5 Things to Consider When Deciding to Homeschool

 

So you’ve decided to homeschool or you are at the very least considering it. It’s easy to get so bombarded with curriculum ideas and homeschooling styles that you forget a few of the basics. Here are some things I feel you need to know.

  1. State laws – Different states have different laws in place. Some states are very hands-off suggesting you send in a letter of intent to homeschool while others require more due process or they will mark your child as absent from their local public school. To avoid legal action find out what your state laws are concerning homeschooling and use your findings to decide which homeschool route is best for you. You can find out what your state requires here. We choose a state charter and explain our reasons here.
  2. Motive – Why are you choosing to teach your child at home. Religion? Content? Content delivery? Freedom to travel year around? Show business? Whatever the reason keep it in mind. You will likely need to remind yourself at least once a year why you choose to embark on this wonderful journey. This will also help determine which homeschool style or styles will help your family reach their goals.
  3. What’s the deal with socialization – I think every homeschooling parent has been asked this questions at least once, “What about socialization?” If I am in a chatty mood I will ask, “What about it?” Then listen as they find a way to politely ask, “Aren’t you worried your kid will be weird?” The worry is that the homeschooled kid will grow up without friends and become the awkward co-worker that doesn’t know how to make small talk around the water cooler. Rest assured I don’t intend for my child to grow up and go work for someone else. My hope is that by raising my children outside the system they will be able to imagine and freely create innovative ideas that will allow them to provide jobs not work them. We are in such an interconnected society it is easy to put kids into extracurricular activities, take them on field trips or even travel the world. My objective is to equip my children to live their best life. Having friends and being a friend is on the list of things to make that happen but it is not the top of the list.
  4. Curriculum – This is tricky because, in my opinion, it depends on the age you start. The younger your child is the less curriculum they NEED to take that time to explore what works for you. When you find one you like to use it until you outgrow it. For math I use Horizons workbooks, for English, I use a personalized curriculum from a friend, and for social studies, geography, and science we wing it. I do use common core standards as a guide for creating content though. DO NOT SPEND A LOT ON CURRICULUM. There are so many buy/sell/trade groups online that allow you to purchase used curriculum so you can see if you like the program your interested in.
  5. Time – If you take out recess, lunch break, distractions from other kids, traveling to and from classrooms the average child spends less than 4 hours a day actually receiving education instruction. Keep this in mind when structuring your day. You are not teaching a group of 20 (unless of course, you are) so you do not need to structure your day as such. Last year we had a clear schedule you can see it here. This year we have an order but some days are shorter and some days are longer. Just the other day SJ finished school a whole hour early! We were both surprised and proud. She simply went through all her assignments for the day and was able to go play after. There is no rule that says all four hours (or less) of instruction have to be done at once. You can break it up based on your schedule. Do you both work best when you sleep in? Great! School starts at noon! Are you a night owl? Start school after dinner. You can even do math at sunrise and English at dusk.  Explore and see what works best for you there is no hard fast rule.

Homeschooling is awesome! It’s freeing in that my children are able to learn in an environment tailored to their needs by a teacher who is personally invested in their growth, me! Please comment below with any questions you may have. I hope you take the plunge!

Product Review – Adapted Mind

I am pretty excited to share with you my thoughts on the website Adapted Mind. The company “turn(s) real math into a delightful game”. We signed up for this website in June to serve as a supplemental game for SJ to keep her math skills sharp. The site offers both a family and school account. We signed up for a family account. We received a free month so we tried both the reading and math programs.

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Ease of Use: Lets talk about the math segment first. When the student first logs in they are given an assessment that determines where in the program the student will start. They are then walked through a series of games. There are three modules that are recycled throughout the lessons. The equations change but the format stays the same. SJ was able to stay engaged due to the offering of badges for reaching program milestones.

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There seems to be at least 100 badges. I will catch her exciting the game to check her dashboard for the next available badge. Each “lesson” as it is called provides an assessment of what the child has “learned”. This portion of the program can use revising since the lesson is only taught if the student gets the question wrong. This is frustrating for SJ so I teach her a lesson offline and then allow her to play the game to make sure she understands the concepts. Please be advised this program uses common core so that may be a good or bad thing depending on how you feel.

The reading section of the site features Fairy Tale characters that can be unlocked through the progression of the program. This part did not have an assessment and SJ quickly grew bored of the program despite the unlocking feature the site offered. It seems this section was an afterthought so we opted out of continuing the reading section of the site but we did keep the math.

