Friday, February 5, 2010
Sure, I could tell you all of his strength's. He is a strong people person, he can interact with anyone no matter how old or young. He loves others, he loves his lord, he cares deeply for complete strangers and he would give you the shirt off his back. However, what you wouldn't hear me talk about where the fears that had swirled around in my head for years.
From the time this child started schooling he is the one that I'd have to wake up again and again to get out of bed. He'd forget to do his math and wouldn't even realize it till I would check his work at the end of the day and ask him. If I didn't wake him up he was my child that sleep until one in the afternoon. I would begin to worry about him as an adult. I knew he'd have no problem getting hired, but who would want to keep him if he couldn't get himself out of bed?
Last May at convention I heard Linda Werner speak and she encouraged homeschooling families to have our ourselves and our children take this scientifically based test to tell us our top five strength's. WOW! It was so eye opening. Imagine my surprise as I went through my sons results and saw that his #1 strength is ADAPTABILITY!
Adaptability- "You live in the moment. You don't see the future as a fixed destination. Instead, you see it as a place that you create out of the choices that you make right now. And so you discover your future one choice at a time. This doesn't mean that you don't have plans. You probably do. But this theme of Adaptability does enable you to respond willingly to the demands of the moment even if they pull you away from your plans. Unlike some, you don't resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours. You expect them. You are at heart a very flexible person who can stay productive when the demands of the work are pulling you in many different directions at once." (Taken From Strength Finder 2.0)
Let me tell you what I have seen happen in my child's life that confirms the above statement and takes away the fears I carried for years when he was younger!
He got a job working for a family friend who owns their own business. The rule was that he had to get himself up, make his lunch, do his school and chores, have a good attitude with his brothers. That first day I set my alarm to get him up and there he sat at the table already working on his math with a cup of coffee. He looked up with a big smile and a "Good Morning". I'm embarrassed to say that I was afraid it was a fluke because everything was new, but in the six months he worked for our friends business I never once had to get him up, make his lunch or had to tell him to do his school work.
What I found was that those who have a strong "Adaptability" theme tend to rise the the occassion when they see the purpose of it. He struggled getting up to do school each day because mom said it was the right thing to do, but he didn't see how it would benefit him because he struggles to see down the road and only looks at the moment. All those times my husband would tell him he'd better get more serious about math if he wanted to get into a good college never motivated him because college was too far away. However, when we said he'd better do math or he wouldn't get to go to youth group, that seemed to do the trick!
However, because of his adaptability he needs to understand the purpose of what he's doing, where he's going and why he's doing it. He is no longer working as he completes his senior year and we've found a system that works for us with his school work alone.
He and I sit down with our coffee and calendars and we look at his week. I want to tell you we do this each week because that is my goal, but sometimes it just doesn't happen that often. I find those things that he most wants to do and I allow his academic goes to revolve around those activities. If he wants to go to youth group or to hang out with his friends on Friday night then he needs to have so many math lessons, so many language arts lessons, so much reading, etc..,
As he is preparing for technical school and things are about to really heat up I plan to let him set his own goals and we will put them in both our calendars so I can now walk alongside him for accountability and encouragement. However, I will be shifting all of the responsibility to his plate!
If you have a child that appears to be lazy or unmotivated you NEED to help them manage that by putting a system in place that gives them accountability. However, don't waste time worrying about 10 years from now! Our kids will amaze us when it's time for them to fly. We can't imagine or fathom it when they are young and muddled in immaturity, but I promise if you faithfully and lovingly continue to help you children rise to your standards they will know how to do that for themselves as adults!
How about you? Anyone here have a child you suspect has the strong theme of Adaptability?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
We asked some homeschool dads to share what they do to support their children's home education. Here are the top five responses.
1. Most of the fathers surveyed mentioned financial considerations. All were the primary wage earners for their family, which allowed Mom to stay home and teach the children. One dad said he supported his wife's efforts by agreeing to buy additional curriculum without fully understanding the necessity of the purchase himself.
2. All of the dads considered themselves cheerleaders. They applauded their wive's efforts and took an interest in the kids' school work. One family had a sort of show-and-tell before dinner every evening, with the children sharing their favorite school projects with their father.
3. Several of the husbands were sensitive to their wife's need for an occasional break. One routinely takes the kids on an outing for a couple of hours on Saturday, so Mom gets a little time for herself. Several have instituted weekly date nights with their spouses.
4. A couple of the fathers were responsible for teaching one or more subjects themselves. One dad is a math whiz, so the children save this subject until after dinner, when their father is able to tutor them. Another has a special interest in science and has chosen to share his pet projects with his kids.
5. All of the dads mentioned the various ways they incorporate educational activities into daily interactions with their children. Bedtime stories, board games, sports, and field trips to support thematic unit studies are popular ways for fathers to enjoy spending time with their families.
What role does Dad play in your homeschool?
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I remember a few years ago there was a big movement that had psychologists saying that "quality" was better than "quantity" time. As a mom of four children 1st through 12th grade I've come to find that they need BOTH!
I have found that it's easy to take for granted one or the other. Because I am home all the time I can pacify myself with the fact that my children get to be with my all the time. (Quantity Time) But then If all they see is the back of my head while I spend time on the computer what good is that? On the other hand, when I worked full time I remember scheduling a Chuckee Cheese date or park day (Quality Time) with the kids and after we'd get home I'd let them watch television while mom caught up on the laundry, chores and grocery shopping. It's so easy to lean one way or the other. However, I really want to get it right because what I do today is the memories they will have tomorrow.
I have to be very purposeful about my "Quality" time. It is so easy to take for granted my little ones gathered around during the day. If not careful I can let them do school and play with one another while I spend all my time on the phone or computer. Now there is nothing wrong with computer or phone time in balance, but in excess all they'll remember is the back of mama's head. I want to take time to sit and watch shows or play games with them.
Some tips I've found to make sure that I have "Balance" are:
1) Reading one chapter a day out of a good book with my kids snuggled up next to me.
