About SarahS

Sarah has graduated one child from homeschooling and is happy to have miles left on the journey with her 11 and 15 year old children. With a master’s degree in English/creative writing, Sarah enjoys teaching writing and literature classes at her co-op and blogs about learning at SmallWorld at Home.

My best dozen pieces of homeschooling advice

January '13-55Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

Our support group’s annual Homeschooling 101 is coming up soon, and I’ve been putting together notes and packets in preparation for my presentation.

I love looking out at the audience and seeing so many people; and whether their faces are eager, apprehensive, confused, or even terrified, they all have this in common: they desperately want to do the best for their children. Some of them will find out that homeschooling is the absolute best choice they can make; others will pursue different avenues.

Invariably, sometime during the session, the question comes in some form:

what piece of advice would you give a newbie?

Much more important to me than choosing curriculum or having well-organized shelves or even deciding whether to keep homeschooling is the tremendous task of being a good parent.

My pieces of advice really apply to any parents, not just homeschooling ones.
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Our top 25 read-alouds (ages 5-12)

Our top 25 read-alouds (ages 5-12)
Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

We started reading to our firstborn the day we brought him home. We didn’t start with Pat the Bunny or Goodnight Moon, although those both played an important part in our story time with all our children. We started with a college textbook, Western Civilization. We just wanted him to hear the sound of our voices and to get a feel for language.

Over the years we have read hundreds of books to our three children, from board books to great classics. Reading aloud comes in two forms in our family: as part of school (we have used Sonlight’s literature-based program for the  majority of our years) and before bed.

Beginning at about age 5 with each of our kids, we moved from a diet of picture books and short easy readers to serious chapter books. Don’t worry about your child not “getting” a book that is “meant” for older kids. They will.

Around age 12 or 13 the evening reading aloud ended, followed shortly by the end of our school-time read-alouds. We are down to just one child who gets all of our reading attention now, and we are determined to have lots of reading time together until he, too, prefers his own voice in his head.

Below is a list of our Top 25 favorite family read-alouds. They are in no particular order, except that I listed a few series at the end. Why did these books make the list when dozens of others didn’t quite qualify? These are the books the kids remember with almost a tender fondness and sometimes almost awe. These were books we lived in, the ones that do, indeed, seem like part of our family.
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Are homeschooled kids weird?

Are homeschooled kids weird
Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

Admit it. Somewhere deep in your heart, you’ve wondered, especially if you’ve ever heard someone say, “I know a homeschooling family at my church. Those kids are weird!”

Haven’t we all asked ourselves: are my kids weird?

Weird. Normal. We all have our own definitions. You might say, “I don’t want my kids to be ‘normal’ by today’s standards!” And you might also say, “But I don’t want my kid to be labeled as a weirdo!” So here’s the thing:

All kids are weird.

That’s normal. I mean, when I was a kid—in the privacy of my own home—I stuck black olives on all my fingers and ate them off, one by one. That’s weird, right?  Of course I didn’t eat black olives at public school, but if I had, I would not have eaten them off my fingers one by one. I would have known that was weird because some kid would have announced to the entire cafeteria: “THAT GIRL IS EATING OLIVES OFF HER FINGERS LIKE A WEIRDO!” Even those kids that had a secret desire to emulate me would have shriveled and mocked me. I would have been forever known as Olive Girl. [Read more...]

Responding to the homeschooling critics

coffee talkWritten by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

I am blessed to live in an area where homeschooling is not at all unusual. Everyone knows at least a few homeschooling families; nonetheless, we aren’t immune to the naysayers, the critics.

I used to be outraged. I used to bristle. I remember one of my first encounters with a lady who was quite vocal about her disgust with homeschooling. I had just moved to town and was attending a new church. Here is how my conversation went with this woman:

So where does your son go to school?”

“I am homeschooling him.”

“Oh. Well, I would never do that. We have the best schools in the state right here.”

That was the end of the conversation. She actually turned her back to me, quite literally, and never engaged me in conversation again for the decade I attended that church.
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Sarah’s homeschool day in the life (with a 12- and 15-year-old)

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

The sky is just starting to lighten. From my regular perch I watch a new day come, wait for the riot of color as the sun pops up over the mountains. The next few hours are mine. This is the “me” time that stay-at-home moms crave: my creative time, productive time, devotion time, exercise time. I write, pray, run, plan, catch-up, check things off—and add things to—my to-do list. I shower quietly, without my ears tuned to the cries of “Mommy!”

You with little ones don’t have this—I know. Your little ones are your alarm clock.

dayinthelife1-300x2102

But one of these days, you’ll have middle and high schoolers who sleep in late—and you won’t.

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