Thursday, April 11, 2013

Homeschooling guidance

A reader named CB sent me the following question(s):

We have 2 daughters, ages 2 and 4, that we want to homeschool, but my wife occasionally has "those days" where the girls completely wear her and her patience thin and she severely doubts her ability to homeschool. It's not that the material will be over her head, but that the 24 hours a day with the girls without any breaks for sanity will drive her nuts. I've started trying to take the girls off her hands for at least 30 minutes every [evening] when I get home from work and for half a day every weekend. In the past I would come home and play with them in the house, but they could still run to her and bug and plead and cry. Now it's a complete removal from mama, outside with the chicks, or in the orchard. We still have a farm that has to be run and I have a full-time job in a mine so my time is limited, but like I said, I'm trying to releive some of that pressure. We've also talked about music lessons, paying a retired teacher for a couple of hours of school lessons once a week, year long zoo passes, weekly library trips, and other stuff to get them out of the house and get mama a break. My wife's other concern is that both of our mom's have told her that they couldn't have homeschooled their kids. They were both good moms when we were growing up, so now my wife rethinks homeschooling just because of that once in a while. Do you have any tips or hints that could help? What else can I do, on top of encouragement and releiving pressure, to help?

Second question is, have you looked at the Ron Paul Curriculum?

Since you have experience in the realm of homeschooling, teaching liberty, constitutionalism, etc., would you mind posting your thoughts on the Ron Paul Curriculum? Will/would you enroll your girls?

Thank you, CB

I thought this would be an excellent issue to open up for discussion since multiple heads are better than one. Here are some of my thoughts to get the discussion going.

CB, I believe your wife is in need of coping techniques rather than specifics on homeschooling. There isn't a mother alive who hasn't had "those days" (or weeks or months...) with young kids. You're to be commended for relieving your wife as often as you do.

I would urge her NOT to turn to media to calm kids down (television, videos, computers, iPads, whatever). While this may work in the short-term, it will backfire in the long run by producing zombie children, unable to function without multiple media access. Children need to be taught how to entertain themselves through reading, independent play, etc. This isn't always easy, but the benefits in the long run are tremendous. Obviously in the pre-reading stage, "reading" isn't an option; but make sure you have loads of picture books available, and model reading as something enjoyable. Along these lines, I would urge the adults in the home to turn off the %$@* television as well.

Young children are also in need of strict training. Not discipline, not punishment, but training. They need to be trained not to whine, cling, have tantrums, etc. The book To Train Up a Child is considered controversial in some circles because it advocates the use of a "rod," but it offers some superb insight on the issue of raising young children how to be self-controlled. Skip the "rod" part if you want to -- we did -- but I strongly recommend reading it for training techniques.

I have a blog post from two years ago called Beaten Into Submission that addresses in more depth the notion of training children. Please read it.

As far as Ron Paul's curriculum is concerned, I have never heard of it though it sounds intriguing. While slavishly following a set curriculum works for some people, I don't like the expense or limitation involved in such methods. We prefer to draw upon numerous sources for our material. However a curriculum does offer guidance and is an excellent way not to "forget" something important, so I have no quarrels with the idea.

Okay, now I would urge all readers to chime in and offer CB some help.

(By the way, CB, your website on chickens is wonderful and I would like permission to post the URL. May I?)


  1. I can't offer insights on homeschooling, but I will say that years 2 and 4 are HARD years! (mine are now 9 and 11, fwiw). Yall are smack in the middle of some tough years, so I would advise against making a decision against what will happen in later years right now- take the pressure off yourselves...even a year (5 yrs old vs 4 yrs old) at this age is a HUGE leap developmentally in all areas- verbal, self sufficency, etc... How it is right now, is not how it will always be....hang in there

  2. AMEN on restricting TeeVee... our homeschool child is more or less a zombie directly correlated to how rectangular his eyes are.

    Time away helps, but it would have been better not to allow the ADDICTION.

    Curriculum, again, AMEN.

    Staying with a single source or technique puts you in the same box as public schools - stuck.

    People have different learning modes, some need interaction, some can go off and read, others need to hold it in their hands... etc.

    Don't miss opportunities for "lifestyle learning". Always be looking for teaching opportunities - at the grocery store, the gas station...

    Those zoo passes should not be merely time off, but time INTO zoology. Extra-curricular activities of any kind, may not fit into a book, but they doo fit into teaching/training a child.

    Huddle with other local homeschoolers, ask questions as you did of Patrice. No need to "reinvent the wheel" this is not unknown country. Consult with others and their "maps".

  3. I'm glad to hear that we're doing several things you recommend already. We cut off the TV(saw an article the other day that says we've now been categorized as cord-cutters) several years and only have some movies for the girls to watch as rewards. The great thing about owned movies over TV is that once we've screened the content, we know they can watch it without us getting any surprises. Ice cream, movies(limited to no more than 1/day), etc., are typically rewards and occasionaly given upon request.

    Discipline is typically time-out or losing minutes of sitting time with daddy in the evening. The oldest starts with 10 minutes every day. She loses 1 minute(and there is a strict loss of 1 at a time to prevent overreacting) when she back talks, uses an ugly tone, doesn't listen, etc. She can also earn minutes for saying please and thank you, doing what's asked of her upon the first request, etc. BTW, there is more impact by giving minutes as reward than taking them away as punishment. You have to have both to have a balance though.

    I remember the "Beaten into Submission" post and it turns out we're actually applying some of the techniques you mention in there. I also remember the book, but didn't order because (I thought) we didn't need it at the time.

    For the chicken website, I assume you're talking about the Natural Chicken Keeping blog, or is the threads in BackYardChickens?

