Monthly Archives: January 2014

When Your Homeschooler Wants to go to School

It’s quite a jarring thing to live with a homeschooler who pine’s for school. My daughter from age six had begged to go. That year we just said no. The next fall she was still asking and so we decided to send her for “specials” once a week, art and gym. After a month or so she was asking to go full-time. We had a trial week which went well for her and the teacher, but I was still uncomfortable with it. We had many concerns about the long school day, the lack of creativity for our artsy daughter and trying to juggle school with homeschool. Unfortunately during her trial week my daughter was witness to two fights involving a bully, and that pretty much sealed our ‘no’ decision for that year.

But the rest of that school year she was not happy at all with homeschooling. Her room was a mess, she constantly complained of boredom. I tried my best to make it more fun and involve more of the things she likes. We started an Arts Class for homeschoolers in an effort to meet more homeschooling girls her age. Up until then our homeschool world involved a gaggle of boys. She also did gymnastics, homeschool science classes, piano and Spanish lessons. But none of this was enough to meet her needs.

This past August, when her and I sat down to formulate her fall homeschool goals and schedule, she put her head on the table and moaned that she wanted to go to school.  It was then that I also realized that I had been bracing myself at the prospect of homeschooling her for another year.  At this point it really felt like the right time to let her go. So, at age 8, she is attending 3rd grade. There were quite a few considerations before this decision was made. Most of them had to do with my daughter’s needs. As hard as it was to admit, my laid back homeschooling style did not match her driven need for constant activities and schoolwork. As a result it made her unwilling to homeschool with me and her brothers. She also wanted lots of girl friends. She was relentless in asking to go to school. When it came right down to it, the decision was easy. Send her. Now she is happier, more organized at home, is always talking about school in a positive way, has a good relationship with her teachers and has new friends. And at home the reality is that homeschooling is better without an unwilling participant.

There’s still a part of me that hopes at some time she’ll change her mind and homeschool, but for now it’s working out. As homeschooling parents, a decision to send a child to school is monumental and entails a careful balance of family values and the needs of the child.


The Homeschooler’s Multitasking Fitness Program

Homeschooling to many of us does not mean being home all the time. We are striving to meet the social and academic needs of our kids in a multitude of ways and places. We are on the go. Finding time to get fit does not always present itself. Since we know it’s important to feel good and strong and model healthy behavior, I am offering a few ways to exercise during times not normally slated for fitness.

While driving – Do pelvic tilts. Squeeze those glutes and keep your posture straight. Do them for as long as you can hold it and as often as you can. It helps with core strength and posture.

When running errands – Park far and run. These little bursts will add cardio blasts to your day.

While knitting, reading or other sitting down activities – Sit on a yoga ball. You will find that you are perpetually moving and while this is happening your core is also keeping you in balance.

While going  up the stairs – Take two at a time, for the whole day. When done repeatedly this will strengthen the legs.

While waiting at games, practices, classes etc. – Stand up. It burns more calories than sitting. For a little stretching exercise you can raise up to tip toes repeatedly or walk around as much as possible.

These methods are not going to prepare us for the ironman competition, but they will increase our strength and overall fitness when practiced regularly. When we can’t chunk away time for exercise, we can at least use these methods and simply feel better.

Modeling Behavior in the Homeschool Environment

Since we have so much time to spend with our homeschooled kids, modeling behavior can become a powerful way to teach. Our children learn many valuable lessons by watching our behavior. Here are a few ways to model positive behavior for our kids:

1. Work hard and feel good about the results. When I created my first blog and website at age 47 I was seriously handicapped in a technological way. But my kids watched as I put in the hard work, got through many moments of frustration and confusion, and stuck with it to the end.  I was very happy to be able to say ‘I set up my own blog’. It was a perfect opportunity for my kids to see how hard (and not always fun) work can pay off.

2. Put fun in your day.  Meeting the kids’ needs takes a huge amount of time and energy. I try to find time every day to do something I enjoy – usually a walk  or a fitness video. The time I carve out can be a real “day changer”, putting a smile back on my face no matter how challenging the day has been thus far. I don’t want the kids to see homeshcooling or parenting as drudgery.  I’m hoping that by seeing me enjoy myself during the days they will understand that whatever path you choose, it’s possible and important to have some fun.

3. Handle mistakes gracefully.  I don’t know why it is so hard to admit mistakes, but for some people it can be very difficult. I feel that the more my kids see me make mistakes and recover from them, the more they will learn that it’s a natural process. And it’s not like making mistakes is something you have to pencil in to your day.  Mistakes happen and your kids see how  you react and what you do about it.  Above all, they will see that mistakes are often opportunities for learning.  So sure, go ahead and stomp your foot or hang your head for a moment, but then start looking for a solution.

We’re around our kids probably more than anybody else so it makes sense to reflect upon the ways our behavior can affect our homeschooled kids.  By using the techniques listed above we can show our kids how to work for desired results, how to put joy in our day and how to find ways to deal with failure.  Remember, they are watching us – learning!


5 Ways To Reduce Homeschooling Costs

Homeschooling is tricky for many of us, financially.  Most often we are operating on one income while paying all homeschooling costs out-of-pocket.  Here are some ways I’ve found that may help trim a homeschooler’s budget:

1. You don’t have to purchase curriculum.   I have found over the years that they are simply not necessary for us.  Instead, my sons create their own goals for the year, with a little practical guidance from me, and from there we use a vast array of free online tools, homemade worksheets and books from the library.  Twice a year I refer to the Maine Department of Education Standards and if I see something we haven’t covered, I bring it up.  I use to worry about not using curriculum (even though it felt right), but my daughter entered 3rd grade at the public school this year and after homeschooling without a curriculum she is reading on a 5th grade level and ahead in writing and math as well.

2. You don’t have to buy workbooks.  Sure, workbooks can certainly be handy and many homeschoolers (including me) use them, but I challenge you to find one workbook page that hasn’t been reasonably replicated on a free online site.  I often make my own worksheets or occasionally print them online.  Using dry erase boards, working online at Khan’s Academy, writing in journals and taking personalized math quizzes are all methods we use regularly, at little or no cost.

3. If you buy a curriculum – buy it used!  For some families having a structured, quality curriculum works well and buying used can save a bundle.  In Maine there is a huge, used homeschool-curriculum sale every year in early spring in Augusta.  Many other communities hold their own sales as well.  In addition to having bargain curriculum prices, I’ve found these types of sales carry a huge selection of reader books, cool learning games, and a large selection of literature and science books.

4.  Ditch the Dryer.  I have no dryer and we are a family of five.  I hang all the clothes on racks in our sunporch during the good weather, and upstairs in the warm loft all winter.  It not only saves you on your monthly light bill (for us it saves about $40.00), but it also extends the life of your clothing, reduces static electricity and adds moisture to the dry winter air in your home.

5. Grow a garden.  Our food costs more than double our mortgage payment.  Therefore, we have lots of incentive to increase our gardening efforts.  But gardening is good for so many reasons;  it’s good exercise, it makes for good science lessons for the kids,  it increases your awareness of nutrition and food supply, and maybe most importantly, food straight from the garden tastes better than anything.  Our favorites to eat fresh are peas, cucumbers, pole beans, carrots and greens.  For winter use we have squashes, dried beans for making soups or baked beans, and frozen tomato/basil/zucchini puree. Seeds are cheap.  The time you spend is fruitful and the more food you grow the more money will be shaved off your grocery bill.