Have you heard of “Steam”?

I always love to share the awesome things my sons find on the internet so when I heard my youngest talking about a game called Democracy 3 and how he was thinking of just working on getting elected by pandering to the largest voting groups, I had to investigate and see if this would be something others would like to check out.

They found Steam years ago and have been playing games like “Besiege” for years. On that one, you’re supposed to build machines to win battles. Mine, especially my youngest, uses it to explore machine parts and better understand how they work. My kids have always been fascinated by machines of all kinds. With this game, they can build things they know and keep fiddling with it until it looks and acts like a real world equivalent. It’s pretty awesome to be able to do that virtually instead of in the garage. It’s cheaper and much faster to get a working machine. Much of what they learn there translates into better understanding of the cars and motorcycles they work on in the garage!

My younger son started playing Democracy 3 on Monday and it looks fascinating. He already has a better understanding of how political machines work and he’s been sharing it with us non-stop. Go check it out!

Fun Periodic Table of Elements

Real Science 4 Kids posted about this recently. I found it fascinatingly fun! I’ll admit, though, my sons know more about the Periodic Table of Elements than I do. They’re sciency like that! Check it out HERE.

A Special Reminder and Calming Vibes

If this is your first year homeschooling as a private school, you may be feeling pretty excited and a bit nervous for the coming year. It’s exciting to take that first step into independence. You’ve read all the rules. You’ve organized your files. You’ve created all the documents. Everything is in place. And then you get a letter, a phone call, or a visit from your child’s old school! Yikes! All your confidence comes crashing down. Did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble? No. Take a deep breath! You’re fine. Here’s what you should do.

For public charter folks, you have a far smaller chance of dealing with school district officials because your school takes care of that for you. For private schools, we have to be the administrator as well as the teacher so we get the calls and letters directly.

If you get a letter from the school district, calmly read it over.

If you get a phone call, put on your school admin hat and take a message. Get their name, phone number, and what they are specifically calling about, get the child’s name they are trying to verify as well. Tell them you will call them back after school hours. Most likely the school official is trying to clean up their paperwork. They are looking to verify your student’s enrollment.

If you get a visit from an official at your home, keep your children inside and talk to the official through the door. You do not let them into your home to inspect your school. Be polite and calm while you ask them what they need. If they want to know what school your kids attend, give them the name and phone number of your school. If they want more information than that, politely tell them that you are busy with your kids right now and that they can call the school for an appointment if they need more information, then give them a piece of paper with the school name and phone number on it. They will most likely leave on that note.

After any of these situations, get online and contact one of the statewide groups like CHN or HSC, or the national group HSLDA. Find their contact info and either call or email them. Don’t go to a Facebook group and post. You’ll get a quicker and more precise answer instead of having to wade through all the comments from everyone else in that group. You don’t need to panic and hurry. The school officials are dealing with lots of other things and aren’t sitting by the phone waiting for you. But that doesn’t mean not to take this seriously and wait weeks before answering. Give this your utmost attention. The sooner it’s taken care of, the less problems will be created.

The statewide groups all have legal teams waiting to answer your questions and are happy to help free of charge. They may make a phone call or write a letter on your behalf. They all want to know how school districts are reacting to homeschoolers, so you are helping them advocate for our rights and make things easier for others in the future.

Online Classes for Teens and Adults

Here’s an interesting site I found this past week. It’s called “Lynda”. For about $30 a month, you can find hundreds of online tutorials and classes mostly related to the tech industry. It’d be great for anyone trying to make their way in this world. I can see a young teenager taking these classes, creating a portfolio of work, and moving on to intern for a company as a young adult. I can see a parent taking one of these classes to help themselves create a business that will support their efforts to stay at home with their kids. Loads of great opportunity here. The best part? There’s a free trial!

Homeschool Science Blog!

I saw this come through my Facebook feed over the weekend and I thought I’d share it with you. It looks like something my kids would love to explore! There are several pages of great science experiments, links, and explanations all written by another homeschool Mom. This is the kind of thing I love most about the internet, regular folks having a cheap and easy way to share what they know with the world. And here we are probably a thousand miles away, reading and learning from them for free. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? What can you share with the world?

Have some fun checking out the site – Homeschool Science Geek!

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!

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!

“Kitchen Table Math”?

I found a great resource for homeschool math yesterday. It’s called, “Dr. Wright’s Kitchen Table Math”. It’s not curriculum. It’s several books about games and things you can do to promote mathematical thinking. It’s stuff that we, as parents that most likely learned math at school, probably wouldn’t even see as “math”. The site also has a resource list of reading books and games. Using something like this could be used as your math resource if you are privately homeschooling. You don’t need to be doing worksheets and abstract math in elementary school. And since there are no other kids your child’s age at your school, unless you have twins, there is no “behind”.