Saturday, March 26, 2011

Christian Homeschoolers - Beware this "Bible" based curriculum!

I have the Facebook (FB) page "Heart of Wisdom" liked and they recently shared this link:

I could NOT believe the few quotes they shared from this so-called curriculum.  The quotes I read did not sound like an instructional curriculum at all and especially not Christian.  I haven't heard of the curriculum before but for anyone out there who is a Christian homeschooling parent, I wanted to warn you that things like this are out there.  I suppose they think they're clever, undermining God & the Bible from "within."  I definitely agree with the wolf in sheep's clothing picture on this link. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Homeschool Meetup

James, Alexandra & I had our first meetup with a homeschool group this past Tuesday.  I joined the group less than two weeks ago in an effort to meet & make friends for James (and hopefully myself & even Alexandra along the way).  There were four other local homeschooling moms & their kiddos there.  Two of them were meeting up with the group for the first time like I was, so that was nice to not feel like the "new kid."  We all talked for a couple of hours & they seemed really nice.  The kids all had a great time with all of the bounce houses, even Alexandra enjoyed them!  (James would've been too scared at that age, especially by himself - she went in a big bounce house while I watched but wasn't in there with her and she did great!)

The group seems to have meetups at least once a week, sometimes more.  So I'm hoping that we will get to know everyone and make some friends.  It's great to know we're off to a great start as far as James getting quality socialization while homeschooling. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

The curriculum we chose for kindergarten.

So I looked at several different websites & the curricula they offered.  I chose to go with the Alpha Omega publishers.  They offer several great Christian based curricula.  Including the "Switched on Schoolhouse" curriculum brand that the Duggars use - which, if you're interested go to their site as there is a 12% discount offered that way.  We have plans to use that curriculum brand - I love that so much can be done online with instant grading & it even keeps record of all finished work & grades.  However, since that curriculum brand begins with third grade we will be using other curriculum in the meantime. 

What did we decide on for Kindergarten?  Horizons kindergarten phonics & reading set and Horizons kindergarten math set.  I have a Seasonal Science book I've been using with James for pre-k that will have plenty of activities we haven't done yet by kindergarten & some we can re-do if it fits.  As well as a book of other activities we can do if he needs or wants it.  One of my favorite books to use for pre-k here at home has been Alphabet on Parade.  The Seasonal Science, Alphabet on Parade & Just-Right Homework books all came from the Teach Mart store (physical store, not online). 

I've been reading that it isn't good to overload with too many subjects the first couple years of school & apparently the AOP (Alpha Omega Publications company would agree as both of the curricula brands they offer for kindergarten have basically just language arts/reading and math.  Horizons does offer health & phys ed sets as electives but I figure those would mostly be a waste. 

For physical education I'm hoping to be continually enrolling James in some sort of sport or physical activity class.  I've heard of companies that do phys ed groups for homeschooled children so I'll be looking into that as well. 

So I think that covers the curriculum.  If I left anything out feel free to comment or ask questions and I can always answer in comments or revise this post. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why I chose to homeschool.

I figure the best way to start this blog off is with an explanation of why I chose to homeschool.  There are many reasons why most people choose to homeschool.

One of my top reasons to homeschool is the fact that I can incorporate field trips into the schedule to aid in the love of learning.  Zoo trips, museum trips, nature hikes, hands on activities at home and otherwise.  It's exciting to me to think that we don't have to spend every day confined at home while learning.  There are many places (the zoo being one of them) that have days especially for homeschooled children to come for a learning session.  I am hoping to be able to go outside the home on a learning adventure at least every other week if not weekly.  Then add in sports, organizations I'd like them to be a part of & playdates/meetups.  So my son will be out in the real world around real children regularly.

Another reason is because homeschooling is a more efficient way to educate.  A teacher (bless them - they really are underpaid for all they do) is restricted in what they can do.  They have to take long pauses for the entire class to do things such as: passing out papers/materials, collecting papers/materials, potty breaks, lining up to go outside, lining up to go to the library/art/gym/etc.  These things happen multiple times a day.  So you can see all these pauses adding up throughout the day.  So in just a few hours at home a child can learn all they would in an entire day at school.

Which leads me to another reason I chose to homeschool - more family time.  This helps families to bond & get to know their child better.  It also helps to further instill & reinforce family values.

