Category Archives: For Mom and Dad

Risky Play is Necessary Play

Earlier this year LittleMan and I were fortunate enough to come across a fallen log on one of our nature walks. Our experiences exploring that log reminded me of a lovely post I had read weeks before about a group of children exploring a fallen log (Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes). Sandi, the author of Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes, and I have similar beliefs about risky play for children. We both encouraged the children in our care to do only what they personally felt safe doing.

LittleMan at first was tentative, though he became more confident with time. I said nothing and merely stood by observing as he worked.
The Benefits of Taking Risks, Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

The Importance of a Support Network in Homeschooling

To say my husband and I are not close with our families would be an understatement. It isn’t an issue of not loving them or not caring about them. More of an issue of not understanding them. We don’t really have much in common with our families beyond genetics and a common past. On top of this, poor communication between us and my own quick temper have caused some past visits to not go as smoothly as they could have.
Still I hope for a day when we can have a stronger bond and my children can benefit from that sort of family closeness. I’m realistic enough to know my MIL will never have a girls night out with me, but maybe we could someday smile and chat about something besides the weather for a few minutes at a family gathering. I know next to nothing about the woman but I’d like to get to know her, she seems nice.

Last week, when my mother-in-law, brother-in-law, and his wife drove 15 hours to come visit us, my husband and I went through our usual pre-visit jitters. But unlike every other visit, we worried about one extra thing that had never been an issue before: our decision to homeschool. (more…)

Why do I homeschool?

There are innumerable reasons I could give in answer to this question:  the nationwide failing public school system, the consistent news articles about teachers who raped students, the statistics that prove homeschoolers are outperforming their public school peers, the fact that my own public school experiences were miserable and I want something better- something happier -for my own children. (more…)

7 Types of Resources for Homeschooling Families

There are two schools of thought in raising children. There are those who believe, “it takes a village to raise a child.” There are also those who claim that they’ve, “seen the village and don’t want it raising [their] child.”
My beliefs lay somewhere in between. I believe that it does take a village to raise a child AND I believe that it is the parent’s responsibility to choose who they trust to be a part of their child’s village.

So what are the options for a person like me who can’t do it all on my own but doesn’t trust the public school system to do it for me?

1- Friends and family.
Have an aunt whose a world traveler, an uncle whose a math whiz? Tap into that resource. Most people are happy to help educate the next generation if the topic is one they are passionate about.

2- Homeschool Co-ops.
A co-op is a group of homeschooling families who work together to educate their children. I am fortunate enough to live in an area of the country where homeschooling is fairly common compared to other areas. However, even if you live somewhere where homeschooling is a rarity, there are always online co-op organizations. I’ve even seen homeschooling mothers from different continents collaborate to teach their children.

3- Online and/or college classes.
There are online courses available to teach children middle school and up in subjects that you might be shaky in, such as science and industrial technology. Even though they are done over the internet, your child would still have a teacher whom they could email for questions and guidance. Many schools even offer student chat rooms where your child can chat with classmates about the subject matter.
If your child is ready for it, you can also enroll them in a local junior college and start getting some credits under their belt. Many homeschoolers graduate high school with a leg up in college for this very reason.

4- Hire a tutor.
A less expensive and more personalized option might be to hire a local highschool or college student to work with your child once or twice a week.

5- Set up an apprenticeship.
If your child has an interest in trade skill, it might be possible to find a master of that trade who is willing to mentor them. No, a local mechanic can’t provide your child with a degree in this field, but they can talk to them about mechanics as a career choice and work with them on the very basics of car maintenance. The same could be said for shadowing a newspaper editor, farmer, franchise owner, minister, etc..

6- Let them get a job.
If your child has an interest in owning a daycare, let them get a part time job as a babysitter or nanny. If they have an interest in becoming a pastry chief, let them work in a bakery. In theory, there are alot of things that a person might think they want to do, but until they try it for themselves, they’ll never know if its an interest they really want to pursue.
I can’t tell you how many children I’ve known who wanted to be a veterinarian when they grew up because they wanted to pet the doggies and the kitties. It never occurred to them that they’d have to do unpleasant things like surgery and euthanize animals. A few weeks sweeping floors and emptying trash cans in a veterinary office might help them realize that they’d be happier with a career as a pet groomer, dog trainer, or working in a doggie daycare.

