Homeschooling: Break? Year Round? First Day of Homeschool? Q & A

I did not want you to be left confused. I feel like explaining things that are difficult for some people to understand. I decided to do this in the form of a Q &A, but ask and answer the question myself. The questions people have asked of me.

Q: Do you take a summer break, or do you homeschool year-round?

A: Niether and Both. We do relaxed homeschooling and tidal wave homeschooling, a form of education which means that we are like the tide coming in and going out.

We try to do as best we can to get to where I consider to be “at grade level” in each subject for each child. We do not ever stop working on this, but we are also not always concernd about this.

We have ebbs and flows. Sometimes, with much effort, we learn a whole bunch and progress a lot in a period of time (this sometimes looks like an accelerated school for the gifted or early college, and sometimes looks like a 1900 one-room schoolhouse). At other times, we are more like unschoolers. Sometimes, we have a day that looks like montessori school. Sometimes, we have a field trip day. When people visit or we visit others, we have a day completely dedicated to only socializing. When we visited Grandma Preece or when Uncle Steven came over, we dropped all of our concerns and cares, and just visited. The kids learn plenty by visiting and socializing with others.

Q: Homeschoolers do not have to start school when the public schools begin. Isn’t that right?

A: This has a long answer, too. We do not have to, but because of classes we signed up for, we do.

We enroll in some classes not led by me but by teachers my husband and I chose or hired. One of these is free and it is The Church Seminary Program. (Oh, did you catch that? I almost used the acronym). Early Morning Seminary this year begins the same day public school begins in my area. This means that although we do not really care when homeschool begins or ends, I can choose a day when I can say something officially begins. It is the day Seminary begins.

The hired teachers and has also chosen certain dates to begin their classes, vacation days and end dates. Likewise, many homeschool parents join “co-ops,” which are groups of homeschoolers who get together and do learning together. These co-ops have a set schedule. A co-op has a start date, vacation dates and end dates, too.

I would not want to have the first day of homeschool for the kids which have teachers who’ve given them start-dates, and not have this for the younger 4. After all, the younger 4 are so looking forward to “doing homeschool” officially again. Their siblings are officially starting and so are their neighborhood friends and cousins.

This would be when I to the part called “get the kids ready for the first day of school (by clothes shopping at the back to school clothing sales) as a mom” and the part where I do “put in full-time hours of preparation of the homeschool room, planning and getting ready for homeschool to officially begin on August 27, like a paid public school teacher,” at the same time. (The second part includes getting in on back to school curriculum and supplies sales).

Speed Tour of my Recently Cleaned and Re-Organized Homeschool Room

Of course, many teacher moms do this. They get their own gets ready and sent off, and they also go to the school all day for a couple weeks to get their public school classroom ready.

This “Photographer Mom” is prepared to do “First Day of Homeschool 2018” photos next week!

It’s just a little different. I do not get paid and I do not have to get someone to tend the kids while I go off to work. They are here and I am here, which means I do the prep work and they wish I wouldn’t because it means I am not giving them the attention they would like. It is hard on the kids here, as they are eager to “officially start school” again, and frustrated that their mom is working on prepping and pretty much just letting them “fend for themselves” (except the littlest, who at least gets fed by mom and gets a lot of attention because he demands it).

I hope this helps everyone to understand my world so that they are not confused. There are so many different ways to homeschool. Sometimes, there are jokes or memes on the internet that give one impression, and the people who do not know that all homeschools are different get so upset when things are not the way a youtube video says they are.

This one is a funny one by “It’s a Southern Thing.”

Tell me, are the others exaggerated? Yeah. So do you think the homeschool mom one is? Think about it. I am a homeschool mom and I still laughed at it. I was not upset by the inaccuracy. I know it’s all exaggerated and it is a joke. It’s very funny. If you like it, subscribe, because all of their videos are just as humorous!

For the record, homeschool moms and kids do get dressed in day clothing because they are very busy. We get dressed for the same reasons that you get dressed during the summer. Also, homeschool moms usually put together or join in on a “Not Back to School” park day or party on the first day of local public school. We all know when school starts, including those who do unschooling! We all look forward to getting the museums and parks back to uncrowded. We love it when school starts and are very aware!

I am most like the photographer mom, by the way. I am very sentimental, an artist and a graphic designer, after all! So, yeah, homeschool moms are all different, too, and we have personalities that are all different from the personalities of other homeschool moms. We love our variety and differences!

