How in the WORLD do you homeschool FOUR children while telecommuting? Love, patience and a TON of coffee... Just in case you wanted it, here's a glimpse inside Mrs. Kastner's Klass.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


BAH!!!!  I have been SO busy (and sick with a chest cold too)!  Over the past week, one of the BEST parts of homeschooling has reared it's beautiful head several times, so I thought I would address it:  FLEXIBILITY.

One of the best parts of homeschooling is flexibility.  I love having the flexibility to make homeschooling work and fit for THIS family.  For example, last winter when my grandmother took ill and needed care during the daytime, the Kastners just packed up their homeschooling and took it to Oma's twice per week to help care for Gramma Hilly.  Last week, Hannah had an eye doctor appointment.  The Kastners packed their backpacks and headed to the eye doctor.  Upon arrival, we just turned the waiting room into a schoolroom, and no time from school was lost.  Monday, Noah wasn't feeling well (we're all fighting some little bug) and fell asleep just before afternoon classes.  No problem!  He and I just finished up his lessons right before bed.

I <3 having the ability to make our school calendar fit our family's life.  We school most of the way through the summer because a schedule which provides order works best for THIS family.  We take the day off for family birthdays to make them more special.  The amount of time we take off for Christmas and Spring Break varies dependent upon our families needs for that particular year.

I do make sure that flexibility does not equal laxness.  Every year I start out logging the number of hours we school just to make sure we are meeting the DPI's standard, but inevitably I give up pretty quick when I see that we will meet the standard for number of hours required by the DPI sometime in January.

But the flexibility of homeschooling extends far beyond just scheduling.  I love the flexibility to follow every little rabbit trail we encounter because it is something my children are interested in.  We can turn away from our science textbook to follow a spark of interest in the planets and stars, even if it is not covered in that year's curriculum.  In 2008, we dropped all social studies to focus on voting for a President, and the day that President Obama was inaugurated we did NOTHING but delve into the depths of the historic significance of his inauguration.

A part of this flexibility also includes the fact that technically, as a homeschooling family, we NEVER stop learning.  Making cookies becomes a lesson in fractions and following directions.  Filling the water pitcher includes a reminder that healthy living includes drinking more water.  A fight with a sibling turns into a reminder of the golden rule... or a lie told turns into a lesson that, "The Lord hates lying lips."  We learn ALL the time here in the Kastner household which is why homeschooling fits us so well.  Because as many of your know.... the Momma of this clan loves to life her "life as a lesson."

Mkay... well I gotta run!  Today is the day after a day off (the teacher had a medical procedure yesterday) and we need to make sure we stay on track.  Hope you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Yeah... I know.  That's not a real word, but it is what I want to talk about today.  How I try to fuse our education with technology for the benefit of my students (children).  I am a believer in immersing children in technology as SOON as possible.  In this day and age of computers, cell phones, PDAs, and laptops, I feel I would be doing my children a disservice by not educating them in technology.  Here are just a few of the ways we have infused our children's lives with technology.  You don't have to agree with them, but I get to share them because this is MY BLOG!  :)

1.  Blogging!!!!  Our children don't journal.  They blog.  This was partly done out of a desire to give them more exposure to technology, but also partly because journal time had become like dipping my earlobe in boiling oil.  They HATED journal time.  They cried through journal time.  They didn't want to write ANYTHING!  It didn't matter if the subject was Power Rangers... It was like pulling teeth to get them to journal!  Now my goal in journaling was NOT about handwriting (we have penmanship for that).  It also wasn't really about sentence structure or grammar (we get PLENTY of that with a momma who's a grammar nazi.)  I needed them to start flexing their creative muscles.  I wanted them to start WRITING... creatively, descriptively, excitedly.  So we started blogs, and so far so good... it is really working for us.  [If you wanna read my children's blogs, you'll have to e-mail me... I have them set up with all sorts of safety precautions to keep creepers away.]  I find that they are growing and developing in their ability to form sentences and they are starting to be able to put the crazy creative things they have in their brains into words through their blogs.

