curriculum, education, hampton roads, home education

Homeschooling, Laziness, Boredom, and Acheivement

I’ve recently discovered something about homeschooling. My child can at once appear lazy and bored, yet be fully engaged in the learning process.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “that kid’s got her fooled”. Say what you will, but think about what I’m saying. Kids don’t always “look” engaged when in reality… they are. Case in point, my daughter was listening to music and making a “click click” noise repetatively on the computer. I looked at her and thought, uggh, why isn’t she doing something productive. Almost as if she had read my mind she takes off her headphones and jumps up and down enthusiastically… apparently she finally achieved first grade status as a Japanese student. You mean that “click click” blob I was looking at was learning Japanese??

Hmmm… you mean learning can take place not at a desk with a workbook? Perhaps, it can take place where and when you least expect it and horrors, without my help?!

I’ve had to get used to this type of thing, but its a nice thing to get used to… Kids learn in their own ways, and when you give them time and space to explore… you never know what will happen!


Time Vampires

As I began to look to a new homeschool year with my 3 children, I am constantly confronted with newer and more exciting opportunities to have my “home” time sucked away.

It is hard not to become a victim of time vampires. It starts innocently enough. Why not join an organized sport group? Why not meet at the library once in a while? Why not help out at your church once or twice a week? Why not join a play group twice a week? At some point you began to realize that what started out as harmless opportunities for a bit of socializing or self-esteem building quickly become “suckers” of your valuable time.

I am certainly not innocent in this. I get “sucked” into all sorts of things all of the time. I’ve truly had to learn to say no to a lot of things that “sound” good, but really just become another burden of time. I have a mental checklist that all “new” opportunities must pass to get a “maybe”; instant yes’s are reserved for necessities only (things required for academic survival).
1. Does this activity massage my personal ego, but offer little to uplift my family or homeschool values?
2. Will this require me to spend as much time as money in order to fulfill the long-term obligation of this activity?
3. Is this an activity that will require an extensive travel commitment on my part?
4. Does this activity provide an enrichment opportunity for my entire family or will I need to wait with younger siblings for this event to finish for an older sibling and then shuttle the youngers to another activity?
5. Will this activity occur on a day I have absolutely set aside as a sacred “school” day?
6. Will this event take away precious family time?
7. Will this activity create more clutter in my home or life?
8. Is my child actually interested in this activity or do I think taking them to this activity will peak their interest?(This is tricky because you want to broaden their horizons, but you don’t want to kill yourself doing it… motive is the key to your answer).
9. Will this activity solidify concepts and themes I am teaching at home?
10. Do I really need another activity in my life?

Limiting yourself to a few expected and scheduled activities will go a long way towards increasing homeschool harmony and success. My mantra is the right thing at the wrong time; is the wrong thing.
Now, go take back your day!


Just Discovered…10 Rules of thumb for choosing teaching materials

10 Rules of thumb for choosing teaching materials

Rule #1: Invest in yourself first. Like it or not, you are the glue that will hold this home schooling endeavor together, so you need to develop a strategy for staying sane and on top of it all (even if it means scheduling a nap every afternoon). You wouldn’t dream of trying to build a house without a plan, the right materials, and the necessary tools. Home schooling is like building a house–you need to determine your plan, gather your materials, and be sure you have the right tools for the job. Take some time to read, to look around, to compare. Invest in some of the “tools of the trade” like the “must haves” and parent resources listed in this ejournal.

Begin rearranging your house so it will accommodate study without becoming too cluttered or stressful. Think through what you will do with infants and toddlers during school times; how you will handle meals, house cleaning, and laundry; and how you will deal with the other changes schooling at home brings.

Don”t feel guilty about spending money on yourself. After all, if you were a professional teacher, you (or your parents) would have spent tens of thousands of dollars getting you ready to stand before a classroom of children. So think in terms of what will make you more confident and able to create a learning environment for your household. What will smooth your way mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually?

Rule #2: Consider your situation. A farm family will have many opportunities for “hands on” learning in the areas of math, science, economics, etc. A city family has access to museums, libraries, cultural events, and more support group activities. You can make the most of the real life learning opportunities God gives you, perhaps never needing textbooks and teaching materials in certain subject areas.

I once had a missionary call me bemoaning the fact that she lived in a large foreign city and her children weren’t able to do much nature study. She completely overlooked all the wonderful opportunities her children had to learn foreign languages, history, and geography, and to interact with other cultures. So, look around. God may have already arranged a learning environment for you that is better than a classroom.

