Homepreschool and Beyond

*Relationship *Routine *Readiness *Reading Aloud

  • Categories

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 196 other followers

  • A Balanced Approach:

    Homepreschool and Beyond will give parents the knowledge they need to find “balance” for their family. Find out what young children need to know—and how to teach it. Gain the confidence you need to relax and enjoy those precious preschool years—and beyond.

    “Susan Lemons gives you the blueprint…”

    • 26 Chapters
    • Covers all areas of development
    • Covers all areas of curriculum
    • For a ages 2-8
    • Developmentally appropriate
    • Literature based
    • Spiritual and character building emphasis

Archive for the ‘Getting Started’ Category

Thinking About Homeschooling, 2015 (Near Bakersfield, CA)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 6, 2015


Are you, or any friends or family thinking about homeschooling? Do any of you live in or near Bakersfield, CA? If so, please join me for our annual Thinking About Homeschooling meetings. Thinking About Homeschooling is a Christian ministry I started, whose goal is to help families make the decision to homeschool, and then get off to a confident start. This dates and topics for this year’s meetings are as follows, so save the dates:

Tuesday, May 12: Making the Decision

Tuesday, June 9: Legalities and Record Keeping

Tuesday, July 14: Choosing and Using Curriculum

Tuesday, August 11: Teaching preschool and Kindergarten

For more information, including the location of the meetings, please comment on this post. If you are planning on attending, I will add you to my email loop so that you can receive email reminders, and meeting recaps (with links.) If any of you are out of our area but are thinking about starting homeschooling, I can email the recaps to you (after each meeting.)
NOTE: While a lot of information can be passed along on the blogosphere, nothing compares to talking in person, looking at curriculum and resources with your own eyes, and enjoying the company/encouragement of other parents who are in the situation that you are!! If you can’t attend our meetings, search for meetings in your area. You can check with your local homeschool support group or your private school satellite program; you can also check for groups under the names of “Considering Homeschooling” or “Exploring Homeschooling”.
~Blessings!
Susan

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Thinking About Homeschooling? | 1 Comment »

What To Do When You’re Off to a Rough Start

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 10, 2014


Note: This is a classic post that originally appeared on my Home School Enrichment blog several years back. I’ve updated it, hoping it will encourage you. Thanks HSE, for giving permission for me to re-post it!

Have you been thinking: “Here it is, only October, and I already feel like a failure as a homeschooling Mom?” I feel a little like that right now, too.

It seems as though September was nothing but one interruption after another. We had one child struggling with an ongoing illness, along with all the requisite doctor appointments; we had unwelcome guests in our house—two mice—which meant traps, then cleaning and sterilizing; we ALL got miserable colds, and finally, we finished off the month with our annual off-season vacation.

Not enough school has been completed! I already feel “behind”. My plans have been set aside, and my vision for the first month of the school did NOT come true.

What should you do if your year has started like ours? First of all, and especially if you are new to homeschooling: Realize that “some days are like that.” Actually, some months are like that. I always tell new homeschoolers that the hardest part of homeschooling is not the academics—it’s life. It’s dealing with interruptions, illness, errands and laundry. This is a normal part of homeschooling that we all must learn to deal with. If this is your first year of homeschooling, you are probably finding that out.

Another thing you may be learning is the pain of unrealized expectations. They can be heartbreaking. Many homeschoolers, especially new ones, envision the “perfect homeschool”: Cheerful, obedient children who love to learn; a patient, totally organized Mom whose lessons plans are legendary and always completed, and of course, a house that is always perfectly clean and beautifully decorated. It’s hard when our dreams don’t match up with reality.

So what should you do if your year is off to a rough start? Here are some ideas:

-Pray and ask the Lord to renew your enthusiasm about homeschooling. Ask the Lord to give you HIS vision for your homeschool, and the bravery/grace to be able to follow it.

-Take an eternal perspective: Remember that this time at home with your children is just a “blink” compared to eternity. We want our children taught in the way that most benefits their eternity—and that is homeschooling. So we can’t give up!!

-Feel behind? Ask yourself, “Behind WHO?” Remember that the public schools expect too much of young children, and not enough of older children. A realistic goal is steady progress (slow and steady wins the race.) Preschoolers and Kindergarteners need time to build a foundation of basic knowledge about the world, and a wide vocabulary before they are introduced to academics.

-Re-examine your expectations. Are they appropriate? Often new homeschoolers spend TOO much time daily, and expect TOO much from their children—especially YOUNG children.

-Re-examine the readiness issue: Has what you’ve been expecting of your young learner been inappropriate? Is your child resistant? If so, perhaps you need to back off a little.

-Re-examine your routine. Is it appropriate? Does it include plenty of breaks, and time for younger students to play? Do your children have regular bedtimes, and a set time to wake up? Do you? Do you get up and dressed BEFORE your children do? (I admit, I’m still working on that one.)

-Re-examine your thinking processes. Are you “thinking like a homeschooler” or a public-schooler? Are you trying to bring the public school into your home? (I will be posting about “thinking like a homeschooler” soon.)

-Consider shortening your lessons, doing more work orally, and generally “lightening” your load. Charlotte Mason says that short lessons actually build children’s attention spans. After all, it is better to have your child fully engaged and paying attention for a short lesson, than having him squirmy and inattentive for a long lesson. We want our children to look forward to school, so keep them begging for more.

-Consider changing to a year round schedule. A year round schedule allows you to take time off when you need to. You can take time off for family emergencies, illnesses or cleaning days without worry. We take off extra time around the holidays, in exchange for schooling part of the summer (it’s too hot to do anything outside in much of the country, anyway.) During the early years of schooling (K-3), we follow a four day week; Fridays are set aside for catch-up work, park days, field trips, library time, art, messy projects, nature walks, games, life skills, catch up work, and so on (we often can count Fridays as school days, too.)

-Make homeschooling your priority. Schedule everything you can around it. Don’t let the phone or appointments take you away from school time, unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Take the phone off the hook if you need to, or turn off the ringer. Set your cell phone to silent.

-If you haven’t already, take the time to write down the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place–as well as some basic goals. That way, when you have a tough day (or week), you can re-read them and remind yourself that those reasons haven’t changed. You’ll probably see that your important goals are being met, as well. (These are usually spiritual or behavioral in nature.)

-Plan time for the fun stuff: I know this doesn’t make sense if you feel “behind”; our tendency is to double the school work, instead. Resist that temptation or you and your child will quickly become frustrated and burn out. Instead, plan the time you need to enjoy art and music with your children. Art and music are more than just “extra” subjects; they teach skills vital for young children. Furthermore, they lighten the mood in your home, make learning fun, and give you and your children the opportunity to feel successful.

-Start over: If you are new to homeschooling and feel as if September has been a bust, give yourself a chance to start over. Give yourself grace! Count the days you have already done as “practice”– time to break into your school routine, and get the “kinks” out. Then, start over. That’s right, start over from right where you are, only adding the necessary adjustments.

-Get support: Do you have the support that you need to homeschool? If you haven’t connected with a Christian homeschool support group first, do so right away! Connecting with a Christian support group and participating in the activities/supportive meetings they offer can make the difference between homeschool success and burn-out or giving up. It can even make the difference between sanity and insanity!!

-Finally, remember that whenever God calls us to do something, He always gives us the knowledge, strength and abilities we need to complete the task. Don’t let a rough start make you reconsider your decision to homeschool…don’t give up. Just start over! Implement some of the changes I’ve suggested, and hang in there. It does get easier. It really does, I promise.

© 2010, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Elementary School, Encouragement, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homepreschool and Beyond, Homeschool, Homeschooling, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Basics Of Homepreschool: Starting Early? Curriculum, Methods and More

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on September 3, 2014


How to Start Children Early—Curriculum, Methods, etc:

First of all, I have to make it clear that starting homepreschool–a deliberate, set-aside time to help our preschoolers learn–does not mean it is time to start formal academics. Study after study have shown that the current push-down in curriculum just doesn’t work. No study has shown any benefit at all to learning to read at age five or younger, versus learning to read at age 6, 7, or older—and in fact, studies have shown that children who learn to read later not only learn to read more quickly and easily than other children do, but they do better academically throughout their entire lives. This is because they spent their early years learning and doing real things instead of concentrating solely on formal academics.

