Jeneric Jeneralities ~ by JenIG

Here are a few resources I really like for homeschooling.  For phonics, the very first thing I use is a wooden ABC puzzle.  It works great for teaching ABC's.  I also like Phonics Pathways.  One of my kids has had a hard time with reading and this has been a great help.  It's put out by Dorbooks.


I also really like the readers put out by Christian Light Education.  I taught two of my kids to read with their reading program.  I've also been using their Bible and Science programs with my kids.  It is probably my favorite 'boxed' curriculum.  I also like Bob Jones Press video classes.  Those are pretty helpful. 


For grammar, the best thing I've ever used has been Easy Grammar by Wanda Phillips.  It is a really super program. 


For math, we use nothing.  Math is utterly unusable.  I hate it and I refuse to teach it.  Just kidding.  But I do hate it and I've not found any program that I've wanted to absolutely rave about.  The only math resource that I do utterly rave about is the Flashmaster.  This thing is cool.  It is the main staple in our Math curriculum.  It is a digital flashcard system that covers addition, subtraction, times and division.  Plus it records the stats on the problems the student misses.  It is the best math resource I've ever bought.  Maybe I should look into Bob Jones Video Stuff and see if  they have a math video class.  I really hate math.  A lot.


The main way we 'school' is reading books and discussing them; I guess we're turning into a Unit Study family.  This last year we picked books and then just studied related issues.  For instance we read The Witch of Blackbird Pond and studied the geography and climates of the northern eastcoast and compared it to Barbados (where the main character had come from).  We also studied life in the 1700's and the original 13 colonies.  We also talked about the legal system and about the Salem Witch Trials.  It was a cool study.  We did the same with The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe (I was NOT trying to have a 'witch' theme… just worked out like that) and also Harriet Tubman (put out by Emerald Books — their Heroes of History series) that I got from YWAM.  Presently we're reading thru Meriwether Lewis from the same series. 


One thing I'd like to add to my 'schooling' is more hands on field trips and learning real life experiences.  I'd like my kids to learn how to make soap, knit (they actually know how to do this and are getting better at it) sew and crochet and canning.  I'd like them to know more about the lost arts and about homesteading/living off the land and also about 'survival' types of things.  Maybe I should get the boys into Boy Scouts.  We're thinking about joining 4-H.


So there you have it.  This may be the longest post I've ever entered.  I'd be interested in knowing what you do to teach your kids about real life skills.  How do you teach them and what have they learned?


September 15th, 2005 - Posted in Uncategorized | | 0 Comments

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  1. Anonymous said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 9:19 am

    Howdy & life skills

    Hey Jen! We had a fabulous time last night! I mentioned to Andrew how nice it was for him to have BOYS around and he heartily agreed. He has been the only boy many times.

    On life skills… It has been a process but I finally have turned all the laundry over to Rebekah. She is such a neat freak that she has developed a particular way to fold each piece of clothing. I thought that in addition to scrubbing the bathroom and cooking the meals that this might be to much for her, but she seems to be doing OK. It would be great if I could get her to tend a garden and can the produce, alas, the bugs your dh feared were in NC are definitely here in TN and I believe Rebekah will draw the line at that.

    Andrew on the other hand has a way with the riding mower. And can that boy edge! We have been considering letting him paint the house this year for art. The jury is still out on that one though.


    Seriously, Andrew just got his own bowl of cereal for the 2nd time in his life this morning and Rebekah is doing well if she sticks to 2 outfits a day and throws them in the corner of her room, not the center. All this to say, I will be interested in what others do for life skills because that area is sorely neglected in our house! 🙂 I am not sure we could live off our land though. It's only about 3/4 of an acre and mostly wooded.

    I am so glad you are all here! Welcome to Tennessee!


    Edited by CAgirlwithasoutherndrawl on Sep. 15, 2005 at 7:22 AM

  2. Momma2theMax said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 9:38 am

    life skills…hmmm

    lets see …although i woudl like to say that my kids are incredibly well versed in the art of making their beds…alas they are not….(mostly cause their mom is a neat freak and cannot handle it when the covers are on crooked) they do, however, do small tasks around the house such as taking out the garbage(i watched amanda my 7yo drag the cans around from being picked up yesterday to dump an unusually large load directly into them and then put them away…if that's not crical logical thinking i don't know what is 🙂 ) setting the dinner and lunch tables, they are also required to clean up their play room 4 times a day from the time they can crawl (we have a no toys in the bedroom rule in the house cause it just makes things nuts) they are also required to do anything mom asks them to do thats "extra" like changing laundry loads from the washer to the dryer, some folding and all putting away of laundry. they help me bake alot (math lessons galore in that one). and they also are in charge of their daily schedules…if they don't want to get dressed first thing thats fine but they must be ready to go when mom says its time….autonomy in their schedules has really helped them prioritize their days and i think leads to being self starters as well as respects their differences as people (some of us are morning people some are not). as for cirriculum i really don't use much but i am religious in keeping "junk toys" out of the house….they are allowed alot of free play and that has inspired some things that might be surprising. My amanda is teaching herself to read music and to play the recorder from a cheap veggie tales "kit" i got at the teaching store and she is very diligent in practicing without any intervention or suggestion from me. all in all they are given alot of "plates" from which to choose and we do alot of "field trips" from the exotic (arboretum, museums, farms, etc) to the mundane (dry cleaners, grocery store, craft shop etc) and it is amazingwhat all of these things inspire in the way of questions and dialogue….and most of all if they ask a question that i don't know the answer to we drop everything and find out! i guess my philosphy is to let them try all kinds of things (since they are young we only require that they stick with it for a little while) learn to read and love it, learn math and how it is used in daily life (lots of word problems…less drilling) and learn how to ask a good question…and how to figure out where the answer is….that's my $.02 🙂

