Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Five Things I’ve Learned From THE HOMESCHOOL LEAGUE

1.       Socialization is not an issue.
The first thing I hear when I tell someone that we homeschool our kids is, “Aren’t you concerned about their socialization?”  When I first made the decision to homeschool, my answer was yes.  Now, my answer is no.  Thanks to The Homeschool League, my kids are very well socialized.  The Homeschool League families engage in social activities on a weekly basis.  Our kids gather at the library every Wednesday for story time with Ms. Robin.  We also go on field trips, and offer group education-based activities.  Trust me when I say, “Socialization is not an issue.”

2.       It gets less stressful.
The age of children in The Homeschool League ranges from preschool to high school.  So we have some parents in our group who have been doing this for a very long time.  They serve as a comfort to all of us who are just getting started, with our children still in elementary grades.  As they’ve promised, the longer you homeschool, the more confidence you build in yourself and in your children.  We are learning from them and through our own experience, it does get easier and much less stressful. 

3.       Mommy-time matters.
While we have chosen to spend our daily hours educating our children, we have come to realize that prolonged exposure to long division, punctuation and grammar, spelling rules, and reading comprehension can bring a mother to the brink of insanity.  The Homeschool League can help with that.  While the kids have story time with Ms. Robin, we hide in the corner and enjoy adult conversation.  We also plan monthly outings, also known as Mom’s Night Out, because mommy-time matters to The Homeschool League.

4.       Everyone homeschools differently.
We have close to 30 families who participate in various aspects of The Homeschool League.   We often quiz each other on what type of curriculum we use, what type of experiments we’ve done, how we teach certain subjects, or how we have remedied certain situations.  It’s amazing to me that no one educates their children in exactly the same way.  We have a family who discovers learning through books.  We have a family who uses the computer as the foundation of their learning.  We have a family who uses workbooks to guide their education.  We have a family who tries to mimic their own educational experiences.  We have a family who unschools, allowing their children to choose when and how they learn.  Every one homeschools differently.  And that’s okay.

5.       There is not one right way to homeschool.
What’s even more impressive is, despite the wide variety of homeschooling methods employed by the families in The Homeschool League, all of our children are learning.  All of our children are gaining information.  All of our children are getting educated.  There is not one right way to homeschool. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

It's May.

It's May.

Do you know how I know it's May?  No.  Not because I looked at my calendar.

I know it's May because I've got that feeling.  You homeschool moms, and probably public school teachers, know exactly what I'm talking about.  That feeling I like to call ~ "I'm done".

For those of you who don't have the luxury of lesson-planning, grading papers, conducting tests, and pretty much being fully responsible for the education of your children, let me explain it to you...

My two boys and I have spent the last nine months doing organized learning in our classroom.  We start with Science, then move on to Handwriting and Social Studies.  I give them their Reading assignments.  While I fix lunch, my boys take turns working on their typing skills on our computer.  After lunch, we resume our studies with an afternoon activity such as art, poetry, or critical thinking.  Then they do some Language Arts, followed by Writing.  And our school day is done after Spelling and Math are completed.

At least that's how I plan for each day to be...

As you can imagine, it doesn't always work out that way.  In fact, the closer we get to the end of our school year, the less likely it is that our school day looked anything like the schedule I described above.

In fact, today...


I'm almost too embarrassed to share this with you...

But I guess if it makes you feel better about your school day, it will be worth my embarrassment...

This morning we had breakfast with friends at Cracker Barrel.  Then we went to Lowe's and Wal-mart.  Then we gathered with friends for story time at the library.  Afterwards, we met for lunch at the Sub Shop.  Now I am in my office writing this blog, while my boys are watching television.

That's what we've done today.

And I'm totally counting it as a day of school.

I know it sounds like a completely unproductive, all-fun, no-education day.  And at the beginning of our school year, I would totally agree.

But today, I would argue that point...

They played Checkers at Cracker Barrel.  That's educational, right?  Math (circles, squares), Science (ummm...  surely there's something scientific about Checkers), Critical Thinking (Oh come on.  You can't argue that one.  Checkers is definitely critical thinking).  So Math, Science, Critical Thinking.  Check, check, check.

They had story time at the library.  Reading (Mrs. Robin read to them), Art (They painted strawberry pictures).  Check, check.

They ate lunch with their friends.  Now isn't everyone always saying homeschool kids need social interaction?  Social Studies.  Check.

