Getting Started with Homeschooling

Getting Started with Homeschooling

Getting Started with Homeschooling

How to start homeschool guideHomeschooling is not Rocket Science, but as the world discovered this past spring, it is also not sitting around all day eating bonbons. The big question this spring has been, HOW DO I GET STARTED? Well, here is a quick guide to getting started.

First Things First

Check your State Laws and make sure you have everything in order. Need to sign a letter of intent or register your kids? Get it done.

You can find Homeschool Laws by State at HSLDA.

Create Your Action Plan for Schooling

This consists of your Vision, Mission, and Goals. The more detailed you are now the less confusion will ensue later. Like every big project, the more time that you devote to planning, the more effective the implementation will be, even when it’s not going as planned.

 

Spending time on “set-up” can save a lot of time (money) and irritation down the road.

Creating a Vision, Mission, and Goals:

  1. Determine your WHY. What’s driving you to Homeschool? Write it all down. Write down your frustrations, hopes, dreams, and expectations. Then distill it all into one simple sentence. Post it somewhere you’ll see it, so you don’t forget. Habbakuk 2:2 This is your Vision- your BIG picture; the long view vision for educating your kids.
  2. Determine your Mission for the Year. What will you get done? Write this down by child in the following areas: Physical, Mental, Social, Spiritual.
  3. Determine Your Goals. These should be SMART– Specific, Measureless, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Smart goals are the small, incremental steps necessary to complete the mission.

Create Your Action Plan for Managing Your Home

Successful Homeschooling consists of:

  1. Time Management
  2. Household Management
  3. Homeschooling

Time Management

Set a simple schedule to guide you. Here are some ideas for things to include in your program and ways to organize your week.

  • Weekly Family Meetings – gather together weekly as a family to coordinate schedules, online classes, meals, and extra-curricular. Divvy up driving, pick-ups, and deliveries.
  • Weekly Individual Student Meeting -Set aside time each week to meet with each homeschool student. Go over schedule, responsibilities, due dates, etc.
  • Collective Daily Gathering –You can organize this time as a simple Morning Basket, a family devotional, or memory work. We used our Morning Gathering time as a combination of the above and included Memory Work, Bible Study, and Poetry. We schedule an hour a day and love meeting and learning together!
  • Work on skills in the morning/concepts in the afternoon. This is a great way to organize your day. Take advantage of fresh minds and attitudes for the more complicated skill-based subjects like Latin or Math in the morning and then more concept-based learning like Literature, Bible, History in the afternoon.

Household Management

Create a simple plan for meals and laundry.

Housework is a job, homeschooling is a job, and if you are working vocationally, you have that job as well. Make a simple, do-able plan for getting laundry, food, and kitchen responsibilities taken care of. It will keep everyone sane, sanitary, and satisfied.

Life is seasonal and if you are just starting out, plan simply. Start simple and plan to get it done. You can grow into complexity once you’ve got a system and level of comfort with the new normal of adding homeschooling to your day.

Batching is a simple and effective solution to tasks.

Develop routines for laundry. When we had seven people at home we would switch around laundry from washer to dryer daily and then fold and put away all on one day. Put away laundry when it’s folded. Just do it.

Bulk shop once a month and then mini-bulk shop weekly.

The less often you go to the store, the more money you’ll save. Shop with a list and batch cook, or at least batch prep. I usually sauté soup veggies en masse and then have soup ingredients ready to add together to make a delicious pot of homemade goodness that feeds many and can be easily stretched. Have “fast food” meals, like soup, fajitas, tacos prepped, and ready to heat and serve on your busy days. Eat the same basic meals. Bagels and eggs for breakfast, left-overs/ salads for lunch, meat, veggies, potato, or rice for dinner.

Choosing Curriculum

Getting started with homeschooling - let them learn about their interests. Homeschool boy holds a butterfly he discovered.Before you even look at a curriculum, determine what your mission is for each student, what goals you want to accomplish, and then what subjects those goals fall into. From there choose curriculum.

There are thousands of curriculum choices and everyone has their favorites. The best curriculum is the one that gets done, so don’t feel like you need to chase every shiny object. I choose curriculum based on solid educational pedagogy, like Cross Seven, that is easy to use but allows for further exploration.

Outsource for the Win

Just because you homeschool doesn’t mean you have to do everything. Outsource any classes that you don’t feel equipped to teach, such as Foreign Languages, plus those you don’t have the time and energy to handle or those in your student’s area of interest for exploration to maximize opportunities. Homeschooling can look like whatever you want it to look like!

Curriculum Planning

Keep it simple (always!) and start with the core four:

For younger students, focus specifically on number fluency and literacy. Choose simple but effective programs that are non-consumables like Alpha-Phonics with Explode the Code along with Poetry, which is a great way to get your kids learning to play with beautiful language and imagery. We also love Right Start Math, which includes Math games. Perfect to add to your Morning Basket or to use with multiple ages.

