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by Hannah Washburn

 

14 Years ago, I sat on the couch with my mother, a reading book in her lap, both of us in tears.  At seven years old, it was mandatory that I enroll in a school, public, private or homeschool.  Thankfully, my mom is adventurous and was willing to homeschool her children for their benefit.  But as we sat down day after day, she trying to explain how reading works and me not understanding, we both felt discouraged.  I was frustrated that as much as I tried, I could not understand. After a month of trying, my mom laid it aside until the next year.  Yet still, that next year I would slowly grasp some of the concepts of reading only to lose them again.  But the year I turned 9 something clicked, and within 6 months I was reading up a storm and loving every minute of it!  If my mother had just plowed through, forcing me to learn concepts I was not ready for,  I do not believe that I would look at a good, informative book with anticipation like I do today, but rather with great dread.  Thankfully, that is not so.

 

 

Driving down to the Augusta State House at 8:30am was not something I was expecting to be doing three days before.   The morning was beautiful and warm, the five of us riding together chattered away while trying to get to the public hearing for LD 151, "An Act To Align State Law with Current Practice Regarding Required School Attendance", sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett.  LD 151 would endeavor to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 years old to 6.   Those traveling down in our vehicle were either graduated or in high school, none of us have children of our own and yet all five of us were ready to do what we could in order to keep it legal for a parent to keep their child of six from needing to meet the pressures of formal education, whether at a public or private school, or at home.  

We arrived at the State House, found out where the hearing was to be and found seats.  I had never been to a bill hearing, much less spoken at one.  If I had had more time, I would have looked up what someone who wishes to speak at a bill hearing should do, how they should present themselves to the committee, etc.  My knowledge of the proceedings was small.  But there we were, the only young people 21 and under, wanting to share our voices in a place where we weren’t sure they would be heard.  All I knew was that I had a short three minutes to give my argument. Other than that, I relied on discernment and observation of those around me to decide when and how. Realizing that I was supposed to have 20 copies for the chairwomen and committee members, up I stepped to the clerk’s desk.  After explaining my position, she pleasantly told me to email the copies to her, so back I went to my seat.  The hearing started and the first proposed bill discussed giving educational tours of lighthouses.  Up I went again, this time to ask the clerk if I was in the right room.  She pointed to a counter with informational papers, that somehow in my nervous entry I had overlooked.  Grabbing the schedule for bill hearings, the list of the chairwomen and committee members and several other papers, I sat back down. Yes, they do discuss more than one bill in a session, we were in the right place.

 

During the presentation of the second bill, a few more people arrived, including a homeschooling mother with her four older children.  The second bill’s hearing concluded, and LD 151 was presented by State Senator Rebecca Millett.  After she had presented the bill, those supporting the bill were allowed to give their reasons, facts and opinions supporting a compulsory school attendance age of six.  With my heart pounding, I heard the chairwoman open the floor to those opposing the bill.  Mr. Wilcoxson, a gentleman there on behalf of HOME, was first to speak.  He shared how this bill would in fact affect homeschoolers as much as those in the public schools.  When he had finished, the committee asked a few questions.  One of the chairwomen questioned him on what this bill had to do with homeschoolers.  I must admit that I was surprised at the lack of knowledge some of the members of the committee had concerning the across the board requirements for any school age child.  Mr. Wilcoxson explained that all homeschooled children who are of the required school age must either take standardized tests or submit, through specific means, to their superintendent that they are indeed progressing. 

 

This puts undue stress on a homeschooling child and his or her family, as it would any child forced into a formalized school situation.   Because this homeschooling father brought this concern to light, the chairwoman said that she would reread the bill. 

 

“Is there anyone else who would like to oppose this bill?” she asked.

Standing up, I walked over to the podium.  Though I was still nervous, when the supportive parties of LD 151 had given their “facts” and reasons as to why they believed this bill would be beneficial to children, saying children would learn more and be more quickly established in school, I felt more and more strongly the necessity that I speak.  The supporting side had referenced to some “facts” and had encouraged the committee that this bill would help establish children in the school regimen and prepare them for the more strenuous academic requirements ahead.  Many children are already in school at age six, they argued, it might as well be a requirement.

 

In order to be taken seriously, one must conduct oneself confidently and in a sure manner and that is what I went for!  I proceeded to read through studies and quotes of professors, doctors and universities I had copied from HSLDA’s website, which stated the ineffectiveness of “earlier is better” and that requiring children to be in school at age six was indeed most likely harmful to the still emerging personality of a child.

 

The committee listened.  When I was finished, they asked me a few relevant questions and I returned to my seat.  Next, my sister, Grace, stood up and gave them the reasons she believed LD 151 should not be passed. 

As I listened it hit me.  Wow, that was easy, a little nerve racking, but easy!  I didn’t need a college degree, an educator’s certificate, or a political background.  I was a citizen of the United States of America, a resident of the state Maine and that was enough!   I was able to stand before the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, of the 129th Maine Legislature and support or oppose any bill.  I was heard and my opinion considered by a legislative committee, what an empowering feeling!   Only four people spoke against the bill, but several others were there, supporting us and visually letting the chairwomen and committee members know that they too were opposed to such an invasive bill.  It felt good to know that we were doing something to keep safe what is precious to us.

That, my friends, is how we keep our freedom. Our freedom to raise our children outside of the mold.  Our freedom to teach them truth and to teach them according to their personal needs and bends.  The freedom that I was raised in will quietly slip away if I do not actively seek to protect it.  It is much harder to regain that which is lost, than to maintain that which we already have.

