Homeschooling Blog

If you haven't seen my homeschool posts around the internet, then you can find them here....

The Rights of a Parent to Home School

The school year is approaching very quickly and some parents are gearing up for another school year at home. Years ago if someone would have said that parents have the right to home school their own children, they would have been considered crazy. Home schooling a child is the right of every parent whether it was 50 years ago or last year.  There is enough research in this modern day to prove this idea to be true. Not only do they have a constitutional right to home school their child but just with the knowledge they are the parents gives them the right to home school their child.

From the writings of Christopher Klicka, a Home School advocate says: “It is a constitutional right as guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.” We have the right to choose how we educate our children and when.

Homeschooling children is a wonderful option for parents who want to be more involved with their child’s education. Each state has its own set of laws on requirements for home schooling parents. It is up to the parents to find out what those requirements are for their own children. Every state in the United States allows home schooling and according to a survey done by Lifeway Research, 61 percent of those Americans surveyed “agreed strongly that the Constitution guarantees the right of parents to home school”.

Not only are we free to choose but with our own schedules each day we can improve family relationships and create a more relaxed atmosphere. With the increased curriculum and online classes homeschooling families are learning more at their own rate and experiencing success in higher learning facilities.

According to “The best way to protect the rights of homeschool parents to give their children good educations is to create safeguards that ensure that all homeschooled children have access to a basic—and hopefully excellent—education. Children deserve a robust educational experience, one that supports their natural development and instills in them a lifelong love for learning. Homeschooling can accomplish these goals; however, homeschooling in itself does not guarantee it. Parents homeschool for many reasons; it is requisite to understand that some of these reasons are not always good.

In most cases, parents are responsible and care about the education of their children. Public policy for homeschooling parents must be guarded and consistent. With state law requirements, parents can fulfill the education needed for their children without the government poking their nose where it doesn’t belong. Even parents with full time jobs can organize themselves to teach their own children. It has been done.

With parents’ rights held in the highest regard, families are free to choose what they want to teach and how they want to teach their own children.

Should I Homeschool My Children?

This question has crossed many a parents’ mind over the course of most children’s lives.  In the last ten years, many parents have considered homeschooling their children for many reasons, one being financial cuts to school districts. State budget cuts are digging into county school funds and many schools have cut the arts, foreign languages and even core classes causing over crowding in the classroom in order to keep their school districts from going under. 
   Nevertheless, there are many reasons parents decide to take on the total responsibility of educating their children as many parents have done before them.  Let’s look at a few:

1.  From Birth: Some parents know instinctively from the birth of their child that they are going to homeschool.  No if, ands or buts, they are converted from the beginning that the homeschool lifestyle is for them and they plan from day one to take on the responsibility of teaching their own child.

2.   Public School Trial: Some parents are happy sending their children to public school during the kindergarten or 1st grade period and then realize that their child’s personality has transformed from the “sweet child” they knew before public school to the “survival child” public school forces children to become.  It doesn’t always happen that way.  Some children have to learn to defend themselves at school and this amazing transformation takes place which leaves parents baffled at what happened to their children.  When the parent realizes what affect public school has in their families, they immediately withdraw their children.  I have witnessed this many times.

3.  Temporary Withdrawal:  Some parents feel it necessary to withdraw their children from public school for a short time all the while thinking that they will send their child back.  This type of withdrawal is usually during the junior high school period when children are particularly cruel to each other and life at school is unbearable. In many cases, children are sent back starting high school but if both parties are in agreement, the child will finish out on his/her own at home.

4.     Education Crisis: There are some cases where parents pull out their children after troubles with a public school teacher, behavioral problems with the child or with the other children and their own child in the classroom.  There could be grade deficiencies, or lack of challenge in a curriculum which causes the child to be bored out of his mind. The reason to homeschool could be because the child feels like a round peg being pushed into a square hole.  With some budget cuts recently, some school systems have suddenly doubled the class size because of lack of teachers.  Whatever the crisis parents find themselves in, homeschool invariably finds its way as a solution for many problems.

Whatever the reason a parent has to homeschool their child, the lifestyle of homeschoolers has helped many children stay grounded.  They receive more parental guidance since they are at home more than public school children and many times retain good study habits. Parental training and attention is a stabilizer in a child’s life and in many instances it’s what children need in these turbulent times.

The Homeschooling Life for Me

Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I would teach my own children. I didn’t know at that time what “homeschool” was.  I had read about Abraham Lincoln learning at home from reading books.  I had learned in school about how some of our forefathers stayed home and learned. Somehow, my inkling as a young girl gave me the idea that I would like to teach my own children. I didn’t think I was a better teacher than anybody else, but I felt, as a child, it was important to have them school at home.  I just knew I would but I wasn’t sure of when.  I never knew anyone personally who was taught by their parents at home until I went to Ricks College, (Rexburg, Idaho) in 1977.   One of my professors had studied this type of learning and was writing a master’s thesis on it and was actively schooling his own children.   I believe it was at this time, in 1977, that some parents started homeschooling their children.

