You're Not Alone, Homeschool Mom...

 remember not going to the movies… …or fine restaurants or anyplace where yoga pants and a slightly rumpled, perhaps spit-up stained tee shirt might not quite meet the dress code, for that matter. I also remember not going on many dates with my husband because the only way we could afford sitters was to switch off babysitting duties with friends from time to time, and really, how good a friend do you have to be to volunteer to watch four kids under the age of seven? So it would happen sometimes, but not very often, and that was life.

Read more

So many books, so little time...

We are a family of bookworms! This is Gabe's senior year, and kind of our 'last chance' to get in the lit. that I think is important before he graduates (not that he won't read after he graduates, but he won't have to read what I tell him to anymore!). I've been scouring high school and college book lists, checking with him on what's been read/not read, and he's got quite a little pile to work on.

My younger two and I still read aloud together nearly every day, and it's actually still my favorite part of the homeschooling day.  Some of the best books we've read together this year have been:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor (to my mind, needs no explanation...one of my all-time favorites!)

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (new to us--humorous, and ended up being another favorite)

Homesick--My Own Story by Jean Fritz (funny too, though there was one sad section where I broke into the 'crying voice'. I can't help it. I'm a big softie)

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis (magnificent perspective on a child growing up in Afghanistan...every American child should read this at some point)

I could go on and on..but tell me some of YOUR favorite books for middle schoolers and young adults!

The perfect curriculum

Blast from the past--I just stumbled across a homeschooling resource I'd forgotten about, Design-A-Study. I have her pamphlet from back when I started in the mid-90s. Kathryn Stout has always had a very sensible, well-rounded approach to homeschooling. She not only graduated all of her own children, but has been an advisor for many other families. Even if you don't purchase one of her guides (which are very handy, btw), do check out the teaching help columns. Here's a sample, the "Quest for the Perfect Curriculum"

The hunt for that perfect curriculum is once again in progress. Surely there is one company with a package that will do it all. The student will be content and Mom will have minimal work. Right? Even though last year’s purchase didn’t turn out to be “the one,” hope remains and the search continues. Well…if this is your quest, let me save you time and disappointment—every curriculum, even those complete grade-level packages, will need adjustments to suit your child. The perfect curriculum is the one you put together with your child in mind.

No, you don’t have to write a curriculum. You just have to judge resources for each subject based on your child’s age, personality, learning style, strengths and weaknesses.

It follows with tips on how to do just that...as I'm cleaning out my bookroom, hopefully I'll be reminded of more gems like these!

Ode to the library

What is that old Barney song? "You can have an adventure in a faraway land.....blahblahblah tuba in a marching band somethingsomething deep blue sea..... if you learn to borrow books at the library!"

I believe I've done an entry on the library before. We were all kind of 'eh' this morning, so off to the library we went. I'm always rejuvenated by books, the sight of stacks and shelves of books....ahhhhh....When my older two were littles and it seemed like I was always nursing, pregnant, or needing a nap, a big part of our schooling time was this: The 3 R's, and then we'd pick a book or two from the nonfiction or literature section of the children's section of the library to go through each week or two.  We'd leave with books on subjects as varied as insects, fairytales, the Pony Express, Christopher Columbus. An old classic movie thrown in. Sound disorganized? We would do an organized unit study once in awhile, but it seems the bulk of our learning came through reading together or alone. I recall we did a lot of Lego and playdoh playing as well.  

 

I love the simplicity that can be found in homeschooling. And sometimes I need the reminder that my youngest one deserves that relaxed, unhurried time just as much as my oldest did when he was that age.

 

Here's a wonderful quote and thought of the day for you that I got from this lovely blog:

If you wanted to gather up all tender memories, all lights and shadows of the heart, all banquetings and reunions, all filial, fraternal, paternal, conjugal affections, and had only four letters with which to spell out the height and depth and length, and breadth and magnitude and eternity of meaning, you would write it all out with these four capital letters: H-O-M-E.

Thomas DeWitt Talmage

Raymond Moore

Many young homeschoolers won't recognize the name, Raymond Moore, which is unfortunate. He and his wife Dorothy were pioneers of the modern day homeschooling movement, homeschoolers before homeschooling was 'cool'. Dr. Moore passed away this past weekend. (Dorothy died several years ago) He is a presence who will be sorely missed.

I had the privilege of being introduced to their books, Better Late Than Early and  Home Grown Kids  early in my mothering days. While I have definitely not been perfect at applying the principles I believe in, they rang true with me then and after nearly 16 years of mothering, still do. Their thoughts gave me something to aspire to:

  • Delaying 'formal' schooling doesn't = procrastination.

  • Being attuned to your child's needs does not make them self centered.

  • Give them have a childhood full of love, play and family.

  • When you do introduce schooling, keep a good balance between bookwork, real life activities like cooking, sewing, singing, manual labor and free time.

  • Read to your children a lot.

  • Respect them.

It works. Trust your mothering instincts!

I was going to give a list of must-reads for new homeschooling mommies, and the Moores would be at the head of it. Some other voices who carry on the same "Moore message" would be Steve and Jane Lambert, the Five in a Row people. Read anything they've written and definitely check out their website. Their message is 'enjoy the journey' and 'homeschooling is a marathon, not a race'. Their literature based curriculum is really good too.

A couple  more....some of my regular summer reading usually includes re-reading something by this woman, Diana Waring  Her book  Beyond Survival literally changed my life when I first read it. It's the first resource I lend to any mom who tells me she is harried and 'can't do it all'. I also love Reaping the Harvest and Things We'd Wish We'd Known. She is funny and inspiring!

Last one....I have gotten the Timberdoodle catalog for years. They have a great website with recommendations for all ages.

The overarching theme for all of the above is, relax. This isn't complicated. It is not easy, but it IS simple. Enjoy your time homeschooling with your children and don't waste time and energy searching for 'perfect curriculum' (pssst.....I'll tell you a secret. There isn't one!). In the words of Steve Lambert, enjoy the journey!