The best part of homeschooling: Enjoying them

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

As I write, three teenagers in Santa hats are in the kitchen loudly singing, “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.” It is 7:15 a.m., and I hush them because I don’t want them to wake “the baby.” The baby is almost 12, and like most tweens, he likes to sleep in.

We’re a long way from reading quietly during the baby’s naptime. We’re a long way from making handprint wreaths and salt dough ornaments.  My daughter and her friends are making their lunches before they head out to co-op, where they’ll have a full day of classes: ecology, American literature, American history, geometry, ACT Prep, and drama.

They leave. My 12-year-old still snoozes; the cat snores softly on the couch. The house is almost perfectly quiet. There is not one single toy visible to me, not even a Lego guy head.
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What counts as homeschooling?

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

At a recent roundtable discussion organized by our homeschooling support group, a brand new homeschooling mom raised her hand and asked the perennial question: What counts as homeschooling?

I have heard the same questions dozens of times through the years: Can I count playing board games? Can I count hiking as PE? Can I count the afternoon we spent talking with a veteran about WWII? Can I count our trip to Washington DC? Yes, yes, seriously? and YES!

I know the question that is being asked. It comes from a deeply ingrained assumption that if it is school, it must be ___________ [boring, tedious, difficult, taxing, mind-numbing, repetitive—you choose]. For some reason, we feel that we must put an official stamp of approval on an activity in order for it to “count” as “school.”

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Reason enough to homeschool

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

A note from Jamie: Now that we’re in the swing of another academic year, it’s helpful to remember the reasons why we’ve chosen this homeschooling lifestyle. Sarah sums it up so beautifully in this post, which originally published on August 12, 2011. Enjoy!

Where I live, the public schools begin in early August. Summer still—the hottest month of the year—and kids are sitting in slick chairs, pencils sharpened, new shoes still a little tight. I imagine a little boy just my son’s age watching a fat bee hover outside the window. He can’t hear it buzzing, of course, because the air conditioner drones at high speed, drowning out the sounds of bees and the smell of sunshine and dry grass.

We started homeschooling 12 years ago because…

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10 ways to adjust your attitude when you’re homeschooling for the long haul

Written by Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

I keep counting on my fingers, so I must be right: we are beginning our 13th year of homeschooling. Thirteen years! And I have to be honest—I’m not always exuberant about starting back.

It isn’t that I want to send my kids to school or anything like that; I just like having lazy summer days. I am reluctant for all our activities to resume, and I really just want to go to the pool, hang out by the river, or travel across the country.

I recently co-facilitated a session for brand new homeschoolers. They were so eager! They shared ideas, suggested websites, exchanged email addresses, arranged play dates, asked about clubs, brainstormed field trips, and, of course, talked curriculum.

My kids are in middle, high school, and college now. I miss those days of anticipation, of bright construction paper and M&M math. I miss sticky crafts, our giant box of inventing supplies (e.g., toilet paper tubes, shoeboxes, and popsicle sticks), and reading by the sandbox while the kids played.

Some years I have missed being excited about starting our new year. With that comes the mommy guilt of lacking enthusiasm.

After all, shouldn’t we be eagerly anticipating another year of instilling a love of learning in and molding the minds of our children?

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Physical education for homeschooled teens

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

P E, phys ed, gym: whatever you called it, all of us public schoolers did it. Some of us dreaded it; some of us considered it the best part of the day. If you had to wear one-piece gym suits that zipped up the front, well, I’m laughing (and blushing) right along with you.

So how do homeschoolers handle PE? I am surprised at the number of people who ask me “Does [swimming, hiking, gymnastics, dancing] count as PE?” Of course! If your child is getting exercise, he is engaged in PE.

For most younger children, the need to move is innate.

What kid doesn’t want to climb the perfect tree or beg to go to the park? How many times have you heard yourself admonish your little kids to be still for a few minutes—to stop rolling around on the ground?

But as these same wiggly children enter the teen years, they would likely rather be on Facebook than running around outside.

While the inclination for physical activity is built into us, we have to be deliberate about providing opportunities for PE, especially as our kids get older.

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