    The Natural Chicken Keeping blog is run by a lady whose username is Bulldogma. I am only a member of the blog. You may want to ask her first, though I doubt she would have any problems with it.

    Thank You so much for taking the time to reply.

  4. "The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children."
    -Charlotte Mason

    We follow the Charlotte Mason philosophy in our homeschool. There are several fabulous websites that will tell you about this amazing woman. I am currently reading the six volume set that Ms. Mason wrote concerning not only schooling children but also raising children. (There are modern English versions at Ambleside Online as the original books are not a quick read.) Time and time again Ms. Mason brings up the subject of habit training. I purchased the book "Laying Down the Rails" from Simply Charlotte Mason. This is a compilation of all the quotes and passages, written in the six books I mentioned above, concerning habit training. I have learned so much from Ms. Mason's writings. I am a mother of six and we have been homeschooling for six years. I still do not have everything figured out and I sometimes loose my cool when I get stressed. Having the Bible! and Charlotte Mason in my home I can handle these times. I urge anyone who is homeschooling or thinking of homeschooling to do a little research about Charlotte Mason. I have not even scratched the surface of this wonderful education.

    The one thing that impressed me most was Ms. Mason said to put God first in everything! Whether it is your school day or your life. In today's world where do you hear education linked with the Lord?

  5. It gets easier so long as you are dedicated to training the children rather than pacifying them.

    It helps to have the support of your extended families (especially the females that have raised children) but I'd recommend you and your wife grow thick skin. Rarely will you find anyone wanting to be your cheerleader when you are bucking their norm. Our mothers never point blank disagreed with homeschooling, but they weren't overly supportive. My mother has been on the local school board since I was in middle school. Now that makes for interesting conversation among her friends and colleagues!

    The preschool age is such fun. Anything is a learning opportunity - the grocery, bank, gardening, library, just everyday life. We stayed on the go several morinings a week - but naps are important to keep everyone sane! There are tons of free materials online and at your library. Look through your local paper for opportunities at the museum, fee music concerts, etc. Some areas have 4H (clover buds) for little kids. Check for a home school group in your area, or a Mothers of Preschoolers group. Some churches have home school co-ops that you can attend even if you don't go to that particular church. You can help your wife by taking the kids to some of those outings on weekends or your days off. Take advantage of the couple years you have left before school becomes more structured.

    I think the very early focus should be learning how to behave in public and at home, and having a good time while doing it. They learn to emulate your behavior rather than that of other 2-4 year olds that they'd be with in preschool. They get to see you politely speaking with the check out attendant or bank clerk... not whiny children hitting each other because they want toys.

    Don't give into the thought that you have to "teach" them from 8-2 because that's what they do at public school. THEY DO NOT TEACH SIX SOLID HOURS AT PUBLIC SCHOOL!!! "Teaching" a little kid for 6 hours would drive them and you crazy. At this age lots of constructive play and a few workbooks will get the ball rolling. Kids at that age want to feel big, the workbooks a couple days a week make them feel like big kids. They are sponges and learn from everything they see and do. Her helping you make a salad or dessert is math and science. Think outside the box and you'll see that you are already teaching them!

    Don't give into the thought that "she's 4, she should be in school". School isn't compulsory at matter what the Head Start folks try selling the public. Think back to when you were 4. What was important for you to learn then is what's important for your 4 year old now. Keep it simple.

    Elementary to middle school isn't rocket science. By that time you will have a better idea of what works for your kids. And if something isn't working, you can always change it. It really boils down to the parent being disciplined in their own life and planning planning planning - then adapting when things are not working. Not everyone is a strict scheduler, but schedules are best when you know you are prone to becoming overwhelmed. But be patient enough with YOURSELVES that you can change that schedule as necessary.

    We don't use a "boxed" curriculum, but I am looking into Dr. Paul's curriculum - it is free to grade 6. I am a HUGE fan of his and hope to be pleased using his materials regarding constitution, economics, business, etc. to augment to our lessons.

    Good luck! You can do it. You are already a dedicated parent - don't overthink the homeschool part. It sounds far more overwhelming and complicated than it really is. Unfortunately the "education system" has done a good job of teaching us that partents "can't possibly do it".

  6. Every mother of 2 and 4 years olds needs a break! It gets easier as they get older, and your motherly patience grows too. Patrice you are so right about children learning obedience first. Without that, homeschooling is unnecessarily difficult. John Rosemond's book Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children is what guided us. We didn't even decide to homeschool until just before our oldest was Kindergarten age. We were guided by a family at church who showed us the way. This reader should look for a mentor either at church or a homeschool group. There are other Moms willing to help a newbie, and it will make a big difference. We never followed a curriculum, but has specific goals for our children and built our own program to reach those goals. Books by Raymond and Dorothy Moore were a great help to me also.

  7. Patrice - the Ron Paul curriculum just came online last Saturday, which is probably why you have never heard of it. He introduced it (I understand, I wasn't there myself) at the Great American Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati on Sat night, and it was written up on on Monday. I'm a big fan of Ron Paul, so I went right over to check it out.

    From what I can tell, it seems to be written mainly by Gary North & Tom Woods. Gary writes in a very distinctive, short, choppy style & all the intro material sounds to me like his writing. They plan to put up free k-5 curricula in the future, but what they have now is middle & high school level classes for a fee. You must pay $25 to access what they have available so far (& that price is supposed to go up to $250 in Sept), so it is hard to tell for certain, but it looks to me like the courses that are now available are things that are already free in other locations, only with the addition of a discussion forum. Gary North's class on how to study seems to be the same as the one on his own website, and Tom Woods has some free econ & history classes for high schoolers on the Mises site. It looks like they might be starting out with material they have already developed elsewhere.

