Deciding to Homeschool

Deciding to homeschool was actually fairly easy for me; I made that decision a long time ago, before my youngest daughter was born. I was homeschooled as a child, and they were some of the best years of my childhood – I grew up in a community of like minded, yet diverse, people and I thrived. There were definitely some dark times, and one of my brother’s (I have three) might disagree about the “thriving” bit, but all in all, the homeschooling aspect of my childhood was a very positive one for me.

I always wanted to create an environment for my children where they could learn, and I could nurture and encourage their educational goals, all while developing with them the tools that they will need to succeed in life. I wasn’t able to do this for the first few years of the girls’ lives, but now that I am in a relative position to be able to achieve this, we have taken the plunge.

Deciding to homeschool can be hard, but park days like this one make it worth it.

When my daughters and I first moved back to Texas, things were extremely difficult. The girls were enrolled in public school, because I worked full time at a day care. In March of this year, I pulled the girls out of public school, quit my job, and turned to freelancing. I am not here to tell you that I make a lot of money doing this; this is not one of those articles. Truth is, I make very little money, but it’s enough to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads. My fiance works for the city transit system, and I work for Door Dash in my spare time. It’s a living.

I removed the girls from public school because of several pretty alarming things that had occurred over the course of the one school year that they were enrolled. First, I found out that my oldest was being bullied simply because she is half-Mexican. Then, she was bullied because she doesn’t speak very well – it takes her a few tries to get thoughts out, and her speech isn’t very organized or concise. Finally, and perhaps most alarmingly, I found out there was a lock-down at the campus, because there was an armed man wandering around the neighborhood – and I was never notified. It wasn’t in the news, and the police were not called. I found this out two weeks after it happened, and talked with other parents who confirmed that the incident did take place. The environment was not a safe or educational one for my children.

After they came home, I administered a few placement exams for them, to see where we should start. How far behind they were was simply shocking. My oldest had been placed in Gifted and Talented while in public school… she shouldn’t have been as far behind as she was.

All of these things combined helped me to move forward with the decision to homeschool, and I can honestly say that I made the absolute best decision for the educational and emotional well-being of my children.

Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Deciding to Homeschool

I had pondered a ‘pros and cons of homeschooling’ type of post instead of this one, but I realized those reasons vary wildly for everyone.  I realized that I couldn’t generalize something like that, because everyone has different experiences, and I couldn’t begin to presume why one family chooses to homeschool, or why another doesn’t. The truth is simply that deciding to homeschool is a very personal and sensitive subject, and checking off pros and cons probably won’t help too much in the grand scheme of things. Instead, I’ve come up with a list of questions to consider when deciding to homeschool:

  • Firstly, you should ask yourself why you want to homeschool. Generally, the reason you want to homeschool helps you to determine your method and your style.
  • Even when homeschooling, you have to be financially stable. Do you or your partner make enough money to sustain a one income household? Is it possible for one of you to work from home? Homeschooling isn’t cheap, though there are many ways to do it on a lower income (part of what this blog is about, actually).
  • What do you think your homeschool day will look like? Do you want rigid structure? Do you want to go with unschooling? This is more “free range” and works very well for certain families and certain children. If you’d like more information on unschooling, this blog post has an amazing definition.
  • How do you want your children to socialize? Socialization is important, and as such, tends to be one of the first concerns when you start to consider homeschooling. A lot of families join a homeschool co-op, which is an educational cooperative where like minded parents gather to help foster educational goals for their children. Some families have their children join Scouts, sports, gymnastics and the like, where they can either interact with only homeschooled kids (many classes like dancing and gymnastics offer homeschool classes during the weekday), or they can join evening classes with public schooled kids. Some cities are lucky to have zoos and museums that offer homeschool courses as well. It’s worth looking around in your city to see what there is out there for socialization!
  • Can you handle those with a negative bias? Homeschooling is a fairly polar issue in some areas. Because even if you can get past the homeschooling vs. non-homeschooling folks, you will most undoubtedly come into contact with people who parent/homeschool a different way and who might be critical of how you go about things. In my experience, it’s rare. The homeschool community in Houston is something I’ve thoroughly enjoyed so far, and generally folks are open minded and not very critical. There are some folks though who have had a difficult time with naysayers.

There are many other questions to ask yourself before making the leap, however these are the biggest five questions to ask yourself before deciding to homeschool, in my opinion. Once you have the answers, you can form the base of your curriculum and teaching style.

What prompted you to homeschool? If you aren’t already homeschooling, why are you considering it?

Word of the Week – Accomplish

For this week’s Word of the Week, I chose the word ‘accomplish.’ It’s a simple word, and it says a lot about my intentions as a blogger. More importantly, it says a great deal about my intentions as a homeschooling mother.

Word of the Week - accomplish

The quote comes from a French author, poet, and Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Anatole France. Anatole France is actually a pseudonym. His real name was Jacques Anatole Thibault. This quote was particularly poignant in my opinion, and the man behind the quote seemed like a fascinating person as well. If you’d like to find out more about him, click on his name, and you’ll be taken to the Nobel website, which is interesting enough on its own!

For more information about this Word of the Week series, visit my introduction post!

DIY Flash Cards for Less Than One Dollar!

I am a huge fan of saving money, especially on things that won’t be used for very long, so I decided to make my own DIY flash cards for our math work, rather than buy a set. We are working on memorizing our multiplication tables right now, and I’ve broken everything down into a three week course simply for multiplication. I do not expect them to memorize every number, but I want them familiarized with multiplication and the associated properties, because that is what is important in the long run.

DIY Flash Cards

I made a set of flash cards through the number 12, and it honestly took me about a week or two to complete them, simply because I was so busy. All told, I spent probably six hours working on them. They are color coded, so that I can add or remove specific number decks as we need to. I also laminated them, because I have a tendency to spill things (coffee, tea, soup, yogurt, you name it), but only on papers that are important.

