Homeschooling ABC’s: A, B, and C

Plastic alphabet letters

This week’s post is the first in a series I’m calling “Homeschooling ABC’s.”  In this series I am going to take each letter of the alphabet and use it to illustrate a particular aspect of homeschooling.  Some of my choices may seem logical, others may surprise you.  I hope you’ll stay posted and read each new installment for practical advice as well as inspiration.  In order to make sure you don’t miss a single one, be sure to sign up to receive notice when a new post comes out.  There are three ways to do that: by subscribing to my e-mail newsletter or RSS feed, or liking my Facebook page.  Whichever you choose, they are all conveniently available in the right sidebar.

A is for Accurate Recordkeeping – Yeah, I know.  Boring, right?  But the quicker you get ahead of your homeschooling recordkeeping the easier it will be.

How much recordkeeping you have to keep up with may depend heavily on what your state law requires.  In Florida, we have to keep a record of what is being taught commensurate with the actual instruction, and we also have to keep “samples” of our child’s work available for the school board to review (providing they give 15 days’ notice).  Those samples have to be kept for two years.

In years past, I made more of a production of keeping my kids’ work organized.  I would have my kids draw pictures for the front of their notebooks.  I divided their work by quarters.  And as my kids got older I typed out several weeks’ worth of lesson plans at a time, which they could then follow without me having to tell them what to do every day (which did work very well for me).

But now I’ve gotten too old for all that frou-frou stuff!  I’m down to homeschooling only one child (for the first time in 19 years!) so I just keep track of what lessons we’ve done in a $2 student planner, and I keep all of my son’s work in a 2-inch binder.  Each day I take that day’s work, stick it in my son’s notebook and voilà! it’s in chronological order.

If you’re new to homeschooling, I suggest you ask a few veteran homeschoolers in your area how they keep their homeschooling records organized.  As long as you’re complying with your state law (to the extent you feel you need to do that) you can be as fancy with your records, or as no-frills, as you like.  But remember, if you plan ahead and keep up with it as you go, you’ll likely be a much happier camper (or rather, homeschool parent!)

B is for Bonding – I had a variety of reasons for embarking on homeschooling my children.  One of the main reasons was the desire to impart my values to my children rather than having them consistently contradicted (if not mocked) by the humanistic teaching of the public schools.

What I didn’t realize was the family bonds that would be created by this wonderful (and yes, challenging) adventure.  And not just the bonds created between me and my children, but also the bonds between my children themselves.

I was recently talking with a friend about what a precious thing it is to know that your children love each other and will always be there for one another.  To see how my children encourage one another and how the older ones care for my 10-year old (who I call the “child of my old age!”) blesses me more than I could ever describe.

Through homeschooling, your children can learn what family is supposed to mean.  They don’t just learn the basics like sharing or taking turns, they learn to care for one another in good times and bad.  They learn how to be patient with their younger siblings and they learn the practical tasks of caring for family.  If I could only choose one reason to homeschool your children over the long-term, I would tell you that you will not believe the treasure it will be to see your children supporting and loving one another when they are grown.  It really makes all the tearing-your-hair-out times worth it!

C is for Coffee, Lots of Coffee! – All right, I’m kidding, in a way.  In fact, I haven’t even been able to drink coffee ever since I had mono last February.  I’ve found now that drinking coffee makes me feel weird and jittery.  Granted, it’s not good for me, but I do love a good cup of joe!

In any case, I would wager that you could pick a group of homeschooling moms at random, and that group could keep their local coffee shop in business for quite some time, all by themselves!  Am I right?!

I like to encourage homeschooling moms to take care of themselves, which does mean that you should make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and getting sufficient sleep, rather than relying on cup after cup of coffee to get you through your day.  But I also want to encourage you to savor those moments over a cup of coffee (or herbal tea, which is what I’m drinking these days).  As homeschool moms, we don’t do a very good job generally of making sure we have some down-time every day, even if it’s just 30 minutes to pick up a good book and enjoy that cup of your beverage of choice.

I would encourage you also to take some time to get out of the house, if you can, and spend some time alone or with friends, to regroup and refresh.  Get to know your local coffee shop barista personally.  Try out every variety of coffee or tea they carry.  Have a muffin.  Do something for yourself, if not today, then this week.  Whether or not you realize it, you’re worth it.

So what do you think of my choices for the first three letters of the homeschooling alphabet?  What would your choices be?  Please share them in the comments!