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The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast
17 minutes | Oct 11, 2018
Homeschooling works. Here’s how I know.
Since my sons have always been homeschooled and are now teens, I often have families that are considering homeschooling their kids, as well as families several years behind us in the journey, reach out to me for some reassurance that homeschooling works. Which is to say…what, exactly? Because like the homeschool socialization question, or the are your kids prepared for their future question, I think many people ask without stopping to consider what information they’re really seeking when they ask if homeschooling works. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) In order to know that homeschooling works, you have to define a few things. Consider this: how will you know if homeschooling works? Because it’s different for every homeschooling family. Whether or not it works for you will depend on how you define it working, which usually has a lot to do with why you decided to homeschool. Someone who chose to homeschool because of food allergies or medical issues may have a very different measure of success than someone who chose to homeschool simply so they would be able to deal with a parent’s crazy work schedule. Generally speaking though, I think the immediate path our brain goes down when someone wants to be assured that homeschooling works, is academic. And I get it. We tend to proceed in the same educational path we came from—even if we don’t immediately realize it—until we are challenged to look at our path differently. But if homeschool success for you is completely defined by knowing all the things, or being able to answer correctly when someone quizzes you on the planets or the presidents or a random multiplication problem…you’re still functioning under a public school frame of mind. I mean, if your main measure of homeschooling success is that your kids get into the college they want, then—in all honesty—public school could possibly work, too. Because public school kids get in to amazing colleges all the time. So, what are we actually asking when we want to know if homeschooling works? In public school, I was one of those kids who would do extra credit for the sake of getting over 100%, and 9 times out of ten aced whatever test I was given. If you base my public school experience off those classes, public school works. But, y’all, I squeaked by Algebra 2 my junior year of high school with a D-…and I think that was just because the teacher was being nice. If you based my public school experience on that class, it would be easy to say that a) I was a bad student and b) public school doesn’t work. If my homeschooled kid can rattle off musicians of the 18th century as well as their popular pieces, does that mean homeschooling works? If your homeschooled child can’t, does that mean homeschooling doesn’t work? See, academics are only part of the answer. And the longer that a parent homeschools, the easier it is to see that. How do I personally know that homeschooling works? There will always be those times we question our decision to homeschool. That’s part of being human. There will always be what ifs and how would things have been different if we had chosen a different path. I think it’s healthy to question it every so often, and compare it to you your original homeschool mission statement to figure out if you’re on track with what you intended the homeschooling experience to be for your family. And yet, even with the questions, I would agree that homeschooling works. So how can I confidently say that homeschooling works for us? Here are five reasons—along with me playing devil’s advocate about them—which, I promise, has a purpose. 5 ways I know homeschooling works… 1. My kids can converse with people outside of their peer group. Not only that, but my kids aren’t hiding in the corner. Quite the contrary—my kids can get up in front of hundreds of people and rock out on stage . But…could that be true of public and privately schooled kids as well? I mean, I knew a few classmates in high school who could have sold ice to an Eskimo and got a 20% tip while they were at it. And—if you watched the rock concert video linked above (hint, hint)—how in the world would anyone know which kids in that band were homeschooled and which weren’t? 2. My kids get along really well and want to hang out with each other—to the point that when they were younger, I’d sometimes threaten to separate them because it was like having two best friends sitting next to each other in class, whispering and giggling and not paying attention to the teacher. But I knew (and know!) lots of families in public school who got along really well. I also know a lot of homeschooled families whose siblings annoy each other to no end. 3. I’d say my kids are academically smart in lots of ways. I mean, I had to Google some of the words that my oldest used in his paper on mythology last week. But friends, there are lots of smart kids in public school as well. There are honors and accelerated and college level classes in public school for a reason. There are plenty of kids who are ahead or behind or right on track, regardless of who they turn their work into. 4. My kids want to learn. They constantly seek information about whatever they want to know more about. But, let’s be honest—we live in a time when everyone can get information about anything with the swipe of a finger or click of some keys. The world is different now. We’ve all got access to answers at the touch of a button. And while some homeschoolers may have more time to access it, they don’t get the monopoly on it. Consider this: how is it that my kids know more about Nirvana than I do—and I was rocking out with Nirvana when they were in their prime? It’s because I had to wait for an article in Spin Magazine to learn more about Kurt. My kids (and anyone else’s kids) can stream, YouTube, Google, (and everything else!) to find lost recordings and random facts. And, sidenote: if being passionate about learning is a homeschooling thing, what about the moms who message me complaining that their kid doesn’t want to do anything but lay in bed all day? 5. I’m often told that my kids appear to be happy and mature and responsible. Which is always nice to hear, so thanks. And yet, I look at my kids’ friends—many of who are not homeschooled—and I think the same about a lot of them. I can also say that over the course of our homeschooling journey, there have been a few homeschooled kids I’ve admittedly steered my children from hanging out with because, well…not happy, mature, or responsible. Are my children the way they are strictly because of homeschooling? Has homeschooling made them who they are today? Do their strengths, weaknesses, interests, and their way of conducting and interacting with life come directly from our choice to homeschool? Would my kids have been the same if we’d put them in public school in kindergarten? I don’t know. I just know that homeschooling is what we chose and—even all these years later—we like it. And really, that’s all that matters. So that’s why it works. Homeschooling works. And other things do, too. Wondering if homeschooling works? It can. I think our experience proves that. But here’s the thing. Admitting that homeschooling works for some kids doesn’t mean that public school doesn’t work for anyone. This doesn’t have to be either or. This doesn’t have to be in comparison to. Maybe the question should be is homeschooling another viable option? Would that maybe take some of the stress out of the decision to homeschool? To know it doesn’t have to be the be all, end all and that it’s just one of several things that could work? I mean, a Chevy doesn’t not work just because a Ford or a Dodge does. In all honesty, lots of things work. Homeschooling works for us because it’s what we chose to do and it hasn’t failed us. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Homeschooling works. Here’s how I know. appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
15 minutes | Sep 27, 2018
Prepared for the future: the one skill you’ll actually need
As my kids get older and near the end of their homeschooling journey, I hear more and more often that I need to make sure they’re prepared for the future. I bet if you have older kids, you hear that a lot, too. But can we break this down for a second? Because much like with the what about socialization question, I’m a little confused. I mean, prepared for the future. What. Does. That. Actually. Mean? (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Being prepared for the future means…what, exactly? If someone cooks their whole life on a gas stove and burns their first meal on an electric stove because they didn’t realize the burner stays hot after you turn it off, does that mean they weren’t prepared for the future? I think we need to be honest about what it means to prepare kids for their future. Because what I see is a bunch of stressed out parents desperately grasping at straws, trying to give their kids a bunch of skills and knowledge to take on a future that no one is being honest about the fact they can’t really see. And the sad thing about all the parental desperation and anxiety and anguish over their kids being prepared for the future? It’s not just because parents don’t want their kids to fail. It’s because the parents don’t want an unsuccessful launch to reflect poorly on their parenting (and in our case, homeschooling) skills. Kids, you need to know what to do right now! (Except, spoiler alert: not really. Because it’s gonna change.) It’s all about age 18, right? Kids, you need to be prepared for all the things. You need to know how to do all the things. And you need to know what you want to do with your life. No stress, kids, but if you could make a decision right now, that would be great. But let’s be honest here: were you prepared for the future? Which is to say—at 14-17 years old, were you preparing for life at 23, 45, 67? Did you feel prepared for life at 18? 21? And if not, what happened? Wait, don’t tell me. Everyone looked at you like you were clueless and everything went wrong and the world ended, right? Or could it be that when you were faced with things you were uncertain about, you continued to learn and you continued to prepare for the things that followed. None of us know our future. My plan at age 17 was to make a life in musical theater. Now I’m a homeschool mom (what?) and an author who lives on a homestead (what?) where I bake bread, can spaghetti sauce, and butcher chickens. Y’all, I didn’t learn how to do any of that when I was younger. Does not already knowing any of that mean I wasn’t prepared for my future? Or does that mean I just moved forward with the realization that every single day of my future might bring something new I’d have to branch out and learn about? Because, I mean, if you’re not sure how to fix the lawnmower, you can Google it. Just make sure you have a cat with to help. The future is always changing. Always. Let’s talk about the millions of ways I was not prepared for my current reality because most of my current reality wasn’t even a thing when I was preparing for “my future”. I mean, the internet didn’t even exist when I was younger. Now I make my living on it. As homeschoolers, we of all people should understand that learning never stops. And you know what? I think our kids get that. They live in a world where they can get the answer for any question or tutorial for any skill with the swipe of their finger. Learning is second nature to them, both as homeschoolers and kids who were born into a world of increasing technology. I mean, ask me about the 40,000 things my kids know about guitars, computers, and music history that I did. not. teach. them. To be honest, I think our kids already have that whole “how to learn” thing down. I think it’s the adults who have a skewed vision of what’s ahead. How do you prepare for a future that’s always changing? Learn how to learn. In preparing for the future, yes, teach your kids life skills. It will obviously be helpful in their adult life if they can cook, do laundry, and change a flat. And yes, encourage your kids to take care of the things they need to take care of because that’s just part being a responsible human being. Sewing on buttons. Life skills, yo. But the closer my kids get to launch, the more important I think it is to simply teach kids to learn because that is what we will all continue to do in the twists and turns and highs and lows that the future will inevitably bring. Listen. We continue to prepare for the future because the future is whatever is ahead of us—whether we are 18 or 58 or 88. The future is always ahead of where we are now. The future is not a solid block that you hit when you graduate, leave home, and begin adulting. The future is everything that happens after today. (And you can repeat that sentence every single day until you die.) The future is (hopefully) a really long pipe you continue to slide through, not a wall you hit. So maybe the best way to prepare for the future is twofold: ** continue to live and explore and experience and learn and know that little bits and pieces of it all are helping with what’s ahead, ** but also know that no matter how much we explore and experience and learn, we’re not going to get it all. There will always be stuff we have to learn right when we need it. Maybe being prepared for the future means knowing how to deal with the things you don’t already know. Maybe that’s a more useful approach than trying to learn every. single. skill by the time you’re 18. Because—speaking from this side of things—there are far more things I’ve encountered in adulthood that I didn’t understand or know how to do than things that I did. And no amount of “preparation” from my parents would have changed that one bit. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Prepared for the future: the one skill you’ll actually need appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
19 minutes | Sep 6, 2018
Teach Kids to Cook: 7 Cooking Tips You Forget
Are you trying to teach kids to cook? Great! But you should really read this first. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) As soon as my sons were tall enough to reach the kitchen counter (while standing on a chair), we had them in the kitchen helping us cook. So one would think they are experts, right? I mean, I do have the kid who woke up in the middle of the night to bake a cake, and then realized we didn’t have frosting and had to figure out a recipe that didn’t take butter or milk (because we didn’t have any in the house.) Props to you, dear boy. My teens sons are constantly hungry and always in the kitchen. Cooking was one of the best things we taught them to do. (Mom of teen boys, can I get an amen?) We have a ton of cookbooks to work from (one of our favorites right now is Eat Your Way Through the USA) and the boys are in charge of making one meal from it every week. (Which, by the way, is a great goal for your older kids!) But even though our sons have a lot of experience, there are many things we’ve realized that they still get tripped up on when it comes to cooking. Here are seven things we’ve found they didn’t know about cooking (or that we have to remind them about) that I urge you to keep in mind when you teach kids to cook. 1. Teach kids to cook by sharing the definition of cooking and baking terms. Cream the butter and sugar does not mean, as my 13 year old suggested, add cream to the butter and sugar. And while many recipes are written very clearly, some books (especially old cookbooks) assume you know a lot of the basics. So even though your kids may have figured out that cream the butter and sugar means to mix them together, they might not yet know that the butter has to be soft in order to do so. (And no, not all recipes include softened butter in the ingredient list.) Mixing, beating, combining, and folding all mean different things. Right? Right. Oh. And pro tip from my boys: when you mix flour into anything, if you turn the beaters on at full speed, you’ll have flour all over the kitchen. Which you sorta think is funny, but your mom will just give you that look. 2. Identifying or converting measurements/ingredients is important when you teach kids to cook. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I know by sight which is the 1 cup measuring cup and which is the 1/2 cup measuring cup. I didn’t realize this until my sons were trying to make brownies from scratch and needed a 1/3 cup measuring cup. Because you know what we realized? All of the markings on our measuring cups are worn off. Sometimes we are so used to our kitchens and the things that are in them, that we don’t realize someone else doesn’t know all the ins and outs and quirks of how we do things. Know what I mean? The other thing my sons have learned is that there are some ingredients in some recipes that you can use a little less of or a little more of. You don’t always have to be precise. After a lot of time in the kitchen experimenting, you learn which is okay and which isn’t. More vanilla in the cookies? It’s all good. More flour in the bread on a humid day? Totally acceptable. More oil in the brownies? No. Just…no. But this isn’t innate, in-born knowledge. It takes a lot of experimenting, or for someone to tell you. So tell your kids when you teach them to cook. 3. When you teach kids to cook, understand that some cookbooks assume you know a lot already. In really old cookbooks, it is often assumed the cook knows the order in which to mix ingredients. Old cookbooks would also assume you knew the temperature something needed to be baked at, or they would use terms like “slow” or “moderate” oven. So, while some cookbooks might specifically say softened butter or all ingredients at room temperature, not all of them will. Which is one of the reasons it’s so important to… 4. Read through the whole recipe before using it. I know. It sounds like one of those elementary school activities where they’d make you read through the whole worksheet and do a bunch of steps, only to find out if you read through it before you actually started the steps, you only had to really do the last step on the page. But this is real life in the kitchen, y’all. This set of directions actually matters. It’s important to read through the recipe because: a) sometimes not all the ingredients are listed in the ingredient list. The boys made a bread here using a recipe that listed every single ingredient except for salt in the main ingredient list. Then, somewhere in the directions, the cookbook snuck in 2 tsps. of salt. Do you know what it’s like to make bread without salt? It’s not very good. Had they read through the recipe first, they would have known we needed salt to make it and would have waited until we had some. b) sometimes the method of cooking (or other important information) isn’t stated until the end. Another recipe the kids recently tried was a pork chop recipe that was actually meant to finish in the crock pot for a few hours. But the recipe wasn’t listed in the crock pot section of the cookbook, so they went to work on the recipe thinking it was an oven or grill recipe. 5. Something we often forget when we teach kids to cook? That thing about prep time and serve time and getting it all on the table at the same time time At some point in your child’s cooking career they will move from “can you make this salad?” to “can you make a spaghetti dinner tonight?” A dinner meaning the main course and the sides and the dessert. And it’s awesome when kids get to that point because it means that mom doesn’t have to do all the things. There is a certain kind of math required to figure out how to put all the finished dishes on the table at one time. If you’re making fried chicken, when do you start the mashed potatoes? If you’re making lasagna, when do you start the bread sticks? And if you plan to serve pie for dessert, when do you make that? 6. Dear kids: you need to be able to find the ingredients and supplies for what you’re making. When you teach kids to cook, don’t forget part of making the meal is finding the ingredients. It’s one thing for mom and dad to collect the ingredients, set out the recipe, and say “here, make this.” It’s another thing entirely for the kid to figure out if they have enough oil, garlic powder, flour, or ground beef—not to mention taking the ground beef out of the freezer to thaw if necessary. 7. Which kitchen tools go with the task at hand? A beater or stand mixer is good for some things, and a wooden spoon is better for others. Sometimes the choice of tool will change the consistency of what you’re making. If you don’t have a vegetable peeler, can you use a paring knife? Maybe. Can you use a larger knife for a smaller job? Not always. These are all things that are great to talk about when you teach kids to cook. The truth? Experience is the best teacher, and there is always more to learn! Everyone eats, so it only makes sense that everyone knows how to prepare food. Challenge your kids to learn more in the kitchen when they are ready to do so. The more time you spend in the kitchen cooking, baking, and expanding your horizons, the more you will learn. No one will learn everything they need to know from one cooking course, but by spending a lot of time in the kitchen working and observing, nose in a cookbook and hands on the ingredients, it’s amazing the skills that kids (and you!) can add to the repertoire . Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Teach Kids to Cook: 7 Cooking Tips You Forget appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
17 minutes | Aug 30, 2018
Do you need a designated homeschool space?
