Finding Like Minds

Striking out on my own to homeschool my children was a bit scary. I only knew of a few people who were doing this and I wasn't certain that their reasons were my reasons. Three years later, I am still searching for more like-minded people in the homeschooling community. 
I am a secular homeschooler, but I am not a secular person.
I educate at home in order to provide my children with a solid classical education. 
I use curriculum, but I cater to my children's learning styles and interests. 
I am a middle-of-the-road type of homeschooling mom. 
Let me tell you, it's lonely and a bit scary in the middle of the road. 


Curriculum Review: All About Spelling

All About Learning Press, Inc.

Spelling has always been a struggle for me. My 11yo daughter avoids writing because she is restricted by her poor spelling. My 8yo son hates writing and prefers to only do copy work. My 4yo daughter wants to learn to read and do schoolwork. Imagine my delight to find a system that helps us all. Yes, it even helps me. All About Learning Press has a system called All About Spelling that has already produced great results in just a few weeks.


Thinking Outside the Library Aisle

The library is my number one tool for homeschooling. My kids know the children's section at our local branch like the back of their hand. It has become automatic to walk into the library and head to our favorite sections in the children's section. But, as so often happens in life when things become routine, we came across a problem that resulted in a new way of doing things.

The problem? My son got bored.

He'd read about animals, robots and knights. Then he read about mars, dinosaurs, and volcanoes. Then he read about more animals, more robots and more knights. Then he became bored. the problem was that he'd already looked through most of the books on the subjects he was truly interested in and he wanted more.  It got to the point that he no longer wanted to go to the library. He stopped asking for books because he didn't see anything new.

The solution? The adult nonfiction area.

I decided to take him to "my area" and let him see if there was anything he liked. We walked a few feet and he stooped to check out some books that I don't often pay much attention: the huge coffee table books on the bottom shelf that are to big to shelve with the regular books. Most of these books are beautiful and full of pictures and information about a particular subject. He chose a book full of real pictures from Mars. The next weeks brought books of shells, windmills, and bird eggs. We have to be very careful with the giant books because I fear the day I have to replace one of these works of art, but the way they have re-sparked my son's interest in books is worth it!


Plotting Her Own Course

File:Applewhites.jpgMy 11yo has just finished listening to Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan. It was a fantastic book for my homeschooling middle schooler! One of the main characters is homeschooled and her approach to creating her own unit studies inspired my daughter to want to try her own.

In deciding on a unit study, we took a closer look at what we are already involved with.  Lately, I've been working hard on my gardens and my daughter has been fascinated with flowers. A unit study on flowers seems appropriate. Up to now, she's been pressing flowers and drying them in silica gel to preserve them. She wants to add photographs of the flower before preservation to the project

We haven't mapped out the entire project yet, but some areas of study we are considering are:

  • History: look up the origin of the flower and any folklore that may be associated with it.
  • Science: study the parts of flowering plants. 
  • Art Appreciation: Georgia O'Keeffe, Claude Monet, and Van Gogh's use of flowers in their paintings. 
  • Latin: the scientific names for the flowers and the meanings behind them. 
  • Math: Fibonacci in nature.
  • Literature: poems of flowers. 
  • Geography: The state flowers of all fifty states. 
What would you include in a unit study of flowers? Have you ever developed your own unit study? 



To test, or not to test? That is the question.

Do you test you kids regularly? Would you even if your state or school did not require it? My school does not require testing. This is our third year of homeschooling and I am just as torn about the question as the first. 

I believe testing is a skill that students need to have if they ever want to succeed in college. 
I would like to see where my kids stand on a national average.
I would like to find any gaps in their learning. 

I believe testing is flawed and can cause unneeded stress while they are still little. 
I don't really care where my kids rank. I care about them learning. 
I know their gaps are going to get filled anyway. 

So my solution for the time being is to give my kids the California Achievement Test at home unofficially.  I use released tests from previous years found on this website. Yes, it eats up my ink on the printer, but ordering the official test is costly too. If you prefer the official test, the best place I've seen to do this is Seton Testing Services. They mail a test for you to administer at home and send you the results once you've mailed back the materials.