2) Working one-on-one with one child while the others are working on their Time4learning lessons.
3) Doing a mini unit study on something we've learned from Time4Learning or a book we've read.
3- Sitting around the dinner table at night no matter how much easier it would be to sit around the t.v. or at a bar.
4- Picking one night a week for game night and another for a movie night.
5- Choosing one day to go to the park just as a family.
How about you? Do you tend to be stronger in Quality or Quantity time and what helps you find balance?
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I'm the kind of person who believes the laundry is cleaner when the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener are all the same brand. I love those skin care kits, with matching containers of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. If I buy a Betty Crocker cake mix, my hand just naturally reaches for the Betty Crocker frosting.
It isn't surprising that my first curriculum purchase was a "complete curriculum package" from A Beka. I loved the student texts with matching teacher's manuals, the flashcards and math manipulatives, all laid out to make it "easy" for the teaching parent. The problem was, I didn't find it very easy! I realized a schedule that included separate texts for language, phonics, spelling, penmanship, and reading . . . every day . . . was not for me. Alas, A Beka wasn't working out for us, and I started looking at other options. The problem was, I really LIKED A Beka's lower level social studies.
And so began my quest for the perfect homeschool curriculum! I would get excited about one company's science lessons but turn up my nose at the way they presented phonics. I liked almost everything another program had to offer, but couldn't stomach the penmanship style. Frustrated, I decided to make what I considered a bold move. I would mix and match curriculum!
Fourteen years later, I realize I have lots of company. There's even a name for people like us: eclectic homeschoolers. We choose curriculum based on our student's needs, our own preferences, and, sometimes, just to try something different!
There's a dizzying array of choices out there, and sometimes I'm convinced I've tried them all. Here are our family's favorites. How do they compare with yours?
Five in a Row is a regular part of our curriculum, useful for teaching multiple children of various ages.
Considering God's Creation is a unique science program that each of my kids has used for one year.
My all-time favorite penmanship curriculum is Handwriting Without Tears. We like Draw, Write, Now for extra penmanship practice with a fun drawing lesson thrown in.
I believe nothing beats Time4Learning for phonics. An online program includes audio, which just makes sense when you're studying sounds!
In fact, Time4Learning is our curriculum of choice for all language arts. I can always find just what I need in either their core language lessons or the language arts extensions.
I love Math-U-See for focused study on a math concept that my student is struggling with. The pace is too slow to use it as an everyday curriculum for my own kids, but it has been great for remedial work.
I used to love Spelling Power, but it takes quite a bit of time when you have multiple children. These days, my kids practically study spelling on their own at SpellingCity.
La Clase Divertida is our choice for Spanish. Songs, chants, crafts, and cooking projects reinforce the language.
I make sure each of my children goes through the seventh grade social studies lessons at Time4Learning. It's an animated and efficient overview of American history.
I like Rod and Staff's plain little workbooks for second grade social studies, science, and health. They also have some easy-to-use and inexpensive Artpacs that my children enjoy.
And I still love A Beka's lower grade social studies!
Monday, February 1, 2010
When my boys were in the early elementary years, I had homeschooling fantasies of reading great books together from morning till night. Hey, if I had been homeschooled as a kid, it’s what I would have liked! And although I quickly learned that boys aren’t going to put up with sitting cozied up on the couch together for 12 hours a day, I found that they still got a lot from our adventures in literature.
We began, where many homeschoolers do, with a jaunt through Five in a Row. How can you go wrong with classic children’s books and activities that make them come alive?? After that, we experimented with Sonlight, and picked and chose our favorite parts of the curriculum to customize a learning plan for each child.
By the time they hit middle school, though, my boys were definitely feeling the lure of technology. Those years of patiently putting up with mom and her book-addiction were over, and they wanted something they could interact with - - something multimedia – something less…well…bookish.
When my youngest began his first year with Time4Learning™, I sadly shelved our collection of must-reads, and watched with dismay as the flashing lights and bright colors held him captive. But not one week into this new curriculum, he hit upon his first assignment based on a book excerpt. The assignment was called “My Brooklyn Grandmother”, and gave students insight into the life of Chinese Americans. He interacted with the reading, got his multimedia fix, and then can you guess what my son asked soon thereafter?
That’s right…he wanted to read the REST of the book. So off we went to the library in search of the full autobiography, “The Lost Garden” by Lawrence Yepp.
I kept my Cheshire cat grin safely hidden behind the spine of our newly checked out book, and drove home, quickly - - anxious to get back to that couch again and start reading!
What about you? How do you fit books and reading in with your current homeschool curriculum?
Saturday, January 30, 2010
We want to thank each of you who faithfully follow the Home-School-Online blog via Time4Learning’s Facebook feed. Recently, however, Facebook has made a change to how they display these posts, and are currently only posting a “blurb” of the content on the wall. To read the full post, you will need to click on the blog title, and then click once more on “View Original Post” to see the whole post in it’s original context.
We hope this extra couple of steps won’t discourage you from enjoying our weekday posts about all things relating to homeschool and homeschooling. Thank you for continuing to follow us on the Home-School-Online blog.
And stay tuned for even more exciting changes over the next few weeks!!
Mary, Kelly, and Kerry - - your Home-School-Online blogger team
Friday, January 29, 2010
"Mom, I'm bored", they tell you with a slight whine in their voice. ARGH! How many times have you heard that? Well, today I want to share with you a secret that I have found to be true..., (looking around to make sure they can't see what I'm typing) Boredom Is An AMAZING teaching tool! I have found boredom to offer my children the most incentive to explore, build, read, paint, talk or DO!
How many times do we as parents try to keep our kids busy all the time? I remember one year scheduling a 30 minute "down time". (rolling eyes at myself) Boredom is a great motivator. I have found that when I quit trying to fill up every moment with school it allows us to take advantage of spontaneous opportunities. It also allows my child time to think about what we've read, seen, done. You can't "schedule" creativity. (Duh)
Sometimes we're so busy cramming the next piece of information into their little brains that they don't have time to truly digest it.
