I’ve had more friends this year decide to homeschool than any other year since we began homeschooling. The reasons have varied — concern over values taught in the public school system, distress about peer relationships, a desire to inculcate principles of faith, worries about increased “teaching to the test” procedures in government schools, an interest in providing more individualized instruction… but whatever the reason, each parent has had a significant “deer in the headlights” look as they have shared their newly chosen educational path. They have one question in common, whether spoken or unspoken: “How do I homeschool my child?” Continue reading »
I am going to be a math curriculum expert before this whole homeschooling thing is over.
Yep, we are now on our third math program in four years.
This isn’t how I planned it, but then, does anything in homeschooling go according to plan? I would have liked to have begun a math program in Kindergarten and stuck with it, at least through the sixth grade. That would have helped me be able to avoid repetition, progress more efficiently, and be able to keep a more accurate assessment of exactly what she was mastering. Continue reading »
Soccer? Dance? Basketball? Piano lessons? Swim team? Debate team? Choir?
There are so many options, it can make your head spin.
At some point in your homeschooling career, you will have to decide: What are we going to do about extra-curricular activities for our children? Continue reading »
If you homeschool long enough, you will likely come across a learning obstacle for your child that makes you want to bang your head against the wall. You use different programs, you use creative learning techniques, you incentivize, you, um, maybe yell a little… All to no avail. Your child just. doesn’t. get. it. For us, this concept was number sequencing. My second grade right-brain oriented, creative global thinker just could not get it. She can rock geometry like a star, write three-point expository paragraphs without assistance, and sew her own doll clothes. But she cannot count numbers in sequence, particularly backwards, effectively. Finding 69 on a number sequence chart (in which they are all in order according to tens) takes a while. Turning to page number 128 is a bit of a challenge. Continue reading »
The cherry trees are blooming, the air is warmer, and the snows have melted for good. Every parent of young (or even not-so-young) children wants to do a happy dance when spring arrives and the kids can actually go outside again (“Hide the puzzles! Hunt for the short sleeves!”). Riding bikes, playing in outside forts, soccer practice — the bottom line is that all of it means >energy expenditures! Continue reading »
I think every family needs a highly distracted kid. Because if you don’t have one, you’re just missing out on life’s best possible training ground for patience. And creativity. And endurance. And…
Well, anyway. Let’s just say if you don’t have one, you are not getting the full parenting and homeschooling experience. So go borrow someone else’s for a while, and give some poor homeschooling mother somewhere her sanity for a couple of hours. Continue reading »
It takes some creativity to teach right-brain oriented children effectively. These holistic, creative thinkers can keep us on our toes to find the best means to help them learn and remember. Intuitive, contextual, and visual, right-brain oriented learners often have difficulty learning concepts that are word-oriented, logical, and detailed. Therefore, like Reading and Math, vocabulary words can pose a challenge for right-brain oriented kids – especially when the traditional method of looking them up in the dictionary is used. Continue reading »
Valentine’s Day is coming up. And, guys, even if you haven’t thought about it yet, it’s highly likely that your wife has. And that she’s anticipating something from you.
Especially if she’s a homeschooling wife.
Because, let’s face it, she doesn’t get a lot of accolades for what she does from anyone else. No “celebration of the 100th time you got Johnny back on task without losing your cool” or awards for “Homeschool Mom Most Able to Overcome Learning Obstacles All On Her Own”. Not even any team excellence award. Because — oh yeah. There is no team. Plus she has to deal with the “I can’t do this” chair flops, overflowing science projects, and baby poop — often at the same time. Continue reading »
Secrets of a Successful Homeschool Mom: I think every successful homeschool mom has a secret…her secret to managing it all.