 

If you value homeschooling and value the ability for you, your children and your children’s children, and for your neighbors and communities, to grow and flourish outside of a struggling and crumbling, one-size-fits-all education system, then I encourage you to take the simple step of coming to the bill hearings and work sessions that are relevant to keeping our freedom of homeschooling and our freedom of choice.  You do not have to even speak; your presence will speak volumes.  For the busy fathers and mothers, you can use this opportunity as a field trip for your children.  Encourage them to take notes and to research the law-making process beforehand.   They too are citizens of this country!  There is absolutely nothing like real life experience to inspire and educate you minds!  If you don’t have children, maybe you are single, your presence and voice will still speak volumes, and you can be a positive influence on behalf of your friends and community. 

 

Our country is what we make it, what we do or don’t do will change the way our lives here may be lived.  Nothing is going to stay the way it is if we do nothing, nor is someone going to do it for us.

 

Thank you,

 

 

Hannah Washburn

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by Rebecca Keliher

 

My oldest daughter had a birthday recently and asked if I would tell her the birth story. Leaving out the gory details, I tried my best to remember the event. Later that night, while I lay in bed thinking about the day, my mind drifted back to that moment when I first held her in my arms. As other parents can attest, there is a love like no other when it comes to your children.

 

But babies don’t stay babies very long. Before you know it, the toddler years arrive and, besides keeping little ones alive, we begin teaching and training them. Now that I’m a grandma, I am watching my daughter discover the challenges and joys of motherhood.

 

My grandsons are, hands down, the cutest boys you’ve ever seen! My oldest grandson is a toddler now, and, besides the ear to ear smiles that make me go mushy, he has a deep curiosity that leads him to all kinds of mischief. His father and mother have been proactive and laid out a plan for how they would parent and what boundaries they would enforce while developing a strong bond as he grows.

 

There are times when the grandma in me wants to rescue this little guy from consequences, but then I remember, all too well, that tough love is just as important as cuddles, words of encouragement, and hugs. Setting boundaries with our children begins in the toddler years and extends until they leave home. But the key isn’t setting the boundary, it’s reinforcing it. That’s when tough love comes into play.

 

TOUGH ON PARENTING

I remember all too well the toughest love I had to give to one of my daughters. From her toddler years until her tweens, she was simply hard-headed and stubborn. Throughout her elementary years, I struggled to find a consequence that worked with her. No matter how many times I set a rule or enforced it, she simply didn’t get it. We went round and round!

 

After much prayer, I discovered what worked. This girl is an extrovert. She loves to go places and see people. On the next occasion for a get together, she would not be allowed to attend. One of her friends was having a birthday party at an ice rink, and I let her sisters attend while she stayed home. I cannot tell you how terrible I felt about it. From the moment I pulled out of the driveway, and for weeks afterwards, my heart ached when I thought of how much disappointment she experienced that day.

 

As parents, we love our kids so much, we don’t want to see them disappointed. We give and give and give to show our love, but sometimes what we need to give is tough love. That day, my daughter took a turn in her life. The consequence broke through her hard head, and I’m so glad it did. Her teen years were surprisingly pleasant.

 

TOUGH ON EDUCATION

It’s interesting to watch how life turns out; we learn what college our friends attended, what career choice they made, who married whom and how many kids they had. In homeschooling, I’ve graduated three (with many thanks to the tutorial program they attended). It makes me happy to see each daughter choosing her own path. But more than that, I rest in the fact that they were properly educated and prepared for the future they chose.

 

While there may be philosophies and popular homeschool speakers and bloggers raving about different methods of homeschooling, the one thing we need to be tough on is giving our students a proper education.

 

I’ve watched homeschool kids graduate and need to take remedial classes in college because they used a sub par curriculum that didn’t properly prepare them, but it was cheap and easy. I’ve also seen the care-free, fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants style homeschooling result in kids that didn’t have the math or science skills to take college level testing. But the worst is when the core subjects of math, science, history, and language arts are substituted with a Bible, because as one speaker once said, “That’s all you need!”

 

Even if the destination isn’t college or trade school, a proper education ensures that your children will have the necessary knowledge and skills no matter what life throws at them. It also gives your student the confidence to know they can choose any path. I’ve watched homeschool girls graduate with minimal educations leading them to believe the only thing they could do is marry and have babies. Although motherhood is an amazing avenue to choose, it shouldn’t be the only option.

 

In our home, when the girls were in their tween years, I began to realize my own educational deficiencies. With high school on the horizon, I knew I didn’t have what it would take to ensure a good outcome, nor did I have the time to learn Shakespeare and biology. But that’s okay, because my job as a parent isn’t to each information, it’s to facilitate their education.

 

I chose to send the kids to a tutorial program where they were able to discover a love for literature, watch a veterinarian (and biology teacher) perform surgery on animals, and learn history from amazing teachers who wrote the curriculum!

We all have different situations, but hopefully we all have the same goal when it comes to homeschooling. Whether it’s ensuring kids get school work done, sending them to a tutorial program, or having the self-discipline to school well, being tough in the area of homeschooling shows love to your children.

 

TOUGH ON TIME

As I think about tough love, the area it has benefited me the most is my personal life. For the first twenty years of my adult life, I felt the need to always say yes to every request made of me. Fix dinner for a family at church, even if my own kids get PB&J—no problem. Babysit for a couple who want a date night, even though I’ve been up for forty-eight hours with a nursing baby—okay.

 

Looking back, I notice a trend. The more I said yes, the more I was asked. By the twentieth year I was burnt out, angry at others, and living with severe physical ailments because I put everyone’s happiness ahead of my own self care.

