Our Homeschool ABC’s

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I’ve always wanted to make a homeschool ABC list! But instead of a how-to-homeschool list, this is a benefits and blessings list and my kids contributed. ūüôā

A is for Anytime, Anywhere, Anything goes! Unlike public school, homeschooling takes place anytime of the day, anywhere inside or outside (in the real world!) and anything goes as far as the curriculum (the Bible counts!) and learning methods utilized.

B is for Books, books and more books! My kids love all the free time they have just to read. When they read for pleasure, reading is a pleasure!

C is for Creativity. Arts and crafts, baking, science experiments, Minecraft, fairy gardens, Oh My!

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D is for Days. Snow days, vacation-anytime days, read-aloud days, field trip days, unit- study days, science days, art days, nature days, friend days at the zoo. Days our way!

E is for Excelling.¬†Recently I asked a professional math teacher to evaluate my son’s math level. Compared to¬†his public schooled peers, he is two levels ahead. Three Cheers for homeschooling and excelling at your own pace!

F is for Family and Friends. Homeschooling has given us more quality family time which means more time to nurture sibling and parent relationships, and friendships, too.

G is for God. God is welcome in our home and we can feel His spirit here.

H is for Happy Hearts. Spending our days learning together makes our hearts happy!

I is for Influence. Our home influence is one of love, acceptance, encouragement, unity and high moral standards which fosters self-confidence and individual worth.

J is for Jammies! Learning in pajamas is comfortable and fun!

K is for Knowledge, both academic and spiritual together, which we believe makes up a complete education.

L is for Life. We actually have a life! It’s not all about school. There’s a nice¬†balance.

M is for Mornings. We love our relaxed, ease-into-the-day mornings together. We have time for a hot, nutritious breakfast, for a morning nature walk, for curling up and reading together…

N is for Never-ending Possibilities! Homeschooling means we can dive into a subject that catches our fancy, switch gears in the middle of the day or have a spur-of-the-moment picnic lunch at a park.

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O is for Outdoors. Who wants to be stuck inside at a desk when it’s a gorgeous sunny day outside?

P is for Peace. Homeschooling has brought me great peace of mind, knowing my children are safe from the worldly and negative aspects of public school that we experienced first-hand.

Q is for Quiet. At home we can hear ourselves think! Sometimes the world around us is noisy and confusing, but at home, we can tune the world out and focus on what matters most.

R is for Rhythm. We learn, play, eat, sleep, (go to the bathroom!) at our own natural rhythm. So much healthier!

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S is for Science. My son’s greatest passion (except maybe Minecraft). Plenty of hands-on science activities at our house.

T is for Time.¬†Time to be a family, time to be a kid, time to parent, time to listen, time to play and explore the world around us, time to learn and grow, time to eat lunch,¬†time to just be. Sweet, blissful time that isn’t wasted sitting at a desk for hours, day after day.

U is for Uniqueness. Each child’s unique talents,¬†abilities and personal interests are celebrated and pursued!

V is for Values and Virtues. At home, we learn and live by The Golden Rule and The Ten Commandments. We forgive, serve, and love one another.

W is for Witty!¬†We feel rather clever for going off the traditional path of public schooling and daring to take education into our own hands! ūüėČ

X is for X-tra. Extra a-ha moments that I get to witness!

Y is for Youth. Teens need their parents and homeschooling lets parents be more of an influence.

Z is for Zero!¬†Zero grades. Zero data-mining. Zero “teaching-to-the-test”. Zero conformity. Zero tears.

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Simply Knowledge Homeschool

Homeschool Vs. Public School (An Honest, Real Life Comparison)

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There are all sorts of arguments for and against homeschooling and public schooling, but these are my family’s real life¬†experiences with both and how we compare the two side by side. A little background about my family first: Both my husband and I grew up in the public education system so that was all we knew when we started raising our children. We also move around because of my husband’s job, and so my children experienced multiple schools in multiple states, as well as in two countries outside of the U.S. (Canada and Peru). You can read¬†our story about how we became a¬†homeschooling family, here.

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Mornings and sick days

Public school mornings-

  1. Wake up at a specific time, whether or not child had enough sleep.
  2. Get dressed¬†and¬†eat a quick breakfast. Often times, my child wasn’t hungry yet¬†so I’d send them with a granola bar and apple and hoped they could sneak it in.
  3. During winter or on chilly days, bundle up with outside clothing such as jackets/coats, hats, scarves, mittens, boots, etc.
  4. Head out the door with backpacks, lunches, homework, text books, parent-signed papers, etc.
  5. Walk or mom drives or catch bus to school (depending on where we lived and the weather).
  6. Depending on the school, go straight inside and to locker or classroom OR wait in the school yard (regardless of weather) for the bell to ring, before lining up, and filing into the building one class at a time. Parents are permitted inside (it is a public building), but I always felt unwelcome by the staff unless I was there to parent-volunteer. Once I accompanied my 6-year old son into his school to help him remove his bulky snow suit. A teacher saw me and questioned why I was there before informing me that my son was old enough to take care of himself. (This made me realize how many times teachers and staff talked down to me, the parent.)

