10 Reasons Why We Homeschool

It’s no secret here. I love homeschooling! As I reflect back over the past 18 years of our homeschool journey, I have to admit that I really have never had any naysayers or unsupportive people questioning our choice to home educate our children. I know this is not the case for many of my homeschool peers, yet I do believe the homeschool stigma is slowly dissolving. In my particular case, I think that my confidence to choose to homeschool is what avoided negativity around me. We don’t have to have all the answers or even know what we are doing, because that will all come over time. We do, however, need to know why we’re choosing to follow a different path towards educating our children.

10 Reasons Why We Homeschool

  1. God inspired– We felt led to follow scripture and take “Train up the child in the way they should go” literally. We should initiate instructions, guide behaviors, develop self control, and build responsible moral character. In other words, we felt led to educate our own children as we prayed and sought answers on what would be best for our kids.
  2. Best option for usit’s a lifestyle decision. No longer did I desire to rush around every morning, no matter how well organized I was, frantically finding that one missing shoe, shoving breakfast at my child, diffuse meltdowns because a favorite shirt isn’t clean, and discover last minute homework assignments, all the while pushing them out the door to be on time. Can I admit one of my favorite all time things about homeschooling is calm carefree mornings, focused structure midday, and creative afternoons.
  3. Freedom to choosewhat is best for our kids. No more slowing our quick learners down or rushing a child who needs more time to process things. The freedom to allow our kids to work at the their individual maturity and ability levels has been our biggest game changer. No holding back or pushing our kids, but letting them go at the pace that they best operate at. This builds a solid foundation and creates limitless learning opportunity.
  4. I’m a No Drama Mama– I have no desire for my kids to play the comparison game, put up with gossip, or deal with bullying. Life will be hard enough to handle as adults but they don’t need to endure these things as children. Yes, these things will still happen, but as a learning objective rather than a daily dose of drama to digest.
  5. FlexibilityI’m a control freak. I absolutely love choosing a schedule that works best for my family. We start school a month earlier that our public schooled peers, and get out of school a month earlier. We love that. I’ve chosen 9 week quarters with the following 2 weeks off. We don’t take government issued holidays off which affords us to enjoy our 2 weeks off between quarters. I will claim sick days as needed as well as mental health days (which mainly is “wow, our house is really unruly, everybody gets to clean today” so that mom can maintain her sanity). I’ll even throw in a teacher inservice day if we need to regroup some purpose and direction. I like me deciding these things, not a government issued calendar.
  6. Time to explore– Because we limit our independent studies to the core foundation of reading, writing, and doing math (approximately 3 hours), this leaves us room in our day to follow rabbit trails of learning and discover new interests. Sometimes it’s together as a family like with history and science related things, and other times it’s things that become hobbies like fitness training, drawing, photography, etc… I love that each child gets the time to discover themselves better.
  7. Family Connection– less distractions outside the home equals more connection in the home. My kids were gone 9 hours a day when they were in public school. They were the first stop on the way to school and the last stop on the way home. I didn’t have kids so that someone else could raise them. period.
  8. Learning Styles– What a beautiful opportunity to let each child work within their learning style. I’ve had one student rise early and whip out his school work before his siblings even woke up so that he could explore other interests the rest of the day. Some of my kids learn better kinetically where as other are totally visual. Basically we work with their strengths while building their weaknesses.
  9. Our Own Daily Rhythm– We are a late night family. Commonly, midnight is our bedtime. We love it. It works for us. My two youngest sons like slow mellow mornings and are great to go in the afternoon for their independent studies. We frequently enjoy history, geography, and poetry before bed. Drawing and more literature reading are added in for kicks if we’re really in a good rhythm. Selfishly, I actually enjoy my early mornings to myself!
  10. We like each other- yes, that is actually one of the reasons that we homeschool. I recognize that we tend to stand out a bit for being a bigger family, but more so because we actually enjoy each others company. Oh, for sure we have some bickering and nit-picking on some days (typically with the pre-teen/early teen age range), but over all, as half my kids are now grown, we still find time to hang out atleast weekly with each other. Most of us on the daily still. I find it a glorious blessing.

So in a journey where we are no longer counting up the years of homeschooling, but rather are now counting down, with only six more years to go, I seem to treasure each year just a little bit more. Providing a home-based education is not always easy, but either is parenting, yet we do it. I have no regrets, and a whole lot of joy in the journey!

