Posted on 83 Comments

Homeschooling Made Simple – Valerie from “Collecting the Moments” Shares

A Glimpse into Homeschooling

Today I’m excited to welcome Valerie from Collecting the Moments… one by one, who’s quite the experienced homeschooling mom. She has a lovely blog where she writes about homeschooling, cooking, crafting and farming with her family. This post is part of a series called Homeschooling Made Simple where I’ve invited homeschooling bloggers to share their advice, tips and stories on how to start educating our children in the home. Homeschooling Made Simple Series

I asked Valerie questions I’ve always had about homeschooling, and her are her answers. Take it away, girl!

1. Why did your family choose to homeschool?

The short answer – Because my children are my favorite people.

The long answer – I taught a preschool/kindergarten class for at-risk kids right after college. I have a teaching degree. At the time, my son was three and I had JUST gotten married. That year, due to stress, I lost two babies and ended up with health trouble. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I couldn’t stand the thought of another loss and so quit my job and stayed at home. When she was born healthy it was one of my happiest moments of my life. She and I have always had a special connection. So honestly, I chose to homeschool because being away from my daughter every day made me cry! I realized quickly that I didn’t have children so someone else could be with them most of their waking hours. I kept my daughter out of school and made it a ‘year by year’ choice. I assumed that from my Developmental Psychology education I would be able to go one grade at a time and just follow my daughters lead, doing research as I needed to. So far it’s never been the wrong choice.

A Glimpse into Homeschooling

With my oldest it was a little bit harder because he was already in school before I was a stay-at-home-mama, so I didn’t have the option to homeschool from the beginning, but as he entered middle school (sixth grade here) I saw him struggling. His teacher said they were going to send him to the middle school even though he was only passing half his classes. I already had my daughter at home, but was really unsure of my skills at this point with older grades. But I decided to take the plunge and try to see how much of middle school I could salvage for my son. After a year of watching his self-esteem and confidence grow much more than ever, I decided for good that all my kids will start out at home. Homeschooling kindergarten through graduation isn’t a hard and fast rule for us, as every philosophy that has worked well with our family is ‘child-led’. So if my children need something different, I will find that for them if I can, but for now, they are home with me.  

 

2. How long have you been homeschooling? How many children do you teach?

I have been homeschooling for seven years. I have homeschooled my oldest for preschool and kindergarten and then sixth through tenth grades, my daughter for first through sixth grades, and Logan for preschool and kindergarten.

Homeschooling Made Simple - Advice and Tips

3. I am fascinated by homeschooling, but am overwhelmed at the same time to know where to begin. What is the very first thing a newbie like me should do?

If I had any advice for a mama who is just starting out, find a curriculum or philosophy you find beautiful and interesting. If you have a connection with something then it will be easier for you to teach. And more fun for your kids too!

There are phases for homeschooling. The first year is VERY overwhelming. You want to do and try everything! That is no joke. But the second year, you start to get blinders on to the things you know you are not interested in and you start to settle into your own personal schooling philosophy. For a new homeschooling mama, I would limit exposure to ideas when you have settled on a course of action. If you pick one curriculum or pedagogy, then just let the learning curve run its course.

I personally have settled on Waldorf (where to buy), Montessori (where to buy), and Charlotte Mason (where to buy) for my core curriculum. Each of these philosophies are heavy in stories, nature study, child-led learning, and art. That lends itself very well to the type of parent I am and how I learn myself. So it is the perfect fit for my family.

Homeschooling Made Simple at My Merry Messy Life

4. What would you say are the pros to homeschooling? What are the cons?

Pros and cons to homeschooling. Wow, I could go on and on… (smile)

The pros for me go along with question #6 below so well that I have to mention here that most of my friends are homeschoolers. Our neighbors are homeschoolers. This is not the norm, even here, but I happen to be VERY lucky and have found my group before I even made the choice to homeschool. Another huge pro for us is that we can keep my husband’s schedule. He has a complicated and very alternative schedule. If my kids were in public school they would only see him every other month on the weekends. There would be weeks where they didn’t see him at all. So for our family, homeschooling is one way we protect our family time.

The cons are the same for any stay-at-home-mom. You don’t get much space. You constantly have people asking you for things and you never get a day off. Just for homeschoolers, at the times when these things end for other people (around age 5 or 6) they just keep going! It means that you have to really prioritize yourself and your time. It’s important to cultivate relationships for yourself, although, I think that is important for any mom, but for a homeschooler, it is paramount.

This leads me to another question I get all the time “Wow, you homeschool? I wouldn’t have the patience.” Here’s my answer to that: “Patience is a muscle. If you don’t use it, then it will never get stronger. I am a much better, more patient person because I chose to homeschool.”

 

5. What type of curriculum or philosophy did you use? (Did you buy it? I’m worried about the cost as opposed to public school).

I have tried ALL KINDS of curriculum. The list is impressive of the things I have gone through in the past seven years. However, I have never found that anything works better than what I can make or find for free. Charlotte Mason philosophy works off of ‘living books’ which I most often find at the library, although a few gems I have bought, even after we are done using them! Waldorf works heavily with rhythm of the home and nature and art, all of which are inexpensive in comparison to a box curriculum. Montessori materials can be made from household items very easily, especially for the younger grades.

I will add an addendum for Math. Math, starting in 3rd grade, has its own scope and sequence. You need to go in order! Must teach basic facts before long division, must teach ‘order of operations’ before Algebra… it goes on. With math, I buy a curriculum starting in 3rd grade called Teaching Textbooks. I LOVE it. It has an online grading system and the interface couldn’t be easier and more fun. My kids love it too. I have been using it for the oldest two for the past four years.

Homeschooling Made Simple, Advice from Valerie

6. Do you have a support group?

I absolutely do. I have a small group, made up of six homeschooling mamas (three of which are named Sarah) that represents 18 homeschooled kids between the ages of two and 16. We have been together now for more than seven years and have monthly mama meetings, field trips, and celebrations together. Our kids have grown up together.

Then I have my large group that is a home schooling cooperative day each Friday (co-op), which consists of around 200 people (kids and adults). It is set up like a mini school with typical classrooms, teachers and students. I teach a class in Creative Writing and Language Mechanics. But my kids take everything from Lab Chemistry to ‘Games, Games, Games’ (learning through Math games). It has really helped fill in the blanks for the older grades, when classes go outside my knowledge base. Plus, I just don’t want to ever teach ‘lab chemistry’ in my house!

