Growing Up Around the World: Homeschooling 10 in Eastern Pennsylvania

I am so excited today to be a part of Simple Homeschool‘s worldwide homeschooling linkup, Growing Up Around the WorldIf you’re not familiar with this blog, Jamie Martin and fellow blogger Sarah Mackenzie have been hosting a summer book club encouraging parents to read books with their children that take place all over the globe. Each Friday, Jamie has been posting interviews with homeschooling families from all over the world, and now it’s our turn!  Continue reading “Growing Up Around the World: Homeschooling 10 in Eastern Pennsylvania”

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A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Back to “School”!

We’ve reached the end of our first week of our new homeschool year, and we have had so much fun! The kids and I were all so excited to begin, and that has lasted throughout the entire week, so things are looking great so far!

Unfortunately, we almost got off to a rocky start because I got a phone call early Monday morning from a family member asking me to drive them somewhere (they live 1/2 hr. away). After I explained that it was our first day of homeschool, they were very understanding. Unfortunately, though, when I mentioned it to another family member I was lectured about sometimes “having to make sacrifices.” I got more than a little angry at that, because I have sacrificed many a homeschool day to help people out. The problem is that once I started doing that, people have constantly been expecting me to do it over and over again.  Continue reading “A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Back to “School”!”

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- We Start Monday!

Start homeschool Monday
Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Well, this will be my last post when everyone is still on summer break. Yay! School starts Monday for all my non-teens, and we couldn’t be more excited. In fact, when the copy paper and ink arrived in the mail a few days ago, the kids asked if we could start right away. 🙂 I love it. Unfortunately we couldn’t, though, because we’ve had a fairly busy week.

On Sunday we invited my mother and our oldest son over for a 4th of July cookout. Yes, I realize that was the 3rd, but I wanted to have it on a day when my husband wouldn’t have to wake up early for work the next day, so Sunday it was!

We didn’t do much on the real 4th of July. The kids and I did try to watch the fireworks from our front porch…but when my 5 year old went into the house to use the bathroom, the front door got stuck, and she had to wake my hubby up to get the door open because we were all locked outside. (Apparently, the heat had made our door expand. Interesting.) We ended up missing the vast majority of the fireworks then because we had to go inside so my husband could go to bed in case the door got stuck again. Bummer. Continue reading “A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- We Start Monday!”

Keeping It Simple: How I Homeschool 10 Children

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Happy Monday, everyone! This is just a quick post to let you know that I am officially a guest contributor on They Call Me Blessed! I’m so excited to be working with so many talented bloggers on the 30 Ways We Homeschool Blog Party. Today I’m inviting you to stop on over and read about our family’s homeschool routine, including how we do it, where, when, and what we’ve chosen for the upcoming year’s curriculum. While you’re there, think about looking back through the other posts in this series. It’s always so amazing to see the many faces of homeschool!

Hope to see you there! Have a great day. 🙂

Homeschooling Multiple Ages? Simplicity Is the Key to Success

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Of all of the fears I hear from would-be homeschoolers, the issue of multi-level homeschooling is very near the top of the list. I can totally identify with that because that was one of my very own when I started homeschooling. It’s true that educating several children of differing ages can seem like a nightmare if you are looking at home education through the lens of a public school atmosphere.

When people hear that I have eleven children and homeschool nine of them, I can tell by the looks on their faces what they’re imagining my days to be like:

A classroom of school desks with my children excitedly raising their hands in order to answer a question. Me standing at the front of the room wearing an apron with a duster in one hand and a pointer in the other. Classical music playing in the background while I conjugate Latin verbs with my 5-yr-old.

or…

A classroom of school desks thrown askew as a slew of children parade around the room banging on pots and pans, protesting that day’s assignments. Me standing at the front of the room, hair falling out of a bun, dark circles under my eyes, pleading with them to please sit down and do their 3x each. The three-yr-old in the background, going through the makeup I no longer have time to apply, drawing cat whiskers on her own face with my eyeliner.

