Close in Age

Close in Age

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Snow:
Dear Dubious,

I cannot speak from experience on this one. I only have 2 kids plus one on the way, and they are fairly far apart in age… What I can say is that I see families doing it and doing it well! These families have a common thread running through them… They have a vision for homeschooling! They have a plan and a purpose. They have committed themselves and their family to something that they believe in 100%. I greatly admire each of them!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Dubious,
This is a common situation with homeschooling families, so you’re not alone. As I mentioned in last week’s post, our own school experience can paralyze us a bit. We need to hearken back to the one-room schoolhouse, which none of us know about except through Little House on the Prairie. Here are a few ideas of how it works:

Grammar – we do a lot of dictation of sentences, and we start with a basic subject/verb sentence. My second grader can identify and/or diagram the basic parts of speech, and my fifth grade student adds clauses and modifiers and diagrams them. This also can serve as a handwriting exercise with the older students using cursive while the younger students print.

History – We like the Story of the World series, and I’ll read the narrative aloud to all the children, and the younger students can answer the most basic comprehension questions; the older students answer more in-depth questions. The older students can write a summary; the younger students can draw a picture and write a simple caption to summarize. I try to find
books at their level to correlate with the history we’re studying.

Science – all students can participate in a science experiment, and the older students can write up lab reports and research the scientific principles of the experiment. Younger students can dictate their results to their mom, and she can write down their findings, and they could even use this for copy work.

Dubious, you can do this!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Dubious,

I think the most overwhelming aspect of homeschooling is looking at the range the educational needs in your own home and wondering how you, the parent, can possibly serve each of your child’s specific needs. Part of the problem for me is that I am looking at modern education and using that as my model. While there are some great advancements made in education, parents have been educating their children since the beginning of time and the modern segregation by grades is a fairly new idea. Actually, it was birthed from the desire to bring education to the masses. Think: small “mom and pops” business to “corporation.” While more and more people grew in their desire to have their children educated, the sheer population of those needing education grew, which created the problem of “how to educate the masses.” Even though this was good problem to face, it does not mean that the old “style” of home education or the “one room school house” was a broken one. It just was not serving the masses, thus the breakdown of education by age.

I have five kids, but I have friends who homeschool with their 10 or 12 kids. Teaching a range of kids takes some creativity and patience. But, I actually feel that home education is more of an organic and natural approach to education. Our little “homeschool” gives my older children a chance to be reviewed on subject matter that may appear “beneath” them, but it offers them reinforcement on core elements that have become familiar, yet are essentials. My younger children overhear discussions on subjects that have not yet been introduced, but it provides them a beginning vocabulary that will eventually give way to understanding. My younger children are often reviewed by my older and sometimes my younger children review my older with vocabulary flashcards. So there is this natural flow of introduction, repetition and review.

I like to think of it this way: I can run my family through McDonalds or I can spend a little extra time, energy and focus to make them a home-cooked meal. While there is a valid need for a McDonalds style education in our fast paced world, I have chosen a home-catered education that is full of life-giving substance that gives way to a long-satisfying healthy education.

Love,
Dood

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull

Close in Age – Bull

Close in Age – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

My kids are close in age and I have a million of them. Am I setting myself up for failure to try and homeschool?

Love,
Dubious in Denver


 

Close in Age – Snow

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Close in Age – Doodle

Bull:

Dubious,

I don’t think I can say it any better than Dood, so I’ll just summarize her key points in Bull lingo:

1) Don’t compare apples to oranges. Your school will be different than the factory model. It will look and function differently. And that’s good, because I doubt your true goal is to recreate the public school system at home. So, I think the first thing you need to do is determine, “What are your goals?”

2) Then, establish a routine and stick with it. With a little forethought and preparation, productivity abounds. Without it, days can be lost to good intentions. In the early stages of home-schooling, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities: uber-smart, obedient children, well-disciplined teens brimming with maturity, and young adults filled with the character to choose wisely. All of these accomplishments are possible, but not without a lot of hard work on your part. Your part comes first, so focus on it first.

3) Recognize and accept that there are sacrifices. We’ve talked about this before, but you can’t maintain a model showroom home, cook every meal from scratch, linger over long lunches with friends, indulge in weekly mani-pedi’s AND oversee a high functioning home-school. Educating your children is a job and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t keep any job for long that you only attended to occasionally. Give it your best — it’s a deserving profession.

I hope you’ll choose home-cooked over McDonald’s. I’m certain you can and that it will be the most satisfying “meal” you’ll ever choose. Bon appetit!

Bull

Spacing

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Love,
Confused in Cleveland


 

Bull:
Dear Confused,

Three things instantly come to mind: develop an efficient schedule, treat it like the Holy Grail, and give those kids jobs. As for your schedule, put the most important subjects at the top of the list. What are the most important subjects? Heck, I don’t know – that’s your call! If you want me to start bossing you around, which is something I usually reserve for my closest pals, I’m going to have to charge something. So, let’s get back to the free stuff. When you’ve developed a schedule that works for you, stick to it. You don’t have time to waste, so don’t waste any! Stay off the phone, the computer, the TV, and allow your wisely-devised schedule to work for you. Then, give your kids a job. Your olders can certainly lend a hand with grunt work. Have them check the youngers’ math facts, administer spelling tests, listen to read-alouds. The thought of passing the buck on read-alouds make me g-g-g-g-giddy! ;)

Bull

Snow:

Dear Confused in Cleveland,

Take Bull’s advice! Schedule, jobs, pass the buck… Sounds like a plan!
Spacing Day 2

My girls are 5 grades apart but we do more together than you would think. Anything that is on audio, we listen to together, mostly because we do that in the car, and they are trapped like mice! I have them read to each other, too. I have a schedule where I get one started with something and send them on their way. Then, I get the next one started on a subject. I juggle having them work on the things they can do independently while the other is doing the subject they need me to teach. I alternate back and forth. If I had more than 2 kids, I imagine it would work similarly. The older they get, the more I see them being independent for longer amounts of time. This all helps with my one goal in life: an uninterrupted shower!.

