Monday, November 4, 2019

My Homeschooling Adventure in Maryland


Homeschooling in Maryland

As a Maryland homeschooling parent, I was rather intimidated by the rules of the state. I’d first stumbled upon Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and researched the legal requirements for homeschooling in Maryland. I was concerned that it was one of the most restrictive states for homeschooling.

THE RULES
The state has the overarching rules:
·       Contact the superintendent of schools for your county to notify them that you are planning to homeschool your child. (See list of Superintendent here: http://marylandpublicschools.org/about/pages/school-systems/superintendents.aspx )
o   Do 15 days before planning to withdraw student from school
o   Use form for your county listed here: MD Homeschool Notification Forms by District (https://homeschoolstatelaws.com/2017/03/20/maryland-homeschool-notification-forms/ )
·       There is a law regarding attendance and instruction that has to be followed and is verified by a local school system or supervisor.
o   This is where the student can use what’s called an Umbrella school to serve as that supervisor. Here is a list of Umbrella Schools and Supervising entities: http://nonpublicschoolsdb.marylandpublicschools.org/nonpublic/home_instruction/DisplayLocationsByCounty.asp
o   The parent can have scheduled documentation review with the state employed supervisor that reviews and validates student is getting instruction
·       Check the HSLDA website that outlines various options: https://hslda.org/content/hs101/MD.aspx

OTHER RESOURCES
Maryland has many different counties. Each county supports homeschoolers differently. In Anne Arundel County where we used to live there was a large amount of support from the school board who had one person that managed homeschoolers.

Maryland libraries, museums, gyms and more have homeschooling events.

Unfortunately, as a homeschooling student, kids aren’t allowed to participate in public school sports or extra-curricular activities. However, the superintendent will notify their homeschooling families of certain opportunities that will accommodate homeschooled students.

Here is a list of other support for Maryland Homeschoolers:
·       Maryland Homeschool Organizations and Support Groups - https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-in-maryland/homeschool-organizationssupport-groups/ 
·       HomeSchooling in MD – HSLDA - https://www.hslda.org/hs/state/MD/ 
·       Maryland Homeschool Association  - http://www.mdhsa.com/  
·       Maryland Homeschool Resource Network - http://www.mhrn.com/ 
·       Maryland Home Education Association (MHEA) - http://www.mhea.com/ 
·       Hand In Hand Homeschool - http://www.handinhandhomeschool.com/

MY EXPERIENCES

As a Maryland homeschooling family, we decided to homeschool using an Umbrella school. We searched the few offered and found one that was mostly hands off, but had quarterly events for the homeschooled kids and documentation training and review. Many Paths of Natural Learning accepted home educators that taught their kids in many ways. They acted as an advocate for many of us and provided a wealth of support for the small fee they charged. My kids got to participate in a graduation and other events sponsored by the Umbrella school.

Maryland has a large group of homeschooling families of so many variations. My family had two working parents, other families we’ve befriended were single parents, and many more.



Monday, October 7, 2019

My Homeschooling Adventures in Hawaii



My homeschool journey took us from Maryland to Hawaii. I can say, Hawaii was less restrictive than Maryland and only requires the parent sends in a letter of intent to the school they would attend and send the record of their standardized testing every other year to that school. Hawaii offers opportunities for a family that many states don’t simply because of its beautiful beaches, places to explore and outdoor lifestyle. It is easy to make the location part of your child’s education. There is a limited amount of organized homeschool groups that coordinate, likely because there are so many things to do to keep a family occupied through summer and winter months, but the community is open to someone taking the reins and joining in. There are quite a few Facebook groups that were created that share meetups and field trips various people are planning.

