New General Resource Page

I’ve created a new General Resource Page that includes home education sites and online general curriculum guides! It’s by no means complete but I’ll continue to add to it and share when I find awesome resources during my online travels.

Homeschool Advocate Groups

This is just a short post to remind you that becoming a member of statewide and national homeschool advocacy groups is important, not because you personally get something by being a member like you would if you subscribed to a magazine, but because your money helps support groups that keep their eyes on what legislation is being put out there that may have an effect on your ability to legally homeschool.

Homeschooling has not always been legal, accepted, or as easy to do as it is now. As with any right, we all need to pay attention to what’s happening in our government and statewide groups help us do just that!

Home School Legal Defense Association

Private & Home Educators of California

Christian Home Educators of California

California Homeschool Network

Homeschoolers Association of California

 

Productivity For Homeschoolers

I bet you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in a couple of days, right? Well, maybe you have, maybe you haven’t but I’ll let you know why anyway. I’m a Mom and a currently homeschooling Mom. My teenage sons’ race motocross and the schedule can be a bit hectic at times. Also, I don’t plan this blog in advance. I just write about what I find interesting, what’s currently happening in our area, and what I feel may be important or relevant to desert homeschoolers right now. Maybe some day in the future that will change and I’ll more time to plan but, for now, this works. Which leads me to exactly what I wanted to write to you about today!

Do you read productivity books or blogs? I do. At first, I thought they only applied to business people and entrepreneurs. That’s the audience the authors I read are focused on. The first one I read was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. My friend and mentor recommended it to me years ago. I really love that book and highly recommend it as a great start! I realized after reading it and several other blogs I follow, that homeschoolers really could use these ideas. The same planning and thinking strategy’s that entrepreneurs use to build their ideas and businesses are a huge help when planning our own education and helping our children get theirs. After all, entrepreneurship seems to fit the main idea behind homeschooling to a T!

Here are some of my favorite books and podcasts!

“The Productivity Show” by Asian Efficiency. Not only are these guys full of great information and idea, they are entertaining as well. I love listening to them while I do the dishes!

“15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management” by Kevin Kruse. His website is filled with some great stuff, including a podcast that I love. http://www.kevinkruse.com/

“Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress-Free Productivity” by David Allen. While I don’t use his system in its entirety, I did like reading the book and found lots of useful tools I could use in my daily life. He has a lot of great books and blogs as well if you search for him. His website http://gettingthingsdone.com/ is a great place to start.

This one isn’t a productivity book but it did really help my state of mind and got me closer to a place where I could begin to feel in control of my life’s direction and become more productive. “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. Their website is a good place to start to see if this series of books can help you. http://www.boundariesbooks.com/

And last but certainly not least, the one I mentioned earlier in this post, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. This book and the newer one “The 8th Habit” are amazing tools! The site for his books is https://www.stephencovey.com/

Enjoy! I really believe the place to start homeschooling is with our own education, like putting your own oxygen mask on first before you can help others.

Do you play with your kids?

I’m bringing this up because something I hear a lot from people that don’t homeschool is that they just couldn’t stand to play with their kids all day, every day.

I was so glad that I had two boys only 17 months apart once they started playing together. I was never the “playing with kids” kind of person. When I first became a step-parent my step-daughter was very much into “pretend play” and I was at a loss. Luckily her Dad was really good at it and would play with her for hours when she was home. I was terrified that the children I had would want to play this way as well! It turns out they didn’t, at least not in the same way. My sons liked to set things up, like green army men and other plastic figures and then pretend play with them. That was more my style! They did dress up and run around the yard pretending they were Indiana Jones and Buzz Lightyear, but they didn’t include me so much because they had a game going between them. I lucked out for sure! My role in entertainment back then was to throw marshmallows at them and things of that nature.

Now that they are in their teens we still play. Mostly we play video games together in the form of sharing them and playing on our own. They rarely play a video game at the same time. They each play separately and compare notes. We play more in the form of jokes and sharing funny stuff we find on the internet. Teenagers are way more fun that way than younger kids, but it’s a different kind of fun.

