Monday, August 29, 2011

Today's Lessons

Just to give you an idea as to our work load for a day, today is a random day and we'll talk a bit about what is going on in the house. 

John wakes up first, begins working on lessons I have placed on the table for him last night. I awaken shortly later, he brings everything into my room. Together we worked on math (Saxon 7/6, lesson 45). He used a science article to practice using context to understand the meaning of new words. We watched a Christian movie on Netflix called "Icons on Evolution", talking about creation science. (Hey, you've got to know what they're saying, right?!) John was appalled at the bad science in that one. It's hours later and he is still steaming about the ridiculous claims in that film.

Next he did more math, learned some current events with me at the computer, and learned about Buddhism.

That's over four hours of work for him. In the middle, he took a break and played in the sprinkler on the trampoline.

Elizabeth is learning about the various cabinet members in the US Cabinet (LOTS of work there), practicing writing basic Korean characters, Saxon Algebra Lesson 14, reading in "Things Come Apart", cellular biology, and watching a couple of TEDtalks on theater. Hers is well over four hours, she is about half way through that at this point.
And now, as she is listening to John go on and on about the film, she wants to watch it too.  LOL

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An "A" Primer

I don't know if it's ALL a fact, but I thought this was cool and I wanted to pass this on.
I wish I could print it out...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mission: Podcasts

I've been listening to the podcasts of this couple. The podcast is described thusly:

Welcome to Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, the show where we don’t just report on spirituality, fringe science and the paranormal (from a scientific, evidence-based standpoint), but dive right in by joining religions, attending spiritual events, undergoing “alternative” treatments, partaking in paranormal investigations, and more. At Oh No, Ross and Carrie!, we show up, so you don’t have to. Each episode deals with a single topic in a twenty-to-forty minute segment. Our website also features web exclusives including interviews and bloopers. Join us as we ask tough questions, explore the nature of belief, and always find the humor in life’s biggest mysteries.

I've been, specifically, listening to the LDS podcasts. First of all, this is a pretty sweet couple of friends. They get along well and are very respectful to one another and to the issues in general.
I would welcome your thoughts on any of the podcasts.
I like their honesty and integrity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Basic Wonderfulness

Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. 
Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, 
is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, 
therefore it doesn’t do any good 
to try to get rid of our so-called negative aspects, 
because in that process we also 
get rid of our basic wonderfulness.

~ Pema Chodron

You are Amazing (and Beautiful and Intelligent!)

While reading two other blogs, I came across this exercise in feeling GOOD about myself and decided to give it a go as another in an ongoing series of blog posts containing TMI.

She, at asks the reader:

Really, have you looked at yourself lately? 
Have you taken a moment to consider your many amazing qualities?

The blog goes on and asks us to fill in the following so we will:

...remember that you, the unique and remarkable you, are an amazing person...

1. Make a list of five amazing, beautiful physical qualities about yourself. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I look good for my age” or “I have nice legs for an overweight person“). You have at least five beautiful things about you, I guarantee. If you can’t see them immediately, this is your opportunity to search for them. Find those five amazing things about your appearance and list them.
  • I have great, natural fingernails.
  • I have a nice and frequent smile.       ...erm, this is harder than it looks...
  • I have nice, clean teeth.
  • I have good, clear skin.
  • My hair is healthy.
2. Make a list of five amazing things about your mind. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I’m smart for someone who never finished college“). You have at least five incredible things going on up your head. If you can’t think of them immediately, this is your chance to discover them. Find those five amazing things about your mind and list them.

  • I love to learn and I am enthusiastic about new ideas.
  • I am a "community builder" as I love bringing people together.
  • I am great with words and language.
  • I have good ideas and, generally, think 'outside of the box'
  • I have a good sense of humor.
3. Make a list of five amazing things you have accomplished. Don’t couch them in an insult (“I’ve accomplished a lot for someone with children“). You have accomplished at least five spectacular things in your life. If they don’t spring immediately to mind, take this time to remember them. Find those five amazing accomplishments and list them.
  • I earned a masters degree as well as an advanced license in my field of training.
  • I gave birth to two healthy, brilliant, talented children
  • I educated myself on many things and worked to bring myself from the darkness to the life I have today.
  • I create and carry out events and activities for many people.
  • I am a peaceful, non-sarcastic mother who has AMAZING relationships with my children, YES, even the teenaged daughter, and I'm passing healthy messages on to my wonderful and loving children.

What a great way to realize that I don’t always have to have “auto-negative-comments” on when I talk to myself.  I hope, if you can use it, you do this same list for yourself!
And, if you do, post it someplace you can see it whenever you can use a hand up.

Friday, August 12, 2011

You Know You are a Homeschool Dad When...

