The Homeschool Balancing Act

homeschool balancing act @homeschoolsurvival

 

Homeschooling and Getting it All Done

We moms know that life in general can be a balancing act, but when you throw homeschooling in with all the other stuff you have to get done, it can seem like an overwhelming task. On top of that, you might be teaching multiple grades, tackling high school subjects, or dealing with a curious toddler. Field trips, errands, sports activities, and trips to the vet keep you on the road A LOT. Some days, it seems like it’s time to get supper started before you’ve even pulled that first load of laundry out of the washer.

So, how do you manage the homeschool balancing act?

Well, I don’t really have all the answers, but after eleven years of homeschooling, there are a few things I’ve learned that I can share with you. First and foremost, accept that right now — this moment — this is life. Life isn’t a “someday when I catch up” moment. When you are in the thick of it with dirty dishes, piles of laundry, science projects on the kitchen counter, and fussing kids, embrace it, enjoy it, and make the best of it. You’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating, your kids are only young once. Don’t save your best for “one day.” Live it now: enjoy this time with your children.

This realization brings me peace, which helps me maintain focus. And that leads to number two.

You will never catch up. Accept it. There will always be more meals to plan, more dirty towels to wash, and more math problems to figure out. So instead of wasting your time playing catch up, chart a course for what you want to accomplish each day, and let the rest go. It will be there tomorrow. My household list includes getting the dishes out of the sink and starting a load of clothes before bedtime. (I can, however rest easy even if there’s a pile of unfolded laundry hidden away in my closet and a full dishwasher waiting to be unloaded.)

For school, instead of looking at a daily schedule, I focus on where I want us to be by the end of each week. Which leads to my third tip: plan ahead, but be willing to go with the flow. Having a written plan for schoolwork helps keep us moving forward, but I also embrace those “light bulb” moments when they arise. Sometimes, spontaneity brings about the most memorable learning experiences.

If you’re in the midst of planning for the new school year, and the task seems daunting, relax a little, celebrate this season of life, and give yourself some grace.

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Weekly Giveaway: $50 Amazon Card + Freebies Link Up

Welcome!

It’s week 28! We love bringing you these giveaways each and every week here on Homeschool Survival. If you have Freebies you’d like to share, be sure to link up and we will be Pinning and Sharing through the week. We’d like to encourage you to like us and interact with us on Facebook. Visit us there to find and share more fantastic posts. We are a community where you can ask questions, get mom to mom answers and be encouraged. In fact, if you happen to have any questions about homeschooling, feel free to leave us a comment here…and we’ll be happy to post them on the page, or even write a blog post about it. We are here to help you in your journey and can’t wait to hear more from you! Be sure to read all the way to the end, where the fabulous giveaways will be posted.

Back to School Money - $50 Amazon card

This Weeks Featured Giveaway 

Homeschool Survival 

$50 Gift Card from Amazon
You’ll be able to purchase supplies your family needs and take advantage of the wonderful “Back to School” sales going on daily!
The team here at Homeschool Survival came up with our own favorite product ideas for homeschool. These are things we use regularly and recommend to others to enhance the homeschool year!

With so many little guys in my house during the homeschooling day busy boxes are a must for me! I love how easy they are for little hands to use and the activities are endless. We use them to create pictures and other art projects. They are great for beginner writers and readers. Print off letters for them to “trace” with dots,  have them match dots to numbers, or play find the letter by printing off a sheet of mixed up letters and only dotting certain ones. ~ Emmalee Hoggatt, The Hoggatt Homeschool

 

laminator

 

I absolutely love this laminator. It’s very reasonably priced. We love to laminate play-dough mats and homemade games. Its a great access to our homeschool. ~ Jill Craft, Blessed Beyond a Doubt

My first choice of favorite homeschool product is Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock. It is really all I need for early elementary level science, and I continue to use it all the way through high school. It is a timeless nature study guide, science text, collection of unit studies, and field guide all in one. By far my best homeschooling investment.                  ~ Anne Campbell, Learning Table

I DO SO love a good globe and this one is very affordable! I’ve used everything from wall maps, to blow up globes in our family homeschool. This year we will be enjoying the real deal as we regularly study exciting people, places, and things from around the world!        ~ Kelli Becton, Adventures in Child Rearing

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Any time I need encouragement, as a homeschool mom, this is the book I pull out.  There are so many practical tips and tricks throughout the book that give me the perfect pep talk that I need.  It has everything from home organization ideas to curriculum ideas.  Really, everything a homeschooling mom would need!    — Sarah Robinson, Sidetracked Sarah & Owner of Homeschool Survival.  

