Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tie-dye cake with kids

I was a little intimidated when my 4 year old picked out the Tie-Dye cake mix at the grocery store, but it turned out to be a pretty fun (messy) experience with the kids! 
I let them crack the eggs, mix, pour in the water, mix some more and help separate the mixture into 6 separate bowls. (We used Apple sauce instead of oil) Then we took the 3 primary color packets that come with the box and counted out each drop. 6 different colors were made. (Blue, yellow, red, orange, purple and green) the kids took turns choosing colors and emptying them into a pan. It only took about 30 minutes to bake. It came out looking nothing like the picture on the box, but it was yummy and the kids had an absolute blast making it. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why we have decided to homeschool our children

I am writing this before our homeschool adventure begins. It is mostly a blog post for myself to look back and reflect on later. I am also writing this for others who may be interested or for those who have questions. In no way am I bashing other parents’ choices, just trying to explain my thought process and how our decision to homeschool was made. Every family is different and what works for some may not work for others. Obviously, it was up to me to make the final decision to homeschool since my husband works 40-60 hours a week and I am the one at home with the kids.

After months of thought, discussion and research I'm confident to announce that we have decided to homeschool our children. In the beginning I went back and forth. Mostly because I was afraid to tell people and knowing that some would think that I was crazy. I wanted to talk to others who homeschool, read homeschool blogs, read books on homeschooling and do some research before I announced it.

My own schooling history...
Since I was 4 years old I’ve been in some sort of school setting myself. I went to public school from K-7th. In 8th grade I went to a private Christian school. There were only 10 students in my class and 2 teachers. I learned more that year AT SCHOOL then any other year. I was able to ask questions and get them answered. The teachers were able to work with me until I got the answer or knowledge that I was looking for. Grades 9-12 was spent back at public schools where I never really did that well. The teachers always had 25+ other kids in class so they weren’t able to provide help like I needed. I felt like my public school education was a whirlwind of information being thrown at me. I wasn’t doing horrible on my standardized tests so special education was not offered to me (my parents tried to get me in). If a student fell behind it was up to their parents or a private tutor to catch them up after or before school hours. I clearly remember spending hours after each school day sitting with my mom having her teach me or go over with me the things that the teacher had gone over so quickly.
          Public school teachers have to fit so many things into each day because of all the standardized testing, which made retaining information hard for me. I would spend all day in school, come home, have a snack and go right to homework or memorizing facts for hours. Before long I started lying to my parents and telling them that I didn’t have any homework, because honestly it was exhausting. I wanted to play with my friends, sleep or go outside. Learning became a chore and I stopped enjoying school, and started to not enjoy learning. Not to mention that half the school day I was so hungry or tired that I couldn’t focus on anything. My husband also had some negative learning experiences with public schooling.
I have been taking college classes on and off since I graduated high school. I’ve gone to both a community college and taken online courses. Learning has always been more interesting and fun when I could take breaks as needed and have the ability to make my own schedule. Still with online courses there are always deadlines, but the work can be broken up throughout the week and can be done anywhere. (I’ve turned in papers as I sat in McDonald’s parking lots, borrowing their Wi-Fi while traveling.) I’ve taken tests while I lay in bed and my husband entertains the children in the family room. I’ve also taken tests while my husband is at work and my children play quietly or not so quietly. Basically what I am getting at is that learning at home can be just as effective as sitting in a classroom. For me learning at home or with individualized academic attention has been easier.

