Things I Want To Shout From The Rooftops!

My homeschool philosophy or
Things I want to shout from the rooftops or
Things I seem to say over and over….by Kim McIntyre

1. If you’ve decided to embark on the homeschool journey, good for you! If YOU call yourself a homeschooler, I will too. Who am I to say otherwise? And being a homeschooler does NOT mean I am anti other schooling. Thank goodness we have choices.

2. There is no right or perfect way to do it. There are tons of methods, resources, curricula etc. Chances are what works for one kid won’t work for another. (Maybe even the other kids in your family!) Thankfully, whatever you choose only has to work for your kid. And it only has to work today. It might not work tomorrow and that’s okay because there are tons of methods, resources, curricula, etc.

3. Kids learn ALL the time. Even if it doesn’t really look like it. Even if it doesn’t look like you want it to. Kids often learn in spite of us. Kids’ learning often looks a lot like play and like a lot of fun. Join in! You just might learn a thing or two.

4. You WILL miss things! It’s impossible to teach EVERYTHING. Instead focus on basics (reading, writing & arithmetic), help them figure out their learning style, how to find information and to think critically. Hopefully, you can demonstrate that even adults still need and want to learn things. Hopefully, they will LOVE learning. There is no rush! They have their entire life.

5. High school is just a continuation of what you’ve been doing. Or maybe you are just starting…if so, good for you (see #1)! In some ways it is easier because the kids already know the basics and can clearly express their interests and preferences. (Oops, sometimes that makes it harder!) It’s really great when they can drive themselves to lessons, classes, and activities. You CAN give them a diploma and transcripts (the important part) are not that hard!

6. Going to college is no more of a challenge for homeschooled students than any others. Colleges have DECADES of experience with homeschoolers! Research and prepare but DO NOT WORRY!

7. Savor this moment because it will not last. If it’s a bad one, it will soon pass. If it’s a good one, it will soon pass. Be kind to your kids. Be kind to yourself. It’s a journey…don’t forget to look at the scenery along the way.

Kim McIntyre is a veteran homeschooler with 17+ years behind her. Her youngest graduated from home in the spring of 2014. She has two degrees from the University of Michigan. Currently living in Great Falls, MT and substitute teaching. Quirky fact: She has lived in four different states, all beginning with the letter M. Wonder what the other two are? 

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5 Purely Random Meditations on Homeschooling

I came into homeschooling by chance. It was by chance that my second child was born with a learning difference. It was also by chance that, in the third grade, he landed one exceptionally bad teacher in an otherwise exceptionally good school. So it happened that one warm, sunny April afternoon, without having any previous notion I would be homeschooling ANY of my children, he and I sat looking at each other in shock and disbelief. I think we were both wondering if I had just really told the principal he wouldn’t be returning the next day, or any other day for that matter.

I remember everything feeling very surreal as I drove directly to the public library, and checked out all they had on homeschooling (3 books). We went home like any other afternoon, except that the largest shift ever, in our family dynamic, had just occurred. It rumbled up from the earth and shook us from our roots, through our core, to our tiny budding leaves.

Fast forward a few years; now that I’m a veteran homeschooler of exactly 1 child, I can reflect on the new life that has emerged for us. As a result, I have strung together 5 seemingly unrelated, but nonetheless profound ~ to me ~ meditations on homeschooling. Maybe, some of these are familiar to you too.

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhots.net

Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhots.net

1. Those fears I had about homeschooling were unfounded.

Anyone who has considered homeschooling, even if it was just a fleeting thought, has had these fears: I don’t know if I can do this, I don’t know if my child will learn, I’m afraid I will leave something out, I’m afraid my child and I won’t get along or he/she won’t listen to me, I’m not smart enough, I suck at math (or science, or grammar, or whatever).

I’m relieved to report that I found all of this to be untrue; this doesn’t mean I don’t have to chase away the doubt monster which is always creeping in – but no matter what, when I look at my (mostly) happy, (definitely) thriving child, I know my fears were unfounded. It’s not just test scores that say it. Actually, the test scores are the least important indicator to me that this is working.