Words are Categorical Series
We love learning grammar with the books in the Words Are Categorical series. These charming books teach students grades 2-4 with fun titles such as A Mink, a Fink, a Skating Rink (nouns) and Hairy, Scary, Ordinary (adjectives). There are also books for verbs, adverbs, pronouns, compound words, conjunctions, prepositions, synonyms, and more!              ~ Marcy Crabtree, Ben and Me
Smead Envelope with String-Tie Closure

Smead Envelope with String-Tie Closure, Side Loading, Letter Size, Green Poly, 5 per Pack (89523)

These are my favorite right now because I use them for several things in our homeschool organization. I use them to hold unit studies, all the printable packs I print out and I also use them for workboxes. I have tried multiple things as workboxes and these are my best find. They are durable and the boys can see the contents inside. They are strong enough to hold large high school size books, a folder and spiral notebook. I Velcro the workbox tags to the outside and tape their lesson to the outside. They close up tight and nothing falls out or gets lost!  Works great! ~ Janeen Herlugson, Sprouting Tadpoles

 

Giveaway – Enter with 1 link or Enter with ALL!

One family will receive a $50 Amazon card to shop for their homeschool (or other family needs) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure to head over to HomeschoolSurvival.com to see what other Homeschooling Giveaways you can enter to win or Freebies you can get!  The giveaways & freebies link up is every Monday! Are you a homeschooling company who would like to sponsor the weekly Giveaways for Homeschoolers?  Email Sarah of Homeschool Survival at sidetrackedsarah (at) gmail.com    

Are you all finished with your homeschool shopping? What is on your supply list?

 

Other Giveaways & Freebies: Let’s Link Up!

It’s time to link up!  If you’re a blogger linking up, I only ask that you link back to me, if possible.  I can’t wait to see your giveaways and freebies! (If you’re reading this in an email, be sure to click to the site to see more giveaways. More could be added all week!)

Aiming for Mastery

Aiming for Mastery @homeschoolsurvival

This time of year, many homeschool moms start discussing mastery.

How do you know when students have mastered a subject and are ready to move on to the next level? Some experts recommend that you complete at least 75% of a textbook to consider it credit-worthy.

But, what if you don’t use a textbook? Or, what if you switch curriculum mid-year?

According to HSLDA, “For courses that do not use a standard high school-level textbook (perhaps you are putting together your own unit study, or you are using an integrated curriculum), log the hours that your child spends completing the course work. One credit is approximately 120-180 hours of work.” (http://www.hslda.org/highschool/docs/EvaluatingCredits.asp)

With those guidelines in mind, I go one step further when evaluating my students’ readiness to move to the next level. I move ahead when they’re ready, and I don’t move ahead if they’re not.

It isn’t easy to let go of the feeling that you have to complete this or that, or that you have to check this or that box in the plan book. It is also a struggle when you have the feeling that you’re behind if you haven’t reached a certain chapter in the book by now. Believe me, I get it. I’ve been homeschooling for eleven years, and every year is still a new experience as we move into upper level high school classes. But, I decided it is more important that my kids know enough to move forward than it is to finish the book by a certain time.

Aiming for mastery is the goal:

  • When my youngest masters printing, we will move into cursive.
  • When my oldest masters Algebra I, we’ll move on to Algebra II.
  • We might set anatomy aside for a while and study ecology and astronomy during the summer months, and then pick up where we left off.
  • Even when 180 days have been completed, we will continue reading our read-aloud novel until we finish it, because we really want to know how everything turns out.

Equipping my kids with the joy of lifelong learning is my primary target.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

Saving Money Homeschooling

This post contains affiliate links…that’s part of how we afford to homeschool!

 

Saving Money Homeschooling

 

I have a spinal cord injury and receive SSDI. In case you’re wondering, even counting  what Social Security pays my kids, this amounts to less than 40 percent of what I earned when I worked. My injury is a blessing because it allows us to homeschool, but it is not a financial blessing! Saving money homeschooling is critical if we are going to succeed.

My husband works full time, and adds as much overtime as possible, but altogether we earn just enough to live comfortably…until you consider homeschooling and two kids with orthodontia.

