Help with Homeschooling

Here are some tips, information, tools and resources that may help you as you consider entering into homeschooling. (They are also available at the end in PDF format.)

Homeschooling Helps

One thing you really need to remember about homeschooling is that it is challenging. There will be days when everyone obeys and learns their lessons and you finish early. Other times, it will seem like your kids forget everything they learned, don’t finish their assignments, or have major attitudes. 

Just remember that although some days are hard, homeschooling can be extremely rewarding. You love your child the most and know what’s best for them.

1. First things first: Name your school

If you have not done so, you will need to register your homeschool with the Kansas State Department of Education as a non-accredited private school: https://apps.ksde.org/naps_form/default.aspx

You will need to come up with a name for your homeschool. It can simply be based off your last name, for instance, Eldridge Academy. Or it can be something else like Flint Hills Academy. You can change your homeschool name if you decide later on that you don’t like it.

If you no longer have children in your homeschool, you will need to go online and mark your school as inactive.

2. Record keeping: Grades or a portfolio or both?

Kansas is pretty much out of your business when it comes to homeschooling, but there are some things to keep in mind:

a.) You can keep track of grading if you want to for K-8th grade.

b.) If you don’t keep track of grades, definitely keep a portfolio of work. This is an easier route in my opinion and one that I have used for the past 15 years.

Keeping a portfolio is very simple. All you need to do is get a file folder and put in several papers from each subject for each kid per year plus an attendance record.

About the attendance record: Because KS requires that we meet for a certain number of days, I print out a calendar for each school year and mark off the days we meet and the days we miss. And to make it easy on yourself, you can just follow the school district’s calendar, meet the days they do and take off the days they do.

3. Which curriculum do I use?

This is really up to you. There are SO MANY curriculums available that you would think everyone in the US homeschools their kids. You can do a piecemeal approach, a little of this, a little of that. I have done that quite a bit over the years. Or you can purchase a whole curriculum or access to an online curriculum. Here is a list of some that I’ve either used or heard about:

K12 Powered Online School: This is public school but at home and is tuition free. The materials are either online or can be sent to your home. www.k12.com/kansas-online-schools.html

Lawrence Virtual School: Similar to the above. You don’t have to live in Lawrence to be a part of this school, and again, it is tuition free. However, there is a $97 material and technology fee: www.usd497.org

Ambleside Online: Free, but you have to pay for the books, although many of them are free online as they use a lot of classics in the public domain. This is an exceptional curriculum, though VERY teacher intensive. At first glance, it looks like it’s just a book list. However, this curriculum requires some knowledge of Charlotte Mason’s principles (nature studies, short lessons, narration, etc). You can find a lot of information on the website about how to use this curriculum: amblesideonline.org

My Father’s World (highly recommend!): Not overly expensive considering what you get for your money. You can teach multiple grades at the same time, and they also have 7th-8th grade extensions for older kids: mfwbooks.com

Time 4 Learning: Online curriculum.  They have video lessons and automated grading. I have heard good things about this. $19.95/month for elementary kids. If you have more than one child, each subsequent child is $14.95/month: time4learning.com

All-In-One Homeschool/All-in-One High School: Online curriculum. COMPLETELY FREE! This is was put together by a lady who wanted homeschooling to be accessible and affordable for everyone. It is totally free, but you can donate if you want to. This is a very thorough curriculum. I have used various parts of it over the years, particularly some of her high school classes: allineonehomeschool.com; allinonehighschool.com

Schoolhouse Teachers: Online curriculum. This is a membership site, and they have complete curriculums for PreK-12th. There are LOTS of good classes on here! We have used several over the years. Right now, you can get two years for $179 for your whole family, which is an excellent price for all you get: schoolhouseteachers.com

Under the Home: FREE! This is a K-5th grade curriculum that uses classics, so you don’t have to buy any books. Plus there are free printables that go along with the lessons: underthehome.org

The Good and the Beautiful: Reasonably priced, plus they have several free digital subjects/units available. I have heard lots of good things about this curriculum and have a few of their units downloaded that I plan on using this year. It looks thorough and enjoyable: goodandbeautiful.com

There are MANY more! Sometimes it takes some trial and error as well. It is completely okay to stop using a curriculum if it doesn’t seem like a good fit for your family, even if you switch to something else mid year. 

