What Can I Teach? Trolling?

In the evenings, after the kids are in bed, I like to go online (particularly on Facebook these days, though I’ve favored other sites in years past) and browse. I often try to help out homeschoolers with questions by sharing my knowledge. Tonight I did this as usual. When a homeschool parent asked about how to find evaluators, another woman made a comment that made it sound as though the school district would somehow limit what she could teach her child Continue reading What Can I Teach? Trolling?

A Homeschooling Twist to an Office Visit

I was at a government office this morning with my 4 yr. old. Apparently an employee meeting was going on for a good part of the time we were there as many employees suddenly disappeared and the speed at which people were being seen slowed down considerably. The time dragged on, but my little guy was behaving quite well given the situation because he’d made friends in the waiting room and had convinced several other small children to join in his imaginative play. Having a snack on hand didn’t hurt either.

Despite having an appointment, we’d been there for two hours when we were finally seen by the woman we really needed to see.  When we entered her office, my little guy asked if she had any toys in her office. She didn’t. But she gave him a clipboard with a piece of paper and a pencil, and he was soon happily drawing smiley faces and doodles.

So far, so good. We were almost done. I was hungry, since it was now lunchtime, and I was ready to get out of that office and get on with the rest of my day. I couldn’t wait. And then something unusual happened.

My little fellow walked closer to show me his drawing. I complimented him on writing his name on the paper and pointed out that I was happy to see that he’d used a lowercase letter in his name in a spot where he usually (incorrectly) writes a capital letter.

“Do you homeschool?” the woman asked.

I don’t usually discuss much of anything than the weather and the business at hand with government employees, so I was taken aback. “Yes,” I finally answered.

It turned out that she was looking to begin homeschooling her five-year-old. She’d looked for local homeschool support groups and found one that didn’t meet during the summer. So I talked about my group that meets year-round, as well as how she didn’t have to register her child for the upcoming year but could homeschool unofficially for a year if she liked and about the number of homeschoolers in our area (likely more than ten thousand in our county alone).

Funny, when I left the office, I didn’t mind the wait as much as I had before. And she commented that she was so glad that I’d ended up in her office (rather than seeing a different woman whom I’ve dealt with for years).

Cheryl

But Why Say That?

“Can I include audio books as reading materials?”
“Can my child study [a particular country], in depth, for world history?”
“Can I decide that my child’s done with the school year even though he hasn’t completely finished the curriculum?”…

I see questions like these (and others) online all the time. I like trying to share what I know to try to help these homeschool parents who are trying to figure out what they’re doing. And I understand that other people are Continue reading But Why Say That?

Virtual School Lessons

This year, we tried Florida Virtual School (aka FLVS)–the online public school program run by the state of Florida–for a couple of courses for my teens with mixed results. Well, they have both earned good grades in the classes taken, but we’ve all learned something about public school courses–not just how to take them but their quality and the huge impact they’ve had on our homeschooling.
Continue reading Virtual School Lessons

Creating Memories with Our Homeschool Support Group

Our homeschooling would be so different without our homeschool support group. I say this as I’ve just put a lot of finishing touches on our group’s fourth annual yearbook since I’m the editor-in-chief. Shutterfly photo books have, it turns out, a limit of one thousand photos per book, and we had reached the limit without completing all of our pages, so I had to go back and check over what the committee had done and weed out photos that were essentially duplicates so that we had space for photos from our big annual Talent Continue reading Creating Memories with Our Homeschool Support Group

Teaching a Preschooler at Home

I frequently am asked “What curriculum should I use with my preschooler?”

After teaching a lot of preschoolers in my home (including my own forever children as well as almost two dozen foster children), I’ve learned a lot about what works with most children and what doesn’t. I’ve learned that Continue reading Teaching a Preschooler at Home

How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?

Every year around this time, I ask my kids about what they’d like to study next year. The answers have varied a great deal but they’ve always made our studies more interesting for both the kids and me, and I know they learn more when they are fully engaged in what we’re studying. It can take a bit of creativity and work to figure out how to include their interests, but the rewards have been great.

For example, one year my son who was about ten years old at the time, asked if he could study Star Wars. My initial response was, “No, we can’t study Star Wars. Continue reading How Do You Use Kids’ Interests?

How’d You Do Physical Education (aka P.E.)?

