Monday, June 27, 2011


This past week, we finished getting our class list and schedule together for our homeschool co-op at  our church.  In many ways, it is hard to believe that we are going into our 4th year of H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Parents Educate) and each year I am so excited about the classes that we are able to offer.  

There are two main things that make our co-op a bit different than most.  As co-ops usually do, we have classes that are taught by the parents of the students;  however, we are blessed that several of our teachers are actually fairly recent homeschool graduates who are enthusiastically willing to share their time and knowledge with those younger than they.  We are also blessed in the fact that our co-op has several men involved, which I have noticed helps keep the kids under control without using any sort of disciplinary measures.  What a blessing it is to have young people and men involved in something that most in this world aren't even remotely interested in.

Though our co-op is "closed" - meaning, it only is available to members of our church - I'll list the classes we are offering this year.  Maybe there's someone out there who is thinking about beginning a co-op or needs some ideas for a group this upcoming year.  If so, maybe this list will help you.  Other than that, I'm just so excited about them, I want to share!  :)

2&3 year old classes include:  
Bible/Music - Bible stories and time of singing Sunday school and other popular children songs.  
Physical Education
Lunch/Listening Skills - children will practice listening skills through various activities during their lunch time.

K4-1st grade classes:
Phys. Ed.
Lunch/Listening Skills (combined with the 2&3 year olds)
Introduction to Music - children will be introduced to various music styles and musical instruments

2&4th grade classes:
World Geography - learning about the continents and major landmarks and countries on those continents.  Several guest speakers will come throughout the year who have lived in or visited various countries and share their experiences and observations.  Map work.
Sign Language - a dvd class mediated by a teacher who knows ASL
Phys. Ed.
Lunch/Missionary Letter Writing - children will learn to perfect their letter writing skills in a class where they will learn about various missionary families our church supports and write letters to them.

5th-8th grade classes
World Geography (see previous description) OR Sign Language (see previous description)
Home Ec. - children will learn to prepare and cook various meals (1st semester
Woodworking - children will learn various types of wood-types and complete a variety of small projects (1st semester)
Photography - students will learn the functions of the settings on their cameras, the importance of lighting, and composition of a photograph
Phys. Ed.
Art (1st semester) - most likely, chalk drawings!
Skit Performance (2nd semester) - children will learn the art of preparing, practicing, and preforming a skit.  Great for building public speaking skills!

9th-12th grade classes:
Mathematics Overview - students will review various math concepts in order to gain the mastery of skills they will need throughout their lives
Missionary Biographies - we will be using an ACE program in a classroom setting for students to read about, discuss, and answer questions about some great heroes of the faith.  Current missionaries will also be guest speakers
US History from a Christian  Perspective - students will learn the incredible history of our country and how it affects and pertains to current events
Chamber Orchestra - a great class taught by a godly & accomplished musician that will challenge our instrumentalists to further their skills
Phys. Ed. - Volleyball!
Home Ec. - the young ladies will learn to can & freeze various jams, fruits, and vegies.  They will get to take home what they canned that day (1st semester)
Small Engine Repair - young men will learn to identify the parts of a small engine and their functions.  Safety in working with small engines will also be taught. (1st semester)
Photography - (see previous description - 2nd semester)

I am excited about another year and look forward to meeting every other week with families I have come to know better and love more!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - June 17, 2011

In my life this week...
I have been blessed to be able to continue to be faithful in my Bible reading and exercise in the mornings.  It is amazing to me how much better life is when I am spiritually & physically refreshed.

In our homeschool this week...
We are supposed to be taking the summer off, but my 5-year old continues to beg to do one subject or other.  This week, it was Math.  I was able to print off some of the kids' worksheets from Mathletics this week, and Gloria was more than thrilled to get started.  As homeschooling 5 older students has left her somewhat neglected, we are catching up with her schooling this summer and she is a willing student!

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
Plan, plan, plan.  If you go into your school  year without a plan or goals, very little will be accomplished.  

Places we are going and people we are seeing...
This week, we stayed pretty close to home, which is a rarity!  What a blessing it was to only have to do a couple of things outside of the home.  We had our second round of annual physicals this week and will finish those up this coming week.  We had the farrier here on Wednesday to trim our horse's hooves.  Our niece, a horse-lover, came for that and stayed the night along with her brother.  The girls rode the horse and explored the woods while the guys went fossil & frog-hunting.  Our church's music school began last night and we've been occupied with that today and will attend again tomorrow.  After tomorrow's class, most of us will head to some horse Fun Days and see what kind of action we can find there!  

My favorite thing this week was...
...getting things a bit more organized for the upcoming school year!

Question I have...
What planner do you use for your homeschool?  Do you use an on-line planner, a pre-printed planner, or do you make your own?

