Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

Stewardship of my time and home is one of those ongoing challenges in my life. A few days ago I purchased the Motivated Mom’s chore list to help get me on track developing chore routines and stop so much from falling through the cracks. So far it looks like it will help. They’ve thought of so many things that I do struggle to remember, from cleaning the toaster to trimming B’s nails (not to mention my own!). These efforts have kept me from spending as much time in blogland as I used to. Sometimes I feel guilty about that;and I miss reading some of my favorite blogs. But I think I have my priorities straight. I do take some time each day to check on the FIAR boards and ran across this blog-post today: Why Bother? Here’s one quote, among so many wise thoughts:

I want to be a gracious wife, not just a gracious hostess. Not just a lovely face to the public, but a comfort and a blessing to my husband. So, why bother with homemaking? Because God call us to be virtuous wives and He tells us that virtuous wives live in well-ordered homes.

As she says after that, ouch! After 18 years of marriage I still have so far to go. I’ve recently begun a mentoring relationship and often wonder what in the world I’m doing trying to mentor someone else. I may be 9 years older than my mentee, but I certainly very often don’t feel any wiser or more established. Actually, she has four kids, three of which are older than my one, and has been homeschooling much longer than I. And I’m supposed to mentor her?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a beautiful experience and we have a wonderful relationship. Basically, we’re in the same stage of life, and have many of the same struggles and goals for ourselves. We’re walking along side one another and encouraging each other along the way. It’s just that title of “Mentor” that gets me sometimes. I have to remember that it’s not about being perfect or having it all together. I have often likened myself to a cactus. My personal growth at times seems so painfully slow. But I am growing, and God is using me in spite of my many weaknesses and shortcomings.  That is encouraging

These past few months since the move have really clarified my priorities. Through G’s encouragement, I know I should keep this blog. Although I have had to greatly reduce how much time I spend here, and virtually stop reading other blogs. As much as I miss those blog friends, the “real-life” face to face people in my own home and community are my priority. Perhaps in another season, after I grow some more, I’ll be able to spend time reading all those wonderful blogs again. Until then, I am more focused on my family and local community and will write here as the spirit leads.


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I once made a comment while chatting with a fellow homeschool mom that, in thinking about how we would homeschool, I was somewhere between the classical model and unschooling. I remember her eyebrows going up and stating something about those being on opposite ends of the spectrum. I realized she was right and felt a little foolish at my comment. But, as I’ve been reading further, I am finding some overlap in the different methods. I recently read a wonderful book: Homeschooling Methods: Seasoned Advice on Learning Styles. I would highly recommend this book. I gained a better understanding of some of the different methods, and why people choose them.

In this book, Mary Hood and  the Moores writings are in the chapter on unschooling. However, I’m attending a conference by Mary Hood next month which states in the description that Relaxed Home Schooling is NOT Unschooling. The Clarksons have their own chapter, called Whole-Heart Learning, separate from the Charlotte Mason chapter. Yet their books are recommended by others for learning how to implement the Charlotte Mason method. So, now I’m thinking I wasn’t too far off in seeing some good things in classical as well as more relaxed models, and so much in between.

Although I have been inspired and learned a great deal from John Holt, I know pure unschooling is definitely not a good fit for me and B. On the other hand, classical is too school-like for my tastes with all the rote memorization in the earlier years. I have mentioned the Beechick methods before. I really like the emphasis on readiness, and approaching language and math in a more natural manner – much of learning happening during normal everyday living. I love the emphasis Charlotte Mason places on developing habits – I would call it building character. I also love the preference for “real” books over text books. We have already been enjoying some wonderful literature together, thanks to Five in a Row. So that seems a natural fit for us.

I have been circling for a while, taking in all the methods and appreciating what is good in each one. But, now I am coming in for a landing around Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason. Although they are not exactly alike in their methodology and thinking, it seems they are very similar. So now my focus has narrowed to learning more about these specific methods and what it will look like to implement some of their ideas in our family’s education. I found a local CM group that actually meets once each month to discuss just that – women after my own heart! 🙂 I knew it was the right group for me when, as I approached, I noticed a crate full of books sitting in the middle of the table.

I guess you could say I’ve been living and breathing homeschool lately. I think that will subside as I begin to gather my thoughts and feel like I have some direction as we look toward the more “official” school age with B. That hasn’t been my sole focus, although it’s all I’ve posted about here in a while. I am also reading a book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss for my personal spiritual life (A Place of Quiet Rest) and making fits and starts at a prayer journal. Life is becoming more busy as new friendships are growing and I’m becoming more active in various groups in the community. I guess you could say we’re getting settled here – and that feels pretty good.

