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My New Homeschool Rules

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: My new homeschool rules />

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 System Principles – Part 3

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool motivation systems />

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 »

The Homeschool We Never Thought We’d Have

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: The homeschool we never thought we'd have />

I had the best of plans. We’d spent the whole summer preparing for the baby. I’d even prepared the girls for what would happen during the labor and delivery, because, in true homeschooling style, their baby brother was going to be born at home. And they were right there, in the midst of it all, as our long-awaited little man came into the world, in a surprise breech birth, on July 31, 2012. Dominic James Capuano: 7 lbs. 0 oz., with a huge head of dark spiky hair, and the most beautiful, perfect lips and his Daddy’s button nose. It was all crying and smiling and praising and enjoying the miracle of new life. And then, concern. Continue reading »

Hitting An Educational Wall

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Hitting An Educational Wall />

It’s happened with every homeschooler: you get to a concept, and no matter how much you go over it, your child just doesn’t “get” it. You’ve tried hands-on approaches. You’ve been extra interesting and dramatic in your presentation. You’ve attempted to teach it according to your child’s learning style. You’ve tried to sweeten the deal with motivators. You’ve even, um, raised your voice just a teeny little bit in frustration. All to no avail: your child has hit a wall. Continue reading »

Surviving Project Day

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Surviving Project Day />

I realize that many of you reading this are free-spirited, artsy, Pinterest-devoted die-hard project people, and that the best part of your homeschooling lives involve doing hands-on activities with your kids. Good for you – I applaud you. And I hate you. Just a little bit. Continue reading »

10 Reasons I’m Glad “Back to School” Means Homeschooling

by Rebecca Capuano
10 Reasons I'm Glad Back-To_School Means Homeschooling />

Where has the summer gone? It’s hard to believe that vacation time is coming to an end and it’s time for “back to school”! Even if you school year ’round, there’s just something special about starting fresh in the fall… new supplies, new curricula, getting back on a regular schedule… I just love the fresh start that the fall brings to our homeschool! While most kids, homeschooled or not, are preparing for the new school year, I can’t help but be so happy that, for us, “back to school” means homeschooling. With many of the daily challenges and frustrations homeschooling brings, it’s easy to lose sight of the myriad blessings this educational choice offers. So here are 10 of my favorite reasons starting up in the fall means educating at home: Continue reading »

Motivation Systems, Part 2

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool motivation systems />

Does your child have trouble staying on task? Constantly forget to pick up after herself? Complain whenever it’s time to “do school”? Motivation systems to the rescue! Motivation systems, also known as token economies, can do wonders to help homeschoolers deal with problematic behaviors, recognize and encourage desired behaviors, and establish an organizing principle for children. Continue reading »

Creating a Motivation System – Do You Need One?

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool motivation systems />

Everyone knows that homeschoolers manage their children’s behavior with patience, consistency and aplomb, always having the right response at the right time, and leading their children to higher standards of conduct with each and every interaction.

Right.

Now that we’ve dealt with what we are all sure happens in everyone else’s home, let’s get on with the reality of what really does happen in our own homes. Continue reading »

Homeschool Groups: To Join or Not to Join

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Homeschool Support />

Fall back-to-school often brings many homeschoolers to a choice: Do I join a homeschooling support group or co-op? There are many different types of homeschool groups, including intimate family groups with shared teaching, nationally-based tutor-led groups such as Classical Conversations, local extra-curricular-based support groups, state-based associations (such as Home Educators Association of Virginia), and local co-ops with parent-rotated teaching. The goals, purposes, cost, and time commitment varies with each different group, so it’s almost impossible to speak in generality about the myriad options homeschoolers have for joining with other home educators. But if you’re going to consider it, fall is one of the best times to think about whether joining a homeschooling group is the right choice for your family. Continue reading »

When You Need More Than One Curriculum For the Same Subject

by Rebecca Capuano
Homeschool Curriculum: When you need more than one curriculum for a subject />

One of the main benefits of homeschooling is the ability to tailor educational materials to each individual child. Rather than fitting the child to the curriculum, homeschooling enables a parent to fit the curriculum to the child. It is not uncommon to find different children in the same family working in completely different materials for the same subject, because they have different learning styles and strengths. And while some homeschoolers use an all-in-one curriculum approach, which offers all subjects through the same curriculum/publisher (such as Sonlight or Abeka), others use a variety of different publishers and curricula for different subjects. Regardless of the approach you choose, there may come a time when a single curriculum for a particular subject does not seem to meet your needs. Continue reading »

20 Fun Things To Do During a Homeschooling Summer

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Summer Fun for Kids />

Whether you school year ’round or take a break during the summer months, June, July, and August are the ideal time to jazz up your homeschooling with a bit of extra fun. Warm weather, sunshine, and summer breaks from regular-year activities all make the middle of the year perfect for a little excitement! Camps and swimming are pretty par-for-the-course for many families, but there are just so many things that homeschoolers can do to get the most out of summer and make some wonderful memories. Here are 20 fun ideas to get you started: Continue reading »

Reflections From This Homeschooling Year

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Reflections - Homeschooling Review />