When my husband and I lived in San Diego in 1988, a certain superintendent and school board was planning on implementing a year-round school schedule for the whole district, whether the parents wanted it or not.  It was kept very quiet until some of the parents found out about what the school board was doing and tried to stop it.  They went so far as to picket the school board building.  I wasn’t involved with it until the end, but the whole experience really opened my eyes as to what could happen in a school district with unknowing parents.  I was young and had two of my four children in elementary school at the time.
After the school board voted to start year-round school, I could see the effect it had on families.  Having children on different school schedules because of their age group made it difficult for family vacations and other family related activities.  
It was infuriating to think that the whole year-round school episode could have been avoided if more parents had been involved. (Including myself)  So, I started writing about education and the family.  
During this time I had a series of very intense, very real dreams. Each dream had shown my children in some sort of danger.  The house was on fire and I got them out the window to save them.  A hail storm started and I pulled them in the house to save them.  An earthquake started and we crouched down together in a safe spot.  This went on for a week. Then, both my husband and I thought the best way to ensure our children were getting the best education was to school them ourselves so we pulled them out of public school and started the great adventure of homeschooling. The dreams stopped immediately. I felt that it was God’s way of telling me I really needed to homeschool my children. I was “saving them” so to speak and I have never regretted our decision.
By then four of our children were attending public school and we visited each teacher to explain what we were doing. One teacher gave us all of the work my daughter had done so far and after reading through her work sheets I discovered several worksheets with big zeros on them in red ink.  The class was learning how to tell time by face clocks and apparently my daughter hadn’t really learned the concept.  These papers were a few weeks old and I was never informed that she didn’t know how to tell time.  This infuriated me even more. My daughter never mentioned the troubles she was having and the teacher never bothered to tell me as well. If I had not pulled them out, who knows what else she would have missed.
We moved to Southern Alabama in 1992 and continued homeschooling our children. I am so glad that I was led to homeschool my children. This has been a great blessing to us.  All nine have been homeschooled during most of their schooling lives.  Of the nine, 4 went to public school to finish in high school and the other 5 stayed in the homeschool program to finish.  It has been a great journey.

The Common Sense of Homeschooling
I am a mother of nine children. If that isn't crazy enough, I also homeschool them. Some might say this is insanity. But I say it is just common sense.
I started off sending my children to kindergarten. Sarah, Naomi, Isaac and Tasha all went to kindergarten. Life seemed easy to just send them off for someone else to teach but then the difficulties came. Our school district in San Diego wanted year-round school and because of the schedules of each grade, over-crowding became a problem. Not to mention the drug influence; even in the elementary grades. There was homework to keep up with and it seemed that the school district was more in charge of my children's education than I was.
My husband and I knew we had to do something so we pulled our four children out and started homeschooling them. We were both college graduates. We knew the importance of a good education and public school wasn't it. My one daughter from 3rd grade brought all of her papers home on that last day and I looked through them. To my dismay, there was a worksheet with clocks on them. The grade was something like a 30% out of 100%. I was mortified. My children have always been bright and conscientious. Come to find out, she never really grasped the idea of the clock and how to tell time and the teacher didn't have time to help her.
Educating your own children definitely has its advantages.
1. You have the control of what your child learns. After the clock worksheet, I knew I had to go back over the concept of time until my daughter understood it perfectly.
2. Your children can speed up or slow down their progress depending upon ability. Something my daughter's teacher couldn't do because there were too many in her classroom.
3. You won't have teachers or public school administrators calling your child stupid. (Yes, this still happens in the classroom--mothers have told me)
4. Many times the field trips you take with your children are more personal with a smaller group. We've actually went on trips public schools couldn't.
5. If you are worried about college, there is another advantage. Colleges and Universities love homeschool students. They have the reputation of being better students. They are self-motivated and they involve themselves with their community.
The only disadvantage to home schooling your child is your own time. You sacrifice the time you would have on your own to school your child. It is a sacrifice to give up those years but in the end it is a wonderful blessing.
I wouldn't trade the time spent homeschooling for anything. The advantages far out way my sacrifices. It has been one of the most rewarding careers. So if you have the time at home to do so, do it. It's just common sense.  

Homeschool Requirement: Playing Games

It is amazing how playing games can help children to learn. From chess to concentration, games are fun and motivational for all to improve their brain power. Unbeknownst to many parents, playing games during homeschooling hours is a great way to practice many life and math skills. From toddler to teen, there are board games, manipulatives and games from the past which mold young brains into a powerful working machines. No electronic games promoted here. There is something to be said in physically moving pieces and counting real places on a board. Playing games also helps children learn how to lose gracefully.
Here are a few suggestions:

Chess: This is the best board game for developing minds. Chess has been known to improve cognitive thinking and even raise your IQ. Check this link out:
 A parent won't go wrong with teaching and playing chess. (Backgammon, Checkers and Tic Tac Toe can be learned early as well and they help develop young minds to think ahead)                                                                                                                                 

Life Games: Monopoly, Life, Careers- all those "life" type games can help children of all ages to budget money, count, add and plan ahead what they want to achieve in the practice of playing games.                                                                                                

Fun Board Games: Early board games for children help in the practice of counting, manipulating small pieces and learning colors and shapes.                                   

