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Why Did I Choose Homeschool?

I see articles all the time called “Reasons Why You Should Homeschool”.  But I’m not here to tell you why YOU should homeschool.

Instead, I want to tell you why I homeschool.  Maybe some of these reasons will resonate with you.  But some of them might now.  Some people homeschool for one reason…whatever it may be, that one reason is enough for them.  Others, like myself, homeschool for MANY reasons.

A lot of homeschoolers site religious reasons as why they choose to homeschool.  And while that is important to us and our homeschool day centers around our faith, religious reasons are more of a “perk” of homeschooling and not one of the initial reasons why we chose to homeschool in the first place.

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Why Do I Homeschool?  My Reasons for Choosing Home Education

This article originally appeared on Saving Toward A Better Life – my non-homeschool blog – before I had a homeschool blog.  Some moderations have been made.

Number 1  – Common Core is scary.

Early on, naysayers of Common Core were considered nuts, paranoid, annoying, uneducated and probably some other words I can’t think of at the moment.

We were told “It’s just a set of standards.”

But I think truth is coming to light.  Please be aware of what’s going on.  From data mining our children, inappropriate sex education, “teaching to the test”, complicating math, endless hours of homework, to shorter recesses and eliminating arts and music.  I could link to hundreds or articles.  I could talk about it all day.  But none of it is good!  (I have many teacher friends and MOST of them very much dislike Common Core.)

Number 2 – Socialization

You’re probably thinking, “Wait…what?  Isn’t socialization one of the arguments against homeschooling?” 

That is the go-to response from people who have no idea what homeschooling really is.  “But what about socialization?”   Because if your child doesn’t go to public school he’s going to be a weirdo.

Honestly, the idea that grouping a bunch of emotionally-immature same-aged children together and insisting that they’re learning appropriate social skills from each other is about as antiquated as believing that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

That is to say, it’s been proven time again to not be so.  “Mean girls”, bullies, school shooters, hazing, children committing suicide, self esteem issues, teen pregnancy, peer pressure and drug use are the results of “public school socializing”.

If you think I’m only pointing to extreme examples, fine.  Just look at the day-to-day examples.  With rigorous class schedules and curriculum schedules and little time for recess, short lunches and rules against talking during class, in the halls and even at lunch, when do they get to “socialize”?

Instead my son is being socialized with peers, older children, adults and role models of my choosing, or at the very least my discretion.  This includes numerous church activities, our local homeschool co-op group, families with whom we share like-minded beliefs, play dates and field trips with other homeschoolers, as well as 6-10 hours of karate training each week.  Our social calendar is full.  We have time for more “socialization” opportunities than if he went to school for 30 hours a week with an additional 10 hours of homework.

Number 3 – More relaxed learning

Public school has become a 40+ hour work week for kids.  It shouldn’t be that way.  (At the time of originally writing these reasons) My son would be a little more than halfway through kindergarten if I had sent him on to public school.  At a rate of 40 hours a week all he would have to show for it is that he is halfway through kindergarten.

But because of choosing to homeschool and being to evaluate his level and tailor his learning to him and him alone, in half the time (roughly 20 hours of school a week – and that’s really pushing it, it’s really more like only 15 hours of school a week) he is almost halfway through 1st grade.  We are by no means looking to rush through school.  But why hold him back if he’s perfectly capable of doing the work?

Homeschooling is more school, more learning, in less time….but still at a relaxed pace.

Number 4 – The thought of going to school made my child anxious

At 5 years old, my child panicked if someone mentioned how excited he must be that he would get to go to school soon.   I don’t know why.  Even though homeschooling had been on our minds for a while, we never spoke of school around him.  And had been in daycare as an infant and toddler,  and went to half-day preschool as a 3 and 4 year old.

But he was terrified about going to school.  And I do not subscribe to the theory of “just send him and he’ll adjust.”  Why should I if I don’t have to?  Why would I WANT to cause him more agitation and anxiety.  (Since originally writing this, my son, now 8, has made improvements by leaps and bounds in his social anxiety issues.  But he did it in HIS TIME.  Not because I shoved him through the door of a school at 5 years old)

Number 5 – My boy is all boy

That is to say, he is active and wiggly.  He can’t sit in a chair to save his life (he stands at the kitchen table during 80% of his school work).  When he’s excited about something he can’t contain his enthusiasm.  And if he wants to “talk it out” he’ll pop if you don’t let him.

If you add that to reasons 3 and 4 above you’ll get reason #6:

Number 6 – I wanted my child’s first educational experiences to be positive.