There’s not too much I can do about the orthodontia, other than an FSA and payment plan, but the homeschooling expenses I can work with. In fact, a significant portion of my time is spent finding the least expensive ways to provide my children the education they need. Here are some ways I find to save money on homeschooling:

  1. Free educational adventures. We live in a very rural area, so visits to farms are educational outings that cost little to nothing but provide entertainment and learning. My in laws own two horses, and both of my kids ride with them. My grandmother in law teaches oil painting and has taught the children how to paint. My husband’s uncle lives on a lake and teaches my kids to fish, gut, and process their catches.  Any one you know has something they can teach your kids, and most people will do it for free because it is fun. You also have skills you can teach your children. For instance, I’m a blogger…I teach them to write. My husband teaches them basic home maintenance and “shop class”.
  2. Shop around for materials. I do not purchase “boxed curriculum” for several reasons, not the least of which being the cost. (The second reason being it is unusual for a child to be on the same “level” in every subject.) Once I have determined what level my child is in a subject (using free placement tests that most curriculum providers have on their websites) and what materials I want to use, I compare prices on Currclick.com Amazon.com, Half.com, Abebooks.com, and Ebay. It is rare that I do not find the curriculum I want on at least one of these sources, and usually quite a bit cheaper than purchasing from the manufacturer.
  3. Watching for sales. Just yesterday, I received an email from one of my favorite lapbook creators offering all of their materials for only $.10! I bought what I can use right now, but also what I know I will need in the future. I have five more years of homeschooling with my son and seven with my daughter. There is plenty I will still need to teach them, and I buy what I will need when it is at a good price. (Planning ahead is key for using this method of buying materials. I use The Well Planned Day system from HEDUA.com so I can quickly see what I will be teaching next year or in two years, so I don’t miss a good sale and so I don’t buy materials we don’t end up using.)
  4. I watch for freebies. Many curriculum providers have freebies. Sometimes these are only partial curricula, but with supplemental materials these can be thorough. On Currclick.com, one of my favorite resources, there are pages and pages of freebies. You can sign up to receive newsletters from your favorite curriculum providers to give you a heads up when they are offering sales. I share sales and discounts on my blog (simplyhomeschoolliving.net) and on my facebook page (facebook.com/simplyhsliving). Most homeschool bloggers do the same.
  5. Sell your used curricula. If you’re like most homeschoolers I know, you have shelves or boxes (or both) of curricula your kids are done with. That’s money. You can sell used materials (not just books, but manipulatives, movies, DVDs, and CDs) on Amazon.com (they also take trade ins), Half.com, eBay, Abebooks.com, and Craigslist. Your local homeschool community may also have a curricula trade or sale board (mine just set one up on Facebook, and we also have a trade during the end of year co-op Knowledge Fair).
  6. Sell your time or skills. Everyone is good at something. I write, so I have a homeschool blog where I have affiliate links. Those links bring the reader to companies I like. When the reader buys something from that company, I get a tiny portion of the sale. It doesn’t add up to much, but every little bit helps. I also do nail art. Friends “hire” me for birthday parties or before big events to do their nails. Again, it is not a lot of money, but it is a little, and it is also fun. If you sew, knit, crochet, make jewelry, or do any kind of craft, you can set up a store on StoreEnvy or Etsy or Ebay and supplement your income that way. Some homeschooling families start businesses where each member of the family works, such as Great Products (they have the BEST homeschool tee shirts and toys ever!)
  7. Make what you need, or find it free. The internet abounds with free resources for homeschoolers. EasyPeasy All in One Homeschool provides an entire homeschool education for free. You can find word search or crossword generators, coloring pages to print, and literature reviews everywhere. An entire math education from addition to theoretical physics can be found on Khan Academy. A course in American Literature doesn’t need to come from a set textbook…just go to the library and check out the classics! After your child has read it, have him or her write a book report, put on a play, make a video, or just tell you about it.  Foreign language can be learned with free online resources like DuoLingo.com.
  8. Use your library and museums. Our library has resources for schools including huge Rubbermades full of materials on different topics (such as weather or “life in a log”). They also have free or cheap activities for all ages. We have several museums in the area that all offer educational activities, from the art museum that has free Drop In Wednesdays (each week focuses on a different work in the library and then the kids try to recreate the style) to the World Children’s Museum that offers activities based on different world cultures (right now is Chinese New Year).
  9. Find a co-op. Large, organized co-ops aren’t cheap…for this last year, we paid over $200 altogether for the children’s courses, not counting the cost of texts. However, it is much less expensive than my teaching those courses myself! I don’t have the materials or skill to teach anatomy, music, Crime Scene Investigation, etc… You have to balance how much it would cost you to buy everything you’d need to teach a course verses how much it costs to do it at co-op. And please factor in your desire (or lack thereof) to teach the course in question. I mean…I am not teaching blood splatters. Period. If there isn’t an organized co-op in your area or they don’t offer what you need, consider coordinating with some other families to exchange skills. I’m particularly good at math, so next year at co-op I am teaching Business Math. Another mother is the music ministry coordinator at her church, so she teaches music. I would be willing to guess that, within your group of friends, you will find a wide variety of skills and abilities.
  10. Just say no. If a course or subject is not necessary for your child to learn, and it is too expensive or difficult for you to manage for them, just say no. Many, many families stretch their wallets to the breaking point to fulfill every interest of their children. This is especially true with “extracurriculars” (which aren’t really so for homeschoolers, but I hope you get what I mean!) You just can’t do everything, and your child’s education will not suffer if they don’t study pottery, Ancient Roman architecture, or four different foreign languages. Or, find another way to do it – have them do an independent study instead of taking a course, or for older kids, have them earn the money for the lessons they want.

