Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

Is it Time for you to Consider Homeschooling?

The Parkland, Florida shooting has many families wondering if they should take a closer look at homeschooling. I want you to know there are so many amazing reasons to homeschool that have nothing to do with fear or safety.  In fact, Business Insider says that “homeschooling is the smartest way to teach kids in the 21st-century.”

In this post, I will discuss five benefits of homeschooling: 1) Academics; 2) Socialization; 3) Mental Health; 4) Family Relationships;  5) Love of Learning.

Image result for when others zig you zag

Academics

Homeschooling offers you the opportunity to craft a 100% customized education for your child.  Multiple factors will go into how you decide to personalize your child’s education including her learning style, skills, and passions as well your family’s priorities and values. You can speed up or slow down depending on your child’s needs and interests.

Sixteen-year-old homeschooled student, Christian Williams, who has just been accepted by MIT,  summarized this well:

“I’m able to do so many academics, so many customized learning programs through my homeschooling, so I was able to take advantage of my love for math, my love for sciences, and was able to do math way above my grade level. I was able to do any science I wanted to. That’s how I discovered half of my passions.”–Christian Williams, 16-year-old admitted to MIT

Homeschooled students typically score above average on standardized tests and the SAT and ACT compared to their public school counterparts. Impressively, many homeschoolers complete 1-2 years of junior college before they turn 18 years old and are admitted to top universities across the nation without ever having to take the SAT or ACT. Additionally, you can choose to school year-round so you don’t lose ground with summer slide.

Homeschoolers don’t use a one-size-fits-all curriculum and don’t teach to the middle or a test. We aren’t bogged down by hierarchies and bureaucracies to make change. Quite the opposite, we are entrepreneurs of our children’s education and are nimble and adaptive to their needs and learning opportunities.

Many cities have homeschool learning centers and co-ops. If you don’t feel equipped to teach a subject to your children, you can seek out the best instructors. This semester, for instance, some classes my kids are taking from other teachers include physics, chemistry, debate, art, and theater. In California, we have the option to receive educational funds to pay for some of our educational expenses including classes.  Because of the customization we are able to do with these educational funds and the tremendous ecosystem that has emerged, I believe Southern California hoomeschoolers are on the cutting edge of education.

0393253627

The Well-Trained Mind is an excellent place to start if you are considering homeschooling. The book’s authors provide a how-to homeschool plan including multiple curriculum recommendations for each grade level.

Socialization

Many homeschool families chuckle at this question about socialization. Yes, there are some homeschooled kids with quirky behavior, but you find plenty of that in conventional schools.  I firmly believe my children’s socialization is superior to what you find with traditional schooling.

They are not confined to the same desks, playground and cafeteria day-after-day. Instead, they are often out in nature enjoying the freedom and purity of those landscapes together. Other times they are interacting in places as diverse as museums, nature centers, restaurants, galleries,  performing arts theaters, farms, and more. This stimulates tremendous creative interaction amongst the homeschoolers.

They are more actively engaged in conversation, thought, movement and play with friends. Their friendships are strengthened as they learn and play together in a wide variety of interactive environments. This is in stark contrast to the humdrum of being in the same classroom with the same teacher in the same desk each day.

Additionally, homeschooled kids build relationships with peers of a wide age range. Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy, wrote in The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined:

“There is nothing natural about segregating kids by age. That isn’t how families work; it isn’t what the world looks like and it runs counter to the way that kids have learned and socialized for most of human history…As anyone who’s every spent time around children can tell you, both younger and older benefit when different ages mis. The older ones take responsibility for the younger ones. The younger ones look up to and emulate the older ones. Everyone seems to act more mature. Both younger and older rise to the occasion. Take away the mixx of ages and everybody loses something.”–From The One World Schoolhouse: Education Reimagined by Sal Khan

1455508373

Mental Health

The mental health of our nation’s youth is, sadly, declining rapidly. You don’t need to read statistics to know this is happening. You hear sad stories in the news all the time and probably hear many of them from your own child’s school. Depression, anxiety, anger, bullying, and suicide are all on the rise.

