An Evolving Homeschool…

When we wrap up our books this year, we will have completed 5 years of home school! It’s been such a great adventure so far, yet also one of the most challenging seasons of my life. When we first started out, I had this idea of how things would go, what our typical day would look like…and boy have things turned out differently than that mental picture!

I thought our days would by idyllic – you know, relatively quiet, PEACEFUL, no arguments, lots of book reading, cool discussions, no television at all, lots of outside exploration and adventure…

Ha! What I didn’t factor in was my kids. Their temperaments, my temperament, the need for “de-schooling” for all of us, their mild addiction to technology, that I would get pregnant and have the worst morning sickness ever in our second year…the list goes on.

Needless to say, things were never idyllic. Ever.

But it has “evolved” over time…

We set up a “school room”…

which we used for about 2 weeks, then we migrated to the kitchen table, and the school room was avoided like the plague…Eventually we got rid of the school room and used bins for each boy and a storage closet for the rest, but it really just ended up all over the kitchen.

We originally used a curriculum that made all of us cry. So we switched over to some work books. (funny side note, 4 years later, I went back to that same curriculum for one of my kids, it just “clicked” for him. Over the years I’d say we’ve become more and more eclectic with strong leanings toward the Charlotte Mason-Thomas Jefferson-Classical methods.

After two years of chaos in the kitchen (and what felt like our whole life – mind you a baby was born in that time), we set up a Resource/ Office/ Play (ROP)room. Now we do learning everywhere – mostly in the kitchen/living room, but the “stuff” is supposed to be in the ROP Room. Though, looking at my kitchen today, a lot of the daily stuff has migrated to a shelf in the kitchen…


What’s different?

How we learn. We read a lot more together. The kinds of activities we do are more gentle forms of learning. We learn in our living – cooking, finances, organization, videos, observing, making messes in art and science and the garden, the kitchen, etc. The boys have learned how to work more independently, how to ask questions and find the answers (and it’s not always, go ask mom). We read aloud together, we read poetry, Shakespeare, good literature and we sing together more. We’re making baby steps in enjoying more of our days “together’ which has been the hardest lesson of all…because for every step forward, there is usually an argument to be had first.

What’s the same?

We are still extremely noisy (to my utter chagrin), mom is not as anal about the messes everywhere (as in I only freak out a couple times a week and not all day everyday) and still gets lost in books and in her writing – but now the boys do to. We still watch too much media, but try to balance it out with equal time outside and reading…

Mostly, we’re still trucking, we’re still at home, and we’re still learning.



Highlights of 2014-15

For posterity sake, I’m posting this now even though we are more than halfway through our current school year. I just got way behind. I am finally finished the report cards, the memory book and the year in review photo post. Thankfully, I’ve already started on this years things, so I should be able to post in the summer ūüôā Hope you enjoy!


New School Room





School Pics – J Taylor Photography







2013-14 Wrap Up

I figured I should post my wrap up before ¬†embarking on our next school year in a few short weeks…yes, even though we’re in Canada and most schools here begin in Sept – we choose a staggered start in Mid August…adding things week by week until we are running full tilt by Mid Sept. It works for us.
This is a review of the highlights of our year either because we seemed to focus on certain areas, or they simply were the most enjoyable learning experiences.
Our Garden

We made our own herb blends to give away at Christmas.
Starting Seeds…
Planting them and watching them grow.
The 3 “R’s”…

A bunch of “firsts”…
First Partial Marathon…¬†
First time Riding Two-wheelers…

Carter’s first Jay’s Game

Max’s first “chicken catchin” experience.
Our Hikes – usually weekly to various locations with other Home Schoolers




After we picked the apples, we made PIE.

We learned about the spices, that the explorers were after when they discovered North America.

