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Benefits of Homeschooling: Efficiency

by Jeanne Faulconer

In Facebook homeschooling groups and in real life homeschool group meetings, I frequently see new homeschoolers asking “Am I doing enough?” You ask this about all ages, from preschool through high school, though it tends to center around the earliest years of homeschooling. The “Am I doing enough?” question often comes from a point of surprise. Continue reading »

Did School Happen Here Today?

by Jeanne Faulconer

An occasional complaint of the primary homeschooling parent (most often Mom) is that the other parent (most often Dad) does not appreciate any learning for which he doesn’t see first hand evidence.

If “learning” happens while Dad is away working, but he happens to come home to kids who are on the internet, watching television, or “just playing,” he may not believe any “school” took place in his absence.

This can certainly be a reasonable concern that a father has for wanting to make sure that the children he loves are being well educated. Continue reading »

Ten Things Homeschoolers Don’t Have To Do

by Jeanne Faulconer

You’re excited about the new homeschool year, and you have a list of things to do to get ready. Do you have a list of things you don’t have to do? Homeschoolers don’t have to… Continue reading »

Thinking Outside the Textbook

by Amanda Beaty

I’m a member of several homeschooling groups and email loops, and the most common questions are all related to, “It’s a battle to get my child to do her work. I thought homeschooling would be better for my child, but it’s all tears and yelling. For both of us. I may have to put her back in school.”

The specifics vary, but many parents new to homeschooling are trying to recreate a public school environment in their home and finding that it doesn’t work. It’s not their fault. Most of us went to public school; it’s what we know. We’re taught that this is the only way to get an education. That children won’t learn if we don’t tell them what to learn and force them do so. We shouldn’t be surprised when we find homeschooling not working under these circumstances. Continue reading »

October 1: Curriculum’s Not Working Day

by Jeanne Faulconer

October 1. We shall declare it an annual homeschool holiday. We’ll call it Curriculum’s Not Working Day — — because now we have reached the time of year when so many of the new homeschooling parents who bought curriculum when we said, “Don’t buy curriculum yet,” are concerned about not being able to get through Continue reading »

How Challenges & Mistakes Promote Learning

by Laura Grace Weldon

Interesting problems and exciting risks are life’s calisthenics. They stretch us in directions we need to grow. Children are particularly oriented this way. They think up huge questions and search for the answers. They face fears. They puzzle over inconsistencies in what is said and done around them. They relentlessly challenge themselves to achieve social, physical, or intellectual feats that (from a child’s perspective) seem daunting. They struggle for mastery even when dozens of attempts don’t provide them any success. It’s a testament to courage that they continue to try. Continue reading »

Deschooling vs. Unschooling: What’s the Difference?

by Jeanne Faulconer

New homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers sometimes wonder about the word “deschooling” vs. “unschooling”. The prefixes “de” and “un” often mean such similar things. We “de-humidify” and we “un-tie” our shoes — both acts of reversing the meaning of the root word.

And in that sense, the words are related. Both deschooling and unschooling require thinking about the inverse of schooling.

But within the world of homeschooling, the two words deschooling and unschooling have meanings that are, most often, distinct from one another. Continue reading »

Goldilocks Effect: Learning When It’s “Just Right”

by Laura Grace Weldon

Young children seem to recognize that knowledge is an essential shared resource, like air or water. They demand a fair share. They actively espouse the right to gain skill and comprehension in a way that’s necessary for them at the time. Often children seem to reject what they aren’t ready to learn, only to return to the same skill or concept later with ease. This is not only an expression of autonomy, it’s a clear indicator that each child is equipped with an learning guidance system of his or her own. Continue reading »

Do Homeschoolers Hate Public Schools?

by Jeanne Faulconer

Do homeschooling parents hate school?

I run across this assumption on the internets here and there. Commenters or bloggers or journalists or politicians will respond to a homeschooling parent based on the assumption that all homeschoolers are anti-school. Continue reading »

What Curriculum Should I Use For My 4 Year Old?

by Mary Ann Kelley

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? Continue reading »

Why Homeschooling Boys Works

by Mary Ann Kelley

Today a friend posted a video called “War on Boys” to Facebook and it showed up in my feed with lots of enthusiastic comments. As I watched the 5 minute video, all I could think was how obvious the video’s assertions are, and yet how far public schools are moving away from addressing the truths presented. Not just limited to boys (many girls share these traits with boys), the video shows how the policies being implemented in schools reward quiet intellectual pursuits in young children while simultaneously removing the opportunities for these kids to explore and learn through play. Continue reading »

