Homeschooling 101 | My Child Has No Interests

There can be fewer things more frustrating for a #homeschooling parent than to excitedly allow our children time for self-directed learning only to discover that they don’t seem to be interested in ANYTHING. While I don’t have a foolproof solution to this, I am going to share some wisdom I gained during our #unschooling years.

My Favorite Books About Homeschooling!

One of the most important things to do as a homeschooling parent is to read about it – different methods, different learning styles, anecdotal stories, etc. – before you start.

Even seasoned homeschooling parents can benefit from reading books such as these. They can give you new ideas and simply rejuvenate you when you need it most.

Today on my YouTube channel, I shared my favorite books about homeschooling.

Lifeschooling: Using the World as Your Classroom

Have you ever thought about what the word “curriculum” means? For years, the first thing that came to mind for me were books – textbooks, to be precise.

While books can – and usually do – fill that role, that’s not what curriculum specifically means. Curriculum simply means having a plan in place for an approach to education.

That’s it.

Continue reading “Lifeschooling: Using the World as Your Classroom”

Self-Directed Learning: It’s Time to Clear Something Up…

Ah, self-directed learning. It’s one of my absolute favorite advantages of relaxed homeschooling. There can be no more effective way for children to learn, in my opinion.

In fact, its efficacy is what has enabled me to embrace a simpler homeschool approach for my children. Out of all the “fool-proof” tricks I’ve tried and well-intentioned advice I’ve received, there is no denying the fact that kids (at least, my kids) learn far more successfully and enthusiastically when they themselves are the ones who are given the reins on their education.

However, over the past few months I have realized that there are some who don’t quite understand what self-directed learning actually is, and I’ve found that the most confusion stems from one faulty idea: that self-directed learning is just another name for independent learning.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. Continue reading “Self-Directed Learning: It’s Time to Clear Something Up…”

Homeschool Holiday Stress? The Solution Is Within Your Reach!

As the holidays seemingly arrive with astounding speed this year, it can be quite easy to be overcome with the stress of knowing that not only has the Christmas season appeared with little warning, but as a homeschooling parent, you are still responsible for educating your child during this time.

What to do?

Although many families attempt to trudge through like the troopers they are, quite a few realize after a brief time that it just isn’t going to work. How can it with all of the busyness that often accompanies this time of year?

There’s shopping and baking to be done, relatives to visit, carols to be learned, scarves to be knitted, and trees to be decorated. Where does homeschooling fit into all of this?  Continue reading “Homeschool Holiday Stress? The Solution Is Within Your Reach!”

Deschooling Vs. Unschooling- What’s the Difference?

Of all the buzzwords that make their rounds in the homeschooling community, the two that are confused the most often are “deschooling” and “unschooling,” and with good reason!

Since they are both intended to be as unlike traditional school as possible, it really can be difficult for someone on the outside looking in to determine which is which.

The key is really all about intention.  Continue reading “Deschooling Vs. Unschooling- What’s the Difference?”

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Give Unschooling a Try

On this 8-year journey that we call homeschooling, we’ve been all over the “methods spectrum.” We started out strictly (and mindlessly) replicating school at home with disastrous results. After learning from our (my) mistakes, we moved onto unit studies which were so much more pleasant for us. More time passed, and after spending quite a bit of time reading some life-changing books, I decided to take a leap of faith and try out unschooling for awhile.  Continue reading “5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Give Unschooling a Try”

10 Books That Will Forever Change the Way You Look at Learning

Sometimes it can be extremely hard to rid ourselves of an accepted concept that not only we grew up with, but so did our parents, grandparents, and, sometimes, our great-grandparents. The educational institution we know of today has only existed for a very short time when compared with the rest of history as we know it; however, since the past several generations have never known anything different than the brick-and-mortar school setting, oftentimes our idea of what “real” education looks like gets crammed into a neat little illustration of what’s going on within the four walls of the public school down the street.  Continue reading “10 Books That Will Forever Change the Way You Look at Learning”

A Tale of Ten Homeschoolers- Spiders and Squirrels and Snakes, Oh My!

