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Monday, July 8, 2013

My part of a homeschool book my group is writing

My part for the book my homeschool group is writing about homeschooling

by Tonya Mahlmeister Cater on Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 8:41am ·
Oh homeschooling are you!! Yeah, If you had asked me just a few short years ago if I would every homeschool my children I would have looked at you like you were crazy. I had only known one family in my entire life who homeschooled. They were a kind and loving Christian family or at least I believe they were. You see I knew them when I was like 8 yrs old. We would go and visit them and their whole house was full of books, games, toys, chalk boards (this was way before white boards were around,lol) you name it if it was fun or educational they had it. When I first started thinking about homeschooling my then 2nd grade daughter it was not for reason like religion, or bullies at school, or even that I felt her school was a bad school. NO, it was more the reason that over the years my two oldest children then 15 and 14 had been in public school I had slowly lost faith in the system. More and more I seen the decline in good teachers, lack of books, it even got to the point where one teacher told me the children were not allowed to ask her questions. What! Wait children in schools are not allowed to ask teachers questions. What if they are not getting the concept? She told me they need to get with their peers. So now the other children were expected to do the teachers job. WOW! I came home that night and I said there is no way my little girl is going to that school. I had seen the advertisements for K12 program in Georgia. It was a public school free of charge done at home over the computer. I thought oh this sounds perfect. I decided to enroll her for 2nd grade with the cyber school. I even spent the entire summer watching about 200 videos that the school had posted to learn the system, how to schedule our courses to fit our needs, How to address learning issues. You name it I watched a video about it. We received our books in July and both she and I were excited to get started. The school it’s self did not start for another three weeks so I just kept track of what we had completed and by time the first day of school started we had 15 days of attendance and were well into the 3 months work. I found out real fast that when you are homeschooling just one child you can cover a great bit more material and have fun doing it. By Nov. she had completed the entire yrs. Course work for the cyber school and I found myself at yet another crossroad. Should I stay with the cyber school and only have access to math and language arts for the next grade level or should I take the jump head first into traditional home schooling. I’ll be completely honest I was scared to death to do it on my own. At least with the cyber school I had it all laid out for me and a teacher I could run to if I needed help. It took me about a month of looking into what all it would take to do this on my own. A wonderful friend I had meet through the cyber school had started a facebook page to help other homeschoolers with support and resources she had asked me if I would help her admin the page and I said sure. I never realized then just how much that would change my life.The more people who joined the page and the more I read about homeschool the more I saw myself wanting to teach my children this way. I slowly begain to realize that by homeschooling I could teach my children what I thought was important to know, I could use any curriculum, I had the freedom that most American’s give up everyday to the state they live in. By the first of Dec. I had made the jump I sent in my intent to the county and it was official we were homeschoolers. Real homeschoolers not public schoolers at home but real homeschoolers. I had slowly been collect educational books and materials everything from textbooks to games. I was ready to fully be the mother who instilled a love of learning in their child. By Feb. we had covered yet another entire curriculum. I was blown away by how fast my daughter caught on. Sure we had bad days everyone has bad days from time to time. The point was she was learning, I was learning and even the 2yr old in tow was learning. Best of all we were loving what we were doing. I found my self moving further and further outside the textbooks. We wanted to learn about the first forms of writing so we made our own clay tablets. We wanted to learn the life cycle of a frog so we caught tadpoles. While learning about plants, rocks, and soil we grew a garden. Sure we still read from our textbooks and did worksheets, we even took the test at the end of the chapters. Yet we had the freedom to dig deeper and get our hands dirty in the process. Who doesn’t love playing in the dirt. I started having her keep a journal or what most homeschoolers now call a notebook of everything we did. She would write what she learned and then draw a picture to go with it. Not only did we have a way to show her work and what she learned but we had this beautiful keep sake that both she and I could look back on in years to come. Over the months I found my grove in homeschooling I also found that there is a world of free education out there just waiting for people to use it. I bet you there are a million websites that are free and educational on every possible subject and concept you can come up with. As we posted the websites on our facebook page I started to keep a file with them in it. Slowly more and more homeschool families joined our group and by March we were well over 300 members from all over the world. We all became wonderful friends supporting each other day in and day out. We didn’t just support each other in homeschool but we prayed for sick children, we laughed over a drink which we call cyber girls night in,lol. We meet each other in person and went on field trips with our children together. We became each others backbone, a shoulder to cry on and a life long friend to laugh with. These women have changed my life for the better in so many ways I don’t even know how to truly express it. They call me the village queen because for some unknown reason I seem to have a nack for finding these great resources when every someone is looking for material on a certain concept. I just send google working away for me and within a few minutes I have found enough sometimes way more than enough resources to teach the concept. I laugh about their nick name for me. Never was I the popular one in life more of the outcast always a bit different than the rest , never really fitting in with any group. I felt I had not only found true friends but I found a true calling in life. I found that small way that I could help others on a daily bases. It feels good to help others. It makes you have hope that we can change the world and make this a loving caring place for our children. I started to realize that homeschooling for me was not just about learning to add or read it was about life. When you homeschool you are not just addressing your childs education you are addressing and modeling the whole child. Whole child, what do I mean by that you may ask. I mean that as humans we are not just one aspect we are a physical, mental and spiritual being. When you homeschool you have the chance to model all levels of the being you love so dearly, your child.  Some homeschoolers use the Bible some use pagan text for us we use what ever feels right in our hearts. My children not only learn math, reading, grammar, science, and history, they also learn what I call spiritual work. They learn to meditate, they learn bible stories, they even learn Native American stories. I don’t push one religion on my child because I feel they have to find their own path to GOD. I just give them the skills and knowledge to research all the paths until the find the one that feels right to them. I teach them what I believe and what others believe and I point out how they are different and how they are the same. I have learned a lot about education and about life over the last year of this journey that we call homeschool and I would like to leave you with a list of some of the things that may help you also on your journey.