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John Holt

John Holt’s book Learning All the Time was a major influence in my ultimate decision to homeschool, and the way I go about it. I haven’t quite landed in the “unschooling” camp, but still look to the father of unschooling as a major influence. I highly recommend anyone considering home educating their kids to read John Holt. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read any of his books, allow me to introduce you. Mother Earth News (NOT one of my regular reads) has apparently posted past articles on their website – from way back. This Plowboy Interview with John Holt was published in their July/August 1980 issue. Grab a cuppa, sit back, and enjoy meeting this interesting fellow who helped pave the way for parents to freely take charge of their children’s education. I can’t express how thankful I am to all the pioneer parents who helped pave that rugged road in the 70’s and 80’s, when it was a tough trail to blaze.

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I mentioned in the last post resisting the urge to launch B into a full-on academic program. I find myself slipping into this comparison habit, looking at what other kids B’s age are doing. And then I start to worry (there’s that gene again) that I should be doing more. Then I start looking up preschool and kindergarten curriculum. In that process I’ll run across an article or two reminding me that I wasn’t going to do that. Here are a couple of my favorite:

These are right along the lines of books I have read by John Holt and Raymond & Dorothy Moore. But even though that is one of the reasons I’m homeschooling to begin with, I still find myself succumbing to that peer pressure. I got really gung ho with B’s FIAR notebook during the first half of this school session, trying to come up with something to go in the notebook every day. Now some of that B enjoyed, and he’ll even proudly show off the notebook to visitors. But it was getting harder and harder to acquire his cooperation in those endeavors. It took a few weeks for that to sink in. But I finally realized I was draining the fun out of our school time. Now we do good to have one or two items to add to the notebook each week.

You see, the spirit of FIAR is enjoying the books together. The lessons are primarily conversational. Oftentimes the subject of a story will lead to more books on a particular topic. Sometimes our discussion naturally leads to writing a story, making a list, or drawing a picture. It’s a wonderful way to introduce so many things at this age, and then see what captures his imagination – what does he want to know more about.

This week we read Storm in the Nightby Mary Stolz. We talked about relationships with grandparents, the difference between the way the author described the beginning and ending of the storm, and onomatopoeia (remembered from another story). We noted the facial expressions in the artwork and B tried his hand at making faces looking different directions. We noticed the quilt in one of the pictures after having read The Rag Coat just last week, and pointed out the different shapes. Today we finished off by reading about thunderstorms and talking about thunder and lightning.

Since I was investigating accredited homeschool correspondence programs, I looked specifically at kindergarten. I had the idea that since any foster kids that come along will likely be in that type of program, I might as well have B do that, too. Of course, reality hit when I saw how expensive that will be. But I also realized that’s not necessarily what’s best for the kiddos. Oh, I’ll do it because I have to for the foster kids. But I don’t have to go that route for B.

So, here’s what I’m thinking, so far, for kindergarten. Of course I have a whole summer to think and plan more specifically, and probably flip flop some more. 🙂

  • Continue Five in a Row (what’s left of volume 2 after this year, and volume 3)
  • Follow Ruth Beechick’s guidelines for K-3: A Home Start in Reading, A Strong Start in Language, and An Easy Start in Arithmetic, AKA The Three R’s
  • B does enjoy the occasional workbook, so I’m considering some pre-writing workbooks: Getting Ready to Write, A Reason for Writing K, or Ruff’s Prewriting Flip and Draw Book – any recommendations?
  • I’d like to do Spanish and found a great Charlotte Mason style curriculum. But that may be more than I had in mind. Perhaps I’ll just check out Spanish books from the kid’s section of the library and work from there.
  • Friday co-op classes – depending on our budget and whether B would be interested in the classes offered.
  • Music – The Pace preschool piano books didn’t work so well with just one kid. I discovered after receiving them they are designed for group classes. In addition I have not been able to acquire one of the teacher manuals. So, I’ll be looking in to what we can do for music. Perhaps one of the co-op classes will cover that base. If not, any recommendations?

I’m sure I’ll ponder this some more over the next several months. For anyone thinking about homeschooling, or if you’re feeling a bit burned out using the “school at home” model, I highly recommend reading these two books: Learning All the Time by John Holt, and The Successful Homeschool Family Handbookby Raymond & Dorothy Moore (anything by the Moores).

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I did a post a while back wondering how foster care would work with our homeschool convictions. It seems many folks are wondering about that, so here’s a bit of an update on what I have learned so far. Now I don’t have any facts or figures at this point as I haven’t done that kind of research. But following is what I have heard from other foster families and what I’ve been told by our agency.

If you’re working directly with TX CPS, it seems to be determined on a case by case basis whether any particular families are allowed to homeschool any particular children. I’ve heard from a couple of folks that they had been told they could, but never made it through the maze of red tape and hoops to jump through. One friend of mine was allowed to homeschool one of their foster kids in a particular program while another family was denied homeschooling another child they wanted to enroll in the same program. My friend was not ever allowed to homeschool any of the other children they fostered at the time. This was just over a year ago.