Preschoolers should spend lots of time being read to, playing with science, taking nature walks, doing art, listening to music, singing, and playing, playing, playing! All these activities boost thinking skills, creativity, and vocabulary, and THAT benefits them throughout their whole lives. (This is true, meaningful learning for preschoolers. See the tab, “Goals of Homepreschool” and “Goals for the Balanced Mom” for more.)

Preschoolers don’t need “curriculum” as we’ve come to think of it, either. For preschoolers, life itself is the curriculum. Preschoolers can learn about science—plants, animals, weather; social studies—communities and community helpers; art; music; pre-reading skills; social skills; sport/physical skills; speech/language skills and pre-math skills—all through having parents who talk to them, read aloud to them, play with them, and provide real life experiences for them. (Don’t make the mistake of concentrating only on formal academics and “readiness” skills, when there is so much more that preschoolers can and should learn! See my tab on “Readiness” and “The Truth: Early Academics” for more, including links to research on the subject.)

How to Get Started

The best way to start homepreschooling is not by running out and buying workbooks for your preschooler, as I stated above. Workbooks are not developmentally appropriate for most preschoolers. Instead, start by establishing a simple daily routine for that includes a story time, art, music, and so on. If you want to, you can decide ahead of time what you’d like to read to your children about—choose themes or units, and then run to the library and find all the picture books you can about the subject. Then, simply read, read, read. If and when you can, throw in activities that go along with what you are learning about. For instance, when you do a farm unit, visit the grocery store and talk about how and where things grow; buy some whipping cream and shake it up to make butter. When you learn about zoo animals, visit a zoo. When you learn about community helpers, visit the police station and the airport, and so on. There are many “homepreschool” co-ops and homeschool support groups that offer these types of activities or “field trips”. (See my archives on unit studies for more.)

Methods: The Importance of Reading Aloud, Conversation, and Playing with Our Children

Reading aloud is the single most important thing parents can do to help their children learn, no matter their age. When you read to your child, you are teaching more than just the content of the book. You are teaching them about language, letters and print—that letters make sounds, and sounds make letters; you are also teaching them that we read from top to bottom and left to right. You are teaching them about grammar, vocabulary, and rhyme. You are growing their attention span, speech skills and more. {For more, see my tab, “Reading Aloud” and the archives on reading aloud and book lists.}

Conversation is vitally important to learning. Conversations always include the skills of listening, and then responding, which is different from just “talking at” our children. We can use conversations to build relationships with our children, to teach our children, and to facilitate their learning

Playing With Our Children:

It is important to watch our children’s play AND play with them. By watching their play, we can detect new behavior problems and nip them in the bud; we can discern their emotional state, and help them where needed; we can take advantage of teachable moments, and we can learn about their health (observing children’s play/behavior allows us to catch illnesses early.) Best of all, playing with our children builds close relationships and is tons of fun! {See my article, “Why Preschoolers Need to Play” for more, including links to research about the importance of play.}

Next time: Important Skills to Develop, Fun and Games!

© 2010, 2011, 2014 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Portions of this post are taken from or similar to passages in Homepreschool and Beyond, used by permission of the author. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Academics for Four Year Olds, Academics for Preschoolers, Challenge to Parents, Curriculum, Early Academics, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschool/homepreschool, Kindergarten Readiness, Readiness, Reading Aloud, Routines | Leave a Comment »

Preschool at Home: You Can Do It! (Easy Ways to Help Your Child Learn at Home)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 6, 2012


I often receive phone calls and emails from parents who are excited about homepreschooling.  Many ask me how they should get started, or what curriculum they should use. The truth is, homepreschooling is not something parents suddenly “start”…every parent who has preschool-aged children is already homepreschooling!  After all, you taught your children to talk, didn’t you? And who held your baby’s hands while he was learning to walk?  You did, of course.  You are already a teacher, and already the facilitator of your children’s natural growth and development.

Parents nowadays have been programmed to think that they cannot possibly teach their own children.  The so called “experts” have encouraged them to think that they are not “qualified” or smart enough to homeschool—even at the preschool level!  But parents needn’t worry that they are not “qualified” to teach their own preschoolers at home.  The truth is, you are the expert when it comes to your own children.  No one knows and loves your children as you do.  As a homepreschooling parent, you can assess your child’s interests and readiness, and then carefully move them ahead–without pushing them.  No “preschool” can provide the amount of attention you can…and no “preschool” can individualize your child’s curriculum to fit your child’s own learning styles and interests as you can.

After all, it is God’s design that children be loved and raised by families, not institutions. Within a family, children grow strong, secure emotional attachments, which are vital to healthy personality development. Within a family, children are able to grow close relationships with people of all ages, including their own siblings. Within a family, children receive individualized attention, and children’s speech and vocabulary is enhanced by 50-100 times more individualized responses than they would receive in an institutional preschool (source:  Moore’s Home Grown Kids.) Within a family, children’s character is molded, and their hearts are gently drawn to God.

Homepreschool doesn’t have to be hard or expensive.  The best thing you can provide for your preschooler is your time and attention.  Your children will never need anything or anyone as much as they need you!  Most of what your children need to learn can be taught simply though good parenting.

Here are some simple, developmentally appropriate things that all parents can do to help their children learn.  Good parents do these things instinctively, but it is always good to be reminded about them:

1.  Provide your child with a stimulating home environment, rich in books, music, and open-ended play activities that grow with your child as he does: Play dough, blocks, cars, dolls, puzzles and so on. As your child gets older, have art materials available for your child to use anytime: Paper, crayons, felt-tipped pens, scissors and glue.

2.  Give your children lots of free time for creative play. Play is greatly under-valued in our society. Through play children release stress, get exercise, get a handle on their emotions, and learn skills vital to their academic growth.  Give your children time to play outside every day, weather permitting. If you can, provide a swing set, tricycle, balls and other outside toys; pets to love and care for, gardens to tend, and so on.  Inside play should play should be “creative” or “dramatic” play, as much as possible.

3.  Have your children work alongside you. Children need to learn to work with cheerful attitudes. Working is almost like play to the young child; they are practicing/pretending about their future adult roles. Teach them how to work while they are young and willing. Working together should be a bonding experience for you and your child, and an important learning experience for your preschooler.

4.  Try to make all “learning” fun at first.  As much as possible, let all “academic” learning take the form of games and play. If your child resists, back off for a while. It is much easier on both of you to wait for readiness and teach something in ten minutes than it is to spend ten hours (or days!) trying to teach the same skill before your child is developmentally ready.

5.  Read, sing and talk, then read, sing and talk some more!!  Help your child grow his vocabulary and base of knowledge about the world through conversation, lots of reading aloud and singing together. This is the true heart of homepreschooling.

6.  Provide your child with the opportunity to succeed by giving plenty of practice with new skills and concepts learned–through repetition.  We may become tired of hearing favorite books or songs over and over, or practicing jumping off the steps over and over–but preschoolers don’t!  Repetition strengthens and reinforces learning.

7.  Limit passive entertainment. Even “educational” television or computer games can’t match interaction with real people or real objects when it comes to learning. Most children spend more time watching television or playing computer games than they spend sleeping—much less playing!  Too much passive entertainment can be harmful to young children’s development. Commonly observed effects of too much television or computer time include over-stimulation, shortened attention span, and a reduction in active playtime. Don’t let the television replace real life experiences, play, reading aloud and conversations in the life of your family.

8. Introduce your child to the best in art, literature and music. Art and music are more than just “extras” your child can do without; they are vital to healthy, normal, early childhood development. Enjoying literature of all kinds with your children lays the foundation for literacy. (Several chapters of Homepreschooll and Beyond are devoted to these topics.)

9. Explore the real world together. Visit the grocery store: Purchase new foods to try, and talk about where they are grown/how they are made. Visit your local state and National Parks; explore the streams, mountains and beaches, taking time to wade in the streams, toss rocks in the water, and look for wildlife. Visit your local fire station, police station, train station, and airport. Plant a garden in your own backyard. Work, play and experiment together, and talk about everything you do.

10. Remember that your children are learning all the time, whether you are aware of it or not.  Homepreschooling parents simply take advantage of this fact, and choose to embrace a lifestyle of learning–consciously deciding to take advantage of those “teachable” moments. Life itself is the very best curriculum for preschoolers.