What to Tell Yourself When You Want to Quit Homeschooling

by Rebecca Capuano

It’s highly likely that at some point in your homeschooling career, you’ll get to the place where you feel like you are done. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will. That moment, in homeschooling, when you are sure you Can. Not. Do. This. Any. More. Continue reading »

Instead of Curriculum: Electronic Circuit Boards

by Jeanne Faulconer

Working with electronic circuit boards may sound ambitious or advanced, but my kids enjoyed playing with these as part of their science and technology learning when they were in their early elementary years. They learned many concepts about creating circuits from hands-on play, in particular by using a kid-friendly Snap Circuits® Kit from Elenco. Continue reading »

How to Preserve & Empower A Child’s Motivation

by Laura Grace Weldon

The kids had a bunch of boards, some old nails, a hand saw, and a few hammers. They also had the two most important ingredients, the desire to make something and the freedom to do so.

They spent an afternoon planning their tree fort, enthusiastically arguing over whose plan was best. Their first few attempts failed spectacularly. They were undaunted, even bragged a little bit about the noise the boards made falling down. Several of them asked family members for advice. A few others paged through books and watched YouTube videos as they tried to figure out basic construction techniques. They started again, measuring more carefully as they built a frame. Continue reading »

Homeschooling at Night: How Nightschooling Can Work for You

by Jeanne Faulconer

Everybody knows that your kids should be up early hitting the books, right? Homeschooling goes better if Mom is organized and has lessons prepared for first thing in the morning. Homeschooling works well when kids focus on academics when they’re fresh, and they get to play when they’ve completed their school work.

Homeschooling at any other time of day is risking disaster.

That’s the conventional wisdom, anyway.

However, sometimes homeschooling at night makes more sense than the conventional wisdom. That can even include “nightschooling” – focusing all or part of your homeschooling efforts during the evening hours. Continue reading »

The Homeschool Parent-Teacher Conference

by Jeanne Faulconer

My first t-shirt as a homeschooling parent proclaimed, “Don’t bother me. I’m having a parent-teacher conference.”

This expressed well my initial thoughts about the roles of mother and teacher while homeschooling. I could see my “teacher self” talking to my “mother self,” echoing the familiar adult roles in education that involves public school…

Past my first few months of homeschooling more than a decade and a half ago, I have not separated a “teacher self” from my “mom self.” At the same time, I found it was important for me to set boundaries of time and space that made my family function well. Continue reading »

Delayed Academics: It’s All About Learning

by Jeanne Faulconer

Many experienced homeschoolers have long valued the ability to delay formal academics to create a more holistic early childhood education for their young children, with the understanding that this creates a rich foundation for later academic and life success. Today, parents new to homeschooling are embarking on homeschooling at a time when public schools are emphasizing early formal academics and implementing standardized testing of very young children, despite lack of evidence that these practices enhance educational outcomes for the children.

As David Elkind (author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally) writes in “Much Too Early” for the website EducationNext, “Why, when we know what is good for young children, do we persist in miseducating them, in putting them at risk for no purpose?” Continue reading »

Free To Learn Is A Transformative Book

by Laura Grace Weldon

Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray isn’t just a book, it’s a powerful agent of transformation. I’d like to put a copy in the hands of every parent, teacher, and policy maker. Gray, a research professor in the Continue reading »

Delaying Academics: When Homeschoolers Defer Formal Lessons

by Jeanne Faulconer

Schools are pushing standardized testing and formal academics earlier than ever, with today’s kindergartners and preschoolers asked to master skills and content that used to be learned in first and second grades.

Stories like this one from New York and this one from Chicago are popping up all over the country — frequent standardized testing of five year olds (and the accompanying test prep) is becoming the norm in public education. Formal reading, writing, and arithmetic teaching are displacing the time honored traditions of kindergarten — play, story time, learning to share, and enrichment activities that lead to numeracy and literacy.

Some school reformers see the same thing that many homeschoolers do — that a loss of play puts academic success at risk. A complete report on this was issued by the Alliance for Childhood, “Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School”. Continue reading »

Our Homeschool: The Standard for Success

by Rebecca Capuano

Every once in a while in this homeschooling journey, by some miracle — you are able to see that you did something right.

That happened to me, recently, in an unexpected way.

It was testing time. Standardized testing time.

* Insert ominous theatrical music here.*

Yes, in years past, I have seen testing as the time that informs me of all the ways I am failing as a homeschool mom. Of course it’s not that, but that’s still how it felt. If my kids scored well, I scored well as a homeschool mom. If they didn’t, well… Continue reading »