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Why I love homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do

As this calendar year draws to a close, my appreciation for homeschooling and hybrid schooling (a mix of school at home and outsourced classes)  keeps growing.  As new students attend classes at Learn Beyond The Book, I feel so grateful for the opportunities we have, especially where we live.  An individualized education for each kid is possible!  It takes work, but so do most things that is worth anything in life.

Here are some things I love most about homeschooling/hybrid schooling:

  1. Kids can learn at their own pace and in their own style!

Everyone is so different!  As adults, we all know it, accept it, and even appreciate that about each other, but in schools there is so much pressure to conform to a certain standard and all at the same age.  When you homeschool or do hybrid schooling, you can truly customize education!  Then it’s not a one-size-fits-all education, but a have-it-your-way education!   It’s the way of the future!

If you, for example, feel that your child is advanced in Math, you can put them in the skill level class that you feel they need to be in by either getting the curriculum for that level or attending a skills-based Math class at Learn Beyond The Book or signing up for some sessions with a great tutor.  If you feel they’re a little behind in Reading, there is a class for every level.  If they’re really interested in Science, there is a class for that as well!  Homeschooled kids are so used to kids of all ages that they don’t even bat an eye if an older or younger child is in their class or on their level.  We always stress in all our classes at Learn Beyond The Book that you can only know something if you’ve learned it, so we make sure no-one ever has any comments like “You don’t know that?!”  That way every class remains a safe learning environment for everyone to be in, on an emotional level as well as academically.

On the other hand, if your child is extremely interested in Technology, why not build their education around their interest? Why not sign them up for a Minecraft Science Modules class if they are a Minecraft fan, or help them learn how to program their own Video Games?  If they love History, focus most of their learning around their interest and see their love for learning blossom!!  We love to provide all these different kinds of classes to homeschooled kids so that they can excel in their areas of interest.

 

  1. Homeschooled kids, especially as they get older, have more time to themselves  – no unnecessary busy work and homework that leads nowhere. Teens tend to know themselves better, because they have more time to focus on what drives them and what they like to do when no-one is telling them what to do.  This leads them to discover what their passion in life is or just what they enjoy doing and it could lead to a future career.  When some of my children were in high school, they took a lot of community college courses and even with a pretty full load they still had hours more per week to themselves than their public school peers.

What did they do with their time?  The one spent hours a day practicing singing in the band he was in, then moved on to spending hours on a flight simulator and starting to read airplane manuals, watching countless documentaries, reading books about people he admired, which all lead him to his desire to study Aerospace Engineering.  The other spent hours a day playing video games and hanging out on Skype with his friends after learning some special effects video editing, with which he has earned some money and he developed his art.   Then he dabbled in Filmmaking classes, learned all about lighting, editing, Photoshop, multimedia art, and more at the local community colleges. Now he studies concept design for the entertainment industry and uses, as he told me the other day, every single thing he ever delved into, even the map building software that was linked to a videogame he loved as a teen.  The focus was not on getting him to stop playing video games, because that would’ve been futile, but to make sure that he doesn’t just play but use it in some creative way, which I asked him to do every day at some point and he usually happily did that, because it was still linked to his big love of games.  He has now learned within days a complicated game development software and started building his own game while using his own concept design art for it, using all the skills he acquired in that time when many might have thought he was just wasting his time on games.  One interest leads to another and as long as we are helping to guide things to a healthy place, eventually they find who they really are.  If they are told constantly what to do and when, they barely know who they are, end up with years in college for a degree they aren’t that interested in and thousands of dollars in debt later, they end up in a career that they don’t love and when midlife hits, there is a crisis.

 

  1. The fact that homeschooled students have more free time than kids in traditional schools usually also allows them more time to spend with family and friends and as a result they develop really deep and meaningful relationships that often last a lifetime. Bonds between siblings are very close if nurtured properly by the parents, because they spend a lot of time together.  They are also often a little less influenced by what their typical teen peers and society would think is “cool” and enjoy simple wonderful things in life.  Because they are used to being around their parents and other adults, they appreciate parents more than most school kids who are gone from their parents for almost all productive hours of the day.  As they grow, it often becomes more important for them to have a little more independent time with friends, which is when nurturing classes and group social events come in handy (like the ones at Learn Beyond The Book), because they have healthy interactions with friends with the guidance of a compassionate facilitator.  All this make for kids who are socially very well adjusted because they are so used to interacting with all different ages from adults to younger kids with the mixed ages of families, classes, parkdays and social events.  They aren’t just used to interacting with their exact age peers.  As the excellent movie, ‘Class Dismissed’ put it, there is no need to group kids “by date of manufacture”.  I love that term!

In our classes at Learn Beyond The Book, all students are treated with the same respect we would give an adult, so all their opinions are treated as valuable and it makes such a big difference in how they perceive themselves and their fellow students, no matter what the age.

I can keep talking for much longer, but these are my top three reasons for loving homeschooling and hybrid schooling as much as I do!  More in my next blog, thanks for reading!