As a homeschooler, it’s common to wonder if a designated homeschool space is your key to all things awesome about homeschooling. But is a designated homeschool space necessary? Let me share with you what I’ve learned about the almighty homeschool room since we started homeschooling many years ago. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) First, be honest: why do you want a designated homeschool space? Maybe you don’t want a giant world map on your living room wall. Maybe the mess of homeschooling is threatening your sanity. Maybe you’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest. There are lots of reasons that homeschool moms cite for wanting their own homeschool space. A homeschool “room” is good if you really need boundaries, have a family situation that requires it, have a significant other that doesn’t want school stuff everywhere, run a business from home, or just need the separation for your own sanity. Some people want it because they want a spot to keep their stuff. Not only to keep curriculum and supplies organized, but also to be able to shut the door on it. Other people want a homeschool space to do their stuff in. A place to do the experiments and the art projects and not have to move stuff every night to set the table for supper. We used to dream about having a room that was our designated homeschool space because we wanted a spot to both do stuff and keep stuff. Like the concept behind a classroom, but we would never in a million years call it that. Right? Hmmm. A sample of the ways we have organized our homeschool space… Since beginning our homeschool journey in 2007, we have homeschooled in two different houses. It’s worth bringing up that in both of those houses, we shared space with another family at one point or another. Every family has their own situations they’re working through and different reasons they might want to have a designated space. Here are just a few ways we’ve set things up over the years, and our frustrations with them at the time: Books/supplies shoved in an upstairs closet, “learning” at the couch or kitchen table: Our learning took place in many spots around the house, but all our supplies were in the least convenient place in the house. But it was the space that was available, so that’s where we shoved everything. It was disorganized, and also happened to be right next to where night-shift working dad was sleeping, so digging through the closet to find craft supplies or that one book meant I was always worried we were messing with his sleep. Books/supplies/ “learning” in the living room: It was nice to have all our books and supplies located in the same place that we hung out most of the time, but it also left our stuff in the middle of everything all the time. When we were sharing our home with other family members, it also meant that other people sometimes felt they couldn’t be in the living room at that time—or even on the main floor, since we had such an open house plan. Books/supplies/ “learning” in the sorta finished basement: This set-up placed necessary boundaries around our “school time” (from other family members) and made it quiet so Dad could sleep, but there were no windows and we felt shut off from everything else. Which was ironic, since at that point we thought we really wanted to be shut off from everything else so we could focus on whatever we were digging into that day. The myth of the designated homeschool space… When you don’t have a homeschool room, you can talk yourself into believing that everything you’re struggling with about homeschooling would be fixed if you just had that space to call your own. So what happened when we got our own homeschool room? When extended family members moved out to new homes, we used the space that was open as a homeschool room! An actual room with a table, chairs, a couch, shelves, maps and a timeline on the wall, dry erase boards galore, and huge closet to store everything. It was everything we wanted! …and we almost never used it. Oddly enough, the biggest thing we learned in that one year with our amazing homeschool room was this: when you have a tree fort, a hayloft, a swing, a comfy couch, you don’t need—and won’t use—a homeschool room. See, the couch in the living room was more comfortable, and we all fit better together on it. The table in the dining room was bigger and more sturdy than the one we had in the homeschool room. We couldn’t see the barn or the chickens or the cats or if someone was in our driveway from the homeschool room. And for as fabulous as it was to have a huge closet to store our stuff in, we ended up dragging it out all over the house anyway. So…we did get our homeschool space. And we learned a lot in it. Mostly that we didn’t need it, at all. Our homeschool space now… Now, we have all our stuff in a main floor closet (my office) and we do school wherever. Sometimes the boys are in their room, sometimes we’re outside, sometimes we’re sprawled out on the living room floor, sometimes we take over the kitchen table. Sometimes we’re (gasp!) not even home. And yes, as your kids get older and more independent in their work, homeschooling can become easier. You may find that your “need” for a homeschool space changes. You will probably find you need less “stuff”—which is often because of the purge that happens when you realize you will not ever have time for the 45,327 things you’ve picked up at curriculum and used book sales. You will probably also find that your older kids do a lot of their stuff apart from you, so attempting to shove them in a space “designated for learning” wouldn’t make a lick of sense. And maybe that’s part of homeschooling we need to be okay with. Didn’t we decide to homeschool because we didn’t want to be bound by the four walls of a classroom? Homeschooling is expansive. It takes up a huge part of your life…because it is life. So it’s totally okay if homeschooling takes over a huge part of your house as well. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Do you need a designated homeschool space? appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
19 minutes | Aug 23, 2018
What about socialization? The answer we’d LIKE to give…
When you announce you’ve chosen to homeschool, there is a question that follows about .03 seconds later: what about socialization? Ah. Good ol’ homeschool socialization. Some people ask what about socialization because they’re genuinely curious, and you can have a great conversation with them about homeschool socialization. But there are other people who simply insinuate that homeschooled children will a) make a fool of themselves or b) make things difficult for other people by not being up to par with the rest of mainstream society. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) My sons are now both high school aged homeschoolers, so we’ve had a decent amount of time to think on an answer. We’ve also had some time to notice some oddities in why the homeschool socialization question is even asked—there are a few realities that I think are hiding in plain sight. But first, a couple explanations. First off, what even is a well-socialized person? It has been suggested by some homeschoolers that many people aren’t even sure what they’re really asking when they bring up the homeschool socialization question. So I thought I’d find out what exactly a well-socialized person is. In a poll on social media (which was worded in a way so as not to call out homeschooling) here are the most common answers I received when I asked what traits make up a well-socialized person: ** Knowing how to politely conduct yourself in a situation with people who are much different than you (race, religion, sexual orientation, education, career, beliefs, opinions.) ** Understanding how to respectfully disagree with someone, and how to walk away from a conversation that heads south ** Appropriately engaging in a conversation with one or more people: eye contact, nodding, listening, responding, contributing ** The ability to pick up on social cues (which vary depending on the group/circumstance) to know if the way you’re acting is acceptable. Why do people assume homeschooled children won’t be well-socialized? For some reason, there’s still a big part of society that thinks the poster child for homeschooling looks like a quiet, sheltered kid who is unable to carry on a conversation and walks around with two left feet. Homeschoolers are sheltered and locked in the basement or the closet, right? That one time I let my kids out of the closet. Homeschoolers are quiet. Or weird. Or don’t know when to be quiet. That’s because of homeschooling, right? No, actually it’s not. There have been quiet and weird and oh-my-word-will-you-please-stop-talking kinds of people since the beginning of time. I went to public school, and if there is some stereotypical way that homeschoolers act, I can think of many homeschoolers who were apparently hiding out at our public school. Another reason some people think homeschoolers will have a hard time being “socialized” is because they’re thinking back to their own education. Many people remember school as the first place they were surrounded by people and therefore able to make a ton of friends. As in, without school, how would they have met anyone or learned how to act in a group setting? Whatever the reason for the persistence in the what about socialization question, here’s what I really want to get it: for all this talk about homeschoolers needing to make sure they are “well-socialized” like all the fabulous wonderful people out in mainstream society… Have you been in public lately? We live in a world of road rage. Impatience with the cashier. Rude comments to the wait staff. People who loudly belittle their kids or their spouse in the bedding aisle at Target. And on and on. And while I’m not suggesting for a moment that this is the status quo for 99% of in the mainstream public, you unfortunately don’t have to look far or listen long to experience it. I’m not saying society is doomed or that everyone is horrible and unkind or unable to act like decent human beings. But, you guys. Seriously. Why are my teens standing in the laundry soap aisle, uncomfortably listening to a woman rant about how stupid teenagers are because all teenagers everywhere are eating Tide Pods? Why is a simple trip to an ice cream shop ruined by a group of teen guys showing off their machismo with faces and chuckles about other customers, profanity-every-other-word, and nasty comments about some girl they must have all known? Why is the man in the car next to us sitting with his window open and screaming obscenities at the car in front of him? Why is there a list of topics we can’t discuss in certain company because it triggers an actual tantrum? Why are my kids wondering why the husband and wife are screaming at each other in the park? Shall I go on? Or would you just like to add you own examples? Now. If you’re going to tell me that the actions of Tide Pod lady and Ice Cream Shop Boys and everyone else had nothing to do with where they went to school and has everything to do with how they’re choosing to act in public, I’d like to say a) I completely agree with you and b) let’s apply that totally-makes-sense statement to homeschoolers as well. There are people who don’t know how to act in public, and it wouldn’t matter where they went to school. You knew these people when you were younger, and you know these people now. Better yet, have you been on social media lately? From behind the safety of a screen, people bicker and call each other names and revert to tactics one would hope they stopped using as a little kid. Forget about a presidential election or a huge politically charged story that breaks. I’m talking about random everyday stuff. I’m talking about something as simple as someone stating an opinion about the cost of apples. Or posting a picture of their family doing something that someone doesn’t agree with. I’m talking about the firestorm that engulfs your feed because people don’t know how to just scroll past something they don’t agree with. And I’m being asked how I plan to bring up a well-socialized homeschooler? Sometimes I’m lost about where to look for examples in our “well-socialized” society. What a well-socialized homeschooler looks like… A well socialized homeschooler actually can look like this. Believe it or not, these kids know when to bring the crazy and when to tone it down. But really. In all seriousness, I figure if my kids can: be engaged in polite conversation, excuse themselves from a conversation that’s going south, do what needs to be done when they don’t necessarily want to do it, respectfully disagree with someone, conduct themselves in daily matters in the world, and advocate for themselves when required, …we’re probably doing okay. And the thing is, I’m actually not sure that that has anything to specifically do with homeschooling. It’s just a kid/adult choosing to act appropriately because they’ve hopefully had it modeled to them by someone else. And it takes time. And it can be learned anywhere. Homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling, Rainbow Brite schooling. You may think I’m overreacting. Maybe. But as a homeschooling parent who has heard what about socialization countless times, and then turns to see an obnoxious chunk of the mainstream public that doesn’t necessarily mimic the almighty “well-socialized individual”, it’s one-part exhausting, the other part incredibly frustrating. And yes, we can refuse to get sucked down in the negative that’s around us. We can bring positivity and understanding and patience. And hopefully our kind of “socialization” can lead by example. So, while homeschoolers will always and forever be asked what about socialization, perhaps one version of the best answer we can give is, “we’re hoping to do better than what we just saw on the news.” Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post What about socialization? The answer we’d LIKE to give… appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
15 minutes | Jul 19, 2018
Anxiety About Homeschooling High School? Don’t Say This.
