It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays, I ramble about what’s been going on, whatthe rest of the familyand I have been reading and watching, andwhat I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.
What’s Been Occurring
I did not share a Saturday After Chat post yesterday because I was out of the house both Friday and Saturday and did not have time to write one.
On Tuesday last week, we traveled to a town near us to pick glasses up for Little Miss and The Boy. Yes, Little Miss is now like the rest of us in the family and has glasses. I don’t really like that she’s had to get them at such a young age, but if she can see better, that’s great.
I wanted to blame too much device usage on her need at such a young age, but then I remembered that I was only a couple of years older when I got glasses, and I didn’t have devices back then. I did a lot of close work with sketching and reading but I did not have a phone or Kindle or anything else that might cause me to be near-sighted. I suppose it is simply bad genetics once again.
Luckily, she looks absolutely adorable in glasses.
The Boy looks absolutely adorable in glasses too, but he doesn’t pose for photos anymore.
The Husband would probably pose but his glasses are old so I didn’t take a photo of them.
After we picked up the glasses we went to the local library for a gathering with the local homeschool group. It was a lot of fun and nice to finally meet other homeschooling parents. I had met a few of them at the end of February but several of the children were sick that week. We missed the next couple of meet-ups because of Little Miss’s dental procedure, weather, and Little Miss getting sick one week.
During this meetup, they had a birthday theme and exchanged gifts between the children to help encourage them to get to know each other. This didn’t really work as much with the teenagers who simply looked at the floor while they handled each other gifts, but it was a good idea.
One of the members brought their pet pig and then there were birthday party type games (Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, and a pinata). Little Miss had a blast but by the end she told me she was all socialized out and wanted to go home and not talk to people for the next five months.
Yes, she is very similar to me.
After interacting with other people I need a downtime of not talking to anyone or going anywhere for at least a day, if not more.
On Friday, Little Miss and I grocery shopped, which I hate doing but it went well, even though I had to have our van looked at by an exhaust specialist before we went because we have a hole in our exhaust and then grocery shop. I actually very much dread going to the grocery store. My weird health issues seem to kick in during those visits. My legs get weak, my head feels odd, and my lower back hurts by the time I get halfway around the store.
I prayed all the way to the store, though, calling on Jesus’ many names – Elohim, Adonai, and Jehovah Jireh, my provider. I rebuked anything coming against me and by the time I left the mechanic to head to Aldi, I felt so much better. I was able to get all of our shopping done and when I went home I even carried in all of the groceries, something I’m usually too tired to do.
In full disclosure, I did take a l’theanine before I left. It is a natural supplement to help with relaxation but there is no way it had time to kick in and not only that, it does not give me energy or take away the vertigo I experience in stores or in fluorescent lights. Only God can do that. Don’t be afraid to ask him for help in even the smallest situations in your life.
Yesterday we visited a comic shop as a family for Free Comic Book Day.
We traveled about an hour to get to the comic shop, visiting a town near us that we had not visited before. It was full of old houses that dated back to the early to mid 1800s. I honestly felt like I was in an old neighborhood in Philadelphia or something.
The kids and The Husband went into the comic book store and I wandered down the street, admiring the old buildings and beautiful churches.
There was a Little Free Library at one of the churches in the town with the comic book store and I found what I think is a cozy mystery. I replaced it with a book that was in the van.
After our visit there we stopped at a GameStop store for The Boy and visited a park/playground afterward.
It was a nice day, especially since we finally had a sunny, warm day for the first time all week and also because the views were so nice.
I am trying to talk my dad and son in building me a little library that I can install across the street from our house. I think it would be fun for people who are walking or driving by to see and know that they can find good books in.
What I/we’ve been Reading
While I was not a huge fan of M.C. Beaton’s writing style, I couldn’t help reading through Death of a Poisoned Pen, which is a Hamish Macbeth Mystery. I gave up at one point and said I couldn’t put up with her choppy writing any longer, but I needed to know what happened so I went back to the book and finished it Friday night. This was a later book in the series so maybe it wasn’t even written by M.C. Beaton by then. Maybe ghost writers wrote it like they do James Patterson’s books.
Now that I have finished that book I am free to focus on Fellowship of the Ring, which I have a goal to finish before the end of May but will probably finish earlier. I need The Boy to finish it before the end of May as well because I would like him to write a review of it and Huckleberry Finn before our meeting with our homeschool evaluator.
I am also reading a cozy mystery by Amanda Flower, a new-to-me author. The book is called Flowers and Foul Play. It is a Magic Garden Mystery so there is a bit of magic mixed in.
Little Miss has been reading a collection of Charlie books to me. Charlie was Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman’s) dog and there was a series of I Can Read books written about him. I found the collection at a library sale, and she’s been reading a chapter or two of the books to me before bed. Then I read from The Miss Piggle-Wiggle Treasury to her but I am telling you, I am ready for that book to be over. The stories really do drag a bit and I find the solutions this woman has to common childhood quirks a little irritating. It was written in the 1950s when children weren’t supposed to be imaginative, I suppose because the latest story had a mother trying to figure out how to get her son to stop daydreaming and dragging his feet and instead hurry up and do what he is told.
Little Miss likes the stories though, so I push through for her sake. I can’t wait until we can move on to something else, though. The book is due back this week, but, sadly, I can renew it again.
On our trip yesterday, Little Miss read an entire Imagination Station book by herself – they are about 80-100 pages long and around 12 chapters. They are books produced by Focus on the Family through the Adventures in Odyssey series.
The Husband is reading Peril at End House by Agatha Christie.
What We watched/are Watching
We watched a lot of Newhart this past week and I watched Holiday with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn, which I loved.
Little Miss and I watched some Mary Berry.
I actually did not watch a lot this past week because I was either revising my book or reading a book.
What I’m Writing
I am in the revision process for Gladwynn Grant Gets Her Footing so I worked on that a lot this week.
We are on our last month of homeschooling before summer break and to say we all have summer brain is an understatement. Not even the teacher is focused all the way in on school right now. Because of our lack of focus, I have decided to dial down the strict workbook and textbook-heavy subjects for this month, but we will still be doing them twice a week.
