More Poems for Copywork and Memorization

Having a repertoire of memorized poetry is something my kids secretly enjoy… although some would never admit it.  Sometimes when the younger ones are reciting their poetry, the older ones jump right in, remembering the same poems they had learned in earlier years.

There are many good reasons for copying and memorizing poetry: The rhythm and rhyme of poetry is catchy and fun. As they get older, the kids learn to appreciate the imagery and the way poets play with words, rhyme, and meter. More importantly, it is an excellent way to fill our children’s minds with beautiful imagery and rich vocabulary. In a world so devoid of culture and beauty, memorizing poetry is one way to help our children appreciate that which is true, beautiful, and good.

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What to Look for when Choosing Curricula

It is usually about this time of year when the homeschooling catalogs start coming in the mail. I gather them into a big pile and, like a kid in a candy shop, I pore over the pages.  I love browsing homeschooling curricula. There is so much promise and potential in new school books.

But I have learned that beyond glossy pages and full-color pictures,  there are certain things that make for effective curricula. There are good books, and then there are great books. Here are ten criteria to think about when shopping for next year’s school books:

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Homeschooling in the USA: Yesterday and Today

Do you ever have doubts if what you’re doing as a homeschool mom is working or making a difference? Here’s an article I wrote for Mercatornet:

George Washington, first President of the United States, was homeschooled. So were Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, the 3rd and 4th Presidents of the United States. Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, novelist Louisa May Alcott, and inventor Alexander Graham Bell were also educated at home, as were Laura Ingalls Wilder, Thomas Edison,  Robert Frost,  32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt (in fact 14 American presidents were home educated), scientists Edith and Agnes Claypole, and geneticist Francis Collins.

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How We Use FaceTime to Improve Writing and Reading

A little background….Mary and I met over 15 years ago in Tempe, Arizona when our husbands were in graduate school at Arizona State.  We have been great friends for such a long time.  God has blessed our families with kids who are the same age and sex and obviously, the call to homeschool.   We now live in different states but try to get together several times per year.  The kids disappear for the weekend, the husbands work on research, and Mary and I laugh, serve meals, and talk about all kinds of great stuff!

A few years ago we decided to meet weekly via FaceTime to work on writing.   We wanted our oldest daughters especially to have more time together.  What we didn’t realize was how effective our weekly meetings would be.

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“Do You Love Homeschooling? Or Do You Homeschool Because You Have to?”

That’s a question a friend asked me last spring. I think I gave her a most unsatisfactory answer, something along the lines of: Well, it depends on the day.  

It seems to me that more and more parents feel as if they have no choice but to home school. Some parents feel compelled to homeschool in order to provide religious and moral instruction. Others are concerned about the safety of school environments or the quality of education their children would otherwise be receiving. In any case, the number of homeschooled children has been increasing. In 2003, the U.S. Department of Education found that about 1, 096,000 children were homeschooled. By 2013, that number increased by over 60% to approximately 1,770,000, which is 3.4% of  school-aged children. So we know that many parents feel obliged to homeschool, but do they love homeschooling?

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Christmas Gift Ideas Part 2

If you read last week’s post, Christmas Gift Ideas, I promised a list of homeschooling curriculum that could easily pass as gifts under your Christmas tree.  Mary and I talked again on Friday and came up with some ideas. These are the nice-to-haves, the supplemental things, the stuff I often pass on in July when I am ordering all of the core subjects.   (A few disclaimers – Most of the links go to Amazon.   My advice would be to shop around for the best prices.  Secondly, I only gave one example from the series in the interest of space and time.  If you have a specific item you are looking for from something I mentioned, drop me a comment and I will do my best to get you a link.)

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Homeschooling the Large Family in a Small Space

Is it possible to homeschool a large family in a small home? How about homeschooling eleven kids in a three bedroom house? Today’s post is an interview with Helen Helmers, a homeschooling mom whom I have long admired. She shares with us her experiences and the valuable lessons she has learned as a homeschooling mother of a large family.

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Sewing Easy All Saints Day Costumes

With one of our favorite Feast Days just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you some of our saint costumes. Mind you, these are not professionally made costumes. These are the “not perfect but good enough” projects of a busy mom who has to make four costumes in one weekend or so. After several years of making these, I’ve come up with a method to the maddness. Here are five tips for sewing All Saints Days costumes which I hope  you may find useful.

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When Homeschooling is Hard

How was your first month of homeschooling this year?

Here’s how ours began: at 4am in the morning of our first official day of school, Sparky came running into our room. “I’m sick!” he gasped. Then he rushed into the bathroom and threw up.

The rest of the day went downhill from there… or rather uphill, as in rolling a boulder up a hill. That’s how much effort it takes to begin a new routine and get the kids back into the school groove. That first day of school, I felt like a zombie trying to herd a pack of monkeys. As soon as one child would settle down to work, another would get up and wander off. Or one would complain that the work was too hard, or start drumming on his desk. All day long I found myself barking, “Sit down! You’re not done your work!”, “Stop talking and focus on your math!”, and “DON’T WAKE THE BABY!”

By the end of the day, I was in the doldrums of discouragement. And I was asking myself, Why is homeschooling so hard? What am I doing wrong?

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Report Cards

For my first several years of homeschooling I did not keep track of my kids’ grades.  I corrected their work and made them fix their mistakes but did not maintain a grade book. I had a general idea of where they were at and what they needed to improve, so it seemed like more work for me.

About 5 years ago, I decided to prepare report cards for a number of reasons.  My homeschool evaluator encouraged me to.  I wanted to confirm my assumptions about their progress.  Finally, my kids were wanting to win a prize at the dentist office based on their report cards. What I did not realize was the incredibly positive effect the report cards would have on our homeschool.

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