Concentration: The old game we used to call Concentration is perfect for helping young minds improve their memory. The idea is to match two cards together when turning them over. Cards are placed in rows of 5 or 6 and players will have one turn each to turn over two cards to match. If no cards match they are put back in place and someone else has a turn. No special cards are needed, parents can even use regular playing cards or make up their own set with art work from their children.     

Dominoes: This fun game helps players to add in their heads and plan moves ahead.  There are so many versions of this old game you can find the link here:

Scrabble: This game is a great way to be a better speller and we can all use a little of that. Fitting words into other words by a point system is so motivational. Children will want to start reading the dictionary to win. Parents can't go wrong with this game.
Marbles: I never realized how great the game of Marbles was until I taught the cub scouts for several years. It is a lot harder than it looks and it really does help hand eye coordination; the old fashioned way.       
The Game of Marbles:
Exactly where and when marbles began no one really knows, but it is quite possible they  were a product of the early Egyptians and spread from there to other parts of the world.
From the Encyclopedia Britannica
Marble is defined as a small, hard ball that is used in a variety of children's games and is named after the 18th-century practice of making the toy from marble chips. Marble games date from antiquity, and ancient games were played with sea-rounded pebbles, nuts, or fruit pits. The young Octavian (later the emperor Augustus), like other Roman children, played games with nut marbles, and engraved marbles have been dug up from the earthen mounds built by some early North American Indian tribes. Jewish children use filberts as marbles at Passover.
In the 20th century, marbles have been made of a variety of materials: baked clay, glass, steel, plastic, onyx, agate. Particular marbles may be known for their use (shooters may be called taws, a word of obscure origin); their original material (alleys were once made of alabaster); or their appearance (e.g., "flints," "cloudies").
The object of marble games is to roll, throw, drop, or knuckle marbles against an opponent's marbles, often to knock them out of a prescribed area and so win them. (Knuckling is the act of placing a marble on the forefinger, balancing that finger or the bottom of the hand against the ground, and shooting the marble outward with the thumb.)
The names and rules of marble games are as varied as the localities and countries where they are played, but a few may be mentioned. In taw, ringtaw, or ringer, players attempt to shoot marbles, sometimes arranged in a cross, out of a ring as much as 6 to 10 feet (about 2 to 3 m) in diameter. In hit and span, players try to shoot or roll marbles either against an opponent's marbles or a hand's span from them. In various pot games (a pot is a small hole in the ground), including moshie, the player tries to pitch his own marbles or knock his opponents' marbles into a hole. In bridgeboard, or nineholes, a board with several numbered arches is set up, and players try to shoot their marbles through the arches. A Chinese marble game consists of kicking a marble against an opponent's to make the latter rebound in a specified direction. Local, regional, and national tournaments are held in many countries.
Game Rules
There are several different games which can be played with marbles, which are described below:
Ringer - using chalk or string draw a circle 10 feet (or 3 meters) across. Place 13 marbles in the center of the circle leaving 3 inches between each marble. Players must take turns shooting from outside the ring trying to knock the marbles in the middle out of the circle. The first player to knock out 7 marbles wins!
Tic Tac Toe - Draw tic-tac-toe squares on the ground with chalk or in the dirt and take turns shooting from 3 feet away. The first one to line up their marbles three in a row wins. Of course if you knock the other player out of the square you need to win, that just adds to the fun!
Boxies - Set a shoe box or other box on its side with the opening toward you. From 3 feet away take turns attempting to shoot you marble into the box. The first player to get his marble into the box wins!
Lagging - Draw a line on the ground, or you can play against a wall. Players take turns tossing their marble from 3 feet away to ward the line or wall. The object is to get your marble as close to the line or wall as possible with out going over it or hitting the wall. The player closest to the wall or line wins!
Keeps - Each player contributes 5 - 10 marbles from his own collection to any of the above games. The winner gets to keep all the marbles from the play when the game ends.

Legos, Duplos, Counting squares: all of these help develop hand eye coordination and creativity. They also can be used to help children learn grouping in math and concrete learning for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

So play a way a rainy afternoon or schedule in play time during your school day for young children and even teens who will appreciate the time away from books and the computer screen.

Getting Started: Learning the ABC’s of Homeschooling

It's that time of the year again when parents are thinking about homeschooling their children and begin their panic mode.  Questions fly from every direction because parents know they are responsible for the education of their children and they are not sure how to proceed. There are books to read, websites to study and curriculum to help direct parents to a successful year of homeschooling. But who has time for that? Unless a parent has started early in doing research, the last minute crash course in homeschooling doesn’t always go well.

So here are the basics of homeschooling which any parent can read and proceed to start their children down the homeschooling path.