Homeschooling is also a lesson in self discipline for all involved.  For the homeschooling parent who needs to be sure their children are mastering the lessons they're learning, being sure they're using their time wisely, being sure that they're creating many opportunities for their children to get out in the world while learning as well as time to socialize, etc.  As children get older, there are curricula that is more independent learning where the child has to learn to be a self starter and therefore learning self discipline.  Of course this happens slowly over time, little by little with guidance from the parent(s).

Another great reason - sick days.  If a child is sick they usually have to have their assignments sent home to keep caught up.  A homeschooled child doesn't have to miss a day.  If they do (because they're just too sick to focus) then it's fine if they make up for it on a Saturday or something.

Less distractions at home than at school.  There are exceptions to every rule, I'm aware.  However, in general since it is just the parent(s) and possibly sibling(s) at home there are many less distractions than with all kinds of other children around to pass notes, disrupt the class, etc.  Again, back to less interruptions in learning for passing papers/materials around, etc.

My kids can get one-on-one attention which can really help them. 
I can help teach them according to how they learn best - auditory, visual, tactile.  I already know James is more of a visual/tactile learner.  So I plan to do as many hands on projects as possible with him.  I'd like to look into joining a learning co-op later on for science to help him get that lab experience and I'd definitely like to have things like a microscope at home.

Kids can focus more when they aren't hungry or tired.  If my kids didn't sleep well the night before, then they can sleep in & catch up on their sleep before doing their lessons (not that this would happen often as part of being responsible for their learning is making sure they're going to sleep at a decent time).   I also remember my brother & I were ALWAYS hungry after school all through our public school educational career.  Sometimes I couldn't wait that last 45 min of school because I was hungry.  Was I really paying much attention that last class as a result?  Most likely not.  So my kids can grab an apple while reading their lesson or something like that.  Definitely a good thing to be able to do.

Never a snow day!  Which means they also don't have to worry about any possibility of their "school year" going longer than expected.  Although on the flip side, we don't have to do a long summer vacation if we don't want to.  We can take more time off here and there throughout the year instead.  Or there is just skipping half of the summer vacation in favor of "getting ahead" in comparison with their public school counterparts.

With better time management at home there is more time to go out and volunteer in the community - again going out into the "real world" and getting positive experiences.  This also goes hand in hand with teaching my children to have a giving spirit & a servant's attitude in accordance with our Christian beliefs.

Which leads into the fact that we can choose a curriculum that does not undermine our family's Christian beliefs.  In fact, we will choose curriculum that supports our Christian beliefs.  I still believe that they need to be aware of secular beliefs in science (particularly "the big bang theory") but from a Christian viewpoint.

I only chose to share the latter reason last because so many people tend to think that is the only reason Christians like myself choose to homeschool.  It isn't.  It is a strong reason why but it most certainly is NOT the only reason why.  And there is nothing wrong with this perspective.  Think of it this way - an atheist/agnostic/wiccan/etc is not going to put their child into a religious private school, correct?  Should I bash them for that choice?  Then why should anyone from those groups bash a Christian for choosing to send their child to a religious private school or homeschooling their children in a religious environment?

Also, I've seen many facts and figures that state that (properly) homeschooled children are just as prepared and many times better prepared for college level education than their public school counterparts.

Lastly, I'd like to say that my children will most likely get MORE SOCIALIZATION through homeschooling than through public school.  They can go out to volunteer, play sports, join an organization like Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, co-op classes, play dates, etc.

Here are some great articles to support me:

The only other thing I want to add is the fact that I completely respect teachers.  I *really* wanted to be a lawyer at one point.  When I realized that wasn't for me I wanted to be a social worker so I could help children.  After thinking it over more (I figured that would be too stressful & depressing a job) I decided I'd love to be a teacher.  I worked at a daycare for a couple years and even got my CDA (Child Development Associate certificate).  I also appreciate what school systems would LIKE to accomplish.  I just feel that in my heart I am being led to homeschool my kids.  At this point in time I feel it is the best choice for my children.  This isn't a choice I'm making because I feel teachers are bad or inadequate.  I think many of them are underpaid and some may have their hands tied behind their backs in what they want to accomplish because of school policies, etc.  Plus with proposed educational budget cuts - I figure not adding to possibly increasing class sizes is good for everyone all around.

Hello & Welcome!

Hello & welcome to my homeschooling blog.  This is where I want to share information & my experiences in homeschooling with friends, family & others.  If you have any experiences with homeschooling you would like to share with me please feel free.  I would love to learn from other homeschooling families.