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Everything posted by JoyKM

  1. I'm a Christian who generally prefers secular materials. Often I find religious viewpoints that are woven into, say, a math problem or a piece of copywork to be problematic. Growing up in the evangelical church there are some bits of that culture that I am consciously choosing to not make a part of my children's lives. I get what you're saying--the tone of the group is very negative towards anyone but a very specific group of people. It's probably not a good fit for you long term which is okay. Not every religious based homeschool group has that sort of negative tone towards "outsiders," but I think everyone can agree that exclusionary Chriistian homeschoolers are a large part of the very fabric of the homeschool movement. In some regions they are all that there is. I think a lot of secular homeschoolers are treated poorly or feel like the have to hide themselves in the homeschool community because a) Christian homeschoolers are by far the most common and b) a certain number of those Christian homeschoolers (maybe more than we would like to see...) are ready, eager and willing to gleefully kick out anyone who will even in a tiny, nonessential way threaten to burst the "worldview" bubble they are trying to build around their children. These are people who won't even let their children play with kids from their own churches because they go to public school--people like that. I'm sure secular homeschoolers see this as a chance to make a lot of new, real friends.
  2. Reflecting on your own experiences with literature as a child was valuable in that it clarified a goal for you—to read more of a certain caliber of literature with your children. This is great! For your parents—were they voracious readers, educators or trained in some way in children’s literacy? My brother will occasionally make very specific complaints about my mom not knowing enough about nutrition to have addressed his diet in a certain, specific manner or not having some other specific knowledge about something that affected him in a certain way. I have to point out to him that she had no training or life experience to have obtained that knowledge so it was kind of not appropriate to have expected it of her. He doesn’t have kids yet so he doesn’t understand fully that parents don’t know everything—we are just doing our best. My mom describes the push towards reading for all children (and the subsequent higher value given to reading as a pass time) as something that really came about hardcore in the late 90s. When she was a kid only nerds read a lot (her words). She preferred an active, tomboy lifestyle with sandlot ball games, climbing trees and riding bikes. That was deemed as preferable then, too. She wasn’t a very academic kid, did well enough in school, and went on with her life. The whole reading as a superior hobby thing was not part of her experience as a young person. My dad was the one who encouraged reading and learning from a young age—he would come home from work when we were in preschool and play school with a bunch of posters he got from a teacher supply store and bring all of those boxes of books home for us. Still, they weren’t always classics. Now I make an effort to purchase used copies of books to read aloud beforehand so that I can keep them on our bookshelves for the kids to read alone as they grow. The classics will be there if they want to reach for them. When/if they return to public school we’ll keep up our read aloud and audiobook traditions (which both started while we were a public school family). I have learned that not every homeschool mom has the heart of an educator and that there are public school moms who live life with a homeschool spirit. It’s up to me to be the best mom I can be no matter the context knowing that, at the end of parenting, my kids will still say, “Wow, my mom never...”
  3. If you want a place to start in choosing great read alouds based on the ages of your children check out the blogs Growing Book by Book and What We Do All Day. They were super helpful to me when I was trying to choose suitable chapter book read alouds for my three and five year old when I first started. We had a couple of bad picks that made it a struggle. These gave me direction. I use the book lists for audiobooks, too. Sometimes it’s nice to have someone else do the reading, and car time is more dynamic now. It’s a lot of fun collecting book titles on our “read it” list—feels like a family project that we will work on for years but never get done. That’s just reading!
