Life Without School

Want to know how amazing life can be for your kids and YOU without school? A friend shared this beautiful article in response to another article about life in school. It’s a wonderful read! Click HERE to read it at “Happiness Is Here”!

Conquering Homeschooling Worries — Slow and Steady Homeschooling

Quote

If worrying was a sport, I’d have a black belt by now. Over the years, I’ve worried circles around my pregnancies, parenting choices, and the ingredients in our breakfast cereal. As a homeschooler, I must make daily choices about how to structure my children’s education outside the framework of institutional schooling. Such choices provide plenty of fuel […]

via Conquering Homeschooling Worries — Slow and Steady Homeschooling

Community Bible Study in Palm Desert

The coordinator of this bible study contacted me because she was told that homeschoolers might want to join them! She asked if I could pass along the invitation to my readers and I told her that I’d love to!

The class starts on September 26, so be sure to call or email about signing up ASAP!

The contact is Bina Isaac and you can email her at
binasiasaac@gmail.com or call 760-218-5441

Private Does Not Have to Mean Expensive

I have to get something off my chest. It’s about what education is and what makes home education work. It starts with money. Education is not about buying the right stuff. A good education is not expensive. I’ll admit that in the past, people were limited educationally because they couldn’t get their hands on books or see outside their own farm or neighborhood, but that just isn’t the case in the United States today. We have public libraries in every city and an internet connection is a must in every home. Yes, there may be exceptions, but I’m talking generalities here.

The most important thing you need to educate your own kids is to be able to be at home with them. If you have a partner that can support you and the kids while they are young, you have a huge advantage over any expensive education system. If you have a vehicle and gas to get you around, you’re sitting pretty!

How can you give your kids a practically free education? Again, it starts with you. Educate yourself and take your young children along for the ride. That doesn’t mean go back to college! It means read an article online, open a book, visit a museum, watch a movie, or have a discussion. Create and cultivate in yourself the life long learner first. Do it right in front of your family. Your kids will follow suit in their own way.

Go to the library and check out any books you and the kids like and read them. Don’t study them, just read them! Go the park and explore. Walk around your neighborhood. The grocery store, the post office, the bank, etc. are all potential field trips when you look at them like a child would. Instead of rushing through the grocery store with your list, involve the kids with making the meal plan, the list, and the budget. A couple of dollars of their own to spend at the grocery store or save for the future is a lesson plan all of itself. Actually working with money goes a lot farther than talking about it. Go through the store and answer all the questions they have, have them find things, substitute things, and explore the store like you’ve never been there.

When we allow our kids to explore their world, if we can be patient and quiet while they do so, they get so much out of it. They become more interesting people. And we can see the world in a whole new way. We can do this everywhere we go.

When my boys were very little, the regional park was amazing to them. We spent hours there every week. We loved amusement parks but rarely went inside. They thought the shopping area, pond, and Independence Hall was Knott’s Berry Farm. And Downtown Disney, its fountains, people, shops, and hotels was the best part of Disneyland. We went to beaches, parks, free museum days, all over Southern California. Small local museums are usually only a couple of dollars donation and we always brought a picnic lunch for all of us. My sons wanted lunch boxes like school kids, so they each had one with their name on it and a backpack to carry it in.

My point is that you don’t need a packaged curriculum, the monthly craft/science box, the big organized field trips, or extra-curricular classes to give your kids a great education. You just need to be with them, be patient, and help them explore the world around them safely. We unschooled the whole time, but even if you want to home educate in a more traditional way, there are tons of free resources on the internet. You may have to piece it together and you may have to open your mind to some unconventional ways of doing things (i.e. Mad Libs instead of grammar workbooks), but it is very possible to do this on your own without the state school system breathing down your neck.

I always see private home education as an entrepreneurial thing, a do-it-yourself, be your own boss, kind of thing. What are the benefits of private education? No state standards to keep up with, no grade levels, no mandatory number of days, no testing. That’s just the start. To me, the best thing I got out of it was a sense of self-reliance. I second guessed myself all the time, especially when my sons weren’t behaving the way I thought they should. I’m lucky I had an amazing partner that could see outside my day to day life and remind me that many of my perceived “problems” were just parenting/relationship adjustments. It had nothing to do with school.

I don’t begrudge people the choice to use the public charters to homeschool. If the education the public schools are giving is what you want, without the crowd control and classroom bullies, then charters would be fine for you. But if you want something different, if you want the education outcome to be different than the seniors graduating this year, then there are other options out there.  Private education is feasible, even on a tight budget.

