year, just as each year in the past, I am at peace with the decision we are making for our kids’ schooling. This year it just looks different than before.

The school we have enrolled them in is fabulous. It is everything we could hope for in a school away from home. I have met Julia’s teacher, both of the 5th grade teachers (although we’re not yet sure which one Ethan and Zach will have), and are looking forward to meeting Joshua’s teacher. The curriculum is similar to that which my parents used to educate my siblings and me. And, my children will be surrounded by children raised in homes much like ours.

Even in the midst of nervousness, I am at peace – a peace that only comes from Christ – about our decision to release our kiddos to kind and dedicated teachers. Even encompassed in peace, I can’t help but be a bit sad. Sad to see my children so excited for this new adventure away from me. Sad to think of how much I will miss them each and every school day. Sad to think that I might have failed them somehow. Sad to have another chapter in homeschooling behind us.

September 6th will be the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. It’ll be exciting. But, as with all good stories, there are bound to be some tears shed.


Learning During Playtime With @WordWorld

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on April 25, 2011

As a homeschooler and a mom, I am very diligent to incorporate activities into our playtime that encourage learning. One of the ways I do this is by giving my kids the tools to practice a specific concept, while sparking their creativity at the same time. Every activity becomes a lesson, incognito.

This is pretty easy to do, and I’m sure you do this, too, without even realizing you are. I’m sure, like me, you’ve pulled out alphabet cookie cutters and challenged your kiddos to cut out their names in the colorful dough, right? Or, perhaps you’ve walked through the produce section of the supermarket discussing the wide variety of colors you see and spelling out the names of the fruits and vegetables.

In addition to these little games, we use various forms of media as tools for learning, as well. All of my kiddos are quite adept at navigating the iPad, iPhone, the computer. Ray and I encourage the use of these tools on a very limited basis, but we keep our digital devices loaded with several educational apps and storybooks.

One of Ben and Noah’s favorite apps is the WordWorld Let’s Build a Word app. It was the best 99 cents we’ve spent on an app for Noah, although there is a free version, as well! They both love to see their own words come alive, just as they do on the show, which also happens to be a favorite.

Ben and Noah just recently had the opportunity to try out the Terrific Duck WordWorld storybook. Noah sat and followed along through the entire “book” in one sitting. If you know anything about Noah, you know this is a big deal and that he must have really been mesmerized! So much so, in fact, that I’ll be purchasing the rest of the WordWorld eBooks as soon as he grows tired of this one, as only Noah can.

For those of you who don’t know about WordWorld, it teaches four skill sets critical for young children’s emergent literacy: print awareness, phonological sensitivity and letter knowledge, comprehension (including vocabulary development) and socio-emotional skills.

As supplements to their shows you can download free printables, read the WordWorld FREE online eBooks, and download WordWorld iPhone apps.

Win it!

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled that my kids can play games or watch shows without even realizing that they are actually learning!

WordWorld has agreed to gift one of you with the DVD “Get Up & Move” which was just released in February. All of my friends in the U.S. may leave me a comment here, by April 30th, telling me about the ways you encourage learning at home. I’d love to hear about the sneaky ways you can get that lesson in with your kids!

For extra entries you may tweet the link to this giveaway, up to once a day, and leave a separate comment with the link to each tweet.

Happy learning!

I have been compensated by WordWorld to create this post and host this giveaway. All opinions, of course, are 100% mine, as always.


Read to Succeed {Earn FREE Tickets to Six Flags}

by Christine - From Dates to Diapers on January 20, 2011

Reading is a huge part of each school day, but the kiddos love to read on their own, too. Once the twins become a part of the story they are reading they can’t put it down. And, Julia? Well, she can devour a book in one afternoon, just like her mama! Josh isn’t quite reading chapter books yet, but he reads everything in sight and loves to sit and read short stories to his younger brothers.

Read to Succeed is a free educational program sponsored by Six Flags to inspire kids in grades K through 6 to engage in recreational reading. Children who complete six hours of recreational, nonschool-related reading are eligible to earn a free admission ticket to a participating Six Flags theme park. Even homeschooled kids are eligible! You can even earn a 20% discount in the Discovery Education Store through June 30, 2011.

To build your kiddos” enthusiasm for reading throughout the program, you can visit discoveryeducation.com for resources, family activities and more.

Happy Reading!

This is NOT a sponsored post. It is my goal here at From Dates to Diapers to bring all of my valuable information… I know my homeschooling friends will especially appreciate this one!


