Homeschooling: Late summer blues

As summer creeps rockets closer to August, and I start to think about school again, emotions flood through me. Dread is one, frankly.

That may not jive with what you’d expect from 15-yr veteran homeschooler, but I’m keeping it real here.  Two years ago we brought 9 and 11 year old girls into our family, which greatly increased my difficulty level as a homeschooling mom.  Before you can even think about reading and math, you’ve got to have some language, some way to communicate.  And guess what: it takes months to get even a moderate level of understanding.

You’ve got family-growing issues: kids jostling to find their place in this new family constellation. Just an example:  our newly arrived then-11-year-old had always been a firstborn.  She came into a family with two big sisters. NOT easy.   For anyone.

You’ve got kids who don’t know the first thing about how your family functions.  I never realized how much kids learn naturally about their family when they’re tiny, or how many unwritten rules our family has.  And to a newly arrived older kid, every rule is negotiable –or shocking/incomprehensible/ridiculous.  Makes for a LOT of challenging behavior.

Add to that grief and rebellion and bonding stuff– and also the simple fact that we had 7 kids being homeschooled that year– and it is pretty easy to see why their first year home was tough.

We spent most of the year on basics for the 5 grade-schoolers– language and love and limits, with a tiny bit of math and reading thrown in here and there.  The high school kids could and did work on their own, so their curriculum didn’t change.  But forget science and history and essay-writing for the younger ones– it was literally all we could do to read with everyone and do a little math.

Their second year home, afraid we hadn’t gotten enough academics, I plunged into a more involved school schedule.  Science was back.   Idaho history.  Crafts.  Korean.  Grammar.  Writing.  My intentions were good, but several of the kids were still not ready.  In two months I was so burned out by constantly pushing kids through academics that every morning felt like jail.   I scaled back.  Writing and Bible and reading and math stayed.   But once again, science and history were pushed aside.  You do what you can.

Looking objectively, we made a lot of progress in those two years.  All 5 of the younger school kids got definitively better at reading —  such a cornerstone to learning.  The two kids that I tested both years (with the Iowa Basic) scored many percentile points higher in 2009 than in 2008.  Indisputably they learned.  But I always felt vaguely guilty that we weren’t doing more.

So now I sit planning our next school year.  Wanting to chart a good balanced course.  Wanting to make it better than before.

Part of me wants to get kids caught up, whatever that is, to make up for a less than ideal last 2 years of school.   Pile on the science and the history and the grammar.  Get everyone reading at grade level and constructing sentences properly.

But can you really ‘catch up’ kids who have spent only a couple years speaking English?  And how crazy would I go, trying to get huge amounts of work done?  How cranky would they be?  I don’t want every morning to feel like a joyless slog.  But I’m not the unschooling type.  I need structure, and so do the kids. But is there a way to inject more fun and be more effective?

I find myself wishing summer was a month or six longer. I’ve even half-heartedly daydreamed about public school.  But then I walk among my big kids and see (by the grace of God) what wonderful, smart, NICE people they have turned out to be, and I remember all the reasons we embarked on the journey of homeschooling in the first place.  (Maybe I’ll blog about that soon?)  And the funny thing is, I’m even more convinced of the rightness of homeschooling for the y0unger kids than I was for the older.

So I guess I’ll chat with my hubby, and pray, and go thru my books, and see if I can strengthen my weak knees for the year ahead.  Even if I don’t know tomorrow, I know Someone who does.

{ 54 Comments }

  1. I just think you are amazing for even contemplating the home schooling of all those children in one go! I could probably manage 2 kids of different ages, but 7! The answer will be there somewhere, keep looking, however hard it may seem, and it will appear when you least expected it to.

  2. Jeanne A says:

    Could you combine the history with the reading? Reading historical type books? And maybe even some science.