It’s not uncommon to have some anxiety about homeschooling high school. The high school years tend to bring out every single worry and concern that we successfully kept hidden while doing elementary art projects and morning basket story times. And it doesn’t help at all when a family member or friend says, “Wait. You’re going to keep homeschooling (gasp) all the way through high school?” It’s no wonder we’re a nervous wreck—and possibly stashing more chocolate than usual. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Recently I watched a discussion unfold online where two very experienced homeschool moms discussed their anxiety about homeschooling high school. Both of their oldest daughters had finally reached high school age, and the two moms openly discussed how the upcoming years were completely stressing them out as the homeschooling parents. And then—one of the moms said it. “But this is high school. Now it matters.” And then the other mom agreed. “Yeah. High school matters.” Wait. Hold up. Stop. We need to talk. Don’t let this be the reason you have anxiety about homeschooling high school. Mamas, hear me now. Yes, high school matters. Yes, there are certain things you need to pay attention to when your kids enter those years. And yes, high school means you’re getting closer to the end of your homeschooling journey. But to say that high school matters is to insinuate that all the years that came before high school didn’t matter. That all those years were just practice. That those years can somehow be written off as fake or pretend or somehow less important than the four years that happen to make up the end of your homeschooling journey. Anxiety about homeschooling high school: the struggle is real When you get to the point that you’re homeschooling high school? You’ve hit the big time. Or something. At least that’s what they make it seem like. To be honest, there are things about homeschooling that become more difficult as your kids get older. Yes, with high school, you’ll have to figure out how to make a transcript. And depending on what state you’re in, you might need to change the ways you’ve been documenting what you’re doing—now that your child has reached the almighty 9th grade. Yes, it’s totally common to worry about all those extra-curriculars that “most other kids” take part in that your kid might not end up being a part of. It’s common to suddenly worry about prom and football and band and other missed opportunities, even if up until this point you haven’t given it single thought. Even if you swore you weren’t going to worry about those things. Yes, there is usually anxiety about homeschooling high school and the possibility that you’ll totally miss some requirement and “totally mess things” up for your kids. Yes, it’s natural to worry about failure to launch. It’s totally normal to come up with a list of things in your head that were really awesome about homeschooling but you’re totally sure are going to backfire now. Because, high school! Anxiety about homeschooling high school: so many reasons What is it about high school that screams stress? Is it anxiety left over from when we ourselves were entering high school? Is it a deep, dark fear that our kids are being deprived from some great experience we had as a high-schooler? Is it because we completely doubt our ability to teach our kids the multitude of things we think they need to know before graduation? Maybe. Or maybe it’s this: maybe it’s simply that high school feels a bit like the final test—not only for your kid, but for you, too. It’s an, okay, parent, this is where the rubber meets the road. It’s you said you were going to homeschool through high school and that it was going to work. So, let’s see it work. It’s like a big test. A test we freak out about because we think the whole world is watching. And I get that. I understand that anxious, nervous, I-don’t-want-to-fail-my-kid ball of yuck in the pit of your stomach. But, you guys. To say that what you’re doing matters now simply because it’s high school? No. Anxiety about homeschooling high school: because, college But, I hear you. I can hear the rumblings of stressed out homeschooling parents. All together now, in one collective, anxiety filled moan… What. About. College? I’ve asked around to homeschool graduates, public school graduates, and college professors alike and I’ve come to a conclusion: if your kids make the decision to go to college, do you know that once they are there, who actually cares about anyone’s specific high school experience? No one. Because they’re not in high school anymore. If your kids make the decision to immediately enter the workforce, do you know that once they are there, who actually cares about anyone’s specific high school experience? No one. They’re not in high school anymore. Why are we putting so much emphasis on high school? Let’s maybe stop putting high school on a such tall podium. Yes, pay attention to the things your kids will need during the high school years. Research the answers to questions you have. Make friends with homeschooling parents who have already been through the homeschool years, or who are going through them at the same time as you. Be an encouragement to each other. But please stop freaking out about high school because you think for some reason grade 9, month 1 magically matters more than grade 8, month 9. Let’s be realistic regarding anxiety about homeschooling high school As your kids get older, it’s time for independence. It’s maybe time to tweak your curriculum. It’s time to consider whether your homeschool co-op is right for you. It’s time to sit down with your teen and have a chat about goals. But let’s not make these last four years more stressful than they need to be. I mean, there is only so much chocolate in your stash, right? So, listen to me. It mattered that your kids learned to read. It mattered that they learned to add and subtract. It mattered that your kids figured out how to cook and how to use scissors without cutting themselves. It matters that your kids figured out what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar. It matters that they learned basic first aid. It matters that they learned to play the recorder or the piano or guitar. And all the things they learn and the experiences they have as a homeschooled high school student will matter, too. The same as all of their education and experiences have. You’ve done amazing. The journey has been great. Now just keep putting one foot in front of the other. All the way to graduation. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Anxiety About Homeschooling High School? Don’t Say This. appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
24 minutes | Jul 12, 2018
Where did the homeschooling high school community go?
It’s a commonly asked question once you reach the years of homeschooling high school: where did the homeschooling high school community go? (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Reaching the last leg of the homeschooling journey (read: high school years) really feels like a huge leap off one platform to another; one platform being everything I’ve taught you, the other platform being the future. There is a huge space in the middle where your kid is trying to figure out the best way to get from one platform to the other, and it can be pretty freaky for you to watch them hang out there in the in between—talk about anxiety about homeschooling high school! Couple that with learning to drive and first jobs and all the other firsts and changes that come in the teen years, and it’s a recipe for an anxiety filled cocktail with a glittery umbrella on top. So as homeschooling parents, we look for blogs and groups and a homeschooling high school community to help us through this because while homeschooling teens can be easier in some ways, homeschooling older kids also brings challenges. So we search…and get frustrated that there isn’t as much community available as when we were trying to figure out a fun project about Greek mythology or how to deal with cabin fever. As homeschoolers get older, it’s common for parents to feel like the homeschooling high school community is less active or—depending on where you live—completely disappears. It’s a fair accusation. Because it’s true. So why does the homeschooling high school community disappear when your kids get older? What happens to all the blogs that help walk homeschooling parents through the high school years? Why aren’t there as many groups for parents of high school aged homeschoolers? Let me address this as a homeschool blogger and homeschool Facebook group owner who now only has high school aged kids. The homeschooling high school community changes because blogging and social media changes when you have older kids. I started homeschooling in 2007, blogging in 2009. As I write this, we’re entering our 11th year of homeschooling and my sons are 9th and 10th grade. (Side note: I look at homeschooling parents who say they have 20+ years of homeschooling experience and I think I’ll never get there. I had two kids 12 months apart. When my youngest graduates I’ll have 14 years as a homeschooling mom under my belt and will be completely done with the journey.) Having two kids so close in age was great in that it was almost like homeschooling twins. With the exception of reading and math for a couple years, my kids worked from the same curriculum (when we used it) and explored as they wished otherwise. But having two kids close together made every stage of homeschooling come…and then go. And it was never repeated. Had I had 4-6-9-13 kids, I would have experienced those stages multiple times and been able to write about them multiple times with different tips each time. But as it sits now? I only have high schoolers. And let me tell you, blogging and social media as a mom with only high schoolers is a totally different ball game. Which is frustrating. As a homeschool parent with only high schoolers— and also being a person with a voice in the homeschool blogging world—I often hear what happened to the homeschooling high school community? Or there aren’t as many blogs for parents of older kids to read—why aren’t you writing as much? This is something we talk about a lot in the homeschool blogger community. We hear your cries. We get your frustration. We are right there with you. Psst: Looking for some of my favorite bloggers who are part of the homeschooling high school community? Check out… Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers Starts at Eight Homeschool-Your-Boys Annie and Everything Heart to Heart Homeschooling Practical, By Default There’s No Place Like Home Hide the Chocolate BJ’s Homeschool The Mommy Mess It’s not necessarily that all bloggers go into hiding or quit when their kids get older—although the pool of people who continue to homeschool through high school does get significantly smaller. So, it’s a combination of that and that there is less to write about. I mean, there are clearly high school things to write about like transcripts and getting into college and independence and organization. But friends, there is only so much you can say about all that. And there aren’t any cute, Pinterest worthy projects to go with any of it. The struggle really comes in when your last kids are in high school. When you have nothing left to write about but high school. I know many bloggers who have high schoolers, but they also have elementary kiddos. And while their older more independent kids are off on their own, working through their stuff, the moms are still focused on what their littles are doing. And what’s more exciting to write (or read!) about: super cute project about certain thing, or five things to remember when you’re writing your transcript? For those whose blog is their source of income, they are very aware of the traffic to certain topics. And yes, it’s important to have those blog topics for parents of older kids, but the readership of pieces for parents of older kids sometimes isn’t as large as one would assume. Sometimes, even though bloggers know the posts are important and that the homeschool high school community is needed, we feel like we’re yelling into the void. It’s as if we know it’s needed (because we need it too) but when it is there, it’s not as active as the same things for parents of younger kids. In other words, when looking at the stats, the “need” for it, and the need for it are sometimes two different things. The reality of building a homeschooling high school community while having teenaged homeschoolers… High school can be hard to talk about because the closer you get to launch, the closer your kids get to adulthood, the more individualized and different they become. If you grabbed a bunch of adults and said let’s make a blog about stuff, that group of 20 adults would probably have so many different ideas and directions and beliefs that it would be impossible to just sell it as a blog for adults about stuff. The same is true when kids get older. They’re figuring out life and who they are and where they want to take their future. And that box or label of “homeschooler” doesn’t really mean anything anymore. And because of that, it’s hard to find a box to stuff that blog into. Yeah, my kids are high school aged homeschoolers. And once you have high school aged homeschoolers, you will realize that’s about as descriptive of a term as “animals on planet earth”—there are so many differences there, right? Another truth about kids getting older is that what’s okay in one house isn’t okay in another, and that has become way more obvious as my sons have grown older—at least in my experience. Do your kids have a bedtime? A curfew? An alarm clock? Limits on internet? Do your kids curse? Are they allowed to date? How open are your discussions about sex, drugs, and rock and roll? These are all things that come into play as your kids get older. And while I’m very much a you-do-you kind of person, the fact that my sons have been raised in a filterless household makes talking about our daily life as high school aged homeschoolers a little bit tricky sometimes. Actually, a lot bit tricky most of the time. I mean, I can tell you that my sons are make me belly laugh hilarious. But the majority of what we laugh about is never going to make it to social media because it’s almost always of questionable taste. Because that’s just us. Building a homeschooling high school community—how much do you share? I think when we have older kids, there is a shift. As our kids get older, our lives together aren’t completely our own to share. The what and the how and the when of sharing needs to be different. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, other than the fact it’s a hard shift to make—especially if you’ve been known online for the last however long for sharing all the things about your family’s homeschooling journey. Most of us would never build a blog that’s completely based around some facet of our husband’s, partner’s, or mother’s life. There’s a lot of stuff within those relationships that isn’t ours to tell. There’s a lot of stuff that if we do share it all, it’s going to affect our relationship with that person. It’s similar when our kids get older, especially when they get on social media. My sons have no desire to see me write a blog post about how they struggle with XYZ and then pass it around for all of Twitter to see. I wouldn’t want them to write the same blog post about me. So then, what actually is my purpose/responsibility to the homeschooling high school community? The entire purpose of my blog since the day I started it has been to help and encourage people along their homeschooling journey. It’s just that the older my kids get, I feel like I have less to share about that journey in order to encourage and help you. Not only because there’s less that I should share, but because so much of our life now is just doing life. It’s not projects. It’s not choosing curriculum. It’s not dealing with socialization questions or co-op or anything like that. It’s just life. And I’m not sure how exciting a play-by-play journal of life at Amy’s house really is. So, to be completely honest I (and lots of other bloggers nearing the end of their homeschool journey) struggle to figure out what to write about or encourage you now as a mom who only has high school aged homeschooler
17 minutes | May 31, 2018
Homeschool Moms: You are Not Always the Best Teacher for Your Kid