  • You buy your wife a new printer or other office supplies for her birthday...and she's HAPPY.
  • Your dinner table becomes the science lab in less than five seconds.
  • Your family vacation includes museums, astronomy, and rock collecting...and the kids are GLAD.
  • You are the school lunch lady.
  • You have more books in the living room than the library has on all of their shelves...and you can't move them!
  • The kids point out historical inaccuracies while watching "Dr. Who".
  • You report dinner time discussions on Facebook.
  • Your son asks for a lathe for Christmas.
  • Half of your salary goes to memberships to local museums, zoos, and libraries.
  • Your daughter calls you names in Korean and you have no idea what she is saying.
  • You contribute to the education of your offspring every time you upgrade an electronic.
  • You watch documentaries on rainy days.
  • Time with your children often occurs under the night sky, at a pond, or in a tent.
  • Your wife takes "time outs" daily.
  • You bring home unused paper from the office to be used for printing lessons.
  • When people ask you about socialization, you just laugh!
  • Your family is still on their PJs at dinner time.
  • You are proud of your little "Class Clown", "Class Dunce", and "Class Valedictorian" and they are all the same child.
  • You open the refrigerator for a snack and find a science project.
  • YOU dress up as a literary character on Halloween.
  • Your family vacations are in September.
  • Your family disappears on field trips with little or no warning.
  • Your children are cooking a lesson
  • You introduce yourself as "Elizabeth and John's Dad".
  • Your children are THRILLED when you share your hobby with their friends.
  • Your kids invite you to play games with they and their friends.
  • You can kiss your children's teacher.
  • Your children never stop asking "why" and "What if..."
  • You get to join the kids for "gym".
  • Your children request BOOKS as gifts.
  • You budget "library fines" into the books.
  • Your wife "forgets" to primp for the day.
  • Your kids have Mozart on their iPod
  • You get your way with the kids by threatening to kiss the teacher.
  • Your child is saving his or her allowance for a terrarium.
  • When your family goes out to buy school clothes, they return home with new, comfy pajamas.
  • Your children never hear the words, "Wait until your Dad gets home"...unless they are planning to do something fun!
  • Curriculum money gets spent online, at garage sales, at Goodwill, and at local entertainment centers.
  • You watch your wife homeschooling herself.
  • Parent-teacher conferences occur daily.
  • You come home to find your family under the like the nomads.
  • You consider waking the kids up from a sleep because Neil DeGrasse Tyson is on TV.
  • Your family purposefully grows mold.
  • You and the children often discuss the physics of cartoons.
  • "Mythbusters" is played on "Family Night".
  • Your children are doing their own research on upcoming purchases.
  • Your children quote Shakespeare.
  • Your family doesn't take "snow days".  They take "Great Weather Days".
  • Your children can't say the "Pledge of Allegiance".
  • Your family considers arguments "lessons on interpersonal relations".
  • Your wife considers curriculum fairs foreplay.
  • You consider "Mom's Night Out" as money well spent.
  • You leave the kids at home alone and they watch a documentary and play a game together.
  • You can tell how the lessons went by looking around the house.
  • ...And by how quickly your wife grabs her keys when you walk in.
  • You have made butterbeer in your own kitchen.
  • You get to sit with a cup of tea and your wife and talk about books.
  • You are also a teacher.
  • You are constantly restocking, resupplying, and reusing materials.
  • You pay taxes to support the local schools AND you provide materials for your homeschooling family.
  • You have learned the art of creative teaching.
  • You have promised your wife that you will never again utter the words, "I can't spell so it's OK!"
  • Your household swings from vegan to Korean to all science to theater to no TV to anti-consumerism to Socialism to Little House on the Prairie and you swing with it.
  • You know that in 72 months, the last one will be starting community college.
  • You go to bed and realize you haven't spoken to your wife yet today.
  • You always put your family first.
  • When you get home from work you, literally, NEVER know what you will find.
  • Your children are writing their own books, songs, and plays.
  • Your kids beg you for a mini van.
  • You turn the spare room into a lesson room.
  • You proudly consider your children "unsocialized".
  • Your wife spends more time developing lessons than folding clothes.
  • You might have to be convinced to take on the homeschool lifestyle, but then you wouldn't change it for anything!


Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled.
It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Morality vs. Ethics

The questions are:
  • Do atheists have a moral ground for their perception of right and wrong? 
  • Is an atheist entitled to claim a sense of right and wrong?
  • Can we really be good apart from a god?

Simplistically, according to a typical atheist, right and wrong is a matter of whether or not your behavior hurts people or fails to help them.

Wrong action vs. right action.

Once the basic idea is in place, the familiar rules of common sense morality seems obvious. Why should we not kill, murder, steal, rape. Why should be help the needy, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, demand justice for the unrepresented? Disrespect, limiting someone's autonomy, questions of self-defense, etc, are all shades of this question.

My answer, of course, is we do NOT require a god to know what is right and wrong. Certainly we can lay claim to knowing when an act is either not right or inherently wrong. And, of course, we can be and are good without a god. One reason it is true that we can be good without a god is because it is in an individual's own self interest to do right. To make decisions and to take action that is correct or good. When I make decisions of right and of wrong, I effect the community around me as a whole.  

Each of us impacts the other. To be maximally successful we must cooperate with each other. This is a good enough reason to discourage most atheists from "antisocial" or "immoral" behavior, purely for the purposes of self-preservation. Further, we effect our own sense of the type of person we are as compared to the type of person we wish to be. Integrity requires ethics! But that's not even the crux of my reasoning! 

Being an atheist does not suggest that a person upholds any particular ethical system. It merely reports that an individual has no belief in a deity of any kind. Each person, atheist or theist, ascribes to their own chosen, absorbed, inherited, or cobbled sense of correctness vs. incorrectness, good vs. evil.  

In other words, being an atheist does not mean that one subscribes to a particular world view; each person creates their own sense of right and wrong. This makes many religion-followers very uncomfortable. Perhaps this has to do with having had little practice making ethical decisions on their own, using their own internal barometer.