It’s the feedback from him in a thousand tangible and intangible ways that let me know those things I was so scared of, on the way to the library that day, were unfounded. It’s also feedback from those around him: his friends, his friends’ parents, the folks at the science center, the youth leaders at the Y, his art teacher, the cashier at the grocery store, other family members, etc. The interactions he has with friends, family, and community put my mind at ease. We can do this. My child is learning. If we discover a hole in our curriculum (geography!), we can pick it up any time. We can get along (almost every day).

I’m no genius, but I am smart enough to facilitate my child’s learning – which is an innate drive within him, as a human being. I am not the vessel of all knowledge that must be poured into his brain. I might suck at math, but I’m excellent at seeking out a curriculum that works for him, and takes the stress off of me – which for us is Teaching Textbooks, at least this year.

2. Except One – Homeschoolers are weirdos.

It’s the most common misconception, right? “Homeschool weirdo” is an actual term. I’m sure it’s in a dictionary somewhere. In my naïve homeschooling infancy, this was one of my fears too. My kid was going to be a homeschool weirdo. But unlike the previous point, this one turned out to be true.

My kid is a total homeschool weirdo.

Because homeschoolers are weird. Just like public schoolers. Because kids are weird, and people are weird, and that’s just a straight up fact.

The first homeschool group function I went to, I looked around at everyone, very carefully evaluating their weirdness. Just as I suspected, it was a strange bunch, and I was fascinated. There were a few religious zealots. There was also the kid who arrived on the back of his mom’s Harley. There were a couple of radicals, who felt all word problems were created by the liberal left, and the ones who had never had a haircut their entire lives. There were the brainy ones, who answered all the questions before the teacher even asked them, and the awkward ones, who shuffled off to the side and didn’t want to interact. There were also the ones that appeared “normal” on the outside, whose eccentricities were below the surface, but were no less real. It didn’t take me long to realize that homeschool kids are weird, just as weird as the tribe of public school kids that we had long been a part of.

3. I love Nickelback.

There. Now it’s out there. Let the internet flames rain upon me. I love the one band everyone in the world seems to agree sucks. But, I have a semi-reasonable justification for it.

With my son at home, I’ve had many more opportunities to experience his evolving person. The way I loved The Wiggles when he was 18 months old, and he would dance and sing along to them like they were gospel – that’s the way I love Nickelback now. To see how he sings every (god awful) word while he sketches. Or watch him put “Photograph” on repeat and jam while he cleans up one million Legos for the one millionth time. I love it. Seriously. I love it because he loves it. If I am in the car, and Nickelback comes on the radio, I turn that sucker up. It’s my way of giving thanks for this parenting opportunity that I might have otherwise missed out on.

4. Child labor is a good thing!

I remember watching Michelle Duggar of reality TV fame, and thinking rather judgmentally that she was running a child labor camp. Every kid had what seemed like an endless list of “jurisdictions” or chores they were responsible for, and most of them involved meetings the needs of younger siblings. I’m not the only person out there who criticized her delegation of duties; it seemed the kids were all mini parents of one another. After becoming a homeschool veteran (smirk), I can say one thing: Mama Duggar was on to something. I’m not about to sprout a quiver-full of kids, though some would argue that my 4 already are, but I will readily admit my opinion has changed.

Here’s the deal. When my son was in school, I felt bad asking him to do any chores at home. He had already been cooped up all day, he had homework to do, and I wanted him to be able to spend time being a kid. Simple chores that he would have been entirely capable of (and benefited from) were left to me or his father. But remember that shift in our family dynamic I mentioned? This was a biggie for me. One of the best things about homeschool is the labor I get out of him. Trash? Done. Bathrooms? Working on it. Dishes, laundry, prepping dinner? He is part of it all. And perhaps the pot of gold at the end of the jurisdiction rainbow – childcare. He helps meet the needs of his younger siblings. He can give baths, read books, change clothes, feed snacks, even play dollhouse if I really need him to. He has successfully calmed a feverish and vomiting toddler when I was unable to get to him. This may have literally been the moment I was most proud of my 11-year-old ~ to see him calmly comforting his little brother, on his lap, while they both sat covered in puke. I just felt like “Hey, this guy is fantastic, and he is gonna grow into an exceptional adult.” He has the opportunity to contribute to our family, and nurture other people in a way he never would have before. I am trying to come up with an academic skill more important than that, and I can’t. Just can’t.

