Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum

When I decided to homeschool a few weeks ago I felt immediate relief because I made a decision.  Well that was quickly followed by a panic.  I had no idea what to teach, how to teach, or how to even begin to homeschool.  I really still don't but I am getting my feet wet.

First thing that I did was reach out to another mom I know who is homeschooling.  Our kids were in preschool together last year and we ran into each other at a birthday party.  It was nice to talk to somebody like-minded about something we were both unsure of.  We both sort of made our decision around the same time even though we didn't know it.

After sitting down with her my nerves settled a little bit.  Kindergarten is mostly basic core subjects and I can find most resources online and make my own curriculum.  One thing that she introduced me to is Konos.

As I said I don't know anything about any curriculums or options so this was all new to me.  I don't have my Konos book yet (I lucked out and am getting it free!) but she is part of a small co-op of 4 moms and I was lucky enough to be able to join it so now it is 5 moms!  We met and it is basically a unit study where you go through different units such as Indians or Prey and Predator.  You spend as much time as needed and go through the topic in as much detail as you want or don't want to and it can be child led.  If they are interested more in one subject than another, we will just spend more time on that.  It is nice because all of our kids are around the same age and we will meet once a week to do an activity.  Most are crafts so it will be like a learning play date.

I have also decided that I am going to start with a basic plan of schooling Tuesday through Saturday because hubby is a chef and his schedule is really weird, but the most likely days he will be off are Sunday and Monday.  I also plan to do one core subject a day in the morning for about a half hour.  If he wants to do more on it we will, but I think a half hour for Kindergarten work is plenty.  I am going to do it on a rotating schedule so every day we do a different subject.  In the afternoon we will do a craft or activity from the Konos curriculum.  This will be fun because my 2 year old can join in too and learn.

What curriculum are you using?  Do you think it is necessary to have one in Kindergarten?  How does your homeschool day look?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

To the lady handing out samples at the grocery store

You know that moment when you are rushing through the store because you only came for 5 items and want to actually make it home in time to get dinner cooked?  And then the kids spot free samples.  Then it turns into a frantic "we need free samples right now" chant,
and because you are in a rush and just want to get through the store without a fit or a fight you let them have one.

The problem today was that we were behind the actual sample and because I was pushing the mack truck of all buggies, the dreaded car buggie, I didn't want to have to go all the way through the isle and maneuver back around for one free sample.  So instead I peeked to the side of the lady and took 3 samples.  One for each kid and one for me (don't was cookies!).  The lady glanced at me and I took the look as a glare and kind of bowed out and walked away.  I knew I had sort of cut in line and that I did take 3 instead of 1 but for all of our sanity it had to be done.

So we completed our shopping with too much back tracking and not enough silence to actually concentrate on those 5 items I had to get.  While we were in the produce area the sample lady came up to me.  She apologized for being so busy and brought a coloring sheet, stickers, and a crayon for each kid.

That made my day and the kid's day.  It was so nice and out of the ordinary for her to do that.  Obviously her look was not a glare, but as an apologetic glance at me and she regretted she couldn't give the kids their actual treats.

Thank you sample distributor for being nice.  Thank you for finding us in the store when you didn't have to.  Thank you for giving us a second glance that didn't consist of "what is that lady doing bringing her kids to the grocery store!".  Thank you for being a very nice person.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why I Am Homeschooling

I started this homeschooling quest understanding nothing about how homeschooling works, what the right decision is, if my kids will turn out socially awkward, if they would want to be home, how college works, and most importantly is it the right decision.

So I turned to a few local Facebook groups in my area and started asking questions.  My first statement/question was
"Hi! I have a 5 year old and 2 year old both boys. My oldest will be starting Kindergarten this year and I am trying to make the decision on whether to homeschool or not! I am very torn and would love any suggestions or recommendations! I am scared that if I do not at least introduce him to the public school system for half day kindergarten, that If something happens and homeschooling doesn't work out he will be lost and confused starting into full time school. But then I also wonder if I put him straight into public school and he likes it but I don't, where do we go from there. Thanks in advance for any suggestions. Also if anybody has any kids who have been homeschooled for a few years, I would love to know if they like it or if they would rather go to public school. Thanks"

Here are some answers that I received that were extremely helpful in my decision making process.  

