Friday, January 30, 2015

Seven Odd Things I've Come to Appreciate About Homeschooling

I've written before about why and how we homeschool. But, recently, as we go about our daily routine, I keep noticing odd little things that I really like about homeschooling.


I don't think any of these would be a very good reason to have decided to start homeschooling. But since we were doing it already already, I figure it would be okay to share them with you.


1. Everything is School


Before we started homeschooling I thought of school as a place I sent my kid, and something he did while he was there. There was school, then there was the rest of our family life. After "school" there were chores and family outings and entertainment. But once "school" WAS our family life, I realized that learning wasn't confined to lesson time. Cooking, cleaning, conversations in the car, trips to the grocery store and the beach, all became learning opportunities. Now everything is school. Maybe you didn't have to start homeschooling your kids to figure this out, probably you didn't. But I guess I did.

2. There's No Such Thing as PRE School


And now that school is our family life, and everything is school, everyone in our family is in our school, no matter how old they are. That's not to say that Frankie doesn't get banished outside sometimes . . . because. He. Does. But also, sometimes, he sits in on our spelling lessons and gleefully shouts out the names of phonograms that may or may not have anything to do with the letters I'm showing them. And Anita, our Kindergartener, is Chief Officer in Charge of Reminding Everyone What the Next Line of His Poem Is (from memory). We all listen to chapter books together, and they're not usually aimed at little kids. But that just means that sometimes Anita and Frankie will be in the playroom playing My Little Pony or Superheroes and sometimes they'll be under the table playing War of the Worlds or Robinson Crusoe.

3. There's No Such Thing as Sick Days


The problem about deciding if you need a sick day, is that you usually have to do it at 7:00 in morning. I remember many a day of my own traditional school career when I would be convinced upon waking up that there was no possible way I could go to school and that I was certainly very, very sick . . . only to rebound by 9:45 and spend the rest of the day driving my mom crazy. Now that we're homeschooling, my kid can wake up feeling crummy, stay in his jammies, but still probably get most of his regular schoolwork done. If you're going to read a book, it could be your science book. If you're going to watch a show, why not have it be your Latin lesson? If you're going to lay on the couch, you could lay on the couch and listen to a history lesson. And if it turns out he's feeling better by lunchtime, he can get dressed and even get his math lesson done. I mean, probably he won't. But he could. Theoretically.

4. It Doesn't Require Special Food


I used to have a real problem with letting leftovers go bad in my fridge. But with eight people at home eating lunch every day, that is no longer an issue for us. I don't have to buy juice boxes, or prepackaged baggies of anything. We just eat the food that's in our house for lunch. Sometimes it's sandwiches, sometimes it's veggies and crackers and various things to dip them in, sometimes it's a big dish of spaghetti with a bunch of forks in it, on a chair, on the front porch. Because we can.

5. We Get to Be Friends With Whomever


My kids are friends with kids of a very wide age range. Just by the nature of traditional school, I tended to hang out only with other kids just my age. And certainly not my own little sister. How embarrassing. But at our classes and field trips and weekly parkday, my kids are able to hang out with whomever they like. To my great delight, that usually includes their siblings. Even though there are almost six years between Anita and Betty, they are both a part of the sweetest group of girlfriends. One of my sons happens to click best with a boy a couple of years younger than he is. And my second grader is my jock, and spends parkday playing pickup football with the middle and high school kids. And it's all good.

6. Nothing Depends on How Tall You Are


When I was in school, I remember it being a HUGE deal how tall everyone in the class was in relation to one another. We lined up to go inside by height. A big part of a kids' identity seemed to be wrapped up in whether he was a tall kid or a short kid. But my kids don't really think about whether they're tall or short at all. Since they hang out in groups of kids of different ages, there really isn't one height that everyone is supposed to be. No one seems to notice.

