One of the Reasons

There are families out there in the homeschooling world who take advantage of the freedom by traveling the world- roaming the country in a big bus- making history lessons come alive by visiting the actual site the historical events took place. Nope- not us.

We didn’t have the inclination, time or money to be that family. One of the reasons school at home worked well for us…Dad’s job.

Thankfully, he’s retired now- life, limb and our marriage in tact! A thirty-three year veteran of our local sheriff’s department. For the entire back half of his career he was on call- essentially 24/7 for the entirety of our boys’ school years.

Pagers, work phone, house phone all going off at once – jolting us awake at all times in the wee hours of the morning. It happened often. Dad getting out of bed- collecting all his gear- clunking and clancking about…trying hard to be quiet, but our house is built in such a way that it conducts sound like a bullhorn!

The whole house woke up- every time. We took advantage of our freedom in this way…sleep. The kids and I could get settled back down to sleep and NOT have to get up early to go to school. And, when Dad eventually got to come home, we could spend some time with him before he tried to get some sleep, then head back to the salt mine😊

I’m truly thankful for the way we could tailor our schedule – I believe with all my heart it made for a much happier, less grumpy home. *both kids are doing that world traveling now, in college😊

So, no matter the reasons: work schedules, travel,  jam packed extracurricular schedules…the freedom afforded by not having the constraints of traditional school schedules are…well, freeing! Tailor the whole deal- every aspect to your wants and needs, and what works best for your family.

Get Through It

It’s not always going to be butterflies and unicorns- you will go through rough patches like you can’t believe! You. Are. Not. Alone.

You’ve been doing school for a couple of weeks, maybe a month now…things might be humming along smoothly, or they might not. You might be struggling to simply survive each and every day. A very real danger here is falling into the trap of striving to be that perfect homeschooling family- comparing yourselves to others. Worrying that you are being judged- especially by those who voiced concerns about your choice to do school at home. Asking yourself, “Why are we spending our days whining and crying- yelling, disobeying and misbehaving when the Whozit’s over there are the poster children for a homeschooling magazine!?”

The God’s honest truth is that we all go through this…even the ‘perfect’ families. There is no magic cure. You try different things, experiment and learn- you talk with others in the same boat- be encouraged, give encouragement. Remember to keep in mind you’ve taken on a monumental task – there will be bumps in the road.

Sometimes, you’ll just have to be brave and get through it- this too shall pass 😊

Dine With Local Authors!

Hello- I’ve been busy traveling, and  getting the kids all packed up and shipped off to college- starting their senior and sophomore years – I can’t believe how quickly this time is flying by!!

Now, it’s back to regular life and our empty nest (happy to report this part IS getting a little bit easier).

I’m thankful to be included in this fun event! Let me know if you’re interested- you can sit at my table as my guests…I’d love to see you there❤️the 5 featured authors each get 5 minutes to present- then we mingle, chat and eat together😊

Hope to see you there!

Superheros Among Us

*complete truth, couldn’t have said it  better myself.

On the back of my book there is a little blurb about what lies within…the last words are:  ‘if I can do it, you can do it’. Essentially meaning take a look at our story- I’m not a teacher – I simply want to be able to encourage folks – inspire them to try, have faith and step outside their comfort zones.

The funny, yet 100% accurate meme at the beginning of this post is from a friend of my sister-in-law who is starting her twenty first year of homeschooling! Can you imagine?!? Her kids range in age from mid 20’s to 10…eight kids – I’m exhausted just writing about it haha😉

When I think back about the rollercoaster ride of our ten years worth of school at home days I feel overwhelming positivity- so many warm fuzzy feelings- but…it was difficult. Soooo difficult sometimes that I can’t believe we made it through, and everything turned out as well as it did. I only dealt with two children. Imagine eight- actually seven kids doing school at home plus one special needs kiddo who goes to school on the outside.

I do not personally know this woman, this family- but I imagine nothing short of Herculean effort  is required to pull off one day😊. She gets it done- done well- every day for 21 years! An example and inspiration for ALL of us in plain ol life as well as in the homeschooling world.

If you’ve made the decision to do school at home – no matter where you are in that journey – the doubt, fear and struggle can be relentless. There are people, like the superhero referred to in this post,  who are out there – they can help you. Whatever you’re going through at the moment you can be 99.9 % sure she’s already dealt with the same thing  …these encourager people have blogs and inspirational pages- they do speaking engagements and write books😊 (her name is Kendra Fletcher. Her book: Losing Religion, Finding Grace)

From where you’re standing right now I’ll bet you could throw a rock and hit someone who has ‘been there, done that’. Go ahead and throw…you might just hit a superhero, or any one of the thousands of us who are willing, eager and able to help❤️

Back to School

The above picture accurately describes the feeling. This is definitely the way I felt after the firm decision was made to take our kids out of public school.