Being a stay at home mom has given me a glimpse of what it is like to homeschool...
 I've been a stay at home mom for over 3 years (mom for almost 5) raising babies, teaching them what they know, working with them one on one and answering every question they have. Even if I don't have the answer I make sure that I find it. I've been able to take my kids hiking, to farms, to the beach, to museums, to nature preserves, to visit family anytime we want, to play dates, grocery shopping, to the library, out to lunch and more. Being a stay at home mom has allowed us to do these things often. Whenever the mood hits us we can hop in the car and go places. My children have close relationships and have spent a lot of time with extended family. That wouldn’t have been possible if I had decided to continue working. At a moments notice we can pack up the car and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a few days or go on trips to visit family out of state. Nearly everyday we are cooking or baking something together. My kids are experts at helping me grocery shop and have learned about money through having them pay for their own toys when we shop at the thrift store. My kids help with household chores and taking care of the family dog. We have spent countless hours reading and watching videos on things like the human body, where garbage goes, money, dinosaurs, and history. When one of my kids has a question about anything I am able to take the time to find a book that explains it or find a YouTube video, or documentary for them to watch. Then we talk about it.
My oldest is 4 years old, almost 5, and is in love with learning. He is in his second year of preschool at a local church and even on his days off he spends all day asking to learn at home. I feel like at school he is more interested in playing with other kids. When I ask him about his school day he doesn’t mention things that he’s learned, just friends that he has played with. He’s always been a little behind kids his age in speech, growth, learning etc. (I hate that I even compare him to others.) The thought of sending him off on a school bus all by himself in less then a year to spend the day sitting in a desk bothers me. Especially when I know how the educational system works, having been through it myself. Being a stay at home mom for the past three years has given me a glimpse of what it is like to homeschool. Of course this fall we will use a purchased curriculum for homeschool. (Sonlight)
There are so many reasons why we are going to homeschool our kids. Here are the ones that are most important to our family:
1)                    Education. We cannot afford to send three children to private school where they would receive more individualized attention. At home we can give them a 3 on 1 (or 3 on 2 when Daddy is home) education. We can work as fast or as slow as it takes for each child to fully understand the material. We can go more in depth, answer every question and take endless field trips throughout the week. We can cater to each child’s learning style and make learning fun. The younger kids can learn right along side the older ones. Learning is life-long and making it fun and exciting for our children is important for us. We want our children to have a solid base for their future education. We want them to WANT to learn and enjoy it. Whether their educational future is homeschooled to graduation or if they decide to go to a public school in the future.
2)                    Values & Everyday Life Skills. We want to instill our own values into our children. Honesty, integrity, faith, family, and hard work are some important ones. When kids spend more time outside of the home during their younger years they learn more from their peers. A room/play ground full of kids their own age would socialize them rather then us. Everyday life skills are something else that we want to teach our kids. Already as a stay at home mom I’ve had my kids helping with everyday chores and grocery shopping. As they get older homeschooling will teach them time management. I want my kids to spend time around people of all ages on a daily basis, not just a room full of kids their own age. They need to know how to communicate and socialize with people of all ages.
3)                    Quality Family Time. From the moment a child enters kindergarten to the moment they graduate they spend approximately 900 or more hours a year in school. Life goes by so quickly and soon our children will be grown up and off living their own lives. We want to spend these years with our children helping them learn and grow. Making memories as a family, shaping them into responsible adults and having close family relationships.
4)                    Childhood. I believe that in a way school forces kids to grow up too quickly. So much time is spent in school and not enough being a kid. I want my kids to be kids for longer. They can still learn but have more of the day to play that would be spent on the bus or in filler activities at a public school.
5)                    More time for living. A public school day consists of waking up, rushing to get ready, spending up to an hour on a school bus, spending 6-8 hours at school, back on the bus, home, and homework. That can be longer then the average adult spends at work. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to get plenty of sleep, spend enough time eating meals, time to get dressed, clean up and then do school work. All without a rigid time set for when we have to run out the door. Being homeschooled means that my kids can be done with "school" by noon and spend the rest of the day doing other activities. 
6)                    Freedom. The freedom to get up and go outside. We can take breaks when the kids need them, start later or earlier everyday, take days off, travel during days where other kids would be in school, and learn on “sick days”. Potty breaks can be taken whenever the need arises and there will be no need for bathroom passes or counting how many times my children go to the bathroom in a given time period.
7)                    Less chance of bullying. As a mom I cannot imagine hearing from one of my kids that they are being picked on at school. (or not hearing and finding out some other way) I’m a total mama bear. While I understand that forms of bullying are inevitable in life, I’d like to protect them from unnecessary bullying.
8)                    It’s an investment in our children’s lives.

We start homeschool fall of 2015 and I will be writing updates often. I’m so excited to start this adventure!!

Some of the articles I loved reading about homeschooling and why other parents choose it (these just add to the reasons for homeschooling):