  • *Hi Leah.  One suggestion that I have is to look at what you truly want to do and what you think is best for your boys rather than making a decision based on what you are afraid might happen. There is no way to know what the future holds, so why not choose what you think is best right now, realizing that nothing is set in stone and that if homeschooling does not work out, you can always put him in school or if school does not work out you can always start homeschooling at any time. 

    When I first started homeschooling, we decided to take it one year at a time. That felt more doable at the time and not quite so daunting. We are starting our 13th year of homeschooling  (my oldest started when he was in kindergarten and is going into his senior year this year). Neither of my boys have had any desire to go to school and enjoy homeschooling. However they have had friends who did go back to school...some went back and then choose to homeschool again, some went back and choose to stay in school. They also have friends who started out in school and now homeschool. 

    It's all good and there are no guarantees no matter what you choose. So why not choose what you think you will have the most fun with. That was one of the reasons we started homeschooling...I was enjoying my time with my boys and he just seemed so little at 5 years old to start kindergarten it did not make sense to me to send him away for a good portion of the day. Haven't regretted it...and now that we are ending our official school years I am even more grateful for the extra time we had together thanks to homeschooling. Good luck with your decision.

  • *I do remember the fear of what in the world am I thinking, hsing my son, That was 19 years ago. Today he is a college graduate and my youngest goes to college in 18 days. 

  • I agree with Above Comment: What is it that you want to do and why? For me a hsing mom came and spoke to a small group that I was in, she said why would you send your child to school, my thought it was to be educated, to learn, socialization was not on my list.

    I'm so thankful that I've had these years with my boys. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. 

