Learn Beyond The Book

Home » Posts tagged 'homeschooling Santa Clarita'

Tag Archives: homeschooling Santa Clarita

New to homeschooling? Where to start? Helpful tips to get started

I’m homeschooling… I have no idea where to start! HELP!

First of all, congratulations on deciding to take a pro-active approach towards your children’s education. Secondly, I know how scary this can feel, much like you felt the first time your oldest child was put into your arms and you had to start parenting and had no idea what you were doing. As you look back, I’m sure you, like most parents, would’ve told your younger self to relax and enjoy it as much as possible. You really CAN do this! You’ve successfully taught them to walk and talk, and you can take it the rest of the way! You are not alone and there are great resources available, more now than ever before.

In this article I would like to guide you a little on where to start with some practical tips to make the process move along a little smoother.

1. Join as many local support groups as you can find and know where to find information for local homeschooling. Then start attending some of the events and field trips to get connected.

For Santa Clarita, that is easy, because we have a lot of support out here and hundreds, if not thousands, of homeschool families. There are TONS of social activities and if you hook up here, you will find out about all of them.

Here are some links to get you started:

http://www.meetup.com/Santa-Clarita-Homeschoolers-and-Hybrid-Schoolers/

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/Homeschooling_Explorers/

http://www.learnbeyondthebook.com/articleslinks.htm

2. Attend a homeschool information meeting where you can ask questions and get some basic homeschool information – there is one about once a month and details about it is available on the LearnBeyondTheBook.com website.

If you can’t wait till the next info meeting, click on this link for a recorded info meeting with all the supporting documents.

3. Read “how to” books about homeschooling.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Maria-emma Willis, ISBN 978-0761520139

The Three R’s by Ruth Beechick, ISBN 978-0880620741

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto, ISBN 978-0865714489

How Children Learn by John Holt, ISBN 978-0201484045

101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy, ISBN 978-0929320151

The Teenage Liberation Handbook ISBN 978-0962959172

4. Attend a local park day and listen to all the veteran moms talk about curriculum and classes and ask your questions. Most likely someone else has the same question or has used that curriculum before that you have a question about. You can talk while your children will form important friendship bonds with the other kids.

5. Attend your first Used Curriculum Sale – these are always some in the summer months and we have a used curriculum selection for sale all year at Learn Beyond The Book. Used Curriculum sales are great to look at curriculum hands-on before purchasing it and the prices are a fraction of the cost of new curriculum. Definitely go to one of these before buying new curriculum if possible.

6. Attend your first curriculum fair/convention. These usually also occur during the summer months. They provide lots of great talks and discussions where you can learn more. If you missed it this year, don’t worry, they happen every year.

7. Like the Learn Beyond The Book page on Facebook. Our Facebook page provides inspiration, current news, homeschool humor, and lots more and it’s LOCAL!

8. Familiarize yourself with the California Homeschool Network (CHN) website where you can find answers to questions about if it is legal to homeschool and tons more information. It is also great to refer friends and family to, if needed.

9. Take a look at the California Department of Education website if you are wondering about standards and what would be covered in different grades in a public school.

10. Decide if you are going to file your own PSA or if you are going to register with a charter school. Feel free to read my other article about charter schools so that you can get a better understanding what that involves. If you decide on a charter school, make sure to apply ASAP.

11.  If you decide you don’t want to do all the subjects alone at home, but want to “outsource” some learning to someone else in and do some version of hybrid schooling, check out our Fall 2017 schedule to choose from hundreds of engaging, hands-on, project-based courses, kindergarten through 12th grade, in 4 different locations.

12. ENJOY your children and being together as a family and enjoy all the learning you will be doing yourself!

 

Happiness in Education

Happiness…. What is it?  Most of us will probably define it as something that we all strive for, something that is even listed as one of our “unalienable rights” in the Declaration of Independence – the right to the pursuit of happiness.  The Webster’s Dictionary calls it

a :    a state of well-being and contentment : joy

b :  a pleasurable or satisfying experience

Amidst all the talk about happiness, including countless seminars and books, it appears to me that we don’t always put a high enough premium on it when it comes to the world of education.   It seems we have forgotten that happiness is also an unalienable right of children and not just adults.  So often we see kids dragging themselves to school, experiencing little joy from the process of learning, even though education is one of the most wondrous of life’s experiences!