We take a long Christmas Break… but still “learn” lot’s…


 Advent and our Jesse Tree


¬†Niagara’s First ICE STORM (December)

Polar Vortex (January)

February Fun

Polar Vortex (March)



Track & Field Meet – Guelph



International Students
As a family we have basically had boarders, tenants or family living with us since we were married 6 months with only a few months off here and there. It’s been great for cultivating community and relationships, as well as helping with our monthly expenses. It was only natural for us to take in students through¬†Hospitalite Canada. The Homestay program has placed students with us from several countries, some staying for a weekend, some for a month, 2 months and a year. We have loved sharing our Canadian culture with these students and also learning about their countries/ cultures in the process.
Korean Chaperones (we had this group twice for 2 month each time). We had a lot of fun together, especially celebrating the Lunar New Year.

Colombian Students




Great Wolf Lodge treat from Grandpa and Nana J

Mom’s Weekend Get Away to South Carolina
It is so vitally important for “teacher-moms” to take a break when they can. This lady is so dear to my heart. She’s been a friend for 20 years and has 2 lovely boys she homeschools, and her hubby is a 20 year bud with my hubby – a great scenario all around. She’s one of the reasons I homeschool today. 4 years ago, I was a hot mess in the big mess that was my life, my family felt like it was on the brink and I found a haven in her home and arms. She loved on me, and showed me how HS was working, not trying to convert me, just living her life while I was crying in the corner. I came home and we decided we were going to homeschool after years of insisting it wasn’t for me.

Three years later when the chance came to spend a moms weekend with her, I jumped. It was restoring and faith-building, so perfect.

We laughed, we cried, we prayed, we ate, and repeated that cycle from the time I got off the plane, until it was time to board to leave. I love this lady, and her family. They are a gift, they are family.

 We only stopped to shop (mostly window), and go for walks ( like this spectacular park)

 We caught a show at this theater.

 We ate here

¬†We sat on a bench just like this reading, talking, laughing, etc… so perfect.



Easter Egg Hunt

¬†Nature Study… Birds in our Back Yard

¬†Or… in our Dryer hose.

“Field Trips”

Maple Syrup Farm

The Drive In
Safari Niagara

Queenston Heights – the War of 1812
We’ve spent a great deal of time covering this, it’s local history to us, but it also was covered in our history and Classical Conversations courses.

Port Dalhousie

 Niagara Safety Village in Welland

Our Homeschool Community Showcase (June)
I know I’ve mentioned our group before, but I just want to again mention how much I love our local HS community. Many weeks they are a lifeline to not just mom, but the kids as well. We have enjoyed the parent support nights, the holiday activities (Valentines, Christmas, Graduation, ¬†etc), the hikes, the gym days, the weekly, monthly, scheduled and spontaneous activities. When you are a HSchooler, you NEED community. We in Niagara are very fortunate have one that is cross-denominational and spans several generations. As a family, we love it.


¬†Our Family Display…

Favourite Read Alouds

Year End Trip to Canada’s Wonderland

Educational Pit Stop – Dinosaur Exhibit…


Our Home School Spaces…
These are only a few of the spaces, but the general impression (at least to me) is CHAOS. I actually physically get shivers (as in feeling nauseous) looking at these. Even though we had a lot of fun, and learned so so much, I think we can do better.
So as of 2 days ago, I began an overhaul of our homeschool spaces to start our next school year on a different pace. This is vital because this coming year we’ll have a full time grade nine student from China as well as short term students from Colombia, meaning, we lose our “playroom” aka…I need to reorganize the whole shabang. I will show you the after pics, after I’m done.
Anyways, the boys met most of the goals we had laid out for them academically, and I’m confident that they are growing into the kind of citizens we want them to become, we have our challenges, but at the end of the day, we’re trusting God with the rest, that He’ll show us the way, and what we can’t accomplish, He will be faithful to complete it.

Our Curriculum Choices for 2013-14

I just have to say this….we’re about 9 weeks into the homeschool year, but we’ve added a curriculum component this year that I just LOVE. It just pulls our whole school day together. I loved it from the first week really, but now, I can already see amazing results!

It’s a 20 minute session together of memory work based on Classical Education. We’re doing Classical Conversations Timeline and the history, Latin, geography, skip couting, grammar and science facts… I know we’re not doing it the true CC way – since the closest CC group I can find is in New York state a few hours away… but we’re having fun learning the songs and facts – and it just ties everything else we’re doing together.