        You CAN provide everything your children need for early learning. Your children will never need anyone or anything more than they need you. Let them have the love, time, and attention of their own parents. That’s all they really need.

*This is a compilation of excerpts from: Homepreschool and Beyond: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Home Education, by Susan Lemons, used with permission.  Much of the material in this book was originally printed in Home School Enrichment Magazine, and is re-used with permission. You can read the complete article, What Your Preschooler Really Needs, HERE.

© 2010, 2012 Susan Lemons all rights reserved. Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Encouragement, Family Life, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Mothering, Parenting, preschool at home | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Off to a Rough Start? Advice for Parents of Young Learners (pre-K-grade 3)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on October 2, 2011


   Note:  This is a classic re-post that orginally appeared on my Home School Enrichment blog several years back.  Thanks HSE, for giving permission for me to re-post it!

  
     Have you been thinking: “Here it is, only October, and I already feel like a failure as a homeschooling Mom?” I feel a little like that right now, too.

      It seems as though September was nothing but one interruption after another.  We had one child struggling with an ongoing illness, along with all the requisite doctor appointments; we had unwelcome guests in our house—two mice—which meant traps, then cleaning and sterilizing; we ALL got miserable colds, and finally, we finished off the month with our annual off-season vacation.

     Not enough school has been completed!  I already feel “behind”.  My plans have been set aside, and my vision for the first month of the school did NOT come true. 

     What should you do if your year has started like ours? First of all, and especially if you are new to homeschooling: Realize that “some days are like that.” Actually, some months are like that. I always tell new homeschoolers that the hardest part of homeschooling is not the academics—it’s life. It’s dealing with interruptions, illness, errands and laundry. This is a normal part of homeschooling that we all must learn to deal with.   

     Another important thing to remember is that there is nothing as hard to deal with as unrealized expectations.  They can be heartbreaking. Many homeschoolers, especially new ones, envision the “perfect homeschool”: Cheerful, obedient children who love to learn; a patient, totally organized Mom whose lessons plans are legendary and always completed. It’s hard when our dreams don’t match up with reality.
 
     So what should you do if your year is off to a rough start?  Here are some ideas:

-Pray and ask the Lord to renew your enthusiasm about homeschooling. Ask the Lord to give you HIS vision for your homeschool.

-Take an eternal perspective: Remember that this time at home with your children is just a “blink” compared to eternity. We want our children taught in the way that most benefits their eternity—and that is homeschooling. 

-Feel behind? Ask yourself, “Behind WHO?” Remember that the public schools expect too much of young children, and not enough of older children. The goal should be steady progress (slow and steady wins the race.) Preschoolers and Kindergarteners need time to build a foundation of basic knowledge about the world, and a wide vocabulary before they are introduced to formal academics.

-Re-examine your expectations. Are they appropriate? Often new homeschoolers spend TOO much time daily, and expect TOO much from their children—especially YOUNG children. 

-Re-examine the readiness issue: Has what you’ve been expecting of your young learner been inappropriate?  Is your child resistant? If so, perhaps you need to back off a little.  

-Re-examine your routine. Is it appropriate? Does it include plenty of breaks, and time for younger students to play? Do your children have regular bedtimes, and a set time to wake up? Do you? Do you get up and dressed BEFORE your children do?

-Consider shortening your lessons, doing more work orally, and generally “lightening” your load. Charlotte Mason says that short lessons actually build children’s attention spans.  After all, it is better to have your child fully engaged and paying attention for a short lesson, than having him squirmy and inattentive for a long lesson. We want our children to look forward to school; we want to keep them begging for more.

 -Consider changing to a year round schedule. A year round schedule allows you to take time off when you need to. You can take time off for family emergencies, illnesses or cleaning days without worry. We take off extra time around the holidays in exchange for schooling part of the summer (when it’s too hot to do much in central California, anyway.) During the early years of schooling (K-3), we follow a four day week, and only three days include an academic emphasis; one day is used for park days, field trips, library time, art, messy projects, nature walks, games, life skills, catch up work, etc.

-Make homeschooling your priority. Schedule everything you can around it. Don’t let the phone or appointments take you away from school time, unless it is absolutely unavoidable.

-If you haven’t already, take the time to write down the reasons you decided to homeschool in the first place–as well as some basic goals. That way, when you have a tough day (or week), you can re-read them and remind yourself that those reasons haven’t changed.  You’ll probably see that your important goals are being met, as well. (These are usually spiritual or behavioral in nature.)

-Plan time for the fun stuff: I know this doesn’t make sense if you feel “behind”; our tendency is to double the school work instead.  Resist that temptation or you and your child will quickly become frustrated and burnt out.  Instead, plan the time you need to enjoy art and music with your children.  Art and music are more than just “extra” subjects; they teach skills vital for young children.  Furthermore, they lighten the mood in your home, make learning fun, and give you and your children the opportunity to feel successful.

-Start over:  If you are new to homeschooling and feel as if September has been a bust, give yourself a chance to start over.  Count the days you have done as “practice”, or time to break into your school routine, and then start over.  That’s right, start over from right where you are, only adding the necessary adjustments. 

-Finally, remember that whenever God calls us to do something, He will give us the strengths and the abilities we need to complete it.  Don’t let a rough start make you reconsider your decision to homeschool…don’t give up.  Implement some of the changes I’ve suggested, and hang in there.  It does get easier.

Live the 4R’s!

    ~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Academics for Four Year Olds, Academics for Preschoolers, Challenge to Parents, Curriculum, Early Academics, Education, Elementary School, Encouragement, Family Life, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, preschool at home, preschool curriculum, Readiness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Homeschool: Common Myths About Homeschooling Debunked (part two)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 23, 2011


Myth #4: I’m not patient enough to homeschool—OR-I don’t like my kids enough to homeschool. Remember, when God calls
us to do something, He always gives us the abilities we need to complete it. Patience is developed with practice, prayer, and the work of the Holy Spirit. You
will find that the Lord will use homeschooling to teach you many things; patience may be one of them.

If you don’t enjoy being around your children all the time, perhaps you need to work on strengthening your relationship with them. Or perhaps the issue has to do with discipline (with my two strong-willed little boys, I totally understand the discipline struggles!) If so, take the time to deal with it now. Your children are your responsibility; you can’t pawn off the problems to institutional schools and hope they will deal with it; they won’t. Discipline starts with the heart…only you can do the job. (See my links on discipline helps on the right sidebar, and chapter 3 in my book.)

-Myth #5: Homeschoolers get an inferior education. Only people with teaching credentials are qualified to teach, right?! Wrong! A twenty-plus year study has shown that homeschooled children do better academically than their public-schooled counterparts. Homeschoolers score (on average) 30 or more percentage points higher than public school kids, and do better on their ACT and SAT tests as well. Homeschoolers are MORE likely to go to college, and are heavily recruited by colleges, as well.

-Myth #6: All homeschoolers are right-wing, conservative, religious fanatics. It’s true that many homeschoolers proudly claim that title–myself included (I don’t think you can be too “fanatical” about following God!) However, you should know that since homeschooling has become more common, and since its success has been proven, the number of homeschoolers has grown to include all types of families and religious beliefs (or lack thereof.) Just do a “Google” search for the type of group you are interested in, and you are likely to find them. Many different religious groups are jumping onto the homeschooling band-wagon, including Muslims, pagans, atheists, liberals, and more—so you can no longer label the homeschooling movement in that way. Not everyone homeschools for religious reasons. Some families homeschool to achieve academic excellence; others choose to homeschool due to family situations; to accommodate gifted or delayed children; to maintain a close family life, or just as a personal preference.

Myth #7: Homeschoolers are “indoctrinating” their children. Yup. You’ve got me on that one. But so are the government schools. The truth is, no system of education is completely neutral. Public schools teach their own philosophy (secular humanism/liberal political slant), while others teach theirs (Judeo-Christian values/traditional, constitutional/conservative views.) However, it is not up to the government to decide which is correct. As parents, we have the right to teach our children what we think is best. We strive to teach our children truth. God’s truth. We teach our children creationism and intelligent design; but we also teach them about evolution. We do not hide our children from opposing views, but rather teach them truth, and how to discern between the two. We want our children to know about evolution, and also how to refute it.

For more information/an encouraging look at the effectiveness of homeschooling, take a look at THIS encouraging video.