 

Reading the books Boundaries and Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud was a life saver for me. I began drawing lines and getting tough by saying no. I began to love myself and take back my time so I could focus on my needs. I learned why Jesus went away to refresh himself — if the Son of God needed it, so do I!

 

Boundaries extend beyond our physical time, they also include our emotional health. Drawing lines became necessary in my relationships with toxic people. This included family members, church members, and friends. When taking the time to evaluate what is pulling you down, be sure to remember the emotional drain can come from a person, even if they are not requesting your time.

 

Having tough love is uncomfortable. In parenting, homeschooling, and taking care of yourself, it takes an inner voice that reinforces you’re doing the right thing and to hold out for the good results it will produce.

 

Used by permission: Originally published at https://wellplannedgal.com/tough-love/.

 

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

 

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(Adapted from an article written by Johanna Ireland, and used with permission.)

 

As you may know, Maine homeschoolers have enjoyed a much more comfortable homeschool environment since the passage of our homeschool statute in 2003. The law has provided clarity, security and freedom.  But will we always have the same level of freedom to homeschool in our state? To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: You have homeschool freedom, if you can keep it!  Keeping or losing homeschool freedom takes intent.  Here are 5 ways to lose it.

 

1.  Ignore Elections

Maine’s 152 representatives and 35 senators are up for election every two years.  Every new and returning candidate has opinions about homeschooling – some based on stereotypes, some based on genuine interactions with homeschoolers. One thing they know for sure is that they want your vote!  Families who homeschool are politically active, and candidates will often look for opportunities to win your vote.

 

In election years, be sure to speak with candidates and ask them to share their views on homeschooling.  Would they defend the level of freedom that we currently have if need be, or would they favor stronger oversight and regulation?  Most candidates are eager to answer.  Their opinions on these matters will clearly influence any legislation they oppose or support.  One sure way to lose your homeschool freedom is to ignore the candidates' positions on homeschooling, or even ignore the election all together.  Let the Maine voters who participate determine your freedom.

 

2. Don’t Keep Your Legislators' Contact Info Handy

Once elected, legislators want to tinker.  They come in to the marble halls of the statehouse with ideas from their life experience, letters from constituents, or visits from lobbyists for “improvements” to existing laws or even suggesting new ones.  Many times lawmakers have not interacted with homeschool families enough to fully understand the ramifications of their attempts to “help” homeschoolers.  For example, a bill allowing tax credits to parents who choose to homeschool would end up decreasing freedom due to the accountability and record keeping required for compliance with tax code.

 

Homeschoolers of Maine tracks bills during each legislative session, and sends email alerts when bills threaten our homeschool freedom.1   A good way to see your homeschool freedom diminished is to avoid contacting legislators with your concerns when threats arise.  Don’t provide them with valuable opportunities to interact with homeschool families.  Bills infringing on your parental freedom to home educate will then pass unchallenged. 

 

3.  Make Room in Your Budget...for State Funding

In many states, public schools are alarmed at the exodus to private homeschooling.  Virtual charter school programs have the self-proclaimed agenda of bringing students back into the public school system under state oversight.2  Checking in with teachers, seeking approval for purchases, submitting lesson plans or learning goals, required progress reports, and mandated testing are some of the requirements the state imposes when you use their funding.  An effective way to lose your homeschool freedom is to make room in your budget for funding from virtual public schools or programs.  You will integrate your students into the public school system, and place yourself under state regulations and scrutiny. 

 

4.  Rely on News Media to Tell the Story of Homeschooling

The schizophrenic telling of the story of homeschooling by the news media could give a reader whiplash.  They either revere homeschooled families as an exclusive Mensa society, or cast us as villains that would happily have tea with Mommie Dearest.  You will see your freedom diminish when you rely on these caricatures to tell the story.  Let the story be told by teachers' unions, chanting demonstrators, and social media rants.  Encourage selfies over self-sacrifice, Instagram stories over initiative, and Facebook fame over steadfastness.  Don't mention in your circles of friends and family that homeschooled graduates are among the most well adjusted, self-motivated, gainfully employed citizens they will have the pleasure of meeting.3  Don't write to newspaper editors or comment on news posts.

 

Lawmakers read the same news you read every day.  They listen to the same voices you hear.  You will allow them to base their decisions forming Maine law on exaggerated extremes when you rely on the news media to tell the story of homeschooling.

 

5.  Believe the Myth that Parents Aren't Qualified to Homeschool

Parents not only have the responsibility, they have the ability to teach their own children at home.  Public education “experts” deliver dire warnings that parents are not qualified to teach.  You are surrounded by people who believe that myth.  They may be current and former teachers, education policy lobbyists, family members, neighbors, the cashier at Walmart, or the random dog-walking-lady-at-the-park.  In some cases, they believe you are not qualified because they are misinformed.  In other cases, it is because private homeschooling challenges the assumptions behind the entire education infrastructure.  Others choose to belittle parents because their own bottom line suffers when kids aren't filling seats in a classroom.

 

You might believe the myth, too.  You might sign up for a virtual public school program for “accountability.”  You might enroll your high school student in your local brick-and-mortar school so he can get a “real” diploma.  You might fret that you aren't following state curriculum requirements.  Maybe you haven't seen the compelling evidence that parents of average education can successfully educate their children.3  Maybe you still believe that the title “educator” imparts a mystical charm necessary to teach children.4  Maybe you don't trust your instinct that parents have insight into their kids' needs that professional educators can never replace.  When you begin to believe the myth that parents aren't qualified to homeschool, you erode one of the foundational pillars of homeschool freedom: the presumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their children.5

 

You have homeschool freedom.  Are you going to keep it or lose it?  It’s up to you! 

