Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Affordable Homeschool - For Lou Lou

Lou Lou visited this blog and talked about how she feels she could join the homeschoolers if homeschooling was more affordable. It got me to thinking about how to make homeschooling cheaper. Of course, if a household needs both incomes, that takes precedent and changes everything. Although I know I would rather suffer with a single income, if possible, to keep my kids at home. However, I also know I am very fortunate to be married to a wonderful man who is able to support our home financially on his own.

SO, with the caveat that I'm not presumptuously addressing two-income homeschool families, as I have no experience with that, I have some tricks for keeping your homeschool experience on the cheap, er, inexpensive.

  • Use the library 
    I am convinced that a child who loves the library and who reads current magazines, historical literature, non-fiction and fiction at the library can't help but come out of that experience EDUCATED. Learning how to learn, learning where to find resources. All of these things are a vital part of becoming educated. The library can be a very dynamic and engaging place. Our library has tons of activities that are free or cheap, including excellent book clubs for children or adults. Librarians can be an invaluable resource for finding materials and information. Libraries also tend to have access to books and stuff from their entire library system and can, often, find materials for you. Not to mention: you can also get free music! 
  • Your PC is, in my opinion, one of the best source of free or cheap learning materials. You will find your child can learn typing, programming, art, spelling, and almost any subject imaginable with games on disc. We even own an entire encyclopedia on disc  I'm pretty sure my kids learned some basic problem solving skills from a Clifford the Big Red Dog game they used to play. 
  • Free on-line resources. 
    I'm not going to list them here, but there are so many excellent online resources that are free or cheap, I'm sure a child could find themselves highly educated by using nothing more than a laptop, the world wide web, and a few well-chosen websites.  News sources, history, source documents, art, maps. You name it, you can find it online. Seriously! Entire websites exist to aid the frugally-minded homeschooler. 
  • Used curriculum is the most obvious resource. I have a favorite used material website, cleverly called "Homeschool Classified Ads" that I frequent whenever I'm looking for something to add to the library for cheap. Use it well. I refused to even share my secret site for years because of my stingy streak. Trade, barter, buy used stuff. With a little inventiveness, you can find ways to get the materials you need. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way! 
  • Television. 
    Yes, I said it. Television. Although our family is No-TV, there are some great shows on PBS, news, documentaries, etc, that can be used to supplement your child's lessons.  
  • Your very own community
    Community theater, banks, emergency services, parks, libraries, universities and colleges, volunteer activities, local politics, shopping experiences, local hobby clubs, museums, conventions, stay-cations, gardens, and more. All of these activities offer amazing opportunities for learning and for finding areas of interest in your family and with your child. My kids have participated in community theater, gone on a zillion interesting tours, attended local political forums, become members of local hobby clubs, and attended special lectures of all sorts. The only limitation is your own ability to research! 
  • Being frugal, itself, is an ongoing lesson in and of its self. The fun of finding great and unique resources is a constant source of pride for our family. Frugality, simplicity, ingenuity, and budgeting ARE lessons! Take it from a book horse: less IS more. Also lessons: all household maintenance and upkeep chores and activities.   
  • Family employment.I know of some families who have at-home small businesses or community businesses who have the family play a part in the running of the business. While this may not be for every family, I have seen several very close families who work together.   
  • And finally, my favorite part of homeschooling:  create your own materials! In general, I use textbooks with the kids or I make my own units and study materials. If you have the internet, Microsoft Word, and a printer, you could be set!

It's worth remembering, research shows that how much you spend on homeschool does not affect what your child achieves. There is no evidence to suggest that expensive curricula is a better way to educate a child than the cheaper stuff.
Even without a computer (though you already have access to one if you are reading this!), it is absolutely possible to homeschool on a shoestring!