~Susan

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Elementary School, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, Thinking About Homeschooling? | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Homeschool: Common Myths About Homeschooling Debunked (part one)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 21, 2011


Almost everyone has heard them: the myths about homeschooling. If you are thinking about homeschooling, they may be bothering you…or perhaps they “bother” your friends and family, and in turn, they are bothering YOU about them! If that is the case, be assured: they are only myths. The truth about homeschooling is far different.

Here are some of the myths you may have heard:

-Myth #1: Homeschoolers are anti-social. Some people believe that homeschoolers choose to homeschool in order to isolate their children from the “real world.”  This is not true. Many families choose to homeschool to protect their children from some of the negative
influences of the world, yes; but isolate them…no. In fact, most homeschooling parents go out of their way to make sure their children are well  “socialized”.
Homeschoolers are commonly involved in multiple “outside the home” activities, including church activities, “lessons” of various kinds (music, art, sports, co-op classes, etc), scouts, team sports, homeschool support groups, etc. Furthermore, homeschoolers have many social opportunities that other kids don’t. They get to interact with people of all ages (adults, the elderly, young children, babies, etc) through home life, field trips (homeschoolers get lots of amazing field trips), community service, etc. Homeschoolers get to live and learn in the real world…the world is their classroom.

If you think about it, home is the real-life environment, and institutional school the “artificial” environment. When else in your life are you with people all the same age, all thinking about and doing the same things at the same time? Never. Adults (and employers) appreciate creative, independent thought.

-Myth #2: Homeschoolers are socially awkward.  Well, it depends. Every child is different. Some children are naturally shy. When these children are homeschooled, often their extended families (who may not have supported homeschooling in the first place) will blame their shyness on homeschooling. Other times, homeschooled children will be deemed “awkward” or “backward” when they are simply “culturally different.” Most homeschooled children are more mature than other children in some ways, and less mature in others; hopefully they are mature spiritually, but innocent to the ways of the world. They may not understand modern teen culture, know who Madonna or Lady Gaga is, or be up on the latest “R” rated movie, but that is a good thing!  None of those things are the things we want them to aspire to or be involved in.

I don’t know about you, but I want my kids to be different. I want them to be committed Christians, who keep their ways pure. I want their culture to be our family’s culture…a Christian culture. I think we should be different from the rest of the world…part of the world, yet set apart.  Perhaps “socially awkward” or “backward,” as most people judge it, is actually something to be desired, considering today’s culture (which never ceases to shock me.)

Myth #3: Parents aren’t smart enough to homeschool. Many parents who are considering homeschooling think they aren’t smart enough to carry it off. They worry that without a college degree or teaching credential, they simply aren’t qualified. In fact, NHERI has done a twenty year study that shows that
homeschooled children do better academically than children in public school—regardless of the educational level OR the income level of their
parents.

Homeschooling parents have the opportunity to learn along with their children. You will find that you will fall in love with learning all over again. You’ll have the chance to learn those things you never mastered in school, or relearn what you’ve forgotten. As to your children—all you have to do is keep one lesson ahead of them.

When it comes to those difficult subjects that you might have struggled with or feel unable to teach, there are many viable options: Online curriculum, virtual classrooms (some curriculums, like ABeka, offer CD’s that show a Christian school classroom for your child to watch, then do the lessons), co-op classes (many homeschool support groups offer them—my kids have taken yearbook, creative writing, Spanish, choir and biology—with full labs—in that way), and even private tutoring (we found a foreign exchange student to teach my daughter Japanese.) Additionally, sometimes spouses, grandparents, friends and family can help fill in the gaps.

 

Next post: Part two!

© 2011 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.  Copyrighted materials may not be re-distributed or re-posted without express permission from the author.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Elementary School, Getting Started, Homeschool, Thinking About Homeschooling? | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Are You Thinking About Homeschooling? Meeting Dates in Bakersfield, CA

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 15, 2011


        Do you live near Bakersfield, CA?  Are you thinking about homeschooling?  Then you are invited to join us for “Thinking About Homeschooling,”  a Christian ministry that provides information and support to families who are considering homeschooling/homepreschooling their children.

        I’m happy to announce the dates for our Thinking About Homeschooling Meetings, 2011.  Please save these dates on your calendars!  All the meetings are FREE and will be held at 7 PM-8:30 (or so) at my home (comment on this post to find out where.)  THERE IS NO CHILDCARE, but nursing babies are welcome….husbands are welcome, too, and especially encouraged to come for (at least) the first meeting.

   Please remember to invite any friends/family who are “thinking about homeschooling” or those “experienced” homeschoolers who need refreshment/encouragement to “keep on keeping on.” 
 
Tuesday May 10: Making the Decision {please come even if you’ve already decided.  This meeting will encourage you, give you facts and information to share with friends/family who are critical of your decision, AND information that will help you “detox”; that is, step out of the usual way of thinking about education and its goals/purposes and find GOD’s ways.  It will also help you define your goals for education and your beliefs about how education works.  This will help you (later) choose your curriculum and methods. You will also be introduced to our local support groups, and what they offer.} 
 
Tuesday, June 7:  Legalities and record keeping/planning: {some states make homeschoolers jump through lots of hoops to homeschool legally, but we are blessed to live in a state that keeps it easy.  Learn about your 4 different legal options, and which I recommend; learn how to get started and discover important resources to help you, etc.  Learn which records you need to keep, and see different ideas for how to keep them; get lesson planning tips.  NOTE:  If we get done early, we usually go ahead and start introducing curriculum, since there is so much to cover on that topic.}
 
Tuesday, July 12:  Choosing and using curriculum {learn about different homeschooling methods and the curriculums that go with them.  Learn what you should know before you choose curriculum, what you should do before you choose curriculum, and how to use your curriculum once you’ve got it.  I will introduce the major curriculum suppliers, and let you in on money saving tips. Curriculum catalogs and curriculum samples will be available.}  NOTE:  This is usually our longest and most popular meeting. 
 
Tuesday, August 9: Teaching Preschool and Kindergarten {learn about “homepreschool” and Kindergarten.  Specifically, learn about what your preschoolers really need;  the importance of readiness;  routines, and how long to spend in a day/how long to spend on each subject (for Kindergarten);  how to organize your day, etc.  Get tips and ideas developing a balanced approach that includes plenty of play, art, music, and reading aloud.
 
Tuesday, September 13: Group choice OR question and answers: {For our last meeting, I will let you choose the topic.  We might have a question and answer time, OR we will choose a topic ahead of time (choosing/using good literature, hands-on activities/games, art and music, or whatever is of most interest to the group.)  Sometimes we pitch in for food, or bring desserts to share.}
 
     Final notes:  I will email notes to you before each meeting.  You should print them up and have them ready to go for note-taking.  If you don’t have a printer available, please let me know.  (It might be a good idea to put your notes into a binder.)  Due to printing costs, I will have only a few copies of the notes available, so please be sure to remember to bring your printables.  I will also email recaps of the meetings, in case you can’t attend–but the recaps are no substitute!  Finally:  Finger-foods/snacks are always welcome!  
    I will send reminders around before each meeting to those who are on my email list.  RSVP’S are appreciated, but not required (it is helpful to know how many chairs to drag out.)  Please spread the word, and I look forward to meeting you soon!
     Many blessings,
            Susan 
 
 
 
 

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Elementary School, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Homeschool Preschool, Homeschooling, preschool at home, Thinking About Homeschooling? | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Help! I’m Afraid to Homeschool!

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on July 10, 2010


       Troll the blogs and you’ll “meet” many moms who say that they want to homeschool—but they are unsure that they can really do it.  They ask all their friends and family to give them opinions:  “Should I homeschool Johnny?  I think I’d like to, but I don’t know if I can really do it…”  My heart goes out to these Moms, because many of them are genuinely afraid.  They are afraid:

~That they aren’t smart enough

~That they aren’t “educated” enough

~That it will cost too much money

~That they aren’t self-disciplined enough, or patient enough

~That their families will object

~That their children won’t be “normal”. 

~They will ruin their children for life.

        Sometimes fear can be paralyzing.  Let me reassure you; you can do it!  There’s no need to be afraid.