If you are curious about classical education I’d recommend this book:
The Core by Leigh Bortins

and check out her website:

I would say that our homeschooling style is eclectic leaning on Neo-Classical.
   We study the trivium, but also use teaching textbooks and workbooks and lean toward a lot of reading especially living books. We do a lot of nature studies with a bit of unit studies and tactile learning thrown in.

So our typical day is…

CC Memory Work¬†(20-30 minutes) – Cycle 2 Quite a bit of it is put to song, etc…and I thought the boys would resist, but they’ve actually really enjoyed it and it lightens up our morning to watch the videos and learn and laugh together.
Timeline¬†…each week we add about 7 points to the timeline – we started at creation in week one and just this week we’ve gotten up to the Fall of the Western Roman Empire
Geography¬†…so far we’ve memorized all the continents, oceans, European mountains, rivers, seas, western European countries/ capitals, penninsulas and the Mid Atlantic World¬†
History …each week we learn a new history sentence about significant people/ events like Charlemagne, The Reformation, The 100 Years War, etc.
Math …various skip counting songs, measurements or laws of math
Science …Biomes, Life Cycles, Forms of Pollution, Names of Planets, etc.
English Grammar …parts of speech and grammar laws, etc.

We’ve been using this Timeline video on Youtube and This One

Scripture Memory Work¬†(5 minutes)- Psalm 91 – we’ve chosen to continue working on this instead of the curriculum choice.

Bible Study Р(10 minutes) Promiseland by Lori Zenker

MathMath U See (25-30 minutes) РDelta   Gamma and Primer/ Alpha


Language Arts – (25-30 minutes) –¬†Learning Language Arts Through Literature

Reading – the LLATL comes with Readers, but we supplements with recommended reading from History/ Science and seasonal/ other topics of interest from library, Abeka Books, etc.

Spelling –¬†All ABout Spelling,¬†The Phonetic Zoo¬†(5-10 minutes)
¬† ¬† ¬†Here’s a review¬† to check out on Youtube.

Carter – Learning to Read…


Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Phonics РExplode the Code (10 minutes)

Tuesday, Thursday
Handwriting РHandwriting Without Tears (10 minutes)

Two Afternoons a Week (usually 30 minutes each)

One Afternoon a Week – Activities Daily – Audio Books/Read Alouds
HistoryStory of the World 2 РThe Middle Ages

One Afternoon a Week (15 minutes)
Geography – Canada My Country¬†by Donna Ward ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†A Child’s Geography by Ann Voskamp

Friday Afternoons (20-60 minutes)
Fine Arts – How to Teach Art to Children; Discovering the Great Artists; Classical Music for Dummies

Twice a month – Heartland Forest
Once a month – Mad Science

FALL- French, Soccer, Cross Country, Track & Field, Hikes/ Nature Studies, computer
WINTER – French, Guitar, Basketball, Ball Hockey, Track & Field, Hikes/ Nature Studies, computer
That’s it in a nutshell…so far anyways!

Year 2 in Review

The Heaslip Homestead School 2012-13

One year flew by so quick. Here’s a quick recap and some reflections on our 2nd year of Homeschooling.

We began our studies early last year (Mid August) because the baby was due in October and I foresaw some vacation days for the boys. Conveniently the boys began soccer at the same time.


Another significant part of August was the arrival of 2 Korean Students who were with us for 7 weeks. Kate and Emma. We enjoyed learning more about Korea from these 2 very interesting girls.


Carter was in Senior Kindergarten – he mastered his numbers and alphabet, colours, basic skills like cutting, pasting, matching, the months of the year and days of the week, he excelled in gym (track & field, basketball, soccer & ball hockey) He was also an avid participant in the Mad Science classes.