4. How do I schedule our day/week/month/year?

Kansas requires you to meet for at least 186 days for at least six hours a day. I know that seems like a lot. Here’s what you can do and how you can think about this:

a.) Find the school district calendar online (or sometimes they mail them), and just follow what they do. I did this for several years. That way you know you’re meeting for the same number of days they do.

b.) It is hard to have younger kids work at home for six hours a day doing school, especially in kindergarten, first grade, second grade. Think about how much of their day is spent learning outside of formal school hours. They learn so much from just playing and exploring outside. So you can count that time as school hours as well.

Also, things like Bible study, church activities, music lessons, sports activities can be counted as school time. You could even count things like kids helping in the kitchen with cooking/baking as school time.

c.) How you plan your days is pretty subjective. My first year of homeschooling, I planned out the WHOLE year, but quickly found that that just didn’t work for me as too many things came up and messed up my schedule.  

I have also done daily scheduling, but I didn’t like this as sometimes the kids were waiting on me to finish up the schedule so they could start.

Now, I plan out our schedule a week at a time, and that works really well for us. Whatever works for your family is the best method.

5. It’s the first day of school. How do I do this?

You might be nervous the first day. Try making it fun. It will be different for everybody and probably won’t go exactly as you planned but IT IS OKAY.

I usually make a really special breakfast for our first day and plan for an easy schedule.

Here is example of a fun, relaxing first day:

  • Make a special breakfast.
  • Everybody grab a book (including you!) and just read for a while. 
  • Go outside and explore something in nature, or go on a nature walk.
  • Watch a fun nature show (Wild Kratts or something)
  • Listen to a composer while you read.
  • Learn a new folk song.
  • Print out some educational coloring pages and have fun coloring

6. What is a homeschool co-op?

A homeschool co-op is a group of families that meets together regularly where the kids interact with each other, have classes together, do enrichment activities, field trips, etc. Some co-ops are similar in their settings to regular schools in that they teach several subjects a few days a week. Other co-ops focus on enrichment classes such as art, music, PE, cooking, etc. 

Co-ops are a great way for kids to meet friends and participate in activities they may not otherwise do.

Common Myths About Homeschooling

Myth #1: My children won’t be socialized well if I homeschool them!

Answer: This is probably the single biggest thing I hear as a downfall of homeschooling, and I will tell you this is
absolutely false. It is so unfortunate that this has been circulating for so many years. While there will
always be exceptions and some homeschooled kids won’t have great social skills, I think it’s fair to say
that even some kids in public school don’t have great social skills either. So definitely keep that in mind!

Now, the homeschool environment is very different from the public school environment, so your
children will have different social skills, but they will have social skills, nonetheless. You will have more
time to teach them those skills yourself instead of their peers teaching them (which is true of a lot of
things, by the way).

Also, there are many, many opportunities for your children to interact with others—church, sporting
events, homeschool co-ops, friends, etc. And instead of sitting in a classroom where everyone is the
same age, they can learn to interact with people of all ages.

Myth #2: I don’t have a teaching degree, so I can’t teach my child.

Answer: Wrong! You can most certainly teach your son/daughter regardless of your education. Kansas
(and most states I think) doesn’t require you to have a teaching degree to homeschool. Plus, one of the
great things about homeschooling is that you get to learn alongside your child. I have learned (and re-
learned) quite a bit with my kids over the years, and you will likely find the same to be true.

Myth #3: I am so overwhelmed and scared that I will fail my children.

Answer: I get the overwhelm! Don’t let that stop you though. If you are consistent, your hard work and
theirs will pay off. I have successfully graduated two of my kids from our homeschool, and they have
both moved on to college/work and have done great, despite my worry over the years. Besides, if you
find, as they get older, that there’s a gap in their education, they can still learn it! For instance, say your
high school senior needs to write a research paper, but they never learned MLA style. No biggie! It
doesn’t take long to learn.

Myth #4: I can’t teach math (or some other subject), so I can’t teach my children.

Answer: I hear you! Math is my weakness too, so what I have done over the years is delegate that
subject. There are numerous online/video math curriculums out there to choose from, many which

teach the lessons and automatically grade the assignments and tests. It has been a huge relief to offload
that subject in our homeschool. I have done the same with chemistry in high school.

Myth #5: I will have to sit and give formal classroom instruction for 12 years. That’s a long time!

Answer: A wonderful benefit to homeschooling is that you don’t even need a classroom! Some families
have a dedicated schoolroom, but many don’t. Often, during our homeschool day, we are on the couch
or around the coffee table. And besides, I don’t want our homeschool to look a lot like the public school
setting anyway.

Also, sometimes instead of taking “snow days” like the school district does, we sometimes take “sun
days.” We do this especially in the spring when the weather gets nice. That’s another benefit to
homeschooling—flexibility!