    I had an email exchange with Gary North a couple of years ago after he lamented on LRC the absence of free online homeschool curricula. I pointed out that there were already some very good ones available including Ambleside Online & Khan Academy. He responded that he didn't see any tests or grading with those curricula, giving me the impression that he didn't understand homeschooling & was confusing it with "school at home", as so many people from traditional school backgrounds tend to do. (I had a similar conversation just yesterday in real life with a dad who is planning to homeschool next year, but is worried about how they will get "accurate" grades for their child.)

    It seems to me that Ron Paul is trying to promote homeschooling outside of the typical Christian base, which pretty much already knows about it. I'm certainly all for anything that gets more kids out of government schools, but it doesn't look to me, at this point, like this curriculum will offer a lot to those of us who are already homeschooling. I might consider individual courses at the high school level, esp in areas like economics & history, but I would look around first & see what I could find elsewhere, esp on Mises & Khan.

    Just my first impression, but maybe helpful to someone! - Tami

    1. Also, I would like to add that Gary North is an older gentleman with long-grown children. If he ever homeschooled his own children, I have never heard him mention it. Tom Woods' young daughters, according to his wife's blog, attend private Catholic school. Ron Paul did not homeschool his own five children, but I have read that some of his adult children do homeschool his grandchildren. The Ron Paul Curriculum site states that the young man who will be teaching the middle school math classes is himself a homeschool graduate, and I believe his mother is one of the people who is working on the k-5 curricula. So some, but not all, of the people involved have actual homeschooling experience, fwiw. Of course John Saxon, who wrote the classic Saxon math series, which no true homeschooler can live without, never homeschooled either! - Tami

  8. I agree with your assessment that discipline is key in this woman's situation. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you have the time and focus to train your children to behave well without the exposure to the bad manners of other school children, over which you have little control.

    I was home schooled, along with my two sisters. My mother had been an elementary school teacher before getting married, so we had a lot of structure to our curriculum. She even keep an attendance log to make sure we got in our 180 days every year and we were tested with the Iowa basic skills tests to make sure we were on par(or above) with our peers.

    I'm currently working on my own homeschooling curriculum, and we are expecting our first child in October. It is never too early to start planning your curriculum or to teach your child. Some children can learn to read at 3, there is no reason why you need to wait to try and teach them anything and everything!

    My advise to your reader would be to take this next year, before kindergarten, and build a structured day, something similar to a half day at kindergarten. Start teaching simple things now, but get the structure and discipline in place ASAP. The lessons and real learning will come gradually later.


  9. Amen, on your comment (Patrice) about focusing on coping mechanisms rather than curriculum, at this point! I think that's probably THE biggest issue, especially when the kids are little. Sounds like the dad realizes that he needs to be committed to this project as well, and is looking for ways to offer the mom support, which is GREAT.

    When my three boys were little I desperately craved some quiet time, away from their constant energy and noise, and we found ways for me to get it. (My husband would take them out of the house for a half hour or so, while I made dinner. My parents occasionally took them for a "PTO" day - personal time off, in the business world, and a sanity break for me! And I traded with other moms, watching each other's kids at times. Just for some other ideas...)

    I think that often when people begin homeschooling, the first thing that happens is that all sorts of behavioral issues come to the surface. Many people react to that by deciding that homeschooling is not for them, and their kids need to go to school so everyone can have their "space"... or however we express that.

    Another way to look at that - as you alluded to - is that a lot of training needs to take place. And I'm not implying that these people asking for advice are failing in that area, only that it becomes more blatant to ALL of us, when we're in each other's presence, 24/7 :D

    I view homeschooling as primarily about discipling and training my kids, and only secondarily about educating them. My goal is to raise godly men, far above and beyond "preparing them for college" or "socializing them", etc.


    Julie G

  10. Yes there will be those days where the children wear you thin. That's what husbands are for. My husband and I were determined that our children would not be brats, but would be a pleasure for others to be around. We succeeded at that. Often when we visited a restaurant and I was ready to round on a child, an older person would come tell us how well behaved our children were, and so I would back off and realize we had reached our goal.

    Homeschooling is sowing and reaping. You first sow manners and sitting still, then they can sit thru church or listen to a story. Listening to a story sows the interest in books. You sow letter sounds and some penmanship and you reap the ability to move on to the next thing. You do start to reap early, and the reaping gets bigger and bigger. I have graduated one student and will graduate the next next month. That will be the biggest reaping so far, but I don't think it will stop there.

    I think as far as "me time", it's a cultural idea, not a Biblical one. I used to be desperate for it, I would leap at the chance to grocery shop when my husband came home so I could have a break from the kids. But, if you train your children in manners, kindnesses, considering others interests before their own, you will find that you ENJOY being with your kids and me time is no longer a need or even a want.

    As your children are young, I suggest you look at "What is education?" What is a King's education? What is a Hebrew education? What is a Greek education? What is a Puritan education? After you have read and explored these kinds of ideas you will be able to sift thru develop your own philosphy of education.

    I would highly recommend attending a homeschool conference in your state or another. If you go to you can find support groups in your state, the large statewide support group will generally hold a conference with classes on "How to Homeschool" and with LOADS of curriculum you can touch, look at, find it in "used curriculum resale area, or even buy!

    In addition, I would suggest you decide what your own learning and teaching styles might be? I once tried to use the same curriculum as my sister-in-law. She was a projects kind of Mom, I was not. When I switched back to a literature based curriculum because I was a reader, I was much more comfortable with my homeschool. (But from that curriculum I did learn that you can learn an astonishing amount about any topic from a 3rd grade library book! Thank you Jessica Hulcy and Konos!)