THE RULES

The state has the overarching rules:

·       Start with the Hawaii State Department of Education Questions and Answers about Homeschooling: http://www.hawaiipublicschools.org/ParentsAndStudents/EnrollingInSchool/Choosingaschool/Pages/Homeschooling-FAQs.aspx

·       Send form or letter stating intent to homeschool to Principle at the school your child would be attending – keep a mail receipt for your records (OCISS Form 4140: www.hawaiipublicschools.org/DOE%20Forms/Enrollment/Exceptions4140.pdf ) You will need to send a letter when your child is moving from elementary to middle school and then from middle school to high school.

o   If issuing a letter make sure to have child’s Name, address, phone number, date of birth, grade, signature of both parents, and date signature (having it notarized is helpful)

·       You should receive the letter back with a ‘acknowledged’ stamp on the bottom signed by the Principle.

·       Hawaii states that the parents are qualified to teach their child.

·       Send Test scores for grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. Your student can go to the local public school for testing – but, they don’t have to, you can submit test results from any standardized testing provider.

OTHER RESOURCES

Hawaii has some great resources that can assist a parent who likes the idea of homeschooling but wants aspects of public school. There charter schools that are online two days a week and in class three days a week. There are also co-ops and Tutorials available. However, there are no Umbrella schools available.

Charter Schools with blended learning online class two days and three days in school: These schools are like public schools and do not require a letter of intent or form if your student attends.


MY EXPERIENCES

Hawaii is very transient. There are a lot of military families that come and go in this area that homeschool their children while being stationed in Hawaii due to the beauty and experience here. However, that means that there are many programs and field trip co-ops that start up by eager parents that are not maintained by any group or organization. In this environment, if you want your child to meet and socialize with other kids, signing them up for camps, sports recreational leagues and other activities for their interest works best for building friendships.



Monday, September 23, 2019

We Survived The First Month of School - Barely!


MY SON INSIST ON DRESSING NICE FOR COLLEGE DAYS

Here's a long awaited update of our homeschooling journey which includes Community College courses, homeschool classes, and online University courses.

Madness I know, yet my highly active, high energy kid keeps rising to the challenge (with some nagging and oversight for accountability by mom).


OVERVIEW OF HIS SCHEDULE
Parental Support: Review and validate homework before he turns it in. Gives him accountability measures and boundaries.

Monday: Read Physics chapter, create notes in Quizlet for studying, review notes on Quizlet with a practice test. Do reading for his four online college classes. He usually ask me to review his discussion post before he submits them. Mom gets home from work, I read his discussion post, give him the okay to turn it in. Then he plays video games or watch movies until really late at night.
Activity: Martial Arts

Tuesday: He sleeps til 11am. Goes to Community College Physics Lab class, then the homework help center and to tutoring. Physics online class he does the discussion and the homework problems at the homework help lab. He takes the bus to his friends high school and hangs out there while his friend finishes practice, then catches a ride home with his buddy. My husband scoops him up from his friend's house.
Activity: Go to the Gym with Dad and Sister

Wednesday: He finishes the discussion post (usually 2 to 3 paragraphs with 2 references) for each of his online University classes (Project Management, Telecommunications, Systems Analysis and Design, and American Society Sociology). Quizlet study of Physics terms and problems. Dad checks his progress, if he isn't progressing, his weekend plans are usually on the line. No fun on the weekend until work is done. Also, dad takes his cellphone until progress is made. This doesn't happen much but it is the rule in our house.
Activity: Go to Youth Service and Bible Study

Thursday: Draft papers or do projects for University classes. Quizlet study of Physics terms and problems. If he is having problems with papers, he sends email to professor or post on the online board. Then ask mom or dad to help.
Activity: Go to the Gym with Dad and Sister

Friday: Finish papers and all assignments for course. If he isn't finished but has something he wants to do, he has to explain why and it has to be at least 80% done. We check to make sure, then he will do the work on Saturday morning. All his online University work has to be done by Saturday night - the school requires its turned in by Sunday.
Activity: Martial Arts or BreakDance practice
Activity: Hang out with friends

Saturday: All work done and turned into online courses (mom or dad reviews his work and the quality, give him the okay to turn it in, if it's not good, he has to fix it).
Activity: Go to flying lessons or social justice group. Hang out with friends

Sunday: No work, just church and relax


WORK and HOME BALANCE
Working and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: I've had to change up what I cook. No pastas, no potato, no starch. Oh my! I've basically have delegated dinner to the other kids for 2 days and I am prepping 3 days. Crock pot and oven meals are where it's at for us. We've been doing well - this month.