For older kids, you should begin to focus on growing in reading fluency and understanding. Choose curricula or online classes that teach simple literature analysis and various forms of writing. If you are considering outsourcing some of these, take a look at True North Homeschool Academy’s courses on Essay Writing, Research Papers, and Creative Writing.

For Science, choose a curriculum or class that has a focus on discovery and wonder in the early years. Older students can move into more formal studies which should start with a basic and thorough understanding of the Scientific Method and then delve into foundational sciences like Earth and Space, Biology, and Chemistry.

History is the importance of what happened before, what’s happening now, and our place in it. For those coming from a Judeo-Christian point of view, it includes the important concept that all people, places, and time lead to the Cross, and our part to play in a lost world, awaiting heavenly redemption. Students should have a broad sweeping overview of history, which is why we love studying timelines, along with specific areas, including state, U.S., and World History, Geography, and Economics.

If you have questions or need help choosing age/ stage appropriate resources, we’d love to help! Join us over at True North homeschool Tribe Facebook group or ask about our academic advising.

Focusing on open and go, non-consumable programs, especially for content-based curriculum will save you time and money. A Classical Spine, like Cross Seven in the early years, will give your kids a solid foundation for whatever future studies they pursue.

It is wise to spend time and money on helping our kids explore their interests. Literature-rich resources as well as in real-life experiences like field trips, campaigns, clubs, and camps can be inexpensive ways to teach at home. Add these enriching experiences to your homeschool program as your time and resources allow.

Some curriculum is better than others but the main thing that you want to keep in mind is that if you love it, you’ll use it. If you don’t like or understand the layout or content, you likely won’t! – Lisa Nehring, True North Homeschool Academy Director

Over the years we have used unit studies, note-booking, textbooks, online courses, clubs, camps, websites, certifications, field trips, books, movies, CD’s co-ops, class-days, and more.

Learning can take place almost anywhere, at any time. As you get started, remember, start simple.

It is so easy to add in resources as you discover areas of interest, skills that need to be honed, and the world that needs exploring. Above all, have fun. Education is the transmission of culture and it allows you this beautiful space and time to impart to your children the things most important to you; the real things. Enjoy the journey, it is time well spent.

Not sure what your focus should be?

Our team of Academic Advisors has years of experience in homeschooling, choosing curriculum, and the ages and stages of child development. We have advisors with experience planning for students with Special Needs and supporting those families. Our advisors are ready to encourage you and help you create an amazing, doable plan.

Need a like-minded tribe to journey with? Our Parent Equipping Membership is a great place to start and our Getting Started Homeschool Printable Planning packet was created to help you create a plan, write out your goals, and your vision while keeping your home and students on track. Download it free.

Get started with homeschooling free planner images.

Red Fish Blue Fish-Restaurant Review

Red Fish Blue Fish-Restaurant Review


Red Fish, Blue Fish

Even though we are in a time of social distancing, we are planning for our next grand adventures. As you dream and plan, I hope you would consider this amazing restaurant chain in Florida. Even its name is compelling!

We recently returned from a trip to the Emerald Coast in Florida, via a conference in Atlanta. When asking my on-line travel buddies about what to see and do in Pensacola, the restaurant Red Fish, Blue Fish was a “must-see” recommendation. How good could it be?

How good? My daughter said it was the best restaurant we’ve ever gone to. To put this in perspective, we’ve done a lot of traveling across the country and in the past several months and have visited SC, MT, TX, GA, TN, ND, and MO.

We’ve eaten the best hash-brown casserole ever in Red Lodge and amazing cheese grits and shrimp at a shack in Texas, serenaded by pouring rain. We’re not foodies, per se but we love sampling native fare and we love fresh, wholesome food.

What makes #RFBF so amazing? So many things.

  1. It’s in Pensacola, on the Bay. You walk into the restaurant and then right back outside to some amazing seating and beautiful views. I mean, you are sitting outside. But you probably aren’t sitting.
  2. Because there are games: Yard sized Connect 4, Corn Hole, and big wooden blocks. Throw in a couple of campfire rings, a hammock, a telescope, green grass, along with puppies and it is fantastic fun! The group next to us -picnic tables, y’all- brought puppies, and between the puppies and the games, our grands were in heaven!
  3. Food. I am not kidding. We’d been at the beach all afternoon and were slightly windblown and thirsty so we ordered what we knew would be yummy and filling: Fish and Chips, Yum Bowls and Greek Salads. Ok. The fish and chips- I ordered it grilled and tried to change to fried. Too late, and I am so glad. BEST fish EVER. Complete with 2 grilled corn on the cobs, coleslaw and fries. I love coleslaw but I hate sweet coleslaw. This was perfect. Crunchy, not bitter, not sweet, just right. My two daughters both ordered Yum Bowls: one blackened fish and one chicken. Oh, my word. Complete with fresh grilled asparagus and fragrant jasmine rice. Dr. Dh ordered a Greek Salad to round out his meal and it was delightful with charred tomatoes, pickled onions, fresh cheese and green olives. He shared. I smiled.
  4. The Food. We came hungry. Dr Dh and I, our 17-year-old and our adult daughter, her 6’4” husband and our 2 adorable grands. We’d been at the beach all afternoon, shelling, walking, playing, jumping in the water. We shared, the kids played, we ate. We were stuffed and still, we took food home.
  5. The Bay. We ate, the kids played, we took turns following them around, eating, laughing, talking to the puppy owners, playing corn hole, watching the pod of dolphins in the bay. Yep. Ended our fine meal with a dolphin pod display. I doubt #RFBF can guarantee that for every visitor, but it was a magical end to a wonderful evening and practically perfect day.

