Thursday, December 6, 2012

Dog joy

My son bound into the house yesterday, full of dog joy, exclaiming, "Mom, thank you so much for homeschooling me!" 
Dog joy: the tail wagging, body wagging, over the top happiness we see from our dogs when we've been away from them for a period of time. The same joy males innately possess until the world knocks it out of them. 
He beamed as he handed me his PACT scores. His scores are high. High enough to meet the admission standards for highly selective universities. More than enough to earn him his missing ninth grade credits his high school requires for graduation. And, enough to show his high school counselor that he is ready to move beyond pre-advanced placement courses to the courses that can start earning him college credits, though his 4+ GPA report card had already indicated that.

More than all of that is vindication. For him, for us, for every homeschooling family out there who is facing the suspicion, doubt, questioning, ostracizing, and judgment from the ignorant masses in denial of the overwhelming evidence of government school failure.

To our son, these scores are evidence and culmination of success of the last ten years. He's bold and confident about his homeschooling years. As the students in his class were sharing each others' scores he proudly exclaimed, "that's from homeschooling, right there!" He was surprised by some of his peers' scores, some as many as 13 points below his (score range 1-32). He knows he shouldn't be surprised but nevertheless, it is disheartening.

We started the homeschooling journey with him when he was five. Our youngest child was very ill and had recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease. We had contemplated homeschooling but put our son into our small town public school against our best judgment to allow me the time I thought I needed to nurture my daughter back to health. We noticed drastic changes in him immediately. He was missing his dog joy. He came home sad, got up in the morning sad, and was sad and withdrawn in school. RLB dropped him off at school one day, just a few weeks into the school year, and saw our son clinging to the fence screaming as he started to drive away. RLB stopped and ran to the fence. Our little boy pleaded, "please take me home, I want to go home!"

We had read somewhere about the common challenge boys face the day their fathers break their spirit. Most can remember it to the day. That day, the day our son was crying by the fence, was not going to be the day he logged into his memories of his father breaking his spirit. RLB's decision was confirmed later when we came across Dr. Dobson's book Bringing Up Boys and read "later is better for boys."

Sports and athleticism is very important in this home. Unfortunately we live in yet another state that doesn't allow homeschoolers to participate in the team sports we prefer. We put our son back into public school for a year and a half of middle school so he could play football and wrestle. The list of unbelievable occurrences started to rack up.  We pulled him again. He had fallen way behind our standards academically though he was getting straight A's.

We caught him up to where we thought he should be and considered having him test for his GED so he could enroll in the local college. We found out the high school here has the AP program and again we wanted him to play sports. RLB was confident he was very well prepared for the politics of public school. Our son is a mature sixteen-year-old and is no longer influenced by the feminism that is ever present in the public schools. He's getting training that will be quite useful to him as he ventures out into the world in a couple of years. He challenges his teachers when they go too far off track into liberal politics but knows he needs to mind his words if he desires their good favor. At this stage it's a game. He educates himself on what the schools don't teach and engages in very advanced political and spiritual conversations with us. He's very fun to hang out with, having never lost his dog joy.


  1. Home schooling is the best. We all were and my two sons will be too.

  2. Hi Daughter of Sarah,

    I'm looking at homeschooling in Australia and I think it is far less commonly done here then in the states.

    I'm struggling to find good resources to use. Do you have any that you would recommend?

    Also, on the homeschooling side, how much time did you spend a day homeschooling, what sort of daily structure did you use? Additionally, did you find you had to leave some topics alone till RLB came home?

    I know this is a short question with a long answer, but would be very appreciative.


  3. No problem, Aussie_Tom!

    Here in the states we have HSLDA - Home School Legal Defense Association. Here's a link to what they have on Australia.

    Your first course of action is to find out what your state's requirements are for homeschooling. For example, our only requirement is that we have 180 days of instruction.

