Keep Working!

Even though school ended over a month ago, I feel like I have not yet had any summer vacation.  Since my daughter is now homeschooled, I have been trying to keep her working so we (she, actually) can get a few things wrapped up for the year.  There are a few chapters left to finish and a few projects I’d like to help her complete.  I think I get more excited about projects than she does!  She needs to keep working.

At any rate, I’ve been technically working only on the weekends, but I feel like I have not really rested yet.  I think it’s because I spend so much time thinking about things I should do or things I want to do in the near future.  I would be willing to bet that I’m no busier than everyone else around me, but it sure feels that way.  Maybe I’m bogged down thinking and worrying about things I have no control over like all the sickness in our small community.

As I reflect on the “stuff in my head,” I have to remind myself that I should be thankful for the many blessings I have.  I’m reasonably healthy and able to work.  My career is heading in the right direction.  My family is doing well.  Maybe those blessings will be enough to help me relax a bit before I have to start classes again.




Learning Time is Any Time

How many fun, learning opportunities have you and your kids missed out on due to work and school schedules?  Are your children interested in things not commonly taught in a  school curriculum?  Do they want to do internships or apprenticeships to learn a trade?  Homeschooling may be the answer for you.

The first step is to check your state’s regulations.  If you like what you see, you can prepare yourself and your child(ren) to take the next step.  You will face challenges and negativity along the way, so be armed with research to back up your position when you take your child(ren) out of school.  Many well-meaning, intelligent people are not educated about the differences between socializing and socialization, just to name one issue.  If you have done your research and feel confident homeschooling is the best option for your family, stand firm.  Some will ask about “gaps” in your child’s education.  One way to make a point is to ask the concerned questioner what s/he remembers from school.  That should take care of that.

Children can learn anywhere.  Sitting around a table or at a desk with peers does not guarantee learning.  The first rule of learning is that the information must be meaningful to the student(s).  Since I teach Spanish, let me use that as an example.  Is it necessary for all students to speak Spanish?  No.  Do I think it is an important skill?  Of course!  Could it become meaningful to a student later?  Absolutely.  Many times schools set requirements that do not fit all students, but it’s done to make sure our students have a well-rounded education.  Fair enough, but all students will not find the information I have to share as important as I do.  They may not ever need to speak Spanish.  According to school requirements, however, they must pass the class if they wish to graduate.  What if a student wants to learn Arabic or French or any other language the school doesn’t offer?  As a homeschooled student, any foreign language could count toward graduation.  Schools are sometimes limited by funding and teachers, but a homeschooled student can find resources online or at a community college to fit interests and life goals.  In Nebraska, there are Lakota-speaking people.  It is even offered at the community college.  For my daughter, this is a meaningful class.  It will also be her third language!  She is already fluent in English and Spanish.  Using her as an example, would sitting in my Spanish class for a year be meaningful?  I don’t think so!

Now picture her as a homeschooled student.  She can learn a third language that is meaningful to her and relevant to where we live.  Most parents and teachers will agree that we want well-rounded, life-long learners.  Put that in plain language: we hope students will want to learn new things forever while having a broad base of information.  If students feel “trapped” in a classroom with peers they do not like, how are we planning to accomplish that goal?  Creativity doesn’t have to be sucked out of learning; it can still be fun.  Some of us have forgotten what it’s like to be creative and have fun while still providing opportunities to learn.  Homeschooling can do that!

Ideas for learning opportunities are everywhere.  Surround yourself with intelligent professionals who can teach you and your child new skills.  An internship of two weeks can teach more than a quarter in a class if the learner is motivated and the knowledge is meaningful.  I have a friend who owns a bakery, another raises goats and chickens.  Either friend could certainly impart information to my child.  Will I give them a chance?  You bet!  If my child shows an interest in something, I will seek a way to provide information!

I am trying to pay attention to my daughter’s passions.  She loves to sing and write songs.  I support that, so I bought her a guitar.  She was invited to a cosmetology school’s open house.  She was interested, so I took a day off to get her there.  Yesterday my daughter danced for an hour just because she wanted to.  If she dances several times a week, that certainly could be called physical education!  Good for her!  That’s the beginning of her homeschool journey.  I can’t wait to see how her passions develop now that she has the freedom to explore.  She is no longer limited by a school schedule.  Learning time for her is any time.

Learning time?

Learning time?

Homeschool Possibilities

Homeschooling can be accomplished in many ways. Some families unschool, others use boxed curriculum, many use an eclectic mix of materials. The possible combinations are endless. That’s the beauty of it, in my humble opinion. One curriculum doesn’t have to fit all.

I was brainstorming recently, and I came up with some things that might fit my child’s learning style. In the past we used Saxon Math. She loved it, and so did I. Math is my weak area, so a tutor might be a wonderful resource as well. For other subjects, she could take some dual credit classes either online or on campus at the local community college. There are science videos, tutorials on YouTube and some cool science websites that have great ideas for projects and experiments. Reading lists are available for classics to study for English; some can double as outside readings in history. Virtual tours and Google Earth can provide hours of learning time. Local museums are often overlooked as learning resources, too. In some communities, professional artists (potters, musicians, dancers, etc.) are available and willing to give lessons under the right circumstances. It is common for homeschooling families to trade off some teaching duties. My specialty is Spanish, so I could teach someone else’s kids Spanish while another parent expert taught mine astronomy, for example.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that parents don’t have to break the bank to teach kids at home. Once you start looking, you’ll be amazed at what you find!