Saturday, June 2, 2012

13 Years of Homeschooling; 13 Great Ideas

My firstborn has graduated from a high school course of study accepted by the state of Alaska.  Thirteen years of homeschooling now and I feel properly disposed to present some great ideas (And this is how it usually happens.).   In no particular order :

1. One hour a day "alone with your thoughts."  Not a nap.  Never call it a nap.  This sounds a little fruity, I know, but the real reason is for me to get reacquainted with my thoughts, changing this . . .

into this . . .

2. Family newspaper.  Two or three times a year, we hunker down and assign articles to every child for the Howelling Herald, printed on that longer-sized paper.  We do recurring features such as Outdoor Odysseys (excursions around), Family Accomplishments  (from black belts to potty training), History page (reprinted assigned paragraphs), and Classifieds (from lost cufflinks to cheap plastic crap for sale).  Smaller people just color stuff, which I scan and add right in, along with witty commentary.

3. Cheap ziplocs, tape, bandaids, and paper clips as toys.  Dump onto the floor and watch them get all MacGyver on you.  Amazing creations.

4. A time line made of 3x5 cards stuck to the top of the wall where a wallpaper border would be.  Helps to consecutively organize discombobulated reading selections and also helps to place into perspective things like an 8 year old's obsessesion with ancient Greece.  I point to the section of the wall where it fits; he draws another 3x5 card with a minotaur ~ bingo!  School.

5. Lots of reading and lots of legos makes an excellent curriculum.  Corresponds nicely with :

6. Pair up older children with a younger sibling for a half hour blessing (I call it a spiritual word because it guilts the big kids.).  This means that big kids can play forts and legos without embarrassment and little kids get to be cool.

7. If there are male children, you can create an entire curriculum around battles.  Choose 6 ('ish) important battles to read about.  Read more, all about the country (ies) and the reasons; this is  social studies.  Recognize and dig into a relatable science topic.  Then write about it, play-act it, draw pictures of it (language arts).  An easy example is Gettysburg.  It's fun to recreate the battlefield in your yard or livingroom with small soldiers.  There are strategy books for older kids and picture story books for younger kids.  Watch it, if they are old enough.  Science is battlefield medicine, which is pretty gruesome.  Which means they loved it.  Acutally, my daughter did, too.

8. An IV in a kid's arm that needs to be flushed and run through with antibiotics is great science.  If you don't have someone with cystic fibrosis in your family, sorry.

9. Pet care = science.  But only if you make the children do the care and then draw pictures of things like the creepy rash on the dog's belly.  Extra points if they mix up tea tree oil and warm water and bathe it.  If you make them write about it all, you've got language arts; if you make them do graphs of information like weight and amount of food and exercise, you've got math.

10. Boxed curricula works just fine and may be exactly right for whatever season you're in.  So is unschooling. 

11. Elizabeth Foss' book.  Enough said.

12.  My shelf.  The red basket squares hold, from left to right, science equipment, math manipulatives, and art supplies, with books on the bottom corresponding orderly.  I love my shelf.

And my 13th great idea ~

13.  We stuck with it.  With all the stress and wondering and trouble and comparisons, we did it; for there is also fun and learning and companionship and education


OK, I'll stop yelling now. 
I'll get to next year's plan in a few weeks.
When I think I'm able to stop yelling.



  1. Such great ideas! I keep telling myself I will stick with homeschooling!

  2. The family newspaper! Oh my gosh I love it! :D

    1. You know, they actually argue over who gets to write what piece! Our summer one will have a special goodbye article from Rees. I'll cry about it later; no time now.

  3. I repeat: If we are so blessed to be super elderly roommates, rocking on a patio somewhere in Florida --- YOU'D BETTER BRING THOSE NEWSPAPERS. I love them so. Congratulations to Rees. And kudos to you! He should totally start a business building and peddling those shelves to other families.... Just saying ~ (our gymnastics coaching family's teenaged son builds balance beams and sells them for a pretty penny.)

  4. I love it! I was a homeschool graduate myself, and my husband and I have been talking a lot lately about our desire to homeschool our kids (if my health permits). I'll save this post for ideas! ;) I hope that your son is doing well and out of the hospital now.

    1. Hi Cindy,
      Yes, he's out after 2 weeks and now is at a big youth conference for 4 days in Anchorage (about an hour away). I miss him again! He's mad about another hospitalization after just 5 months and says that he wants to make some changes...

    2. Good luck to him! I'm hoping he can stay out longer this time too. I've definitely been there. Sometimes CF really can be so frustrating and make you feel so completely out of control.

  5. I love reading all these ideas. Cannot wait to get hold of the E. Foss book (!) and YAY REES and YAY MAMA! You BOTH did it! :)

  6. Congratulations, Rees! And you. :-) What great ideas! Even though we are not homeschooling, I love the thought of incorporating some of those. The family newspaper is a fantastical plan.