To Co-op or Not

Let’s face it, many homeschool families at one point or another hear the inevitable question: “but what about socialization?” For some homeschool families, the easy answer to this question can lie in joining a co-op, usually a group of parents who take turns teaching the children and alternating breaks, but getting the kids around other kids.

Socialization can also come in many other forms, such as joining scouts, taking classes outside the home, joining team sports, but co-op is the topic today and seems to be the most school-like of the options above, so I know whenever I would mention to people who asked about socialization that we were in a co-op, somehow that seemed to allay their worries.

There are pros and cons to joining a co-op, some of those I have experienced or heard about are mentioned below:

Pros:

Socialization: your kids get to be around other people, both the grown up type and child type, and this seems to help with questions when inquiring friends, family, strangers, butt their noses in, all under the guise of concern for the children.

Friends: I know this could go under socialization, but since you can hang out with people and still not make friends, I felt this was an important part as well. When we were in co-op, not only did my children make friends, but so did I. 

A break: This goes for both the moms and kids. For the moms, at least in the group I was in, we taught for one class, and then got to relax with other moms for another class while our children were still in their classes. For one whole hour we got to not have little children demanding our attention and to talk to individuals (at least in my case, older than in sixth grade). That was a break, though it always seemed so fleeting. And for the children as well, I am sure they see attending co-op as a break from the routine at home.

Cons:

Time: Even though I would only need to teach for an hour, it always seemed to take so much time and effort both the day of and the day before getting my lessons ready. Even when I stepped down from teaching, it still involved making sure everyone knew where everything was, (somehow I think my children have mastered the not loosing your insert item here until it is time to go trait) and making sure everyone had a lunch packed.

Homeschool: While my kids thoroughly enjoyed getting to go to co-op, the problem was, they stopped cooperating at home and work stopped getting done here. Looking back at all of their years of homeschooling, their year in co-op they learned a ton in their classes, but they barely did anything in their books at home. We have just started a new year and they’re already slipping behind, so they definitely don’t have time for anything on the side, and I feel like I am having to break the bad habits learned last year.

However; my local homeschool co-op is a part of a larger homeschool ministry which we can still be a part of without having to do co-op thankfully, and that is the choice I have made for my family this year. This will allow us more time as a family to focus on what we need to focus on, while still maintaining the friendships we have already made through monthly outings.

What about you? Do you or have you done co-op? How does it work for your family?

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Traveling The USA With Little Passports 

So my older girl is working through a geography workbook that specifically covers regions of the United States, so for her box subscription this year, I felt it would make the most sense to get her Little Passport’s USA Edition. I showed her the box when it came in the mail and explained that to her, made sense to her, she just wanted to dig into the box!

The items above are all of the items she found when she opened the box. She opened it and found a neat little folder, pictured below as well, in addition to a scratch book, a USA field journal, a disposable camera, a map of the USA and a letter from Sofia. 

Pictured above is the file folder that came with her box. I must say, she wasn’t very thrilled about this, but that also hinged on the fact she had just seen her sister open hers and get a suitcase which seemed to be what she was wanting. If you’re only ordering one subscription, this shouldn’t be an issue. Personally, I thought it was a cute folder and a neat way for older kids to keep all their Little Passports items in one place.


I got to say she probably spent the most time working on the scratch book that was included with her box. I’m not even sure if we entirely figured it out. Some pages seemed to make stickers while others did not, but there was a lot of scratching and oohing and ahhing going on, plus it occupied her for quite awhile. She didn’t seem to pay attention to the importance of the shapes in the book, but that could deepen the lessen – she did however find some on her map.

All in all, very worthwhile and we are looking forward to see where we are going to learn about next month.

Traveling The World With Little Passports 

My daughters box subscription to Little Passport: World came today. Because her geography book covers different regions of the world and continents.

She opened her box and was absolutely in love with everything that came with it: suitcase, passport, hangtag, stickers, letter, activity sheet, map, photo, and since we also ordered her the world coin package, she got coins from around the world. That even her dad thought was awesome (he’s usually my toughest critic).


I felt this would be a great way to supplement her geography curriculum, taking a break from the workbook learning and giving her a chance to get something fun in the mail (all my kids seem to love that).

As this is the starter box, I will continue to review this subscription as the boxes keep arriving.

Have you used Little Passports? What did you think?

Why Do Families Choose To Homeschool?

Obviously I am only one family and my story is only one story out of probably hundreds of thousands but there are numerous reasons why families choose to either start or to continue to homeschool their children.


Images like the one float around the Internet and people think that the majority of families probably homeschool their children for religious reasons. While my family is Christian, we did not choose to homeschool because of religion. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics only 17% of homeschooling familes choose to do so for religious reasons. Only 17%!