It’s that time of year again…’back to school’- if you are thinking about trying to do your children’s education at home, but haven’t quite pulled the trigger- this can be a truly difficult time filled with worry, doubt and strife. Of course, this does not compare to the level of worry, doubt and strife achieved AFTER you do pull that proverbial trigger😊

The feeling of being blindfolded…stepping out into the abyss – I’m guessing it’s safe to say most of us felt that way to some degree. The good news is that you will eventually find solid ground and the blindfold slowly but surely falls away!

Today there are tons of resources out there- examples, advice and support. If taking your kids out of the traditional classroom setting is weighing heavily on your heart and mind…if sending them out the door on that first day of school just does NOT feel right – there’s a chance, simply put, that it is not.

So, for those who are soon heading out the door for the first day of school- have an excellent year! If you think you might want to try staying home instead…you might feel like the guy stepping off the cliff. That’s ok- you’re not alone. Take advantage of every resource and encourager – in hindsight that blindfolded ’oh no help aaaahhhhhhhhhh splat’ kinda feeling I had in the beginning was completely worth it 😊

 

 

We Are Everywhere

Last Suday I had the distinct honor and pleasure to be one of the featured authors at a local book clubs’ ‘New Author Launch’. Each of the speakers got to talk a little about how their book came about, then read from their newly published work for 5 minutes. After everyone had their turn at the podium we sat at tables with our books displayed for sale. It was great fun!

Twenty books were featured – a diverse collection…a journey through the ‘60’s complete with photographs of nude beaches –  an apocalyptic dystopian end of world young adult novel – a tale about a dog written from the dogs point of view, to name a few.

This was not my crowd- not my target audience. I was one of the youngest people in the room (I’m 53). None of these folks had schoolage kids, and from chitchatting before the event I gleaned that most were fairly liberal, hardcore public education types. I didn’t expect much traffic at my bookselling table.

Nevertheless…as I sat at my assigned table- books laid out in front of me for all to see – they came out of the woodwork. An adorable little lady who had to be 100 years old stopped and picked up my book. She grinned at me and said, “I’m going to buy your book because you presented so well, and you must be so brave to have done this. I want to see how your story turns out”.  I was touched – almost cried😊. A retired public schoolteacher approached and said she admired the decision to do school at home, and would do so herself in this day and age. An older white haired couple who had presented a book about their traveling gypsy puppet performing days stopped by and told me they homeschooled in the gypsy caravan back in the early ‘70’s  – they loved it, and love that it’s a ‘thing’ now.  One of the few people at the event younger than myself took pictures of my book so she could share it with her ‘many friends who are considering the possibility’ of school at home – to hopefully buy on Amazon😊

By the end of the afternoon way more people than I ever dreamed had stopped to mention something about knowing someone who did, should’ve, or wants too – do school at home. I was pleasantly surprised. We are everywhere!

Lazy Awkward Antisocial Weirdos😊

Homeschool myth #7,092: kids will become lazy, awkward, antisocial weirdos if removed from the classroom environment.

A dear friend asked me, “What are your boys best memories about doing school at home”? The perfect answer would be: Our gracious, selfless, caring mother put her life on hold to cherish and teach us- we love her so much for making this sacrifice. NOPE…that ain’t it!

Hands down the best part for my 2 boys was sleeping in, and wearing pajamas all day if they could. In the beginning I tried my level best to fight this truth…I quickly gave up – seeing that it wasn’t hurting them in any way. In fact, I could see many positives. They weren’t tired and cranky all the time- able to take on huge/difficult class loads with less exhaustion and stress. And despite that freedom they both taught themselves (I helped a little😉) how to manage time- learning to get as much done as they possibly could rather than squeaking by with minimal effort.

No (ok, less) ‘burn out’ was another big bonus…we dealt with less teenage angst and upheaval than most folks we know. Another bonus was the ability to work AND volunteer during normal school hours (they got dressed for this haha). Out there in the real world learning about responsibility, making money, giving back to the community- interacting with all kinds of folks- seems to have left our kids well rounded and well adjusted. Both kids transitioned into college life easily – getting good grades, making good friends- working, playing, both living off campus now doing some real adulting. Not lazy. Not awkward. Not antisocial.

If you don’t want sleeping in and all day pajama wearing then don’t! You get to make the rules. Of course all kids are different – school outside the traditional classroom might not work…I’m here to tell you from experience that it CAN work wonderfully- without the stereotypical negative repercussions people envision for homeschool kids.

No Limits

This post is about opportunities, possibilities, fun and straight unabashed Mom bragging!

