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Homeschool Is an Option if Distance Learning Isn’t Working

standard May 20, 2020 Leave a response

As things unfold and uncertainty sets in about what the next school year is going to look like, I know a lot of people are asking themselves if homeschooling might not be a better option than the distance learning/half day school option that is being floated out by a number of states and counties. (Wondering what school might look like in the fall? This teacher has a few thoughts about it.)

Allow me to start by saying this. Distance Learning is NOT Homeschooling. It’s very, very different. Distance learning is teacher led and parent enforced. It is working for some and not working at all for others. Homeschooling is parent led and parent enforced. You get to decide who does what and when they do it.

People get super frustrated when homeschoolers say “Homeschool is not for everyone.” But honestly, it isn’t. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to figure out a curriculum for your kids. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to create lessons and teach them. You have to be willing and have the bandwidth to be flexible and go with the flow when the flow needs to shift. Not everyone has that available to them right now (or ever). THAT IS 100% FINE.

But if that sounds like something more appealing to you than monitoring distance learning, then, my friend, read on, because I’ve been doing this for two years now and I’d be delighted to share with you a few things I’ve learned.

Here’s my hard earned homeschool wisdom

So, this is a ton of homeschool information. Please know, that we started out knowing nothing and we figured it out as we went. It’s much less overwhelming than it seems. Please know, there are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. This is a sampling of what WE do. I’m sharing it here to give YOU and idea of what you could do if you so choose. I am NOT telling you what do to, just trying to offer options. (Are we clear? Because, you know, people are touchy these days…)

I would recommend starting out by contacting the district to see what resources they offer for homeschooling. You SHOULD have access to whatever resources your public school has available to them such as library and special ed resources, but districts have different rules.

First things first,

The key thing to remember about homeschooling is that it isn’t “school” at home, it’s learning at home. It takes a while to get away from the whole “we have to do what they do at school, at home.” It’s more flexible in many ways. There’s a period of “deschooling” that can take anywhere up to 6 months where everyone learns to adjust away from “I’m going to learn what I’m supposed to learn when I’m supposed to learn it” towards “I’m going to learn what I want to learn” and from “School happens from 8-3 with these breaks and these subjects” to “learning can happen anytime anywhere and we are going to do it more intuitively and less rigidly.
(We have stuck to the state mandated curriculum for math so the kids could transition back should they eventually desire, everything else has been more fluid.)


It helps to know that (at least for our school district) a day of homeschool is 4 hours of learning, including sports, kitchen science, art etc. which leaves a lot of time for hobbies and fun, which often turn out to be educational anyway. 

Now for the Resources:

There are a TON of online resources for subjects that you don’t want to/can’t teach yourselves. I know a lot of people who use this to do their own version of virtual school: https://www.time4learning.com/  (You can find the various state laws around homeschooling there. DON’T just start homeschooling without letting your district know. Your child will be considered truant.)

Math: We used to use Kahn academy for math , we have friends who use Aleks. Our kids didn’t do well with online math. For the youngest, it was going in one eye and right back out the other and the other just got frustrated with it all, so we just got the textbooks they use at the public school and work our way through them.

Science: For science we’ve been using MelScience heavily supplemented by lessons that I researched online and put together. We got a few friends together once a week and did science together. 
We also attend science lectures when we can. (Santa Cruz offers many, but there are also a ton online.)
I rely a lot on YouTube educational videos like Crash Course Kids and Crash Course to supplement lessons that I do.  There’s a wealth of information on YouTube, especially for science and history. 

Language Arts: For language arts, I mostly just have the kids read a bunch and write some kind of book report (either something about a favorite character, or the themes, or fill out a worksheet with basic questions.) then, depending on what issues I see in their writing, I do a lesson on the problem. It helps that I’m an English major and writer by trade… If they aren’t taking a creative writing class through our hybrid school, I give them prompts, which they usually ignore to write their own thing.
We also do Spelling Workbooks and Grammar Workbooks

State Standards: If you are worried that you aren’t meeting state standards, you can get them from your state’s government website to compare to what you’re doing.
Standards aren’t mandatory, but can be helpful to keep an eye on in case you want your kids to transition back to public school  eventually.

More Online Resources: This company offers a TON of really cool online classes, if you want to supplement: https://outschool.com/ 
TeachersPayTeachers is where teachers can sell their lesson plans. I’ve found a lot of really cool worksheeets and lessons here. 
The Internet, duh…there’s a TON of stuff out there for homeschooling parents. It truly is amazing.

OK, I know that was a lot. Feel free to ask me about any of it or if you need anything else! You can find me on Facebook.
If you’d like to add something, please feel free to leave a comment.

The two faced nature of the end of the school year

standard June 6, 2014 Leave a response

There are five days of school left in the school year. Well, more like 4 days since today’s a half day and is already half gone and the last day is also a half day.

Four precious days of alone time. Four days where I have no one to answer to for a few hours, no one looking over my shoulder as I type, no one asking me a bazillion questions every five minutes, no one arguing right next to me, in the next room, in the yard, anywhere.

Four more days of not having to make lunch for anyone other than myself. (Wait, only three more days of that since the last day is a half day.)

Four more days of not having to be the MC to two little people’s days.

I’m mentally ticking off the minutes until my relative freedom ends. Until I’m not alone, at all, until they go back to school August 20th. (Why yes, that’s already on my calendar, why do you ask?)