High School Grades and Transcripts; Homeschool Style

TRANSCRIPTS:
They do the work; they deserve the credit.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It’s not hard to have your high schooler be homeschooled. To be honest, these are my favorite years of the homeschooling adventure. I have been mentoring other homeschoolers for over a decade now, and guidance needed for grades and transcripts come up often. So how does it work?

Let’s talk Credits

The average expectation is around 22 credits to earn a diploma.
4 credits English composition (language arts/literature)
3 credits math, science, and history (social science)
although we aim for 4 credits in those latter subjects.
This leaves between 6 to 9 credits to fill in with electives.
I suggest penciling in ideas because interests and opportunities will change through the years of the process.

So how do we know a credit has been earned?
Basically, a credit is between 120 and 180 hours
For simplicity purpose, I just go with 180 hours.
Why? The average days of school are 180 hours so it just makes sense (to us) to require approximately an hour per day towards these core subjects.

180 days = 36 weeks = one year of school
18 week semesters = 2 semesters = one year
9 week quarters = 4 quarters = one year
Personally, we plan out in NINE week quarters; it’s what works for us.

Requirements

Basic requirements are often what you are already doing to meet your local homeschool laws in your state. Typically this is science, math, history (social studies), literature and composition (writing). This is the core of any high school transcript. The basic foundation is to offer these courses all four years of high school. If you are aiming towards college, then I would recommend a foreign language as well.

Life Skills

It is wise to include credits that enhance success in life.  Obviously, this varies based on family morals and what your family values.  For us, Bible, economics, survival skills, house maintenance, and car mechanics are all included. These are subjects that us parents find valuable and require from our kids.

Self-led Interests

These are the years for your teen to discover themselves.  Who they are, where they thrive at, what strengths they have, and how to improve weaknesses. Letting them explore personal interests creates character and promotes self confidence. When we become flexible in this area, it becomes an avenue of unlimited learning. Definitely utilize these interests into your students elective courses.

A few of the electives my kids have explored is Photography, fitness training, French, Current Events, Culinary Arts, dance, early childhood education, human development, media editing, and fine arts. Enjoy seeing your kids explore new interests as they arise knowing all the while that rabbit trails of learning will open up and expand as they dive into it.

What about grades?

For our homeschool family, not doing the work is not an option, so failing is pretty non-existent here. We are a bit unique in our grading style because 50% of the grade is on the actual work completed, the other 50% is based off of their attitude and effort.
*To just do the work competently and well is an easy A.
*To need a reminder to do your work once in awhile but the attitude is good would deem a B.
*To remind them and have them balk about it, but still do it earns a C (but honestly, that is rare). Who wants to have a crummy grade on their transcript because they were sassy with their mom? Not my kids. ha ha. I figure this just helps them prepare for the adult world of the work force.  A good attitude and great effort make for a good employee as well as employer… along with anything else in life they strive to do!

As a result, grades and transcripts are not complicated. So go ahead and do what works for you and your own homeschool students.  If you feel you would benefit from more detailed ideas I would recommend someone who mentored me years ago when I was first approaching this topic.

Lee Binz   , the HomeScholar, is very down to earth lady packed full of tons of knowledge and info.  We are pretty lucky that she will be one of the workshop speakers at our local OCEANetwork Homeschool Conference this year here in Oregon on June 28th & 29th.  Come join me if you can!!

Embrace the homeschool high school years and enjoy the journey!  It’s always an adventure to be a homeschooler!

 

 

Daily Rhythm for multi-ages

Let’s face it.  Raising kids is a busy process. Whether we’re tired or not, the whir of chaos type energy abounds, seemingly like it’s endless! Am I right? Each age and stage has it’s own version of busyness. Put multi-ages in one home and mayhem can ensue. Meals, organization, activities, chores, and attitudes can be mixed to a frenzy if we’re not careful. However, it is possible to have a smooth flow to our days. It does take effort to choose to be intentional.

DAILY RHYTHM

I have found that the larger the family dynamics, the less a strict schedule works for us because, let’s face it, motherhood forces us to be flexible. Creating a rhythm is a must though. A rhythm helps the home to run more smoothly, kids to behave better, and my sanity to stay intact.

So what is a rhythm? It is figuring out a flow of consistent movement that helps your days be more purposeful. Obviously, the dynamics of each home is different. Personally, I take a look at the youngest members of the home first.