Introducing New Concepts: In the math section there is no formal introduction of a new concept, topic, or idea to the student. If your child is a perfectionist like mine and the suddenly are faced with an unfamiliar equation then are immediately quizzed it can be daunting. However, the progress report is visible to the student. SJ’s goal is all green’s.

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Parent Resources: Adapted Mine offers worksheets! These worksheets make preparing the student for the upcoming topic easy. They are very plain but serve as a great guide. You can write the problems on a white board and use manipulatives. They take the guess work out whats next while allowing you to see what grade level your child is currently working in.

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My favorite feature is the email the site sends at the end of the day. The email lets your know how much work your child did. What they need to review and where they excelled.

AdaptedMindEmailIt also allows 5 students per family account that is $2 a month per student! I recommend checking it out. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as some other sites but it may be worth giving a shot for a free month. Sign up for you free month of Adapted Mind here.

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola reminds me of early morning hikes, field trips and play dates. It is an all around healthy, easy, guilt-free comfort food. Its also extremely versatile. My kids love to help in the kitchen so this is a recipe they can do alone without much interference. It involves measuring, self awareness, and critical thinking. I ask the following questions to keep them engaged and learning.

What ingredients do you think will make you full? Why?

Which ingredients are sweet?

Why honey instead of sugar?

Which ingredient did we use they least of? The most of?

Once you start asking your students questions more questions will naturally come about as you explore what you are doing and why. Remember it doesn’t have to be a well planned lesson to be a lesson. Look for ways to teach your children as you go about your regular activities.

This is our go to recipe but feel free to sub out ingredients and please let us know your tasty combinations below.

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Homemade Granola

3 cups quick oats                                                                                                                                     1/2 cup honey (replace with Aguava to make vegan)                                                                     1 cup peanut butter                                                                                                                               3 tbs protein powder                                                                                                                             1/2 cup chopped walnuts                                                                                                                       1/2 cup sunflower seeds                                                                                                                       1/2 cup raisins                                                                                                                                         1/2 cup dried cranberries

Mix all ingredients. Pack down into a lined square pan and refrigerate for 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

** If you want granola but not in bar form you can make these into balls or cut the amount of peanut butter and honey to make it more like a crumble.

 

Homemade Vegan Yogurt

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My kids love yogurt! This year we eliminated all dairy from our diet and adopted a mostly plant based diet. My kids didn’t mind to much but they did miss yogurt. I stumbled upon a two ingredient recipe from Minimalist Baker and had to try it out. It was a hit! I didn’t even need to go shopping since we had all the ingredients in house.

I simply put a can of full fat coconut oil in a glass mason jar, broke open 4 – Life 9 probiotic supplements, mixed them in and covered the jar with cheesecloth. I let the mixture sit for 24 to 48 hours. Once it is thick like yogurt you can go ahead and place it in the fridge.  This perfectly tart yogurt also works well as a vegan sour cream. Make and easy parfait with 15 Min Jam homemade granola and fresh fruit.

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Probiotics are great for your gut health and ultimate physical well being. It encourages the growth of good flora allowing you to better break down food which reducing bloating, discomfort and may even lower your chances of colon cancer. Many doctors recommend taking probiotics after a round of antibiotics to restore any micro-organisms who may have been removed by the medication.

This easy homemade yogurt is a great way to introduce students to micro-organisms and their role in the human body. Dr. Binocs has a cute video appropriate for elementary aged kids.

Followed up with questions such as:

What kind of microorganisms are there?

What are hyphae?

Why are micro-organisms important?

Are bacteria good or bad?

Please consult your doctor or a medical professional before adding any supplement to your diet.

15 Minute Jam

 

 

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We use jam in this house for quite a few things. A classic PB&J, to top some homemade yogurt, on a slice of fresh bread or to top some vegan pancakes. Once I found out how easy it is to make I began making jam at home. We have a purple plumb tree in the backyard and lots of little hands so our jam making shenanigans began. First we started with plumbs alone, then plumbs and strawberries now we mix up whatever fruits we have in the house that are about to go bad.

This is the recipe we use to make our delicious jam.

3 cups purred fruit (the picture above is blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.)