The end of the school year is in sight, and the great outdoors are calling! (If the rain ever stops ;P) Join me for another week of highlights from There’s No Place Like Home!

oh my

Well, we’ve now just completed the second last week of school for the Littles and the Big Kids. The Teens have another three weeks to go because they follow a more traditional school schedule. The end of the school year is a bit bittersweet for me because, while I love the summer, I do not enjoy the lack of structure from not doing our school routine everyday. Besides that, I really do enjoy our school routine, so I know that I’m going to be bored out of my mind without the hustle and bustle of the school day. Oh, well. Just plan on me posting lots of new unit studies because that’s what I usually spend my time doing when boredom sets in. I will admit, however that I am looking forward to the deep cleaning we always do the first few days of summer break because this house is a wreck.

This week was very similar to last week in that it’s been cold and, once again, I had to take five children to the dentist. Fun. No cavities this week, but one does need to see an orthodontist. Joy. Other than that, it’s been a pretty laid back week- as far as a household of twelve people can be laid back. 🙂 Now on to our week:

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

The Littles

This week we started reading Madeline, which the kids have enjoyed so far. We found France, where the story takes place, on our world map and each child got their own map to place a story disk on. They also colored their own French flags, and we discussed so many different topics while reading, such as appendixes, hospital visits, steamboats, land line telephones (who would’ve thought they would be considered history in our lifetime!?), and the Eiffel Tower.

I’m going to confess that we spent a lot of time vegging out in front of the TV because it’s just been a cold, rainy week, and we really didn’t feel like venturing outside.

The Big Kids

The older kids are still working on their research/reference unit and will probably do so until the end of next week when they finish school. We read about Noah Webster and each child has been busy compiling a list of words they don’t know from our read-alouds and their silent reading selections (which, incidentally, are all the same as last week) to author their own dictionaries. Today they got to decorate the covers.

Caollin (11) did get to spend some time at the creek with Dillon (16), and she had a blast finding salamanders, crayfish, and a newt. Otherwise, they, too, have just been relaxing in the house, waiting for the sun to finally come out again.

The Teens

Schoolwork-wise, it’s really just been business as usual with these three.

Arianna (14) has been busy reading and helping with the younger kids during school time this week. On Sunday she went to see a local theater group’s performance of “Mary Poppins” with my mother. She really enjoyed it and hopes to see some more shows like it. (She recently saw “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” as well).

Dillon is still having the time of his life taking photographs and has even ventured out in this dreary weather to hone his photography skills. Here’s a sampling of what he did this week:

A few days ago he created a Facebook page for his photography, and he’s really been working hard at perfecting his skills.

Devin (17) has, once again, spent a lot of time with our oldest son this week. She’s looking forward to next month’s anime convention in Atlantic City and is busying herself with the details of what characters she’s going to cosplay. She also wants a job in the worst way, but I just haven’t gotten around to getting her a photo ID just yet.

Unfortunately, our school district does not issue school IDs to homeschoolers, which makes everything from getting a job to attending after-school events to taking SATs that much harder. I honestly believe they should begin issuing them to homeschoolers, since we do have to report to them yearly, so our kids are, technically, still students in the district, but what are you gonna do?

Anyway, this has been our week! What’s yours looked like?

 

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Sometimes the Best Teachers Don’t Need a Degree

Worried about your qualifications as a homeschool, or future homeschool, parent? Join me as I discuss the characteristics of great homeschool parents!

teacher
Image courtesy of khunaspix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two years ago when my daughter was seeking a scholarship for a local art school, I had a somewhat uncomfortable conversation. In the midst of the interview, the subject of homeschooling came up. The registrar looked at me quizzingly and asked, “Do you have an education degree?” I replied that I did not; they aren’t necessary for homeschooling in PA. She grew completely perplexed and replied, “But how do you teach things you don’t know?”

This question caught me rather off-guard for two reasons:

  1. I had honestly never even thought about it, and
  2. Does having a degree automatically mean you know how to do everything?

The registrar is not alone in asking this question. In fact, the idea of a parent not being qualified to teach his or her children has crossed the minds of many would-be homeschoolers and scared them away from ever going through with their dreams of homeschooling.

Realistically, however, most homeschool routines don’t even remotely resemble a typical school day, so the qualifications needed in a traditional classroom are somewhat different than those necessary in an at-home setting.

