Do Homeschoolers Feel Left Out?

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I loved this question I recently received from a reader.  Since I believe this is a common concern, I decided to share my response with all of you.  As our family enters our 13th year of homeschooling, you can bet I’ve learned a thing or twenty.  Most importantly, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn, that every kid is different, that family needs vary, and that I really should sweep behind my office door more often.  (I just learned that one five minutes ago when I closed my office door.  Apparently it usually stays open so I don’t notice the filth behind it.  Gross, Laura.  Find a broom already.)

Here’s part of the email I received:

I want to homeschool my children. But I do have one concern that I do not know how to shake. What do I do if my child feels left out by not going to school with the other children? My oldest is approaching 5 this year and I have 2 two year olds. I have made the commitment to my self to teach my children at home, but I can see my oldest wanting to be with the other children as they venture off to school together. I do not like the idea of my 5 year old being sent off for the day, away from home to be taught by some one else other than me.  Have you ever faced this problem? Any advise to ease my mind and turn his attention more toward home than school?

I remember feeling this way!

These are some of the questions I bad back when my kids were little:  What about first day of school clothes and pictures?  What about lunchboxes and field trips?  What about the school bus, bulletin boards, and shopping for school supplies?  What about sports teams and choir and dramas and band?  As all the other kids head off to school, how can I make homeschool feel special and exciting?

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There are fun and wonderful opportunities that our public/private school friends enjoy that we do miss out on since we keep our kids at home for school.  There’s no way around it.  I am always hearing about neat activities and projects our public school friends are doing.  I’m happy for them and rejoice with them.  There’s no doubt those opportunities are rich, memorable, and really, really cool.

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But there are also fun and wonderful opportunities that we, as homeschoolers, are able to enjoy because we are home together much of the day.  Our family has been flexible during the daytime to visit fruit orchards, deliver special treats or meals others, sit down and get to know elderly friends from church, help with construction projects, help unload trucks for people who just moved to town, make an impromptu trip to visit our state capital, get together with other homeschoolers for special projects – well, the list goes on and on.

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See, it’s not as if one set of opportunities is better than the other – it’s just that they are different.  You have to choose what works best for your family, then create and embrace opportunities that bless your family and become blessings to others – no matter where your kids do their school work.

It can seem to your kids - or to you – that you’ll be missing out on all of that fun kids enjoy when they go to school.  But I tell you what: If you choose to homeschool, you grab hold of any and all the fun traditions you want to.  You hype it up to your kids.  You make it a big deal, and pump it up, and I don’t think they will feel left out.  In fact, in my experience, other kids have heard about what our boys are doing or have done and they start begging their mom to please homeschool them so they can do all the cool stuff we’re doing.  (Which of course, all of our variety of “cool stuff” can be done whether you homeschool or not - those kids just didn’t initially realize that it worked that way.)

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Here are our boys posing in their costumes after a play they
performed with our homeschool group several years ago.

Let your kids pick out a fun lunchbox.  Use it for picnics, field trips, and other fun outings.  Take first day of school pictures wearing special first day of school clothes.  You’ll love having pictures like that to look at later!  Plan a special first day of school breakfast.  Make a list and go shopping for school supplies.  We’ve done this for years and love this special outing.

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The day the UPS man brings our box of new school books for the year
has been almost more exciting than Christmas.  Almost.

Field trips? Sport events? P.E. class?  Choirs?  Bands?  Dramas?  Holiday parties?  That is all available, trust me.  You might have to work hard to make it happen, but there’s nothing you can’t do if you feel it will benefit your child and your homeschool experience.

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It’s downright exciting, really.  I mean, think of it.  Your kids might even be able to hold snakes.

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Or not.  That was one field trip memory I can’t get over.  Most of my boys wouldn’t touch ‘em.  Justus could have been there all day with his “new friends.”  {shudder}

Whatever you choose, whether homeschool, public school, or private school – I encourage you to do so filled with God’s peace.  Listen to His call for you, and without a doubt, He will provide just what you need.

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 I can’t tell you the blessing our homeschool basketball team has been to our entire family.
 What a need this has met!  What a rich experience it is to be a part of this.