  3. lynan said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 9:50 am

    Boy Scouts

    My older 2 are in a fabulous homeschool troop–about 30 boys in it. They love it! Just made Tenderfoot. I like that they are learning manly skills.

    About around the house skills, my boys can fold and put away laundry. They can place it in the dryer and start it (I still don't dare allow them to start the washer because putting in too much detergent can break it, I have heard.) They can make lunches. They can dust and vaccuum. In a pinch, they can change a diaper. I have to work with them on breakfast–we eat cereal rarely and do mostly oatmeal–plain or baked, scrambled eggs, toast, waffles–that kind of thing.

    I have to teach them this stuff because when I'm preggo–I'm almost useless from week 6 to week 14 or so.

    Concerning things like budgets, my oldest tends to pick up books I've been reading like The Tightwad Gazette or other money type things. Its wonderful–he's completely changed his Christmas list and he says we are never eating at a restaurant again! LOL

  4. brandyb said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 9:53 am


    Hmmm, I feel the SAME way about math. Hate it! hate it! my oldest daughter does as well and it's been really sad. My dh has a minor in math and is an engineer so he won't let us quit. LOL She is doing gamma in Math u see. we tried a beka, the beginning of our math problems, (man they move fast in math!), then singapore, then MUS and I think we will stick with this although the daughter still doesn't like it. She just doesn't seem to get it so at present we are just practicing facts (online) and waiting for her brain to catch up to doing double digit multiplication. She is big on what grade she is in and is disappointed that she is still doing multiplication in 6th grade. I tell her it doesn't matter. You can get by on what you know for the rest of your life. LOL! ANYWAY, skills, gardening (I can't do this either, I am a city girl and there are lizards out there)…she likes this and is creating a butterfly garden (her blog is under the user name willow, if you want to look it up); I hope she learns to sew (like I didn't) too (she is doing pretty well at that with me just fixing the machine around when it screws up), knitting, well I tried that a few times myself and don't think it's possible, she is trying to crochet but needs someone to teach her the next step(yarn and I don't mix); cooking of course (now that I can do!); my 8yo is into weaving and i bought her a loom for last Christmas she has produced a couple of scarves. The sewing is being learned pretty much on her own with some books I bought. We have done a little bit of quilting which I realllllly like actually. Quilting is something that actually seems useful. I can buy some perfectly knitted socks really cheap at wal-mart. 🙂 I don't know if music counts in this. But I also never played an instrument and think it's really important so one is learning piano and one violin and my 6yo son seems really intent on the flute??

  5. SingleParentsAtHome said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 9:57 am

    Teaching Children Life Skills

    Jen, getting your boys involved in Boy Scouts is a great idea. Since I'm a single mom, I am so thankful for a Boy Scout troop led by godly men (some of them homeschooling fathers) that teaches my boys practical skills.

    My four boys (ages 13, 10, 9, and 5) are responsible for nearly all the work around our home. They mow, weedeat, sweep, mop, vacuum, fold and put away laundry, wash dishes, feed the cats and empty litter boxes, etc. I generally try to assign tasks to the youngest child who can handle them in order to spread out the work.

    Sharing the work is a necessary survival strategy for a single-parent family, but it's really important for every family. Children need to learn both practical skills and responsibilty, and to have a sense of making a real contribution to the work of the family.

    Mary Jo Tate

  6. jayfromcleveland said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 10:15 am


    Jen, Getting your little dudes into scouts would be an awesome thing. Our three boys have been in Cubs and the oldest just started Boy Scouts this year. I have a scouting contact in East TN if you're interested in talking to someone.

    Also, you might ask Gena what she and I have been cooking up re scouts — I'm writing a big article for TOS and we're also a ScoutBlog here at HSB. (See the development blog at — –) And we've been talking to the National BSA about starting a Christian Homeschool Scout umbrella organization. We're currently looking for scout people who'd like to be contributors to the blog. There's more info over at my blog if anyone's interested. Hope you're feeling better soon! -j

  7. tn3jcarter said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 12:38 pm

    We just learn the skills as we go –

    The boys always have chores here and even though they don't always get them done to my satisfaction, I feel like they are capable and responsible. Since we've been out here on the farm, we've learned so much together reading books and articles on the internet about how to do things on the farm – raising chickens, feeding them, building a chicken tractor, butchering chickens, researching breeds of sheep, reading about alternative energy sources, various methods of organic gardening, etc.. Two books that I'd recommend for the boys are: The American Boy's Handy Book (it's got the survival stuff with lots of interesting projects) and The Field and Forest Handy Book (the author is the founder of Scouts and it is about outdoorsy camping type self-sufficiency stuff).

