Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

looking to homeschoolSummer is going fast. Before we blink, it will be time to again think about the upcoming school year. With the current COVID issues, some schools aren’t slated to open this fall. Others will open with strict cautionary measures.

Time and again, I’ve heard from several parents who are considering (or have made the decision) to homeschool, which raises the question: what things should you consider if you are contemplating homeschooling this year?

#1: Motive. People homeschool for many reasons. Some of these include:

COVID – this wasn’t a reason until this year, but it’s becoming a common reason for deciding to homeschool.

Religious reasons – parents want to be able to raise their children in a school that allows God to be at the forefront.

The freedom to be able to instill their morals.

Their child has experienced a negative situation at their public school, for example, bullying.

To be able to teach their child at a rate above what the public school teaches.

To be able to teach their child at a pace needed for a child with special needs.

The child has other health issues that would be better served by a home education.

More freedom during the school day in all arenas of daily life.

Ability to choose and tailor school curriculum to specific learning styles. (A one-size-doesn’t-fit-all education).

A more efficient school day.

And many, many other reasons.

What is your motive for homeschooling your child? It’s critical to examine those motivations to better equip you for this decision.

#2: Children’s learning styles. It’s helpful to learn your children’s learning styles. There is a thorough explanation of seven different (some primary, some secondary) learning styles on the Homeschooling Mom blog. The styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which most of us are somewhat familiar with), as well as, reading/writing learner, mathematical/logic learner, social learner, and solitary learner.

Most children are mix of one or more styles. If you are in tune to what style(s) your child is, you will be better able to teach them. Neither of my children share my learning styles, but if I was to teach in one of those styles, I likely wouldn’t be effective. As a homeschool parent, you have the ability of being able to teach in whatever learning style(s) your child falls into.

#3: Curriculum. One of the concerns I have heard from people considering homeschooling is that they won’t (i.e., aren’t educated enough/don’t have qualifications) be able to teach their child in certain subjects. Let me reassure you that there are so many curriculum choices, some that are even self-grading, that this challenge will not be as big of an issue as it could at first seem. Co-ops are also helpful for this.

A little reminder: you have been teaching your child since their first days. Who better qualified to continue teaching them?

Seek out those who have already homeschooled or who are currently homeschooling and ask what curriculum they use. Be prepared to change your curriculum if it doesn’t work. I’ve done that many times with my girls. We have the freedom to choose what will work best for our children, and if something doesn’t work, there are many other choices.

Be willing to think outside the box. For instance, maybe your child who doesn’t much care to write can give some oral reports for history class, rather than writing a report of what she has learned. Or if you have a child who loves to write, perhaps doing a novel in a year would be just the thing to add to her English curriculum.

Some of my choices for high school curriculum can be found here.

One final note: curriculum can get pricey. Keep in mind that you can purchase used curriculum at a fraction of the cost.

#4: Your support system. If you are going to homeschool, you will need a support system.

A support system begins with your spouse. If your spouse is not on board, it will be an uphill battle. I’m thankful my husband (our principal, math, woodworking, and science teacher) has been on full board since we began homeschooling many years ago.

You’ll also need the support of other family and friends. Homeschooling can be difficult and lonely at times, and their support will be invaluable.

The support of online Facebook groups is also helpful. We have a local group for which I am an admin, and it has been a great place to bounce ideas off each other, find upcoming events and field trips, and even buy used curriculum. I am also the member of numerous national Facebook homeschool groups, which provide a different and even broader range of opportunities.

Find a mentor mom, someone who has been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. We have several of these in our local Facebook group. Their experience and advice have been priceless.

Local co-ops are also a great place to find support.  I taught a homeschool P.E. class for seven years to upwards of 40 teens and tweens during our busiest years. I also taught Constitutional Literacy and Biology Lab. During those times of teaching, and the times when my daughters attended other classes, I was able to reinforce those bonds with other homeschooling moms and dads.

#5: Be mindful of electives. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that our children have a wide variety of electives. My oldest daughter took a woodworking class with her dad as the teacher. She built me a birdhouse, built herself a dresser, and assisted my husband in redoing the counters and moldings in our kitchen and bathroom.

My youngest daughter takes a quilting and sewing class from a friend. This has enabled her to sew a skirt, two quilts, and a host of other smaller projects.

#6: Don’t worry about socialization. This is a huge concern for people who don’t homeschool. Between church youth groups, volunteer projects, sports, co-ops, and fair/4-H projects, homeschooled kids are more than socialized. The difference between being socialized as a public school student and being socialized as a homeschool student is that the parent chooses how they want their child to be socialized and who they want their child to be socialized with. This eliminates negative influencers and incorporates positive role models and interaction with every age group.

