Category Archives: Support

Tips and discussions about ways to support homeschoolers.

The Summer They Owned Their Education

Earlier this summer I was concerned about my homeschooled sports nut and how I was worried about his time spent in sports overshadowing his work in language arts. Throughout the summer (which, I have come to learn, is a perfect time for unschooling to blossom), my sports nut kid and his siblings have undertaken a total baseball immersion program of their own design.

It started in the spring with all three kids in little league; the boys on a baseball team and my daughter on a softball team. They practiced and played during the regular and post season. My daughter started receiving computerized box scores of her games, created a binder and together the kids began to study closely her teams’ statistics.

And then my Mother/Homeschool Angel, with help from my sister/teacher, found some books by Matt Christopher. Not only were they about Little League players and their adventures, but they were also at a grade level perfect for Little League age kids, like mine. We have since searched for as many baseball related books as possible from to public libraries and second-hand shops. My little sports nut that never sat still graduated to READING IN BED! He has also has been working on the ongoing project of building a Fenway Park replica with Legos.

Around the same time my Mom also instituted a reading program for the kids, rewarding them with cash for each book read over the summer. I can’t even describe what it was like, though, to find that sports nut child laying around with his nose stuck in a book!

His older brother, a total baseball fanatic, has become a walking baseball trivia library. As a dyslexic he has had numerous baseball books read to him, and has done a good deal of reading himself as well – more than ever.

Over the course of the summer the kids’ baseball/softball immersion program included:

1. Playing the game on regular and all-star teams.
2. Practicing at home every day that didn’t rain, even at beaches or other people’s houses, where ever they could.
3. Setting up a weekly pick-up game in our community.
4. Learning about statistics, such as ERA’s and batting averages and how they’re computed.
5. Reading baseball novels, biographies, histories,etc.
6. Watching YouTube tutorials about pitching, etc.
7. Learning how the Little League World Series is structured and about different world and U.S. teams.
8. Watching baseball and softball games, bloopers and best-of videos on the Internet.
9. Attending Senior League World Series games in Bangor, Maine.
10. Reading standings and sports stories in the local newspaper.
11. Looking up scores on the Internet
12. Learning the multitude of baseball and softball rules by playing, learning from coaches and other kids, and by watching and listening to games
13. Learning Red Sox trivia with a card game, by watching Red Sox videos and through discussions with their diehard Red Sox fan of a father.
14. Listening to games on the radio.
15. Writing up their own rosters.

Over the past three months they covered reading, writing, math, computer skills, engineering, geography, social studies, history, physical education, teamwork and mentoring. And what part did I have in this? A couple trips to the library and some driving. The kids did this. This summer they owned their education.

It’s been said that young students in the U.S. slide backwards in their skills during the summer compared to kids in most other countries where school is year-round, unless they are exposed to a multitude of learning camps and other educational opportunities during their vacation. One of those opportunities is the freedom to create your own educational program. Given that freedom, kids will learn.

Shane pitching 2014

Lucas batting 2014


The Homeschooled Sports Nut

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy nine-year-old homeschooled son loves sports. I’d been feeling challenged with finding him homeschool learning opportunities that deal with sports, other than the sports themselves. I realized that time spent in sports provides chances to learn things like game rules, making new moves and social skills. But I was worried about him spending so much time moving that he would not improve his reading and writing skills. I also started to notice that both my sons enjoyed school work more and worked faster directly after playing hard outside. I realized myself that the best times for writing were right after a long walk or a workout. But still I tried to think up ways to interest Lucas in language skill projects that involved sports. Reading about sports history? No, Mom. Writing about last night’s game or a sports hero? Nope. So my question was how to engage Lucas in a learning environment of his own design, but that which would satisfy my need to know he’s improving his language skills?

While I was planning to write about sports and learning I came across this TedTalks video by Neuroscientist, Daniel Wolpert, where he explains that, “Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you. Everything goes through contractions of the muscles.” And he goes on to convince us that brains evolved solely to move. Everything our body does involves series of movements.