Will there be hard days?  Frustrating moments?  Times of feeling left out?  Certainly.  I think we all feel those occasionally throughout our entire lives.  There’s no such thing as a “be all and end all” – in school or in life.  But we grab hold of that which God puts before us today, and we walk with Him.

Living life loving each opportunity?  You betcha.

Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers:  Share some of your favorite school year traditions!

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Homeschoolers Always Never

Homeschoolers are brilliant, hard working, and mature.  They always do well on standardized tests.  They each play at least one musical instrument, beginning at the age of three.  They can each speak at least two languages fluently.  They always graduate early and become neurosurgeons at the age of 22.  They always come from huge families.

Homeschoolers never get enough social interaction.  They never have opportunities to participate in group projects or have class parties.  They never eat Doritos.

Homeschoolers Always Never

I always cringe inside and I never feel like conversations like this build anyone up or glorify God.  So can we stop with stereotypes and generalities already?  Statements about what homeschooled kids always or never do is painful, ignorant, and downright silly.  I’m not just talking about what those who ”don’t get homeschooling” say.  I’ve heard some of these statements from homeschooling families too.

Is it true that public schoolers always get into trouble, do drugs, disrespect their teachers, and slough off during high school?  Of course not.  Just like there are all varieties of students in the public school – ranging from scholarly to bully to godly to needy to athletic to healthy to highly intelligent to drama queen – so it is with homeschoolers.

Can I tell you a homeschooling truth?  Some students are only “average” (which, for the record, is defined as normal, typical, and common – and therefore nothing to be ashamed of).  Some of them struggle to read and write.  Some knock the socks off the ACT and other standardized tests, but some do not.  Some are musically inclined, while some are completely tone deaf.  Some love learning foreign languages and some barely master speaking the English language using complete sentences.  (Like, yeah. I know right? Totally.)

Homeschooling does not ensure that kids will grow up to follow the Lord.  Public schooling does not turn out robots.  Homeschooling does not make kids anti-social.  Public schooling does not provide more opportunities.  Raising kids, no matter how you choose to do it, takes work, patience, and an immense trust and reliance on God - the One who created all of us uniquely for His glory.  I am raising four boys in the same house, feeding them the same food, passing down jeans from one boy to the next, reading them the same books, teaching them the same math, and talking the same talk daily to all of them at the same time.  Would you believe that all four of them are all very different in their talents, interests, learning styles, and personalities?  I’m fairly certain that none of them have any interest in becoming a French speaking, cello playing, neurosurgeon.  Thankfully, I realize that this doesn’t mean I have failed as a homeschool mom.  I see their God-given talents shining in other ways.

Homeschoolers, public schoolers, private schoolers, adults, children, men, and women are individuals with unique talents, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses.  Each one of us is always never anything less than God created us to be.  Let us never make a generalized statement that might belittle that truth.

P.S.  I thought it may be of interest to note that last night, our family ate a meal with a group of homeschoolers.  We all shared a bag of Doritos.

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I Haven’t Been a Perfect Homeschool Mom, and It Stinkin’ Doesn’t Matter

Feelings of failure can so easily come creeping in…

On the day we once again push science lessons to the back burner.  As I read a paragraph that my 6th grader has written and see that run on sentences are what make his world go round (and round and round and round).  When I think about the upcoming ACT for my high schooler and break out in a sweat because there are bound to be questions on the test we haven’t covered, plus I have never even taught him to fill in circles with a number two pencil.  When I hear public school friends talk about all they are doing and realize with regret that some of those great ideas never even crossed my mind.  When I see that my son who is old enough to know better has written “take food to our nabers” on our Christmas to-do list.  (That would be n-e-i-g-h-b-o-r-s.  How has he not learned that yet?)

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There are doubts that swirl around in the back of the minds of every homeschool mom at one time or another.  These are the doubts that keep some moms from choosing to homeschool in the first place. 

  • I can’t possibly teach my kids everything they need to know.
  • Even though we’re doing a lot, there are so many things I haven’t gotten around to teaching my kids.
  • I don’t see how all the other moms get through all the material.  I’m not keeping up.
  • Other people are doing such neat projects!  I’m not doing nearly enough.
  • If only I was more organized…
  • Will my kids really be prepared for college?

