First, I want to apologize for this delay in post. It was supposed to come out last week and it did not happen. We have had some major work done on our house and then a huge leak in the basement and I had to focus on that instead of getting a post ready for you. I am thankful the things at the house are back to normal and I am able to get back to blogging. Thank you for your patience and I hope you enjoy this week’s blog.
Casey Lleras has home schooled her three children for the last 3 years and has put lots of time and effort into sorting out the information that is available to parents today. While I support learning in any way, shape, and form, I wanted to give you a real perspective on a current hot topic. Thanks to Casey for taking time out of her very busy schedule to help answer questions, give guidance, and tell her story.
Why do we home school?
I never pictured myself homeschooling and neither did my husband. We had our oldest child attend preschool in our community and then kindergarten at the local public school. In first grade we met many situations that led us to believe that the school would never meet the expectations that we had for our child’s education. The discipline for kids that were bullying was not where we thought it should be, and the communication when there were problems was non-existent. We knew that we needed a change and private school was not an option because of finances, so we decided it was best to bring our daughter home and try homeschooling. We tried it for the first year, holding to the commitment very lightly. What surprised us is that we fell in love with homeschooling. Not only that, I got to see the sparkle in her eye for myself when she learned something new. It has really been a fun experience for us and therefore, we continue.
Homeschooling is not for me?
I always hear this from parents. All I can say to this is, “You do not know until you try.” If you have a college degree, I would say you are MORE than capable. I thought that I could not do it, but I tried and have been very successful. The pressure of making sure that my kids learned all that they were supposed to learn in a year was a very heavy burden at first. Instead fearing this pressure and considering it a burden, I have realized that it is a privilege to be home with them. The pressure that I was feeling was there because I wanted to do a good job. So to ensure that I do the best job that I can, I get organized, I ask lots of questions to other homeschooling moms and public school teachers and I stick to the plan. I soon realized that I was able to handle this kind of pressure. Since I have home-schooled I know exactly where my kids are in all subjects, and it is easier to direct them because I know what they are learning.
I also think that it is very important to have some accountability. We register our kids with an online university. These online universities are different in every state, so you would have to research them for your area. We send in a weekly report to a teacher that is assigned to us about what has been accomplished each week. We also have to publish a monthly report that makes sure we are progressing and meeting the learning goals that are set as a standard by the state. The standards are the same for public school. It is a lot of work if you have multiple kids.
Will your kids become socially weird?
This question and thinking cracks me up. If you stay home and never ever leave your home, this could be the case. We personally have not met this state of “weirdness” that people describe because we are a very active family. We are very active in church, sports, and in our community. If anything, I have noticed that they are more engaged, more interested in talking with people, and they do it quite well. We have been watching for “weirdness” in our kids because of homeschooling and we have not seen any yet. I will keep you posted.
We have talked to many people about homeschooling and the weirdest thing that we have discovered is that kids are actually learning something. They are not getting away with the minimum requirements or effort and their full potential is being revealed.
What curriculum do we use?
History / Reading
· Sonlight! They provide books that go along with what you are studying and brings the history ALIVE that you just read about in the history book. These books have you read the history book, then you read a story book related to the ideas presented. It is wonderful! The history really comes alive in the story.
· Memorized the US states and capitals. My kids learned two new states and two new capitals every week and then they would review the ones that they learned the previous week. By the end of the year, they knew them all, no problem at all. My first grader did this too! I was so shocked. I did not learn these until 7th grade. It was perfect to add to our learning plan for the year since we were studying American History.
· Memorize 7 continents
· Memorize the countries in Africa
· A Reason for Handwriting – This incorporates scripture into handwriting.
· Handwriting without Tears – This was not our favorite, but a popular option that many of our friends use.
· www.K12reader.com – This is a great website for spelling lists for all grades. It does seem a little simple for my kids, so we often change words or add works from the dictionary to make it more difficult. For example, my 4th grader had the word ‘dog’ on her spelling list. I decided to change it to dogmatic. It was perfect because she did not know what it meant, so I had her look it up and write down the definition in her own words.
· www.K12reader.com has great resources for language arts.
· http://bookadventure.com/Home.aspx – This is a great website that is free. It allows your kids to take tests on the books that they read, so that you can be sure that they understand what they are reading.
· http://www.apologia.com – They have great textbooks for kids
· http://www.gravitaspublications.com– Real Science 4 Kids is pretty good. We love the chemistry books most.
· Teaching Textbooks – This is a computer program, but we realized that this is not a mastery based curriculum and the kids seemed to need a little more practice before the next lesson was taught.
· Horizons – We use these worksheets to ensure that the mastery happens and it seems to work really good for us.
· www.xtramath.org – This is an incredible website that helps your kids master their math facts!
· Rosetta Stone – We are using the computer program that they offer for Spanish. It is wonderful, even my 5-year-old can do it. It is pricy, but it is worth every penny.
If you home school or do extra work on any subjects at home, what are your favorite websites and books for teaching and learning? If you have other questions or would like more information, please email me or post a comment below.