Monday, March 26, 2012

Only an Option For The Wealthy? Nonsense!

I came across this article in Newsweek about homeschooling. What I wanted to respond to was the comments.

Over and over, I saw the refrain, "Homeschooling is only a viable option for affluent, 2 parent households, because one parent needs to stay home to school the kids."


I am a single, working mother.  I homeschool.  I have made it work.  Oh, and I am far from rich.  Far, far from rich.

In today's world, I don't see any reason for a mother to have to leave her kids at home to work at a job 8 hours a day, 5 days a week.  There are too many options these days to work at home, or create a flex time position, or work graveyards. Even if Mom does have to work outside the home, with support from the community and her child care providers, she can still successfully homeschool. 

I work from home as a bookkeeper and virtual assistant.  I work outside the home a few hours a day, but not much.  Schoolwork is set the night before, and sometimes the kids stay up late in their rooms to do it, other times they get up early and get it done.  Total daily time on formal lessons?  Less than 2 hours.  We're done before lunch, and then I get to shoo them outside to play (PE!) for the rest of the day while I work.

Since I don't work outside the home every day, I don't have to drive as often, nor do I have to have expensive business clothing and shoes.  I can also plan and prepare meals, which keeps the grocery bill low.  I do work about 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. 

My son attends Cub Scouts, and my daughter is in ballet, jazz, and modern dance at a local studio.  I do the books for the studio to pay for her dance.  Both kids attend a math learning center - again, paid for with trade work (yup, I do their books too). 

We love hitting yard sales, and were delighted to find a student microscope at a yard sale for $10.  They have examined almost anything you can put on a slide and are constantly looking for new things to examine.

Kids love to learn.  They want to learn, as long as that love of learning isn't killed.  I put my focus on reading, writing, math, grammar, history, and language, and more or less get out of the way for the rest.

Khan Academy offers a huge number of no-cost videos and self-test, mostly on math and science.  I log them in and let them go to it.  They love it.

If you want to teach your kids at home, there is always an option.  Always.  It may involve some creative thinking, but there are options.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Discovering the Joy of Reading

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”   ― C.S. Lewis

I love reading.  There is nothing more wonderful than a good book.  And I am excited to see that Mercedes has suddenly also found the joy of reading.  She's reading the Little House series (she calls it "The Little Books") and so I told her I would purchase them for her as she goes along.

The fun part is that I get to re-read them too!  I have always loved those books.

She's also got the Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter series, the Borrowers, and several others that I loved as a child and still love as an adult.

We hate textbooks - what idiot thought it would be a good idea to give kids a chapter of a great book and call it good?  We read books.  Real books!

I am so excited to see the kids loving to read!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

This Is My Joy!

What joy it is to see my kids learning!  Yesterday, I caught Mercedes helping Jared with his math work.  They were sitting on the couch, and she was teaching him.  Not only are they learning math, but they are developing a relationship that will last for a lifetime and beyond. 

Of course, this was after I was helping her figure out a problem that involved figuring out how many cookies were eaten at a party.  There were 8 boxes of 12 cookies brought.  How many were brought?  Her answer: "8 dozen."  Can you tell she likes to bake?  LOL!

I am so excited as history progresses.  We are reaching the important developments that lead to the American Revolution.  They are enjoying their reading, which excites me to no end.  I keep telling them there is so much to learn, so much to figure out, so much to find! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What To Teach?

We can get too easily bogged down in the academic part of homeschooling, a relatively minor part of the whole, which is to raise competent, caring, literate, happy people. ~ Diane Flynn Keith

I am excited as I watch my children blossom into the kind of people I enjoy being around.  They enjoy learning, appreciate others, and are well mannered.  Jared opens doors and does chores without being asked; Mercedes shows tremendous responsibility and trustworthiness far beyond her years.  They often help each other with their school work.  Mercedes is preparing to babysit.  Jared is preparing for his Eagle scout (he's 9 - at this point it's simply setting the goal). 

What do you teach when you homeschool?

I focus on the 3Rs - Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmatic.  We do a lot of history, both reading and by watching documentaries on YouTube (gotta love the Internet for curriculum!).  Now that we're coming up on the American Revolution, we're discussing the factors that lead to the Revolution and how they apply today. 

I also teach home management skills.  People don't seem to do this, but as a working homeschooling mother I cannot do what I do without my children's help.  We work with chore charts and establish routines that will serve them for years to come.  The kids help with laundry, cooking, menu planning, mending, vacuuming - and we discuss what laundry hampers are for (I've decided that the inability to use a hamper is on the Y chromosome...).  Why is it important to keep our home neat and tidy? 

We read - a lot.  Jared is currently reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Mercedes is reading Little House on the Prairie.  Both of these are favorites of mine, so I know when they haven't been reading.   

We're adding Spanish and French to the curriculum as well, as their father is Mexican (and his parents speak no English) and we have a friend who is a native speaker of French and German. 

I don't do much with the computer, other than locating accurate historical videos.  I find it is much more important to lay the foundation properly - literacy is much more vital than computer use. 

We do handwriting and copy work.  The time may come when they won't have access to a PC or smartphone - but they will always be able to write.

You see, I'm not raising "superkids."  I'm raising competent adults, who wont' be living in my basement.  I choose what I teach with that in mind.  If they like to learn, are well mannered, and interact well with the rest of society (not just their age groups), the rest is easy....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Can You Homeschool As A Working Mother?

"I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves."  - Joseph Smith, Jun

YES! YES! YES!  In fact, if your child is over 8 and you're spending more than an hour or two a day actively working with them on "school" subjects, you're doing too much. 

Kids inherently want to learn.  You really can't keep them from learning.  And they really like it when they *get* a new concept.  

Math and history are the only "subjects" we spend a lot of "teaching" time on.  Notice the quote marks....Math does tend to be learned in a vacuum, sort of separated from other subjects.  History - well, it's a story.  So for history I read them a story, and then encourage them to read other books from the library.  Science?  I cover it along with history and math, often with trip to the planetarium or the Bean Life History Museum at BYU, or one of the other wonderful museums in the area.  Since I'm in Utah, I get the joy of having many resources available through the many universities. 

The best way to teach at home, I think, is to teach them HOW TO LEARN.  The most oft heard sentences at my house are the ones where I'm encouraging them to think instead of looking to me as the fount of all knowledge.  Although I am brilliant (LOL!), I still want the kids to think for themselves.  :)

Sunday, May 15, 2011


I'm spending some time this week planning with the kids.  What do they want to do (if they know)?  How is their education coming along?  Where are the areas we need to work on? 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Did anyone struggle with Daylight Savings Time?

We didn't.  We did what we always do - set the clocks forward, then relaxed.  We went to bed a little earlier, and woke up when our bodies told us to.  (OK, so I got up earlier - I do have obligations outside the home.)

The only screaming was from my public-schooled grandson.  Ironically, there was no school today.

The kids got up as usual, maybe a little later according to the clock, did their schoolwork after being prompted, and went outside to play.

Gotta love it.