There are so many cool things I haven’t done with my kids, so many lessons that haven’t been taught, so many experiences my kids haven’t experienced, so many field trips that haven’t been taken.  We have yet to have a school year in which we actually get through every recommended book on the list.  And I’m not proud to admit it, but I just now finally got around to teaching our 8th grader what a synonym is.  As you can imagine, his life has changed dramatically {greatly; fiercely}.

Early this fall, I hesitantly enrolled our 11th grader in a college course.  Doubts crept in:  Would he be ready?  Had I taught him enough to succeed in a college level class?  Did he have any idea how to take notes while his professor was speaking?  And most important of all, without me there to remind him, would he remember to put periods at the ends of his sentences???

My dear friends, this is what I’ve learned and what all of us – public, private, or home school parents and teachers – need to understand:  Our kids don’t need to know everything.  They just need to know how to learn.

Do you hear me?  Nobody knows everything.  It isn’t possible.  We all have different gifts and interests and abilities.  We all learn differently.  We all retain information differently.  As long as we have the tools and know-how we need so that we can figure things out, we are good to go.

Can’t spell?  Learn to use a dictionary and spell check.  Don’t know how many feet in a mile?  Look it up.  Don’t know who our 21st president was?  Well, you might lose at a game of Trivial Pursuit, but otherwise, if you find yourself in a desperate situation in which you must know this information, I’m pretty sure that a three second online search will tell you that it was none other than Chester A. Arthur, who succeeded James Garfield upon his assassination.  (Thank you, Wikipedia.  We will all sleep better tonight.)

But back to Asa’s first college class:  Beyond standing up in front of a class full of college students to give about a dozen speeches throughout the semester in his Basic Speech college course, our 11th grader also had to put together thorough outlines for each speech which followed Monroe’s Motivated Sequence.  He had to write two papers, following MLA standards.  He had to cite sources to show where he got all of his information for his speeches and papers.  I had taught him none of this at home prior to his taking the class.  So guess what?  He studied and researched and asked questions and he learned how to do all of these things.

He nailed this class and is ending the semester with a big fat A.  Not because he’s a genius.  Not because he’s an above average student.  And certainly not because he has had a perfect homeschool educational experience.  The kid simply knows how to work hard, how to follow directions, and how to learn.

Asa’s college class experience has been a wonderful enforcement to me that my teaching imperfections and all the holes in our schooling truly do not matter.  (And all the parents everywhere let out an enormous collective sigh of relief.)

We’ll keep working hard and continue to give our kids a well-rounded education to the best of our ability.  We’ll teach our kids to work hard, to be responsible, and to learn how to learn.  We’ll let go of the feelings of not measuring up.  We’ll let life be our greatest classroom.

When one of our kids spells barely like barley, we will not fall on the floor in a panic attack, writhing in self loathing wondering how our child will ever succeed in life since he has not mastered perfect spelling of every “ely” and “ley” word in the dictionary.

And we can all giggle together about the fact that as I was completing the writing of this post, one of my kids came up behind me, looked thoughtfully at what I was writing and said, “Hmm.  I think you need to put a comma after the word “Mom” in your title.  Would you look at that?  It looks as if I’ve taught him something after all.  (And all the readers everywhere glanced back up to the title of this post to see that indeed, there is now a comma after the word “Mom.”)

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Books We’re Reading this Year

Books, books, the magical fruit.  The more you read, the more you…

Oh wait.  Wrong poem.  Sometimes I get confused.  Although I’m sure if I threw that poem starter out to my boys, they’d be sure to finish it with something creative.  And by creative, I mean gross.

I am excited to share that all four of our boys are now all independent readers.  It was a little slow in coming for our youngest, who is now a 3rd grader.  But late this summer, it all clicked for him.  He now loves reading!  Last week he said, “I can’t believe math used to be my favorite.  Now reading is so much fun!”  Awesome - just what I love to hear.  (Although you still have to do your math, Buddy.)

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Here are some of the books currently at the top of our reading list for the year:

Boxcar Children Books
These books were some of my favorites when I was little.  (You know I had my very own boxcar, right?  Okay, it wasn’t my very own.  I shared it with my cousins.)  All of our boys have loved the Boxcar Children books, and now I am reading them to Malachi (age 8).  Elias (age 11) has already read most of these books, but sits in to listen when he can, because who can resist?

