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Homeschooling Options-Today’s Homeschool Families

by Richel on February 2, 2013
category: 5 – 12 years (kid),Education

Homeschooling is not a one-size-fits all method and homeschooling families are as varied as the children they raise. What works best for one family does not necessarily work for another. However, all homeschooling families agree in one area: public education is failing and not the ideal place for raising children.

I realize also that homeschooling my children is a true gift.  I am able to do so because my husband has a great job and because I have been able to successfully work from home.  Our lives are not easy, but for us, this is the right fit.  The truth is, homeschooling is different for everyone.

homeschooling

Although homeschooling may seem a novel concept to some, the growth of a 20th century public school education depicted in media as lack luster is more so every day. Our current educational system was created during a whole different time.  We are such a technology based society and world, and sadly our educational system just has not caught up yet.  Today’s homeschooler has a vision for their child’s future.

Early history shows that homeschooling was the norm and many of the world’s greatest leaders, philosophers, scientists, musicians, poets, and thinkers enjoyed a homeschooling education. Some homeschooling families choose to have the mother as teacher while others used a private tutor. The truth is homeschooling is different for everyone.

Homeschooling saw resurgence in the late 70s to early 80s and in the 21st century, is no longer viewed as a strange or foreign educational choice.  We as a society needed alternatives to teach our children and homeschooling became a strong option.  Today’s homeschoolers are not all deeply religious people.  They are regular families, they are famous families, they are families that simple have a different idea of what their kids need.

If you are considering homeschooling here are something to consider:

  • Can you organize your life to make room for educating at home?
  • Are you aware of the state laws for homeschoolers in your area?
  • Can you make time to educate at home?
  • Are you willing to learn something new too?  You might have to teach something you don’t know much about.
  • Is your child-parent relationship open?  Is their good communication?
  • Can you afford to be at home and educate your child.
  • What kind of homeschooler will you be?  Will you use a online public school program like k-12 or will you choose your own curriculum?
  • Can you afford the investment.  If you choose to educate at home you will have some costs associated with buying curriculum, materials and other supplies.

With so many options, programs and unique qualities, if you choose to homeschool then there is an option out there that will fit your needs.  You just need to make the jump and go for it.  Remember every homeschool family takes their program one year at a time, so if you try it for a year and it does not work out for you, you can always go back to a traditional brick and mortar schooling program.  The important thing to remember is that you or your child don’t have to be unhappy with the current state of their educational program.  You can take charge, course a new direction and get back on the path of what education was created for:  to prepare and educate the young people of society and teach them that they can work hard and achieve all the goals they choose too.

Deciding to Homeschool

by Amelia on October 15, 2009
category: 5 – 12 years (kid),Education

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When children turn 5 (or 6) school is of course, the next milestone.  There are so many options now for school and many of them are appealing: public school, private school, homeschool (and there are many variations to homeschooling). In the US, homeschooling has become more mainstream.  Well, by mainstream it seems like everyone knows at least one family that homeschools.  The majority of children still attend public school.

Parents choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons and the availability of curriculum is so substantial that any parent can find (with some research) what kind of educational format they desire to teach their children.

Reasons for homeschooling:

  • Gifted children who can explore and learn broadly and more in depth at home
  • Parents want a better education for their kids
  • Incorporating faith into the classroom
  • Protecting children from the bad influences of public school
  • Allowing children to excel in areas they are giften and take time in subjects that are more challenging
  • Child has chronic illness that makes it difficult to go to public school
  • Parents live in a bad school district and want their kids to have a better chance at education

Right now our oldest child attends public school and we are homeschooling our middle child (long story–it was supposed to be the other way around but sometimes things have a funny way of working out).

I had been more interested in homeschooling than my husband.  He grew up around kids that were homeschooled for faith reasons and once those kids left home after high school and went off to college they lost their faith.  Many of them were socially awkward and didn’t know how to deal with people very well.  He had some very strong feelings about how keeping our kids out of public school just to shelter them and protect them from all the negative influences was not good reason enough.  Before he agreed to homeschool we had many conversations about how important it is to teach our children to learn how to deal with the world so that when our kids leave home to make a life of their own they know how to make good decisions and deal with people (and hopefully don’t chunk their faith).  As a mom, I find it so easy to want to protect my kids from every bully, aggressive behavior, sexual influence, other kids who do drugs etc.  I freak out thinking about all those things and want to keep my kids home ALL the time so they don’t have to deal with those types of things.  Ultimately though, I want my kids to learn how to deal with difficult people, and make hard and wise decisions for themselves.  I want them to learn how to apply their faith. So for us, deciding to homeschool was not (as much) about shielding our kids from “the world” as much as it was that we want them to have a good quality education.  Definitely part of me likes having them at home away from some of the things kids deal with today–don’t get me wrong!  Porn, sexting, drugs, bullying….it all freaks me out too!

I know a lot of families that homeschool and enjoy it and I wanted to try it.  Most of the parents I know who do homeschool their kids enjoy the time they spend together and love seeing their children learn.  I wanted experience if for myself at least one year and then decide if I enjoyed it enough to continue.  I’m glad that my first year at homeschooling is teaching just one child. I think it would be more difficult to start off teaching two different grades.  Our youngest, who just turned 2, is at home with me and my middle while we do school.

What to do with toddlers while you homeschool:

I have found that our 2 year old enjoys being around us while we are schooling.  He likes to sit in my lap while we are reading books, looking at pictures, or doing fun things on the computer. If we are working on writing, the 2 year old is too–in his own way of course.  I make an extra worksheet for him or make sure I have paper, crayons, and markers nearby for him to play with.  Playdoh is a big hit too.  He’ll sit at the table next to us and make playdoh creations for 30+ minutes. I was worried that  the 2 year old would feel left out but it hasn’t been a problem.