I found this article by Peter Gray today that really hit home about playing with kids. I hope you like it too!

The Education Secretary’s Comments

Have you seen the articles written in regards to the Education Secretary, John B. King’s comments about homeschooling in the U.S.?

Here are a couple of articles that I found interesting.

“U.S. Education Secretary Says He Is Concerned About Homeschooled Kids” from Caffeinated Thoughts

“What Obama’s Education Secretary Got Wrong About Homeschoolers” from The Daily Signal

I have some serious thoughts about it myself, but I’ll only comment on the one line that stood out to me most. This one, “King said he worries that ‘students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school’—unless parents are “very intentional about it”.”

I believe most of us have left the education system because we did not desire the “rapid instructional experience”. Real, whole-life learning and education is not rapid or instructional. Relating real education with school is holding so many citizens of this country back from greatness. Homeschool families are very intentional about giving their children all the advantages of a personalized education that no government school can create.

I highly recommend the two articles above and remind everyone that homeschooling remaining a legal option in the United States is not guaranteed. We all need to remain vigilant and support those groups that help us navigate the government waters and keep our rights secure.

Who Files The Private School Affidavit (PSA) And When?

It’s that time of year again, folks! The annual “Filing of the Affidavit”, or what I like to call “Homeschool Independence Day!”

Who needs to file the Private School Affidavit? All private school owners that have students currently enrolled in their school.

How does that apply to “homeschoolers”? In California, there is no special law for homeschooling. Our kids are all either enrolled in a public school, a private school, or being tutored by a credentialed teacher. One option is for a family to create it’s own private school and enroll their children in that school. It’s a relatively simple process and gives parents the most freedom in choice of education style and content. If you have chosen this option, you are required to file that Private School Affidavit with the State of California’s Department of Education.

If you have enrolled your children in something else, like a public charter school, a district independent study, or a private school satellite program, you should not file this form. Basically, if you filled out an “enrollment” form, you are enrolled in someone else’s school. You are a customer of that school and they will do the administration part of the job.

When and where do you file? All private schools file the Private School Affidavit with the Department of Education each year between October 1 and 15th. You can find the link here. The statewide advocacy groups, CHN and HSC have links on their sites that give you detailed instructions on how to fill out that document.

What is the Private School Affidavit? It’s a way for the State of California to know how many private schools are operating in the state and how many children go to them. It is not permission or a license to operate a private school. It’s done in October and not September so that generally people have settled down into the schools for the year and they can get a more accurate count. Filing the affidavit does not create your school. When you decide on a name, create the required documents, and enroll a student, you are creating a school. The PSA is usually after the fact that your school is created.

I might want to pull out of the school my kids are at later this year. Should I file now, just in case? No! There is no need. If you did, your kids would be counted twice, once in the school they are attending and once in the school you are creating. You don’t want that and you don’t need to. Just wait. The link to file is up year round. Yes, the filing period is October 1-15, but if you create your school in November through June you can still file that form then. It’s just that generally schools are formed over the summer and it helps them to try and get everyone to file at once.

So, that’s about it in a nutshell. I hope this helps clear up any confusion about who should be filing the PSA. Now it’s your turn. Go file your PSA and then do something special with your kids to celebrate your independence!

One more thing, if you are in the Yucca Mesa area and would like help filing, please email me at info@californiadeserthomeschoolers.com We can take some time going over it at the Enrichment Club on October 5th!

Happy Homeschool Independence Day!

Our Kindergarten

I’ve been going through some old paperwork and photo files and came across pictures of my kids when we were just getting started with homeschooling. I’ve been thinking a lot about what we used to do for “school” back when my boys were elementary age, so it’s strange that I found those photos. Or is it? I thought I’d post here a bit about what Kinder was like at our house!

We had come across the idea of homeschooling while searching for private preschools. I found the California Homeschool Network and started reading. It just happened to be close to their annual conference, so my Grandpa and I went to check it out. I fell in love with the idea right then! So essentially, the boys have always been homeschooled.

