Notebooking Pages- A Homeschooling Parent’s BFF

Being a stay-at-home mother for many means they do not add to their household financially, while other’s are entrepreneurs or work from home. No matter which category you fall into, you’re most likely the one viewing the bills, budgeting and making all the payments due on a daily or monthly basis. Regardless of how much your spouse makes, bills still have to be paid, diapers need to be bought, the refrigerator needs to be full and more.  Add being a homeschooling mother to that list, you find yourself trying to find and take advantage of every free and affordable curriculum, class, adventure, activity and more. Of course you want great quality out of that entire list.

As I stated in How To Get Started With Homeschooling, I chose to create my own curriculum by choosing what I wanted my daughter to study in each required subject. That was a huge step to take as a first time homeschooler, but it has been working out amazing thus far. There are many online resources that I use to provide a fun learning experience for my child, but there are also worksheets and pages that I absolutely LOVE that provide a little more structure and guidance. I discovered a little while back and find it SO helpful with our homeschooling day. It actually saves me time from scouring the web to find helpful worksheets or inspiration for certain subjects.

Guess what… IT’S FREE!

That is a major win for my family and I since I am extremely frugal and strict on our budget. If you want a more detailed and bigger experience, you are also given the opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership which is very affordable . At this time, I love having the free membership with the option of purchasing lessons that go along with our homeschooling set up.

One of my favorite notebooking pages is the Character Study Notebooking Pages. If you follow me on Instagram (@_queen.tiana) or Facebook (Queendom Wife and Mother), you’ll see videos of my daughter reciting her daily affirmations and explaining why she believes those things to be true about herself. We also practice scripture memorization through verbal and written application. I don’t believe in just saying the scripture, so we practice understanding what the scripture means. We then discuss how the scripture applies to our lives.

The Character Study pages provide you with several special-themed pages that your child(ren) will use to document what they have learned about specific character traits. The first few pages are typically used to write about the major points and ideas about the character trait or seed (as the creator calls it) that is being studied for the week. They are perfect for recording a definition of the trait, and then allows for your child to “determine which habits and attitudes need to be “uprooted” or “weeded out” in order to give room for the character “seed” to grow.” Afterwards your child comes up with a list of new habits that should replace those that were tossed.

The pages are so organized and easy to navigate. The creator actually provides headings on each of the pages. When you continue to make your way through them, you’ll find  a page where your child(ren) are given a space to write what God’s Word says about the character trait for that week, and an additional space that gives them the opportunity to write about all they have learned. While I make writing a major part of our day, I choose to talk about what my daughter has learned so that we can make it a healthy conversation, and discuss any questions or comments she may have.

What’s amazing is that you can use the sheets how you please. Not all believe in the same God, so if you choose to omit that portion it’s up to you. You have complete control over your child’s experience with this notebooking resource. An entire lesson for only $3. That amount of money is music to a homeschooling parent’s ears. You can also expect to get several helpful tips and tutorials on how to properly execute the lessons with every notebooking set.

I could easily say that was created by a mom for moms, but that wouldn’t be true. This resource is for everyone. It was created with homeschooling parents in mind, but parents with children in school can add this to their weekend, holiday break(s) and Summer studies.  There are so many options to choose from ranging from nature study, science, geography and more.

If you’re looking for free or affordable worksheets/notebooking pages, check it out for yourself. It has allowed me to remove useless busy work from both my daughter and I’s days. And if you’re anything like me and need to watch or read a step-by-step plan on how to teach certain lessons, I strongly encourage you to give it a try. Use the following link, if you’d like to get a feel of the entire site and search other subjects. If you’d like to be more specific and try the Character Study package for only $3, then use the following link Character Study Notebooking Set.

What Inspired Me to Teach My Children ASL

Whenever it was my time to experience motherhood, I knew that I would teach my children American Sign Language. At one point it was viewed as odd because it wasn’t your typical second language. Spanish, French and others were more popular. I of course wanted my children to learn other languages as well, but sign language was near and dear to my heart.

The reason you ask? My father was hard of hearing. He could hear well with his hearing aids (as much as the quality back then would allow), but without them the world would go silent. I remember the panic he would go in when his hearing aids would lose function, or when he needed a new battery. All of the TV’s needed to be at the maximum volume in order for him to not feel he had gone completely deaf. If one were to turn a TV down or off, he would throw a tantrum until he could hear again. But with his hearing aids, you couldn’t tell him nothing! His confidence level was through the roof, and if there was a volume struggle he would adjust the hearing aids and read lips. He used this to his advantage whenever I would try to whisper secrets about James (who was my boyfriend back then) to my mother. While talking to her, we would hear him turning the volume up on his hearing aids and quickly change the conversation. I laugh every time I think of that now. I thought it was so annoying back then, but now as a parent I would do the same thing!