This saddens me, and makes me very determined to work for a change!  The incorporation of happiness and joy into the process of learning is grossly undervalued in most of our educational systems today.  Our lives are so short; this is a reality I have just recently experienced again with the death of my father.  Why would we spend extended periods of time in self-imposed misery when we don’t have to?  Sadly, most kids don’t have any say in this whole process of imposed joylessness.  They get dragged to school with no choice and the frustration that creates can spill out in the form of a variety of undesirable behaviors.

There are many enjoyable and engaging ways to learn.  The industrialized method that we’ve been using for the past century is, increasingly, not one of those.  Wouldn’t it be more engaging for students to learn through experiences, projects, apprenticeships, and from people with a passion for the subject than to spend an inordinate amount of time practicing for a test?  If an adult wants to learn something, they find someone who knows the subject, spend time with them and learn in a hands-on, experiential way–why is it not the same for kids?  When teachers are saddled with increasingly large class sizes, required to spend many days testing and many more preparing for these tests, and required to cover all subjects, it is virtually impossible to engage every child in the most inspiring way. Putting aside the fact that it takes all the joy out of teaching, there are other problems with that model as well.  If that teacher really is not a fan of Math, do you think it will not come through in her teaching?  If she freaks out when she sees a bug, do you think her Science class will take a hands-on approach, or be the best these kids have ever had?  Of course not!  Everyone has their limitations, and someone who does not enjoy a subject isn’t the best choice to be teaching it.

At Learn Beyond The Book, we have taken many of the problems we’ve seen in traditional schools and created solutions.  Not only are all our classes taught by individuals who are highly passionate and knowledgeable about their subject, but also by kind, compassionate individuals who think of the children as whole human beings, engaging them as individuals and encouraging them as a group.  We see children as resourceful, and value their input as part of the educational process. We create classes where they feel embraced and respected as they actively participate in their own learning, where they more easily remember what they’ve learned, because they were engaged in the learning process, not passive bystanders!

Learn Beyond The Book maintains small class sizes to create an intimate and safe environment where kids can try things, fail, learn from their mistakes, succeed, and celebrate each other’s successes.  What is the result of all this?  Happy kids who can’t wait to come to class!  It’s a win-win for students, teachers, and parents.  All the kids attending are either homeschooled or hybrid schooled, which combines independent learning with several of our classes.  We provide support to homeschooling families and high quality class options to families who enroll in home-study charter schools.  Homeschooling parents love this system because it provides them with some free time and a break from the feeling that they have to become an expert in every subject, especially the ones they do not enjoy themselves.  Many times we’ve even seen parents become more interested in learning about a topic that they previously didn’t find interesting, because their kid has been so inspired by a class and shared their excitement with a parent.  Our teachers enjoy teaching because they have freedom to teach the kids in the way that they best learn, considering all the different personalities and learning styles in their class, and without being bound by stringent testing and grading standards.   Our students have a great time learning and doing it all surrounded by good friends and a supportive, less competitive atmosphere.  It is all so exciting to observe!

In my experience, happy teachers teach more effectively, and happy students are more efficient learners.  Many of our families have remarked about the change they see in their kids when they are learning in our more happiness-inducing atmosphere.  Imagine how your child might blossom in such an environment.

If you are interested in a different kind of learning environment for your children, feel free to check out our website and all of our Fall classes.

 

 

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!

Career Development classes this Fall

Even though all the engaging, hands-on classes offered at Learn Beyond The Book eventually could lead to a career, a few classes this Fall can result in an actual job shortly after taking the class.   Below are some details.

Aviation – SCV

This Fall, Jonny Hyman, a private pilot himself with a certification to teach Private Pilot Ground School, will be teaching that and students will be able to go take a test after this class and start their flight training upon passing the test.  This could lead to careers in Aviation.

If you’ve ever met Jonny, you know that Aviation is one of his biggest passions and he loves to share his knowledge about that.

Technology & Programming – SCV & some in Sherman Oaks

Another class that Jonny will be teaching this semester, Computer Technology, could potentially result in a tech support job.  In this class students take apart a computer, investigate and study all parts of the computer, put it back together, learn about software and learn how to trouble shoot if their computer is giving them trouble.

In the same vain, the Website Design & SEO/Marketing class helps students (including adults) put together their own websites in WordPress for either a personal portfolio or business and teaches students how to optimize their reach online with search engine optimization (SEO) skills.  This class is taught by Anthony Franck, who does Website Design, Internet Marketing & SEO as a full-time job.

