Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Can both parents have a job while homeschooling?  Yes.  Homeschooling is a very efficient method of teaching children, since it is mostly 1 on 1 tutoring.  I actually find that homeschooling my kids and working is easier than sending them to public school and working because homeschooling can flex.  Public schooling is the most inflexible system I have ever dealt with.  I dealt with it for 6 years and that was plenty.  Thirty seconds late equals tardy.  Leaving early for a doctor's appointment?  Need a doctor's note.   Does your child need to take medicine during the 6 hours they are gone to school.  Sorry.  That's not happening.  I ended up going to truancy court because my kindergartner had strep throat twice in one year, despite my faithful turning in of doctor's notes.  I looked the truancy officer straight in the eye when he told me to not let my child miss any more school this year and told him that I would keep my son home if he was sick!  Schools are extremely inflexible.  With homeschooling, we can do school in the summer, on weekends, in the evenings, early in the mornings, at the park, at grandmas, at the library, or in the car (although this gives us a headache).  Since my husband teaches the math, we schedule all of the math in the mornings, early in the week, when he can supervise it.  If he had a different work schedule, we might do math on the weekends or in the evenings.  I have talked to a homeschool parent who said that her husband got up early in the morning and did lessons with his kids before he went to work, I can't remember if it was also math, but I think it was.  :-)  The point is, both my husband and I have been working the whole time that we've  been homeschooling.  I do only work part time but in my opinion, even if I had to work full time, I could still homeschool.  I juggled two part time jobs for a while a couple of years ago and it worked out just fine, although, there was less housework done and fewer home-cooked meals ... I also have friends who do it.  I know a couple of homeschooling moms who work as nurses part time, one who does photography and one who does custom embroidery. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge) The word "ignorant" is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult.>

When you start homeschooling your children, as in the rest of life, you will have to deal with ignorance. I'm not talking about the insulting meaning of the word. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge about something. There is, of course, your children's lack of knowledge about things in general that you are trying to remedy by schooling them. You will probably worry that you cannot address this completely and they will end up in the world, ignorant of something they need to know, but hey, didn't we all grow up lacking some knowledge? We just thought we knew everything.:-P The truth is, we keep learning what we need to know throughout our lives and not just in school.

Unfortunately, we didn't know everything and we still don't and that is the second type of ignorance you will have to deal with as a homeschooling parent. Your own. Eeek! When your child comes to you and says that for their foreign language, they want to learn Chinese, you're going to have to figure out a way to make that happen. You don't have to learn Chinese yourself to teach it to your child, but you'll need to find someone to teach it. Personally, I have used instructional DVDs to teach 2 of my kids how to play the guitar, a skill that I don't have. I could have also employed a guitar teacher, but it was less expensive to get the DVDs. If my husband was not able to teach Algebra 2 and Geometry, then I'd have to hire a teacher. As it is, we got Teaching Textbooks, which has a computer program to explain how to do the math problems and then if my kids still can't understand it, they can ask Dad.

The last place that you are going to face ignorance is from friends, family members, people you meet everywhere you go, the media, politicians, etc. A lot of people do not understand what homeschooling is, why anyone would want to do it, how you homeschool, etc. Since public school has been the norm for the last 150 or so years people seem to have forgotten that it hasn't always existed and is not the only way. They mightl ask your kids why they aren't in school. They might quiz your kids to see if they know what they think they should know. They might talk about how weird your family is. They might even call social services to report that you are homeschooling (but it is legal!). The media writes articles that make it seem like homeschoolers are ignorant, but show themselves as ignorant in the process. (This time maybe I do mean the insulting meaning of the word!). Last of all, there are politicians who will try and pass laws to make homeschooling either more difficult or illegal.

So there you have it. Ignorance. It's not going away any time soon.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Okay, suppose you've decided to homeschool, you've bought your curriculum and supplies and you've decided on a date to begin.   If you're like me, you get up that morning and think "how do I do this?"  There are the obvious things to consider, like how to work with more than 1 child at once, where to set up shop, how much time to spend on each subject, how to deal with distractions and basically, just how to start!  I gathered my kids up at the kitchen table and just went for it, reading out of the curriculum book and doing the activities.  I quickly discovered that my kids couldn't just sit and listen to me read, they needed to draw or play with a quiet toy while listening.  At first, I had a sixth grader, a third grader and a first grader and I planned for us to do some things together (for us it was Konos),  the 6th grader would go work in his room on things while I worked with the third grader and the first grader on a few things we could all do together and then the third grader would go do some things on her own and I'd finish up with the first grader.  Unfortunately, this method involved the first grader to be the one who sat still the longest in one spot and didn't work as well in practice as it did in theory.   There was quite a bit of whining.  I tried to do a schedule and post it on the wall, but the youngest was very, very schedule resistant and that didn't work.  Finally, we settled on our current checklist system.  Each child does the things on his or her list in the order that they prefer, asking for help from a parent when necessary and if they're not done by 6:00 p.m., they don't get any screen time that day.  It works for us.  I have also heard of a method called the Work Box system that a lot of people have success with.  It seems like it would work better for younger kids than a list.  Whatever your family situation, just keep tweaking it until you find a method that works for you.  It takes a while to get a routine going.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Great Web Sites.