Printers Fair

Traveling to events is what homeschooling is all about, right?! This one is in Carson, California, only 130 miles from Yucca Valley. Ok, maybe it’s a bit far, but it looks SO interesting! The Printers Fair isn’t until October 13-14, so you have plenty of time to make a plan.

Check out their website HERE for details. A day like this is a lot of learning packed into one family outing. History, science, language arts, social studies, and fine arts. Get the kids involved in planning out the trip, mapping, and managing the cost, you’ve got just about every school subject covered in one fell swoop!

Not Back to School!

It’s that time of year again! Social Media posts, online articles, commercials, and news clips all focus on that annual tradition: the great migration back to school. Most parents are posting sniffling bits about their little ones growing up and moving away from them. Some are elated that summer vacation is over and they don’t have to figure out what to do with their kids for eight ours of each day. Bloggers and Social Media gurus are posting about how you can get your kids into the routine of the daily grind.

If you’ve chose homeschooling privately, it’s a totally different story! It’s a much more positive one filled with hope and a bit of anxiety. The park, amusement centers, museums, and theater’s have fewer families there, leaving it the homeschoolers and retirees! For those that live in warmer climates like ours, weekly park days start to meet again as the weather cools. Field trips are planned, libraries are revisited in peace and quiet. It’s an exciting time for us, but not always for our kids.

We’re different. We aren’t part of the norm. Our kids aren’t going “Back to School.” They’ve been there all summer. Our kids see the TV shows and the commercials. They hear other kids talk about “Back to School” clothes and supplies. They may feel left out. How can we make ourselves feel a part of the excitement in our own way? Our family has some traditions we’ve built over the years and I’d love to share them with you and encourage you to build your own.

Since our family chose Radical Unschooling, we didn’t have new curriculum to start on or classes we were planning our lives around. We didn’t really have a “start” or “end” of school year at all, but just like someone who doesn’t celebrate the birth of Christ knows that Christmas is on its way, we could see the signs and sense the excitement that comes in August. When my boys were little, the school bus went down our street and the first day they saw it was what we called “First Day”. We had big plans for that day that preempted any other plans. We dropped everything and usually went to an amusement park!

There were other things we did that day over the years though. We had a long day of hiking in the mountains, a short camping trip, a beach day. We went to a museum and a realy restaurant for lunch or dinner. The possibilities are endless in Southern California, but the idea was to make a big deal out of anything we decided to do. Once all we did was walk as far as we could away from the house and had Dad pick us up when we couldn’t take another step. You’d have thought we were traveling the jungles of India the way the boys acted!

We started the season getting our “Adventure Packs” together instead of “Back to School” supplies. We got new backpacks if they wanted them and we filled those packs with anything we might need on a local adventure. We filled them with, oddly enough, mostly school supplies: a pencil box with pens, pencils, erasers, a compass, a ruler, etc. We went to Target and picked out cool things to add. They also had a pocket knife, a compass, a bandana, a map, a magnifying glass, and a notebook. Those backpacks were the first thing they grabbed when we were going anywhere. I always added a bottle of water, a snack, and a couple dollars in case they needed to buy something. They were always so proud to carry those packs!

Our local group sometimes has a “Not Back to School” party or there was a “Not Back to School” something, somewhere. If you google “Not Back to School,” you’ll find all kinds of ideas for homeschoolers. A great place to start making one of your own is A to Z Homeschooling’s Field Trip Ideas. Don’t limit yourself to your own area if you don’t have to! This is an adventure!

All that being said there is some “work” to be done this time of year for private homeschoolers. We need to be sure all our ducks are in a row for the year.

If you are brand new to homeschooling this year, I’m sure you are having some anxiety about whether or not you are doing the right thing for your child and if you are doing it legally. Rest assured, you are doing something wonderful for your kids! It’s scary, yes, but you’re starting on something that will change your lives. As to the legal, let’s go over that. Everything you need can be found at CHN’s website. They have two documents you can print and note up as much as you like. “Just the Facts” and “Private School Guide” are invaluable resources and can be found on the top right hand side of their home page. If you find them useful or not, consider becoming a member! CHN has been a great resource for homeschoolers for years and they are active in keeping your right to homeschool protected. Membership helps them keep up the work that they do and shows legislators that homeschoolers are not a fringe movement!

Brand new private homeschooler? Kids never been in another school?

-Have you created your school?

-Have you enrolled your student?

Then you’re good to go!