~Do you think you’re not smart enough to homeschool?!  Worried that you’ll need a college degree?  Here’s the truth:  Studies have shown that homeschoolers outscore their government-schooled counterparts, no matter the educational level of their parents.  The individualized attention your children can receive at home makes the difference—as does your love and concern for your children.  You know your children better than anyone else—so who better to teach them? 

         Another thing to consider:  I have several homeschooling friends who are credentialed teachers.  They tell me that their education has NOT helped them homeschool their children.  To the contrary, it has been a hindrance.  They have had to “unlearn” many things…especially their attitudes about education (what it is, how it is to be carried out, and so on.)  Homeschooling is totally different than teaching in a classroom setting.  

       If you have decided to homeschool, but a part of you is still worried that you aren’t smart enough to teach your children, be sure to remember these tips:

*Don’t look at the big picture.  Don’t worry about high school when your children are in Kindergarten.  Instead, plan for one year—or one month—or one unit at a time.  Remember the way to eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

 *Remember that homeschooling is a team effort.  If you have an area of weakness academically, you can delegate that subject to your spouse, another family member, or a friend; alternately, you could cover it via a co-op class or a computerized curriculum.  We hired an exchange student to tutor my high school aged daughter in foreign language.  I’m proud to say that while she still has lots of vocabulary to learn, she can now read, write, and speak Japanese—something I never could have taught her.

*Remember that you will read along and learn along with your children.  As your children grow older, all you have to do is stay one lesson ahead of them.  Just one lesson ahead.

       Many moms are amazed at all they learn.   You’ll discover history/science again but from a Christian perspective.  You’ll be amazed at how much you learn (and how much you didn’t learn in public school.)   I sometimes brag that my handwriting has improved…and I can figure out fractions now!  Yahoo!  In short, I think you’ll discover that homeschooling will rekindle your love for learning, as well as your children’s.

*Don’t be ashamed to let your children know that you don’t know the answers to everything…no one can know it all.  If you don’t know the answer, be honest about it, and say, “I don’t know…but I know how to find out.  Let’s look-up the answer up together.” 

*Don’t forget that as children grow older, things begin to get easier…they can do more of their school work independently.  Also remember that, as a homeschool mom, you won’t be giving lectures like a classroom teacher; you’ll support their learning via reading aloud, discussion, follow-through, etc. 

*Do you worry that it will cost too much money to homeschool?  Homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive.  If you want to, you can homeschool using only the internet and a library card.  There are many wonderful resources online such as Project GutenbergAn Old Fashioned Education, the Baldwin Online Children’s Literature Project, Google Books, and more.  Some of the most desirable, “living book” style history texts can be found on these sites (many are being reprinted by Yesterday’s Classics, but you can also find them online for FREE.)  An especially important online freebie is Anna Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study; you can find free lessons to go with the Handbook of Nature Study HERE.   

       Other ways to save money: I’ve built a huge library over the years…mostly from thrift stores, yard sales, and library sales.  You can, too!  You can often find books, texts, (the few that we use) and other educational supplies at thrift stores, dollar stores, yard sales, and used curriculum sales for pennies on the dollar. 

 ~Are you worried that you won’t be self-disciplined enough to homeschool?  Do you think homeschooling will try your patience?  Well, you’re partially right.  Homeschooling is too hard to do—in your own strength, —and it will try your patience.  But in the power of Christ, all things are possible.  You’ll need to pray a lot, and keep in the Word.  You’ll need to lean on the support of friends, family, and your local homeschool support group.  

       Homeschooling forces us to “grow up”, and do the things we know we need to do.  Sometimes I really struggle with elements of this and I have to admit to myself that 1) I need to grow (oh boy, oh boy do I need to grow);  2) I need to choose to daily surrender to God’s will for me,  3) I need to consciously choose  to be self-disciplined and to have a good attitude about it (so hard!), and that 4) I need to be consistent and develop habits for me and my children that will help us achieve our goals.  The Lord has really been laying this on my heart lately.  After all these years of homeschooling, you’d think I’d have it all together, but nope…I still fail a lot.  But God always gives me the Grace to keep going.  More than that, I need to remember that God does not call us to a task without equipping us for it.

       Sometimes God uses our weakness for His own Glory.  When things are tough—when we struggle—we learn to rely on Him, draw close to Him, and give Him the Glory for pulling us through.  Others can see what God is doing in our lives, and be blessed by it, too.

       Be assured that the struggle is worth the effort.  You will reap benefits beyond what you can imagine right now.  Some of the best benefits for you and your children include:

-Seeing our children grow in the Lord

-Seeing our children develop spiritual strength and discernment

-Helping our children grow in moral clarity/discernment

-The protection of your children’s innocence

-Family togetherness and closeness

-Academic excellence

 ~Do you worry that your family or friends might not support your decision to homeschool?  You’re right—some might not.  My mother didn’t think homeschooling was a good idea at first.  But I just kept going, and I passed along positive articles/statistics about homeschooling as I found them. 

       One relative, when informed of our decision, thought we were crazy (“why in the world would anyone want to do that?!)  We did not have a pleasant conversation about it.  They ended the conversation by saying, “well…we’ll be watching you.”  Brrr.

       Over the years though, as they watched my children mature, learn and grow, things changed.  My Mom became my biggest fan, and soon started passing articles about homeschooling on to me—just to encourage me.   Our other relatives, while still not understanding our decision, they have accepted it (although I’ve noticed that my children still get “grilled” about what they have learned from time to time.  <Sigh>) 

 ~Do you wonder if your children will grow up to be normal?  Perhaps you’ll ruin them for life.  Normal?  Who decides what or who is normal?  And is normal really good enough?  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children to grow up to fit in with the “normal” youth culture of America.  I want them to be a part of our family’s culture.  No, I don’t want them to be “normal”; I want them to be different!  After all, we are Christians.  We are called to be “in the world, but not of it”; we are called to be lights.  If we are living the way we should, we will look “weird” to those who are not living for the Lord…we will look different.  And that’s O.K.

       So don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith.  Homeschooling is nothing to fear.  Through His strength, you can do it….the Bible says so.  (I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!)   

Additional Resources:

Not Everyone Thinks You’re Wonderful Because You Homeschool… (but we do!)  

Why Be Different

Anti-Homeschooling Excuses…Are They Valid?

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Challenge to Parents, Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Encouragement, Getting Started | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Record Keeping for Homeschoolers

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 27, 2010


 It is summertime, and summertime for homeschoolers means planning your next year’s curriculum and record keeping methods.  I’ve tried using everything imaginable for keeping records over the years:  Expensive computer programs, generic teacher plan-books, plan books designed especially for homeschoolers, various types of homemade forms (hand-made or computer-made and kept in binders), and journaling in spiral-bound notebooks.

      Over the years I’ve come to realize several things about myself:  

1.) I hate those “empty boxes.”  Whenever I’ve used a “teacher plan book”, I would have empty boxes!  For one thing, as children get older, there are certain subjects that are only done two or three times a week…thus, empty boxes (even if they are planned for.)  It makes the lesson sheet look “incomplete” to me.     See those horrid empty spaces?!  I put lines through them to show that we weren’t supposed to do that subject that day.  Even though we’d done plenty that week (probably too much–) those empty spaces made me feel like a failure.   

     2.)  I hate making lesson plans before the fact.  A couple of times I made the mistake of spending hours laying out what we should do each day…how far to read and what to read by date….invaritably life interfered.   Life doesn’t always go as planned!  One day there might be tomato hornworms  on my plants, so we’d skip our planned science lesson in favor of a real-life lesson.  Another day, someone is sick—and now my dates or days are off.  The next week, a field trip I didn’t plan for would be offered by our support group.  Often, in spite of my careful planning, I’d find a better book to use or a better supplement to add, etc.  Sometimes  I’d have a child who got fired up about school and did 5 pages of math in one day.    (Above:  another very old lesson plan sheet, made with a Sharpie Pen and photocopied.  I sure used way more textbooks then than I do now, that’s for sure!   Below is another form, computer generated; one page=one day.)  

     

     Finally, after years and years  of trial and error, I’m back to the simplest method there is:  Journaling, after the fact.  All I do is write down what we did each day, in a journal.  

        The advantages:  Less feeling of failure; the ability to be flexible; more space to get descriptive, if you so desire (space to write down the cute things your kids did/said, etc).  All this equals less stress and easier use for me. 