1. State laws:  The most important first step after deciding to homeschool is to find out what your state law requires in homeschooling. Some states require registration through a legal school as an overseer of what families are teaching and some don’t require anything. An earlier post here explains all of this for each state of the union and it is the parent’s responsibility to find out.  It’s not difficult. Just Google your state homeschool laws and the most recent information will pop up. You then start your research in what direction needs to be taken. A very helpful tip is to find a local homeschool group (which can be found online as well) and call or email parents to ask what they do. 

For example, in Alabama the law requires each family to be registered under a legal school umbrella. Parents first find a legal cover school by searching the internet or calling another parent for information on those legal covers in the area. Ask questions about what they require--fees, attendance, grades, or signing of statement of faith, which will help parents make an educated decision of which homeschool cover school to join. Each state is different so the next step will be affected by what you do first.

For beginners a cover school is a good way to get your feet wet in homeschooling and to help parents learn all there is to homeschooling. Usually cover schools have support groups which meet locally. Just keep in mind the less work they have to do the better for parents unless you want deadlines for testing, attendance records and report cards. Parents might not have to do all those things through a cover school by law. So depending on what you choose, look for a cover school that fills your needs.

2. Approaches: The next step is to find which approach will work best for your family. Do they like reading? Are they computer savvy? Would you prefer a unit study approach or just text book?  The Eclectic approach is using a combination of several different approaches. Parents can include field trips and library visits as well. The ideas for teaching are endless.

Check this website out for more information on different approaches

We do an assortment of approaches which might be the use textbook for some, unit study for others like history or spelling, which works well with children under 12 years-old, and then finish up with computer driven lessons. Classical is a more difficult approach. Not a good one to start with and you don't want to stress out yourself and children. If your children are used to attending public school then make it fun the first year; especially if they have had bad experiences there. Teach them to love to read!!!! That is the basic tool for every homeschool mother. If they don't love to read then learning it is a struggle. Start with the basics depending upon what your children need.

3. Curriculum: Depending upon your state law and how you want to homeschool, you might not have a choice to find the materials you will need. In California there are public school programs for homeschooled children which provide all the materials.  In Alabama, some cover schools provide the curriculum as well. But if you are on your own to find curriculum there are several things you can do. Visits to other homeschool families can help parents to understand what works and what doesn’t. 

Visit local bookstores which provide homeschool books or attend a homeschool convention with book sales or online sales. There are many used text book stores around the country which help parents understand different styles or types of books. Remember reading is the most basic tool of homeschooling so anything a parent can do to teach or improve a child’s reading skill is a great start.
Don't feel pressured to start when public school starts. Parents will be pulling their hair out. This is homeschool--you are the teacher and the boss... You choose when to start and when to end. Public school parents like me (anyone who went to public school) put undo pressure on themselves to educate their children like public school but you don't have to. Take it slow and have fun.

Why Would I Home School A Teen?

Why would I home school a teen?  Many reasons.  Besides the fact that most colleges really love home schooled teenagers as they have developed good study habits, are motivated to learn, courteous and polite, a person between the ages of 13 and 18 can make their own schedule and find their own interests independently. Parents have the responsibility of guiding their teen children, but teen children are free to find different interests and avenues.  If teens are in control of what they want to do in their life, the motivation to finish college degrees or a trade increases greatly.

There is an abundant amount of options open to a teen that home schools. Internships and apprenticeships for a trade are available. Duel enrollment (as in high school and college) classes from local junior colleges can be attended. Co-op schools, online courses, and private tutors all can help a teen find what their life work can be.

No longer does this teen have to wake up with the sun to prepare himself for school. Teens need more sleep to develop brain skills and the lack of sleep inhibits this. No longer do they have to contend with thoughts like: “I get out of school at 3pm so I can start my part time job in the afternoon.” Or “My classes are so boring; I can’t wait to graduate so I can really take the classes I want.”

Allowing a teen to study and work on his own is completely different.  Teen homeschoolers learn to think outside the box. They can work in the morning and do school in the afternoon and evening.  They can attend college type classes to get credit for some of the high school classes instead of repeating classes taken in high school then again in college.  They can attend online classes at home and learn much quicker and in a comfortable environment. They can try different trades earlier and get started on what they want to accomplish in their life, finding their place in society.  The options are limitless.

Most of my children “graduated “high school by the time they were 16 and they didn’t have that senioritis their last year because they were not burned out on school.  They learn to be adults sooner and be responsible for their own destiny.  One daughter had the opportunity to work on a horse farm and in a veterinarian’s office during public school hours to learn what it took to be a veterinarian.  Another son opted to work a few years and then attend a church mission learning a new language. Another daughter had the opportunity to teach art classes for a pre-school group. It was exactly what she needed for the experience at art school.  Another son joined a Robotics Club and they competed against other public high schools.

Teens have the opportunity to participate in so many activities while also doing their school work. Homeschooling teens have brought peace to my life and comfort to my soul. So the next time you read about how home schooled teens should be sent to public school, you will understand better why it’s not always best to do what everybody else does.