    As far as the grandmothers, they may have been great moms, but you have to do what you feel is right. There has only been the opportunity to "just be a good mom" in this country for about 100 years. Before that all mom's mostly homeschooled AND were good moms. And during those times there was a 90% or more literacy rate! You can do it!

    I have not seen a Ron Paul curriculum, but I believe Ron Paul is a libertarian. While I would agree with his philosophy on some things, I would heartily disagree with other things. Again, I would consider your own educational philosophy and your teaching style, and look for things that are "scripted". (That means it tells the teacher what to say, and it says what the student should answer.) Those are easy to jump into for a new homeschooler and after 17 years I would still rely on scripted curriculum myself.

    I agree with what Patrice has said also.

    Blessings on your Journey,
    Bend, Oregon

  11. Patrice,
    So far, I've graduated 6 of my children from our homeschool and have 3 still enrolled. I find scheduling really helps. The Maxwell family has written an excellent book or 2 on it. My favorite is at I, too, use an eclectic approach, picking from various curriculums. I do see an advantage to a box curriculum for a newbie, but they tend to go into overdrive and think if they don't complete everything mentioned that they've failed. If they have average children and surround them with love, the security of routine and nurturing discipline, and make education available, THEY WILL LEARN! I'd recommend that the wife read Dr. Raymond Moore's books for a different perspective than you'd hear in the major media or even from well meaning friends. The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook, Better Late Than Early, and Home Grown Kids are all great books. Since home-schooling is basically tutoring, you can use and abbreviate ANY curriculum, modifying it for your child. For example, if she is struggling to learn to add fractions in the curriculum you're using, you may want to put aside the textbook for a few weeks and let her go through some of the Key to . . . (fractions, etc.) workbooks. Then find the place to pick back up in the textbook and go on with learning. Many times, if you are convinced that the concept taught has been understood, you can shorten the amount of seatwork assigned (homework). I usually have the kids do even numbered problems or odd numbered problems, if that'll give them fair coverage of what they've learned. Most textbooks are for classroom application and not designed specifically for homeschool. All that said, (and I could go on and on!) I perceive the wife's problem to be the "what about me?" syndrome. We have to die to ourselves in this life in so many areas. Just as parenting helps us in this, homeschooling refines it. Our focus has to be on seeking first the kingdom of God and leading the little ones in the WAY. The "me time" that I desire just might not be what is good for me in this season of my life. I need to focus on others and not myself. The notion that somehow parents DESERVE time away from their children just isn't Biblical. When my children drive me crazy, it's usually because of a bad attitude in me, that I need to spend time in prayer about and subdue, turning it over to my Lord. While I do tire of playing referee (I have 8 sons), this is what they need - a godly example to show them how to direct their steps. As some of my boys are now enjoying families of their own and planning to teach their little ones, I see the wonderful harvest of reaping-what-you-sow. It was SO worth it to put them ahead of my own selfishness. And now to see the godly fruit in their life choices is a huge blessing! Back to the questions at hand - how much better for the family for the mom to include herself in the Saturday outing with Dad and enjoy showing the children that doing things AS A FAMILY is important and show the watching world that we care about each other, rather than making the children feel that somehow they are bad and she needs to be away from them. Not to say that Dad can't take them fishing while she's finishing up those Sunday dresses she wanted to make for them or whatever, but never because MOMMY NEEDS TO BE AWAY FROM YOU!! Crying out to God for wisdom and relying on Him is the #1 advice I'd give. People will fail you but He never will! A good homeschool group with some seasoned veterans would be a help, if she can find one. Most of the homeschool groups I have been involved in have been a blessing and a way for moms to encourage each other in the daily-ness of their undertaking. Check with the CHEF organization in your state to find the one nearest to you. God bless!

    1. Amen!

      I sometimes crave adult conversation, but I never crave a break from my children. I can't understand that. Mom will have plenty of time "away and alone" when the children are gone and it will be too late to get back those lost hours.

      I would stepping back and looking at all the things and ways in which you and your wife are actually teaching your girls right now. Everytime they ask a question, every time you explain what you are doing, reading books, putting puzzles together, blowing bubbles, drawing with are teaching! Nothing mysteriously happens when they turn five and the public school wants them to come (because they get lots of state and federal dollars when they do) that makes you an ineffectual teacher. You will not be teaching rocket science to your five year old. You will be continuing what you have all ready been doing. Reading, discussing, playing, drawing, matching, sorting.

      Many people have success with Non-school. I haven't done it, but I throw it out just because I think it's okay to relax and step back and realize that if you try something and it's not working, it's okay to change course. We moved a lot when I was a child. I survived lots of different schools and teachers, made leaps from one curriculum to another. My parents took us out of school for weeks and even months when we moved and I learned lots during those times, as well. It's all in how you look at it.

      I personally, began using Abeka books and workbooks, but realized that an integrated literature based Charlotte Mason approach would be more beneficial to my son. He excelled at workbooks, but was not going to apply what he learned and I was getting way too wrapped up in him answering the question on the test correctly, rather than learning and being able to put that knowledge into place with other knowledge.