My father would experience the highs and lows of being hard of hearing the entire 17 years of my life that he lived. By the time I hit high school, I wondered why we hadn’t learned sign language as a family in order to make communication with my father much easier. My mother told me she believed that my father refused to learn sign language because it would really signify he was deaf. She said that it took him an extremely long time to even get hearing aids. She never asked him why he refused to learn, she just accepted his wants. That’s love.

I believe my father was slightly ashamed of his disability and didn’t want to be treated differently. I think he saw it as a weakness instead of it being something that showcased his fighter mentality. My mother’s response sparked a desire in me to understand deafness and hearing much further. I wanted my family to understand my father’s needs. I get frustrated when my husband or daughter doesn’t talk clearly, and I have to  strain to hear them. I can’t imagine that being a struggle every moment of the day. No matter our struggles, I loved my father with every fiber of me and wanted to make things better for him.

I would mention taking classes as a family, but it never happened. I went away to college, and my father died two months later. I needed a way to feel closer to him. I needed something that would make me feel like his memory was still very much alive. Early in my junior year of college, I switched my minor from Spanish to Deafness and Hearing Studies. I honestly wish I switched my entire major to that department (Speech Pathology/Audiology) because I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and everything I learned. Nevertheless, there was still a void because I didn’t have enough time to take the ASL courses. I learned about the history and foundation of the language and more, but no phrases or words.

As I stated in my earlier posts the “My First Go at Pregnancy” series, I graduated college 7 months pregnant. I made up my mind then that I would teach myself sign language, take courses whenever I could, and teach my daughter. I wasn’t able to have the experience with my given family, but I knew that I could establish it in my new family. It was one of the ways I would be able to honor my father, teach my child about my father, and also prepare her to be able to communicate and understand those who are deaf and hard of hearing.

That was my motivation in the beginning! When I actually saw the benefits of communicating with an infant through sign language, I was adamant to continue. I began to teach my mother and sister as well because I wanted them to understand her needs when she used ASL. Again, I was getting what I wanted. My family was learning! I fell off with teaching Taniya for two years, but picked it back up once we began homeschooling. I knew that I would be teaching Jayla as well so I wanted to reestablish what we’d learned years prior.

Taniya continues to grasp new terms each day, and Jayla is watching, learning, and eventually using the signs as well. She walks to the beat of her own drum, and I’ve learned to accept it. Although James is over-the-road most days, like every other subject we keep him involved. As I learn, everyone else learns. My children will understand there are many types of people in this world, and they include deaf and hard of hearing people. I can’t wait for the moment they encounter a deaf child at the playground and are able to communicate with them. I know my father is proud…. because I sure am.




New to Homeschooling? Here’s How I set Up My Year

Homeschooling for my daughter and I began only two months ago, and has been going amazing thus far. I believe the journey has been successful because of three major things: it being the path God created for us, support and planning! As I stated in my previous posts about homeschooling, Homeschooling: The Best Choice for Us and How To Get Started With Homeschooling, it has turned out to be the best choice for my family, and we also receive tons of support which makes our journey absolutely beautiful. However, had I not done the proper research and prepared like I needed to, I would probably be in the corner crying somewhere and feeling like I’d failed my daughter. When you’re new to homeschooling, there is so much to learn as the parent/teacher, and it’s a huge adjustment for the child(ren). I’ve set high standards for myself, and have failed to meet some of my expectations in many ways, but I’ve also exceeded the others in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I mentioned in “How To Get Started With Homeschooling” that it is great to connect with other homeschooling parents in order to get helpful insight on some of the methods of homeschooling that worked for them. One of my huge questions for other homeschooling moms was, “what does setting up the school year for your child even look like?” Where does one start?! The most neutral answer I received for choosing your first steps was, pull out a calendar and search for a curriculum. So I pulled out my general calendar (with all of the holidays), notepad (this allows for ideas to be written and edited freely), lesson planner (for when you’re ready to plan your subjects in detail) and laptop (pull everything together). If you don’t wish to purchase a personal or lesson planner, there are helpful apps out there that provide calendar and lesson plan templates.  I also received a helpful tip from a friend and printed out the calendar for the public schools in my state in order to see what their breaks were like. Once you have those items, you can then proceed with planning your school year!

