Teaching Two High Schoolers

Technically, our last day of school is this coming Friday. However, we finished our academics last week Friday, and my daughter still has classes at the local tech center until next week Thursday. Last week I started planning for the coming school year.

I’ll have a Senior and a Sophomore/Junior next year. (It’s always exciting to be graduating another student!) I say “Sophomore/Junior” because age-wise my youngest is a Sophomore, but he’s earned enough credits already to be considered a Junior next year — plus he’ll be (hopefully) taking classes at the local tech center. That’s the plan, at least. That means I’ll have two at Tech at the same time, and only a little time in the morning to teach them everything I want them to learn next year. So, what am I teaching next year?

I have gone through all five Volumes twice now, so this year I’m veering farther into the New Testament: we’ll be taking our Bible lessons from Continuing the Journey, a “Weaver-flavored,” year-long unit study based on Acts 1:8, written by a group of Weaver moms/veterans. Years ago, when I was unable to finish editing the project, I stopped teaching the material–I decided to wait for the finished product.

I’ll also be teaching Psychology and Communicate!, and each child will have math (Pre-Calculus for one; Advanced Mathematics for the other). I’m still working out our schedule, but I know these four classes plus tech classes will be a very full schedule for my children.

The best part? I’m hoping to add in some of the Language Arts and Literature from Continuing the Journey as well! (Even if my kids aren’t able to do all of the assignments, I think I may do them myself– the program is just that good!)

What are your plans for next year? Leave a comment, or drop by our Facebook page and let us know!

The A to Z of Homeschooling Groups (part 4)

Previously we discussed N-S of homeschooling groups. Today we’ll cover T-Z.

Treasurer — Most homeschooling groups require members to pay dues, while a few don’t. Funds are often used to offset fees for postage, printing, paper plates and napkins, gift bags for visitors and new members, love offerings for speakers, and room rentals when needed. Use of funds varies from group to group, depending on the size, but a Treasurer will be needed regardless of the size if dues are collected. Sometimes the leader will take care of the funds, but often someone else will do it.

Unity — When you first join a group, you may feel like the newbie you are, but don’t let that discourage you from getting involved! The more you interact with others, the more you get to know the other members, the more you’ll feel like part of the group. When a group is united toward a common goal (educating their children to the best of their abilities) they share info and resources more willingly. This is how trust is formed. This is how prayer warriors are created.

Volunteers — Members of a homeschooling group are not paid. They are volunteers. They volunteer to speak; to bring refreshments; to organize parties, field trips, and community service activities. They share their love for their own children, their passion for homeschooling, their hopes and dreams, as well as their doubts and fears. By joining a group, they are volunteering to come alongside other members and encourage them the same way they are being encouraged.

Wisdom — While it is easy to drop out of a homeschooling group simply because you feel you get enough support from friends and family, please reconsider. If you’ve been homeschooling for a number of years, you have so much wisdom to share! The younger moms need you to stay involved. They need to watch you, to talk to you, to glean from your successes and failures. Chances are good there is another mom in the group who may not have as much homeschooling experience, but she may have more life experience–and that may be just what you need. The two of you can be a huge help to each other! And the wisdom the two of you have will be a blessing to other moms as well!

X-tra Patience — There will be times when the whole group gets together: moms and kids. When that happens, you may need a little extra patience to deal with all the kids running around and with all the chatter among the moms. If you are planning a field trip, you will need patience as some moms get their money to you late, or don’t show up at all. If you are communicating with other members, you will need patience when they don’t check their text messages or emails as often as others. We are all at different seasons of life. Making the effort to be patient and meet someone where they’re at will be a blessing to them.

You — There wouldn’t be a group if there were no members in it! You are needed. Step up, volunteer, encourage, interact! This is your group. It will only be as good as member participation makes it.

Zeal — When you have lost your passion for teaching, contact another member. The biggest gain you will get from being a member of a homeschooling group is the encouragement. Share your excitement, your zeal, and your love of teaching with the other ladies, and you will be blessed!