Things I'm working on...
Besides laundry?  I'm printing out the children's Math worksheets for the year and purchasing the remaining books needed.  Then I can get going on our IHIPs and weekly plans.  I'm also finishing up the parade pictures I took last week.

I'm reading...
Jan Karon's newest book, "In the Company of Others."  I finally was able to get it out of the library and am so excited to read it.  If you've never had a chance to read the Mitford series, I highly recommend it!

I'm cooking...
...way too last minute for my taste.  I've been extremely lax in my meal-planning these past few weeks.  Sadly, this results in meals that our often nutritious & yummy but thrown together at the last minute!

I'm praying for...
My Gloria.  She had some lab work done this week as we try to get to the bottom of these stomach pains she's been having.  We'll go over those this Tuesday and discuss what, if any, further tests should be done.  Also praying for my Anna who has an invasive test this Wednesday that she will need to be somewhat sedated for.  

A link to share...
As today is the 3rd anniversary of my son's scoliosis surgery, I will remember it by revisiting this post I wrote that day.  There are other posts that were written at that time that you may find interesting, if you have the time this weekend.  God was so good to us at that time.  It's unbelievable how well he is doing now. This past Tuesday, the doctor measured him 1/2 inch taller that I!

That's about it for this week.  For some fun weekend reading, head over to The Homeschool Chick for more Journal entries!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Very Interesting Article

I read a very interesting article yesterday concerning the spoon-fed mentality of college students today.  As homeschoolers, we need to ask ourselves if we are holding our children's hand every step of the education way or if we are allowing them to fall once in a while.  Do we show them exactly where to find the answers? Do we fall into the trap of preparing them to pass exams instead of truly learning the material?  Or, do we allow them to find information for themselves and learn through hard work?

Take a few minutes to read the article by Jerry Weinberger.  It may surprise you.  It may depress you.  It should challenge you.  I know it did me.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Well, seeing as there are, indeed, some of you out there reading this, I have a question for you.

What do you use in planning your homeschool year?  A printed planner such as the Well-Planned Day, a CD or e-book of many forms that you can print out and fill a notebook with (such as over at TOS), printables from Donna Young, a homemade spreadsheet or other such thing, software, or something else.  Maybe you don't plan at all - that would be a whole new concept for me.

I'm pretty sure I know what I'll be doing this year, but before I say anything, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal - June 11, 2011

I've discovered this link-in over at The Homeschool Chick and thought I'd join.

In my life this week...
I found the best way to begin a diet...get a canker sore on the side of your tongue.  For three-four days, I could barely eat anything.  As I have a class reunion in less than a month, this turned out to be a blessing as it gave me a jump-start my crash diet.  I have had about 10 pounds to lose for a while and I now think I am well on my way. :)

Places we are going and people we are seeing...
It seems that we are ALWAYS going places and this week was not exception.  We had our last CHOICE Kids Club of the school year this past Monday and that ended with a bang as a child pulled the Fire Alarm!  Four of my children, along with my niece and nephew, had their annual piano recital on Tuesday night. Congrats to each of them for a job well done!  The temperatures on Wednesday made it impossible to get anything accomplished, so we packed up and spent the afternoon at a local spray park where we ran into some friends.  Had a great time and I finally got some sun!  Thursday, it was off to do a photo shoot for a great senior.  Friday morning found us at the airport welcoming friends home after 3 weeks in PNG to visit their daughter & son-in-law.  On Friday night, we went to my mom's small town and enjoyed a summer evening watching the Fireman's Parade.  I was able to play photo-journalist and hope a couple of my pics make it into their local paper.  Today, we go to our church's homeschool graduation to support and cheer-on about 7 graduates.  Whew...can't wait to take a bit of a breather this coming week!

My favorite thing this week was...
...just watching my kids run in the water and play on the playground at the spray park while I soaked up the sun!

Questions/thoughts I have...
Does anyone read this blog?

Things I'm working on...
Editing the Senior session I did Thursday and the photos from last night's parade.  I'm also finalizing classes for our homeschool group this coming year.

I'm reading...
My issues of This Old Schoolhouse magazine that I haven't had time to read during the school year.  I have found that I love homeschool magazines as the information in them is equivalent to attending a weekend homeschool convention!

I'm cooking...
Uh-oh!  I just realized I need to get dinner in the crockpot!!

I'm praying for...
Those mothers just beginning their homeschooling journey.

A photo to share...
I just had this one of my daughter printed as a 5x7 this week:

This was kind of fun to remember all we did this week, though  I think I'm ready for a nap!  Want to join the fun?  Head on over to The Homeschool Chick & link up with us!

Friday, June 10, 2011

You'll Ruin it for the Rest of Us

I live in a state that has fairly stringent homeschool regulations - or so I've been told.  I've never lived in another state and have always followed our regulations, so I don't know any other way and, therefore, do not feel over-burdened by what I have to do.