Actually, I had another thought. In this country, we consider cable, cell phones, and eating out to be the norm. In fact, did you know, these things are EXTRAS!  lol  Extras that totally suck up extra funds. Our family has not had cable or satellite in over ten years...  You frugal families out there know just what I am talking about.  There is a real sense of pride in getting it done on  the cheap!

Do you have some frugal suggestions?
Do you have a favorite website or two?

And, Lou Lou, did this help at all!?

And, now, I am taking  hiatus from this blog for awhile... 

We are flying to San Francisco Aug 13th in the morning,
then, on to Brisbane Australia.
Landing  Down Under on the 19th!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Do We Learn?

As a homeschooling parent, I often find myself wondering about WHAT we learn, WHY we learn it, and HOW we learn.

Why do I think about these questions in this abstruse or profound way? Because, as the kids and I work our ways through material, have lessons, read and digest information, I find myself wondering just WHAT, exactly, is the goal of education. Is it to be able to regurgitate facts? To be able to buy the best car and home? Is it to make a shit ton of money? It is for glory or fame? Is it for ourselves or our world? Is it to find happiness or efficacy or for practical reasons? For freedom?

I find myself truly questioning what we consider knowledge and education. And my mind changes on this every so often. We learn daily. Our brain is constantly synthesizing, understanding, and discovering. But what about what we purposely set out to learn. Lessons.

I have thought these things through and, maybe, I'm ready to put some of these "answers" down. Remember, this one is a work in progress for me. And I would sincerely appreciate your comments and thoughts. 

  • I believe my child's education needs to help my child be able to think critically. I want my children to be able to read or ingest information and materials and to sort through those materials and recognize ploys and efforts to ensnare their minds. I want them to recognize reputable sources. I want them to know when they need to know more. And how to find more.
  • I want them to know that learning is an ongoing event in their lives and that they can always learn more whenever they need to. If my child needs to learn how to program a computer, they will finally figure out algebra and formal logic. If they want to speak in a public forum, they will finally appreciate the need for clear writing and speaking. If they want to buy a car or rent an apartment, they will see the need for budgeting, projecting costs, and recognizing their own choices in the matter. If they want to write a play, they will learn the skills necessary for that task.
  • I want them to know that even the most complex problems can be broken down into manageable bits. And how to find help. They must know that their ability to work through difficulties will always benefit them in the end, perseverance is essential. 
  • I want them to be able to look at people and events and figure out their significance and their connections. Seeing how history and geography effect world events.
  • And I want them to know that good choices are within their grasp. 
Do my children have to learn about the American Revolution or Geometry?
Yes, I think they do.  Knowing how things are interconnected and complex is essential.
Science.  Music and all cultural appreciation...

What do you think?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Blog is for YOU

You might also enjoy:  I am an Atheist


Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Homeschoolers are used to change. We are frequently in a state of flux. Our plans may change from moment to moment.  So, sit back and enjoy the show while we look at some of the "changes" in this week's Carnival of Homeschooling.

Friday, July 13, 2012

To Ra Loo Ra Loo Ra

My family, including my stepson, Tim, on the left and my stepdaughter, Jessica, in the right

My family is truly the most important thing in my life. My heart is complete because of the many loves in my life. My husband, Jerry, has made my world one that makes sense and that is full of joy and goodness.
Jerry clears away the nonsense and makes a life of sense, genuine love, and simplicity that I have yearned for.

My darling and loveliest daughter brings out the best in me. My daughter is my heart of hearts. With each passing year, she grows into an ever lovelier, beautiful, and more capable young woman. I am filled with pride for the young woman she is becoming. She is a thinker and a writer. She is seeking to become the best "self" she can be. I watch her in awe.
My daughter, my life.

My son is like the rainbow of each day. He is sunny and breezy and resonating. The depth of his empathy and good heart directs his bright sail.  His beauty is both inside and out.
He is full of energy and curiosity and reason and love. You can't know him without also loving him!