I got to mid-April and realized I hadn’t focused as much on the arts as I need to in order to meet the requirements for the state we are in so I decided we would make May an art month. That means more lessons on artists (Monet, Cezanne, Picasso) and musicians (composers like Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart) throughout our week and fewer lessons on math, science, and history. We will still be doing those last three subjects, just not every day.
This is a relief for Little Miss who is so dramatic when I tell her it is time for her math lesson. You would think I would have told her it is time to clean the toilets at a frat house.
She often runs and hides, pulling a blanket over her head in a homemade fort she made by turning our couch to face the wall and hanging the veil-like curtains across it.
Once she sits down and does it, however, she really doesn’t have any major issues with doing the math.
She isn’t a fan of having to write letters either so that has also been a struggle this past year. I need this summer break as much as her.
However, I have told her she will need to do some math during the summer so that she doesn’t have to jump back into it cold in August when we start up again. I’m also considering starting school a month early this year. This will allow us to take more breaks throughout the school year at times when we feel beat down by the mundane routine of daily lessons.
I have been the most relaxed about homeschooling this year than in any previous year. I have finally started to accept that homeschooling is not simply school at home. It is not bringing the traditional idea of public school into your home.
We homeschool so we can break away from a system we do not feel is conducive with the need for children to be free to focus on their passions and to learn at their own pace. Homeschooling parents bring their children home to learn for a variety of reasons, but at the core of it is that the child is not thriving or might not thrive in the traditional environment.
For us, homeschooling has offered more opportunities for learning beyond the scope of a daily lesson. It has allowed us to take a subject my child is interested in and explore it beyond one moment in time in their education. It has also allowed us to go visit or go help my parents whenever is needed, which has been invaluable to us, especially to my son who is very close to his grandfather.
Resting on my newfound acceptance that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like a traditional public school day, we started taking a much more relaxed approach to our homeschool days sometime in March. We did math and reading lessons, but history was reading historical fiction and watching videos and then simply talking about history. Math was lessons in our book but also on ABC Mouse for the youngest. The oldest does his math online so there wasn’t much of a change for him. Reading or English has been some actual lessons about parts of speech and grammar but it has also been simply reading books out loud to each other, discussing hard words when we get to them or discussing what we read.
I read a post on Facebook recently by … that reminded homeschooling parents that homeschooling can happen at any time of the day. She wrote that you don’t have to read to your child only during the day and count that as a time of learning. Read-aloud sessions can happen at night before bed while waiting in the car, or pretty much anywhere at any time.
Life lessons and skills can be taught throughout the day.
Homeschool is a 24/7 type of education that doesn’t require a desk or a book or four walls around a child. It is a constant flow of information and knowledge that can come through the everyday journey of life.
With all that being said, yesterday Little Miss and I watched videos about Mozart while she made slime. We read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle before bed for our English reading.
Today we have a homeschool gathering at the local library.
Tomorrow we will be painting in the style of Monet while watching videos about him and the other impressionists or while listening to Mozart. We will also probably read some from The Cabin Faced West for history and do a math lesson or simply go on ABC Mouse and have her play some games there related to what we’ve been learning in Math.
The Boy will be reading Fellowship of the Ring and working on a research project and also preparing some Minecraft creations for the art requirements under the homeschool guidelines for our state. Then he will go to work as a dishwasher at a local restaurant, which I see as another educational opportunity and an activity that fits in well with homeschooling.
Later in the week, we will be watching art history videos, and videos about famous composers, and I will be encouraging him to continue bass lessons at home since we are taking a month off from his formal bass lessons (which were 45 minutes away and a bit expensive for us this month).
This month, both The Boy and Little Miss will also be studying music from a book I ordered that is set to arrive today.
I am absolutely loving this freestyle type of learning that incorporates music and the arts into our academic lessons. It’s something I plan to do more of during our next school year.
If you’re new here, I’m a homeschooling mom to an 8-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son. I shared a little bit about our homeschool journey in a brief post last week.
On Sunday I was going to the kitchen for some hot cocoa when I looked at a book on the table that Little Miss had picked up at the library sale on Friday. It was a level two chapter book.
“Ooh,” I thought to my homeschool mom-self. “I can use that for reading aloud this week during reading/English lessons.”
Immediately something Little Miss said to me the week before came to mind right after that thought. It was something she said when I asked her to read two poems out loud for me.
“Mom, you already know I know how to read. Why are you making me read this out loud?”
Well, she had a point.
Why was I making her read it out loud?
Practice, I suppose.
Because reading out loud helps to make sure you are saying words right, I guess.
Or is it really because the curriculum said to do it and I’m – as I told a friend this week – a rule follower.
Rules are good.
Rules are often necessary.
Rules aren’t always made to be broken.
I am homeschooling for a reason and part of that reason is to allow my children to learn at their own pace – whether that is fast or slow.
If Little Miss or The Boy already have a concept down, then it really isn’t necessary or conducive to their learning to keep making them repeat that skill over and over. The exception to this is in math, of course. I think the repetition of math lessons is important to keeping facts straight and fresh in the mind and to build up to other concepts.
Now, I don’t mean that I shouldn’t keep repeating or showing her grammar rules and similar items, but, yeah, if she already knows how to read, I need to stop making her read out loud to prove that she can do what she can already do and has been doing for two years now.
And, yeah, she had a point.
What am I doing? She gets the concepts. She knows it. Review the spelling rules with her and .. yes… move on. We’re good.
Homeschool has been trucking along fairly well this year. Our days have been filled with more book learning than hands-on learning for the last couple of weeks.
Little Miss and I are still working with math and reading/English curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful. She’s not fighting me as often as she was last year when I say it is time to do our lessons.
For Science, we are using the space curriculum from Apologia’s Creation series.
We finished our history and are now doing individual unit studies. Last week we finished a book about George Washington Carver which I combined with videos and an art project where we recreated paintings of his. Well, I tried to recreate one, but she sort of did her own thing, which is fine as long as she was enjoying herself.
Next up is a unit on Native Americans and I have ordered a fiction book — Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac — that I hope will tell a Native American story in a creative way and allow us to talk about real-life events. I looked up a bunch of picture books about Native Americans but our library only had one of them so I’ll either have to buy them or look at larger libraries.