    I'm glad that you mentioned that FlashMaster thingie. Someone else recommended it recently, but I had forgotten what it was called. Aaaahhh!

  8. MarinesWife said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 2:24 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Jen, I got this book: What Every Child Should Know Along the Way by Gail Martin. I'm so thankful a friend just gave it to me! I love it and it has been very helpful in giving me "life skills" lists to teach my children. Some of the sections are Manners (communication, shopping, appearance, at church, mealtimes….), Practical Living Skills, and Personal Safety (playgrounds, bikes, electricity…).

  9. Anonymous said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Dear Jen,

    How fun to see the picture of your sweet family, Ryan looks so grown up. I hope you are enjoying Tennessee. I really hope to visit in the spring, I have always dreamed of going there.



  10. livin4Him6 said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Untitled Comment

    I think we are better at teaching real life skills then all the subjects combined!! LOL I say that because, we live our life and the kiddos come along side and do the things we do and we all grow on a day to day basis. As far as examples I can give a few: one of our dds wanted goats, so she (with the help of her older brother) cleaned out the barn and mended the fence (with the help of daddy). Our other dd wanted chickens so she read a book about them and drew out a plan for a chicken coop. Then her and daddy got working and made a fantastic fully insulated chicken coop…they even have great red metal roofing on top!! :0) All of our children know how to cook at least the simple things, and a couple of them truly enjoy it!! One of our sons (15) says that he wants to be a chef. All of the children have a laundry day and they wash, dry, and put their clothes away. OK–in THEORY this is what they are supposed to be doing LOL…some times it does not always work out, however they all know how to do their laundry. LOL There are so many things that kids learn when they are alongside their parents or another loving adult who will take the time to teach them how to do things. HTH!!! :0)

  11. Tami said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 8:25 pm

    Hey, Jen!

    I LOVE unit studies. It really simplifies my life. As for teaching real life skills, we do it either through our unit studies or 4-H. We have a great 4-H homeschool community in our area. I like the way the program is designed to build self-esteem in the children through different activities.

    If you ever want to borrow my "Creating the Balance" tapes by Jessica Hulcy, let me know. They are very inspirational!

    Blessings! Tami

  12. EmptyNestMom said,

    on September 15th, 2005 at 10:22 pm


    Math is one of the subjects that you either love or hate. I never really liked it myself until I started reading about it. I recommend that you take one math lesson a week (or month) and just read about math. Try books like: 512 Ants on Sullivan Street or Sir Cumference and the Round Table. (Check my web page for more ideas:

    For your own reading, try to get a copy of: Mathematics: Is God Silent? by James Nickel. This book will show you God's purpose for math. It's really unbelievable! I hope that will help!

  13. drewsfamilytx said,

    on September 16th, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Untitled Comment

    Instead of math, I think you should work on grammar b/c your comment is so off-base. To refresh your memory, you wrote:

    It's You'll.

    As in: "You'll come back again, you hear?"

    I don't know what they taught you in CA but here in the south, it's "Y'all come back now, y'hear?" I think you need to brush up on your Beverly Hillbillies.

  14. Dalyn said,

    on September 17th, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    BJU math videos

    I HATE math too! Stink at it. I use BJU Homesat for math and some science- love it. I'm learning alot. Oh ya- the kids are too.

  15. cellomom said,

    on September 17th, 2005 at 4:25 pm

    LOL @ math comments!

    I LOVE math (I hope you'll still be my friend), but that wasn't your question. For life skills, my 7yo is in a girls' group at church called "Handmaidens." They teach several things, especially as they get older. I hired my cousin to start my dd sewing last summer. It got me through some of the impatient parts. 9yo ds is starting his 4th year of scouts. He's a Weblo this year. This looks like the meat finally starting, but he has enjoyed the other years, too. A lot of the earlier stuff we just did at home anyway.

    If you don't have any programs around you, I think the Keepers of the Faith and Contenders of the Faith are good programs to use at home. While they can (and maybe were intended) for a group setting, the books outline different skills boys and girls should know…even if you have to find someone else to teach them. I've also thought about getting that homemaking program that Karen Andreola has reviewed. The name slips my mind at the moment.

    And so I've rambled once again, and I hope that I came close to answering your question, because I don't have it in front of me anymore. *grin*


  16. hippiechyck said,

    on September 21st, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Hi JenIG!

    your blogroll is hilarious…do you have EVERY HSB'er on it???

    i like your blog…very pretty template…

    well, we are switching over from Sonlight to KONOS in a week or so…you can go back and read my blog to see how it's going!

    we really love Math-U-See…and i have also used Phonics Pathways, another great book…we are going through the Explode the Code books right now

    well, it was nice to stop by! have a great day

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