      Don’t get me wrong—writing things down after the fact doesn’t mean I don’t plan ahead.  Believe me, I do!  In fact, I spend hours every summer doing so.  Most subjects are easy to plan.  Take math, for instance…how much planning do you need?  Everyday we do the next lesson.  How easy is that?  If the children need extra practice, we add games or hands-on activities to the lesson.  Sometimes we nix the formal lesson altogether in favor of games and drills for a while. 

     Unit studies/literature approaches (history, science, geography, etc) take a little more planning time.  At the very least, I like to start the year with my list of topics (including approximately how much time I’ll spend on each), list of books we’ll read, movies and activities I plan to use, and so on.  

     Using Your Planner:  You could use a standard binder so that you can add pages and work samples, or a spiral bound notebook (depending on how much writing you want to do).  To continue my simplicity theme this year, each double-sided page in my journal will include one week’s work.  I’ll just write down my subject (math, for instance), and then record the lessons done like this:  p. 12-13/p.14-15/p.16-18/p.19 +Sum Swamp game/Casino card game and facts drill.   My boys do everything together except for math and phonics/reading; for those subjects, they will each have a row to record their work, preceded by their initial, like this:

LA (Language arts)  J:  SSRW (Sing, Spell, Read and Write) step 19, song plus 5 words per day; EC (Explode the Code) p. 17-18/19-21/22-23/23-34/35-36; practiced reading in book 9….then the same for my other son.

           Here’s the planner we’re going to use (I found it at Target for under $10 dollars.)  It’s just a simple spiral planner that includes a calendar and “journal” like pages.  I added my own stick-on tabs for ease of use.  I made tabs for Weeks 1-20, weeks 21-40; a tab to record the books we’ve read, and so on (I write down the title, author, date completed, and number of pages for each book).  Here is what the planner looks like with the tabs added:   

     I just love stick-on tabs, don’t you?  I use them for everything!   I’ll use the calendar for attendance and to write down field trips, nature walks, piano lessons, co-op days, and other events. 

      To make recording your work easier, it’s a good idea to come up with some abbreviations or codes, like I did above.  You can number your subjects (1 is Bible, 2 is math), or use lettering (B is Bible, M is math, LA is language arts, which includes handwriting {HW}, spelling {SP}, phonics {PH} etc the early years), and unit study =U.  

     So that I can remember my codes and my yearly plan, I write them down on the first page of my planner.  Other suggestions/ideas: 

-Before you decide what type of planner to use, find out what records your state requires.  You can find out about your state laws by finding your state’s support group  at www.hslda.org .  Even if your state doesn’t require record keeping, it’s still a good idea to keep records for many reasons:  You can prove what you’ve completed if there is ever any type of legal challenge; you can look up what you did with your oldest children when planning for your youngest; you’ll have a book of memories to cherish. 

-Even if you use a spiral bound journal/notebook of some kind, be sure to put work samples in a separate binder or keep them in a file, organized by child, grade, and year.

-Put your records in a binder:  You can make your own pages like the ones above, use pre-made pages (links below) or journal.  Use tabs to divide your pages…buy monthy tabs, or numbered tabs for each month.  When you use a binder, you can add work samples every month, too.  We chose 2-4 pages per subject per month to save, so that we can show our progress.  Before you choose what to keep, however, be sure to check and see what your state requires.  Additionally, you should know that if your children are enrolled in an “umbrella” school/private school satellite program, they may have additional record keeping requirements.

-Add a vocabulary section to your binder, or have a separate composition book or spiral notebook for the vocabulary you’ve learned.  Besides the words learned during school time, we add any words my boys ask me about anytime–and review them regularly.

-Add a goals section, books read section, and curriculum section for each child.  Write down the curriculum/books etc that you use with each child, and be sure to write down all the books you read to your children as well as all the books your children read independently, even if they are not school related.

-Write down anything educational your children do:  Did you watch Jack Hannah’s Animal Adventures show on television?  Write that down under science. Teach your kids how to do a load of laundry?  That’s life skills.  Did you bake bread together?  That’s home ec.  Did your kids staple pages of paper together to make a book?  That’s art and language arts.  Did you watch birds outside, and name them?  That’s science and/or nature.  Did your children play outside?  That’s PE.  You’ll be surprised how many educational activities your children do in a day when you start to write them down.

-Be consistent:  Record what you do everyday.  There’s nothing harder than re-creating your lessons from a week or month ago.

-Other record keeping ideas: We keep lots of other binders for course- planning, ideas/articles to keep, master forms, and so on.  My favorite is the “red alert” binder (I don’t know where I heard this idea, but I just love it.)  We have only ONE red binder.  Since it is red, it is always easy to find.  The ONLY records I keep in it are the records that state officials could ask to see (BTW, we’ve homeschooled for 17 years now, and have never had any problems.)  Since we live in Cali, we keep our affidavit forms (alternately, proof of enrollment in a Private school satellite Program) and current attendance sheets in the binder–that’s it.  That’s all CPS or the school district could ask to see in our state.  (I transfer the attendance from my journal to the binder once a week.)

     For additional resources see Donna Young’s site or Oklahoma’s Homeschool Site  for free printables.  Also check out these articles:

Easy Record Keeping

21 Sites Offering free Homeschool Planning and Organizing Printable Forms

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Elementary School, Getting Started, Goals, Record Keeping | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Getting Started: Attend a Homeschool Conference FOR FREE/Join Your Local Support Group

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on June 2, 2010


      I know that many of my readers are investigating the possibilty of homeschooling…others of you may be ready to move your preschooler up to Kindergarten level,  “officially” starting your homeschool journey in the fall.  Either way, I thought you should know that many of the homeschool conferences now offer FREE one day admission for parents of preschoolers (those whose oldest child is 4-5, and will start homeschooling in the fall.)  A day’s admission often costs upwards of $55, so this is a great deal.   Even those that don’t offer free days may offer free “introduction to homeschooling” seminars, often the night before the conference officially begins.

        Here is the link to find out more about our state’s conference (CA):  Plan now to attend our state’s homeschool conference (CHEA–in Pasadena this year).  Remember, parents of preschoolers get to attend one day FOR FREE!  Check out the details here:  http://cheaofca.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewPage&pageID=6…

     You can find out about your state’s conference by looking up your Christian State support group at www.hslda.org or by Googling your state’s name and “homeschool conferences.”  You can also find your local support group via your state’s group.

      I highly recomend that any of you who are planning on homeschooling–especially if you are new to homeschooling–join your local support group.  A good support group is vital!  Ours is akin to church family; we even take meals to those who have new babies or who are facing family losses/illnesses. I joined our group when our oldest was 4 (he’s 21 now.)

     All the groups I know of welcome parents of preschoolers.  You can bet they’ll be lots your preschooler can participate in:  Park play days, field trips, etc.  You will have the chance to make like-minded friends, glean ideas from experienced homeschoolers, and more.  That way, by the time you are ready to “officially” start homeschooling, you and your children will have friends and support already in place, and you will have the information you need about homeschooling in your state, available curriculum, etc.

     Our local group offers a “Homeschool Forum” that provides information for new/perspective homeschoolers, including information from other local support groups and PPSP’s (Private School Satelite Programs).  We also offer a “Newcomer’s Social” to welcome newbies to the group (all this is FREE–I bet your local group offers something similar!)  I myself run a series of meetings called “Thinking About Homeschooling” every summer, wherein I cover in depth all the information parents need to get started (Making the Decision; Legalities and Record Keeping; Choosing and Using Curriculum; Planning and Scheduling, and more).  Your local support group might offer similar groups or progams.   Some are called “Considering Homeschooling” or “Exploring Homeschooling” and others are called “Smoothing the Way” (this group helps you your entire first year.)

     Another bonus of joining your support group now:  This is the time of year (as is the fall) when the groups hold their used curriculum sales.  Not only can you can pick up curriculum for a song, but you can often find things such as preschool picture books, manipulatives, etc–almost anything related to homeschooling–all for pennies on the dollar (sometimes for FREE). 

    If any of you have questions about starting homeschooling, please look over the archives for the subject “getting started”, and review the links on the tab, “important links”.   Please feel free to contact me by commenting on this post with any questions or concerns that you have.

