Homeschooling 2.0

Yes, we homeschool.  Yes, it can be tough at times.  Just ask my wife, especially on one of those days when we are due for a trip to the grocer, the dishes are piling up, our child has a speech appointment, and we have company coming over in the evening.  Believe it or not, she does not sit around watching soaps or wondering around the house aimlessly counting down the hours.  Stay-at-home mom plus homeschool teacher plus homesteader is more work than most will give her credit for.  It can be a battle at times, a balancing act of teaching math, , washing eggs, canning beets and applesauce, and appeasing our velociraptor (okay, our cow that sounds like one when the chores are behind an hour).

Fear not.  For as much work as homeschooling can be, as with all other hard work, it has its rewards.  With all the hassle, why do we continue to homeschool our children?  Wow, for many reasons!  I’ll list a few, in case you just don’t get it, then I’ll move on to our next evolution of our homeschooling system. Before moving on, let me say that homeschooling may not be for everyone, we understand that.  This is a list of reasons that pushed us over to the decision that homeschooling was for us.  So, onto the why…

  • Bullies.  Understand me here, bullies are as old as sin, but the ways to deal with them have been completely extinguished.  They consume and demand all of the teachers attention, causing the rest of the students to fall behind.  Teachers’ hands seem to be almost literally tied when it comes to dealing with this unsocial behavior. We know this firsthand.  “But we have anti-bully laws!!”  Come on, from what I have seen of the so called anti-bully laws has been that they further erode our freedom of speech, yet do nothing to address the real problem.
  • Our oldest child went from falling behind in government school, to testing into eight-grade math, while he was only in third grade, on his yearly CAT.
  • It is now apparently okay for a child to use their phone or tablets for personal, non-educational uses while in class at their local government school.  I’ve experienced this firsthand while speaking at a local school.  This is also one of those matters it seems that teachers can again do nothing about.
  • Changing from government school to homeschooling meant a significant change in behavior for our oldest, for the good.  He went from an attitude of no respect and always down and irritable, to a much more respectful, happy, and polite young man.
  • Institutionalized government education is a relatively new system, think 100-300 years old.  In the grand picture of the history of this world, that isn’t very long.  Traditionally, children grew up with their parents around, whom they gleamed morals, manners, and general life skills from.  Note that the institutionalized system fails to teach any one of the aforementioned.  Example:  I rode past a school bus stop on my way to work the other week and had children literally throw rocks at me.  Thanks to my cameras, I have footage, but it is highly doubtful the school, their parents, or the police would be able to change anything in this circumstance.
  • Government moves slow, and generally, slowly in the wrong direction.  The government school system is an example of this.  Common Core, No Child Left Behind, ballooning expenses and ever more glamorous buildings, need I say more…
  • I didn’t send my child to school to watch movies and spend much of the day in glorified day care.  I actually want them to learn!

There are countless other reasons, but these hit the large points for us.  I won’t go as far as to say that all schools suffer from the aforementioned issues.   These are issues I have extracted from my own personal experiences.  Needless to say, we took the dive (I was the reluctant one).

Our oldest is just finishing up fourth grade, our second oldest, first.  Now that we have a couple of years under our belt, we are about to make a large shift in the way we do homeschooling.  Currently, my wife sits down for much of the day and teaches our children from the curriculum we use.  As you can imagine, this demands much of her time through the day.  Our third oldest will also be starting school next year, so with three to teach, that only encourages us to continue to smoothen and improve efficiency in our homeschooling routine.

Our current plans for this next school year are to enter our two oldest into video courses.  These courses are similar to the distance education programs most colleges and universities employ.  I just purchased two new Acer Chromebook laptops for this purpose (for around $180/each).  I installed GalliumOS (a free debian based Linux operation system) on both of them, to allow us to run full desktop versions of software on them, such as Libreoffice, Scratch, gcompris, and VLC.  They have exceed my expectations on every level, both in regards to their aesthetics and performance.  I also locked both of these computers down (as they do have Internet access) and made sure to whitelist and bookmark some useful sites to encourage extracurricular learning and activities (Khan Academy, wikipedia, codecademy, and strava, to name a few).  Additionally, I will be installing gnucash (a personal and business finance manager) to begin teaching them how to manage and track their finances.  I still need to look into getting Lego Mindstorms software installed so they can playfully and creatively dabble with programming and robotics from something other than a tablet.

Our oldest two will follow along with their respective virtual video classes on these new laptops and finish any additional schoolwork after the videos.  Shelly will continue to monitor their activity, answer any questions that come up, give direction, grade paperwork, quizzes, and tests.  This will also give her more time to help our new kindergartener with his schooling and speech.

Once we head into the next school year, we will post an update or two on how this system works out and what tweaks we end up making.  Until then, happy summer break!!

-Jeremy

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Enjoying the little moments..

So today as I type this up, I am sitting outside, even though it is cold and there is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground.  But, the sun is shining. I am so thankful for these little moments. Even though some days are super hard, having a farm, remodeling a house, homeschooling, and just trying to carry on normal (whatever that is) in our home.  It seems we pull the house apart and once again we have to work to regain a little order.

The sweetest moments are when I can just sit back and see how far things have come. It is kind of like our lives.  It can be messy at times, but with some work, all things eventually fall into place and are turned into something beautiful.  That sums it up, making something beautiful out of our mess 🙂

Through all of the ups and downs, God has been so faithful through it all.  There always seems to be family or friends there to encourage us as we hit our lows. It just brings me so much joy!

This past week, the temps were perfect.  So it was a must, we had to do school outside! 🙂

While the older two were working on school, the little boys found some pine cones and mud.  It was the perfect day in their minds, playing trucks outside in the water.

As you can see, Andrei was very pumped.  Finally, no need for snow pants, a hat, or mittens!

Stephen and I worked on pulling some sticks out of the woods during break time to keep the furnace going. He loves spending time with his momma (and daddy) in the woods 🙂

And when it hits 50 degrees, this momma gets pretty excited to hang up whites on the line.  Even though we still have lots of snow, there is nothing better than fresh dried sheets!

Earlier this week I woke up to a foggy yet sunny morning.  It was one of those mornings that reminds me of how God’s mercies are new every morning! How each day we get to start anew, a fresh day ahead of us! It is truly a blessing to get to see his goodness in our lives, even in our mess! Life is too short, so we are trying to enjoy all of the moments. Through house demo and trying to maintain a peaceful home while teaching kiddos, I could not do it on my own.  I love the journey we are on and so happy to get to share it with you all. Until next time… – Shelly 🙂

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