When you are first starting out, especially if your children are young, you will have to actively help them
with their lessons and teach them. However, you will find as they get older, they will want to do the
lessons themselves.

One of the GREAT benefits to homeschooling is that your children will learn how to teach themselves.
Starting around 4 th grade is when my older two started doing many of their lessons on their own. I was
there to help, offer suggestions, and check their work, but a lot of it they were able to do without me.
And having children grow up and be confident that they can learn something new without help is a great
life skill.

Myth #6: I am unorganized and can’t keep track of grades, so I can’t homeschool my kids.

Answer: You will need to be disciplined enough to have some type of organization, especially in high
school years, as you will have to keep track of grades for a high school transcript (sounds scary but it’s
not). But it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and definitely shouldn’t keep you from homeschooling
your kids.

At the end of the day, just remember WHY you wanted to start homeschooling in the first place! That will
help motivate you on the hard days!

Teaching Multiple Grades

  1. Try to combine subjects where you can. For instance, things like Bible time, music, artist studies, even things like science with the addition of some more challenging assignments for older children.
  2. If they are close enough in age, consider putting them in the same grade. I did this with my older children who were 11 ½ months apart with the idea that if my younger child ever seemed like he was falling behind, I would reevaluate. Not all kids can do this, but if you can, it can make your life a bit easier.
  3. Choose a curriculum that makes it easier. For example, My Father’s World allows you to combine grades and has extension activities for older children.
  4. Consider a split schedule. Have older children work independently while you are actively teaching the younger ones and then switch.
  5. Consider an online curriculum. This can be a great option for your children to work independently, though may not be ideal if you are concerned about too much screen time.
  6. Be flexible. It may take some time to figure things out, and sometimes you may have to switch things up entirely if you find your plan isn’t working or isn’t working anymore. Needs of your children may change. The needs of your family may change. Just remember not to be too rigid in how you schedule your school days.

Questions?

I still have lots of questions. How do I contact you?

Please feel free to reach out to me at: 785.581.0600 or eldridgeorama@gmail.com. I’d be happy to answer any questions!

Resources

Here is the above information in PDF format.

Searching for the Old Paths and Keeping Memories Alive

If anyone knows me well, they know that I love to garden, to make food from scratch, to preserve food, and to try to live simply and within my means. This thought really struck me this evening as I was talking to my 16-year-old daughter.

It struck me that most of my great-grandparents, grandparents, and even parents lived on a farm growing up. Some still do in fact. Our goal is to one day  live out in the country on a few acres, raise some chickens, maybe a cow, and have a Hugh Jass garden that grows plenty of food for our family that I can dehydrate, freeze, or can.

Continue reading “Searching for the Old Paths and Keeping Memories Alive”

Cute Chubby Babies and Hickeys…

Our baby is two weeks old today! We are over the moon over this little guy. He is a cutie (not that I’m biased or anything). One thing we have noticed is that he pretty much likes to suck on anything fleshy, to include his chubby little forearm. In fact, today the kids pointed out a small, dark bruise on his arm. I was shocked, thinking maybe they handled him too roughly. What I learned was that Samuel gave himself a hickey! He was sucking on his arm so much today while the kids were holding him that his little arm has a nice little purplish-red spot on it. It’s pretty cute just thinking about it. I knew he liked to suck but I wouldn’t have thought that he would do that!

Delivery Meditations, etc.

So…I’m here again! Apparently, I was missed. 🙂 But no worries, I am back. I’m not sure how long I will be back since our baby is due any day now, but as of today, I am still quite pregnant and quite whale-like. In fact, much to my horror, the nurse at the birth center this morning blurted out my weight…in front of my dear husband! I hope he wasn’t too traumatized. 🙂

Anyway, with the upcoming birth of our baby boy, I have been encouraged to pick out some verses to meditate on during labor. The one that most frequently comes to mind is from Psalm 70 out of the Scottish Psalter which reads, “Lord, haste me to deliver.” That verse has kind of taken on new meaning for me these past few days. I know King David was not speaking of the kind of deliverance that I am looking toward, but I think it can very much apply to my situation. What do you think may be some other verses that would be helpful to me to think on during labor? I’m thinking specifically Psalms, but they could be from any book of the Bible really.

I know this post is rather short, but I need to go put my feet up. They are pretty puffy and I am exhausted. 🙂

Time for a New Post…?

As a longtime husband, sometime reader, friend of friends, and family of family, I would like to advocate for all of those out there who would like to see you post before you go into labor and don’t post again for months, yea, maybe a year. The baby is coming soon. If you don’t post now, you may not post for a long time. There are people out there that need to know, “What is Lisa doing now?”

