Five Things Our Homeschool Lacks

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Other people watch prime time TV.  I read blogs. I read A LOT of blogs.

I find there are many good things that come from this.

I have a constant stream of creative new ideas, a better, a more personalized understanding of current events and encouragement from other wives and mothers.  I have picked up ideas about how to make my own blog more successful, how to be a better gardener, how to conserve resources and how to get that one funky stain out of our carpet without harsh chemicals.

On the other hand, there is a BIG DARK UGLY side to what happens when you spend all your free time reading blogs.

You start comparing.

Image: source

Image: source

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as we get settled into a new school year.

Last year we were brand new home-schoolers, just trying to find our path.  This year we have a little better idea of what is helpful for us and what isn’t.  We have found there are several things that just don’t work well for us. Trying to fit them into our lives made the whole family miserable.

I removed those things from our world.

But then I started reading blogs…

it seems that everyone else does those things. Maybe we should do them too.  Perhaps I need to give them another try because they’re so popular they must be good.

Thankfully, “J” over at Undogmatic Unschoolers saved me, just in a nick of time by writing a great post entitled, “I could never do what you do.”  

In her post she makes the point that none of us parent exactly the same way. We know what our kids need and we respond in our own unique ways. Homeschooling is just an extension of parenting. You can’t do what I do because you are not me.  Likewise, I could never in a million years do what you do because I’m not you.

So with that in mind, I’m coming out of the closet to admit that there are five things that our homeschool lacks that it seems many others have. And that’s just fine with us because, since our children seem to be learning and growing and doing just fine, we must not really need them – though maybe someone else does.

1) Worksheets

As soon as I pull out a printed worksheet my daughter just completely shuts down. She wants nothing to do with it. It’s either far “too hard” or “just like baby work.”  Forget it! I’m over it. Using paper isn’t very hippie anyway – save the forest and all that.

What we do have are notebooks full of things (OK, so maybe we didn’t save the forest after all) Sweet Hippie Daughter has written and drawn, problems she has solved and questions she’s seeking answers to.  We also use our computer and Kindle a lot for school.

2) Crafts.

There must be approximately 7 billion adorable classroom crafts in the world. There are little skeletons made out of Q-Tips and paper mache globes and very hungry caterpillars built from toilet paper tubes.   Sure, we can make them and we all go, “aw! That’s really cute!” and then they get tossed into a pile of clutter where they get crushed and destroyed and six months later they wind up in the recycling bin.  There are a few exceptions, usually holiday decorations of one kind or another, that we make and manage to save and use each year but we’ve pretty much just given up on crafts.

What we do have are projects.  We sew together and build things for our garden. We fix things around the house.  There is still room in our world for creativity and mess-making but it tends more along the lines of making clothing or building unique garden trellises than anything that uses construction paper and glue sticks.  Recently SHD has been learning to crochet from one of her friends’ moms. I love that! I can’t wait for her to teach me.

3) Text books

We had text books last year.  They seemed stuffy and boring and they are really expensive.

What we do have is a list of our state’s “grade level expectations,” access to the internet and a library card.  We read a LOT, both online and in print. We read from various authors and publishers so we can get a wide range of views on any given topic.  In the end, we are studying the same subjects all kids study, we just aren’t using the same books.

4) A schedule

Sweet Hippie Daughter has a homeschool friend who can tell you today what she will be studying on the second Tuesday in April.  I usually write out each day’s plan the night before.

What we do have is an end goal, kept constantly in mind.  Each day I consider how much progress she has made and I plan the next day accordingly. If she’s reached all her goals in May then we’ll be done with fourth grade in May. If she needs longer then so be it.

5) Grades

I hear other kids at homeschool events talking about having received this grade or that on a paper they wrote or project they completed.  We don’t have grades.

What we do have is correction and revision. I go over my girl’s work and, if she got something wrong, she needs to fix it and get it right.  Her math curriculum is online (we are using Khan Academy this year) and it won’t let her move forward until she has mastered a skill.  If I had to give her a grade she would always get an “A” because if it is less than her best work she has to do it again.

Are there things that your homeschool “lacks” that you sometimes feel everyone else is using? I’d love to hear about it!

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16 responses »

  1. Like parenting, homeschooling is a journey, right? And how’s saying go–doing the thing that doesn’t work over and over again in expectation of different results is a sign of insanity? Good for you for having the courage to walk your own path and shed what doesn’t work. We shed what doesn’t work constantly. Sometimes are at a loss for something with which to fill the resulting “void”–but life always fills it. And thanks for the shout out. “Jane.”

  2. I totally agree that just like parenting a newborn, you do what works best for you and your child. No worries, mate. And also, I hate crafts! Fortunately, I have a crafty daughter to comes up with stuff completely independent of me and her creations blow me away. The other two kids can be taught and/or inspired by her, or they’ll just be uncrafty, like me. Who cares? 🙂

    • Oh my goodness! I just took a bite of food before I clicked on this and I almost choked. How funny! I know EXACTLY what you mean! Hippie Academy is sorely underfunded. Maybe we should apply to the township for a new millage! hahaha

  3. As a mom who has thought about homeschooling when the time comes, this blog post of yours thrills me. Often I see a lot of homeschool articles and blogs that seems so perfect that I don’t even want to try to homeschool my daughter. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. And thank you for linking up to Its okay. 🙂

    • I have met a few of those families that seem like they do everything “just right.” When I get to know them better it’s an illusion. We all have things we excel at and things we struggle with. In the end, we’re all just trying to get through the day without having to put a dollar in our kids’ “future therapy” jar. 🙂

  4. I think you could substitute the word ‘homeschooling’ for many other words concerning parenting
    and come to the same conclusion. As human beings, this is what we do; we compare, we take note, we analyse, we marvel, we admire, we worry, we fret and the only thing we can really do once we’ve done all of these things is to follow our hearts and do what works for us. I just felt guilty reading a post about using cloth nappies (because I don’t) but then made myself remember that for the one good thing I don’t do, there are a hundred positive things that I do do. Homeschooling is admirable and I’m sure your gang are learning in the best way that works for them and you. x

  5. Great post! I’ve always thrown around the possibility of homeschooling our girls. But I don’t think I could do it, I’m just not that motivated I think. I have such admiration for you mamas who do homeschool, because it takes a LOT. And who’s to say everyone should do it the same exact way? All kids learn different ways. You have to do what works for you and your kids, like in everything. But you’re right ~ reading a ton blogs makes us compare ourselves and our own lives to the lives of other mommy bloggers. It’s usually all good, but sometimes it can get ugly. What I usually find out about those blogs that seem to be all organized and have it “all” ~ they don’t let readers into how their lives really are. You’re doing a great job mama ~ and it’s okay!! Thanks for linking up again 😉

    • Thank you for your kind words! I love that we have so many choices in our country right now to find the best fit for our children as individuals. Every kid and every family is unique and needs to find their own path.

  6. I honestly love this idea. I’m actually content with taking pieces of what people do because I know for the most part how we live our lives and raise my son is foreign compared to everyone around us. I love how you have excluded these things! I need to save this post for sure! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Mommy Monday! xoxo

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