Even though we technically school throughout the whole year, since summer for us is more relaxed, the beginning of June feels like the end of the school year. And, like at any ending, I end up reflecting. I mean, as a homeschooler I’m pretty much solely responsible for the academic well-being of my kids, so I figure I’d better make sure I learn something from each year of teaching, right? I like to think I can be in a better position each year to help my children learn what they need to learn. Continue reading »

Homeschooling is Not Public School at Home

by Rebecca Capuano
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She got me thinking. My friend, who, for the first time, was questioning some of the values, methods, and efficacy of public school and began investigating the idea of home education for her family. By asking me questions about this whole “homeschooling thing” that we do, she brought to my attention something with which we homeschoolers ourselves struggle. My friend didn’t even realize it, but with her questions about what we did and why we did it, she displayed what is a very common misperception about homeschooling: that homeschooling is some kind of a microcosm of the public school classroom, transported to the home environment. As I thought about it, I realized that many of us homeschoolers struggle against the very same misconception. Continue reading »

Pregnancy the Homeschooling Way

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Pregnancy the homeschooling way />

Pregnancy is, for most people, an amazing personal and family event. It is a marvelous emotional and physical transformation, and, for many, a true gift from God. The anticipation of baby #3 is certainly all of those things for us. But, because we’re homeschoolers, it’s also something else… the educational experience of a lifetime! Continue reading »

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

by Rebecca Capuano
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No matter the form it takes, we all have episodes of inadvertently teaching our children “Do as I say, not as I do”. And if we’re really honest, we’d admit that sometimes we just wish the adage could be true! But the reality is that homeschooling makes it abundantly clear that over the long haul, children do what we do more so than what we say. No matter how good our words, we just can’t get past the fact that it’s what we do and who we are that impacts our kids’ behavior the most. If we tell our children to not stress about their scores on standardized testing, but we spend the six months prior to testing working on testing practices every day with our children, worrying about how they are going to perform, and agonizing over testing results when they arrive, what message do the kids really get? Kids know when the message and the messenger don’t line up – and when they don’t, kids get the message; just not the message we want them to get. Continue reading »

Cures for Spring Fever

by Rebecca Capuano
TheHomeSchoolMom: Cures for Spring Fever />

Do you have it yet? That illness that strikes all children as soon as the weather gets warm and the trees start budding? That’s right… spring fever! It’s the malady that causes you to wake up in the morning with absolutely, positively no desire whatsoever to do anything other than get outside. It often closely occurs in conjunction with the urgent wish to neglect homeschooling in the pursuit of anything involving warm breezes and sunshine. Let’s face it, if you don’t feel like sitting inside at the table working on academics, your kids certainly won’t! Continue reading »

Being Tested at Testing Time

by Rebecca Capuano
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Many a homeschooler feels “tested” by testing time. It often feels like standardized tests are a test of us. Of how we’re doing, of our efficacy as homeschoolers, of our success as educators and parents. And it is easy to transfer our own inadequacies and fear of failure to our children at test time. Sure, we want them to learn. Sure, we want them to do well on tests. Sure, it would be great to have high scores to show off to nay-saying friends and family members as “proof” that our little homeschooling experiment really is working. But in order to be responsible homeschool parents, we need to take a true look at how much our focus on standardized testing is about our children, and how much it’s about us. Continue reading »

What Standardized Test Scores Don’t Tell Us

by Rebecca Capuano
What Standardized Test Scores Don't Tell Us />

Springtime usually means “testing time” for homeschoolers. And if you’re at all like me, it is not your favorite time of the year. Although standardized testing is a state requirement for many homeschoolers, it can easily become the most dreaded part of homeschooling. Why? Because many of us feel like test scores are a definitive measure of… well, something. Something, uh, important. Good scores mean we’re doing a good job, and bad scores mean we’re not. Or good scores mean our kids are really smart and bad scores mean they’re not. Or good scores mean our children are learning what they need to know and bad scores mean they’re not. Good scores mean homeschooling is the right thing for our children, and bad scores mean we need to shift to some other educational option. Right? Continue reading »

Easter Fun For the Kids

by Rebecca Capuano
Easter Fun For The Kids />

Spring bloomed early this year for us here in Virginia, and as soon as the air got warmer, the kids started asking, “Mom, when will Easter be here?” So begins the annual countdown until that day which, for us, celebrates the pinnacle of our faith – new life in the resurrection of Christ. And though there are plenty of faith-based activities we do to prepare for Easter, the holiday is also a lot of just plain fun for our family!
Continue reading »

Giving Up For Lent

by Rebecca Capuano
Giving Up For Lent />

It is the season of Lent, and for many Christians, it is a time for focusing on the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, in preparation for Easter. There are many great ways to celebrate Lent as a family, including devotions and special activities. But one of the main focuses of Lent is “giving up” something – to deny oneself and make personal sacrifices as an effort toward spiritual renewal. While some people choose to give up things like sweets or television during the period of Lent, it occurs to me that this Lenten idea of “giving up” not only applies to the spiritual realm, but to the realm of homeschooling as well. Continue reading »