A teen suicide in my community last month prompted a Newport Harbor High School principal, Dr. Sean Boulton, to write a letter in which he stated:

“Our teachers and district have simply created and maintained a system that our community/country has demanded from us over the past 20 years since college admissions mania went into hyper drive, since vocational training programs were dismantled, and since earning “A’s” in AP classes became the norm.”

“Our teachers feel the pressure, administration and counseling feel the pressure, and now parents/students are really feeling the pressures.”

“When we grew up nobody asked us what our GPA was, and it was ‘cool’ to work on the roof of a house. This competitive culture has significantly impacted our young adults. We endlessly discuss test scores, National Merit Scholarships, reading scores, AP scholars, comparisons to other school Districts and this is when we start losing our collective souls–and our children.”–Newport Harbor High School Principal, Dr. Sean Boulton

When you homeschool, you can get out of that rat race. Instead of living in comparison and competition, homeschoolers are so generous in helping one another out to succeed with their homeschooling. Blazing a different trail than the masses is so empowering.

Image result for when others zig you zag

Many factors that contribute to children’s mental health problems are lessened with homeschooling:

  • Bullying is greatly reduced.
  • Students are less likely to get on ADHD meds because they are not being confined to a desk in a classroom for hours each school day.
  • Parents spend more time with their kids building bonds, sense of love and security, and transmitting values.
  • Children usually eat healthier when they are with parents.
  • There is less rushing around because school can be done much more efficiently than in a large classroom of kids.
  •  Kids are happier because they are getting outdoors much more and have extra time to play with their friends. This also reduces the need for ADHD meds.
  • Homeschooled children, generally, are not dealing with developmentally inappropriate topics and situations.
  • Homeschooling does not have the hyper-competitive atmosphere you see in many schools today.
  • There is much less risk to personal safety for homeschooled kids.
  • The teach-to-the-test culture is absent.
  • Involvement in drugs, alcohol and sexual activity is much less.
  • Image consciousness, such as the clothes you wear and people you hang out with, is greatly reduced.
  • Homeschooled students don’t usually know who struggles with math and reading and who excels. Those are typically done at home at a customized pace. As a result, it is much less likely that less academically-inclined kids will feel dumb. That insecurity and damage can take years to get over–if ever.
  • Parents often play a greater role influencing with whom their kids socialize.  As peers play such a big role in our children’s lives, this can’t be underestimated.

Image result for you are the average of the five rohn image

Family Relationships

Homeschool families are typically very close. I think part of it is because we have so many shared experiences together. I have been told many times by parents who left public school to homeschool that the whole family is so much more relaxed, and they are finally having time to enjoy one another.

 

Most of our homeschool family friends have siblings who get along well as do my own children. My hypothesis is because they do so much life together. They have so many meaningful experiences together out in the world. They know one another’s friends well because we are experiencing the world with them, too. We read aloud books as a family and discuss them which is, also, a powerful bonding experience.  I don’t know the precise reasons homeschool kids typically get along so nicely with their siblings, but it is wonderful and sweet.

Love of Learning

Earlier this week, The Harvard Gazette published a story featuring three of their homeschooled students. The writer pointed out the following: “The three profiled here share a spirit of curiosity and independence that continues to shape their education.”

This is one area that homeschoolers really shine. Because we aren’t caught up in competition and standardized tests, homeschoolers usually exemplify love of learning!

 

In fact, homeschool parents have tremendous fun learning with their kids. I have a master’s degree and have completed some executive education. However, none of my prior education comes close to what I am learning as a homeschool parent. It is nice to be surrounded by other parents who enjoy learning and discussing ideas. I find the lifestyle of a homeschool parent extremely rich and gratifying.

Image result for zig ziglar life is a classroom quote

 

There are quite a few other compelling reasons to homeschool. However, I covered some highlights for you.  I am so grateful to homeschool and feel it is one of the best and most important decisions we will ever make for our family. Additionally, I love it more and more each year. It is an incredible journey to go on with your children, and  I hope you will strongly consider it. As I remind my friends who are in public school and on the fence, there is no wait list to get back in school. If you try it and it doesn’t work, then you can always go back. However, most people I know who take that step only regret they didn’t start sooner.