Maxwell was in grade 2. Some days were a struggle to finish his Language Arts program, and reading was like pulling teeth. He did very well in Math (focusing on adding and subtracting multi-digit factors), Bible and Handwriting. He also enjoyed anything that involved social interaction like our field trips, athletics, science, co-op days, etc)

Lucas was in grade 3. He excelled in most subjects. He mastered multiplication in math especially involving finance. He also did very well in Language Arts and has become an avid reader, finishing novels in record time. He does not particularly excel in group endeavors, preferring to be “in charge”, then one of the team. He did very well in Basketball however.

Our typical day started with breakfast and cartoons. The TV was off by 8:30/ 9 am and we eventually started our sea twork. Math U See Math was daily (Primer, Beta and Gamma), Language Arts and Bible were also daily. Phonics, Handwriting and Spelling were alternating days. We were usually done seat work by noon and History, Geography, Science and Unit Studies were weekly in the afternoons. (Actually sometimes history was daily – thanks to Story of the World Audio CD’s played in the van). We participated in weekly hikes/ field trips especially in the fall, and of course athletics, gym/ craft days, etc.

The day after our first field trip to pick apples, I went into the hospital and came home with the sweetest thing. Elaina Grace has been our main subject of study this past year.

A Year in Pics…¬†

Typical Afternoon, boys in the sandbox, mom and baby in the garden.

¬†Autumn…Fall is fast and furious. A flurry of activities and all the programs starting at once. Lot’s of company, lot’s of fun to do. Lot’s of beauty to see and definitely lots to learn.

Hiking, Hiking and More Hiking. Love Niagara’s trails.


 The boys waited all summer to go on the ropes course at Safari Niagara. 
We finally squeezed it in on Closing Day.
Our annual trip to the Pumpkin Patch.

A trip to the Welland Canal Center 

A trip to the Jordan Beaver Pond 

Celebrating Christmas with Our Little Co-Op


Area Homeschool Network Christmas Celebration (Gym and Craft Day) 

WINTER…definitely slower¬†than the previous months. Sometimes it seems to stretch out forever. Fortunately we can do our best to get as much school work done during these quiet months so when late spring and summer come…we’re ready to PLAY!
Planning our Family Trip South for March Break
Lot’s of suggles, especially when daddy takes a day off.
Lot’s of time for Baking…


¬†Winter fun with Friends…
Lucas perfected his oatmeal recipe.


Hosting Superbowl PartyThe boys helped plan, pick out the decorations and set up for this. 

Valentine’s Day Lunch

Learning Javelin 

Family Vacation – South Carolina

Children’s Museum
BMW Museum
Go Carts!!! 

Winter still wasn’t slow enough for Elaina.

One thing we did regularly was the homeschoolers nature studies at Heartland Forest. I have no idea why I have no pictures. It was awesome.

SPRING…when we got home it was definitely starting to look like spring. We started Easter weekend with a hike.

Another international guest arrived, this time Dayanne from Columbia.
Learning to jump hurdles.

Earth Day at Ball’s Falls

 Ball Hockey indoors and out.

Picking cherries on the roof of the shed.
The year ended in late June for us and we’ll probably not be able to begin again until September the way the calendar falls for us this year. It was a great year for us. We didn’t set unrealistic goals knowing that with a new baby there were too many “unknowns”. We enjoyed life, and we enjoyed each other. We did our best to honour God in our home and lives and we’re looking forward to another great year.
Some thoughts while looking ahead. Carter will be firmly in his learning to read program. Max will be tackling multiplication and Lucas needs to develop more of his writing skills. I’m hoping to have them all enrolled in Jubal Cottage this year as well as Science again – both start in October. They start soccer next week, Basketball in December and Cross Country this month. Indoor Track starts in November. Hopefully Heartland Forest will have a program in September too.
I’m considering French, Music Lessons (Guitar) and of course our small and large group activities. The Curriculum Outline will get posted in the next week or so. Having done this LONG year in review, I’ll have to give some thought on how I’d like to utilize this blog this year ūüôā