Homeschooling: A Lighter Load for Spring

I have gone to a lighter load already. My kids now do one assigned pencil drawing (art) assignment and a chore on Friday. Other than that, Friday is an unschooling style day. During the week, my kids do (in this order) one “spelling workout” lesson (4 pgs. long, including vocabulary, grammar and one paragraph of writing), 2 pages of “handwriting without tears” workbook, one worksheet of math in a binder I created for each child (from multiple sources), a half hour of reading non-fiction science book of choice, a half hour of reading non-fiction history book of choice, a half hour of reading fiction book of choice, a chore, and a half hour to two hours of interest-based learning (depending upon age).
This gives them more choices and they love it. Their spelling, vocabulary and writing skills are great. They are learning math every day. They get to learn the history and science that peaks their interest that day. I have a huge library of non-fiction books in all subjects and levels which I picked myself (and I am very picky) for them to read. I have a huge variety of fiction books for all levels and interests for them to choose from. 

We are constantly adding to our library, which makes the kids excited to see the new books. Sometimes, with their own money (the older they are, the more they generally earn), they buy books they are interested in.

As for the “boring” and “gave too much work,” I negotiate with my kids and change things up about every couple months. Last time, I took away some spelling (they used to do 2 lessons a day) and added the reading non-fiction (because my son wanted science in, and less spelling.

I also spend about two hours a week helping my eldest and about the same, teaching kids how to read and having then read to me (for the younger ones).

Unschooling Style Math

     My kids are doubling not by multiplication but by addition. It is what they do for fun. Do they know about calculators? Yeah, but calculators don’t allow this many numerals on a screen anyway. Do they know that someone else has probably already done all this doubling? Maybe not, but if they thought about it, they would probably think it is probable. They do not care. This is something they are crazy over. They love doing it.

     Do they know that multiplying may be faster? Beats me. This is creative, Constance Kamii math. She would say, let them at it and let them figure things out their own way.

     So what does the homeschool mom think? She thinks, “Oh, YEAAAAAHHHH!” I think it is awesome. I bask in it like the emperor penguins bask in the sunlight after a long, cold, windy winter.

     They are on day sixty of doubling the mini m&m’s you’d have to eat if you doubled the number daily. For 60, they have a figure of 1,146,582,183,045,318,976. I do not know if that is accurate, but that is what they have.

Why College?

I have been having a battle in my mind. Sometimes, I work so hard to learn everything about getting my kids ready for college admittance and college degrees. Other times, I work so hard to get my kids the best learning opportunities I can get them to prepare them for life and career based upon their age, abilities and interests.

Tonight the battle continues in my mind. I am reading my highlight marks from the book, “Hacking Your Education,” by Dale J. Stephens, the man who started UnCollege.com (similar to Zero Tuition College by Blake Boles).

Here is a small piece from the beginning of the book that got me thinking just now:

“Why had I felt compelled to enroll in an Ivy League school? I had seen articles in Growing Without Schooling about unschoolers who had gone to Harvard. I thought I would do the same and that would show all the cynics. But is that what unschooling is about: finding a back door to traditional academic accolades? 

“What Astra discovered that year at Brown is that unschooling is a lifelong commitment. It’s not something you do until you’re eighteen. It’s not a stepping-stone before college. It’s an ethos. She realized it was her duty to take the reins of her education.”

I don’t know. It seems that way. Once I started down this unschooling path with my kids and myself, it is hard to understand the “normal” way of doing things anymore. I cannot really explain it to others very well yet. I feel like I am a baby just learning to walk. All the same, something is so changed in me that I feel I cannot go back to depending on others to “motivate” me to do research, speak out, write, learn, experiment or do crazy projects. It just isn’t me anymore.

I don’t think it is me anymore to push my kids to depend on others for all that, either. I will let you know about my journey and thoughts as time goes by if you just follow the story. 

Goodnight for now!

Homeschool Academics as a Prevention Method

I apoligize for those who may have come to this post thinking it is praise for Academics in homeschool. That is not what this post is about. This is about the positive things that your homeschool could have which academics can possibly prevent from happening.