A couple of weeks ago when it was still nice enough outside for Little Miss to jump on the trampoline, we had an assignment in our reading/English book for Little Miss to orally relay to me a story she made up.
One day she spent three straight hours working on the book, using my computer, even with my messed up “s” and “w” keys which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Since then she’s asked a couple of times to work on her book and wants me to publish it for her at some point, which I hope to do next year.
The Boy is still working with his grandpa a couple of days a week, which is part of his life skills education, in addition to his regular schoolwork.
For his book-based schoolwork, he is reading about Medieval History via The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer, Biology through Apologia, and classic literature in the form of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he is actually enjoying. He also has math through CTC Math, which is an online program and grammar through FixIt! Grammar.
We have been trying to secure him a place at a school near us for next year that is similar to a trade school but seem to be being stonewalled because he is homeschooled and not enrolled, even though under state law we are supposed to be able to access those programs as well. The local school district will not return phone calls and it is very frustrating.
Hopefully it will work out.
The Boy is 16 now so we will be starting driving lessons soon, but first we will be studying the manual, which is now online. My husband printed it out for him, but The Boy isn’t in a huge hurry to get his license so we will take our time in that area.
I need to find a field trip for us in the next month or so and I think I’ll look into a couple small museums near us that have Native American artifacts. Winter seems to have started a little earlier with temperatures already in the high 20s or low 30s and our first snowfall coming yesterday, so any field trips will have to be inside at this point.
If you are homeschooling, how is it going for you? If you aren’t, how is school going for you children or grandchildren?
I’ve got some herbal and regular and chamomile, but chamomile makes me sleepy. Does it make you sleepy?
Well, anyhow, I thought it would be nice to catch up today and just chat.
My bloggy friend Erin has a coffee chat feature she shares on her blog, but I don’t drink coffee, so I thought today I’d offer some tea instead. Then again, if you’d like some coffee, I can make some in the Keurig. I think. I tried one time, and my son said it was fairly watery so…maybe you’d better make the coffee.
I have milk for cocoa but it’s lactose free, if you’re okay with that.
I’ve been drinking lactose-free milk (Lactaid brand) since it first came out when I was maybe 11 or 12.
Before that I either had no milk or soy milk. I’ve been lactose-intolerant my entire life and I generously passed it on to my first born. Luckily, Little Miss doesn’t have the same issue. Not yet anyhow. My mom developed the issue when she became an adult and my brother was older when he started having issues with dairy as well.
Anyhoooo….I digress, which is actually what I intend to do for this entire post.
The other night The Boy and I were talking about his blog nickname, which I chose as a joke because The Husband always comes home from work and says “Where is The Boy?”, but now keep using because I don’t have any other ideas for blog nicknames. I don’t know why I don’t use the children’s real names on here. I mean, I have my real name on here so people can figure out my kid’s names, but I guess I just like the whole nickname thing so I have stuck with it.
I also have no idea where I picked up “Little Miss.” My daughter is not dainty or proper by any means and maybe that’s why I chose it. Because she’s the exact opposite. *snort*
We have had some nice, sunny days here and despite almost all of our leaves having already blown off, we still have a few bright colored ones hanging in there and helping to make everything beautiful. Little Miss is getting as much trampoline jumping in as she can before the snow starts to fall and our neighbor puts up their trampoline.
Our evenings are cool, which has brought animals to the ends of our beds and in some cases right onto my chest. Winter is cuddle season around here and it’s when our youngest cat, Scout, seems to revert back to being a kitten. She still likes to curl up on my chest, even though she doesn’t fit as well anymore. I hate to move when she curls up that way but I have to hold my arms a certain way to give her a bed and eventually my arms give out. Yesterday I had cat fur up my nose but hated to move her. Cuddles with her are a rare thing for much of the year so I have to take it when I can get it.
When I find myself dreading winter because of the dark, cold days that loom ahead, I remember that at least I will be able to cuddle under a fuzzy, warm blanket with a cup of tea or cocoa, a cat or dog curled up on me, and hopefully a good book in my hand or a cozy mystery on TV. The mention of a warm beverage reminds me — do you need yours warmed up? I usually have to warm my tea up about five times a day, if not more, just like coffee drinkers have to do.
The Boy has been working every Tuesday and Thursday with his grandpa, a tradition we started around the same time we started homeschooling at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. I’m really glad that my son has this time with his grandfather and that my dad can have some extra help around the house and property.
We are continuing homeschooling lessons, but I am a lot less strict this year than I have been in previous years. I am still requiring “book learning” so to speak but if the opportunity for a hands-on experience comes up, that trumps books and worksheets any day. I don’t even mind if the opportunity is what others might not consider “educational.” If we have the opportunity to get out of the area on a drive or spend time with family, homeschooling gets laid aside and we go.
Earlier this month we visited my 89-year-old aunt, traveled 90 minutes away to take Little Miss to a small (very small) Build-A-Bear store, and grocery shopped in place of more traditional math, reading, history or science lessons. Each opportunity offered its own unique lessons, even math when it comes to grocery shopping trips. Those trips also help to teach the children how to interact with others and offer assistance to strangers when needed.
In some ways, I find the life lessons more valuable than the “traditional” lessons and I am more grateful for them this year than in previous school years. I used to feel like I failed as a homeschooling parent if my children didn’t complete a list of traditional assignments I had for them. It’s taken me almost five years to break out of the mindset that homeschooling has to be like traditional school and now that the wall has been broken it is a liberating feeling and one I plan to continue doing.
I’ve found myself drawn to lighter movies or shows as the news of the world becomes heavier and heavier and more and more upside down. Recently I have enjoyed watching my favorite, sweet and innocent kisses from movies, including this one, from The Quiet Man (parodied in ET), which is pretty much my all time favorite.
I miss the days when kisses in movies were sweet and tongue free, or at least you didn’t see the tongues swirling around each other while characters attempted to suck each other’s face off.
