Wednesday, March 20, 2013

homeschool: the first few weeks

  I've spent the last few months researching thing I've learned? People become intensely emotional over the subject. Good and bad. It was just yesterday I saw that a well known blogger asked for some information on homeschool, and while she received some great resources and ideas, she also received a couple handfuls of hateful, ignorant, and completely unnecessary comments. 
Let's not do that here. Please respect my choice to teach my kids as I please. Please be respectful to other readers and commenters. Thank you, and you. And you.

she reads. 
all photos from my iphone. 
I have had SO many many many questions about homeschool over the last couple of weeks. This is so funny to me, mostly because.....well......I don't know what I'm doing, let's be honest. 
I thought I'd share my experiences so far, and check in along the way to see how things are going.

Why Homeschool?

Very popular question for me right now.
I first started thinking about it last year, when I had a first grader and preschooler. Nothing terrible had happened at public school (I find this a common question when someone switches over to homeschool), I LOVED the schools my kids were at, and their teachers were fantastic. This year was also a wonderful school year. I really can't imagine my kids having better teachers-- they were learning and growing and loved going to school. I have nothing against public school (at least our school), yet I kept wondering about homeschool. 
I just felt like it was something I would like to try.

And then we decided to move.

I realized what better time to test the waters of homeschool than right now!? It didn't make sense to me to switch my kids schools with only a few months of the school year left. Let's try out homeschool for the rest of the year and see how we all do.....yes let's do that.

What curriculum are you using?
a little of this, a little of that.
Because this is only for a few months, I didn't want to rush out and spend a ton of money on books/workbooks/supplies/etc.
I met with both the kids' teachers before we left and got an idea of where they should be by the end of the year. I was even sent home with some language and math worksheets for my boy to help me finish out the year (so nice!!). I scoured the web for the best deals on books, and was pretty proud of myself when I found a book for a cent! Forty four cents! A couple dollars. Thank you Amazon and for selling used books.
I bought a few workbooks new, and we go to the library weekly for new books to read, and to supplement our History Book (I'm using THIS one--w/ the activity book, and really enjoying it so far).
I'll also rely on the library for Science resources.
NOTE: obviously kindergartners aren't learning history and do very little science, so it's all just a bonus for my Lu right now to get all of this:)

Will you homeschool forever?
Who knows?! So far, so good, we all really enjoy it. That being's been two weeks. I am set on doing what is best for my kids, so we will see where this takes us. I have heard wonderful things about the schools up here, and we are excited to go check them out and see what we think. If I think our little homeschool is a better fit for next year, we may stay  home.....we will just have to see what is best for our family.

We are still very new to this whole thing, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to stay organized and on track. Last week we started out fairly easy with just working on Math, Reading, and Language Arts. This week we added in History, and we are reading together alot more. Next week I'll add in Science. I am trying to incorporate different kinds of art, extra writing, and lots of hands on activities into what we are learning each day.

For example: 
Last week in math we had talked about measurements. Inches, centimeters, and estimating. After lunch one day, we grabbed notebooks, pencils, and rulers and set off on a little hike. The kids measured whatever they wanted to-plants, rocks, animal tracks in the mud, a spider, etc. They had to draw what they measured in their notebook, and write their measurement. 
On another day we went out for a walk through the sticky spring mud. When we got home I had the kids write about all of the "spring things" they saw on our walk. (words and pictures for HER, a few paragraphs for HIM). It's not all that springy here quite yet--but they wrote about all the mud, the birds we saw, the warm sunshine, the bugs. I told them we'd go to the same place in a few more weeks and see how it's changed.....and write about it again.

other bits:
-I like a routine. We get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, read scriptures with daddy before he leaves for work, and then get started. I don't want to drag our feet all morning and start school late.
-I'm exhausted. I've crashed at 9 the last two nights......this is so early for me! I'm still trying to find a balance being mom AND teacher (oh yeah, and getting my house unpacked.)
-I LOVE having them home all day. It makes me so happy when we are eating lunch together.
-I got them journals right before we moved. We write in them every few days--whatever they want to write about (sometimes it's really funny to when he writes "I like to eat pickles".)
-there is waaaay too much information out there. I say this because it is easy to get overwhelmed. I talked to a few people about what THEY do for schooling, and that gave me a starting point for my own research.