7. We Get to Like What We Like


Maybe this has more to do with my own particular neuroses than with traditional schooling, but I remember feeling a lot of pressure to like the same things and listen to the same music and wear the same types of clothes as my classmates. My kids don't seem to be facing that at all. They usually see their group of friends twice a week (at a class we host and at our homeschool parkday) but as far as I can tell, their friends don't seem to have any expectation that they'll all like the same things. My daughter, who is about to turn eleven, still likes dolls and dressing up, one of her best friends hasn't liked those things for years, but no one seems to mind. The kids at our parkday dress differently, and have different family rules for screens and entertainment, and like different sports teams. And I can't remember it ever being an issue. Sometimes there are tears at parkday, but usually it's because somebody accidentally whacked somebody else with a fallen tree branch. That's easier to recover from, somehow, than it becoming common knowledge that you like Olivia Newton John and not the Beastie Boys (ask me how I know).


And, hey, that's seven. So I'm linking it up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.

Betty and I have been busily planning her birthday party, which is on Saturday. I'm planning a blog recap, as usual. Along with a defense of our theme . . . since, all it took was this on picture on Instagram for the finger-waggers to come out. <sigh>




But it's going to be great. I wish you could join us. Have a lovely weekend!

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40 comments:

  1. Ha ha! I was looking at this photo thinking, well, I guess I can understand kind of why finger waggers might be upset about using Hanukkah candles as a Catholic and/or a non-liturgical function, but I don't know why Kendra needs a defense of a Jewish-themed party which is a totally weird choice for an 11-year old... When - I resized they're wands. From Harry Potter. Sleep deprivation is real people!

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  2. I want a Harry Potter birthday! Looking forward to the recap.

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  3. Yes, to all of these odd things, which really aren't odd at all. Or maybe I just don't think they are odd because I am odd. ;)
    The thing that I appreciated most about homeschooling my boys is the true friendship that has developed between them. If they were in traditional school all day, with seven years between the first two and five years between the second and third boy, I do not think that they would have become such great friends, at least until they were all adults. I was raised with my cousin who was one month younger than me, and we were not friends once we started kindergarten. The feelings of "How embarrassing" were strong between us, and that is just sad.
    One thing that I love about our homeschool this year is that Ralph (first grade) and Thomas (sixth grade) are doing the same science, history, and religion. I read the lessons aloud and then we discuss them together. Ralph doesn't do the written work, but I have him draw pictures or memorize a fact, and voila, school is completed that much faster and efficiently.
    I am looking forward to Betty's birthday recap. It stinks that you have to defend your theme, but I know it will be interesting to read, so I am looking forward to that as well.

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  4. Love those reasons. I find hem all true in our homeschool as well. Also, I'm definitely planning on a stuffed owl with the Hogwarts invite to be outside my daughter's door on her 11th birthday. I haven't really understood how Harry Potty is substantively different from Lord of the Rings, which doesn't seem to cause the same uproar.

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  6. We've just started noticing how true the sick day thing is! I had this assumption that I wouldn't have whoever was sick do school, until my oldest was bored while her sister was doing school and kept asking what she was doing for school that day. So school it was!

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  7. Oh, the finger waggers... I am looking forward to your take. I liked Haley's on the topic and I like the series myself (though my kids haven't read it because they aren't old enough yet). I am trying to understand what the finger waggers don't like about it and I'm not really convinced. The most valid argument against it I have heard is from Andrew Pudewa (who isn't anti-HP) saying that you could argue that because it is the "normal" characters who have supernatural powers that it leads kids to want to emulate that and then want to check out magic/witchcraft/etc. vs. in LOTR and Narnia it is the characters meant to be seen as supernatural who have supernatural powers and the average character has to ride solely on their virtue or repentance and so kids would emulate that instead. The rest of the "Ahh! Witchcraft!! Magic!!! Panic!!" crowd I don't really take much stock in.

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  8. Eh. In Harry potter the magic is just a representation of the choices we make an their consequences under a magical magnifying glass. Some people use their talents for good and some for bad. I certainly don't think it's gonna send any kids out trying to learn spells and potions. Kids are not stupid. They know it's fantasy!

    Also, the more I read about homeschooling the more I'm sure it's what we'll do. I especially hated how school tore my siblings and I apart all day and the school culture was that we shouldn't hang with someone from another grade. Like, even one grade ahead or behind you was completely different and you never talked to those kids. How can we expect our children to become good friends like this? I was never friends with my siblings until after high school.

