The term homeschooling – how would you define it? Merriam Webster says it’s “to teach school subjects to one’s children at home.” As someone who homeschooled her own 3 children, I agree with that definition. As least I did – until 3 weeks ago!
I’ve been active in the homeschooling world for over 30 years as a parent, homeschool program administrator, and independent consultant. While I often imagined a world in which many more parents would discover the joy and excitement of teaching their own children, I always assumed that they would be willingly choosing this lifestyle. I never dreamed that the entire state of California would be staying at home while all education moved online.
With my heart and mind still reeling from the abrupt cancellation of everyday life, I encountered the following headline: Continue reading
Are you feeling horrible about your first week of emergency homeschooling? Was it frightful, frustrating, fractious, or all of the above? But let’s ask the key question:
Are your children still alive today?
If so, then stop – breathe – and relax for a moment! You’ve survived an extremely difficult week in 21st Century history! The process may not have been pretty, but give yourself some grace for the simple fact that the little humans are still breathing.
However if we take a more realistic look at the past week, then we’ll realize that the difficulties are not all due to homeschooling and that it’s not all YOUR fault! It’s been the perfect storm of childrearing and homeschooling and more! Continue reading
Perhaps you’ve watched from afar when family or friends began teaching their own children at home and thought, “I could NEVER do that!” Yet thanks to school closures resulting from the coronavirus, you have found yourself doing exactly that!
I’ve been homeschooling my own children and working with other homeschooling families for over 30 years. Let me offer some tips to help you through these next few weeks: Continue reading
“What do you recommend for teaching essays to middle school students?” queried a customer at my bookstore for gently-used homeschool curriculum. Upon further discussion, I learned that her sixth grader hasn’t ever written more than a few sentences and now she wants him to master an essay within the next month! Has she succumbed to the dreaded Middle School Squeeze?
This very specialized form of a Homeschool Mom Panic Attack has lain dormant since she began homeschooling preschool or kindergarten. Continue reading
Penny was invited to write this article as part of CHEA’s “Homeschool 101” series. CHEA is the Christian Home Educators Association of California and you can read the entire series on its blog, Homeschool411.
High school is different even if you’ve been homeschooling for multiple years already. It’s all about the “D” word – diploma! Applications and interviews for the rest of your student’s life will likely ask if a high school diploma was earned.
A diploma is more than a certificate of attendance for grades 9-12. It usually means completion of a certain number of classes in specified subject areas: a course of study spelled out by the institution granting the diploma. And, yes, a homeschooled student can earn a diploma!
Are you discouraged, disappointed, or depressed as you reflect upon your homeschooling so far this school year? Let’s take a few minutes to evaluate the symptoms of your dissatisfaction and consider possible solutions:
“It’s Too Hard!”
Is your student prepared and ready for this level of academics? Just because a text has a certain grade level printed on its cover that seems to match the chronological age of your student does not mean that your student can handle all of the work within its pages.
If your student is struggling to write a sentence or a paragraph, this may not be the right time to teach an essay. If your student hasn’t really mastered subtraction, that “hole” will impact long division as well. Backtrack! Review! Re-teach! Be sure your student demonstrates proficiency in the basics of a particular skill or subject before expecting him or her to advance.
Assess developmental readiness. We don’t expect babies to walk until they are pulling themselves up to a standing position. Likewise, is your student demonstrating readiness for the particular concept or skill you are trying to teach? For example, there are important developmental integrations that need to happen before your student is ready to learn to read and hormonal changes in puberty that add key aspects to student’s abstract reasoning abilities. Sometimes delay is the best teaching strategy.
“I Don’t Like It!”
If you spent hours researching different curriculum options and were really excited when you found this one particular resource, it is exasperating to hear this comment from your student. Continue reading
“Go to a Park Day! Make some new homeschool friends and ask your questions!” I see this advice over and over again on Facebook groups in response to someone’s first post or initial question or two about homeschooling.
Park Days have been the traditional gathering place of homeschool families. Children are free to play and run off their excess energy while moms befriend and support each other. The encouragement shared among themselves ranges from parenting advice to curriculum ideas to easy dinner recipes. Many a life-long friendship has been forged in these early days of homeschool community.
But now in 2018, I am seeing Park Days fade and fold. Some of this is due to the aging of those original Park Day families. They are graduating their last children and while some continue to attend Park Days to support the newer moms, others have become too busy in their new season of life. Continue reading
It’s that time of year when scanning Instagram posts, Facebook newsfeeds, or Pinterest boards reveal beautifully decorated homeschool rooms, cute curriculum closets, and unique organizational cubicles. You can video tour homeschool spaces on YouTube and Facebook Live too. Who knew how creative one could get with maps, chalkboards, IKEA bookshelves, and dollar store organizers?
It reminds me of the photos you see of picture-perfect nurseries awaiting the birth of a first child. Yet do you remember seeing a photo posted of that same room several weeks after the birth of that child? Probably not! The sleep-deprived new parents may be madly trying to capture a picture of baby’s first smile, but they wouldn’t dare show you the piles of laundry and other paraphernalia now cluttering the formerly pristine nursery.
And, similarly, you aren’t likely to find many proud displays of homeschool rooms in November or February. Continue reading
I’m honored and pleased to be featured in Voyage LA, an online magazine featuring LA’s most inspiring stories. If you’d like to learn more about me, my experience, and my reasons for opening a homeschool curriculum and consulting business, take a moment to read this interview.
Meet Penny Ross of Tools for the Home Educator in Torrance
One of the challenges about starting Tools for the Home Educator has been the tension between not wanting to draw too much attention to myself and yet, understanding that the business is based on me and my knowledge of the homeschooling market. I hope that this article will help to build my reputation while avoiding braggadocio.
Can I help you as you educate your children at home?
Have you ever considered translating your holiday preparations into education-speak and counting them as “school”? We need to remember that learning happens in many different ways and can easily be accomplished outside the curriculum box. December lends itself well to holiday-themed project -based learning, especially for our younger students:
- Baking translates to Home Economics, Nutrition, or Math
- Making gifts and crafts becomes Art, Home Economics, or Community Outreach
- Addressing Christmas Cards can count for Penmanship or Spelling
- Looking up places on a map where you are sending cards or receiving them from is Geography
- Holiday shopping teaches Math, Finance, and Budgeting
- Singing, listening to, or playing Christmas Carols on a musical instrument is Music
- Walking around the mall or out to your car on the outskirts of the parking lot is P.E.
- Investigating holiday traditions and Christmas customs can become Social Studies or History
- Learning more about Christmas, Hanukah, and other faith-based holidays translates to Bible or Comparative Religions or Social Studies