I know of some wonderful people who are Christians who, in response to my questions, assert that they would, in fact, NOT make good decisions if the guidelines of their religions did not guide them. I am certain that they truly believe this. But I am equally as certain that the inherent goodness of these people would shine through. They would, simply, be good for goodness's sake.

Atheism is often wrongly identified with evil and moral anarchy.  Certainly some atheists exist who are less than virtuous -- just as some religious people lack perfection. Lack of virtue is a human trait, not a trait based on one's belief system. From my extensive and recent research, using this argument, believers frequently tend to bring the Marquis de Sade and Nietzsche as failed examples of allowing one's internal sense of right and wrong to be one's guide.

Religions are the cradles of despotism.
Marquis de Sade

A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum 
shows that faith does not prove anything.
Friedrich Nietzsche

It is not a surprise the Friedrich Nietzsche was unloved by the churchfolk as he was known for explaining Man's behavior as being of "free will" and autonomy rather than of controlled by an outside source such as the church or other political system. He also, astutely, I believe, argues that anyone who claims to offer a guide for morality is simply revealing themselves in their claims and assertions. One who professes "truth" is, in a sense, confessing their own witness for who they, themselves, are.

The church's historical fear of Free Will and "will to power" is certainly threatened by a rational being stating and choosing his or her certainty and "goodness" or "badness". We, as human beings, operate in the gray areas of life. An atheist would suggest that these gray areas are normal, unique, and, further, are for each individual to judge. In this example, using Nietzsche as an example of morality without god works.

Nietzsche went even further, though. His belief was that, as Men were to flourish and to grow intellectually, Men would become what they truly felt they should be. Man's sense of ethics would create the ability to understand and to absorb the values of others as well, learning from one another. There would be the ability to view and judge behavior based on each individual's life and circumstances. Relative Morality. No black and white. Shades of gray.  

Nietzsche had the belief that a "higher man" or "superman" would eventually result from this theoretical ability to make the nobler choices independently. I don't know if his ideas would come to fruition in such a world, but human nature often surprises us with it's goodness. Think of that darling boy who gave up the baseball last week...

Friedrich Nietzsche
As a role model for ethics, however, few modern atheists would claim Friedrich Nietzsche as their poster boy. He's an odd choice, in my opinion, for focus by those who claim that atheists cannot be "moral" people.

The fact of the matter, human are social beings. We live in societies and form relationships beginning at our very first day. We feel empathic as very young children. The need to feel connected and to please our elders and respected ones creates the perfect environment for a child to learn the specifics of a given family, group, society.

As a caveat, and in response to the criticisms I have read, I realize that this idea of learning right and wrong from our own culture and life would not work in the event of a mentally ill person. Neither does religion assist these people. I have seen, first hand, that neither religion nor reason helps in situations with people with this nature.

I would also suggest that morality, as a concept, isn't truly well-practiced in the church. I won't base this statement merely on the many, many, many deaths, murders, and tortured people the various religions have produced. I won't merely suggest that the blatant sexual abuse scandals and their in-house cover ups suggest a significant deficit of "morality".

Instead, I would offer for evidence the overall hatred policies of the differing religious sects with regards to racism, sexism, agism, genderism, sexual preference-ism, and a multitude of other ISMs that are all, by my ethical code WRONG.

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's Monday...

I've decided to, unnecessarily, join the Secular Thursday bloggers!
Watch this site for these Thursday specials!

New to Homeschooling?

Each of the determined, confident, admirable homeschooling parents that you have met have, at one time, been a beginner. Right where you are now.

Fearful. Curious. Exploring. Awake looong into the night, looking for even MORE information online to either support or discourage you as you consider homeschooling your children. If you are like me, you actually Googled “Reasons Why I Should Not Homeschool”. Go ahead, read those vitriolic, uninformed, frightened people who warn you away from homeschool. However, those folks have not homeschooled… they are simply against something that they are not knowledgeable about.

Are there reasons to NOT homeschool?  Sure. I’m sure there are parents who are not equipped to either meet the needs of their children or to find a way to get them met. Not every parent has their children’s best interest at heart. Not every parent wants to homeschool in order to openly and passionately create a loving and learning environment for their children. Not every parent has the desire to do it. And not every parent is willing to put their child’s needs first. If you are abusive in any way…you should not homeschool.

Although I have homeschooled for eight years, I have never met one of these parents, I’m just covering my bases in case one of them gets to this blog!

On the other hand, if you are online (for the eighteenth hour in a row) looking for more information on homeschooling, I am SURE you can do it!

And, notice, I did not mention that a parent who wishes to homeschool needs to be the brightest bulb in the box.

Determination. Resourcefulness. “Can Do” attitude. Motivated. And full of love for your child. These are the necessary qualities for a parent who wishes to homeschool. You don’t need lots of money; you don’t needs lots of advanced education; you don’t need to be perfect; you don’t need to be married. If you feel that this is the best decision for your child and your family, then you CAN DO IT. If you decide that this is not the best decision for your child and your family, then there is no shame in not moving forward into homeschooling. But, if you are considering it, then keep reading.

If you have found your way here, I recommend you do this: read about the types of homeschool styles, read about learning styles of children, Google “what is learning” and “what is education”, and continue to educate yourself…well, as long as you shall live. Homeschool families are fortunate enough to be in the position to create the best, unique environment for their children. Even if you don’t see another homeschooling family that looks like the one you think you want to create, that is OK! That is normal. That is as it should be. That is why we homeschool. We want to create an environment full of opportunities that meet our child’s unique needs, abilities, and temperament. If we wanted to be exactly like everyone else, well, we would have picked up a cookie cutter and started creating our family that way.