Right now they are watching Disney's Kickin' It.  Hmmm...  how can I make that educational?  Afternoon Activity?  Yes!  Afternoon Activity.  Check.

So all we've missed is Spelling and Writing.  Wait a minute...  

...   ...   ...

Okay.  I just made them spell "writing".  So we've covered both items there.  Spelling.  Writing.  Check.  Check.

And you thought they didn't learn anything today.  Don't you feel silly?


You see, I've reached that point in the school year where I am so burnt-out on our learning routine.  I am just trying to survive.  And I am just desperate enough to justify my educational choices for today.   Don't judge me!

I'm tired of talking about plants, and communities, and writing, and multiplication.  I just want to take a nap.


So...  in my own defense...

I can tell you that we've finished our Science and Social Studies curriculums for the year.  Those are the most fun. 

Handwriting.  Bryson is good with his handwriting.  Camden...  I don't want to talk about it.

Math is pretty much done.  It's just review stuff from here on.

Writing.  Ah Writing.  Writing is my arch-nemesis.  I know that is ironic, considering I love to write more than anything else.  What can I say?  It's much easier to do it than to teach it.  So I've pretty much given up on writing for this year.  Don't worry.  I'll try again next year.  Eventually I'll get it right.  I hope...

That leaves us with Language Arts and Spelling.  We're on Unit 8 out of 10.  Ugh...


On paper, we've still got five weeks of school.  Mentally, I am so done.

That's how I know it's May.


Seeds of Faith - inspired by Elisha Skeen

Romans 8:1
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

As moms - and in this case, as homeschool moms, - I think we try so hard to be perfect.  And when things don't go perfectly, we feel ashamed.  

Take comfort in knowing that God does not condemn you for skipping Spelling.  Or for counting Checkers as your Math activity.  

Yesterday was Teacher Appreciation Day.  I hope you told yourself you are doing a great job.  :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Week in the Life of my Students

Everyone has their own opinion about homeschooling.  Many people choose to share their opinion, whether you want to hear it or not.  Yesterday, my little brother chose to share his opinion with me.  The words that came out of his mouth were so unexpected, I don't know how I maintained my composure.  It was an eight-word sentence that nearly brought me to tears.

"I think what you are doing is great," he said.  And then he looked away so the moment wouldn't become awkward as we both fought to conceal the emotional impact of what he said.

The truth is, I don't hear that very often.  I mean, I tell myself every day, but that doesn't boost my confidence as much as you might think.  :)


Someone once asked me if I want my children to be socially awkward, indicating my decision to homeschool was not in their best interest.  A stranger told me my kids will hate me when they grow up.  A high school classmate asked if we actually "do school" or just hang out all day.  I've been verbally slapped and told homeschool is just "BS" (that's the PG version).  People want to know if my kids are learning art and music "because that is such an important part of their education".  Most recently, someone told me it just wasn't realistic to think one person can teach every subject, every day.

If you know me at all, you can probably guess my response to all of the above.  A nervous giggle.  Because frankly what am I supposed to say?  Yes, I want my children to be socially awkward.  I don't care if they hate me.  


I know I shouldn't care what other people think, but I do.  It bothers me that anyone would view me as a mother who doesn't want what is best for her children.  Especially since that is the entire reason I do what I do - because I believe it is what is best for them.

I have never gone up to anyone who has their children in public school and questioned their motives for keeping them there.  To be blunt, it's none of my business how you choose to educate your children.  And to be equally blunt, it's none of your business how I choose to educate mine.

But since so many people choose to comment, and so many people dare to ask, "What do you do all day?", I'd like to take this opportunity to provide you a glimpse into a week in the life of my two students at Chapel Hill Academy...

Most Mondays, we watch my 2-year-old niece.  My boys spend about three hours helping our neighbor on his farm.  They clean chicken houses, or feed the cows.  When they get home, they have to take a shower because they smell really, really, really bad.  I mean REALLY bad.  We eat lunch, and then head to the classroom.  Yes, we have a classroom.  The boys have a school table and cubbies with their names on them.  They even have book bags and lunch boxes.  Of course, we rarely use those.  But we do have them.  

