You guys can ask some questions!!! Let me give you a couple of disclaimers. First, my answers are based almost solely on my experience with my two kids. Certainly they are not like every other kid in the world.
Secondly, you may notice that I don’t talk much about my daughter. Mostly because she is the easiest child in the world. She was born that way and it is in no way due to my parenting skillz. She is an amazing young lady and I really haven’t had any school challenges from her. I think the most grief she’s ever given me is complaining about not liking school.
Sherry asks: My son has ADD tendencies. What have you found is most helpful for your son in terms of schooling to help him stay on task? Two things – breaks to let him run around and finding curriculum that didn’t have a lot of busy work -i.e. worksheets, too much repetitive review. Sonlight, Math-U-See and Switched on Schoolhouse helped immensely with his short attention span.
Amy and Jennifer ask: My question is where and how do homeschool moms get their “curriculum”? There are a number of ways. If you have a local homeschool supply store, you can look at things there. You can go to a homeschool conference, but beware, they can be completely overwhleming!! So can just searching online. If I had to do it all over again, I would start with Sonlight and Math-U-See and stay with both of those for PreK-8th grade. I personally think a literature approach to education is one of the most beneficial ways to learn. We’re switching Austin to more textbooks this year (9th grade) because it’s what he’ll be doing in college.
Amy also adds: . . as she gets older, I am scared of not teaching her all she needs to know. Welcome to the homeschool mom club, Amy! We all worry about that at first. If you make sure you have age/grade appropriate materials for reading, writing and math (and throw in history to make me happy) you’ll be just fine. I live in Washington state and starting at age 8, state law requires yearly standardized testing. Getting those results back will show you if your child is progressing. But truly for me the heart of homeschooling is simply teaching my children how to learn. If they know that, they can pretty much figure out anything.
From Amy Sue: What has been the hardest subject you’ve taught? Math. Oh dreaded math. My brain is set up for reading, writing, creating . . . not math!! When the math got harder (6th grade and up) I found it very hard to explain things. Math-U-See was a godsend because each level has its own instruction dvd so the kids learn from that. Austin is now doing Algebra I and we switched to Teaching Textbooks because it got such rave reviews from many friends. So far, it’s wonderful! And they do all the instruction on cd’s.
From LaVonne: Do you ever worry that you won’t be doing enough for them? Again, welcome to the homeschool mom club! I used to, but not anymore. They’re very involved in things outside of the house – church, sports; they’ve taken violin lessons, choir, all sorts of things. But by far the greatest thing we’ve done recently is belonging to a co-op. Our co-op is part of a larger organization that has co-ops all over the country. Check out First Class Homeschool Ministries. They rock!
Rachel had two questions: 1) How much time do you spend daily teaching/instructing? This varies by age. I would say 1st – 3rd grade, you usually spend a lot of one-on-one time teaching. But when they’re that young, it’s maybe two hours a day. I like to say, “If you’re spending more than an hour teaching your kindergartner, you might want to re-assess the situation.” Now that the kids are older, school usually takes about 3 -4 hours. But my role has changed. I basically write down what they need to do, correct it and go over it with them.
2) How much have you lost your patience? One time I called a veteran homeschooler and asked her if there was a book about being patient and homeschooling – lol. I thought she was going to say, “Uh, it’s called ‘the Bible.'” But she didn’t. I’m not the world’s most patient person so I have lost it more than once.
Valerie asks: Do you have family support? and if you do … how do you use that to your benefit? As far as family support, I have tons of it. My husband, all the grandparents and aunts and uncles have been very supportive from day 1. Some of my older, extended family members have made snarky comments here and there but I honestly could not care less. I hardly ever see them . . . and I’m not living to please them anyway. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, I just inwardly roll my eyes and realize they’re as set in their ways as I am in mine. As far as using it to my benefit, I’m not sure what that means. There have been times my husband has stepped in and helped . . . when the kids weren’t being as attentive as they could have been, when I just can’t explain a certain math concept.
