Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Portrait of Home Schooling

I know, I know......it's a home school post. Sorry, I can't help myself.

Last weekend was the Chattanooga Curriculum Fair, and that means there were a ton of newbie home schoolers. Now, I have been to the Chattanooga fair many, many times. I have also attended fairs in Atlanta. While the Atlanta fairs are better, more organized and have far better speakers the Chattanooga event does has a large number of vendors and many resources to get the newbie home schoolers started.

Typically a newbie will be super motivated to teach at least 8 full subjects to their little ones and to plan attending a co-op of some sort. Let's not forget the music and art lessons and maybe some dance or gymnastics to boot.


While this is a super idea in a parent's head, I can promise that this sort of schedule will only lead to one thing. Burnout!

Burnout is a big deal too, because burnout tends to make one think they can't home school or that they are not patient enough or they are too inadequate. Burnout stinks, big time!

Today I want to share with you newbies what home schooling typically looks like over here. Now, keep in mind that everyone does things differently, hence the absolute beauty of home schooling. At any rate, here are some images for you to store away in your mind so that you might feel LESS compelled to speed your way down the road to burnout.

When you start the day out it's okay if the kids and yourself do not crawl out of bed at the crack of dawn, really. Sometimes it's nice to lay in bed together and read books or maybe everyone would rather run outside to help gather acorns and cool leaves first thing in the morning. On a cold winter day, math is always more fun if everyone is still in Pj's and sipping hot chocolate (don't forget the mini marshmallows).


You don't need desks, either. There are a multitude of places to get some school work done such as the kitchen table, the big family room recliner or even the front porch.

What about that perfectly perfect schedule you spent hours charting so that everyone can move from subject to subject with ease? I can promise that life as a home schooler ,especially with many children, does need a schedule but it is better to follow a "rough" schedule. Be flexible. Disasters happen, lessons get interrupted, and diapers often need changing. Don't sweat it.



Then there is the calender full of activities and extra lessons such as karate and music. Pick one and let the others go. What good is home schooling if you are NEVER home? I once watched a family with 3 kids working on their math in the waiting room at the dentist office. Seriously, if you MUST do math in the waiting room before getting your teeth cleaned then you are either waaaaay too inflexible or not home enough to get the work done. I promise your kids will be fine if they do not get to participate in every activity that pops up.
 The activity that demands the most attention would be dinner. Please be home together for dinner, I promise you will be happy you did.

You really do not have to sit and do busy work 5 days a week, either. Often we use Fridays as a day to go outside and learn or we might use that day for a fun outing. Be creative and remember that you are a home schooler. You do NOT have to follow the public school schedule in your area. One year we actually took off from Thanksgiving until the New Year so that we would have days to watch movies, bake cookies and complete crafts for the holidays. Take control of your calender!



What if a little one wakes up sick or extra cranky? What if EVERYONE is feeling extra cranky and weepy? I usually throw the schedule for the day out and we spend time outside or playing in rooms. I see no point in making a house full of cranky, ill kids worse by sitting them down to mess with school. A good dinner and early bedtime will do wonders for those bad moods too, allowing the next day to be much better.

Home schooling is not simply a chore that must be completed for a few hours a day, rather it is a life style. It requires parents to make decisions that are completely centered around family life. It's sometimes tiring and other times exhilarating. It is how you live your life everyday, how you learn everyday. It's also learning not to compare yourself or your children to others or to the public system.

It's finding your own way, spending valuable time with your kids, and watching them learn...one day at a time.
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Oh my Lucy is starting to bag up! This means that her udders are getting filled with milk and that labor will be soon. Hopefully within a week we will have a little calf.
I have been busy getting everything in her paddock cleaned up and ready. Tomorrow I will pull the milker out and make sure it's nice a clean and ready to go too.

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There is about 1 week left in the Circle of Moms Top 25 Mom's of Large Families contest. I would really appreciate you hopping over to give me a vote. I am at the number 10 spot! Thanks!

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I have been super busy finishing up a quilt this week and trying to start a crochet afghan because you know I do not have enough projects to juggle:-) I will post a picture of the quilt as soon as I finish the top!

Until then, how does home schooling look at your house?







19 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting about homeschooling. This is something we are considering for my daughter but I am nervous about filling up all that time. I am also nervous about meeting the requirements from the state. But overall, I believe I can do it and it truly is what is best for her. I loved your photos and your philosophy.

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    1. You will be surprised at how naturally it will come to you! Don't be nervous either!...you can do it!

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    2. The first year I homeschooled my child(kindergarten), I was positive I was screwing him up for life..That is not the case, he just went in for testing and he scored above everyone else so I must be doing something right.

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  2. Perfectly said! We don't do a lot of extras, but I have a hard time with being flexible with the schedule. feeling like a failure comes far to easy for me the moment something doesn't get done, so thank you for the reminder to let it go!

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    1. I always remind myself that I can always get it done "tomorrow!" It's IMPOSSIBLE to get everything done in a day:-)

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  3. Bring these types of posts on! (Says the mom who doesn't quite seem to have the guts to do it! I am living vicariously through those of you who do...)