Because the truth is that homeschooling itself is overwhelming; it’s just difficult to get it all done. When you add in the responsibilities of keeping the household going along with it, sometimes we feel like we’re on some roller-coaster that we can’t ever get off. Academics to teach, social skills to impart, character to instill, cleaning to complete, food to make, activities to attend, transportation to provide, jobs to fulfill…it’s just so much. Too much, sometimes. Enough that it usually takes some sort of plan, some sort of secret — to actually get it all managed well. Continue reading »
It was BIG NEWS at our house…the fact that a storm was coming, and we were going to get up to 6 inches of snow! And as I was bundling the girls up for some outside excitement, it hit me that there are some interesting similarities between snow days and homeschooling. Maybe I was just trying to justify eschewing academics for some romping around in white fluff, but hey. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. So, in honor of the winter months, here are 20 ways homeschooling is like a snow day. Continue reading »
It hit me this morning, as I dumped dirty clothes into the washing machine. I started pouring in the soap, lamenting the fact that I had to take the time to do laundry when I had this and this and this to do, when I suddenly thought, “Why am I doing this?” Now, before you give me the obvious answer — “Because if you don’t, you and your family will wear dirty clothing and will probably have CPS come take your kids from you because you’re a homeschooler that goes around in stinky attire”, understand that my question to myself had more of an emphasis on the “I” than on the “Why”. In other words, “Why am I doing this, rather than my children?” Continue reading »
The time just seems to pass by so quickly. And, lets face it, the year passes by quickly because each day passes by quickly. And isn’t that how it goes? Thinking about what we’ve got to do before we even do it, and then rushing to get it all done. So goes the day. So goes the month. So go the years. And when we look back, we wonder where the time went, and how we can get so much done and still wonder what, exactly, we’ve actually accomplished. This new year, I want to do it differently. I mean, just think about it. If somehow it all-of-a-sudden turned out to be our last moments in this world, and we had to reflect on what mattered to us to have accomplished in our lives, I doubt any of us would mention 90% of the things on our daily mental to-do list. Breakfast prep? Nope. Laundry starting? Nope. E-mail checking? Definite no. Of course many of those things do need to be done, so life can move forward. Yes, kids do need to eat. But what percentage of our time is spent doing the urgent rather than the important? And aren’t we homeschooling, at least on some level, in order to have more time for the important? Continue reading »
It hadn’t even turned December when we were already starting to hide the Christmas boxes from the girls. The niggling question pricks every year at the same time: What do we do about Christmas giving? As irony works, I sifted through the most recent wave of gifts arrived via mail right after coming home from set-up efforts for the weekend Christmas Fair to raise money for impoverished orphans in India. Sometimes it’s those ironies of life that wake us up and allow us to see in a new way. Continue reading »
Don’t we all just run out of ideas from time to time for how to get our kids to address troublesome behaviors? Motivation systems can go a long way to help homeschoolers target specific behaviors upon which children need to focus. They are particularly effective with young children, and children who struggle with attention/focus issues. Once you have the principles of motivation systems in place, you can create systems that are as individual as your family. The following are some examples of motivation systems that can be used in the home, and the behaviors they address. Continue reading »
“Mom, am I going to die, like Dominic did?” The question knocked the wind out of me. You’d think that months after losing our newborn baby, just 4 days after he was born, I’d be ready for all of these things by now. Nope. It’s just one of the many things I’m learning in our new homeschool of grief — that just when I think I’m doing ok, and that I’ve experienced all of the emotions tragedy can bring… I get knocked a new one. These children I have left, my sweet girls, have taught me so much about grieving. Whereas before I was always the teacher, we’re definitely learning together in this new classroom of grief. And I’m so thankful to be doing it as a family. Continue reading »
Thanksgiving doesn’t come for me, this year, as a natural flow out of living in a season of abundance. Instead, this time, it must be squeezed, drop by drop, out of a desert of loss. But the desert makes each drop so much more precious and worthwhile. And this year, I am so much more keenly focused on the source of that gratitude — my God, the giver of all blessings — rather than on the objects of my thanks. And while I certainly do not give thanks for everything, I am learning how to give thanks in everything. Continue reading »
How does anyone give thanks in seasons seemingly defined not by what has been enjoyed, but by what has been lost? It is a lesson we are learning this year. Probably the most important one of our entire homeschool. For us, Thanksgiving this year will, ironically, be sweeter. It will be deeper, it will have more meaning. In past years, giving thanks became routine, expected. It was a nice ritual to do with the kids, and a perfunctory process that I knew helped to stave off self-sufficiency and selfishness. Thankful for home, thankful for health, thankful for family… I could rattle off the list without much thought or emotion. Continue reading »
In this new normal, we’ve gone back to homeschooling. And it has been a tremendous blessing. Homeschooling affords us the time to be together, and to focus on ourselves. It gives us the freedom to have a bad day, or change around our schedule to accommodate wherever we are in our grieving process. Instead of rushing to get out to school each day, or hustling to finish homework before dinnertime, we are able to find comfort in each other and in the haven of home. We’ve had to put aside reading time more than once in order to answer questions about what Dominic looks like in heaven, or why he had to die in the first place. And upon finding out, during art time, that my youngest drew “an angel. He’s taking Dominic away. And he’s mean”, we decided to take some time to process that. Because, honestly, how is one supposed to focus on Math or English or History with those kinds of things going on inside? Continue reading »
I tend to be a hyper-responsible, perfectionistic, stressed-most-of-the-time-about-something, uber disciplined homeschool mom. Yes, one of those. The ones for whom field trip days aren’t looked forward to as exciting opportunities for real world learning and fun bonding, but are dreaded as deviations from the schedule that must be accommodated so that in a few years our kids don’t feel like they’ve graduated from military school. OK, maybe I’m not quite that bad. But…close. Continue reading »
Motivation systems can provide that little extra “oomph” to help kids focus on specific behaviors they need to improve. Even better, they help parents be more attuned to responding to behavior in constructive ways. But for motivation systems to be most effective, parents need to keep in mind some basic principles of reinforcement (which apply to both reinforcement and consequences). Following these principles make the difference between whether a motivation system works or not, and they apply to any motivation system, whether it is done with stars, stickers, points, candy, or anything else. Before you set up any token economy for your child, be sure you appropriately incorporate the following principles: Continue reading »