 

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.   --Thomas Paine

 

Footnotes

1.  Sign up for emails from Homeschoolers of Maine at https://www.homeschoolersofmaine.org/

 

2.  Bowers, Larry C. 'Polk County Schools review new virtual learning proposal'. Cleveland Daily Banner.  Accessed July 12, 2018.

 

3. Ray, Dr. Brian. 'Homeschooling Across America: Academic Achievement and Demographic Characteristics'.  Website: www.nheri.org.  Accessed July 12, 2018.

 

4. Klicka, Christopher J. 'The Myth of Teacher Qualifications'. Website: www.hslda.org.  Accessed July 13, 2018.

 

5. HSLDA attorneys. 'U.S. Supreme Court: Parents' Rights Are Fundamental'. Website: www.hslda.org.  Accessed July 12, 2018.

 

Johanna Ireland and her husband Wes started homeschooling their first child in Idaho fourteen years ago, and will graduate their youngest of 9 sixteen years from now.  They follow elections, know their legislators' email addresses, and believe parents are fully qualified to teach their own children without government funding or oversight.  They endeavor to keep homeschooling free by serving on the board of Homeschool Idaho.

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                                                   By Raylene Hunt

 

Is Homeschoolers of Maine becoming obsolete in the modern age of technology? Or are the services and support they offer still relevant? Over the last few years, I have thought about this as I am phasing (ever so slowly) off the HOME Leadership Team. I can’t let go. It’s been a major part of my life for almost 20 years. Things are changing without a question. That said, I continue to meet and talk to people about my homeschooling journey, and I still point them to HOME.

 

I’m an educator by profession. I’ve known for years that returning to the traditional classroom was not an option. Homeschooling has opened my eyes to some serious flaws in the American education system. Years of homeschooling have also taught me that even the alternative classroom isn’t the best fit for some children. It has only been in recent history, really, that public education for the masses has been the norm. It’s been less than 100 years since the move toward compulsory public education began. Before that, children were educated experientially. Children learned to farm, they learned trades, they apprenticed. They lived every day interacting with a variety of people of various ages. 

 

The growing number of children being labeled, diagnosed and medicated, all to be able to function within the constructs of the current education system, indicates that there is a problem. The problem, however, is not with the children, but the system. We’re trying to force round, triangular, octagonal, rectangular pegs into a one-size-fits-all, square hole. And it doesn’t work. I believe that for many families the answer to this is homeschooling. 

 

The numbers are growing, as families seek to find a solution and return to something that worked in previous centuries. In my own homeschooling journey, the services of HOME were critical. As a teacher, when my son was not reading by the appointed time, there was family pressure. Never mind that I was a teacher and had taught the children of others to read. It was because I was homeschooling that my son wasn’t reading, at least that’s what they tried to convince me. I had many frustrated, teary conversations with the HOME Office, and Kathy Green encouraged me. He was a boy, he would learn to read in his own time and way. And then after three frustrating years from the time he was five until he was eight, one day, he started reading. It’s still not his favorite thing; he’s a hands-on kinda guy. I’ve learned to meet him where he learns best by giving him every opportunity to hang out with people who are doing things he might want to do. Our school days seldom looked like a traditional school, but he knows things I could never have taught him with textbooks.

 

My daughter was the polar opposite. One summer, at the age of 13, she read Romeo and Juliet in play form for fun. Our crazy, chaotic life, that I was told was not preparing her for life in the real world (where she would have to get up early every day and go to work), did actually prepare her for the doors God would later open for her. I didn’t know when she was 13 that at age 25 she would go to work in retail, that she would work shifts, and that some of the hours would be crazy. She handles it, because our life prepared her for it.

 

HOME leaders supported and encouraged me during many years of homeschooling when the odds were against us. Not only was some of my family non-supportive, but I was a single mom during those years, as well. “You can’t do that! You need to get a real job.” “Why don’t you put the kids in school, it would make your life easier.” Those were the mantras I heard the most. Today, I know how important it is to say to a mom who is talking to me, “Hang in there, Momma. If God has called you to it, He’ll bring you through it!” My life is a testimony to this fact. Our lives are a testimony to this fact.

 

HOME is not optional. It is essential. The services HOME provides are often those that make or break a family when deciding whether or not to bring their children home to educate them. They are open to all forms of homeschooling, from the most traditional school-at-home approach, to the most extreme, loosey-goosey unschooling, where you might wonder if learning is even happening. I’ve homeschooled, literally, from one extreme to the other during our family’s adventure, and HOME has always been there. They are moving forward, changing the way they deliver support and encouragement to meet the changing demands of our culture and the next generation. In many cases, it’s the second generation of homeschooling families in Maine.

 

This weekend, my daughter and future son-in-law announced their engagement. My daughter said for years that a deal breaker for her was being able to homeschool her children. I’m encouraged to see that my future son-in-law is open to the idea. I love the idea that the seeds I planted, being willing to go against the grain of our culture and some of our family, have taken root, and that my future grandchildren will likely be homeschooled, as well. It’s important to me that HOME remains here to support my daughter and her family in their adventure the way they supported me through ours. 

 

When looking for organizations to support during this holiday season, or any time during the year, please consider the important role HOME plays as the resource that families often need in order to be successful in their homeschooling journey. It’s worth the investment.

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by Amy Koons

 

How can a good day become a great one?

