Demystifying Homeschooling Methods

Here is a great talk hosted by N.A.S.H. from last week that I had the privilege to be a part of. It is worth a listen if you are wanting to learn more about homeschooling and the various methods.

N.A.S.H. - National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

Did you know there are many different ways to homeschool? Do you ever wonder what homeschooling style would work best for your family? In the Methods of Homeschooling Teleconference, recorded on January 28, 2015, for National School Choice Week, our panel of homeschoolers discussed how their unique homeschooling styles works for their families. The panel included unschooling father, Dennis Wolf, eclectic homeschooling mom, Beth Suitt, curricula­-based homeschooling mom, Jill Harper, and roadschooling mom, Larah Ritchie. These speakers along with the moderator, Jai Cook, the Programs and Services Senior Director for N.A.S.H., will help you demystify the various methods of homeschooling.

(Our apologizes ~ there were technical difficulties recording this session. Some of the beginning introductions are missing.)

Questions addressed in this session include:

●  Can you use a different method for each child?
●  Has your chosen method changed since you started homeschooling?
●  What homeschooling philosophy have you followed?

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School Choice Week with National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

Some days in our homeschool look like this:

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Other days will find us doing this:

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And other days we might be working on this:

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Our homeschooling looks different from day to day and from year to year. Some years we were more strict using an all-in-the-box curriculum, other years we were very loose. My homeschool also varies from my friend’s homeschool which is one of the great benefits to homeschooling. There are so many ways to run a homeschool and so many different resources that one can use.

Are you thinking about homeschooling and wish you had a little more information? Or are you new to homeschooling and want to hear from veteran homeschoolers? If so then N.A.S.H. has something for you.

N.A.S.H. is hosting a week of online roundtables from Monday, January 26, 2015 through Friday, January 30, 2015 in honor of National School Choice Week. These online discussions with veteran homeschoolers will cover topics such as how to start homeschooling, different homeschooling methods and curricula (secular of course!), homeschooling high school, and how to deal with the subject (that ALWAYS seems to come up) of socialization.

I will be part of the roundtable during The Methods of Homeschooling discussion. If you are thinking about homeschooling or you want more information on one of the topics please stop.

You can find more information on the N.A.S.H. website. If you would like to register for this event please click here.

A New Year

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This last year my blog was severely neglected. Many factors led to my neglected blog, but I was never too happy about it. Although I had very little time to spend here, I seemed to spend a great deal of time lamenting the fact that I wasn’t posting. Obviously I missed writing here, and I knew I needed to get back to it.

This year I am hoping to make more time for my musings about homeschooling and other topics. Already I seem to be back in a place where this is possible, and I am feeling quite excited about it. I do find it harder to figure out what to write about though. One reason is that all the kids are getting so much older. How easy it is to write about your preschooler or elementary aged child and their going ons. It is so much harder to write about the tween or teen child because there is a level of privacy and respect that needs to be followed. Obviously I am not the first blogger to come across this problem, and I am sure I will find a way around it. After all there is so much I would love to share about this stage in our homeschooling as it is an exciting and rewarding stage.

For today I want to share what the kids are doing on our first day back to school after a long Christmas break. It is a perfect morning here. The kids are all content and working both independently and together on various subjects. I am sitting back and taking it all in. I am aware these days that our time together is numbered. In a few years the twins will be off on their own, and the boy and I will have a couple years left together before he too is off in the world. I am so aware of this now as the kids inch ever closer to adulthood, and I find myself sitting back often and looking at them, listening to them, enjoying every laugh and word and movement that they make.

Today the girl woke up and had an online class for two hours. I made her a latte and took it to her while she was hard at work. The boys listened to Writer to Writer together, and then we all discussed what books we are going to write this year. Autry joined us at this point, and it was so satisfying to hear them all share their ideas with each other. Silently I watched them and thought to myself that writing books together as a family has to be one of the best bonding experiences there is.

Later in the morning the oldest boy started his online class, and the younger boy and I worked on math and handwriting. Then the younger boy read five chapters of Lauren Ipsum: A Story About Computer Science and Other Improbable Things. He is now listening to a Neil Gaiman book which he loves. I know he loves it because he comes out of his room every five minutes or so and excitedly tells me what is happening in the book.

Presently the twins are studying in their rooms. Autry is writing an essay, and Tru is working on computer science. So much of their work is independent now that they are older which is both wonderful and a little sad. Mostly wonderful though as it frees up so much of my time.

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As for me I am getting ready to take our ever faithful companion for a walk. For although the kids may be older and more independent, Kingsley will always need me. Sometimes I complain about this fact, but really dogs are wonderful companions and a perfect remedy to the parent who is transitioning from being a mom to young children to a mom of young adults.

An Amazing Year

Tired after a day of homeschooling.

Tired after a day of homeschooling.

After homeschooling for over ten years I have come to the harsh conclusion that every year is not always going to be great. Sometimes the curriculum is a bad match or a child is going through a hard time. Whatever the reason, some years are definitely better than others.

The twins and I still talk about their third grade year. It was an incredibly rewarding year. Decca and I look back fondly on his second grade year when he worked through a whole level of Moving Beyond the Page. He loved every book we read and enjoyed all the projects. Here at TADTown we haven’t had a wonderful year like that for a few years now. We haven’t had horrible years, but they weren’t amazing by any means.

