5 Confessions of an Imperfect Homeschool Blogger

When I first started blogging, I used my blog as a platform to share with friends and family our adventures in homeschooling. We were the first family in my social circle to make the decision to homeschool and our decision was not without criticism.

I wanted to show those that doubted just how wonderful our homeschool journey was and how much the children were prospering. Like many, I wanted to be uplifting – not a whiner or complainer. I wanted to be inspirational. This meant that I posted often the fun projects the kids would undertake or when something cool or exciting was happening. It also meant that the content on this blog was pretty upbeat and focused on mostly uncontroversial topics.

Over time, as I evolved from a hobby blogger to a professional homeschool blogger my approach became more focused. While this is all good, I find myself struggling to stay caught up with the rapid changes of FTC regulations, engage in social media, create pinnable images, and develop good SEO while simultaneously navigating our own homeschool and family life.homeschool teen giving a presentation with text - confessions of an imperfect homeschoolerI haven’t been posting very often recently and this is mostly due to a changing season in our homeschool journey. As the kids have gotten older, I am less involved in their learning. They have become more independent and less reliant on me for planning activities and outings. As a result, I find I have less to share.

So, it’s confession time. Here are my five confessions as an imperfect homeschool blogger.

Our Imperfect Homeschool

1. We have fallen off the bandwagon, or at least changed our approach

I have hinted at our changing educational style in an earlier post, Our Relaxed Homeschool. We have always had a gentle approach to education. In recent years, I have become more hands-off. When we moved back to Oregon we lived with my in-laws for a few months. This was a huge distraction. It is hard to stay focused on algebra when Judge Judy is reprimanding a plaintiff.

Additionally, to offset the change in my husband’s income (one of the sacrifices we made to move back home), I began to take on more work outside the home. I began substitute teaching and home tutoring. I also began work with VIPKID. Along with my volunteer obligations (Scouts and swim team previously), I am strained. I have to admit, I let school slide into a bare minimum.

I have essentially thrown out Charlotte Mason’s principles which were so successful with my daughter. I have now adopted an unschooling approach to my son’s education. I’m still grappling though with whether to continue with a relaxed approach or adopt more of a schedule. I fear he takes advantage of me and spends more time playing Minecraft (yet I know it is educational too) than learning.

For a several reasons, we also chose to partner with an umbrella school. There were just too many positives to not give it a try. I haven’t talked about this much yet but I will.

I know there are seasons for everything and that children are individuals. But it does make it hard to have material for a homeschool blog when we aren’t doing more than Odysseyware, Life of Fred math, piano lessons, and occasional nature studies.

2. I don’t fit into my local homeschool group

In the previous two communities in which we lived (Bend, Oregon and Redding, California), we connected with a great community of like-minded homeschoolers. We were not a part of Classical Conversations, though a thriving CC community existed in each, but we had a circle of homeschoolers with children of varying ages with whom we were able to enjoy the benefits of an informal co-op which included activities like STEM Club, book club, Writer’s Workshop, and Roots & Shoots.

Here, I really am a misfit. Most of the homeschool families in this area are involved in a very exclusive homeschool co-op (they require participants to sign a specific faith statement) or utilize an online charter school (K12 or Connections Academy). My style of homeschool education looks more like radical unschooling in contrast to the homeschoolers around me.

homeschool teen playing Minecraft with text - confessions of an imperfect homeschooler3. My son does not like to read

He has never enjoyed reading – I know this is in part due to his nystagmus. There are books he has read over and over again (thank you, Roland Smith!) but it is very difficult to get him to read much of anything. I could write an entire post about my son’s distaste for reading. In fact, I probably should. Perhaps it would help me to come to terms with it.

I know it is okay not to love reading  but I also harbor a fear that I have failed him. Fortunately, he has always enjoyed listening to audio books. However, he presently listens to speed cubing and tech reviews, Minecraft gaming videos, and air crash investigations on YouTube rather than literature.

4. Teens are fickle

In the summer of 2016, my daughter was passionate about potentially beginning her own Boba Tea business. She spent many hours researching recipes, designing a logo, and developing a business plan. Most impressive was her willingness to undertake a market research poll of our local community at the farmer’s market. Through her efforts, she made the realization that starting a Boba Tea business would distract from her ultimate goal of becoming an engineer and the schooling required to achieve it.

The following summer, she became intrigued with tiny houses. Her new goal was to build a tiny house prior to graduating high school in an effort to reduce her own carbon footprint and save money on living expenses while in college. She again spent many hours researching and designing her home (you should see her Pinterest board). Ultimately, she opted to put this project on hold for as artist, she also dreams of a large studio space.

Youthful vigor and enthusiasm is wonderful. Channeling it and following through with their visions is an entirely different ball game. Their interests and passions change. While this is certainly a great life lesson, it makes it difficult to blog about their successes.

5. My daughter wants to skip high school and just get to college

My daughter began dual enrollment courses in the fall of 2016. She started out with just one math course but has gradually increased her course load. She is now taking a full load of courses at the community college and is loving every minute. I will be sharing more of this experience on the iHomeschool Network blog soon.

Both of my children have always had a passion for learning. This passion and enthusiasm is still there, but it is reserved for the things they are truly passionate about, not the things I select for them or that the state deems required. While meeting with a college advisor from the four year university where she wishes to transfer she exclaimed,

“I want to do pro-school now! I wish I could just jump past high school.”

