Monday, March 31, 2008


Mondays are usually hard because the kids are coming back from two days off and for some reason my son finds it hard to get back in the rhythm of doing work. I am almost dreading today because we are coming off of Spring break! Hopefully today will go smooth.
We celebrated a birthday this weekend and my daughter is now 5. She is so tickled to 'finally be 5!'

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My favorite site...

My favorite website has got to be the site. I am a frequent visitor to their discussion board and they have so many great printable exercises as well as ideas. They also have links to laws for every state and a run down of curriculum and methods...anything that you can think of homeschool they have! Plus the printables cover so many topics, such as every holiday, science materials, math, reading, etc.
It sounds like I'm doing a commercial, lol. But I just wanted to share my favorite resource.
The kids are enjoying spring break and I'm TRYING to get ahead in my own school work..but can't seem to do so. It seems as if I'm struggling just to stay a float in it. The main reason is because the kids have emphasized their dislike of me always having to be working on my school. So it's not that I'm unable to do that much work, it's that I shouldn't. I loaded my plate so full this semester that I'm not having a lot of free time just to be with them, it's mostly related to their own school. Next semester (after summer) I'm only going to take 3 courses and see how that goes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

But how do you teach a child how to read?

I admit, when I first started last year, the thought of teaching my children to read was terrifying. I had no clue where to start or what to do. However, I soon found out that it's not as hard as it looks. There are many wonderful websites out there that give you pages you can start with. However, my favorite is a book called "Teach your kid how to read in 100 easy lessons". This book is wonderful. It teaches phonetically and gives you 100 lessons that only last around 15 minutes a day. You curl up on the couch or wherever you and your child is comfortable and read this book. It is broken down into parts that you read aloud (instructional) and things that the child is to read. It really works and it is sooooo easy that you just have to love it! And the wonderful thing is that you can get this book for around $20! Gotta love that! ;D I even recommend this book for those who aren't planning on homeschooling but just want to give their kid an advantage before going into school, if there child is showing an can't force learning! That just leads to frustration.

Spring Break...

I didn't even know that this was spring break week.
I had previously decided to count spring break as the week before last that my son was sick and missed 4 days of school. However, I got to thinking about it and decided that wouldn't really be fair. So instead, they're going to have spring break this week but because we missed those 4 days, I'm going to give them a very small and quick lesson each day. Probably math and reading. I chose those two subjects because we are behind in math (see my previous post) and it never hurts to throw in a reading lesson with those who are learning how to read.
I look back at a year ago and think about how much he has advanced in his reading. Back then, when we first pulled him from public school, he could read simple sentences such as 'The dog is big'. Now he is reading much more advanced things. He's not quite to independent reader yet (where he can sit and read a story on his own to himself) but that doesn't look to be too far off.
My daughter even amazes me. She first started learning basic sounds last year around the same time and now can read those simple sentences easily.
I have some fun field trips planned for the remainder of the year too. Last year when we started, We went to the library more often and were doing field trips at least once a month. But this new schedule that I have us on combined with my own school didn't leave much time for field trips.
I think I'll go back to that previous schedule and try to work more field trips in. Plus for the library, I'm going to sign them up for the weekly reader club.
I have a lot of 'socialization' options that I am considering but think that it's too late in the year for a lot of them and that if I tried them all at once that we would quickly become overloaded. Instead, I'm going to add a couple to this last 2 months and add one at a time to next years schedule.
Well, enough for now...hope you're enjoying my blog. I have to start their work shortly as well as TRY to get caught up in my own...word to the wise, if you're taking your own college classes while homeschooling, start small and don't overdo it. 5 classes for me=overdoing it!

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Perfect Day!