#7. Use this time to build relationships with your children. My absolute favorite thing about being a homeschool mom is the relationships I have built with my daughters. For example, each day, I bring a topic to the table during breakfast, where we discuss it (no topic/question is off limits). We’ve had some great discussions about the things that concern them most.

In addition, being together more often than the few hours they would be home were they public schooled has allowed us to grow closer. I wouldn’t trade that closeness for anything.
Time with KidsNo matter if you decide to homeschool, or what homeschooling method you choose , offer your decision to the Lord. Ask that He guide you, direct you, and help you to glorify Him in your choice to homeschool your child.

 

Other posts on this blog that might interest you:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

5 fun summer activities for kids

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

10 suggestions for dealing with the corona virus situation

Movie Monday: Unplanned

 

 

 

 

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

ways to keep kids engagedNeed some fun ideas to keep your children and teens entertained? Read on!

  1. Plan an indoor camping trip. Set up the tent in the living room, round up some tasty treats, and provide some flashlights, string some Christmas lights, and include a game for some late-night fun.photo-of-toddler-sitting-on-floor-3932965 (2)
  2. Make homemade slime. Little bins for little hands has numerous recipes for easy-to-make slime.
  3. Catch up on some reading. Madi’s Musings writing and book review blog has some awesome reading suggestions for a variety of ages.
  4. Get a healthy dose of exercise. Walk. Scooter. If the weather is nice, head outdoors with the family and enjoy some fresh air. Bring out the strollers and push little ones for a win/win situation.
  5. Play a game of tag.
  6. Put together a puzzle.
  7. Join with your kids in serving others, beginning in your own neighborhood. Do elderly neighbors need grocery pickup or delivery? Could you rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or till a garden? Walk their dog?
  8. Set some decluttering goals. What a perfect time to organize! Join with the kids in setting a goal to organize their toys, a closet, or the living room. Play some music, then celebrate with a fun treat afterwards.
  9. Bake cookies or muffins. Check out these easy recipes for chocolate crinklesno-bakes cookies, or chocolate chip muffins (all with gluten-free options). choc muffinsOr suggest kids decorate graham crackers with frosting for their own creations.cute cookies 1
  10. Take on a building/fixing project. Parents, kids love to learn and work side by side. What about building a wood project? Fixing a broken item? Changing oil in the car?
  11. Enjoy a movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn! Need some movie ideas? Check out this list of some Mom-Approved Movies for Families.
  12. Connect through a Bible study. Take turns reading, then discussing the chapter.
  13. Partake in a Bible challenge. When my girls were younger, they loved it when I hosted Bible challenges and asked them questions. They would “ring in” when they knew the answer. Not only was it fun, but it also helped us learn God’s Word.The questions can be as simple as the following:Who created the earth?Who were the first two people God created?

    Who is God’s Son?

    To harder questions:

    Name eight of the 12 disciples.

    Name the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit?

    Name the books of the New Testament in order.