I'd love to hear any of your ideas! 
Whether it be activities you do, resources you use, your favorite books......please share. 
I will check in on the subject every now and then to let you know how we are doing, what fun things we are up to, and if I'm pulling my hair out yet.....


Hannah Nicole said...

I don't homeschool but I AM home schooled and I love it. :) There's seven of us kiddos and I'm the oldest (at 16!) and it's such a blessing for me. I love being home and with my family all day (even though sometimes they drive me crazy...but that's every family :), and I'm so grateful for the opportunities that being home schooled has opened. For example, I've been able to run two business (one since I was thirteen, one since I was fifteen), and have had the blessing of so many wonderful opportunities because I've been able to be home and structure my days and invest in what I really want to do at the same time. :)

Olya said...

I can't really write a lengthy coherent comment right now, with toddler on my lap. Just wanted to give you high-fives for giving it a try and keeping an open mind :) There are so many reasons why we homeschool, I wouldn't even know where to begin. Just wanted to let you know that there are some FB and yahoo groups for local homeschooling families. We have get-togethers, field trips and more. Let me know if you need help finding them.

Clandestine Road said...

I have thought about doing this for years. I'm glad it's going well. The Singapore Math is a great program. We do that as a supplement to the kids' school. It's not very rigorous at our school district, to say the least.

I hope it keeps going well. Keep on keepin' on. :)


summer said...

Sheena! Hikes and journals and reading together... I think it's awesome! How fun (and brave) to just jump in. Way to go, all of you! :) Eating lunch together sounds perfect. (Is it nice not to have to pack lunches anymore?!) My sister-in-law homeschools and they take great field trips- visiting local farms and making friends wherever they go. They also have time to do archery lessons, which is rad. My niece is a regular Katniss.

Olya said...

As for the books, the ones that come to mind right now are John Holt's How Children Learn, Learning All the Time, Instead of Education (we are more into unschooling rather than structured homeschooling, but these books are a good read for any type of homeschooling parent), and John Taylor Gatto's Dumbing us down. There a lot more of course, I checked out so many of them from the library back in the day when we were just starting out... There are also some feel-good-about-hs'ing TED talks, like the one by Sir Ken Robinson about schools killing creativity or this one by a smart young man:

There are also pinterest boards full of homeschooling ideas and projects :)

Deborah said...

I can't wait to see where your adventure takes you. I am grateful for a very parent involved elementary school but I toss around the idea of homeschool for our future.

If you need great art lessons/projects here's a great source:

When arts were cut from my kids school a few years ago the parents decided to go in and teach art in the classrooms, it's my favorite way to volunteer at the school. I've so enjoyed putting together these lessons for all kids to enjoy not just the kids in my children's classes.


sarah nadine said...

i was homeschooled, and as that was already 10+ years ago i'm not really sure what curriculum is current right now. when my littles get a bit older, i think i'd like to look into some of the charlotte mason teaching resources. i was also a big fan of wordly wise (etymology), and diana waring history tapes/cds....

my mom always had the attitude, "take each year as it comes, take each day as it comes". when people asked us if we were going to homeschool the next year, we just said we didn't know. my mom was also never afraid to try something new because, if anything, we learned something through the experience!

good luck with your journey and have fun with it! look forward to some follow-up posts :)


Kelly said...

Dear Sheena,
I so hope you don't delete my comment. But I have so enjoyed your blog these last 2 years. It has been enlightening to see a woman promote health, pure eating, exercise, appreciation, random acts of kindness, natures joys, etc.. But the idea that you think your children should be sheltered from the varied cultures that make America scares me. Love all of any religion and don't segerate them into an exclusive club. It seems scary to me and seems so against how I have come to admire you. Different cultures, different lifestyles shouldn't be hid from your kids, but celebrated. I know how scary mainstream life and news is. But make your kids more accepting, not segretated from the varied rich cultures that make this country rich . Pardon my critique. But I so enjoy all of your blog. Your message is universal, not exclusive to your religion. LOVE, LOVE your blog.

Olya said...