      Don't make it difficult. Think of how much your little ones have learned since the day they were born...YOU did that! It can be as simple as expanding on reading an appropriate book. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to both your girls, show the colors, talk about the fruit, go shopping and buy some of those fruits, eat them, get another book on caterpillars and butterflies at the library, get on the floor and pretend to be caterpillars and spin cocoons, become butterflies, make tissue paper butterflies. I could go on and on, but at 2 and 4 you can literally turn everything into learning. Popping pop corn can be a tasty science lesson (Why does it pop?) Your two old may not understand the lesson, but she can learn the letter P/p and can glue popcorn down on construction paper in the shape of P along with her sister, while they eat popcorn.
      You can not only help mom out by "relieving" her, you can teach also. Dad's look at the world in a unique way and your daughters can be the beneficiary of that.

      Have fun, talk with others, and think about what will work best for your little ones. I thrived on workbooks as a child and my younger brother wilted, but he could draw and illustrate fabulous stories he told. That talent never left him. Unfortunately, my forte was bookwork and I struggled to apply, achieving my personal success from the grade on the paper instead of the lesson. Watch out for that!


  12. Most homeschooling parents will occasionally question if they are cut out for this job! My most memorable "spell" was when my older girls were about 7&8. I was really down on myself for not being the perfect wife, mother, homemaker & teacher. I'd see all these homeschool moms that were physically fit, cooked 3 hot meals a day, had smart kids, clean houses, and curricula planned out through the next three years. (or that was my perception) It was late spring (in the South) and we took the day off to recharge at the beach. My husband and I were sitting on the beach discussing the possibility of enrolling the girls in traditional school the following year. One of the girls asked her dad to check out some nearby fishing nets. They waded out into the water and he pulled up a flounder net to explain to her how it worked. They were surprised to find a tangled sea turtle. Long story short: He cut the net and I grabbed a Rubbermaid tote to fill with sea water. We called the nearby aquarium and spent the day with their crew rescuing, measuring, documenting, and releasing an endangered animal. It was one of our most memorable "field trips". There is no way they would have experienced something so cool if they were stuck in the confines of traditional education. It felt like God whispering that we shouldn't give up. We decided then and there that we wouldn't give into our discouraging thoughts. Now we have 4 girls - 6 months to 14 years. The youngest just cut her first tooth and the oldest is getting ready for braces. It's not all sunshine and roses everyday but it's worth it. Keep your chin up! It'll all work out : )

  13. Hi,

    I find myself in a similar place. I have a wife who for various reasons is not as functional (by far) as Patrice. She is not "well suited" for the homeschooling, homesteading self-sufficient lifestyle (at this time). Before our "awaking" my friends and I choose wives based on their arm-candy-ness and the ability to function in a nice suburb (and not spend too much money). Thus now I feel like I am "changing the agreement." This is something we need to think on, but we need to understand that we choose these women to be our wives. As a practicing Catholic, I am kinda of stuck. Thus I have to figure out how to make things work.

    Now, we (maybe you) are in this situation what can we do? My wife, although "not that supportive" of homeschooling as she is "afraid of going crazy with the kids locked up in the house all day." However what my wife is pretty good at is driving the kids to where they need to be, typical soccer mom like activities. Thus I have built a plan around what she is willing to do, and the understanding that I will have to lead on the rest.

    My plan is to teach the kids in the morning before I go to work and in the evening when I come home. If I don't cover every thing in that time, my plan is to teach them on Saturday. This way I am "taking the load" on the homeschooling aspect. It is what I must do to get this done. I hope between the homeschooling, the after hours programs and the coop this will be enough. I am signing up for report cards so I can grade my ability to teach.

    First I have chosen to join a Church based homeschooling COOP. This outreach is the Lord's own work. It really helps more of us go home. This neat deal is where you can take your home school kids into a "more structured" parent led schooling either once or twice a week. The COOP tries to focus on things that is more difficult for parents to teach like music, Latin and such. Also as part of our homeschool coop the kids take a field trip like activity once per month, with the other homeschooling kids from our Parish. My wife's strength seems to be driving the kids all over God's creation thus she is completely supportive of this.

    We, as Catholics have chosen Seton to start with. The reason is that Seton has the most structure of any Catholic homeschoooling program I could find. It even gives you grades, and report cards if you want to scan and email or fax in your test and homework. This can be critical in highschool when applying for colleges.

    If you cannot get any of this done, the only thing I can recommend is Christian private or charter schools. You will do what I have done for the last few years working to jobs killing yourself to keep them in it, but hey, if that is what must happen, there it is.

    Because of the choices we have made, we may need to do more in the homesteading, homeschooling front as men. This work needs to be done; crying about it is not going to help. Our promotions are not worth losing our children to the devil. We must work to bring in the meat, but we have to figure out a way to keep our kids safe also or it is not worth a dime. The militant secular anti-God, anti-liberty forces have unionized teachers who are desperate to get their claws in your children to teach them to be dependent on unions and the government and to hate you, hate their own children, and to hate everything you stand for. The devil is offering you the same deal he offered our Blessed Lord. Look here, you can have an easier life, you can have "it all" just give me your children to educate.

    Figure out a way to "get'er done."

    1. I commend you for finding a way to make things work for your family! If it is something you feel strongly about, make sure you don't give up, keep trying new things, as there is always a way. Also know that eventually your children will become (at least mostly) independent learners, capable of doing the majority of their work even if you are not there, giving you the opportunity to go over their work when you get home or on weekend. I wish you the best of luck!