I know there are some really wonderful teachers out there.  But then there are ones that aren’t.  And I hear stories from parents of public school kids of the years their child gets a teacher that just doesn’t mesh with their personality or their learning style.  With so many children in one classroom and no child exactly like the others, I know it’s hard to cater to each personality.

Bug loves to learn, always has.  I wanted him to be challenged academically at his level, to not be anxious, and to have the freedom to be him.  I feared him being labeled a problem child because he can’t sit in a desk, always refrain from blurting out, or has to bounce up and down because he’s so excited to answer a question.  After all, he’s barely 6.  Those skills will come with age.

For now, the most important thing is that he loves to learn.  And I didn’t want a bad first year at school experience to squash that.

And finally Number 7 – The most important reason we chose to homeschool

Homeschooling is right for our family.

I understand that homeschooling is not right for every family.  But I have a feeling it may be right for more families than actually do it.  Many families tend to dismiss the idea without giving it real thought because they feel they are unqualified, don’t have enough patience, or think it’s too hard.

Let me let you in on a little secret…

We all start out unqualified.  Seriously.  Homeschooling is one of those things you just have to jump in feet first and learn as you go along.  I don’t care if you have a college degree.  You are no more or no less qualified to homeschool as the mom with 2 semesters of junior college under her belt (that would be me by the way…)   It’s a learning process for everyone.

None of us have enough patience.  But we have the Grace of God.  And on those days when it feels like the patience is gone, we lean more on God to get us through…and he does.  And every day is new.  And once you learn your rhythm and what works for your family, you’ll find the patience testing times fewer and farther between.

And it is hard.  But it is twice as rewarding as it is hard.

I would love to hear your reasons for homeschooling, your thoughts or any of your comments below!

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Should You Teach Cursive Handwriting to Your Kids

Should you teach your child cursive

Should you teach cursive handwriting to your kids?

I could just say YES and be done with this entire post.  But I guess I’ll elaborate.

So what are the reasons for teaching your children cursive?

 

  • Historical Documents are all written in cursive.
    Do we want a generation of people who are unable to read original historical documents?
  • Important family documents may also be written in cursive.
    Notes in the family bible, letters great-grandpa wrote home during the war, your great-aunt’s famous cornbread recipe – probably all written in cursive.  What good is it passing these mementos down to our children if they can’t read them?
  • Taking notes is quicker in cursive.
    I take notes every Sunday during church.  They’re all in cursive and pretty much everything else I write is print.
  • Research shows that writing in cursive uses a part of our brain we don’t normally use.
    And I’m a firm believer that if you don’t use something you’ll lose it.  So I’m all for exercising as many parts of our brain as possible!
  • You have to know cursive to have a signature.
    Signatures are as unique as you are.  Without cursive, you’ll never have a signature.  And there are some pretty important things that require a signature – driver’s license, marriage certificate, legal papers, financial papers, etc.
  • It’s a fine motor skill.
    Meaning, the sooner your child starts practicing it the sooner his fine motor skills will be honed.
  • And probably a lot of other reasons….

Ready to start teaching cursive?

Download FREE cursive handwriting worksheets on Educents!

So, WHEN should start teaching cursive?

Well, I say it’s never to late to start!  I went to private school and I started learning in 1st grade.  I think that’s a good age to start.  I know some people teach their children cursive before they teach them print!  That’s okay too!

BigG is in 2nd grade right now and we started cursive on his first day of 2nd grade.  Full disclosure though, he’s 1st grade age – he skipped Kindergarten last year – so he’s the same age I was when I learned.  That’s one of the reasons I held off last year when we started 1st grade.  I wanted his maturity level a little higher before we started – getting him to write anything last year was a hair-pulling ordeal   Shortly before we finished our year last year, he saw a cursive book and said, “When are we going to start doing that?”  And I said 2nd grade.  And he said, “Oh, but I want to do it NOW!”  He was really excited about it.  I had to fend him off the last couple weeks of school because he realllllly wanted to start Cursive.  On our last day of 1st grade I showed him his name.  He practiced it all.summer.long.  And talked all summer about how he was going to learn cursive in 2nd grade!

So go figure, I guess I could’ve started last year!

So I guess the moral of the story is to start teaching them when you feel like they are ready.  If it’s not working, shelve it for 3-6 months and try again!