Our family is a creation that Jerry and I marvel in.
Jerry and I often share the sense of awe and beauty and goodness that we find in our children. With the deepest, most moved heart, I am honored and humbled by my family.

I cherish them with every breath.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Nine Disadvantages of Homeschooling

I've been homeschooling my kids for ten years now and I think I'm pretty well-versed in the positives and negatives of homeschooling as they impact our family. So let's look at a few of them. And I'm working hard to just list the "negative" and let it stand without explaining or offering positives to argue them...

1. The Duggars - I can not deny that families exist who give homeschooling a truly bad name. Some families DO truly shelter their kids. Some families DO hide various types of abusive dynamics. Some families don't educate their children well. We have to battle the stigma of these public few. Homeschooling has a public, albeit uninformed and stereotyped, bad rep. So, it's not really the Duggars, or any family in particular, but the public's willingness to buy into the bad rep that is generally portrayed about homeschoolers. 
Besides, public schools have their negative family experiences too...our society has a tendency to just lump that into the public school experience, give it a pass, and call it a day.
2. Socialization - I can't say that I had good "socialization" in public school, and my daughter was heartily dissatisfied with public schools now, but some people might find the socialization in homeschooling different than they expect it to be. Homeschoolers tend to find their friendships and socializing opportunities more deliberately. As there is not a ready-made, consistent group of kids that a classroom would provide (sometimes good experiences, sometimes bad in public/private/ other school settings) a homeschooler generally looks for friends. Most homeschoolers never have to deal with bullying. Some would consider that a problem... 
As it happens, the worst part of this one for us is that there are no friends in our neighborhood to play with. YES, there are kids. Sadly, they don't have the ability to play with NON-Christian friends. And that's a different blog post.
My experience with homeschool co ops is that the kids get together, get all socializing, and completely forget the parents are there because of their time with their own creativity, projects, and fun-having.
3. Cooperation - I know that my daughter was constantly trying to "please" her teachers on those rare forays into pubic school...that doesn't happen much at home.
4. Burn out and Parental Self-Doubt - This probably happens to all homeschooling parents at some point. Feeling frustrated, exhausted, doubtful, fearful, or overwhelmed can happen. I'm somewhat prone to this, so it happens to me every couple of years for a variety of reasons in the process. It may start happening slowly, but I only finally notice it when I talk to my friends, crying that I feel inadequate...  Eventually I do see the wonders that we are accomplishing and the rightness of homeschooling for our family. But while I am going through this, everyone in the fam is affected.
5. Finding good atheist Science Resources - Every secular parent that I know looks and looks for good secular science materials for their kids. Publishers really haven't come through on this one. In fact, all secular resources are pretty lacking.
I worked around this by realizing that the public library offers excellent books on every aspect of science. I also bought textbooks. And the world...it offers amazing science!  😉
For the most part I have created our own science units and I think that they have been fantastic. Remember, there are amazing online resources you can tap into anytime.
6. Busy Schedules - I know, I know, public schoolers are very busy too. I'm just saying...there are times when just looking at my calendar can give me hives...
7. Our house can hit a seriously CHAOTIC state. We are here more often and for longer stretches than schooling kids, so our messes can get a bit...out of hand. This moment, as we prepare to move, I can't even adequately describe the disaster.  LOL
8. Algebra - not only do I not know Algebra, I see no need to know Algebra. (OK, I have to chime in here by saying that, in spite of my total abhorrence of all things math, my kids are exceptionally capable of learning math...)
Remember, one of the basic tenets of homeschooling is the idea of teaching our children to learn how to learn. My kids have both, with my help at times, taught themselves aspects of algebra and geometry. Additionally, online resources abound. Have you checked out Khan Academy to start?
9. The Derision of Others - To be honest, this is the worst one for me. The number of people who have no idea what they are talking about but who still feel qualified or passionate enough to denigrate homeschooling. So, not without its own irony, the uninformed are the worst of the mouthy naysayers.