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  9. Ahhh, homeschooling. I really can't imagine not doing it. Your list is wonderful and I'm going to read it when I'm frustrated with Eva body slamming the cat during math or spilling glue which I didn't we had all over the carpet.

    I hope the party goes well! What a fun theme.

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  10. My oldest desperately wants a HP birthday party this year....I think mostly so he can steal whatever decorations I make to decorate his part of his room with since I refused to paint his room "scarlet like the Gryffendors" poor unloved little thing. Can't wait to see what you have come up with!

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  11. As a mom of a homeschool graduate and homeschooled 6th and 11th graders, I can attest to the accuracy of the list even as the kids grow up. I especially love seeing my oldest two drive off to college classes together. My high school student is dual enrolled. Also at 19, 16, and 12, my kids have never once tried a magic spell and they've been big Harry Potter fans since they were little.

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  12. I love the fact that I do not have to pack up six lunches each day, or make sure that everyone has enough lunch tickets (or whatever new, technological way they handle that!) I love that my kids can sleep in until 8am and still make it to school on time at 8:30am - AND I never have to leave the house to get them there or back home. I agree that it is awesome that they learn how to play with kids of all ages. Not having to worry about peer pressure from the other kids at school is amazing as well. As I was holding my four month old yesterday, listening to him laugh for the first time, I was so thankful that God and my husband have allowed me to stay home with our children and homeschool. In the thick of it, when I'm ready to pull my hair out, I need to remember moments like yesterday and just chill out. Thank you for highlighting the good about homeschool!

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  13. The "no sick days" bit is one of my favorites. We put our oldest in Catholic school for kindergarten, but she was so sick that year that she actually went over the number of "allowed sick days". If she had a 99.1 degree fever she couldn't be there. :/ That didn't work for us.

    Now all we do for sick days is naps, when needed, and discussion, art or documentary. Things they are able to do easily without feeling worse. Works great for us!

    Sorry about the finger waggers. I hope it is a fun birthday for Betty!

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  14. Also, you get to have holidays and vacations when it works for you! We would break for a new baby or to go on a trip with Dad (he was a truck driver), but skip the spring break that really put a damper on the school groove. Our "summers" would last until it hit 100 degrees and/or when the school books arrived. If you are going to stay inside, might as well be doing school stuff!

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    1. Yes! I can't believe I didn't think of that one. We totally do the same thing. When the boxes of books come and they're all excited to start . . . we start! Then we can take vacations in the middle of the year and go places when they're not too crowded.

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    2. I would say that this is probably my most favorite perk of homeschooling. We're bringing the kids to New Orleans for Mardi Gras in 2 weeks. Because we can!
      Another perk of homeschooling: no permission slips, no t-shirt order forms, no reading log that must be signed every day verifying that my child read 20 minutes today, no fundraisers, no rainy day dismissal, no 'homework', no PTA meetings, etc. It has truly simplified our life, honestly.

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  15. Agree with all! I love having my kids with me would be #8. Which certainly would have surprised me before I had kids because you certainly aren't supposed to like that, right? You are supposed to want to send them to school for some time to yourself. (Which wouldn't really happen anyway because...babies and toddlers).

    I will say that it surprises me sometimes that there are cliques even in homeschool groups and trends that get spread like wildfire. And its still all good. I have to remind myself: human nature and some things are just innate to kids.

    As for Harry Potter---we aren't into it. But, I don't have anything against it. It has just happened that no one has had an interest. Sorry that you have awakened the Harry Potter Haters of Doom. :(

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  16. I only home schooled my oldest - and just for two years, his seventh grade year and his tenth grade - but I'm sure it's no accident that out of my three kids he is the most articulate, well read, cultured, adaptable, diverse... he's just brilliant! We made such great memories during those years.

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  17. Love Harry. Take #6 is perplexing to me because I cannot think of an instance where my height had anything to do with my education or friendships.

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    1. I was 4'6 and 60 pounds at the beginning of 7th grade, and I got physically bullied by a bigger girl. And I know my husband, who was a late bloomer, remembered feeling very mortified to still be 5'2" in 9th or 10th grade. Meanwhile my 5'10" best friend growing up was self-conscious about being so tall in 7th grade. So I think it matters when you're at the extreme ends -- not necessarily amongst friends, but amongst that larger peer group that is always judging, sizing up, etc.