Rule #3: Choose teaching materials that compliment the learner. Textbooks developed for classroom use tend to be “teacher directed” and chalkboard oriented, seldom taking into account children’s interests or of the different ways children perceive and process information. Each student has a style in which he learns best.

Different children have different learning strengths and weaknesses that the perceptive parent will take into account when choosing teaching materials. For example, visual learners may do well with workbooks, while auditory learners need songs or spoken instruction and kinesthetic learners need to manipulate objects. (In a future ejournal we will discuss different learning styles and preferences.)

Rule #4: If you don’t like the material, you will resist using it no matter how good it is. All teaching materials have a bias, not just in the subject matter, but also in the way the subject matter is presented. Every teaching parent, whether he or she recognizes it or not, has an educational philosophy–some set of values and beliefs about what and how children should be taught.

Sometimes we will have an unexplained inner resistance to certain teaching materials. It could be that this inner resistance arises from a conflict between our educational philosophy and that of the teaching material.

Trust the Holy Spirit and choose from your spirit as well as from your head. No matter how much your friends rave about a particular product, don’t buy it if you don’t really like it yourself. A key question to ask is: “Does just looking at this curriculum make me feel tired or pressured?” Your body knows what’s good for you. Listen to it.

Rule #5: Avoid programs that require a great deal of teacher preparation. Unless you are a researcher-type or high-energy person, you will be frustrated by programs with detailed teacher’s manuals to wade through, supplemental books or seminars that are necessary to fully utilize the program, or lots of activities to prepare beforehand.

Rule #6: Expect to waste time, energy, and especially money. You will soon discover that often it is you, not your children, who are being educated. So loosen up and accept the fact that some of what you buy will be a total waste of time, energy, and money. This is all a part of learning what works for you and for your children. Consider it payment of your tuition in the University for Home Educating Parents .

Rule #7: Be aware that there are various schools of thought concerning the teaching of any subject. Some examples: In math there are programs that are primarily problem solving with manipulatives and programs that are primarily problem solving on paper. In reading there are programs that focus on learning phonics before learning to read, programs that focus on learning the rules while learning to read, and programs that focus on just learning to read and letting the rules come later.

Each school of thought has produced excellent mathematicians, readers, and spellers, but sometimes products will be advertised as better than the rest because they follow a particular school of thought.

Rule #8: Realize that there is no perfect curriculum. What works with one child won’t necessarily work with another. What worked one year may not necessarily work the next. Your family’s needs and interests will change. Buy materials that meet present needs. Mold the curriculum to the child, not the child to the curriculum.

Also, be aware that not all books in a series are equally as good. For example, the fourth grade level of a particular program may be excellent, but this does not mean the other levels are.

Rule #9: God gave you YOUR specific children because there is something in YOU that He wants imparted to them. Teaching materials are only tools to help you impart yourself to (disciple) your children. You can trust the Lord to lead you to those materials that will help you best disciple each child.

Rule #10: Remember that teaching materials are often the least important elements of your home school. Books are easy to discard if they don’t work for you, but attitudes and destructive family dynamics are not. According to a survey of home schooling families, five major reasons families fail at home education are: (1) they lack the personal conviction to persevere through the difficult times; (2) the father is not involved; (3) the children are undisciplined and resist parental instruction; (4) the parents cannot handle the added responsibilities; and (5) the family has unrealistic expectations.

The best teaching materials in the world are going to take a back seat to the attitudes and family dynamics in your household.

This article was taken in its entirety from:

I wish I had this before I went and spent a fortune at the HEAV convention!

curriculum, education, hampton roads, home education, homeschool testing, homeschool transition, homeschooler, homeschooling

Homeschool with a Theme!

The longer I homeschool, the more awesome people I meet and the better the ideas get.

I was talking to my good friend, Ang, a longtime homeschool veteren, and she was telling me that some years she chooses all of her curriculum based on a theme. This year’s theme was to improve “thinking skills” so she ordered most of her curriculum from Critical Thinking Press. I thought this was the most awesome idea ever!

Not only are all of her children learning the same basic principles together, but she kept the cost of homeschooling down by focusing on one major area she wanted her entire family to focus on. All supplemental materials and family activities have been based on this theme; how this must have made shopping so much easier. How mentally freeing it must have been; to pass up things that tend to just add to the curriculum clutter, because she could shop with her theme in mind!