Last, but not least in the Technology field, we have several programming classes.  For the Minecraft lovers, there will be Minecraft Mods.  There will also be Programming with Python, Java Programming and C# programming combined with 3D modeling in Maya and Unity, all taught by programmers and the last taught by a high school credentialed Digital Arts teacher.

Acting – SCV & Sherman Oaks & Lancaster

For the actor kids in our midst, we have several Theater classes, but one that directly benefits their audition process would be the On Camera Acting classValerie Gould, an acting coach, will work through scenes with the kids and help them if they are in need of guidance entering the entertainment industry.  She has years of experience with her own son being the voice of Nemo in the Finding Nemo movie and her daughter in many well-known Disney shows and more.

Medical Billing – SCV

This course provides a student with all the skills they need to enter the Medical Billing profession.  It will run for the year, but if students really want to move forward quickly, they could finish it in a shorter amount of time.  It is taught by Pat Schneider, who has taught many others and provides internship opportunities for students after the class thanks to her contacts in the medical profession field.

Public Speaking – SCV

Public Speaking is a skill that is needed in every job these days.  Presentations are standard fare and students need to know how to do it.  The Public Speaking & Debate classes will even be beneficial when it comes to job applications!  It is taught by Nick Bremner, who participated in numerous Debate competitions throughout high school and college.

Hope you can join us for some of these classes!

New hybrid school program for Santa Clarita starting Fall 2015!

inspirelogoThe great news about charter schools just keep coming this week!!

As you know, Learn Beyond The Book already partners with 10 great charter schools offering classes and social groups, fieldtrips, and more to their students and will continue to do so (Golden Valley, Sky Mountain, Gorman, SCVi, iLead Lancaster, iLead Exploration, Sage Oak, Albert Einstein Academy, Excel Academy, and Mission View Charter Schools).

I’m very excited to let you know that Inspire Charter School has partnered with Learn Beyond The Book, to provide a true hybrid program for homeschoolers/hybrid schoolers in a new Specialty Program, starting Fall 2015.  There are many benefits for you as a result of our partnership.  Most families will love the ability to choose up to any six of the available Beyond The Book classes each semester.  These classes are available tuition free for all enrolled Inspire Charter School students.  If students want to take more than the six classes, parents are free to pay the rest out of pocket.

The whole goal of Inspire is to simplify things in order to give students the best individualized education program possible.  Inspire provides special education services and the teacher assigned to your student will be available for assisting parents in getting any questions answered that you might have about the program or homeschooling in general.

A credentialed teacher, assigned to the students at Learn Beyond The Book (one of our own local teachers), will be on site at Learn Beyond The Book at regular predetermined times and they will be collecting the monthly work samples, most of which will be created during Learn Beyond The Book class times from students/parents, as well as an attendance calendar, which has to be initialed by the students and signed by parents for all days attended in the month.   Since the teacher will know the students from being on site, they wouldn’t have to meet with them and the parents for an hour each month.  Parents also won’t have to fill out any specific learning logs.  We are excited to have Kelli Mejia, a homeschool mom herself, be our first teacher!

If your student chooses to use the online courses available to them, the funding for those will not reduce your tuition-free classes.  For K-8 students, K12 or Odysseyware is available and A-G approved APEX for high school students.  Students in high school could replace APEX courses with community college classes and/or test out of certain courses.   High School Science courses with labs done through APEX will have labs completed by attending 2 Saturdays per semester of lab time.  Electives taken at Learn Beyond The Book can count for credit under certain circumstances, so please see this article for more details.  High school credentialed teachers are available all week for students’ questions via phone and online and classes taught by our own credentialed teachers will be able to count for high school credit.

When testing time rolls around, all Inspire state testing will also be conducted at Learn Beyond The Book’s facility and proctored by the assigned teacher(s).   Inspire doesn’t believe in teaching to the test so students will not feel pressure about that.

If students want to use funding at other vendors as well, they can enroll in a different program of Inspire with an annual budget of $1,000 for enrichment with the core subjects being done through one of the online platforms (K12, Odysseyware and APEX).  In this program, students have to use the online curriculum.

There are limited spots available for the Fall, so don’t delay your enrollment if this sounds like a great fit for your family.  Then also register on our site for the classes you want and put Inspire down as your school.