Social life and homeschooled kids is a pretty misunderstood subject among people who are not familiar with homeschooling. It basically comes down to this: school life has it's own artificially created culture. There's not much true diversity, as everyone tries to blend in and be accepted among the peers. Spending so much time segregated from people of different ages doesn't help either. So majority of social interaction at schools happens among peers. Homeschooled life can be so much richer than that. We go places, meet people, talk to them, ask questions, do hands-on activities. When we do it with other homeschooled kids, the group usually has kids of different ages. My kids are very social and it feels very natural to them to talk to adults or older folks. When we want to experience different cultures, we just do it. Being homescholed doesn't mean being locked in the house, shielded from life outside. It means more real-life experiences, communication and learning. Not arguing, just offering some insight on a commonly misunderstood aspect of homschooling ;) I'm not saying there aren't families who are deeply religious and homeschool primarily with the purpose of raising children that way. But most homeschoolers I know are very diverse people and their children benefit from experiencing that real life diversity as well.

Amanda Fetters said...

We are in the same boat! We just started homeschooling this week. At first our choice was related to behavioral problems, which ceased pretty much the moment we pulled her out of school. But the more I read and thought and prayed about it, I'm thinking... you know... this might be the way to go anyway. So far it's been an amazing week. My approach has been similar to yours - find something good and run with it. Trying not to get bogged down in all. that. information. I got this book in the mail yesterday and I can't WAIT to use it:

Sara said...

I was homeschooled my entire life and I wouldn't have it any other way! So much freedom and flexibility to have adventures and learn in new ways. Good luck, I'd say you've made a wonderful choice. :)

sheena said...

Kelly--I don't want to comment to argue, I just wanted to clarify.....
I'm not homeschooling to shelter my kids at all. This has never been my intention, and I didn't think I gave off that impression in this post. We had loved our school, and had no problems at all. My reasons for homeschooling NOW, is for the ease and comfort of my kids at this time in our lives. Moving is HUGE on little ones, and it has been a major adjustment in their little lives. To throw them into a new school, and and only have a few months left of the year to adjust to isn't what I wanted to do for them right now. If I continue to homeschool in the future, it's because I feel like it's best for their education. As far as culture and diversity go, like Olya said, there isn't alot of true diversity in public school--maybe in larger cities, but for sure not here. Have you been to Utah? Utah isn't known for it's diversity and culture. I guarantee my kids are exposed to more diversity on one of our roadtrips than their classmates are exposed to in a year of school. Homeschool is misunderstood, and has changed greatly over the years--as has public school. Like Angela said--her own school district isn't very rigorous--she's supplementing her kids' education at home. I think this is awesome--as parents, we do what we need to, and find what fits. Public schools are different all around the country--some great, some terrible-- and I want my kids to have the best schooling they can--even when they are this little. I think you will see one day if you have children you really do seek out ALL opportunities to make sure that your kids have what is best for them. Before I had kids I NEVER even thought homeschool would be an option for me, but things change.

Lindsay said...

Wow. Thank you for this. My baby boy isn't anywhere near kindergarten, but it is inspiring to me nonetheless. I would love to do what you're doing and it makes me realize that even though he isn't kindergarten age, I can still teach my 15 month old little things and spend the day in fun learning. Keep it up and please post some more when you get a chance about the experience. I would love some more specific ideas of hands-on learning like the measuring lesson. So beautiful!

Sarah said...

Love this! I think what you are doing makes perfect sense. I think each Mother knows just what their children need at each stage of their life.
Next week Katie goes into surgery and I will get a taste of what home schooling feels like as she recovers. I am looking forward to having her home and being her teacher for a few weeks. I have always been fascinated by home schooling and am excited to hear more about your school adventures. I hope that you will continue to write about them. Sending love and SO many high fives!!!

Jenny D. said...

I have been doing lots of reading and research the past few months because I too have felt this lingering feeling that I need to at least give homeschooling a shot. We have had to move a lot -- my oldest is in 5th grade and has been in 5 different elementary schools. Until now, I have not been in a position to even consider homeschooling as an option but now I am. And we are about to move, again, so I feel like this is the opportunity I have been waiting for. I LOVE the book "The Well-Trained Mind" by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. This book has become my main resource. It's pretty big so just read the sections that apply. Chapter 36 is all about socialization and was a very enlightening read, lots of things I hadn't even considered. I can't recommend that book enough.

Rachelle said...

