August will begin our third full year of homeschooling. Hello fourth grade! While I admit, I was very overwhelmed when we began our homeschooling journey, I am blessed that we were guided down this educational journey.
A friend of mine has decided to homeschool her daughter. She let me know of a local homeschool co-op and suggested I join. I was wary. I had done my research into local groups. To be honest, most aren’t helpful; if I can even locate them. The reason being, I am also a working mom and we do new lessons in the evening and weekends with homework during the day.
I was assured this group was different. There wasn’t a membership fee. They got together weekly, late afternoons and early evening. Hmmmm? I might be able to utilize that time-frame. Ok, here goes a new adventure. I joined the group. Granted, I’ve only “met” them on Facebook; so far. This Friday, we will meet for our first group get-together.
I’ve been asking questions of the group. We are registered as a private school. Anyone else? Yes, yes there are others like us! They have also checked out local charter schools, as I did and they knew which ones I was referring to. Ok, that’s nicer than just my other online groups. Having them based locally helps a bit more; there’s a connection.
I am not sure I would have made it this far without online, homeschooling support. I am very interested in seeing how local, in-person support is going to help us. I think it will be a good experience for my daughter to make friends with other kids who learn similar to her educational structure. Perhaps she will gain a different perspective? Maybe we can find other homeschoolers who are also learning ASL (American Sign Language) and have practice buddies?
Regardless of how this turns out, it’s another experience we are utilizing in this educational pursuit. I, for one, am looking forward to the upcoming interactions. I am impressed with the group, and it’s only been a week. I look forward to thinking, “why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Question time: If you homeschool, are you part of co-op? Why or why not?
That was me when I embarked on my homeschooling journey. I pulled my daughter out of her first grade class in January of 2011. I was overwhelmed. I had planned on starting her with homeschooling for second grade. Life being what it is, through another curve ball my way and we jumped in the deep end of the homeschooling pool.
Ya know what? I can swim and we’re staying afloat!
While I admit, it’s definitely a transition from a brick and mortar school to educating at home, it’s not as scary as I thought it would. We made adjustments. I’ve done research, I’ve taken “tests” to judge how I teach and it’s a combination; less traditional, some unschooling, a bit of chapter learning and a very hands on approach.
The one thing I love about homeschooling, is it is definitely a place for games. No need to break the bank, consignment shops, yard sales, thrift stores all have reasonably priced games. I picked up a Kids’ Monopoly and a children’s Scrabble. Ok, so Elsa is on our Scrabble game. That game was $5.00 on clearance after Christmas. I’ll let it go that Elsa’s picture is on the Scrabble board.
When my 9-year old says, “Mom? Will play Monopoly with me?” I find myself saying yes more than no. Here are some things you might now have considered the benefits of playing Monopoly (at least the kids’ version):
Uses fine and gross motor skills (stretching across the board, moving pieces…)
Teaches math (adding or multiplying fines, counting how much money is left…)
Teaches budgeting (can they afford that ticket booth (kids version of a hotel)
Development of reading skills (Chance cards)
Teaches how to make change
Teaches responsibility (set-up, clean-up)
Teaches good sportsmanship (they will lose at some point)
Use skip counting to move pieces around the board
Bonding time with their mother, father, sibling, etc.
This is just one example of what a game can do. This would be considered “unschooling”. Yet, it’s a great way to help kids with math memory if they are struggling. It’s a challenge in a fun way.
I will also utilize games when my daughter is feeling distracted. She’s still learning but she refocusing her energy. Instead of letting her leave her studies we change her learning directive, even for 10-15 minutes. It lets her get out some energy and when we need to finish up a book lesson, she cooperates a lot more.
That is the freedom I love about homeschooling. I tailor my daughter’s education to suit her needs. She is still learning, still absorbing, only this way, she is more apt to remember because she associates the knowledge with something she enjoys.
One of the best things about homeschooling, is the ability to be flexible. Yesterday we chose dancing for our physical education. My daughter’s latest dancing habit is to move like she’s having a “fit”. I can’t help but shake my head is utter disbelief when she does this.