  1. follow your heart, trust that as a mother you always have been and always will be a teacher in every since of the matter.
  2. don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Life is all about learning from the day we are born to the day we die. It doesn’t always have to be done with a textbook.
  3. Let google be your friend, there is a world of knowledge out there all you have to do is go look for it.
  4. FREE! FREE! FREE! It does not have to break your bank account to homeschool there is more educational material available than you could ever use to educate your child. Libraries, websites, even companies that will send you free material.
  5. SUPPORT you will feel much more supported in your journey if you have that support. Join a homeschool group that fits your family. Get your family  involved. Have grandma teach a cooking lesson, have grandpa read them a book or tell a story about when he was young.
  6. Give them time to be children, life should not always revolve around what lesson comes next or how they scored on a test. Play with your children , they will be grown in a blink of the eye.
  7. Don’t compare your children to the level of others, address their individual needs at the level they are on. Who cares if they are above or below level. If you have a child that is above in reading then teach them from that level if they are a grade level below in math teach them from that level.
  8. Homeschooling should not be stressful it should be fun. If you are the child needs a break take it. You have 365 days in a yr and you only need to teach on 180 of those days.
  9. Don’t move on until they get it or master it as I say. Trust me even if you don’t finish the textbook in the yr you will be doing them a much better services allowing them the time to master a concept than you would forcing them to move on before they truly understand it. This is homeschool not public school you have the freedom to spend as much time on a concept as they need.
  10. Play is an important part of the brain development , don’t think they are not learning when they play because they are.

In closing I just want to say I hope if you make the jump that you are as blessed in the journey of homeschooling as I have been. I promise you I have not meet one single homeschool family that regrets their decision. They all feel they have done what is best for their children. As the months turn into years it will all be worth the time and effort you put into it and you will look back one day wishing for a  way to turn back the clock.

                                           By: Tonya Cater

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