HOUSE CLEANING: My son who now has tons of activities with his friend has been doing a great job of doing his chores (so he can go hang out with his friends). My youngest daughter cleans on the weekend. However, my room is still unkempt, our clothes need to be washed, so we actually had to go to the laundry mat to catch up on washing clothes. Yes, it's been one of those weeks. Overall, the house is okay, not spotless, but you can find a place to sleep and it smells good (lots of air fresh and essential oils)

LESSON PLANNING: My son request that I give him a weekly schedule and I still have had to send daily reminders (kids!).

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: Well I've basically overrun our date night and my husband and I left the kids home to go out to dinner and a movie. He kidnapped me I think, ha!

SELF CARE: I have been getting my nap time in you know. Thirty minutes to two hours, whatever I need and when I need it. I just tell my son to wake me up in an hour.



Thursday, September 12, 2019

Keeping House Clean As a Busy Mom


HOW TO PULL OFF A CLEAN HOUSE WITH 
LITTLE KIDS


My number one strategy for keeping a clean house when our children were little was, limiting where they were able to roam. They only had one room that was their domain, and that was THE PLAYROOM. 

PLAYROOM: We had a small house, but we realized that we needed to designate an area where our kids would have their toys, things they played with, and that place had rules.

Coral The Kids

When kids are small and you are a homeschooling and working parent, there is little time for cleaning the entire house. We had to find a way to coral the kids into only a few areas in the house so we had to only clean two rooms daily. The kids rooms they played in was the Playroom (our former living room or dining room). We would be in that room with the kids and if we were working while they wanted to play or watch television, it would be in that room. We would take our laptop and either watch what we wanted on our laptop or tablet, do work, or read.  

The bedroom was only for sleeping and there were no toys in the bedroom besides what toy they wanted to go take to bed with them.

In the bathroom, they had their own shelf where they were taught to put their stuff.

The kitchen was for eating, snacking, and there was a small TV in there that they could watch if there was a show they just had to see while snacking. They couldn't watch television during lunch or dinner though.

Playroom (or Family Room) Rules

This is the kids domain. They need to have one and we gave up a living room and sometimes a dining room for them to have this space. As parents we hung out in the playroom with them. We just learned to tune out their play if we weren't actively playing with them. They also were responsible for helping us clean it as soon as they could walk and carry their own toys they learned to put them in the bins. Truthfully, they were cleaner as children than as teenagers.

-There is only one room for playing with toys, doing art, watching TV and looking at devices for entertainment
-No food in the playroom
-No drinking in the playroom without a top on bottle, sip cup
-Organization of types of toys in toy box with lid and bookcase
-Limit the amount of toys and do an overhaul monthly if needed to donate old toys
-Every night before bed is the sing the 'Clean Up' song and put the toys away




Thursday, September 5, 2019

There is an Independent Learner in Every Child


 MY TIPS AND TRIPS to RAISING AN INDEPENDENT LEARNER




MY METHODS


I believe in giving my children a challenge and watching, observing how they respond to it so I can figure out how they best are 'sparked' into the hunger for that topic.

Kids love playing games, challenges, and rewards. I created these scenarios with them at various times by giving them something to 'hunt' for within a chosen topic.

MOTIVATING LEARNING THROUGH ADVENTURES


We used the Sue Patrick Workbox Method to keep us organized. Also, to allow my child to go to one place for their assignments, turning in their work, and letting me know when they needed help. This was an invaluable training resource for their INDEPENDENCE at a young age.