 

Some days are about coping.  I get that.  On these days, I am happy that we got through school, some form of dinner appeared on the table at some point, and I kept the kids alive!  But then there are days where I need to challenge the mental rut I’m in, be more intentional, and stop simply going through the motions.

 

Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Life has a section that challenged me to ask myself if there are any opportunities in my week to turn good days into great ones.

 

Here are seven elements of a Great Day to think about.

 

1) Preparation the Night Before – Have you ever taken a few minutes at the end of the day to plan out the next one?  “To avoid last-minute stress, it is important to prepare the night before, even if it means just glancing at what is ahead and setting the alarm to get up early enough to accomplish it,” says Ramsland.  “It might also mean gathering items needed for the next day, confirming appointments, or doing one last ‘sweep’ to put things away.”

 

I find myself wanting to relax at the end of the day and feeling like I definitely deserve it!  (Let’s face it: I usually do.)  But building just ten minutes into my evening routine to look ahead, re-order my to-do list, and set my alarm accordingly always pays huge dividends.

 

2) Start of the Day – What does it mean to you, personally, to start your day well?  Does it mean a hot shower, coffee and the paper, exercise, devotions and prayer time, a family breakfast, everyone making beds and starting their school work quickly?  With a little bit of thought, determination, and effort, we can reshape our mornings—or at least some of them—to get our days off to a better start.

3) Accomplishments – What gets done during a great day?  “List the elements of what you specifically want to get done, including time with family and/or friends,” says Ramsland.  I love that this is not just about things we do but also about being intentional to accomplish relationship-building.  A friend once told me she felt sad that she never took time to play board games with her kids.  So she actually put this on her to-do list and made it happen a few times a week.  Start with the most essential things and schedule them into your day/week/month.

 

4) The People – Whom do you like to spend time with during the day? Since you homeschool, hopefully your kids make the list!  Ramsland encourages us to name the people we want to spend time with during the day.  Name your kids and spouse, of course, but also name other people in your life who you would love to spend time with on a regular basis.  I have made a list of my “A-Team,” people who really encourage me. I want to be with these people more, so when I have time, I try to invite them to do something with my family (go to the park, hike, or come for a simple dinner), or I offer to take their kids to soccer practice when I’m driving there anyway, or pick up something for them at the grocery store. These are ways to integrate people you love into your everyday life and build richer relationships and better days.

 

5) The Pace – What is the pace of a great day for you?  I have found that I can handle a few really crazy days in my week and my extroverted self sometimes even gets a thrill from this.  But I also need to retreat and have some white space.  Be mindful of how much margin you personally need as you think about what makes a great day for you.

 

6) Spark of Life – What gets you excited during your day?  Sometimes as a mom, I don’t allow myself to think about what I really enjoy, because I am just so busy.  But doing things I love is not selfish; it is receiving the good things God has created for me to enjoy.  I want my kids to see me living purposefully and engaging in life in a joyful way, because I think that is inspiring and healthy.  What sparks joy in your heart, and are there any ways you can integrate these things into your day, or at least into your week or month?  Maybe it’s something like creating art, shopping, stimulating conversation, a new project that you’ve been put in charge of, decorating, planning something new, or taking a quiet walk alone to think or listen to a podcast.

 

7) The End – What satisfies you most at the end of the day?  Does it satisfy you that you just made it through the day?—like I mentioned above, this might be your reality right now.  Maybe it’s realizing you made progress to reach your goals, you spent quality time with one of your kids, you kept composure, the house is picked-up and ready for tomorrow, or maybe that you read to your children as they drifted off to sleep.

 

Planning a great day is like practicing the piano, according to Ramsland. You find the problem spot that keeps tripping you up and then pick it apart until you can fix it.

 

“If you keep looking for your stress points and make the appropriate adjustments, you will find yourself having more great days.”

 

Used by Permission: Originally Published at https://blog.hslda.org/2018/09/19/from-good-to-great-seven-elements-of-a-great-day/

 

Amy is a second-generation homeschooler and a native Californian, transplanted to the Midwest. She loves reading good books, exploring new places, and going on adventures with her kids.

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by Rose Focht

 

Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

 

While this aphorism represents some good advice for those seeking balance in their lives, it hasn’t ever really been a challenge for me to heed, because I’m not naturally inclined to perfectionism. I like things to be nice and tidy, of course, but I’m fond of shortcuts and simplification. So generally I’m perfectly fine making peace with “good enough.”

 

Where I do struggle in setting goals and boundaries, though, is in knowing when I’ve hit “good enough.” It often seems that a better way is just over the horizon, and I find myself searching for it like an optimistic prospector who suspects that a lode of gold is just beyond the next hill. I may not be driven by the need to strike it rich, but I figure that any scope for improvement is surely a goal worth striving for.

 

For instance, some of the ways I see this mindset at work in everyday life include the following:

  • Thinking I can effortlessly incorporate one more thing into our morning routine. Maybe it’s going fine—but couldn’t it be even better, especially considering the advice of that article I just read?
  • Planning my route for maximum efficiency, and working so hard to streamline my errands—collecting all the library books, waiting until the laundry is ready to advance, etc.—that I end up running out of time to accomplish everything.
  • Devising a good meal plan, and then thinking of an extra side dish to use up some seasonal veggies, and then deciding to whip up some biscuits while I’m at it. . . . Also known as the “Diogenes’ Robe Syndrome” applied to menu planning, this one is tantalizing because each step along the way is a simple one, but the final result can end up being more stressful than anticipated.

“Surely we can do better!” Does this pattern resonate with you? Do you ever find yourself allured, not by the siren call of unattainable perfection, but by the seemingly practical notion of just making a few improvements?