So, that 's all I could come up with. I asked the kids what they view as negative about homeschooling and they couldn't come up with anything...
So.  There.
Could you come up 
with some disadvantages to homeschooling?
I found this pretty hard to do!  LOL 

I Can't Decide About Homeschooling

We live in a society that is so contradictory; the polarities are omnipresent and divisive. I think this is probably why I'm so sensitive to contradictions. Someone has always to go be the butt of a joke.

To vax or not to vax. To circ or not to circ. Standard medical care or homeopathy. Public school options or homeschool. Classical or unschooling. Democrat or Republican.  Secular or Christian. A little bit Country or a little bit Rock and Roll.

The thing is that almost all of life is in the grey zone. I can think of no issue at this moment that is completely WRONG or RIGHT. Maybe I'm just very sensitive to the exceptions, to the possibilities, to the nuances, that I simply can't  see things black or white. And that applies to homeschooling as well. I couldn't point to the "BEST" way to homeschool if I tried.

As for the question, "Should I homeschool?", now that's a tough one. It isn't for everyone. I'm with my kids 24//7/365. Could you handle that? Are you one of those parents I see all over the internet whooping it up in August when it's time for the kids to go back to school? Are you absolutely OK having someone else do "character education", "sex education", "vocational development", and other value-laden topics? Do  you prefer the idea of dropping them off in the morning? Are you comfortable living an "outside of the box" lifestyle? Do you honestly believe that someone else needs to "teach" new skills? Have you ever taken matters into your own hands and made something happen? Can you love and accept them exactly as they are? Can you stand to have your kids NOT follow the group? Is popularity and issue for you?

It's not an easy decision in the beginning.  Probably because we adults who have been schooled have a difficult time separating our experience from what an education must look like. Does all learning have to happen in a classroom? Does a child need structured lunches, downtime, and hang out time? Does the Board of Education really know the best and most necessary things a child should know growing up?

As for me, I am comfortable in the grey zone. My kids are comfortable in the grey zone. We are incapable of allowing others to define terms for us. As for us, homeschool is the answer. We are productive, proactive, and ...procrastinators...

Anyway, we are living in the grey zone. But we can appreciate YOUR lifestyle choices too. You don't have to homeschool for us to respect your choices!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Homeschool Bloggers Carnival: Momma's Musing Moments About Homeschool

You are going to LOVE this carnival!
Extra THANKS to all who submitted their hearts
 and their posts this week.

Parents of homeschoolers must own up to at least one things we all have in common: we worry. We want the very best for our children and we do everything we can to ensure that.  

We research, read, discuss, debate, web surf, try new things, nearly going crazy trying to keep up with the newest statistics on homeschooling, not to mention the newest curriculum and material choices out there. The groups. The trips. The CASH spent. The doubts...

We fret and doubt and hope...and then it happens...the evidence!

Really, it comes down to that one moment. That moment that is usually not related to lessons at all, but that, nonetheless, confirms our choice to homeschool...beyond any shadow of a doubt. As Rayven from Ramblings of a Dysfunctional Homeschooler reminds us in "Conversations With the Kids". I know we can all relate to this type of moment!

It is those moments when our kids show us that amazing insight that stops us in our tracks. My daughter guest posted on my blog and I was amazed with the depth of her writing/thinking/feeling in "Homeschoolers are Weird". You might also like my post Anti-Homeschooling, an exasperated response to the socialization question.
I hope you read through some of my other posts too. I write a great deal about watching homeschool work in spite of my own the stress, insecurities, and doubt...

Those moments when simply communing with the world around us we are, again, certain of the homeschool lifestyle.  Gina from the My Ruby Slippers blog gives us a lovely eye into an afternoon to remember in Out of Door Life:  A Growing Time.
Gina, thank you for sharing such a beautiful moment!

