Monday, September 19, 2011

Homeschooling Newbie Friends - Gotta love 'em!

There is nothing like having a friend that is new to homeschooling to make you question a few things. It cracks me up every time. You old timers know what I mean...

"Well have you heard of this curriculum?" Uh no, I haven't looked at new curriculum in 10 years. I found what works and I'm sticking to it. If they invented a new curriculum that you could strap to your head and instantaneously acquire the knowledge I would never know.

"What kind of test scores are your kids getting on their general yearly testing?" What general yearly testing? There is no such thing in Texas. And the usual followup "Well, how do you know they are learning?" Because they are smarter than me and a box of rocks.

I also love how excited they are starting on the dot at 8:00 with the pledge of allegiance followed promptly by a phone call to me (who is still searching bleary eyed for a coffee cup). Any curriculum questions you ask this early will be answered with incoherent answers. Sorry dear friend.

Oh, and the eternal "Socialization" question. Let's all sigh together. *SIGH* I've put together a list of websites and good articles that address this and just forward it on. It all boils down to "Seriously, have you been to the mall lately?"

I guess dear friend I've become comfortable after this many years of home educating my kids. The proof is in the pudding. They are wonderful, smart, handsome, articulate boys. Have I missed something in their education? Yes, they have not memorized the Gettysburg address. Will they survive? Yup.

I cheer you on my newbie friend. I've been in your shoes. I was the one asking curriculum questions at 8:00 a.m. to another bleary eyed homeschool mom. Lord bless her! I raise my cup of coffee to you this morning!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Homeschooling a High Schooler - It isn't an olympic feat people!

It is hilarious to me (now) that two years ago I was terrified of the idea of homeschooling a High School child. It isn't as daunting as I imagined it might be. Arming yourself with information is key.

Let me say, if you are contemplating homeschooling a child during their High School years, I would encourage you to take the leap. If you have homeschooled the child during several of his elementary years, now is the time you get to reap huge rewards friend! Consider this... by this age they will be mostly independent learners who have a fair idea of what talents God has blessed them with. These are truly the fun years (except for the occasional grouchy day)! You can point them in the right direction, with a little guidance and encouragement and watch them bloom. Take advantage of outside classes available to homeschoolers in your area to supplement those areas you are weak in. We have been very blessed to have our children take foreign language, science, speech and debate classes. If these classes aren't available in your area, organize them yourself! You might be surprised at the talent lurking amongst your circle of friends. Use social networking sites to search for teaching talent amongst your friends and family. Join local homeschool groups to find out what is available in your area.

We initially went to the websites of the colleges my son was interested in and printed off the minimum required coursework as a guide to what he needed to study during his High School Years. We attended a local seminar on homeschooling your High School student to gain some knowledge in the area. I organized a Q&A session with experienced homeschool moms in our area whose children had successfully graduated and gone on to college. It was wonderful to ask questions and get practical information and encouragement.

Other benefits:
Homeschool graduates are considered the top 10% of their graduating class which gives them a leg up on college entrance and scholarships. Colleges are actively recruiting homeschool students because they are excellent students! Family relationships are strengthened because siblings and parents are present in the teen's life. You can build your teen's self worth because you get to speak into their lives 24-7. No peer pressure (most of the time... my oldest son complains that he gets the most peer pressure from me because I balk at lack of fashion sense when picking out new clothing "Those pants are too homeschooly. We are not getting them!" Oh well!) Time for internships and volunteer work, both of which look great on a college transcript! Time for more travel. Graduate in less than four years if it is so desired. Time for work outside the home. More sleep! NO HOMEWORK! No wardrobe pressures (except the aforementioned fashion conscious mother). No problems with school administration (unless you aggravate mom). Did I say NO HOMEWORK! Yeah, that's a biggie!

Don't miss out on the golden High School years dear friends!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How NOT to make homemade paper or How to bundle several school subjects into one easy lesson

If you are in the market for a good dry heave, let me point you in the right direction. We are studying China this week and the project we decided to undertake was homemade paper making. It started out so well intentioned and quickly plummeted to gross (much to the delight of my boys).

We didn't have all the supplies needed, but that didn't dampen our spirit of adventure. We definitely know how to make do with what we have. We foraged around for scrap paper careful to avoid newspaper or magazines that would compromise the quality of our fine paper. We added a scrap of orange construction paper to give our paper a flecked artsy look. A YouTube video also suggested using lint from the dryer. What a cool use for something we usually throw away. We blended the paper and lint with several cups of water in my blender. Then we added it to our sink with more water. That's when this project took a horrible left turn. The boys added some grapefruit scented spray to give our paper a designer smell. Then no one wanted to put their hand in the warm water in the sink. It looked, felt and smelled exactly like vomit. We put the pulp on a screen to form the paper and patted it with a sponge laughing, gagging and coughing the whole time. We flipped it over onto a clean sheet to dry and that's when we saw it... Tons of dog hair from the dryer lint was now embedded in our school project. We now have hairy, vomit paper. I think I may have found a use for it. Anyone need to write a note to a political figure? There you go... we have neatly tied in art, science, history and politics in one easy lesson. Your welcome.

My youngest won't touch the stuff

Disgustingly awesome

sponging the "vomit" paper (note the look of delight)
This is horrible

A closeup of our hairy paper (hungry?)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Poke, Poke... yes, we are still here!

In our rush toward the end of the year to get finished and then our lazy, hazy days of summer, my poor little Homeschooling blog has suffered some neglect. There now, little blog, you are loved.

I have been following, with some interest, the Corpse Flower at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It seems lots of people are interest in Lois (that's the name given this Corpse Flower). Unfortunately, Lois seems not to follow everyone's timeline on when she should bloom. She's poking along at her own pace and laughing in the face of the predictions of the experts. They have made slits, attached bags of rotten fruit, turned up the heat and humidity... to no avail. Lois is still cocooned in her bud. I hope all this poking about doesn't kill the poor thing.

That got me really thinking this morning about home educating our students. They poke along at their own pace. Often not keeping the timetable that the "experts" say they should follow. "Well, your son should be reading chapter books by 2nd grade. Blah, blah, blah." They create an artificial environment and expect kids to "bloom" on time in it. Kids, like Lois, were made by the creator with their own timetables. I like to work with that timetable instead of fight it and force it. Doing so, allows them to "open up" and enjoy their education.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nature Walks

In our continuing efforts to follow the Charlotte Mason method, and since the cold weather is starting to give way to our warm Houston spring, we have been starting our nature walks again. We have a wonderful detention pond in the back of our subdivision that has been turned into a park of sorts. It is still very wild and I like it that way. The boys hop on their bikes, I hook up the dog, the boys grab their nature walk notebooks, I grab my camera and we all go for our nature walk.
Here are some pictures from our walk.

My oldest writing a poem he is keeping to himself. Notebook entries should only be shared if the child wants to.
The boys enjoy riding. So much freedom!

Enjoying God's creation. We can see His handiwork in even the "weeds".

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Strawberry Picking Field Trip

Ah Tradition... one of our favorites is our annual Strawberry Picking at King's Orchard with our local homeschool group. I just love to go! In fact, I have been suckered into leading it for the past 3 years. No, it really isn't all that bad, I am just being silly. I just send out a map, tell people what time to be there and field all ridiculous complaints. (insert eye rolling here)

Here are some fun pictures.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Calling All Seasoned Home Educator

I still shake my head when I say outloud "I've homeschooled for 7 years." It doesn't seem possible. I still feel like a fledging newbie to homeschooling. The reality is that as a homeschooler with a few years under my belt (or purse), it is my responsibility to encourage others. That might mean giving unsolicited advice to those homeschoolers just coming up. Sometimes they don't know the questions to ask. We know the pitfalls and problems.

We tend to cocoon in these older years. We don't feel the need to go to homeschool meetings because we have a lot figured out already. We stick to our group of friends who are also seasoned. It is comfortable. The fact is that we are too lazy to put ourselves out there and mentor these moms coming up. We should attend these meetings not because we need information, but to be available to give information.

This is a call to all you seasoned homeschoolers: Get out there! Encourage, encourage, encourage! Get out of your comfort zone and find a new homeschooler to mentor. Make yourself available to them. Pray with them. Will they take all your advice? No. They might take none of it and that is OK. Just the fact that they have a cheerleader in their corner makes all the difference. Rah! Rah! Rah! Go Homeschool!

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Titus 2:3-5 NIV
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