You are an amazing teacher. You are kind and good and hardworking and full of knowledge and many other things that a good teacher should be. But, having said that, there is something we need to get straight. You are not always the best teacher for your kid. Hopefully at some point you will realize this. And hopefully you will be okay with that realization. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) For me, it all started when my kids took to messing around on the guitar and zoomed right past everything I already knew. And I thought it was neat and nice and lots of other adjectives until it continued on for some time into something more than just a hobby and they started talking college and careers. And it continued on even further to the point I no longer understood the musical terminology they were using and they didn’t have anyone but each other to talk about it with. And then my oldest said he wanted to learn more about music theory and composition because it might be what he wants to do with his life and my youngest said he wanted to study neo-classical electrical guitar like Yngwie Malmsteen and I gave them both blank stares because none of those things are on my checklist of Things I Know and Understand. That’s when I realized I’m actually not always the best teacher for my kids. I needed help. I needed to call in reinforcements. Which lead us to taking weekly lessons with two amazing teachers at The Wirth Center for Performing Arts. My sons have found their happy place and are continuing to learn things I never would have been able to teach them myself and they wouldn’t have picked up on their own. We can’t teach everything. Some of us start out our journey as homeschoolers honestly believing we can teach our kids everything they’ll need to know. We get caught up in the I taught my kids to walk and talk and I don’t need a degree to teach my kids to add and read and write or what insects are in our yard or the names of the constellations or how many amendments there have been to the Constitution. I have the power of YouTube and Google, hear me roar! But friends, that doesn’t last forever. Yes, you can teach your kids a ton of stuff. But none of us are an island. None of us know everything, even with the power of YouTube and Google. not always the best teacher for my kids. We’re not always the best teacher for our kids. We need other people—especially when our kids get older! You’re not always the best teacher for your kids. Here’s why… ** 1** How many of you went forward with a future that your parents would have had enough knowledge to teach you about? The world is big, friends, and there are people out there who know a lot more about different stuff than you do. **2** Sometimes other people speak your kid’s language. Sometimes other people have the same knowledge or skill set as you, but can explain it in a different way than you can—and it might be the way that clicks with your kid. **3** Some kids just can’t learn certain things from their parents, and some parents just can’t teach their kids certain things. There are personality clashes. There are misunderstood explanations. And there are resulting emotions that wouldn’t come into play with someone less involved. Kids need you, but they also need other people. Kids need objective feedback, especially if it’s something art based. Your kid wants to know they actually did a good job on that painting, song, or dance—and that you’re not just saying it because you’re the mom. Kids perform differently when it’s not for Mom. Think of it this way: for some people it’s really easy to stand up in front of a room of strangers and deliver a speech or sing a song. But put them in a room with their five closest friends or relatives? Suddenly their mouth is dry and they can’t remember what they were going to say. Kids often provide a different quality of work for someone who is not Mom. Several years ago when my youngest was taking a firearms safety course, I was nervous because he’d never taken a class in a classroom setting and I wasn’t sure it was going to go all that well. But my fidgety distracted kid who (at the time) bucked me if he had to sit and write for more than .14 seconds, finished his entire firearms safety workbook without me asking him even once. As adults, I think we can admit that we are different around our family than we are around our church congregation, and we act differently around our best friends than we do with the parents of our kids’ friends. This same reality comes into play when your kids are learning everything from you. They’re only expressing one part of who they are, and sometimes it’s a different part of them that needs to shine in a certain situation. Maybe it’s a different part of them that needs to be learning/experiencing new things. Friends, we are not always the best teacher for our kids. Other people are amazing resources! Let’s pretend you want to study how to raise chickens and you have a ton of books about it. Now let’s imagine that the internet is alive and well with sites having scads more information about it (like my other website, A Farmish Kind of Life) but you don’t have access. That’s what it’s like when we decide we’re going to be the one and only to teach our kids. It’s as if we are the books—and we can be really awesome, amazing, informative books—but our kids are never going to be able to pull up a video or a blog post about the current topic of interest without the internet (meaning, other teachers). Make sense? There is another reason that we’re not always the best teacher for our kids, and why other people are so awesome for teaching our kids. Other people have connections to the communities your kids need to be a part of in order to expand and soar in their ability. If your child is hardcore into oil painting, get them with the people who do that. If your son rocks at the guitar, help him find the community that will help develop that talent. If your daughter has an eye for graphic design, find her the people who can move her forward with her skills. Let other people teach your kid and let your kid connect with other people because you know what? Your kid can be pretty inspiring to that other person, too. Homeschooling should make your world bigger. My parents are very smart people, but there is a lot of stuff that I didn’t learn from them. I learned about those things from other people who were brought into my life in various instances. Sometimes we want to cocoon our kids; sometimes out of fear, but sometimes because we have this weird self-sufficient my kids don’t need anyone else sort of thing. Don’t do this. Seriously. Do not do this. Do not hold your kids back because of your a) fear or b) lack of knowledge on a topic or about a skill or interest your kid has. Conversely, do not hold your kids back because of your desire to show the world how much you (think you) can do. And yes, the internet is an amazing resource full of all the things. But we can’t always just turn to the internet. My kids learned a lot about music from YouTube and Rocksmith and tab searches on Google. But there is something electrifying about having a real live person in front of them in the flesh who speaks their language and can answer their questions as they come up. The choice is yours. When you reach something your kids want to learn more about and you don’t have the answers, you basically have two options. a) they can get a sub-par education from you, or, b) an amazing education from someone else. And this is not a slam on you, Mom. The fact that you lack knowledge and have to reach out for help doesn’t mean you’ve failed your kids. Realizing that you’re not always the best teacher for your kids doesn’t mean you have failed at giving them an all encompassing education self sufficiently. It means you paid attention to what your kid was looking for and went on a hunt—alone or together—to figure out how to make it happen for them apart from you. You sought and found the person who could best provide that for your kid. And the best thing about all that? You will get to see your kid light up after hearing an explanation from someone else that you could not have given them. Well done, mom. Well done. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Homeschool Moms: You are Not Always the Best Teacher for Your Kid appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
14 minutes | May 3, 2018
The Truth About Productivity (that You Need to Hear!)
Hey there, go-getter! Feeling frustrated because you’ve got a list of things you want to do but you just can’t seem to get them done? Listen up, because I want to tell you a huge truth about productivity that doesn’t always get pointed out by the people whose main goal is sell you courses and books. Lean in close… (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Girlfriend, here is the truth about productivity. Here’s the thing: there are seasons to productivity. And the reason for that, friend, is because there are seasons to life. There are times it just doesn’t happen. There are points in our life when we want to reach our dreams and goals, and it’s just not in the cards for those dreams and goals to be ours at that point. Like when your dream is to have a clean house and you have toddlers who are walking right behind you taking out the toys you’ve just picked up. Like when your dream is to have a giant garden and start a CSA but you’re caring for aging parents whose failing health requires constant chauferring to doctor’s appointments or decisions made regarding nursing care. But I get it. You want to do the things. You’re looking at your sister, your friend, your co-worker and thinking, “But look at them! Look at everything they’re doing!” Girlfriends. Grab a glass of wine. Have a seat. Want the truth about productivity? Let’s get honest about the stages of life we’re dealing with. When you look at someone’s life and think, “I don’t know how they do it all!” it’s quite possible there are some real differences between their life and yours that either you can’t see or you’re conveniently ignoring. If you’re lamenting over the fact your friend seems to have all the time in the world to train for a marathon while you’re just trying to find time to take a shower, remember that a) she doesn’t have all the time in the world and b) you have babies. Her children are driving and have their own jobs. Girlfriend, those are two very different stages of life. Yes, you may be able to find ten minutes here and there—and ten minutes can do wonders for your goal! But let’s be real. There are times in your life that if you can find those ten minutes, you’re going to use them to nod off at the counter or hide in the closet with some earbuds and a bag of frosted animal crackers. Am I right? I know I am. I was there, too. We’re not always realistic about our goals. In full disclosure, I totally get your frustration. I remember years ago, having littles, and looking at a book someone had written and sobbing to my husband about the author. Look at her, I bawled. Look at all the books she’s written! My husband—a genius patient man who understands the truth about productivity—pointed out she wasn’t up to her eyeballs in baby stuff, she was at least 20 years older than I was, and that I, one day too, would get there. He reminded me to be patient, and I sorta hated him for it. I wanted him to be wrong. But, as it turns out all these years later, he was totally right. The truth about productivity is we’re all doing a crap ton of work at whatever stage of life or momming or working that we’re in. All of us. The work just looks different at every stage of life. Another truth about productivity? Comparison doesn’t always help. How do you do all the things? I wish I had your energy. Do you ever sleep? Girlfriends. Do not ever compare your life to a snapshot of what you see someone else “being able to do”. While sometimes a healthy comparison can help you challenge yourself, comparison is also the thief of joy, the bringer of stress eating, and the reason your brain won’t turn off at night. Are there people who appear to be in a situation similar to yours who are doing and accomplishing “more”? Maybe. But is what you see them doing and accomplishing the whole truth? And even if it is, does that mean their life trajectory is supposed to be your path to follow? Maybe. But probably not. The only person who can really decide that is you. So know yourself. It’s important to remember that in some ways, having less time can actually make you more productive, but there is a time to recognize when the little time you do have needs to be put towards something else. If we are completely honest, we can probably admit that we’ve sometimes used our place in life as an excuse to stand still. But sometimes our place in life really is the reason we can’t move forward for the time being. Do you know yourself well enough to know the difference? Frame your perspective of productivity differently. There are times in your life when the goal you’re reaching for seems to slink further away instead of moving closer to attainment. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means that life is happening. And guess what? Sometimes the reason you don’t feel productive about the goal you’re trying to meet is because you’re busy with other things. Like raising babies. Like packing your family up to move across the country. Like caring for parents. It gets better. You will get time for you. You will have time for all the things you dream about doing. There’s a time to do all the things, and there is a time to eat frosted animal cookies. And if you’re truly in a frosted animal cookie eatin’ time, embrace it. Sometimes the time spent with those cookies is just the help you need to move on to the next thing. I promise you—and I speak as someone who used to have a lot of crumbs on my shirt—the time will come for you to move forward with your goals. In the meantime, think about your goals. Dream about your goals. Envision the finer points and make plans for your goals. Imagine yourself meeting those goals. Even if it’s not go time for you to do the heavy lifting required for those goals, you can still sift through the details and work out the kinks in your mind. The truth about productivity? It’s that you’ll get through all these seasons like a total boss and move on to all the things you want to accomplish—and you’ll do it like a rock star. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post The Truth About Productivity (that You Need to Hear!) appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
22 minutes | Apr 19, 2018
Less Time Can Help You Be More Productive
I get a lot of questions about time management and tips that will help people be more productive with the time they have. Now, I’m not an expert—at all—but I do effectively handle a pretty full plate most of the time. I homeschool my kids, run our farm, own multiple websites, have two podcasts, and have published several books. And I haven’t pulled my hair out. Mostly. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) I know you have many things you want to do. You want to clean your house. You want to read a book. You want to write a book or a blog or start a YouTube channel. You want to work out. You want to finish the project you started six months ago. Now, raise your hand if you feel like you don’t have enough time to be more productive and accomplish those awesome things you want to do. Because, Life. Right? You’ve got goals. I’m not talking about all the things everyone else wants you to do. I’m talking about your goals. And you need time in order to accomplish those goals. But maybe not as much time as you think. Wait. What? How can I be more productive when I don’t have a lot of time to be productive with? It’s ingrained in many of us that we need huge chunks of time—blocks of hours upon hours—to be productive with something. We’re also led to believe that spending, say, 10 minutes on something isn’t really committing to that something. One would think that if you have more time available, you can be more productive you can be with that thing you want to do. And as much as my logical side wants to believe that’s true, it has absolutely not been true in my experience. Let me explain. Every year my husband and sons take a week-long trip north to the cabin. When my kids were younger, I looked forward to this time in a serious way. A whole week where no one could bug me? A whole week to focus on the things I wanted to get done? I could write all the words. I could clean all the things. I could declutter. I could read two or three books. You guys, a whole week? I was going to get it all done and then some. But this magical burst of productivity I was planning on? This I’m gonna be more productive and do all the things explosion? It didn’t happen. It never happened. Let me be honest with you, because I’m all about being real. Ready? More time means more rabbit trails. It means getting distracted by stuff that doesn’t matter. It means you have time to overthink things and spend too much time on stuff that you wouldn’t if you didn’t have the extra time. I never got lost on internet rabbit trails or overthinking when the boys were home and I was trying to write or clean or plan my next adventure. Nope. There wasn’t time to get lost. Here’s another example. Have you ever had a get-together canceled and secretly thought, “Great! I’ll have more time to get XYZ done!” But then 4 pm arrives—the time the get-together would have been done—and you still haven’t managed to accomplish XYZ? Yeah. Me, too. History has shown me—without fail—that I accomplish more when I know my time is limited than when I carve out ginormous blocks of time with the intention of doing all. the. things. Be more productive. It’s not how much time you have, it’s how you use it. Tasks seem to have a supernatural way of expanding to fill the time that’s available to do them in. Which is to say that the thing that normally takes you an hour to accomplish might take you an hour because you have an hour to devote to it. Of course that’s not true for everything—I mean, you can’t change the fact it takes an hour to bake a pie—but there are many things that don’t actually require a set amount of time. There are things that we can, with focus, do faster. Which means in less time. People who write blog posts or knit sweaters or declutter their house don’t necessarily have more time. Those people just really know how to use the time they have. Don’t have a lot of time? You can totally do the thing. In order to be more productive, let’s start thinking about our available time in a different way. Can we look at carving out just ten minutes? After all, ten minutes is a long time. Wait. You don’t think so? Try to hold your breath for 10 minutes. Or listen to someone with a different political view tell you why you’re wrong about life. Try listening to your kid say mom. Mom. Mommy. Mama. Mother. MOM. Get my point? It’s never just 10 minutes. Your 5 step plan to be more productive with less time: 1) Decide what you want to do. This all works best when you have a goal in mind. Do you want to declutter the living room? Write a blog post? Create things for your etsy shop? Read a book? Go through your kid’s closet and find what doesn’t fit? Make a YouTube video? 2) Look at your schedule and figure out where you can carve out time for the thing you want to get done. There are many pockets of time hiding throughout your day. I remember the first time someone looked at the way I was approaching my day and suggested I could be way more productive. It wasn’t something I wanted to hear, but after I got over myself, I realized they were totally right. 3) Do the thing for ten minutes. Just attack it. Like a boss. Like a total beast. 4) Take a break. This is an important part, and it’s a built in benefit of not having huge chunks of time available in the first place. Studies vary on the actual amounts, but it’s common to hear that after a certain amount of time spent on a task, our mind starts to wander and our brain starts to search for distraction. Take a break. It’s beneficial to what you’re trying to accomplish. 5) At some point, find another ten minutes and work on the thing again. And repeat the process until you’ve accomplished your goal. And then? Move on to your next goal. Pro Tip: Pat Flynn (who is basically my spirit animal because of his love for post it notes) makes use of something he calls the “Triple Ten” method to be super productive when planning out online courses, books, or blog posts. He brainstorms for ten minutes (on post it notes), takes a ten minute break, and then brainstorms further for ten more minutes. Then he gets to work with a usually pretty complete plan—created without rabbit trails or overthinking. I won’t lie—I have modified that trick to help with so many things, both inside and outside of my office. And hey. If you don’t have 30 minutes, try 3 sets of five minutes of work instead. (You can listen to Pat’s explanation of the Triple Ten Method in his podcast.) The truth of the matter is that very few people have huge chunks of time available. Big things—like reaching your goal—are made up of lots of little steps. Make sure you’re not ignoring the little steps. Side note—because I know some of you want to be more productive and right now you’re yelling at your screen. Some of you will read this and say, “Yeah, that’s great. But the reality of my life is…” And I get it. There are seasons to life and some seasons or life situations won’t provide you with many pockets of free time—or those pockets of free time are just meant for nappin’. Trust me—I wasn’t doing all the things I’m doing now when I had a new baby and a 13 month old. I feel you, girl. Stay tuned for a blog post on that truth and how it fits into the reality of productivity. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Less Time Can Help You Be More Productive appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
14 minutes | Apr 12, 2018
Should You Quit Your Homeschool Co-op?