When I pulled the boys out of public school to embark on what was a big unknown- doing school at home- never did I ever think that things would end up the way they did. The whole endeavor was blessed- plain and simple- and we are truly thankful! That combined with hard work and perseverance has reaped some incredible opportunities…

Our youngest left two weeks ago for a field school in Cajamarca, Peru. It’s a 5 week program with his anthropology/archeology department worth 6 credits towards his major (anthropology). He worked his butt off to get accepted as a rising sophomore- taking an extra archeology class on top of his regular freshman classes so he’d qualify. The top pic is from him- a day off from the digging and cataloging up in the mountains to explore the town – a farmers market, street food, practicing Spanish 😉 he is over the moon- we are so proud of him!

Our oldest is home for the summer from New Orleans – doing his third summer of internship with a local architecture firm. No goofing around or lazy summer days for him working full time racking up necessary internship hours…but the payoff: Italy. To be more specific, Trastevere, Rome- where he’ll be for the Fall – attending the Pantheon Institute to do the first semester of his 4th year of architecture studio classes. The second pic is of the letter he received the other day…official confirmation and documentation/passport/visa. He has been working like a dog for 3 years to get here- what an amazing thing he gets to do…live/work- go to school in Rome!! He’s chomping at the bit to leave at the end of August!! We are so proud of him😊

I ask you…Is it weird to be a tad envious of your children?!? ‘Cause, we definitely are! Hahaha😊 actually, we’re thrilled for the both of them- truly living out some big dreams❤

If you’re worried that taking kids out of the public system will limit them in any way- don’t be…kids who do school at home can do great big amazing far reaching spectacular things out there in the real world!

 

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Learn From You (3 stars)

I don’t particularly like the way that looks…it’s no longer a solid 5 stars.

This post is inspired by my first bad review- well, not bad but less than good- not 5 stars but 3. A measly 3 stars.

When I first read the review I honestly felt like I’d been slapped in the face- ouch! I knew this day was bound to come – it’s an inevitability – not everyone will love what you have to say. But wait…the reviewer did not hate the book.  In fact, she says it was, “Enjoyable enough”. Haha- I’ll take it 😉

The reviewers’ disappointment came with the realization that we’d used an online curriculum.  Because our way of doing school at home was too different from her way…she felt she could not gain any encouragement from our story.

BALONEY

Of course we can all be encouraged by one another. Like I say in the book; there are a million different ways to do school outside the public system- all good – you choose the one you think will work best for your family…if it doesn’t work, choose a different plan of attack. It’s important to NOT get hung up on doing everything perfectly or the ‘right’ way.

The truth is you will find naysayers and discouragers all over the place- you will also find some of that judgmental negativity within the homeschooling community- don’t listen to them…their way is NOT the only way or the best way.

You do you- ask lots of questions and listen to people who’ve completed the race, and won- people who are willing to share their trials and successes with you😊

So, I thank this reviewer for her honesty and the idea for this topic- it’s important to know you’re not alone regardless of the method you choose- I feel like there’s lots to be gained from listening to those who’ve gone on before us even if they did things completly differently than you are doing things – besides, she does say the book was ‘heartfelt’ and ‘good, albeit short’. All true!! I guess 3 stars is more towards half full than half empty!

 

College (If you’re wondering)

Misconception #4092: Kids who do school at home can’t go to college – will colleges accept them right out of high school?

Yes, you betcha!

Like I state in the book…there’s nothing a good community college can’t fix – but if the goal is to go directly from high school at home to a four year university- it can most definitely be done! There are many different ways to do it with more, and more schools adding a ‘homeschoolers’ application process  to their websites every year. In our case the program we used is what is called an ‘umbrella’… we had a records office, official transcripts were kept, accreditations and certifications galore, so applying to universities was not too terribly different for my kids than it was for their public/private school counterparts.

People who choose to ‘unschool’ or do a mish-mash of curriculum choices can keep their own records- there are a million ways to do things and a great deal of support out there from those of us who have graduated kids from home! There are a growing number of schools who allow homegrown transcripts and records (that have become quite official over the years)- a place to submit pictures of science and art projects etc.. almost like submitting a college app portfolio rather than the good ol Common Application.

Also important to note…there are a growing number of schools that are making the SAT and ACT optional.

The moral of today’s post is simply this: Yes, kids who did high school at home can get into the top universities from all over the world – it can be done, and done exceedingly well – not to toot our own horn here at the Smiley Academy (ok, maybe just a lil toot lol) my guys received academic recruitment letters with offers of merit scholarships from a vast and varied assortment of schools – their final choices pictured at the top of this post😊

Misconception #4093: Kids who do school at home will not be able to keep up with the rigor of a four year university. Sorry, that’s incorrect! Of course there are always outliers, but for the most part the opposite is true – many colleges have figured out that these kids who did school at home are MORE ready – already being self sufficient self teaching self learners who had to become well organized and focused to survive high school at home. An unintended consequence that has most definitely worked out in our favor…year three, and year one of college for my boys very successfully in the books😊

*pro tip* be as proactive as you can possibly be – become your students best advocate- research and be aware of all academic and admissions requirements- have them hit the ground running in ninth grade- senior year arrives in a flash!!