Are you still feeling unsure? Alone? Fearful? Nervous? Excited?

GREAT! Join the club! Prepare yourself to explore an entirely new way of life…a way of life that you and your child create simply by living it!

Don’t buy anything…at this point, just keep learning!

A Typical Day

Is there a typical homeschool day? 
I doubt it!

Yesterday we were at the table doing lessons at about four in the afternoon, but that is because we were running around visiting friends that morning! Why not have dessert first!

Today we were doing lessons, then played some “cup bowling” (as we call it), when a HS friend dropped by and spent the afternoon with us! There is nothing like a homeschool friend!  They think NOTHING of all kinds of stuff piled up in the living room, simulating a bowling alley!  lol Then there was a little sprinkler play…When people ask me about homeschooling, one of the first questions is usually “what is a typical day like”?

That’s a tough one. 
And a simple one.  
Our days vary so much, as do the days of most families that I know. We are busy, active, rarely sitting still. But when lesson time does come, we’re at the table learning decimals, prepositions, and American history. We have a nice little spot with markers, paper, books, stickers, a timer, rulers, scissors, pencils, and snacks. There we will follow our math books, have discussion about ethics, or letter writing, or friendship, or politics, or discoveries, or plans for the year/month/week/day/moment, play games, science experiments (our favorite!), growing up, kindness and fairness, maturity, history, other cultures, biographies, computers, or just about anything!

In fact, one of the best things about homeschooling is that it is so very CURRENT. If something is happening in the world, we want to know about it!

“Harry Potter” coming out tomorrow? Let’s learn about special effects in the movies. Let’s discuss the controversies that some families experience regarding the films. Let’s get excited that our countdown is nearly over!

President Obama in town? Let’s check out how various news sources around the world discuss his activities for the day. Let’s watch his speech or event. Let’s learn more about a president’s duties.

You get the picture!

We have our math books. We have our language lessons. We read our history. We are avid science book readers. We love learning about art and music and dance.

BUT! We can get up anytime, run out the door, and follow our bliss!

BTW, kids spending the night tonight and tomorrow night...just the usual!

Information, Help, Encouragement

We aren’t the homeschool pioneer generation. 
We don’t have to struggle with legality of homeschooling.
We are standing on the shoulders of giants!

We don’t have to be isolated.  We are no longer considered “strange”.  Homeschooling has proven time and time again what a success it can be, what wonderful adults it can build.   We no longer have to try to homeschool our children without decent materials and NO INTERNET!  (How did they do it?)

Today, the internet is almost TOO full of information.  It is almost TOO easy to find opinions and facts and figures and materials and answers and questions.  But we are the lucky ones.  The families who are able to bask in the work of our forefamiles, the pioneers of homeschooling.  The families who broke the ground of this current ground swell of families who have taken this wonderful road, a road that used to be pathless, now, a wide two-lane highway…construction ahead!

Those families, our homeschooling wise ones, were at a loss for three major things.  Three key elements that homeschooling parents today STILL need, but can now find more readily:  information, help, encouragement.
As homeschooling parents, one of the things we are constantly doing is educating ourselves.  Bookstores, the internet, and community support groups now about and we are surrounded by education sources and wonderful success stories.  Resources are endless and I, for one, find the internet to be a major source for my own education.  I love it!

As for help, no longer are we alone in our wagons on the prairie with miles between us and the next homeschooling family.  With some exceptions of course, we are the lucky recipients of assistance lovingly offered by homeschool veterans and kind-hearted parents who have been there!  Additionally, if we have a question, we are no longer alone AND, there are often a number of answers from which to choose.
Encouragement?  Each family and friend group has their own unique personality, but I have found that encouragement is abundant and available whenever I need it!  In fact, our homeschooling community is a vital and safe place to explore the grand expedition of being a homeschooling parent.

One of my dear friends IS of the homeschool pioneer generation and I can’t even compete with the passion that is this woman!  Nancy Clavenna is an energetic, vital, , learning, adventuresome, blue-eyed wonder of a mother who is now the grandparent of two homeschooled grandchildren:  Evey and Jonas!  Nancy is a first class example of the type of person who has seeded our homeschooling adventure and made it possible for we relative newbies to move forward with confidence and pride that we have taken this road less traveled, yet traveled for a millenia!

No More Guilt


I have it.  You have it.  It must be some sort of invasive thing that enters our body when we have children.  I just can’t remember feeling it so often BC (before children)!  Not enough fruit.  Not enough baths.  Not enough sleep.  Not enough awake time.  Not enough reading.  Not enough fractions.  There is just no end to it!

At the same time, I see guilt as one of the least productive of all emotions.  Guilt grinds us to a halt.  It weighs us down until we can barely lift our primate knuckles off of the ground and it makes us long for hibernation.  The thing it doesn’t do, however, is inspire us to do better!
So, in order to make a dent in the homeschool parents’ overload of guilt, I have created a list of rules.  Strike that.  Suggestions!  Evaluate them and decide for yourself if they make sense for you!

Never, EVER, when feeling particularly down in the dumps read a “How to Homeschool” type of book.  Most of them can bring me down from the pinnacle of a homeschooling buzz!  They effect me even worse if I am doubting my ability to explain exponential notation properly.  These books can offer some truly wonderful and inspired ideas and guidelines.  But that is what they are.  Ideas and guidelines.  Not rules.
There.  Are.  No.  Rules.  Your.  Way.  Is.  Correct.