I am SO grateful to have these communities. There are very few places where a homeshcooler feels ‘normal’, and a homeschooler with an alternative schedule almost never even gets those… but in these places… all my issues are common, all of my troubles are understood. There is just no replacement for feeling heard and understood!

 

Valerie from Collecting the MomentsValerie Rose, creator of the blog Collecting the Moments… one by one, spends her days cooking, gardening, and homeschooling her four children on her urban homestead in rainy western Washington. With camera in hand, she is constantly collecting the moments of life and encouraging others to do the same with activities and inspiration for a simple, creative household. You can find her on Pinterest, Facebook and on her homeschooling blog where she documents all the fun learning her kids do day-to-day.

Posted on 121 Comments

Homeschooling Made Simple – Cynthia from “Feeding Big” Shares

Traveling to Peru

Welcome back to week #6 of my Homeschooling Made Simple series! Today, I’m happy to welcome Cynthia of “Feeding Big” to the blog. Her daughter, who now has a 3.92 college GPA, was successfully homeschooled from third grade through twelfth grade and Cynthia cherished every moment of it. I asked Cynthia some questions to help us homeschooling newbies, and here are her thoughtful, helpful answers full of experience and wisdom!

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

1. Why did your family choose to homeschool?

My daughter attended a private school for Kindergarten and Public school for 1st and 2nd grade.  While she was in second grade, I began to notice that she was bored and wanted to stay home often. I chatted with her teacher and it turned out that my daughter would finish her school work early and then have nothing to do. The teacher tried to keep her busy, but was unable to, so I began to send additional work to school for her. The other children wanted to see what she was doing and it began to disrupt the class. About the same time, I met a lady who was homeschooling and the idea began to blossom.  I made the decision to homeschool when my daughter finished her second grade year.

2. How long did you homeschool?

I began to homeschool my daughter when she entered the third grade and continued to school her through high school graduation.

Homeschooling Made SImple with Cynthia from Feeding Big
Cynthia’s daughter as a delegate for the US Naval Academy Leadership Conference – pictured on left.

3. I am fascinated by homeschooling, but am overwhelmed at the same time to know where to begin. What is the very first thing a newbie like me should do?

My suggestion would be to relax and get to know your child (children). I know that may sound funny. We all think we know our children better than anyone, and we do, just not from a learning standpoint.  Ask yourself some questions about their learning style. Can they sit for a long time? Do you think they would learn better from a structured schooling or a more relaxed approach, such as unschooling? Take a few minutes to really talk to your child and see what they think their day would look like.  Also, it is important that you have the support of your other half and your immediate family. You may get some negative reactions from them and you need to be prepared.

 

Traveling to Peru
Holding a sloth in Peru!

4. What would you say are the pros and cons to homeschooling?

I think the biggest pro for our family has been that it has created a wonderful bond. We actually enjoy each other and really miss each other when we are apart! My family has moved every two to three years (job-related) and as a military brat, I know that can be hard on a child. Homeschooling actually made the transition easier.

I have always found homeshoolers to be more accepting, and think perhaps it is because they are “different” and therefore more accepting. Homeschooling taught my daughter to communicate with people of all ages. She could talk to adults just as easily as she could to a same age or younger child. This has aided her now that she is in college.  She has no fear of her professors and they have often mentioned that they enjoy being able to talk to her in a more informal way.

 

5. What type of curriculum or philosophy did you use? (Did you buy it? I’m worried about the cost as opposed to public school).

When I first began to homeschool my daughter, I purchased many different types of curricula, which was very costly. I learned that not all of the books were needed and the years after, our list of things that we needed became much shorter.

  • Math — We used [amazon_link id=”160032570X” target=”_blank” ]Saxon Math[/amazon_link] throughout my daughter’s entire schooling, which I think it is the best Math program out there. They are big believers in repetition and I think that is important. Funny story – we actually knew a homeschool family who had a grandmother that was a contributor to the Saxon curriculum!
  • Teaching Philosophy — In the early years, we also tried [amazon_link id=”1438297408″ target=”_blank” ]Charlotte Mason[/amazon_link]. This was also a good curriculum.
  • Reading & History — We loved to read literature and used the [amazon_link id=”0064400409″ target=”_blank” ]Little House on The Praire[/amazon_link] series for history.

As a matter of fact, we used a lot of literature books to lead us to learn. Much of the time, my daughter was somewhat unschooled. We would pick an interest and go for it. Once, she wanted to learn about China. We decided to cook chinese food, learn to use an abacuss, write our names in Chinese, read literature and we would even try to watch movies or the history channel.  Museums were a bit part of our schooling.  4-H and Girl Scouts played a big part in my daughter’s learning. She would work toward badges and learn so much in the process. She entered many writing contests and this taught her to write for someone other than her mother! She did well as even won some prizes! This made it more fun for her.

My daughter was very involed in Dance and Tae Kwon Do also.  It was also very important for us, as a family, to volunteer and help out those who need assistance. I always told her that even though she might not have it all, she had more than many others. Because of this, her degree is in Leadership with an emphasis on Non-Profit Organization.

She loves school and learning, and I think she gained this love from being able to explore learning instead of having learning crammed down her throat. She is an active child and is not a shut-in, like many folks think when they hear the word “homeschooler.”

Homeschooling Made Simple with Cynthia from Feeding Big - College Democrats
Posing with Uncle Sam’ during the 2012 election season, to educate students on their voting rights.

6. I have always assumed that it’d be very difficult to be both mother and teacher and that I’d feel overwhelmed. Public school gives us all a break from each other. How did you balance that?

I never felt the need to balance this. I enjoyed my daughter being around and can’t imagine it being any other way. I have never felt I needed a break from my child. I know I often hear parents say, “I can’t wait for school to start.” I must say, I don’t understand.

 

7. Were you part of a support network, club or homeschool group? For me, I think this is essential for my success as I will need a lot of support at the beginning.

As I stated earlier, I think it is important that you have the support of your immediate family. My mother and father thought I was nuts when I decided to homeschool my daughter. Now, of course, it is the best thing since sliced bread. My mother has been known be in a crowd of people with kids and  say to her friends,  “I knew they were homeschooled, they were so polite and had manners!” I also think it is important to belong to a homeschool group. It is nice to hear others say they are stressed, or at times feel like you are a failure or ruining your children’s life!  (You will have days like that – I did). It is also a fun way to have some group classes and outings.

My Merry Messy Life: Homeschooling Made Simple with Cynthia from Feeding Big - Community Service to New Orelans
Group picture from a community service project to New Orleans.