July 2012

July in Niagara was HOT. It was HUMID. For us, it was also a tiny bit busy, mostly on the front end. Then it slowed right down, and it’s stayed that way into August. We are on Summer hiatus from Homeschooling, but I still wanted to track what we’ve been up to since we’re starting school again next Monday. We’re starting early because we only occupy a couple hours a day with school, and we all need the ORDER in our days again. Also, because it’s only a few hours (especially since we gradually work our way up to a full schedule by September) since it’s only a few hours, the boys still get to have ALOT of fun with the rest of their days.¬†
The other reason we’re starting early is because we like to take 0an entire month off around Christmas since daddy gets time off work too, and this year, October will be an iffy month as well, with a new baby due on the 4th. So, an early start it is.¬†
July was taken up primarily with 3 events. The first was a trip to a cottage that my mother in law rented at Braeside Camp. It was a happy few days spent mostly in the pool. 
The dog insisted she would fit in the packed van, she DID NOT want to be left behind….but she was.
 It was such a cute and cozy little place.
The boys were excited to sleep in the loft.
¬†We enjoyed meals on the deck, when it wasn’t sweltering ūüôā
Max enjoying bubble time.
¬†Carter practising his “steamy” look.
 Lucas enjoying poolside time.
The kids enjoyed going to the kids program in the mornings, while we enjoyed the services.

You know they had fun, when this is how they look on the way home.
The second was a solid run of a few miscellaneous events all in one week.
Lucas spent a few days with Geepa Jim. The other 2 boys get their stay with geepa in August.
¬†We tried making peach jam, it’s more of a syrup.
We enjoyed daddy’s baseball games, and more importantly when he won, we had icecream!

 Family picnic at Charles Daly Park by the lake.
¬†Chris’ cousin’s wedding reception (they were married in NYC in the spring)

 The newly weds.
Geepa Jim and Nana Jo.
The third major event was our annual Crazy Moms Camping trip. This year we splurged since it was our 5th year, and we’ve roughed it in some pretty dumpy places. This year we found a deal (thanks Sheri) to Bissel’s Hideaway. We think we’ve found our forever CMCT home. It’s more like a resort. Clean bathrooms, garbage cleared every day from the sites, awesome pool, etc for everyone. Just perfect.
 Next year we may even upgrade from tents to cabins.
Prepping meals is fun with other moms. Here’s me with Jessica watching,
it was her first year with us. It think she’ll be back ūüôā
Dining tent…before it blew away.
 An absolute necessity.
 Prepping breakfast.

The pool. 

 The kids.
 In their natural state.
 One of our yummy meals.
 Campfire time.
 The moms.
 The Heaslips.
¬†The Betetta’s… not sure where Mateo was…
 The Batourins.
¬†The Taylor’s (my Jodi – we’re the only 2 to have gone all five years ūüôā
As I said before, the sign of a good trip, is conked out kids… sigh,¬†
except I had to unload the van alone ūüôā
Anyways, that was our main points of July, not to negate the arrival of our students from Korea, swim dates, splashpads and lazy days at home… That’s what summer’s all about, now I’m going to go and squeeze in a few more swimdates before we run out of time ūüôā¬†
How’s your summer been?

Homeschooling Highlights – June

June flew by in a hot flurry this year! Here are the highlights:

The boys finished their core subjects in the first week of June. Then they found a froggy friend and decided to study and make him a new habitat in an old bucket. Then they set him free, but afterwards regretted it because “they missed him”.

We braved the crowds at Marineland a couple more times before we decided to take a break til late August/ September. The Beluga’s were particularly playful during our first visit.

Mommy cannot handle the spinning rides on a good day, let alone when she’s¬†
pregnant, so she was glad that the boys could go on most without an adult!

Beautiful rainbow in our front yard one day. 

We went on a field trip to Chocolate FX, the chocolate factory just around the corner on 4 Mile Creek Road. Yumm!

The boys got to bring home all the chocolately treats they made.

Then we went on a visit with our small home school group (we really need to turn this into a co-op) at Happy Rolf’s. It was the first time we’d visited since they did all the renovations. It looks amazing!


We went to the final gym day at the splashpad/ park with our NHEA friends. What a blast playing soccer and visiting on a gorgeous day.