So Michelle Duggar ~ if you are out there. I was wrong. You knew something I didn’t. I admit it!

5. I could totally be Secretary of State.

Actually, I think this one might be true for any parent, but homeschooling just underscored it for me personally.

One day I was a mother of two public school boys, and in a matter of hours I became a homeschooler. I had zero preparation, zero forethought, and very little grasp of what I was getting myself into. That first afternoon, I felt I was sinking. But damn, if I didn’t get a grip on myself and put my big girl panties on, as they say. It was rocky at first, but I figured this gig out. I know I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination; worries and doubts cloud my thoughts on a daily basis. But, I went from being completely overwhelmed by what I thought was an unimaginably tall task, to feeling ever so slightly ahead of the 8-ball. Frankly, I believe that the doubt I feel helps keep me accountable to this task. I can always do better.

I’ve had opportunities to gain confidence in my adult life: graduation from college and grad school, accolades and promotions in my professional life, childbirth, maneuvering marriage and family, like we all do. This undertaking though, has given me confidence in ways nothing else has. And I am not kidding when I say that if I woke up tomorrow, to find some apocalyptic circumstance in which I was appointed Secretary of State, I could figure that gig out too.

– A.A.

NASH_AA

Anne Alloway is a homeschooling mother of four who gave up personal space a very long time ago.

The Dreaded “S” Word ~ Socialization

One thing that new homeschooling families often worry about is the dreaded “S” word ~ Socialization. They worry their child(ren) will grow up to be odd or anti-social because they’re missing out on the social aspects of public schooling. The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (N.A.S.H.) invited three women to come and discuss their thoughts on socialization during a teleconference recorded on January 30, 2015, during National School Choice Week.

Mari Beth Buckroth, The Inappropriate Homeschooler and founder of N.A.S.H., was joined by Beckie Tetrault and Tina Smith, co-hosts of The Savvy Homeschool Moms Podcast. Tina also blogs on The Homeschool Realm.

In order to discuss socialization, one must first define exactly what is being asked. Is the person concerned with their child’s ability to interact with other people outside of their family? No worries! Of course, your child will be able to interact with other humans. They’re learning how to make their way through the world everyday by interacting with you, and the other people that pass through their lives. Another question may be, will my child have friends, will they have a social life? And again, the answer is most likely yes. Homeschooling will not drastically change the basic personality of your child. If your child is shy at school, there is a pretty good chance that they will continue to be shy, homeschooling or not. If your kid is a little quirky, most likely they will continue to be on the quirky side. During the teleconference, the audience was able to ask the panel questions. These questions may be some of the same ones you have. Examples of their inquiries are:

  • How does one go about starting a local homeschool group?
  • How do you deal with having children of differing personalities? Such as one and introvert and one an extrovert.
  • What is your opinion on online socializing for kids, tweens, and teens when you live in an area with few homeschool group options?

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Homeschooling High School

Homeschooling comes with a lot of questions and uncertainties, and one of those is our ability to homeschool our children through high school. Many misconceptions surround homeschooling high school and many parents have questions and feel insecure about their ability to homeschool grades 9-12. As a result, this seems to be the prime time in which parents decide to send their children to school, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Fortunately, the passage before you has been walked. Two people who have navigated this path, Blair Lee and Jaime Cook, are here to help you. Along with Meg Grooms who moderated the Homeschooling High School Teleconference, recorded on January 29, during National School Choice Week.

Questions addressed in this session include:

  • How do I plan for high school?
  • Can homeschooled kids go to college?
  • What about prom?
  • How do I keep my teen on track?

It’s our sincerest hope that this discussion helps ease your mind and gives you courage. You, too, can homeschool the high school years!

Additional links:

Homeschool Gameschool (Meg Grooms)

Blair Lee Blog

Pandia Press

National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (N.A.S.H.)

Image courtesy of bplanet at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Demystifying Homeschooling Methods

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?
●  How does unschooling work?
●  How do I find quality secular curriculum?

If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, we invite you to listen now!

Additional Links:

Whim’s Rebellion on Facebook (Larah Richie)

TAD Town Blog (Jill Harper)

National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers (N.A.S.H.)