As I sit here in my living room with schoolbooks piled around me (I just finished lesson planning for the week), Little Miss chatting with a friend on her phone (they can video chat through Kids Messenger), and the animals sprawled on various pieces of furniture, snoring away, I am trying to bring to mind other favorite movie kisses that aren’t gratuitous and cringeworthy.
Let’s see, there is:
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in From the Terrace, even though I hated the movie overall;
Anything with Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart
Cary Elwes and Robin Wright in The Princess Bride
Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in It’s A Wonderful Life (when she’s on the phone and he’s listening in and he’s so close and wants to kiss her and it overwhelms him and … swoooon)
Rhett and Scarlet in Gone With the Wind
And Mark Darcy and Bridget Jones at the end of Bridget Jones’ Diary.
I guess I’ll have to bring this chat to a close. I need to read my son’s history lesson so I know what he is learning, teach Little Miss history (we are reading a book about George Washington Carver instead of reading lessons in a book) and reading, and then get ready to make dinner early so I can take Little Miss to gymnastics for her make up class.
I hope you enjoyed your cup of tea (or coffee) and our chat. We’ll do it again soon.
If you’re a new homeschooler, or even a veteran one, it can help to have homeschooling families offer you tips they’ve learned over the years.
I don’t know if I am exactly a “veteran” homeschooler, but since we are in our fourth year of being a homeschooling family, I guess I do have more experience than some. That’s why I consider myself semi-qualified to share the following twelve tips on how to homeschool your children without losing your mind.
I also offered a few tips in a post I shared yesterday, which reminded parents that you don’t have to have a teaching degree to homeschool your child.
Don’t treat homeschool like regular school/Be willing to be flexible
I feel this is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give a new homeschooler. It is advice I needed to hear early on in our journey because I was treating our homeschool as if it was a public school in a home setting.
The whole point of homeschooling your child is to offer them a flexible style of learning which works for their personality and learning style. You shouldn’t expect that your child will be “in school” for six to eight hours a day like they are in public school. I always remind new homeschooling parents that their child isn’t actually at a desk learning for all six hours they are in a brick-and-mortar school. Most children probably only receive about 3.5 hours of actual instructional time. The rest of the school day is spent sitting in homeroom, eating lunch, recess if the child is younger, study halls if they are older, extracurricular activities, and then riding the bus to and from school.
In other words, your child does not need to sit at a desk and do six straight hours of work. Not only is that unrealistic but it would also kill their love of learning at rapid speed, making school feel more like a prison. Most homeschool children complete their work in less than four hours, but there is no magic number of hours suggested to ensure your child is receiving a quality education. In education, like in many aspects of life, quantity does not always equal quality. You shouldn’t, in my opinion, force your child to study science for two hours, believing that amount of time will ensure they are receiving a quality education in science. In fact, making your child sit that long to learn a subject could have the opposite effect, as they will be so burnt out and overwhelmed from trying to comprehend so much at one time they will most likely forget what they read or studied at the end of their session.
Many younger children can finish their subjects in even less time, such as 1 to 2 hours, depending on what assignments they have that day. Teaching a younger child can sometimes take longer because they won’t be able to work independently. Not only will you have to teach the lesson, but you’ll also have to do the work with the child. How long this takes all depends on the child and should never be rushed or stretched out. I “play it by ear” with my children. Some subjects take longer than others on different days.
I am starting to learn that I need to be flexible when it comes to how my children learn. If I don’t like the idea of my child sitting at a desk for six hours, then there is no reason I should do that when they are homeschooled.
Earlier this week I became frustrated because my youngest would not sit and listen to the history lesson I was reading to her. She was flipping the handle on the recliner repeatedly, standing up, and even started to put on her new roller skates. After a crying session from both of us, I finally convinced her to take off her skates for her reading lesson, but then allowed her to skate around our dining room while I read science to her and she watched three videos about whales.
Let’s be clear: I am very bad at following my own advice. I am not as flexible as I would like to be with our homeschool. I need to learn to “let it be” and “go with the flow” more when it comes to how I teach my children. If what they are doing is too distracting and won’t allow them to learn, then I shouldn’t allow it. But if my daughter can listen to our literature while creating with her clay, painting, or roller skating laps around the dining room table then why not? Learning doesn’t only happen at a desk, as I have mentioned before (link)
2. Don’t expect to fit in every subject every day.
Along the same lines of not treating your homeschool like a public school, I remind myself and other parents that you do not need to complete every subject every day. There will be some days your child will be able to complete a lesson in every subject, but many days one subject will take longer, pushing other subjects to the following day.
“Are you suggesting my homeschooling student might run out of time?” A new homeschooling parent might ask. “This isn’t regular school with set times. Why would there be a specific time limit for them to do their work in?”
A homeschooling student can indeed complete their work whenever they want to, as long as it is done that day, but for me, I was attracted to homeschooling because it allows them a life outside of schoolwork. When I was in high school, I did work in class, and then I took work home with me to do there as well. I have a feeling that students bring even more work home now than they used to and that doesn’t leave much time for kids to be kids.
What I like about homeschooling is my children have time for education but then they also have time where they don’t have to worry about the tests or the worksheets or the assigned reading. If they want to push a subject off to the next day because they spent a long time on another subject on one specific day, I’m totally fine with that, as long as the assigned work for that subject is completed by the end of the week.
If you start homeschooling and you want to fit every subject in every day, then that is totally fine too. I have just found that cramming every subject into one school day overwhelms me and my children. It leaves them dreading their day because they know it will be filled to the brim with work and leave them little time to expand or explore a topic they discover they are interested in.
Remember, homeschooling is you and your child’s opportunity to take as little or as long as he or she needs on a subject. Math may take longer one day while English is short and on another day, it might be switched. One day your child may be fascinated with the science lesson so they will want to spend longer on it and explore it more. Another day, math may be what fascinates them (writing that caused me to physically shudder. Who would want to spend more time on math?! Ha!) If you have the day so regimented that you aren’t allowing for time to further explore a subject, you may suffocate not only their opportunity to further explore not only that one topic but their overall love of learning.
3, Don’t be afraid to supplement your curriculum
I rarely only use the curriculum I have chosen for the school year for each lesson. I often supplement the lessons in the text with either a video, a field trip, or a book to bring the lesson home even more.