I am just so happy. I have a goal to finish our school work by at least 12. If everyone works good and does as they should we should be able to finish by lunch but often it doesn't work out that way. Today was a perfect day. I had recently dropped a math program that I didn't like. I decided to wait to start him on a new program until next year since it is so late in the school year.
The reason I decided to drop this program is that it separated everything out into two parts of the large part for addition and a slightly smaller part for subtraction. With so many delays that we have had this year he hadn't even gotten to the subtraction and I was worried that he wouldn't be able to do it for his end of year test. On top of that I wasn't too happy with the fact that things like measurements, fractions, money, etc were not even mentioned. Time was mentioned in one small additional lesson.
I just felt very dissatisfied and decided to scrap it entirely. That's the good thing about homeschool, you aren't tied to one curriculum. If something doesn't work for you, you can get rid of it until you find what does.
Anyway, after scrapping it I decided to use workbooks from walmart instead. I think next year we'll give Saxon math a try.
But I had been giving him too many of these worksheets daily to try to make up for what he had missed. This had backfired and he was spending way too long and not enjoying it at all. I scaled this back to 1 front and back page (or two if it is very easy and quick) and this is helping tremendously.
Everything went smoothly, the kids both did their work wonderfully and I am just happy to have finally been able to reach our goal. We finish their work at 11:30 this morning.
In case anyone wonders why I'm already homeschooling my daughter who is going to be 5 next year....I started last year! The reason I started is because I pulled her out of a preschool program because her personality had changed so drastically for the worse. But when she saw that her brother was doing work, of course she HAD to do it too. She does really good with it and actually BEGS to do it.
My day is wonderful. ;)


I welcome anyone who has a question about a particular topic in homeschooling, where to find something, how to do something, or just how we do something . Just post a comment and I will answer it to the best of my abilities.
Homeschool is almost like a a mentor/master relationship. When a homeschooler is first starting out it helps to find someone established to ask questions and get help whenever needed. Then down the road as that person becomes established and familiar with things, they become the one to help the next family who is just starting out. It really is wonderful if you think about it.
But, feel free to post any questions....

Friday, March 21, 2008

Science Lapbooks...

I have fallen in love with lapbooking (which is a trademarked name). Lapbooking is where you discover a subject, often in science but can be any subject (I have seen alphabet ones as well as state ones). You study that subject until you get a deeper understanding of it. For example, we just finished a body systems lapbook. In this we did various different activities about the systems (you can get complete lapbook layouts from places like or you can put them together yourself with information and free lesson plans online). Once the kids have completed the activities and various print out pages on the subject, then you assemble your book. It is really simple, starting with a file folder...
1) open it up, 2) fold the opened edges in until they meet in the middle (looks like a window shutter now) and 3) if you want you can go beyond this and tape/glue another piece as a fold down flap. 4) you simply attach with glue or tape the work outs and things like that, maybe a vocabulary list, pictures you have found on the subject, whatever. You let them have fun and put it all together. These books are great for learning but also become great for portfolios as well as keepsakes to have down the road. Also, whenever they want, they can pull them back out and refresh their memory on that subject.
Just Google 'lapbook' and you can see wonderful examples, plus I would like to take pics of ours to share with you all in the future.
What I was going to say though is that lapbooking is amazing. Because your kids are learning through this hands on process it seems to stick for them better. My son saw something the other day and said 'Look mom, this is like our mouth and our esophagus' (and he's only 6). It amazed me that he had remembered this because he usually is so busy, as all boys are, that I'm not really sure if he's paying attention sometimes. :)

Life lessons...

Life hands us some of our most wonderful lessons. Not life lessons in the sense of wright or wrong, but life lessons in that we learn just by living. Cool new things cross our path every day that the children can learn from and it's wonderful.
Today for example, I heard an odd bird sound coming from right outside of my window. I peeked out to find an odd bird that I hadn't seen before. My son grabbed his binoculars and we watched as our dog tried to chase the three weird birds around our yard...apparently they weren't flight birds or would have flown away quickly.
After watching them around the yard we decided--at my son's request--to use his birding book to look up what type of bird it was. We discovered that these birds were guinea fowls. They typically are domesticated now although some were wild. My son drew the conclusion that they must have escaped someone's farm nearby. But what a wonderful break from our daily schedule to learn about something new and something they probably will remember for a long time as well. :)
For homeschooling mothers you quickly learn to keep your eyes open for these interesting opportunities to learn, even if they are something as small as a new bug crawling across the porch or the new look to the tree in front indicating that spring is on it's way.
Often, I end up learning something new as well.

My opinion....go ahead and start HATING me now!