Choose what your first and last days of school will be. Lawfully, there has to be 180 days of school. The public school calendar assisted me with this step. I looked over when the state would take their holiday breaks, when they would have professional development, half days and holidays that were only one day. My calendar is altered throughout the year because we may take a day off throughout the month, but it doesn’t hurt us because I have no need for a professional development day. On the rare occasion where we miss more days than expected, I add an additional day to our school year.

After those few steps, I went rogue. I mentioned in my posts from earlier that I took the unconventional step and chose to create my own curriculum and lesson plans rather than purchase one. If you plan on purchasing a curriculum, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! There are so many available, you want to make sure you’re choosing the best for your child(ren). Look at the reviews, search YouTube responses to the curriculum, visit the website, participate in free trials, use the free the samples and call the publisher if you need to! You’re investing in your child and into the curriculum. As a frugal parent, it’s best you do your due diligence before purchasing, but there are cases where you will purchase and the curriculum just doesn’t work for your household. It’s called trial and error…it happens! It’s not favorable, but you live and you learn.

When creating my curriculum, I worked through each subject one at a time. This is where your notepad comes in handy. I used my working knowledge of what Taniya learned in her subjects during the school year, and then thought about what I wanted my daughter to know, and found appropriate for her age. This is a tedious process, and isn’t the route most will take, but it worked for me. I thought about all the things Taniya found interesting, things I wish I learned in school, and things I wish Taniya was able to spend more time learning while in school. For example, I wish children had more than a month to learn about Black History. I remember feeling terrible as I got older and realized I couldn’t remember the significance of the many heroes in Black History. I then thought about how children are given a project that focuses on one person, and then they learn through the presentations of the other students, or through a program. That’s ok, but it’s not enough for me. In one months time, Taniya couldn’t tell me what she learned through her peers presentations. I decided that Black History would be taught through each subject all year round. It’s the theme of my curriculum. In science, she learns about plants, animals and sea life and more, in addition to Black scientists and inventors. In music, she learns about different instruments and Black musicians. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I knew Taniya would have the general knowledge of what is taught in school so that she would be able to have an understanding when going out into the world, but it was vital that she had thorough knowledge of her history. Another example of having a recurring theme throughout your subjects is relating everything to science or technology. You really have to let those creative juices flow.

Once I had pages worth of notes, I googled what the common core standards were for the grade level my daughter would be entering. You want to be sure that your set up matches what is required by the state. I saw there were only core standards for English and math, which was perfect! Those were the two subjects I wanted to have more structure in, and needed a little more guidance in. Everything was clear and concise on what your child should know for each grade level.

Afterwards, I used my calendar in order to give each topic for each subject, a month for learning. I allotted for days where there is no school and months where there are specific holidays where we can learn about certain historical events tied to that month. I also selected days where I wanted to use them for field trips. When you’re done with all of that writing, you should have pages of notes with points scratched out, notes on what you need to do further for a subject and more. I’m pretty sure you’re able to read it, but you’ll struggle trying to understand what you meant when reading and creating lesson plans from some of those points.

Grab your laptop and create a spreadsheet! I love spreadsheets! You’re able to organize those thoughts, put them into tables, create graphs for progress, keep record of attendance and more. Spreadsheets are so neat and organized. You can add notes without having jumbled thoughts across your paper. This year, I opted for my spreadsheet to show all of my subjects, the months, topics, and all of the resources that I can use for continued learning.

Although I use a spreadsheet, I also make use of great lesson planner that I got from Target for $5. I like to plan my lessons for each day a month prior to having to teach them. I use my spreadsheet as a reference in order to know what I’ll be teaching, what resources to use, and what field trips we can take to support the lesson(s). I choose one weekend out of the month in order to plan for the next month. It allows me to have an idea of what I will be teaching, and relieves me of having to make time each day to figure out what to do the next day. If we need more time on a topic or surpassed the time frame I had in mind, I adjust the days to reflect our needs.

As I’ve stated in my posts before, this was MY process, and it worked for ME. I do believe this method will work for other homeschoolers, but I’m also sure that some will frown their faces when reading. There are so many different techniques to teaching your child(ren) and preparing for the school year. Grab and take from this post and the other resources that you’ve researched.

If you wish to learn more (one-on-one) or to view my spreadsheet, please reach out to me through the either platform listed on the homepage and we can discuss further.

Happy Homeschooling!