Although I have had days with features of each of these :), neither of these is an accurate depiction of what goes on in the average homeschooler’s school day. Thankfully, homeschooling does not have to fit the traditional school model, which is most fortunate for those of us who are homeschooling larger families.

Of all the homeschooling approaches I’ve tried, the one thing that has kept our days happy and manageable has been simplicity. The very first point I want to get across is that homeschooling does not have to take six hours a day. There are various reasons that a public school day takes that long, which is a post for another day, but suffice it to say that most homeschooling families do not spend nearly that much time on formal assignments.

While each family does it differently, and no one way is right or wrong, these are the routines that have helped with our family.

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(This post contains affiliate links.)

– Focus on the three R’s- reading writing, and ‘rithmetic. Although this approach is often seen as being for younger children, it can work quite well with inquisitive older kids, too. My teenage son does not use any textbooks for anything other than language arts and math. He has no need to. He loves reading about and watching movies about WW2 and is an avid outdoorsman. It seems like everyday he is bringing one critter or another home from the creek to observe. (As a matter of fact, he lost two snakes in my yard just this week! His response to my alarm? “Don’t worry, Mom. There are only three venomous snakes in the state of PA, and these weren’t any of them.” That doesn’t exactly reassure me, but it does let me know that he’s been doing his research!)

– Teach your kids together with unit studies. Right now this has been the go-to method for our family. Since I do have so many children, I’ve found that it works better for me to separate the kids into two groups with separate unit studies, which they take turns doing every other day. After I work individually with each child on language arts and math (which is not really necessary, but I do enjoy the one-on-one time with my kids) I will read aloud to them, and then they will complete some unit study assignments together. The nice thing about unit studies is that they are cross-curricular; there is no need to teach each subject individually. Each topic explored will tie in one way with the next and everything from math to science to history to art (and so on) is almost guaranteed to be covered. Some of our favorite unit study curricula have been Konos, Five in a Row, Media Angels Creation Units, and various thematic units. I’ve also written unit studies of my own on Famous Inventors/Inventions, Greek Mythology, and the Little House series- all of which can be found here on my blog. It’s so much more relaxing to know that you can adequately educate all of your children either together, or in groups, as I do.

– Keep in mind that as children get older, they also gain more independence. While I do technically homeschool nine children, it has to be said that I am really only heavily involved with the teaching of six of them, and even that is not terribly time-consuming nor stressful because of the way we approach things. My older kids will occasionally ask for help with math (why is it always math??) and are pretty competent on their own with everything else. They know I am there if they need assistance, but my actual involvement with their school work is minimal.

The prospect of homeschooling multiple ages can seem intimidating and stressful at first glance, but once you’ve found a routine that is comfortable for you and your family, it can be one of the most delightful endeavors you’ve ever accomplished. Simply remember that homeschooling is not school at home. Focus less on that and more on keeping the home in your school, and success will soon follow!

 

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A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers-Weekly Highlights- 4/21

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

It’s been about two years since I’ve written a weekly review post, and there has been one major change since then- we no longer identify as unschoolers and have settled in as relaxed homeschoolers. While unschooling can and does work for many families, the lack of structure and direction created some chaos in our lives.

I’ve learned a lot from our stint with unschooling, however, and feel that while some book work is necessary, it is hardly the most important part of our homeschool. Having said that, I’ve decided that if I am going to resume these review posts, for the most part I will not be focusing too much on our seat work and will instead focus on the parts of our weeks that I truly consider to be either highlights or developments that made this week different from the last.

Since I know so many people are curious as to how homeschooling can work with ten kids in the house, I have written a post that better addresses the technicalities of our daily routine.

Now on with the show!

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This week has been one of those weeks that we really let life take the lead and backed off a bit on doing much structured learning. Our week started with two of my children taking their state-mandated standardized tests. (One on Monday and one on Tuesday)

We are really blessed in that our state only requires standardized tests in grades 3, 5, and 8 and in that my children were able to do these online at home, but it did not take away the stress that both of my children felt from doing them. After having one child in tears and another loudly complaining that she hates “school.” I am dreading having to go through this again with two more of my children next year.