For my son, I add videos to the lessons to bring the message home more and give us more of a well-rounded lesson. Last year we also add fiction books and this year his social studies curriculum comes with a set of literature books both fiction and non-fiction, on a variety of topics.
For my youngest, I also plan to start supplementing with crafts related to the subjects we are studying. Supplementing your student’s curriculum can assist them in delving into the topic even more.
For example, for the past couple of weeks, my daughter and I have been studying early American history. There was a cartoon in the early 90s called Liberty Kids that focused on this time in history, and I found it on YouTube last year. It may be streaming somewhere as well, and I know it is out on DVD. I have been able to match up many of the episodes with the topics we are discussing in history, which works out well. Watching the cartoon gives Little Miss a visual of what was happening at that time, in addition to what I am reading to her in the textbook. Of course, there are extra, fictional characters in the stories on Liberty Kids, so I do explain that those characters aren’t historical, but the characters they interact with are.
4. Don’t be afraid of taking mental health days
This one is very hard for me to follow. I often feel that if I don’t do schoolwork on a school day, I am somehow failing my children. This is an example of where outside influences have tried to shape how I run my homeschool and my household.
My parents are well-meaning, caring, and lovely people but their view of education is still stuck on the traditional, public school mindset. When my mom calls me during the day she says ‘Oh, I’m sorry. I hope I’m not interrupting your school day,’ and if I mention we haven’t started yet or the kids are doing something else at the moment, I feel the judgment, even though she probably isn’t even throwing any out my way. In my mind, though, she is thinking, “They need an education. Is she shirking her duties as a mother and not making them do their lessons?!” I feel this way because when we started homeschooling our son my parents were very leery.
“What do you mean he’s done with his lessons already? That doesn’t seem long enough to learn anything.”
“He’s done with work already? But it’s only 1. Shouldn’t he be working until 3?”
“But he can’t be in sports if he’s in homeschool. I was in wrestling when I was in school and it was good for my confidence and self-esteem.”
“Is he getting enough socialization?”
You will get all of these questions and more and sometimes they will keep coming, but sometimes, like in my case with my parents, they will eventually stop. Your family and friends will begin to accept that you are homeschooling your children and you are doing it the way that works for you.
Whether that acceptance comes or not, though, you need to tell the little voice in your head that says you can’t take a day off to recharge or relax, to shut it. There will be days where everything falls apart. There will be days your kids get sick, or you get sick, or a neighbor stops by to visit and throws it all off the rails. Don’t be afraid to put the books away for a day and take a breather. In our state, you need a certain number of hours or days (depending on how you want to track it) of instructional time to meet the requirement for the homeschool law, but you keep track of those days and hours. That means you can make those days and hours up at any time when your schedule allows. Your children can even finish some work on a Saturday if you so desire.
You are in charge of your homeschool, which means you can take a mental health day if you need it and not feel a bit guilty, Lisa. Er…I mean — you, whoever you are, shouldn’t feel guilty.
5. Double up on work on some days so you can have plenty of time for play
Bouncing off the above reminder that you can set the days and times for your children’s instruction, it is very easy in homeschooling to double up on work one or two days out of the week so you can take a day off for play guilt-free. You can do two math lessons one day or two reading lessons, or whatever you need to do to make sure you can take a day off and not feel “behind.”
There is no “behind” in homeschooling since you are working at your child’s individual pace, but I still feel like I have to be at a certain point in their instruction at certain points of the year. This is leftover from traditional school and their strict lesson plans, which they need to have for how a traditional school operates. It is not a bad thing to have strict lesson plans or goals you want to reach by a certain point in your school year, so if you do have a strict plan of where you want to be with your instructional material at certain points in the year, please do not think I am criticizing. Not at all.
I’m just encouraging you to also find days for play. The importance of play for the development of children and adults has been well-documented over the years. I won’t link any of those articles here, but there are plenty of them out there on the interwebs.
6. Take field trips
Perhaps you still don’t like the idea of taking a day off of learning. In that case, take a field trip. Field trips combine fun and play with learning. Many people live in larger cities where there are tons of opportunities for field trips. Ideas for field trips include museums, parks, or even stores and factories where your children can see how something is made, libraries, historical landmarks, etc.
When you live in a rural area as my family does, your field trips will require a bit of a drive, but even that can be fun because you can shout “road trip!” and the children perk up at the idea of getting out of the house instead of sitting and reading their textbooks.
We have even combined family outings with field trips. If our weekend family outing is going to take us somewhere that is also educational then I count that as a field trip and even a school day. I ask my son to write a couple of paragraphs about what he learned on our visit and make it part of his English/Writing curriculum.
Field trips are not only great opportunities to learn, but they are also great opportunities to bond as a family.
7. Don’t forget you’re a family first and a homeschool family second
Bouncing off the idea of bonding as a family, I think it is important for us homeschooling parents to remember that our children are more important than reaching a certain point in your curriculum by a certain time of the school year.
Helping our children grow as well-rounded human beings, Christians, and kind members of society will always be more important than drilling math facts into their brains. I know this thought may bother some who see education as the number one priority of their homeschool and I don’t mean to dismiss the need for consistent and high-quality instruction, but at the end of the day, the relationship we have with our children will determine the outcome of them as human beings, not whatever math lesson they learned that day
8. Connect with other homeschool families
Homeschooling can be very lonely. Because you are schooling at home, your children will not have the same socialization at traditional school, but that’s not always a bad thing. In homeschooling children can socialize with a variety of ages, not only their peers, as long as you introduce your children into situations where they can do that socializing. Taking your children with you on errands can help them interact with adults, which will help them with their communication skills, but you will also want to find a way for them to interact with children around their own age.
To do this, you will want to find a group of homeschooling families around you and hopefully, that group will be an organized group like a co-op.
This one has been a huge challenge for me since we live in a rural area, but if you live in a more urban area, this might be easier for you. In my area, many homeschooling families travel 45 minutes one way or another to connect with other homeschooling families. I have reached out to these groups in the past but have always felt like an outsider.