  14. Plan meals together and make them. One good thing to come out of our recent Covid-19 isolation is that we, as families, are eating out less and making more meals together. Put kids in charge of planning meals and making (or assisting in the making of) the meals. I recommend Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Chili (gluten free).chili
  15. Make funny videos. Using your phone or other device, have your kids record funny commercials selling something they own or making a silly news program. When I was a kid, my sister and I filmed (with a gigantic video camera!) used car commercials, a news series on happenings, and music videos where we danced to our favorite songs.
  16. Play mimic mirror. With two players (two kids or a kid and a parent) have one person make certain faces and the other person mimic those expressions.
  17. Have a blinking contest. First person to blink loses!
  18. Make it a spa day. Have daughters? Create a spa day complete with manicures, pedicures, and new hairdos.
  19. Have a hot chocolate day. Who doesn’t love a huge cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?
  20. Host a tea party.
  21. Snuggle before getting out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite memories is snuggling with my daughters when they were little and reading them stories before we started on our day.
  22. Decorate boxes. Have some boxes from recent online deliveries? Be sure to let them sit for at least 24 hours (to be sure there is no germ spread from Covid-19), then bring out the crayons and markers and decorate the boxes.
  23. Enlist your teens to make up exercise routines they host for the entire family.two-woman-doing-exercise-1671217 (2)
  24. Do a science experiment. This website offers some innovative ideas.
  25. Play hide and seek. This is one of our family’s favorite past times. Years ago, we couldn’t find my husband during one particular game. It’s still a mystery how he perched himself way above the water heater in the water closet, reminiscent of Spiderman.
  26. Have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Provide clues and a surprise at the end.
  27. Write a book together. One person starts the “book” and passes it around with everyone handwriting a paragraph or several. Littles can draw pictures to illustrate.
  28. Have a blind taste testing competition. Secretly collect different items and place a bit of each one in separate containers. Guests of the competition will be blindfolded and try to guess what they are tasting.
  29. Build a fort. Kitchen chairs and blankets, anyone?
  30. Listen to audiobooks. Adventures in Odyssey has some wonderful timeless stories.
  31. Host the Olympic games in your living room or your backyard. Everything from skipping races to the three-legged race, to crab walking can bring a gold medal.
  32. Design a fitness center with different stations. Jump roping, hula-hooping, hopping on one foot, somersaults, situps, and pushups. Set the timer for each station.
  33. Create Playdough or homemade clay. The iheart naptime blog has a great recipe for your homemade playdough endeavors.
  34. Create and color for family members. Grandmas love to hang those on their refrigerators!
  35. Create and color pictures/write encouraging notes for those in nursing homes and VA hospitals. Call ahead of time to see if they are accepting artwork for their residents.
  36. Make a craft. Make Cheerio necklaces or another fun craft, such as egg carton caterpillars, pasta pictures, and homemade frames. Check out this idea for mini-lid banjos from the Craft Train blog.
  37. Plant seeds.
  38. Host a touch testers competition. Put several items in a box and each competitor must guess what the item is. Keep track to see who wins!
  39. Create and act out a play.
  40. Play dress up with mom’s and dad’s clothes.
  41. Play balloon volleyball. (Do not use balloons around small children, as they are a choking hazard).
  42. Read the same book as your tweens and teens, then have a book discussion, complete with treats.
  43. Stargaze.
  44. Have a picnic in your yard, on your deck, or in the living room.
  45. Go on a photography hunt. Using your camera, snap interesting photos of the world around you.
  46. Shoot baskets. This works at the outside basketball hoop, or a makeshift “hoop” designed from a trash can and using a soft ball.man-dunking-the-ball-163452 (3)
  47. Have a paper airplane competition. Check out this link on how to make a paper airplane. https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/learn-it/5-basic-paper-airplanes
  48. Create a blog. WordPress offers free blogs. Perfect idea for tweens and teens to hone their writing skills and write about what’s important to them!
  49. Make smoothies or root beer floats.
  50. Crank the music and dance.
  51. Have a fashion show.
  52. Cloud gaze/watch. What animals or shapes can you find in the clouds?
  53. Watch science videos. Answers in Genesis has been hosting interesting science videos on Ken Ham’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/
  54. Create a “grocery store” with empty boxes and plastic containers of items. Children can “shop” for items and pay with coins or homemade coins/dollar bills made from cardboard.
  55. Make sock puppets. Using old socks, markers, and buttons, create sock puppets, then have them star in their own sock puppet show.
  56. Play a game. Uno, Tenzi, Checkers, Old Maid, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Big Picture, Monopoly, Clue, Canine Capers, and Pictionary are some fun options.
  57. Be a gameshow host. The options are endless for this suggestion. When my girls were younger, we played a game called “Gameshow Contestant.” I would call out a letter and they would run to retrieve the letter magnet from the front of the refrigerator. I would excitedly call out, “can she do it in less than 10 seconds? Stick around, folks, let’s see!” At the end of the game, the girls would win fabulous “new cars” aka, Matchbox cars. J Other suggestions are to find items around the house and place them on the table in record time.
  58. Encourage creative play. Our children need time to be creative with no structure. This is so important to proper development and fostering an active imagination. girl-in-red-dress-playing-a-wooden-blocks-3662667 (2)

What a blessing to be able to spend time with our children and teens! Let’s use this opportunity to grow closer.

 

How do you keep your children busy during this time of social isolation?

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

Outside-the-box

Looking for some suggestions for your homeschool students? Check out these out-of-the-box ideas:

For younger students:

Gameshow Contestant Alphabet race. Purchase magnetic alphabet letters and place them in random order on the refrigerator. Pretend to be a game show host and ask  your contestant(s) to retrieve a letter. For instance, “find the letter “S”! Your student runs to the refrigerator, and in record time, returns with the letter. Continue until all of the letters have been chosen. If they get one wrong, have them try again. My girls loved this game when they were little. They would giggle when I announced they won “a brand new car!” at the end of the game, which was really one of my husband’s toy Matchbox cars he’d collected as a youth.

Real Gameshows. Similarly, my daughters loved (and still do love) to play Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. From the time they were little, they would guess letters and try to answer questions. The familiarity of learning letters assisted them greatly as younger children. Today, my teen daughters compete with the rest of the family for the correct answers on Jeopardy and the correct puzzle solving on Wheel of Fortune.