My family personally, I think, best falls in with the green slice above. We had numerous safety concerns with our local school. Our oldest boy was getting bullied on the school bus, when the school did nothing to stop it, I just started driving him to school.

Then he started getting bullied at recess by older students, but there were never any repercussions for those students. He also had concerns about his teacher yelling in the classroom at the students and smacking things in the room. When we brought it to the attention of the principal, the teacher didn’t deny it all, just said it was how she was.

The final straw was when the kids reported something to us about what sounded abusive from another teacher, not their home room. They were pulled that day. And the school still tried to dismiss everything.

Now, we do like to use curriculum that is Christian-based because we are Christian and so because of that people might get the opinion that we homeschool for religious reasons, we don’t but it is certainly a reason we have continued for. 

How about you all? Why did you decide to homeschool? Did anything change while you have been homeschooling?

Plant to Plate

Teaching children how to grow food in a garden leaves them with many invaluable lessons. Some of which are appreciating the food that’s put in front of them (as moms, we all know how expensive produce can be and don’t want to see it be wasted) and fills them with a sense of pride in knowing that they grew it.

They learn about the different things that plants need to grow; sunlight, water, the right amount of shade, spacing. They learn when to harvest. They learn about fruits versus vegetables. This time around my kids even were able to learn about how a plant (cucumber) is able to prevent itself from being eaten (or at least decrease the chances) by growing with miniature spikes on them that even poked us when we touched them. This led to a discussion with my children about how these cucumbers were different then the ones bought in the store. We also noted that they were growing underneath the leaves (protection probably from the sun and animals). 

One of the nicest things though, of growing food in your garden with your children is that because your children are now more involved with where their food comes from, they are more willing to eat it. This could be a great way to get picky eaters to try new foods. Thankfully, my son’s plants started doing much better than they were in my earlier post when he had only noted two cucumbers, and we were able to harvest five, while noticing that there were at least four more growing currently. Next year we will end up needing to plant more than we did this year with how quickly the children ate the cucumbers that were ready.

What about you: have you tried gardening with your children? If so, what have you grown? Has it encouraged them to try any new foods?

What Does Your Schoolyear Look Like?

One of the greatest advantages about homeschooling is that a family can homeschool however it works for them. That includes with their schedule. I know someone who was speaking to a large group of homeschoolers who said at that time, the only thing that brought our group together is we were Christian families choosing to homeschool our children. That was all we had in common. Some of us worked, while some stayed home; some were military, some civilian. Some joined programs to get funding, others remained independent. And we definitely all didn’t use the same curriculum. So you can only imagine how vastly different our homeschooling schedules likely looked as well.

Some families choose to follow the traditional schedule set forth by the public schools in their areas. This may work best for them for any number of reasons; be it family scheduling or because the are with a program that is run by that school district so they need to follow the same schedule. There are literally as many ways to homeschool as their are families who homeschool.

Personally, my family homeschools year round. This was something that happened purely by chance but that has continued to be part of who we are (maybe permanently, maybe just for this season.) Our first year homeschooling, I pulled my kids from school mid-year and we finished off the year with just simple workbooks but by the time they finished those, their new books had already arrived and they were gunning to get started on their new books. It was like Christmas, but for homeschool! 

This same trend continued for my family for a couple of years and has led to my children being older age-wise then their grade level peers. My 7th grader is 11, 5th grader is 9, 4th grader is 7 and 1st grader is 5. 

Because of this excitement, our year round calendar has basically been completing one school year in 36 weeks (if it corresponds with Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, or Easter then we take a week off for those holidays, which extends the year a little longer). Other year round families I have heard of usually literally go year round, completing one school year in a 12 month period but inserting either regular (school for three weeks, break for one) or random breaks throughpuythe year as long as they are finished by the end of year.

What does your school year look like? Traditional or year round? If year round, how/when do you schedule your breaks?

What Can Homeschoolers Accomplish?

I keep seeing posts about homeschoolers and wgat they are able to accomplish, something families may be asked when family or friends find out that you’re homeschooling. They’re well-meaning and concerned about the children, just usually misinformed.

Homeschool children can and do go on to achieve a lot, as has been highlighted by recent events with the Olympics in Rio. I’ve seen pictures floating around in regards to the gold medalist gymnast, Simone Biles that references how well homeschoolers compete.

Locally, my community also celebrates trapshooter Corey Cogdell who took the Bronze in Rio for Team USA, was also a homeschooler. 

Even closer to home, though not connected to the Olympics, my oldest was just cast in the Nutcracker ballet, along with two other homeschoolers he knows from co-op. When he told his dad he was cast, his dad congratulated him, saying he’d be dancing on the biggest stage in the biggest state. He was just stoked to have gotten cast considering he had never auditioned before (though I knew he was really talented).

I’d say homeschoolers accomplish a lot, how about you?