I am just going to state my opinion now, so you can hate me if you want to. :)
Everyone has opinions, you don't have to like mine or agree with it but I want to share.
What's wrong with society today?
I have two reason that society is going downhill. The first is that people have stopped teaching their children about God. If there is no one higher to have to account to, then what does it matter, right? No, there is and kids don't have that fear and love of God anymore. When I was a child I knew that even if I didn't get caught by my parents that God still saw me regardless. I think that helped a lot of people my age to not get into MORE trouble or the degree of trouble they are getting into these days.
My second reason...Where have the moms gone? Children are left to themselves without the loving mother waiting at home or just being there for them. Mothers now a day are too busy with their careers that they aren't home as often and when they are they are so tired and rushed that they don't have the ability to spend quality time with their children.
I don't have anything against mothers who HAVE to work such as single mothers, I give them credit. However those who can stay at home but choose not to because they are buying into the feminist movement that says they have to go out and work a full day just to be equal to a man.
I have tried the juggling career thing and have walked away. I have decided it's best for me to be where I am supposed to, taking care of my family.
I DO put in a full day of work (more than many men ever will), and I do consider myself equal to my husband and men in general. Just because I am home does not make me any less of a citizen or any less important to society. Many women say they "have to" work, I don't agree with this. People can easily survive on 1 income if they budget properly and don't spend quite so frivolously. And if it's to help pay the mortgage then try a smaller home that fits your needs. It's very possible but only for those wanting to do so. That's another concern with those wanting to homeschool who live currently on 2 incomes, they are afraid of losing that second income and I just have to say that if you want to do it enough, it's completely possible AND comfortable to do so!
I think that stay-at-home mothers are the backbone of our society and without it, we are falling apart. Again, just my humble opinion. :)

Family and Friends support...and socializing

When we first told everyone that we are homeschooling last year we got a lot of mixed reviews. Some are completely for it, they think it is a wonderful idea. Others are a little harder to convince...and I think still believe they should be in school (maybe my son takes his first IOWA test this year and gets his results they will be good and it'll put those who are opposed at ease).
There are a few others who believe it is a good idea because of the violence in schools today and because of religion being taken out of school but they also are worried about my children's socializing aspect.
I even get mixed reviews in public now, I haven't had anyone YET blatantly tell me that they disagree with it but I have had those who point out the socializing aspect.
Socializing is important, but do you really think that children need to be socialized with other kids who are hooligans!? I mean, have you seen children today? They are crazy! They have no respect for anything and no fear of authority (human-principals, police; God).
Socializing is defined as:
1) to place under government or group ownership or control. (does that really sound like what you want to do to your kids?)
2) to make fit for companionship with others; make sociable (my children are already sociable and have been for a while now. I believe they are MORE FIT for companionship than some public schoolers I know)
3) to convert or adapt to the needs of society (I think society NEEDS more kids who are taught proper manners and behavior at home, I think it NEEDS children who respect their elders and fellow man in general)
and finally 4) to take part in social activities (Homeschoolers do this).
Well, that is the exact definition of socialize for those of you who were unclear and those are my feelings on the aspect of socialization. I believe socialization is more than just being around a group of kids and being made to memorize facts to be able to pass a test...and forgetting them later.
Someone once stated that socialization is a word that was created by those opposed to homeschooling and whenever the "h" word is mentioned it is inevitable that the "s" word is going to follow.

Support Group Frustration!