Please share this post if you believe others should learn more about homeschooling. I believe with all my heart that with devoted, loving parents who can make the time for it, in most cases, it is the optimal choice for kids, families and our nation.

Finally, I highly recommend Richard Louv’s groundbreaking book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Children From Nature Deficit Disorder. “He links the absence of nature in156512605X the lives of today’s wired generation to some of the most disturbing childhood trends: the rise in obesity, attention disorders, and depression. This is the first book to bring together a body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. More than just raising an alarm, Louv offers practical solutions to heal the broken bond.”

You may also like:

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

How We Homeschool 4th & 5th Grade

How We Homeschool First Grade

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool?

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

Advertisements

How We Homeschool First Grade

How We Homeschool First Grade

Are you looking for curriculum ideas for your 6, 7 or 8-year-old? After homeschooling her two older siblings, I am now homeschooling my youngest with curriculum I think is well-done and a good fit for her. Additionally, it costs less than $100. We are eclectic homeschoolers and try to pull from the best of each homeschool philosophy as well as the best publishers.

  • Writing with Ease Workbook: Level 1 is a favorite of my daughter’s. It provides 1933339268copywork, dictation and narration assignments as well as reading passages from classic children’s literature. I like that it is also entirely scripted so that I do not need to prepare. The publisher states the workbook lessons “are the only materials you’ll need to provide your student with a complete first year of writing instruction. ” Tip: If your child doesn’t remember a detail from the passage you read when you question her, you may gently give her the information and allow her to answer the question back to you in a complete sentence. 
  • Spelling Workout A is a phonics-based program with a variety of activities including riddles and puzzles. I do not buy the teacher’s manual, and she is able to do most of this independently.
  • Reading for Comprehension: Level B is full of short, fun, non-fiction articles and questions to reinforce reading skills. My daughter enjoys this book a lot, and it builds her confidence. She works on this independently. 
  • Math Mammoth by Dr. Maria Miller is a mastery-based curriculum that focuses on conceptual understanding, number sense and mental math.  It is largely self-teaching and requires little involvement from me. I do not find it necessary to purchase a teacher’s manual for this age. I pay a couple dollars more for the more visually-appealing color version instead of just the black-and-white.
  •  Reading–We do not use a reading curriculum or sight words flashcards. Rather, we go the library often and pick out loads of fun books. We snuggle together and she reads to me. Learning to read and enjoy books organically is so beautiful!
  • Science–We explore science out in the world. We are in a nature group that gets together weekly. Additionally, my daughter takes a physics/chemistry class at our co-op as well as marine science at a facility on the Pacific Ocean.  Hands-on is best, in my opinion.1933339179
  • History–We are big fans of  living books,  field trips and travel for our history studies. We follow the classical method of studying history chronologically. I highly recommend Story of the World audiobooks.  Additionally, I appreciate the many wonderful book lists from Charlotte Mason inspired groups. nice kas sarworkmar sarapple hq mom and kidssweeney ridge sdadbehind
  • Literature and Read-Alouds–One of my favorite things about homeschooling is reading aloud to my children. It is a tremendous bonding activity for our family as we go on so many book adventures together. During snack and meal times, I read from a variety of great books. The morning includes most of our non-ficton.  Later in the day, we shift to novels. map-pics-002

I hope you found this post useful if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling your first or second grader. You can see that you can give your child a quality education spending very little money.

An upcoming blog post will reveal the curriculum used in our home for our 10 and 11-year-old children.

You may also like:

Ten Ways to Teach Your Child to Read and Love Books

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

Six Reasons We Homeschool Year-Round

Give Your Kids a World-Class Math Education for Free

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

 

 

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool?

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool?

Did you know you can give your kids an exceptional and customized education for less than $400/year?

Homeschooling is the epitome of personalized education tailored to your individual child. You don’t have to be wealthy to provide a cutting-edge education for your kids. Many families of modest means around the country and even the world are part of this exciting movement!

As parents, we know our kids better than anyone and also have the greatest vested interest in seeking out the best curriculum and programs for them. In addition to individualized one-on-one teaching, we are fortunate to live in a time when some of the best teachers in the world are offering content online for free.