I have not felt welcome in any of the groups, which seem to be formed among friends and family. Many are not friendly to those who don’t fit that category.
I’m hoping to try to find a group again this year, but until then I am working on finding other ways for my children to socialize, whether through a church program, a community organization, or classes being offered locally. The benefit of finding a homeschool co-op or support group locally is being able to connect with other parents who can relate to your journey and experience. So, even though I haven’t been able to zero in on a local co-op or support group, I still believe this is an important part of the homeschooling journey.
9. Ask your children what subjects they want to study
Don’t be afraid to ask your child what they want to study. I realize that sounds dangerous. What if your child says, “I want to study creative writing all year and nothing else!” Or “I want to study only Minecraft! That’s learning, right?!”
When I suggest asking your child what they want to study, I mean asking them what aspect of science are they interested in right now, or what time in history interests them. This doesn’t mean you will study that specific aspect of science or history the entire school year, but you can carve out a unit that will allow you to focus exclusively on the topic your student is interested in. Being interested in a topic makes a student much more willing to learn about it.
You won’t always be able to do this, obviously. Your son or daughter might hate math, but they still have to learn it. They may dread grammar, but it still needs to be tackled. They will have to push through subjects that bore them practically into a coma each time they open the textbook, but that will make the opportunities they have to delve deeper into a topic of interest for them even more special.
Teaching your children that we often have to push through what we don’t want to do to get to what we do want to do is an important life lesson.
10 Don’t be afraid to change direction or even curriculum if it is not working.
I know some parents purchase curriculum, dive in, and discover partway through the school year that the curriculum isn’t working for them but are then afraid to change curriculum. This is a fear that new homeschooling parents should learn to dismiss as soon as possible. The point of homeschooling is educating your child in a way that benefits them the most so if they are using a curriculum that is impeding their learning then it needs to go.
Much like you should never waste your life doing things that make you unhappy, you should never waste the precious time you have to homeschool your child with curriculum that isn’t serving their educational needs.
Use one set curriculum, combine a couple, or change to a new one, but never keep pushing through curriculum that is making you or your child dread learning.
Bonus Tip:Listen to your children not everyone else about how homeschool is working for you.
This bonus tip might be one of the most important of all. Is your child flourishing, showing progress in their education, and seem well-adjusted and happy overall? Then what does it matter if grandma or grandpa or your best friend or a neighbor says homeschooling isn’t good for your child? It doesn’t matter what others say about your homeschooling journey. All that matters is what your child is saying, or more importantly, how they are acting.
Is every day going to be rainbows and flowers? Um…no. It’s school. Children are going to complain, whine, flounce, flop, and even have tantrums at times when you tell them it is time for their lessons, but if you have more good days than bad and your child shows that they are learning despite “hating school” then you are on the right track.
Will you need to rethink homeschool and consider sending your child back to a brick-and-mortar school or sign them up for an online school? You may and if you feel that will benefit your child’s emotional wellbeing then do it. Just as you should push aside the opinions of others about how you homeschool your child, you should also politely push aside the opinions of other homeschoolers who try to talk you out of sending your child back to a “regular” school. How you educate your child is your decision and you need to do what is best for your child. It isn’t that you shouldn’t ever listen to opinions, especially from the well-meaning in your life, but you also don’t have to accept every opinion as fact when it relates to the personal decisions you make for your child’s education.
The bottom line of all these tips?
Do what works best for you and your family when it comes to your homeschool journey. Pick a direction and take it, only letting outside influence affect you if you feel that outside opinion is going to enhance your experience, not harm it.
Have more questions about homeschooling?
Feel free to use the search bar to the right and type in “homeschool” or “homeschooling” to find past blog posts I’ve written about the subject. Also find more information at the following websites:
From what I am seeing online, there are even more new homeschooling parents this year than last year. Also again this year I am seeing parents doubt their ability to homeschool, questioning if they can do so if they don’t have a teaching degree. As a parent who just started her fourth year of homeschooling, I can tell you that one, you don’t need a teaching degree, and two, yes you can do it. It might have challenges, but, yes, you can do it. I am saying this even after having a mini breakdown this morning as I worried I am not doing enough or doing it right.
Last year I wrote a couple of blog posts aimed at helping new homeschooling parents connect with some resources to help them. My posts were aimed more at “traditional” homeschooling parents — those who choose their curriculum and teach their children themselves — versus those who sign their children up to a cyber charter school or online school.
With cyber/online schools, your children are given their assignments and lessons exclusively online. In traditional homeschooling, which is what I am doing with my children, the schedule is a little more flexible and what you teach can be changed, adjusted, or updated, even if you are using a set curriculum.
Neither way is superior to the other, but one way or the other can be superior to a family based on their personal situation.
For us, our option for schooling had to move away from the stricter educational process due to the fact my son had lost all love for learning at his past school. He needed a more relaxed, flexible approach to help encourage an interest in learning again. It hasn’t totally worked because school is still school and kids don’t always love school, but he can explore topics further at his own pace if he wants to, versus waiting for his class members to catch up.
Because my experience comes from a place of “traditional” homeschooling, my post today will mainly offer advice to parents who have chosen to educate their children this way.
As an aside, related to online school, my neighbors’ daughter is currently doing her classes at home through the local school district and she is able to have a flexible schedule similar to ours. Not all online schools keep a child or parent from being flexible, though some do.
The flexibility for my neighbor’s daughter has benefited her because she can work at her own pace, work a job, and also have a schedule where she can visit more with family. It benefits her parents because all of her assignments are on the computer for her and she does them on her own and at her own pace, as long as all assignments are handed in by the end of the week.
For our family, I like the flexibility of being able to give my children assignments and even changing them if need be so we can study an aspect of a subject less or longer or take field trips, outings, etc. I like being able to use different curriculum and maybe even changing it in the future or in the middle of the school year if it isn’t suiting my child’s learning style.
Most parents I see jumping into homeschooling this year are completely lost, just like I was three years ago. I see them in groups asking, “Where do I even start?”
That’s a good, scary question, but it doesn’t have to be scary at all. Online searching is your friend. You will find that homeschooling parents love to help other homeschooling parents by sharing resources on their blogs, sites, or social media. Here are a few I pulled offline after a quick search.