If there is one message I have learned over the years it's to "KEEP IT SIMPLE"!
I have a friend who after reading, "The Well Trained Mind" went home and changed her entire life to revolve around school. They started at 8 a.m. and didn't finish until 5 p.m. (M-F) Her oldest daughter took both Latin AND French, in addition to all the other 7 subjects. It was so hard not to look surprised when six months down the road she shared how burned-out everyone was. Though I do not judge her for I know that I've had years where I have done the very same thing. It's our mama hearts that cause us to aim higher, go bigger, Do more, not realizing that higher, bigger, more.., just mean LESS. Less time to "think", less time to "be", less time to "ponder", less time to "process". The problem is that creativity and passion require thinking, being, pondering and processing.
Some of our greatest memories have taken place in the last 2 1/2 years since we began using Time4Learning. Why? My children get a GREAT education while learning how to be in the drivers seat! I have someone else doing the lesson planning. Our focus then is all about character, family, extra curriculular activities, field trips, conversations. When I let go of being in control of everything, when I not only allowed downtime, but encouraged it, our lives changed forever. We net more results with less attitude!
So the next time you hear, "Mom, I'm Bored" I encourage you to step back and let them figure it out! (smile) How about you? How many of you have seen your children come alive in the midst of downtime? Tell us your stories or idea's!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Book reports, required literature, and boring comprehension exercises may have sapped the joy right out of your student's reading experience. A good book should be eagerly anticipated, not considered a dreaded chore. I've made plenty of mistakes during my parenting journey, but I'm pleased to have raised a houseful of readers. Reading for pleasure builds vocabulary, improves spelling and grammar, nurtures the imagination and provides countless other educational benefits. How can parents encourage reading without putting it in the same category as flashcards?
1. Set a good example. Children model what they see. If your child sees you reading, reading as a pleasurable pastime won't be alien to him. He will have grown up with the idea.
2. Read aloud to your children. Infancy is not too early to begin. Even a baby will enjoy the sound of your voice, and it's not a bad way to pass the time while waiting for that little one to finally sleep for the night.
3. Make reading an enjoyable part of your routine. A book or two at bedtime is a common habit, but there are other options. Because I get up before they do and have already eaten, I also read to my children while they're having breakfast.
4. When it's time to teach reading, make it fun! There are many reading programs to choose from. Dick and Jane may have worked for previous generations, but today's student can enjoy online phonics instruction with enjoyable, funny characters. Kids love humor!
5. Whenever possible, allow your student to select his own reading material. "Requiring" a certain book to be read is a guaranteed to dampen enthusiasm.
6. Frequent the library. Children usually appreciate outings, and a trip to the library is a great way to associate books with an enjoyable experience in your child's mind.
7. Keep plenty of books on hand. Browse rummage sales and second hand stores for books on your child's reading level, and keep a constant stream of them entering your house.
8. Store books in an accessible place. Book shelves discourage young children, as the books are difficult to see and select and impossible to put away. We store our picture books in dish tubs.
9. Share reading. You read the pages on your side of the book and your child reads the pages on his side. There are actually books designed for this type of reading, with a line or two of child-friendly text on the "child" side and a couple of paragraphs on the "parent" half.
10. Re-think book reports. Why should the act of finishing a book generate an additional task? Casual discussion is a much more natural way for a child to share what he has read. You might want to assign one or two book reports to acquaint your student with the process, but initiate casual discussion most of the time.
11. Don't stop reading aloud when your student can read by himself. My family gathers each morning for an hour of shared reading. We sample books as if they are assorted chocolates, reading a classic this week, a mystery the next, followed by something like "How to Play Marbles".
12. During long car trips, bring along a few books and conveniently "forget" to bring extra batteries for the videogames!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
At the heart of this movement is the belief that children should have their own rights and that their rights supercede the wishes of their parents. They believe that children should be able to make decisions for themselves and that parents responsibilities pretty much stop at providing a safe environment.
Here is a VIDEO that shares the heart of the argument.
I would like to hear what our community here at Time4Learning believes? I will leave you with an article that tells a scary story of two parents losing custody of their 7 year old son simply because they homeschool.
Alliance Defense Fund
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
The Time4Learning Parent Forum has been a great place to interact with other homeschool parents. Benefit from the opinions of experienced homeschoolers. Find a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Locate families in your area, compare curriculum, and trade parenting advice. While you're there, share a recipe or craft idea.
To meet the needs of its members, the forum has expanded to become the Time4Learning Parent Community, a rich source of resources for homeschooling. The Home page includes informative articles about topics of interest to homeschoolers, and the ability for members to comment on what they have read. Be the first to comment or join an already active discussion.
Do you have a special interest? Join or start a social group to connect with like-minded people. Topics can be many and varied and do not have to specifically deal with homeschooling.
Have you considered starting a blog? The Time4Learning Parent Community is a great place to easily get started! If you're already a blogger, maybe you have considered started a second, themed blog.
In addition to the new features, parents in the Community now have the ability to start a home page, maintain their own photo gallery, and "friend" other members. To allow members to get to know each other better, one regularly posting member is highlighted each month.
Look for fun contests, like the current January raffle, where members have the opportunity to win a free, three-month subscription to the Time4Learning on line homeschool curriculum.
What else would you like to see in the new community? Please comment with your ideas for additional features, games, or activities. Thank you for being a part of our community, and don't forget to take advantage of all of the new capabilities!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Single parents are in a whole other boat. While some have the generous support of family and friends, others feel like they are floating alone in the middle of the open sea. And then, what if these parents also feel the need to homeschool a child? What help is there for single parents who want to educate their child from home?
There are many creative ways that single parents can make homeschooling feasible. One way is to find another homeschooling family who also has unique needs, and switch-off homeschool instruction with them. Or you might be able to find a family member or friend who would be willing to oversee some or all of your child's homeschool work. But if none of these options work for you, there are still options.