Math Candies.  When my girls were in kindergarten and first grade, we often played math games with candies. Candies (and crackers) work well for learning adding and subtracting. And they’re tasty when you’re finished. (Just be sure not to eat the entire bag)!

Specimen Collection. My youngest daughter loves insects. In our town, we have numerous pathways and trails where we collected “specimens” for her bug collection. Enlist relatives in other states to send specimens from their area to add to collections.

different learning styles

For older students:

Attend a Naturalization Ceremony. It is amazing to watch as people proudly become new citizens of the United States. It’s an excellent example of legal immigration. To become a U.S. citizen is a privilege, and the hard work these new members of our country have put forth is an inspiration.

Attend a court hearing. Have a small claims or traffic court in your town? Call ahead and see if your teens can attend a hearing and sit in the audience. A word of caution: you will need to be discerning, as some court cases are not appropriate for children/teens.

Read the newspaper and/or news magazines. This is a great way to teach your children how the press works. Encourage them to be on the lookout for biased articles. A good reporter  will write an article in such a way that the reader cannot tell which side of the controversy the reporter is on.

Have your student write a letter to the editor. Allow your tween/teen to pick a topic that is important to them and relevant to current events. After they type the letter, they will either hand deliver or email the letter to the editor of the paper.

Novel in a year. My oldest daughter wants to be a writer, so last year for part of her English studies, she wrote a novel in full for a story she’d had percolating around in her mind. Her creativity was amazing to see.

Start a blog. My youngest daughter isn’t as fond of writing as her mom and sister are, so to encourage creative thought, she established her own blog. Every other week, I assign her a topic, which is usually picked from the headlines. On alternating weeks, the decision is up to her regarding the subject matter. She usually chooses an interesting animal or a fictional story. It not only gives teens a chance to develop opinions about important topics, but also enhances their creativity.

Woodworking and other projects. My husband and oldest daughter took on two projects: the first was to build a birdhouse for my birthday. The second was to design and build a dresser for my her room.

Sewing. My youngest daughter takes sewing and quilting classes from a dear friend who is an expert seamstress and quilter. My daughter so far has learned how to mend, sew doll clothes, and complete a quilt from start to finish. She will soon begin sewing her own clothes.

Both woodworking and sewing teach a host of useful items to students. Learning how to measure; learning the importance of sticking with a project; and how to use various machines/hand tools.

Field trips. We live in a small town, but I’m surprised at the number of places we’ve found to take field trips. For younger children, the fire station and the local bakery are favorites; for older children, the police station, court house, and historical places were hits. Don’t rule out places of employment, especially for older children. You never know what might spark an interest in them for a future vocation.

Topics of discussion. When people ask me what my favorite things about homeschooling are, “topics of discussion” is one of the things that top the list. I bring important issues to the table during breakfast or lunch, and we discuss them. It can range from current events, to issues teens deal with, eating disorders, alcohol and smoking, friends, boys, etc. There are no taboo topics, and everyone joins in the conversation. Sometimes teens can be a bit evasive, so have some quality questions in your arsenal that you can ask to get them to give their opinions. It’s also a time for them to ask questions, so be sure to make it a relaxed and laid-back environment.

One of the first things I learned as a homeschool mom was that every child has a different learning style. What works for one may not work for another. As such, being able to “add” projects to their curriculum only enhances their learning.

 

the top 11 curriculum choices for high school students

back to school

School is just around the corner! Here are some suggestions for top curriculum choices for high schoolers:

Math:

Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1

Literature/Language Arts:

Skills for Literary Analysis – James Stobaugh (Master Books) Note: This book is written for seventh and eighth grade. However, it is extremely thorough and would be excellent for ninth grade.

Creative Writing:

Wordsmith Craftsman (Common Sense Press)

Science:

Exploring Creation With Biology (Apologia)

History:

World History and Cultures in Christian Perspective (Abeka)

Civics:

Constitutional Literacy (Apologia) Note: Be sure to purchase the DVDs that accompany the workbook.

Government:

American Government in Christian Perspective (Abeka) Note: I recommend Abeka books, however, I would not recommend their tuition/DVD/streaming program.

Bible Study:

I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist Curriculum by Frank Turrek and Chuck Winter (Apologia)

Vocabulary:

Vocabulary from Classical Roots (Educators Publishing Service)

Psychology

Psychology: A Christian Perspective by Tim Rice (Homeschool Psych)

Health

Total Health: Choices for A Winning Lifestyle by Susan Boe (Purposeful Design Publications)

Best online classes:

Schoolhouseteachers.com Provides online classes for preschool through high school with everything in between and in nearly every subject.

Best go-to website for everything homeschool:

HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) includes homeschool laws for each state, consultants, forms and sample letters, and current information regarding homeschooling issues.

What are some of your favorite curriculum items?