Mom purged the homeschool storage areas (and needs to again). Mom also finished up the record keeping for the year.

We started this Science curriculum for the summer while we visit Safari Niagara with our passes.

We ordered and received our curriculum choices for next year.

…And we worked in the veggie gardens, ALOT.


Getting ready for the Sunflowers in the back two plots of the garden. The Rhubarb and Horseradish are already overabundant!

Cucumbers, Kale, Cabbage, Beans and Pumpkins.


Strawberries and our first harvest.

The boys’ Corn.

Anyways, we’re looking forward to July and the rest of the summer with visits to the beach, camping, grandma’s cottage, visitors from Korea and more. I just hope we have more “down” days to rest at home than we did in June! ‚ėļ

Homeschooling Highlights – May

What is there not to love about homeschooling in May?
Beautiful sunny, perfectly happy days where you spend more of them OUTSide than inside.

We planted our gardens together. Here’s the before of the veggie gardens, stayed tuned for June’s post to see the progress.

 And our flower boxes.

¬†Then we went to the Niagara Children’s Museum

We spent a day with friends at Heartland Forest exploring…


 Hunting Frogs

 and hanging out. (just watch out for ticks!)

 We enjoyed all of our friends trampolines and the sunshine.

 We played as much as possible, avoiding the books, but nevertheless, almost finishing up all our core courses.

 We enjoyed the park and beach at Port Dalhousie with friends.

 We got our passes to Marineland after at 2 year hiatus. Much more affordable with the home schooling group rate.

¬†Beluga’s were especially friendly that day.

 We played in the sprinkler.

 and usually conked out like this, after our busy days.

 We battled the flu, and won.

 We celebrated a cousins birthday on the Holiday Weekend.

 and enjoyed the Fireworks at the Virgil Stampede with friends again.

And the month still isn’t over!!!

Home Schooling Highlights – April

This photo is all I have from the entire month of April.

My dear son developed an affinity for my camera and deleted all the photos on it. I had not saved them to my computer yet. (sigh and grrr). So this month, the highlights will all by written.

At the end of March, we welcomed Maria to our home for a month. She is from Columbia. We enjoyed the month with her and I’m unhappy to have lost all my pics of her but hopefully someone, somewhere will have a few of her with us.

We celebrated Easter with family and friends. Our homeschooling friends The McEwens came over for an Easter Egg Hunt. It was a riot.

The next week, we went to gym day and I was in charge of the craft room. We made tissue paper flowers and pet rocks. I have the pet rocks so will take some pics of them again soon.

The following week the boys had their Awana year end banquet. They did very well, each completing their books for this year. That’s a lot of bible memorizing.

Lucas spent a weekend in Simcoe with his Grandpa Jim and Nana Jo. The younger two are eagerly awaiting their turn for a weekend at grandpa’s. Meanwhile, the younger two boys got to visit the Early Years Center with big brother away.

The week after that, we said farewell to Maria. The boys came to the “fancy dinner” with just mom (dad is in busy season). They were REALLY GOOD. Napkins on laps, using manners, not fighting or being too squirmy. I was so proud of them!

We had a profitable month in school work and are almost finished with Grammar and Reading Comprehension. We will have writing and spelling left, as well as Math. I’d like to concentrate on Carter’s phonics a bit more in May and June too. This summer we’ll do a unit on Canadian geography as we hopefully head to the east coast. We’ll do some nature studies on our camping trips and make the most of the seasons outdoors.

We had a lot of rain at the end of the month, so in between showers we’ve been trying to get the garden ready for planting. It’s been slow going.¬†We also didn’t sign up for any sports because I knew we’d be getting our passes for Safari Niagara and this year, Marineland in May and begin visiting often through May and June. July is shaping up to be pretty busy for our family and in August it will be grounded in Niagara with houseguests coming from Korea and Soccer starting up again.

I’m glad that we’ve kept to the basics this year as we’ve tried to adjust to home schooling. There’s lots for us to learn together (especially me) but I’m still so happy we followed this path and am grateful that we’ve been able to make it work so far ūüôā ¬†Happy May everyone!