Homeschool co-ops. They’re a thing. Should you join one? Are you in one? Is it working? If things go awry, how do you know if it’s time to (gasp) quit your homeschool co-op? (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Many years ago, I inquired via email about joining my very first homeschooling co-op. The leader of the co-op responded with, “Great! Why don’t you come see if the group is a good fit for you?” As a newbie homeschooler, I wondered, “why wouldn’t it be a good fit? We’re all homeschoolers!” Oh, young grasshopper. You had much to learn. Homeschool co-ops are all different. Some exist for academic reasons, others are purely social. Some co-ops are made up of just a few families, others have hundreds. Each co-op has their own flavor that defines what’s awesome about them and what’s not so much. You may be struggling to feel the Awesome of the co-op you’re currently in, but how do you know if it’s time to call it quits? You should quit your homeschool co-op if… The academic plan/schedule has changed. Maybe when you joined the co-op last year it was mostly based around art and phy. ed, but this year they want to tackle math and world history. Maybe the world history program they’re going to use, you’ve already finished. Maybe the math is going to move faster than you’re comfortable with. Maybe last year, co-op was on Wednesday mornings and this year it’s being held on Thursday afternoons. Maybe that doesn’t work for you. Or maybe you can make it work if you mess a bit with your schedule, but you’re feeling stressed out that the schedule changes every year. Things often shift around—that’s life. But in a group setting, the shifts and variations don’t always work for everyone. If you find yourself dealing with a switch that’s going to bring more crazy to your life than it’s worth, it might be time to say so long. The social circle has changed. Are your kids making friends? Have their friends left? Was there a good mix of ages when you started, and now the majority of the kids are way older or way younger than your kids? How about you, Mom? Not that co-op parents need to be best friends, but they should be able to work with each other. Has the circle of friends shifted? Is it cliquey? Do you suddenly (or still) feel like an outsider? Is your little co-op homeschool community suddenly not getting along? You’re doing more work than the benefits are worth. If you feel like you’re busting your butt to make co-op a good experience and it’s way more work than it’s worth, wave goodbye. Different co-ops require different levels of time, work, and/or money from those who take part. If you feel like your family is not getting the same value back as what you’re putting in, or that you’re consistently being asked to pull more weight than you feel you should, it’s okay to cut ties. It’s falling apart. Maybe there is tension in the leadership. Maybe there is no leadership. On the other hand, maybe there are too many leaders. Perhaps the co-op is disorganized. Maybe you’re never informed of what’s going on until the night before, and you’re constantly punting to make projects run smoothly. Perhaps it’s a group where co-op is cancelled for “reasons” more often than co-op actually meets. Maybe people consistently show up unprepared. Maybe you get the feeling that no one is invested or actually cares if the group even meets this month. Are you nodding your head? It may be time to wave goodbye. It’s no longer serving the purpose for which you joined. Maybe you joined the co-op because you wanted your kids to have a ton of great social opportunities. Maybe you were looking to connect with people who were educationally like-minded. Maybe you just needed to fill a time slot on a Tuesday morning. Maybe you wanted a co-op that was super small. As we enter the tricky years of homeschooling older kids, we sometimes discover that what they’re needing from a co-op becomes more specific and harder to find. Our journey along the road of homeschooling and life morphs the longer we’re on it—sometimes the co-op we choose to partake in needs to change, too. No one in your family looks forward to co-op day. Simply put, if the thought of attending co-op makes everyone in your family grit their teeth, it’s time to bow out. Co-op can’t always be fun and games, sunshine and smiles…but if it never is, it’s time to research other options. You should not quit your homeschool co-op if… You think your frustration might be short lived. Every group has its quirks – it comes with the territory when putting lots of people together. Is the situation you’re frustrated with just something you need to vent about and then get past? Are there compromises you can work out? If so, try that first before ducking out. There are more benefits to the group than things that drive you nuts about the group. Certainly weigh this against what’s making you nutty, but is it possible that the pros outweigh the cons? No group is perfect. Are your kids getting things out of this group or being exposed to (good) experiences they might not get elsewhere? Is it helping them to be more independent? Is it the easiest way for them to see certain friends? Is it the best way for them to get to do art or group phy. ed? Is it the only way you are guaranteed to hang out with other adults once a week? You see (good) growth because of the experiences. Sometimes the things that make us crazy in our co-op are just things that take us out of our comfort zone—but they aren’t necessarily bad. Are your kids growing in a good way because of the struggles they’re having in co-op? As homeschoolers, we have a lot more freedom in leaving things we don’t like, but that doesn’t mean we should coddle our kids by having them never deal with anything negative. So, should you quit your homeschool co-op? Make a decision. If you choose to quit your homeschool co-op, it doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t a good co-op. It just means it’s not a good fit for your family. The challenge is in deciding if the homeschool co-op can still fit with some compromise, or if the time has come to shake it off and leave it behind. Regardless of whether you quit your homeschool co-op or stick with it, take some time and make the best decision as a family. After all, isn’t that what this whole homeschooling thing is about? Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Should You Quit Your Homeschool Co-op? appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
11 minutes | Mar 30, 2018
Dear Graduate: It’s Normal (A Reality Based Commencement Speech)
Dear Graduate, Thank you for inviting me here to speak to you. I know you’re expecting I’ve come to tell you the world belongs to you and then inspire you to go out and conquer it. To take the bull by both horns and throw it down. To dream big because you can do anything! But that’s not why I’m here. We all know you’re going to get plenty of graduation cards that trumpet about the magic of your future. So I’m going to skip that part. Instead, I’m going to cut right to the chase and tell you what I wish I would have heard at my graduation 20ish years ago. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) It’s Normal. #1: Dear Graduate, you will never arrive. As you head out into adulthood, and rack up your successes, you will be looking for that point where you will know you have “arrived”. I’m here to tell you that, sadly, you will never arrive. Or perhaps I should say you will arrive and you will enjoy that arrival for a fleeting moment in time before something changes and smacks your arrival right flat to the ground. Something always changes. That’s how life operates. There is no super glue that holds us in that perfect spot of job you love/enough money/healthy family/clean house/six vacations a year/running vehicles/the right weight/mentally stable/great marriage/strong faith/etc. There is no magnet in existence that is strong enough to hold those things all together all the time. Something always shifts. Always. The wind will change direction multiple times as it blows through your sails; a wind that no weather forecaster can predict. Some of those winds will be hurricane forces that destroy. And you will not see it coming. You will mutter the words, “I did not think this would happen to me.” You might even say, “It’s not fair.” And this is normal. People will say and do things they shouldn’t. Why? Because they are alive and because they can. Things might not work out even though you did everything right. You might look at an acquaintance, who has done everything “wrong”, and wonder why they seem to get all the awesome that you’ve been striving for. And this is life. This is the riddle. This is the challenge that you’re stepping into. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense. And that’s normal. #2: Dear Graduate, life happens mostly in shades of gray. You have your ideals and opinions. At 17 or 18 years old, you have figured out your black and white. But what you will find as you get older is that the world exists and carries on in shades of gray. Right now you know how you feel about gun control, abortion, and EBT cards. You know what kind of person you would and wouldn’t marry—or if you would get married at all. You know how you feel about kids. GMOs. Religion. The military. Alcohol. Sex. And I’m here to tell you that things change. I’m here to tell you that life experience may dictate that your opinion does a 180. The answer will seem so clear and you will have things figured out (again)…and then you will meet someone or hear about something or be involved in a situation that changes your opinion another 47.5 degrees. Shades of gray. Sometimes a shade you can’t even put your finger on or describe or understand because you’re frustrated that you can’t be more black and white. Aren’t we supposed to know how we feel? Aren’t we supposed to have a solid opinion? Aren’t we supposed to build a fence and know what side of it we stand on? The secret I can reveal to you as someone who has been adulting now for 19 years is this: the longer we adult, the more we figure out how little we really know. How very few absolutes there really are. How confusing this thing called Life can actually be because it very rarely adds up. And that’s normal. #3: Dear Graduate, life is not an algebra problem. You have spent the last 13 years of school memorizing facts and studying for tests and writing papers and hoping for a good grade. You’ve been worried about your GPA. You’ve been scrambling to make sure that you have all the right answers for every question. But here’s the thing, graduates. Life is not an algebra problem. It will, at times, be as confusing as one…but the difference between life and an algebra problem is that the algebra problem has a definitive solution. Several wrong answers and only one that is right. That is not how life works. There is no answer book out there. There is no website or app that you will give you the solution to every issue you will encounter in the big wide world. Sometimes you will not know what to do or what to say or which way to turn because there are too many options and all of them seem right, or none of them do. Sometimes you will simply stand still and wait because you just aren’t sure. And that’s normal. Completely and totally normal. So. Where does this leave you, dear graduate? Hopefully, not disillusioned. Hopefully, not jaded. Hopefully, not angry or squirming in your seats or unwilling to try. Because we want you to succeed. We want you to take the things we haven’t fixed and work to make them better. God, how we want you to succeed. But my fear is that in all the you can do anything, someone will forget to mention that sometimes you can’t. That sometimes things not working out is normal. That sometimes things not working out is part of the plan. And that when things don’t work out, you’re not a crumbling failure and you’re not a complete screw up—you’re just human. And to prepare for life in the big bad world, someone needs to tell you that. One day you will be staring out the window wondering what the hell happened and how you ended up here and I want you to know it happens to every single one of us. And it’s normal. So as you step out into adulthood, know this: you will find your footing and you will start to climb and the truth is you will do as well as the rest of us are doing, which may be better than you hoped or worse than you planned depending on what day of the week in which month you’re currently living. Because this, dear graduate, is how adulting works. And it’s normal. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Dear Graduate: It’s Normal (A Reality Based Commencement Speech) appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
23 minutes | Mar 22, 2018
Want Independent Homeschoolers? Teach Them These Two Things
Years ago as a brand new homeschooling mom, I would hear people gush about the fact that homeschooled children are so darn independent. I looked into the future and assumed our days would eventually play out with us going about our own thing, exploring our own fabulous interests and doing everything we felt we needed to do i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t-l-y. You know. Because, independent homeschoolers. Many years later, it is a super sweet fantasy that came true, mostly. Well…sorta. See, when people talk about having independent homeschoolers, they can be referring to two different kinds of independence. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) The first type of independent homeschoolers are the kind most people dreamily talk about: homeschool families who are so independent that every single child in the family is off doing their own fan-tab-u-lous interest-based thing. They make their own fun and do their own learning. And that’s great, because self-entertainment is no doubt a valuable skill. But there is another side of independence that refers to those days when independent homeschoolers have been asked to do something independently that doesn’t really lie within their realm of interests. Or isn’t really something they want to, you know, get done right now. Oh. My. Gosh. Stop the presses. You want them to do what? I recently spoke with a homeschooling mom whose children had been pulled from public school. She told me one of the biggest surprises she’d had in joining the homeschooling community was how many of the homeschooled children she’d met that had no concept of time management. As in, they’d never been told “This is your assignment, have it done by…” Well yeah. What did she think this was? Public school? In homeschooling we are allowed so much freedom and flexibility, and many of us will defend that to the death. For some of us, it can even be that hill we die upon. In homeschooling, we don’t have to have deadlines. We don’t have to follow schedules. We don’t have to be at a certain point at a certain time in our school year. We don’t have to get things done at a certain time. If it doesn’t get done today, we do it tomorrow. Or the next day. Or not at all! We are free and we are flexible, hear us roar! I mean, hey, new homeschooling mom, we’re not trying to do public school. But…she sorta had a point. Our independent homeschoolers can sometimes be rather dependent (or scatterbrained or uninspired) regarding tasks they don’t really want to do. I think there is a fantasy that persists in homeschooling that once our kids get out into life and find that thing they want to do, they will automatically figure out how to manage time and stay on task and deal with less than awesome parts of the thing they love. And maybe some kids are like that. But many kids aren’t. And, just let’s just suppose…what if they need to manage time or follow through on something they really don’t love at all? Hear me now, homeschooling mamas who crave independent homeschoolers: successful independence is made up of two other things: time management and follow-through. Having independent homeschoolers requires time management. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but we all can improve with practice. Also, understand that males and females think differently and this definitely affects how they approach time management. Time management is not just about completing the task on time. Time management is also about: guesstimating how long it will take to get that project done, understanding that things come up and it sometimes takes longer, the best strategy for the order in which to do multiple projects that are due at the same time, using your time in the most effective, efficient, and productive way. Please provide opportunities for your kids to learn about this at home. Releasing your kids to the proverbial hounds when they aren’t sure how long it will take to slay them can be disastrous for everyone involved. Feeling a lot of mom guilt regarding your children and their newfound independence? Read more in Independence, Mom Guilt, and How to Deal. Having independent homeschoolers requires follow through. Sometimes people see the end result of something and want that end result, but aren’t aware how much it takes to get from Point A to Point B. Kind of like when your kid says he wants to be in the big kids co-op, but then doesn’t want to do all the work that comes with the big kid projects. Or kind of like when your kid says he wants to raise pigs, but then doesn’t want to do all the work that comes with taking care of them. Lack of follow through is why some us never became rock star guitarists or famous ballerinas. It’s why we fail at diets and budgets. We as parents have so much faith that our kids will find something they are interested in and they will just…naturally succeed. I mean, that’s it, right? No. Kids need to learn (through experience) that there may be more steps involved in their project or goal or dream than they thought. You can help them by showing them to how to break the process into steps, and then show them how time management will help them to most productively climb those steps. Understanding the concept of following through will help your kids determine what they actually want. A person can be interested in a million things, but once they understand there is work involved in what they pursue—and that even if the end goal is something you love, the work to get there might not be—a person will (hopefully) make decisions and choose their path more carefully. Gah. All this big life stuff. It’s so not….flexible. Or….free. So, how do we get kids to respect deadlines? First, you have to have some deadlines. (I know. Some of you just freaked out a little bit at this. But stick with me.) A deadline doesn’t have to be “this paper needs to be done by…” It can be “I need the bathroom cleaned by 10 pm” or “the lawn has to be mowed this week” or “we need to be in the car by…” Second, there has to be a consequence for not meeting the deadline. This is going to backfire if you just arbitrarily set a deadline on a project that your kids can totally see through. However, having said that, there are some things in life that we just have to do because someone said we have to. If our kids don’t finish their project, it’s not as if we can give them a bad grade. I mean, we can…but honestly, as a homeschooler…what does that really mean? We can’t give them detention because that’s really just a punishment for us. To teach kids to get their work done, or to struggle through a task they don’t necessarily care for, there has to be something that happens if they don’t. Use real life consequences…when possible. Back when I was in public school, the consequence for repeatedly not turning in your assignments was that you failed the class. The consequence for being tardy three times in a week was detention. The consequence for forgetting to bring your lunch was that you didn’t eat until you got back home. Consequences in homeschool can be a little more tricky, however, because we don’t have the same set up. It’s easy to say “if you’re not ready to leave by 11, we will be late and can’t go.” There’s an obvious real life consequence there that makes sense. But if a kid doesn’t get their paper done or doesn’t do their reading, what happens? Mom gets mad and yells? You make them spend Saturday finishing the paper instead of going fishing with friends? What happens if the child turns to you and says, “But why does it have to be done by Saturday? We’re homeschoolers.” Herein lies the problem. Figure out their currency. Sometimes you have to resort to other measures. Every person has something they value that can be used as currency. If someone told me they’d take away my coffee if I didn’t make a weekly meal plan every Sunday night, I’d be planning meals out for months at a time. What does your kid value? Wi-fi is often a major currency, as is chauffeuring to friend’s houses, or use of a cell phone. You’ve decided to slack off on your responsibilities? Here’s what that means. I don’t think this is a battle of wills. I don’t think this is a parent trying to control the show. I think this is kid, I’m hoping to release you into the world with an ability to stand on two feet, and there are some things you should learn here in the safety of home before you head out to the great beyond. If you want to take the kinder, gentler approach, you can very easily create currency and dangle it above their heads. Your kids love to go out for ice cream? Explain there is a trip to the ice cream shop every Friday afternoon on weeks that school goes well. (And remember, you’ll need a solid definition of what school goes well actually means.) Some people may call this bribing. I call it a goal. I mean, I get up in the morning because there is coffee. If my kids want to complete their book on time because it means we will go out for ice cream, more power to them. (I’ll take Rocky Road, please.) In my opinion, homeschooling is an agreement between parent and child. Having consequences for not completing tasks is not mean, even though I often hear people say otherwise. Consequences are an inherent part of life. Regarding homeschooling, here is what I’ve told my children a few times in the past when things got hair
15 minutes | Mar 15, 2018
Grade Levels: Stop Freaking Out When Someone Asks
Some time ago, I wondered aloud on social media about grade levels in homeschooling. I asked how many people in my circle of peeps were homeschooling a child 7th grade or older. Innocent enough question, I thought. And it was for the most part. It brought about good discussion on the issues that come up when homeschooling an older child. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) But there were more than a few people who answered with “we don’t use grade levels” or “we don’t keep track of our child’s progress that way.” Okay. Listen. I get it. And this is not to call people out for answering that way because I remember being in the place of you can’t identify my child by what nine month period of time he was born in and please don’t assume things of him because of what grade he would be labeled as if he were in public school. I also understand that for a good chunk of homeschoolers, the stuff we’re doing with our kids at home has nothing to do with a certain grade level – especially if we’re not hard core curriculum users. But. Here’s what I’ve learned about grade levels since we started this homeschool gig in 2007: If you intend to fraternize with most of the world, grade levels actually do matter. And that’s totally okay. It’s how my sons know what class session they can sign up for when looking at Community Ed video game design or cooking or swimming classes. It’s how my sons knew when they can participate on the trap shooting team. It’s how my kids knew if their purple ribbon 4H project is eligible for a state fair trip or not. It’s how my oldest knows how many years there are until he can participate in the PSEO program and get free college. It’s how my youngest knew he’s too old for the Tae Kwan Do class that he wanted to take. It’s how my kids knew when they were done with Sunday School and old enough for confirmation. When people ask my kids about grade levels, more often than not, it’s because that question is far more socially acceptable to ask a kid than “how old are you” —especially as kids get older. Fellow homeschoolers, we are guilty of making this question such a big deal – and it’s NOT. When people ask now what school my kids go to, they answer “we’re homeschooled.” If people ask what grade my kids are in, they answer the grade they’d be in if they were attending public school. It’s not a big deal. After nine years, my kids have learned that the majority of times, the question is not an attack on them or our educational choice. The question is not digging deeper into our educational principles. It’s not trying to figure out how we label our kids. In fact, it might be something as innocent as a recent encounter: an adult trying to figure out if my son was old enough to be on his basketball team. Someone in 6th grade might read at a college level and do math at a 4th grade level. That’s true of children, regardless of how they are educated. I haven’t met a lot of public school parents who feel the need to to qualify a grade level question with my kid is in 4th grade, but reads at a 12th grade level. But for some reason, homeschoolers make this a big deal—we don’t want to say our child is in a certain grade, either because: we don’t use a grade specific curriculum, it would take a year to explain all the different grade levels that each of our children are operating at or, we just don’t want to identify with anything that makes us a part of the public school system. The longer I homeschool, the more I think we’re making a big deal out of nothing. We make grade levels a much bigger deal than they need to be. Friends, you don’t have to commit to a specific grade level in your homeschool for your kids to know what grade level they would be in if they were in public school. If your kids plan to do anything with the public school or in your community, it’s important for them to know where they fall in the grade level system—but it’s almost as if “admitting to a grade level” is a sort of taboo, traitoresque thing in some homeschooling communities. Y’all, let’s not let homeschool pride get the best of us. Empower your kids. Discuss what grade level they’d be in if they were in public school. It’s not a big deal. Don’t leave them with that deer-in-the-headlights, “Mom, what grade am I in again?” look when someone engages them in conversation. Part of opening the world to your kids is helping them understand that even though you might not use grade levels in your home, grade levels are how a big chunk of the world operates. Johnny, this is what grade level you would be in this year. The walls of your homeschool will not come crashing down. I promise. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Grade Levels: Stop Freaking Out When Someone Asks appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
20 minutes | Mar 8, 2018
When Dad is Against Homeschooling
Uh-oh. That thing where dad is against homeschooling, but you’re completely in love with the idea. How do you deal with this? This is actually one of the more common questions I get at The Hmmmschooling Mom Facebook page and it’s generally along the lines I really want to homeschool our kids, but my husband is against it. Do you have any tips on how I can convince him it’s a good idea? Here are a few options for how to approach the tricky dad is against homeschooling situation: (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) Option #1: Dad is against homeschooling, but I’m gonna do it anyway. You could always just go on with yo’ bad self and homeschool the kids anyway. I mean, what does it matter what he says? Right? Girlfriends, no. Just…no. Mamas, I highly advise against this option. Homeschooling is stressful enough without trying to do it in a household where one of you really thinks it’s a bad idea. Deciding to homeschool without the support of your hubby also sets your house up as an us-against-him thing. As in mom-and-the-kids-are-rocking-this-homeschool-thing-and-did-you-know-mean-old-daddy-doesn’t-want-us-to-do-this? No, sisters. Bad idea. You really, really, really need the support of your spouse or partner if you’re going to homeschool your children. I cannot stress this enough. I can’t imagine what homeschooling would be like if my husband wasn’t supportive of the decision. I would still be sitting on the laundry room floor crying because of some concept the kids didn’t understand and the belief that I’d failed them. You need your husband on board as your supporter and cheerleader. Pom-poms are optional. Squishy hugs and lots of coffee are not. Option #2: Dad is against homeschooling, so I’m just going to completely forget about homeschooling. You could just forget about homeschooling and send your kid to public/private/charter school. You could. And a lot of people do. But dealing with school can be stressful enough without sending your kids some place that one parent doesn’t want them to be. It will be that extra pokey dagger in your side as you look over school supply lists. Or read articles about school lunches. Or have to go around to the relatives with another fundraiser. Again. So, what is a gal to do? Option #3: Dad is against homeschooling? Find out why…and work through it. If dad is against homeschooling, here’s the first thing you need to do: talk to the man, and really listen to what he has to say. Seriously. I’ll be blunt: if you can share a bed, you can have an in-depth, honest discussion about the children you created there. If you’ve been researching this a long time, you forget that not everyone has read what you’ve read and talked to who you’ve talked to—husband included. Your husband isn’t receiving All Information About Homeschooling via osmosis from you while you both sit at the dinner table. All of the things you’ve got figured out in your head about how you think homeschooling will work for your family…he hasn’t even started on. If dad is against homeschooling, here are some things he might be thinking—gathered from an informal survey of formerly non-homeschooling dads: I knew a homeschooled family when I was growing up. They were weird. What about sports? What in the world will I tell my mom? The guys at work? How in the world will they make friends? I don’t want my kids to be the weird ones. I do NOT want my kids to be the weird ones. Wife, you’re going to be a basket case. For real. Are you going to want me to be teaching too? Fear of the homeschooling unknown is real, y’all. Don’t poo-poo your husband’s questions or laugh them off. And for goodness sakes, if he decides he’s going to be honest and share his reasons with you, don’t chastise him for his thoughts. Talk through them. It’s quite possible he will raise some concerns you haven’t even considered. Talk to other homeschooling families, both new and experienced. Have another homeschooling dad talk to him. Is there a workshop in your area that new families or dads can attend? Because let me tell you, there is power and validation in being in a room full of people who have the same questions and worries…along with other people who can answer those questions and address those fears. Option #3, part b: When Dad is telling you why he’s against homeschooling, tell him why you want to homeschool. If dad is against homeschooling, the second thing you need to do is be honest about the reasons you want to homeschool. Wait. You have made a list of your reasons, right? This is not the time to be speaking on the fly. By the way, I want to homeschool because my best friend is going to homeschool is not a valid reason and your husband has every reason to shoot that one down. There is so much more to homeschooling than who is going to be at the local homeschool co-op. Your reasons to homeschool don’t need to be complicated, but you do need to know what your reasons are. This is where you give your sales pitch for homeschooling. Do you want to homeschool because of: academic issues? Emotional reasons? Is it for the flexibility it will grant you? Is it because of a social problem? Are you hoping to help your child in a specific area? Are you trying to strengthen family relationships? Do you have crazy schedules to work around? After a conversation with Dad, maybe you could try homeschooling on for size? When it comes down to it, you’re either going to end up trying it or not. Is Dad still not quite sure? If your kids are young, you could just be intentional about the things you’re already teaching them at home. In talking with a couple husbands of new homeschooling families, one mentioned, “I just remember watching my wife one day and being struck by how much she was already teaching our son. Every single day. And that was really what spurred me on to say sure, let’s try this homeschooling thing.” If your kids are a bit older, (either in school or not quite yet) you could suggest having a homeschool trial year. If you’re going to have a trial year, it’s good to have a full year. It will take that long to go through the ups and downs and a good chunk of things the homeschooling life will throw at you. If your kids are already in school and you’re wanting to pull them, some folks will suggest trying out homeschooling over a long school break, like winter or spring break. However, I don’t think this really gives you the feeling of what it’s actually going to be like. Others suggest trying out homeschooling over summer break. But honestly, if your kids have been in public school…they want their summer off. I know I would have. Unless all the kids and mama are working together in some mad attempt to convince dad that homeschooling is the right choice for the following school year, a summer long preview of homeschooling might backfire. The kids will feel they had no time off of school. (And no, I don’t think that homeschooling needs to look anything like public school. It very often doesn’t. But many times when trying to convince a family member that homeschooling can work, we tend to default, for the sake of time, to using what that particular family member might view as learning.) If you decide to do a trial year, be sure to figure out how you will gauge success and failure. Will it be things learned? Experiences gained? Stress level of all family members? Grades? Tests? Improvement in life skills? Remember, homeschooling doesn’t have to be forever. Some people homeschool for a year, some people homeschool their entire school career. If Dad is feeling stressed because he thinks saying yes will determine your entire educational future, help calm him down by assuring him that if homeschooling doesn’t work for any reason, you’re willing to revisit the drawing board. (As it should be. You should always be willing to look at the situation realistically and admit if something isn’t working.) Be patient. Sometimes Dad, like a lot of people in your life, just have to see it in action to understand how it works and that it works. It takes a leap of faith to start the journey and then it takes time to prove it works. And then, who knows? Maybe you’ll find out he loves homeschooling and becomes super involved in it! Good luck, mama. We’re rootin’ for you. We’re rootin’ for your kids. And we’re rootin’ for Dad. Question: Has Dad told you he’s against homeschooling? What reasons has he given? Was Dad formerly against homeschooling and has since changed his mind? What did the change stem from? Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! The post When Dad is Against Homeschooling appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