So, for Caras, Hollys, Elizabeths, Moms and Aprils everywhere, the Putz says, “Can we get an update?” People need a good, hearty, belly laugh. Get it? Belly laugh! Man! I kill me. 🙂

I Came, I Saw, I Got Intimidated, I Was a Wuss, but at Least I Ran

Let me just say, Exercise really kicked me while I was down today. And again, I really don’t know how I ran those 2 miles before. I ran 1.5 miles total today following the training schedule and wow. It really wiped me out. It felt like it was the first time I ever ran. I was sucking air just wishing it were all over (the run that is; life isn’t that bad). I had a stitch in my side; my breathing went out the window; and it was just plain hard. I had visions of this slim and trim Lisa in a fancy black dress running in front of me, telling me to hurry up if I wanted to look like her (rather cheeky, but she looked great. And yes, I have a slight obsession with this vision of Lisa in a fancy black dress. What can I say? I have issues. At least I don’t talk to her. I only talk to Exercise, but he’s mean and someone’s got to put him in his place).

Tomorrow’s run is kind of freaking me out a little since I have to run 3/4 of a mile twice! David offered me some words of encouragement though. He said when he was in the military, one of his sergeants told him if he wanted to improve his run, he should work on steady breathing and also push hard at first and then you can ease off as you get into it more*. David said he probably shaved two minutes off his run by working on his breathing and another two minutes by pushing hard at the beginning. Wow, really?! That’s kind of what I did today. In the spirit of pushing myself, I, uh, pushed myself. Because I wanted to work on my time, I ran faster at the beginning. David said that is probably why I was so wiped out afterward. He said if you feel full of energy when you’re done running, you’re doing something wrong. So, tomorrow I’ll see how it goes.  I will keep you all updated. In the meantime, hang in there! You can do it!

*Of note, after further talking to David, it appears I misunderstood slightly what he was getting at. He said if he wanted to “kill” himself on a PT (for all you non-military folk, this means Physical Training) test, then he would push hard at the beginning and then ease off. However, if you are not seeking to “kill” yourself, he recommended running at a pace in which it is comfortable enough to talk.

4.5 Miles in 30 Minutes…Sort Of

Yesterday, I didn’t end up running outside because it was pretty cold and it was flurrying pretty badly. 🙂 So, I ran 4.5 miles inside…on the Wii…in place. Unfortunately, there is a pretty significant difference between running and actually going somewhere and running in place. But! It was something at least. The other night after I finished flipping my pancakes (which were NOT a flop, by the way!), I did Billy Blanks Ultimate Boot Camp. Surprisingly afterward, I was not as sweaty and tired as I usually am. I told David I should do it again because I felt cheated. 🙂 The next day, I felt a little sore but decided to do it again and oh my ouchness! I didn’t get much done the rest of the day and had to take a nap. When I woke up, it hurt to move. My skin itself felt sore. So, anyway, that whole part about me not really feeling like I worked out very hard? Yeah, you can ignore that.

Today, the flurries have let up a bit, so I’m planning to run outside.  Not 4.5 miles though. That would probably take me quite awhile. I still plan on doing week 4 of Couch to 5K. It’s just stinkin’ cold out there. To all you runners in cold climates, my hat is off to you. I guess I better quit whining and go tough it out. Before I do that though, I just remembered a dream I had Saturday night. I dreamed I ran, not 3, not 4, not 5, but 6 whole miles, and I did it without stopping! When I told David, he chuckled and said, “It’s just a dream.” Grrr! The nerve! 🙂 I would love to be able to run 6 miles without stopping (hey, I’d love to run a mile without stopping!), so I better get off my duff and go practice. Ciao!

Where Oh Where Has My Little Blog Gone?

You may have been thinking it was going the way of the dodo. I was kind of thinking that too. Lately, I feel that my blog needs some direction. I’m tired of talking about working out. And I’m tired of talking about my garden (by the way, if anyone wants roughly 150 jalapenos, please, please come over!).  Now what? I could turn this into a blog where I talk about food, which sounds yummy. But there are so many blogs where ladies talk about food (they sure are fun to read though). Should I jump on that bandwagon? I don’t know. Maybe my lack of posts of late has been due to my lack of focus here.  It would be really neat to talk about something innovative. I really don’t want to stop blogging. I mean, I finally have my very own domain now and don’t you think my little mobile home with the smiley face is just so cute? So, all that to say, I will continue to blog. I just don’t know what about just yet. It may continue to be a hodgepodge of different things. Or not…Maybe you should come back again so you can find out! 🙂