~Susan  

     ~If you are planning on attending conference, be sure to read my convention tips HERE. 

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Elementary School, Encouragement, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Are You Homepreschooling for the Wrong Reasons?

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 28, 2010


          The more I talk to parents of young children, or read their blogs, the more I see that many of them are, in my opinion, homepreschooling them for the wrong reasons:

      *To keep the kids busy and “out of my hair”:  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard moms say that the only reason they homepreschool their little ones is to keep them busy and “out of my hair” so that they can have some time to themselves, or some time to teach their older children.  Homepreschool is not about what is best or easiest for us; it is about giving our preschoolers what they need to optimize their growth and development.  If you are homepreschooling only to “keep them busy”, examine your motives carefully and ask yourself if you are really giving your preschoolers what they really need and deserve.  Additionally, remember that our little ones are perceptive of our attitudes.  They will know if we teach them half-heartedly, and if we view them to be a burden or interruption instead of a joy. 

      *To get them “ahead” academically:  Whether it is their own pride, a desire to impress others, a desire to “prove” themselves to others, or simply because they don’t know what else to do, many parents push their preschoolers into early academics.  Remember that no study has shown any lasting advantage to early academics, but many have found great risks (see the tab, “Readiness”, the tab, “Early Academics?!” as well as the archives for the topic   “Readiness” for more information.)    

      *Because you love to teach, and can’t wait to start “officially” homeschooling:  Some parents are so excited about homeschooling (a good thing!) that they can’t seem to wait until their children are school age to begin formal, academic lessons (a bad thing!).  Some parents start their preschoolers in a “Kindergarten” curriculum at the tender age of three or four.  If you really love to teach, and want to settle your children into a learning routine, by all means do so—but in a developmentally appropriate way!  Remember that preschoolers do not learn in the same ways that older children do.  Preschoolers need hands-on/real life experiences with things they can touch, see, and explore. Preschoolers need time to reinforce their learning through play.  Preschoolers need to be read to, talked to and sung to; they need to get dirty and make messy art projects.  Preschoolers need much more repetition than older children do; in fact, young children thrive on repetition, while older children often “balk” at it.  Preschoolers need time just to be—time to be little kids, and time to mature.  (See the tabs, “Preschool Goals” and the “4R’s”.)

       I’d like to encourage each and every one of you to write down your reasons for homepreschooling and/or   homeschooling.  This will help you examine your true motives.  It will also be a great blessing to you on those days when you feel as though you want to give up (believe me, we all have those days…this is “the toughest job you’ll ever love.”)  Re-reading the reasons you started homepreschooling/homeschooling in the first place will help you “re-set” you mind and provide you with the encouragement you need to keep going (as will a short break and some long prayers!).  For some ideas to get you started listing your reasons, re-read the tab, “What is Homepreschool?”, and check out the links on making the decision to homeschool under the tab, “Important Links.”  Next, decide which reasons are the most important to you (I hope they are spiritual reasons.)   Finally, assess yourself:   Does your homepreschool really, consistently reflect those reasons?  Are you “making the main thing the main thing?” 

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Encouragement, Getting Started, Goals, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Freebies for New Homeschoolers (and the rest of us)

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 12, 2010


          If you are getting ready to start homeschooling next year, or if you are still in the process of making the decision, here are some freebies that will be especially helpful to you:

Homeschool 101, a FREE e-book from The Old School House Magazine

A Free Copy of Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, the magazine I write for from time to time

Read the book, The Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto online for FREE

Here are some websites that offer free resources for homeschooling:

Angel Fire, Curr ClickAn Old Fashioned Education, The Baldwin Project, Calvary Chapel’s coloring pages, Donna Young’s homeschool forms, Dr. Mike’s FREE math games and drills , Homeschool Share-free unit studies and lap book templates, Notebooking Pages.com–FREE notebooking pages, Printable KJ Bible for inductive study etc.

Have fun!

~Susan

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Freebies, Getting Started, Homeschool, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Planning for Your First Homeschool Conference

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on April 12, 2010


       It’s the time of year to  prepare for homeschool conferences!  If you are planning to homeschool next year–or even in a year or two–and you’ve never been to a homeschool conference–I hope you’ll consider attending this year.   Conferences are a blessing that’s not to be missed; they will give you the confidence to know that you can homeschool.  You can learn all about homeschooling legalities, methods, support, and more (most conferences offer a “newbie” track that explains all the basics), as well as having the opportunity to look at curriculum “hands-on” before you buy.  Here are some tips to help you get all you can out of your first conference:

 ~Pre-register.  If you preregister for your conference, you’ll save time and money.

~Check for deals:  Many conferences offer free admission (for one conference day) to parents of children ages 5 and under who are planning to homeschool the following year.  Almost all offer a “free information” night to families who are still making the decision.  

         Check and see if you can save money on registration by joining your state’s support group first.  Many times joining your state group will get you a discount on membership in HSLDA as well.

         If you have to travel for your conference, try to car pool with a friend if possible.  Reserve your hotel room in advance and share that, too. 

~Plan ahead: Be sure to study your conference’s schedule and plan your day ahead of time.  Don’t skip the keynote speaker or the “warm up”; they add to the total experience.  When you plan your day, remember that you’ll want to schedule plenty of free time to browse the used curriculum sale (go early if you can–the good stuff goes fast), as well as the convention hall. 

        Before I leave home, I make a list of the things I must buy, the things I want to buy and the things I want to look at.

~What to bring:  Most large conferences are held in hotels or convention halls, which are notoriously cold—so be sure to bring a light sweater, and dress in layers.  Plan to wear modest clothing and comfortable walking shoes (tennis shoes are best); wear a fanny pack or bring a lightweight, over-the-shoulder (no hands) purse.  You’ll also need bottled water, snacks and/or a sack lunch if these are allowed (you won’t want to leave the conference for lunch—you’ll want to browse the convention hall or discuss the lectures with friends.)  You’ll also need something for taking notes.  If you pre-register, you might be provided with a bundle of maps, seminar descriptions, outlines and notes that are pre-punched for a three ring binder—so bring a binder!  But remember that you’ll still want blank paper as well.  Finally, you’ll need something to carry your goodies in.  Find out if your conference allows a small crate on wheels or a small wheeled suitcase.  If not, you’ll at least want to bring a roomy, lightweight canvass bag for catalogs and purchases.  Tip;  It’s worth the time it takes to stash your goodies in a locker, car, or hotel room (if it’s close enough) once in a while so that you can save your back. 

~Budget:  Be sure you and your husband have agreed on a budget before you leave for conference.  Remember that you will usually save money by buying there.  This is because many vendors offer specials, and because you won’t be paying shipping costs.  Purchase the items on your “must buy” list first, and then decide what else you want/need. 

        You’ll want to have at least some cash, and if you bring a credit card, make sure you stick to your limit.  Most vendors do take the more common credit cards.

        When I plan my budget, I plan for travel expenses, lodging, food, curriculum, some inexpensive but fun surprises for the kids, and some books to help me teach or encourage me (“teacher training”; I’ll share my favorites in my next post.) 

***********************************************************************************************

       To find your local conferences, Google your state’s name and “homeschool conferences,” check with your state’s support group (find them at www.hslda.org ) or look on these sites:  http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/calendar/events.htm

http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=1140380&sp=1016&event=1016

      Have fun!! 

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Encouragement, Getting Started, Homepreschool, Homeschool | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Start Homeschooling in 10 Simple Steps

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 31, 2010


1.  Pray.  Pray about your decision, and ask the Lord to give you the wisdom and patience you will need.  Also ask Him to give you His vision for your homeschool.  What should your goals be?  What does He want you to teach your children this year—and how should you teach it? (See tab, “Homepreschool Goals” if you have a young child; your primary goals should be the same–just add mastering the basics–the  3 R’s.)  To solidify your decision, be sure to explore the links related to “Making the Decision to Homeschool” under the tab, “Important Links”. 

 2.  Write down your goals and the vision the Lord gives you, and then don’t be afraid to step out in faith and go for it!  This vision might have to do with your homeschooling lifestyle, character and Bible learning goals for your children, or academics…but whatever it is, trust the Lord’s inspiration and follow His leading. 

 3.  Research the legalities involved.  Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states; some states require little to nothing, others make you jump through a few hoops.  Go to Home School Legal Defense’s website, You Can Homeschool.  There you will find links to your state’s laws and support groups.  They will help you meet the requirements of the law in the simplest way possible.