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This year though is going to be remembered as the Great Homeschooling Year of 2014. It has turned out better than I expected, and I am so happy that everything is going so smoothly for everyone. The twins and I have figured out this high school thing, and they are loving all of their classes. They are doing well in them all, and I don’t have to hold their hands anymore. Last year they were transitioning to independent workers who took control of their education, and this year they are managing their classes on their own and are clearly in the driver’s seat. I still teach them British Literature (and I enjoy it so much as it is our only time that we are actively learning together), but for everything else they are learning in online classes independently of me.

The youngest boy is also having a wonderful year. He even remarked to me the other day that this is his favorite year ever. Some of this is due to the curriculum I choose for him, some of this has to do with his maturity, and some of this has to do to the fact that he underwent more testing at the beginning of the year. This testing helped me see a more complete picture of him which in turn aided my choices for the year. Because of his testing I decided to go back to a charter school for him. In addition to financial support for homeschooling, we have been matched with a wonderful ES who is credentialed in Special Education which is incredibly helpful to both of us.

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The curriculum that is working for my 2E kid is a mix of different resources. For language arts we are working through Bravewriter, and this year we added in our first Bravewriter class, Just So Stories. This was a great success for the boy, and we both are looking forward to more classes with Bravewriter. We will probably do two more this school year and alternate them with issues of the Arrow. In addition to Bravewriter, he continues to write his own stories every day. He is a writer and needs hours a day to write in order to feel successful.

For math I had to re-think my plans after his testing. Everything I thought we would do went out the window and was instead replaced with Math Works, a program I found for kids who are behind their peers in math. It is not overwhelming to the boy and is getting done everyday. To me that makes it a success.

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For science he started out watching all the BrainPop videos (again!) and then we started Ferret Ecology from Royal Fireworks Press. This is another winner here, so much so that we ordered Plague! too. I believe the boy enjoys working through this because it is problem-based learning which allows him to research, which he loves to do, to find answers. There is also a good deal of writing required in the program and because this is his strength he is happy to do it.

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My history plans went out the window within our first week of school. First I thought I would let him study whatever he wanted, following his interests and see where that leads us. That did not work at all. Then I decided we would use History Odyssey and study medieval history. This also did not work, at all. Finally we moved on to American History. I have created my own study for him based on all the previous years that I have taught this to the kids. It is a nice, laid back study which for whatever reason he really likes. We found a timeline app, and he works on it everyday. We read through an encyclopedia and visit various websites for topics related to whatever we are studying. He also reads a book or two a week on various topics.

In addition to the academic work he does, the boy has a good deal of free time everyday to work on his own projects and to listen to audiobooks. He needs this time, for when he has it he does better in the academic work. We probably spend two hours at the most on formal work, the rest of the time is his own. This works for him, and it works for me. It also makes for a great school year. One of the best years we have ever had.

Updates and the youngest boy

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It has been quite a while since I have posted here. As most of you know we had a difficult summer, and I found it hard to come here and write. The good news is we found out that the eldest boy does not have a connective tissue disorder. We found out two weeks ago and have been getting our lives back on track ever since. It is amazing how a medical issue can take over everything so quickly, but I am happy to be back to our old life and routine.

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The twins are hard at work on their school year. We had a few changes from the original plan I posted earlier. One major change was that I enrolled the boy in a pre-calculus class as it was too hard a subject to work on independtly. The twins also switched their science from physics to chemistry as the physics curriculum was a bust, and they both realized they would rather work on chemistry this year. Besides these few changes everything seems to be working out great, and we are especially enjoying our British Literature course (I say we because I am reading the books along with them). The twins have read Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales, and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. They have also been writing a number of essays this year, and I am both amazed and thankful at how quickly they are getting through them now and how mature their writing has become.

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I realize that I never shared my year plan for the youngest boy. The reason behind this is that I don’t have a concrete plan for him. My approach to his schooling is very different to the twins because he is a very unique learner. He is a 2e kid, and because of this I have to approach his schooling in a very different way. Too much work or structure has him frustrated, too little also leads to frustration. Therefore I strive for a balance. He needs a good deal of time for his own projects, but he needs some formal curriculum and a schedule to keep him happy.

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Currently he is working on Scratch games and animations, writing books, and creating his own languages. I add to this by having him work on his basic math skills using this great little book from Rod and Staff, and I have him work on his language arts with Bravewriter. This year he is not only working through issues of the Arrow, but he is also taking some of their classes which we are both very happy with.

As far as science and math the boy primarily watches Brainpop movies and then works through some of their worksheets they have online. We add documentaries and books to this and call it a day. He is studying American history and astronomy right now, and these resources seem to work best for him.

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In addition to everything else the boy discovered that he actually likes audiobooks. He has been listening to them around the clock while he works on other projects. His favorite series so far this year has been The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and now that he has finished that series we are looking for another one.

Hopefully I will be updating the blog more now that I have time. I actually missed being here, missed thinking about homeschooling, and missed reading other blogs. I am appreciative to have the time to be back here again.