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Dear, dear Bard. Your open and blatant disrespect for your wife is disgusting. It's a shame you have no one around you that loves you enough to hold you accountable for this. Perhaps you should find yourself a solid men's group to join where REAL men who don't say things like you did about your wife will show you how to have nards enough to treat her with the courtesy and respect she deserves. (Christ and the Church, you pig) Might I suggest the ENTIRE Marriage Seminar on DVD by Jimmy and Karen Evans? And please do stop using the name Catholic in vain. I find it personally offensive. Jan the Man

    4. Bard, the most important thing you can do for your children is find unity with your wife. That is God's design for marriage - 2 that become 1. That means you must be on the same team, rather than "this is what I want to do, and she can't do it right". Part of your job as a leader in the home is to cast a vision and draw your wife and kids closer to God - not closer to what you have unilaterally decided is the way to do things. Please, if you want a Godly marriage and a Godly home, put your energy and intensity and focus into seeking unity with your wife. The marriage they see up close every day is your kids first, last, and most memorable lesson about life, God, the church, and relationships - and the way you conduct that relationship will either support or tear down every other word that comes out of your mouth.

  14. Boy did this post come at the right time

  15. Do not believe all that Michael Pearl, the author of To Train Up A Child says. Plus, his book has been found in the homes of parents who have beat their children to death trying to do what he espouses. On Anderson Cooper, he did not even say the parents were wrong to kill the children. He just defended HIS book.

    Be careful about the school hours for the man who is going to teach morning, evening, and on Saturdays if necessary. In my state the hours taught must fall within certain parameters.

    Lots of the fathers are home schoolers. Some couples share, with each teaching what they are best capable of teaching.

    1. You are correct. Let me be more specific. I will take the lead in starting their day by teaching them in the morning and sit them down for the day of "school work." My wife may not be taking the lead but she can "watch" them between the hours of 0800 - 1500. I will then be able to "relieve her" when I get home every day. With that, if I must do more that is what Saturday is for.

  16. I have a 6 year old girl, and a 2 boys, 4 and 2. My wife said she was never going to homeschool and she made the decision to passionately pursue it. Even though this was her decision, she still has bad days, especially since we are just now getting to the point where the oldest is mature enough for self-directed (or minimally supervised) learning. My wife instituted mandatory rest time as her coping strategy. When the youngest went for his nap, the olders would get books or toys and they would go somewhere (usually their rooms, sometimes outside) away from Mommy to have some individual play. They were not to come out until Mommy had her time. In this space mommy would have her break and breathe and *most importantly* NOT feel guilty for taking a little time out so that she can be the Mommy she wants to be later.
    We bought some curriculums but found that they really boxed us in and that was more stress. Maybe we’ll use them later. We have become proponents of child directed learning and we actively study whatever they are currently asking questions about.
    We assume right now that everything will take us longer. When we cook, the kids are in the kitchen. Sometimes we pull spices out of the cabinet just to smell and compare and talk about them. When we get change from a purchase, we count it out and talk about pennies dimes and nickels and how they have different values. We stop to look at bugs on the sidewalk. When we talk about going to run errands, we talk about where we’re going first, and why we go to the grocery store last. This is all homeschool…this is LIFEschool. Another commenter said that homeschool is NOT about sitting children down for 6 hours a day and forcing them to study. You will ALL go insane if you try that.
    As far as discipline, what works for one child may just make another child mad. They will also figure out your discipline technique and try to use it against you. You’ll be constantly reinventing your discipline techniques so be nimble and prayerful. You have been given stewardship over your children. God will give you the information that you need when you need it if you ask Him and if you listen.
    Figure out what you want them to learn. For us, our goals are to raise polite children that love God and enjoy life and enjoy learning. The academics are built on that foundation. Prioritize and enjoy the ride.

  17. I understand! I have had those days and I would encourage this man's wife by saying they are still young. It gets so much easier! I have 4 children all 2 years apart, eldest is now 7. When I think back to the days when I had a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old, I have 'grown' so much in my confidence and homeschooling ability. I think one of the best things we can do with our lives is to educate our children ourselves. To grow, I read A LOT of catholic homeschool blogs. Specifically (is that ok for me to write that here?) - I just thought it would help this wifey. I often get complimented with how well behaved my children are when I take them out and I realised that a big factor in that was that because they were always with me, I had to learn to manage them. I didn't think, "oh well soon they will be at school and I won't have to deal with it so I'll overlook bad behaviour". I see my children as little versions of the adults God has called them to be and the time I have with them is insanely short (even though it seems like the days are long now). I want to love on them and teach them and enjoy their company as much as I can. Which I know is very unlike my secular friends. I do get out on my own every now and then, a coffee out alone or a shopping trip, etc, which energises me to power on. Coping techniques help (I think that is also where the Blogs help) and also focusing on the end product - that crown awaiting you in heaven. We have to pave our own way (we are working against the "better judgements" of our families too) and know that we can do it. The Lord strengthens us and his burden is light. (I think about how much I would dread(!) absolutely dread the school drop off and pick up two times a day - talk about burden.... I could also address the insane demands of schools insisting that all children should read at age 5! How many children get discouraged and hate reading because they are forced to do things before they are ready. I don't think anyone will teach my children with as much love and respect as me and my husband will, and my children (like all our children) deserve the best. Sorry for long response. I am passionate about this - your wife can do it!

