Homeschooling: The Road Less Traveled

While reading a book today about life’s critical choices, I was reminded of Robert Frost’s words and immediately thought of our family’s decision to homeschool. It is the road less traveled and that has made all the difference for our family.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

–Robert Frost

Here is a picture of our first day homeschooling several years ago. I pulled my son out of public school March of his kindergarten year. I remember the feeling of freedom and joy to be out in the world learning together as part of their education.

First day of our homeschool journey several years ago.

Some ways it has made all the difference for our family includes:

  • Family Bonds–My kids are best friends. We experience so much life together.  While they do have a tiff every now and then, they generally really enjoy one beach playanother. I observe this same pattern with our homeschool family friends. You just don’t see a lot of bickering amongst siblings in our community. 
  • Love Affair with Books–One of my favorite things about homeschooling is having plenty of time for reading aloud.  We travel on many book journeys together and engage in lots of conversation about what I read aloud. Additionally, we frequent a wide variety of libraries.  The kids are dying to get to one to find more books to bring home for their reading pleasure. Each library has its own personality and unique book selection.
  • Friendships–Our homeschool family friends are incredible people with shared values and vision for how we want to raise our kids. We have a blast doing life with them! I did not experience this same connection when we were in public school.
  • Love of Learning–We are able to learn in a wide variety of environments and from many different people. Yes, I am their teacher for many subjects. However, we are also out learning from park rangers, museum docents, business owners, scientists and more! We learn from passionate parents in our co-op.  We are not confined to one classroom and the same teacher daily. Additionally, I do not teach to a standardized test which can crush a love of learning.
  • Customized Education–I am an entrepreneur for my children’s education. Nimbly, we tailor the curriculum and learning opportunities to their learning styles, passions and our family’s priorities.

How has homeschooling made all the difference for your family?  Please click onto our Facebook page below and let us know. Your words may be encouragement for a family who is considering homeschooling or one wondering if they should stay the course.

Here are a few other links you may enjoy:

Benefits of Experiential Learning

I Like Being with My Kids

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning

 

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Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part Two

Are you looking to have more fun with your kids and less time nagging them to do their work? Would you like to spend more time on field trips, engaging classes,  and exploration?If your answer is  yes, this post may be helpful for you.

You can have plenty of time for experiential learning with discipline and a good structure in place. We were out 3 full days/week last school year and plan to do the same again this year. Here is a sample of what our schedule looks like:

 Days We are Out

On the three days we are out, the kids have a lighter academic schedule and need to focus on their core work including math, writing composition and reading. As I am buzzing around trying to get us all packed up for the day, I don’t put anything on the schedule that requires my involvement. Required science/history reading takes place for 25 minutes in the car en route to our destination. They need to finish all math before we leave for the day, or I know they will be too tired when we return. Some things like instrument practice work out just fine to do when we get back.

Full Academic Workload Days

On the two days we are home, we do full workloads as you can see looking at Monday and Thursday. They schedule their day how they want. My only requirement is that math comes first. On top of that, anything that requires my involvement, like editing an essay, must also occur in the morning. I want to be done with my part before lunch. Due to homeschool efficiency, we still are usually completely done with everything before the conventionally-schooled kids get out of school around 2:30 PM.

Dry Erase Sleeves and Spreadsheets

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We love these dry erase sleeves that we purchased on Amazon about a year ago. The kids simply use a dry erase marker to check off what they have completed for the day. The $8 we spent on the sleeves were a good investment, and they enjoy using them. Additionally, the kids learned how to use Google Sheets (similar to Excel) by creating their checklists.

Science and History

You don’t see it on the schedule because we do it primarily through living books during read aloud and quiet time, co-op and experiential learning.

Stay tuned for Part Three of this series.

Find Part One of this series by clicking on the link below:

Academic Scheduling for More Experiential Learning: Part 1

Here were our curriculum choices last school year:

An Example of an Eclectic, Academic Homeschool Curriculum

For ideas on how to design your own writing curriculum:

Designing Your Own Writing Curriculum

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Homeschooling is an Excellent Choice for Making Neuron Connections

While reading aloud today, I came across the  passage below in our  book. After uttering the words, I told the kids that is exactly how we are homeschooling. Experiential-based learning with lots of reading is such a huge part of their education, and I know it is for so many of you. Such a blessing to homeschool where there are abundant opportunities to experience so many different things!