Spotlight on Homeschool Wind & Percussion Band

Have you ever wished your child could play in a Wind & Percussion band at school, but thought that it might be hard to pull off because of the fact that you’re homeschooling? Maybe you don’t want to pay for Flute, Trumpet or Drum lessons first and then get into a band, because maybe the kids won’t even want to take it or won’t be excited about practicing, even though you see the benefits of learning to read music and play an instrument.

Well, there is good news.  At Learn Beyond The Book, we have started a Band program and it has been so fun!  The kids don’t have to be trained in any instrument before joining the band.  They can join and receive lessons as part of band practice.  The motivating factor for getting better is that they’re playing in a band with their friends and that usually helps motivate them to practice.

Our awesome band director, Kris Chase, has played in a lot of bands and can teach all the different wind/percussion instruments.  We have Beginnning and Intermediate Band, so if your child has already been trained in one of the instruments, they can join the Intermediate Band and if they are brand new, Beginning Band would be perfect.  The Band meets Monday afternoons starting 9/14.  Beginning Band meets at 5-5:45pm and Intermediate Band meets 4:15-5pm.

A great perk is that we are allowing homeschool parents of enrolled band students to join us for free if they would like to play as well.

To register for Beginning or Intermediate Band, click here.

My Favorite Curriculum

People ask me so often what curriculum I recommend. The answer always is a hodgepodge of curriculum, otherwise known as an eclectic approach. I found these curriculum choices to work well for a broad spectrum of kids and use it regularly in the group classes that I teach at Learn Beyond The Book as well, so I wanted to write them down, because many wonder about it. If you ask 10 homeschoolers what curriculum they use though, you will have 10 different answers, so it will be a trial and error process to find the good matches for your child’s learning style, so try to get the curriculum used. Here are just my own personal favorites, but of course by no means a comprehensive list:

 

For Language Arts:

Spelling:

Spelling Power is my favorite and I sometimes combine it with the free version of Spelling City online that has a few online games which they like. I will do the pretest from Spelling Power, but modify it a bit and go till they have 10 words wrong, then put them into Spelling City and let them do that daily until they get 100% for 3 days in a row. If they keep missing just 1 word, I will move on and just add that word to the next list. The way that Spelling Power prescribes also works great, but if you have less time every day for a pretest, the Spelling City combination is helpful.

Reading:

Bob Books and then the readers from the curriculum set Sing, Spell, Read, and Write. After that I love some small reader books from the library and then switch to lots of picture books. Once you do picture books and they get a bit harder, you might read some words and they read some and that way they don’t get too tired and frustrated. I would say whenever frustration sets in, that’s it for the day. You want them to love reading, and not hate it. Also, read out loud to them a lot of fun books that they can’t read themselves yet. Dr. Seuss books are my favorite, but there are tons of other fun ones too.

After they start reading, let them pick books that they love from the library or Amazon/Barnes & Noble.

Grammar:

First Language Lessons and the Rummy Roots games from English from the Roots Up to learn Greek and Latin Root words, then reinforce things learned in First Language Lessons with Easy Grammar and Daily Grams.

Writing:

I like Writing Strands for some things and Institute for Excellence in Writing for other things (look for this used, it is really expensive). I like to combine Writing with whatever else we’re learning, so if we just studied ants, I will let them tell me something about what they’ve learned and write it down (start with just a few words, then progress to a sentence and paragraphs, then essays eventually). Then I would let them copy what I wrote, because that way they write it, it’s really their words, but they see the correct way to write it with correct spelling, punctuation and capitalization OR you can let them copy sentences from their favorite books. I got this idea of copying and dictating from the Charlotte Mason Approach.

Math:

Math-U-See for place value, addition and subtraction and then when they’ve mastered those, I like the Key To Series for Decimals, Percents & Fractions, etc., coupled with a lot of Math Games. After that I like Saxon Algebra ½ for Pre-Algebra and for Algebra 1 my favorite book is Elementary Algebra, which you can purchase with or without a DVD with an excellent instructor.

Economics & Finance/Consumer Math:

I wrote my own curriculum for this, because I didn’t find something that I really liked. My curriculum is called Where’s the Money? It has a lot of hands-on teaching and ideas and incorporates games and entrepreneurship.

Social Studies:

For Social Studies, I love Story of the World as the backbone and books from the library plus unit studies from Teachers Pay Teachers for activities for specific topics to supplement – borrowed this idea from Classical Education where History is done chronologically.

Science:

Lots of Science books from the library and Schlessinger Media DVDs and Discovery Education for almost any subject. I would tailor it a lot to what my kids were interested in at the time. Animal Planet episodes are also great for some Science. Mostly let them ask all their questions about how the world works and find them the answers and ask them questions about it so that they start thinking about it themselves. I also love Brain Pop. There will be some free videos, but a subscription is usually required. A lot of the charter schools have this as a free resource to you though, so check with your teacher if you are in a charter school.

I hope this has been helpful.  Feel free to come browse our selection of new and used curriculum at SCV Beyond Books.