Play and Learn

December 11, 2009

I have many fond memories of this time of the year, growing up…. With so many family gatherings and school group activities, we were much busier than usual. Because of the hustle and bustle, it seemed we took many days off of school between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sure, we were still learning, but they were […]

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A Great Start

September 17, 2009

My kiddos were eager to start lessons again and we’ve now almost completed our second week back at school. I must say that if we can maintain the momentum with which we began, this year will be lovely! I’d like to think that my children’s eagerness to get back to school was due to the […]

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Kindergarten Learning at Home

September 10, 2009

The great thing about having a preschooler or kindergartner at home is all of the fun activities you get to do in the name of learning! I would encourage any mom of a 3, 4 or 5-year-old not to stress too much, but to use this precious time to play and learn together, without an […]

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A New School Year Has Begun

September 8, 2009

We made it through our first day back at school. How’d we do? Well, I only raised my voice a few times, but never in anger. The computer and telephone remained off during lessons, and we finished everything on today’s agenda. Well, everything we finished went on today’s agenda. wink, wink My kiddos did so […]

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Tips for Teaching a Middle Schooler at Home

September 1, 2009

For those who don’t know me I’m Tonya and a friend of Christine’s.  While Christine is off having a much deserved vacation, I’m one of the lucky bloggers who she asked to write a guest post.   I was a little stumped as to what I should write about at first, but then I got to thinking […]

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School Year’s Eve Resolutions

August 29, 2009

JuiceBoxJungle has a funny show (see my sidebar) about Losing It that helps you feel better about yourself as parent and reminds you to enjoy those crazy times, as well as the calm ones. What better time to remember this than the beginning of the busy new school year? Cookie Magazine and the PTA are […]

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Summer Break is Almost Over

July 23, 2009

As a homeschool family, we plan for the coming school year in different ways than most families. While you may be out shopping for school wardrobes and backpacks, this Mommy is already taking personal study breaks and making sure her home library is overflowing with a year’s worth of books for her inquisitive and eager […]

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Summertime Learning

June 4, 2009

As a homeschooling family we enjoy so much freedom. The freedom to take a day off here and there. The freedom to “do” school on a Saturday, a Sunday, or even an observed holiday. The freedom to work on math problems at the beach, have a science lesson on the way through the Nevada desert, […]

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Hard at Work

May 27, 2009
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What Non-Homeschoolers May Not Know

April 9, 2009

Quite some time ago I read the following article, written by a fellow homeshooling mom. Kendra, who now has eight kiddos, has been homeschooling for over 12 years. She couldn’t be more straight forward with her advice to her family and friends, and I’m hoping you don’t mind me sharing these bits of wisdom with […]

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Homeschool Evaluation: Did We Finish Fourth Grade?

March 28, 2009

This is a guest post from Renae Deckard, a fellow home educator and mother of three. You can find Renee and her reflections on family life, biblical principles, and home education at Life Nurturing Education. Enjoy! Our homeschool is on break this month so students and teacher can enjoy the refreshing spring. I plan next […]

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My 7 Habits of Highly Effective Homeschooling

March 10, 2009

1. Have a plan, whether it is for the whole school year or just the next week. It is also a good idea to create a daily schedule and try to stick to it. However, remember not to become a slave to any schedule, but make your schedule work for you. 2. Start each day […]

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Why We Homeschool

March 3, 2009

I was asked last week, after my post about not being a typical homeschool family, why we do it. There are a myriad number of reasons why families around the world homeschool… religious reasons, academic reasons, social reasons, etc., etc. In answer to the question, I am only going to share the heart issues, the […]

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Not the Typical Homeschool Family

February 20, 2009

Ray, and I have built our family on the solid foundation of Christ and take our responsibility as parents, and teachers, of our children very seriously. Most of you know that I homeschool, but did you know that I am a second generation homeschooler? Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to […]

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Valentine’s Day with the Kiddos

February 3, 2009

Today on my BlogTalkRadio show, Monica and I talked about fun things to do with your kiddos for Valentine’s Day. You can listen to the episode to hear the secret word so you may enter my iPod Touch giveaway, or to discover what we are planning to do this Valentine’s Day. Are you looking for […]

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Back to School

August 28, 2008

We have our books ready, our supplies together, and schedules all made up. We’re just about ready to start school, next Tuesday, here at Keystone Christian Academy. We’re all excited to start a new year! I would imagine getting ready for school here at our house looks very similar to how your family prepares for […]

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August 21, 2008

I know I am way behind in posting my praise for the great victory we had here in California… God is good! In a unanimous decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled earlier this month that “California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.” The freedom […]

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Outrageous, but not surprising…

May 26, 2008

Subway wants to hear stories from children to enter their Every Sandwich Tells A Story Contest. Well, they are refusing entries from my children. Why? Because my children are home schooled. Here are the official rules straight from the site: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Contest is open only to legal residents of […]

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