A free information meeting to provide you with more details about Inspire’s partnership with Learn Beyond The Book was held on July 16, 2015 and here is a partial recording of the meeting (forgot to push record right away, but what you missed is in this article).

Why homeschool parents want to quit and why they don’t have to – part 4

As I’ve discussed in previous blogs, there are many reasons why homeschool parents think of giving up, but today I want to give you the final two in this series accompanied by some possible solutions.

 

• I’m not patient enough to do this

Although it is true that some people have a more patient disposition without even trying, a lot of people will be much more patient if they put themselves in their children’s shoes. I challenge every homeschooling parent to learn a skill they are not familiar with especially one that is hard for them, to feel the inadequate feeling that comes with that.

I recently started to learn the flute and even though I already read music, it was not easy at all and I was just imagining how hard it must be if someone doesn’t even read music yet. It gave me even more patience for kids just learning a new language or Math concepts. A lot of the time, especially learning those skills, it seems crazy how often the kids forget the facts they’ve learned and knew perfectly the day or week before, but it has not been cemented in their brains yet if they forgot it. I used to think my kids were just lazy and not trying their best until I learned how much repetition it takes to make it second nature in our minds.

 

Possible solutions:

– Don’t accept that you’re not patient as a character trait, but work on becoming more patient by e.g. learning something new yourself and/or thinking from the child’s perspective

– If you have a particularly hard time staying patient with a certain topic, consider a tutor or other teacher. We are most impatient in the subjects that we’re really good at, because to us it is already like second nature and way too obvious, so it’s hard to be patient with someone who might have a harder time with it.

 

• I’m worried they don’t have enough friends

The question about socialization is a big one amongst non-homeschoolers and often brought up to try to persuade homeschoolers that they really aren’t doing a good thing. However, if you have a concern about your child’s social group, there are many ways to solve it.

 

Possible solutions:

– Get more involved with your local homeschool groups. Join a Meetup or other homeschool support groups in your area.

– Enroll in some classes where your students will meet others and see them on a regular basis.

– Make socializing a priority and take initiative setting up playdates or hang out times.

Why homeschoolers want to stop homeschooling and why they don’t need to – Part 3

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, there are many reasons why homeschoolers feel the urge to stop homeschooling or those considering it think that they rather shouldn’t pursue it. Here are a few more:

I’m scared my kids will have gaps in their education

This seems like a perfectly legitimate concern until you actually start homeschooling and realize just how many gaps you yourself have even though most of us went through traditional school and were even very good at it. If you ever learned some of the stuff, you already forgot it long ago, since it is not useful to your current life. If a child has learnt how to read, write and do basic Math, he/she can learn everything else they desire to learn on this planet, maybe with the help of some expert, but they are capable of filling in any gaps that you might’ve left. As parents we are so concerned for our children’s well-being that we are most likely not to leave gaps and a disjointed curriculum would have a better chance of leaving gaps.

Possible solutions:
– Check to see if your children have critical thinking skills and if they question things around them and you’ll know if they’re interpreting their surroundings accurately.
– Ask lots of insight questions and you will soon span all disciplines of learning just based around a common theme.
– Make use of classes by experts where they can learn the things you aren’t comfortable teaching.
– If you are nervous you’ll leave gaps, feel free to check the standards listed on the CA Department of Education site, which would mean you would at least be leaving the same gaps everyone else in California schools would have.
– You could again enroll in a charter school where a credentialed teacher will be supervising your journey and can help you make sure important things get covered.

I’m worried I’ll mess them up

This concern is solely based on the responsibility we feel to “produce” good adults, productive and involved citizens and all around someone that everyone would like to have around. We feel inadequate in ourselves to pull that off.
Once again, just the fact that you’re concerned about it, most probably means you’re not messing them up. However, “messing them up” should be defined. I think it probably will have a lot to do with leaving gaps in their education, which I discussed above. There does come a point where fighting with your children to get them to do school work could start damaging your parent-child relationship and create a “messed up” view of education where they start hating it. I believe that is the point where a change is needed.

Possible solutions:
– There are many solutions though and most of the time this starts happening as the kids enter puberty where they really are just trying to figure themselves out and establish that they are individuals and don’t want to just be followers and feel like puppets. This is perfectly normal and healthy for them to do and once you know that is what is happening, it becomes less personal and we feel less defensive as parents. It is especially hard when this happens to your firstborn, because your sweet, friendly child suddenly becomes less happy and even rude and disrespectful to you at times and you’re not used to it happening at all. It does pass and it is important to give kids some space to develop into their own during this time. The more they see you respect them and this process, the more likely they will be letting you into their world, because you are not trying to control them.