Homeschool families also recognize the value of libraries. The famous line from Good Will Hunting is not lost on homeschool families:

“You blew $150k on an education you could have gotten in $1.50 in late fees from the library.” — Good Will Hunting

Here is a typical homeschool curriculum for a 4th/5th grader. The cost is around $250/year and would be about the same for most elementary-aged children. Furthermore, many of the purchases can be used again for siblings. Even if you hire a private tutor or outsource a subject to a group instructor, the cost is still significantly less than paying for private school.

I try to buy used curriculum on Amazon when possible. Additionally, Rainbow Resource usually has the cheapest prices for new items.

Experiential learning is one of the most meaningful and memorable ways to learn. We go on a field trip just about every week as well as engage in extremely hands-on learning activities with our weekly co-op. Homeschoolers should make the most of their homeschooling freedom and deliberately seek out experiential learning opportunities. Spending $250 for the year, you could engage in so many wonderful types of experiential learning and could even do it for a lot less. Nature is free. Many organizations and companies offer free field trips, tours and programs.

A big component of homeschooling is customizing to your child’s passions and interests. Sports, music, technology, and music are a few examples of a program each family can uniquely design for their own children.  You will want to factor those costs into your child’s educational plan.

With some research and effort, you can provide your child a cutting-edge, customized education! The homeschool community is extremely generous in sharing information and support. Join our movement. We want you to succeed and are here to help you!

Would you like to share some tips about homeschooling on a budget? How much do you spend homeschooling your kids?

You may also like:

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

Give Your Kids a World-Class Math Education for Free

Ten Ways to Teach Your Child to Read and Love Books

Need Some K-6 Math Inspiration?

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Free and Fun Spelling Website

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

If You are New to Homeschooling or Thinking About It….

For those of you thinking about or new to homeschooling, I know it can be overwhelming. With a huge smorgasbord of curriculum and activities to choose from and all the information about homeschool philosophies, there is so much to consider. This is a good problem to have.  In this post, I’m going to let you in on some things that I wish I had known when I started homeschooling .

person thinking 2Many of you are spending countless hours researching different homeschooling philosophies and think you have to settle on one. I want to tell you to relax. You will probably start with one and then morph into something else. While there are some purists to a single philosophy such as Classical and Charlotte Mason, I know very few. Most people pick and choose what works best for them. For instance, I like many aspects of Charlotte Mason but not all. One example is that my kids hated copywork. So, we let that go a long time ago.  In fact, we are a hodge-podge of many different philosophies from the homeschooling world.  There are things we like and don’t like from each one. That is okay. You don’t have to follow a philosophy 100%.  Additionally, I mix it up further by adding in ideas from business and technology leaders.

Also, I know many of us have researched curriculum for hours and hours –particularly math curriculum. I wanted to let you know there is a good possibility you are going to change your math curriculum after a few months or a couple of years. Just pick something that seems like a good fit and get started. You are not locked into it. If your child absolutely hates it and is crying all the time, then it is time to change it up. You can either pick a new math program or simply let them do every other problem if it is super repetitive.

You have probably heard it said that you do not need to recreate public school at home. It takes many families 1-2 years to figure this out. Because so many of us were raised in a conventional classroom, it is surprising when we see how quickly are kids are able to complete their work.  You may look at public school state standards and think you aren’t doing enough. I can assure you that many of those standards are taught at a very surface level.  Another important point is you have the benefit and flexibility to make the world your classroom. Learning is not contained within the walls of a classroom. In my opinion, the most memorable and joyful learning takes place exploring out in the world.

Questions, Demand, Doubts, PsychologyHomeschooling is a joyful and sometimes challenging journey. The beauty is you are at the steering wheel. You are the entrepreneur in charge of your family’s upbringing and education. During this journey, you can be agile and change to what best suits your family. You are not locked into any philosophy or curriculum. You do not require the approval of a teacher, principal or school bureaucracy to adapt to the needs of your family. Please make the most of your homeschooling freedom by changing things up as needed.