If your child were in school, he or she would have at least FIVE different adults offering instruction or supervision during a single day.  Of course you can’t to all of that!

You can do better.  You can be a single, consistent adult, who truly sees and cares.  That always trumps the numbers.

Knowing HOW to learn is more important than knowing everything.  I have NEVER memorized the state capitols and I will never know how to speak Spanish or French.  But, I DO know where to find all of this information (AND MORE) and that is even more important.  At any given moment as an adult, none of us know it all.  But, happily, we know our resources and we use them.

You didn’t even know what an iPod was three years ago.  You won’t know everything that there is to know about homeschooling…well, ever!  But you can do your very best today with that you know today.

And that phrase that I remember hearing so often when I was a kid, that phrase that means so much to me now:  Tomorrow is another day

I honestly have to remind myself of that.  Do you?

We don’t have to do it all today!  There will always be a tomorrow for us to learn more, do more, or even use for relaxation.  Art, music, biographies, creative writing.  Let’s plan on doing some of that stuff tomorrow.  And if tomorrow never comes, well, I have to say, I only read about three true pieces of literature throughout my entire high school years.  Most of my literary reading came as an adult and by choice.  You really don’t have to do it all.  Sometimes it is enough to say, ‘Hey, there are some cool things over there…wanna go have a look?  Well, maybe another day.”

Your family is a team.  YOU are not the work horse and PLEASE don’t think that you can be or should be a super mother.  Every member of the family can help plan and carryout a meal.  And, if your children are like mine, some of them will happily cooperate and feel proud for doing so while some of them will feel like it isn’t fair and life stinks!  That’s normal.

If at all possible, take mental health vacations.  You alone or the whole family.  Go to the park and just lie in the grass.  Stay up late and look at stars.  Sit by a creek and collect insects.  These activities are perspective-givers.  Sometimes we all need a reminder…


You KNOW you are a Homeschooler When…


  • Someone asks what grade you’re in and you’re not sure. 
  • You always have snacks with lessons.
  • You go to Target HOPING someone will ask you why you are not in school today.
  • You don’t need permission to either teach evolution or leave it out
  • You have already done the grocery-store-as-a-field-trip thing
  • Your best vacations are in September, October, November…
  • Socialization is NOT a thing you worry about as you get so much of it!
  • You stay up past midnight to see the stars on a Monday night.
  • Your favorite tool is the computer
  • The librarian knows your children's names.
  • Your child asks for a reference book for a birthday.
  • Your children can occupy themselves for hours.
  • Your favorite author is Avi, Jane Austin, Willa Cather, Herman Mehville, or Alexander Dumas.
  • You own the entire “Planet Earth” series on DVD
  • You can mix a batch of home made play dough from memory
  • Your children wear clothing that they have designed
  • You don’t have room for all of your books
  • You know many genres of music.
  • You ask enough questions at the dentist office that you get some “Office time”!
  • You are no longer offended by the “Is it legal?” question.
  • You have multiplication posters taped across from the potty
  • If you forget your homework you can go get it in a minute.
  • Your birthday is an official school holiday.
  • You work when you are sick and take “sick days” when you are well.
  • You are completely unaware of the current fads, fashions, and “cool” slang terms.
  • You have no idea what a wedgie is.
  • When you watch a movie, you can compare it to the book because you’ve read it.
  • You dress up as historical or literary characters for Halloween, or just for fun!
  • You exchange home made valentines.
  • You have your parent/teacher conference in the dark before going to sleep.
  • You have a rock collection, a leaf collection, a bone collection, and an insect collection.
  • The librarian knows your name and suggests books to you.
  • You have ever attempted to teach yourself algebra, sentence diagramming, or physics.
  • You learn something new every day
  • Your dictionary is dog-eared and tattered, and well used!
  • Santa brings you craft books and science kids and you are happy!
  • You know what Latin roots are.
  • You visit website you would have NEVER found had your children not asked a question
  • Your board games all have names like “Scrabble”, “Trailblazer”, “Game of Knowledge”, and “Geo Bee”.
  • You have created a newer decimal system for organizing books
  • You told the librarian about it and she was impressed
  • You have homemade timelines and maps on your walls
  • You know all of the planets’ names and have seen them
  • Your favorite place to study is outside on a blanket, under a tree, anyplace flat!
  • You can quote lines from Shakespeare, but not from the Disney Channel.
  • You play math games and language for fun
  • You own a bingo game
  • You have “Not Going Back to School” parties
  • The only bully you ever run into is your brother
  • It takes you less than a minute to walk to school.
  • Your school bus is a mini van.
  • You keep paper, pens, a dictionary, Peterson Field  Guides, binoculars, compass, rock hammer, collection kit, snacks, and a change of clothing in your car.
  • There are only four students in your class – and all of them are your brothers and sisters.
  • You have a 12-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a toddler in the same class.
  • The school nurse, principal, librarian, bus driver, and lunch lady all tuck you in at night
  • You have mold growing in your refrigerator on purpose
  • If you have EVER studied the contents of the vacuum bag
  • You own more than one of the following:  telescope, microscope, binoculars, fax machine, copier, video camera, black board, or compass
  • Every day you are thankful to have spent that day with your children
  • You will NEVER regret not having spent enough time with your children
  • You actually look forward to “PTA meetings” with other parents!
  • Your teens make valentines for YOU.