Thanks to today's technologies, there is now the option for "online homeschooling", and it is gaining popularity daily among homeschooling families with unique situations. Online homeschool, by definition, is any self-paced education that is accessed on the internet. This can include the state-supported virtual schools, distance education programs, online homeschool curriculum programs, or even parent-designed lesson plans utilizing the internet. By using an online program, homeschoolers have access to pre-designed lesson plans, self-directed learning, online tests, and automatic grading. For single parents who want to be able to educate their children at home, but don't have the time or ability to devote to lesson planning and teaching, this can be a viable option.
Computer-based homeschool curricula provide a lot of options for single parents. With a flexible enough environment, they can bring a child to work with them, and allow them to do their schoolwork on a separate computer. If they work from home, children can work somewhat independently on their studies. Or if they spend part time with a caregiver while their parent is at work, children can still access their school work from any computer.
If you are a single parent who has been wondering if homeschooling is possible, it might be time to investigate it further. With some sacrifices, compromises, and adjustments, single parents CAN homeschool their children.
To find out how other moms and dads are managing homeschooling as a single parent, drop by our Parents Forum and read some of the threads where single parents have shared their stories.
Friday, January 22, 2010
My highschool senior is finishing his very last semester of our homeschool journey. It seems like yesterday we were plugging along through his Hooked On Phonics, sounding out words, using M&M's to add and subtract, and now here we are preparing to end one season and begin a new one. I think it's bittersweet for any family, but I have to say it's especially hard when the child just doesn't know what they want to do with their life yet.
This past week our support group did a field trip to our local technical school and for the first time I began to see the next step of my sons journey. As we met with counselors and toured the school he was exceptionally interested in graphic design. I saw him come alive and begin to ask questions. I loved what our counselor shared. He said that many students are choosing technical education over college right now because technical gives you a skill you can use right away. He said that they recently had a gentleman with a political science degree sign up to take some technical classes because he couldn't find a position in his field and had big loans to payback.
Some of the pro's of a technical school:
1- It's a good first step for a graduate to begin their life while waiting to see where they want to go. It gets their foot in the door.
2- It's a fairly easy administration process. You fill out an application pay a fee and take a test to make sure the basic skills are up to par. If they are not they take remedial classes at no cost to pull them up.
3- When they pass the basic test they can begin their journey without having to wait for a semester to begin. Every nine weeks a new session is opened.
4- It's very affordable compared to regular or junior college.
5- Every student works at their own pace. Where schools and colleges use the "Lock Step" approach of making sure everyone is at the same place. Technical schools allow your student to progress on their own. (I personally know this because I graduated from a technical school when I became a nurse. I was able to finish in nine months even though it was a 14 month course.)
If you have an older child who is not sure where they are going or what they want to do. Check out your local technical school and find out if there is any courses your child might be interested in!
Has anyone here graduated from a technical school or do you plan to use one?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
As a national contest, the Scripps spelling bee is required by law to admit homeschooled students. Some local competitions, not subject to such regulation, still prohibit participation by homeschoolers.
The exclusion is purportedly an effort to be fair, but it's based on incorrect assumptions. One is that a homeschooled spelling champ's curriculum consists of "all spelling, all the time". In fact, most spelling champs, homeschooled or otherwise, are accomplished in many areas. The Scripps' contest rules actually contain language stipulating that students must not have neglected their normal school activity in order to prepare for the contest.
Michael Hackett, the 2005 national winner, says he studied two hours a day. This compares favorably with the amount of time a public schooled football player spends in practice, or any number of students spend pursuing what interests them personally. It leaves plenty of time for additional academics.
Since only about two percent of American students are taught at home, while twelve percent of spelling bee winners are homeschooled, we can understand the belief that homeschooling somehow stacks the deck in the student's favor. On the contrary, factors contributing to homeschoolers' success in these contests are available to all students, regardless of how they are being educated.
- The champions have learned to study independently.
- The champions have families who support their endeavors and help wherever they can.
- The champions don't allow themselves to be distracted by negative social influences.
- The champions are accustomed to setting goals and following through with the small steps necessary to accomplish them.
- The champions maintain enthusiasm about mundane things like spelling bees, in the face of myriad more exciting possibilities.
The criticism is, of course, initiated by homeschool critics seeking to promote (or defend) public education. A friend recently joked, "Do you know about the government's plan to improve the performance of public schooled kids in spelling bees? They're going to ban homeschooled students!"
Hiding the achievements of homeschoolers will do nothing to improve the public school system. By now, most people have heard the news articles anyway: Homeschoolers shine during the National Geography Bee. Homeschool high school students are National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. They've won National Educational Debate Association trophies and the International Diplomacy essay contest.
Homeschooled students aren't "cheating". The national competition recognizes that refusing to include students who are educated at home because of perceived advantages is a form of discrimination. It's time for all of the local contests to follow their example.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13
Several years ago I was praying about whether or not to use a specific unit study program. I so badly wanted to purchase the whole package because it seemed PERFECT! It was Christ-centered, had strong academics, and the author had done all the work by putting it together in one big lesson plan book.
The only drawback that I could see was the price. It was around $1200.00 for one year. After several weeks of praying, I still didn't feel comfortable but there didn't seem to be a logical reason why I shouldn't at least give it a try, right? (wince) I talked myself into it and bought the whole thing!
As we began our very first week we found out we were pregnant with our third child. The pregnancy ended up being filled with complications. I ended up buying a workbook program and throwing that big unit study on my bookshelf. After the birth of our precious baby we got pregnant again right away. Because of all the changes adding two babies brought to our lives, we ended up never getting around to using the curriculum. I ended up selling it for half of what I paid. Here we sit with Time4Learning which nets us much better results with a lot less work and definitely less investment. If I had just prayed and waited on the Lord I could have saved myself and our family a whole lot of money, time and emotional angst.
