Advice for Newbie

Advice for Newbie

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Doodle:

Dear Newbie,

My encouragement when you first start homeschooling is to make a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish your first year of homeschooling? Educationally? Responsibility-wise? Character-wise? I tend to be over-zealous and want to do it all. A girl can dream, can’t she? But, this is where I get in trouble and get exasperated if my ideals are too lofty.

Second, keep your first year simple. Get your core subjects worked out: math, english, history, science and reading. Most of us try and do it all in the first year. We don’t know where to stop, and this can quickly wear out a homeschool parent. Go simple. For your first year, use a tried-and-true curriculum; no need to try to invent a curriculum!

Third, attach yourself to some experienced homeschool moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. There is a plethora of resources available, so don’t get overwhelmed, but do your research. Learn homeschooling philosophies, and read, read, read.

Fourth, relax! Please know that it takes time to hit your homeschool stride. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your child be completely educated in a year. Education is a life-time process, and fostering a love of learning is the goal, and that love will develop over time .

Love,
Dood

Hyacinth:

Dear Intimidated,

I believe there are two main goals for the first year: 1.) Establishing your authority and the discipline that accompanies that. 2.) Helping your kids “buy in” to the idea of homeschooling. It’s a tricky balance, to say the least. Some moms tend to think that if they make homeschooling a boatload of fun, then their kids will love homeschooling, and they’ll be all set. Unfortunately, though, some moms equate “fun” with “undisciplined,” and that’s a recipe for future heartache. Your kids must obey you when it comes to doing their work, otherwise the schoolroom will become a battleground, and at some point, you won’t be able to withstand it.

Obviously, your kids will be doing some subjects that are challenging and require discipline, and they may complain that it’s not “fun.” Keep doing it. Daily. Don’t allow complaints. But, also work in daily at least one activity that helps you connect with each other, preferably something that they wouldn’t be doing in “regular” school. For us, that activity is a read-aloud; we love to snuggle in with each other and read a great book! Some artsy families do art projects; some families play with Legos; some play outdoor games. Just find something that you all enjoy – it will nourish your souls!

Peace be with you,
Hyacinth

Snow:

Dear Intimidated,

I look back and chuckle at my first year. I was a deer in headlights! AND we survived! I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I learned. I spent the year pushing through a curriculum I wasn’t crazy about and learning what I did like. I talked to other parents on the same journey who were a few steps ahead of me and picked their brains. I visited their homes to look at their school space and check out different curriculum. I read books about education and learned about things that I thought were only meant for professional educators. It was a year of learning, inspiration, and perseverance.

Give yourself some room the first year. There will be things you don’t like. There will be lessons to learn about how much to commit to and what curriculum makes you want to pull out your hair. There will be moments of discouragement and moments of great triumph!

My one fail-safe piece of advice is to make sure you have a community of other families around you for support. We were created to thrive in community. Community offers you encouragement, accountability, and refinement. I adore my children, but I’m pretty sure if they only had me and I only had them day in and day out, we would all get pretty bored!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Bull:

Intimidated:

I’m with Hyacinth: establish your authority! Your children know you as their parent, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to respect for you as their teacher. Your first order of business is to establish your expectations and instill the discipline of a daily routine. While it doesn’t take long to develop these goals and an accompanying game plan on paper, it’s likely to take a wee bit longer to implement the system. Let me remind you that those angels you will soon call students are not your ally. The moment you expect math facts over nature study they will turn on you like a loaf of unpreserved bread. So, set your rules and consistently enforce them — everyone will benefit!

Bull

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

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

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

Advice for Newbie – Snow

Advice for Newbie – Snow

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Advice for Newbie – Hyacinth

Snow:

Dear Intimidated,

I look back and chuckle at my first year. I was a deer in headlights! AND we survived! I honestly had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I learned. I spent the year pushing through a curriculum I wasn’t crazy about and learning what I did like. I talked to other parents on the same journey who were a few steps ahead of me and picked their brains. I visited their homes to look at their school space and check out different curriculum. I read books about education and learned about things that I thought were only meant for professional educators. It was a year of learning, inspiration, and perseverance.