1 cup of sugar or Stevia

3 Tbs of low or no sugar pectin

(I used orange vitality oil from Young Living to give this blend a hint or orange)

Bring puree to a boil.  Mix pectin with sugar to prevent lumps. Add sugar mixture to the fruit a few tablespoons at a time until the sugar and pectin dissolve.  Once the fruit  mixture reaches a boil that cannot be stirred down remove from heat and add to hot jars.

Meanwhile place a pot of water on the stove to sterilize the jars and lids that will hold your jam. Place glass jars in the boiling water to sterilize. Remove right before filling. The jars should still be hot when they are filled with the hot jam. Put the lids on the jars while it is still hot and leave on the counter to cool. The jam will thicken as it cools.

 

 

 

Vegan Pancakes

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We’ve been a dairy free family for some time but transitioning to a mostly plant based diet has been fun especially when one member of our family is gluten intolerant. Its easy to replace meat with bread especially when snacking so I was on the hunt for a gluten-free pancake my husband could enjoy.

This simple recipe yields 6 medium sized pancakes

1 1/4 cup of gluten free flour (I used 1 to 1 baking flour so wheat flour will work as well, do not use coconut flour)

2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/4 cup water

1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (plus an additional tablespoon for pan)

5 drops Young Living Tangerine Vitality Essential oil.  (We love the combination of citrus and cranberry. Fresh cranberries in the batter makes delicious pancakes.)

Mix all dry ingredients add wet ingredients. Stir well. Place a griddle or skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Once skillet is hot. Drop dollops onto griddle or skillet, flip when it bubbles. Cook another two minutes. This taste great with homemade 15 Min Jam. Enjoy!!

Fake It Till You Make It and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves

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1. YOU CAN NOT ACT YOUR WAY SAVED Showing up to church on Sunday and to a mid-week service is not salvation. Shouting “Amen!” or running the aisles alone will not get you into heaven. You can not “Fake it Til You Make It” in the church. This is how people who are not really seeking after God end up in positions of leadership. They know the drill. When to clap, when to shout, and when to bow their heads in prayer.

We are loosing our youth and young adults in droves because the old addage “Do as I say, not as I do” simply doesn’t work. We have to BE saved not ACT saved even if it causes us to do things our local church may not agree with. If our young people are not equip with the important things like, how to pray, how to study The Word or basic apologetics they will go out into the world and waiver.  I sometimes wonder what church Jesus would go to if he were here. I’m inclined to believe it would look very different that we’d imagine.

2. DISOBEYING YOUR PASTOR IS NOT WITCHCRAFT 1 Samuel 15 makes it very clear that the Isralites were in an act of rebellion because they disobeyed a mandate from God. This was before they could go to God themselves. Before the ultimate sacrifice. In a time where the only time God’s voice was heard was through another. When you depend on the voice of another person to be the voice of God in your life you are short changing your salvation. This is a dangerous practice that can land you well outside the will of God. God wants to talk to YOU. He can and He will communicate with you in a way you can understand. Seek God daily, read your word and you will find your pastor will confirm the Word of God. What you hear on Sunday morning should not be a surprise it should be confirmation of what God has been showing you throughout the week.
3. SIN DOES NOT CAUSE DISTANCE FROM GOD (Ps. 11:5, Heb. 10:26, John 8:34) Have you ever had a sick child. I mean a child that is covered in vomit with chronic diarrhea walking towards you. Your instinct is not to rush toward them but it is to help them. You start getting them to the bathroom, the place where you can take off dirty things. Then you get them disrobed, they can’t stay in those filthy clothes. You then get them in the bath, they need to be covered with soap and water to remove the residual mess. See this is how sin is to God. The fragrance of it stops Him in His tracks and compels and answer. He summons our hearts to a place where we can be cleaned. (Rev. 3:20) He beacons us to remove the filth (Acts 2:38). He promises His Holy Spirit in return. Like a hug for our soul He beacons us into His bosom. His presence permeates our being and treats the root of our disease. Our sin nature. As long as we are willing…. Some of us choose instant gratification over treatment, conformity over treatment, apathy over treatment until we began to convince ourselves we aren’t sick with sin. Slowly but surely the symptoms show up. The stink, the filth, the justification, we bat God’s hand away as He beacons us to be cleansed. Let me tell you my friend, He will knock but you must answer, and answer and answer. Sin is a slippery slope whose intent is to kill.
The bottom line is seek God. There is no perfect church out there but if you search for God you will find Him. The most important thing is to be where He is calling you to be and serve where He is calling you to serve.