7- Consider computer programs and online services.
The other six options listed here are person-based, involving flesh and blood people who can help you and your child navigate the upper years of homeschooling. These interactions with persons [of all ages] who share interests with your children are crucial. However technology has come a long way and there are options for this generation which we’ve not had in the past. These options vary by subject. If your child wants to learn a foreign language then Rosetta Stone is said to be a great program. If your child needs help to be a more confident writer then a service like Grammarly might be able to help. Grammarly is an automatic proof reader which is designed not only to correct grammatical and spelling errors but also to walk the writer through correcting the error, improving writing skills and resulting in a more confident writer. I’ve never personally used Grammarly, however it has been rated #1 in its category on Top Ten Reviews.*

So as you can see, there are a lot of options available to homeschooling families. We don’t have to do it all on our own, we don’t have to be superheros nor know-it-alls. We also don’t have to relinquish our child’s education to the public school system to get them quality help where we might be lacking.
I feel much more confident as a homeschooling mother knowing that there is support out there. The sky is the limit when it comes to my child’s education.

* This post has been sponsored by Grammarly. All opinions are my own.

Child-led Experiences

It is hard for me to let go of “control” (or whatever false sense of control I think I have). I spent my formative years in a public school system that failed to assign any sort of child-led or independent research until the upper highschool grades, at which point most of the students struggled because we were so used to being spoon-fed information, opinions, and the like. I was told how to act, how to think, how to feel. My interests and ideas nor the interests and ideas of my classmates was never really of much importance, and now as a parent I realize how much I *don’t* want any of that for my children. Still I struggle. I struggle to make sure that they feel supported to explore the world around them on their terms. I struggle to stand back and say nothing when I really want to call their attention away from whatever they are exploring to point out something I think would be more interesting. Who am I to tell them what is interesting? Only they can decide that.

Today I opened myself up to seeing the world from my children’s perspective and had a truly wonderful afternoon of child-led experiences in our own front yard. (more…)

eBook Review: Homeschool for FREE and Frugal (put it on your must-read list)

As I’ve stated before on this blog, our family recently had to downsize.
What I failed to mention was that, for a time, I feared we may not be able to homeschool.
I’ve been very lucky that while the current situation has proven difficult, its not impossible to homeschool our children.
But I did need some help figuring out how to make the process as affordable as possible.

*Google enters stage left*
An online search brought me to several promising and helpful websites, one of which was Free Homeschool Deals.
I’ve only been signed up for her newsletter for about a month now but already I’ve learned how to read free Kindle books without actually owning a Kindle, I’ve been directed to several amazing school supply sales, and I’ve been offered some really fantastic printables. I also found at the bottom of my newsletter a free ebook (which is also available directly from her website).

Yesterday I decided to finally read my free ebook copy of Homeschool for FREE and Frugal, which is written by the owner of Free Homeschool Deals and has contributing chapters from several other homeschooling moms.
This. Book. Is. FULLY. AWESOME.

Through this book I heard several inspirational stories about homeschooling success on a zero ($0, nada, zip) budget. I learned about how to create my own homeschool printables. I learned about how to network with other homeschooling moms (an area I was desperately lacking in knowledge of). I was even directed to about a half dozen websites with free printables, free lesson plans, and/or free curriculum. The ideas presented in this book were creative, innovative, and EXACTLY what this first time soon-to-be homeschooling mom on a small budget needed to read.

Thank you so much to the author and contributing authors of Homeschool for FREE and Frugal!
To anyone interested in starting homeschooling, or interested in cutting down the cost of their homeschool, who has not read this book or not checked out the website Free Homeschool Deals, I highly recommend doing so as soon as you get the chance.


Easter FAIL

I’ve always prided myself on the fact that I’m a bit adventurous with my children. Whether it be a cross country trip by train or a simple afternoon craft project at home, I’m easily excited and up for just about anything. Any excuse to have fun will do. Generally speaking, I’ve been lucky that the things I try usually work out well. Maybe not always as planned but we have alot of fun.

This Easter was no different. I had my crafts bookmarked. New egg dye ideas were found on Pinterest. I read up on all the local egg hunts and picked the best one to attend.
Then, failure hit. Big time.

Easter FAIL from Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)

Toy Story Theme Bath (and my thoughts on commercializing childhood)

Allow me to preface this post by saying, this was not my idea. I wish I could say it was but truly, the credit goes to my husband, Marmaduke, for having thought of this particular theme. It was a couple months ago when I was really sick and just didn’t have it in me to do night time routine with the kids. After having seen me put together so many theme baths, Marmaduke decided to try his hand at it. LittleMan loved it so much, we’ve re-created the theme twice since then.

I love this bath for two big reasons:
1- it offers old, lesser played-with toys in a new and interesting way, making them fun again
2- its a great way to get the kid to wash his own toys

If your child is a fan of the Toy Story trilogy as well as a collector of crap character toys, and has generous loved ones (like mine unfortunately is lucky enough to have) then you probably already have everything you need to create a similar themed bath in your own home. So without further ado…

Toy Story Theme Bath from Suzy Homeschooler (1) (more…)