Home School doesn’t mean Dumb School

Apparently, there is a conception out in the universe that if a student is home schooled, it’s because they couldn’t handle the course of study available in public school.

Why would anyone home school when there are public schools freely available?  In our case, the public school environment was detrimental to DD2, even though we’re in a pretty good district.  It was too loud and busy.  Her sensory processing disorder was assaulted constantly and she often panicked.  She was teased and gossiped about.  Once, she was even spat upon.  We tried several strategies before it became crystal clear that it was not the place for her.

For other children, it’s a desire for a more challenging atmosphere.  (Yes, I’m saying it.)  With home school, the student can explore limitless topics of elective interests.  With public school, you are limited to what is on the menu.  My daughter has been able to explore oceanography, astronomy (minus the physics, as she was a freshman), and medical terminology.  These were in addition to the core requirements, not in place of.

Some families want a more wholesome atmosphere.  On one day in our junior high school, four couples were caught fornicating within the school building.  The clothes that many girls wear, despite a dress code, are pretty close to indecent.  Some of the books they read are not appropriate.  Ever read the Grapes of Wrath?  It’s full of foul language, and a preacher boasts about fornicating with teenagers in the grass after preaching to them (can you say sexual predator?).  I opted my 15 year old out of the book.  If she wants to read it later on, that’s her choice and she’ll be older.

When registering my home schooled child for standardized testing the other day, we were listing out the classes she has taken and is currently taking.  The counselor made a comment that it seemed to be a rigorous course of study.  My mother has been surprised to learn (on repeated occasions) that I keep a grade book and grade my daughter’s assignments.  Even my husband was listing off to me the required high school classes for admittance to DD2’s university of choice as if we might be deficient.  I told him I’ve been following the state requirements all along.  He ought to know this – he’s been in the conversations.

There are so many good resources out there today.  Companies make home school packages for their text books with teaching CD’s and answer keys.  The internet is loaded with information if you’re careful about the sources.  Also, the internet means easy access to state websites which list class requirements by grade.  Our state even lists the topics which are to be covered in each subject for K-8.

I earned a teaching degree and people who know that still treat me with surprise at what my daughter’s program includes and how I keep records.

Perceptions are a difficult thing to battle.


Posted in children, family, home school, kids, school, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Triumphs and Trials

My oldest has now been accepted to all four universities to which she applied. Our daughter has worked hard, gotten the grades and the SAT score to compete for hefty scholarships and a place in the honors college at three of the four schools so far.  The competitions are mostly comprised of essays and interviews: one at the end of this month, one in early December, and one in mid January.  The fourth admission just came yesterday, so we have yet to see if she’ll be competing there as well.

One co-worker of DH asked why we had her apply to multiple places, and why there’s even a question between four schools.  Shouldn’t she just go to her number one choice?  We’re not poor, but we can’t just reach in our pocket and fork over $100,000 for school (then do it two more times for the other kids).  DD1 knows that one of the biggest considerations is the size of the scholarship(s) won.  It’s time for me to start digging around on the internet to find independent ones for her to apply for.  It doesn’t matter how large or small they are, everything helps.

DD1 had the triumph.  DD2 had the trial.

DD2 was registering for the PSAT yesterday and had a panic attack.  Her anxiety is based in the sensory processing disorder.  Of course my heart sank as I heard the principal calling over the walkie talkie to see where I was waiting for her (she’s home schooled and this high school is far enough away that there wasn’t time to go home).  She has to go through these things and my hope is that each one strengthens her, but the mom in me wishes that she’d never experience anxiety again.  I’m concerned that she’ll panic during the test, and I’ve already told her that she can’t run to the back of the room (as she did this time).  It will be quiet, at least once the test begins, and that was part of the issue.  She has now been to the school, whereas she had not been before.  That can be an advantage, too, as no one knows you and you’ll only see them for standardized tests.

I’ve advised her to wear jewelry that she likes the texture of, to give her input without being a distraction.  She has a practice test to take, and she’s been learning how to use her graphing calculator and getting some test-taking strategy.  This is the warm up test, and we’ll go onto Khan Academy to practice several times between now and the SAT.  Other than these things, it’s in her hands.  Maybe the SPD will let her brain hear me telling her that I believe in her and that she will do fine.  Maybe the SPD will even let her tell herself how smart and capable she is.