8. Was your daughter involved in extracurricular activities? How did you go about finding them?

My daughter was in 4-H (I thought it was the best), Girl Scouts, Dance, Tae Kwon Do. I would go online to find the groups and also ask around.

 

And where is Cynthia’s daughter now? Was homeschooling successful? You betcha!

My daughter will graduate this May as an Honors Student with a Degree in International Leadership Studies with an emphasis in Non-Profit Organizations. She will have Minors in Spanish, Political Science and Management. She has a GPA of 3.92. She attends Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio. It was not difficult for her to get accepted to the colleges to which she applied. Her ACT score was a 32. Many colleges, including the big name schools, are eager to get homeschoolers to apply and will make a few exceptions to their rules. It is proven that homeschoolers are self motivators and that is what colleges look for. Little bit of a brag here, she was wait-listed at Wellsley! She would not have gone there, too far from home, but I always told her to shoot for the best.

Some additional accomplishments include:

  • Vice President of the Martial Arts Club (which she and one other student organized)
  • Vice President of the College Democrats (has held other offices also)
  • She has been involved in the McDonough Leadership Conference for three years and this year was asked to chair it.
  • After graduation, she will travel with other students and two professors to Thailand and Cambodia to study the effects of Shrimp Farming on the community.

 

Feeding BigCynthia is the woman behind the blog, Feeding Big. She is the proud mama of a homeschooled daughter, who was taught from second grade through high school, and she loved every minute of it. With her daughter off to college, she is discovering she has more time for herself and “feels like a kid in a candy shop!”  Along with blogging, she spends her free time cooking, quilting, sewing, knitting and gardening. A note from Cynthia – “I would like to take a moment to thank Sara for allowing me to talk about my experience with homeschooling my daughter. Although my daughter will soon graduate from college, this is a subject that is near to my heart.”

Posted on 27 Comments

Homeschooling Made Simple – Susie from “Earning My Cape” Shares

ABC Flashcards from Earning My Cape

Welcome back to week five of my Homeschooling Made Simple series! This has been such an incredible learning time for me as our family is exploring homeschooling. I have had the pleasure of hosting some amazing homeschool moms – some who are just starting out, some who teach their children with special needs, and experts like the one we have today – Susie from Earning My Cape! Susie has six children from ages two to 21, and all of them have been homeschooled. She has a practical, no-nonsense and laid-back approach that makes me feel confident I can tackle it. Take it away, Susie!

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

1. Why did your family choose to homeschool?

A few reasons, really. Mainly, we had kids so that WE could raise them.  The idea of sending our kids off to school for 6-8 hours a day just didn’t appeal to us. (No offense to those who send their kids to traditional school. This is just what works for us).

 

Homeschooling and Teaching Children to Read
Susie has taught all 6 of her children to read in homeschool!

2. How long have you been homeschooling? How many children did you homeschool?

We have two that we homeschooled through the end of high school, three that we are currently homeschooling, and our 2-year-old, who is starting her “preschool” activities. Our oldest is 21, and we started homeschooling her since she was a baby. We started with reading books, then when she was old enough to interact, we added flashcards with the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, etc. The others got a slightly later start, since it was much easier when there was just one to take care of.

 

3. I am fascinated by homeschooling, but am overwhelmed at the same time to know where to begin. What is the very first thing a newbie like me should do?

Relax. Then, educate yourself. Do what you are doing- talk to other homeschoolers and ask questions. Learn about all of the different ways to homeschool, then decide what fits best for you and your family. If it turns out that the option you chose doesn’t work so well after all, then change it. Homeschooling gives you so much freedom to customize everything to fit your family.

 

ABC Flashcards from Earning My Cape
Susie loves to use flashcards to teach her children and makes them herself. Click on the picture to read how she uses them.

4. What would you say are the pros to homeschooling? What are the cons?

The pros are:

  • Freedom. We aren’t beholden to someone else’s (a school’s) schedule. We can sleep in if we want to. We can go out-of-town when we want to. We can schedule doctors appointments in the middle of the day. We can even take the day off!
  • Choice. We can choose how we want to educate our kids, and we can choose the curriculum. If we don’t like something, we can easily change it.
  • Customization. We can customize our schooling styles to our children, so that they can learn the best way for them.
  • Accountability. We are accountable for what our kids learn, but at the same time, we teach our kids to be accountable for their education as well. If they want to score highly on state exams, then they know that they need to put in the time and effort. Our oldest daughter chose to take the state’s High School Proficiency Exam when she was 16. She has always been very studious, and as a result, she scored highly on the exams. This was more of an accomplishment to her than it was to me and her dad, because SHE put the work into it.

As for the cons? I guess if I had to think of one, it would be finding your groove. Sometimes it takes a little while to find your homeschooling groove, and sometimes the groove you have with one child isn’t the same with another. Some of our kids do very well with a structured lesson plan. Others… not so much. My oldest son has always liked to learn at his own pace, on his own. It took a while for me to get used to that, but after we gave him the basic tools (“the 3 Rs”), we found that he did a lot better when we let him learn in his own style.

Another con can be the cost. BUT with the internet and so many resources, there is a lot that you can get at a low-cost or even free.

 

5. What type of curriculum or philosophy did you use? (Did you buy it? I’m worried about the cost as opposed to public school).

In the beginning, I made a lot of my own. I made (and still make) flashcards,  little reading books, and worksheets. I also found that the dollar store sells little workbooks. The lessons in these little workbooks are the same as those in the expensive books. I mean… there are only so many ways you can teach a child to add 2+2, right? I prefer to go the inexpensive way!

 

How to Use Blocks for Homeschooling
Susie likes to use blocks to teach concepts like patterns, shapes, and colors. Click on the picture to see her post on using blocks.

6. I have always assumed that it’d be very difficult to be both mother and teacher and that I’d feel overwhelmed. Public school gives us all a break from each other and would allow me to pursue my interests. Do you find that to be a challenge? If so, how do you deal with it?

I don’t find it challenging. Maybe this is because I don’t work outside the home. Sure, I get behind on scheduling my blog posts from time to time, but it usually works out.

 

7. Are you part of a support network, club or homeschool group? For me, I think this is essential for my success as I will need a lot of support at the beginning.

No. Not that I am against them or anything (I actually think they are a great idea!). I just have never joined one.

 

8. Are your children involved in extracurricular activities? How did you go about finding them?

Mine aren’t because we travel a lot, which makes it hard to commit to someone else’s schedule. You can easily find activities in your community, though. Look at the library or the parks and recreation department. Look online for local art classes, martial arts schools, dance schools, etc.

