Many of us homeschoolers are automobile-dependent. Living in rural or suburban areas and in some small and medium size towns and cities, we find that our communities aren’t “walkable,” and there is no public transportation to speak of. There is certainly no school bus serving our family. Since our kids aren’t in the “big box of school” we have to drive to many of the activities and classes our kids participate in. With three kids in a wide age range and with a diversity of interests, over the years I have found myself constantly traveling from one “homeschool thing” to another, also mixing in our regular errands. Continue reading »
We just started homeschooling about a month ago. Our son is in first grade. We purchased the curriculum (here she named a specific well-known Christian curriculum), but it’s not going as well as I had hoped. My son really doesn’t like the structure of the program. He’s a six-year-old boy who loves to be outside. Any encouragement, advice, resources, wisdom, or thoughts would be appreciated! Thanks so much! Continue reading »
Recently on TheHomeSchoolMom’s Facebook page someone asked for recommendations for her soon to be 4 year old. It took me back to when I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old and had recently decided to homeschool. I. Was. So. Excited. What curriculum should I use? How should we schedule our days? (I bought Managers of Their Homes and carefully scheduled every moment of our days and then proceeded to never once use the schedule.) I made lesson plans and felt organized and believed that my kids were going to get the best education ever. And honestly, we had great fun with some of the activities. So after all these years (my kids are now 19 and 16), what curriculum would I suggest for a 4 year old? Continue reading »
A great activity for your homechool group or co-op is a library scavenger hunt. Working with your librarian, plan a gathering for homeschoolers that includes sending the kids throughout the library to find resources, so they’ll get to know the library better. If the scavenger hunt is promoted by the library, you might even find some more homeschooling friends in your community if they show up at the scavenger hunt. You can organize the kids into pairs or teams (and have the youngest kids hunt with an adult), and send them out with a list of things for each child to find or do in the library. A sample scavenger list might … Continue reading »
Everybody knows homeschoolers go on a lot of field trips.
We start them young with trips to the fire department and the water treatment plant. We go to historic farms, art museums, animal shelters, state and national parks, corn mazes, and caverns.
In my state, Virginia, you can study practically all of American history through field trips: Native American sites, Jamestown, Williamsburg, historic grist mills, Frontier Culture Museum, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier, antebellum plantations, Civil War battlefields and museums, memorials of World War I and II, Civil Rights sites, a Vietnam War museum, and more. Continue reading »
The reality is that when you homeschool, it can easily seem like an endless treadmill. Often there aren’t the same demarcations in the school year that public school students experience, as many homeschoolers follow non-traditional schedules and do academics year-round. Moving from one “grade” to another becomes an issue of “in which subject?” and summer “break” can simply be a matter of shifting academics from traditional book work to more experiential learning. Homeschooling, like parenting, never ends while the kids are still at home. Continue reading »
At the end of each school year, are you finding yourself swimming through mounds of worksheets, quizzes, tests, and half-finished workbooks wondering just what to do with it all? Where does the organization begin? What do you keep? Where will you keep it? How much should you, dare I say, throw away? As you begin Continue reading »
In my family, interest-based groups have been an important part of homeschooling life. We formed a number of these groups over the years. Some, like a history club made up of eager parents and not-so-eager young children, barely lasted long enough for a few meetings. Others have lasted ten years. The most successful has been our boy’s science club. It was started by five families with nine boys between the ages of seven and eleven. When we began it was highly structured. We met regularly at each other’s homes. Parents took turns planning a project or experiment, got the materials, explained the educational principles underlying the activity, and if things didn’t turn out as planned (actually quite frequently) it was usually a parent who searched for answers. Continue reading »
You’ve heard the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” You’ve probably also noticed slap backs like, “I’ve seen the village and it’s not raising my kids.” Continue reading »
Everyone has a comment on the increasing popularity of homeschooling. When I talk to people about homeschooling, they frequently mention the availability of “so much curriculum these days,” as if that is the single most important factor in being able to homeschool. Non-homeschoolers, prospective homeschoolers, and new homeschoolers seem surprised that many homeschoolers use learning materials that are not, strictly speaking, part of a homeschool curriculum. There are many reasons why people use other learning resources instead of curriculum. Continue reading »
Some states require end-of-year evidence of progress for homeschooled kids in order for them to homeschool in subsequent years. There isn’t actually any evidence that this improves homeschooling outcomes (and many homeschoolers believe it interferes with the educational process), but it is the law in some parts of the United States. Using an evaluator may be one of the options you can choose if you are in a state that requires evidence of progress. A homeschool evaluation can be a more holistic approach than standardized testing. An evaluator can use a “whole child” approach that takes into account accomplishments that do not show up through testing. Continue reading »
Maybe in your home school, children start school back up, after lots of summer breaks and trips and fun, with excitement and delight. Let’s just say that back-to-school doesn’t look anything like that for us. In our household, even though technically we “do school” throughout the summer to some degree, our August/Septemberish get-down-to-serious-business homeschool re-start is a bit bumpy, to say the least. There is always whining and complaining. Frequently a bunch of “I don’t KNOWs”, even over concepts we’ve gone over many times. Very little patience. Sometimes downright fits.
It’s not a pretty sight. Continue reading »
I recently wrote about how homeschooling parents can use a dialogue-based approach to education, which I see as a big potential benefit to home education. While many public schools have been forced into test-prep mania that defines success very narrowly, homeschoolers can use this educational approach to develop critical thinking and evaluate learning.
Scientific American has a recent story that reflects my thoughts on the unfortunate increased emphasis on standardized testing in public education. Continue reading »
“Smithsonian’s History Explorer was developed by the National Museum of American History in partnership with the Verizon Foundation to offer hundreds of free, innovative online resources for teaching and learning American history…” 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 »
One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can continue to help our kids build content during skills lags, customizing what works for each child. Experienced homeschoolers often fall into these techniques over time, but I offer a few of my favorite ways you can help your child get “subject area learning” before his reading and writing skills are developed to an extent that they can be the primary routes to learning. Continue reading »
Homeschooling parents are sometimes asked about how often they test their children. Some do give tests that are associated with specific text books or curricula. However, many never give tests, and others only assist their children with learning test-taking skills when there is a practical reason, such as preparing for a state-required standardized test, a college readiness test such as the SAT or ACT, or helping a child prepare to enter a more formal learning situation. Continue reading »