Choosing Curriculum


Homeschooling parents want to know three things:  What are the best products?  Can I do better?  And Am I doing enough?

Choosing homeschool materials can be time-intensive and can require much research on the part of parents. Some years ago, parents had to deal with the dilemma of having very little to choose from.  Today, we are lucky enough to be homeschooling at a time when the choices are amazing and when more becomes available each year.  Of course, the yin to this yang is that it requires more time and attention on our part to sort through the available curriculum and materials in order to locate and aquire the “right” materials for our family.
It helps to talk to other homeschooling families, but each family you ask will have different answers!  At first, thosesewing-1 early years of homeschooling, this can cause a parent to lose heart.  Eventually, the fact that every homeschool family is unique becomes one of the best things about homeschooling.

When it comes to choosing curriculum, remember, your family’s needs are more important than any expectations you will read/hear/feel from outside sources.  Trust your instincts where materials are concerned.  Why buy “Spelling, Level 3″ when your child, regardless of age, needs “Spelling, Level 2″?  Ignore those “levels” and “grades” that are attached to most material and choose each subject based on the level of your child, rather than the other way around.  Think of it as a quilt.  Choose the materials, sizes, shapes, textures, and quality that appeals to you and make it your own.quilt-11

There is no reason why you can’t combine materials from across the spectrum into your homeschool day.  A book from here, a film from there, workbook from a third place.  Happily, we are living at a time when our options are open and we are the seamstresses of our children’s education!  Choose pieces that you love, pieces that appeal to them, pieces that are unique.  Blend them into a work of art that is your child!

A father was shopping in the store this morning.  He and his wife are fairly new to homeschooling and they had come to shop, browse, educate themselves.  He asked me something along the lines of “what are the benefits of homeschooling”.  My Top of the List is the fact that I can teach my children at their level, rather than at the level of their peers.  In this way, we can zoom forward or stay in one place for awhile.  Flexibility.  Accept it.  Love it!

Will you use secular or Christian materials?  Again, this decision is one that wants to mesh with the goals of your family.  And it is possible to combine the two in order to find the materials that make sense to you.

I realize that these aren’t answers, per se.  But no one can tell you what is best for your family.  You will know it when you see it.  So, take some time, browse, educate yourself, ask around.  Eventually, you will find the materials that feel like “home” to you.

Are you still feeling confused?

Wanting more concrete assistance?

Check back soon.  I will talk more about various homeschool approaches and some materials that “fit” each one.

At Least TEN Good Reasons to Homeschool

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What are the top ten benefits that homeschooling has to offer that your friendly, neighborhood public schools may not offer?  Well, the way I see it:

10. Your child can have an individualized education.
  • As the parent, you can skip the child any number of grade levels and there is not one administrator bending over backwards and trying to explain why it is not possible. Does your child know it already…then SKIP IT this time! Is your child interested in a particular subject…spend lots more time on it!
  • No classroom bells ending the period: ample time to complete, investigate, explore more, follow your bliss, surf, continue your learning!
  • If a child has asynchronous development (and what child DOESN'T?), you can customize the work for acceleration in one area and remediation in another. My two children vary in their levels of skill in each subject…and we can accommodate each of them easily!
9.  Homeschooling can give a child the gift of time because it does not generally take 6 or 7 hours for a days’ work.
  •  A child can follow his interests for hours a day!
  •  There is plenty of time in the day for expanded exploration and extending fun and interesting activities on any given topic.
  • There is time for household chores, play, hobbies and guilt-free reading for pleasure
  • We take 1-3 hours per day for structured lessons…all of the rest is for following individual interests.
8.  The classroom has no walls.
  • Field trips can occur at the parent’s discretion and can be spur- of-the-moment decisions.
  • Pick up and move outdoors whenever you can.
  • Follow up activities from a field trip can last as long as the interest lasts.
  • Instruction can take place at the library, park, or even in the car on the way.
7.  The family can travel and not be subjected to a school calendar decided by the schools.
  • A trip to a favorite tourist spot with all the educational value of the monuments, museums, and tours can be considered “unexcused” absence in the school system, not so if you are homeschooling.  
  • All homeschoolers LOVE the off-peak travel benefits!
6.  Most homeschoolers have freedom from bureaucracy.
  •  No rules about who can participate based on geographic location.
  •  No rules about who cannot participate.
  •  No rules about when to begin and when to end.
  •  No rules about WHAT to teach WHEN.
  •  No rigid rules to get in the way of your child’s needs.
5.  There is a short commute time from home to classroom.
  • There is no strange zoning where your child is bused to a school on a 45 minute bus ride when there are two schools closer that the bus drives right past.
  • NO WORRYING about that stranger that you heard about on the news who has been seen handing out near bus stops and schools.
  • No car line in front of school for those that live too close to ride the bus.
  • No tardys, no missed recesses, no lunch bell.
  • No bus at all.
4.  Curriculum can be presented in a manner that suites the child.
  • Parents can choose a traditional method or non-traditional.
  • Curriculum can be modified without worrying about the implications it has on an entire group of students.
  • If materials or approaches aren’t working a homeschooler can immediately try something else.
  • Parents and children can learn together what method of learning WORKS for that child!
3.  Mastery learning is possible.
  • Your child can master the content of a lesson before moving to the next lesson without inconveniencing others. Take as long as you need to on integers.
  • Homeschoolers know that all kids get "A"s in all subjects.  Why? Because you don't more forward until your child is ready!
2.  There are no afternoon and evening homework battles.

