Homepreschool and Beyond

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    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

Posts Tagged ‘Getting Started’

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 »

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 »

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 »

Me and the Moores: What Peaked my Interest in Homeschooling

Posted by homeschoolmentormom on May 19, 2010


        Way back in 1990, when my oldest was two, I heard Dr. Raymond Moore talk about homeschooling on the radio show,   Focus on the Family.  That single show started our family down a path to a major lifestyle decision–homeschooling. 

        Before my son was born, I was a huge supporter of institutional preschools.  I planned to keep teaching after our first was born.  I thought I’d find a preschool/daycare situation where I could take my baby to work with me…I was also considering starting my own home daycare.  But once I held my son in my arms, I saw preschool/daycare in an entirely new light.   I realized how much time it takes to care for a baby.   I remembered the preschoolers I worked with and saw them through new eyes…the eyes of a mother.  I realized that most of the children I worked with were lost, confused, and hungry for love and attention.  I knew I wanted better for my little boy.

        After hearing that radio show, I knew in my heart that the solution for us was homeschooling.  I’d already realized that I enjoyed the company of my then 2 year old way too much to ever send him away to preschool, but before the show I had never thought about homeschooling him.  I don’t know if I’d even heard of homeschooling.  

        I started to research homeschooling right away.  The first thing I did was to check out the book, Homegrown Kids from the library (Dr. Moore’s book).  I didn’t agree with everything in the book, but my background in Child Development told me that his emphasis on readiness and natural learning was right on the mark.  

        Dr. Raymond Moore is considered to be the “father” of the homeschool movement, and rightly so. The Moores have been at the forefront of the homeschooling movement since the early 1980’s.  The Moores emphasize developmental readiness, and introduced the idea of an “Integrated Maturity Level” or IML.   The IML includes our children’s cognitive, physical (including eye sight, eye-hand coordination, small muscle strength, and general coordination), and social maturity, which often doesn’t “come together” until age 8-10; therefore, the Moores suggest that children should learn in natural ways and not be forced into formal academic lessons until that time.   The Moore Formula encourages us to provide our children with approximately equal amounts of 1) manual work (think, life-skills!), 2) service (in the home or the community), and 3) “school” or study time (for young children, reading aloud and natural learning.)  I would add play to the list, especially for younger children. 

        Although the Moore’s method is often called “delayed learning”, it is anything but.  As I stated in my post, Preschool Myths, waiting for readiness is not the same as withholding learning.  It’s very different from un-schooling, as well.  The Moore’s advocate neither pushing children nor holding them back; they simply discourage “formal” or workbook/textbook type learning early on.  Instead, children learn through loving, consistent care and conversation (relationship),  a regular routine, lots of reading aloud, unit studies (delight directed), real life/hands-on experiences, games and oral work, and often through starting their own home business or helping their parents with theirs (a large component of their method.) Obviously the Moores have had a huge influence on me, since I am definitely a proponent of relationship, routine, readiness, reading aloud, and unit studies!

        The Moore Formula meshes well with many other methods, including Charlotte Mason (lots of lit; few if any textbooks, short lessons, oral work, etc) unit studies (lots of books and hands on/life experiences) and the Beechick method (again, lots of books and reading aloud, readiness, life experiences; emphasis on correct dating of early history), and even Montessori (life skills, hands-on activities, using real, adult-sized tools versus toys.)   

         Personally, I don’t go quite as far as the Moores do when it comes to delaying formal academics…Dr. Moore would have us wait for any type of formal academic lessons until our children are 8 years old.  Instead, I believe a more balanced approach is in order.  Having had an early reader (reading well at age 5-6) and a later reader (not reading much at all until age 10), I believe I see both sides of the issue.  I do believe in planning short, play-based lessons for the early years, but I believe they should be done carefully, with readiness and interest in mind.  Even so, I do see the good of the Moore Formula and I think their research is very comforting to parents of young children.  I recommend that parents of preschoolers and Kindergarteners (especially) read Home Grown Kids–if for no other reason than to help them relax and back off from an emphasis on formal academics during the preschool and early elementary years.  

        Reading Home Grown Kids helped me let my young children be young children, without worrying about a check-list of “facts” and “skills” they should conquer by age 4 or 5.  Their research held me together when my second born was struggling with reading.  The Moores are right–delayed readers do just as well or better than children who learn early (and I might add, there is not one study that shows that learning to read early is beneficial in the long run.)  My daughter went from struggling to read the simplest books (Boxcar children–at age 10) to reading Lord of the Rings so fast it made my head spin.  She now holds our family record for the most books read in one year, and she wants to be a Christian fiction writer. She never goes anywhere without a notebook, and she loves to read.

        I guess my point is, if you haven’t read Home Grown Kids, it’s worth your time.  If you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the Moore’s developmental research, read Better Late Than Early, too.  The book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook shows how the formula works in real families.

        To find out more about the Moore Formula, check out these links:

Read explanations of the Moore Formula HERE

Read articles about using the Moore Formula HERE

Read the article, Learning How to Think by the Moores (great ideas, except for the line about “the family democracy”; I don’t know about you, but our family is NOT a democracy!) 

Read the article, Unschooling and the Moore Method, by Dorothy Moore HERE.    

 © 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.

Posted in Curriculum, Deciding to Homeschool or Hompreschool, Elementary School, Encouragement, Homepreschool, Homeschool, Methods, Readiness, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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.) 

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       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 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 »