Since Kindergarten isn’t mandatory in California, we decided to not enroll in any school and see how it went. If it went well, we’d continue to file as a private school and keep schooling that way. I’d say that year went pretty well! Do I change things? Yes! Our school always changes according to what is working and what is not. That’s the real beauty of homeschooling in the first place. Each child’s education is tailored to their individual needs. And even though I desperately wanted to play teacher at home, my boys weren’t having it. It wasn’t for them. I had to be honest about my own personality and theirs, and change things up. “School” has evolved over the last eleven years and it still is, but the underlying current is an “unschooling” style that has worked well for the whole family.

Here are some pictures of the first months of “school” at our house so you can get the idea!

When you start homeschooling one child, you start homeschooling the younger kids, too! No one wants to be left out. And you HAVE to have a “First Day of Kindergarten” picture!

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sept-6-034We had a playgroup of kids and Mom’s that came to our house every Monday for the last couple years. It wasn’t a homeschool group, just an evolved Mommy & Me group. Most of us weren’t planning on homeschooling but we didn’t want to send our kids to preschool, so we did this instead. It was wonderful for all of us. Even though only two of us really ended up homeschooling in the later years, we are all still great friends!

sept-6-001We spent a lot of time at the Regional Park in our area. It had a small zoo, loads of trails, a pond, a train, and several playgrounds. Since we lived in the city at the time, it was also a great place to escape the noise of the neighborhood and safely ride bikes!

sept-6-011We took very long walks here, climbed trees and rocks, brought sketchbooks and drew pictures of plants and animals, talked about and explored natural science, not to mention lots of picnics!

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One thing that I’m glad we spent money on was a membership to the big Natural History Museum in LA. It was an hour (sometimes more) drive away but there was so much to do there. Some days we would spend hours in the children’s “hands-on” area. Some days we’d rush through all the mammals and dinosaurs, and then spend an hour looking at the bird exhibits. The best part about it was that the boys came to know that museum, and many others, as a place to play. It wasn’t boring for them. They knew there was a lot of very interesting stuff there and lots of great people that would answer any question they had.

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I remember walking behind them as they came into a giant domed room. My older son stopped in his tracks and was amazed by the ceiling and the sound of the room. They both dropped to the floor to get a better look and made loud and quiet sounds, listening to it echo off the walls and ceiling.

You can’t do this on a school field trip!

They spent several minutes lying there looking at the ceiling and then wanted to draw pictures like it when we got home.

Better than any toys you can purchase and have at home are ones that are available only when you’re at a certain place! The children’s section in museums is worth the cost of an annual membership every time!

sept-6-030So this is how our homeschooling journey began. There was no curriculum, no “school” time, no co-op. There was just me and the boys exploring the world around us while Dad was at work and then sharing it with him at the end of the day. Camping trips on weekends, weekly trips to the library, grocery shopping, amusement parks, stories before naps and bedtime, video games, and movies. That was it. It was a joyous time and a little nerve wracking. We were different. Everyone else was starting school. Kids were being dropped off and crying for Mom. Mom was crying to leave them behind. Kids were coming home with packets of notes and homework. Bedtimes and packed lunches. School clothes and buses. But mine weren’t. We were on, what felt like, a permanent summer vacation. We were happy. They seemed to be learning a lot every day. It was working. Why is everyone not doing this?

 

What it means to “establish” a private school.

Summer is already coming to an end. I really can’t believe it! As the rest of the parents prepare to send their kids off to school, homeschoolers are looking to the new “year” for new opportunities to explore and learn in the world. Of course, we’re still stocking up on the school supplies at the sales since pencils, pens, notebooks, and backpacks are essential for anyone on the go! And who doesn’t want one of those awesome lunch boxes with all the compartments?!

If you have decided to homeschool privately this year, you’re starting to get a bit nervous as well. Is it really this easy to start a small home based private school in California? Is there nothing else to do but pick a name, create a few files, and enroll a student? Can I just send a letter to my child’s old school and request records as the new school?