 

In some ways, there seems to be a scriptural basis for this attitude. The Apostle Paul writes about “pressing onward toward the mark,” and we are encouraged to be diligent, long-suffering, and persevering. However, as in many things, moderation is key, and setting boundaries is a must if we are to curb our impulses to be always tinkering on a better way.

 

In my case, I’ve found it helpful to run through a quick checklist when my mind starts spinning with dazzling ideas for nifty upgrades and easy improvements:

 

  • Who’s asking? Is this something I need to do (state reporting requirements) or just something that would be nice to try (a fun idea I saw on a blog post)?
  • What is my commitment level? If this doesn’t work out as planned, can I easily drop the idea and return to our status quo with no harm done?
  • When will I know if this isn’t working out? It helps to know up front how long I intend to slog resolutely through the misery if things don’t immediately turn out as sunshiny as I project they will (daily doses of cod liver oil being but one example).
  • Where will the time/energy/resources for this come from? For every new thing we add in, will we have to give up something else?
  • How much do I really want this? Maybe give it a day or two and see if this is still a good idea, or whether it turns out to be a passing whim. (I can’t count how many times I’ve resisted the urge to water the garden, only to have it rain later on, thus vindicating my decision to wait.)

I do jest about that last bit, of course. I’m not advocating for slacking off or avoiding responsibility. The goal is moderation and manageability, not mediocrity. Sometimes a little goes a long way, and it’s well worth the effort to go the extra mile. But sometimes, enough is as good as a feast.

 

Rose Focht is a homeschool graduate who now enjoys teaching her children at home (most days). Her six children range in age from ten to zero, and provide an endless source of joy, inspiration, frustration, and conversation.

 

Used by Permission: Orignally published at https://blog.hslda.org/2018/06/22/optimal-illusions/.

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by Sara Jones

 

Dear Homeschooling Parent,

 

As I think back to the day I sat down with my oldest daughter and opened our first real schoolbook, there are a few things I wish I'd known:

 

1. Do things your way. We're surrounded by voices telling us the best way to "do" homeschooling. But what's best for someone else isn't necessarily best for your family. Want to finish all school before noon and devote the rest of the afternoon to creativity and extra stuff? Great! Or maybe you'd rather start later in the morning, do some subjects over lunch, and finish them after supper? A lot of teenagers would be up for that (mine are). One of the perks of homeschooling is its flexibility. Enjoy it!

 

2.Pace yourself. While you might feel like you have to cram in as much as you possibly can during your school time, I'm here to say . . . Pause. Breathe. Slow and steady gets you where you need to be. 

 

3. Make room for yourself. Being a parent is an intense job. Being an educator is an intense job. Put the two together, and your life is intense-squared! I highly encourage you to cultivate outside, non-school interests for you and your family. Home-based education lets you make space for family relationships that last long after the schoolwork is done. 

 

4. Don't try to do it all yourself. Directing your child's education is a big job, and you can't do it all on your own. From the very beginning, seek out people to help you in this journey. Involve your spouse or partner in the homeschooling process. Find support groups, co-ops, tutors, counselors, and friends. Be intentional about building a community to make this homeschooling journey the best it can be. 

 

5. Your kids won't always love school. I think this was my biggest mental adjustment. Homeschooling doesn't guarantee that your kids will be engaged every moment. Kid's will cry, complain, or dismiss the entirety of earth science as "boring." When this happens, you aren't failing; you're just living real life. And every now and then you will see that blaze of excitement and love of learning. Homeschooling lets you be there for these moments. 

 

As the new year begins, you've got a lot of discoveries, challenges, and joys ahead of you. HSLDA is here to support you at every stage of your new journey. Best wishes from a veteran mom— and if you're new, welcome to the homeschooling community. 

 

Used by Permission: Originally Published at HSLDA 

 

Sara Roberts Jones grew up in Mississippi and married a Canadian; they compromised and live in Virginia. In among homeschooling their four children, Sara writes, visits friends, takes long drives, and finds stuff to laugh at.

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By Raylene M. Hunt

 

So, it’s that time.  Your students have reached the sixth grade (or higher) and you have to cover Maine Studies.  But how, and with what will you accomplish this?  After all, your student just isn’t a textbook kid, right?  You need something more hands-on, more interactive or more engaging.  Well, it turns out that HOME is here to help.  For the past six years, HOME leaders have been researching and writing unit studies.  When used alone or combined, these studies can form a Maine Studies curriculum that is tailor made for your student.

 

Let’s take a walk through the currently available titles, and I’ll give you some ideas on how you can mix and match them to cover Maine Studies.  But first, let’s take a look at what a state study might cover.  While learning about the state you live in, you can explore the geography, history, economy, natural resources, tourism, government and famous individuals from or residing in the state.  With this in mind, let’s explore HOME’s unit studies to see how they can help you create an individualized Maine Studies program.

Remember - every HOME unit study is designed in a way that illustrates how a subject of interest to your student can be explored in a manner that will cover most, if not all, of the required subject areas.  With this in mind, you will find that most unit studies include a Maine Studies section.  You can use one unit study or a combination of units to suit your own needs and goals.

 

The following headings help to break down areas of study and corresponding units.

Maine Geography

If you want to explore the geography of Maine, why not look at Maine Towns Named for Presidents or Tour the World in Maine, which talks about towns named for other famous cities and countries.  Also consider Forts of Maine and Lighthouses of Maine.  Both are strategically located along our coast and up our major river ways.  Any one of these, or the group of them combined, will give a good overview of the geography of Maine.