Homeschool Burnout: Three Ways to Avoid It
With the start of the holiday season, the school semester is coming to a close. If this is your first year of homeschooling your own children, your head is probably still spinning and you are wondering if this was a wise choice. Never fear, you did make a wise choice in schooling your own children but there are some insightful tips that will alleviate what might be known to many as “homeschool burnout”. So if you are feeling overwhelmed, irritable and depressed at the start of the day, take to heart these three suggestions.

1. Remember this is not public school:  Public school is the biggest hurdle parents face in homeschooling their children. It is surprising how parents remember attending public school themselves so they think they have to fashion their homeschooling experience the same way. Not true.  Homeschool is about pacing education to fit the needs of the child. If your children are not getting a concept, don’t pull your hair out, slow down, take a break, and try again. We don’t have to keep up with anyone but ourselves.  This is a huge change from what most parents are used to and learning is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. Not all days are great but better days lie ahead if we take it down a notch and not get stressed that we are not keeping up with the public school system.

2. Decompress once in a while: What does that mean? Decompressing is doing nothing school related which pressures you or your children.  Take a break from the schedule and do something fun. Schedule in more field trips like visits to the library, museums, art galleries and Exploriums. These trips help children learn without even knowing it.  Reading together or on their own also provides some down time. There are so many chapter book series which send children to adventures in their mind. Leisure reading is restful from a day’s load of school assignments and mom can take a break.

3. Inspire yourself: As the full-time teacher and mother to your children, you need to keep your spirits up and fill your own needs.  Feeling the emotional “empty bucket” can only make homeschooling more difficult. Find some time during the days of homeschooling to fill your needs. Whether it’s painting, sewing, reading, Pintrest or cooking; whatever it is you love to do, just do it. Homeschooling children is stressful at times and moms need time to collect their thoughts and rest from the every day schedule.  You know you love your children but there is a time and place for everything. Don’t put the guilt trip on yourself; this is greatly needed for a happy, healthy homeschool mom. Get your children used to the idea that Mom needs to rest and take a break. They need breaks too and will completely understand.

So don’t fear or dread the days ahead.  Parents homeschooling their children is the greatest accomplishment by far but a little at a time. As you feel the pressure to get work done, pull back and avoid the burnout before it gets out of hand. Thoughts to quit or give up will disappear and everyone in the family will be much happier.

When homeschool moms feel depressed, irritable and overwhelmed at the start of the day; it’s a sure sign of burnout. Homeschooling should be a relaxed process with no pressure. Learn how to keep homeschool burnout away.

Homeschooling Helps: How Effective are Co-ops?

In the county where I live, there are several homeschool organizations which sponsor co-operatives commonly known as co-ops.  This group is a collection of several homeschool families which come together to help teach one another. Mothers (and fathers) organize classes for learning which many times help in the expense of science lab equipment and instruction.  At the time we started, there were only classes from 4th to 8th grade but now we have added a high school curriculum of mothers teaching teens the basics and lower elementary grades to pre-school. 
For high school grades, we have biology, chemistry and other basic science classes. There are Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra II. History, writing, literature, foreign language and even sewing have been added.  It has been a great blessing to our family.  My children were blessed with the education they needed from a private school setting, yet everyone is homeschooled.  This has been the best kind of education. Quite a few parents are either retired public school teachers or an expert in their field.
We found a meeting place through a local church and use their class rooms during the week for class. Each school year all the families who decide to join the co-op meet together and plan for the coming school year. We do class scheduling and organize a syllabus for each class.  A registration fee is required to pay for materials needed and each class teacher can charge a fee but we mostly don’t. Over the years we have acquired all the materials that are needed for both chemistry and biology labs and other classes.  Everyone is responsible for their own books, paper, and other school supplies.  It works out well and we even have a schedule to clean the rooms we use for the church.
There are blessings which come from using a co-op. One big advantage is that other mothers require the work to be done which keeps everyone motivated to finish to the end of the year.  At times, parents feel burned out and are tempted to take longer breaks than necessary but with the co-op and its schedule, we are motivated to keep going.
Another big advantage is the social aspect for the parents. Not only do the children have each other to talk to but the parents have other parents to buoy and support each other for choice of curriculum, role models for teaching and organization.
It’s a win-win scenario for both parties involved. If there is no local co-op in your area, start one. All it takes are a few families willing to get together once a week and teach a class. It will then develop into quite an organization and a great help to all who take part.

         A Homeschooling Task: Choosing Curriculum

            Once parents decide the homeschooling lifestyle is for them, the very next question out of their mouth is: “What curriculum should I use?”  In educating children, curriculum is a very important decision.
            Every parent knows how their child learns, but there are so many different curriculum choices that every parent must find the right match.  The answer in a nutshell seems so obvious but could be challenging at times. Finding the right curriculum to use for your children is a process and takes time to really know what is best.
            First, before actually choosing a curriculum, parents must decide what educational approach they want to use. Fully understanding each approach takes some study and in doing so parents will know what they want in a curriculum to homeschool their children.