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Ralph Moody Books

We read through most of the books in this series (as a family) a year ago, and now I’m having my two older boys read the last few on their own.  What I love most about these books is that they show how important it is to be a hard worker, how much fun it can be to work together as a family, and how if you put your mind to it – you can always find a way to provide.  I am so inspired by these books, and my boys love the adventure aspect they include.

Books by Clyde Robert Bulla

These are the first chapter books our boys have read.  We have about eight of them on Malachi’s shelf this year – and he’s made his way through two of them already.  I love that Clyde Robert Bulla keeps his vocabulary simple and easy to read – all while teaching history and making his books fun and intriguing.  When I pulled these books out for Malachi, all three of his brothers said, “Oh, he gets to read those this year?  Malachi, you will love them.”  I love hearing the boys talk together about books they’ve all read.

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Ramona the Pest Series

Malachi pulled his first Ramona book off the shelf this year, too.  So far he’s loving it, just like his brothers did.  I read this series several times when I was younger.  It’s so much fun re-reading these books with my kids.

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Christian Heroes Books

I can’t say enough good about all of the Christian Heroes: Then and Now books by Janet and Geoff Benge.  We’ve actually decided to use about 15 of these books this year to go along with our History/Geography studies with Justus, Elias, and Malachi.  What better way to study the culture and history of a country than to learn about missionaries who worked there?  These books are so well written and inspiring!

I also have to share that as we reach the end of each book, Justus (age 13) likes to point out, “You know Mom, this is the chapter when the missionary dies and you cry.”  Pshaw.  Okay, fine.  So I cry at the end of all of these (and the Ralph Moody Books, and just about every other book I read aloud to the boys).  I can’t help it.

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In addition to these sets of books, our three older boys are all reading lots of books from the Sonlight reading lists for their grade level.  Asa (a junior in high school) is reading some Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, The Hiding Place (you MUST read this!), and quite a few others Sonlight recommends.

What books are you and your kids reading these days?  I know I’m not the only mom who cries at the end of a good book.  Help me out here – do you get choked up when you’re reading books to your kids?

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My Discovery Kids Fabric Map Story

While I could just say, “We got a Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Map.  It is neat.” I figured I’d give you way too many unnecessary details instead:

One day I went to the toy section of the store, which I never do, but for some reason that day I did.  I found a Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Map on clearance, and was intrigued.  But then I passed it up, deciding that it was likely one of those “oh we’ll use this so much!” items that would end up getting stuck in the back of a closet and forgotten.  But back at home, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the ways we could use it if we had it.

(So Laura? You saw it, almost got it, didn’t get it, decided to get it, went back for it, got it, and we all lived happily ever after?  Cool.)

Well yes, except for the went back for it got it happily ever after part.  Not that I’m not happy with or without a map.  Because my joy comes from Jesus.  But anyway.

I went back a few days later, and there were no maps left.  None.  I cried a little.  Not really.  I simply wheeled my empty cart to the produce section to pick out some raspberries.

Then, I went back to the store another day, because if you can believe it, we needed more raspberries.  Or toilet paper.  Or something.  I decided to check the toy section again - just in case more of the maps were there, even though I felt sure that there wouldn’t be because clearance means they had clear-anced them out of there.

But to my great excitement, they had not one, but four Discovery Kids Fabric Activity World Maps, still at a clearance price.  And so I got one.  And also some toilet paper.

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The three younger boys have gotten great use out of this map so far.  I’ve especially used it with Malachi.  He has been labeling the continents, finding countries and learning what continents they are a part of, and learning about oceans.  Soon, we’ll tackle rivers.  Every day, we get out the map to practice and learn more.  I have been thrilled with how much he’s learning.

And the best part?  While we could hang the map on a wall, it has instead been very handy to simply lay out on the floor, then roll up and stow away when we’re finished.

So there’s my story.  We’ve also made good use out of the toilet paper, but those are, again, more of those unnecessary details that you don’t need to know.

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Gratituesday: Perfectly Imperfect

We took our traditional school shopping trip last Friday.  I gave up on making them pose for a picture and just snapped one when I had the chance.  Here’s a post with all of our past shopping trips through the years.