Posted in children, college, family, kids, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Day to Day Stuff

It’s that time of year when I have to start hounding the kids for Christmas ideas.  Their grandmothers like to shop early.  My oldest has almost no ideas for me, and the few I have are those which I’ve stashed away as they come up.  My mother has learned to love Amazon.com, and DH’s mom doesn’t shop on line at all.  One has Michael’s and Target, the other does not.  My youngest two are the easiest to prod into ideas.  My son has started to fill a hiking bag with useful equipment, my middle daughter is interested in numerous hobbies.  I’ve tried reminding my eldest to think about living at college next year, but I guess IB has driven her imagination far away.

I scooped up some more bargains for said college adventures.  I found twin xl fleece blankets marked down to $5.25, and sheets to the same.  Of course I got a blanket for DD2 as well, and may even get one for DS.  He’s got a couple years to go, but I may kick myself if I let this price slip away.  The trick is keeping track of what I’ve purchased.  I’ve got an index card for each girl tucked in my purse with their color preferences, and what has been purchased.  DD1 is now set in her linens except for the quilt I’m making for her.

I just finished reading my son’s set of Percy Jackson books.  It’s easy to see why it appeals to him.  We are a family who loves a good fantasy story, the main character is close to his age, and Percy has ADHD while my son has struggled with his speech and spelling.  Not that I voiced all of this to DS.  Before this I read the Matched/Crossed/Reached series that my girls love.  Next up, I need to catch up on the Michael Vey series (I only read the first book), and then there’s the Selection books which my oldest is in love with.  I don’t know if I’ll go beyond those as there are books which I want to read for myself as well.  This started after I asked the girls to do some summer reading.  I figured it was a fair exchange.

Today my middle finished her school work before anyone else got home.  I was happy for her as she’s been doing lots of homework since school began and hasn’t complained.  I expected some pushback as she’s not a big fan of homework, but she’s risen to meet the challenge.

I’m a little worried that my son will feel lost in the shuffle this year with DD1 graduating and swamped with school and DD2 in her vet class, which gets attention and interest.  He’s a quiet guy, so I’ll have to keep an eye open and look for opportunities for him to step in the sun.

My house needs a thorough cleaning and it feels as if I can’t get beyond laundry, groceries, and dishes.  Home school needs a lot of planning done.  The sewing stack is ready to bury me if I don’t get at it soon.

Whine, whine, whine.  Time to sign out.

Posted in children, family, frugal, kids, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Just the Girls

This morning, my girls and I headed to the craft stores.  We started at Michael’s and got canvases (70% off!) for DD1 to use for the IB art series.  She couldn’t believe the huge one she found for $10 – it might be five feet long by two feet.  She’s excited over those.  DD2 found coloring books – the adult calm color ones – for a little less than half price, so we tucked two away for Christmas.

The we stopped at Hobby Lobby where DD1 purchased wire (chain mail) and pearl beads.  DD2 was going to purchase quilling supplies, but found a sequin pillow on our way out and switched her plan.  What a sensory find.

I shopped for items for decorating the front porch at Christmas.  DH wants the house done up this year so we don’t look like “the Grinch house” again.  I have put lights out in past years, but am not a fan of the extension cord becoming encased in ice as we often get some rain or melt during the time the lights are up.  I put lights on the swing set for several years so that we could enjoy them, not just the neighbors (our living room is in the back of the house).  So, to avoid the cord issue I plan to do the front porch this year.

My star lights will go across the front of the porch with a regular string running across the top.  The stars each hang down from the main cord.  Then I’m going to create trees with bamboo garden stakes in my flower pots and spiral lights up those.  For daytime interest, I purchased plastic ornaments for the bamboo “trees”, and am hoping the dollar store has acryllic snowflakes again this year.

While at Hobby Lobby we found they actually have a small section of tatting supplies and put together a set of things for DD2 for Christmas.  DD1 found disco ball ornaments that are now set aside for her.  DH commented that it takes the surprise out, but the kids actually like getting to pick some of their gifts out.  For me, it’s a way to say yes to some of their wants that I might otherwise say no to.  Sometimes I say no, but go back later to stash the item unbeknownst.

