Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Homeschooling FAQ...

We just started our school year last week.  We finished our previous school year early wanting to be finished before Shipton's arrival.  After a long summer break, it is time to get back on a schedule.  Being back to school time for students I have been receiving questions about what/why/how we do.  Some just out of curiosity and others weighing their options of home vs public school.

Art this week.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Why Do We Homeschool?

The brief answer:  

We had completely positive experiences in public school; however, we heard great things about homeschool.  We needed to try it out before making a judgement call about whether or not it was a good fit for our family.

The extended answer: 

PROS's:  *We choose the curriculum.  This has several aspects for our family.  First, we choose the content of what our children are learning (subjects, information exposed to, etc).  Also, for those areas where our children are ahead or interested, we can feed it to them as fast as they are able.  For those areas where they may need more time to find their own way to learn the information we are able to take that pace as well.  In our State there are no laws or regulations for homeschool.  If interested in homeschooling, make sure to check for any restrictions.

*We get to spend more time with our children than if they were public schooling.  This has been a joy for many reasons as well.  There is a small con with this that I do need to make sure I have consistent self-care time and time to myself as needed without little fingers poking under the door in order to have the emotional energy to continue being with my little ones most of the time. 

*Our kids have more free time to play.  My Pediatric Nursing instructor always said "play is a child's work."  We believe in working hard, but we equally believe in playing hard as well.  Once we are through chores and school, it's lunch time, then they have most of the afternoon before chores again to play and have free-time.

*I was initially surprised by how much less running around it required of me & flexibility in my schedule and day it created.  I didn't realize how much time I was spending in the car alone dropping off and picking up a Kindergartener and picking and dropping off a preschooler.  This year it would be a Second-grader, Kindergartener, and a Preschooler, whew!  That would be gas, time, miles, not to mention lots of alarms going off on my phone to remind me to pick up/drop off everyone on time.  Add in ballet, karate, and gymnastics we will be starting soon and I would be a crazy lady!  I have learned that feeling over-scheduled keeps me too much on edge. 

*Sleeping in (mom, dad, and kiddos too).  Oh yes!  My husband works late and in order to create quality time together ALONE that means we hit the pillow very late at night.  This year with the addition of a little one yet to sleep through the night, having extra sleep vs. getting up early to shuffle kids out the door has been perfect.  I don't wake my kids up in the morning.  I let them get up themselves.  That makes for less tears and grumpiness in the mornings and happiness and cooperation from well-rested family members.  As they grow and as schedules change for mom and dad, we will likely firm up a time.

* A few things we were surprised from our school year last year:  Since I don't know all of the answers, it has taught my kids to learn HOW to learn.  "I don't know, but let's research about it.  Where should we look for more information/answers?"  This is a skill that will help them throughout their lives.  Along those lines as well, I was surprised by the independence homeschooling brought out in them.  There are some aspects of homeschool that require help; however, most of them can be student lead.  Sennika really thrived with this set-up.  She loved being able to get her school work done at her own pace.  Last year at the end of the year she would take her workbooks up to her bedroom and take how every much time she wanted (some days that was short, other days it was more drawn out) to complete the work.  When she was finished, we checked it, then school was over for the day.  She loved being in charge vs being told what order or when to get her school work finished.  Again, independence, as well as connecting the need to accomplish tasks to be able to move on (and that the individual has control of when that is) are life skills we are thrilled they are developing.

*CONS:  The biggest con has actually been a great growing experience for me.  I am learning to juggle one more thing in my day.  Now in addition to self-care, housework, errands, child care, laundry, etc. etc...I have added homeschool.  It's small compared to the benefits.

Other cons that have been minor for us are, as mentioned, needing to be meticulous about taking care of myself to be emotionally present for them and also that we spend money on school supplies and materials. 

 2. How Much $ Do You Spend?

 We have spent between $150-$200 for their materials for the year (plus school supplies).  I know moms who have basically a $0 budget or others who have more than us.  I truly believe you can make it work no matter your budget.  It may come as trade-off's of time to search the internet for free or inexpensive options, but it need not be a roadblock. 

One money saving trick is to cut one side of a page protector and use them to cover the workbooks.  My kids do their school work in fine-tipped dry erase marker.  Gavin is using Sennika's 1st grade curriculum from last year and Leland is using what he is ready to of Gavin's Kindergarten.  That has cut down the amount we would be otherwise spending on curriculum for the kids. 

3. What Do We Teach?

I know some Moms can create their own lessons.  Knowing what to teach was actually a major hold-up that kept me from homeschooling previously.We have purchased our curriculum for last year and this year from HERE.  She pre-packages the materials based on grade-level.  This made it super easy for a first-time homeschooling mom.  As I did further research on the books she is using for the subjects, I am pleased with the reviews.  Having used them last year, they worked well for my children.  In addition to the Second-grade set, we ordered a few other workbooks for Sennika this year. 

4. How Long Is School?

Between the 3 kids most days it takes about 2 hours to get through school.  That's it.  At first I felt really guilty and that we must be missing something.  Nope.  From speaking with other homeschool Mama's, if it takes more than 3 hours, even with multiple little ones, that is too long.  My children have thrived having a balance of chores, school work, and free time. 

5. How Do I Teach 4 kids?

 Shipton naps, so that takes care of one of them.  I have been surprised how easy it is to toggle back and forth between the other three.  I get two kids started one things that they can do independently, then work with one individually.  This may mean 1 & 2 write in journals while I teach one subject, then get #3 going on the workbook while 1 does a subject independently while 2 reads with me, etc.  It has been especially nice having two readers this year  who can read well enough to read directions themselves! 

6. What Does a Typical School Day Look Like?

It includes a lot of clamor... but what a joyful noise that I now we will miss in just a few short years!

With 4 little ones, our schedule is firmly flexible.  We keep to a routine, but it isn't associated with strict times.  A set time may work for some.  We enjoy the flexibility.  After breakfast and chores and Shipton begins his nap, we start our school day.  We sing a song, pray, and recite a scripture and article of faith.  We say The Pledge of Allegiance.  They kids write in their journals, then they each complete 2 subjects depending on the day, and read to me. 

Subjects for this year:

Phonics & Music
History & Researching or Field Trip
Science & Art
Writing (composing books & hand writing work books)
Math & Spelling

Let me know if I missed any of your questions!

From Science this week...making gak.

Our recipe for GAK:
 1 TBS Borax (dry laundry detergent or dry hand soap)
3/4 C warm water
1 (8-oz) bottle Elmer's white glue
1 C. water
food coloring

In a small bowl, mix and dissolve the borax and 3/4 C warm water.  In a large bowl mix well glue, 1 C warm water, and food coloring.  Pour liquid from small bowl into large bowl a little at a time, stirring constnatly with a spoon.  Globs of fak will form on the sppon.  Take the globs off and work it with your hands until it is smooth and pliable.  Store in artight containter. 

Recipe note:  This is super fun for kids to play with and behaves much like silly putty. 

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