Living in a small town, it is hard to find a good support group here.
Everyone knows that children need socialization ( the saying goes "I've seen the village and I don't want it raising my child"...I'll get more into socialization myths later). The best way to do this is with support groups filled with other local homeschoolers. And you also have avenues such as groups (boy/girl scouts, library groups, 4H) as well as lessons (dance, karate, music) and sports teams (and don't have to be in public schools to participate!). But I still would like to find a nice local support group.
They can range from monthly meetings where the kids get together for field trips or bowling days to weekly coop groups where the mothers each teach a class.
I have two problems, my first is that all of the groups here are AT LEAST an hour away! But, having said that, I will also say that I would make the sacrifice and drive that far if I found one I liked. My second problem is that the ones that I have found doesn't suit our needs.
One was a little closer to us but it turns out that their meetings are just for parents...I don't see the point of this. I mean, yeah it would be great to have other homeschool parents to talk to and get support from BUT I want a group for my children's socialization...not my own.
The other one that I have found that I really like is very religious based. I am religious, do not get me wrong, but if I have to sign a statement of faith saying that I go to church (Which I currently don't, I haven't found one I like yet) and then have to worry that I do not say anything against what their denomination just doesn't work for me.
Why can't we just have a group where denomination isn't an issue? Can't we all just get along and get together for our kids sakes? I am considering starting such a group where the kids can meet 1 or 2 times a month at a park and just play, just have fun and be with others.
Hopefully all of this will work out. Hopefully we'll find such a group or I'll be able to start our own...only time will tell. Until them...I'm going the club/group route for now. And yes, my children are socialized....they do play well with others. They aren't shy and aren't afraid to say hi and start a conversation with a new child that they just meet.
In my opinion, they were home with me for their entire first 5 years, and they socialize just fine!

People are STRANGE...

Sunday we went out to lunch here in our small town. There was a child that my son had previously went to school with. I wont even go into her awful behavior, yelling at her mom for 'cheating' just because she scored a goal on her in air hockey.
The funny thing is that she made her daughter read, quite loudly. It was as if she was proving to me how well her daughter was learning. I thought it was very funny. As if I had implied that she wasn't able to read in the simple action of removing my child to homeschool him.
Living in a small town EVERYONE knows that we homeschool. It's like that commercial where the girl says she called a friend and they called a friend and so on and so spreads like wild fire.
I just was baffled by this. Did she want me to have my son read aloud to show that he was just as fluent in his reading as her? I didn't. I could have had my 4 year old read to show that she could read as well, but I didn't. I just laughed to myself and went on with my business. I know my child is learning, how? Because I'm his teacher, I see the improvements on a daily basis. Do I need to confirm this by publicly displaying it to everyone? No, it's no one else's business.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Method and Curriculum...

I have thoroughly researched each Method of homeschooling. For those of you who do not know, the method is the type of homeschooling you do. Methods can be anywhere from Unschooling to Classical and all stops in between. We are what is referred to as Eclectic Homeschoolers. That means just as it sounds, that we delve into many different methods. For example, for math we use workbooks, for english Switched on Schoolhouse's computer work, for history we use "Story of the World" which is a classical study that goes Chronologically through time, for reading we use Abeka and occasionally visit reading sites on-line and for science, we lapbook (which is a trademarked name) either from my own putting together or from Hands of a child.
We use what is best for us which is not one specific method but a little of this here and a little of that there. It really just depends on what you like and what your children learn best with.
I confess.....I am a curriculum junky...don't tell anyone! If something isn't working for us, I'll give it a little more time but then I'm completely ready to throw it out (aka, sell it on ebay) and start new! That's my one problem. But whatever works and whatever will get the best results with my kids.

To Homeshool or not to homeschool, that is the question...