Homeschooling is not easy and it is not cheap. It is a lifestyle and more than a full time…but one you have to pay to do! Just like in every other area of life, however, there are ways to save money while still achieving a high quality result.

Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through SchoolHouseTeachers.com. Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

Organization by Balancing Life

Organization

 

The key to my organization strategy is to create balance in whatever I do: homeschool; employment; house work, etc.  Often I find myself making a bigger mess, before I get to the point where I am at peace with whatever I’m attempting to organize.  Does that happen to you too?  I can’t imagine that I’m the only one.  Is my home spotless?  No.  Is everything just right?  Probably not nearly so.  Am I all right with this?  Absolutely!

Home School Organization

My son is in his High School years, so I find that my method of tracking his progress very straightforward.  I organize his schedule in a Word document, write the daily lessons on his white board, and use an Excel spreadsheet I created for recording graded material.  I split up each quarter by subject. I then have a master Excel spreadsheet that I found a Microsoft Office Template for, called Grade Tracker.  Grade Tracker compiles the data from the subject spreadsheets and figures out grade point average (GPA), credit hours, and assigns letter grades, so we will have a High School Transcript ready for when my son begins applying to Colleges.

For any paper schoolwork completed, I simply sort it by date and subject, use my 3-hole punch, and file the material in a binder by school year.  In this same binder is the copy of the letter I submitted to the School System to home school my son, as well as, the letter of approval the School System sent to me.  Documentation is helpful if ever there is a question on what was done when, so I record everything!

You really can organize your home school on a budget.  I had a friend refer me to Transcript Pro and another friend say, take the reins yourself because you can be so much more creative and really personalize their transcript.  I have the time, I like to save money where I can, so I went for the Do-It-Yourself approach.  The choice is yours as you have to find the right balance for your homeschooling or unschooling style.

Work Organization

In addition to homeschooling my son, I also work part-time for a local credit union on their telecommuting team.  I am not anti-social, I promise!  I am only required to go on-site once a month and I have a fixed schedule that works perfectly with my son’s education.  My husband was kind enough to support me in working part-time hours so I could be more available for my son beginning when he was in public elementary school.  I’m sure many moms do it in reverse, work part-time or not at all outside the home when their children are young and return to full-time jobs after their kids go to school, but for our family the reverse was the perfect balance as I reduced my schedule over time from a 40 hour work week, to a Management position, then 30 hours, and now an average of only 23 hours per week.

Household Organization

This is an area where I make the big mess.  For example, I just tore apart my entire pantry two days ago, just so I had somewhere to store our endless stack of egg crates.  I do not refuse free egg crates.  I am not a hoarder (ha ha)!  We have chickens, they lay eggs, sometimes way more than we can eat, and I’m not paying $0.39 each at the store for something to simply contain eggs neatly until they are used.  Plus if I get the plastic crates, I cut the trays and use them for paint cups!  I love reusing things with good purpose.  We even have a spaghetti jar repurposed into my son’s favorite milk cup.  No crying if or when that glass breaks.