The guys were starting to wonder if we were ever coming home, but it was nice to putz through the stores without wondering how bored they might be.  It was a good day.

Posted in children, Christmas, kids, Uncategorized | Leave a comment


DD2 is being hit with several challenges this school year (junior in high school).  She’s home schooled, but this year is spending half of her day in a veterinary science class.  Top it all off with sensory processing disorder.  At her vet class, she’s needed to start getting into the pace of her teacher.  For home school, she teaches herself.  I’m her facilitator, planner, and administrator.  She needs to be ready to do for herself in college, so this is one way in which I’m (hopefully) preparing her.

School is loud – especially when the speaker for the fire alarm is behind your head and you haven’t had a fire drill in six years.

This class has the kids do oral presentations.  That’s the pinnacle of fear for her.  Thankfully the first was in a group and she warned the group that she may not be able to speak, so a teammate jumped in after DD couldn’t make a sound.  If she hadn’t warned them, they would have been ticked off.

Today brought in the lap tops, and she’s never used one.  They are just different enough from a desk top to really mess with my girl.  Change is the enemy, remember.

In home school, the new math book has brought tears from day one.  I knew it was risky buying a book I couldn’t go through, but I really wanted the lesson presentations on CD, and figured I could use a different book if needed.  We made the switch yesterday, and I’ll have to go through the CD and match up lesson numbers to DD’s assignments as the books don’t follow the same order.  It may seem soon to give up on the new book, but there’s a slim chance of making it through the whole book as it is, so I don’t want to waste time.  I also don’t want math to be a stress which will only grow and expand every day.  My job is to help her learn successfully, not to tear down any self-esteem she has and burn all chance of learning.

DD really does best in math when one concept is presented then you go practice it.  The next lesson then builds on the previous.  Today’s math world is presenting more than one concept in a lesson and keeps reviewing the previous.  That is not her style.  Personally, I don’t care which book she uses as long as she’s learning the Algebra.  My concern is that terminology may have shifted (because every few years some hot shot feels the need to put their spin on things) and she’ll be lost at sea when taking the PSAT, SAT, or in college classes.  College is too close to hope that things will swing back in time for my daughter.  After all, the PSAT is in October.

I understand that teaching methods can improve and evolve.  Math stays pretty constant in its functions, however, and I wish the compulsion to change things would calm down.  Anyone who’s been around education for twenty years or more can see the circles in which “new” concepts move.  They all swing back around at some point with a new name or mask, but at the core it’s the same thing which has been done before.

Posted in children, family, home school, kids, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

And They’re Off

DD1 was already hit with a pile of homework last night, and the other two had none.  That doesn’t always sit well with DD1, but she chose the International Baccalaureate route.  She told me that she’s the only one in her school doing IB by her own choice…not that she’s shared that fact with her fellow students.  The others were either flat out told to do it by their parents, or had heavy expectations to do so because an older sibling did.  DH and I tried to talk our daughter out of it.  We ask that the kids take the hardest classes that they are capable of, but the IB degree is full of stuff I don’t truly see as a benefit to a high school degree unless you know you’re headed for international business.

For one thing, I don’t agree with requiring a student to do volunteer work.  That’s artificial and false.  A desire to volunteer should come out of an individual’s heart unless the work is assigned to make amends for wrong doing.  It’s also not the school’s place to shape my child’s moral standards.  That is my job as their parent, and even for those parents who don’t give a crap about their kids (and some parents don’t), it’s still not the school’s job.  Diversity is supposed to be what the schools are all about these days, and I’d like to see kids shaped by their own parents, which will have the influence of a variety of different cultures, belief systems, etc.  I don’t want to see every student be a carbon copy of their neighbor.

Also, there’s a dump truck full of extra work involved with attaining an IB degree.  My daughter spent time more days than not working on her big paper over the summer, and she’s doing an art focus, so she worked on her sketchbook a lot as well.  That doesn’t mean simply drawing – there is citing of sources and all kinds of rigamarole that goes along with each sketch.

As I said earlier, DH and I tried to talk her out of this route, but it was her choice.

