Friday, August 24, 2012

Transitioning to Public School

Many of us probably struggle a bit with sending kids to public school after they have been homeschooled. For me personally I wanted my kids to have access to certain programs that the schools offer that I can't find anywhere else.

My oldest son is now a sophomore and his biggest issue when faced with entering public school for the first time last year was that he was worried that he would not be academically prepared. In about two days his mind was at rest and he knew he was fine. He felt socially up to par as he had gone to various churches with the same kids at the school, he has been in scouts with them and he has played little league for years with the same kids so he had built in friends and familiar faces. This boy can challenge any one's idea that he wasn't socialized properly. He is on the honor roll, still plays baseball and is on the cross country team as well as drama club and FBLA. I am not bragging, I am just saying that he came out of the homeschool setting as a self motivated young man with goals and ambition!

My other son just entered public school for his freshman year. Because of the example set by his brother he felt completely at ease (well, with excitement) with going to the building each day. Both of my boys have opted to do a duel enrollment where they take BYU Independent Study courses through our school district. They are both doing their math and their English at home online. They love having the luxury of leaving school early and not having the amount of homework that other kids have. The online classes are challenging for them but I think that is good! And they will be receiving college credit as well as high school credit so it just doesn't get any better than that! Free college credits!!!

 Basically, if you have done your work with your child when homeschooling and you have kept them up to grade level or beyond as well as getting them into the community your child will transition fine. With that said, my only experience has been for the high school age. I am not sure how it goes in elementary schools. I think my younger two would have a hard time. Mainly my first grader. She has some learning issues and she would probably benefit from classroom management but it would be awful for her and the teacher right this moment. So, I will work with her at home and only send her if I feel the benefits out weigh homeschooling.

 If you have had an experience with this kind of transition please share. It is always good to hear from others and to learn from them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Homeschooling Different Grades

Most of us have more than one child that we homeschool and this creates the challenge of homeschooling multiple grade levels at the same time.  For me this entails 8th, 7th, 2nd and preschool.  Quote a bit of difference in these. 

For my oldest two I have found that I order the same grade level of history, science, foreign language, art and music.  They can do these together and we like to get in our reading time with our history lessons which are daily at this point.  I still like the kids to do reading aloud daily so we do our history together.  The fun part is that although the second grader has her own history curriculum, she learns more from the lessons of the older kids which she can't help but be involve in.  For our family we have always considered this to be one of the benefits of homeschooling. 

Because we don't have a computer for each individual and their schooling is mostly online they take turns.  While language arts is mostly consumables, two kids can work on that while one does math on the computer based math program  They sit together at one computer for foreign language and science. 

Our curriculum is very time intensive these past few years.  I find that art and music fall short because we have a good six hours of curriculum to work on steadily everyday for the older kids.  This means that on Sundays we often spend an hour or two as a family doing art and music.  My older kids play an instrument and my younger ones are just starting so they do their individual practice times during the week and I count this as music attendance and the state is okay with it.

The hardest part for our family is keeping the preschooler on task and busy so that the other kids can actually concentrate.  This is harder than it sounds as our preschooler is a busy bee.  She is curious and always wants to be doing something but her attention span is short which means we switch gears multiple times per day to accommodate her learning style.  While doing history she likes to listen for a few minutes but then needs to be busy so she does handwriting next to us as we read.  We then have to have her use building blocks or clay while we do the rest of history.  It is always best if we do things she can clean up herself and get out by herself.  This cuts down on the work load for me.

Have any ideas or clever solutions to share?  Please leave comments!!!

Monday, August 30, 2010

K12 Advertising Heavily

You may have noticed that K12 has been using a lot of advertising lately. Almost all websites I visit seem to have banner ads of some sort and I have seen a ton of television advertising for them. Why is this?

Not only is K12 great homeschool curriculum but it offers your child the chance to be part of the school district that you live in. My children have been using K12 for about four years now. We love it but as with all programs it has its pros and cons.

We love being part of the public school system but it is on our terms. Our teachers put together fabulous activities, field trips and other programs like a science club, technology class and more. We can pick and choose what we are a part of and none of it is pushed on us.

We love having the contact with a certified teacher. She has so many ideas and so much to offer but she is never pushy, she is just a resource should we need one. This helps me know that there is someone who truly cares about my children and me.