 

Susie blogs over at Earning My Cape where she shares recipes, crochet patterns, homeschooling ideas, and her attempts to be a Super Mom. Many would argue she has moved well past attempting to be a Super Mom and has most definitely “earned her cape” as a happily married wife of over 22 years, a happy mom for over 21 years, and a homeschooling expert.

(If you missed the other three weeks, catch up here).

Posted on 16 Comments

Homeschooling Made Simple – Lauren from “Tutus and Tea Parties” Shares

Homeschooling Made Simple with Tutus and Tea Parties - Toddler Preschool

It’s week four of the Homeschooling Made Simple Series! I have had the pleasure of hosting some incredible homeschooling bloggers who’ve offered a wealth of information that can be applied to newbies and experienced homeschoolers alike. If you missed the other three weeks, catch up here.

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

Today, we get to hear a new twist on the topic – how to start doing preschool at home with Lauren from Tutus and Tea Parties! Please go show her some love – you’ll find lots of crafting inspiration, Tot School (homeschooling for preschool), a vlogging coffee date each Friday, free printables, and more! Lauren is one fantastic mama and gal, and I’ve had the pleasure of becoming blogging buddies with her. Take it away, Lauren!

Why I Chose to Homeschool for Preschool

My daughter, who is now three, has always had a natural curiosity for learning. She is always asking questions and is very interested in the answers (when I have one for her). After browsing around the area for preschools I have discovered that I really would rather teach her at home. Here are some reasons why:

It’s expensive! The cost of part-time preschool would cost me more than it’s worth. I wouldn’t be able to work two days a week for the short amount of time she would be in school, so it wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion.

The teachers that are hired are anywhere from right out of high school to retired. I actually used to work at a daycare/preschool and some (not all) consider it as just a job. Some even said they didn’t like children (gasp)! Can you believe someone who doesn’t care for children working with children?! They are not required to have schooling and get minimal training. I don’t want to chance my daughter having a teacher who doesn’t want to be there.

I feel that at this young age, a child’s interests need to be nurtured. I don’t want my daughter asking a question and given the answer of “we’re talking about something else right now” or hearing “ok, you need to put down your project because it’s circle time.” I also don’t want my child to be forced into a lesson or project that she is uninterested in. I feel this would create a negative view of learning when I want her to feel like learning is fun and enjoyable!

I love having control of teaching whatever I want with no limitation. I like to use cooking in lessons, take trips and learn about Bible verses too!

Homeschooling Made Simple with Tutus and Tea Parties - Toddler Preschool
Body Part Patterns: Have your child make a pattern using the different parts of the body -or- make a pattern yourself leaving one off at the end and have your child pick what comes next. Click on the photo to see the full post Lauren wrote.

Our Montessori-Style Approach – Follow the Child

I don’t use a set curriculum, but I do like to keep it child-centered. I don’t usually plan my lessons/units far in advance. I observe my daughter; see what she’s playing with, asking about, curious about and then make lessons based on her interests. For instance, if I notice she is asking a lot of questions on a certain topic, I will get library books and make up some lessons on it.

Since I know my daughter’s likes and dislikes, it’s getting easier to make lessons for her. She loves anything that makes her think! Sorting, matching, tracing, puzzles and reading books are her favorite! She can’t stand watching TV (which is great – but even I have those moments where something needs to get done and I wish she would watch for just a half hour).

Homeschooling Made Simple with Tutus and Tea Parties - Toddler Activity with Leaves
Leaf Sorting: We went on a leaf hunt and gathered leaves of all different shapes, colors and sizes. We took them home and I laminated them. We used them to sort by size as well as by color. Click on the photo to see the full post Lauren wrote.

Our Un-Schedule

We don’t have a set schedule, but we definitely get more done in the morning. She’s more attentive and curious after breakfast when her attention span is longer, also. When late afternoon strikes, mainly after 3 p.m., she is too tired (since we cut out napping) and does not sit still for more than five minutes. We also like our evenings to be spent together with my husband when he gets home from work.

I also don’t spend a certain amount of time on a lesson. If my daughter seems uninterested, we will cut it short and move on whereas if she is totally engaged, I will never interrupt the lesson to move on to another because of time.

Homeschooling Made Simple with Tutus and Tea Parties - Toddler Activity for Science
Sink or Float: I had my daughter draw the water and glue on an apple cut out to show what she thought the apple would do in the water; sink or float. We then took an apple and placed it in a bowl of water and recorded what happened. We then compared her prediction to the outcome and saw that she guessed right! Click on the photo to see the full post Lauren wrote.

Our Future with Homeschooling

I’m not quite sure what the future holds for us as far as homeschooling goes. At this time, we are in need of both parents working a full-time job. I happen to be lucky enough to have a job where my daughter can be with me right now.

I have a degree in Elementary Education and am certified to teach grades 1-6. Although I am not teaching yet, I would love to think that my almost six years of college education were not a waste of time and money. I would love to be a teacher, but decided not to pursue my career until my daughter is in grade school.

I would love to get her into a Montessori preschool part-time when she turns four just for the socialization factor, but if I can’t find a good one or afford it, homeschooling until Kindergarten it is!

Lauren blogs at Tutus and Tea Parties where she shares activities, crafts and lessons for children as well as crafts and projects for adults. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and is working on completing her Master’s in Special Education. She is a wife to her best friend, a mommy to their three-year-old daughter and a step mom to two wonderful boys.

This post is being share at these link parties.

Posted on Leave a comment

Homeschooling Made Simple – Jan from “The Nerdy Farm Wife” Shares

The Nerdy Farm Wife - Homeschooling and Plotting Fun with a Favorite Book

Today I’m thrilled to introduce Jan from The Nerdy Farm Wife to all of you as part of my Homeschooling Made Simple series! She is the third blogger who has shared with us how her family homeschools – last week Joell from Red Van Ramblings stopped by, and the week before it was Thaleia from Something 2 Offer. Not only is Jan a homeschooling mom, she has a fantastic blog where she posts all kinds of green living recipes and articles like I do, so I’m sure many of you will enjoy her website as well. In the meantime, it is a treat to hear from Jan as she fills us in on her rather unconventional, almost unschooling type of homeschooling and her struggles and triumphs with a child who is on the Autism spectrum.

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

Here is Jan, from The Nerdy Farm Wife, in her own words.

Homeschool Journey Beginnings: A Preschool Teacher and Elementary School Tutor

The Nerdy Farm Wife - Fishing for Tadpoles
Here are Jan’s kids rescuing tadpoles out of a drying water hole as part of their homeschooling day.