Give yourself some room the first year. There will be things you don’t like. There will be lessons to learn about how much to commit to and what curriculum makes you want to pull out your hair. There will be moments of discouragement and moments of great triumph!

My one fail-safe piece of advice is to make sure you have a community of other families around you for support. We were created to thrive in community. Community offers you encouragement, accountability, and refinement. I adore my children, but I’m pretty sure if they only had me and I only had them day in and day out, we would all get pretty bored!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Advice for Newbie – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I’ve decided to take the plunge – now what? What advice can you give a new homeschooling mom to help me navigate this first intimidating year?

With fear and trembling,
Intimidated in Indiana


 

Doodle:

Dear Newbie,

My encouragement when you first start homeschooling is to make a list of goals. What do you want to accomplish your first year of homeschooling? Educationally? Responsibility-wise? Character-wise? I tend to be over-zealous and want to do it all. A girl can dream, can’t she? But, this is where I get in trouble and get exasperated if my ideals are too lofty.

Second, keep your first year simple. Get your core subjects worked out: math, english, history, science and reading. Most of us try and do it all in the first year. We don’t know where to stop, and this can quickly wear out a homeschool parent. Go simple. For your first year, use a tried-and-true curriculum; no need to try to invent a curriculum!

Third, attach yourself to some experienced homeschool moms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and lots of them. There is a plethora of resources available, so don’t get overwhelmed, but do your research. Learn homeschooling philosophies, and read, read, read.

Fourth, relax! Please know that it takes time to hit your homeschool stride. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor will your child be completely educated in a year. Education is a life-time process, and fostering a love of learning is the goal, and that love will develop over time .

Love,
Dood

Looking for more answers????

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Responsibility – Hyacinth

Responsibility – Hyacinth

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Love,

Concerned


 

Responsibility – Bull

Responsibility – Snow

Responsibility – Doodle

Hyacinth:

Dear Concerned,

Escaping the Endless Adolescence is a recent book which describes a phenomenon going on in our culture where 25 (years old) is the new 15. The authors call this a “failure to launch,” where adolescents simply can’t make the transition to adulthood. I know that a homeschooling blog might be the wrong venue for my advice, but here goes: I think we may be too available for our kids. Even when we let them leave the house, we are always just a phone call away to help them solve their every problem. The authors of the above book hypothesize (and prove, I believe) that we are actually thwarting and subverting their ability to think when we don’t allow them to struggle through difficult decision and even (horrors) fail. I think my Brain Trust buddies are right – suffering and consequences are natural and right. Let the suffering begin!

Peace be with you (as you suffer),
Hyacinth

Looking for more answers????

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

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

Responsibility – Doodle

Responsibility – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

In the world we live in today, how do I teach my kids to be responsible human beings?

Love,

Concerned


 

Responsibility – Bull

Responsibility – Snow

Doodle:

Dear Concerned,

I think we need to be concerned. Snow and Bull are right: teaching responsibility might soon be a lost art. I wonder if one of the biggest issues today is that we want our kids to “like” us. I think we are a bit misguided when we think that being friends with our children is the goal. While I do hope that I will have a friendship with my children, especially as adults, it is not my immediate goal. If I am their friend, who is the parent? It’s interesting that the Bible says that “He disciplines those He loves.” We don’t want our children to suffer. So guess what? We don’t let them. It’s like playing the guitar. When you first start playing, your fingers are soft and squishy. But the more you work through the pain of pressing on the steel strings the tougher your fingertips get, and you begin to develop callouses that enable you to withstand the pain of something that previously hurt. Discipline is that way. Responsibility is something that we teach and instruct and continue to develop. It can be painful to redo chores and take responsibility for our mistakes. Doing a good job and being faithful in a task takes time, instruction, and accountability. The buck stops with the parent. The pain of discipline and training is momentary, but produces a lifetime of a fruitful and productive life.

