About Kerry & her Blog
Kerry is a winner of Top 25 Homeschooling Moms - 2012
What do you think are the greatest advantages of homeschooling?
Three things come to mind. FIRST, homeschooling allows families to match their family priorities, morals and beliefs with their children's homeschooling endeavors. As you teach your kids, you can intertwine your beliefs into their studies. This is a huge advantage because you are giving your kids a worldview they can use for the rest of their lives. A top goal for our kids was to teach them to think Biblically & critically in all situations. Homeschooling provides an opportunity for us to achieve this goal.
SECOND, you can give your children a superb education, going far beyond the basics. A superb education encompasses good literature, critical thinking skills through reading, writing, discussing, and much more. Education is more than simply studying certain subject areas. Education becomes a life experience. As our children received a superb education, they also received the tools of learning so they can tackle any & all difficult situations in their adult years.
FINALLY, homeschooling allows you to make learning FUN. That's right, learning should be fun. Besides traditional ways of education (read, write, discuss), your kids can learn through field trips, hands-on activities and real life classes. Field trips allow your children to learn from the source itself, whether it's a museum, newspaper printing press or pioneer town. Field trips are fun and educational at the same time.
At home, your kids can participate in hands-on projects, experiments or activities. We loved activities involving food, such as the Oreo moon phases, pizza cell model or making tamales as we studied Mexico. This makes learning fun and the lessons stay with your kids.
Homeschooling also allows you to find experts in a field and let your children learn from them - real life classes from real life experts. My oldest enjoyed art so she took painting classes from a watercolor artist. My other two children enjoyed sports, so they joined teams and attended sports camps to improve their skills. In homeschooling, these are no longer extra-curricular activities, but part of your regular lessons.
For our family, each of these 3 areas were important to us: Biblical worldview intertwined in subject areas, a superb education that provides the tools of learning & critical thinking, and fun! What more could you ask for in homeschooling.
What advice would you give to a mom who is considering homeschooling her child?
Think outside the box...
Realize that education is more than books, grades & subject areas. Your children are receiving an education every single day. What type of education are they receiving?
Take some time to think & pray about what is best for you children. Consider what long term goals you have for your kids? (job, college, marriage, etc) As I stated in the above question, my goal for my kids was to think Biblically & critically. As we worked on this goal, the other things fell into place (reading, writing, 'rithmetic).
We did not follow a traditional route of education as we homeschooled. Being a public school teacher & having a masters in education, this was a huge shift for me. I had to "unlearn" what I was taught in college & as a school teacher. I'm so glad I did and my kids reaped the benefits.
Our path to homeschooling...
We chose to homeschool because we had no other option. Our oldest daughter was having stress headaches & stomach aches in 3rd & 4th grade. It was time to make a change.
The summer before we started homeschooling, I planned to teach the traditional subjects in a traditional way. In other words, I would teach grammar and math with workbooks (boring!).
Throughout that summer God worked on my heart and showed me a better way. I discovered other approaches to homeschooling, such as Charlotte Mason used. For the Children's Sake (by Susan Schaefer Macaulay) was the best book I read that summer - to prepare me for homeschooling. I found resources that allowed me to use literature to teach a wide variety of subjects, including grammar.
Over the next years, I discovered other methods that allowed us to teach our kids with the best methods possible.
You may wonder if a non-traditional, fun, eclectic approach to homeschooling really works. Let me share the end of our story. Remember that our primary goal was not a job or college.
All 3 of my kids have graduated from high school. My oldest daughter graduated from college in 2 years with a marketing degree, testing out of her freshman & sophomore classes. She is now married and teaching school to at-risk kids. My middle daughter had a 4.0 her freshman year, has been on the dean's list multiple times and graduates this fall. My youngest son just finished his freshman year on the honor roll with a 3.9.
I don't share that to brag, but to say that homeschooling really works. If you are unsure about homeschooling, start with prayer and talking to your spouse. God will show you the way. If you are still unsure, feel free to contact me.
What's one homeschooling challenge you've faced, and what solutions did you find?
I'd like to share 2 challenges: one with our schedule & the other with my daughter who did not want to homeschool.
FIRST CHALLENGE: Our daily schedule & priorities
In the beginning I found that I was not "showing" my kids what was most important to me.
When we started homeschooling, I was so excited because we could use real books, not text books. The girls had their own books to read individually and I would read aloud each day after lunch. Unfortunately, I fell asleep many times as I read to them. I realized this did not "show" my kids how much I loved books and how important reading good books is to me.
I made a simple change.
We started reading first thing, every morning. I called it "Family Time". We spent an hour together before the kids worked on any specific subjects. During this time, we read poetry aloud. I wanted my kids to think poetry was cool so they chose a poem every day to read aloud. We used books like Shel Silverstein's "Where the Sidewalk Ends" or Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses"
After poetry, we varied our time. We may look at an art book and talk about the piece. Come Look with Me and Raboff's Art for Children series are quick, easy & fun for this activity.
Finally, I read aloud from a classic book for at least a half-hour. As time permitted, we discussed the book
My kids reaction to this change:
"We won't be able to finish our Math lesson"
I stood firm and told them that reading aloud as a family is important to me, so we will begin our day with what is important. We had family devotions during breakfast and followed it by reading poetry, art books and a classic book. For the next 9 years, we began our homeschool the same every day. My kids grew to like our time together and had plenty of time to finish Math.
My middle daughter was not excited about homeschooling. She is very social and enjoyed time with her friends. This was very difficult for both of us. I knew homeschooling was the right thing for our family, but I also saw her need to be with other kids.
My daughter was respectful at the time, but we knew it was difficult for her. To be honest, this took awhile to overcome. It wasn't a lack of social interaction, but different interaction.
What could we do to help her?
The first year we homeschooled, I organized a Girls Club. During our first meeting, the girls chose a topic they wanted to study. Each week, we met at a different girls' home. That girl & her mom planned a hands-on activity. One semester we studied Greece. If I remember correctly (about 13 years ago :-), the girls made sandals, had Olympics, learned some Greek and did other activities.
I also made sure we had friends over to play each week & participate in sports. Over the years, we also joined a variety of co-ops and classes.
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