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  18. Love all the points. I especially love vacationing in October. :)

    OK, deep breath......we don't do Harry Potter. (please read these words with the image of a person with a smile on her face and a friendly tone ;) ) With everything I've read to the contrary about it, I don't trust it. I have plenty of friends and family who have read HP and love it,but it doesn't sit well with me. I'd love to see/be a part of a conversation about it that is not emotionally charged so that I can get more information about it.:)

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    1. I love how friendly your response is! Honesty is a good thing!

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    2. Hi, Anne! :) We're HP lovers in our family, but I get that it's not for everyone! If you're interested in how it could mesh with the Catholic faith, I particularly love this article by Haley: http://www.carrotsformichaelmas.com/2012/06/11/why-your-kids-need-to-read-harry-potter/
      (Don't be turned off by the title. You don't literally "need" to read HP, but she gives a lovely defense from the Catholic perspective.)

      My husband and I have talked a lot about how the magic of HP can be interpretted. And we really like to think about it this way: The witches/wizards in HP are born with magical ability similar to the characters in X-men being born with mutant genes that give them special powers. In HP, if you're not magical, that's not a thing you can do to change that. For us, that really made us distinguish this type of fantasy story from the type where someone is trading their soul, etc. for special powers. There definitely are dark themes and characters in the story, but I think the stories seem scaled really well in how these are introduced. So, HP 1 about 11-year-old Harry has much milder themes than HP 7 about 17-year-old Harry.

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    3. Okay, I have an HP question, or should it read "a HP"? question? I have never read the series; I did see at least one of the films. The first one, when all the excitement about it was new, and I remember co-workers, (adults in their late 30s anyway), reading the series and really liking them, which made me think, oh maybe I'll read them- but then I saw the film, and decided I wouldn't- not really the magic thing, but just because I was past all that at my age. Now, seeing all these catholic blogs being pro-Harry, I've started wondering if I should introduce them to my kids- honestly, I've always thought there were other and better books out there I could give my kids to read, so I've never thought seriously about it. Looking at Alicia's comment regarding the milder themes in HP 1, as opposed to HP 7, being darker, I wonder if they are only serving as an introduction to kids at 11, being okay, getting them interested and hooked on the books, and then slowly introducing them to much darker themes by the final books. Do I want my 13, 14, 15 year old reading really dark themes? Like I said, I haven't read them myself, but this last comment has made me wonder. What sort of dark themes are they?

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    4. To hopefully answer your question a bit without going overboard or spoiling the story: HP really is essentially a good vs. evil story. The dark themes aren't something that ventures into satanic sort of magic or anything like that at all - just want to get that out of the way (hope my comment wasn't misleading!). There is a main villain (Voldemort) who is introduced throughout the books and plays a prominent role in the last 3 books. He truly is an evil character, meaning he and his follows are willing to kill to achieve their goals (essentially world domination and suppression of non-pureblood wizards). However, the HP books are full of friendship, family, and people who truly love to the fullest extent (and would lay down their lives for friends/family). For a reader, I wouldn't say that the books ever feel evil or even really creepy, but there most definitely is a battle for good. My son is only a year old now, but I can say that I don't have reservations about introducing him to the HP books, but I would recommend loosely following the age for which they were written. So, I don't know that an 11-year old would really grasp the whole story through to the end as well as an older kid would. (I was in college when the series finished, so it's hard for me to tell how I would have related to them at a younger age...) If you're concerned but interested, maybe give them a shot for yourself first? I hope that helps a little!

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    5. Caroline, the "darker themes" everyone talks about aren't the occult or anything, it's good vs evil, and self-sacrifice, the fact that character that we care about die. I let my kids begin reading the books at eleven years old, which is the age of the main characters when the books begin. The books came out one per year after that, so kids reading them in real time would have been 18 when they read the last book. That's great, but it's also REALLY hard to wait. I plan to assess my kids individually, but I thought my oldest could handle the books at eleven, so I let him read them all. My daughter is just starting them, but I'm also going to let her read through them, one per month or so.