I probably am not the best person to suggest great homeschooling websites, because my internet service at home is so limited that I can't use anything that involves streaming so although I've heard that there are a lot of instructional/educational videos on YouTube and the Khan Academy, I've never really been able to check them out.  I have ordered educational videos from Netflix.    I have often used Currclick which I enjoy for downloading and printing things that I can use right away.   I order a lot of other materials from Rainbow Resource.  I have used printables from Donna Young to keep track of attendance, grades and other things.   That said, I'm going to defer to someone else's blog, Free Homeschooling 101.  It's not been recently updated, but check out the archives!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friends, Field Trips and Fun.

Since we've been homeschooling, we have gone on a lot of field trips.  A lot.  We've been very fortunate to have found some homeschool groups in our area and with a group, we can get school discounts to some museums and attractions.  We also get discounted school group tickets to the state fair.  Our main homeschool group is able to use Boxtops for Education to raise funds, which is helpful.  Through association with these groups and through 4H we've had a lot of really great experiences and the kids have made friends.  Since we live in such an isolated area, neighborhood friends are just not a possibility, so we've had to make an effort to reach out to others so that the kids can socialize with kids their own ages.  If you are new to homeschooling, check out this list of support groups and if you can't find one in your area or find one that you share common beliefs with, try and network and form your own group.  When we first started homeschooling, my kids kind of felt alone in it, but now we know a ton of homeschoolers and they also have quite a few friends who go to public and private schools.  That thing about homeschooled kids not being able to socialize properly with others, that's a myth. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exercise and more.

This is just my opinion, but I don't think that kids who get up early, ride a bus for 40 minutes, sit in a school building for 6 hours, ride a bus home and then do a couple of hours of homework before bath and bed are getting enough exercise, enough sleep, enough play, enough family time or enough time out in nature. My opinion is backed up by these scientific studies and articles.  

Even Kids on Sports Teams Don't get enough exercise.

The Importance of Play

Sleep and Kids.

The Case Against Homework.

Nature Improves Health

I remember when my kids were in school, feeling that I didn't have enough time with them, that we didn't have time to go on walks and play.  Homeschooling is such a relief after 6 years of public schooling. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Deepening family bonds.

When I wrote out my list of alphabetical titles, I wrote deepening family bonds for D and now that I am going to write about it, it seems a silly title, but I can't think of another way to say it that starts with D, so there ya go.  That aside, I think that homeschooling is good for the family unit.  My kids are best friends and they seem to have a pretty good idea of who their parents actually are.  They are all teens now and we don't have any teen angst that I have been able to see.  I think that they will be close throughout their lives. 

Monday, June 20, 2011


Okay, you've studied the catalog and the internet, read reviews, read books about curriculum and you've made the decision and ordered something and now it's here. What do you do now?   I've opened curriculum books and boxes and thought, "wow, there's not much here." and I've also opened them and thought "Oh my goodness, I'm overwhelmed!"  This is why I recommend, if at all possible going someplace where you can open the books before you buy them.  It is so true that you can't judge a book by its cover, so go to a curriculum fair, a homeschool convention exhibit hall, a homeschool consignment store or a book store and open them up and look inside.  If there is no other option, try a "search within this book" service on a web site or request to download sample pages.  If you get it and there's not much there, maybe you can use it as a "spine" book and supplement it with things from the library and the web.  If there's too much, you're going to need to decide what parts of it you want to teach and what parts you want to leave out.  Yes.  Leave.  Out.  You are not going to be able to possibly teach your children every single fact about every single subject so you need to decide what's important to you to teach and teach that.  Don't let the curriculum writers rule you.  They've written what's important to them.  When we started out, we used a delightful fun curriculum called Konos that required a lot of preparation work from the teacher, but was worth it, in my opinion.  So much fun, so many memories ... the only problem is, my kids don't remember most of it ... only my husband and I do.  This raises some questions in my head.  Do they not remember it because the curriculum we used the next couple of years didn't build on it like it should or do kids just not form solid memories at the early elementary ages?  I guess it's enough that we had a lot of fun and we have pictures.  :-P