    Your son won't miss out on things if you don't send him this year, that he can't learn if you find hsing doesn't work for you. And above is also right in nothing is set in stone, you can put your child into school if things don't work or pull him out if things aren't good. It will be okay.
  • *My son didn't do anything but playgroups. I got sick when he was supposed to enter third. He had to do 3rd & 4th in public school and did fine but wanted to come home so as soon as I got back on my feet he came home again. Only bad thing was the teasing and the bad habits he learned... Otherwise he did fine.
  • *ME: the bad habits he learned in public school?
  • *He could get away with doing less then his best, acting up was funny, bad language were the worst.
  • *Also I've been doing some subbing in the schools, there is just so much wasted time in a day. your child can have so much more opportunities to have fun and relax while learning.
  • *I always encourage people to at least try homeschooling, if they're interested. It is just so much fun! Not that it's always easy, but most things that are important are hard work sometimes. But you will see your children all day, you can give them a nap when they need one, comfort their small sorrows, and offer them so many "on-the-fly" learning opportunities. I'm a second generation homeschooler and so far my brother and sisters have all turned out just fine (and we all pretend I'm normal)  And, like some of the others have said, you don't have to commit for it forever, just take it one year at a time.
  • I have a 5-year-old. My position on this is that if we need/decide to send him to public school in the future, he will be more mature and will take the transition better rather than worse. About the other direction: he wants to go and you don't, I don't have much of a knowledge. I think while they are young, at least 10-12, it should be mostly up to the parent. But the more mature they get, the more you should listen to their side and take their preferences into account within some reasonable limits, of course. I also do not think that public K will offer too much academically compared to what you could do with him at home. And I agree with above about the wasted time in ps. Time, you could use for so many productive or fun things. It is one of my main issues with ps; not the only one though.
  • *I know our kids are of different ages, but I can tell you what my thoughts are so far. My eldest is 3 and we decided to put him in preschool this year 3 half days a week. We decided to test the waters and see if traditional schooling will work for us or not. Its a trial year and will help me see where he is at and what kind of learner he is at this time.
  • We are a military family and with moving every 3-4 years, homeschooling is very appealing. I wouldn't have to ever worry about him "missing" something or falling between the cracks or being pushed through. 
  • Maybe treat this year as an experimental year. Listen to the feedback you receive from his teachers. See how he responds to the work they do and try to build upon it at home to see if homeschooling would work for you guys.
  • *My 10yo has no desire to go to school- nor does my 7yo. They know what it means to learn without distraction, wasted time, or endless tests. They see the school bus make its rounds at 4 and are thankful they weren't stuck in a building all day. Kids are very resilient. I don't homeschool them with the 'what if' in the back of my mind. If that day comes, I'm sure they can hold their own. And for what it's worth, the morning rush and the homework battle you will experience if he is in school is not at all indicative of how he will behave if he is homeschooled. My kids did a week of day camp last week, and I could not believe the change. They had fun, but the bickering and attitude at home was crazy! They slept less, felt rushed, and had only their worst hours (evening) together.
  • *Could you find a homeschool group in your area? Then he could have the best of both worlds, and you could have support.
  • *We have been homeschooling for 5 years when my daughter went into second grade we put her and her little sister in public school. I felt like I was messing everything up and that as much as I hated it, public school would fix what I had done wrong. What I learned that year was that I had been doing just fine! They got more behind in ps than with anything I had done, the level of influence and bullying (even in K and 2) was terrible and I will never miss the exhausting schedule that felt like it included never seeing my children and always bickering. Have my children wanted to go back to school at times (the grass is always greener). Yes. It is only at times when they want someone to play with. As long as you can place children in their lives for them to create relationships with- it will go away. We are still new on our journey and it constantly evolves, but that is the state of life. Homeschooling can be hard in its own ways, but the difficulties I face on this path are far more worth while than my stresses of their public education year.
  • *My kids have always been homeschooled and love it. They have many friends who go to public or private school and from what they have heard, they are glad they never went. They are 19, 17, and 14.
  • *You don't need to send hI'm to kindergarten, you could teach him this year and then put him in 1st grade or continue at home. My kids are young (3 and 20 mths) but I go to a hs playgroup. They meet weekly and have a separate group for the older kids. They also have different activities every month or so. So although I homeschool my preschooler I'm included with the group. I pick their brain all the time, and I belong to various groups on fb and everyone is very helpful. They have been where I haven't yet and are glad to help! 
  • *HA my problem with my boys when they were that age is OVER socialization. Remember you have to think out of the box too. Your children will have time for so much more. I loved the relationships my boys had with the older neighbors in our neighoborhood or in our church. They both also did the rec sports leagues and church activities. It wasn't as if they were locked up all alone with me.
  • *My boys are both graduates. My oldest called back from his first year of college and said don't put yougest in ps. Youngest did at times want to go, but not till high school and he was the only one home. They both definitely see the benefit of hsing especially in the younger grades. PS has to have the expectation that everyone should be somewhat on the same page, but young kids aren't there are early bloomers, regular bloomers and late bloomers. Hsing gives you that opportunity to do things at your child's speed.
  • ME: You all have been so helpful! I keep showing my husband and sister all of your responses because my sister is considering it with my niece and obviously my hubby has to be on board for it to work! I really have only heard 1 bad thing from anybody in regards to homeschooling. It is a friend of mine and she has a cousin who was homeschooled and works at the Rec where they did some sort of organization for homeschooled kids and she said that a lot of the kids were socially awkward and that her cousin is the same way. I honestly feel like it depends on the family and the parents on whether or not the kids will have problems socially. This is who they learn their actions from and no matter if they were HS or in PS they probably would have been awkward. Does that make sense? Opinions?
  • *I was an awkward public schooled kid. My daughter is a social butterfly homeschooled kid. The schooling isn't what makes them awkward or not. It's just who they are. 
  • *Socially awkward hsers. I agree there does seem to be a lot of them, but what came first the socially awkward kid or did the kid become socially awkward because of hs. There are awkward children in public schools too, they are seen as the quiet, out of place, bullied kids or maybe the freak. They are there. So did parents see that their child was different and realize that hsing would be the best avenue for that child? We may never know. All that said, there are plenty of regular joe shmoe kids being homeschooled too. In fact my boys both get that a lot-"you don't seem like homeschoolers" type comments all the time. and the " Geez you seem so Normal". That always cracks me up.