1.      Textbook Approach:  This approach is pretty traditional and parents use workbooks and textbooks for all of their educating needs. Each day in schooling is used to study from books and write in workbooks.

2.      Non-Textbook Approach: This is divided into five categories which are (a) Classical,  (b) Unit Study, (c) Living Books, (d) Principle and (e) Unschooling. Some of these approaches might require some type of book work but it is not as traditional as number one.

            (a)Classical Approach is taught with tools of learning known as the Trivium.

            (b)Unit study Approach takes a theme or topic and investigates deeply into all there is to know about that theme or topic integrating all subjects such as writing, literature, science and history. 

            (c ) Living Books Approach is based on the writings of Charlotte Mason, a turn-of-the-century British educator who believed that education is three-pronged: an atmosphere, a discipline and life.  It is explained as an atmosphere in which to absorb the home environment, a discipline of good habits and living thoughts in which to learn.

            (d) Principle Approach uses three American Christian concepts: the knowledge of our Christian history, an understanding of our role in the spread of Christianity and the ability to live according the Biblical principles upon which our country is founded.

            (e) Unschooling Approach is the idea that children learn through their own desires and curiosities.  It is the least structured approach and allows children to pursue their own interests with parental support and guidance.

3.      The Mixed Approach also known as Eclectic uses both textbooks and non-textbook approaches. Most homeschoolers use this approach as it takes the best of all approaches and becomes a suitable program for each individual learner.

            Once you understand which approach you would like to use for your own children, you then have a direction in deciding on curriculum. There are different ways to find curriculum for educating children.

            Homeschool organizations sponsor conventions, books sales and vendor fairs. This is a great resource for testing out curriculum and asking questions.  There are also online websites, catalogues and bookstores to find countless types of homeschool learning materials. 

            A great resource you can always count on is other homeschool parents.  Find a local homeschool group and pick their brains about curriculum.  Many times local groups will have the inside information on where to find curriculum and you can ask as many questions as you like.
            Finding the right curriculum does seem like an endless task, but it is very necessary to settle on the best way your child will learn.  The hope of all homeschool parents is that their children will love to learn and make it a lifetime achievement.

Parenting Tools for Children and Bedtime

            Why is it that when it’s time for children to go to bed, they fight against it.  One of the biggest struggles for parents’ is to get children in bed and asleep at a decent time.   From the website, sleep is the primary activity for the brain in early development of humans.  For toddlers (1year to 3) their sleep time is 12-14 hours in a 24 hour day. For three to five year-olds, sleep time is 11 to 13 hours in a 24 hour day. For 5-12 years-old sleep time is 10 to 11 hours in a 24 hour period.
            With the onset of so many working mothers with children attending pre-school and public school, rest for their bodies is so important.  Here are some tools to help parents with the bedtime blues.

  1. Consistent and regular betimes: Half the battle is won if children know they have a required time to be in bed.  If parents stick to consistent bedtime during the weekdays, then a regular sleep pattern is developed and children will get into the habit of getting into bed. Start young when children are a year or two and keep to that time each night.  If parents are realizing their children need better sleeping habits later on in life then there is no time like the present to make a rule for better health.  Pick a time at night which will allow children to sleep enough so they will be well rested and stick to that time. Circumstance won’t always allow for consistency but if parents follow a schedule most of the time, children will feel rested each morning.

  1. Exercise and play: When children are restless and have had no outside play time, going to sleep is almost impossible.  Cut back the electronic games and indoor sitting by requiring your children to play at least one hour outdoors every day.  In good weather most children will stay outside longer.  When children run and play more during the day, then bedtime is more than likely welcome because they are so tired. With naturally hyper-active children running and playing outside helps regulate their bodies so they can be calmer inside. Insist that children play outside especially during the good weather days.  You will never regret it.

  1. No Sugar or Caffeine products at Night:  A big no-no for children is eating sugar before bedtime. This not only gives them a sugar rush, but going to sleep is difficult. Try healthy bedtime snacks and you will see a difference in their behavior. Cutting out all soda pops regardless of sugar or non-sugar content helps children’s immune system stay up. A healthy diet plays a big part in healthy children and no sugar or caffeine will help all children in getting enough sleep.

  1. Establish a regular fun bedtime routine:  If children dread going to bed because they think they are going to miss out on something then make it more fun.  I posted a list on the back of my bathroom door of what all nine of my children were expected to do before going to bed.  Change into pajamas, brush their teeth and wash their hands and faces, get a drink of water all were listed and then I would read them several stories before going to bed.  A bedtime story really helps a child to relax and many times children will fall asleep immediately following the story.  When children are old enough to read on their own, they can get a certain time for reading their own books at night and then turn off the light so they can go to sleep.

            Sleeping habits are so important for children to grow into healthy adults. Studies are showing that many adults are finding it more difficult to sleep. If parents teach their children to sleep better from a young age, then when they get to adulthood, their sleep will feel more rested.