          If you are pulling your children out of public school, HSLDA and your local support group can guide you step by step; be sure to contact them before  pulling your children out of public school.          

          Remember to check the compulsory age of attendance in your state.  In many states, Kindergarten isn’t mandatory.   You might not have to worry about the legalities at all until your children are 6 or even 7 years old (this varies from state to state.)

    4.  Join HSLDA; most private school satelite programs  require it.  HSLDA is an essential part of protecting our rights to homeschool.  They will also protect you from any legal problems you might encounter if you need to pull your children out of public school.  HSLDA monitors legislation in every state, as well as nationally.  Best of all, HSLDA can provide you with peace of mind. 

 5.  Contact your local Christian homeschool support group and join it now.  The best place to find your group is Home School Legal Defense’s website.  Click on your state to find the group closest to you.  You can also Google your city/state and the words, “Christian Homeschool Support Groups”, or your state’s name plus the words, “Considering Homeschooling groups,” “Exploring Homeschooling” or “Smoothing the Way Groups.” These groups offer mentors and/or  meetings to help you get started and help you during your first year of homeschooling.

        I can’t overemphasize the importance of a good, Christian support group!  Our group is like our church family; we love, support, and encourage each other.  Our group even serves each other in emergencies (when I was on bed rest during a pregnancy, our support group brought us meals!)  Your group has a wealth of love and support, as well as a network of helps and activities just waiting for you.  Don’t try to be a lone ranger; get involved and let them bless you.  You and your children need them, and they need you, too.

 6.  Find out where your child is in his/her learning now.  (This is vital because our goal should be to start where are children are now, and move them out from there.)  There are several ways to do this.  The easiest way is through home assessments.  Depending on your child’s age, assess the following:   Does your child know his phonics, including the “blends” like ch, ck, cl, cr, th, sp, sw, etc?  Is your child reading fluently and with expression?  Can she write a complete sentence?  (Does she know what a complete sentence is?)  Does your child know her math facts? And so on.  

        If you child is being pulled out of school, you might have tests or paperwork to look over or perhaps, if you believe it is wise, you could talk to your child’s former teacher.  (See Homepreschool and Beyond for more information.) 

7.  Determine your child’s learning style.  How does your child learn?  Through hearing it? Seeing it?  Experiencing it?  Writing it down?  OR, perhaps some  combination of these?  Oklahoma Homeschool’s site has lots of good information about this, as does A-Z Home’s Cool Homeschool site.  If you are still not sure about your child’s learning style, don’t worry about it; just observe your child as you go along, and note your child’s most successful learning experiences.  Finally, remember that it’s better for young children to learn using hands-on/several different modalities (see it/hear it/play with it/etc.) 

8.  Research methods and curriculums. If you feel totally lost, a good place to start is (again!)   Oklahoma Homeschool. Be sure to print up and use the Curriculum Planner Worksheets—especially the first one, which will help you assess your preferred methods of teaching (scroll down to find it.)  Another helpful site is Home School Curriculum Advisor .  (Just Google “homeschool methods”, though, and you’ll get thousands of results.)

          The most commonly used methods are traditional textbook/worktext (a textbook with “fill in the blanks” included); unit studies (see my posts that explain units), literature approaches, including Charlotte Mason, and the classical approach…but there are many more.  You should know that most homeschoolers are “eclectic”, meaning that  they customize and combine several different methods, and use several different curriculums (versus ordering a “boxed” curriculum from one supplier.)  My preferred methods include the “Beechick” approach with elements of unit studies/Charlotte Mason/literature approach and Notebooking.  (Many different methods fit together perfectly.)

        Before you order anything, remember to ask yourself:  Can I teach this without using a curriculum?  Does this fit the methods I like to use, and my children’s learning style?   (For much more on choosing and using curriculum inluding 20+ important tips, read Homepreschool and Beyond.

9.  Gather your materials.  Start simply.  Start by choosing your Bible curriculum; it’s the most important.  I find that once I choose my Bible curriculum, the rest seems to fall into place.  It could be as simple as a Bible story book or a devotional book, or it could mean a more formal “curriculum.”  You might even find what you need at your local Bible bookstore—especially if your children are young.  (See Homepreschool and Beyond for more details.)  I encourage new homeschoolers to start with only 4 subjects:  Bible, math, language arts, and reading aloud (for us, a unit study.)  This will give you time to break into the homeschool routine, and discover what works for your family.  You might even discover that you and your children are enjoying the read aloud time so much, that you want to stick with it and continue to use a literature/unit study approach.

          If you are pulling your children out of public school, you might want to allow your children some “detox” time before you begin, and then, you might consider slowly adding to your daily routine (again, start with Bible) until you are doing all your subjects daily.

 10. Set up a simple daily routine (see “Routine” tab.) Remember, it doesn’t have to be timed to the minute; just a simple schedule of “what comes next” will suffice.  Be sure to keep your lessons short and give your children frequent breaks.

            Now you’re ready to get started!

       Remember, relationship is more important than curriculum.  It is the love, time, and attention that you give to your children that is the most important element of your homeschool.  The heart of homeschooling is time spent together reading aloud and discussing what you’ve learned.  Whatever curriculum/method you use, be sure not to overlook homeschooling’s greatest strengths:  a) One-on-one attention (beware of any method that asks your children to work too independently),  b) Conversation, and C) Individualizing the curriculum (your child might need 1rst grade math, 2nd grade phonics, and 3rd grade history–and that’s OK!) 

           You can make due with almost any curriculum if you have to, but it’s almost impossible to homeschool successfully without developing healthy, loving relationships, so make the main thing the main thing! (See the Relationships tab.)

           May the Lord richly bless you as you start homeschooling!

 

This post contains excerpts from the book,Homepreschool and Beyond”; used with permission.  © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Getting Started, Goals, Homeschool, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Start Homepreschooling (Homeschool Preschool) in Six Simple Steps

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on March 25, 2010


           How do you start homepreschooling?  Are there any specific things you need to do to start your homeschool preschool?  Here is a simple list to help you get started:

 1.  Pray.  Pray about your decision, and ask the Lord to give you the wisdom and patience you will need.  Also ask Him to give you His vision for your homepreschool.  What should your goals be?  What does He want you to teach your children this year—and how should you teach it? (See tab, “Homepreschool Goals”.)

 2.  Write down your goals and the vision the Lord gives you, and then don’t be afraid to step out in faith and go for it!

 3.  Contact your local Christian homeschool support group and join it now.  (Be sure to ask them if they offer meetings for newbies, or mentors for new homeschoolers.)  This will give you a chance to make like-minded friends for yourself and your children; participate in park days, field trips, etc, and it gives you the opportunity to glean ideas about parenting, curriculums and methods so that by the time you are ready to “officially” begin homeschooling (which I hope you will!) you will be informed and prepared.  The best place to find your group is Home School Legal Defense’s website.  Click on your state to find the group closest to you.  You can also Google your city/state and the words, “Christian Homeschool Support Groups”, or your state’s name plus the words, “Considering Homeschooling groups” or “Smoothing the Way Groups.” Both these groups offer mentors and meetings to help you get started/to help you during your first year of homeschooling.  

4.  Set up a simple daily routine (see “Routine” tab.) Remember, it doesn’t have to be timed to the minute; just a simple schedule of “what comes next” will suffice.

 5.  Decide on your preschool “units” (see my posts about unit studies, especially THIS one, which lists suggested units.)

 6.  Gather your materials:  For the very basics, I’d start with four things:  1)  Classic picture books/books related to your units (see the archived posts on “book lists”, especially THIS one);   2)  art supplies;  3) classic toys (such as blocks, pattern blocks, props for dramatic play, puzzles, and so on,)  and 4) my book, which has chapters covering all the things your preschooler needs to learn, how ot choose quality toys, learning games to make/buy, and chapters to help you make the transition to Kindergarten. (See tab, “My Book.”)

         Remember, preschoolers learn differently than older children do.  They don’t need workbooks or flashcards; they need a simple daily routine; they need to be talked to, read to, and sung to; they need art and music experiences; they need real life experiences, and they need lots of free time to play.

© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Encouragement, Getting Started, Homepreschool | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »