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Posts Tagged ‘Homeschool’

Not Good Enough

    It’s like a disease. It permeates the being. It undermines everything. It steals precious joy.

    The culprit:

    Feelings of inadequacy.

    It’s the curse of the conscientious homeschool parent.

    The voices are inside our heads.

    Maybe I can’t do this. Maybe someone else could do better. Maybe I’m just not good enough.

    The voices bombard us from all sides.

    What makes you think you’re qualified to teach your own children?

    Legislators claim the government is where our children belong.

    You can’t teach your own children. They’re ours to educate.

    Family members worry aloud about the children’s social skills.

    What about socialization? Wouldn’t they be better off somewhere else? That one is awfully shy; maybe if she were in school…

    Church members wonder about the life experiences our children will miss.

    What about sports? What about homecoming? What about debate team? What about graduation? What about prom?

    Parents of our children’s peers point out the negatives of our choices.

    Your children don’t have the advantages school children do. And what about your life? You can’t possibly get everything done. You get no time to yourself. You have to be everything for everybody. You’ve lost your individuality. You never get a break.

    Strangers question our ability as teachers, test-givers, principals.

    What about upper level math? What about science? What about high school? How can you teach them when you’re not a real teacher?

    Concerned specialists question our choices, as if we’re children playing a game.

    How long are you going to continue with this? How do you know you’re doing it right?

    Friends acknowledge our strengths, but unintentionally add fuel to the burning flames of inadequacy.

    Aren’t you afraid that you’ll miss something, that your children will fall behind, that you can’t handle math, that they won’t get into college, that they won’t know how to behave in public, that you aren’t good enough, that they aren’t good enough?

    Rest assured, people, that there is nothing you can ask, say, question, contemplate, point out, acknowledge, or debate that has not gone through the mind of the conscientious homeschooler. The entire repertoire of “concerned questions” is nothing compared to what the homeschooler contemplates.

    What are the possible worldwide ramifications of selecting the wrong math program? What is the likelihood of premature armageddon ensuing from introducing grammar too early? An exaggeration? Only slight.

    Consider this:

    Homeschool parents must, by the very nature of the choice to not follow the traditional path, put more consideration, self-evaluation, and research into every aspect of the child’s day than the average questioner is even aware exists, and this before they even begin homeschooling.

    Most questioners do not intend to be hurtful. Most are merely curious. A few are nasty or dealing with their own sense of inferiority. Some are genuinely concerned that perhaps there are one or two issues the parent has not yet drug through the wringer of over-analysis in the sleepless hours when panic has replaced the godly trust that usually serves as guide.

    If you really want to help, try this:



    Smile again.

    Offer to help without masking an attack.

    Smile more.

    Stop talking.

    If you absolutely must present a concern, be absolutely certain you have earned the right to offer objective criticism. How do you earn such a right? By being a constant encourager–not an empty flatterer, not a set of vacant ears, not an interrogator with an ulterior motive, not even a concerned family member, but a legitimately interested and honest encourager. If you are legitimate, interested, honest, and encouraging, most homeschoolers (our clan included) would welcome any question you might ask, and they would even be willing to listen to your concerns.

    Conscientious homeschool parents do not need to be attacked, questioned, debated, or taken down a few notches. They need encouragment. Notice the period. My children would call this a declarative sentence or statement. I call it a simple truth.

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    Homeschooling: Who is the Substitute Teacher?

    Although many tag homeschool mothers with the “supermom” label, the truth is that we are mere mortals like the rest of you citizens of Metropolis.  With this mere mortal status comes vulnerability to flu season.

    Ah, flu season, the bane of a mother’s existence!  The bug sneaks in the door, usually with a load of library books or church bulletins.  It teases, it taunts, and just when you think it has left, it knocks out a child.  Not content with that, it comes back for take-down after take-down, not resting until no clean sheets remain, drawers are emptied of clean PJs, and mother is left a haggard mess, swearing to never set foot outside of the house again…ever! Then it leaves as quietly as it arrived, usually catching a ride with an unsuspecting deliveryman.

    That grotesque scenario begs the questions: What happens in the homeschool when somebody is sick?

    I can only tell you what happens here, in the land of the mere moral mom.

    When a child is extremely ill, group lessons requiring active participation from that child come to a screeching halt.  If the child is just mildly ill, read-alouds and such can continue, while hands-on experiments wait.  Simple as that.  We’re already home.  We’re already on the couch.  And we’re already actively building immune systems.

    When Mama is very sick or not home, group lessons requiring active guidance likewise come to a screeching halt.  There is no substitute homeschool mama.

    I see your wheels spinning.  You’re doing the math, aren’t you.  If the flu goes through everybody in the family it could be two to three weeks without group lessons!  What kind of school is that?

    Let me tell you what kind of school that is.  That, my friend, is The School of Life. (Insert dramatic music here.)

    When sickness hits this family, especially when it hits me, everybody has to band together even more than usual.  They not only have to manage their own responsibilities, but they have a sick family member to tend as well as extra chores, meal preparation, and child care.  Even with those added responsibilities, they still must move forward with their studies.

    But the teacher is sick!  How can the students move forward without a teacher?

    You’ve been in the school system too long, my friend.

    The primary educational goal on the agenda of most homeschool families is to teach their children independence.  (While our spiritual goals supercede our educational goals, such a character trait will serve them well in their walk of faith as well.)  A child that can progress independently possesses self-discipline and self-motivation.  Such traits will keep the child moving when “teacher” is not in the room.

    That’s the abstract.  How about the black and white?  What do your children do when you are at the store or sick or sipping Shirley Temples under a beach umbrella on a tropical island?

    My children “do school.”

    They do math.  In our homeschool, children learn math through DVDs.  I “learn” the same things they do as they progress, so I am available for teaching points, guidance, and trouble-shooting.  (I even do some of the same assignments on my own to keep fresh.)  They can progress, drill, work assignments and do tests without constant hands-on focus from me.

    They read.  The children read books (not textbooks) which require little attention from me apart from narration and discussion, known to the common world as book reports.  They work through history books, science books, biographies, literature, and poetry independently, most corresponding with the time period or subjects we are currently studying as a group.  Free online audio books are available for all. Even if I am unavailable, they can grow their knowledge through the carefully selected living books we keep at hand.

    They study Scripture.  They are reading through portions of the Old Testament independently, and we study the New Testament and Psalms together.  I have yet to be too sick to listen to a chapter of Scripture as they read aloud in turn.

    They practice music.  Hymns can be played and harmonized without me, piano and guitar can be practiced, and new songs can be learned as they wait for the next official lesson.  They can listen to the term’s classical selections without my input, making their own observations.

    They follow through with their language arts.  The older four children pair off and give each other spelling tests, each child independently practicing missed words.  Weekly writing assignments and daily journal entries are completed and, when applicable, left for my correction and discussion.

    They help each other.  Memory work for poetry, Scripture, and catechism is recited by some and corrected by others.  Readers take the time to read with non-readers or work through phonics when applicable.

    They progress.  Nature journals, recitations, public speaking practice, copmuter keyboarding, sign language, and even Spanish can be done to some extent without me (although I have yet to witness the child motivated enough to initiate Spanish apart from the computer).  They can progress in every area without constant supervision.  If our situation necessitated it, the children would take online courses or step directly into independent studies at their various levels.  Perhaps in another season we’ll pursue those routes, but not quite yet. All this independence is alredy beginning to make me feel obsolete.

    So what do you do?

    I’m beginning to wonder the same thing myself.

    Oh, about the tropical islands…such places are extremely educational, so my children, naturally, would come along.

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    Opposable Thumbs

    When your children–or your children’s parents–fall into the habit of taking too much for granted, make a few changes, such as temporarily eliminating the use of their opposable thumbs.

    Praise God for opposable thumbs and our ability to use them!

    Thanks to Apologia Zoology 3–Land Animals of the Sixth Day
    for the idea of temporarily handicapping the offspring.

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    Homeschooling: What About College?

    If people who discover we homeschool are still speaking to us after making it through the what-about-socialization-what-about-highschool-what-about-prom-what-about-calculus litany, they often move on to the college issue.  How can a child whose mother grades his papers ever enter college?

    While we have not reached this point in our homeschooling yet, we have researched it considerably, and thought about it even more.

    Home: a cozy place to learn

    Home: a cozy place to learn

    Over the past several years, colleges have begun actively seeking homeschoolers for their maturity, independence, and self-motivated natures.  Thus, it is generally not an issue for a homeschool child to be accepted into most traditional universities.  Much to the surprise of cynics, most do quite well socially, being generally more mature and less affected by peer pressure than their conventionally schooled peers. (This is the general report from out in the field. We all know exceptions to both sides, and I can point to variances within my own family. I do, however, challenge you to find a student who is not influenced by the people with whom he spends the majority of his waking hours, which for the typical child is his peers.)

    From this Christian homeschooling parent’s perspective, it makes little to no sense to raise a child in a godly environment only to set him or her loose into the depraved setting of a liberal university when he has barely reached the threshold of manhood. Not only will he incur debt beyond reason with which to start his adulthood, but he would similary be introduced to a wave of amoral behavior that leaves none at least somewhat affected. It is for those reasons that we focus on options other than the traditional path.