  3. Please do blog on why you started homeschooling. I would love to hear it!

  4. I have been doing a master’s thesis on home schooling kids with special needs. I didn’t specifically focus on kids who were adopted but, from the research I have done. it is definitely better for kids with ‘special needs’ to home school, whatever that ‘special need’ may be. If you want, I could get you some reference material which may support you in those times of stress. Remember that your kids who are struggling with school are not going to struggle any less in school than they will in your home. They will probably struggle more. That said, we are all human and working 24/7 with kids who need a lot attention can be very draining. School, in some ways, is for the parents! Maybe you could come up with a compromise – have someone else come in and work with your children who are challenged for several hours a week. View it as therapy, or proper use of resources or simply a way to get it all done. They and you might feel more satisfaction and less stress but at the same time you are not giving up the benefits of home schooling for these kids. In our area, there are lots of teachers looking for work because we have less work than the available people. They are well trained and often very willing. What you are doing is a lot to handle and some times accessing resources, as needed, is the best way to handle difficult situations. I don’t imagine your kids would need this forever, maybe just for a year or two. I have been in a similar situation myself so I do empathize. Hope this helps!
    ps I would love to hear why you started home schooling!

  5. All the measuring and watching and heating jars to do your food canning should count towards a science project.
    I know my grandma beside the stove half the summer taught me more than a chemistry teacher with just a year ’til retirement ever did.

    As someone else mentioned, you might bring in a different somebody for certain subjects.
    When I was taking a class at the community college, we were required time off campus with lesson plans in hand.
    I asked a gal from church who has a home daycare business if I could be a “student teacher” one morning a week all that semester. All she had to do was sign the paper saying I was there, I had to provide pictures and other proof to earn a good grade.
    I met the requirements of my curriculum, she got a break being in the next room, and the kids were great.

  6. Completely on board with you on this one. Our two sons came home two years ago and we really couldn’t get tons done as they learned English, and for the other three kids it got down to basics and lots of things I could start them on and then let they take off with it. I am hopeful that this year will be more focused, but we are just about to fly to bring home three more, so we will again be in the “language-learning, family-learning, culture learning” phase. Balance seems to be the key. Even though I don’t feel that I taught the kids all that I wanted to, they sure learned a ton! I try to have them reading very good books for their fun reading and I think that has helped. I like the idea from MrsDoF about a student teacher. I student taught when I was finishing my degree and most of my jobs were related to what I was studying. Maybe I will check out the local university! Another pair of hands would be helpful. But funding, as always, is an issue. Maybe they need volunteer hours?? LOL!

  7. Mary,

    Have you thought about an online school for your proficient English speakers? It might allow them to work on a wider array of subjects while you continue intensive work on the basics for your other two. You can still work on subjects like Bible, as a group, but this might be an easier way to move everyone along.

    Good Luck with next year’s journey.

  8. I’m glad to read you’re not giving up just because you added more to your school house. I vote for a relaxed/unschool approach. I think just living in your house is enough “education”!

    m

  9. Could you reach a compromise with yourself, to catch up over the next few years rather than all this year?

  10. Home schooling is a choice that I support and every parent has the right to make. What I don’t support is the idea that your big kids “turned out so nice” because they were home schooled. In my experience, (and I know MANY, MANY home schoolers in different countries) is that most home schooled kids I know, as soon as they actually leave home, also leave their faith behind and do not live for the Lord one bit. Those of us who have gone through public school, or private school, well, a lot of those have gone on strong for the Lord. The ones that went to school had to face challenges every day and truly live out their faith in a place that was hostile to it and it made them stronger.

    I hope I don’t have to home school. My husband works in a public school and he’s found out it’s not as bad as his parents lead him to believe that it was. I just don’t see much good fruit out of home schooling yet that would convince me to try it.

    My point is, home school if you want to, but don’t credit that as to why your big kids are “nice”. And I don’t think your kids will turn out to be “bad” if you have to send even a few of them off to school. And don’t feel guilty if you ever decide that.