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Today was our first day of school for the year.  It’s easy to have grand ambitions about what all we’ll get done, about how we’ll be so much better about XYorZ this year, and most of all, about how we’ll stick to our schedule and it will work flawlessly.

Y’all, I didn’t even make a schedule this year. (And apparently, suddenly I’m southern.)

I came to the conclusion that thoroughly praying over our school year was more important than thoroughly organizing it.  This year we have an 11th grader, an 8th grader, a 6th grader, and a 3rd grader.  I knew that attempting to schedule our day on paper wouldn’t have worked, and in fact, this year, I didn’t even have time to get all the books organized on the shelves.  We woke up anticipating our “perfect 1st day of school” with piles of books scattered in the living room, unfolded (but clean) baskets of laundry in the unvacuumed hallway, and plenty of unsharpened pencils.  None of us had found the time to upload software to computers so that Math and Spanish lessons could be started right on schedule.  Oh wait – there was no schedule.  Well then.

This isn’t my ideal – or at least it didn’t used to be my ideal when I first started homeschooling twelve years ago.  I had preferred to begin our school year with the house perfectly clean, the school books and lists perfectly organized, the meals in the fridge ready to cook themselves, and me – perfectly put together with children who were awake and grinning at the table at precisely when the schedule said they would/should be.  And then when something when wrong, because it always did, I’d feel like I’d failed.

Y’all, I’m over it.  (Figured since I said it once, I should say it twice.)

There is no perfect homeschool day – except for the perfectly imperfect ones like we experienced today.  Today, we got a decent start, but took too long discussing the first chapter of the book of Acts – which was not on the schedule that I didn’t write but isn’t that grand because why put down the Bible for a Math lesson?  We had trouble getting Spanish to work correctly on the computer, couldn’t find the Typing CD, and forgot to thaw meat for dinner.

Not to worry, Dad got Spanish working, Justus found the Typing CD, and I made tomorrow night’s Salmon Patties for dinner tonight.

At the end of the day, all of our boys are now engrossed in a great new book they started today, they are standing taller because they accomplished so much, and they feel good about tomorrow since we worked out so many kinks today.  Everyone is relaxed, unexpected interruptions didn’t ruin the day, we all had some good laughs (you can’t help it in the Coppinger household), and you’d better believe, we will all sleep well tonight.

Today was my favorite kind of day.  Here’s to a perfectly imperfect school year.

Share how God is working in your life on your blog, then come link up with us here. If you don’t have a blog, be sure to leave a comment letting us know what you’re grateful for! Please read through the Gratituesday Guidelines so that you understand what kinds of posts you can link up to share here. Posts that are linked but do not fit our Gratituesday theme will be deleted.

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Dear Curriculum, You Don’t Own Me

For those of you who don’t homeschool, I realize that parts of this post won’t apply to you.  Perhaps there’s something else in your life you need to smack down. If so, feel free to insert a different word where I’ve typed “curriculum.”  Bathroom scales, perhaps?  Daily planner, maybe?  You fill in the blank.  :)

Dear Curriculum,

It’s that time again.  I’ve gone over and over your catalog.  I’ve purchased many of the books you recommend.  I’ve read through loads of your teacher’s manuals.

You are, without a doubt, wonderful, and I am so thankful for you.  What would I do without you to guide me along as I teach my four children?  Truly, you have been a God send.

What I need you to know, as I plan our upcoming school year, working to provide the best education possible for my children, is that as wonderful as you are, you aren’t perfect.  Don’t sweat it.  There’s no way you could keep up with knowing what will work best for each family.

Just so you know, what you ask me to do on week three doesn’t at all match what is on our calendar.  (Perhaps you’ve heard that soccer season and fall school schedules don’t always get along?)  It’s okay though.  I’ve decided to slide some of your assignments around so that we can fit them in later, if possible.  It’s really cool how you have never sent the Curriculum Schedule Police to my door to spank my hand for shuffling around assignments.  You are constantly gracious.

I’m not sure who you think we are, and it could be that all the other families actually have 8th graders who are ready to study for their doctorate.  But I felt you should know that while I appreciate all of your suggested literature, if we want our kids to have time to get themselves up out of a chair for any part of their 15 hour awake time each day, we won’t get around to reading every single one of your books or do even half of your writing assignments.