I learned that I can only see "today", but God sees my tomorrow's. So for me, prayer is the very first step to every part of my home education plan.
2- Help Your Child Discover Their Passions!
"If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect." -- Benjamin Franklin
Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in the details. As a homeschool support group leader I talk with moms all the time. When asked what their homeschool goal is they often readily reply, "College"! When I ask what the child wants to major in, the parents have no idea. They have just decided that their child is going to college and there is no other option. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn't.
I have found that if you help your child discover what they are GREAT at, it will help steer the direction of your homeschool. I have a friend whose homeschooled daughter is completing her last year of medical school. She LOVES medicine and has always wanted to be a doctor. She knew that college was in her future, but it had a purpose, a direction.
Here are some book titles to begin your journey of discovery with your child.
Your Child's Strength's
Strength's Finder (14 through adult)
The Way They Learn
How Full Is Your Bucket
Time4Learning Resource- Your Right Brained Learner
3- Put Together A Plan!
"If you know where you're going you'll know how to get there"
Once you know what makes your child unique, how they learn, what gets them excited, it's time to put together a plan. How do you do that? You ask yourself, "Looking ahead to the end of this school year what is that I want my child to have accomplished?" OR "In ten years I want my child to have accomplished (fill in the blank)"
Once we know where we're going, then we'll know how to get there, as opposed to beginning your journey with no known destination. You can wander around aimlessly without ever accomplishing specific goals.
My oldest sons strength's lie in his incredible people skills. He struggles academically in some area's because of his learning disability. When he was young I kept trying to make him more academic and we were both miserable. When I figured out that he was going to be my son that pursued a more technical college approach I began just making sure he had his basics in place and involving him in things he was GREAT at! It changed our lives!
I let go of the unrealistic expectation that he had to take microbiology and trigonometry. Please don't misunderstand we worked hard to help him be the best HE could be in those subjects, but let go of the pressure to keep up with the Joneses. He began passionately pursuing public speaking as well as things that sounded interesting. We relaxed and enjoyed our journey instead of trying to make him fit into a one-size-fits-all mold.
4- Add A TimeLine And Checkpoints!
Once you make a list of courses, classes, activities you want your child to complete then you must put a timeline in place or it's too easy to let time slip by without accomplishing your goals.
5- Follow up!
Follow up is all about accountability. Once you have your plan and your timeline you need checkpoints to help hold you accountable. Especially once the school year starts and things get busy. Sometimes you might need to re-evaluate your goals and adjust your timeline or sometimes I simply have to pull "in" and put the pedal to the medal to get back in gear. Without a timeline or follow up all the hard work you invested in figuring out who you children are and how they learn will be wasted time.
So these are my personal tips for success in our home. I hope that this might be helpful to even one person reading this today. How about you? What tips do you have in place that help your children have a successful homeschool?
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Do you "have to" homeschool? Perhaps your child has a medical condition that makes public school attendance difficult or impossible. Maybe homeschooling is a practical solution to disruptions caused by moving frequently or traveling often. Your child may have behavioral challenges that are more readily dealt with at home, or there might have been disagreements between you and the personnel at your child's school in the past.
Whatever the reason, homeschooling was not your first choice; it's something you feel you are obligated to do for the time being. Have-to homeschoolers look for a quick and efficient way to teach their student at home, because educating their child is something they had planned to leave to professionals. They don't expect to enjoy it. Sometimes they simply don't feel qualified. Although they're willing to do whatever is in their child's best interest, they might feel burdened by the unexpected challenge. Maybe they even resent having to take on this extra task.
Although I've joked about homeschooling being my hobby, there's a bit of truth in the statement. Homeschool hobbyists read curriculum catalogs for fun. Our shelves are overflowing with educational games. Our printers are churning out worksheets. Craft projects are chosen as much for our own enjoyment as for the educational value to our children. Dinner time means ethnic meals, based on that week's geography lessons. We read homeschool blogs and join homeschool forums, trying out the latest trends. We lapbook, we unit study, and we are hooked on phonics . . . big time!
Hobby homeschoolers are often eager to mentor accidental homeschoolers who suddenly "have to" teach their child themselves. In our eagerness to share the fun, we sometimes scare off the timid newcomers. I realized this when a new member of our homeschool co-op literally put her head in her hands and moaned during a lapbooking presentation I was giving. I was the guest speaker for Mom's Night Out, and the more experienced parents had been looking forward to learning what lapbooks were all about. To our new friend, who was in the process of choosing from a dizzying array of curriculum, learning about lapbooking presented her with yet another decision to make.
The line between what motivates homeschool parents isn't always distinct. Hobby homeschoolers need occasional breaks and have-to homeschoolers find themselves enjoying lessons on certain topics. (Have-to homeschoolers have been known to morph into enthusiastic hobbyists!)
Which way do you lean? Have-to, hobby, or a little of each?
Monday, January 18, 2010
One of the most familiar stories for my children in all of American History is the story of the life and times of Martin Luther King Jr. As many homeschoolers do, we often use national holidays as springboards for learning, and so each year on January 18, we study and celebrate the life and accomplishments of the Civil Rights leader.
When my boys were in their early elementary years, we read numerous library books dedicated to both MLK and the Civil Rights movement. We created unit studies about the era, and created posters from the perspective of contemporaries of MLK such as Rosa parks and Thurgood Marshall. We created a wall length timeline of the whole Civil Rights era, and colored the victories of the movement in red and the disappointments, such as the assassination of Rev. King in blue. One thing I wish we had access to at that time were the customizable spelling lists at SpellingCity. Just think what great lists could be created around this topic!