There you have it! A whole alphabet of things about homeschooling groups! I’m sure there were things I left out. Feel free to leave a comment and share about the neat things your homeschooling group does. We’d love to hear from you!

The A to Z of Homeschooling Groups (part 3)

Previously we discussed G-M of homeschooling groups. Today we’ll cover N-S.

New Members — Depending on the size of the group, there should be anywhere from 1 to 10 or more new members joining each year. New members who are new to homeschooling will bring fresh enthusiasm to your group. Pair that with the experience and wisdom of those who have been teaching for 5, 7, 10 or more years and you have the makings of a great group! You’ll also occasionally gain new members who are not new to homeschooling, but new to your area (or just your group). Those new to the area will need your help finding all the local resources. If your group doesn’t have a “welcoming committee” consider forming one!

Outlook — Attitude is everything, even in homeschooling. Being part of a local, in-person group will help you keep your perspective. Feeling defeated after watching your child struggle with fractions? Seek out another member who has a child in Algebra. Perplexed by your child’s lack of enthusiasm for reading? Contact another member who has been there. Not only will your outlook improve from talking to other members of your homeschooling group, but theirs will as well! Being able to help someone else is a great moral booster!

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports — This is one of the most important aspects of any group, whether in-person or online. Knowing you can share your heartfelt prayer requests and praises with the other members, and being confident the info will remain within the group, is a huge factor to many people. Yes, we all need prayer, but we don’t always want the details shared with strangers or other local friends. In many groups, this trust (or lack of it) can mean the difference between active members and passive members.

Questions — While many people feel homeschooling is an isolated activity (because you don’t need to leave your home), I’ve yet to meet a homeschooling mom who feels isolated. Between local and online homeschooling groups, there is always someone to turn to when you have a question. You may be wondering about that new phonics program everyone seems to be talking about– ask about it in your group. You may need to know a good place to have your hair done– ask about it in your group. Whether your questions are about homeschooling or life in general, you’ll find plenty of answers in a homeschooling group.

Refreshments — Nothing goes better with fellowship than food. Large groups will have a committee that provides snacks and drinks at meetings. Small groups may pass a sign-up sheet around at the beginning of the year, or they may just send out a reminder asking people to bring things if they wish. Cookies, cakes, cheese and crackers, meatballs in the crockpot, soup … the possibilities are endless! Paired with juices, soda, tea, coffee and ice water, it isn’t unusual to have a mini-potluck meal at some meetings. Refreshments are usually served after the business portion of the meeting, and before the speaker. Getting refreshments is a great opportunity to stand and stretch, as well as socialize for a few minutes, in the middle of a meeting.

Service Projects –Besides giving our children a well-rounded education, we often want them to learn to serve others. Helping an elderly neighbor or relative with yard work is one way to do that, but another is to reach out to strangers in the community. This is often done as a group because more hands make light work. Whether it’s packing boxes of food for the local homeless shelter, or care packages for deployed service members, or shoe boxes for children on the other side of the world, having a group of friends with you makes the time go quick. Other times, it may be just you and one other family as you deliver food to local shut-ins, pass out flyers for an upcoming church activity, or create blankets for cancer patients. Homeschooling groups are a great way to find out about local and national places to serve!

Stay tuned for the last installment which will cover the letters T-Z in this series about homeschooling groups!

 

 

Conversation Starters

(This is a Throwback Thursday post, written in May of 2007.)

Many years ago, when my oldest was learning about solids and planes in his math book, I came across the following info:

All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares

That’s the type of phrase you mumble when you need to say something intelligent to start a conversation. Works every time. Yesterday I learned another phrase:

All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads

These are the trivial types of things that my children latch onto (just like I do!) and blurt out to their relatives over the holidays. Although the first one, about rectangles, doesn’t cause quite as good of a conversation as the second one does, it still gets people talking. And my kids feel smart, because these are the trivial things that many people don’t know. We’re learning a lot about frogs this week. You can read more about our adventures in these two posts: Considering God’s Creation, part 1, and Considering God’s Creation, part 2.