One of my friends likened this stage of development to that of a chrysalis turning into a butterfly. All that has to be done with it is to leave it alone and provide the conditions for it to successfully emerge. If you ever tried to shake around the chrysalis or tried to help the butterfly get out when it is stuck in the process of coming out of the cocoon, you know that it is interfering with nature and never works out well. We’ve had a few butterfly gardens and it never works to try to “help”. As parents the most important thing is for us to be available to them and assure them of our love and providing an enriching world, but not “shake around” their chrysalis or try to control their emersion as they try to mature.
– At this point in time, it also really helps kids to have a lot of social interaction with friends and often they appreciate other teachers in their lives, not just their parents. Find a good class and teacher in the neighborhood in the topic they are most interested in and expose them to other good teachers and role models.

Why homeschool parents want to quit and why they shouldn’t

As homeschooling families, we all have our good days and our bad days, just like any other regular family. The only difference is that, since we homeschool, we might potentially be with the kid who is causing us distress the whole day while other families might have some hours that the child is at school to think about how to handle the situation when the child returns from school, time to sort of push the “reset” button. So, our bad days sometimes feel like bad weeks, bad months or even a bad year. There are many reasons for things going wrong and for most there are solutions that work differently for different children. Today I want to write about what it is that pushes most families to thinking that they should stop homeschooling (or never even start) and invite you to investigate why that shouldn’t make you stop and how it can potentially be solved. Most of all I want everyone to realize they are NOT alone in these struggles, it is very common.

Here are some common concerns that homeschoolers face during the years of homeschooling:

• Student(s) resisting instruction

• It’s too expensive

• We have a lot of hard days

• I’m scared my kids will have gaps in their education

• I’m worried I’ll mess them up

• I’m not patient enough to do this

• I’m worried they don’t have enough friends

In this article, the first in a series, I would like to explore just the first concern and in subsequent articles, the others will be discussed.

Student(s) resisting instruction

Many of us probably have encountered the child who, when called to start “school”, gives a sigh and asks, “Do I have to?” Although that is not a fun thing to hear when you spent several hours preparing something that you think would be important or even fun, it is important to not take it personally.

Remember the following possibilities:

– If you were waking the child up to go to the school down the street, you probably would’ve had the same response, but wouldn’t have thought anything of it, because that would be “normal”, because everyone else also deals with that and you’re not anything unusual.

– A lot of times if you have a child just coming out of traditional school, they might need some time to deschool first.

– It’s not always easy and neither is it fun to be pulled out of doing something you’re really enjoying to do something that you might not be that interested in. We don’t even like it as adults.

Some possible solutions:

As is the case with all homeschooling issues, there isn’t just one answer, but several possible options that might be helpful.

– Give the child a time that school will start and it is great to have that be a consistent time, e.g. 9am every morning or 2pm or whatever time works best with their natural rhythm and age (teens usually like to sleep in way later).

– Give the student some warning, e.g. remind them about 10 minutes before they need to start.

– Some families let the student set their own schedule. They are given an assignment sheet for each day and they have freedom to do those things whenever they would like as long as it’s done by the end of the day. This encourages time management and self-regulation, but it might have to be slowly implemented with younger children who might have a hard time to manage all their time right away.

– Reconsider the curriculum you’re using if this is a common occurrence where the child is complaining about doing school work. It might not fit their learning style or modality. Keep the lines of communication open and don’t take anything personally.

– Always encourage them to give you feedback. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Try to feel what they’re feeling. The more they have a say in how and what they’re learning, the more likely they will be active participants.

– If the problem persists, consider setting up a meeting with a homeschool consultant (like myself) to discuss potential solutions for your specific situation.

More on the other concerns in my next article.

Class Dismissed Movie Review

A few months ago, I found out that a new documentary about homeschooling would be released soon and I was very excited. I bought my ticket online and drove down to North Hollywood last night to see it in the Laemmle Theater. I entered the theater with great anticipation and the hope that this will be a documentary that I can recommend to secular and religious people alike when they consider homeschooling as an option or are new to it. Up to this point, I haven’t had much luck locating a documentary like it anywhere. All I’ve had to recommend were Sir Ken Robinson’s awesome TED Talks and the great talk about Hackschooling. I must admit that I was concerned and a bit nervous too, since I had invited a lot of fellow homeschoolers to go watch it with me. What if this was just another biased documentary with an agenda to push one way of homeschooling as the only right way?