  11. I think that what you are feeling right now is very normal for a homeschooling mama. I go through the same kind of process each year, and I only have 2 girls (only 1 who is truly old enough to be considered “homeschooled”).
    One page you could try taking from unschoolers is to ask the kids that are struggling what their goals/interests are and try to work those into one of the subjects that you are feeling that they are behind in. The kids then have a vested interest in the lesson–in order to get to dive into their favorite thing they will have to be reading/writing/etc. I also like reading historical fiction with kids–most that are written for children are fairly accurate. Pore through the Rainbow Resource catalogue online and read the reviews–then see if you can borrow a few from the library to take them for a test drive. If you truly and the kids truly love them, then you can purchase them later (or not!).
    I know things seem daunting right now, especially with so many little one’s specific needs tangled up in your head, but especially as a 15-year veteran you know that this is a temporary problem and that the most important thing of all is that they are at home, safe and loved. What child could possibly fail there?
    Good luck to you!

  12. I have to add that if someone wants to comment and can’t say something at least somewhat supportive, they should go bug someone else with their pedagogy. I can’t stand folks who need to butt their noses into a situation where someone needs just a few kind words to send them on their way and instead turns it into their own public forum to vent their personal dislike for a way of life. Ma’am, if you truly hold to your Christian ideals, then please hold your tongue and just wish Mary good luck, OK? Thank you.

  13. I’d also love to hear more about the reasons you chose to homeschool!

  14. You were my homeschooling mentor when I first started. You gave me the first encouraging push in a direction that has been the greatest positive change in our family. And although you are struggling, knowing you have the same struggles and insecurities about it that I do, lets me know that my fears and worries are normal. Someone once told me that children learn so much in just everyday life when they are in the home, with a nurturing mother, helping out in the day to day tasks. I know you know this. And I think perhaps your kids, since they tested so well, are learning without actually being in formal “lessons” during the day. And you are right…Someone does know what’s best for your family and cares deeply about your kids more than you do! God will not let your kids leave the nest uneducated. I have to remind myself this every time I feel like something is missing or my kids are behind in something. God is in control of our homeschool and He ultimately knows what’s best! 🙂

    Blessing Mary….thank you for being such a wonderful example for me and I’m sure countless others!

  15. You sound right on track! My only comment is: Don’t bother stregthening your knees. Keep them nice and loose. It makes it so much easier to fall on them to pray 🙂

  16. Stephanie says:

    Hello. I just stumbled across your email from a friend and find it really interesting since we’re in the process of adopting a 12 year old girl from China. We have 5 children, but adopted our last two from China. They were only a year old when we got them, so no real hurdles, but this 12 year old could prove to be interesting and challenging. I wondered if you have time at all to answer me in an email what we could glean from you with regard to the language barrier and what you did outside of home-schooling and if you did it all with home-schooling, what did you use. She has already had 2 years of engligh class in school and we are going to pay for her to have more classes before we get there (6 more months at least). We too… homeschool, but not sure if I’ll know what to do with her since she doesn’t speak English. Any insight would be so helpful.

    Stephanie (503) 799-7687

  17. I just finished homeschooling, we did it for 4 years, but it is time for my kids to go to school now. BUT I have some ideas, no clue how they would work and maybe you are already doing them. As for history, if you read a lot I bet they are picking up more than you think. Plus if you pick the right books then reading becomes history too. Another option is books on tape or CD. Story of The World is a good one. I have found that listening to audio books of any kind gives me a peaceful, argument free lunch time every day. The kids love it! They are listening on tape to books that are too much for them to read alone and that the younger ones might not even follow if I were to read them aloud. That can be plenty of history for your kids.

    As for science, could your husband lead up some fun expirements for the kids? It would take a load off you and it might not feel so schoolish if he were doing it. Could be fun for everyone. Or again, incorporate it into reading. Read books on mammals, nature, and things like that. Good luck, I can’t imagine schooling all 4 of mine (1 was too young until now), much less 7 older kids (who need more advanced stuff). I will pray for you and I am sure whatever decision you come to will be the right one for your family. God has a way of working it all out.