  • Calendar
  • Day Starter Activity
  • Social Studies
  • Famous Americans
  • Language Arts
  • Writing
  • Spelling 
  • Math
SCHOOL TIME = 2 hours

Tuesdays & Thursdays
Tuesday and Thursdays are our long days.  We usually try to stay home on these days because we have soooooo much work to do.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I drink a lot of Dr. Pepper.  I've also been known to kick back a few tylenol.  
  • Bible Study
  • Calendar
  • Day Starter Activity
  • Science
  • Handwriting
  • Social Studies
  • Reading
  • Computer
  • Center Time
  • Famous Americans
  • Language Arts
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Math
SCHOOL TIME = 5 hours


Wednesdays are our fun days.  We go to the library for homeschool story hour.  We usually have lunch with some friends.  We have also been known to sneak over to the park on a few occasions.

  • Devotion
  • Calendar
  • Day Starter
  • Science
  • Handwriting
  • Social Studies
  • Mind Benders
  • Writing
  • Spelling
SCHOOL TIME = 3 hours

Fridays are another short day for us.  We have mostly tests on Fridays.  We try to schedule all our field trips and/or playdates for Fridays.  Of course, that doesn't always work out.  So Friday can also be known as our "catch-up day".
  • Bible Study
  • Calendar
  • Day Starter
  • Science
  • Handwriting
  • Social Studies
  • Reading
  • Computer
  • Center
  • Art/Music
  • Language Arts
  • Writing
  • Spelling
  • Math
SCHOOL TIME = 3 hours


So if you've pictured me sitting on the couch all day, eating bon-bons and watching The Young and the Restless, let me assure you...  Well, actually I do watch Y&R...  BUT I prefer drinking Dr. Pepper to eating bon-bons.  

Still, the majority of my day is spent in our classroom, sitting across from the two greatest gifts God has ever given my husband and me.  I plan all our lessons.  While I don't teach every subject (we use videos for math), I do guide all their learning.  I have researched and determined which curriculums work best for us.  If I don't know everything about the topic (like botany), I can learn right along side them, which is my favorite part of homeschooling.

Also, we are not socially awkward hermits.  Along with a friend, I initiated the creation of a homeschool group in our area.  We get together with other kids on a weekly basis through the program at the library and activities offered through our homeschool group.  My boys are actively involved in Tae Kwon Do, where they see their friends twice a week as well.  We do leave the house.  Although, often times, we do forget to fix our hair.  My bad.  :)


So, there are a few morals to this blog...

1.  If you are worried about the education and socialization of my children, don't be.  I've got this.  

2.  Just because I homeschool, doesn't mean I think you should.  So please don't think that just because your children are in public school, that's where my children should be.

3.  Homeschooling is not as easy as it looks.  But it is more fun, and more rewarding than you can ever imagine.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What would I do without my homeschool group?

Yesterday was one of THOSE days.  You know the kind.  You're trying to homeschool, and at the same time trying to fold the laundry, wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, make the beds, and take a shower.  Only yesterday I had the added bonus of watching my twenty-two month old niece, Samara, who was all to eager to help me write with dry erase markers, uncap glue sticks, build blocks, turn on the CD player, and unshelf every single book in the house.

Yep.  One of THOSE days.

As soon as Samara's mother picked her up, I rushed into my office, scurrying to plan an agenda for our new homeschool group's second monthly meeting that would begin in just a few short hours.  It was at that time, I realized my youngest son, Camden, was still working on the Science activity I had given him TWO HOURS AGO.  My other son, Bryson, ever the overachiever (just like his mother), had completed his entire list of assignments.  At this point, I was very  much tempted to have him teach his brother.

But I didn't.  I sat there with Camden, appearing so patient, but actually on the brink of a major breakdown, when my husband walked in the door.

I took this as my cue to retreat.  While I realize now, it might have been more productive to pray, I literally ran to my bedroom, buried my face in a pillow and cried.  It was not as soothing as the calming peace of quiet-time with my Savior, but I did feel better afterward.

Later, at our homeschool meeting, I showed a brief clip of Christian comedian Tim Hawkins talking about homeschooling.

He wrote a song that quips when a homeschool mom is talking to herself, it's okay.  She's just having a parent-teacher conference.  I confessed to my fellow homeschooling moms, most of whom I've only known for a few months, that my day had been filled with parent-teacher conferences.

Once I started talking about it, I just couldn't stop.  I poured my heart out to these women, telling them things I am barely willing to tell myself.  Homeschooling is hard.  And my biggest enemy is myself.  I have these expectations of how I want the homeschool year to proceed, only it never works out that way.  This year the setbacks started almost as soon as we started.  I came into the meeting feeling very defeated, and not at all well-equipped to lead a group of moms who are looking to me for encouragement.