As the boys reached late elementary and early middle school age, our studies branched out a bit. We made short field trips to some of the most significant locations associated with the movement, and even studies how the struggle affected our local area. We checked out movies from the library or downloaded them from Discovery Streaming online. And, of course, we tried our hand at writing essays about Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the last few years we have made use of some wonderful online resources designed for middle and high schoolers. Websites dedicated to MLK with interactive quizzes, Civil Rights webquests, and of course the terrific American History Lessons on these subjects from Time4Learning. The 7th/8th grade American History unit on the Civil Rights era, (from which the screenshots on this post were taken) is a thorough examination of the viewpoints and the key players of that important time period. It is just part of the wonderful Social Studies curriculum from Time4Learning.
These are just some of the ways our family celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. day with educational fun. I’d love to hear YOUR creative ideas!
Friday, January 15, 2010
I couldn't help but think of that specific post today as I went through Time4Learning's State by State Online Support Groups. What a huge network we have. We come from all over the place, with different goals, different seasons, different children, however the one thing that we DO share is a love and desire to homeschool our children. (big smile)
Have you checked out your states forum? This is a great place to find out about your state laws, activities, support groups and more! You can even share field trip idea's!
So, we'd like to get to know you...., Here's today's questions:
1- What STATE are you from?
2- Do you consider your state homeschool friendly?
Now It's Your Turn!
Thursday, January 14, 2010
The uninformed sometimes assume parents can't effectively teach their children at home. My teen enjoys wearing a tee shirt designed to poke fun at this impression. It reads, "I Are Homeskooled".
If we have friends or relatives who are concerned our homeschooled children will grow up poorly educated and lacking in social skills, we've probably armed ourselves with some statistics designed to quell their fears. Homeschoolers' standardized test scores average twenty or thirty percent higher than students in public school. In states where homeschooled students register with the school district, 25% of homeschoolers are enrolled one or more grades above their age level. Students taught at home read earlier and more regularly. They attend college classes during their high school years. They excel in geography. They win spelling bees.
But what if YOUR child isn't doing any of those things? We may have armed ourselves too well! By using exceptional students as examples to defend our decision to home educate, we often set up unrealistic expectations. Now there's something "wrong" with our child if he is simply average.
Mothers, especially, may feel pressured to produce super kids. The decision to homeschool usually follows a period of concentrated focus on the needs of the child. It's only AFTER home instruction begins that the teaching parent realizes their OWN performance is now being scrutinized by critical family and friends. "I feel as though I'm under a microscope," one mom confessed. "My family reads about homeschoolers who excel and they expect me to produce the same results with my son!"
One dad stepped up and declared his children's academic performance off-limits during get-togethers with extended family. "My kids were held to such high standards!" he explained. "No, they haven't won any contests lately . . . but we've more than satisfied all the requirements for homeschooling in Oregon. Why isn't that good enough?"
The baby in the picture is my son. I snapped that shot because it looked like he was reading at nine months, despite his special needs. "Look what homeschooling can do!" I joked. I no longer try to promote those high expectations. Enter the spelling bees, if your student is interested. But feel equally free to decline. Ignore those who expect homeschooling to produce near-genius results. It's only fair to expect our kids to do their best.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
What are "Curve Balls"? Circumstances that come at us from out of left field. You have no control over those specific events. It can be scary and confusing. I've learned that though God doesn't take away my pain, He DOES walk through it with me. Curve Balls have refined and defined the very core of who I am.
As moms it’s so easy to get caught up in, What’s for dinner? Who’s driving to soccer? Did little Sally complete her school assignment? Those mundane things become the focus of our lives. So when something big like cancer, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job comes into our life it can paralyze us. (rightly so)
In the first six months as brand new homeschoolers we experienced the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage, a car accident, two deaths in the family and moving. The picture I had prior to starting our homeschool never took root. However, I learned something very valuable right out of the gate! Our "life" IS our curriculum!
Looking back 12 years later and here’s what I’ve learned:
1- I can only see today, but “HE” sees my tomorrow’s and I can trust in that! I don’t want to base my decisions on fear or circumstances.
2- Our LIFE is the best curriculum out there! Ten years from now my children may not remember everything I taught them academically, but they will carry in their hearts forever the memories we experienced together as they watched me authentically (mistakes and all) walk out my relationship with my Savior, my husband, my children, my friends and even total strangers. More is caught than taught. As they watch me make mistakes, and then make them right, they learn that no one is perfect and that's what Grace is all about. Our family motto is, “Fall Down, Get Up, Fail Forward, FINISH WELL”!
I currently have a friend who is bravely walking through uterine cancer. I am amazed at her courage and strength! Cancer is her curriculum this year and guess what..., those kids are going to learn so much more from her life experiences than they ever could have from a history book.
This message is the very reason why I adore Time4Learning. Time4Learning allows you to walk through “Curve Balls” without regret! It equips my children academically, so I can pour my time, my talent, my passion into teaching my kids about LIFE!
Have you had Curve Balls thrown your way since you began your homeschool journey? If you feel led won't you share your story and what you learned from them?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Now, our first grader may have already attended "nursery school" (age two), "preschool" (age three), "pre-kindergarten" (age four), and "kindergarten" (age five).
This is all well and good if that's the choice you've made for your particular child, but states have been considering MANDATORY preschool at an ever-increasing rate. Parents are more receptive to the idea than you might imagine. Dual-income families tend to welcome mandatory preschool, considering it a form of free daycare.
I've been amused to notice preschool classrooms decorated with braided rugs, rocking chairs, plants, and other home-y touches. Young children thrive in a home environment, yet we humans have a strange habit of eliminating something perfectly natural and then trying to artificially compensate for it.
More puzzling to me is some parents' assumption that the educational value of an activity is increased if it takes place in a classroom. I have observed classroom preschoolers doing many of the things they might do at home: playing with clay, building with blocks, and trying on dress-up clothing. And, at home, they don't have to wait in line to do it.
Regardless of your opinion on the value of institutionalized preschool, you can probably agree that it isn't right for EVERY child. My own focus is on parental choice when it comes to your children's education. I shudder to think that a two-year-old could someday be considered truant.
Do you know the age of compulsory education in your area? These state homeschool resources can help answer many state-specific questions.