Concerned, you can do it!

Dood

Looking for more answers????

I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

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

Burnout – Doodle

Burnout – Doodle

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 
Burnout – Bull

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Hyacinth

Doodle:

Dearest Embers,

Great advice BT! Homeschooling is not a sprint but a marathon. The strategies for each of those races are completely different. I just finished my 15th year of homeschooling, and I can’t believe I am still here! Here are a couple of pointers that have given me stamina and helped me pace myself in this homeschool track:

1. Keep pure motives: Burn out for me comes when I am pursuing selfish ambitions. I know that sounds crazy, but I get bored pretty quickly when it’s only about me and mine. There is nothing like finding some people to help serve to get my heart pumping with life again and renew my energy to homeschool. So make your homeschooling about something bigger than just you and your family.

2. Run unencumbered: I watch for those activities that distract or wear me down. Strive for those things that breathe life and keep guard for those activities that deplete. A walk in the park, a bike ride around the block or breakfast on the patio can do wonders for a soul.

3. Keep your eyes on the prize: What kind of human beings do you want to send into the world? What virtues do I want them to have? With the cultural issues of today, I go back in history and look at the attributes of those who changed the world. It takes work to keep great ideas and thoughts within your sights and in your heart. Remind yourself of what is really important and stay focused on that. Nothing like a good dose of vision to keep my nose pointed in the right direction and wind in my sail.

4. Find like-minded friends: Sometimes I need a soft place to land and other times I need a kick in the “rear-end.” Like-minded, friends make the world go round and are a large reason why I am still here. The road of homeschooling does not need to be lonely. Work to be that friend to others and your friends won’t let you quit.

Embers, don’t give up! One day you’ll find yourself jogging over that finish line. You’ll be so amazed at God’s provision for your race and the prize that awaits you!

Love,
Dood

Burnout – Snow

Burnout – Snow

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 

Burnout – Bull

Snow:

Dear Embers,

Is 5 years forever? Feels like it:-) I hit burn-out every February. Like clockwork. Boom! It hits, and I need spring break several weeks ahead of schedule! If your burn-out is more than the fleeting, regularly-scheduled kind, my best suggestion to you is to change up your routine if possible. If you work on a two semester schedule, change to a trimester schedule. Switch your daily schedule around. Take a couple days off and read a good book. I’d say take a couple days off, but when I tell my kids we have a day off school, I end up with more work… so that isn’t actually something I regularly practice! If you can remember and grab a hold of the joy you had when you started your journey, maybe you can notice some of the pay-off of this long time investment and feel re-inspired!

Grace & Peace,
Snow

Come back tomorrow to hear from Hyacinth!

Burnout – Bull

Brain Trust,

Dear Brain Trust,

I have home-schooled forever and I feel myself burning out, what do I do?

Love,
Embers


 

Bull:

pothole
Embers,

I haven’t home-schooled quite as long as you have, but I am very familiar with burn-out. In fact, burn-out is a well-established part of my personality. I’ve been accused of having two speeds: full speed ahead and burned-out. God knows this about me too, of course, which is why He directed me to Susan Wise Bauer’s book The Well Trained Mind when I was first toying with the idea of home-schooling. Somewhere in the pages of this masterpiece, the author said, “If you don’t want to quit at least 3 times per year, you’re not trying hard enough.” It made sense to me so I wasn’t surprised when the feeling came. I expected it. The term “burn-out” has all-too-often become a justification for quitting a difficult task. Don’t let it trick you into giving up on something you shouldn’t. You’re traveling a difficult path. There will be potholes, some of which feel more like craters. So take a breather… refuel your tank, then get back to work.

Bull

Close in Age – Doodle

Close in Age – Doodle

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

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 wraps is all up tomorrow, May 31st! Stay tuned…

Close in Age – Hyacinth

Close in Age – Hyacinth

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

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

Hear from Doodle tomorrow, May 30th

Bull lays out her thoughts on Thursday, May 31st!