  18. Gretchen says:

    Thanks for the honest post. I’m getting ready to home school 3 this year. I’ve schooled my older two from the beginning (4 years). This year we’re adding our 4 year old to the mix– yikes!! I’m literally clinging to summer. Phil 4:13 dear friend!!

  19. My nest has been empty for many years, but my daughter-in-law has home -schooled her five children for the past ten years. I watch her with deep admiration, and you have mine as well. I pray His grace, wisdom and discernment as you prepare for the school year. You’re doing a wonderful job!

  20. I’m very impressed by all that you do. You are a mother to 10 AND you home school. Wow!! I think your great. As I was reading your post, it struck me that perhaps you could incorporate some elements of unschooling to your schooling and take a more relaxed approach to science and history for the time being. For example, you could have an hour or two a week where the children have a science hour. Assign a child a week and ask them to prepare to teach a lesson on whatever science principle that interest them to the other children and maybe have an experiment, book report or poster to illustrate the point. Let the children lead for now, that way they have some science exposure and then when you feel that you are ready for a more structured science program you have a very natural spring board to start from. Just a thought, hope it helps.

  21. We love, love, love the Robinson Curriculum! I don’t have half the homeschooling challenges you do, but I really believe that the streamlined approach of RC is what makes homeschooling a joy, rather than a burden for my family. Just reading through some of the website and listening to some of Dr. R’s thoughts might give you some encouragement about keeping it simple and still getting great results.

    God bless you as you seek to do your very best for Him. You inspire me to do so much better!

  22. The blessing as you know of homeschooling is your ability to adjust as you need to. Your family is such a wonderful inspiration. I’m sure there is much more learning going on than you are giving yourself credit for. Look back at your blog alone and the lessons that have been going on this summer alone are astounding. Keep up the good work.

  23. :o) Rachel says:

    I’d like to suggest AIMS for science for the little to upper elementary. You can even do the grades 1-2 for everyone if you choose! It’s hands on and fun, and even includes math. http://wwws.aimsedu.org/aims_store/Science-Activity-Books-K-2-p-1-c-31.html I have the primarily plants book, and I’d be happy to send it to you if you want to borrow it. That way, you can try out this fun way for everyone to learn together – I don’t think you would get burned out… even the high schoolers could teach it!!

    Oh there’s an idea! Have the older ones help with science, etc. with the little ones so you don’t get burned out on it?

    Praying for you!
    :o) Rachel

  24. I have worked with ELL students in our school system over the years. I vividly remember translating a test for two students one afternoon. They just sat and looked at me totally bewildered. Sure, the poor things understood the questions I was asking them, but had no idea what the answers were as they were taught the original lesson in ENGLISH! I remember thinking “What on earth is the point of this whole thing?” I would highly recommend making sure the kids have an above-wobbly (as I like to put it) grasp on the English language before sweating any actual “education.” Once the language is mastered, the rest will come naturally. God’s Blessings!

  25. I sure do understand the blues!

    You know, though, I usually find that the dread of the impending school year is usually worse than the reality. God just seems to give the grace when I need it, and not before. 🙂

    Kristen (a homeschool graduate who homeschools her own kids now!)

  26. Mary, I have to first just mention that I bought, read, and loved your book!

    I am “only” expecting my 7th child, have homeschooled for six years, and never experienced adoption from other countries, so I feel a bit inferior and unqualified to be giving advice 🙂 But, from reading your post, it sounds as though you are piecing together your own plans for the year. I could be wrong about that, but that was the impression I got. I just wanted to mention that you might enjoy a bit of an easier year by using a curriculum that’s already put together for you, especially a multi-level one. We use My Father’s World, which allows us to combine grades 2-6 (even 7th and 8th graders can join in the main family course of study with a supplemental package.) You use whatever you want for Math and Language Arts, but My Father’s World would combine Bible, History/Geography, Music, Art, Science, etc. Basically all the content area studies. It is truly “open and go.” There is a wonderful grid that tells you exactly what pages to read each day, what to assign to the children, etc. We are about to start our 3rd year of using it and I am so glad we discovered it! I know that there are other publishers that do similar things, but I just had to give my plug for my favorite! 🙂 God bless your family. Big families are wonderful, and homeschooling families are too! Yes, there is no guarantee of how our children will turn out, but homeschooling is a concept that has borne a lot of wonderful fruit!