Homeschooling is truly an individual choice. No one can tell you whether or not homeschooling is right for you. You have to come to that conclusion on your own. But I guarantee you that many people will try to give their opinions. For some reason homeschooling is one of those topics where everyone has an opinion and will try to force it on you.
Homeschoolers run the gamut, from every walk of life you can imagine. Rich to poor, one child to many, all races, all religions to name it, there are homeschoolers.
Some choose to homeschool because they want more religion in their families lives and don't like that religion has been taken out of public schools. Some homeschool because of the current lack of safety in schools. Some homeschool because they feel their children are getting (or are going to get) lost in the cookie-cutter design of public schools. While still others homeschool because they want their children to be more advanced that what is currently offered in the form of education from public schools.
Whatever your reason, don't worry, they are valid. No matter what anyone says, your reasons to homeschool are important and have led you to wanting to homeschool or having actually started.
For us it is a combination of things. My son, who is now 6 and a half, started kindergarten last school year. If you would have asked me on his first day if I would homeschool...I probably would have looked at you as if you were crazy. That's just what I thought at the time. After half a year things definitely changed. We have a pretty good curriculum here at our local public school but it wasn't fitting my son. Like all boys his age, he was more interested in playing. We constantly received letter telling us that our son was in trouble for not sitting down, not waiting to be called on, not focusing only on his work. We were spending all of his free time after school working on homework. We live in a pretty rural area so he wasn't getting home until 4:15, then homework and reading practice then dinner which left him having to go to bed at 8pm so he could be up by 6:30. The poor little feller wasn't getting any sleep at all and absolutely no free time to play!
He went from loving going to school at first to hating it and crying about going daily. It was awful. Then throw in an older child harassing him on the bus, then his teacher telling me she was worried about him because of not wanting to do his work and next year (1st grade) was full of hours of school work and he wasn't going to be able to sit long enough to complete it.
I was through, my hubby suggested homeschooling and during the Christmas break I checked into it further. I thought I might give it a shot the next year but after his next letter home from his teacher, we decided that it was time.
I was nervous and shaking as I called his school to inform them that he wouldn't be attending any longer. I was told I needed to call the school board to find out what curriculum I needed to use. This was incorrect by the way. All I needed to do was submit my notice of intent.
I will say that I am not a lawyer so I am not liable and not in any way asking you to follow my advice here. What you need to do if you are considering homeschooling is to find out your state laws before proceeding. You can find them through a few good websites such as;, etc. just google your state homeschool laws (ie, Tennessee homeschool law) to find out more. also has a good list to see if homeschooling is right for you.
But that was a year ago, and things are continuing on smoothly...well smoothly most of the time. Just like life there are ups and downs to everything and every day is different.

Our daily schedule

This is what a typical day looks like in our home:
(more about our curriculum later)

between 7-8am-kids wake up/breakfast

around 8:30am-start the day with handwriting practice
(we use "The complete guide to handwriting" from walmart)

8:15- The 6 year old starts math

8:45ish-6yo's english

9:15-9:30ish-4 yo's math

9:50-4yo's english

10:15- 6yo's reading

10:40- 4yo's reading

11:00- History (Story of the World) for both

11:30- Science for both (lapbooking)

12:00- break for lunch

12:30...finish any of the things we didn't get done before lunch and Choral reading (me reading aloud to everyone) then p.e. outside if the weather is cooperative.

~We usually aim for this schedule which depends of course on outside interruptions, the kids willingness to work that day (some days are better, some worse), etc.
Some days we just can't get it together. All homeschoolers will tell you that some days it just seems as if some of us or all of us can not get it together and do what we need to do. On those days we just try our best and do what we can.

~I am trying to get this basic schedule shortened a little bit and stream line all of these Core subjects so I can add some fun stuff to the day. I would like to add a 15 minute Bible study, a 10 minute Character builder and a 15 minute safety/health and manners (beyond what we cover in science). I am also thinking after adding these things that I would like to add a 15 minute period to cover life skills (such as sewing/crafting for her and knot tying/outdoors skills for him...which of course both will probably end up doing both).

More about me....

Since this is a new blog, I thought I should tell you more about myself.
I am 30 years old, married for 7 years with two kids (6 and nearly two weeks). I am a homeschooler of both kids and actually homeschool myself in a way. I am pursuing a degree through on-line courses at my local college. So as you can imagine, right now I'm wishing we had 48 hour days!
I am a writer, I am hoping to work toward getting published more in the future. With all else, I haven't had as much time to write as I would have liked. But I love it and so at least get to fulfill it with this blog.
I also live in the country and raise a vegetable garden every year. It's so much fun but so much hard work too! However, once you're enjoying what you've grown yourself it's well worth it.
That's about it I believe.

Welcome to Homeschool How-To!

Hello all,
My name is Autumn. I am a homeschooling mother to a 6 year old son and nearly 5 year old daughter. I am creating this blog as a location to share what I have learned from homeschooling for over a year. I would like to be able to answer questions anyone may have regarding homeschooling and also share our day to day homeschool happenings with all those who are interested.
Homeschool rocks and is growing every day as we worry about what public schools are able to provide our children. I will be discussing why people homeschool as well as why we specifically do. What types of methods are available and what curriculum is out there. I will also be discussing the myths of homeschooling and the truths.
Check back frequently as I intend to add new content quite regularly.
Autumn :)