DD2 is settling into her vet science class.  She’s getting to know a couple of the girls, which had given her a bit of trepidation.  The teacher moves at a good pace, which is difficult for DD2 to catch up to, but I pointed out that with her driver ed class she had the same complaint and adjusted to the teacher’s pace within a few days.  They discussed several projects which will be completed through the year, which overwhelmed her.  I pointed out that they’ll come one at a time and all of the details will be discussed as each project is assigned.  She’s nervous about their current project as they need to present it to the class.  One day at a time.

My plan had been to sit in the school’s lobby while waiting for her, but apparently that isn’t going to happen due to school insurance or some such reason.  So today I checked out the grocery store I’ll be using for the next nine months, and then found a hotel lobby to sit in.  I’ll need to get a bit creative and may end up driving home now and then.  It just seems such a waste of time and gas to spend an extra hour on the road in order to have an hour and a half at home.

My youngest was bugging his sisters again yesterday.  They are ready for him to get some homework!  It will likely begin tonight.  Math doesn’t give a lot of days off of homework, but it probably won’t take long to complete.

Life could be a lot worse.

Posted in children, family, international baccelaureate, kids, school, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beginnings and Continuations

The new school year begins in two days.  My oldest is champing at the bit to get going – it’s her senior year, she has one college acceptance under her belt and an IB degree to finish.  My middle is nervous about making friends and excited about being in a class all about being a veterinarian.  The afternoon will still be home schooled, so there’s no mystery there. Hopefully she’ll remember that she’s a junior.  She forgets what year she is as it’s not brought up every other day.  My youngest doesn’t think he’s ready for school, but the ‘bug-the-sister’ meter is reading off the charts and that tells me he’s bored silly.

I’m not ready for school to begin.  Summer went by too quickly.  The first two weeks of school are fully planned for DD2, but only literature is planned for the year.  History is planned for the first semester, but only one test and two test review packets are written.  That’s what I’ll be working on while DD2 is in vet class.  We have to drive a half hour each direction and the class only lasts two and a half hours, so I’m going to park my keester in the lobby and do work.  I also plan to find a route both inside and one outside the building to walk.  I’ll be throwing a couple of insulated bags into the trunk for grocery shopping as the store is around the corner from the school.  I need to use the waiting time wisely.

We were so good about family walks during May, June, and July.  Then the weather got hot and we came down with colds.  I found out after we began our walking that my knee cap has arthritis and almost no cartilage and that walking is one of the best things I can do for it.  This summer has had a lot of pain with the knee, but I turned down a shot because I wasn’t told what it was, what it would do, or how long the effects would last.  I figured those things out doing web research after the appointment.  I was also a bit miffed that I had had so many appointments with so many different people and was sent to a surgeon to hear that it was arthritis.  It was an expensive and time consuming route for something I would hope my regular doctor could have told me, only I never got to see him.  Anyway, I need to get back to walking and I figure that it will be a good way to spend some of the waiting time.  We can take family walks on the weekends through the fall.

The other day I got inspired to dig into the home school cupboard and clean out/reorganize.  Many books have come from library sales on the ‘fill a bag for $6’ day, and the plan has always been to donate those books back when we’re finished with them.  Over time, I’ve acquired multiples on different subjects so I whittled some of those down and weeded out some books which turned out to be less helpful than they looked at first glance.  I ended up with three bags of books to take in and was glad of my children’s hands to help carry them.  I just need to keep cleaning out cabinets/drawers/closets/rooms/etc. on a regular basis.  Tomorrow I’ll dive into my son’s dresser and get rid of a bunch of socks that are a bit scary to touch.

This morning I offered to take DD2 to the mall with me so she could pick out a freebie from Bath and Body Works.  (DD1 got the previous one.)  It turned out that she was feeling a need to get out of the house, which is unusual for her.  We did our small errands, stopped into the book store to window shop, then ended in Yankee Candle Store.  She loves to smell the candles, and I let her take a good amount of time.  There were a couple of fuzzy sweaters on our way out of the mall to round out the sensory needs, and she was feeling pretty decent when we left.  She doesn’t always voice her needs, so the timing of that freebie worked out wonderfully (lots of smelling in Bath and Body Works, too!).


Posted in children, family, home school, kids, school, sensory processing disorder, Uncategorized | Leave a comment