Things we don't care for are the math program which I believe has been redone since we switched math programs. The good thing is that we can pick and choose which subjects we use from K12, it isn't an all or nothing curriculum. It is tailor made for my child so that makes me feel better.

I also do not like having to record every bit of attendance and every lesson completed, etc. This has given me a new level of compassion for public school teachers as I see that "the system" requires so much mindless busy work for teachers and I don't like them requiring it of me. I do it because I figure the curriculum is publicly funded and it is my job if I choose to use it but that doesn't mean I like it.

Over all we love this curriculum or we wouldn't keep using it. It comes with much more in the way of supplies compared to say Calvert Schools. I liked Calvert but this seems more inclusive and is much easier for me as a teacher at home.

One other thing you should know is that through the publicly funded version of K12 you do have to return your materials that are not deemed "consumables". This is not a problem for me as I have limited storage space and am glad they reuse things rather than waste them but it is a challenge to gather everything up and ship it back at times so if you do use this just try to stay organized so you are not hunting for objects at the end of the year.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

That Time of Year!

Here we go around! If you homeschool you may know what I am talking about.

If you haven't ordered curriculum or built your own it is time to get going. For some parents this can be a tricky time of year. Kids are transitioning into new grades and parents are trying to get organized and prepared as much as possible.

If you are new to homeschooling or are just one of those homeschool parents that gets a little stressed out at this time, here are a few hints:

1. Remember why you homeschool. For most of us, part of the reason is to take the frenzy out of the days and to slow things down to enjoy them to the fullest. This time of year should be no different.

2. Get kids to help you. Talk to your kids about what they would like to learn this year. This is an ideal starting point if you get to build your own curriculum. Kids can also be a huge help in getting organized. Even a toddler can help put crayons in their place or put books on a shelf.

3. Don't leave out the rest of the house. Don't be alarmed but schooling at home always goes better when the rest of the house is in order. If you start now and do a little at a time this does not have to be such a daunting task. Again, this is something the whole family can be doing together.

4. Try to think ahead. Prepare as much as you can in advance. Whether it is lesson plans, supplies or activities to keep smaller children entertained, try to have it as far in advance as possible.

This does not have to be a frantic time of year. Just keep in mind why you homeschool and remember to enjoy the preparation just as much as the schooling or unschooling that goes on in your home!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Over Scheduling Kids - Summertime Activities

Most parents reach this dilemma at one point or another: Are you kids over scheduled during the summer break?

A lot of this will depend on your homeschooling style. Some homeschool families do not have a homeschooling program that keeps them doing curriculum year round. Other homeschool families will have a program that allows for a summer break. Others will have a schedule like mine and your kids should have a summer break but because you are flexible throughout the year you end up using your summer to finish up the work.

It used to be that I thought that working on school through the summer was all bad but the kids don't mind being in and busy during the heat of the day. They also don't fall out of the habits that we created during the traditional school year. I guess the bottom line is that there are pros and cons either way.

As for over scheduling: whether you have curriculum to finish or not how much are your kids doing during the summer? Is yours a house where the children spend all summer on video game systems or watching television? Or are they enrolled in every sport and music lesson possible as well as church activities, Scouting and community activities? It is a hard balance to find and naturally, as with all things, it varies with each child. I know that my oldest is capable of being much more busy than my third child. His energy level and attention span can take more.

There are also children that need more time with their parents than others. My kids are great about being home all day and just doing what is needed here but a few are more ready to be gone for a majority of the day and then my second born needs more time with me. He needs the time to talk, to be heard and understood and to feel like he is okay in his corner of the world. As a parent, I am flawed, and this is not always remembered but on my better days I try to make sure that his needs are met.

It is my opinion from reading and life experience that kids grow and blossom when they have structured activities that expose them to new things and new people. They learn new talents and their self esteem sky rockets.

On the flip side, children who are over scheduled and doing too much suffer from depression, anxiety, lack of self esteem and more. These kids feel like their parents would rather pawn them off on strangers and activities rather than sit and have a game of Uno with them. That just isn't right and no one in the family benefits from that.