Home Schooling When A Single Parent

Educating children at home with two parents is a challenge in the least.  Educating children at home, as a single parent, is even more difficult. Homes schooling has grown tremendously over the past 10 years and there are many single parents who know in their heart that they need to teach their children themselves.  I know because I was widowed at 46 with five children still at home and we were home schooling all of them.  Granted, two were teenagers but continuing on in the goal of educating my own children became even more overwhelming. There is a growing group of single parents who want to educate their children at home so resources for single parents are more readily available.  Here are a few tips:

Take Time Off From Participating in School: Whether divorced or widowed, there is a grieving time with children and getting school work done.  I took several months off to catch my breath before I went back into lesson plans and book work.  My children needed time off too because they missed their father so much. I didn’t worry too much about lost time as we could make it up in the future. Time helps heal emotions and taking time for a break after trauma really helps everyone involved.

Use a Support Group: When my husband passed away, I felt so alone even though I had friends and family to talk to on difficult days.  But with a home school support group in my community, these home school parents gave me the emotional support I needed to keep teaching my children.  It took time to get back into the swing but we started.  There are also online groups tailored just for single home school parents to share ideas, overcome challenges and uplift each other. Take advantage of these helps when needed.

Consider Other Options: As much as I wanted to keep home schooling all of my children, the little money I had was running out.  I had to take on a full time job during the day as I had exhausted my part time night job so a change was greatly needed.  This meant I either had to hire a tutor to teach my children or send them to public school.  In the end, for a temporary time, I sent my children to public school.  It worked best for us but there are many options.  Co-op schools, family members or other educational opportunities can help single parents decide which way is best for their own children.  For my teenaged son, he really wanted to play on a sports team in high school and there were no community teams available where we lived.  He needed more time and instruction than I could give him so the option to send him to public school was right for us.
Take prayerful time in considering what is best for your children and the options will present themselves.

Take Leisure Time:  When families experience trauma, there is a great need for down time.  During the school year it is wise to remember to play and have fun.  With all that families’ experience, there needs to be a time to relax and have fun which helps the emotional stability of all involved.

Parenting alone isn’t easy.  Children were meant to have two parents in their life but that is not always possible. The sacrifice one parent makes to educate their child is phenomenal. They are the keepers of the home and their children will be the great leaders of tomorrow. 

This is Homeschool Not Public School

Pulling children out of public school to homeschool has become more and more common around the country. But then what?  Parents proceed to educate their children at home in the best way they know how.  Some rely on the public school system for their curriculum and resources. Using whatever resource is available is great even if the choices are limited because you are home with your children, but there is a better way if parents take the time to think about what is the best way to homeschool.

1. Remember you are home: Homeschooling does take time to adjust to but don’t require your children to school as if they were in public school.  Scheduling is much different.  It’s much more relaxed and calm.  There is no need for strict, inflexible rules.  Encouragement and love are necessary. Find the curriculum and activities which are best for your family.

2. Restore the love of learning: Depending on the student and their emotional state, sometimes it’s good to take a break from studies and just do fun reading or work on projects the child wants to learn to restore the love of learning. A few weeks off after coming home from public school can do wonders to reset a child’s lack of motivation to do any school at all.  A Teacher’s pressure and student frustration can take a toll on your child so consider what your child needs when at home.

3. Testing is not required: There are many opinions from parent to parent on whether it is required to test children every year or even at all. This is a personal decision but know that while elementary students do take tests which measures what they learn it is not necessary for every family if you are opposed.  Some parents see it as a comparison to other children but that is not always the case. Testing can help parents know what their child remembers from what they have learned. Some children do better in a non-testing environment. However, high school is a different story.  If your child wants to attend a higher educational school like college then know that testing will be done.  It is wise to let your teens learn how to test by practicing online or at home through curriculum tests. There are wonderful online resources which students can practice testing which will also give tips on how to be a good test taker.

4. Joining Public School Sports Teams has its drawbacks: Sports teams are fun and helpful in many ways. They teach unity, physical fitness and encourage discipline. Some families that choose to home educate do not always want to join in public school sports. There are private leagues in many areas but that depends on the county. But know if your child does end up on a public school team, some requirements from the Board of Education might be required.  

5. Its no use pushing public school ideas on homeschoolers: If you are a new homeschooler fresh out of public school, then you are a babe in the woods in the homeschooling world.  There have been homeschoolers around now for over 20 years and they know what they are doing. Reports from other parents say that new homeschoolers pulling out of public school are pushing to change homeschool programs to be more like public school programs. This is a waste of time and energy. There should be no strict regulations other than what each state has in place already. The ideals of homeschooling are different and so is the lifestyle.  Go with the flow of the homeschooling routine which is whatever parents can arrange for their children.  A routine can also be however a teen wants to set up their schedule.  It should be easy going and not stressful.

Remember you are homeschooling at home not bringing public school home. It is a lifestyle change that parents must adapt to but is very family friendly. Families are first in many cases of homeschooling attitudes.  This is actually a refreshing change because there are many outside influences which distract parents in truly teaching their children what they need to know to be educated. Homeschool is being educated at home. Homeschooling is not public education at home.  Let’s learn the difference.