In December we attended classes through a private agency that we intend to apply through. From them we have learned that homeschooling foster kids is allowed as long as an accredited program is used. Unfortunately, such programs can be quite expensive. So far I have looked at three programs that were very similar. Two of them are over $2,000/school year. The third is roughly $900/school year. I will continue searching for options in that department.

So, I guess you’d say the jury is still out. I will continue to investigate and learn what I can as we inch along in the application process. BTW, the inching is our doing, not the agency. They would love for us to move a little more quickly as they have kids needing someplace to go. But my husband just doesn’t make big decisions or big changes quickly. 🙂

It stands to reason that any program that is accredited will be highly academic. My homeschooling style/philosophy is rather relaxed. Not quite unschooling, but I definitely believe academics are better delayed until upper elementary age. But I also believe a more academic homeschool program is better than public school – especially for kids that are already having a hard time with life in general. So I’ll take it. But for B, I’m resisting the urge to launch him into a full-on academic program. But that’s a subject for another post.

Regardless if we’ll actually be allowed to homeschool foster kids, we feel pretty strongly this is where God is calling us. I am trusting Him to provide for this calling. I have this tendency – I think it’s genetic 🙂 – to fret and worry about stuff. I worry about G getting deployed after we have a placement. I worry about discovering dangerous behaviors after placement, thus putting B at risk. I worry about making some mistake or other. I could go on, I’m sure. But this is where faith comes in. As I said before, I’m trusting Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

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Thanks to the FIAR board, I’ve been alerted to an on-line petition to give homeschoolers an opportunity to defend their choice to homeschool. The NEA recently took a stand against homeshooling in their 2007-2008 resolutions:

The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, students enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to ensure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in any extracurricular activities in the public schools. The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting.

This being the season of Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think about the brave men and women that brought their families through great difficulties to this new land in order to live, worship, and bring up their families as they saw fit, without government intrusion. My husband serves in the military to defend these freedoms. I have personally known many homeschooled kids over the past 20 years and find them to be delightful, well rounded people who are comfortable in their own skin and in any social setting. I signed to defend the rights of parents, who know their own children better than anyone, to decide what educational setting is best for each of their children. Whether or not anyone reading this in the US personally chooses to homeschool, I encourage you to sign the petition to support parents right to have that option.

Homeschoolers Against NEA Philosophy

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Well, it seems I need to put blogging on my schedule along with the chores and homeschool stuff. 🙂 Once again a month has gone by since my last post. I’m trying to figure out what has prevented me from posting. I think mostly guilt. Every time I even think about writing a post, I can think of at least five other things I “should” be doing. So, I head off to do one of those things. Right now I’m supposed to be sweeping the kitchen. But, I’m home with a sick kid today, so gave myself permission to do this first.

It sure didn’t take long to fill up our weeks. We have school time every morning, soccer practice Tuesday evenings, park days on Wednesday afternoons, I go to a women’s Bible study every other Wednesday evening, Farmers Market every Thursday afternoon, soccer games on Saturday morning, worship on Sunday, then choir practice for me and AWANA for B. In and around all of that I try to keep up with the house, plan for school and meals and weekly shopping, spend time with my guys, and neighbors and friends, too.

Although I know many have much, much more squeezed into their weeks, that seems to be about all I can handle. Yet, I want to add more kids to our family and get more involved in the community! We’re never satisfied, are we. So, I need to do some real thinking on what my priorities are and where I should be spending my time.

I’ve been questioning myself on whether I should be involved in the choir right now. That’s really putting a squeeze on Sundays. Practice is 4:30, then AWANA is at 6. I jumped in when they started practicing the Christmas program. I did decide not to sing with the worship choir on Sunday mornings. It’s more important to work on training B in that portion of the service right now. But I still want to participate in the Christmas program . . . Hmmm.

B loves AWANA! As a matter of fact, I’ve started using his AWANA book for our Bible lessons. He’s learning at least one Bible verse each week. The structure of the program really seems to motivate him. We’ve even started saying the pledge to the flag each morning as we begin school. And I thought I was going to “unschool!” But, structure seems to be something that B really needs. I’ve learned these past few weeks that we function much better together with a structured framework for our day.

Of course, structure is not one of my strong points. 🙂 I really have to work at it. But it’s worth it to avoid the struggles that ensue when I let things get too loosey goosey with B. Whew! Those days are tough. So, I keep on learning as I go through trial and error. Now, I think I’ll have another look at my schedule and make sure that what’s important gets in there, like blogging here with all you nice people.

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