My hope here is to encourage those of you who are doubting your ability to homeschool by listing the characteristics of a successful homeschool parent because, as you will see, they are probably nothing at all like the typical idea of what an average teacher looks like.

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

A great homeschool teacher will:

1.Receive questions with open arms. Unlike traditional school teachers who must often stick to a script, homeschoolers have the freedom of drifting away from a discussion or lesson if more intriguing ponderings arise. Just today I was reading Madeline with my younger children. A book that would normally take five minutes turned into a twenty minute discussion about Paris, old telephones, appendixes, scars, nuns, steamboats, and- my children’s favorite- retellings of their own experiences with hospital visits. A discussion like this would most likely not have happened within a school setting because of, among other things, time constraints, but at home we have the freedom to explore ideas with our kids as they arise. Questions are a blessing. Delight in inquisitiveness!

2.Encourage their children to learn how to discover answers for themselves. While it is, of course, necessary to help your children when the need arises, it is also so important to help children learn where and how to find resources for themselves. Although my children and I visit the library regularly, the other week I took them there for the main purpose of explaining the Dewey Decimal System to them and taking them on a tour of where to find specific types of books. Giving them opportunities to research online is also something that is necessary in this day and age. I know that many parents have mixed feelings about Google, but I consider it to be hugely beneficial to our learning endeavors.

3.Give their children plenty of time for exploring interests. Some of the most crucial and most important learning does not come from books, but from life. Learn to see the world through your children’s eyes, instead of through the schoolish lenses most of us possess, and you will find value in just about everything your children do. Keep in mind that the hobbies of your children now may well be training for their future. Kids who like to play school may become teachers, and those who insist on taking everything apart to see how it works are likely to be budding engineers. If your children are actively exploring life, there is no such thing as wasted time.

4.Have a plan for those occasions when they don’t know how to help with a certain subject. As the saying goes, the world is our oyster when it comes to information and resources in this day and age. The most common piece of advice for situations like this is to hire a tutor, but many one-income (and some two-income families!) simply cannot afford it. Thankfully, there are plenty of other options for getting help with those difficult areas. A short sampling would be:

-the library

-friends, neighbors, and family members

Khan Academy

-the good, old internet

YouTube

The options are really endless. Just keep an open mind about how learning happens, and you’d be amazed where the help can come from!

5.Let their children have a say in what they’re learning about. Think about it. Can you concentrate on something you have no interest in and no need for? Me neither. My older children all give input on what their learning plan will consist of. My oldest daughter loves psychology and will be taking it for a third time next year (her senior year). This could never have happened at our public high school, as they only offer one half-year course on it. Why force her to take a Social Studies credit that she’s never going to need in real life? It just doesn’t make sense. I guarantee your kids will put more effort into work they consider to be useful and interesting.

6.Know when something isn’t working and be willing to change it. Sometimes a particular curriculum may look phenomenal to us parents, but when our children set out to doing it, they don’t feel the same way. If your child is struggling to the point of tears or complete apathy, it’s time to ditch the book and move on. This is one of those other areas that homeschoolers have the advantage. Since public schools have limited budgets and slews of students to purchase textbooks for, they don’t have the option of doing this. While I certainly do remember trudging through those dry textbooks in high school, I don’t remember one important thing out of any of them. I know sometimes it may seem like a waste to discontinue something you paid for, but it is so much more important that your children can learn well. Unused curriculum can easily be saved for younger siblings (maybe they’ll like it!), sold to other homeschoolers, or even given away for free to a family with a limited income.

7.Drop everything they know about “school” and design a plan that works for their family. I want you to close your eyes and remember what your school days were like. Crowded hallways. Cramped desks. Bathroom passes. Ringing bells. Do you have a clear picture? Now, push that picture out of your head because homeschooling does not have to be like that. Observe your children. Take notice to how they do things and what they spend the most time on. Only you can decide what is right for your family. And I’m here to tell you that you may not get it right the first time. Or the second. Or the third. 🙂 All kidding aside, you will figure it out, and your children will thank you for it.

I was going to title this post “What Makes a Great Homeschool Teacher” but decided against it because, to many of us, homeschooling doesn’t feel like teaching. It feels like life. It feels like family. It feels like love. That is what it takes to make a great homeschool parent. Are you qualified?

 

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