The Affects of Homeschoolers After Graduation

Graduations are either over or approaching fast. The end of the school year is a good time to assess our school year for improvements and updates for those still homeschooling in the next school year. Many moms are burned out by this time but if a few notes can be jotted down for reminders of what improvements are needed for next year, you will thank yourself for these notes after the summer is over.

Positive words and inspiring comments from college professors and published interviews about homeschool students can lift any parents’ spirits after a long day.

Here are a few:
From Rolland Fraser an Assistant Professor at Missouri Southern State University says: “Homeschooling is not a cookie-cutter investment, either, where all approaches are the same. Sometimes the learning is within a family. Sometimes there are quite diverse cooperatives and organizations involving different instructors. By the time homeschooled students walk into my college classes, I find most well prepared. I do see less apathy and passivity in pursuing their coursework because of the deliberate investments by their parents to show value for education in their lives.”

Here’s another from Christine Foster writing for Stanford University Alumni magazine: “Among homeschoolers who end up at Stanford, "self-teaching" is a common thread. Parents usually teach in the early grades, assigning and correcting work, but later shift to a supervisory role, spending more time tracking down books and mentors. Stanford-bound homeschoolers typically take several college courses before they apply. The admission office encourages this, both to help with evaluation and to give students a taste of classroom learning before they arrive on the Farm [campus].”

Esther Burach a homeschool mom says this: “The way these homeschool youngsters learn social skills--modeling themselves after adults rather than peers--is more consistent with the way children have been socialized through most of history. Until about a hundred years ago, the rich kids learned from adult tutors, and poor kids went to work early. Now, [kids in schools] model themselves after the other kids, who model themselves after TV characters--and the results of that are clear."

There are many great words of wisdom in favor of homeschooling through high school. From a USA Today online article we read this: “Research shows that home-schooled students are certainly capable of adjusting to the college curriculum academically – home-schooled students generally score slightly above the national average on both the SAT and the ACT and often enter college with more college credits. Studies have also shown that on average home-schooled students have higher grade point averages in their freshman years and have higher graduation rates than their peers.”

Yup, there’s no doubt about it; homeschooling for teens has a positive effect on their future plans. Colleges love them, trade schools welcome them, and they are very well accepted anywhere they go.

What Homeschool Moms Need to Know

Every Mom who thinks about homeschooling their children has the big fear of not knowing enough about everything to educate their children. This is a big misnomer. Moms don’t have to know everything to homeschool her children, but there are some tips which can help the day run smoother while homeschooling.
1. Keep reasonable expectations for school each day: I have caught myself doing this as well. Piling up class work and assignments for children can be very stressful. Sometimes we might feel that if we are busy doing all the subjects every day that we are homeschooling correctly but that is not the case. Depending upon the motivation of each child, we need to communicate what school work is expected each day. Although public school does try to do this, we don’t have to run on public school schedules. We can do our work at home, at a co-op or public library even in our own time. We should have goals of what is to be accomplished but as far as keeping the schedule of other people, this is not necessary. A good rule of thumb for each age group is this: K-2 about 1 hour a day, 3-4th about 1-2 hours, 5-6th about 2 hours. High school work is more extensive.
2. Friends and family support does not always occur: Many neighbors and friends might be respectful of your decision to homeschool your children, but this is not always the case. I moved next door to a neighbor who was so totally opposed to homeschooling, it totally blindsided me. She couldn’t believe that I would purposely keep my 6 children home to school them when public school was available. True, it is now more widely accepted now than when my neighbor gave me such a hard time (20 years ago) but there are still people out there who will make life difficult for you when they find out you do. These people should be treated with kindness but firmly told this is the chosen lifestyle for your family.
3. Enjoy your children daily: Your children love you and want to please. Completing school work during the day sometimes takes away from just being a Mom and enjoying the company of your children. Remember how much you loved bringing these precious angels into your home and enjoy their company every day.
4. Be flexible and willing to change homeschool methods at any time: Adults change and so do children. Sometimes one method might work for your children at some time but as they grow older, this same method might not be what they need. Be flexible and willing to find other ways to educate. It is difficult at times when we are accustomed to doing things a certain way but learning to adapt is also a trait that will help improve homeschool learning.
5. Know that all your children will not be excited to homeschool: It might take a while for you to win your child over to the idea of homeschooling but given time and a good try with the idea of the unstressful schedule of subjects done at the pleasure and comfort of home, the decision to homeschool will win. No friends to hang around with, they might cry? There are many co-ops and homeschool organizations all over the country in each county, in each state who are doing the same thing. There are after school classes in public libraries and community centers. There are local sports teams and other activities which create friendships. So many choices, not enough time for all. It’s not always perfect, but they will learn to appreciate home life and family members.
The homeschool lifestyle is a good one. Family members can spend more time together in a safe, learning environment and parents can plan the education of their children without other intrusions.

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