Homeschool Convention Season 2015

Each year, our favorite vendors travel around the country to set up booths at various homeschool conventions. Below are a few links to get your started on your search for a convention near you! (Because not all conventions are attended by all companies, I’m including a variety of sites to get you started on your search. Be sure to check with your state and local homeschool groups to find out about events they are hosting.)

Alpha Omega Publications

Christian Book.com

A.C.E. Homeschool

Homeschool Conventions

Homeschool Buyers’ Co-op

Home School Legal Defense Association

New Leaf Publishing Group (Master Books)

 

The A to Z of Homeschooling Groups (part 2)

Previously we discussed A-F of homeschooling groups. Today we’ll cover G-M.

Good Communication — Communication is important in any setting that involves humans. (That narrows it down, don’t you think?) A homeschooling group is no exception. Leaders need to communicate with each other to keep the group running. Leaders need to communicate with the members to keep them informed. Members need to communicate with each other to fulfill the purpose of the group. Without good communication, meetings would be chaotic, children would be running rampant during activities, and everyone would leave the group because it was too stressful.

Besides keeping a calendar and using social media or an email list (or both), many groups now use texting to communicate with each other. When I first started homeschooling, phone trees were the chosen form of passing along prayer requests and other important info. Today, text messages are often used, as well as private messages and private groups through Facebook (it’s much easier to type out a message on your computer than on your phone).

Helping Hands — The members of homeschooling groups often become like a second family. Not only are they available for hugs at meetings, they are also able and willing to bring meals to those who need it (due to a new baby, a death in the family, or illness). Family often babysit for each other, and carpool to various activities. If you belong to a homeschooling group and you’re not offering hands-on help to other members… why not?

Information — Do you have questions about homeschooling? Are you concerned about high school math, or getting into college, or maybe just about a different reading program? Being part of a homeschooling group will help you get answers. Besides being able to talk one-on-one with the other moms, there are many groups that will have special speakers come in a few times a year to speak.

Jesus — Not every homeschool group will be founded on the Word of God, but many are. Group members will be there to encourage you and strengthen your walk with the Lord. They’ll also be ample opportunity for you to support and encourage the other members of the group as well.

Kids — This is why you’re joining the group, right? Because you have kids– children whom you homeschool. Chances are, you’re looking for interaction for your children as much as for yourself. You will find it, and more, in a local homeschooling group. As mentioned earlier, many groups offer field trips and holiday parties on a regular basis, as well as co-op classes. Determine beforehand how much interaction you want to have and then follow through on those plans by saying ‘no’ when you can’t attend.

Leadership — Homeschooling groups need someone to lead. Depending on the size of the group, that may be one or two people, or it may be a whole team of individuals. Get to know the leadership of any group you join. These are the ladies (and sometimes men) that have been on this journey for awhile. They are the veterans! They will have words of wisdom and advice when you need it, and they will be strong prayer warriors.

Meetings –Many groups meet once a month for a business meeting, while others meet once a week. I’ve even known a few to meet every other month, and a few that meet only two or three times a year to discuss business. However often your group meets, plan to attend the meetings. Yes, there will be times when you just can’t make it, but the group won’t be a benefit to you if the other members don’t know you– plan to attend the meetings! Get involved!

Another “monthly meeting” that many groups have is the Moms’ Night Out. Plan to attend these as well! There is nothing more invigorating than spending a couple hours with like-minded women. You will be refreshed and rejuvenated after MNO, and it will give you renewed passion to continue this adventure called homeschooling.

Stay tuned for the next installment which will cover the letters N-S in this series about homeschooling groups!

The Hope of God’s Calling

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

(Ephesians 1:18)

I’m the type of person who likes to know what’s coming up. I like to plan, and know what to expect. While I was dating my husband, I practiced writing what my name would be once we were married. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting and took childbirth classes. Before we started homeschooling, I read magazines and books on the subject and talked to moms already on the journey. If I know what’s going to happen, I can be prepared.