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    1. Ha-ha! Well, it's one of those things you just have to dive in and do and tell yourself "I know I can, I know I can!"

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  4. Well I have an almost 7yrold 4.5yrold, 23mo and 5 month old... our approach is a lot of "unschooling" mixed with some formal lessons...We are almost finished with "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons"..That takes about 8 minutes for my son. Mydaughter will soon start it as she wasn't ready. He also does some writing everyday. this may be in the form of a "thank you" note, grocery list, cross words, copy work or a fill in the blank in a workbook. I will mention my son has severe ADHD/ODD so things need to be spaced and short. Coming up we will start a math program and that will be when we are finishing up with "100 lessons"....So in our house the focus is reading right now. We have done a bit of geography..we read "living books" every eve. I make a list of "requests " for the library in addition to just some "fun" books. So most of the time we just work education into the daily life. We bake(fractions)I have 8 blackberries and there are 4 people...... He builds with his Dad..Helps me in the garden(science)"what does that sign say?" what time is it? how many hrs till dinner? We also have a subscription to "Brain Pop Jr" my son LOVES this.He can watch 5 minutes of a video..he can navigate through social studies, health, history etc..we don't do the quizzes as he has 100% plus comprehension.

    We spend most of time outside..we read a lot to them and just enjoy life. Formal sit down stuff takes up maybe 30 minutes a day without the videos.

    This is what works for us!

    Liz

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    1. It's alot like that here too! there really can be lots of learning and mixing of academics with everyday life, such as baking, etc.
      I have one child who is borderline ADD and it helps for her to stand up at the counter to do school. I am sure a public system would not be so flexible as to allow that, but it works for her so we do it that way.
      You are a busy mama with those little ones toddling around!

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    2. Thanks! Actually my son did attend public school for K...it was a nightmare..they did let him stand or whatever...however it was a joke. There were 30 students to 1 teacher. No assistants...My hubby and I were at every outing, volunteered in the class and also were at every class party. to say the class was "controlled chaos" would not be an accurate observation. anytime a kid did anything remotely different from what was expected they were shipped off to the office. needless to say my son was there EVERDAY!! even with an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) it was also a joke. they had him sweping up empty classrooms most the time, We already were picking him up at noon even though theey didn not offer half day K. The principal was a great cheerleader, but he wasn't my sons teacher. One day I picked him up when he was once again doing another "behavior sheet" in the office for say hiding the pencils or some silly impulsive thing. I could hear the principal like I was underwater..like Charlie Browns teacher "wa waa waa waa" I never brought him back after that. I had wanted to homeschool him and we didn't think he would be receptive at home,,,,public school would have (and did for awhile) leave him traumatized. Is he where a "neurotypical 6.5 yr old" would be? I don't know. I do know he thanks me everyday when we see the busses go by that he is home schooled. At the very least I know I am doing better than what he was getting at public school. I tight him to read and that feels sooooo good! We are amazed at how long the day seems and how much we have done in a day..played, read, puzzles, writing, a walk, built forts, played with sister, baked muffins, made dinner..and then the bussed roll by at 4:00 while we are eating dinner. He is always shocked as ismy daughter that the kids are just then going home.

      liz

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    3. Wow! It sounds like you both went through a hard year before home schooling. I know that my nephew needs an IEP and it drives my sister crazy trying to actually get one that "works." She really has to fight for everything.....it's a shame.
      I am glad things are so much better for you guys now.

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  5. I love this post. I linked to it on fb and in several homeschooling groups. It makes me sad to see so many young families starting off so rigid and overcommitted. I've even seen moms give up and send the kids to public school because they can't do it all. Really, like the school does!?!? Sad.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, so many moms start out thinking they must be rigid and teach a bucket load of subjects starting out. I think this is something we learn from pre-k programs, etc. WE think kids must know everything by the time they turn 6 or else they will never be successful in life. Sad.

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  6. We are missionaries in Africa and have four kids--newly 6, 4.5, turning 3, and 11 months old. We did a VERY loose "kindergarten" this last year (what with the new baby and all) and my oldest son learned to read using 100 Easy Lessons but that's really about all we did. This year we are doing Sonlight and I'm calling it 1st grade. I'm just having all the kids together as one "class" (though only the 4 and 6 year olds are doing any bookwork at all, and only the 6 year old has math) and we're reading the books and talking about them together. We just finished our first full week of school and the kids are really enjoying it, though of course I've had to be flexible because every day there are different regularly scheduled interruptions as well as the oddball things that come up! We are doing Bible/History, Reading, Math, Handwriting, the occasional science activity, and an activity slot where I can toss in art projects and music and other random stuff I want to do. Then I read the kids a book between lunch and afternoon rest time. The rest of the day is playtime...I would love to do field trips but there's really nowhere I can take the kids. We don't have a car, this part of Africa is more known for corruption than tourism, and I can't handle all four kids in a taxi by myself.