1.  The PLACEMENT TESTS are not mandatory for a homeschooler.
  • Woo Hoo.

Homeschool Co-Op Ideas

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Many areas of the country now have wonderful homeschool support/educational/or co-op groups. These groups are a great way to share your skills and to learn more from other families around you. A Co-Op means, Co-operative…sharing your passions and learning about the passions about others…for free or cheap! For example, our family is heavily into the hobby of astronomy. We offer observing nights on a regular basis to our homeschooling friends, while they offer their skills to US!

As a family new to this form of sharing-the-love, you might be experiencing anxiety trying to think of something to offer your group. I know the fearful questions in your mind:  Do you have a skill? What are you qualified to teach? What can you do?

LOL…listen, we have all been there. Fear not, you have plenty to offer. Later you will think of things that interest you and that you wish to share with the group. For now, here are a few ideas you might like to borrow, keeping in mind that your children might have ideas of their own!

Homeschoolers are all about field trips, though it can be difficult to think of unique, educational, and fun places to explore as a group. I am certain we have all had our share of trips to the museums, parks, zoos, nature areas, theaters, and cultural events. Although I have created this list mostly from my brainstorming, I have also included wonderful ideas that I have seen or heard of through my own or other homeschool groups. Have you thought about some of these places:
  • Attend civic meetings
  • Use Public Transportation to get around town, use the posted schedules
  • Swimming
  • Creek or Pond Exploration
  • Peterson Guides and Nature Walk
  • Answer the phone for public television or radio fund drive
  • Visit the state capitol
  • Local History Field Trips
  • Our community has some great hobby clubs that have meetings open to the public, including rock club, robotics club, astronomy club, ham radio club, and rocketry club
  • Political Rally
  • Go to the Airport
  • Visit a Nursing Home and Sing
  • Pick up Trash on an Empty Lot
  • Daytrips
  • Attend public lectures at local libraries, community center, community colleges
  • Explore the Library
  • Walk downtown taking pictures of interesting architecture
  • We once visited a control tower at a small airport…very cool!
  • Follow a creek and discuss how it oxbows, erodes, changes
  • Tour the local university or college
  • Mini Golf, create your own!
  • Local tv/radio stations/firestation
  • Tour of a local quarry, water treatment plant, utility company, city hall
I have found that one of the benefits of these unique field trips is that our children become familiar with and interested in the general functioning of our town. Since some of our trips, my kids now follow local news that mentions these place and they have really formed an attachment to our town; they have a real sense of belonging. Additionally, many of the people who work at these places are delighted to have visitors. Something I learned from a friend, if you interrupt a days’ activity at some places, it is such a kindness to bring a platter of brownies to thank them for hosting you!


The Arts:  another place where homeschoolers excel! Parents would LOVE to have the mess at your house instead of their own and children love messy projects…serendipitous for you! There are so many ways to explore the arts. This list is not at all inclusive! In fact, it is only limited by my imagination at this moment. I’m sure that your imagination can come up with many more ideas. Turn your hobby into your next co op class idea.

Art work can be expensive or free. Use the resources available to you within your homeschool co op to find others who are interested in exploring the arts and combine your talents and resources. A clever method of offering good co op classes is working with another family within the co op in order to offer the best of both of your resources!

Here are some ideas for exploring the arts:
  • Preschool Arts and Crafts
  • Guitar Folk Singing in the Round
  • Skits
  • Tie Dye Extravaganza
  • Woodworking
  • Embroidery
  • Study Abstract Art or Artists
  • Visit Local Art Galleries or Local Artists and Artisans
  • Gourd Decorating
  • Beading
  • Mendi, Henna
  • Foreign Film Study
  • Film Noir
  • Paint a Room
  • Weave
  • Make a Movie
  • Play Dress Up
  • Dance With Bollywood (or other cultural music and dress up)
  • Beginning Music Lessons
  • Organize a Dance
  • Photography
  • Explore Poetry Types
  • Sewing/Knitting/Crochet
  • Explore an Artist or Musician or Historical Figure a Month
  • Knot Tying
  • One Family we know has the kids PAINT THEIR CAR!
  • Finger painting
  • Anything with Glitter and Glue
  • Face and Body Painting
  • Teach knitting from yarn purchase to finished product
  • Study 30s films, early films, 50s films, any genre!
  • Friendship Bracelets
  • Make your own soap
  • Design a logo for your co op
  • Design and put out a newsletter or poetry booklet
  • Campfire songs
  • Write and perform a one act play
  • Karaoke
  • Paint t shirts
  • Scrapbooking
  • Creating art out of scraps and junk
  • Make Paper
  • Nature Crafts
  • As for art projects, the sky is the limit!