Brand new private homeschooler? Kids are transferring from another school? Same thing plus two.

-Have you created your school? Enrolled your student?

-Have you unenrolled your student from their old school? This needs to be done right away. The school should not be looking for your child come the first day of school. Call or go over there, tell them that your child will be attending another school this year and that you need to unenroll them. They will ask for the new school’s (your school’s) name and address.

-Have you sent a letter (as the school admin) requesting the cumulative file for your new student?

You’re good to go, too! Go have some fun learning in the real world!

Returning private homeschooler?

-Go over your previous year’s files.

-Create your Course of Study for the current year.

-Create your attendance record for the year.

And you’re good for the year as well!

The next thing we all need to do officially is file the private school affidavit in October with all the other private schools in California. I’ll have another post about that in the future. For now, enjoy your freedom!

Homeschooling Thru High School

We homeschooled all the way through high school! Yep. We did it.

I’m not surprised that we continued to homeschool through high school. It was the plan from the start really. I was open to changes along the way and we did make some adjustments over the years, but whether the road was rough or smooth, whenever we looked at another road, the road that formal school was on, just didn’t seem to fit. What has really struck me is how early and quickly my sons have moved toward independence.

Let me start by saying we have used an eclectic style that started with “attachment parenting” and moved into a leadership education model. The leadership education model was really for me. It’s what I’ve been doing for myself the last twelve years and my children benefitted from my personal education journey by getting to hear my stories, hear me read books aloud, and knowing first hand what a love of learning looked like. I didn’t “teach” them when they were younger. We decided to delay any academics and allow them to be children. We helped them with the projects they took on, took them places that looked interesting, spent lots of days exploring the world. It was a magical time and I only wish I was aware of how short that time would be while I was in it.

As they grew, we took more of a “radical unschooling” approach. Our home had no hard and fast rules. We used no formal curriculum. We spent our days much like we would if the kids were on vacation. We went places like zoos, museums, and camping trips. We read books, watched tv, went to the movies, and played video games. We met with other homeschool friends and had parties.

The traditional “school subjects” were “offered” as required by our state, but we offered them in very different ways and they weren’t required to study them. Language Arts was offered through books and games. Science through museums, experiments, and videos. History through movies, tv, and historical sites. Math through cooking, games, and other adventures that needed basic math skills. Once my sons hit their teens they took on a new sport, motocross. They bought old bikes, fixed them up, found out about race tracks, and we’ve been supporting them through that for the last four years. Most of their “education” has been centered on that sport since then.

All of this has been pretty expected and a slow and steady progression for all of us. And then they turned sixteen!

At fifteen and half they were both chomping at the bit to get a driver’s license. They took the online class and the behind the wheel training through a private company in town, made an appointment one day after their sixteenth birthday and came home with a license. That was the first test they ever took.

At sixteen they began looking for work. The oldest lucked out when a restaurant opened in town and they had a mass hire. He worked there for about six months and saved most of the money. He had a plan to visit Europe when he turned seventeen and nothing was going to stop him. The week before his seventeenth birthday he took off for a two-week trip on his own. I’ve never been so terrified. The boy had never spent the night away from home! But he had the whole thing planned out, the ticket, a place to stay, a cell phone that would work. Long story short, he ended up volunteering on a farm, deciding to stay a year, and going through immigration for a work permit. I made him a diploma from our own high school and emailed a “permission slip” for his immigration papers. At the time I write this, he’s not yet eighteen. He’ll be back in a few months with his new girlfriend and they’ll be finding ways to start their lives together here.

The youngest has a different path so far. He’s still looking for work. It’s no small task in a small town. He’s been doing odd jobs for a neighbor for cash. He’s taken up reading, guitar, and 3D modeling. He enrolled in the community college and will start classes in a couple weeks. When he took the assessment tests for the college, he tested into college English and almost into college Algebra. Not bad at all. He’s still considered a high school student for this semester because I was under the impression that high school “dual enrollment” students could take some classes for free, but it turns out that’s only at the big city schools. That’s ok though. He enrolled as a private high school student with no trouble. I made him traditional transcripts and he’s taken on the responsibility just fine.

So here I am. One kid graduated and out in the world. One almost so with one foot in college. They seem happy and well adjusted, almost normal. I say almost because they are very different from kids their age and they are very much “nerds” by any standard. Homeschooling works. You don’t need a curriculum. You don’t need oversight. You don’t need to fight and argue with your kids. You can just live with them, support their dreams, treat them like roommates, and they will eventually just take off.