Tag Archives: homeschooling

The evolution of a homeschool mom

We have about a month left in our school year, and as the end of our 6th- and 3rd-grade year draws near I’ve been feeling a little reflective. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve struggled so much this year. I’ve been stressed all year because I’ve felt that we weren’t getting enough of our schoolwork done. The kids have a lot of away-from-home activities, and I feel like all I’ve done is play catch-up.

And suddenly a few days ago something occurred to me: I’m evolving. I’ve been the kids’ primary teacher for their entire school career, but that isn’t really the case any more. Poppy is taking classes elsewhere for almost every subject this year, which means I’m more of a coordinator than a teacher for her now. That time hasn’t entirely come for Pete yet, but it’s getting closer.

Here’s a glimpse at what our weeks have been like these last few months:


Monday

Poppy’s taking a creative writing class from me at Monday co-op, Pete is taking a class called World Building that involved making up his own country, and they’re both taking a class in which they play board games. We’ve been a part of our Monday Co-op for almost five years. It’s a very sweet group, but it skews toward young kids and it isn’t really meeting our needs anymore. It’ll be a bittersweet departure, but it’s necessary.

Tuesday

Poppy has been taking an Shakespearean acting class, a lot of tae kwon do and some extra training for soccer on Tuesdays, while Pete meets with his spelling tutor and has a swim lesson — all worth activities that do not take place at the same time. Tuesday was meant to be a day that we stayed home and focused on our schoolwork, but best laid plans and all that.

Wednesday

Poppy spends a good bit of the day away from home taking writing, science and a culture and civilization class on Wednesdays, and Pete has chess class. This is one of the days that we actually do get a bit more work done at home, especially for Pete.

Thursday

Thursday is New Co-op day. That’s winding down for the year, too. It’s been a terrific addition for us, academically. Poppy is currently working on a presentation on Nirvana for her History of Rock ‘n’ Roll class, and she did a presentation on Australia this week in World Geography. She’s also taking a literature and writing class, in which her most recent assignment is to write a persuasive paper. She’s trying to persuade the world to adopt a pet. Pete is working with a small group on making a stop-motion film about the parts of a computer for his Technology class and researching javelin in Sports & Games and the Marquis de Lafayette in literature, and he just finished a project about The Sun for his Astronomy class.

Friday

Fridays are my least-busy day, because the piano teacher and the spelling tutor come to us. This is the day we get most of our at-home work done.


Don’t you hate it when you get a demanding text from the principaw?
My personal goal for next year is to embrace my new role. I’ll handle the registration and help them figure out how to juggle homework and sports and free time, and I’ll plan field trips, and I’ll drive them all over town and back again. And most important for my peace of mind, I’ll stop worrying that we aren’t getting everything done, because they’ll be doing quite enough.

Want to peek into some other homeschoolers’ lives? Check out the weekly roundup at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!

How to start homeschooling

The idea of taking full responsibility for your child’s education can be a little overwhelming. (That may be an understatement.) I had plenty of time to research state law and different homeschooling philosophies before we started homeschooling, since it was in our family plan for a few years before Poppy and Pete were even on the scene. So I figured I’d share a little of what I gleaned in that initial research and what I’ve learned since.

So here’s what you need to do to start homeschooling:
1. Learn about the legalities of homeschooling in your state.
2. Figure out how you want to approach homeschooling in your house.
3. Jump in.

The first step is simple. The second is going to take a little more thought and effort, but there are a lot of resources out there to help you figure it out. And of course the third step takes a deep breathe and a good deal of faith. I hope some of this is helpful whether you’re starting your homeschool adventure in pre-school or considering a fresh start with your eighth-grader.

Homeschooling regulations

We are U.S.-based, so my experience is entirely from an American perspective. Homeschooling has been legal in the United States since 1993, but some states are more restrictive than others. In North Dakota, for example, kids with low scores on standardized tests can be required to undergo a professional assessment, and in New York parents have to submit a detailed instruction plan at the beginning of the year as well as quarterly reports throughout. Meanwhile, states such as Idaho and Texas don’t even require you to tell anyone that you’re planning to homeschool.