22 minutes | Mar 1, 2018
10 Things I’ve Been Called in 10 Years of Homeschooling
Upon reaching the decade mark in our homeschooling journey, I took some time to reflect on the many things I’ve been called over the years. The irony is that for every thing I’ve been called, I’ve also been called some thing that is completely the opposite. Confused? You shouldn’t be. Because I’m willing to bet that if you’re a homeschooling parent, you’ve probably been called many of these same things, too. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) 1. Naïve, Overprotective, Too Sheltering Mostly this is because of assumptions and stereotypes about homeschoolers that still persist. And, I’ll be honest with you, there is a reason they persist—because there are homeschoolers who do things that set them in line with these assumptions and stereotypes. I personally know several of these homeschoolers. And that’s fine. I mean, you do you. That’s the whole point. But those are not stereotypes that my family falls under. I once had someone assume that my kids didn’t know the song playing at the ice skating rink because it wasn’t from the local Christian station. I’ve been asked if we have a television. I had someone ask if my kids had heard of SpongeBob. My kids blew people out of the water because they knew what a fidget spinner was. (I mean, seriously. Are you people for real? Those things were everywhere.) My family and I sometimes find ourselves between a rock and a hard place because although we are a church going family, our faith had literally nothing to do with our decision to homeschool. So while my kids can quote just about every Veggietales cartoon ever made…they could also quote Spongebob and Adventure Time and Regular Show. They do, in fact, know the words to songs on the local Christian station, but they also know the words to Metallica and Green Day. Oddly enough, we are the only homeschooling family at our church. Some members of our church family assumed that because we homeschooled it meant we were more something or less something or looked down or up or sideways at everyone else. Nope, we’re just people. Our reasons for homeschooling are pretty undramatic. And we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. And to be clear, for everyone who has called us naive or sheltered, you should know we’ve also been called… 2. Worldly I was told by another homeschooler that if she felt her kids needed some exposure to worldy things, she knew she could call us. No lie. It was said with a chuckle that I wasn’t quite sure how to read, but you can be sure I got her point. We impose no limits on technology. The humor we use in our home and the topics we discuss would not fly in the homes many other homeschoolers we know. We often chill out with our teens and talk about “stuff”, and some of isn’t necessarily appropriate or politically correct. The world is big. My kids know stuff. And I’m okay with it. Amen. 3. Too Strict There have been many times I’ve been told I’m too strict with my kids. Like when I make my kids work on math and won’t let them give up. When I make them read a certain book. When I make them get up at a certain time. Or when I give them a list of chores and (gasp) don’t pay them when they aren’t done on time. (And then (gasp) I make them do the chores again anyway!) When they half-heartedly agree to do something and then want to back out, but I make them follow through on that something. Because, principles. When I make my kids stop playing guitar because there is something else they actually have to get done. But wait. How can I be too strict if I’m also… 4. Too Lenient I’ve been known to let my kids play guitar all. day. Long. Sometimes I decide to take the day off for no reason. Many times, I decide we don’t have to learn a certain something at a certain time. There are occasions where our household dissolves into dancing around the kitchen while we listen to Rage Against the Machine and bake cookies that have way too much sugar. Clearly, I’ve lost control. 5. Stressed Out Homeschooling can be stressful, but homeschooling is not always the reason you might see me blowing off steam. I might be stressed out because we’ve run into an issue on our farm. Maybe there is an unexpected bill to pay. Maybe I’m out of coffee. Are there rough spots in homeschooling? Yes. Please, sweet Jesus, don’t make me repeat ages 9-11 with my boys. But are there rough spots in all of life? Most definitely, yes. 6. Happy While some people think I’m stressed out because of homeschooling, others say that homeschooling makes me smiley, peaceful, and happy-go-lucky. People have even pointed out the fact that my kids seem pretty darn happy. Homeschooling does make me happy. Most days. But there are other things that make me happy, like having enough money in our checkbook, being healthy, or getting enough sleep. You will also find me pretty darn chipper if I’m eating pie. Or if I’m sitting near an open bottle of my favorite wine. I’m glad that our family is able to hang out as much as we can without having public school plopped in the middle of our day. But my kids have always had the choice to attend public school. And I’d like to think that if someday they make that choice, we will still be happy and cheerful. I mean, clearly we would be. Because, pie. 7. Shy, Un-involved, Homebody I mean, it’s called homeschooling, right? So that’s where we spend most of our life, right? We do spend a good amount of time at home, and we’re glad to have that option. We have been called shy (duh, because we homeschool, right?) and we’ve also been accused of not being as involved in something as we could be. Choosing to say no to things comes at a cost, and it’s mostly paid in how people judge the way you spend your time. I’m willing to pay that bill, though. Heck, they can even keep the change. 8. Over-Committed The irony is that for the amount of people who have suggested we could be more involved in certain things, there are just as many people telling me, gosh! You’re so busy! or how do you have time for everything you do? or do you even have time to sleep? The conflicting messages are enough to make your head spin. Seriously. 9. Flexible When we’re able to vacation in the middle of the week or help out with a situation that comes up, the fact that we homeschool really gets the chance to sparkle and shine, front and center. But there’s also been the snide must be nice to be able to change your schedule at the drop of a hat comments. Tone is everything, folks. The flexibility in both the way we do things as homeschoolers and our overall schedule is awesome. I love it. And we very often take advantage of it. But there are a whole smattering of folks who still accuse us of being… 10. Unaccomodating In some instances where we aren’t able to change our plans at the drop of a hat, I’ve overheard,“you’d think with the flexibility of homeschooling that they’d be able to help us out.” Gah. You guys. Stop. I will never be one of those at-home moms who assumes I’m being asked to help with something because the person asking thinks I’m at home eating bon-bons or painting my nails. I mean, that’s just crazy and dramatic. But sometimes it sorta feels like a mama just can’t win, no matter what she does or what choices she makes. And maybe that’s the whole point. I’ve been called a lot of things in the last ten years. One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the last decade of homeschooling? You can’t make everyone happy. The other biggest thing I’ve learned? It’s not your job to make everyone happy. People will view your life as a homeschooler—or anything, really—through their own experiences, opinions, and name for the color of the sky. When choosing to homeschool your kids, you will hear conflicting messages, opinions, and estimations of what you’re doing and why. And it’s okay. That’s not you. It’s just what other people think of what you’re doing based on where they are in life right now. And that? That doesn’t matter. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post 10 Things I’ve Been Called in 10 Years of Homeschooling appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
16 minutes | Feb 22, 2018
When to Change Homeschool Curriculum, and When to Push Through
You bought that shiny curriculum because your research on it (and the knowledge of how your kids think) told you it would be perfect. You bought that curriculum because your kids said it sounded good. Because you thought it sounded good. Because your friend uses it and it works for her kids. Because it was on sale at the homeschool convention. Whatever the reason, you’re now staring at a curriculum that no one wants to use and you’re wondering if it’s time to change homeschool curriculum again. So should you change your homeschool curriculum? Well, there are a couple ways to look at it… (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) No, you should not change homeschool curriculum… …if you maybe just need a break from what you’re doing. A change of scenery can be good! If family members are feeling frustrated and bored with what you’re using, put it away for a while. Take a week to do something else. Try some quick card games, a unit study, or a field trip. See what you feel like when you come back to the curriculum. …if changing your curriculum has become the thing to do the second someone gets bored or doesn’t understand something. Maybe instead, you need to give the curriculum a chance. It’s great that homeschoolers have the flexibility to change, but we don’t want to become people who can’t commit to anything we buy. …if your hubby is giving you that look that clearly says, “this is literally the 14th time this year you have decided to change your homeschool curriculum,” you might want to just tough it out for a bit and see what happens. Then again, there are a few signs that you should change your homeschool curriculum… Yes, you should change homeschool curriculum… …if everyone hates the curriculum. If it’s taking actual work to make the curriculum work, it might be worth looking into something different. …if you’ve taken a break from what you’re using and no one really cares to pick it back up again. If the thought of spending one more day with that curriculum as your guide makes you want to throw in the towel, it’s best to choose a different curriculum. …if your methods of homeschooling or your goals as a homeschooling family have changed. Is your homeschool curriculum in line with your homeschool mission statement? It’s silly to stick with something that is no longer fulfilling its purpose. Listen, you’re the boss of your homeschool curriculum. It works for you, not the other way around. But here’s the thing about deciding to change homeschool curriculum… A surprise lesson when you change homeschool curriculum: Sometimes you elect to change homeschool curriculum and discover it’s not the curriculum that is causing the issue. When my oldest son reached pre-algebra, he came to me and announced he no longer wanted to use Life of Fred (which we had been using for years). When I asked why, he explained he didn’t want to read the story anymore and instead, just wanted a plain old explanation of how to do a problem along with a plain old list of problems to do. Straight to the point. Gah. Choosing a new math curriculum is never easy. He knew the things he was looking for and we researched different options together. He chose Teaching Textbooks (which we’d used w-a-y back in the beginning of our homeschool journey but he’d given up on as he didn’t—and still doesn’t—like computer based curriculum). Thankfully we had a friend with an unused Pre-Algebra Teaching Textbooks workbook. We scooped it up from her (without the CD) and my son got to work. However, within a couple weeks, my son was humbly asking to switch back to Life of Fred Pre-Algebra. The reason? He had made a very important discovery: pre-algebra is pre-algebra is pre-algebra and although it might be packaged with different colors and fonts and slightly different explanations, it’s still pre-algebra. And deciding to change homeschool curriculum doesn’t change the fact that pre-algebra is still pre-algebra. But I’m still super glad we had that little change of curriculum. Know why? Because it was such a powerful lesson for my son. He was the one who figured it out. Had I tried to explain that pre-algebra is pre-algebra, it wouldn’t have come off the same. He needed to struggle through another curriculum to realize it’s not always the curriculum that causes the struggle. Sometimes it’s just the subject and you have to push through. I’m not saying that a specific curriculum isn’t going to explain things better than one or the other, or that a certain explanation in a certain curriculum isn’t going to be the thing that helps your kid understand a subject. What I am saying is that in the homeschool community we get caught up in all our freedom and flexibility, and it sometimes causes us (and our kids) to assume there has to be some curriculum to make things awesome and easy for us—and that’s not always the case. So even though in this situation we went back to what we had been using (Life of Fred), I’m glad we switched our homeschool curriculum, even if it was for that little bit of time. It was worth the lesson we pulled out of it—which, by the way, wasn’t even in the curriculum. So, is it a good idea to change homeschool curriculum? There are several reasons why you might want to, as well as several reasons to stick with what you’ve got. But sometimes it’s worth switching things up, if only for your kids to see that regardless of how the box is packaged, sometimes the contents are basically the same. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post When to Change Homeschool Curriculum, and When to Push Through appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
17 minutes | Feb 15, 2018
Why I’m Not Going to Bad-mouth Public School
