First Impressions

By choosing to homeschool, I choose to be in a minority. Others may spend the majority of their time with other homeschoolers and forget that they’re in a minority, but that’s just a mirage unless they happen to live in some utopian homeschooling village. When our kids were young, almost all of our social time was with other homeschoolers. I didn’t have the motivation or energy to seek out friendships with schooled kids unless they lived close by. As our kids got older and attended programs with both homeschooled and schooled children, our friendships changed as well. Now our kids have primarily schooled friends because there are not very many homeschool kids around that are in high school.

Regardless of who our friends are, our schooling choice puts us in a minority and we are highly visible when we take our kids out during the day, whether it is to the zoo, the mall, or the grocery store. I feel I have a responsibility to other homeschoolers to give the public a positive view of homeschooling. We may be the only homeschooling family that someone else meets in their entire lifetime and therefore they will base their entire opinion of homeschooling on us. Do we want them to think positively about homeschoolers or negatively?

Whether we like it or not, a big part of first impressions is appearance. How are we dressed? How are our kids dressed? Do they look happy and well cared for? Or do they look miserable and dirty? Of course we have bad days. On bad days where we’re going to the doctor and the pharmacy, I don’t tell anyone that we’re homeschoolers! We just do our thing quietly as we would if I’d kept a sick child home from school. We all have days where the kids are grumpy or we’re tired or not feeling well. Those are exceptions and we all have them whether we homeschool or not. But a large number of homeschoolers in the city where I live wear pajamas out of the house and don’t shower and don’t wear clean, proper fitting clothes. Clothes here are very cheap and kids don’t need very many outfits. There are second-hand stores, clothing swaps (very popular amongst homeschoolers!), and discount stores like H&M or Joe Fresh. It is also inexpensive to cut our child’s hair and almost free to wash it. We either buy clippers and cut our boy’s hair or go to a cheap place to have someone else do it. There is no excuse for allowing our kids to go out in public with ill-fitting, dirty clothing and dirty hair in their face.

I’ve had a lot of homeschoolers tell me that their child doesn’t like clothing tags or seams, or that they like their hair scraggly. Having long hair is fine but having unkempt hair is not. Would I trust a doctor or lawyer that has scraggly hair and dirty clothes? No way! I know many families of kids that go to private school whose kids don’t like clothing tags either but they have to wear the uniform anyway. My son had very sensitive skin so we searched a lot to find clothes that didn’t irritate him. We didn’t send him out in inside-out pajamas. No one should be able to tell that we’re a homeschooling family just because of how we are dressed. It is important for our children to understand first impressions and be confident in their appearance and how they speak to people they meet. It is one of our responsibilities as parents to teach our children how to dress, speak, and behave in public. I’ve heard of some homeschoolers that believe we should not take our children out during the day and I do not share that opinion. Our children are actively involved in their community, with their family, and in programs that keep them busy at various times during the week with a variety of people.

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Monday’s Homeschool Tanka

Starting to homeschool

Can be intimidating

You can just let go

Relax, enjoy your children

What matters is time and love

 

Teach them what you know

About numbers and letters

And kind thoughtfulness

They will grow up curious

Wanting to learn everything

 

In response to this week’s writing challenge to write a Tanka poem with five lines in the syllable pattern 5-7-5-7-7.

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Homeschool Tanka

Homeschooling is great

I know just how to do it

You get up each day

Read, write, and play lots of games

Hug your kids and love them most

 

This week’s writing challenge was to write a five line poem with 5-7-5-7-7 as the syllable pattern (a Tanka). If you’ve done Haiku with your kids, give Tanka a try. They’re really fun and short enough to not be a drag. And it’s a great opportunity to learn syllables!

 

 

First Day of School

What did you do for the first day of “school”? Most of the schools in our community had their first day today and I saw lots of photos on Facebook of kids going back. Even though we’re homeschooling I love seeing those photos! My husband took today off of work so we all went out for lunch and then went to see Ghostbusters which is back in theatres just for a week to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Tomorrow we will start our homeschool year and I can’t wait!

Books, books, books!

In our early years, we used little curriculum and a lot of books. We still go to the library at least once a week; I almost always test drive a book before buying it. If I renew it twice and still want to keep it, then I buy it. Library Elf is the best $20 I spend each year because I avoid all fines by using it. If you’re looking for inspiration to find some new books, here are some places to start.

 

Sonlight.com – Sonlight makes literature-based curriculum for all grades. On their website you can look at the books listed for each grade and just pick and choose what interests you. You can order a paper catalog too. They have lots of historical fiction and read-alouds. Some of their books are quite dry but there is a lot to choose from so you won’t miss the ones you don’t like. The Sonlight forums are now free so you can ask about different books or just look on the feed that interests you. Don’t be afraid to go to books that are listed for a younger age group.

 

Classical-homeschooling.org has a 1000 Good Book List for all grades. I will sometimes sit at my computer with the library webpage open beside the book list putting books on hold. I have used it to find great books on CD for the car as well. We are nowhere near finishing the list and we haven’t enjoyed them all but it’s a great place to find some new titles, especially picture books. Don’t stop reading picture books too early, they are full of great stories and beautiful artwork. Use them until at least age 12. My 16 year old still sits and listens to me re-read our favourites.

 

Oak Meadow also has some good ideas for books, although their lists are a lot smaller than Sonlight. They are not quite as advanced as Sonlight so they can be a good comparison. For us, the Oak Meadow list is far more reasonable to complete in a year (although we still pick and choose).

 

There are also great books on Pinterest! Search by ‘book list’ or ‘books for children’ or ‘math books’ or whatever. There is a lot of love for children’s books on Pinterest. While you’re there, follow Oak Meadow because they post some great stuff.