CLA Blog Chronological Index

My New Blog and Family Update

California Alert: A chance to teach (and learn) civics while making a real difference

Reading aloud to your children

It’s not about vaccination – it’s about losing parental rights

Pay Attention! Are You Listening to Me?

The Dark Side of Certificates and Awards

“My Daughter Homeschools”

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Listen

Famous Homeschooler List – Because Sometimes it’s Nice to Know About Others

What Does Your Child Want to Learn?

Ready for College?

Homeschool Dads

Looking Beyond Toys

Understanding Your Child

What You Need to Know if You are Struggling with Teaching

Distractible, Messy, Disorganized, and Fill-In-the-Blank Kids Often Thrive at Home Without Drugs!

The All-in-One Lesson: Politics, Science, Critical Thinking, Debate, and Consumerism

Changing Public Opinion About Homeschooling

Making a Costume is a Learning Experience!

Homeschooling (and identifying!) the Gifted Child

What Will Your Teen Do After Graduation?

Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Homeschoolers

Homeschooling and Parenting Books

Sheltering Children During Times of Tragedy

Welcoming Dirt Into the Curriculum

It’s NOT Helicopter Parenting!

Yes, There’s a Reason Why You Think You Need Preschool Curriculum!

Loving Learning?

Unschooling: The Gold Standard for Young Children

Everyone Deserves a Childhood: Unschooling gifted kids

From Homeschooler to College Student: Successfully Transitioning Your Teen to College

Getting Lost and Other Games!

“Play Anywhere” Games

Unschooling and the Unspoken Worry

My Experience with Stealth Schooling

Feed Me a Story!

The Early Walking Curriculum

Help! My Child Wants to Go to School!

The Importance of Homeschooling Support

My Homeschool Lesson

It’s Never Wasted Time

Does the Thought of Homeschooling Scare You?

“We’re Homeschooling” – breaking the news to your family!

Taking it One Day at a Time: Why you may not need to know what you’ll do tomorrow.

Homeschool Advice from “Experts” and Others!

The Best Homeschooling Advice Ever!

How to Begin Homeschooling When You Don’t Know What to Do!

Working on Physical Skills Helps with Reading, Writing, and Learning!

A lightbulb moment from a homeschooler

No Regrets, It Was Worth It!

Homeschool Field Trips

 

 

 

Finding a California Park Day!

Have you found a local homeschool park day in your community?  If you are a new homeschooler, please consider putting it at the top of your list of things to do.

Park day groups come in all forms, and most are free.  Some have formal activities and rules, and others are based on an informal agreement that anyone who wants to will show up at a particular park at an agreed upon time so that parents can talk and kids can play.

Some offer field trips and holiday party days or potlucks if there are members willing to organize them.  Some may even organize group campouts, although camping with one of the State groups, CHN or HSC, is probably more common.

Not all groups advertise. The statement of faith groups often get new members through their church or by private invitation. But, there are hundreds of other groups that happily welcome new homeschoolers and parents with preschoolers who are interested in learning more about homeschooling. They’ll often state that they are inclusive so that you’ll know that everyone is welcome.

Websites That Maintain Lists of Groups

  1. Homeschool Association of California (HSC)
  2. A2Z Homeschool (Ann Zeise)
  3. Homefires (Diane Flynn Keith)
  4. California Homeschool Network (CHN)
  5. Meetup (type “homeschool” and your city for a list of  groups)

Groups come and go, change contact people (our kids grow up!), and even change how they communicate. Years ago, Yahoo was the most popular, and some groups also had websites. With the popularity of Facebook, some have moved there. That means you might find a broken link, an old email, or what appears to be an inactive group.  Search online to see if you can find the group’s name and newest information.

Tips for Success!

Go next week if you can.  The first time is the hardest, but do it anyway!  If you are sitting next to someone who isn’t talking to you, introduce yourself.  It might be her first day too!

Bring typical going-to-the-park things:

  • A folding chair or blanket
  • Water
  • Snacks or lunch
  • Sunscreen
  • Jacket or sweatshirt, hat
  • A toy to share – a game or a ball, perhaps, if you think it will help your child meet others.
  • If you knit or crochet, feel free to bring a project to work on while you talk to your new friends.

If you have teens, you might have to go several times. Teens tend to go when they know other teens will, so you may need to talk to some of the moms and try to arrange for all of the teens to show up on the same day!

If you have a great first day, that’s wonderful! If it wasn’t so great, please try a few more times. I’ve seen enough shy or introverted homeschoolers at park days over the years to know that the old timers might be just as nervous as the new visitor.  Keep trying, and you’ll soon be friends!

Homeschooling Through a Crisis

The unexpected in your life can be messy, terrifying, tragic, distracting, time consuming, or joyous. It doesn’t matter the reason, it throws you off your plan. If your child is in school, life is expected to go on without even an acknowledgement of the stress your family is enduring (and remember even good news can be stressful!). The no excuses, zero tolerance, don’t mess with the school’s plan has led many a family to homeschooling.