You might think at this point the atmosphere in the room felt like a deflated balloon.  But no.  Those women jumped right in and started sharing their own experiences of feeling inadequate.  Apparently this is an ongoing battle, only to be conquered when you witness your child's success as a grownup.  There were nodding heads, reassuring smiles, and verbal hugs all around.

That's when it hit me.  These are my peeps.

These moms are in the trenches with me.  They know what I'm trying to do because they're trying to do the same things.  They know what I'm feeling because they feel the same things.  They know what I'm thinking because they've thought those same things themselves.

Our devotion leader talked about absolute worship - praising God when there is no music, when there are no people, when you are by yourself and it's all about Him.

I wish I had praised God instead of crying yesterday.  I'm sure it would have uplifted my spirit and comforted my soul.  I was so desperately in need of those things.

But I didn't.

So God found another way to pick me up and calm my nerves.  He gave me peeps.

What would I do without my homeschool group?

Thank you to the ladies who were able to come to our meeting last night - Melanie, Deanna, April, Melissa, Julie, Eunice, Missy and Donna.  I am so grateful for your words of encouragement.  Today is better than yesterday because of you.  May God bless you all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homeschooling makes me brave

Homeschooling makes me brave.  I think that's one reason I am so addicted to it.

Things and ideas that I would normally be too afraid to embrace, are much less scary when they are required to further the education of my children.

For example, I was once a fan of having pets.  However, after the tragic loss of our beloved dog, Gizmo, two years ago, I no longer have the desire to take responsibility for the life of another non-human living thing.  I know it will most likely die before I do, and I just don't have the heart required to say good-bye to something I love so dearly.

Sooooo...  imagine my response when my oldest son, Bryson, begs me to buy him a dog.


Then a cat?


Then a rabbit?


How about a fish?


Of course, you know how diligent children can be.  He would NOT stop asking.

So, thinking I could outsmart a nine-year-old (and thinking my mother would back me up), I told him if his grandmother had a spare fish bowl, we'd give fish ownership a try.  He eagerly approaches my mother, who totally ignores my fervently shaking head.  What do you know, she just happens to have a spare fish bowl right there in her cupboard.  Oh...  yay...

So we bought a betta fish.  And just as I feared,  within four days, she was dead.

This is where my uncharacteristic bravery kicked in.

It would have been so easy to give up, and say we're not meant to own a fish.  But I couldn't bear to see that look of failure and hopelessness on the face of my precious child.  He was ready to give up, after the death of one fish.  I guess the home educator in me knew we could not pass up this teaching opportunity.

What did we learn from fish #1?   Answer = We don't know the first thing about fish care.

We spent the next few nights researching betta fish and how to care for them.  We checked out books from the library.  We looked on the internet.  We talked to my mom, who owns a tankful of fish.  And we actually listened to what she said.

We went to Petsmart, bought another fish bowl, and purchased two fish ~ Waterfall and Big Guy.  My husband and I figured our odds of keeping at least one fish alive were better this way.

That was three weeks ago.  The fish are still alive!!!!

Go us!


Another example of my homeschool-inflicted bravery -

For our science curriculum, we've been going through the days of creation.  This is our third year of homeschooling, so we are on Day Three - when God created the land, the trees, the plants.  This year I've chosen to use Apologia's Exploring Creation with Botany.  This means we will be spending the entire year studying plants.

Let me first tell you, I am not a "plant person".  When they were passing out "green thumbs", they completely left me out of the rotation.  Give me a plant, and I guarantee it will be dead by the end of the week.

I don't know where I get this from, as my mother has the greenest thumb I've ever seen.  She has plants literally climbing the walls at her house.  It's beautiful.

I have two green plants in my house.  They are in our fish bowls...  and they are artificial.

So as you can guess, I was a little nervous when on Day 6 of our school year, the curriculum says we need to plant some herbs so we can watch them grow throughout the semester.


I must admit, I was tempted to say, "Let's skip over Day Three of creation (botany), and move onto Day Four (astronomy)."

But I didn't say that.

Instead, I got some pots, some dirt, some seeds, some water, and some courage.  We planted two small pots of romaine lettuce, one small pot of basil, and one small pot of parsley.

That was yesterday.