So from all of this advice, suggestions, and input we have decided to homeschool.  So here are the reasons that we came up with for homeschooling.

1.  Family time:  my husband works long and odd hours and the constraints of normal school hours will mean that my son will see him on weekends only and for a few minutes in the mornings.

2.  Individualized attention: I can give my boys the one on one attention that they deserve.

3.  No bullying:  There is so much bullying and bad behavior in public schools it honestly scares me.  They will still have plenty of interactions with other kids and I am sure there will be bullying situations, but it will be way less than in public schools.

4.  Wasted Time:  There is so much wasted time in schools.  It makes it hard to put him into a place for 8 hours of the day when I can complete what he learns in that time in less than 3-4 hours a day and add family values and important everyday learning opportunities.

5.  Education Designed for Them: Of course there are standards and tests that even homeschoolers have to take, but in public schools nothing is actually geared towards the individuals.  It is expected that everybody learn the same way and take the tests they are required to take.  Homeschooling allows for the freedom of learning in different ways.  I did a test run for 3 days so far and found a free online curriculum for Kindergarten.  A big thing this year will be reading and the program offered online flashcards and sentences online.  He did it for the first 2 days and told me he was bored and didn't like doing it on the computer.  I made him paper flashcards and he has been much more responsive and has already learned a stack of words and sentences.  

My school district is not a bad district, and for most people that is the first reason for homeschooling. I am lucky that if I do decide to send him to public school in the future he will be in a good school.  There are other smaller reasons, but these are the biggest.  

After we made the decision I sat back and I kept thinking "wow, I don't have to wrap all of our fun into the summer.  We can have fun and do things all year long!"  Another thought that goes through my mind is "I am so happy to be able to avoid the morning rush and then the dinner and bedtime rush.  Now we can actually enjoy each other's company and not be on such a tight schedule."

Good luck in your decision making process and I hope you do what makes you and your kids happy!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool?

I have been trying to decide what is the right decision. My choices are homeschool or public school. And I have until the 15th to decide. My oldest will be starting kindergarten and I am so scared I'll make the wrong choice.

I normally listen to my gut and it's normally right but my head and my gut are not agreeing and I don't know where to go from here!  So here are my concerns. 

If I homeschool:
1.  Do I start now and not expose him at all to public school?  If I don't put him in kindergarten at public school and  homeschooling doesn't work out, will he have a terrible time adjusting to public school?
2.  What if I put him in public school for kindergarten and want to homeschool after that but he likes public school?  Even if I know he will be more educationally successful with me homeschooling him or if his personality changes in ways that we don't like?
3.  What if I don't like it?
4.  What if he doesn't like it?
5.  What if he doesn't pay attention and doesn't learn anything?
6.  Will he miss out on things like skipping class and the ability to make his own mistakes?
7.  Will he be able to make lifelong friends?
8.  What if in 5 years I need to go to work full time and he has to go into the public school system?  How would he adjust?

If he goes to public school:
1.  Will he really learn anything outside of what they test for?
2.  Will he get bullied?  
3.  Will he turn into a bully?
4.  What if he gets with a bad crowd?
5.  What if he hates it?
6.  Will he really be ok in a classroom for 8 hours a day?  My husband and I both hated school, I want him to have good memories of it. 

I am really torn on what to do.  I want him to have great memories of these years and he has the rest of his life to sit at a desk if that is what he chooses.

I just don't know what to do!  If you homeschool tell me why, if you don't, tell me why!  If you were homeschooled, how was it?  Help!