My son’s bedroom was the typical teenage boy’s room disaster until a few months ago.  It had gotten beyond him in knowing how to dig out, so I decided it was time for an intervention.  I had to make the mess way bigger by making piles and moving piles, deciding what was trash, what he was saving, and what was to be donated.  Two months later, it is still nearly as we finished.  We took a minimalistic approach and he gained a lot of space in his fairly small bedroom and we had the talk about “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  He’s too old for the Barney the Dinosaur’s “Clean Up” song now, but I used to love that when he was younger.

I don’t have a schedule for cleaning like all the best organizers do.  If the laundry baskets are full, I do laundry.  If dishes are dirty in the sink, and the piles bug me, I wash dishes (I like to leave this to hubby as I really don’t like doing silverware, but I’ve been good lately).  I don’t vacuum or dust every day, I just don’t find it a priority or maybe I like to see that there is an accumulation before I’m jolted into action.  We play a lot, so putting off some household chores is fine with me.  I actually should have gone grocery shopping today as we are down to two clementines and one banana, but my son wanted a field trip today.  So what did I do?  I took my son and his friend to a nearby Historical Museum for something fun and different.  It was time well spent and the grocery store will be there tomorrow.

Melissa ReadMelissa is in her first year of homeschooling her teenaged son, while working part-time.  She enjoys the simple life, but her husband is a super techie.  It’s an interesting balance as Melissa strives to learn more homesteading skills, while her husband is playing the latest Xbox game.  Find Melissa’s Facebook page:  Minor in Homeschool.

Tips From A (Self-Proclaimed) “Curriculum Junkie”

Tips from a Self Proclaimed Curriculum Junkie

 

The season for shopping for new curriculum is fast approaching. For a curriculum junkie like myself, that can be both exciting and overwhelming. I have purchased everything under the sun in hopes of finding exactly what I’m looking for. But guess what? Even I, myself have no clue what exactly that is. So, before you begin your search for a curriculum that fits your needs, I hope you’ll follow my advice.

1). Make a list of your goals for the upcoming school year. If you have an outline of what you hope to accomplish, you’ll have a better chance of narrowing down your items of choice.

2). Describe the method you’d like to use. Do you like literature based? Are you strictly workbook based? Do you like the idea of doing unit studies or notebooking? This will certainly help narrow your curriculum choices down.

3). Do you plan on purchasing a complete boxed set or does the idea of purchasing books of your choice and compiling them to create a curriculum catered to your teaching approach sound more appealing? This is where I struggle every single time. I love a “grab and go” complete boxed set. With 4 kids ages 6 and under, it is so appealing to me to just open an instructors manual and follow the directions. Unfortunately, I have yet to purchase a complete set that fits my style. This has become a very expensive habit. We have so much curriculum sitting in our shelves and not being used because, well, I haven’t found exactly what I’m looking for. Whatever “that” is.

4). Another important thing to keep in mind is what learning style your homeschool child has, and remember, not every child will learn the same! What works perfect for one child may not appeal to another. So, it’s important to be open-minded.

5). What budget do you have set aside for homeschool curriculum and supplies? That will narrow your choice down greatly and remember, some of the best curriculum is free! Library visits, field trips, nature walks; these can be one of the best parts of your homeschool plan!

6). Do you like the idea of a digital program (software, iBooks, etc) or is print-based a better fit? This is another topic I struggle with. I love the idea of my kids taking books (iBook/kindle form) wherever we go and not losing a paper book in the process of getting from point A to point B. I love the idea of pages not getting ripped, book covers written on, not needing storage space for yet another item, etc. But I also love the idea of them using a paper book, feeling the pages, reading a book and not using technology for everything.

7). Used or new? Do you like to be frugal and purchase used items or even borrow them? Or do you veer more in the direction of purchasing new?

I lean towards boxed curriculum, but my husband (who is referred to as “The New Farmer” on my blog) loves to piece our curriculum together using books and supplies he feels are important to use. We grab several books in all subject areas and create curriculum that works best for our kids.

Over the next several months (especially this summer) you’ll find an abundance of wonderful blogs showing their curriculum choices for the new year. I absolutely love reading about everyone’s choices! We’ll hopefully have ours narrowed and picked soon and will certainly post about our choices on my blog!

Best wishes and blessings to you and your family as you start planning for the new year!

 

Tammy CarrollTammy is the owner of The New Farmer’s Wife blog.  She and her husband recently decided to give farming a try and she’s blogging all about their adventures.  Take a moment to stop on by!