Image courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All About Secular Curricula

The topic of this teleconference, recorded on January 27, 2015, during National School Choice Week, is secular academic homeschool curricula and programs. This includes curriculum, co-ops, and live and online programs. One of the most challenging issues for homeschoolers is choosing curriculum and programs for their kids. For those of us who want secular academics, finding curriculum and programs that we like, and that also work for our children, can be extremely challenging. This hour-long discussion includes some practical tips for finding secular academic materials, a discussion of some common misconceptions about these materials, and a thought provoking discussion about why it is important to find and use academic materials of a secular nature.

The Secular Curricula Teleconference includes six panel members. All the members of the panel are veteran homeschoolers who are involved in developing or evaluating secular academic curricula and programs for the homeschool community. Meet our panelists:

Kate Johnson ~ owner of Pandia Press. Pandia Press publishes the History Odyssey Series and R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Series. She has also authored some of the texts in the History Odyssey Series.http://www.pandiapress.com/

Emily Cook ~ owner of and author for Build Your Library. Build Your Library is a literature based, Charlotte Mason style, homeschool curriculum. Emily is also on the Secular Alliances Committee of N.A.S.H. http://buildyourlibrary.com

Jason Grooms ~ the author of several science books available through his education travel company, The Brainy Tourist. http://www.thebrainytourist.com

Thom Jones ~ provider of both on-line and live, history and science classes through Crime Scene Camps. Thom is also the author of the fantasy series, The Guardians of Elestrahttp://www.crimescenecamps.com

Sonja Kueppers ~ member of the Secular Alliances Committee of N.A.S.H. She has been pivotal in helping to develop a set of definitions and standards that N.A.S.H. will use to identify and explain what constitutes secular academic curriculum. http://www.nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.com

Blair Lee ~ author of R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Chemistry 1 and Biology 2. She writes a blog, http://www.blairleeblog.wordpress.com, about homeschooling, science, and travel. Blair is the Secular Alliances Director of N.A.S.H.

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

How to Start Homeschooling

Making the decision to homeschool your child(ren) is exciting but it can be a bit overwhelming. To help you get started, N.A.S.H. is offering some suggestions to help, including a link to our National School Choice Week teleconference recording, “How To Start Homeschooling” from January, 26, 2015.

1) Google is a homeschooling parents best friend! One of the first steps to getting started is knowing the homeschooling laws and requirements of your state. Google “how to homeschool in (your state)” and look for the links that have Department of Education (DOE) in the link. Other reputable links can be found as well that help explain the laws, but it is always best to read the regulations for yourself.

2) Hop onto social media (Facebook, Yahoo groups, etc) and search for a homeschooling group in your state. Join that group in order to ask questions of those who are actually homeschooling near you. As secular homeschoolers, you might have to weed through groups that are religious based if you wish to obtain information from fellow secular homeschoolers.

3) Here are some book recommendations to help guide you:

“How Children Learn” by John Holt

“Deschooling Gently” by Tammy Takahashi

“Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School” by Rebecca Rupp

4) Sit down as a family and create two lists. First, is a list of all the reasons you are choosing to homeschool. Keep that list close, you’ll need it more often than you think as a reminder on those days when you want to have the kids dressed and ready to catch the public school bus. Second, create a list of all the goals you want to accomplish on your homeschooling journey. This is not a list of educational goals, as in “This year Sally will learn fractions.” This list refers to big, over- arching goals that might include: spending quality time as a family, influencing and guiding my child through the pre-teens years, allowing my child to grow and bloom at his or her own pace, traveling more as a family, and using real world experiences to guide our educational goals. Things of this nature are what you’ll want to have on your second list. Keep these lists close and update them as needed. They will be helpful, especially on days that are difficult or when the doubts creep in.

5) Remember to breathe! Trust your child’s natural development. Just as they learned to crawl, walk, and talk, they WILL learn what they need. Creating an environment that promotes learning and exposes them to a myriad of ways to do so is the most important part of homeschooling your child(ren).

Here are a few more helpful links:

http://education.uslegal.com/homeschooling/homeschooling-laws-by-state/

https://nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.wordpress.com/

http://www.nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.com

*Disclaimer: The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. These materials are intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete, or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results.