  27. Amen and Amen!
    Fellow homeschooling mommy to 10 … under 10!

  28. We also use My Father’s World – it is very gentle, but very thorough. My son just finished kindergarten – it took us about 45 minutes a day average, and by the end of the year he was reading. It is definitely something you should look at.

  29. God will give you the strength to do what He’s called you to, although it may be difficult. 🙂 I would love to homeschool my kids someday & I would love to hear about your journey into homeschooling in the first place!

  30. I hate to say it, but “Dread is one, frankly.” is the sentence that assured that I would read the rest of the post. I am super excited about the coming school year. I have papers all over the floor of my study as I plan out the coming months, and I can’t wait to dive into all that we are going to be doing…but there is certainly an element of dread lurking in the dark corners as well! It’s good to know that I’m not alone in that.

    I would love to hear about why you homeschool! I wrote a few posts about that a while back, and it was so much fun to get it all written and out there.

    Finally, just a thought for you: Can you do any/some/all of your reading around history and science. Almost all of our read-alouds involve either history or science, and now that our three oldest are reading (though some are still reading very simple words) we are searching out lots of beginner reader books. There’s lots of good stuff out there.

    Also, I plan science and prepare all of the supplies for experiments, but my husband does science one night a week (sometimes every other week) with the kids. It rocks! I usually leave the house to do grocery shopping or go to the homeschool meeting or whatever needs to be done out of the house. I return home to find balloon rockets flying all over my living room and children screaming with delight or children mopping up water off the kitchen floor. They practically trip over themselves trying to tell me about all they have learned. And dad loves it too! I know your husband is really supportive; would he be willing/able to pull this off?

    Just a few random thoughts for you. Will be praying for you – for wisdom and endurance!

  31. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only homeschooling mom that can say she’s feeling dread to start schooling again. That means summer is fun!!!

    What a great and very honest post. As for the “nice” stuff, although there are exceptions, I’m in general agreement with you and it is largely what keeps me from calling the yellow school bus each year.

  32. you know how much i admire you. gosh – i can’t even come up with good creative stuff for my 4 year old to do on her one off day from pre school every week. 🙂

  33. Oh Mary. I can so completely relate to the feeling of dread as the summer draws to a close and the new homeschooling year begins. I wish it were not so.

    Will be praying for you and would sure appreciate if you might remember to lift me up to the One who brings the Joy.

  34. Do what you can and credit yourself for it. You’re doing a great job!

  35. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I found your blog a while ago and just love reading your posts. I’ve also been considering homeschooling our daughters, but the thought overwhelms me, as I need structure, too, as you mentioned. I’ve read up on the unschooling idea…I love it, but I know myself too well – I would be stressed out and we wouldn’t get anything done! Thanks for letting us in on your thoughts as you prepare for this school year. I’d love to hear what you end up doing!

  36. I can’t even begin to imagine the growing pains that occur within a family as you bring new older children into the home. Well, only to a degree. We had an exchange student for a year and it threw our family dynamics into a tailspin. Our oldest wasn’t the oldest anymore and she fought for her place. The dynamics are always at play.

    Do what you can as for homeschooling and know that you are doing your best. That’s all anyone can expect of you, including you.

    Every day in the home should be a learning experience. It’s all about the parenting. There are plenty of nice kids that go to public school…again, it’s all about the homelife. Granted, they’re exposed to alot of situations/circumstances that homeschoolers aren’t but there are lots of good public school parents out there.

  37. I have mixed feelings about starting school this year. On the one hand, I am eager to get back to routine, on the other hand, I hate routines! LOL!
    Regarding your guilt, remember this: the fact that you home school means that you are teaching when you don’t even realize it! You know so much about what your kids are learning and needing help with that you are teaching when you don’t even think about it. And their test scores show it!