Our state falls somewhere around moderate in terms of its homeschool regulations. We are required to notify the state department of non-public education that we intend to homeschool, and they recommend keeping a record of attendance and curriculum. The kids are also required to take a standardized test every year, which we can administer at home. The state does not require us to submit any of that information to their department, though, which would seem to me to defeat the purpose of requiring it.

For info on homeschooling in your state, check out:

  • Propublica.org’s great graphic of Homeschooling Regulations by State. It includes info such as how frequently you need to tell your state that you’re homeschooling; whether there are any subjects you’re required to teach in your state; and whether you’re required to vaccinate your children.
  • The Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s page of homeschooling laws by state.
  • Homeschool curriculum choices

    There are at least 10,000 approaches to homeschooling, from “unschooling” to online schooling. Despite having planned to homeschool the kids for so long, I was nervous about whether or not I’d actually be able to do it when we started. So I bought a “curriculum in a box,” which gave me everything Poppy and I needed for kindergarten. Almost every step of every lesson had an accompanying script, which took a lot of the worry out of it for me for awhile. By the end of the year, though, I was ready for something outside of the box. So I started looking into other methods of homeschooling. I found that there are a ton of ways to go about teaching your kids at home. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel today, so I’m going to point you to The Pioneer Woman for a good breakdown of some of the more prominent methods.

    We don’t follow any particular methodology these days; we just do what works for the kids and their learning styles. That puts us in the category of Eclectic Homeschoolers, which means we take a little of this and a little of that from pretty much any approach to learning. In our house, that means our history studies follow a Classical approach, our math is more of a traditional classroom curriculum and our literature study wanders between classroom work and unschooling. I really like the eclectic approach because it frees us to find what works best for each child.

    Jump in

    I will stand next to the pool for an hour before I actually jump in, which means I am wildly unqualified to tell you how to Jump In to homeschooling. But know that you can do this, even if you have to dip your toe in by, say, trying it during the summer or something to ease yourself into it.

    Do you have any questions about homeschooling? Let me know, and I’ll do my best to answer!

    This week in homeschooling: Shakespeare, spelling and civics

    Every week we get to Friday and I think “We didn’t get a thing done this week!” And then I start to write this and realize that we did, in fact, get quite a bit done. Next week, however, we actually won’t get a thing done because we’ll be on Fall Break. We are all looking forward to it.

    Here’s a bit of what we did this week:


    Reading

    We are still listening to “Little Women,” even though the kids told me they already know about “the big twist” because their cousin listens to “Little Women” constantly. I was not aware of that before I picked the book. But it’s a good book, so I stand by my decision.

    Much to my chagrin, I realized today that Poppy hasn’t been reading much of anything lately. We’ll need to do something about that. Pete has been reading the “Warriors” series and a biography of Hillary Clinton that he picked out at the bookstore a few weeks ago. He really enjoys the “Who Is” biographies, if any of you are looking for something to give him for his upcoming birthday.

    Language Arts

    Poppy finished one level of WordlyWise 3000 this week and — once we figured out how to activate it — moved on to the next one. Pete is also continuing his WordlyWise studies. He’s also been working with a spelling tutor for the last few months. It seems to be going well, but I haven’t tested him or anything. Poppy’s work in her writing class tells me we need to start a formal spelling program with her again, too. I’m looking at Spelling Power, but I haven’t made a final decision on what we’ll use.

    Math

    Rockford has been working with Poppy on her math in the evenings, and I think both the change in timing and personnel has been good for her. Pete continues to sail through his math book with just a little bit of help.

    History

    “Story of the World: Volume 4” seems to be a great leap in content and effort from Volume 3, and we were getting a little overwhelmed with it. So we’re slowing down a bit and taking two weeks for each chapter. Last week we talked about the Canadian rebellions in 1837, and this week we started learning about post-revolution France. We’ll revisit France after our fall break.

    Extracurricular

    Poppy saw a performance of “Twelfth Night” this week, both kids had their usual music lessons and Pete went to chess class while I had coffee with a friend. We also had a brief Civics lesson, in the form of standing in line for an hour to vote. There wasn’t much time spent at tae kwon do this week — due to “Twelfth Night,” doctors appointments, haircuts and soreness from new braces — and Poppy only had two days of soccer practice this week rather than the customary three.


    How was your week?

    Wanna read more about homeschooling? Check out the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly linky thing!