    An increasingly popular alternative to the classroom is a continuation of the homebound studies.   Many colleges offer dual credit programs which give the child high school credit and college credit for taking a single class. Another, more time-consuming option is dual enrollment in which a child who is taking high school level classes either at a school or at home is also enrolled in college classes, often at the local community college.  

    Homeschooled children, by virtue of having increased time on their hands, often develop skills and have experiences (such as running a business or volunteering) that traditionally schooled children do not have time to pursue.  Students with such experiences can take advantage of credit by exam, testing out of classes for which they can demonstrate equivalent knowledge of the coursework or practical experience and mastery.  Finally, students can opt for now well-respected, less time-consuming, and far less expensive online college courses.  They can achieve any number of certifications, a two-year degree, a bachelor’s degree, and even an MBA online.

    It is no longer necessary for your child to be entered into a traditional university in a traditional dorm setting incurring traditional debt. For our current children who have their future goals in mind, local internships, credit by examination, and online college courses are the way to go. As for me, perhaps it’s time for my own MBA online. Or perhaps I’ll pay off my overwhelming school loans first.

    While this article accurately reflects my current views, it is my policy to inform my readers whenever I am paid to produce content. Rest assured, dear friends, that Notable Blogger will never knowingly post or promote anything that goes against our Christian values or personal beliefs.

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    Christian Homeschoolers: They Rise Up

    Heading Down the Homeschool Path

    Heading Down the Homeschool Path

    They are a rare breed, the person that will give you his coat when he has but one, who will cheerfully fill your stomach when his is empty, who will gladly take the floor so you may have the bed. Rare is the person that will help with no reward for himself. Growing up with my grandparents and mother, all three generous beyond fault, I assumed everyone but me was that way–giving, loving, genuine. Life, as I have mentioned, is a harsh teacher.

    In this post-Eden holding tank known unaffectionately as “the real world,” self-promotion is god, king, and idol. For too many people, helping others has its place…when there is an appropriate return–money, acknowledgement, reward. ‘Tis a pessimistic view of mankind, I admit, but I daresay not entirely unwarranted if given honest thought.

    The Christian homeschooling community has raised the veil from my depressed view of society. Among this group are the most remarkable people I have enountered en masse. They use their time, efforts, and money to offer assistance and support to complete strangers, many of whom have nothing to give back. They lend a helpful hand to the floundering, the lost, the overwhelmed, and those simply starved for a bit of encouragement on this often lonely path that is homeschooling. True, there are those homeschoolers, yes, even Christian homeschoolers, who are blind to the needs of others, ensnared by pettiness, or struck by the poisonous bite of comparison or superiority. And there are those, like me, who can’t even juggle the laundry and dishes while trying to teach long division to a horse-crazy day-dreaming bookworm, let alone open my arms to the needs of others…without His help, that is, and perhaps my own Martha to handle the housework. As a whole, however, this group has risen up as Christ commanded to help the orphan and the widow. . . and the struggling homeschool mom with nothing to give back. I see it elsewhere, now and again, with a lovely couple here, a terrific family there, a fine single woman willing to sacrifice or a young man passionate for Christ. Occasionally a whole community or church seems to radiate His love. Yes, there are spots of brightness throughout the world. Most remarkable to me, however, is the sacrificial willingness I have witnessed in this quiet corner of joyful, often over-burdened mothers sweetly reading to and instructing their children, giving their non-existent spare time to help others along this path, and scrubbing science experiments off the kitchen walls. It is a beautiful thing, even the goo on the walls.

    My Simple Thanks

    There are more self-sacrificing homeschoolers out there than I could even begin to mention, some in my own desert community, some across the miles to whom I owe more thanks that I can give.

    There is a trio of ladies who have been unknowingly lifting me up for some time. Ann, Rebecca, and Joy are the three homeschooling mothers in my notable blogs sidebar. They bless numerous people with their encouraging, grace-based messages. Many others have encouraged and blessed strangers as well, and in thanking these three, I thank them all. Do visit these remarkable, Godly ladies.

    Then there are the groups. Over at least a portion of the past decade of my family’s schooling, three groups stand out for their constant willingness to give of themselves while asking (and receiving) nothing in return. I humbly offer them my thank you across the miles.

    Ambleside Online

    A group of homeschooling parents set up a Charlotte Mason style curriculum and offer it entirely free, no strings attached. Not even a loose thread. Many of the books you would need to follow this curriculum are available free online, and most of the research in finding these books has been done for you. While we use only a portion of their recommendations, the fact remains that Ambleside Online is simply a gem and a true treasure for many.

    Wholesome Childhood

    Pick up a free ebook every weekday from Wholesome Childhood. Free! No, really. I’m not kidding you. Follow the link maze to find the free weekly audio pearls as well. This family finds amazing treasures, and they give them away. Did I mention they’re free? I’m speechless, and nod my head in gratitude. (Yes, they have sites where they sell items as well, because their family likes to eat a few square meals.)

    Charlotte Mason for Moms of Many

    Homeschooling parents of large families who enjoy a Charlotte Mason style of education join together on the CM for Moms of Many list for daily encouragement, advice, and sharing. While this group is not faith-exclusive, they are primarily Christian, always praying for one another, offering support, and answering questions. I have occasionally ventured into other groups out in the big bad world, but am always sent running back to this one. They even helped us find our van, or bus as we call it. I give you fair warning that babies are born frequently on this list, and the baby bug is definitely contagious.

    There are too many to name. It is truly wonderful!

    Do share your favorite resource or experience in the comments below. Also, if you enjoy the Notable Blogger’s quiet contemplations, please subscribe in the sidebar to the left.

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    Homeschooling: What do you teach?

    What do you teach your children?

    Bible Reading

    Bible Reading

    If I could translate the state and federal education requirements into layman’s terms, I perhaps could compare them with our plan, but alas, I cannot. Regardless, we follow a better code for training our children: God’s code. We teach in the same manner in which we live, from a perspective of God as Creator and Savior. We do not compartmentalize our faith by placing it in a Bible study category and leaving it there. Every subject is taught with the understanding that we are learning about God’s creation for the purpose of better living for His glory and fulfilling the Great Commission of bringing the Word into all the world.

    Science is taught in the context of a Creator-God. History is studied with an awareness that this is the story of God’s hand throughout the existence of the world, from Creation to modern times. Languages are learned with the idea of improving communication skills in a world that needs to hear the Gospel of Christ. Music and art have the potential for great service within and for the Kingdom. Math and logic are mastered for their intrinsic worth in forming good and capable citizens of the world and God’s kingdom and because we have a logical and ordered God who designed the order that we study.

    In the study of all subjects, our children are led to think and discern. They are given the tools necessary to analyze new ideas and determine for themselves whether each new thought is in line with a Godly worldview. In a world where emotion, sound bites, and immediate circumstances determine people’s philosophies, our children are being grounded with solid principles and logic abilities to break through the political, religious, and societal muck that blinds most people to the immediate and longterm consequences of their choices. In simple terms, they are learning to think. They are being equipped with a strongly principled foundation against which to judge future decisions. And they are being taught to discern right from wrong, smart from…not-so-smart.

    That is the abstract. What about the black and white?

    Elisabeth's Almond Pudding Pops

    Elisabeth's Almond Pudding Pops

    Ask and ye shall receive.

    Our children, like most students, study Bible, history, science, math, grammar and writing, public speaking, reading and literature, thinking skills and logic, Spanish, sign language, home economics, physical education, art, and music. The difference between our schooling and the common educational facility is that everything here is taught with the underlying principles outlined above, and much is taught without a lesson plan or curriculum. We do not need a 45 minute home economics course when the children have been working alongside me since they were small, cooking, sewing, making candles, knitting, learning to manage a household by actually doing it. Whereas I made soup in high school and called it home economics, my children make soup and call it lunch. They don’t know they are learning any more than they know that many other children cannot make soup without a little help from Campbells. They do know that they can make a great bowl of soup!

    A future post will outline our classes more specifically, for those interested. For those not interested, it would be a great time for a nap…which gives me an idea.

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    Homeschooling: What about special needs?

    Can a parent homeschool a special needs child?

    Yes, yes, and…yes!

    Nobody knows your child the way you do. Nobody understands your child’s needs, joys, triggers, and abilities as well as you. Yes, you may benefit from the wisdom of those who have gone before you or from the “experts” in the field of whatever special concern your child has. I don’t know any homeschool parent who does not seek to glean wisdom from others or accept assistance in areas where the parent herself is struggling. It is all part of the life-learning process that is homeschooling.

    You are the expert on your child.

    You are the expert on your child.

    I also don’t know any two children who present themselves in the same manner. In other words, the labeling of a child (and what child has not been labeled these days!) does not mean he will fit into a mold and will thrive under a one-size fits all program. All children are different, even among their “same-label” peers.

    Just remember, when you start to doubt yourself or your ability to work with your child, you are the expert in the field of your child.

    Molytail is a mother who truly knows. She can tell you more about the homeschool version of an IEP, or Individual Educational Plan.  Live in her world for a while as you taste her words and share the love and devotion she has for her children, one of whom is a boy with special needs.

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