This list will also not be the most definitive list. There are so many options out there for homeschooling and so much information that it literally makes my head spin. Looking it all up gives me hot flashes and makes me dizzy so I search only so much.
One of the main aspects of homeschooling that a new homeschooling parent is worried about is, of course, curriculum. It was my first concern as well.
There are literally hundreds of curriculum options available for the homeschooling parent. Some are online, some are in textbook form, and some are a mix. I found a couple of sites/blogs with curriculum ideas and a couple with actual reviews. One of the most popular sites for curriculum reviews is Cathy Duffy’s Homeschooling Reviews https://cathyduffyreviews.com/. She reviews a variety of curriculum, much of it, but not all, faith-based.
A quick internet search also brought up a couple of other blogs with curriculum suggestions:
For us, we are currently using the following curriculum (but this could change in the future, which is a tip I give to new homeschooling parents: don’t be afraid to switch up the curriculum when it isn’t serving your child.):
History/Literature/English: Notgrass World Geography (comes with a set of books for the literature/writing/English component so it can be used for social studies and English credit), Apologia Literature.
Grammar: Fix-It Grammar (our first year using this. May be a little too simple for a ninth grader. We will see how it goes.)
Art: various lessons
Music: none yet. Searching.
Books on our lists to read this year (or try to) through the Notgrass curriculum include:
First grader (I am reading them to her):
Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry
Toliver’s Secret by Esther Wood Brady
Freedom Crossing by Margaret Goff Clark
Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mountain Born by Elizabeth Yates
Emily’s Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass
Know Why You Believe by Paul Little
Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour with David Hazard
Patricia St. John Tells Her Own Story by Patricia St. John
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
The Day the World Stopped Turning by Michael Morpurgo
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Ann Judson: A Missionary Life for Burma by Sharon James
The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett
Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger
We may not get through all these books, but they are part of the curriculum so we will see how we do.
Tomorrow I’ll offer some additional homeschooling tips, especially if you are homeschooling outside of an online school setting.
Until then, here is a link to a few other posts I wrote about homeschool in 2020 and a couple I shared about how own homeschooling journey recently. Some of these post may have links that have since expired.
We finished our school year last week and then tied up a few loose ends the beginning of this week. On Wednesday we met with our homeschool evaluator who wrote up a quick letter to the local school district to confirm we had completed all the requirements under our state’s homeschool law.
Honestly, it’s a little disconcerting and depressing to have your entire school year — all that hard work and volumes of text read and answers to math problems hammered out — boiled down to three vague paragraphs. I understand that it’s all that is required by the state and my evaluator doesn’t feel that she should provide more than is necessary, but it’s still a bit of a let down after an entire year of lesson planning for six subjects every weekday, gathering together a portfolio, selecting examples of your child’s work, organizing a list of all the textbooks you used and books your child read, and then not having most of that mentioned in those paragraphs.
The school district or state never even sees all the hard work we did when all is said and done and in some ways that might be a good thing. But in other ways it would be nice if they knew we actually take homeschooling seriously and really do educate our children, not simply let them play video games all day and call that school.
It should be noted that none of this is a complaint against our evaluator in the least. She’s amazing. She homeschooled both her girls from grade school to graduation. She knows her stuff. She’s doing her job. It’s just a reminder not to look at that one sheet of paper and draw the worth of our entire school year from it’s contents.
Since I didn’t have to report what we did to the school district, I will use my blog to brag on my 14-year old. He read seven books this year, including four classics: To Kill A Mockingbird, Silas Marner, Lord of the Flies, and A Christmas Carol. He also read the three final Harry Potter books. We almost finished a course in economics as well and plan to continue that course next year. And of course he finished courses in Math, history, science, grammar and English.
We did have to complete a standardized test this year since The Boy was in 8th grade. Standardized testing is required in fifth, eighth and eleventh if I remember right.
I did not have to provide a portfolio or any information for Little Miss because under state law she doesn’t even have to start attending school until she is six and she was not six when the school year started. I will file an intent to homeschool form for her with the school district for the upcoming school year and I will consider her in first grade since we worked on kindergarten curriculum this year.
Overall, our homeschool year went well. We learned about a lot of things but I do see a lot of room for improvement for The Boy especially. We will have to increase our focus on science this next year and also add some more music and art as well as a writing and spelling curriculum for him.
For Little Miss we will focus more on science and history this upcoming year. Little Miss is also going to be having a few days a week of lessons during the summer so she doesn’t forget what she has learned.
We may choose to have set curriculum from one curriculum company this year as well but I have not decided that yet.
I know most parents love when homeschool or school is over for the year and they have a break all summer but I actually miss it. I liked making lesson plans and reading the lessons with The Boy. I liked knowing that each day I had a purpose other than cooking dinner and letting the dog in and out of the house and writing my silly stories. Luckily I now have a summer to begin planning for next year. I also will be teaching Little Miss some starting next week, as I mentioned, and starting in July The Boy will begin reviewing math lessons so he doesn’t forget everything he learned this year.
If you are a homeschooler, I’d love to hear about your homeschool year. Is it over yet? What are your plans for next year? Let me know in the comments.
Based on the title you might think my children are causing me stress during our homeschooling journey, but they are not.
I’m causing my own stress by worrying I’m not teaching them correctly and comparing our journey to the journey of other other students, homeschooling and otherwise.
Or at least this is what I had been doing for part of our school year but in the last month or so, something clicked and I realized my children are following their own educational path and that’s not only okay, but a good thing.
In addition, the students who are attending public school around us right now aren’t even receiving a consistent education with students being pulled in and out of the classroom and tossed onto virtual learning on a whim. I can’t even imagine how hard it is for public school students right now to figure out whether they are coming or going in their subjects.
I think some parents who do not homeschool their children, see homeschooling parents as being foolish, unqualified, and unable to provide their children an actual education. In some cases, this may be true, but in the majority of cases, a parent truly can provide a very well rounded, high quaility education for their children at home. One reason they can do this is because of the plethora of homeschooling and educational resources available to parents, students, and teachers in book form and online.