I love this. I know I'd like to try homeschool sometime in the future but I'm not sure when. I still have a very funny little girl who doesn't like her mom helping her. I worry it wouldn't be the right time to begin. Plus I feel so overwhelmed with a newborn again. I am surprised at how much I LOVE Daphne's kindergarten teacher. She's awesome. I hope we have a good first grade teacher as well.

You're doing awesome Sheena. Can't wait to hear more!!

camandholls said...

I bet you are an awesome teacher. Seriously, if anyone can do it, it’s you. I’m so excited to hear more about your new adventure! How fun to have them home too! My kids are only 14 months and I’m already dreading sending them to school…

Li + Belle said...

This is very interesting for me. I live in Germany and there are no homeschool. That is not allowed, there is compulsory education
for everyone aged seven.
One would not send his child to school in order to teach it to yourself, then the police would come and you'd have to answer to a court.
The German school system is running some good, some very bad. Especially the pressure for ages 9 increases enormously, so that one from about 10 years can attend a regular high school. This is not good for children, but in Germany there is no other way.
So it's nice for me to see that in other countries, other ways are gone. Paths are also possible, and that lead to a similar destination.

Julia said...

My mom had us journal for part of our school too. :) I still have those journals old journals, and I still keep one to write in on hand now. :)

Homeschooling is definitely a hot spot for some people. It makes me sad when people react in such a negative way when I tell them I was taught at home. I loved the experience. It made me so close to my siblings and to my parents, and I feel like I got a really great education from it.

I have been graduated for a while now, but when I was homeschooled we used Abeka. I really liked that curriculum!

I think a cool aspect to homeschooling is getting involved in homeschool groups. You can go on field trips with these groups or have weekly outings or "nature days." Makes learning fun!

Unknown said...

Congrats on homeschooling. I taught my boys at home until they made the decision in 10 th grade to go to our local high school and they have thrived. I loved it and it was a benefit to us all. God taught me a lot through this as well. Go with your gut on this and keep other voices at bay.

AnnaKate said...

I'm a seventeen year old gal who's been homeschooled all her life and let me tell you-- it's awesome. I am so thankful for my mom's perserverance with me, even through highschool. I truly love doing school at home, spending so much time with my family, and getting to select much of my curriculum. We're not "free-schooled" by any means, and my mom has basically handed everything off to me now and I'll graduate this December. It's been so exciting to be so involved in my own education and, well, learn to learn on my own. Cheers for being brave and trying it out! I hope that this testimony from a girl who actually survived homeschooling and lived to LOVE the tale will encourage you1

Becky said...

I have the Mortensen Math Manipulatives.I am all out of the books but you can create your own problems for them to solve. They are great. My husband and I used to sell them to all the homeschoolers and some private schools also. But I don't have much left. My kids used it when they were younger and some of my grandchildren use it now.It makes it fun for the kids to learn. You can teach them Arithmetic, Algebra, measurement, problem solving, Calculus and etc. through kingergarten up to high school with these. If you are interested I will give you a good deal. They are new ones. My number Becky Rasmussen 801-561-3603 for the old ward.

Unknown said...

I'm graduating high school this year and have been home schooled (though recently mostly live online classes) all my life, and can definitely say it has been a wonderful thing. Being able to have freedom to learn what we want to learn, at our own pace, and do our own thing has really been wonderful. Good luck in it all!

Lady of Perpetual Chaos said...

I've had homeschooling in the back of my mind for the last few years and it's not really out of the question if I feel my girls would be better off being homeschooled. I "home pre-schooled" both for a year and it was a great experience. I've heard a lot of great things about the K-12 program which tests at the end of the year to make sure you're kids are on track. I have to admit that keeping my girls home with me and teaching them in such a hands on way is so appealing! Good luck!

Sari (the alpaca friend from J's old class)

Unknown said...

You sound like you are having fun! We love the Magic School bus Science kits! I request them for Christmas even. We usually get the books that go along with them from the library and watch the show if they have it. The boys love doing them!

Dorothy Sadowsky said...

I found your blog through a "green juice" google search! After checking out your juice recipe and then I noticed your homeschooling post. I've been homeschooling for 6 years now. They are both in highschool now. I chose to go with a virtual homeschool called CAVA that uses the K12 curriculum. It's basically a public on-line school which means it's free. I chose it because I know my capabilities and being organized it not one of them. It's an option for you. Good Luck!

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