Some of what you assign my kids to do each week, we will only do once per month.  That really is plenty for them at this stage.  Occasionally, I will substitute one of your recommended books with another one that meets my boys’ needs.  And when I look at you each weekend while planning for an upcoming school week, if at any time I feel like throwing you across the room, I’ll refrain, but I reserve the right to stuff your schedules, guidelines, suggestions, and outlines into a bottom drawer far away and pull you out when and if I feel like looking at you again.  No worries.  Learning will still be going on at our house.  It just may not involve keeping up with your recommendations during those particularly hectic days.

Here’s something neat:  After eleven years of homeschooling, I don’t look at your outlines and teachers guides and feel less than, guilty, or overwhelmed anymore.  My kids are learning loads of information and becoming very well rounded because of and in spite of me (and you).  So thank you again for your help, because I truly could not do this without you.  I’ll continue to use you as a guide, because you are so very good at that.

But you don’t own me.  I own you.  Perhaps you remember the exciting day you arrived in a box on my doorstep?

See you in a few weeks.  It’s going to be another great school year with our family!

Unregretfully Yours,
Laura (an ordinary homeschool mom)

P.S.  Have you ever wished Shakespeare had spoken a bit more understandably?  Maybe I’ll write a letter to him next.  In toddler speak.  That’ll teach him.

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When Legos and Learning Collide (Free Lego Learning Printables!)

If you didn’t already know about our family Lego obsession, let me remind you that not only do we have lots and lots of Legos, we have an entire room dedicated to Legos.  (I am personally more obsessed with butter than Legos, but my boys love them, so I love them too.)

If only it was still this clean.  At least it’s not as bad as it used to be though.

All of our boys have loved Legos through the years, but our youngest son Malachi, who is now eight, is our Lego King.  Not only will he spend hours each day creating with Legos, he is actually saving his money to begin a Lego Business some day.  Who knows but that it just might happen?

As I’ve been working to prepare our curriculum for when we begin school in a few weeks, I got super excited when I came across FREE Lego Learning downloads!  Here is one for Lego Mini Figure Writing Prompts.  Here is a Language Arts Lego Mini Figs Download.  Both of these are perfect for Malachi (who will be a third grader).  What a great and fun way for him to work through his English lessons this fall!

If those don’t work for you, or if you have younger kids, you’ll want to look at all of the Lego Learning options over at Homegrown Learners.  I was so impressed with what she offers (for free!) that I had to share with you.  :)

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When Family Business and Homeschooling Come Together

It was really all because of Matt.  He’s the brilliant one. 

After breakfast, Bible, history, and math on Wednesday, Matt picked up several boxes of our Oh, For Real books from the printer and got everyone started on putting them into envelopes as we filled orders.  Thanks to my friend Jenny, we had many of the envelopes already addressed and ready to go.  By the time I made it out into the living room to help, here is what I found: 

family_books_4

If that isn’t the picture of a family business, I don’t know what is.  I was thrilled and grateful.  But Matt hadn’t just put the kids to work on preparing orders.  He had a geography lesson going on at the same time.  Impressive, huh?!

You see, one of the many fun parts of printing off invoices as your orders have come in has been seeing where they are coming from.  So, Matt had the younger boys get out our big U.S. puzzle to fill in the states as they showed up on each package. 

Here’s Malachi, looking to see if the state on his envelope has been put into place yet.  In the meantime, I was burning lunch.  Yep, I had hastily put a frozen casserole into the oven that morning while we worked, but had the oven turned up too high.  Good grief.  It seems as if I should get out my Oh, For Real book and read it!  I’m pretty sure the instructions in the book tell me to heat the casserole slowly at a low temp.  Duh.  Be glad you can’t smell our burning noodles as you look at our book packaging process.

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By the time we were almost finished with “round one” of book packaging – our map looked like this:

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 I believe by now, it is completely full.  How fun!

I want to say thank you to all of you who have ordered so far.  We continue to pray that you will be blessed by Oh, For Real: Real Food, Real Family, Real Easy.  For those of you who live outside the U.S., if you are interested in a copy of this book, please email me for details!  Then maybe we can get out our World Map Puzzle to see where our book is headed… :)

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Are Home Schooled Kids Socially Awkward? Do They Live in a Bubble?