Over the years, I’ve learned that sometimes God doesn’t want me to know in advance. He wants me to trust Him and ‘go along for the ride.’ When I discovered my writing was something others wanted to read, I knew He was calling me to be a writer. When other moms needed encouragement, I knew He was calling me to be an encourager. When chronic illness entered the life of a loved one, I knew he was calling me to trust Him.

This is not a ride I would have chosen. Perhaps, if I knew how long the ride would be … I knew marriage would be forever. I knew childbirth would be (probably) less than a day (thank You, Lord, for 6-hour labors!). I knew my children would grow up and become adults, and that my part in their schooling was only 12 years of their lives. But, chronic illness … I don’t know if there will be a remission. I don’t know how debilitated my loved one will be. I don’t know how this will affect our lives. Yet I yearn to know the hope of His calling.

I will trust Him. I will lean on Him for understanding. I recently saw a sign that said, “Fear is a liar. Don’t listen to him.” I knew God put that sign there for me to read. It was His way of telling me, “It’s okay; I’ve got this– I’ve got you.”

Lord, enlighten the eyes of my heart! Where are You leading me? I can feel You prompting me to pull away from certain activities, and cling to others. But what I feel the strongest is change… and that always scares me because I fear the unknown, like many others. I do trust You, Lord. Show me Your direction for my life so I don’t fight You. Help me to shake off this fear and lean on You. Keep my feet on the path You have chosen for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The A to Z of Homeschooling Groups (part 1)

Homeschool support groups play an important role in the life of a homeschooling family. Whether that group is online or in person, strictly for support or for co-op classes, there’s a great deal that goes on behind the scenes that you may not be aware of — I wasn’t, until I helped to form a new group a few years ago.

Not all groups are the same, so some of the items on the list may or may not apply to the group you’re in, the group you’re thinking of joining, or the group you plan to start. It is my hope that this series of articles will refresh your thinking about support groups.

Activities — From field trips to holiday parties, activities for the children are a big draw to new members. Society is concerned with “socialization” of children, and groups that have plenty of activities to choose from will add new members on a regular basis. Some groups have field trips weekly while others have them monthly; holiday parties and pot lucks may be monthly or quarterly; co-op classes may meet once or twice a week.

If you are thinking about participating in the activities your group offers, be sure to schedule the activity (and drive time) into your day/week. I’ve heard from many moms who complain about too many activities and not enough time with their curriculum! Don’t sign up for an activity just because it’s offered. Does it fit with what you’re studying (or will be studying, or have studied recently)? Is it in your budget (not all activities are free)? Does it offer educational lessons you feel your children must have now, instead of later? If you answer ‘no’ to any one of those questions, think twice before participating.

On the other hand, activities are a great way for your children to meet and make new friends. It also gives you (the mom) an opportunity to meet and make new friends as well. Taking time to interact with other families is a blessing for everyone.

Books — Being part of a homeschool group gives you direct access to a huge library. I have yet to meet a homeschool mom who is not willing to loan out a book or two (unless she’s using the book, of course). Many groups that meet in churches and have access to a storage closet (to hold items between meetings) will invest in plastic milk crates to hold “library” items. Each month these books are brought out and offered to the members to “check out” for the next month.

Do you have specific questions about a book or program you are thinking of using? There’s a very good chance you’ll be able to get reviews of just about any book from the members of a homeschooling group. Many groups schedule “round tables” in February or March, which allow members to discuss various books and programs they’ve used. You’ll also find out who will be selling which books at the end of the year, as many families will offer books and curricula they no longer need to group members first.

Calendar — Well-run groups keep a calendar. Activities are scheduled and kept track of so as to avoid conflicts for families with multiple ages/grades. With today’s technology, that calendar can be tied to an email group or an email address. In an email group, all members have access to it and can see right away if a date is open to plan a field trip. They would also be able to ‘pencil in’ any activities they plan. Large groups benefit from having a single person in charge of approving, scheduling and promoting activities, while smaller groups can be a bit more relaxed.