“Though you haven’t gained many neurons since you were born, the connections between the neurons you have continue to form all your life. The more you read and learn and experience, the more connections you’ll have, and the smarter you’ll be!”–Apologia Exploring Creation with Anatomy and Physiology by Jeanne Fulbright and Brook Ryan

Teaching Geography with Living Books and Wall Maps

One of my favorite ways to teach geography is during read aloud time. I read aloud during snack and meal times (when we don’t have guests and Daddy is not eating with us). I keep a world map and U.S. map on the wall behind me. It is a great way to make the study of geography more interesting as we are enthralled in the action of a book. Additionally, as we engage in conversation throughout the day we can easily walk to the maps to see where a place is located.

reading pic

If you do not have a good wall space for maps then another suggestion is to put a map on your dining table and cover it with plexiglass. The kids can look at it every time they are eating even when you are not reading.

I like dry erase maps so we can write on them.

What are some other fun ways you like to teach geography?

Here are the two dry erase  maps we keep on our wall. One is a United Sates map and the other is a world map.

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Fantastic Whole-Hearted Book List

This is a fantastic list of whole-hearted books. If you are new to homeschooling, a list like this is a great example of how little you actually have to spend on homeschooling. You can get most of these books at the library. With great literature, including historical fiction, as a centerpiece of your homeschool, your kids will grow so much.

100 Whole-Hearted Books To Fight Back The Culture

map pics 002

I read to my kids during meals and snacks. We keep a world and US maps on the wall to enhance our geographical knowledge.

My 8 and 9 year olds’ music teacher was telling me today how advanced my kids are and that they are able to grasp concepts even adults can’t. I asked if he meant with music and he said no–about things in general. I was pretty flattered considering he is a grandfather and has been teaching music for decades. He said their ability to make connections is rare.

 

Immediately, two things came to my head. First, we read together and discuss many high-quality books and the bible. I can’t tell you important I think that has been to their education and character training. These characters have to make a lot of tough choices and undergo difficulty. Furthermore, it has created a great bond with us as we discuss the books and their characters as we go about our day.Second, they are with an adult a lot–me. We talk about so many topics that they probably would not be exposed to with such regularity if they were only with kids their age for 6 1/2 hours per day.

First, we read together and discuss many high-quality books and the bible. I can’t tell you important I think that has been to their education and character training.

Even though my older two kids are ravenous readers, they still love me to read to them. I hope this continues until they leave the house because it brings us all such joy and also helps us to grow in wisdom while also expanding our education and vocabularies. I read to my kids during our meal and snack times (unless we have guests or Daddy is joining us).

If you are looking to start a tradition of reading aloud, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a hilarious book with which to start! One book that did not make the list which is our family’s all-time favorite is The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards.

 

Journeying with Books

“Books are the answer to our wanderlust. From the moment we crack open the cover, a book transports us to worlds exotic and unknown. We breathe in the glory of different colors, landscapes, and cultural mores. Books are like passports–but so much cheaper to use!”–From the foreword of Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time by Jamie C. Martin

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0310344131

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Abraham Lincoln: Self-Educated with Quality Books

How important do you think reading quality books and articles is to your child’s education, character, and critical thinking skills? As I study some of the greatest minds in history, a recurring theme seems to be they were voracious readers.

Here is an excerpt about Abraham Lincoln who had very little formal childhood education. It amounted to about one year of schooling.

“Abe received most of his education from the books he read. As he grew up, he became fascinated with books. He loved to read every minute of his spare time. When he went out to plow a field, he put a book under his shirt and read at the end of rows when the horses were resting. His best friend, Dennis Hanks, said, “I never saw Abe after he was 12, that he didn’t have a book in his hand or in his pocket. It just didn’t seem natural to see a guy read like that.” Books were scarce in the backwoods, and each book he got was precious. The Lincolns did not have any books and Abe was forced to borrow. He was willing to walk miles to get a book that he might read over and over. Abe read everything he could get his hands on and once told his family, “My best friend is the man who will give me a book I haven’t read.” He read the Bible several times and other books such as Pilgrim’s Progress and Aesop’s Fables. His favorite book had a very long title: The Life of George Washington, With Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honorable To Himself and Exemplary To His Young Countrymen. He tucked the book into a corner of the loft. During one night, rain from a big storm stained the cover of the book. To pay for the damage, Abe spent three days harvesting corn for the farmer from whom he borrowed it. George Washington later became one of Lincoln’s heroes. One time, Abe walked twenty miles to borrow a book about the United States. In fact, he loved reading so much, he even read a spelling book. He used school books such as Murray’s English Reader and Pike’s Arithmetic.”