I wonder if this works backwards. I mean we all have heard about the links between movement and brain growth. Does all his movement give him an edge in language skills? Or can it only be done by actually practicing reading and writing?

I look at my son, who has learned to read and write at his own pace. I watch him work extremely hard to master movements and strategy in hockey, basketball, baseball, soccer and all the made-up sports that he and his siblings and friends have played over the years. He has found something he loves to do and spends as much time as possible practicing and improving.

This morning I asked him (again) what lessons he wanted to take this summer (his brother and sister take piano and Spanish, respectively). After his initial, negative reaction, I talked to him a little more, feeling bad that they are getting something he’s not. I suggested he could take anything that interested him. He was vehement, “No, Mom. No Lessons. Only sports.”

The thing is, when he’s not doing sports he’s doing things like putting the pool ladder together, without instructions. And building things like this robotic zamboni:

or this Lego castle:


So OK. He’s not spending the same amount of time as school kids reading and writing. A typical writing assignment to him may be a condolence card to his grandfather directly after the World Series. And he spends more than the average kid moving because he has more time. His communication skills, social skills and attention span are good. He’s extremely helpful at home and seems happy. Though I still worry at times that we’re not doing enough reading and writing, seeing him in action in life and sports puts my mind at ease.

A Little Extra Care

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA long time ago I met a girl who loved children. She loved everybody actually. We became close friends and later roommates for several years. She could be infuriatingly optimistic, seeing the good side of everybody and everything, almost to the point of ridiculousness. Or so I thought back then. When we were roommates she was working as a daycare provider while going to school for Art Therapy. I often would tag along with her to work when she needed help with the kids. She always amazed me by making each child feel special and by treating them so respectfully and kindly. They loved her in return and would literally glow when receiving her attention.

One summer we were living in an apartment in Bangor and she had bought a huge Fuscia to hang on our deck. It was gorgeous but at the time I couldn’t imagine taking the time to water that thing every day. A Fuscia needs copious amounts of water and then it will bloom like crazy. Miss one day of watering and it immediately starts wilting. I thought it was silly to buy something that took so much work. My roomie on the other hand was always on the look-out for things that needed extra care; sometimes I think even me.

Fast forward about 25 years….last month I decided I wanted a Fuscia for Mother’s Day and my family went to a greenhouse and picked one out for our deck. Normally I only grow things I consider to be useful, like food and herbs. I don’t have time for ‘needless things’. But having something beautiful at the entrance to our home, something that needs a little extra care, is a simple reminder to me. I am surrounded by the beauty of children day in and day out. With a little extra care every day they will bloom and thrive.

So to my friend and to all people who give a little extra every day to make a child feel special; to all those who offer their precious time and energy to make a difference in a child’s life, thank you.

Happy Father’s Day.

Homeschool Blogging – Writing to Distraction

I don’t know how other bloggers write. I imagine sitting in a quiet nook, alone, pondering homeschool moments and writing out my thoughts. As reality has it, I am now writing at my kitchen table, which is covered with books, pottery, seed packets, headbands, writing utensils, water bottles, Legos, workbooks and a cribbage board, while my homeschoolers are at work close by. In the last few minutes I have stopped writing to find a screwdriver, look for D batteries, listened to a food-related complaint and been introduced to a new creation – a DJ mixing table made with Legos.

Finding some typos? Because while I edited this post I simultaneously refereed an argument, yelled at ‘someone’ to get the baseball bat out of the house, drank my breakfast (no alcohol, just bananas and blueberries!), Googled the oldest living humans and checked emails.

When you read a homeschool blog it’s important to cut the writer some slack. Expect a smattering of brain-cramp related peculiarities…

Just stopped now for a consultation on the porch:

Kid: Can I nail holes here?

Me: Why?

Kid: I want to blockade the windows with this sheet so I can set up an automatic pitcher.

Me: O.K. (?!?)

…and bursts of confusion (“Mom! Look it’s done!” Followed immediately by a five minute detailed description). If any part of this blog post is even vaguely coherent, I consider it a success.

Mom, is there mercury in the toaster?”