Before I had children, I was a preschool teacher in a small, private school. It was a job that I thoroughly loved! The principal of the school was easy to work with and as long as I covered the basic curriculum, I was free to do fun things with the kids such as: treasure hunts, weekly cooking projects, painting with our fingers and toes, going outside and finding shapes in the clouds and of course, lots and lots of picnics! The children were happy, excited to come to school and seemed to revel in learning new things day after day.

During the same time frame, I tutored elementary students who needed help with reading and phonics. I began to notice what a difference a few years at school made in the attitude of some of these children. The joy of learning had been smothered by long lists of words and meaningless dates to memorize, by hours of busy work, by having every second of their day scheduled for them. These kids were burnt out and they were only in the third or fourth grade! It was a sad and sobering observation that I never quite forgot.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I quit teaching and stayed home with her, and then her brother who was born almost two and a half years later. I didn’t really know the term for it then, but I practiced attachment parenting. I kept the babies in our bedroom at night, nursed on demand and carried them around in a sling during the day. Because I was there, I was able to follow my daughter’s learning cues. She learned to read right after she turned four & quickly progressed to higher level books. Kindergarten was creeping closer and closer, but I just couldn’t bear the thought of sending her off to school!

One fateful day, someone gave us a copy of the book [amazon_link id=”1414304501″ target=”_blank” ]Bringing Up Boys[/amazon_link] by Dr James Dobson.  In one chapter, he briefly talks about homeschool. Something about that stirred my interest and I mentioned it to my husband. To my surprise, he was supportive of the idea and told me to research it further.

 

Kindergarten Homeschool Was A Huge Success, But My Son Needs Help

The Nerdy Farm Wife - Studying Chemistry at Home
Here’s Jan’s daughter writing in her homeschooling notebook as she studies perfume chemistry.

After a lot of contemplation, we finally decided to try kindergarten at home, on a trial basis. I sat right down and ordered the exact curriculum that my daughter would’ve learned had she gone to the private school at which I had taught. Of course, once it arrived and we dove into it, I realized the ridiculousness of it all. Here I had a few hundred dollars worth of pointless worksheets, drilling basic phonics rules to a kid that was already reading books like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I thought that it was necessary to have a curriculum. I still didn’t trust my instincts or know to work with a child’s natural abilities.

Kindergarten went so well, that when began first grade at home, we were completely convinced that we were on the right path. However, at the same time, I was becoming increasingly preoccupied with my son’s chronic health problems. A bad reaction to a vaccine when he was six months old, followed by a series of non-stop ear infections requiring round after round of antibiotics, had left him a hyper, highly allergic and a sick little guy. Because of his auditory processing disorder and severe speech delay, he had to take speech therapy through our local public school system. His behavior was becoming difficult to handle; when we first switched to a new pediatrician, she told us that he was likely somewhere on the autism spectrum or at least ADHD and immediately put him on a gluten-free, dairy free, soy free diet in an effort to help his various health issues while she ran a battery of tests. When markers for celiac came back positive in both children, I had to learn to cook in a completely different manner than we were used to and it was a steep and painful learning curve. One day, at my son’s speech therapy, my daughter, who was normally so easy-going, threw the mother of all tantrums in front of everyone, including the principal of the school. I was embarrassed and at a loss at how to handle this new twist of behavior. I called my husband in tears, he saw I was over my head and by the end of that week, my daughter was in private school. I cried and mourned, but it was what I needed at the time, in order to come to terms with the significant lifestyle changes that had to be made in our family.

 

I Learned To Trust My Instincts as a Mom

The Nerdy Farm Wife - Explorer Ship for Columbus Day
For Columbus Day, Jan had her kids make an explorer ship where they had to use math and writing skills to complete the project.

I’ll skip past the very long story of how I reclaimed my son’s health over that year and the following year of traditional school for the both of them to get to the part where we returned to homeschooling for my daughter’s third and my son’s first grade years. This time though, I was older and wiser. All of the things I had gone through with my son had made me stronger and more confident about trusting my instincts as a mom. I knew my children like no other person could and gosh darn it, I was going to stop listening to what I was “supposed” to do and do what I felt was right, for them and for us.

For starters, I tossed all idea of purchased curriculum out the window. The thought of making my own was appealing, but when it came down to it, was a lot of work. I decided to do some go-with-the-flow type schooling. For instance, I knew Columbus Day was coming up, so we started studying explorers. We made a big boat out of a cardboard box, we read a giant stack of library books on the likes of “Erik the Red and Magellan” and “Ponce de Leon”, we drew ships and labeled the parts of them. We cut circles out of cardboard, painted them gold and silver and had a great time counting out our treasure! We dyed several pages of plain paper with a weak solution of tea, folded them in half, I made a quick straight seam down the middle with my sewing machine and ended up with “Captain’s Journals” in which they wrote down the going-ons of the day (sneaky writing practice!) None of these things required a curriculum, but at the same time they were learning spelling, writing, math, history and best of all, creativity. We liked that way of learning so much, we stuck with it!

 

Homeschooling Allows My Kids to Study Each Subject At Their Own Pace 

The Nerdy Farm Wife - Homeschooling and Plotting Fun with a Favorite Book
Some unschooling fun – Jan’s kids plotting outside with their favorite nature book

Currently, I have a sixth and eighth grader. I’ve kept them on the same math level and learning the same topics from the start. My son is advanced in math but weak in spelling and handwriting. My daughter excels at all things verbal, but has a harder time grasping math concepts. If they were in school, both would find parts of their studies extremely easy and boring, while other classes would be frustrating and difficult. Here, at home, I keep in mind which skills need practice and which don’t. For instance, my daughter, the speed reader with a semi-photographic memory, can spell almost any word that you throw at her. Why does she need to study spelling as a subject? She doesn’t and it’s not a concern to me that she ever needs to.

The only thing that I am strict about covering each day is math. If they weren’t such fluent readers, I’d likely be concerned about working on that subject also. I feel that if you can read well and do math well, then you can pretty much teach yourself anything you want for the rest of your life. That’s not to say that subjects such as history and science are not important. They are and should be studied in great depth with lots of hands-on-activities and outstanding literature to really make the subjects come to life. However, there’s a lot of leeway in what you study and when you study it.

I am fortunate in that my sister has her master’s degree in curriculum development and is also a certified master teacher. Every so often, I start to feel like the kids may be missing out on some important concept that they could only get from traditional school. She evaluates their progress for me and inevitably tells me that they are doing great! (Trust me, she would certainly let me know if she felt like they weren’t!) That and the fact that they score in the 90th percentile on their achievement tests (required by our state each year) helps reassure me that we’re on the right track.