Monday, January 11, 2010
The biggest surge of new homeschoolers usually falls in August or September. This is a natural time for beginning because it aligns with the traditional start of the school year, and gives parents an opportunity to feel as though they are keeping up with public or private school students.
The second biggest surge of new homeschoolers often occurs in December and January. Most of the time, these families had not originally planned to homeschool, but circumstances with their child, their child’s school, or their child’s learning during the first half of the school year make it obvious that they are not able to remain in their present educational situation any longer.
If you are in that boat of accidental homeschoolers, then welcome to the gang! You are certainly not alone, and even though you are starting mid-year, it does not mean that you are at any kind of disadvantage.
The great thing about homeschooling is that there is no set schedule or time-frame for beginning or ending. If you feel that a home-based education is best for your child, then it doesn’t matter when you start, it just matters that you START.
As long as you have consulted your state laws for specific guidelines, and have researched the state homeschool resources available to you, you are already way ahead of the game! Now all you need to do is take some time to discover how your child learns best, figure out what style of learning might benefit your child most, and then begin to choose the materials, programs, and curricula that will help your son or daughter make the most of their homeschooling time.
If you recently became a homeschooler, we’d love to hear how you came to your decision, and what your experience has been so far. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Friday, January 8, 2010
What is a "World View"? A worldview is your "Moral Compass". It's how we view the world around us. Your worldview often dictates your educational choices, your political choices, your personal choices, even your medical choices.
A Christian Worldview
A Christian Worldview believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. They hold steadfast to the belief that nothing can happen without the Lords permission. (Lamentation 3:37) So this means history/science/your past/your present/your future is all intertwined with your christian belief system.
A Jewish Worldview
A Jewish Worldview believes in the Old Testament teachings. A very dear friend of mine is a Messianic Jew and as she has shared the traditions of her Jewish faith it makes me weep. It is so beautiful. A Jewish Worldview oftentimes holds very closely with Judeo-christian principles. Many Jewish homeschoolers pass down their beautiful religious traditions to their children.
A Secular Worldview
A Secular Worldview does not necessarily mean that a person does not believe in God. (Though it could) A person with a secular worldview sees God as a separate part of a big picture. I have a friend who is a christian, but firmly believes in educating her children without any religion and teaching bible separately so that her children can make the connections themselves.
A Pagan Worldview
A Pagan Worldview oftentimes represents those who believe in Gods or Goddesses separate from the Judeo-Christian beliefs. They are not Atheists as they do have a belief system, but it's oftentimes different than the mainstream. In our county we have a Secular homeschool Support Group and we have Pagan homeschoolers.
So what are my thoughts? This is the heart of why I homeschool. I love that "I" get to teach and pass down to my children my strong belief system. I don't want a school system, a government or another family to dictate what we teach and what we learn. No matter what our "Worldview", homeschooling fosters an ability to pass down our beliefs like no other. I am thankful for this Free country of ours. We are blessed!
How does this line up with Time4Learning? I love that Time4Learning is so flexible that any worldview can use it as their curriculum. As a Christian homeschooler we use it for math and language arts and it's flexible enough that it allows me to use something different for science and history that lines up with my worldview. I have friends who use it for EVERYTHING! With Time4Learning you get to be in the drivers seat. (smile)
So..., What is your Worldview?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, but each state determines the amount of regulation their homeschooled students will be subject to. Although it is common for school districts to request additional information, they are not allowed to amend the statutes with their own requirements. In other words, school districts may REQUEST additional information, but they may not REQUIRE it.
Schools try to collect additional data for a number of reasons. Sometimes, it's simply a matter of habit. They are accustomed to requiring certain information of all students, and homeschool forms get modeled after similar public school documents.
Often, there is a financial incentive. Schools receive funding based on the number of students enrolled, so they may ask questions designed to cast doubt on your status as a homeschooler. In some districts, students who take even a single government funded class, engage in an extra-curricular public school activity, or receive special education services off site can be counted as public schooled students, generating additional revenue for the district.
Occasionally, there are ulterior motives. The National Education Association's official position is that, "Home-schooling programs cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience." Some school personnel see no reason to disagree with the union's opinion. There are individuals who are particularly interested in reducing homeschool freedoms. They may request test results beyond those that are required, home visits, or even student interviews, in an attempt to obtain data which could be used to discredit homeschooling as a legitimate educational choice.
Although my state is not heavily regulated, I admit to a certain amount of indignation in being accountable to the public school system at all. If you trust standardized test scores, my children (and those of homeschoolers as a group) are way ahead of the game academically. It isn't logical for an institution that is admittedly broken to be overseeing a group of people who have proven that they can obtain superior results.
My own state requires one-time notification of the intent to homeschool each student. Parents are not required to use the school district's form, although many do so for their own convenience. It's important to note that you may, if you wish, provide notification on any paper. I would never advise anyone to refuse the district's form simply to be contrary, but some families have specific reasons for avoiding the district-printed forms and it's important to know that you have the right to simply provide a letter or note, stating your intention.
My state specifies that parents must provide each homeschooled student's name and date of birth. Our district's form also includes a space for the student's social security number. Since I am not legally obligated to divulge this number, I merely leave the space blank, without comment. An acquaintance shared that she wrote "REFUSED!!!" in the blank, along with several exclamation points. My own feeling is that it's best to be calm and matter-of-fact in assuring that our rights are upheld. There's no need to invite confrontation.
Our state also requires standardized test results at the end of third grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, and tenth grade. I was surprised to learn there are parents in our homeschool co-op who assume annual test results are a requirement. If you wish to test your children annually for your own information or peace of mind, please do. It's probably not a good idea to provide the results to the school district unless you are legally obligated to.
State requirements regarding homeschooling vary greatly. A few states do not regulate homeschooling at all. Several require nothing more than for parents to state their intention. Many require periodic testing of homeschooled students, several require a portfolio evaluation or include it as an alternative to testing, and a few outline qualifications for the primary teacher. Most at least include suggestions or mandates as to subjects to be covered and amount of time to be spent.