We’ve done a lot for P.E. this year. Most of it has come from activities done with our homeschool support group in casual group activities. Some from things we’ve done on our own for fun. In this area, we’ve had a lot of variety this year mostly because of our homeschool support group that’s grown more organized, with more volunteers, over the years.

Our group’s soccer meets twice a month usually for at least an hour and a half, though often it’s closer to two hours. A homeschooling dad coaches, having them do warm-up exercises, a variety of drills, and then they play the game. The coach volunteers his time so soccer is free to members of our group; our group offers a variety of similar activities for free because we ask all of our parents to volunteer in some capacity over the course of the year. I really appreciate this as our funds are limited and I’m not a sports person who’d feel comfortable teaching a variety of sports. Soccer is casual, with no uniforms or requirements other than coming dressed in appropriate clothes for running the field. The kids’ skills have greatly improved over the years, and now they’ll often start up their own casual soccer game at park meetings.

Similarly, another dad in our group ran a Golf Club and a Tennis Club that each met monthly. In the Golf Club, we’ve met at a public golf course and the kids have learned to use the driving range and practice putting on the putting green. They’re working up to playing a round of golf together. Clubs purchased from a thrift store have kept this sport inexpensive and I like the idea that my kids will have a working knowledge of golf, even if they aren’t passionate about the sport, so that if their future involves someone who wants to chat about business over a golf game, they won’t be totally out of their element. Likewise, for the Tennis Club, we’ve used rackets bought from the thrift store to minimize the cost. When a neighbor was cleaning out his garage, he gifted us with a ball holder and a plethora of tennis balls; in my experience, it really helps to chat with the neighbors about what the kids are doing.  A mom in our group ran a fitness club that met twice a month the first half of the year with calisthenics and lessons in nutrition and other aspects of health.  Now a teen is running a twice-monthly basketball fundamentals clinic. Since he’s being scouted by college basketball teams, he knows his stuff and has helped the other kids learn a lot. When all of these activities are put together, the kids have had some form of organized physical activity at least once a week, sometimes twice, for one to two hours at a time.

In a local public high school P.E. class, which is usually about 45 minutes long, a good portion of the time is used for changing clothes, showering, and taking roll. So two hours a week of organized physical activity is about what a public school P.E. course would offer. With the activities listed above, my kids are doing close to that amount of activity, but they do a lot of other activities as well.

My son wanted to learn archery, so together, he and I went to a 4-H training session and became 4-H certified instructors (well, Junior Instructor in my son’s case). Together with some other moms in our homeschool support group, we started a 4-H Archery Club for other homeschoolers. The 4-H group gives us insurance, some equipment, and a place to meet free of charge. We meet twice a month at the local fairgrounds and have been teaching about 20 students, ranging in age from eight to eighteen, to shoot with bows and arrows at targets.

If you throw in the biking, running around at the park, swimming, and other activities, along with some lessons in health and safety, we’ve done a lot more than the 120 hours that are usually cited as the minimum for earning one high school credit. If you add in all the P.T. (physical training) my son’s been doing with his Young Marines group and the workouts he’s done on his own, he’s definitely earned more than one credit in P.E. this year, but one credit of P.E. seems enough for the year to me.

Cheryl

 

Shakespeare Club

Shakespeare festival anonymous
At our Shakespeare festival: My daughter in a costume showing off her video made using Lego bricks that was her own version of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.

Three years ago, a mom in our group started a Shakespeare Club geared to kids of a wide variety of ages–from kindergartners to high school students. At first only our two families were involved, but I loved the idea of doing Shakespeare together. I’ll admit it–I hated Shakespeare when I was in school. I couldn’t understand much of what he wrote and dreamed of finding an interpreter to turn his words into English that I could understand. But as an adult, Continue reading Shakespeare Club

Setting the Record Straight

I was recently accused here on my blog, by someone who apparently doesn’t know me at all, of being lazy and neglecting lots of children who would be my students if I were still teaching in a school. (See the comments to my article  Why a Certified Teacher Would Homeschool )
I’d like to put the record straight. So forgive me if I talk a bit too much about myself here.

Yes, I’m a certified teacher who no longer teaches in a brick-and-mortar school. I quit teaching at a local public high school shortly Continue reading Setting the Record Straight