 

Maine History                                                                          

If you’d rather focus on the early history of Maine, consider a combination of Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War; Colonial Maine and the Freedom Trail; Forts of Maine; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere; Slavery, the Underground Railroad and the Maine Connection and The Province of Maine During the Revolutionary War.

 

 Famous Mainers

To study people rather than events, look at famous people in or from Maine and combine these studies: Lillian Nordica, Longfellow and the Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, Lost on a Mountain in Maine, Joshua Chamberlain and the Civil War, and even Eleanor Roosevelt.

 

Maine Government

Capital Day: Junior Legislators is a HOME unit study devoted exclusively to the study of Maine government.  Maine government is always an important aspect of any Maine Studies program. 

 

Natural Resources

Apples, HOME Grown Gardens, Pancakes: Blueberries and Maple Syrup, as well as Harvesting the Sea, Farming: Then and Now, and Maine Potatoes (which are all coming soon) are unit studies that look at various natural resources in Maine.

 

Tourism

Seaglass, Sled Dogs, Towns Named for Presidents, Tour the World in Maine, Maine’s Rocky Coast, Lighthouses of Maine, Forts of Maine, Backyards and Beyond: Maine Wildlife, Trains (coming soon) and Natural History Museums (coming soon) all include aspects of travel and tourism.

 

The Economy

Combine the studies listed under Natural Resources and Tourism, and you’re looking at key factors in Maine’s economy.

 

You can pick and choose whatever studies are of the greatest interest to your students, or mix and match them to create your own unique Maine Studies curriculum with ease.

Still not sure what to do?  Give us a call to set up an appointment for a free curriculum consultation, and let us assist you in choosing the right studies for your own custom-designed Maine Studies Program!

 

Raylene M. Hunt resides in Camden with her son.  She is a veteran homeschooling mom of 17 years and has played a major role in helping develop HOME’s Unit Study program since its inception in 2012.  She can be reached at raye4home@gmail.com

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by Rebecca Keliher

 

All of my children resemble me in some way.

 

The resemblance may be visible in our eyes, our smile, our manner of speech, our interests and talents, or a combination of these features and others. But we are also each unique. None of my children is just like me. That means that they need to explore their own strengths, discover their own weaknesses, nurture their own talents, and develop their own skills.

 

As homeschoolers, facilitating opportunities for our children comprises a large portion of our responsibility. We spend hours exploring the best curriculum options, searching out field trip adventures, and seeking opportunities to help our children explore sports or the arts. We curl up on the couch for read-aloud time so they are exposed to great literature from an early age. We walk them through difficult concepts to ensure that they truly grasp what they need to learn.

 

There is an additional component to learning, however, that much of our facilitation tends to neglect: the intentional nurturing of independent learning.

 

In a way, independent learning occurs naturally among homeschoolers because one child learns how to teach herself while Mom works with another child. Or our bend toward encouraging our children to explore their own interests nudges them toward independent exploration and experimentation.

 

At some point, though, our children’s growth toward independence maxes out as long as we remain their facilitators.

 

 

 

THE ROLE OF FACILITATION THROUGH THE STAGES

Facilitation is essential in the early stages of learning. During the Starting Out stage (preschool through first grade), encouraging independence means that we organize our children’s drawers so they can pick out their own clothes each day or we rearrange the kitchen so dishes are low enough for them to reach when they need a cup of water or want to help set the table.

 

Even as they move through the Getting Excited stage (second through fourth grade) our children rely heavily on us to facilitate their growth toward independence. We provide a sampling of activities for them to taste as they explore interests and talents. We recognize their limitations and walk with them through the exploration to minimize the impact of those limitations on their learning.

 

As they enter the Beginning to Understand stage (fifth through eighth grade), however, it becomes time to not only allow but encourage them to begin digging for themselves. And, by the time they reach the Learning to Reason stage (high school), this becomes critically important.

 

Obviously, care must be taken. Our children still lack the maturity to handle an unfettered flow of information and opportunity. But, by encouraging them to help with the facilitation of their interests during these stages, we can teach them how to filter information and seek out reliable sources for themselves.

 

PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS FOR BUILDING INDEPENDENCE

Here are some ways to encourage our children to become their own facilitators of learning.

 

ENCOURAGE WEB SEARCHES

It goes without saying that this must be done with care. Unfettered web searches are rarely safe. But, eventually, they will need to know how to weed out the safe and unsafe sources for themselves.

 

– When your child asks a question, point her to safe sources for finding the answer herself.

– Create a shared Pinterest account that your middle schooler uses (with your supervision) to search out creative ideas for personal development interests or school projects.

– Let your child design his own blog.

 

SUGGEST HOMEMADE GIFTS

There is nothing like being presented with the challenge of creating a gift for a family member to reveal talents and interests and promote independence in learning. Even if he cannot do all of the creating himself, ask him to contemplate what he would like to make if he had the skills. It could be a woodworking project, a story, an original song, a leather gift, or any number of other creations. Then help him create a plan for finishing his project on time and, if needed, find resources or a teacher to help him learn needed skills.

 

CREATE A TEACHER

By the time our children reach middle school, we cannot always learn a new skill or concept quickly enough to stay ahead of them, especially if we have multiple children. That means that we will often need to find someone already skilled in that area to teach our child, whether through face-to-face or online resources.

 

But, we can also use this reality to help our children learn independence by encouraging them to teach their new skill to a sibling, a friend, or even Mom or Dad! Learning to turn their skill into a teaching opportunity teaches independence in ways that few other lessons can accomplish.

