How-To's of Homeschooling

You can do this!

Don’t feel bad if you can’t do it all! We absolutely all have been there, where we feel like we’re taking one step forward and two steps back. There will always be time for the kids to master where an apostrophe is supposed to be placed. 

Focus just on language arts and math, keep up the faith at home (even if it’s just routine prayer,  the stuff from the heart, the academic and digging in more deeply can also wait as kids grow),  and if you do music, keep up the music. History and science can always be done later, as read-alouds. Kids love to be read to, even older ones. There are so many novels that have historical content, they are much more engaging and memorable than “proper” history books. 

I never was able to squeeze in formal art appreciation, but there are many ways to expose them to beautiful things without being formal. You can forget about it, so to speak, now, while the pressure is on and get more “serious” later.

Each family has unique dynamics, interests, and schedule, and it is good to try different things. But first and foremost, it must work for you. I always felt that the learning style of each kid is important, but secondary. Start with your own teaching style. If you do not want to do formal school on Sunday for example, don’t. You can still make the day count, but just not with formal, academic activities.  Don’t beat yourself up. 

It is a hot mess to try to teach anything to anyone with a baby/toddler underfoot. But if this is where you are, then just take one day at a time, and you’ll see how each day, you’ve made some progress, no matter how small. (One of the speakers at the SCCHE homeschool conference a few years back said something that stuck with me: “if today, all you’ve done was dress your kids and fed them: great!” It has been very liberating.)

This community is great at supporting each other in ideas, prayer, and shared experiences. We keep all families in prayer. We are in this together! 

Play to your child’s strengths

We are all finding our patience stretched for now. I have a daughter who was an avid reader, but math was like pulling teeth. Now that she is in high school, she loves English, and we have so many enjoyable discussions analyzing literature, and she will probably end up majoring in English, education, and/or music. Math is still a struggle for her. Go with your child’s strengths

Scheduling

Do you have a daily and weekly schedule?

Sample

  • 7:00 Wake-up, get dressed, make bed
  • 7:30 Breakfast, clean up
  • 8:00 Math (Daily Warm Up, Do sample problems on board, student practice)
  • 9:00 snack
  • 9:15 Recess
  • 9:30 English Daily Language Warm up
  • 10:00 Grammar
  • 10:30 Craft/Writing (Write story, make a related Craft)/ Spelling, etc. 
  • 11:30 Lunch/Recess
  • 12:30 Quiet Reading Time
  • 1:30 Science or Social Studies
  • 2:30 PE

I correct their work immediately, and I have a box of cute stamps to stamp their work. 

Hope this helps someone out there. 

Free languages

I am having my daughter do the all audio Pimsleur Spanish course right now. I downloaded it free from Overdrive digital library and saved it in iTunes. 

History Resources

Hillsdale College offers many free courses, and the latest is this 12-lesson, three-week course on US History using “The Great American Story: A Land of Hope” by Wilfred M. McClay. My husband is using this book to teach our boys US history this year and it’s terrific. Higher level, but very good. Here’s a synopsis of the course:

This three-week study session of our newest online course, “The Great American Story: A Land of Hope” is taught by historian Wilfred M. McClay. This course examines the story of America as a land of hope, founded on high principles. And like all of Hillsdale’s online courses, it is offered free of charge.

Those who enroll in this special study session will receive a syllabus that organizes the course into twelve lessons over three weeks, as well as regular communications to foster discussion on the key themes of the course.This free special study session begins on Monday. To enroll, click on the link.  https://www.hillsdale.edu/ushistory

On-line Art Class. Live every day.

Here is something for the kids to do. Mr. Mark’s Response to COVID-19 Global School Closures:

“We are all in this together, albeit 6-feet apart. I am now Webcasting LIVE daily at NOON CST my FREE Kid’s Special “Hour Of Pencil Power!”  This at-home virtual learning is LIVE and FREE for the children of the world on Facebook, YouTube AND Instagram. My fun, zany, art lessons are not going to cure anyone, but perhaps together we can distract, comfort, and inspire our children.”

www.markkistler.com

Language Arts

Three weeks of free writing instruction videos: https://iew.com/three-weeks-of-language-arts-instruction-from-iew

Go to the theater at home

A different opera from the MET every night: https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/

Cirque du Soleil hour long shows: https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/cirqueconnect

Read-aloud for all the family

Quite a few are free titles to choose from while schools are out:

Audible Stories | Audible.com  

Visit a museum from your house

And many more!

How to Begin to Homeschool

  1. Pray, pray, and pray some more! Suggested prayers are to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and for the intersession of our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, St. Thomas Aquinas, or guardian angels, etc. for actual graces in making decisions, teaching, and daily life.
  2. Research different styles or methods of homeschooling:
  • Traditional
  •  Classical
  • Charlotte Mason
  • Unit Studies
  • Unschooling

Look at various curricula to see what you like or would work best for you and your children. Most programs have their curriculum list available on their websites.