I’m glad to have you here on my blog. I also have a Facebook page where I frequently share articles and ideas to help you on your journey. Please join us and feel free to chime in with your questions and thoughts.

You may also like:

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Infuse Joy Into Your Homeschool

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

Need Some K-6 Math Inspiration?

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

 

Is it Time to Shake Up Your Homeschool?

Is it Time to Shake Up Your Homeschool?

Do you feel excitement, gratitude, and happiness for your family’s homeschool life? Or do you feel like something may be missing and would like a change?

I want to share with you some steps you can take to infuse joy into your homeschool.

  • Change Your Homeschool Each Year–Homeschool feels more like an adventure when we change it up each year.  It keeps learning fresh and exciting. A couple of years ago, we went to an enlightening class at Disneyland each Tuesday with our friends. Our minds were expanded to the tremendous value of learning in non-conventional ways.

    Now our core group of friends schedules our activities together for the entire school year. This past school year, we adventured on field trips together each Tuesday, did co-op on Wednesdays, and sailed each Friday. In the fall, we’ll do beach volleyball and marine biology together on Tuesdays,  co-op on Wednesdays and Family Nature School on Thursdays. It is fun to change things up each year.

     

     

  • Get Out of Your House–Are you making the most of your flexibility and freedom in homeschooling by playing and learning out in the world? My whole family is so much happier when we have someplace interesting to go. The kids are far more motivated to finish their school work so we can have fun. As aforementioned, we go on a field trip each Tuesday with our friends. It is as much fun for the parents to learn as the kids. We all also look forward to hikes, beach days, park days, and other events with friends. While the kids play, us moms have a great time talking to one another.
  • Evaluate Academics–Which academic work adds value and which does not? What can be trimmed so you can spend more time with meaningful, hands-on learning in the world or just plain fun with family and friends? Here are some questions to ask:
    • For tedious math programs with lots of repetition, can your child do every other problem instead of every single one?
    • Does every subject need to be done daily? For instance, can you alternate Spanish and geography every other day? Can anything be combined? Are there some subjects you can learn organically without a formal curriculum?map-pics-002 I spend a great deal of time reading to my kids at the kitchen table. We keep dry erase maps on the wall (a friend keeps her maps under plexiglass on the kitchen table). As we go on our literary adventures, we cover all sorts of geography. There is no need for a separate geography curriculum with the organic way we learn.
    • Is the computer-based learning program you are using effective?  Make sure you have selected a solid program if they are spending time on that. I have found many of them to be a waste of time with a lot of fluff or not synced up to the child’s level.  If it is not a good use of time, consider cutting it and engage in hands-on learning instead.
    • Is any part of your child’s curriculum making them cry on a regular basis? In most cases, I’d say ditch that book. I know it is hard because you spent money on it. However, it is not creating a love of learning and may be damaging your relationship. Research and find something else he enjoys more. Sometimes there is an undiagnosed learning disability.
    • What can be done in the car en route to field trips and other activities? My kids read a lot in the car. Some kids do their math and others listen to audio 1933339128books while riding.  This is a wonderful time to listen to Story of the World history CD’s.  Evaluate about some ways you can restructure your schedule so you can get our earlier in the day enjoying the world.
    • When you consider what type of learning is most memorable, it is not sitting at the kitchen table or desk doing workbooks.  It is hands-on learning out in the world. It is creating and collaborating. It is hearing from people who are passionate about something share their knowledge with you. Yes, there is great value in spending time in academics. However, what can be cut from your child’s workload for other types of more memorable learning?
  • Be Deliberate About Building Your Homeschool Tribe–During my first year of homeschooling, we were meeting with three different, unrelated groups each week. I realized we weren’t going to have deep relationships if we continued on that path. I asked my kids which group they preferred, and they unanimously said our co-op. So, we began focusing on joining and creating activities with that group. Now, we have the most amazing group of friends. We are out together learning in such incredible ways and from fascinating people out in the world. Check out the blog post I wrote on the topic of building your core group of homeschool friends.
  • Co-op–Joining a co-op was one of the most important things we have done. We were fortunate to have an established co-op in our area with lovely families who share our interests and values. We meet them each Wednesday for a fun-filled day of learning. My kids take classes like art and science because I don’t enjoy doing art projects and science experiments at my house. I’ve taught multiple writing and also Lego classes. It is a joyful day because we all share our talents and passions to create wonderful classes for our kids.  The friends we have made at co-op are the same ones we do life with throughout the week.

