You Only Did Science Once This Week?

Don’t freak out. It’s really okay. Some weeks we might cover science only once. I know; most schools cover every subject every day, and some might worry when we don’t do the same. But the truth is that not every school follows a schedule that covers every subject daily. Some have block schedules where classes meet for longer lengths of time for fewer days each week. Others have even less common schedules–like the Florida public school that I once taught in where seventh graders had no science for half a year and no social studies for most of the other half; they did this because the students were, on average, four grade levels behind in math and reading and the school decided to focus on their most pressing educational needs and skip certain subjects. If a public school can do it, Continue reading You Only Did Science Once This Week?

Homeschooling with an Energetic Toddler? How Can it Possibly Work?

Anyone who’s had a toddler in the house for a few days knows how much time and attention they demand. Pairing a toddler with students sitting and studying seems a match destined to fail. Yet it can work.

More than a decade ago, I juggled homeschooling another’s child with two toddlers of my own. Later, we became a foster family and over the next seven and a half years, twenty-three different little ones came through our house as we homeschooled our older children. Many of these little ones were toddlers who came to us with difficult backgrounds, yet my eldest have been homeschooled from the beginning and are now in high school and managing just fine.

Homeschooling with a toddler in the house isn’t easy, but it can be done. Remember that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. There will be days (and weeks) where it feels no progress is made, but in the end, with steady effort and some good strategies, you will reach the end, despite all the interruptions and difficulties.

Some tips I’ve learned along the way:

Continue reading Homeschooling with an Energetic Toddler? How Can it Possibly Work?

How Long Have You Homeschooled?

I’ve been homeschooling for a lot of years, though the exact number depends on how you count them. My teens have been homeschooled from the beginning; the only times they’ve attended school was to visit on “Take Your Child to Work Day” with their dad. But before they were officially school-aged, I homeschooled a friend’s child and a nephew. Before that, a few decades ago, I was homeschooled myself as a young child sailing the world in a cement boat.

Are We Skipping English This Year?

    This past weekend, the kids were sharing with my husband, their dad, what they’ve been learning lately. Okay, it wasn’t their idea. As fairly typical teens, they didn’t want to have to explain what they’ve been doing, but I pushed it as I want to keep him involved and he wanted to know. I take these little sessions as a time for them to review some of what they’ve learned as they explain it to their dad, and they’re our version of a progress report or report card.
I pushed them to talk about the marine science lessons they’ve been doing in a homeschool co-op class–lessons that have involved several trips to the beach, taking apart shells, mucking through the swamp, and other fun activities as well as working through a beach field guide. They described the Geometry Club I devised
Continue reading Are We Skipping English This Year?

Signs of Success

This afternoon, I watched my teenage daughter lead an art club that she dreamed of, planned for, and pulled off. Seventeen other homeschooled students (not counting younger siblings who played nearby in the park) participated. They listened as she explained her plan and made art together, and at the end of the hour and a half club, they each shared their work with the rest of the club. (We were surprised when even our two-year-old sat and drew for most of the time, rather than playing with the other toddlers. Then he stood and showed his scribbles to the group for his very first presentation.)

She wanted to get together with friends to do art, but she didn’t want a class where everyone would end up with a cookie-cutter drawing; she envisioned learning techniques, sharing ideas, and then creating individual works of art in a nurturing environment. Since no one else was planning something of that sort, she designed it herself and ended up with a monthly club that she hopes to include in a 4-H art project she’s working on.

This is a moment that reassures me that our homeschooling program is indeed a success.

Cheryl