  18. I understand! I have had those days and I would encourage this man's wife by saying they are still young. It gets so much easier! I have 4 children all 2 years apart, eldest is now 7. When I think back to the days when I had a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old, I have 'grown' so much in my confidence and homeschooling ability. I think one of the best things we can do with our lives is to educate our children ourselves. To grow, I read A LOT of catholic homeschool blogs. Specifically (is that ok for me to write that here?) - I just thought it would help this wifey. I often get complimented with how well behaved my children are when I take them out and I realised that a big factor in that was that because they were always with me, I had to learn to manage them. I didn't think, "oh well soon they will be at school and I won't have to deal with it so I'll overlook bad behaviour". I see my children as little versions of the adults God has called them to be and the time I have with them is insanely short (even though it seems like the days are long now). I want to love on them and teach them and enjoy their company as much as I can. Which I know is very unlike my secular friends. I do get out on my own every now and then, a coffee out alone or a shopping trip, etc, which energises me to power on. Coping techniques help (I think that is also where the Blogs help) and also focusing on the end product - that crown awaiting you in heaven. We have to pave our own way (we are working against the "better judgements" of our families too) and know that we can do it. The Lord strengthens us and his burden is light. (I think about how much I would dread(!) absolutely dread the school drop off and pick up two times a day - talk about burden.... I could also address the insane demands of schools insisting that all children should read at age 5! How many children get discouraged and hate reading because they are forced to do things before they are ready. I don't think anyone will teach my children with as much love and respect as me and my husband will, and my children (like all our children) deserve the best. Sorry for long response. I am passionate about this - your wife can do it!

  19. I can understand small children driving you crazy.When my children were small and I go tot this point I would play some good music and just dance with them.I was a single parent and this was a great way to relieve the stress and just have fun with them for a while.My mother taught me this trick and it worked.So go ahead and home school your children,just include dance breaks as needed.

    1. Agreed! I used to make my kids go outside & run around the house five times when they were bouncing off the walls. I also had a rebounder in the house all winter & I would set a timer & have them bounce for 5-10 minutes when they couldn't go out. When they were preschool & young elementary age we had a large Step Two(?) climbing platform/slide (about 5ft tall). I would scrub it down every fall & bring it into our playroom for the winter - we didn't own much furniture then anyway. Little kids are so energetic that they wear me out just looking at them! Exercise, esp outside, is good for their minds, good for their bodies, good for their eyes, and good for your sanity! My last two are 11 and 13 now, and they still take breaks from studying & go outside & jump their mini horse jumps (kid jumps). Coincidentally, my 11 yr old just set the county-wide girls' 10&11 high jump record last Saturday at a meet!

    2. Oh that's funny - reminds me, I used to make my boys run laps around the house to start every break. However old you are, I want that many laps!


  20. 2 and 4 - what great ages CB! Cooking, painting, arts & crafts, walking outside, staring at the sun, tea parties, picnics, puzzles galore, bubbles, singing, dancing, giggling, afternoon naps, storytime, abs'c and 123's, dress-up, forts and tents, tag, swimming, running, chores, learning to "clean-up", breakfast, lunch, dinner, quiet time, blocks, legos, dolls, coloring books, making mommy and daddy pictures, playing ball outside, planting flowers, riding bikes/little cars, chasing butterflies, sidewalk chalk, even collecting bugs! My daughters are 22, 19, and 16 - Homeschooled all three (one left) and I can think of a million things that we enjoyed over the years. Honestly, the 2 and 4 I feel are the easy years. As they aged, Dad showed them everything from plumbing, to cleaning the chicken coop, shooting, electrical work, wood working, horse training, to working on the cars, etc. If you ask them they will tell you it was the best way to grow up. Just yesterday my youngest and I cracked up for over 15 minutes watching a blue jay squawk over the chicken coop - those simple times are the most enjoyable homeschool times - she could identify the bird just from the sound before it flew to the coop! I have come to believe that homeschooling is not "school" it is a lifestyle - that of which mom and dads have done for centuries before the invention of modern public schooling. I recommend John Taylor Gatto's book on American education for more insight and encouragement. Take one day at a time and know that every day is not "ever" going to be the same, trust wholeheartedly in God and praise Jesus everyday your kids are safe and "at home" with you!

    1. John Taylor Gatto is the best & his opus, "An Underground History of American Education", is free to read on his website. It is w/o a doubt the most influential book I have read other than the Word of God. If you aren't up for a 400 page book right now though, check out the movie "IndoctriNation". It covers (much more lightly) many of the same topics in "Underground History" but from a very distinctively Christian viewpoint. Highly recommend!

  21. To CB,
    What a MAN you are! Keep up the good work! Taking that time with your daughters is so important for them. Maybe even more then it is for your wife. I agree, 2 and 4 are difficult years, and it does get better. Though watch out for 7, it can be a challenge too! Even when things 'smooth out' have that time with them each day and you will raise daughters you will be proud of.
    Judy in Idaho

  22. CB, my best advice to you and your wife at this point is to adopt an Second Timothy 1:7 approach and go for it.

    "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

    I'm very pleased and impressed with the outpouring of replies to this thread. It warms my heart to know how many smart and stalwart folks there are out there carrying on in excellence and dedication.

    It blesses and benefits us all.


  23. We have homeschooled for 11 years (my kids are 15yo and 13yo and have never been to school). There are still days when I want to throw myself in front of the big, yellow bus and put them on it. BUT, that said, I have NEVER regretted homeschooling. My children have a depth of skills and breadth of experiences that I never could have given them if they had gone to school. I am very close to both of them. The time we have spent together has been priceless. I will never be one of those moms who says, "I wish I had spent more time with my kids when they were young."
    When my kids were younger, here are a few tips we used to remain sane:
    1. Books on CD. This is the #1 important thing in our homeschool. Jim Weiss is a personal favorite, but you can also get books on CD from the library. Great for non-readers to sit quietly for HOURS and color while listening. Builds vocab. and pre-reading strategies.
    2. Swap 4 hours a month with another homeschool mom. My friend and I would do this and use the time to do a big project we could not accomplish with little ones underfoot. Think cleaning the bathroom or painting the hallway.
    3. Educational videos. Yes, too much TV is not good, but 30-60 min. once or twice a week won't kill them. In general, I held TV as my card up my sleeve for "I am going crazy" days.
    4. Naps. My kids took naps until they were 5. Establishing a daily quiet time for older kids is a good idea.
    5. Field trips. It's important to get out and explore the world. A field trip need not be expensive or far away, though. A free trip to the PO or a bakery or a pasta factory nearby is a cool change of pace. A quick phone call to a local business may be all you need to set it up. Get a few friends to go along for more fun.
    6. Park Day. We met with friends once a week for YEARS at a local park. In the winter, we rotated houses.
    Hope this helps. Katy