The theater was clearly filled with enthusiastic homeschoolers as was evident from the loud cheers at regular intervals during the screening. As the movie minutes rolled along, I got more and more excited about Class Dismissed. It really portrayed all different kinds of options available to homeschoolers as it followed a family along their homeschool journey, struggles and all. What I really loved about it was that several different options were given. Viewers got to see different approaches to homeschooling and other options like hybrid schooling with the help of learning centers as well as an experience with a charter school. They made the point throughout that one thing would or wouldn’t work for their family, which is the way it should be seen, especially as homeschoolers. There is no right way for each family and not even for each student!

I felt the movie did a wonderful job of being real. It had a real family, real-life issues, real questions and concerns, real solutions, without being unnecessarily dramatized. I am convinced that the homeschool world needs a movie like this so badly, because everyone has their own struggles and especially when you are new to it, parents so often feel so alone and think that they’re the only ones with struggles and that they are just not equipped to pull it off! I’ve found countless times that as soon as I’m honest about our family’s struggles on the journey, others open up and share theirs as well and it is amazing how similar these struggles are. The film did an excellent job of portraying homeschooling as it truly is: a journey and not an event.

I appreciated the homeschool experts who spoke during the movie, with all their years of wisdom. They all had such good points to add and really contributed to making this a great and balanced film. I loved how none of them pushed just one way of homeshooling as the only or superior way. Blake Boles even commented how homeschooling isn’t for everyone and that it really is about the choice that parents should have between all different kinds of schooling, which is not currently the case. I believe that movies like this will do a lot to promote change in that direction, which is very exciting.

The drive down to North Hollywood was made even more worth it since we got to meet the family who is the main part of the film, as well as the 2 producers, Jeremy Stuart and Dustin Woodard. What an amazing production! The cinematography and editing were excellent as well. I found it very easy to watch and interesting to follow the life of the family. It was engaging and not repetitive footage as is often the case with documentaries.

I want to show this film to everyone because of all the great reasons above and so we will have small screenings at Learn Beyond The Book in November and the months beyond, depending on demand. I am convinced that this movie could be the start for many families of creating an environment where everyone can be happy, fulfilled individuals all throughout their lives. I hope you will be able to join us for one of the screenings. If you have a day and time preference, please leave it in the comment section.

Spotlight on Math

 

Last week I wrote about the importance of Language Arts in the curriculum of every student and this week I want to highlight the importance of Math.

For a lot of students Math is a nightmare and they just can’t wait to be done with it for life.  I always tell them that they will never be done with Math, since we use it every single day.  There is a level of Math though that few people ever use unless they get into a career like Engineering, Architect, or Math teacher.  Even though it is not everyone’s favorite thing to do, it sure can be taught in more interesting ways than it sometimes is.  Some parents/teachers really hate it themselves and never quite got it down themselves and now years later, after not using it, they have forgotten a lot of it.  Math is like a second language and therefore needs to be taught as such, with constant repetition until it becomes second nature to the speaker. 

At Learn Beyond The Book our Math classes are taught by individuals who absolutely love numbers and Math and will impart that love and passion to their students.  We employ lots of games and projects as well as hands-on manipulatives for a lot of it, whenever possible. 

We also break Math down in the components & skills that make up higher Math.  We start out with a very strong emphasis on Place Value, which is essential to grasp and then Adding & Subtracting, plus things like reading clocks, counting money, etc.  Once students master these concepts and Math facts, they move on to the Multiplication & Division class.  Once they mastered those skills, which of course build on addition & subtraction, they are ready to move into the Decimals, % and Fractions class.  Then we introduce them to positive and negative numbers in the Integers, Measurements & Word Problems class, some basic Geometry, Graphs, and cement all of that with word problems.  Finally, they are ready for Pre-Algebra and higher Algebra and Geometry classes, which would be the next levels.  Just understanding that progression already helps a lot to know where everything fits in place.  Lots of curriculum teach a little of everything and don’t review enough for students to really master anything and so when they return to the same skillset the next year, they don’t remember it anymore and it is discouraging.  Mastery is such a crucial aspect of Math instruction. 