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Hyacinth:

Dear Confused,

Fear not! I suspect you are picturing yourself as if you are a classroom teacher, so the task seems physically, mentally, and hormonally impossible. Remember, homeschooling is a different animal – you aren’t delivering lectures all day. Ideally, homeschool students become independent learners; you’ll get your student started, but you should expect him to complete his work with minimal intervention (over time).

One of my friends with six children spends a good deal of time helping her kids to become early readers, then when they are in the older elementary years, they can soar independently. They are immersed in great books, and probably because of this, they are all wonderfully creative and accomplished. Many people find that their oldest child has a way of snagging all of mom’s time, but my friend makes sure she pours the most time into those early readers so they can work independently later.

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Spacing – Bull

Spacing – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have kids far apart, how do I teach them all?

Love,
Confused in Cleveland


 

Bull:
Dear Confused,

Three things instantly come to mind: develop an efficient schedule, treat it like the Holy Grail, and give those kids jobs. As for your schedule, put the most important subjects at the top of the list. What are the most important subjects? Heck, I don’t know – that’s your call! If you want me to start bossing you around, which is something I usually reserve for my closest pals, I’m going to have to charge something. So, let’s get back to the free stuff. When you’ve developed a schedule that works for you, stick to it. You don’t have time to waste, so don’t waste any! Stay off the phone, the computer, the TV, and allow your wisely-devised schedule to work for you. Then, give your kids a job. Your olders can certainly lend a hand with grunt work. Have them check the youngers’ math facts, administer spelling tests, listen to read-alouds. The thought of passing the buck on read-alouds make me g-g-g-g-giddy! ;)

Bull

Read Snow’s thoughts tomorrow, May 16th…

Hyacinth shares her perspective on Thursday, May 17th…

What’s the fuss about learning styles? – Day 1

What’s the fuss about learning styles? – Day 1

Brain Trust,

Dear BT,

My kids are so different; do I need to find different ways to teach them?

Love,
Learning Styles in Lincoln


 

Bull:

Dear Learning Styles in Lincoln,

Sure, if you have the time and desire, why not? But I wouldn’t say you need to unless your child is incapable of learning otherwise. I use a variety of methods when teaching my children — not playing to their preferences so much as trying to strengthen what is taught by involving different parts of the brain. I see a lot of value in fulfilling our children’s needs, but not so much in catering to their desires.

Bull

Reda Snow’s thoughts tomorrow, May 8th…

Hyacinth shares her perspective on Wednesday, May 9th…

Doodle wraps it up on Thursday, May 10th…

I’m too crabby to homeschool! – Day 2

Brain Trust,

I don’t think I have enough patience to homeschool….my kids drive me crazy, is this a problem?

Love,
Impatient Patty


 

Bull:

Dear Crabby Patty,

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Patty: Every one’s kids drive them up the wall from time to time. It’s just as God planned it. Our children are reflections of us… the good, the bad, and the ugly. The fact that they drive you crazy is even more of a reason to home-school them! Roll up your sleeves, Patty, and get busy shaping the character of your little angels so that they don’t spend the rest of their lives driving the rest of us crazy. You can do it!

Bull

Click here to read Hyacinth’s encouraging words from yesterday!

Snow weighs in tomorrow, May 2nd…

Doodle wraps it up on Thursday, May 3rd…

Hubby’s Role – Day 1

Hubby’s Role – Day 1

Brain Trust,

What is the role of your husband in your homeschool?

Love,
The Mrs.


 

Bull:

Dear Mrs.,

He’s the “principal,” which means when I’m one smart-alec comment away from putting their sorry tails on the bus, he lowers the hammer and makes everything right again. He likes to remind me from time to time that he bankrolls the operation, which he does, but I make that possible by not charging the going rate for my services. It works for us.

Bull

Stay tuned in days to come to read what the other Braintrust members have to say about the role their husbands play in their homeschool!

Hear from Snow on Tuesday, April 24th…

Doodle shares her experience on Wednesday, April 25th…

Hyacinth weighs in on Thursday April 26th…

How do you people do it all? – Day 4

Brain Trust,

I need to know how veteran homeschool mamas do it all: schooling, groceries, house chores, keep order, and still have energy past 3pm? Help!

Needing a nap,
Tired


 

Bull:

Dear Tired,

Excellent advice by my partners in crime, but here’s my modus operandi: Which items on the list can be accomplished by family members?

Cha-Ching!

I’ve found that shirking as much responsibility as possible keeps me sane. Start with your least favorite job (cleaning toilets) and continue farming them out (cooking) until you get to a manageable load. I call this “school service” and give credit as an elective on the transcripts. You’ve got to work smarter, not harder, or you’ll never get to the veteran stage of home-education.

Bull

Read what Bull’s “partners in crime” said earlier this week:

Hyacinth
Doodle
Snow