  1. Decide whether you will use private education or the public-school system:

Private Education: To homeschool privately and to be exempted from public school attendance in California, you can do so under the private school exemption using one of the following methods:

  1. File the Private School Affidavit (PSA) paperwork yourself between October 1-15 to establish your home as a private school. See “Schooling at Home”, https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/homeschool.asp.
  2. Register with an established private school (they file PSA paperwork annually, so you don’t need to) referred to as a Private School Satellite Program (PSP). Our Resources webpage has a list of several Catholic programs at https://southerncaliforniacatholichomeeducators.org/resources-2/. Various levels of teaching assistance are offered by these programs, and the fees vary. They will help with course planning and record keeping, and will provide transcripts. Some offer direct online instruction by subject.

Note: If you sign up with a private school that is not located in California, and so does not have a PSA filed with California, then you must also either file a PSA yourself or sign up with another school that does file the form annually.

  1. A private school exemption is also allowed if homeschooling will be done through a tutor with a valid state credential for the grade taught.

When homeschooling privately, it is highly recommended to join the Home School Legal Defense Association (https://hslda.org). They represent homeschoolers when legal rights are challenged and champion related beneficial laws in all states. Homeschool information for each state is detailed on their website, and they include many tips and resources, including some for special education students. They also offer online classes for middle and high school grades and discounts on various curricula. They support privately homeschooling member families, and are not affiliated with any particular religion. Several private school programs offer a membership discount code to join HSLDA.

Private school requirements are:

Children must be instructed in a full-time day school by persons capable of teaching.

Instruction must be in the English language.

Attendance must be kept in a register indicating any absence of a half day or more during each day school is maintained.

Instruction must be given in the various branches of study required in public schools of the state. For grades 1-6, these are English, mathematics, social sciences, science, visual and performing arts, health, and physical education. For grades 7-12, add a foreign language requirement, and possibly include courses in applied arts, career technical education, and driver education. For more details, see “Education Codes for Private Schools”, https://www.cde.ca.gov.sp/ps/psaffedcode.asp. For detailed information on what is required in public schools in California, including Common Core Standards, see “Content Standards”, https://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/index.asp.

Finger print checks required for other teachers are not required for a teaching parent or guardian working exclusively with his or her own children.

Students who do not receive classroom-based instruction are not subject to immunization requirements. Parents or guardians must maintain immunization records and provide to private schools where enrolled any required immunizations received by these students. https://www.shotsforschool.org/laws/regs2019/#Q19

Public-School System: Alternatively, you can use the public-school system, using independent study or charter schools, for which there is information online. This is usually not as problematic in the younger grades, but be aware that some social values which are in conflict with the Catholic faith are presented by state requirements and will be in their textbooks. Religion courses will not be included and will need to be added on as an elective. This more difficult in high school grades.

  1. For students currently enrolled in a private or public school (even if you are on summer break), you will need to notify the current school that your student(s) will be moving to a different school, and you must provide the new school’s name, mailing address, and effective date, so that they can send student records to the new school. If you have signed up with a PSP, they will have a form letter for this purpose, and if you are establishing your own private school, you can find resources through HSLDA.
  2. Decide on curriculum for each child by grade and ability (some math programs have online testing to see at which level a student should begin), depending on whether you have set up your own school or have signed up with a PSP. In the case of a PSP, you will usually use their suggested curriculum, though many allow for using alternate curriculum choices. If a PSP is accredited, you will want to follow their recommended curriculum. For a good place to start researching materials, see Cathy Duffy’s Reviews by subject, https://cathyduffyreviews.com.
  3. Set up a schedule for when you will start the school day and for each subject and breaks. Be sure to include scheduling of prayer time. Keep in mind younger that students do not have long attention spans, and it is better to have a shorter lesson which can be retained. Subject time lengths will gradually increase with grade level. A good place to start is with the talk given at our 2019 conference by LuAnn Simons, “Organizing for Success in Home School, How to Structure Your Physical Environment and Your Time”, https://practicalponderings.wordpress.com/videos/luann/
  4. Write out your reasons for homeschooling. Just as roses have thorns, not each day will go smoothly as planned, and it is nice to be able to look at your reasons to homeschool and hang in there. Have a back-up plan for days with significant illness, such as a read-aloud or quality audiobook with discussion.
  5. God has made you a family, and He has given each of your children especially to you to care for, nurture, and educate. Have fun and love your family, being sure that each child knows you are rooting for him or her, and that you are happy to be with them. Keep a positive attitude and smile. As Mother Theresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Help them achieve a love of God with a view toward eternal happiness with God and a quality, faith-filled education enabling each child to carry out his or her mission in life. Have fun with the whole family, since you will have more time to do things together.
  6. Find a local support group for park days or co-op classes. These are invaluable for exchanging teaching or curricula ideas, and over time your children (and you) will make friends. We have lists by area at https://southerncaliforniacatholichomeeducators.org/support-groups/.
  7. Attend the annual SCCHE Conference and Curriculum Fair held each June! We have excellent speakers, a vendor hall with quality Catholic curricula, an area to buy and sell Used Curricula, and an opportunity to ask questions and speak with seasoned homeschool moms who have older children who have graduated homeschooling through high school. Some of their students have also graduated from college, and married. It’s nice to get that perspective when you are new to homeschooling.

May God bless your family and your homeschooling years!