    I'm trying my best not to be rigid and to stay at the level the kids are actually ready for, and to keep school to about 2-3 hours per day so they have plenty of playtime. I also break up their school time so they have a couple of recess or coloring times during the course of the morning. And the 3 year old is allowed to wander in and out as his attention span allows. We'll see how the next few weeks go. :) Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple and allow for all the distractions!

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  7. We had a very similar begining way back when... We were a military family - and had 3 boys with in 3 years... I didn't even realise that we were actually homeschooling... We moved to Germany and I continued family life (we consider ourselves as life-long learners) as normal, but wanted to have our boys learn German culture first hand, so we enrolled them in the local Kindergarden (it was 3 hours a day and was very open, child lead learning). That was fantastic for us! The boys learned German very quickly! THEN, after 3 years we were back in the states... I was accepted to my first choice college for art, so we enrolled our boys in public school. I have to say, they had a great experience for 6 years, though we, as parents, continued to teach our children at home (through life lessons - if we wehn camping we would take the time to look at what was around us, talk to our boys about nature, and listen to the boys' ideas). Last year things changed... public school was not meeting the needs of our oldest. He is self motovated, inquisitive, and excited when it comes to learning... the school simply was not challenging him. His attitude changed and his behavior at school was not anywhere near 'good'. I was in the principal's office several times a week. I finially had enough and we took him out of school. With in 2 weeks his attitude changed again (for the better this time) and we haven't had any behavior issues... That being said - We followed the public school curriculum to finish out the school year. Again, I hadn't realised that we had been homeschooling our boys all along (and still sending them to public school). He finished what the shool had planned out for the rest of the year (about 16 weeks of work) in 3 weeks, working on 'school' for only 3 hours a day- 4 days a week... He was so bored at school! We decided to let our other two finish out the school year because they had teachers that challenged them, met THEIR needs, and were creative in their lessons. Over the summer we 'un-schooled'... we took a trip from St. Louis to Maine stopping at historical sites, spending 2 days in NYC, a day in Boston, and doing other things that caught their attention... We are in our 2nd week of "school" and I have to say, that being flexible in schedule, interests, and location for school work had been a blessing! I have one that just loves to do his assignments sitting on his bed, one that likes to work at the kitchen table, and one who likes to be sitting on the trampoline outside... Our only rule for school work, is that they need to finish what is assigned before moving on to the next lesson. They are almost hungry to learn new things! My only complaint about homeschooling is that I am having a difficult time keeping up with THEM! they are researching things on their own and talking about things that I don't fully understand... they are challenging me to learn more! I LOVE it! Looking back, I wouldn't change anything, everything happens for a reason... But I am really enjoying teaching our children at home, Savoring every minute of it - even when I have to stop my son, mid-conversation, so that I can look up something I don't understand.

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  8. I have been blessed with the opportunity of having a child to raise and love at 64 years of age. What an awesome gift! He has been with us since he was 3 months old. He is now 4.5 years old. I am counting the days until I can retire and homeschool him full time. We, like so many others, see so many teaching moments in just everyday happenings. I am so excited and this last year is hard for me to wait but I have been researching and trying to gather as much information as I can for what is ahead. My biggest question that is still looming is what umbrella do I want to connect with? I have checked out A Beka, ACE, etc and a few others...but just not sure. Some are very expensive, and way too structured for what I am wanting to do. I want guidelines but flexible to meet my little boy's interest hobbies, and desires to learn. I also am unsure about the curriculum course to use. Any feedback on this is so very welcome. Thanks in advance.

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    1. Sorry for my late reply! I just saw your comment! What state do you live in? I always refer people to HSLDA for state law info and then a homeschool group in your state. My advice for curriculum is to start small and feel free to switch if one is not working for you and your child. Timberdoodle is a great company to start browsing! Flexibility is the reason we homeschool! What an exciting adventure for you! Keep in touch

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  9. Another lovely post! I'm sharing this with my local homeschool group :) we unschool here ( Australia ) , so our days are super flexible and geared to the kids passions and interests. My three also have special needs, so unschooling is an approach which works well with all their stuff. My eldest two are completely self taught readers, which is one of those amazing things that has driven home to me that learning happens. They seek knowledge, they want to learn! My eldest is now entering the high school years, so we've chatted to her about government expectations on learning, she has picked up that ball and run with it. We found her two horse based curriculums ( maths and general horse care ) which fit with her horse passion ( yeah, we really need that farm! ) and she's started both with passion.

    We learnt the hard way about being home to homeschool. We jumped in with all feet to begin with, out almost every day at this activity, that activity...exhausting! The kids never get into a,groove with home based learning if you're always out, not to mention my exhaustion at providing nourishing food for outings every day! Finally we wished up. Now we do riding therapy once a week, and every second week, they give my eldest an extra lesson as she's really very good. And that's it! We're all so much happier since dropping back to being at home :)

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  10. To help make learning to read fun and engaging, our reading program includes lesson stories that are matched to the progress of your child's reading abilities.

    These lessons stories are part of the learning program, and comes with colorful illustrations to make learning reading fun and engaging for you and your child.

    These are the exact same stories and step-by-step lessons that we used to teach our own children to read!

    Find out here: Teach Your Child To Read?

    Best rgs

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