If a child wakes up not feeling well:

  1. Evaluate child. If it’s just a cold or allergies or a slight tummy ache or headache, tough luck! Send the child to school with the assurance that they can always call home if it worsens (and the teacher/staff allow it).¬†If the symptoms are a fever or throwing up, the child must stay¬†home, but an immediate call to the school is warranted or else I was sure to hear from the¬†school later, chastising me¬†for not informing them right away.
  2. Call the school and excuse the child’s absence. (As an¬†introvert, this was always a stress-inducing phone call!)
  3. Get missed school work from teacher(s) so your child can stay caught up.

Homeschooling mornings-

  1. Wake up naturally, when child has enough sleep.
  2. Get dressed if going somewhere (or just because it’s daytime)¬†OR stay in pajamas¬†a while longer because pajamas are comfy!
  3. Eat a leisurely breakfast when child is actually hungry and enjoy it together.
  4. Um… the choices here are limitless.¬†Go outside and play or for a walk/bike ride together. Or snuggle up and read a fun story together. Or go to a co-op class that is only twice a week. Or make a craft. Or¬†help Mom with some¬†housework. Or start right into lessons. OR…

If a child is sick:

  • There is no one to call (unless it’s a doctor). No absence(s) to excuse. No missed schoolwork to stress over. Snuggle up to your child and relax!

My¬†family’s conclusion- While we found ways to simplify the morning routine when my kids were in public school (laying out clothes and making lunches the night before, for example), nothing beats the easy-going, natural mornings we spend together at home. And when my child is sick, there is no added stress or anxiety. ūüôā

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Following a school calendar and rules

Public school- 

  • School days and hours are set in stone.
  • School policy and¬†rules are set in stone.
  • Family vacations require notifying school in advance,¬†often require every teacher’s permission, and are limited to a set amount of days per school year. They also require catch up/make up work when child returns home (or taking school work with them to stay caught up).
  • All absences must be excused by the parent within a certain time frame, with a valid excuse (which is up to the school to decide whether or not to accept). There is a set amount of allowed absences per school year. Unexcused absences may mean a penalty such as a parent fine or even a parent spending time in jail!
  • The school has the right to discipline your child for any reason.
  • During school hours, the school has more rights to your child than you, the parent.

Homeschooling-

  • In the states in which we’ve homeschooled, we have been able to set our own school days and hours.
  • No absences to excuse or make up.
  • Family vacations may be anytime and for any length without anyone’s permission.
  • Your child is yours.

My family’s conclusion- We love¬†the flexibility and freedom that homeschooling gives us. We are on our own time schedule and calendar which is really nice.¬†We¬†can vacation anytime of the year without guilt or worry. ūüôā

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Socialization skills and peer interaction

Public school-

  • Each of my kids made some good friends at school. Contact with these friends was limited to between classes, recess (for elementary years) and lunch (if they shared the same lunch period). True friendships were nurtured outside of school hours.
  • My daughter’s middle school class were her only peers the entire year due to the class moving as one unit from teacher to teacher, as well as having lunch together, instead of each student having a separate schedule.¬†This was what led us to pull her out of middle school. My daughter wasn’t accepted into any of the social circles no matter how hard she tried to fit in.
  • Each of my kids were¬†bullied multiple times. Once, when my daughter’s situation became bad enough that it¬†went to the vice principal, she (the victim) was required to apologize to her bully and that was that!
  • My kids always heard profanity in the hallways.
  • My kids often saw inappropriate, even¬†disturbing behavior by other kids. Once, my daughter and her friends were exposed to full frontal nudity by a teenage boy who was mad at his girlfriend. (He was never disciplined.)
  • My daughter was exposed to drug fumes in her high school locker room during a lock down, and drug invitations were issued frequently on the bus.
  • ¬†There was a designated smoking area for students in the front of the high school.
  • My kids learned how to stand in line and wait their turn. They also learned how to take instruction from different teachers.¬†They were given¬†responsibilities and given rules to follow.