Another reason they can do this is because of all the support available within the homeschooling community. Homeschooling parents love to see other homeschooling parents succeed, no matter why a parent has decided to homeschool.
One thing I have had to overcome with the idea of schooling at home is my preconceived notion that children have to be sitting at a desk with school work for six hours at time to be properly educated . This really isn’t realistic and isn’t even how children are taught in public schools. In public schools there are breaks for recess and lunch and extracurricular activities, so a child isn’t strapped to a desk for such long periods, but somehow new homeschooling parents seem to think our children should be.
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that it isn’t traditional schooling, which means it doesn’t have to operate like traditional school.
I find that Little Miss (6) does much better with short spurts of learning and breaks in between for art, creating or playing. Since we are homeschooling, we have that luxury and flexibility to allow that for her.
She’s also learning a lot more with this style of education than I first realized.
During the beginning part of the school year, I really felt like I was failing her because she is behind on her reading, or at least I feel she is behind. On one particulary frustrating day I wanted to cry I was so frustrated. I gave up on reading for a bit. Instead, I handed her a paper about sea animals and said she could color the animals. The paper suggested the child look at how plants and animals rely on each other, but also how some animals rely on another animal to survive.
I explained this to her and she said, “Oh, you mean like this Oxpecker bird and the crocodile.”
I looked at her with wide eyes and waited to see what else she would say.
Without prompting she said, “So, the Oxpecker bird helps the crocodile because it cleans its teeth and the crocodile helps the Oxpecker because it gets fed. Symbiotic.”
“Their relationship. It’s symbiotic.”
Symbiotic? Whoa. Where had that word come from?
“Where did you hear that word?”
“Wild Kratts,” she announced.
If you don’t know, Wild Kratts is an animated show on PBS about wild animals. It is a shoot off of other shows with the Kratt brothers (Zomoomafoob, etc. ). The brothers travel the world (or at least pretend to) and encounter different animals and teach their young viewers about the animals. Wild Kratts presents them as animated characters who have joined with other characters to rescue various wildlife.
It wasn’t only that she had learned the word that startled me, but that she had retained the information, was able to repeat it clearly, and also remembered the rather large word to describe the relationship.
She moved on as she pointed to a fish on the page and slid her pencil across the paper to indicate it was related to the shark on the page.
“So this is a Remora fish,” she announced, pointing to the picture of the fish, which was not labeled. “Remoras hang on to the shark and when the shark kills something there will be little bits of food for the Remora to eat. It swims underneath this shark because it gets the pieces of food that drop from whatever the shark is eating. They have a symbiotic relationship. Their relationship is kind of different from the others. I mean, Remora is a fish and the shark is eating fish so it’s a little weird for him, but it still gives him a meal and it’s still a symbiotic relationship. It’s good for the environment. It’s how everyone survives.”
I just sat and stared at her and wanted to cry, this time from joy. Thirty minutes earlier I had been in tears because she was writing her “c” backward and blanked on identifying “s”, but here she was now defining symbiotic for me. And when she couldn’t figure out I wanted her to combine the sounds of letters together to create words? I was like “Oh my gosh. She probably has a learning disability.”
Mind you, this was the first week we were really focusing on blending sounds so why my mind went to her having a learning disability, I have no idea, other than I knew I’d have to research how to teach her differently if she did have a learning delay. I wanted to nip it in the bud early so she doesn’t struggle later.
I should have realized she is learning a lot more than I thought by how she speaks about activities or crafts, such as when she was making slime and was explaining to me, “You mix it until, well, you know, you get the right consistency.”
She couldn’t explain what consistency was with an official definition, but she knew that her slime had to be either thicker or thinner and knew that was somehow related to the word consistency.
My son was similar at her age. Reading letters wasn’t really his thing but his comprehension and verbal skills were way beyond his age. It’s the same now, which is why at 14 I have him reading books he probably wouldn’t be reading until 10th grade, at least at the public schools in our area.
Right now we are reading Lord of the Flies, which I think I read in 10th grade, but maybe 9th. I can’t remember.
In the first part of our school year we read Silas Marner by George Elliott, which isn’t really a book I hear about a lot of 14-year old boys reading.
We will read To Kill A Mockingbird in the last half of our school year.
In addition to reading and comprehension, I will be starting a new math program through The Good and the Beautiful with my daughter once it arrives in the mail. The program incoporates storytelling in teaching math and since Little Miss loves storytelling (making them up, reading and watching them) I think she will love this curriculum. I bought it on sale last week because they are going to be phasing it out for a new curriculum sometime this year.
We have also started a science program that I can use for both of the children. It offers an extension for my son to answer questions from for additional information from each lesson. It is also through The Good and the Beautiful.
For my son’s history, we continue to use Notgrass’s From Adam to Us and I continue to supplement with various videos, books, web sites, or activities. We also use resources they provide through their history site.
Two weeks ago I started adding open-book quizes to his History lessons by developing the questions and answers myself. I allow him to use his books to find the answers as I feel it will help to solidify the information for him. It means I have to sit and read every section I assign him and take about 30 to 45 minutes to develop the quiz, but I like the idea of getting even more out of the reading than he can simply by reading the section.
I am trying to add more to his schedule, but I am also trying to not stress if he either misses an assignment or we both forget to complete one. I have learned that homeschooling is a journey in education and the more relaxed we are about it, the better the kids and even I learn, because through homeschooling I am also learning more about the subjects they are studying.
I either forgot a lot of what I was taught in middle and high school or my school did a horrible job at teaching history especially.
I would like to add a government course to my son’s classes in the spring, but we will see if that happens or if we push that off until the fall. With all that is going on in the world I think it would be a good idea for him to know how our government is supposed to work instead of how it is working right now, which isn’t great.
I’m finding one of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to take the time to show my children what actual adults should act like and that bullying, while glorified now by Hollywood and all of the media, is not what we should be doing. In some ways I am sheltering them from this by keeping them in a home education environment versus a public one but in other ways I am exposing them to the cruelty of the world in a slower, less overwhelming and panic inducing fashion.
There are a lot more the kids are learning this year that I haven’t mentioned in this post, but I plan write about that in some separate posts in the next month or so.