I choose to create a visual rhythm chart to post on our wall to keep us on track.

We have 3 main components. Rest, work, play.
Think about us adults.  Ideally, we sleep 8 hours, we work 8 hours, then we have 8 hours of “free” time to do life. Kids can have similar patterns in smaller increments.

In my home, the babies routine is looked at first. My 1st step is to pencil in the babies nap times, then block out space for quiet time for the rest of us. I think it’s healthy to establish quiet times for all ages, to teach kids how to rest and regroup. The 2nd step is to decide work and play patterns. For kids, learning is work. Movement and creativity is play.

Here is what we include in our DAILY RHYTHM

Babies
eat, sleep, play, eat sleep, play
First time playing is free play with toys on the floor, to explore the space around them.
Second time playing is intentional with songs and finger plays, working with large and small motor skills.

Younger Kids (ages 2-6ish)
Table Time- (work) For small motor skills and cognitive development. This includes such things as coloring, play dough, puzzles, legos, etc… This takes more focus and I often keep it down to a 30 min session.

Floor Fun- (play) This is intended for imagination play.  This includes one choice per day of toys like Magnatiles, Lincoln Logs, Bristle Blocks, Tinker Toys, etc… Because my kids are use to arranged play times, they will easily play for an hour. A child who has not been taught structure will need time to build their attention span, starting in 15 minute increments. I suggest open ended play toys versus toys that already do things for them with busy bells and whistles. We want our kids to be able to process their imagination to create ideas.

Discovery Time- (work) This is our learning hour. The younger the child, the simpler the activities; the older the chid, the more details I’ll require. I’ll admit this isn’t necessarily an age focus as much as a maturity and ability factor. The basic outline for this hour is a story, song, snack, and craft that compliment a specific topic which is most likely based off a weekly theme. It’s all about exploring through the 5 senses.

Outdoor Explore- (play) This benefits gross motor skills. It improves balance, agility, and strength. I often encourage activities that include team work. We spend some time doing outdoor games that compliment our indoor learning, and then the kids are free to run and play freestyle. All kids need fresh air and movement.  Let them play!

Chores- (work) If the can walk, they can be helpers. We always tidy up one are before moving on the the next project. I love this age because the can learn to take pride in taking care of things. My littles know where toys belong and love to wash things when they can. If they spill something, they clean it up promptly. Quite honestly, it is common to need to remind these little ones to let the other little ones clean their own space because the are so eager to be helpful.

Older kids (ages 7ish+)
This age is flexible as I consider the older kids schedule to be based off of reading fluency. Fluent readers begin the journey of independent learning. When it comes to adding this age to our daily rhythm, I keep this in mind. They are able to focus better and explore more in depth any lessons we may be implementing. I also include more chores as they get older. The younger kids clean up after themselves whereas the older kids begin to do chores that benefit the household as a whole. These kids also earn more “free” time because they can use their time wisely to choose self-led interests to explore.

Here is an example of this summer’s Daily Rhythm

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{Photo note: D.E.A.R. means Drop Everything And Read (just read)
Journals can include thoughts, made up stories, or something they may have read about.  This includes adding illustrations.}

In summary, I want to emphasize that the effectiveness of our rhythm lies solely on how prepared we choose to be. A little bit of planning and prepping goes a long way in helping our days run more smoothly. Kids thrive on routines and will truly lean on the structure if only we don’t get lackadaisical. So let’s allow our days to be intentional and embrace our time with our kids! Enjoy the journey!

Got Teens? Enjoy the Journey

I get it. I acknowledge it.  I am one of the lucky ones.

We are down to our 5th teen (out of 6 kids), and I can absolutely say the teen years have been the best part of our parenting journey. I admit that we’ve skated past some big crises, and that communication (and much prayer) are a contributing factors. I also know that my super power is talking to teens, although some would argue that teaching toddlers is my greatest influence. Well, let’s face it. There’s not much difference between toddlers and teens; they want to be heard, they’re convinced they know it all, they want to be in control, and they want it now. Regardless of that all, the most important factor in it all is for us parents to be intentional.

Parenting isn’t easy. We are spending years of our lives investing into shaping and molding morals and character into our children only to discover morals and character have actually shaped us in the process.

If I were to offer one piece of advice to parents, it is this:

“Be willing to listen to your kids when they are young
and they will be willing to listen to you when they are older.”