  4. My dad would bring home giant boxes of the exact books you read growing up from library sales--as a homeschooler. I loved them! We read Little House, Charlotte's Web, Stuart LIttle and other classics aloud together, too, and I kept choosing good stuff to read even after returning to public school. I was only homeschooled for a couple of years, and even reading the pop culture type books I had a very high reading level upon reentry to public school. Were you never given a book list of classics to choose from at public school to do book reports? I remember that being a big thing pushing me to keep reading classics. I will say that reading just to read--for the exposure to words, practice decoding, and an interesting story that's not on a screen--has its own value. (This is evidently debatable--should you let your kids read twaddle or not? I'm in the "twaddle has its place" camp, and frankly, no one is "right" on this.) If my kid is interested in reading something like that, fine--we have a high quality audiobook loaded in the disc player of our van, I am reading a high quality read aloud to them each day as part of school, and when my kids are good enough readers they can be assigned a novel here and there from a quailty book list to keep things going. I suggest starting a read aloud and audiobook tradition in your family both for the kids and to catch yourself up on books you wish you had read! Then you have two books going at once. I am keeping track of what we read/listen to each year in a board on Pinterest...feels like an accomplishment. 🌟
  5. Thanks! I think I'll try both the app and the cookie sheet option with my daughter and see what she does best with. Then I'm left with a cookie sheet at the end of it if she doesn't need the tiles (we could use another one), but I'll have something if she does! She's in 2nd grade, so we are going to start at Level 1, then hopefully make it some way through Level 2.
  6. Thanks! I'm waiting for the materials to arrive but am trying to figure out what all my budget should be for this program. We don't have a big white board right now! I'm thinking to start spelling next six weeks, so I have time--we are just trying to settle in and have a lot of success right now.
  7. If I just used the tiles loose and stored them in a box or bag would that be fine?
  8. How do you manage potty training a preschooler and homeschooling older kids?
  9. My oldest is in second grade--but she's the type of kid that has meltdowns when she makes a mistake in front of me on her work. We are having to work at making school, well, school and not a string of meltdowns surrounding different topics. Her sister doesn't do that, but they are definitely different people. There really are so many fun things to try! I think homeschool moms (well--not the ones this thread initially was talking about--the ones that are actually putting together an education for their kids) are naturally the types of moms that like to do activities with their kids, so we can get so drawn in! 😅 This year I am using different providers for each major subject, so I'm getting the variety and sense of trying a bunch of things out while sticking with these programs for this school year (hopefully nothing shows itself as a bad fit--so far so good...).
  10. This is good to hear! As I have been researching and setting up my first homeschool year, I was reflecting about what the common thread of success would be between the various styles, resources, and curricula I was encountering. I distilled it to one word: Consistency. Everything else was just down to style, personality, schedule and learning needs. I'm glad to hear a veteran say it!
  11. I'm glad to hear that this ends at some point--I want to turn into one of those moms that eventually stops shopping (unless a need arises) and just gets really good at wielding what she's got!
  12. IMO--it's not cheap enough to qualify for the "free or cheap" part. So there's that for you. (Example: K Math for the year costs around $110. It includes a full year of curriculum and a box of manipulatives, but you can't get it free like the LA downloads).
  13. I'm sorry about this situation--I had an aunt who "homeschooled" one of my cousins very poorly, and, honestly, I don't agree with the "everyone can homeschool" line that seems to be given as advice to people all of the time. Like others have said--anyone who is willing AND able to put in the work can. As far as what to suggest: Just thinking--She will most likely absolutely drop the ball on math. That's just guaranteed. Probably not much to do there! Since she gets to bring home the textbooks (and textbooks typically have questions to answer at the end of various sections as well as unit reviews and sometimes assessments)--and if you are willing to meet with her and help her begin--I would recommend showing her those places in the textbooks, telling her to get one spiral notebook per subject, and just read and answer questions. At least the kids will get reading practice from the textbooks and, if they are consumable textbooks. those actually have worksheets embedded that she can use. it will be tough without an answer key. Expectations will be low, though. Honestly I'm pretty sure that the sum total of this year will create a generation of kids that are more laggy than usual for years to come, and I'm not sure what exactly things will look like if/when my kids return to school.
  14. I'm not so much a nature painter as I am a dirt digger, rock crusher, and critter watcher. Think Professor Sprout. 😆 Leaves is another great one. Also collecting seeds from different wild plants and comparing them is fun--why does this seed have a wing, or a fluffy white part, or come in a pod?