    And, regarding the public school advocate commenter; My problem with them is not as much with what you get but what you don’t get. Also, for what it’s worth I have known a LOT of home schooled kids and families in my time (as have you, I am sure) and their Jesus-retention-rate is worlds apart from that of the public schools! 🙂 Not that public school kids can’t retain their faith, just that it then becomes necessary for the parents to at least “re-school” them at home in regards to history, science and, of course, the Bible.

  38. Owlhaven says:

    Just wanted to thank you all for your encouragement and ideas– you’ve already helped me brainstorm and energize a bit more for the school year. Although homeschooling is the way our family has chosen to go, I know plenty of great public-schooled kids and adults, so please don’t feel I am dissing anyone’s choice, OK? 🙂

  39. Wow…did I write this post? Every word you wrote, I have lived. The one difference is – my burn out led me straight to the beautiful brick building across the street. I have LOVED my years of homeschooling – but my 3 beautiful non-english speaking Ethiopians sent us into a tail spin. I feel for you. I admire your perseverance.

  40. Wow! This brought me right back to 7 1/2 years ago when we brought home our 3 adopted children from Russia ~ ages 13,13 & 11 at the time. I never dreamed of putting them in school….homeschool was the only option. It was a trip though. Ours needed structure too. I’m sure it was easier with 3 than 7 but it was still tough.
    I could not find anything age appropriate to teach them English. It was all too babyish. “See Jane Run” was their language level but they were terribly insulted to read baby books. So I ended up making my own curriculum for English. I made our first year English curriculum by doodling/sketches of everyday things, places, etc. I thought they needed to know. Every week I sketched (I am not at all artistic either) a new themed sketch “home”, “neighborhood”, “travel”, etc, with all sorts of objects in the picture to define. I made 3 copies and a list of words with everything in the picture (bedroom, bed, closet, desk, livingroom, coffee table, etc) and went over the picture and list with them. They filled in the blanks on the sketch with the appropriate word from the list and studied it throughout the week. After a couple days I’d give them another copy of the sketch as a quiz and they would have to fill in the blanks from memory. I think it worked really well and the kids liked it. It got a lot of laughs because my drawing is so basic and bad. I would also turn it around some times and have them do the sketches. They were much better than me!
    We also used “Grammar Skills” and the other English curriculum from the company that makes “Singapore Math”. It is basic, thorough and not babyish. Once they had a pretty good vocabulary….6 months to a year later depending on the kid……I had them read the simple classic kid’s versions of Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick, Black Beauty, Call of the Wild, etc. They were required to read with a Russian/English dictionary and underline any word they didn’t know, look it up, and write the word in pencil Russian in the book. I would use those words for vocab words for them to memorize for the week.
    Steck-Vaugh also has some really good English work books called “True Tales of…..” These are short interesting stories with pictures, graphs and charts. There are comprehension questions at the end of every story. Basic, interesting and, again, not babyish.
    Steck-Vaugh also has good basic American History books called “America’s Story” by Vivian Bernstein.
    For science…..we did Biology. It is visual and based on a lot of memorizing of nouns. The first thing we did was have the kids collect leaves and press them in a notebook in clear pages. They had to label the leaf with the type of tree it came from and all its parts. Found this info in the little Audobon Society Field Guides. We worked in the concept of photosynthesis along the way too. “Singapore Math” also has great simple books for Biology and we used those. This science got the kids outside and got their hands busy. I would “grade” them on their completed pages in their notebook. Fun for them to look back on now too.
    Something we did with history was make a time line out of a long piece of paper and wrap it around our “classroom”. We put all the important dates and events from American History as we studied it. We added art to it too…..3-d paper sculptures of the Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria, the kids’ drawings of the Colomubus, Amerigo Vespuci, Ferdinand DeSoto, etc. We made a big map of the different sea routes of the explorers. We made a map of all the different Native American tribes in Florida. Each kid studied one and presented the information to me in a kind of report.
    The first year….we did a lot of art based, hands on school. I remember it being exhausting but fun and I also remember a lot more American History now!
    All this fun did end however….after 9 months my husband lost his job in town and had to work out of town. A few months later I put the kids in private school. 24/7 was just too much. I had to take one out of school and homeschool him again after a few weeks because he couldn’t adjust to it. But the other two did well.
    I really thought that they learned so much in homeschool and hated to lose that by putting them in a brick school. The 2 that adjusted to it though, did learn English a bit faster. However, that is parlty because there were 3 of them and 1 of me at home to hear English from. If they had other English speaking siblings that probably wouldn’t have been a factor.
    Long-winded award here!
    I feel for you looking “forward” to starting up school again. It is tough with the older kids because most of the curriculum for their age group assumes a much higher language level as well as self-teaching level.
    FYI ~ my kids are now 21, 21 and 19. The oldest are in college, one just admitted to a Masters program in Architecture, the other just finishing his Associates in Drafting/Design. And, our third, floundering at the moment. We know she’ll find her way too though.
    Amazing to see them “turn out” after all we went through those long first years. Hang in there.

