Riley at 5

As a parent, I feel like anytime there is an opportunity to brag about your kids you should. Life is hard enough and hearing that you are good and enough just the way you are is powerful coming from your loved ones.
I’m going to take this opportunity to brag about Our Riley Irie. As many of you know, she was born nearly 3 months early, at 28 weeks and 6 days, weighing just 2lbs and 14 oz. She has always been strong and tenacious from the beginning. She came into the world, eyes wide open and screaming at the top of her lungs. Even the neonatologist said, ” Well, obviously her lungs are working just fine, mom. Looks like we won’t need oxygen to assist with her breathing!” She only spent 6 weeks in the NICU, when we fully expected her to stay there until nearer to her original due date, which would have been a month later. I give credit to breastmilk. 
She had all of the typical issues that you’d expect with a preemie. We did physical therapy and occupational therapy for a year. We did speech therapy for 2 years. She grew well and learned exceptionally fast. We were fortunate, early on in the process of all the appointments and doctor’s visits to come across an Audiologist from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that referred us to the pediatric developmental clinic at their HugheSpaulding location, the one next to Grady. This clinic specializes in the caring for the whole child, specifically those at risk for developmental issues as they relate to prematurity, autism, Down’s Syndrome, etc and the whole range of diseases and situations that might cause a child to have delays. We initially contacted them when Riley was an infant and the program is so huge that it took nearly a year before her first appointment. But we got in! and it was worth it. We went once a year for five years. These appointments were long, like no less than three hours. The ran test and examed her physically and mentally. They gave us resources and support for anything that we needed from specialist appointments or therapies. We were given RX and referrals. And advice, lots and lots of advice from tips to get her to eat new foods and ideas with teaching her academically.
This year, this past Friday, we had our final appointment. The program follows your child until they are five. But they are there for us a resource for as long as she needs. At this final appointment, we had our evaluation with the psychologist and this is where my bragging comes in. The doctor remembered our Riley specifically because she remembers how intelligent Riley is, and because Riley had picked up some British slang from watching Peppa Pig. The Doctor was one of the Britsh ruled Caribbean islands (unfortunately, I can’t remember which one as I type this) and she was tickled that Riley referred to playing in “The Garden” meaning the front yard.
Anyway, as part of the psych exam, they do an academic portion and as has been the case every year and really anytime we’ve had to do them for the public school system, Riley blows the test out of the water. I say this braggingly but of course, as every parent thinks their kid is smart. And they should and they should encourage it. This is the 2nd time we’ve have had a child psychologist comment on how exceptionally smart Riley is and applaud us on my decision to homeschool her. This psychologist at CHOA said that she believes that we’ve mad the right choice in deciding to continue to homeschool her and that should we ever decide to place her into the public system have her tested for the gifted program. I can not tell you how it pleased me to hear this, not just from an egotistical standpoint, of course, I love hearing that we’re doing a great job with her, but I can not take credit for how her brain works. She is smart all on her on. I just saw something and nurtured it and will continue to do what’s in the best interest of continuing to nurture her.
This academic school year will be the first official year that we will declare our homeschool status with the State Department of Education. I had some doubts initially, not because of any insecurities about my abilities to teach or Riley’s to learn, but because I have been worried about what the naysayers would have to say. Well, no more. I know that I have done the work to research this choice and all that it involves. I have had the approval of two professionals telling me that I’m doing fine and heading in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the upcoming academic year for Riley and Zara at the Ogletree Academy.
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Homeschooling for next to nothing

We started homeschooling our oldest when she was just about 17 months old. I used a subscription to ABCMouse.com to began teaching her the basics, like the alphabet, numbers, colors and shape. We sang nursery rhymes and danced to their silly song. It was great. We paid for the subscription for about two years. And it was money well spent. With my second daughter, I find that she’s not so into it, so I don’t pay for it anymore. She likes more in the hands kind of learning, so we do worksheets and coloring sheets with her. So while I feel like ABCMouse is worth it, I find myself reluctant to pay for other similar programs because there is so much free stuff that available.

I have begun my search for an affordable curriculum to use for the coming school year. My oldest turned five after September 1 of last year, so this year is our first official on the record year of school. Last year for kindergarten we used a combination of materials that were given to me by a neighbor that had homeschooled a child previously and many workbooks from the dollar tree/family dollar and a couple of textbooks I’d picked up from thrift stores. I don’t believe I’ve spent more than $50 on educational materials. I’ll keep a better record this year (Especially if these school choice vouchers become a thing.). I thought I wanted an all in the box kind of curriculum this year but as I research prices and research what’s included in these packages, I find myself feeling like we can write our own curriculum and put together our texts for less money. We are, after all, a single earner family so any money we can save is great.

In order to build this curriculum, we have to find the standard for what should be taught for our grade level. She will be officially enrolled at a kindergartener this fall but we’ll be working on grade 1 work. Here in Georgia, our department of education has its standards laid out plain, simple and easy to follow on their website for all grade levels. It’s a great resource to see where your child stands compared to the mandated standard. This is good whether you’re homeschooling or in traditional schooling. I also stumbled upon IXL which is another great resource that allows you to see where your child stands against the standards.

Once you have your list of what your child should learn in each subject, then you build your course work. I like a combination of textbooks and workbooks. I’m not a fan of too many printed worksheets because ink and paper can get expensive and I can pass the textbooks down to my younger child and I can buy two workbooks. For those that like printed worksheets and I do use them whenever it makes sense and not waste cents, there are so many resources. My go to websites are Education.com and Teachers pay Teachers, both of these sites are paid subscriptions but there is so much available for free that I have yet to need to pay for anything yet.

Last year we used workbooks from Bendon, Evan-moor, School Zone, Flash Kids, Mead. We used a science book from Harcourt and social studies book from Houghton-Mifflin (Actually they are the both from the same publisher).

Now, I’m not saying we will be able to build our own curriculum every year but I know for the next year or so, we should be able to easily. I know at some point that my girls will be smarter than I will able to keep up with, so we’ll learn together and if they turn out to be geniuses, then we’ll hire tutors lol!