Whether we are engaged in an lively family discussion about current events, meandering about the ruins of an ancient temple, or sequestered in our little corner of the house with our mobile device and tuning out the outside world, I know we are learning. Above all, I believe instilling a love of learning and a curiosity about the world is the most important thing. And that is exactly what we are doing.

After all, we are just like you — imperfect homeschoolers. And I, I am an imperfect homeschool blogger.

 

My Top Ten Most Popular Posts from 2014

This was a fun post enabling me to dig into my site statistics to find what was of interest to you, my readers. As I blog a lot about science at the middle school level, I predicted that many of my popular posts would fall into this niche. In some ways, I was correct. However, there are other posts that surprised me as well.

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10 Most Popular Posts from 2014

Omitting posts that were published prior to 2014, the following list is a top ten countdown of my most popular posts this past year. These posts were viewed more than any other. Is your favorite amongst them?

10. The educational philosophies of Charlotte Mason, John Holt and Sandra Dodd seem to have intertwined themselves in our home. 2014-15 marked our eighth year of homeschool and both of the kids are in middle school – 7th and 5th grades. In my post, Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School, I shared some of the resources we use and am delighted that this post is one of the most popular this past year.

9. As Unschoolers, projects are a huge part of how we homeschool. Integrated across subject areas, projects provide students with real-world opportunities for research and problem solving. Read my post, 6 Steps to Project Based Learning, to learn more about this dynamic approach to education.

8. Insects have always fascinated me and I love sharing this passion with others. Studying insects is also a great hands-on way to introduce children to scientific classification, life cycles, and animal adaptations.  In my post, Ultimate Guide to Studying Insects, I share a variety of activities and resources for using insects throughout the curriculum.

7. I have had the privilege of homeschooling (thus far) in two states, initially in Oregon and presently in California. Homeschooling in California is very different than Oregon and in my post, I describe the options available to families in California.

6. I didn’t expect the response I received when I posted, Why We Declined the Ice Bucket Challenge. I wrote the post in an effort to explain the decision that my children and I made upon a challenge from a friend.

5. Nature study has always been a major part of our homeschool and the kids and I have been Keeping a Nature Journal since we first began this journey. In this post, I shared how to get started with nature journaling in 5 steps.

4. Just as I did as a child, my kids love to sit and listen to their Papa tell stories of his childhood. Connecting with our ancestors through stories is just one of many ways we can share our family history and Genealogy with Kids.

3. In my post, Girls in Engineeering, I share how several organizations across the country are working to make girls more interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

2. Of all the STEM Club posts I have published in the past year, Modeling Plate Tectonics was the most popular. Coincidentally, it is also one of the kids’ most favorite activities as they were able to eat the results!

1. Without doubt, the most popular post I published in 2014 was Barnesklubb: Learning the Norwegian Lyrics to “Let it Go”. This is not really a surprise. With the popularity of this movie – I have seen more after-market products related to this movie than ever before and this post has been viewed more than any other.

 

toptenpostsSee more Top Ten posts from the iHomeschool Network Bloggers.

My First Reader Survey

In all the years I have been blogging, I have not ever posted a reader survey.  I think I am well over do … how about you?  The intent of a reader survey is to find out more about who is reading my blog and to discover how I can help her. I love science and it is my goal to provide you with the tools and inspiration to engage your students in meaningful, hands-on science and service learning experiences.  How can I best do that?  What specifically would help you .. curriculum?  lesson & printables?  online courses?

Please take just a few minutes to complete my reader survey so I can better understand your needs. I’ll make it worth your time – I promise.

reader survey Don’t worry, I’m not asking how much you make or how much you weigh and everything is completely confidential. I’m not collecting any personally identifying information.

The survey is just 12 short, easy questions – all multiple choice except for a couple short fill-in-the blank.  I’ll leave the survey open for about two weeks.  Then, if you’re curious, I will share the results.  Just leave me a note in the comments if you’re curious. If nobody cares, I’ll just keep the results to myself.

As a special thank you for giving me just a few minutes of your time, I am offering a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky survey responder!

Edited 2nd July 2013 – The survey is now closed.  Thank you to all you took part.  I very much appreciated your feedback and value your input tremendously.  🙂

Welcome to My New Home

I have officially moved!  Virtually anyway.  I have finally taken the plunge and have set up a self-hosted website.  I am so excited that you have stopped by to visit.  The moving process – just like a physical move in real life – is a long and tedious process. I still have many things to tweak as I begin to develop my online presence here.  I will continue to share our homeschool endeavors but with a greater emphasis on science, field trips, and service learning education.

My mission is to provide teachers with the tools and inspiration to engage their students in meaningful, hands-on science and service learning experiences through tangible curriculum, shared resources, and real-world contexts.

Those of you who have recently subscribed to my newsletter (specifically those who have expressed interest in the Entomology Online Workshop), rest assured that I have your subscription on file and you will continue to receive the newsletter.  Remember though, upon receiving the email confirmation, you’ll want to edit your settings to subscribe to specific interests (homeschool blog posts, entomology course, science logic, etc.).  Lastly, if you use Google Reader, Feedly, or another aggregator, please add my new site to your list.

Delicate Arch at Arches National Park

I am excited for the what the future holds and look forward to building a relationship with you as I continue to work within the science and homeschool communities.