Besides all that, why would I recommend you add Red Fish Blue Fish to your must-eat places?

The wait-staff. Attentive and fun. Great service.

Affordable. I felt that the dishes were reasonably priced given the freshness, taste, and portions.

They have fun selections: Alligator stew, Fish tacos, gumbo, calamari for the more adventurous souls. The sides were delicious veggies, beautifully prepared. Drinks, cocktails, beer or wine available and served in plastic cups so you can still play corn-hole and build with blocks while quenching your thirst.

It’s a neighborhood block party that you are welcomed into. There’s an indoor-ish eating area, a bar, and the outdoor eating area. Friendly, kid music played, to add to the festive atmosphere, but not so loudly that you couldn’t hear each other. People started sitting at the fire rings as the evening wore on. People talked and chatted, even if they’d just met. The kids played, puppies scampered, the food was delish and a great time was had by all.

Heartily recommended and a place we’ll return to when we next make our way to the sugar sands of Pensacola.

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Happy Birthday ‘Rona-Style!

Pandemic, quarantine, birthday, and party.? Should any of those words even be used together in the same sentence? They were in my mind and haunting me from the time our state was shut down. How was I going to survive, let alone celebrate a birthday and create a special memory for not one, but two kids during the Corona Virus outbreak?

Well, just like the rest of the world; I had to go virtual! Here are ideas for how to make a fun and safe birthday happen- online!

I wish this was an original idea on my part, but I stole it from all those people out there having happy-hour parties and splashing them all over social media. I just knew I could make a virtual birthday party work!  Soo, I went straight to planning mode, which for me meant calling our youth pastor for game ideas. (working smarter not harder, I mean why reinvent the wheel?). After our conversation, I got straight to work.

First, I decided on my agenda. Any good virtual meeting party has one, right?

My rule for in-person parties has always been 1.5 hours to 2 hours max….. What would my time frame be for an online party? What games would I play? How would we start? How would we end? What virtual platform would I use?

After much thought, this is what we landed on:

  • 45 minutes
  • Open with introductions and Ice breaker (How do you know the Birthday Kid?)
  • Games: Joel and Levi Trivia (I made-up questions about my boys that would be fun, easy, and sometimes hard) & Scavenger Hunt (This was a big hit!) I picked easy “around the house” items.  Sometimes they had to figure out a clue. Some examples: Matching pair of socks, an item that turns on the T.V.  You get the idea, right?
  • We sang Happy Birthday and all participated in blowing out the candles, virtual style of course.
  • Food: This is where I did work a bit harder and maybe not smarter. The night before the party I drove around to our guest’s house and did porch drop-offs of store-bought and sealed cupcakes for each family, along with goodie bags. What can I say, I am the “go big or go home” type of mom! This took a total of 7 hours, as some of our guests lived over an hour away. Talk about making memories for Dad and me!
  • I wrapped up the party with a Dance-Off Competition. This was super fun! They danced the Cupid Shuffle.

For extra fun, I scored both games with points. For “Joel and Levi Trivia: the first person who raised their hand with correct answer earned 3 points, the second person 2 points and the third person 1 point. Same system for the Scavenger Hunt. The first person to return to the screen with the item earned three points, the 2nd person 2 points and the third person 1 point.  I sent Target and Amazon gift cards to the winners- virtually of course!

 

 

 

And BOOM!

45 minutes later the party was a wrap! I used ZOOM as our platform but I have heard that there are several other great mediums in the virtual world to hold a great party.  I did let any kids that wanted to, hang out for a bit longer in the zoom room to chat and catch up with each other.  By ALL party definitions, this was a HUGE FUN success!

If you are going to take a stab at a “virtual” party I would just read up on how to keep your party safe. There have been lots of “party crashers” out there recently.

From our family to yours, we wish you great joy as you celebrate your loved ones- be that online or in person!!

 

About the Author

Erin Garcia is a frontline, boots on the ground, homeschooling warrior momma of 11 kids.  She has 13 years of Educational experience. Erin has been married to her husband George for 20 years.  They have a beautiful, messy, blended family. George came into the marriage with 3 children and a stepdaughter, and Erin entering their covenant with 3 children, the Lord then blessing them with 4 more children together. Their children range in ages from 35 to 10.  While still enjoying their three youngest at home they are also loving the newest season of grandparenting.