Christie and Kristi from Facebook ask: What about time for yourself, away from kids? When I first started homeschooling, there was a group of us at church who were homeschooling and we all had kids around the same age. We made sure all the others were having “time off.” My husband was always eager to let me have a little getaway time here and there. I know one thing that helped was that we do. not. do year round school. I know a lot of homeschoolers who do and I just can’t. I take full advantage of the summers. Huge amounts of laziness abound. I was very honest with my husband and what I needed. I don’t think there’s a husband out there who can just “know” that their wife is at the end of their rope. We have to tell them!! I was almost always involved at church, Bible study, and I had hobbies that took me out of the house.
Christie also adds: And what do you do as far as band, team sports, clubs, prom, etc? For team sports, the kids just play in local, private leagues. Austin has done soccer, basketball, karate and track over the years. Amber isn’t in to sports, so she’s taken dance lessons and will be starting tennis this weekend. Band . . . neither of my kids ever had a desire to play in a band. They did take violin for three years in an orchestra class. My son has also taken guitar lessons. Prom . . . well, the homeschool co-op we go to have teen formals twice a school year. Prom problem solved. Usually if you can find a local homeschool group, you’ll find moms who have a pulse on all things extra-curricular related.
From Our Nifty Notebook: I want to know HOW you get your kids to do their work? Hmmmmmm . . . I’ve not had too many problems with this one. It just is not an option for them to not finish what they are assigned in a day. If they have to sit at the table until 7 pm, then they have to sit there until it’s done. Once I established this “zero tolerance” policy early on, they really haven’t fought me over the years. The early elementary school years were the worst for trying to get out of schoolwork. They got pretty sick of losing out on life because they didn’t want to do their work. Do they complain? I’m about to fall out of my seat laughing on this one. I apologize. Of course they complain. Usually on a daily basis. I generally ignore them or just laugh. Life’s hard!
Alecia writes: My daughter has shut down and refuses to do any sort of what she thinks is school work at this point, will this pass, will she enjoy to learn again? First of all, she might need a break. Or her load might need to be lightened for a bit. Readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic might have to suffice for awhile. That’s what I’d do . . . take out all the other stuff for a period of time. As far as will she enjoy to learn again, I don’t know. Neither one of my kids are what I’d call lovers of school. I’ve tried everything I can think of to get them to enjoy it and they just don’t. They’d rather be outside.
From Amy E.: How did you deal with your doubts? Not very well at first. But once I was around enough homeschoolers and their kids, I saw the wonderful results. Also the yearly, standardized testing our state requires is a good gauge as well. One thing that Todd Wilson says in the book I’m giving away is that (and I’m paraphrasing) you can’t do anything to keep your child from God’s intended purpose for their life. Anytime I start to freak out – like about an hour ago – I say this to myself over and over and over. My goal for homeschooling has never been to spit out geniuses who are the smartest at everything by the time they graduate from high school. My focus has always been on my kids’ relationship with Christ, their character and passing on our faith.
And, finally, from Kirsten: When homeschooling, how can one be sure their child is receiving enough social interaction from others their age? For us, the amount of interaction the kids got at church, in the neighborhood and with my friend’s kids was enough. I still feel the same way as they have branched out with more activity at church, been involved in sports and though our co-op. How does one even gauge when it is enough? This is how I keep a pulse on it: If my kids can interact in healthy, socially appropriate ways with the public in general, then we’re good. If they can look an adult in the eye and at least respond with a “thank you” or answer a question, then all is well. My daughter was painfully shy as a child. I knew she was okay socially because even though she was shy, she could maintain healthy friendships. If at any point I thought my children were “peer dependent” I would have cut back on some of their social activities. Dr. Ray Moore has a really great book, Home Grown Kids, that deals with many of these types of issues. I would recommend it for anyone to read.
And . . . . we’re done!! You still have a little less than two hours to enter my giveaway HERE. I will count all entries received by 2 pm Pacific time today!