Homeschooling-

  • Each of my kids have made good friends at church, in the neighborhood, at cub/boy scouts, in co-op classes, playing team sports, taking dance lessons, etc. These activities give more time for peer interaction since they take place outside of school hours.
  • At home there is no profanity, no drugs/alcohol,¬†no immoral behavior, no immodesty, and no bullying. Of course, there¬†is typical family behavior, such as occasional sibling rivalry and squabbling!
  • In¬†real world settings, such as the grocery store,¬†library, and playing with neighbor kids, my kids learned how to stand in lines, share and wait their turn. At home they are taught and practice good manners,¬†how to be a true friend, as well as how to¬†take care of their belongings and help care for our home.
  • At home¬†my kids are free to be their authentic selves.

My family’s conclusion- We¬†found that most friendships develop¬†outside of school hours when there is actually TIME for children to¬†freely¬†interact and socialize.¬†We found that all positive¬†social skills are first learned and practiced at home. ūüôā¬†We¬†found the public school environment to be¬†worldly, often lacking the moral standards and values we embrace at home.

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Quality of education

Public schooling-

  • Only secular knowledge is taught and God is not allowed.
  • Children are grouped by age and ability.¬†Class sizes are large and teaching is aimed at the average student. My¬†son who read at a college level in elementary was often bored and unchallenged. My daughter who caught onto concepts slowly, often struggled to stay caught up.
  • The curriculum and teaching methods are one-size-fits-all. Parents have little to no say in what is taught. Sometimes a parent may opt their child out of questionable subject matter (such as sex ed which is only taught from a worldly point of view), but sometimes they aren’t even made aware as was our case with my daughter who learned everything in sex ed EXCEPT abstinence.
  • Individual¬†abilities and skills are usually¬†not taken into account. My friend recently shared a¬†true experience¬†where her son in elementary school was not allowed to present¬†his report memorized (as he had prepared)¬†in order to keep all students “equal”.
  • Teaching mostly takes place¬†in an uninspiring¬†classroom setting in the form of lectures. Children must get their teacher’s permission to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Field trips are few and limited.
  • No child enjoys standardized testing.¬†Most homework is unnecessary and¬†only cuts into precious family time¬†after an already long¬†6-8 hour school day.
  • My kids had¬†some wonderful¬†teachers, many¬†average teachers and some bad teachers.

Homeschooling-

  • Both secular and spiritual knowledge is taught¬†in our home¬†because we believe that both¬†make up a whole¬†education. God is welcome. Prayers are said. Scriptures read.
  • Children learn together regardless of ages and abilities. Children can learn at their own pace and really nail a subject (such as a math concept) before moving on.
  • Children get one-on-one attention and learn in a variety of ways, including¬†their preferred¬†learning style.¬†Parents can tailor the learning to their child’s individual needs.
  • Parents have full say in the curriculum and subjects taught (what and when). Subjects, such as sex ed can be taught with our family values in mind.
  • Children may choose which subjects to research. When they are personally interested in the subjects, they retain more of what they study. Children also have more freedom with the books they read.
  • The home and outside world make up the learning environment, making for more hands-on, creative learning.¬†Fidgety children can stand and move around as they wish. They may use the bathroom and get drinks and snacks freely.¬†Lots of field trips can take place.
  • The¬†parent is¬†always¬†aware of how their child is doing, so testing is only done periodically and only on the actual subjects taught/learned.¬†In the states we’ve homeschooled, my children were not required to waste their time taking the standardized testing.¬†There is no homework and daily subjects are covered¬†in two to three hours instead of six to eight.
  • The teacher (mom and/or dad) is fully invested in the child’s education and no teacher will love their student more. At church and in co-op classes, plus outside lessons (piano, dance, soccer, etc.) children are exposed to other teachers.

My family’s conclusion- We appreciate having the full say in what and how our children learn. We love learning in a spiritually safe environment.¬†We love spending our days together. Childhood is fleeting and I only get eighteen short¬†years, if I’m lucky, with each child before they are grown up and leave home. ūüôā¬†Sending them to public school feels as if I’m throwing them to the lions while¬†missing out on too much of their childhood.

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End conclusion- These experiences came from ten¬†different public schools within three¬†different states, plus¬†Canada,¬†and from seven+¬†years of homeschooling. While there are pros and cons to both public education and homeschooling, for my family¬†we can honestly say¬†that homeschooling has more benefits and serves our family better than the public school system. For us, it is a superior choice for¬†educating our children. Also, my daughter, who was homeschooled in her¬†high school years is doing extremely well at her university. ūüôā

The Blessings of Time

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Time-hobbiesTime to enjoy a hot breakfast together.

Time to snuggle up with a great read-aloud.

Time to pretend and use our imaginations.