To give you a better idea of what our state requires, here is the list:
Letter of intent turned in by July 1
Individualized Home Instruction Plan for each child due August 15.  On this form is the child's name, age, grade, teacher (me!), each subject to be covered, what books I am using along with the name of the publisher and copyright date, and a list of what will be covered during the year in that particular subject.
Quarterly reports - hours covered each quarter, what percentage of the work was done that quarter, and a letter grade
Evaluations - K-4 grade - I write how each child is doing in each subject, where they're struggling, how they're excelling, and if I recommend them for advancement to the next grade.  5-8th grade - children are required to take standardized testing every other year (my children do every year).  9th-12th grade - testing takes place every year.  We hand in the results of these tests with our last quarter reports.

Yes, these things take quite a bit of my time.  Yes, I get nervous during test-time.  Yes, I would love to live somewhere where I could be making sure my children were doing their best for their own benefit without the stress of making sure I was pleasing the school district.

However, some accountability is not bad.  Where there is freedom, there is responsibility.  This country allows us the freedom to educate our children at home and, no matter where we live, we are blessed.  I know that there are families who do not follow the requirements of our state.  Whatever their reasons, it all boils down to one thing:  they are breaking the law.  They are not honoring the government that God has put over them.  The government is not asking us to commit heresy or renounce Christ.  They're asking for paperwork.  Some parents don't see any reason for this and rebel against the system.  If I were a wagering person, I'd wager that these same parents would be appalled if their children disobeyed them just because they didn't see the reason for the rules given them.  I also  believe that these are the parents that would shout the loudest if suddenly our homeschool freedoms were taken away - all because people didn't follow the rules.

If we want our regulations to be lifted, there is a process that is to be followed.  I am sure there are homeschool advocates in our state's capital working on this.  Personally, I am too busy to worry about it. I have HSLDA to help out when the school system oversteps their bounds and, for that, I am grateful.  But, even HSLDA will recommend that you follow what regulations are in place in order for things to run more smoothly when you come up against REAL issues, such as CPS, unnecessary paperwork, etc.

Last year, I spoke directly with the woman who reviewed all the homeschool paperwork in our district (she has since retired).  She didn't have two heads nor did she breathe fire.  She was a very pleasant woman.  She instantly recognized my name and said I was among the best homeschoolers in our district - not because of my children's progress, but all because I turn in the required work on time.  She confirmed that the school system is not out to get homeschoolers.  They have to obey the state laws just like anyone else.  It is their job to collect the information and make sure that parents aren't abusing their freedom by neglecting their child's education.  She didn't seem to agree that the State should have that role, but it didn't matter.  This was her job.  She confirmed that she doesn't go through my IHIPs, reports, and test grades with a fine-tooth comb.  She just makes sure that the requirements are fulfilled and then the papers get filed away.  If I ever come up against a problem for which I need HSLDA, they'll be able to prove that I've done everything I've been required and that will give me a lot of leverage.

What are you doing?  If you are following the requirements, good for you!  Keep up the good work and stay diligent.  If you are a parent that has decided to rebel, please reconsider. You will ruin it for the rest of us.  The future of homeschooling is at risk not because of the rules already set in place but because of those who have decided to disregard them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm Too Poor to Educate My Children

New York State has placed among the top states for education spending...again. It was reported that the Empire State spent over $18,000 (on average) PER STUDENT this year.  The majority of this money went towards teacher's salaries while the rest of it goes toward curriculum, food, building maintenance, extra-curricular activities, etc.

Interestingly enough, Rochester was one of the highest spending districts while producing some of the worst results in the country. Something tells me that money is not the answer to education in America.

My husband and I have 6 school-aged children. According to these statistics, we would have to make over $108,000 just to educate them this year. My husband doesn't even make half that figure and we buy curriculum, pay for several music lessons, have our children involved in a Homeschool co-op, art classes, soccer league (all of which cost money), take them on field trips, feed them 3 meals a day, insure them, house them in a decent home, drive them around in a decent vehicle, meet their needs and wants, and pay our school taxes. Thanks be to God, we are also debt-free.

So, New York! $18,000? Really?!

Homeschoolers willingly pay out of their own pocket for the essentials and non-essentials. If we want our children fed, we feed them. If we want them to learn to play an instrument, we find the teacher, pay for weekly lessons, and purchase the instrument. If we want them involved in sports, we find a league, pay for the uniforms, and drive them to the games. If our struggling learners need extra help, we find and pay for a tutor or invest more time to teach them ourselves.

New York State's educational system could learn much from homeschoolers. Schools need to focus on reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and history. The rest of the responsibility needs to go back to the parents. You'd be amazed at how the spending would decrease and the quality would increase.

- Vicki