Sunday, June 19, 2011


We love books around here.  I didn't start reading to the kids in the womb, but as they have grown up books have been an important part of our household and our homeschool.  We go to the library at least once a week and bring home lots of books each time.  Last week we carried so many books back in at once I had this ridiculous thought that one of the librarians was going to yell "all available librarians to the front desk, stat!" but no one did and we returned them quietly.  In addition to taking the kids to the library and letting them check out whatever they are interested in, I sometimes pick up books that I think they might be interested in and bring them home.  Often, I just lay the books on the couch or the kitchen table and wait and before I know it, one of the kids will bring the book to me and tell me something interesting that they've read in it.  I also sometimes assign books to read for school.  These are usually not books we'd want to do as a read-aloud  and are almost exclusively nonfiction instructional books.  We also read aloud each night for 30 minutes or so.  These are fiction and these are fun.  This way we've read together a bunch of books over the years.  Collectively, we love Ranger's Apprentice, Harry Potter, a bunch of the Madeline L'Engle books and Hank The Cow Dog!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

ABCs of Homeschooling - Academics.

A is for academics.

Okay, I'm starting a 26 day series on homeschooling, with a different subject for every day of the alphabet.  I think the first thing that people think about is academics, as in, what will I teach them?  In what order?  How will I make sure everything is covered.  There are several ways you can approach this.  You can enroll your child in a correspondence or online school like K12, you can use a "boxed" curriculum from a company that sends you everything you will need each year, you can follow one of the free online curriculum lists like Ambleside or Old Fashioned Education or you can look up what each child needs to learn each year on World Book.   You could also purchase a book I've always wanted to buy but never somehow, have, The Checklist by Cindy Downes or the What your 1st Grader needs to know book series.  On the more casual end of the spectrum, you can just think, okay, math, history, science ... and buy books that are for your kid's grade level for each one, mix and match.  You can do unit studies, there are tons of free ones on this site, Homeschool Share.  You can also unschool, that is, follow what your child is interested in and learn about that, it's also called delight led learning.   After 7 years of homeschooling, what we do is use textbooks for the basics, resources from here and there for other things and also give them plenty of time to pursue their own interests.  It works for us.

Friday, June 17, 2011


I had a very lazy day today.  For the first day since June started, I didn't do any spring cleaning.  Ironically, I felt better today than I have the whole month and did less.  I knew my crew, the kids, were tired though and my daughter really wanted me to finish the last book in The Hunger Games series so she could read it after me, so I did the minimum today, worked, cooked, went to the library, took a meal to a friend who had surgery and read the book.  It was a very lazy day and I feel kind of guilty about it, but the book was good. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The day did get better.  The sun came out.  The joy that my pain that I had just decided I was going to have to live with forever ( after 3 doctor's visits and many tests) was curable, made my attitude better.  I've never been more happy to have a urinary tract infection.  I still feel like cwap, but hey, there is hope in the form of antibiotics!  Today is another spring cleaning day.  I wish it wasn't taking so long, but since it has to be squeezed in between work and all my constant chauffeuring duties, it just is going to take a while.  :-(   I sure would like to hire a crew to do it. 

Speaking of a crew, that reminds me of a funny story from last night.  I was taking the kids to a VBS meeting at someone's home in a neighborhood in my town that I'd never been to.  I saw this man from a lawn care service who was just finishing up mowing one of those criss-cross patterns in a lawn and I said "That's pretty.  I like how he did that lawn." and my older son thought I knew this person and had said his name so he said "That's who?" and of course I had no idea what he was talking about so I said "what?""  My daughter in the back seat was laughing at us.  As we drove home later, I pointed at the house again and said "That's where my friend Pretty lives."  And we had another good laugh.  Sometimes it's the silliest things.  :-P

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kind of a yucky day so far.

I woke up to violent thunderstorms and dogs who were scared of them.  I went into the kitchen only to find that our roof, despite being repaired a while back, had leaked again.  :-(    Sometimes I really do not enjoy home ownership and kind of wish to rent and not own or better yet, live in some kind of (inexpensive) assisted-living facility for the middle aged.  :-P.   It's so dark and dreary today that I had a very difficult time getting started and getting to work.  Now that I am here, there's not much work to do.  I have been running out of work quite frequently lately and so my boss has offered to have me do some voice recognition editing.  That should be tons of fun. 

There is good news since I started this post.  This mysterious abdominal pain that I have been having for 6 weeks, is a urinary tract infection, despite the fact that I tested negative for a urinary tract infection at the beginning of this whole ordeal, that is what it indeed is.  That means that  I can be treated with antibiotics and won't have to have a CAT scan.  That's really good.   I am looking forward to being healed!  Also, while I was on the phone with the doctor's office, some of the doctors in my hospital dictated so now I have work.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What are the odds?