When I was in school, we learned Math more like parrots than thinking people and it was very confusing to most students and even though I loved the numbers and manipulating them, I didn’t have a clear understanding of what I was in fact doing.  So, my goal in teaching Math, is to make sure students understand what they’re doing and why, because without that, they’ll feel lost and never be able to apply it to real life situations.

Of course, there are the applications of Math as well, so we also have some creative classes that mix Literature with Math for those students who love stories.  We use the Sir Cumference series of books to demonstrate several Math concepts and do projects based on the story for the week.  Another class that apply Math in a very important way is the Economics & Personal Finance class, titled “Where’s the Money?”.  This class gives students all the skills they need to manage their own personal finances and even start a small business.  They learn through projects, games (money & review) and lessons.  Near the end of the semester, we have an Entrepreneur Day and also a fieldtrip to the Federal Reserve Bank planned. 

For those students who might really not like Math, the Math through Logic & Games class might be a great fit, since they play games, but learn Math at the same time.  The teacher, working on her PhD and a Mensa member is so fun and has as much fun as the kids with the games!

Even given all this, we also have Math tutors available to help with homework or for students who need a little extra practice during the week which can be scheduled by appointment.

Whether you sign up for a Math class or do it at home, please make sure your students master the Math skills before moving on.  To me there is no such thing as Gr.5 Math or Gr.2 Math, because every student is at a different level with it and either acquired certain skills or not. 

Patience and encouragement in teaching it is key to students’ success.  Happy teaching!

We’ve all heard the stories… children graduating at ridiculously early ages from college with a Master’s degree, amazing kid sports stars playing with professionals, young kids attending music festivals, playing several classical pieces from memory and the one common thread between them?  They are usually homeschooled.  Yes, I know some of these amazing children myself and I’m really glad I do, because they are all wonderful human beings.  We also often hear about how homeschoolers compare with their public school peers and how their test scores are on average so much higher than those of public school students.   In the homeschool world, however, since homeschooling is a subculture that isn’t always deemed as a legitimate educational choice by friends, family and strangers, we are often trying to prove how homeschooling is so advantageous and superior academically and in every other way, that we engage in showing off achievements of our children, trying to keep up with the Joneses so to speak.  I’ve often felt the pressure myself and even added my own comments from time to time, but I realized that it is doing 99% of homeschooling parents and students a big disservice.

Of course we will always have the students who are truly gifted in one specific way or another, but there are so many homeschooled students who are regular, average, and awesome kids with no specifically outstanding ability and the parents, and sometimes the students, feel the pressure of comparing themselves to the stories of the genius who graduated college last week.  Too often we have the idyllic picture in our mind of the homeschooled student who sits under the tree outside, peacefully reading their book of the week for hours on end without even having to be told to do so.  That just isn’t everyone’s reality, and honestly it isn’t the reality of most.

I’ve lately talked to many parents and realized that as soon as I am honest with them about my struggles, honesty from their side revealed that they often feel very alone in their struggles, as I have felt from time to time, which led me to write this article.  There are very few homeschool parents who don’t run into challenges along the road.  There are many solutions to those challenges, but it is very helpful, I believe, to first of all realize that there is nothing abnormal about you, your family, and your children if they’re not scoring 100% on all their tests or not retaining those pesky Math facts after one glimpse.  Even worse is when one child in a household does have that special gift and the others don’t.  All we need to do is think of ourselves.  Some of us have special abilities, but most of us are just smart, hard-working individuals who got where we are in life by putting in some serious effort.

Of course everyone is special in their own way, and everyone has their own unique strengths and weaknesses and the world needs us all, but I feel we often fall into one of the traps we are trying to avoid by homeschooling, which is comparing ourselves to the other homeschoolers and making judgments on how successful our schooling is for our children.  I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t take note if we realize there might be a learning difficulty or some other problem, but as the parents, we are in tune with our children and we usually know or can figure out what they need most.  I’m not arguing for mediocrity at all either.  I’m arguing for every child achieving their personal best.  Let’s celebrate when that is achieved!

Not all children will like reading, because neither do all adults.  Not all children will be good at sports, because neither are the adults.  Not everyone will be math geniuses, because neither are the adults.  Let’s celebrate our children’s differences and stop comparing ourselves to everyone’s success stories only.  Let’s be happy for each other’s success and try to help with each other’s challenges.  That is what true homeschool support really is all about.