As a member of the homeschooling community for almost a decade now, I hear a lot of public school bashing and bad-mouthing. Maybe that shouldn’t surprise me. I mean, as a homeschooler, shouldn’t I be anti-public school? I apparently failed to get that memo. Here are six reasons you won’t hear me bad-mouthing public school. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) My kids could have gone to public school. If, when I presented the idea of homeschooling to my husband, he would have turned to me and told me I was completely nuts and we were not going to do that, our kids would have gone to the local public school. If my husband and I weren’t in agreement about the choice to homeschool, there was no way I was going to take it on. If I bad-mouth public school, it means I’ve forgotten that not everyone has support to be educated elsewhere. My kids could still end up in public school. We have always given our kids the choice to attend public school. So far, they’ve always elected to stay home, but who knows. They’ve got the option to change their mind. I cannot see the future. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Who knows what situations our family will find ourselves in? Will homeschooling always work for us? Will something prevent us from continuing at some point? I don’t know. The future is wide open. If I bad-mouth public school, it becomes difficult for my kids to have a positive outlook about going should they ever want to or have to make that choice. Public school really is a better option for some families. I know that your family is safe and loving and wonderful. Of course it is. But folks, that’s not every family. There are families out there whose kids are safer in public school. There are kids out there who feel paid attention to when they are in public school. There are kids out there who, if left with their parents all day, would be immensely unhappy. And there are parents who would feel the same. Can we all admit that we know at least one person who, if they suddenly announced they wanted to homeschool their kids, you’d respond, “Wait. What? Really? Um. Wow. You might want to think a bit more about that. Seriously.” And I know some of you might think I’m being judgmental, but come on. We all see and hear things that happen in other families, right? If I bad-mouth public school, I ignore the fact that some kids are better off in public school. Some kids actually prefer to be there, and some family relationships are better for it. I know some really awesome teachers. I attended public school for my entire education. Y’all, I had some amazing teachers. Some were amazing because of how they taught, some were amazing because they went above and beyond what they needed to do. Those teachers didn’t disappear in the late 90s when I graduated. Those teachers still exist. I have many friends who teach in public schools and they are busting their butts to make their corner of public school as amazing as it can be. If I bad-mouth public school, I lose sight of the fact that even though it’s not everyone’s system of choice, there are some wonderful people working within it who are making a difference and changing lives. My kids have a lot of friends in public school. The thing about being in the real world (where homeschoolers claim to be raising their children) is that your kids will make friends with all sorts of people. Homeschooled kids and private school kids and public school kids. The world is big and wide and varied. That’s the beauty of it. Are we really benefiting anyone by sending our kids out into the world to look down at those who have attended public school? To see publicly schooled kids as having a sub-par education or being nothing more than trained monkeys filling in bubbles on a test form or not learning about anything that really matters? Hint: the answer is no, we’re not. If I bad-mouth public school, I’m skewing my child’s perception of those who attend it. I’m tired of us-against-them. When you get down to it, the constant badmouthing of public school that I hear some homeschool parents spew forth does nothing more than perpetuate the us-against-them mentality that many of us are trying to get away from. Do I agree with everything the public school system does? Nah. But I don’t always agree with everything that homeschoolers do either. Do I think there are changes that can be made in public school? Yes. But do I think there are changes that could be made in homeschooling? Also, yes. Remember, the children you are raising have ears that are listening and processing everything you say. It’s not us-against-them. Last time I checked, we were all on the planet together. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Why I’m Not Going to Bad-mouth Public School appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
21 minutes | Feb 8, 2018
6 Things Homeschooled Teens Need From Their Parents
Homeschooling older kids can sometimes seem tricky—it’s easy for parents to feel increasingly unsure of where they fit in the scheme of things. However, I think we tend to make things trickier than they need to be. Here are 6 things homeschooled teens need from their parents—in case you’re feeling a little lost. (And yes, my teen boys helped make this list.) (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) 1. To be their guide, not their teacher When the teen years come, parents are sometimes a little confused about what their role is in the educational process. If you’re used to being the one supplying all the information, it can be oddly deflating to discover your kids can find the vast majority of what they need on their own. This is a good thing! It means they’re becoming independent and using those big brains of theirs that you’ve been encouraging them to use! But an increase in educational independence doesn’t mean they want to be abandoned. It doesn’t mean they can (or want) to be completely left to themselves. The mistake we sometimes make with older kids is assuming that because they are older, they don’t need us at all—educationally or otherwise. So while you generally no longer need to sit with them at the kitchen table for every single thing they’re exploring, it doesn’t mean you can leave on a permanent vacation. You may not need to be as hands-on teaching as often. But—trust me—your guidance is still occasionally requested, needed, and appreciated. It’s one of the things homeschooled teens need the most. 2. To help find stuff they need that you don’t have or can’t explain. I remember the first time my oldest asked me a question about music theory that was so far beyond the scope of what I understood that I was completely floored he even knew to ask it. I needed to find someone or something to help him out, because he was stuck, and I couldn’t help him. When your kids have gone past what you know and are asking you for more, you need to be willing to help them find the information they’re seeking. And yes, I know—you’ve always helped them find the information they needed, even when they were younger. Right? It’s just that with older kids, it can be a little harder. You might be completely clueless about the answer they’re seeking, or even where to find the answer because you’re not even 100% sure on what your kids are talking about. It happens. Ask me how I know. One of the things homeschooled teens need is for you to put your ego away. It’s for you to spend the time. It’s for you to put out the feelers to all your people to find out if anyone can help your inquisitive teen with the information they want. 3. To be their mom, not their teacher. We sometimes forget that we are mom first, teacher second. And more often than not, one of the things homeschooled teens need is for us to be that mom. When kids get older, it’s common for homeschooling parents to freak out about things that need to be done educationally because transcripts and graduating and college and what did we forget to teach you. But one of the things that makes homeschooling different is that we are mom, not teacher. We are mom first. Let’s not forget that simple fact just because our kids might now be taller than us. 4. The ability to be flexible and to punt. It’s happened more than once that I find something really awesome to share with my sons and—burst my bubble—they’ve already heard about it. Or they take over the lesson and end up teaching me something I had no idea was part of what I was trying to share with them. The first few times this happened, I was frustrated. As in, why am I spending so much time looking for cool stuff when they’ve already heard about all of it? But then, when I got over myself, I realized, hey, this is pretty cool. The world is big. And if I’d just listen to them, I bet they can tell me about some super cool stuff I haven’t heard about yet. Having older kids means you’ve got to be flexible—it’s one of the things homeschooled teens need! It means tweaking the lesson. It means throwing away what no longer works. It means keeping the stuff that does—regardless of whether it goes against what Most Popular Homeschooling Advice Blog recommends. Sometimes being flexible means realizing you’re not a (ta-da!) one-woman show. It means that sometimes the things you tell or present to your kids are going to be awesome. And other times they won’t be. (And pssst! That’s totally okay. Not everything you do has to be amazing. I mean, when your kids were 5 and 6, things were magical and sparkly and had never before been discovered! With older kids…not so much. And that’s okay. Be flexible. Go with it.) Then again, sometimes the ability to be flexible and punt relates to… 5. A willingness to walk the shaky line of “I need you. Wait. I don’t need you.” Parenting is strange. One day your kids are snuggled up on your lap and the next day they have gone out and conquered the world. Okay. So, looking back it can seem like that. But in our heart, we know it’s always a much slower and less clearly defined journey. Watching your kids grow up and become independent can be weird—for everyone involved. Your kids may want to talk to you, they may not. They may want you to read to them. They may not. They may love it when you make them lunch or it may drive them up the wall. And all of these things can change by the week. While you’re trying to figure out that shaky unclear line of independence and autonomy, remember—they are, too. Things homeschooled teens need? Your patience and grace in their search for freedom is a big one. 6. To know you’re there. One of the hardest things about having an older kid is that it can sometimes seem that they are so independent, they no longer need you. Which is totally not true. I mean, for some things it is. But not for everything. People never stop needing people. For as independent as my teen sons are, they still say one of the best things about homeschooling is that I’m not far away if they need me. It might be because they don’t understand a math problem. It might be because they want to show me a new song they’ve written. It might be because they want to ask my opinion on some current event. It might be for many different reasons. They’re not wanting me to sit around, waiting at their beck and call for when they can’t figure out an algebra equation. They don’t expect that at all. But they do know I’m generally around, somewhere on our farm, and if they have something to ask or something to share, I’m not far away. And to be honest with you, sometimes the things they are sharing with me are completely over my head. But that’s a little bit like listening to all those fascinating Minecraft stories or Pokemon tales when they were little. (Remember those? Odd how it seems so far in the past now…) The point with all of this is that as a homeschooling parent, you’re there to listen and interact—which happens to be one of my favorite parts of homeschooling. That doesn’t go away just because my kids are older. It simply changes a little bit of how it happens. People never stop needing people, and our kids will never stop needing us. Remember that even as your younger kids grow and morph into homeschooled teens, they still need you around. Don’t doubt your awesomeness. You’ve still got it. Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post 6 Things Homeschooled Teens Need From Their Parents appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
15 minutes | Feb 1, 2018
Homeschooling Teens: 5 Ways It’s Easier
While there are challenges when homeschooling teens, there are also many ways that homeschooling becomes easier and more enjoyable as your kids grow and mature. Here are five ways that life is more awesome when you are homeschooling teens. (Don’t want to read all these words? You can listen instead by pressing play on the podcast player at the top of this post. And hey! You can find all past episodes of my podcast under the podcast tab in the menu bar above.) 1. Independence Call it what you will—independent learning, self-directed studies, or mom finally gets a bit of a break—one of the things that usually changes when homeschooling teens is that you actually spend less time teaching. You become more of a guide than a teacher. That’s not to say that every subject your kid encounters will be easy for them or that they will plow through it without issue. I mean, algebra is still algebra, right? But what it does mean is that they are generally able to tackle a good chunk of their work without you standing over them. There is no need for constant supervision. Hey! You can even go do your own thing while your kids are doing theirs. There are still things that homeschooled teens need from their parents, but you hovering over them the majority of the day isn’t one of them. So catch up the laundry, train for that 5K, finish that knitting project, or sit down to write that book you’ve always wanted to write. You’ve got a bit more time now, mama. Have at it! 2. Teens are random, smart, and fun. While you might be bummed out about spending less time on Pinterest searching out just the right project to teach about the Gold Rush, know that constant homeschool projects will be replaced with amazing random and thought-provoking conversations that you’ll share with your teen—sometimes about topics that are completely off the cuff. When homeschooling teens, life becomes less about dumping their brains full of information, and more about actually getting feedback in the form of amazing discussions. I mean, the fact that we can dive into random spontaneous conversations and debates about anarchy, net neutrality, bitcoin, or liberty is completely refreshing. And can we be honest? Life while homeschooling teens can be easier because they’re just more fun. My kids and I have a lot of fun, but it’s a different kind of fun than when they were younger. It’s genuine and I don’t have to create a situation to make it happen. We’re all sorta on the same level, if you know what I mean. Whatever. All of that to say, we spend a lot of time laughing. The older my sons get, the less I think of them as people I have to look out for and take care of, and more like people I get to hang out with. Which, by the way, completely changes the feel of your house. 3. The things they teach YOU Because older kids are generally more autonomous in their learning, and their conversations are free flowing/deeper, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover that when you’re homeschooling teens, you will learn a ton from them. I don’t remember what the topic was, but I do remember my husband and I were getting schooled here on something we were totally wrong about. There’s a little bit of humility required when homeschooling teens because as they grow and mature and explore—sometimes in interests and subjects you don’t have any experience with—you will be slapped upside the head with the realization that you don’t know everything. You can choose to see this as a bad thing, or you can embrace it and become their student. Psst. The latter of those options is the better choice 4. Getting to see who they become One of the coolest things about homeschooling teens is being able to see how they take all the pieces of what they’ve been into—their interests, their passions, and everything they’ve learned—and how they use all that to piece together what their future might look like. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe we’ve got a rockstar on our hands. Homeschooling teens is also awesome because you have a front row seat to witness how they mature in things like responsibility and work ethic and what they’re willing and able to take on. It is very charming and awesome when your 4 year old draws you a picture you can put on your refrigerator or brings you a bouquet of dandelions—those are really great things! But it’s also really charming and awesome when your 14 year old learns to fix your lawnmower. Older kids can dive into those life skills and bigger responsibilities that benefit themselves and those around them, and that’s really amazing to watch happen. 5. People see that it works. In our many years of homeschooling, I’ve been asked many questions and called many things. Now, it might be selfish, but another reason that homeschooling older kids is awesome is that when you get to the point that you are homeschooling teens, people generally stop asking if homeschooling works. Why? Because they can see that it does. Although we did have an influx of questions from people as we entered the high school years—due to the fact that a lot of people assumed the kids would go to public school when they hit 9th grade—after that, the questions we received were few and far between. The longer you homeschool, the more normal it becomes for everyone around you. They stop worrying about what’s going to happen when you reach the next phase, because every time you reach the next phase, everyone is completely fine. Look ma, no hands! We’re surviving. And I think we’re going to be okay. What else do you think is awesome about homeschooling teens? Did I miss anything? Add them in the comments! Check it out! You can find all episodes of The Crazy Real, Real Crazy Podcast here at the site under my podcast tab or you can SUBSCRIBE to my Crazy Real, Real Crazy podcast at iTunes, Stitcher, and Google Play Music. Feel free to rate the podcast or leave a review. I’d super love it if you could! Tired of the sugarcoated version of homeschooling? Read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick. The post Homeschooling Teens: 5 Ways It’s Easier appeared first on The Hmmmschooling Mom.
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