The answer is YES! Yes, it is! There are two great places to get a walk through on creating your own private school and taking charge of your children’s education, setting your family free from the traditional school schedule and making your own way in the world. California Homeschool Network has some great pages about getting started. Along with reading “Just the Facts”, you should also be perusing their “How to Homeschool” pages that include details about record keeping and choosing curriculum. The HomeSchool Association of California also has great “Establishing Your Own Private School” pages that can help you.

I have noticed one thing that many new homeschoolers get a little confused about when they first start like this and that is the use of the term “establish.” When you establish your school, you pick a name and create the files required by law to keep. Then you enroll a student and communicate with the last school about sending the cumulative file for that student. The only contact your new school generally has with the State of California is when you file the Private School Affidavit. The filing period is October 1st – 15th, so what if you’re starting your new school in August or September?! Take a deep breath! ALL private schools file in October. It is expected that you will not have filed until then. The affidavit is not a permit or license, it’s like a statistics gathering tool. The Department of Education only wants to know how many private schools exist, how many students attend them, and where they are located, hence the legal term “private.” August and September are generally times for a lot of shifting in enrollment, so they wait until October to gather the information when things have settled down a bit.

Do you need to file now and then again in October for the 2016-2017 school year? No. You can start your school today and then wait until the filing window without any problems.

Is there a problem if you have already filed over the summer for the 2016-2017 school year? No. It’s really not a problem, only an extra step (and a very small one at that). You WILL need to file again in October, though. The one you filed online over the summer was for the 2015-2016 school year and it isn’t valid after October 1st of this year.

You are legally a private school in California the day you decide on a name, create the required files, and enroll a student, so go out and do some learning! If you’d like some help or just want to talk it over with a live person, please email me and we can chat online or over the phone. My email is info@californiadeserthomeschooolers.com

Also, you are welcome to download and use the forms I’ve used over the years located by clicking HERE!

Learning Together

Do you do things with your kids or do you take them to do things? I’ve found there is a big difference. As homeschoolers, we have many opportunities to take our children to classes and events that are “good for them” or that we expect them to learn something from. The kids do get something out of those activities but I’ve found that they get so much more out of it when we put aside the ideas of school, put aside the notion of an “educational” activity, and just experience something together.

Take for instance a field trip to the zoo. Which do you think your child will get more out of, an organized field trip with a bunch of children grouped together and led by a docent of the zoo or a spontaneous trip the zoo with the family? I think it’s the latter.

When we attend a “field trip” with a group the parents tend to flock together and chat while someone else leads the group of kids. We can’t help it. Parents want to socialize as much as the children do. We crave it. So when a child needs extra attention, isn’t interested in what the docent is talking about, or just needs to do something else, we don’t notice. We’ve created “school” in a homeschool environment, with the same problems as the local public school.

When we take our kids to the zoo, we are more involved. We can follow our child’s interest, answer their questions (thank God for smart phones), and be there to notice when they’ve found something to pull them into the deeper waters of learning. And the best part is that we are doing it ourselves, right along with them.

We aren’t educators when we homeschool. We are fellow learners with more experience, communications skills, a driver’s license, and some cash. We ask questions. We find new interests and expand our minds. We’re there to show our kids what real life-long learning looks like. It’s so much more than school.

The next time you think about attending a field trip or class, consider attending with your child as if you are the student as well. Show your child through your actions what giving yourself an education looks like. They will be learning so much more than what the tour guide is leading you through.

There Is No “Behind”!

This something that is imperative to wrap our minds around as parents. Homeschoolers are never “behind”. Your children are right where they need to be. We don’t need to compare our kids with others their age. As long as you and your children are happy we are all learning! The goal of education is learning new things, opening our minds to the world around us, not checking off boxes and staying at the level of our peers. We aren’t all on the same path and our education should match our life’s mission. Childhood is for figuring our what that mission is!

Read this and be inspired to change that paradigm! Dear Homeschool Mom Who Worries About Her Child Being Behind