Homeschool Convention Survival Tips

Hitting the Road: #Homeschool Convention Time via homeschoolsurvival.com

Whether you’re a newbie homeschool or a seasoned veteran, homeschool conventions provide a valuable source of encouragement, information, and fellowship.

Hitting the Road: Homeschool Convention Time!

The first time I walked into a convention center for a homeschool conference, I had already been homeschooling for nine years, but I was immediately OVERWHELMED!

After attending several conferences over the past few years, I’ve learned a thing or two, which make the experience less-stressful and more valuable.

So, if you’re headed to a convention this spring, here are some survival tips for you:

  • Look at the list of vendors and speakers for the convention you are attending on the conference website, and note which ones you want to be sure to visit.
  • Make a list of any specific products you want to check out. Go to sessions sponsored by those vendors to learn more about them.
  • Keep a running list of items you might want to purchase after seeing them. I didn’t purchase anything on our first walk-through. I used that first time to “window shop,” and then went back to buy things later. This prevents extra trips to the car or having to haul around a bunch of stuff, and it also gave me pause to think before making an impulse buy.
  • Speaking of those trips to the car — pack snacks and drinks, and take breaks! Food can be pricey at convention centers, and many will not let you bring anything in, so use your car as home-base. Especially if your kids attend with you!
  • Schedule time for an initial walk-through, and plan to go back at least once more to be sure you cover it all. Planning to go back helped me prevent impulse purchases because I knew I would have time to go stop back by the booths.
  • Many vendors offer coupons or codes to use later, so you don’t have to feel pressure to buy at the convention.
  • Be flexible and willing to change your product list. I was surprised to find that some products were not what I thought they would be and to discover new products I never would have considered before seeing them and hearing the speakers.
  • Use DISCERNMENT! Realize that a convention is a money-maker for the host, and some (many) of the vendors might not necessarily have the same worldview, parenting philosophy, etc. that you do. Do your research! Be aware that vendors and speakers are presenting their best face at the conference.
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun! My goal is not to “shop” as much as it is to “see.” Bringing home a few new things is just a bonus.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.

It’s OK to Change Your Homeschool Curriculum

 

It's OK to Change Your Homeschool Curriculum

Well, you”ve made it to halfway through the school year.

How do you feel?

Excited?

Need a break?

Are you satsified with your curriculum choice? Its ok if you’re not. Sometimes we get excited and feel we have to get the latest and greatest versions, do everything the manual says, go on every field trip etc. But to me that’s not homeschooling. If you’re feeling too rushed and the kids are getting burned out and overwhelmed, then maybe you should analyze your schedule and take a step back. We as parents have a responsibility to raise our children, teach them and nurture them. We feel pressured to do the very best far and beyond what we may be capable of and be subject to burnout.

This happened to me. Last year was rough. We were having a difficult time finacially, my husband had a bad bout of sciatica and then when everything seemed to calm down and we were getting back on our feet we got a letter in the mail. Our landlords wanted to sell the house we were liviing in for 7 years and wanted us to move. They only gave us 2 months. 2 months to pack up 7 years of stuff and try to find another place to live. We were devastated. It was the first house we ever lived in.  We were in turmoil. How could I possibly homeschool too? How could I follow the curriculum, househunt and pack? Well, I didnt.

We took a break. I was so stressed. The kids were stressed and I can’t imagine what my husband was going through. Children are learning all the time whether you have a curriculum or not. It’s their nature. They are naturally curious. If your kids are like mine, they love to ask questions. Sometimes that could lead to a trip to the library to look at books about what interests them, going online, there are so many possibilities. Even some television shows are educational and can maybe even give you a break while they are watching it. SCORE!!! Unit studies are also another avenue to use and also lapbooks.  It’s almost endless.

Just find what works for your family. It also helps if you find out what learning style your children are and go from there. For instance my son doesnt sit still for long periods of time so having an actual curriculum with alot of bookwork and seat work wouldn’t be a good fit for him. My daughter could sit longer but she will drift off into never-neverland if she gets bored. A curriculum with a lot of reading where she can’t be creative, wouldn’t be a good fit for her. Find what fits your child and your lifstyle. You want them to love learning.  

Fast forward 6 months: we are in our new home and getting back into our groove. I decided to ditch the curriculum we were using and do something else. Unschooling fits our lifestyle. And guess what? The kids are fine. We survived not using a boxed curriculum. And I’m a much better mother and teacher for it.