 

Our Typical Homeschooling Day

The Nerdy Farm Wife: Homeschooling Science Journal and Scrapbook
An example of her kids’ scrapbooks they use to study their subjects.

A typical day in our homeschool goes something like this: I get up about thirty minutes before the kids and do a quick email and blog comment check. Around 9:00 a.m., I wake them up and have a list of the day’s tasks ready and waiting. I’ve found that having a list they can check off makes them move faster plus I’m not having to constantly repeat what I need for them to have done before lunch. I try not to ever nag so that my words actually mean something when they hear a specific request from me. When they were younger, this checklist was a simple pictorial chore chart. They make their own breakfast, brush their teeth, clean their rooms, unload the dishwasher, wash and hang up a load of laundry, help feed the farm animals, and work on a math paper or copy math rules we’re learning into their notebook. (We use a large, spiral bound sketch pad to keep all of our school work in, so that it forms a type of scrapbook by the year’s end. You can read more about that in a post – Homeschooling for (Almost) Free.

After they’ve done that, they read or play outside for a while depending on the weather. Once they’re wide awake, but not too hungry for lunch, I know they are at their peak attention span for the day so I gather them around me on our couch. At that time, we’ll look at library books pertaining to the period of time we’re studying, read through whatever math we’re working on & do a few math problems together. Recently, we’ve been working through [amazon_link id=”0974531537″ target=”_blank” ]The Fallacy Detective[/amazon_link] (learning logic), Apologia’s Exploring Creation Through Botany and Knights & Castles, [amazon_link id=”1885593171″ target=”_blank” ]50 Hands on Activities to Experience the Middle Ages[/amazon_link]. I may have a little printable lapbook style booklet for them to make & glue in their school scrapbook or I may have them draw a little diagram of a cell or a castle. Many times though, we just read and laugh a lot (I can get pretty silly when reading a book; especially if I think it will help them remember a point!)

By that time, it’s lunch, which they usually fix for themselves. We don’t have TV outside of the 3-DVDs-at-a-time Netflix plan, but they are allowed to play video and computer games for a few hours every afternoon. My son is currently enrolled in a Harvard Computer Science online class offered through EdX, so he usually works on his class projects instead of playing games. During this free time, I work like mad on a blog post (or more often, get sidetracked by Facebook and Youtube!) After that, the kids wander off to do their own things such as: climbing trees, knitting, hitting rocks together, playing ball with the dog, riding bikes next door to grandma’s, and so forth until we gather back together for dinner time with Daddy. The evenings are free to spend however they like until about 10:00 when they have to settle in their rooms. They usually read an hour or so before bed, then fall asleep.

While there are multiple opportunities to join homeschool groups and co-ops in towns surrounding us, and we have participated in the past, due to our rural location and the condition of our car, it’s not feasible for us to easily do so this year. Something I’ve been contemplating is having our own little meet-up here at my house with some local homeschoolers, perhaps this spring when the weather turns warm again! My son plays soccer and a few years ago, my daughter took ballet and gymnastics. One of the goals I have for my Etsy shop is to make enough money so that I can afford karate classes for my son (and me!). We’ll see how that goes! The point is, that there are tons of homeschool groups and activities out there, simply ask around at your local library or strike up a conversation with the next friendly looking homeschool mom that you happen to meet. Trust me, we’d love to talk to you!

 

Jan blogs at The Nerdy Farm Wife where she describes herself as nerdy and awkward (smile), who loves chemistry and doing science experiments with her kids. She lives on a seven-acre “hobby farm” where they care for chickens, ducks, bunnies, goats, dogs and one cat and is the perfect classroom for her family. Check out her new Etsy Store where she sells things like Homemade Rose Cream, Peppermint Elderberry Lip Balm, and All-Purpose Herbal Salve.

Posted on Leave a comment

Homeschooling Made Simple – Joell from “Red Van Ramblings” Shares

Homeschooling Made Simple with Red Van Ramblings - Dealing with Asperger's

Welcome back for week two of my Homeschooling Made Simple series, featuring Joell of Red Van Ramblings! She shares her inspiring homeschooling journey, which is a unique one with a son who has Asperger’s Syndrome, who spent most of his life in public school before they decided to homeschool. I am honored to have her on the blog! In this series, I am interviewing several bloggers who homeschool to get each of their perspectives, ideas, and suggestions and offer it for those of us who are new to homeschooling or thinking about pursuing it.

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

Please show Joell some love for taking the time to share her heart with us by visiting and following her at Red Van Ramblings! Take it away, Joell!

I am so grateful to Sara for giving me the opportunity to share with you all some thoughts about our family’s homeschool experiences! I hope you find it both helpful and encouraging!

Why Homeschool?

Family Photo of Red Van Ramblings
Such a cute family photo of a thriving homeschool family!

Our homeschool journey officially began in the late summer of 2009, as my son began his freshman year of high school. But getting to that point was a bit of a journey in itself! The possibility of homeschooling had never actually occurred to me until sometime in the fall of 2008. I mean, public school had worked for my husband and me — and for pretty much everyone else I knew. Add to that the fact that my husband, Clyn, comes from a (very) long line of public educators and administrators. Not only had I never considered the possibility of homeschooling, it was something I had said — out loud — that I would never do. Ever heard the saying, tell God your plans and then listen to Him laugh?

In the spring of 2000, our lives took a new turn when our son, Jacob, was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. In the summer of 2000, we moved halfway across the country and in the fall of 2000, our son entered the public school system as a kindergartener. For the next 9 years, we proceeded to jump through the hoops of the public school system, including IEPs, self-contained classes, mainstream classes, homework woes, trying to communicate with teachers, meltdowns, paraprofessionals, speech therapists and mid-day phone calls. There were ups and downs, and academically, Jacob did very well. But as he approached his high school years and his noise sensitivity and anxiety seemed to heighten, we wondered how he would make it in public high school. Conclusion: We knew Jacob would be miserable if we sent him to the local high school, and therefore, we would all be miserable. And that is no way to exist. We could do better for our son. We had to find another way.

On the other hand, there was our daughter, Emma, who is 3 years younger than our son, and not on the autism spectrum. She seemed to thrive in public school. It worked for her.

We prayed about what to do. We knew that, financially, private school was not an option, and truly, that would not be the answer for Jacob anyway. And then, through a mutual (public-schooling) friend, I met a homeschooling mom, who was full of info and seemed very normal. I mean, come on, don’t we all have our stereotypical notions of homeschoolers? You know you do! And I was no exception. We had a wonderful conversation.