DIY Flash Cards

A Quick Explanation on Materials and Method

The only things I used to create these were BLANK index cards (this is important! You do NOT want lined ones unless that’s all you can find! Flash cards just aren’t as cute when made with lined cards), some markers we had on hand, my handy dandy Scotch Thermal Laminator*, and a total of 29 laminating pouches.

The index cards only cost $1.00 at Kroger, because I buy generic. The markers were free, because they were a gift, and the laminator was bought ages ago and has been used enough to offset the whopping $25 I paid for it at Wal-Mart. I don’t buy the name brand laminating pouches, because the Wal-Mart brand is $8 for 50, and Scotch brand is easily $7 more than that!

DIY Flash Cards

To make them, I simply went through and wrote all of equations and answers for one number set, starting with 1 and ending with 12. After writing the equation, I’d go back through and put a border on both sides of the cards with the markers.

I wanted them to be bright and colorful. It’s so much easier fulfilling a mind-numbing task when you are staring at something cute, and I know my daughters feel the same way. You could do these any way you want though! One number for odds, one for evens maybe? Or even all the same color, so your kids won’t know what to expect when you are studying with them.

If you have your own DIY flash cards, link me in the comments!

*This post does contain affiliate links.

Word of the Week Introduction

Word of the Week

I think it can be universally agreed upon that consistently developing our vocabulary is a good thing. I found this amazing blog post that basically details everything I wanted to say, and they even mention George Orwell’s novel, 1984, in which vocabulary is literally limited by the government. Y’all, that is terrible, and limiting vocabulary – whether it’s mandatory or by simply not paying enough attention to expanding it – we are limiting our ability to think beyond the scope of our own bubble.

Vocabulary is something that should be improved upon throughout our entire lives, but it is most important during the formative childhood years. Our children are usually great communicators, barring any learning or developmental delays or disabilities. My oldest daughter, in particular, can talk for ages, but sometimes the message gets lost in the speech. Her biggest issues are repetition of words, and the occasional inability to find the right words for the message she is intending to communicate. Expanding vocabulary is part if how we can solve this problem!

I don’t go too heavily into vocabulary right now; we don’t have a list of ten words a week or anything like that. We have, however, started a Word of the Week theme, which right now is usually also a life skill (i.e. accountability, responsibility, altruism, etc). I give them the word and a basic definition, then I find a quote that sums up the word rather well, and we use that word frequently in our conversations over the course of the week.

Our first word ever was Accountability. The children aren’t quite as adept at fulfilling their obligations as I would like, but they are young. So I thought this would be a good first word, as it’s a concept we already discuss a lot. The quote was from Ben Franklin, “he who is good at making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” They took to the first word and concept pretty well, so I think I’m going to continue it! I will likely make a weekly post about what our word and quote are, starting next week.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I show y’all how I made my own (cute!) flash cards for less than $1.00!

Pagan Parenting and Why My Kids Aren’t Pagan

Anya and Ella

I have to admit that sometimes parenting as a Pagan woman can be hard. The desire to raise my children in my faith is there, but instead I am raising my daughters to think freely and openly about religion, and in doing so, I tend to focus less on my faith than perhaps I would like. I read a study that was published in 2014 that cited that children exposed to religion at an early age have a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction.

“Children who went to church or were enrolled in a parochial school, or both, judged the protagonist in religious stories to be a real person, whereas secular children with no such exposure to religion judged the protagonist in religious stories to be fictional.” – Corriveau, Chen, Harris.

This is a big deal, in my opinion. Critical thinking and reasoning skills are vital, and if exposing our children to something like religion too early – specifically teaching children one religion and denying that other religions exist, or worse – teaching intolerance towards those of a specific faith, can harm the development of those skills, then I wonder why we as collective parents allow this to happen at all.

I grew up sort of eclectically religious – my father, as far as I can remember, saw himself as Wiccan, but I was allowed to explore any religion I wished. I went to a Mennonite Church, a Baptist Church, Catholic, non-denominational, and even a Pentecostal one. My favorite was the Unitarian Universalist church that I was only able to visit once. Wicca has always seemed too rigorous for me in certain concepts, so I classify my religious beliefs as eclectic paganism. I am a Hearth Witch. My ‘magic’ goes towards my home. I clean and cook and make this apartment we have a home for my family and in doing so, I am worshiping the best way that I know how.

My daughters are not religious. Or at least, they wouldn’t be, had I not made the grave mistake of allowing them to go to church when they were toddlers. They didn’t go that often. My thought was simply that they were spending valuable time with family members. For the past few years, however, I’ve been struggling when discussing religion with them at all. The girls were “infected with Jesus” as some of my atheist friends like to put it. I am wholeheartedly opposed to indoctrination of any kind, and that is exactly what happened. I’ve had to console my oldest daughter after she was brought to tears because someone told her that my lack of religion would send me to Hell. How is that an okay thing to tell a child? How do you tell a child her parents are going to hell because they don’t go to church?

One of the key things I would like to include in our homeschooling journey is to introduce the children to a wide variety of religions and world views. When we have our discussions, I stress that the things I am telling them are simply the beliefs of certain people, and in general, not much can be verified as solid fact. It is important to me that my children (and all others, if I’m being honest, but I recognize that I have no control over that) discover their beliefs themselves, after much reading, and after they have lived life for a decent enough amount of time to make such decisions.

I can only hope I’m going about this the right way. I suppose that’s what all parents worry about though, isn’t it? “Am I royally fucking up my kid?” Let’s be honest: my biggest goal as a parent is to give them a childhood they don’t have to recover from.

Thanks for reading!