Integrating Technology Into Classical Education

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Integrating Technology into Classical Education

 

A classical education, such as I have written about in the past on Simply Homeschool Living, is a good ideal but I have found it is not practical for my family. My children are fascinated with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and electronics. Mouthy now spends half of each day programming! So I had to revamp my idea of what our homeschool was. The goal is to teach each child what s/he needs to know, in the way s/he learns best. Although at times scarily similar (finishing each other’s sentences!) Mouthy and Curly learn very differently. Often, the most effective method involves technology. Many homeschool books and blogs I’ve read discourage electronics, forbidding television and allowing limited computer use. I question this outlook. Our children will be set loose into a wired society. Although I agree media should be screened and limited in some respect, I can only encourage computer use in education. This is the way our kids will be working and living. They have to be prepared. At the same time, I believe a classical education is a necessity. Critical thinking skills, the ability to express one’s self clearly in writing, and an understanding of interconnections between history and today are highly valued in the market.

Here are some of the ways we integrate computing and technology into our classical education:

  • Minecraft: For the co-op Knowledge Fair, my daughter elected to create a “Digestion Themepark”. She is creating it in MineCraft, integrating computing and programming with anatomy.
  • DuoLingo: My daughter and I use the free DuoLingo app for language (she is learning French, I am practicing Spanish). My son watches Latin DVDs to hear pronunciation and conjugations.
  • KhanAcademy and YouTube: Some subjects are easier to understand with pictures. Khan covers math, science, and technology. YouTube has far too much available to let kids go on their own, but I can often find history and Bible movies. (Prescreen!)
  • Amazon Prime: In addition to a huge selection of lectures and videos, Amazon offers eBooks at little or no cost. There are over 10,000 free classical tomes for instant download.
  • Coding: Mouthy (my 13 year old son) loves coding. He has a Java programming course from homeschoolprogramming.com, and he also uses a free platform called GameMaker Studios. I feel too many people do not understand how the electronic devices we depend on work!
  • MS Office: For my dyslexic daughter especially, typing allows her to process her thoughts quickly. (Dragon Naturally Speaking helps both of us, her with spelling and me with my hands).  We use PowerPoint presentations for book reports and other projects.
  • Television: We use a DVR to record programs that will aid in our homeschool. Our favorites are Big History, Through the Wormhole, and specials on History and H2. Some programs provide teacher’s or study guides, such as Lifetime’s The Gabby Douglas Story.

Although we want to be apart from the “world” (Colossians 3:1), that doesn’t mean we have to reject the things of the world out of hand. Through planning and monitoring, we can create a new classical education that encompasses the best of what the world has to offer.

 

Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through SchoolHouseTeachers.com. Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

homeschool survival

 

It’s the middle of the school year, and your child is not thriving or growing. You think it is time to pull him out of traditional school, but you aren’t sure you can do this. You might be wondering, can I homeschool? What will my family think? What will my friends think? How do I start?

I found myself in this same quandary a few years ago when we took the plunge and started on our homeschool journey. Okay, it was eleven years ago, but time has whizzed by like a shooting star.

I felt like I was literally stuck “between a rock and a hard place” when my oldest son was in kindergarten. It just wasn’t working out—he was unhappy, and I was unhappy. It was really due to a combination of things, but I could see the difference in his attitude and in his enthusiasm for learning. School was a requirement, not a joy. It was a place where he was under the care and influence of others all day without me. I would ask him how his day went and what he learned and did each day, but all I usually got in response was, “okay” or “I don’t know.”

After meetings with the teacher and the director of the program, and talks with other students’ moms, I began to discover what some of the problems were. Basically, however, he was not thriving in the classroom setting, and it was doing damage to him.

So, here I was, seven months pregnant and with a toddler in the house, bringing my six-year-old home to school. What was I going to do with a newborn and a toddler while I learned how to “do school” with my son? How were we going to break the news to the grandparents?

Well, you know what? We did fine. After a month or so of decompressing from the school routines, we began to find a rhythm in our days. We started off slow, with a simple curriculum to guide us, and my son eventually found his joy in learning again. My only regret is that we didn’t start homeschooling sooner.

So, if you find yourself stuck in that hard place, I’m here to tell you that you CAN do this. And, there are a bunch of us who have been at it awhile who would love to share our successes and failures with you.

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne onBloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.