    There are so many websites that offer free homeschool material, I wouldn't even know where to start. When we started with our son, I felt most comfortable with a structured curriculum. I used Christian Liberty Academy. My son would do the work and we'd send it to them for grading. The downside to this is that a child has to complete all of the work, even if he has advanced beyond it. That makes for some mundane repetition. I did like not having to question if I was covering all the bases. But it is the most expensive route and not completely necessary. Read through their site and take a look at their curriculum packages.

    I order all of my new books from

    The key is learning how your child learns best. Also, how you teach best. I prefer a structured "school time." I write out a plan for the day and that's what gets done. I grade work everyday and go over corrections with them. We don't move on until they understand the material.

    Since there are several styles and preferences out there, I'll just let you know how we do it and you take what you like and leave the rest.

    Math - when my son was young, he learned math concepts best using hands on materials. We used peg boards and blocks. If he could see and feel 2 blocks + 2 blocks = 4 blocks, he could learn it. My daughters never needed to use blocks, paper and pencil worked fine for them.

    I am a huge fan of Saxon math. They use an incremental approach to teaching math. New concept, review old concepts, new concept, review old concepts etc. Instead of the new concept, new concept, new concept approach often taught in public school. My 11 year old (6th grade) is working on their 7/8 book and my 12 year old (7th grade) will be starting Algebra 1 in January, she finished pre-algebra in 4 months.

    Reading - we used Hooked on Phonics to teach all of them to read. Once they learned to read, they starting consuming books like crazy. I printed out the list of Hillsdale College's recommended reading list and have started checking them off as the kids read the books. For young ones, Book Adventure is a free online reading comprehension testing program similar to the Accelerated Reading program used in many U.S. schools.

    Grammar - I love Easy Grammar. It's a prepositions first approach to mastering grammar and literally the only grammar curriculum I've come across that makes sense to me.

    Vocabulary - We use Vocabulary from Classical Roots.

    Science - Apologia

    Logic and reasoning - Bluedorns' Trivium Persuit

    I'm not going to recommend a History curriculum because I haven't found one I'm satisfied with (and am open to recommendations).

  4. My son was a procrastinator when he was homeschooling. He'd take all day to complete his work. My daughters, on the other hand, get right to it and keep their noses down until it's done - usually in four hours or less. Early on I would instruct for 10 minutes, have them work for 15 and then take a 15 minute break (recess). This made it very easy for me to take care of my younger children, clean, cook, etc. It also provided incentive to keep them focused and plenty of time for them to release energy.

    RLB was mostly needed for discipline on rough days. After he was home and relaxed, I would let him know how the day went. If it was a difficult day, he'd talk with the kids and lay down the law. Last year, when my son was in advanced science, he would wait for RLB to be available to ask questions about his work. RLB is a physicist. I'm not. He enjoyed helping in that area. Apologia offers lecture DVDs with their books. If I didn't have RLB, I'd have purchased those DVDs. Saxon math also offers CDs and DVDs. I haven't needed those yet but I will when we are on Trigonometry.

    My girls will be doing Home Economics for the next couple of weeks leading up to Christmas. We will be cleaning, decorating, shopping with a budget, making candy, cookies and various other Christmas treats, sewing, and a friend of mine is going to teach us how to crochet.

    Hope this has helped. If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to ask. You're making a fantastic decision and I am thrilled to help in any way I can.

  5. You need to find what works the best for you. We started out trying to do "school at home" and that just stressed my wife out. We ended up with a much more relaxed approach. Our children constantly begged to go to the government schools, but it was for the best they did not as the problems we faced in their teen years would have been multiplied if they had been there.

    My own children were not academic geniuses, but they did as well or better than their heritage (adopted) and know more than many of those with diplomas from the local government school.

    My wife used a multi-age curriculum toward the end, for what little time we could keep them in engaged. I can't remember the name right now, but it was in the process of being written as we used it, so we only used 2 or 3 of the 5 planned years. It had a good strong spectrum of topics. It might not be as applicable for you though since it also had a focus on the development of the USA, something that might be off for Australia. The best thing is to find what you child is most suited to and use that.

  6. Hi Daughter of Sarah,

    You've given me a lot to process.

    Thankyou very much.

  7. I should probably add that I'll look at this and more then likely ask you more questions.


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