  15. Thanks! I just needed to hear that I don't need to be detail oriented to that degree to have them learn to read well. 😓 I think for now just having a ton of library books around will work!
  16. One of the more intimidating things to me about the age my children are at is knowing if I have the right level of reading material around as they progress. We joined our new town library a few weeks ago, and I have been maxing out our holds limits since then to fill up our shelves with new stuff for all three kids. Still...this is year three for me having a child working on reading, and I still get a bit flustered in this area. I have bought some reading material to make sure I have something on hand but would rather not spend a ton of money on books since we use the library. What do you do to keep instructional level reading materials around? How important is that on a scale of 1-10 for a second grader?
  17. This is completely acceptable. Right now we aren't doing much dedicated nature study since summer here is so hot! We'll do a little bit when we want to and if we happen to be somewhere naturey on a field trip. We do birds the first six weeks of the year leading up to the Audubon Society's backyard bird count. After that we'll wait for spring flowers to come up, then do our first year of collecting wildflowers for our family wildflower collection. After we have enough of those I will go once in awhile with my two oldest to find rocks and fossils (we have Cretaceous limestone everywhere here 😍), then if we actually find something we'll look it up. That's probably not going to be a super regular occurrence. I decorate with rock samples, so maybe we'll find two or three new rocks to spiff up and place on our shelves. We will read some good books, watch nature shows, and spend time in wonder at nature. Learning about nature is a slow accumulation of knowledge and experiences that grows into a deeper appreciation of the world around you. It can be done in so many ways, and whatever you do counts! For the fall I'd like to go mushroom hunting and out to find forageable food this year, but we may not get to do that too often or might strike out in our attempts. Two falls ago we only found two mushroom on our hunt (though I tried to do it in the spring since we were reading Beatrix Potter at that time--discovered fall is the best timing). Since you live in a city I'd suggest reading library books and watching shows about urban wildlife, then go park hopping and try to learn about the plants and animals you see there. That is a very neat opportunity! ETA: Example of a picture book featuring urban wildlife:
  18. Aside from citizen science--this spring we are going to start a family pressed wildflower collection. I have a manual I've had for years and the a photo binder for it (it was the wrong size for another project but perfect for this so I saved it). I'm aiming for 6-10 wildflowers a year. After several years we should have a full album, and over the years we may need to travel to find new species for the collection. Not sure how to make great pressed flower yet but will learn! Review the parts of a flower or dissect a plant each year for fun. Casual, awesome, builds a book of memories...I'm excited!
  19. This sounds like a lot of fun! We love nature studies. This year I downloaded the free nature notebook from TGATB that had during May, printed out only the summer season portion, put it in a pocket folder with brads, and tucked them into our weekly field trip bag. If we go to a park or some place with an outdoor area we will work on a page or two at that location. Once the season changes I'll swap out the section in the folders but keep the old section in a binder for next year. Citizen Science projects help give direction to nature studies. I got started when my kids were 3 and 5 with studying birds. We attached it to the Audubon society's Great Backyard Bird Count in February. I printed out a free birding coloring book (really informative as well), then we would color one bird realistically to learn what it actually looks like (no weird colors!), read information about it on the Audubon society's app, draw an egg, and in general learn about it. The goal for us was to have an easier time IDing a bird for the Bird Count. We only learn about a handful of birds per year and keep our findings in a composition book as a cumulative project. There are citizen science about all sorts of things if any of them appeal to your family!