Those times when our homeschooling lifestyle, unique and dynamic, brings us confidence and pride in what we are offering our children. On the Harvest Moon blog, Ann brings nature indoors and reveals the excitement of indepth learning in "How to Dissect an Owl Pellet." A totally cool activity, highly recommended! Ann, wonderful to see your homeschooling kids digging such a cool activity!

The activities we create and/or participate in bring a new understanding of the world and our connection to it.  Penelope Trunk, blogger extraordinaire, on her eponymously-named blog wrote "How I put Homeschooling on Reality TV," and reminds us the homeschoolers are REALLY out there doing great things! This blog is one of my faves!

Sometimes we need a small reminder that downtime is valuable and full of grow time. Nebby from the blog Letters from Nebby takes a moment to celebrate Charlotte Mason's brilliant understanding of this need for our children. In "The Need for Downtime," Nebby encourages us to spend a little time "down". Thanks for the reminder, Nebby.

Jamie of momSCHOOL blog reminds we homeschooling parents that devoting our hearts and energy to raising and educating our children can bring up new lessons for the parents as new stages of our children's lives speed past. Her post "It's So Scary --Preparing for College" is a post that every one of us will probably need to read (or write) sooner or later. Thanks, Jamie!''

On a blog post on Tea Time with Annie Kate, Annie wrote a post entitled "Our Summer School Goals" explaining just how her family decides what their family will be busy with this summer. Annie's blog is one of those blogs that parents will enjoy reading because it feels like home...a homeschooler's home. And it looks like their summer will be a blast!

Christine at Our Curious Home blog give us a comical reminder that understanding kids isn't always easy in her post "So Glad I Held my Tongue." Make sure to read other posts on her blog...she may just be your new best friend.

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ID: 1072On the Time4Learning blogs, homeschooling mom Dee asks this ethical question about "ReSelling Curriculum": Should I have the right to resell my materials knowing the publishers are not selling their new materials because of it?
Where do YOU stand on the question?

The talented blogger Gabriela of Luminous Fire - Our Homeschool Journal blog writes an inspired and moving post called Because We Can that will not only touch you, but will have you returning to her blog to read more!

The blog Homeschooling in Buffalo, written by Liz, offers this post entitled Homeschooling:  The Occasional Problem With Self-Paced Learning. All of us know, instinctively, that NO CHILD is "on grade" with all subjects. Some are ahead, some are behind, some are ahead in some and behind in others. Luckily, as homeschooling parents, we can see these "levels" and respect them! I'm happy to include this post in the carnival this week.

Cathy from Homeschool Scrapbook blog shares a post cleverly called Journal Entry 11 that describes perfectly one of those homeschooling days that makes us smile a secret smile for the loveliness! I hope Cathy starts writing more, she's great! Check out her musings!
Make sure to check out another of her posts called "Homeschoolers Playing School" for a chuckle...and a bit of parental wisdom!

On the blog On Planting Seeds... Kim offers a window into using Five in a  Row curriculum in this wonderful activity that she describes in her post Creating a Theme Basket:  The Swiss Family Robinson. What an inspiring project!

From the Cates, the REAL hosts (and creators) of the Carnival of Homeschool Blogs, they offer these posts:
Another reason NOT to send your special needs child to school
Why Homeschool

"Five Things I Hate About Homeschool and How I Deal With Them" by Jamie at Simple Homeschool blog will touch all of us! Homeschooling isn't for wimps and Jamie tells it like it is!  Thank you, Jamie, for allowing me to include this post in this week's carnival!

And, finally, Shirley at Our KONOS Adventure blog, in her post called Attentiveness - Week 1, celebrates one of those house messy/worth it moments in homeschooling.
Also check out the posts Learning is Fun and Vocabulary in KONOS.

 Please, if you read something you enjoy,
 leave a comment for the authors!

I have been absolutely delighted to hostess this week's Carnival of Homeschool Blogs!

I hope you have enjoyed these MOMENTS.
If you have, please pass along a Carnival link to your friends and share the fun!