Now, if only I could narrow down all of my ideas down to just one theme…..

curriculum, education, hampton roads, home education, homeschool testing, homeschool transition, homeschooler, homeschooling, new homeschooler, virginia, Worry

Scare Tactics and Intimidation

If you have had to remove your children from public school, you may find that you are being a victim of some pretty sinister scare tactics and intimidation. It has been my experience that the first thing you can do is not panic, and understand that very little information you obtain from the school system is actually true or accurate.

The school system may tell you that you cannot homeschool your child until the end of the school year. NOT TRUE! You can remove your child at any time during the school year to homeschool.

They(the public school system) may tell you that you can ONLY use an “approved” distance learning program to homeschool. NOT TRUE! You are free as a homeschooling parent to use ANY curriculum that you feel will benefit your child and your family.
According to §22.1-254.1 (A), You may teach at home if any one of the following conditions is met: if a parent (1) has a high school diploma; or (2) is a certified teacher*; or (3) provides a program of study or curriculum which may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner; or (iv) provides evidence that he is able to provide an adequate education for the child. These four options are listed on the form entitled, “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction.”

You may be told misinformation, such as, you cannot homeschool, or you must be an “approved homeschooler” if you have a GED. Not true! You are never “approved” by the school system. You simply “notify” them of your intent to homeschool and supply a list of the curriculum you intend to use. Also, if your spouse has a degree or a high school diploma you can file under your spouses educational credentials.

They may threaten you with truancy or that your child will fail if they are not returned to school. Your child cannot be accused of truancy as long as you have filed your notice of intent(NOI).
As far as failing, your child cannot fail a grade they withdraw from.

They may make ridiculous claims and attempt to make you jump through complicated hoops. At that point, turn in your NOI and cease communication. My suggestion to any homeschoolers that are switching to homeschooling from public school is to immediately join Homeschool Legal Defense or HSLDA, right now they are running a great promotion so it is free to join! Should you receive any threatening communication refer them to HSLDA immediately.

Finally, find a local support group of homeschoolers either via Yahoo groups or word-of-mouth and let them know what’s going on. Homeschoolers are a loving and helpful bunch; they will provide the necessary emotional and academic-advice support you will need to get past this.

Above all, do not allow yourself to feel alone, scared, or swallowed in self-pity, you have just made the most awesome, wonderful, life-changing decision of your life, now is not the time for sadness; it is time for jubilation!


August 1st Testing Insecurity

Henry H. Goddard, former head of the Psychology Department at Princeton and father of standardized testing, said in his book, Human Eficiency (1920) that government schooling was about “the perfect organization of the hive.”  He said standardized testing was a way to make lower classes recognize their own inferiority. Like wearing a dunce cap, it would discourage them from breeding and having ambition.

For those of you who may not know, in Virginia homeschoolers are to turn in”proof of progress” by August 1st.  If you are a new homeschooler, and this is your first year homeschooling. August 1st is more than a date…. its a deadline, looming in the back of your mind like a sledgehammer.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  When did our obsession with “testing” begin I wonder? There was a time when a test was just an assessment.  A determination of weaknesses and strengths; not an indictment of inferiority and lack of ability.  Should your child do poorly on a “test” are they then an inferior human being not worthy of your further investment time and materials?  Ever notice that on most standardized tests, that there is a constant comparison of your child’s ability with other children of the same age. If all children are unique and individuals in talent and ability why would this matter so much?  I believe that the notion that all children of the same age should all know the exact same information at the same time is ridiculous. We are all different and inherently we will learn at different rates.  I recall being in 3rd grade and I could not learn my multiplication tables. I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t understand the lack of calculation required. I didn’t like the memorization of it,  and I just resisted learning it.  I remember the teacher telling my mother that I was just not good at numbers, and it was really going to hinder my 4th grade progress and how I would never be good at math… because I had not learned my multiplication tables “on-time”.  I didn’t really “learn” my multiplication tables until I was well into 4th grade, and I would have to say that it didn’t “hinder” me at all. I just learned them in my own time.  I still see that 3rd grade teacher.  She still lives in the town I grew up in, and when I graduated from engineering school, she couldn’t help but marvel that I must have finally learned my multiplication tables 🙂  I tell this story because I pray that you and your homeschooled student will see tests the way they were meant to be used… as assessments and nothing more. They will not determine your child’s love for learning or their ability to learn… no test can do that.  Do not allow the labels of standardized tests to infiltrate your homeschool and pollute the love of education and learning you are striving to build for your children.

Blessings always,