Handwriting Resources for Kids

Are you an educator or parent who wants to spend time teaching your kids how to write in cursive? If so, these resources from Educents will make it a lot easier and FUN to learn cursive. Super Cursive Freebie - Educents Blog

Web Learning Resources for Kids

Online learning is becoming even more important for the next generations. Educents also has affordable resources that helps children develop their typing and coding skills.
Writing Programs - Educents Blog

  • Learn to Mod with Minecraft – Did you know kids can learn how
    to code by modifying (or “modding”) Minecraft®? Kids learn how to code in Java® and apply it to Minecraft® themed problems!
  • The WriteWell App– A simple and intuitive web-based tool that makes writing fun and effective. With its unique visual and tactile interface and library of interactive essay templates, WriteWell is a convenient tool for teachers and students at home or in the classroom.
  • Handwriting Worksheet Wizard – StartWrite helps teachers, homeschoolers, and parents create handwriting lessons quickly and easily. This program saves hours in lesson preparation time, yet allows you to easily create fun, meaningful worksheet to teach handwriting.

What do you think?

Will you, are you or did you teach your children cursive?

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Our Year-Round Homeschool Plan

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When I decided to homeschool I knew I didn’t want to follow the traditional school year but I also didn’t want a full-on year round schedule… Because everyone needs a summer break.

Our state requires 160 days of instruction between June 1 and May 31 each year. But I’m an overachiever and I want us to have 180 (36 weeks).  That’s how many days the public schools are in session, so we can do the same.

So I sat down with a calendar and devised a plan that (I think) is perfect!  If you’re looking for something “in the middle” of year round and traditional school, see if this plan works for you!

  • It starts the first full week after July 4th week.
    It’s so ridiculously hot here by late July and into August that we’re staying inside and trying to keep cool anyway.  Might as well do school!
  • We school in 4 week blocks with a one week break until Christmas.
    The break 1 week breaks fall perfectly in line with the week our local schools start back (always fun to take a week off when everyone else is having to go back), the week of my son’s birthday, and Thanksgiving.
    If Labor Day Week is a big deal to you (vacations etc), you can do a 3 week/5 week split because the 4 week blocks have a break the week after Labor Day as the off week.  I’ve scheduled just Labor Day as an off day because we’ll be swimming at my in-law’s house.  We will make up that day the week before Christmas.
    The week of Christmas (for 2015) we will school 2 days.  One to make up for Labor Day and one to make up for not going back until the Tuesday after New Year’s.  This is the beginning of your 20th week of school.  So by Christmas, you’ll have 19 1/2 weeks of school finished.
    Each year, based on when Christmas and New Year’s fall, you’ll probably find yourself dividing the last week before Christmas and the first week back on different days (just as long as the # before and the # after equal 5 – you’re good!)  And once or twice every few years, you won’t have to split a week.
    This year we are schooling until December 22nd (Christmas is Friday the 25th).  And will start back on January 5th.  This works for our family.  You may find that you want more time before Christmas.  If so, just don’t school any days the week of Christmas.  You can make them up by schooling a couple days the week after (between Christmas and New Year’s) or just tack them on at the end of the year.
  • After Christmas we school in 6 week blocks with one week breaks.
    The weather is so foul in January and February that I would rather buckle down and do extra weeks in favor of being finished earlier in May when the weather is MUCH better!
    This means we are most likely schooling during the public school’s Spring Break.  But that’s fine with us.  Our “Spring Break” will be the week after the school’s.  Meaning we can go to all our favorite “fun spots” and they won’t be crowded with kids on Spring Break.  😉
  • The school year ends the second week of May.  This is your 36th week.  Plus, since our state requires x number of days by May 31st, this leaves us wiggle room if something happens – spontaneous vacation during a scheduled school week, illness that knocks us out for more than a day or two, etc.  We have 2 more full weeks at the end of the year if we need the make up days.
  • If all goes according to schedule we are off for 8 weeks for “summer”.  This is the 3rd & 4th week of May and all of June, and one week of July.  All together that’s 8 weeks!

I like this because it’s simple (at least to me it is).   I just have to keep up with what week it is.  I don’t have to worry about counting days because we have 3 days some weeks and 4 another.  Plus, we’re using Sonlight (on the 5 day schedule) and they do such a good job of wrapping up the week on the 5th day that it just makes sense to do Mon-Fri schooling.  So we’re not stopping in the middle of something on Thursday that we don’t pick back up until the following Tuesday.

How can you figure this up for yourself?  Easy!

  1. Go to print-a-calendar.com or printfree.com and print out the calendars for the year.
  2. Write out a list of important dates.  Holidays you know you won’t want to school, birthdays, planned vacations, etc.
  3. Grab a highlighter.yearplan1
  4. Go through the calender highlighting 4 weeks and skipping one week between.  See if this conicides with dates you want to take off.
  5. Figure out your Christmas split.  Add up your weeks.  (Should be 19 full weeks by this point)
  6. Highlight 6 weeks, skipping one week through the second week of May.  (This should add up to 36 total weeks).

Your results should look a little something like this:

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I would love to hear how this is similar or different from your plan or if this idea works for you!