We actually remembered to water them today.

They're not dead yet.  At least I don't think they are.

I'll keep you updated...

Happy Homeschooling!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day One

We started a new school year today at Chapel Hill Academy.

I couldn't sleep at all last night because I was so excited!  I love day one.  It marks the beginning of a new educational journey.  It's a day filled with new composition books and freshly sharpened pencils, three-ring binders and clean index cards.  While I love all these things, what I adore most about our first day is the potential it holds for the year to come.

I am filled with hope on that first day of school.  I'm hoping this year I'll get it right.  This year, I'll be more disciplined.  This year, I'll get up earlier.  This year, I won't give in to those "no school today" desires.  Then maybe this year, it won't get overwhelming.

Day one is always good.

I got up at 6:45 this morning.  This is a huge deal to me, as I am not what you might call a "morning person". Totally out of character, I jumped out of bed, eager to face the day to come.  I turned on the radio just in time to catch the "Good Morning" song by Mandisa.  So I knew right away it was going to be a good day.  I made breakfast, which I never do.  I loaded the dishwasher.  I even got dressed!!  Woohoo!  And it was only 8am.

We started today with prayer time, followed by praise time, followed by Bible time.  And then my favorite part...

We went to our homeschool group's kickoff party!  Two hours of outdoor activities followed by two hours of lunch and fellowship.  That equals for hours of playing and chatting with our friends.  I don't know who came home more satisfied, my kids or me.  What a perfect day!

When we got back home, we weren't quite as eager to go back to our homeschool room.  We were more in the mood for a nap.  But we did go over a few calendar activities before we called it a day.

So here I am.  Telling you that our first day of homeschool was a huge success, but also wondering if perhaps it wasn't the best way to start our year.  I mean, how can we go up from here?


We've got a full day of school planned tomorrow, filled with Science, Social Studies, Handwriting, Language Arts, Math, etc...  I don't know if I'll wake up quite as eager to start the day.  I doubt I'll be up at 6:45.  I do plan to fix breakfast (this is a major goal for me this year).  I do plan to start with Bible time.  I may even get dressed.

On Day Two we will be at home, doing school.  And isn't that what homeschool is all about?

So, here's to Day Two.  May she continue to hold the potential of a great year ahead.

Or at least be a fun day of learning at home in our jammies.  :)

Happy Homeschooling!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The last four months...

In my last "Yes, they're homeschooled" post (four months ago), I was jumping for joy about our one-hundredth day of school.  That was a truly awesome day.

So, why has it been so long since I've written about my passion for homeschooling?

Weeeeellll....  To be completely honest, I kind of lost it for awhile there.  My passion, that is.  And perhaps my mind too.  Depends on who you ask.  :)

The truth is, for me, the last two months of school are the hardest.  I spent the first week in April fulfilling the testing requirements of our home state.  This year I decided to test my boys myself, rather than do so in a group setting.  It was a learning experience which I hope to perfect in the future.  But it all ended very well.

The test scores revealed that my boys are geniuses!!!!

Hahaha!  Just kidding.

But seriously, they are.

No, not really.

Well, sort of.

They did very, very, very well.

As their mother, I'd like to take full credit.  However, I will step aside and give that credit to their teacher.  Oh wait!  That's me.  :)


Anyway...  once testing was completed, I felt less than motivated as we entered the fourth and final quarter of our school year.  It seemed as though we had reached the climax of our 2011-2012 learning adventure, and the remainder of our work was less than necessary.

We trudged through.  Although we spent much less time in the classroom, and more and more time on field trips (the zoo, the museum, the park, the movies, Chic-Fil-A).

We finished our school year on June 5th.  I had hoped to get in 150 school days, but we called it quits at 140.

I then spent the next 40 days recuperating.  By recuperating, I mean laying on the couch, watching TV, reading novels and eating bon-bons, of course.  In other words, nothing of educational value to my children.

So why am I blogging now?

Well.  I've spent every day this week making plans and preparing for our 2012-2013 school year.  And now I am getting really excited about our next educational adventure!

I'm researching subjects, creating visual aids, developing lesson plans, studying library books, and counting down the days til school begins.

We're starting our third year of homeschooling on August 20th.  I am really looking forward to seeing what this year has in store for us.

Expect more blogs, (hopefully) more often.

I pray blessings upon you in your upcoming homeschool adventures!

Happy Homeschooling!