While the weather cooperates, we all love it that we have the chance to take our children outdoors all day. It is a great way to get that sense of “this is why we homeschool” when you are able to find a great destination and give over totally to the outdoor experience. There is more that you can do than just play while you are in the parks! Try some of these ideas for free or very inexpensive co op class ideas at a local park, your home, or other public location:
  • Orienteering
  • Create an Obstacle Course
  • Archery
  • Cooking with Nature
  • Create a Map
  • Bring Binoculars and Microscopes
  • Rock Collecting
  • Hayride
  • Basketball
  • Bike Riding
  • Clean a stretch of road or a favorite park
  • Perform on the stage
  • Scavenger Hunt of nature items (don’t remove them!)
  • Photographing the letters of the alphabet in nature
  • One wonderful woman I know stages a full out Olympics at the park!
  • Power Ranger Day
  • Spy Day
  • Rocketry
  • Group Games
  • Jump roping and Jump rope rhymes
  • Fly Kites
  • Water Play Day
  • Adopt a Family, Adopt a Road
  • Plant a veggie, flower, or specialty garden


Some obvious classes to offer are scholastic skill building. Classes that might be offered every week for the duration of the semester. Ongoing educational sessions that build on certain skills. Of course these classes require more planning. Some of this type of class might be a reading group, poetry writing, or math tutoring. But have you thought of these ideas?
  • Current Events Review
  • First Aid
  • Homework Help, Tutoring
  • Toastmasters, Public Speaking
  • Bookkeeping, Personal Finance
  • Study the Constitution
  • Science Experiments
  • Babysitting Skills
  • Ethics Discussions, Socrates Cafe
  • Pet Care
  • Learn a President a Week
  • Electrical Circuits
  • Beginning Typing
  • History Chapters
  • Price Comparison Shopping
  • Ethics Discussions
  • Budgeting
  • Creating a Resume
  • Historical Fiction Reading Group
  • Have a pretend Store and use real money
  • American Sign Language
  • Other Language
  • Math Games
  • Measuring
  • Preschool/Early Book Reading with small project
  • Baking Cookies/cake/cupcakes
  • Write and produce a newscast
  • Research a third world country each week
  • Using your PC
  • How Does it Work? AKA DESTRUCTION!
  • Learn about propaganda
  • Show and Share
  • Board and Table Games
  • Rock Club
  • Create a Service Project
  • Explore Southern Cooking
  • Reading Time: Have the big ones read to the little ones
  • Card Games
  • Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh/Other card game day
  • Yoga
  • Volunteer at a local charity or soup kitchen
  • Exercise class


Make sure to get your family involved! Groups of families working and playing together are a part of what makes the homeschooling lifestyle so remarkable. Talk to your relatives and see what skills or hobbies that they are willing to bring to the group as a way to participate in the education of your little ones by sharing their passions and interests. How about planning some activities that include extended family members…perhaps the ones who are curious about the homeschool decision.

Create activities that fit your family, your group, your home. In general, keep it simple and fun! Try some of these fun activities that are family-pleasers! Your family members will find them irresistible and feel proud to be a part of educating their loved ones!
  • Bowling
  • Play Bingo
  • Grandma and Me Tea
  • Make Fruit Salad
  • Tell Family Stories
  • Make Stone Soup
  • Host a formal dinner party
  • Go Caroling
  • Camping Trips
  • Raise funds for the community, donate for a community project
  • Create a garden on a bulletin board from construction paper
  • Have a yard sale
  • Talk about Careers
  • Collect books for your local library
  • Have a car wash to earn money for a charity
  • Manicures
  • Bake Bread


As the wife of an IT guy, I would be remiss if I didn’t include some great computer class ideas! There is no doubt that the internet is a wonderful tool for our children. Why not use what is at our fingertips to improve our skills and to increase our knowledge? There are practical and fanciful ways to use the computer.
  • Create or update the Webpage for your Co Op
  • Edit the Co Op Member List
  • Learn how to use MS Publisher or Paint
  • Learn how to create Power Point Presentations
  • Contact a HS group in another state and create a pen pal network
  • News Reviews
  • Robotics
  • Create a Youtube channel
  • Letter Writing
  • General WWW Usage and Safety
  • Contacting Political Figures by mail
  • Creating petitions
  • Surveys for your co op
  • Designing Personal Books
  • Resume Writing
  • Design a Menu for an Upcoming Meal
  • Write a Newsletter
  • Create Origami
  • Learn Photoshop
The key is to keep is simple, make it fun, don’t overburden yourself, and follow your own bliss! Include your children in the brainstorming and planning phase! My children have come up with some wildly successful co op class ideas, from a Power Ranger Party to swimming at the local pool to scavenger hunts across town. Children enjoying getting messy and creating things and most parents would be THRILLED to have these fun events happen at someone else’s house! Volunteer activities promote wonderful growth in our children and are much more fun when done in groups. Check out idea books at the library for even more ideas. If possible, get your hands on Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Girl Scout, or other Scout handbooks for more great ideas, skits, and projects.

Can YOU think of any ideas to share?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ask the Experts

Are you struggling to figure out why certain materials don’t work with your family?

If you have to stand over your child and help them with almost every item in a text or workbook, then you need to figure out what is wrong.

a.)  the work is too hard,
b.)  the work is too easy,
c.)  your child knows that he or she can finish quicker if *you* answer the questions for him
d.)  your child does not learn well using this material
e.)  your child may have a hidden learning disability or
f.)  none of these!

It is a tough call – but you CAN figure it out.  Luckily, you’re in the right spot to do just that!

Having various materials in the house doesn’t guarantee that they will be used.  So why not sit down with your child or children, go through a stack of books and materials and ask them to RANK them, comment on them, CHOOSE them.  Which are their favorites?  Which do they not connect with?  What is appealing about the things that they choose?  And what can you fit into the materials to fill in the gaps?

Include your child in the choices and you will see better cooperation and more motivation!