My definition of “Homeschool Academics” is: 

Formal teaching by the homeschool mom or homeschool teacher (if in a co-op) usually by subject, such as math, science, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, geography, history, careers, p.e., health, art, music, theater, dance and library sciences. These are usually learned one subject at a time at a certain “grade level.” They are usually taught either by specific planned curricula, usually via books, workbooks, assigned projects and so forth. Much of it is also memorization, copying and reciting. Sometimes there are field trips and videos. Sometimes even hands-on things are done to aid with the learning. Some or all of it could be fun and made just right for the learning style of the child. There is usually an assignment, project or quiz given to the child to do to aid with and show the learning. This “work” that is completed which has evidence is many times useless to anyone except for possibly as scrapbooking material for evidence in portfolios to show that this “work” has been done. More than 90 percent of this fodder is, or should be, recycled because otherwise it would overrun the house, giving nobody a place to sit, sleep or eat. About 10 percent of it is wonderful, beautiful and unique. Usually the homeschool academics are so rough on the kids that they need a formal recess, a formal lunchbreak, a formal starting and stopping time, formal days of the week when “homeschool” is done and formal summer, spring, fall and winter breaks, just like they would have in school. 

Most homeschool families, at least the ones I know of, started out nearly 90 percent of the time using the “homeschool academics” methods. Most homeschool families I know about don’t keep doing it more than a year. This is for those in their first year who have maybe “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be.”

My definition of “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be” is:

You have just begun to realize that using the “formal school structure, curriculum, schedules and methods” is not required, that nobody is going to check up on you and shut down your little homeschool and that your kids learn more watching television and playing than they do from your “homeschool academics” lessons. (Perhaps this is frustrating to you). You have possibly also noted that having your own children raise their hands to ask you whether they can use the bathroom is pretty silly. (That one is a chapter from our own starting out story). There is a very slight possibility that by now you have also had conversations with some seasoned homeschoolers. These people who have homeschooled for a few years and have stopped using so many of the “homeschool academics” methods. Possibly, you have even met a mother who told you, “We unschool.” I am sure you asked her what that was, so I will not tell you in this post. (If you have not met such a person, you will, or you can google it).

Now I will move on to what homeschool academics will likely prevent, with a story.

A couple weeks ago, we were thrown a new learning curveball. It was very unexpected and unplanned. We were out in the back yard peeling polyetheline tape off of cardboard boxes so that we could use those as weed barriers to start our “Back  to Eden  Garden.” Suddenly we heard very loud wings flapping with fervor. A large raptor was chasing a dove. The raptor had knocked the dove out of the tree first. It was so surprising that we all screamed loudly, scaring the raptor away. Then we had a limping, flightless dove hopping around the yard with cowardice, looking so afraid that we  tried  to feed it. Then we started to worry about the CAT. Oh, dear. Poor helpless bird. We did not want this lovely bird killed by a cat.

We made a couple phone calls and then we had a very scary mission: to pick the bird up with a towel and put him in a box, then take him in to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. (My sister-in-law did this with our little bit of help. Our hero!) Little did we know, that was just the beginning. We went to a volunteer training meeting and today, my son and I were in volunteer training there for 3 hours. We learned as much as I learned in one whole week in a class in college. I cannot even put it all into words, and that was just in three hours’ time. We plan to continue and next week my daughter will be in training, too. They will learn more than any school kid could possibly be learning at the same time sitting in school.

Now let me say something about this. If we had been inside doing academics and not outside ripping tape off from cardboard boxes, this opportunity for EXTREME LEARNING opportunity never would have presented itself. We would still not even know that this place exists. By the way, they told us that the bird who chased the bird out of the tree was a Cooper’s Hawk and that the dove is a Eurasian Collard Dove. The dove is now being treated by being fed from a tube. He has a popping sound when he breathes which indicates he has internal injuries. His wings work fine but he is too injured internally to be able to fly. 

Once a week as part of our learning, we will go in and volunteer there. This will be a great opportunity for my kids to learn service, hard work, introducation to veterinary science, biology and medical care for injured wild animals (mostly birds). I think even the “academic homeschooling” moms would love to have their kids doing things like this for learning, but I do not think they will find such opportunities in their communities until they slow down the academics and start working their way into the adventurous side which is called “unschooling.”

The Unschool Experiment

Great post!

{Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it […]}

https://redheadmom8.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/the-unschool-experiment/

HOMESCHOOLING and WHY I’M GLAD I DON’T HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS

Great post!

{“I’m not smart enough to homeschool,” I told myself the first time that God put it on my heart. (See also: “Who am I that I should lead your people out of Egypt?”) Time is a fog, but I was pregnant with Babygirl when I first entertained the notion of homeschooling, so the Bug wasn’t […]}

http://bugandbabygirl.com/2016/03/17/homeschooling-and-why-im-glad-i-dont-have-all-the-answers/