Monday, July 29, 2013

Don't Bite Off More Than U Chew


The first thing I had to do when I decided to homeschool a year ago was to CALM DOWN. I wanted to stuff so many things into this adventure with my then 15yr old 10th grader that she had to tell me to 'cut it out'.


There were so many homeschool options to consider that I changed my mind about 6 times in the first few weeks of deciding to pursue it. I went from an online school (KeyStone, Bridgeway and Wilostar3D) to DVD schools (Calvert, Abeka, Bob Jones) to hands on eclectic. Also, I was so elective heavy that I'd be spending tons of money and time carting the kids to this activity and that.


After my daughter gave me a reality check. I sat back and wondered what I needed in order to manage my time homeschooling her. What she wanted to accomplish in the end (college or trade school) and what we could do realistically.

So we started by enrolling her in the local Community College. She got tested and tested in honors Math and English. That summer she took 2 classes, Sociology and English (her favorite subjects). She aced them.

In the fall she only wanted to take 1 Community College class (we used the summer classes and this course for Dual Credit). We selected a DVD based course with Great Courses, BUT that meant I had to give the assignments and test for the subject matter (a time when I BIT MORE than I could chew). That was a disaster and cost me many Saturday nights with little or no sleep while I created test and assignments for those 3 classes.


It took me awhile to really evaluate what was doable for our family of 2 working parents and soon to be 2 homeschooling kids in Elementary and Middle School. I found that with me working outside the home I certainly did not want to piece together a curriculum. It would cost me too much of my limited time and would make it difficult for my husband to facilitate when I wasn't home.

I found that having 2 working parents, a boxed DVD curriculum that came with lesson plans, books, dvd and used me only as the facilitator worked best for me and the kids.


After the hard lesson of over doing it with flipping from one curriculum to the next, I learned to be willing to stop a downhill spiral a lot earlier. Looking back, I should've done this with my older daughter, but because I was unwilling to change direction, I gave up a lot of sleep to finish it.


I had to realize that no curriculum is perfect - not even one I put together myself. But as long as I have the basis for a good and well rounded one, my kids will benefit.


Friday, July 26, 2013

When it is ALL Worth It!

Today I wanted to jump for joy! My daughter, the 7th grader, told me that she is learning more from mommy homeschooling her than she ever learned in her middle school. Then she hugged me. All this while I was showing her how to do a science test (produced by my boxed curriculum I use).

It's times like these where working a day gig at the crack of dawn, and foregoing afterwork happy hours to rush home to teach my children makes it all worth it.

My husband and partner in teaching works late in the afternoon til night to go over the kids homework as well as facilitate lessons but he does it without complaint.

So when you want to just dive into the bed and not come out until you are dragged out - just remember why we are doing this.

So if you are a FRUGAL HOMESCHOOLER looking for FREE Curriculums, check out this site:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summer School for Homeschoolers

Yes, SUMMER SCHOOL is a dreaded title for learning through the summer. But it works for a Working and Homeschooling parent as a way to keep a manageable weekly schedule and keep the learning going.


We took a small summer break, well not that small, but it ran from May 18th til July 15th. It's the same short break that my older kids who are in Community College took since they too are taking summer classes.

Also, taking a month or two off gives me time to research curriculum, close out paperwork due to my Umbrella group for oversite and purchase curriculum for the coming year. I had the time to organize my coming school calender and do some great summer camps for the kids to tackle that 'Socialization' issue.


Starting in July afforded the kids a time for playing around and just hanging out in late May and all of June. You can sneak in a hands on field trip but call it a day trip for the kids. Since I work, most of our day trips are on the weekend and I let the kids select the location and friends they want to meet and play with.

By starting in mid summer we are able to do 4 day school weeks. However, this year, I snuck in a 5 day school week and then we will slip down to 4 days in October.

The weekends for us is for catching up, or making up a school day I couldn't get in on the weekday. Also for projects like our Science Discovery day looking for bugs or building a project, doing an experiment.


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

How this busy Working Mom Homeschools

It can be done.

Yes, working outside the home with your spouse and homeschooling is a creative and doable endeavor. But it's not for the faint at heart.


I have to be honest, I wasn't on board with homeschooling --ever before. I have four kids, two of which completed their education at various schools both private and public.

My youngest two kids started with public school and were later transferred to private schools.
Then, a major hiccup happened. My youngest son had been having major problems in school with bullying from teachers and peers. One teacher even physically harmed him. He started suffering from depression - mainly exhibited at school. Then we moved him to private school. He did pretty well but moving him up to the 4th grade in this school proved difficult since the teacher he would have would've been a terrible fit for him, but she was the only teacher that taught that grade.

Meanwhile, I started homeschooling my 10th grade daughter who'd been in the gifted and talented track in public school since elementary. We'd moved and the high school she would have to attend had many problems. So after research I presented the pros/cons of homeschooling to her and asked her if she wanted to try it out. She was thrilled with the control she had in her education, and we enrolled her into a Community College and an Umbrella oversight group which allowed her to use her college classes for dual credit. Also, she was still able to have a prom, dances, teen parties through our Co-op. It worked so well I ended up graduating her from homeschool high school after 1 year and 24 credits at the college.


It wasn't until I graduated my 16yr old, after 1 year of homeschooling I felt confident I could do it for my younger two kids while working. My husband and I realized that for us, we needed order.

- We flipped flopped our work schedules so most days someone is home and able to school the 4th and 7th grader we had.

- We hired a nanny/tutor to conduct school for us 2 days a week when our schedules didn't agree. Also, it was great when my Mother In Law retired and offered to do 1 of those days. In addition we found 2 daycares that will allow drop ins for our kids if we have to have backup care.

- We selected an out of the box Online/DVD based curriculum that had everything spelled out - making it easy for 3 different people to conduct school. Also, we figured we'd stick to the curriculum similar to the one in traditional school since we plan to give our kids a choice to return to traditional school each year.

- We homeschool starting in the summer and doing it only 4 days or evenings  a week (even weekends) if we have to. And I create a weekly calendar posted on the refrigerator for everyone to know what the family schedule is.

- We use a system similar to the workbox method (we augmented it for our family a bit) and everyone knows where to find what.


It's not easy. But it's worth it when I see that my kids want to continue learning after their 3 to 4 hrs a day class time with mom or dad. It takes a lot of organization on my part, which I do every Sunday evening. And doing it alone (especially with younger children) can be stressful, lucky for my husband is a great help.