SCAVENGER HUNTS

Creating learning and topical scavenger hunts for information is a really good way to stir up additional and directed learning curiosity. Allowing the child to use whatever source, method or type of research material to gather the pieces to the puzzle for their learning really solidifies the topic. My kids did this a lot with HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, SCIENCE and TOPICS OF THEIR CHOICE. This is a great way to add to a topic or completely teach a subject. You can get really creative with this and end in a DISCUSSION, PROJECT PRESENTATION, or a SHOW AND TELL of their findings.

RESEARCH ASSIGNMENTS

This assignment should include all the makings of a scientific experiment and argument building exercise. With research methods including outward discovery and even finding or coming up with solutions that are not presented within their findings. It can include a paper, artwork, a collage, and a scientific demonstration of their newfound facts. ~Make it fun ~ and validate the child's responses and retention. Make the topic something that they are interested in. Give them methods for research, analysis. Consider the outcome being *creating a game to discover the findings, a video, acting out the finding ~ do whatever you can to make it fun.

DISCOVERY MISSIONS

Discovery missions is a way of opening up a learning opportunity by sharing one piece of the study at a time and in different ways. You could experience literature by reading a comic together, then going to see the play, then watching a movie, and going to the location, creating the food for that adventure, or artifacts, or creating a room that represents that adventure, or even have your child plan the adventure to show you the way to their discovery.

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

Part of making the experience fun, is to figure out how to ask the right questions to lead your child to share, desire discovery, and to interact through the learning experience. They should be fueled by questions, that 'spark' a desire to research to find out more about their topic.


GO ON THE ADVENTURE WITH THEM

The best part of the experience, is when they are finished their discoveries, they take you on the adventure with them. Let them do it alone first, to 'map the route', then have them take you on the journey to share their methods of discovery, learning, pitfalls, and wins.


VALIDATE THE EXPERIENCE by EVALUATING THE LEARNING

Lastly, you want your child to have ownership in validating the exercise. The topic areas, the ways you can improve the experience of their learning journey for them. What they learned from it? How they responded? Did it make them more independent?

HOW DID THIS WORK FOR MY HOMESCHOOL

My kids don't want me to help them initially. They seek to work through their assignments independently first. Then when I check and review their assignments, I ask them about their responses. Then I suggest a method to use to get or confirm their answers.

WHERE DOES INDEPENDENT LEARNING BENEFIT MY CHILD

All of my children have become confident in the discovery of information to support their interest. They do ask for my advice and guidance, but usually only after they have done extensive research themselves. Most times, they just want guidance, not the answers. The answers, they love to discover for themselves.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

Surviving Homeschooling While Working




There are many circumstances that may change in a parenting journey. There are those that start homeschooling due to a desire to give their children a unique learning experience, or those that due to their child’s challenges in traditional schools, decide to take the plunge into a new world of homeschooling their kids. As a career focused parent, the consideration of homeschooling had seemed off the table of possibilities in order to maintain the home and lifestyle desired. Trying to work and balance teaching your child takes a total change of mindset about a career, school, and your family dynamics.
MINDSET CHANGE
You can survive making the transition to working and homeschooling no matter which direction you are approaching it from. If you were a stay at home parent that didn’t have to work, but now has to, you can survive this. Those working parents that can’t find the right fit for their child – you can do it. To survive first begins with the attitude that you and only you can ‘Own Your Flexibility,’ in homeschooling and working.

RESHAPING YOUR EXPECTATIONS
We have many expectations of what homeschooling is supposed to emulate. Sometimes, we forget that it doesn’t ‘have’ to be like traditional school or any other homeschool. It is a gift of learning in your own way, to shape to the needs of your family and your child. The one and only expectation one should have is that homeschooling is meant to be flexible. Usually, it isn’t because we stand in our own way. Making homeschooling and working a reality means to envelope the freedom to shape school any way you need and around when you need to redefine the way you accomplish schooling.
The first way to approach homeschooling and working a job or running a business is to be honest about your situation. There is only enough time in the day. Therefore, you need to use your time wisely. Pinpoint how much time you have during the day to hyper focus on either instruction or work review for your child. Don’t consider what you want to do with them for the day, only job down what you can do for them during the day. Total up that time within the full day for seven days out of the week. When you homeschool and work, you need to be flexible with your homeschooling time and fit it around work time. That opens up evenings, nights and weekends to doing school. Kids are usually more fluid and their ability to work within a schedule. You may also find that they actually like it when their day is changed around.