Why does that matter? Because they don’t care how much we know unless we’ve invested time into letting them know how much we care. Parenting is an action. It is a choice. It is meant to be intentional. Much like our Father in Heaven desires a relationship with us, we are designed to desire a relationship with our children. The typical pattern of this process of childhood, from our experience, is that the early years (age 0-6) are for nurturing, the middle years (age 7-13) are for guiding, and the remaining teen years are for mentoring them.

Let our children feel safe and secure (nurture), teach them rules and boundaries (guidance), then let them flourish into who God wants them to be.  All the while knowing that they will still need encouragement and sound advice (mentor).  And when it comes to these teen years, you will do yourself a huge favor to listen to your teens over alllll the small stuff they are going through, and in turn, they will be more likely to share the big stuff they’re facing.

So, are you going to choose to be intentional by listening well and paying attention? Invest time into your teens and you will be blessed.  Enjoy the journey!

New Year, New Me

Welcome to 2019!

For me, this fresh new year isn’t about changing me, but simply just allowing myself to be me.

Last year’s resolution was to NOT have a weight loss goal for THIS year!  Well, I dropped 30 lbs over the past 12 months.  It’s not overly ambitious, but definitely more comfortable!   I admit part of the accomplishment was and is not gaining it back.  Other victories of 2018 included overcoming 2 back-to-back knee injuries, facing depression, trusting the process of functional fitness, and learning to love from a state of rest.  I took advantage of this past year to just pause.  To accept calm moments; to breathe in peace.  Now in 2019, it is time to exhale JOY!

My One Little Word for this year:

~épanoui~
(ee-pawn-wee)
Blooming, joyful, radiant

Over the years, I’ve tried to tone down how God has created me.  It is often implied that I talk too much, and that I’m too happy, yet I am beginning to finally realize that is not always a bad thing.  There is so much truth to admit that I am often silly, overflowing with joy, and abundantly love others.  This year I intend to embrace what comes so natural to me.  It is my year to bloom.

She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come. 
Proverbs 31:25

Dear Christian Homeschool Mom, Welcome to your Mission Field

Welcome to your mission field!!
Where your heart at home matters!!

We are called as Christians to the Great Commission.
Matthew 28:16-20

Let us not forget the importance of displaying this effort in the home first.  We must build a firm foundation where we are at.  It may take years.  It may be your only main mission field.  It may be a strong platform towards other missions that you will be called to.  Sometimes the very ones that are closest to us are the ones who get stepped over and past in the pursuit of doing great things for the intent of God’s glory.

Let us remember to love and nurture in the home, and with that connection expand our mission field.   After all, who is the church but us as individual followers of Christ?  How are the nations reached but by each individual person?  Let us serve in practical ways, beginning first, in our home.  So with that in mind, what does your current mission field, er home, look like?  How is our gentleness?  Are we living our faith out loud in front of our children?  Is our discipline punishment or guidance?  Are we quick to admit our own mistakes, and ask forgiveness when needed?  How do we interact with our spouse?  That matters.  I didn’t say this would be easy.  However, it is worth it!!  It is important, and we, as a Christian Homeschool Mom, are a valuable part of setting the Great Commission up for purpose.  Cultivating hearts at home is such a worthy calling!  Your heart at home truly matters!  So carry on, be awesome, and go and make disciples, starting in your home first.

Hello Summer!

We just wrapped up our 17th year of homeschooling!

I love our learning days,
yet when summer comes ’round,
there’s just a whole new breath of fresh air to be taken.

Simple summers are a beautiful thing!

 

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Our family doesn’t do summer sports, no day camps, no overnight camps, and we pick one VBS to attend.  In general, we will set aside one day a week for any scheduled activities or meet ups with friends.

We do create a rhythm to our days; a routine, of sorts, to flow with.
Responsibilities, rest, and recreational activities that collide with resourcefulness.

After parenting for so long, I’m acutely aware of how fast these summer days go fleeting by.  I don’t want to be so busy going to things that we miss building relationships.  So we will be mostly enjoying the fresh breeze of our 2 acres as we embrace low key mornings, midday swims in the hot sun, and explore self-led interests in the cool of our basement.  I ain’t gonna lie, I’m very much looking forward to lazy care free days.  Happy summer ya’all!

 

 

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“So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.”
Romans 14:19