While I’d be perfectly happy if we never had to see another test like that again, it was so refreshing to watch my son outside playing with the water table during his breaks. It just absolutely reinforced my beliefs in the benefits of homeschooling, because how many school children get to do things like that during their testing time?

Earlier in the week, Sunday to be precise, I went out to get the newspaper and found a headline glaring at me, stating how unsafe our city’s schools are. Apparently our school district had almost 3,000 incidents of violence by students that had to be reported to the Department of Education in the 2014-2015 school year alone. Add to that the fact that during that school term, the police had to be called 500 times and students were arrested 300 times. And the cherry on top was the story of a third grader who wrapped his hands around another child’s neck during breakfast in the cafeteria, and it turned out that this was the child’s 14th discipline report in seven weeks. Again, all I can say is, hallelujah for homeschooling.

Wednesday I helped take my disabled brother to a doctor’s appointment, so we actually did not do anything school-related that day at all. It was a well-timed break, though, after the stressful testing days. The rest of our week has been mainly activities-based, which is how they like it. Since I break my kids down into three groups in our homeschooling routine, I’ll do the same here to give you a picture of what was accomplished this week.

The Littles- Ages 7, 6, 4 (and sometimes the 2-yr.-old)

We’ve been reading the book Lentil this week and did some accompanying activities from our FIAR curriculum, such as mapping, coloring the US flag, and learning some shading techniques for an art project. We also talked about uniqueness and jealousy and worked on some character trait issues.

The Big Kids- Ages 11, 10, and 8

We’ve been reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone together, and the kids have been reading books from the Encyclopedia Brown series because they work well with the research/reference unit study we’re doing right now. We’ve been practicing looking for information using library resources and actually took a field trip there today, so that they could choose books for their upcoming reports and better learn how to tell the difference in the placement of fiction and non-fiction books on the shelves.

As an aside, I’ve got to say that I was horrified when I found out today that a young boy was assaulted in the men’s room of our library. Our library. Add to that the fact that our mayor is being investigated by the FBI for bribery charges, and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of the state that our city is in right now.

Anyway…

The Teens- Ages 16, 16, and 14

My oldest daughter has been reading a modern English version of Dante’s Inferno, while my younger daughter just finished The Book Thief. My son isn’t much of a reader, so he’s just been reading through some non-fiction books about WWII from the library and taking some notes from them. The three of them actually did get the vast majority of their assigned work done this week since they mainly do it on their own (with exception to math, of course- sigh). Otherwise, my oldest daughter’s been painting quite a bit with her acrylics. She hopes to sell some of her work online in the future and has been working at perfecting her artistic style. My son has been out and about with his friends quite a bit, bike riding, playing basketball, and watching a volleyball game at the middle school. My younger daughter has been going through a phase where I pretty much have to force her to come out of her room and get some fresh air. She does go for walks with her sister and me, and we’ve been lamenting the fact that the cherry blossoms have already turned green! Sniff.

The Oldest- Age 22

Okay, I know he’s technically the 11th kid I’ve mentioned and the title of the post is “A Tale of TEN Homeschoolers,” and I know that he isn’t homeschooled (he’s actually in college), BUT I felt like I had to include him because he’s still one of my children, and, with all the editing and proofreading I do for his college papers, sometimes I feel like he IS my 11th homeschooler.

He has been having some issues recently with conflicting responsibilities because he has a huge workload right now for school, and he also has some classes he needs to take for the army (he’s in reserves) because he’s supposed to be going to Germany this summer for some training thing. (I don’t know the technical term). Hopefully, he’ll be able to figure something out that will satisfy both needs.

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And that’s about it. I’m looking forward to a beautiful weekend and can’t wait to see what next week will bring!

How has your week been?

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