That both my husband and I would leave our wallets at home when we took the kids out to a restaurant last night for the youngest's birthday supper?  Sometimes I have a tendency to leave my purse or wallet at home, which is why I bought a wallet that is attached to my car keys in the hope that I will never again get to the grocery store without at least a credit card to buy groceries.  However, last night, I wasn't driving, so I didn't grab my keys.  I did pick up my purse so I had my checkbook and I went to the Kroger (grocery) store and bought a restaurant gift card, so it all worked out.  I even got quadruple gas points rewards on the card, how cool is that?  I might start buying gift cards all the time now.  We had a very good dinner and the boy got cake and ice cream so it was all good.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My baby's birthday.

Today is my youngest son's birthday, the big 1-3.  I cannot believe it!  I've been preparing myself for it, but still, whew.  I have 3 teenagers now.  This boy was not planned by my husband and I, but was planned by God and has been a wonderful surprise, so much fun, the icing-on-the-cake kid.  :-)

I tried to post this next part yesterday, but for some reason it didn't post.  Yesterday when I tried to wake the youngest up, he said "Technically, since I'm in the top bunk, I am "up".  I'm up and horizontal.   What you want is for me to be down and vertical."  Who else can say things like that the very second they wake up?  Not me, that's for sure!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Getting things done.

We are gradually getting some things done around the house.  I feel like we'll be spring cleaning until fall at this pace, but so be it, I guess.  It needs to be done.  Then, I guess the kids might feel differently about the beginning of school this fall if it also meant the end of spring cleaning ... (Can I hear a Hooray for school!?)  Yesterday, I worked and then came home and we cleaned for maybe an hour and a half and then I had to get dressed in my nice clothes again and go to the library to return about a million books and then to Lowes to buy wood to put on top of our pantry wire shelves in the hopes that everything won't fall over and then to the first family night at the city pool.  We got home around 8:30 and went to bed around 9:30.  At least I did.  All this work and then swimming makes a person tired, not as tired as I was all the time before I gave up gluten, but tired in a good way.  

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What I've been up to.

I did not get busy and clean up the house like a crazy person this weekend.  (I wish I had!)  I did, however, I'm pretty sure, finish my tiny little book about being gluten free.  The whole point of the book is to make it simple and so the fact that it is a little, simply laid out 80 page book is a good thing, I guess.  Then, Sunday afternoon, with that victory behind me, I sat and read the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy.  That's one of those books that once you pick it up, you pretty much can't put it down.   Then yesterday, I came home from work and dove into the spring cleaning.  It just seems like it's gonna take forever.  I'm working on getting the old homeschool/board game shelves emptied and all the stuff put into the wardrobe I bought at Ikea so that all that stuff will be behind closed doors and if it looks messy, it's hidden.  I spent a lot of time sorting through old school work yesterday.  The kids have done some notebooking pages which are really good and I'm going to put them all in a box and keep those for school memories purposes.  It all makes me think how little they were when we started homeschooling and how big they are now!  It goes so quickly!  And speaking of that, June is 1/4 gone already and I don't think my house is 1/4 spring cleaned!  I really better get on it today.  :-(   

After work.  :-(

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Busy week.

We've had a busy but good week.   Our pool is up.  The summer reading program has started.  We went to the skating rink.  We had a nice time, but we sure didn't get as much spring cleaning done as I would have liked.  :-(  since I have to go to mom's house to work and since our afternoons were filling up so much, I left notes for the kids about what they should work on while I was gone, but  they misunderstood what I wanted them to do. Sometimes I think we speak a different language, or at the very least, a different dialect.  :-P 

A mom at the skating rink asked for my advice about homeschooling her boys who are going to be kindergarten age this year.  I think she pictures homeschooling as sitting down working for 5 or 6 hours a day and I just don't think these boys (or most boys, really) are ready for that at 5.  They may be able to be subdued and sit down in the schools, but I don't think it's good for them.   I've been looking around at curriculum and may suggest Five In a Row for her.  Does anyone have any experience with this curriculum?  It looks good to me.  I didn''t actually start teaching mine at home until after kindergarten so I'm not sure exactly how to start with the littlest ones.  If it were me doing it over again, I'd probably just play with them, read to them and watch the Leapfrog videos on how to read but people who are not sure of themselves in homeschooling (including me when I first started) want curriculum, some kind of a guide.  

I've spent quite a bit of time working on my book that I'm writing this week.  It might be almost done, but I'm afraid to say so since I told someone it was basically done last November and it wasn't.  :-P

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Filling up.

A little over a week ago, my calender was basically blank for the summer.  I had maybe 3 things for the month of June and 1 or 2 written in July and I was planning to get a lot of things done around the house.  But then we had that homeschool planning meeting and then I was talking to the other moms and the library put out their summer reading schedule, the church announced VBS times and suddenly, I'm seeing that I'm going to be very busy this summer!


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