If the calendar is tied to the group email address, there would definitely be one person in charge of it. But, having it “in the cloud” would allow that person to schedule activities with their phone, computer or tablet.

Dues — Groups that rent a room for meetings, or have any hard copy mailings, are bound to collect dues from members. Whether those are yearly dues or monthly love offerings is left up to the leadership. I’ve been part of large and small groups that collect yearly dues. I’ve also been part of groups that collect no dues at all–these are usually online groups, and no dues are needed because everything is done over the Internet–and they survive on love offerings taken when an activity requires funds.

Encouragement — Support groups function a bit differently than co-op groups: they exist to offer support to the mom, not necessarily classes for the children. But that doesn’t mean the children get no support! Even without co-op classes, support groups often offer parties, spelling bees, science fairs, family picnics, field trips and more. If you’re looking for encouragement to keep going with your homeschooling journey, a homeschooling group is the perfect place to get it.

Fellowship — Homeschooling can keep you home-bound if you let it. Being part of a local group gives you reason to get out and enjoy some fellowship with like-minded families. As much as homeschooling moms love to talk about homeschooling, they also like to talk about other things (like the fabulous crock pot recipe their family always asks for, or the new dentist they found, or what they read in their Bible that morning). Life isn’t all about teaching. Life is about living, about building relationships, about glorifying the Lord. If you find you can’t get out to fellowship with other women in a local homeschooling group, try finding one online (Yahoo Groups and Facebook are two good places to start).

Stay tuned for the next installment which will cover the letters G-M in this series about homeschooling groups!

Just Like Christmas!

(This is a Throwback Thursday post, written in May of 2007.)

The books I’ve ordered have started arriving. It’s like Christmas around here! I’m going to be teaching Communicate! and Learning to Love Literature to my two oldest boys (a Sophomore and a Senior) next year. Communicate! uses two main books: People Skills, by Robert Bolton, Ph.D., and The Research Paper Handbook, by James D. Lester. L2LL has one main book besides the literature books: Reading Between the Lines, by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.

Rather than share one of each of these books between the three of us, I decided to purchase three copies. So, I went to Amazon.com and searched for the books to see if I could get any of them used. (eBay didn’t have any the day I was looking for them.) Bingo! I found all the books I was looking for and paid, on average, about $5/book. Half of them have arrived already, and I expect the remaining books to arrive over the next few days.

Don’t you just love to get mail–especially packages in the mail?! Next year is going to be a very good year!

Getting Exercise

When my children were little, it was easy to shoo them outside to play. Our house sat on an acre lot with plenty of mature trees, and we were at the end of a dead end road. They liked nothing more than to go outside and play in the sandbox, explore in the tall brush of the empty lot next door, and ride their bikes up and down the road. Exercise was never an issue.

Fast forward to our next house (in a different state): no cable TV and no reception for local TV allowed them to continue to be outside with friends– as well as downstairs playing video games. Exercise still wasn’t much of an issue.

Fast forward to today: The last two children are in high school and we’re in yet another house (and state). The three oldest have graduated and lead fairly active lives. While the two youngest are not overweight in any sense of the word, I still like to see them getting out and getting some exercise. We have a pool, and there is access to a nature park just down the road. We also like to go for walks when possible.

I’ve never felt the need to buy a Physical Education program for our homeschool. In the early years of our marriage, when there were just 2 or 3 children, we would accompany my husband when he traveled for work. Everywhere we went, we’d explore the hotel, the surrounding businesses, local parks and the zoo. Whenever we’d visit relatives, we spent plenty of time swimming in the lake, hiking in the mountains, and traipsing through cemeteries (searching for names of relatives). I counted these weeks of travel as gym class!

If I hadn’t had these opportunities for travel, and if we had lived in the city instead of the suburbs, I probably would have purchased a program. But, I’m glad I didn’t have to. 😉