Our daughter-in-law is starting to homeschool our 4-year-old granddaughter.  She's very excited and eager to start to homeschool preschool.  Today we both searched through my shelves of books and materials for things that she could use to teach the baby to read.  I know.  At four years old she's not a baby, but it's a hard habit to break. She's still the baby in the family.   So we started pulling out the books I used with my own babies.  I showed her how I used each one, even sampling one with the baby.  Just like our kids have different learning styles, we have different teaching styles.  So I wanted her to take a look at each one and choose which would be best for her.  For our older kids we used Alpha-Phonics, and with our youngest we used Phono-Graphix. We've homeschooled for thirteen years and have made many changes over the years. We've used so many different resources.  I have my favorites.  And actually, there are some books and resources that I may have a hard time surrendering, even after I'm done homeschooling all our kids.  But I'm happy that our daughter-in-law is homeschooling and we'll be keeping my favorite ones in the family.  So I'll be sharing with her,  and hopefully someday sharing them with our other kids if they homeschool.  Of course, as I say this, I'm reminded that  there's always new homeschool curriculum coming out.  Our youngest uses Time4Learning, and that wasn't around when our older ones were little. They would've loved it!

We've used so many different things over the years. Some have stayed with us and some haven't lasted more than a few weeks.  Through our elementary years we're more eclectic.  I'll use a little of this and a little of that, even getting creative with materials at times.  When our kids reach high school, it gets a little more structured, as we're more concerned with the credits needed for high school transcripts.  I just don't want to take a chance that I may mess them up if they want to take their education further. So structure equals less freedom and more discipline with our schedules.  It means more responsibilities. Especially once they're dual enrolled in college.  If they want to dual enroll, we start with one college class to be sure they can handle it.  If they're registered for a college class and homeschool writing courses, they know that the college class takes priority over any other course, extra-curricular activity or job.  The college course grade is one that will be on their record and affect their gpa, not just for high school, but also for college. For example, one of our kids took an online college class. That was not a good idea for this particular child.  The idea was that the online class would allow more flexibility, but instead, our student often forgot to check in for assignments and tests. Of course, our student got a less than acceptable grade. That was one lesson learned by our student and by us! 

This year two of our kids became drivers, started college classes and part-time jobs.  The changes have meant we've had to adjust in different ways.  We've had to be more mindful of our schedules.  We've had less freedom to take spontaneous trips or vacations.  Also, family dinners have always been important.   However, with additional activities, classes, jobs, friends and schedules, there have been fewer family dinners.  At times I'll cook a meal for six, and it'll end up being just three of us.  Sometimes the kids have been at work, in class, or even out at an event or with friends.  Sometimes they've planned to be home, and their schedule changes when they get called in to work. This summer they didn't take college classes, so it's meant more time to be together.  We're having some sweet times together.  At times we've had to intentionally plan it, and other times it's been spontaneous.  Either way, it's always fun to have time together, whether it be a planned trip to the beach for the day, the library for a few hours, or a game or movie at home for the evening.  Even if it's only for a few minutes, they'll take time to play two-player games with Sami.  The World Cup has also afforded us more time together, since our family loves soccer. We've watched games together either at our oldest son's place or at our home.  It's been fun cheering for our favorite teams together.  Also, our kids are making new friends at work, and we've had more opportunities to be intentional to invite them over more often to get to know them.

What about your family?  Some of you may just be starting out, but some may have older kids.  What brings your family together, if you have older ones?  And if you have little ones, what traditions are you starting in your family?  

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