2.  Curriculum on the puter... we do some of our subjects on the computer with interactive software/websites.  In fact, we learn to read using an interactive online website (Click N Read).  Click N Read has a video game like quality, and it REALLY gets my kids attention (except Elijah who wails and whines about having to do ANYTHING independently... AHHHHH!)  It is GREAT for younger kids too.  Hannah LOVES it and is learning to read by doing Click N Read this year.  We also use a site called RAZ Kids, where the kids read books, earn tokens, and buy virtual prizes in a game room.  In the past we have used, spelling city, and in the future, I plan to keep my eyes and ears open for more things to work into my curriculum.  Because whenever they do these programs their lessons are two-fold:  reading and computers... spelling and computers... I LOVE killing two birds with one stone :)

3.  Controversial technology!  I fear I may stir up a little controversy with this next heading, but I'm laying it ALL out there today!  We use Facebook and texting and I see them as educational.  Several years ago, we allowed Noah to get a Facebook account so he could play Scrabble with us.  We were VERY careful about setting up appropriate blocks, and we carefully monitor his inbox and friend requests, but Scrabble is VERY educational and I need ANYTHING I can get to motivate Noah in the area of Language Arts (as that is NOT his favorite subject).  Finally, texting... oh texting... so many parents feel it is the devil.  I am not of that opinion.  We have a cell phone for the kids, and they text with it FREQUENTLY.  I have found this to have REALLY improved their spelling and their tech saaviness.  In FACT, we are ALREADY to the point that when I am struggling with an electronic device, I have to say, "NOAH!  Can you come help me figure out this _______?"  I have found texting to be something they are INTERESTED in so I have chosen to use it and make it work for me.

Again, I hope it goes without saying that I monitor my kids CAREFULLY with regards to the Internet.  I employ appropriate safeguards, and I am nosy, nosy, NOSY when it comes to EVERYTHING they are doing online or anything they are texting.  But I guess this is part of the reason I homeschool in the first place... so I can make my children's education about THEM and their interests in order to help them EXCEL and be the best they can be.

Monday, September 13, 2010

First day of school... a Kastner holiday

Well this was our third "First Day of School" as homeschoolers.  The First Day of School has been a bit of an enigma for me.  All of my life I have gotten teary eyed when the school supply displays went up at Target.  In fact, the first year we were married was the first year EVER that I didn't have a First Day of School.  We were living in Denver, and I had NOT gotten a teaching job as we had hoped.  I remember calling John from the Back-to-School aisle at Target.  I was BAWLING because I didn't have a class to teach that year.  But try as I may, I had thus far been unsuccessful at instilling that same excitement in the Kastner Kids.  They just were NOT enthused about the First Day of School.

See it is a bit hard to get excited about "going back to school" when you homeschool.  First of all the Kastners homeschool nearly year round.  So summer break for us is only about 3 or 4 weeks long each year.  This year the kids were barely used to sleeping in and lounging around when school time returned.  Second of all, when you homeschool you don't get the excitement of getting to "see your friends again."  You live with your classmates, and their newness has LONG worn off.  There are no new school clothes or lunch boxes, and not even that many new school supplies in our homeschool.  (Now lest you start to mourn too much for the Kastners, let me assure you that there are MANY benefits to homeschooling that they take FULL advantage of... but that is for another blog.)  It is just the First Day of School can be a bit run of the mill when you're a homeschooler.

So I finally did it!  This year I figured out a way to bring a little excitement to it, and while no one was exactly doing cartwheels, there was MUCH more enthusiasm and FAR less whining than in previous years.  Wanna know what we did?

1st Day of School fireworks
We turned the First Day of School into a holiday for the Kastners.  Breakfast was a special treat:  toaster waffles; lunch too:  TV dinners.  There were prizes for good attitudes, and a special kids' choice dinner.  I baked a cake.  They even got presents!  (a brand new bag of socks each)  Finally, we ended the day with fireworks!  It was definitely a GREAT day, and this year FINALLY mom's enthusiasm was contagious.


Five great moments in homeschooling today:
1.  Jeremiah uttering, "I can't believe I'm starting 4th grade math."  "I can't believe I'm starting 4th grade language."  "I can't believe I'm starting 4th grade (every single subject)."
2.  The sweet cadence of the rhythm of our routine.
3.  Hannah finished an ENTIRE worksheet INDEPENDENTLY!
4.  Elijah FINALLY did his click n kids.
5.  Noah did not whine once about school and only complained when writing his blog, and in his defense I told him to be HONEST about the first day of school.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...