I love the flexibility of school time too!  Usually we start after we send off our oldest to school with Daddy.  (School in the UK starts at 9!!) Most days we are done by lunch.  Some days we run errands in the morning and we do school while the 2 year old naps.  I love that we can do whatever field trips we want and incorporate our faith into whatever we are learning in school.

We like the ways schools work in the UK so we are thinking that next year we will probably have both middle and oldest in public school.  We may decide to homeschool them when we get back to the States in 4 years.  Who knows?  We want to take it one year at a time for now.

If you are thinking about homeschooling here are some tips to get you started:

  • Ask around to other homeschooling families what they enjoy about it and what the challenges are. Ask to go observe one of their school days so you can get a feel for what a day looks like.
  • Start researching curriculum early.  Ask other families what curriculum they use and what they like about it.  There are SO many choices that it can be overwhelming in the beginning.
  • Look for a homeschool fair where different curriculum publishers have booths set up so that you can see their materials in person.  You can order any curriculum you want online but seeing it in person and getting a feel for what works with you and your children is easier when you can flip through the pages.
  • Be prepared to spend some money.  Homeschool curriculums vary in price depending on the publisher but it can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to 1000 each school year.  If you are planning on homeschooling several different children then you can reuse some or most of the materials for future kids.
  • There are tons of places online to buy used curriculums and also forums for parents to discuss issues that come up.
  • Ask around or look online to see if there are any homeschool co-ops that you can talk to or join.  Many homeschoolers form co-ops to do sports and other extra curricular activities and socializing.
  • Think about an area in your house that you can use for school.  We have a bookshelf that holds all of our homeschool materials.  We use the dining room table or coffee table to do most of our school time.  Some people have a dedicated bedroom for school.

Deciding to homeschool is a big decision and we all want to do what is best for our kids.  Have you ever considered homeschooling?  What concerns do you have about it?  Do you homeschool? What is your experience?  Why did you decide to homeschool?

photo courtesy of PearlsofJannah

Five Ways to Encourage Second Language Development

Studies have shown that fostering a second language in your child has extremely positive cognitive and cultural advantages. However, as most of us live in a mono-linguistic society, it can be difficult to start and maintain language learning.  Less than 10% of all Americans can speak a second language fluently.  Also, the amount of exposure to a second (or third) language will vary drastically from place to place.  As a former resident of South Texas and Southern California, I probably had much more exposure to Spanish than, say, someone from Caribou, Maine.  Now that I’m a mom, and I live overseas in a non English-speaking environment, I’ve seen firsthand some of the trials and triumphs of learning another language – the things that work, and the things that don’t.  For the mom who doesn’t want to wait until high school to get her child started with a new language, I’d like to share a little bit of my experience in this area.

Educational Programming

I’m sure many of us wonder, how much are all these hours of watching “Dora the Explorer” really helping my child learn a second language? There are a variety of opinions on this subject, with shows like Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go! continually gaining popularity.  Some linguists think that these shows should not offer the English alongside Spanish, and that by doing so, they are actually inhibiting a child’s language learning ability.  Their reasoning is children don’t think like adults when it comes to language learning.  Kids can hear the word vaca, for example, and automatically associate it with a cow without hearing it reinforced in English.  Others believe that these shows are a great introduction to foreign language, and give parents an opportunity to interact with their child in another language.  I tend to side with this opinion.  My son has learned some basic Spanish skills from these shows, which is helpful when he interacts with my husband’s side of the family.  While this is by no means a complete education, it gives the child a great chance to learn the different sounds that exist in another language and to construct a few basic sentences in that language.

Music

When we first moved overseas, I was so frustrated at how resistant my son was to learning Arabic.  Then, his teacher at preschool had the brilliant idea of loaning us a CD with some children’s songs in Arabic.  My son LOVES them!  He can do all the dance moves that go along with the songs, and he has learned body parts, animals and verbs by listening to one CD.  He’s even starting to teach his sister some of the things he knows.

Tutoring

For the parent who wants to do more in-depth learning, tutors are available to help kids learn another language.  These programs usually take place after school for an hour or two a week, and they can involve intense, one-on-one language learning or group learning.  Ask the head of the language department at your local high school (or university) if there are any programs like that available in your area.  For us, tutoring has proven extremely valuable.  We are NOT native speakers here, and while we can help our son a bit, he doesn’t really like speaking with us in Arabic – and to be honest, he doesn’t learn very much!  Having a native speaker who talks to him only in Arabic has really improved his communication skills.

Language Education Programs

Did you know that there are foreign language immersion schools in the US?  Right now, there are over 200 of these special schools located throughout the United States.  Some teach completely in a foreign language, some have some classes in English and some in the foreign language, and some are “two-way” programs with a mixture of native and non-native English speakers learning from each other as well as their teachers.

Being Creative

Sometimes, we have to step out of our comfort zone to get this going and try to get those brain muscles working, too!  There are places that offer mom & child language learning programs to help those of us that want to take an active role in the language learning process.  For those of us that have a bilingual family, having each parent speak in their native tongue can cause language learning to be a little slow in the beginning, but has tremendous benefits long term.  If you feel comfortable doing this, ask abuela or abuelo to speak with your child only in Spanish.  I knew someone who made a deal with her neighbor – my friend spoke only English to her neighbor’s kids when they came over, and her neighbor spoke only Spanish to the kids when they were at her house.  Pretty neat, huh?  There are endless possibilities in this category if you want to get your child rolling with a second language!

Some more information:

Kids Source has a great FAQ page about the benefits of children learning a second language

Center for Applied Linguistics home page



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