The advice would be to ask the child what they would like to do. Be careful because some children are natural over achievers and will want to over schedule. You are the parent. You should always preface this kind of conversation with something like "I want your input on this but after hearing your views and ideas I need you to be respectful of the decision made on your behalf from parents who want what is best for you". Yes, that sounds like something out of Leave it to Beaver but you get the drift.

Kids need time to be kids, to get into mischief. It wouldn't even be bad if your children were not enrolled in any activities through the summer if you are disciplined enough to keep them away from the monitors in the house. Television, computers and video games are great but only in moderation. Perhaps you should start by analyzing what your children's natural tendencies are and then go from there. You will have a better idea of what they will do on their own and what may help break them out of it or help them get outside and be active.

Most of all, spend some time with your kids this summer. Don't over schedule yourself. Homeschooling is wonderful but just because you may be home all day to "school" them doesn't mean that you are always spending great time with them. My kids get excited just by me sitting through a movie with them and showing interest in it. They love to share those experiences. They even love it if we play a video game all together and laugh and play. Make your summer memorable and make memories together no matter what your schedule. Perhaps you should schedule your family time into your life.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Too much time at home and too much responsibility?

Today my worry is that because my children are home all day with me, do I expect too much of them? I truly believe that children should be taught to do chores, work together and know the value of hard work but I also know that it is okay for them to simply be kids, surrounded by kids their own age.

I worry mostly for my oldest because he is a typical oldest child. He takes a lot upon himself and even though I try to not overload him, he does have the most responsibility which is just the true nature of life and birth order.

Should he be going to school for hours each day to be a "typical" kid? But then, didn't we choose to homeschool so we didn't have "typical" kids? This is not to be negative at all about other forms of education so please don't take it that way. We personally homeschooled because my son was born right around the time of the Columbine High incident and I didn't want the bullying, the attitude, the extreme expressions of self that start earlier and earlier every year. I didn't want kids consumed with name brands, trends, cell phones, online socializing, etc. This is not to say that my kids are sheltered from all of this but I think there is more moderation and very little focus on these things.

Sorry to go on and on. Our family dynamic has changed and life has caused me to need more help from my kids lately. I worry that they carry too much and just want to be sure that there is balance. As with most days, I will give it time and think it over. I will watch them and try to get a feel of what the right path is for them and I will take it one day at a time. After all, that is the key to homeschooling. No matter how you do it, you have to take it one day at a time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Subject Blitz

Speaking with homeschool parents can be very interesting. It is fun to hear the varied answers to why they chose to homeschool, what curriculum they like or dislike, what their schedules are like and what extracurricular activities they like. It is also fun to know if religion was a factor in their decisions or if they include it in their curriculum.

In our homeschool group we have a wide variety of folks who all homeschool for different reasons and although a lot of us use the same curriculum, we use it in different ways. I recently came upon one family that knocks out a whole year's worth of one subject at a time. For example, they did a "history blitz" last year. They spent about one month and did multiple history lessons per day to knock out the whole year.

This peaked my interest. I asked many questions and was actually pleasantly surprised by the answers. I asked why they did it. The answer was that they had gotten behind in history and really just needed to hit it hard. They did not set out intending to only do history each day but the kids (four of them) all got so engrossed in the lessons and what was happening that they were loved the saturation. It was the topic of many a family discussion (most in fact). They did field trips and experimented with different inventions they learned of in times past.

Because of how this family handled it they were able to focus on one subject, let it be fun for the kids because they couldn't' get enough of the history and having it really become like a live story to them. They were reading for hours a day and loving it. They were excited to write because they loved sharing their thoughts and ideas on what had happened in history. Then they even managed a to throw in some science by reenacting some inventions and trying them on their own or brainstorming on ways to make them better with the tools available at the time.

I was impressed by this family and while my own children have gotten behind in history and science this year I suggested this summer that they do a blitz! They are boys so they love this word and think of football. I challenged them to see how fast they could knock out the lessons but also to see how well they could do at them while being fast about it. I don't want speed to take over quality.

We'll see how it goes and I will keep you updated. In the meantime, remember that it is worth while to talk with other parents and see what works for them, read online about the experiences of others. There simply is not just one right way to homeschool but different techniques and skills can be used as needed to enhance the experience. Enjoy your homeschool day!