CHANGE UP STYLES AND SCHEDULES
            Most people are creatures of habits. Changing children from learning during the morning and afternoon time seems odd to the point where it isn’t even considered as an options. Schooling on the weekends is also off limits for many families, except when kids are in traditional school, homework is usually done on the weekends. The benefit of homeschooling and working is that the parent has the ability to mix up styles. Learning styles are important, but all can be used to teach within the parameters of the needs of your child and your house hold. If your child’s primary learning style is audio, they still benefit and learn by being presented with the information visually or written. Feel free to present learning in all methods depending on what the family schedule needs, but lead with the child’s preferred learning style whenever possible. In scheduling, there are quite a few popular scheduling methods. Own your freedom by using a traditional five day schedule during the time the kids are cooped up in the house for the winter, then after the holidays when they are bursting at the seams to have a break, do unschooling for a few months, then end with a Need-to-Want-to schedule. Use the various combinations of scheduling and styles of homeschooling to your benefit based on the time constraints and goals of the family.


DELEGATE OR DITCH IT
            The major area of flexibility to utilize while homeschooling is the ability to delegate a task or forget about it. In instances where you need to do yard work, house work, go to work at a job or your business, start thinking about delegating a task. If it’s a task you have to hire out, ask yourself how much money you would lose by paying someone to do something you could do. So for instance, if you are considering working full-time, but have to pay for child care, compare the cost of child-care per hour against what you make per hour. If that isn’t a good tradeoff, maybe just working part-time around your spouse’s work schedule would be a better delegation of childcare. Also, if you would take two hours to do the yard work, and a yard service would cost less than that, pay for the service. Beyond comparison, there are things you just can’t do or don’t want to do for the level of time required. In those cases, getting the kids involved to help tackle the task works by teaching them the skill and getting you help. Consider what you can’t delegate, don’t have the time to do yourself, and take a family vote to ditch it.  If cleaning the dishes everyday takes an hour you don’t have, make the investment and buy paper plates and only wash the dishes once a day.

OWN YOUR FLEXIBILITY
            When you are working and homeschooling, you survive by owning the flexibility to change all the pieces of making homeschool work, to fit you. This is the most powerful gift of homeschooling, the ability to change it to be whatever you need it to become for your family. There is no rules, no time constraints, it’s about customization of education.




Thursday, August 15, 2019

Priorities for a Working And Homeschooling Parent


EVERY TIME SOMEONE ASKED ME
HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO DO THIS?

The picture says it all. I had many, many sacrifices. I gave up surfing the internet for hours after work. I didn't go to happy hour with co-workers or friends unless my husband was working with the kids that night.

EVERY NIGHT AFTER WORK

I spent time focusing on my kids. Giving them my full attention. That meant giving up a lot, but it was fun, stressful, but worth it.

ACCOUNTABILITY

This is so important. Checking their work every day was what kept them on course. Helping them to understand the steps to researching and answering their problems, questions, and getting the right solutions.

GETTING THEM HELP

I didn't usually teach them. I knew I worked best as teacher support. We made sure we found teaching curriculum that taught the steps to our kids. Then we supported them by helping them with their homework, finding them tutors when they needed it.

PLAY WITH THEM

We used play to build our relationships with them. We used play to solidify topics and subjects they didn't understand.


THIS WAS NOT EASY, NOTHING EVER IS

I just guess to many people I made it look easy, because we truly loved every moment of homeschooling our kids, even though, we were working outside the home to do it.