I’m a little anxious about the whole “never alone” thing that’s looming ahead. I know from past summers that come July I’ll already feel like a big hen is perching on my head pecking, pecking, pecking away at the thoughts, the words, until all I can hear is noise both inside and outside of my head.

And yet, this morning I woke up, stretched, and smiled as I remembered that there are only four days left until the kids are finally free from school.

Come Friday we can get up when we want, get dressed when we want, eat when and what we want, not pack lunches, not do homework, not worry about finding socks to wear inside our shoes.

Four more school days and we can go sockless all. summer. long.

Four more school days and we can stop worrying about getting to school before the bell rings, about whether we forgot something at home, about girl drama, teacher drama, school drama.

Four more school days and we can heave a big sigh of relief, brush ourselves off, and put another year behind us.

The working/writing side of me is freaking out about the summer. The mom side of me is dancing a gig.

I love lazy summer days. I love letting the girls just play. I love the creativity that emerges after hours of unstructured time. I love hanging out at the pool, going to get ice cream, spending hours at the library or the park. I love the lack of obligations and the way summer days melt into one another until no one really knows exactly what day it might be.

I think it all boils down to the fact that I’m not good at transitions. Never have been. I don’t do change very well. I like stability and continuity. I like knowing what tomorrow will bring, what situations will have to be managed. The start of a new season, with no plans, no established routine, makes me anxious, even knowing that we have done it all before, that we’ve even enjoyed it all before. It’s just a question of transitioning to that new state, to getting into the new flow.

I’m sure that getting through the next week will prove to be a challenge as my brain waffles between anticipation of both bliss and doom, never quite knowing which side to land on.

All I can do to prepare myself is to enjoy the alone time while it lasts and do my best to plan out the next 9 weeks. Even though that goes against the very nature of summer.

The time the guinea pigs came home

standard October 15, 2012 3 responses

I set their not-so-little cage down on the playroom table, fighting off all my misgivings I had about bringing home the beloved classroom pets. Two little guinea pigs, two fluffy pets that the kids adore. And all I could think of was our sweet, loving cat, our resident ruthless killer.

Oreo and Snickerdoodle

So the girls and I had a serious talk. I got down to their level and we discussed how, even though the cat is sweet and cuddly with us, he kills rodents for fun. They looked at me with utter disbelief in their eyes.

I repeated myself and tried to hammer home how important it was that the door to the playroom remain closed during the guinea pig’s stay in our home.

The kids nodded, distracted by their new friends, and I left the room, crossing my fingers.

Turns out the cat never even noticed they were there and by Sunday afternoon I had thoroughly relaxed my “Oh my GAWD! The playroom door is OPEN!” freak-outs.

Which is why, when M hurried to my side and hissed “We have a problem with one of the guinea pigs!”, my heart skipped a beat.

Because oh, my, how on earth would I ever look the Kindergarten teacher in the eye and tell her one of the pets was dead?

M instantly saw where my mind had lept and was quick to reassure me.

“None of them are dead. It’s just that… well Little L colored one of them green.”

First reaction? Denial. Then Little L started sobbing, having apparently just realized that it was not cool to use the guinea pig as a coloring page. And I heaved myself off my cozy resting place on the couch and went to assess the damage.

I’m sure I could have turned it into an amazing parenting moment if I’d been able to catch my breath, but every time I tried to admonish Little L for what she’d done the giggles would start all over again. In fact, M and I pretty much giggled our way through the evening.

All my wunderkind could manage to explain between gasping sobs was that she’d “just wanted to see what would happen.” As for her choice of color? Well, duh, that’s the marker that was on the floor. Impulse control is apparently very low in this one. But hey, she colors really well within the lines. And who knows, maybe the young Snickerdoodle wanted to be a punk rocker for Halloween…

You’ll be glad to know that baby wipes are very effective for removing crayola markers from guinea pig fur. Snickerdoodle looked like his usual self when he was returned to his cage in the far corner of the Kindergarten classroom where 21 other innocent 5-year-olds wield markers all day. As long as none of them decide to “just see what happens” when they test out their scissors on him, I think he’ll be just fine.

Summer Fun from GreatSchools

standard June 8, 2012 Leave a response

Tuesday night I sat at the kitchen table while the kids ate dinner and I ripped pages out of books. No, don’t worry, I wasn’t desecrating great works of literature, I was simply preparing summer worksheet packets for the kids.

There won’t be any summer sliding here!

I know my friends at Greatschools.org would approve of the amount of work I’ve organized for the girls. It’s just enough to keep their minds sharp and ready for next year, but not so much that the worksheets will become an endless chore.

School and learning are important, but so are having fun and enjoying the summer months! That’s why GreatSchools is inviting everyone to enter a fun sweepstakes!

Enter here to win one of 3 awesome grand prizes from Kiwi Crate.

And how are these grand prizes guarantors of fun you ask? Easy, they’re each a 3-month subscription to one of my favorite services ever: Kiwi Crate. Once a month for three months (Fancy that! Just enough time to get you through the summer!) your child will receive a box filled with the coolest crafts imaginable!

Hurry over to the Great Schools Facebook page to enter, the sweeps ends on June 14th!

(Please note, I’m being compensated to share this contest with you, but I am a huge fan of GreatSchools and have used them more than I should admit in my many searches for the ideal schools for my kids.)