It seemed that we had our answer.

We’re Gonna Homeschool. What now?

The hardest thing for me about homeschooling was making the decision to do it. That is not to say homeschooling is easy, but certainly, wrestling with the decision was the biggest hurdle. Well,that, and deciding that it did not matter what other friends or family members would have to say. And even though everyone has been incredibly supportive, there are always the inevitable questions: How will he get proper socialization? (A question every homeschooler I know laughs out loud at!) How will he ever go to college if you homeschool him? (Well, many homeschooled kids go to very prestigious colleges and as for my son, he may or may not go to college, but it won’t have anything to do with the fact that he is homeschooled.) What makes you qualified to educate your child? You don’t even have a degree in education! (Well, I do have a college degree, but that is irrelevant. What qualifies me to teach him is the fact that I am his mother and I know him best and I will fight like a mad wet hen to make sure he gets what he needs!)<

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what’s next?

Since we were jumping right in at the high school level, I felt the need to make sure we were doing everything to meet the graduation requirements of our state, which was easy to determine by an online search at the Department of Higher Education of South Carolina.

Here, again, I think it is important to reiterate what Thaleia said: Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. You MUST investigate the laws that are specific to YOUR STATE. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is an excellent resource for finding out what keeps you legal. There is other great information on the website as well.

After we educated ourselves about the legality of it all, we had to find an accountability group (part of what keeps you legal in the state of South Carolina), withdraw him from school, and get hooked up with as many homeschoolers as possible.

Support is KEY! I cannot stress that enough!

How do you find a support group? Google is your friend. Search homeschool support groups and your city and state, and you should find a list of what is available in your area. How do you know which one? Look at a few websites and see what those groups are all about. If you know local homeschoolers, ask questions. Are you looking for a specifically Christian group? A Catholic group? Or a group that is not religiously affiliated? There is something out there for everyone.

So, on the suggestion of my new homeschool friend, we joined a local support group. There are over 400 families that participate in our support group. They organize field trips. They share their struggles and triumphs. They share information about opportunities for clubs and extra-curricular activities. They share curriculum ideas. The sell and swap curriculum. They have clubs for students, Student Council, Prom, monthly meetings, Christmas parties and organize graduation ceremonies. The opportunities are literally endless and our support group has been a huge resource for us!

I bent the ear of the homeschool friend I had met. She put me in touch with another homeschool friend. I learned that there was a huge homeschooling contingent in our area. Huge. I also learned that this group of homeschoolers is an extremely generous and supportive group of people. I went to visit a homeschool mom and she showed me how she did things during her school day and what worked for her family. It was invaluable. You cannot talk to too many people!

 

Which Leads Me To Curriculum

I consulted with an old family friend, a retired educator, about curriculum. I reconnected with a high school classmate who has homeschooled all four of her kids (two of whom have special needs) and asked her a million questions about curriculum. I asked anyone I could find about curriculum! There is SO MUCH wonderful curriculum out there, it is easy to get overwhelmed! But what you have to think about is YOUR child. What is going to work for him? What is going to work for your family? There is truly something for everyone, every lifestyle (structured/relaxed), every learning style (auditory/visual/hands on).

Since the only thing my child (and I!) knew was traditional schooling, we went the more traditional route of textbooks. I figured we would start there and make changes as needed. (One of the obvious PROS of homeschooling!) You can totally change curriculum mid-school year if you find that what you are using is not working—and we’ve done that a couple of times.

I would consider us eclectic homeschoolers, since we like to pick and choose from different publishers what curriculum we like versus using a boxed curriculum, which means you purchase from one publisher your curriculum for every subject area.

Some great publishers/curriculum we’ve used include:

As far as expense goes: YES, you can spend a small fortune on curriculum. But keep in mind there are a lot of freebies out there as well. Search the web and you can find tons. Or you can fashion your own curriculum by pulling library books and creating your own assignments.

In our area, there are always a few used curriculum sales in the summer where you can find some great used curriculum at rock bottom prices. Also, through the email loop of our local support group, there are individuals buying and selling curriculum all year long. In addition, you can find used curriculum on eBay, Craig’s list and Amazon for good prices.

Why Is It Worth It?

Homeschooling Made Simple with Red Van Ramblings - Dealing with Asperger's
Here is Jacob, who has Asperger’s, and was struggling in public school but is now thriving as a homeschooler.

We have benefitted greatly from participating in a local homeschool co-op. In our case, we have over 300 students each Thursday who come to take all kinds of classes from pre-school age up through high school. What has been great about the co-op is the opportunity for our son to ease back into a classroom setting by taking one or two classes. His first year, he took one class. It went great. The next two years, he took two classes. This year, he is taking four. Classes he has taken at the co-op include: Spanish 1 and 2; Labs for Biology, Chemistry and, this year, Physics; Intro to Engineering (creative building—trebuchets, geodesic domes, air cannons—fun stuff!); and Web Design. The classes are taught by other moms and dads who are like-minded and very willing to be flexible and understanding about Jacob’s needs. Many of these folks have special needs children themselves.

There are tons of extra-curricular activities available to homeschoolers. Jacob started playing French horn in 5th grade in public school and we found a symphonic band at a local music school that he participated in during his 9th and 10th grade years. There are also sports through our support group—baseball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. There are drama clubs and Lego clubs and American Girl clubs, Geography Bees and Spelling Bees and Yearbook staff and, and, and….

In my opinion, there are as many great opportunities for homeschoolers as there are for public schoolers. Homeschooling is what you make it. You can be as busy and as social as you choose to be. In fact, many homeschooling families that I know are so busy with all their activities (read: socialization!) that I am sometimes not sure how they fit in all their academics!

The opportunities are out there. And hey, if there is something you are looking for and you don’t find it, start a group of your own!

I do not regret for a second the choice to bring our son home. It has been an amazing experience for him, for me, and for our family as a whole. It has been tough at times, and there have been moments where I have questioned my sanity! But, he has had the opportunity to mature in his own time and with the help and patience of his family and others who know and love him for the awesome kid he is, not just the Asperger’s kid at school, who has an IEP, who makes extra work for the teachers and staff. We have choices to alter assignments, take extra time, try different approaches, to take breaks when he needs them. If I have one regret, it is that we did not start homeschooling him sooner.

The boy who had so much anxiety and always wore earplugs everywhere four years ago, never wears them anymore.

He has become more independent.

He has become more responsible.

He has made friends.