  41. Elizabeth Giger says:

    I would love to hear your reasons for homeschooling! My husband and I are just starting our family, and have a 1 yr old, so don’t have to decide for a while, but are already weighing options and praying for wisdom!

  42. I’m sorry, I just read a post that was before mine about homeschool kids leaving home after graduating and not living for the Lord. I think your oldest daughter is an example that refutes that thinking. And I don’t think homeschooling has as much to do with how children behave when they leave, as how the parents model Christ in their home, no matter where the children go to school.

    That is not to say that I think homeschool is the only schooling option that is Godly. I have my BS in Elementary Ed., and have several years experience teaching in Christian schools. I will never send my children to the local Christian school – it is a cess pool of rebellion – it’s “cool” to be evil and I never want my kids to feel that way.

    I have a friend who recently put her children in a small public school where her family is very well known since they have the areas largest farm. Her children were very grounded in Christianity. And they have had to learn to deal with the “world”. But public school is as bad as she thought it would be, but she was prepared to deal with it. I was homeschooled, attended private and public schools; my husband went to public school. It is too easy to make broad, sweeping statements.

    Mary, I am glad you posted that you are encouraged – what you are feeling is similar to how I felt each year as the the summer ended and I knew school would soon start. But the first day, seeing those beautiful faces – excited, apprehensive or indifferent – I fell in love with them, and THAT is what gave me the excitement again.

  43. I, too, feel that certain dread when I know that the beach days are coming to a close. I just told my kids the other day that the days of partying were coming to a close. Cookies, gum, soft drinks, and loads of computer time and videos can’t go on forever!! LOL!
    I have 7 school aged this yr, along with my 2 yr old. My 2 oldest have graduated. It is with much excitement, along with a whole lot of fear and trepidation, that I embark on a new school yr. We’ve been at this for over 13 yrs now. Whew!
    I just honestly wish the long days at the beach never came to an end. Sigh. 🙂
    Dawn in SC(who spent another lovely day at the beach today with 8 children. It doesn’t get any better.)

  44. Why do we moms have to feel guilty about EVERYTHING?! I guess it keeps us on our toes… Don’t you think that the basic reason for home schooling is to have them learn at their speed and level in the environment of love and understanding… Science can be learned by playing outside, looking at pictures and books, playing with siblings and casual conversation in the home! It sounds like you are doing great! Enjoy and don’t feel guilty!