If your state requires a certain number of hours, remember that book learnin' is only PART of your student's education. Piano lessons and practice can be counted as "Music", Little League is "P.E.", helping fix dinner is "Home Ec", and writing a thank you letter to Grandma is "Language Arts". You are not cheating when you do this! Schools put a lot of effort into incorporating real-life simulations into their curriculum . . . something you can effortlessly do at home!
Your state may require that certain records be MAINTAINED, but, before you send them in to the district office, be sure they also require you to SUBMIT the records. Some states only want you to have them on hand in case there are questions, and you are not obligated to share them under normal circumstances.
If you receive requests for additional information or intrusive oversight, ask questions and confirm the answers you receive with several sources. Even well-meaning school employees are often mistaken in their assumptions when it comes to the laws concerning home education.
If you have state specific questions or are looking to connect with other homeschool families in your area, you might be interested in visiting the homeschooling parent support group forum for your state.
What experiences have you had with your state's homeschool laws?
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
What is your educational philosophy and why?
I love talking about educational philosophies. Knowing your philosophy of education will help you to make strong, solid decisions in your homeschooling lifestyle. My #1 favorite homeschooling book is called, "The Joyful Homeschooler" by Mary Hood. Mary is the pioneer of relaxed homeschooling. Though I find value in every option out there, "Relaxed Homeschooling" grabbed my heart in a very emotional way. I literally cried through some of the chapters as my whole being was encouraged through her powerful words of encouragement and thought provoking questions. I find that "Relaxed Homeschooling" is often confused or clumped with Unschooling, but they really are very different.
Relaxed Homeschooling encourages having an educational plan in place, but discourages following the status quo. An example that Mary gives in her book is that of her son. He was going into 7th grade and was feeling a bit burned out and not very motivated to learn about anything in particular. She prayed and asked the Lord to show her where she could most encourage her son. All she felt led to do with him one year was math and guitar. She shared her conversation with the Lord that went something like this, "Math and guitar?! That's it? Are you sure Lord?" Well, all these years later he went to college and guess what he became..., A MUSIC pastor! However, they did math and guitar consistently everyday as part of their plan. In a nutshell, Relaxed homeschoolers have a plan in place, but oftentimes the plan does not include every single subject.
Unschooling takes a very special commitment. There are all types of unschoolers out there. I personally have the deepest respect for unschoolers. Boredom is their best teaching tool. Unschoolers allow the children to be in the drivers seat of their education. They wait and watch their children and take their cues from them. They walk beside them and show them how to be self learners. I love the book, "Christian Unschooling" as it talks about how to walk as an unschooler with strong parental boundaries, though every family has different goals. Here is an article on using Time4Learning in your Unschooling program.
Traditional Schooling is a strong option for new homeschoolers. It is often workbooks, textbooks, etc.., In my experience of working with homeschoolers for several years I find that most homeschoolers who start strong with textbooks tend to blend their love of traditional with other philosophies. In our home I LOVE traditional math and language arts.
Unit Studies are a hit with my younger children. I love tying together history, science, writing, reading and bible. For instance, when my oldest son used a Unit Study program called, "Five In a Row" when he was younger we read the book, "Follow The Drinking Gourd" and learned about the Civil War and Slavery. We went to a Civil War re-enactment, read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground railroad, wrote a paper about Harriet and her bravery and then shared scriptures that talk about loving each person for who they are. Here is an article on combining unit studies with Time4Learning.
Classical Education uses the classical mode of learning within the home. Most classical educators read wonderful classic books, they add latin, lots of memory and break education up into three parts. Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. The grammar Stage is a lot of memory, Logic stage begins to build on the "why's" and Rhetoric is the debate stage of education. It's owning what you believe. Though I loved the book, "The Well Trained Mind". This was not a good fit for our home. However, I have many MANY friends who use and love this philosophy of education. Here is a great article written several months ago by one of my colleagues that talks about combining classical education and on-line learning.
At the end of the day, homeschoolers tend to blend many philosophies of education into our homeschool programs. However, we are normally drawn to a primary choice that influences our decisions, curriculum and activities. Which educational philosophy most lines up with your homeschool?
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
A number of scenarios have been discussed on the Time4Learning parent forum over the past several years. Students who were initially enthusiastic about being removed from the public school system suddenly become dissatisfied with homeschooling, or children who have always been homeschooled become curious about other options. A few homeschool moms have simply asked for support for coping with their own adjustment to their child's choice to return to public school, without seeming to consider that the mother has a choice in the matter, too.
A recent subject line was When One Wants to Homeschool and the Other Doesn't. I've seen questions about what a child "wants" lead to conflict on some message boards. The amount of choice children are allowed can be a sensitive subject. Several members usually pop in with some version of "I'm the parent and I know what's best", while other members advocate a less authoritarian role. I was pleased to see this question handled with tact and humor. The parents involved all seemed to respect the others' differing opinions.
Public school is the default choice for the majority of families. Something dramatic must occur to cause them choose the homeschooling option. My family has made homeschooling its default, and something dramatic would have to happen for our children to be enrolled in government school. All students, no matter how they are educated, will express dissatisfaction at some point. My kids generally see the advantages to their home education, but each has had moments of wishing they were like the other kids. I believe my husband's and my confidence that we've made the right choice has been comforting to my children during these times, and has helped to keep conflicts to a minimum.
My friends include committed homeschoolers, those who are homeschooling only one of several children, those who homeschool until their kids enter high school, and an off-and-on homeschooler who allows her daughter to decide, each year, whether she wants to attend public school or study at home.
Who makes this type of decision in your family? How much choice do your children have? Does the child's age affect the amount of input your child is allowed? Do you give the desires of a child who is in kindergarten as much consideration as you do to one who is in eighth grade?
Friday, January 1, 2010
What was your best homeschooling moment of "2009"?