And he never hits himself in the head and says “I am so stupid” anymore.

He is an A/B student and he will graduate this spring at a ceremony with 65 of his peers.

And I don’t believe for one minute that he would be where he is today if he had remained in public school.

We could not be more proud.

Homeschooling Made Simple with Joell from Red Van RamblingsSince 2006, Joell has blogged at Red Van Ramblings where she writes about her family, her faith, mothering, Asperger’s and autism, aging, lessons she learns, homeschooling her son, public schooling her daughter, and anything else that comes to mind when her fingers hit the keyboard. She is married to her high school sweetheart and the mom of two teens. She currently teaches two science classes at her local homeschool co-op, a job she fell into and loves. She firmly believes in approaching life with humor and faith in God and that everyone has a story that can impact the life of someone else—so tell it!

 

This post is being shared at:

Clever Chicks Blog Hop
Hip Homeschool Hop at Hip Homeschool Moms
Super Link Party at Earning My Cape

Posted on 146 Comments

Homeschooling Made Simple – Thaleia from Something 2 Offer Shares

Something to Offer - Kids

Today I am thrilled to have the lovely Thaleia from Something 2 Offer answer my questions about homeschooling. This will begin a series I’ve entitled, Homeschooling Made Simple, where I will interview several bloggers who homeschool and get each of their perspectives, ideas, and suggestions and offer it for those of us who are new to homeschooling or thinking about pursuing it!

Homeschooling Made Simple Series

Homeschooling is something our family is seriously considering, since our oldest is now three. I am disappointed with the public school system and just love how homeschooling offers so many opportunities to tailor-fit education for your child. The one-size-fits-all philosophy doesn’t always work well, and ends up being one-size-fits-most, in my opinion. So, here is a way for me to learn from experienced homeschooling parents to help make our big family decision and help others who might also be in my shoes.

Something to Offer - Thaleia
Thaleia and her husband, Riley

7 Homeschool Questions Answered

Hello, My Merry Messy Life readers! I’m Thaleia from Something 2 Offer stopping by to talk about homeschooling. Sara asked some questions and I was excited to answer! I love sharing what I’ve learned and know about homeschooling with current and prospective homeschoolers! Hope you enjoy learning about my family and homeschooling.

1. How long have you been homeschooling? How many children do you homeschool?

We are in our third year of full-time homeschooling. Once my husband lost his job and our third child was born we knew it was time to take the plunge! When the big kids were younger (preschool age) we had a membership to science center and we took them to nature programs. We would visit museums and attend special kid friendly events.
Our children are: Eldest who is 9 ½ in 4th grade, Princess who is 8 in 3rd grade, and Lil’ Red who is 2 ½ in Tot School.

 

2. I am fascinated by homeschooling, but am overwhelmed at the same time to know where to begin. What is the very first thing a newbie like me should do?

You need to research your STATE LAW and really become familiar with it and how a parent can follow its requirements flexibly to fit your family’s needs. Read lots and lots of homeschool books! I will elaborate more on this on my blog since I could write a small book about it!

3. How do I go about choosing curriculum? I am worried about the cost – is it expensive?

Homeschooling can cost as much or as little as you want. Free to $1,000 per child can be spent on homeschooling. It really boils down to the amount of time a family puts into research of resources online and within your community. It really depends on what you can afford and what works best for your family. I wouldn’t recommend buying a boxed by grade curriculum since children are usually at different grade levels for at least one or two subjects.
Homeschool Freebie of the Day
Freely Educate
Here’s some info about what curriculum we are studying this year!

4. Do you know anything about the Montessori philosophy? I am most intrigued by that one.

When I was in college earning an AAS in Early Childhood Development I thought Montesorri was a little weird and nutty. I have to laugh because now we use Tot Trays and Busy Bags with Lil’ Red, which are a inspired by Montessori Work Trays. We also like to use FREE resources and some of those include Montesorri inspired or related printables. Living Montessori Now is a great resource online both website, Facebook, and Pinterest.

If you have connections with someone already involved in Montessori, great. Otherwise you would need a pretty big budget or lots and lots of time to create your own materials. If a group of 3-4 local moms all wanted to do Montessori then you could possibly set up a make and swap materials group. You can check out these yahoo groups:

 

5. Describe a typical homeschool day.

There is no typical day in our homeschool. Both mom and dad attend college and we participate in monthly activities that vary by day for field trips. We host a Co-op for Little House on the Prairie every first, third, and fifth Fridays with a handful of other families.

6. Are you part of a support network, club or homeschool group? For me, I think this is essential for my success as I will need a lot of support at the beginning.

I signed up for a dozen different yahoo groups to learn more about the variety of homeschooling before we actually started homeschooling. We are a part of a local Christian homeschool group. This year I started my own co-op for LHP/Praire Primer/Pioneer Club for families with children K-8. I would search yahoo or facebook for groups related to what you think your style or curriculum for homeschool might be.

Something to Offer - Kids7. Are your children involved in extracurricular activities? How did you go about finding them?

Yes, but not as much as I would like due to the cost involved. It’s a little cost-prohibitive with gas prices and fees of $3-$7 per child per class. We do live in an area where homeschooling is booming! Keepers of the Home & Contenders of the Faith is a group similar to Girl Scouts/BoyScouts/4H but has a focus on character, service, and is a family program. Some groups split into two meeting rooms with boys/dads and girls/moms BUT they can meet at the same time making nice for families with boys and girls. Our group is coordinated by another homeschool blogger mom and coordinate the crafts.

Princess enjoys ballet and some dance studios in the area offer homeschool class times in the day. Eldest enjoys art and attends a weekly class at a new art school we helped get off the ground for the ballet teacher. We traded advertising and brainstorming and website help for classes. This has saved us from telling our children no to things they enjoy.

If your child likes an activity which you cannot afford then find a way around it. Barter your services, skills, homeschool connections, etc. for free or discounted classes. All you have to do is ask and be able to come through on your end of the bargain. You ever know what great opportunity awaits your family.

Thaleia blogs at Something 2 Offer writing about homeschooling, parenting, and frugal living. She is a wife and mother to her three homeschooled children. She is Craft Coordinator for Keepers of the Faith Homeschool group and Pioneer Homeschool Club Coordinator. She has enjoyed crafts all her life while growing up being involved in Girl Scouts and 4-H. She lives in the city but is a country girl at heart!

This post is being shared at:
Hip Homeschool Moms
Super Link Party at Earning My Cape
Natural Living Mondays at Natural Living Mamma
Tiny Tip Tuesday at Nature’s Nurture