  20. I think people were considering their options and have more often than not landed on something other than independent homeschooling. I am actually homeschooling, but to put it in perspective: I am a parent whose plan A for middle school is homeschooling, and I was beginning to plan for a fifth or sixth grade start when my oldest was in first grade! 😆 I'm a public school parent/ex classroom teacher who had a firm understanding of what the prep work was going to be to make homeschooling well a reality. I'm so thankful I was already on here not knowing that this pandemic would happen--it made it easy to pull the trigger with enough time to budget for, buy, and prepare everything. This is our second week of school, and it is going very well! The two friends I have who are also seriously moving forward with it are 1) a mom who had spent a year laying a homeschool foundation because she was planning to transition to it this year anyway and 2) a mom whose sister is a long term homeschooler and has a lot of support/real information surrounding what to do. I have been able to give advice and help to some people from the perspective of what a newly transitioning family may want and need, but truthfully our family was already in to things like read alouds, the library, watching documentaries, family time learning for fun, etc. It was easier to shift for us than someone who basically did school, then, say, sports all evening or some other sort of activity with a different focus.
  21. What I am finding is that a lot of the people who were looking in to homeschooling over the summer aren't actually going through with it--they are trying digital learning or even doing in person for the first six weeks. This definitely encompasses the people who were waiting to see what the schools were going to do. They have found that the amount of prep work needed is huge, and they need more time to actually put things together. Some families are going to potentially withdraw in October after preparing better. That is what I'm finding as the rubber meets the road and schools actually begin--our starts next Wednesday. I was discussing this with my brother two days ago because I was surprised at how many people were interested but then did not end up carrying through. We decided in May to homeschool because I knew all of the planning and prepping that had to be done to pull it off. There wasn't really time to wait and see--I had to act. It helps to remember that many people are sad about all of these changes, and it's not bringing the best out of everyone. They want to discover what their options are and see how friendly the local homeschool community is at the same time which is why they drop these questions. For people who want something to distract their kids all day while they work--I still would seriously consider advising them to use educational materials (streaming services, internet game sites, books for those who can fit library holds pickups into their schedule, etc.) during the day and actually homeschool during non traditional times of the week. That may make it possible for some parents in that situation to homeschool and work full time at home. It would be a relief to many to hear that the don't have to simultaneously educate and work.
  22. People who are doing this need some sort of curriculum that can be done in small bites at night (if it's with younger children). Honestly I would tell them to find free educational game sites, check out a ton of library books on rotating topics each weekend, assign documentaries, etc. for during the day, then suggest a very straightforward/foolproof math and language arts program that they can use to tutor the kids in the evenings on the basic skills. I'd say, "You will do better to find high quality, educational "distractions" during the day and will need to tutor your children in new skills at night. Find high quality educational games websites, load up on library books, and assign them documentaries to watch and write about during the day. Then use (small bite curriculum) for school at night."
  23. I'm doing both this year, however they are worked in to our together time as part of our fun subjects. We are doing history in the fall and science in the spring as unit studies to reduce how many subjects we are immersing ourselves in during a given timeframe. For social studies: We are doing SOTW this year (K and 2nd). I'm not doing narrations or memory work with it--it's for fun, exposure, and activities which we enjoy. We just got to ancient Greece, and the kids are intrigued! It spills over into their imaginative play and has had a bigger influence on them than I thought it would. We also do once a week geography/maps for fun and once a week character/citizenship to check of a box for the state (they like it). Science is going to be based heavily around unit studies. We won't do too much on paper--books, movies, trips, nature studies, maybe a kit or two (if I want to), etc. ETA: I don't expect a whole lot of physical output for either of these topics this year for my second grader. I have been taking pictures from all of our SOTW projects and creating photobook as we work through the volume. When we are done I'm going to print it out as a way to show what we did and for them to be able to look back through as a fun basic review. I'm hoping to have them rework through SOTW as middle schoolers more academically, so this is all for fun!
  24. I find this true in adulthood, too--just because people homeschool, are in the same "life stage" as me, or other sort of broad category doesn't mean that we connect or have any similar interests. Maybe teens are starting to have that adult tendency to connect around interests and they are realizing that being in a room full of homeschooled peers doesn't mean they will find a friend in there. I struck out a lot with the mindset trying to make friends in my "life stage" small groups at church. Finally I realized that did not matter and that I should be finding more friends (and, in this instance, specifically Christian friends) outside of formal church. Much easier to do!
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