  24. We have two daughters, 20 months apart, now 10&11 and two grandmothers who were both public school teachers. They were not supportive when we began homeschooling (the oldest did Kindergarten, and then I pulled her from the system, the youngest has only ever been homeschooled). The hardest part for me during the first few years was the 24/7 togetherness. "Coping" meant that I joined a gym with childcare and 2-3 times a week, I got an hour off to work out. I also joined the local homeschooling group, and we did field trips and park playdates together, which gave me the company of other homeschooling moms - good company, and commiseration, and advice/ideas for coping! Also, my husband would try to give me 2-4 hours off on weekends- 2 hours was long enough for me to take a good walk in the park, 4 hours was enough to run errands of the type that I couldn't/wouldn't do with the kids. I am not going to tell you it was easy. I will tell you that it got easier. Particularly after the kids learned to read (both were late readers, age 7 and 8).

    I do not do boxed curriculum, and never have. My children do not learn the same way - so the same curriculum for both would not work. One child (the math-head) uses Teaching Textbooks on the computer for her math, because she enjoys all things on the computer. The other (the more-verbal-than-the-dictionary child) is doing Life of Fred, because she hates the computer, and writing, but learns quickly anything that is presented to her in story form, and much prefers to do her work in her head and give her answers aloud.

    One of the big advantages to homeschooling for us has been my ability to tweak the curriculum to the girls' learning styles, and interests, and to my own preferences (I like science experiments, I like crafts that produce something useful, I hate pointless crafts and busywork and worksheets). For awhile I was doing activities I hated (taking the tone deaf to music lessons stands out as one - she is far better off in art lessons where she can excel), and it was making me crazy. Once I realized that, I revamped homeschool so I enjoy it, too. It isn't perfect, and my husband and I have an agreement - we have a conversation every summer about whether or not we will continue homeschooling - but this year has been the best so far in terms of everyone's sanity, learning, enjoyment...

    and FWIW, the grandmothers have changed their tunes - my children are far better behaved (not really hard when they aren't getting picked up by the cops) than the public schooled grandkids, and they are doing fine academically. (Yes, mom, I'll work on getting the oldest to make change in her head...)


  25. It's great that you want your wife to have a half day off on the weekend. What she needs to do is get completely away from the house and chores. She may feel that she has to clean, do laundry, or cook, but these are the last things she needs to do. She needs to have time completely for herself. My husband and I worked this out, and I used the time to go to the library (without having to hunt for children's books or supervise what they did) and go for a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea. Small things but they left me relaxed and ready for the challenges of the coming week. I was a much nicer wife and mother as a result of those 2 1/2 hours away from home.

  26. I also have little ones exactly 2 years apart. I would just encourage your wife, that the difference between having a 2 and 4, versus having a 4 and 6, is HUGE. Light-years. You can't even believe it.
    Part of what your wife is experiencing, is 5 years of total exhaustion - really, in a way she has not fully recovered from her first pregnancy. It does get easier, really it does. When those 2 are old enough to really play together, potty training is all done, and everybody is sleeping through the night with no night-terrors, etc - and not need such complete supervision, she will get a lot more rest and mental energy.
    4 and 6 year olds can - get their own approved snacks out of the fridge, clear the table, put their own toys and clothes away, bathe themselves (or need much less help), brush their own teeth, etc. It's just so much less wearing.
    Hang in there, it gets better.

    1. My two older children were two years apart. The younger was over three before I felt human again. Before she turned three, I felt old. Then, when I had the third and last, they were five and seven. The third child being added was not stressful at all. It was so easy.

      With the first two, I had two in diapers for nine months. The first one was determined not to be trained. The second, a girl, was easily toilet trained. The third, a girl, was potty trained very early as she tried to emulate her sister. Life was good!

  27. My sweet wife coincidentally directed me this story:

    Hopefully the writer of the story got past her stereotypical prejudices of homeschoolers, because she otherwise has some excellent insight on how she and her husband tag teamed to give their kids the best possible education from home. Worth the read.


  28. Hey I only had one child, but I would wait until the
    2year old is about 4 unless she shows an interest in
    learning. I did get a lot of grief and heartache from
    both of my parents and they also went behind my back
    and complain to other relatives in front of my daughter.
    Thank God my aunt stood up for me. I wasn't there at the
    time. My daughter has a 3.5 grade point average in college and for most of the also has been working about
    40 hours a week. Since she works only when needed, she
    hasn't been needed lately so she has been working on
    finals, I can't ask for better.

  29. Hey, Patrice! I just came across a really interesting blog from a public school teacher in my local area who adopted two kids from abroad who have special needs because of being neglected in orphanages. She and her husband (who runs a home based gardening business) homeschool their children, and seeing both worlds she has some astonishing insights.
    Here's a quote: "Parents are being told in the masses that something is wrong with their child, and than medication is needed, so that they can become "regular learners" in the institution of education.

    Seriously! If I was a CEO of a company and 30-40% of my staff needed to be medicated to perform their duties asked of them, I would not all of the sudden assume that the work force was falling apart. I would re-think my company model. " (endquote)

    Their blog is at