    If you don’t have a co-op in your area, then you can get with a few friends and start one. If you don’t know many homeschool families, is there a Facebook page with homeschoolers in your area? You could share your idea of starting a co-op and see who else may be interested.

     

  • Year-Round School–We school year-round, and here are some reasons why:
    • We don’t have to spend several weeks each September relearning what we already learned. In my view, that is a waste of time, and I’d rather use that time doing other things.  We use a lighter schedule during the summer and primarily keep up with math, reading, and writing.
    • Frankly, I don’t enjoy being out as much during the summer when places are hot and crowded. During the school year, the weather is nicer, parking is abundant and our favorite places often empty.
    • My kids still keep some type of structure for those relaxed summer days. I hear some parents talk about their kids’ bickering during the summer. We don’t see that too much at our house.
    • We still take off certain weeks of summer for camps, vacations, etc.
    • Year-round schooling takes pressure off of me during the school year to really enjoy all the opportunities available to us year-round. Image result for let this messy house image
  • Relax Your Housecleaning Standards–Are you meticulous with your house? Do you spend a lot of time tidying and cleaning? Do you jump on your kids often when the house is not looking up to your high standard? In my opinion, you can relax. I don’t think too many people will look back on the years with their kids and be glad they spent so much time cleaning and being uptight with them. Rather, they will look back at their laughter and memories. I say a messy house is a sign of living life to the fullest.

You know the saying: “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”  I have found that most of us homeschool mamas are much happier when we are outside of our house learning together in the world with our kids and friends. It makes us such a joyful, adventurous, and grateful group of families.

How do you add joy to your homeschool? Please let us know in the comments below.

You may also be interested in:

Give Your Kids a World-Class Math Education for Free

Homeschooled Teddy Roosevelt Never Sat in a Classroom Until Harvard

Benefits of Experiential Learning

Ten Ways to Teach Your Child to Read and Love Books

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Homeschoolers Make High Profile Entries into Top Universities

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: If you decide to make a purchase through my blog link, Amazon will pay me a commission for it.  This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. So, thank you!

 

 

 

 

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

The State of California Pays Me to Customize My Kids’ Education

The state of California offers me, a homeschooling parent, $2600/year in educational funds for each of my kids. I, along with so many other homeschooling families in California, have crafted a customized and well-rounded education that reflects our family’s interests, priorities, learning styles, and values.

Thanks in large part to our educational funds, I believe homeschoolers in Southern California are at the forefront of 21st-century learning. We are empowered with financial resources to truly customize our children’s education. The network of homeschool vendors is huge because homeschoolers have those financial resources to pay for their educational offerings.  Most families would only be able to afford a fraction of these learning opportunities without the funds.

The ecosystem of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities for homeschool families in Southern California is enormous, and I credit much of that to the educational funds. With such tremendous infrastructure in place, it makes for a thriving and dynamic place to receive a 21st-century education and explore one’s passions.  Personalized learning is all the rage amongst education circles these days. Homeschoolers have been doing this for years. With educational funds, it makes it even easier to facilitate a top-of-the-line education for our kids.

I’d like to share with you how educational funds work in California for homeschool families:

  • Educational Funds–Charter schools for homeschoolers offer educational funds. There are multiple charter schools and each competes to attract and retain students. The charter school I selected spends, on each student’s behalf, $2600/year to use with vendors to provide for a well-rounded education. The parents direct what they want to spend their funds on and the choices are colossal. Funds can’t be spent on religious curriculum or classes. I don’t know any two families who spend their funds in the same way. Our options are vast. Here is how we are spending our funds this year:

    • Piano, flute and saxophone lessons
    • Flute and saxophone rental fees
    • Basketball clinics and gymnastics lessons
    • Weekly field trips
    • Weekly project-based learning classes that correspond with our field trips
    • Weekly sailing lessons
    • Technology classes
    • School and office supplies
    • Curriculum–Amazon and Rainbow Resources are two examples of curriculum vendors. The options and combinations seem almost endless allowing for a wonderfully customized curriculum.
  • One-hundred Percent Personalized Curriculum–We can use any method or program of our family’s choosing.
    • I select the mix of curriculum that fits each of my kids’ needs and am free to change it up as needed without permission from anyone. Here is what we do for math.
    • Faith-based materials can’t be purchased with state funds.
    • Some people use funds for core classes like math, language arts, etc. The parents can choose the teacher and program that best fits their kids’ learning styles. I  prefer to use our funds on experiences and activities. I expect as my kids move into middle or high school that I will begin to use some of the funds for writing and math classes. For now, however, my children are thriving academically, emotionally, and socially. My 10-year old son’s blog and my 9-year old daughter’s blog offer a glimpse of our incredible homeschooling lifestyle and educational opportunities in SoCal.
    • If a child or family is fascinated by a subject, then it is our option to linger in it and dive deep without making sure we are hitting all the quick and shallow standards of public school.  This creates passion and love of learning.
    • There is no state-mandated curriculum.
    • One of the benefits of homeschooling is instruction is individualized. If a child learns quickly then s/he can jump ahead. For example, my oldest two kids are above grade level in virtually every academic subject freeing them up to move at an accelerated pace. This is not usually an option in conventional school. Additionally, kids that do not learn as quickly are able to slow down until they understand it without being made to feel dumb. One nice thing about homeschooling is most of the kids have no idea at which rate their friends learn math, read books, etc. Instead, they are learning together joyfully on hikes, field trips, in science classes, etc.
    • We are also part of a weekly homeschool co-op with about 60 families. Parents volunteer their gifts and passions to teach classes so we only pay for supplies. We do not use funds, and about half the families file independently and not with a charter school. I teach Blogging and 21st-Century Skills. My kids take art, science and other classes here with other wonderful homeschool families.

Thanks to educational funds for homeschoolers, a tremendous infrastructure of classes, programs, and opportunities have emerged allowing kids to learn and thrive in such diverse ways that best fit their needs and passions. The funds have created a competitive market that has dramatically amplified opportunities. 

  • Standardized Testing–Since we accept funds, homeschool charters prefer that we take the same standardized test in the spring that public school kids take beginning in third grade. I have no problem with that. I do not spend any time teaching to that test, and the charter school does not put any pressure on us to do so. So far, my kids have been in the top tier of each standardized test we have taken. Many of my homeschool friends also score much higher than their district school counterparts. I find this interesting considering how much time public schools spend teaching to the test, and we spent none.  Rather, we focus on a well-rounded, quality education.
    • I am not pressured to teach to the test at all.
    • There is no reward or repercussion for test results.
    • I tell my kids to do the best they can on the tests and advise them they will probably see some unfamiliar language and terminology. We do not follow a Common Core curriculum or use classroom lingo. If they don’t know an answer, they can use process of elimination.
    • Last year’s standardized tests only took about 3 hours total and was divided into two days. Our wonderful teacher surprised them with homemade lollipops with encouraging notes attached for their hard work after test completion. We also went to her house a few days later to watch her ducklings hatching. We witnessed a duckling peck its way out of its shell. She is an example of the many caring teachers who support homeschool families.
    • You simply get the results in the mail. It is your choice to open it up and look at the results. Some parents choose to not look at the results because they do not believe in standardized tests for their kids.
    • Most people will need to take tests throughout their lives. I see this as good preparation and a partial barometer of how we are doing. However, I don’t believe those tests account for many important successful life skills or for the uniqueness in each of our children. Many brilliant kids don’t test well.
  • Meeting With Your Assigned Credentialed Teacher–We are required to meet with our assigned teacher approximately once every 3 weeks. However, some families who prefer additional support may be in contact with their teacher more often.
    • Samples are required. Each student is required to provide one to several samples per month depending on the charter school. All samples must be secular.
    • I have always worked with supportive teachers who have trusted me with my children’s education. They are simply there as a facilitator and to offer guidance for those families who need it. I have occasionally heard of some demanding teachers. In that case, a family simply switches teachers or changes to another charter school. It is the free market in action.
  • Educational Vendors–We have thousands of products and vendors from which we can choose from to use our homeschool funds. One thing I love about homeschooling is that my kids are out experiencing the world in a variety of settings and learning from different instructors who are so passionate about their field. Families are empowered to ask their favorite provider of services or products to become a vendor. Here are just a few of the vendors in Southern California offering programs for homeschool kids:

Amazon and Rainbow Resources are my two favorite vendors for curriculum. The prices and selection are great, and shipping with Amazon is fast.  We can create thousands of combinations customized to our children’s learning styles and abilities.

 

  • Charter School Options–Charter schools compete to attract and retain students. Each year, the choices, funding and options seem to get better. Here are just a few examples:

I know some people vehemently opposed to accepting educational funds from the government. In California, you have the option to stay independent instead of receiving charter school funds. However, sometimes they give out false information and say you can’t teach what you want if you accept funds. This simply is NOT TRUE. I customize my kids’ education every bit as much as a family who does not join a charter school. I find their misinformation confuses new homeschool families. If I ever felt dissatisfied with the charter school, I have the freedom and choice to file independently again. I have multiple friends who were fiercely independent and resisted joining the charters. However, when some amazing opportunities opened up two years ago for students in my charter, they signed up. They are enjoying their activities and extra funds and have not looked back. crown-group-shot-end

In summary, the educational funds have played a tremendous role in creating a huge infrastructure for homeschool families. I am in charge of what and how my kids learn.  If I ever believed it impacted my ability to teach what I wanted, then I would simply go independent. I am so excited and hopeful that homeschooling families across America will also have the opportunity to receive educational funds, if they desire, and see an even greater expansion of the homeschool infrastructure and learning opportunities.

I would love for Secretary DeVos to come to Southern California to see what has been built for homeschool families–in part due to educational funds. It is learning for the 21st-century at its finest!

 

You may also be interested in:

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

Homeschooling is the Smartest Way to Teach Kids in the 21st Century According to Business Insider

Need Some K-6 Math Inspiration?

Homeschoolers Make High Profile Entries into Top Universities

Top Read-Aloud Picks for Your Family

Join my Facebook page to receive every update and post from The Contemporary Homeschooler. I post many articles and thoughts to the Facebook page that are not on my blog.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/

Note: I have updated this post to answer readers’ questions and provide deeper explanations for you.

This Homeschool Mom is Checking Out

This Homeschool Mom is Checking Out

Yep! I’m done. Time for this mom to take a respite.

If you are anything like me, homeschooling is always somewhere in your mind. Even when I’m not doing curriculum, I am often thinking about how I can turn something into a learning opportunity.  It can be, at times, quite consuming. With all the work of running a household and being the primary facilitator of my children’s education, I am happy to take off my homeschool mom hat starting today for a couple of weeks to enjoy the holidays.

Taking a break is sometimes just what the doctor ordered to help us refocus on the privilege of homeschooling and why we are doing it.

For all of you homeschool parents who are so devoted and hard-working, I hope each of you takes this time to fully unplug and soak in the season. This is so important to avoid the burnout trap! Immerse yourselves in the children, family, and friends who you love so dearly. Look around at how beautiful Christmastime is with all the decorations, songs, and smiling people.

I applaud you for your discipline, perseverance, innovation and love. You have earned a break, Mom and Dad! Take it!

In January, I hope you will put back on your homeschool parent hat feeling recharged, inspired and excited to continue your family’s amazing homeschool journey! What a privilege and gift we have with our freedom in homeschooling. Taking a break is sometimes just what the doctor ordered to help us refocus on this privilege and why we are doing it.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Seasons Greetings!

You may also enjoy:

Top Read-Aloud Picks

How to Build Your Homeschool Tribe

Do Parents Need More Patience for Public School or Homeschool?

Open Letter to U.S. Education Secretary King Who Says Homeschoolers Would Be Better Off in Public Schools

You can sign up to follow The Contemporary Homeschooler via email by clicking on the Follow button. Also, join our community on Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/TheContemporaryHomeschooler/