 

OPEN A CHECKING ACCOUNT

This is a great way to teach financial independence as she learns to keep tabs on her own balance, use checks and a debit card, and decide how to better manage her cash flow.

 

SUGGESTIONS FOR HIGH SCHOOLERS

Opportunities for independence and self-facilitation only increase once our children are firmly established in the high school years. Here are some ideas specially tailored to older students.

 

BUILD A RESUME

Show your student how to find a resume template, then encourage him to create his own. If he does not have work experience yet, encourage him to create a sample resume for the experience he would like to have.

 

ENCOURAGE JOB SEARCHES

This can include regular employment, internships, or other opportunities that require interviews. Having to answer the questions of a stranger builds her ability to organize her thoughts and pay attention to her preferences, strengths, weaknesses, and potential.

 

PLAN TOGETHER

Involve your student in the process of planning out a semester or year of high school. This will prepare him for working with a college adviser or an employer to lay out a degree or performance plan. Consider together what approach he wants to take to complete required courses and what he would like to pursue for electives. If you choose a course that lacks a detailed, day-by-day lesson plan, teach him how to break the course down into manageable weekly goals.

 

ASSIGN FAMILY RESPONSIBILITIES

This could include any number of responsibilities, including planning and preparing meals for a day or week, determining and running family errands, making and/or keeping appointments, or being responsible for teaching and caring for younger siblings while you tackle other needs or errands.

 

Our role as parents and facilitators never ends, even as our children grow. But, it does change. And it is as much our responsibility to facilitate growth in independence as it is to facilitate their ability to explore interests.

 

Use by Permission: Originally Published at https://wellplannedgal.com/nudging-forward-independence/

 

With five kids in their teen and early adult years, Rebecca shares the many ups and downs of parenting, homeschooling, and keeping it all together. As the Well Planned Gal she mentors women towards the goal of discovering the uniqueness Christ has created in them and their family and how to best organize and plan for the journey they will travel.

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by Sara Jones

 

“How do I motivate my teenage son to do his best?”

 

This was the question that came up most often when I asked some friends about their homeschooling struggles. I have a 15-year-old son—and an 11-year-old daughter—who are pretty comfortable with mediocrity. I’ve thought a lot about this question.

 

I don’t really have any answers, to be honest. But I do have ideas.

 

My first idea isn’t anything you or I do with our student. It’s what we do for ourselves:

 

Idea #1: Get Rid of the Super Teen.

The Super Teen is a mythical boy or girl who lives in our head and skews our perception of how our actual teenagers ought to be performing. The Super Teen is usually featured in Facebook videos about how he/she designs robots, leads a social action program, or starts a business selling custom socks. You’re pretty sure this teenager also has good handwriting, is socially adept, and is in the middle of a brilliant research paper that will win scholarships.

 

It doesn’t help that older people tend to remember teenagers in their own time as Super Teens, and wonder what’s wrong with “teenagers today.” The Super Teen sets an impossibly high standard, and our perfectly ordinary teenagers fall woefully short.

With the Super Teen removed from his/her pedestal, the following ideas have been effective for us:

 

Idea #2: Reward good work.

Darren and I have no qualms about offering rewards to make the work more palatable. Money is extremely inspirational. So are extra privileges. Last year, we set aside one night every week as a family D&D night, on the condition that kids completed all their school. Darren would even award in-game advantages to kids who did a good job in school. Generous rewards can motivate even the most reluctant work.

 

Idea #3: Build lessons around what interests each teenager.

Obviously we can’t customize everything—geometry and earth science are still on the docket even though nobody is passionate about those subjects. But we let them have a say in their course load, and we work with them in the way they learn best. Sometimes that means that I just sit on the couch next to a kid who otherwise can’t focus on the math lesson.

 

Idea #4: Keep lessons short.

I’m a big believer in many small lessons rather than a few long ones. Starting in the elementary years, my kids do, say, four math problems instead of all 10. We answer many review questions orally. We skip chapters in history that I know they’ll pick up later. In handwriting, that bane of my homeschooling career, I require them to write one or two sentences at the time. As they get older, the lessons necessarily get longer—but we still keep them to manageable portions. It’s very motivating to be able to see the end of a lesson.

 

Idea #5: Let somebody else push them sometimes.

Joining a co-op or a finding a tutor can make a lot of difference in your teenager’s motivation. Sometimes they need someone other than Mom or Dad to explain, encourage, and inspire.

 

Idea #6: In time, they will take ownership of their own future.

When I was in middle school, I was a sloppy student and a lazy worker. In high school, I went through American history on my own, and tried to teach myself chemistry. (I failed. But I tried!) The difference was that my future had become my own, and it was up to me to shape it.

 

We’ve seen this change in our own teenagers. At 13, our son did the bare minimum work with as little thought devoted to it as possible. Two years later, he engages with the material and analyzes what he’s learning.

 

We still have to push, and our teens are still unenthusiastic at times. But their work has a depth that wasn’t there before. They care more.

 

I’m still anxious when I think of launching my kids into adulthood. I know they’ll have to fill in gaps that we’ve left open. But the above ideas have served us well so far; we’ve seen our unmotivated kids grow into more responsible, more serious students.

 

In fact, I have to say that they’re pretty super teens.

 

Used by Permission: Originally published at https://blog.hslda.org/2018/04/06/6-ways-to-motivate-your-teen/

 

Sara Roberts Jones grew up in Mississippi and married a Canadian; they compromised and live in Virginia. In among homeschooling their four children, Sara writes, visits friends, takes long drives, and finds stuff to laugh at.

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