If you are currently homeschooling, your kids will find other ways to learn if you can’t be there to guide a lesson because of your illness or need to be elsewhere. They’ll read, create, and imagine. They will be watching and learning how to prioritize the important things in life. They may even surprise you by what they are capable of doing when they see that you need help! And if your child is the one who needs care, what a comfort to know that his/her immediate needs are more important than a schoolish assignment.

Is a crisis a good time to enroll a child in school? That’s a common question from parents who are overwhelmed or feel guilty that they can’t do enough for their child. In most instances, it can be best for all to keep the family home together rather than add the additional stress of school. Your child won’t get behind and might even advance in unexpected ways when left to learn on his own!

Please remember not to feel guilty for what you can’t control. You’ll get through it as a family whether it’s a one week unexpected blip or many months.

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Homeschool Field Trips

field trip 2

In addition to reading a chapter book to your child, finding a park day, and baking a double batch of cookies or pizza (for some math fun), a great way to start your homeschooling year is by participating in a field trip with other homeschoolers!  You’ll have both socialization and education worries checked off in a flash, and your children will also be off to a happy new school year!

Looking for field trip ideas?

Visit my Field Trip board at Pinterest.  The Pinterest pages are updated regularly!

Tips for field trip harmony and success:

  1. Be kind to your organizer! Someone has to organize the trip and make the arrangements.  Follow her requests for payment, signing up deadlines, and anything else that’s needed.  There’s a high burnout rate for field trip organizers, and if it happens to yours, you’ll miss her!  No complaints about the date (just don’t go if it doesn’t work out), no complaints about anything else.  And, if you say you’ll be there, let illness be your only excuse.  Offering to organize a trip might also be appreciated!
  1. Be kind to your hosts. Thank them at the beginning and the end of the tour, and follow their rules – these are rules designed to keep their property safe as well as your children safe.
  1. Respectful behavior is important on a field trip to avoid damaging a facility or spoiling the visit for the others. It’s important for groups to comply, or they (and other groups!) may not be welcome in the future. If that is too difficult for your child, or if your parenting style is that you don’t believe in telling children what to do, a group field trip is probably not for you.  On a field trip, it will typically be expected that parents will sometimes have to ask their children to stop a noisy or disruptive behavior – or discover that someone else will do it for them.  If this is a deal breaker for you, skip the group field trips and meet up at park day.  You might also find that it works better for your family to go to special places alone.

And finally, if for whatever reason you don’t love field trips, remember it’s just one idea that some families enjoy.  Nothing is required when you homeschool, so do what works for your family!

 

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No Regrets, It Was Worth It!

This was originally published at UniversalPreschool.com’s blog in 2012, shortly before we dropped our son off at UC Berkeley and all too quickly said good-by. He was on his own, and our days of homeschooling him were over. Two years later, we watched him graduate with a degree in molecular and cell biology.  It was one of the most exciting days in this homeschool mom’s life!

Karen portrait 2014.jpg resized

It seems like just yesterday that I was explaining to disapproving people that no, my son was not in preschool. They were pretty convinced that he wouldn’t be “ready,” whatever that meant.

Although he never went to pre-school (or K-12 either), he is about to graduate from community college and is preparing to transfer to a university.  He’ll soon be moving out, and the last few months have been a time for me to reflect on his life and mine.  Here are some of the things I’ve been thinking about:

  • I’m glad that I homeschooled him from birth until college. No regrets at all!
  • I’m glad I didn’t do formal preschool at home, but just let him learn through play.  It gave him a solid foundation for the learning that came later.
  • I’m really glad I read to him, especially when I was tired of reading.
  • I’m glad I took him to the park to play with other children because no matter what the weather was or how busy I thought we were, he loved weekly homeschool park days and counted on being there.
  • I’m glad we went for walks in the rain and splashed in puddles.
  • I’m glad he had a messy sandbox, homemade playdough, paint, and lots of little pieces all over the house.
  • I’m glad there were tents built inside and holes dug outside.  I’m glad I said yes more than no.
  • I’m glad I tried to listen carefully and treat him with respect; he’s now treating me that way.  It’s a wonderful reward for those long years of mothering and homeschooling!

Do I have regrets?  Sure!  There are things I never got around to doing, and I wish I’d found the time.  We’re all going to feel that way when our babies are ready to leave home!  I didn’t wake up  thinking, “Oh goodie, another glorious day with my three-year-old.”   No, I’ll confess that I’d wake up early and tiptoe down the hall, in the hope of just a bit of time alone.  He’d hear me and joyfully begin his day before I was ready!

At times he cried, got mad, and generally tried my patience. Some days seemed so long!  Now I look back and think it was a good time in our lives, and so worth it.

The preschool years are challenging, but it gets easier, and the reward that comes from helping our children flourish is priceless. Take plenty of pictures, save a few treasures, and jot down some cute things they say so you can remember!

Someday I hope that you too will look back and say “No regrets.  It was time well spent and worth the trouble.”