  45. Becky D. says:

    I know this discussion is getting old but I wanted to stop by and say not to worry I”m sure they’re learning more than you realize. Your garden is great science. I don’t have as much homeschool teaching experience as you do but I do have a few hints. My older two graduated a few years ago and hopefully we’ll have more years homeschooling when we adopt soon. Anyways one of my older ones was special needs and she taught me a lot about different things for homeschooling. Although your children aren’t special needs in the same way the language difficulties might need similar modifications. I don’t know what you use for math but we loved Math-U-See. Also an idea for a bit of grammer that isn’t complex at all would be daily grams. It’s meant to be a supplement but we used it a lot during the years we were spending so much time on reading fluently. For things like science history art etc we found rotating those worked better as in spend 6-9 weeks on science everyday then spend 6-9 weeks on art whatever. That way we could do one “extra” thing at a time but still do everything over the course of the year. Transitions were hard for this child so it worked for her. Also maybe computer based/workbook based like Alpha Omega or Christian Light might make school easier too. Even if workbooks etc aren’t your favorite sometimes compromise is needed.

  46. Jennie S. says:

    I’d like to second the suggestion of incorporating historical fiction into your reading plan. Sonlight (while we don’t use their whole curriculum) has some wonderful reading lists and books for doing this. Also, instead of worrying about a science “curriculum”, try getting some Usborne books on science and nature and just read some together. Pick something the kids are interested in and go for it! There’s tons- insects, space, volcanoes, weather, botany… All of these you could easily cover with just books from the library. Have the older elementary kids read sections from the books they choose, and write a paragraph about each day’s reading (I’d say no more than 3 days a week should be more than adequate).

    Lapbooks are another really great way to teach subjects to various grade levels. I think Evan Moor publishing has books on all different subjects that allow you to create these books, and they are FUN for the kids!

    Unit studies are another great way to incorporate various subjects, so even if you don’t teach “history” per se that day, you did a read-aloud that covered that period. We are doing “A New World Of Adventure” this year from Learning Adventures. For $120 you get a full curriculum which is already planned out daily. Lecture notes, notebooking, vocabulary, grammar, spelling, Bible, Literature, Science and History are all included! It’s for grades 4-8, but could easily be “tweaked” for all your grade levels. We did it 2 years ago, and the kids BEGGED to do it first. (We did A World of Adventure first, which is the first in the series on Ancient cultures through the explorers). There are lots of cooking projects, craft projects, and Fine Arts (classical composers) in it, as well. Great for various learning styles!

    With a clan your size, any way you can teach multiple kids the same thing, the less stressed out you’ll be. We tried more structured Abeka with my kids last year, and they both asked where all the projects went. Clearly, they missed AWOA!

    Anyway, using a unit study, I think, would allow you to teach most of your kids the same topics so you’re not running yourself ragged. Tapestry of Grace is also great for this (but it’s pricey, since various grade levels require different books). It also infuses the “FUN” into homeschooling, which, if I didn’t have, I’d go nuts, too. Last year was BORING, so I want to avoid repeating that. I’m kind of looking forward to A New World of Adventure, though I must say, the 1200 pages of plans (no, I’m not kidding), is a bit daunting! Still, I know enough to know I don’t have to do it all- it’s there if I need it!

    Best of wishes for a WONDERFUL school year! (Oh, and I have two bios and 1 from China who starts kindergarten this year after 3 1/2 years home with us…Way to go- adoption can be so wonderful!)

  47. oh mary, i can only imagine. we just have the 2 school age kids right now, and the other day i just allowed myself a bit of a fantasy about them in school, me going for a long run with the baby in the baby jogger…:) ahh well, i’ll get back in shape in, oh, 20 years when they’re all grown.

  48. I agree with a previous poster that suggested reading history or science based books…’combine’ subjects, if you will. Our hsing has some years that we’re right on top of everything and then we have years like last year, with the arrival of the baby, that we just get through the basics. All of my kids are voracious readers and I am constantly amazed at all the facts they pick up. One thing I have pursued when we go to the library is each child gets 7 books-2 history, 2 science, 1 how-to/craft/cookbook/something along those lines,1 biography or autobiography, and 1 of their choice. It seems to work out pretty good. This year I will have two that are starting hs studies, and for them, I will assign certain books that I want them to read. But…it does help cover those subjects that have a tendency to get lost in the shuffle.

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