I couldn’t help but think some structure would do her good and actually provide a nice workout for both of us. I Googled an instructional video for the Cupid Shuffle. It’s quite possible you’ve seen this dance at weddings, Quinceaneras, Debuts, etc., even if you don’t recognize the name.
Youtube is great for instructional videos. We found a video that showed us how to do the dance. I’ll let you choose the actual instructional video of your preference. The video I linked will show you the actual dance with the music, performed by Cupid.
The Cupid Shuffle is a really simple line dance, using a hip-hop beat. It allows for a little personalization when moving right to left and when walking it out.
My daughter and I pushed the sofa back, sent my older pup to spend time with dad (he won’t let me dance) and we started dancing. It was a great bonding time, a good workout and fun! I highly recommend doing something like this. We are definitely set for our next wedding. Look out line dancers; here we come!
Tonight was the opening of the farmer’s market season in our city. I decided class was going to be held at the farmer’s market instead of at the kitchen table. That may sound odd to you, but to this country-girl, it made perfect sense.
Red onions, eggs and dental packets.
Even though the farmer’s market is typically higher in price than my produce stand close to work, they do have some items I can’t get at my regular spot.
I think it’s important for kids to realize there are actual people associated with the food they eat. It’s not a nameless store with a produce neatly stacked. It’s the small farms and families that work hard at providing good, quality fruits, vegetables and herbs.
It gives my daughter the opportunity to see “imperfect” produce. Farmer’s markets often have organic vendors. They are not the large corporations where everything must be perfect before it’s sold.
The lil miss will see onions before they are “beautified” for the grocery store. She will see how they come out of the ground. The same goes for garlic and carrots. Carrots have green leaves? Yes, yes they do.
I personally prefer non-commercialized eggs. When I can buy from local farmers, I do. I definitely don’t mind spending a few extra coin on eggs. They taste so much better. Did you know, the breed of chicken determines the kind of egg it will lay? We used to get 3-4 different colored eggs when I bought from a local farm.
She learns to engage her community and support local businesses.
We meet other businesses in our community. Tonight, I think we found a possible new dentist. Not to mention, we received free dental samples.
I view teaching my daughter from a variety of sources.
While some people may not see a farmer’s market as a classroom, I can’t help but see all the educational opportunities within her community.
Last night, we began reading a book about frogs for our science lesson. We actually had been talking, earlier that morning, about when I grew up how I used to go “frogging”. From the perspective of a 9-year old, city girl, she thought that was funny. For a kid growing up in the country, before cable came into existence, it was something to do.
We turn the page, there’s a picture of fingertips holding a tiny frog.
Photo from “Frogs” by Reader’s Digest Young Families
I have to say, what happened next is definitely one of my favorite parts about homeschooling. The life of tadpoles and frogs was momentarily forgotten. The focus? The hand. My daughter started to talk about what finger the little frog was sitting on. Now that might seem strange to some. It would have probably irritated a public school teacher because she wasn’t focused on the reading. Yet, I smiled and let her continue. She was discussing which finger. She was talking her way through if it was the ring or middle finger the frog was on.
Just then, my pup needed attention, so I asked her to continue reading aloud. No reason we can’t get some language arts mixed in with our science lesson, right? She continued reading and I as I return to the table, I can see how interested she’d become in the book. She finished the page, and looked again at the fingers (opposite page). She now offered proof of what finger was in use by the frog.
She compared her own hand against the one in the book. She stated how the finger the frog is on is slightly longer than the other two fingers. She said it had to be the middle finger. If it was the ring finger, the next finger would be the pinky. As the pinky is so much smaller than the ring finger, it would drop off the page.
Deductive reasoning in action. It was a proud mommy/teacher moment. It showed she was being observant. It showed she wanted to know more. She’s learning to question what she sees. It’s showing she’s learning. Seeing your child learn, understand, and grow confident in her knowledge is priceless. This is what homeschooling offers me.