Time to explore the world around us.

Time for science experiments!

Time to create a work of art.

Time to visit a museum.

Time to master a skill.

Time to discover a talent.

Time to learn naturally.

Time to grow up unrushed.

Time to give service.

Time for cooking lessons.

Time to daydream.

Time together.

Time, precious time.

Homeschooling has blessed my family with the gift of time.

Why We Homeschool

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We started homeschooling when we reached a breaking point with the public school system. It wasn’t the teachers. It was the system. We can no longer trust our children to the system. Oh the stories I could tell you from our personal experiences, but I won’t go into all that here. I just want to say that for the most part we had some lovely teachers and if only they had more say in what they teach and how they teach, but they don’t. They are at the mercy of the system.

However, here is a list of things my kids definitely do not miss about public school-

rushed mornings

waiting outside (in any weather) before school begins

forced quiet during lunch

eating lunch alone at a desk

forced recess outside

hall passes to use the bathroom or get a drink of water

forced times to use the bathroom

bells and 5 minutes of rushing to get to the next class

spending the entire middle-school year with the same group of peers in every single class

hours and days of mandated state testing

dealing with a bully on a daily basis

exposure to drugs in the locker room

forced subjects to research and report

hours wasted on homework

deciding what to wear every day

popularity or lack of popularity

make up days

the rigidity of the school schedule and calendar

favoring the minority over the majority

Once we started homeschooling, we realized there are many benefits and virtues to keeping our children home. For me it comes down to 3 things-

1. Treasured time with my children that I wouldn’t have if I sent them to school for 6-8 hours, 5 days a week, 180 days a¬†year. That adds up to at least 1,080 hours per year of time I’ll never get back with my children (and that’s not including homework hours).

2. For us, homeschooling puts God back where He belongs- in every aspect of our lives. We can pray to Him and include Him in every part of our daily life. What a difference that makes.

3. Homeschooling protects my children both physically and spiritually. At home they are free to be themselves and our values are embraced. At home they are nurtured, valued and protected.

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5 Reasons Why I Homeschool

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1.¬† At home my child is physically and spiritually safe.¬† God is welcome in our home.¬† In our home there is no profanity, no immorality, no bullying, and no peer pressure.¬† At home our family values and my child’s self-esteem remain intact.¬† Do you want to know what my oldest son and daughter remember most about high school?¬† Hearing the f-word a million times¬†a day, seeing kids smoke in front of the school (there was a designated spot for smoking!), a boy dropping his pants so that my daughter and others could see everything, condoms freely passed out to promote safe sex, smelling drugs in the locker room.¬† I have yet to walk into any public¬†school where I saw evidence that my child would be as nurtured, as valued and as secure as he is at home.

2. At home I can tailor my son’s education to him.¬† I can personalize it.¬† I can take advantage of his preferred learning style.¬† My child learns at his own pace and spends as much time as he wants on any subject of his choosing. When he has the freedom to choose what he studies, and how he studies it, he gets more out of the experience, truly enjoys the learning process and retains more of what he learned because it was something that was of interest and value to him.

3. At home I can control what my son does and does not learn, when he learns certain things and also, how he learns things, like math¬†for example¬†(no fuzzy math in my home!).¬†I love being in complete control over my son’s education instead of trusting it to others who most likely do not have his best interests at heart. They’re certainly not as invested in my son as I am. So, my son does memorize multiplication facts and he does know how to write in cursive and I don’t have to worry about him coming home and telling me that I taught him the wrong way to do something.

4. At home we have our own routine, calendar and rules.¬† Our time is truly our own which allows us to be flexible and relaxed.¬† My child wakes up when he’s had enough sleep.¬† He has time to sit and eat a hot breakfast every morning.¬† He can go to the bathroom or get a drink whenever he needs to without getting permission first.¬† He can choose when to play outside and when to come back inside.¬† He can freely move around as much as he likes.¬† He can talk freely¬†while he eats lunch and there is no rush to finish.¬† He can spend as much time as he needs to learn a new concept before moving on.¬† He can take a sick day without worrying about catching up or falling behind.¬† He never has homework (what a waste of¬† family and kid time).¬† He can go on multiple “field-trips” and he can vacation with his family whenever it suits us.

5. Best of all, having him home equals valuable time I get to spend with him.¬† I would be missing out on so much if I sent him to school!¬† School takes up a big chunk of the day and what’s left over just isn’t enough.¬† I have always been the kind of mom who loves being around her children.¬† I can’t think of any way I’d rather spend my days than with my children (and my husband of course!).¬†¬†Childhood is fleeting, it doesn’t last, and I want every minute of every day to count.