      I, personally, think the books are a LOT of fun, and really creative, and have good values. If you have kids who are voracious readers, it's easy to run out of good books to let them read. I think these are great. I think they are as good and important as Narnia and Lord of the Rings, and that they fill a good middle ground for age groups between those two series. But not everyone likes the Harry Potter books and some folks think they are poorly written. That's fine. People get to have their own opinions. But they are NOT in any way occult or anti-Christian. It's not okay with me if people say that, because it's just not in any way true.

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    6. Thanks for the answers- my oldest is 9 and always has her nose in books, she has already gone through the Chronicles of Narnia, and is re-reading them again. I will keep the HP in mind for when she's eleven years old. What do you think about the movies, are they in keeping with the books?

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    7. My older kids have seen the movies. But they're not particularly sensitive to movies. There are scary parts in all of the movies, the first one has a troll. The fourth one has a student die. Etc. They can be intense, but I like the message enough that it's okay with me.

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  19. I love all these reasons, and some commentors'. I like being with my kids. I like them being with each other. I like going to lunch at the park, or a restaurant when we feel like it. I LOVE taking naps when they all do. I like being used to taking them everywhere so it never feels like a hassle.

    Also, I'm going to go ahead and claim Harry Potter is very Catholic. I have no real defense (except maybe the dark/light struggle?) but if other people can claim it's NOT, I can claim it IS.

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  20. Olivia Newton John wins out over the Beastie Boys any day. Obviously.

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    1. I saw Beastie Boys three times, so this is the only bit I can't get behind. ;) Wonderful list, though! Thank you for sharing these thoughts with those of us who are still discerning (speaking for myself as my kids are still very young).

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  21. Love this list. Especially the no to preschool/everything is school. My mother is a retired teach and is already struggling with our decision (my boys are 3 and 1). Apparently they are already behind because they are reading and spelling and who knows what else. I've seen this on a number of homeschooling blogs and have been affirmed by research it's just nice to see it again from those who have been doing it for a number of years. :)

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  22. Love these. I am all about #4 & #7. My eldest turned 6 in December and wanted a Peter Rabbit party, not realizing that the other boys his age are into LEGO or Minecraft. So cute!

    For #5, how does that work for you? I *thought* I remembered you saying that you are an introvert. I am an introvert, a severe introvert and all efforts at finding friends for my son via homeschool groups, gym days, co-ops involve me being forced to socialize with other moms. Which causes me to not want to go. How have you been successful here? Granted my eldest is only 6 and my next 2 children are 2.5 and almost 1 so aren't that interested in making friends yet anyhow.

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    1. Yes, I am an introvert. It took time to get to the point where I felt comfortable going to parkday, but I really do now. I tried a couple of different groups, and this one felt easier to handle than the others I tried. The group is really easy going, there's no official leader, people just show up and leave at their leisure. Moms volunteer to organize whatever events they'd like to have. It's great.

      I started going when my oldest was six, but we eased into it. I'd just go for an hour or so, and bring my embroidery so I'd have something to look at, then bug out home for naptime. But then as he got older, and the other kids started school, and I got to know everyone, and the kids wanted to participate in the events and classes, I started staying longer. It's funny, because I really do love the other moms there, but still in some ways I still consider going to parkday as my Friday penance. And I know my extrovert mama friends (like Micaela of California to Korea) look forward to it all week!

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  23. Can't wait to read the re-cap! Happy Birthday Betty!
    Harry Potter is next in the line up for my 5 year old.

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  24. I go back and forth on the idea of homeschooling. One thing that attracts me to the idea is the "height" thing. I love the idea of my children being in an atmosphere that doesn't encourage them to compare themselves to one another. I can always tell a homeschooled kid at the park because they are the kindest, most polite kid there. The middle school aged kids will play with my 3 year old. You don't see that from conventional schooled children.

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  25. What a great list! I love that we can take advantage of the weather and being outside. Rare, 60 degree day in January? Outside we go! (With our books or not) ;) Must enjoy the beautiful weather while it's here.

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