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I am often asked if I feel that home schooled kids are “socially awkward”.  In addition, a few months ago, I received this great question from a reader, Jill:

I’m debating homeschooling. My fiance’s biggest worry is that public school, for all its downsides, allows for something homeschooling does not – ample exposure to people who may not look, think, behave, or live like you. In other words, he sees homeschooling as keeping one’s child in a bubble, away from ideas and people who have a lifestyle the parents don’t agree with.

I would love a post/discussion on how true or untrue this perception is. How do homeschooling parents teach their kids to interact with others – other kids, grown-ups, other cultures, other faiths, etc. How do you prepare your child for life in the “real world” where not everyone’s cultures/values/faith/etc. matches what goes on in their own home.

These discussions are so helpful, by the way – I’m gaining great insight!

I love Jill’s thoughts and appreciate that she shared her concern.  How wise of her to give such good consideration to parenting her kids, instead of just jumping into what sounds good at the moment.

When we first decided to home school our kids (when our oldest was beginning Kindergarten 11 years ago), many asked us, “But what about their social skills?” 

It’s a valid concern.  All parents want their kids to be able to grow up to be “normal”, productive adults who know how to handle real world, real life problems and situations.

So first, let me say this, which is my answer to the question, “Are home schooled kids socially awkward?”

I have known some home schooled kids who are socially awkward.  I have also known some public school kids who are socially awkward.  I have known some private school kids who are socially awkward.  I have known grown adults who are socially awkward.  I have had coworkers who are socially awkward.  I have gone to church with people who are socially awkward.  I have stood in line at the grocery store with people who are socially awkward.  I have had lovely conversations with people who are socially awkward.

Some people are just socially awkward.  Sometimes I am socially awkward.  Sometimes all of us are socially awkward. 

And after a while, reading the word awkward over and over again just becomes awkward.

So my point is:  home school does not create a socially awkward student or adult, any more or less than public school or private school.  That statement, in my opinion, is a fact.  (Ha, I made myself giggle when I first wrote that sentence, which I have to admit, feels a tad bit…socially awkward.)  ;)

What about the question of home schooled kids living in a bubble?  I think this is a great question that Jill asks.  Home schooling does keep a child from some experiences that they may otherwise have if they were in a school environment.  So, is this wise?  Is it providing your kids with the ability to get along in the “real world” some day?

I can’t speak for all home school families – although I do think I speak for many.  In our experience, we have found that while in some ways we are protecting them - in many ways we are actually preparing them.  Preparing them for the “real world”.  Providing experiences for them that will teach them how to deal with the elderly, the handicapped, the foreign, the younger, the older, those that look different, those that sound different, those who don’t believe in Jesus.  Our kids’ experiences just look different than they look for those who are in a schoolroom setting.

Our kids get an incredible amount of rich social interaction with all varieties of people when we go to church; when we participate in various ministries; when we invite people to our home; when they take part in many various home school and community activities and sports; when they do odd jobs for others with their dad; when they go to the bank or store or library or post office…the list is endless really.

Am I afraid my kids don’t get enough social interaction or that they live in a bubble? Absolutely not. On the contrary, I am grateful for the vast opportunities they have to develop social skills while they interact frequently with people of all varieties of ages, abilities, disabilities, and seasons in life.  And I’ve gotta say - there are days I wish my kids’ social lives would slow down just a little bit so that we could get something done at home!

The real world involves all kinds of opportunities to learn and grow that a school classroom can’t always provide.  And admittedly, the school classroom provides some cool things that we can’t provide at home.  But we’re okay with that.  No school – home, public, or private can do all and be all and provide all. 

But above all, no matter how you school your kids, the main goal should be to teach them to be servants of God.   And hey, guess what?  I’ve known home schoolers who are wonderful servants.  I’ve also known public school kids who are wonderful servants.  I’ve known private school kids who are wonderful servants…

They all have great parents.  I bet you’re one of them.  :)

I am always prayerful and careful when writing a post like this.  I would deeply appreciate it if you take the same kind of care as you leave a comment.  There will be no kid or parent bashing allowed – whether it is related to home, public, or private school.  Keep your comments kind and positive – anything less would just be downright socially awkward.  :)

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