Thursday, 28 April 2016

Homeschool 101: Organization

My homeschool organization has changed a lot over the years. I've had dedicated spaces and done school at the kitchen table. I've had whiteboards and chalkboards, and given them away. There's shelves and shelves of books and supplies of course, but how they are all organized has definitely depended on the space we had available.

To homeschool, you do need some kind of space, obviously. But you don't need a dedicated "school room" to homeschool. A lot of people try to recreate a public school classroom in their home, complete with desks, chalkboard, bulletin boards and all the decorations of a traditional classroom. And then they find that they never use it!!

Currently, in our new home, we have a semi-dedicated space. As my oldest has gotten older, and her school work more demanding, she's found it useful to have a desk that stares at the wall, and a dedicated spot for all her equipment - rulers, pencil crayons, protractors, her paints and brushes, etc. My younger girls all gather around me and my desk, so their school crates are in my home office, along with the shelves I have for school books and extra supplies.

You'll notice I said "school crates". Each one of my girls keeps their individual school books in plastic milk crates. Because each child is at a different level in school, they each have different books. The sturdy plastic crates help contain and separate each child's books, and still allow for a certain amount of mobility. Plus, they can be rearranged as necessary. They stack well, line up well, or can be left all over the room (or all over the house for that matter!).

As far as equipment is concerned, all you really need to homeschool is a place to write, a place to read and a place to store the books, treasures, pencils and supplies when you aren't using them. It's nice to have a desk for school, but you can just as easy write at the kitchen table. I would say some kind of shelf or cabinet is essential, but whether that's a kitchen cupboard set aside for craft supplies, a bookshelf in the living room, or an elaborate wall unit that is neatly labeled and organized, will entirely depend on how much space you have available .. and how organized you are as a homeschool parent!

It will also depend on your homeschooling style whether or not you have some kind of external writing spot, like a chalkboard or whiteboard. If you are a follower of the Charlotte Mason method, then you may want something you can write out copywork or dictation on. You may want a whiteboard to help practice letter formation with young children or show math problems and solutions to older kids. Some curriculum choices may also require you to have these available, either in large format or smaller individual sizes. For example, Handwriting Without Tears, a popular penmanship curriculum, uses individual chalkboards for the kids to practice making letters and numbers with, among other tools.

Another nice piece of equipment to have available for homeschooling is a dedicated computer or tablet, though obviously not essential. It is essential to have a computer of some sorts available, especially if you want your child to be able to learn typing skills, or have knowledge of how to use popular software, such as word processors and spreadsheets, or even to be able to research and find information online. But it's nice to have a dedicated system for the students, both for safety reasons (you can better control access to the internet, or if the computer will even have access) and for screen time reasons.

In my house, I have a personal laptop, for work and my blog (and, yes, I'll admit, my video games and movie watching), but I also have a dedicated laptop for my kids to do school on. My oldest listens to French on CD, and watches her Art lessons on DVD. My special needs second oldest has her own tablet, with specialized apps and softward designed to help support her weak areas and develop her strengths. With the separate computers, I can control screen time, and I don't have to fight with my kids over using the computer. (I do have to referee a few fights between them, however).

There are some special tools that may or may not be necessary, depending on your homeschool. We have a globe, but you could have an atlas, or just use some maps printed off the internet. Or none at all, if you aren't currently studying geography.  When my girls were younger, we had a special calendar chart, with cards for the weather, seasons, the date -including the month and year and days of the week- and we currently use some weather tools, such as a thermometer and barometer, while my 6 year old is studying the weather.

Because we are Christian family, we have several Bibles around our house, and each of my older girls has their own to use for school. We don't currently use a flag or practice our national anthem, though maybe we should more often. If you want a flag, you can probably get one from your local

government representative, or just wait until the next national holiday and you'll find tons of affordable options in the store.

Other specialty equipment options may include more expensive tools such as a telescope or microscope. Again, these will depend both on your curriculum and study topic choices, and your interest level in those choices. Having a telescope is an awesome tool to have when studying astronomy, but, speaking from experience, it's absolutely not necessary either. We may consider getting a microscope in the future, though, since biology is a high school requirement here. Other science tools, such as prisms, magnifying glasses, binoculars, dissection tools, electrical kits, scales and measuring tools, chemistry sets, or anything else you may find useful are easily obtained as kits, from small-child-friendly to extensive and expensive options.

One of the best places I've found for the decor and informational items are the dollar stores. I've found great posters for the water cycle, the rock cycle, factors of weather, charts of animal kingdoms, plant diagrams, the solar system, or any other commonly studied topic there. I've also found amazing topical books and fun activity books there, along with dictionaries, thesauruses, and all the craft and school supplies I could need.

You don't need a lot of things to homeschool. But you may want a few things, depending on your space, lifestyle, philosophy and curriculum choices.  And be prepared! Homeschooling is a messy business. Just check out my home office after a busy day of homeschool!


Monday, 25 April 2016

Intense Insanity

Sometimes I think I'm crazy.  Sometimes.. I know I am.

This new venture .. or ventures, as the case may be, is probably just crazy. Who am I to think that I can handle raising 5 little princesses on my own, while managing a house and garden, while homeschooling .. and start 3 different businesses too??  I must have not gotten enough sleep.

Well... of course I haven't gotten enough sleep. I haven't had a full night's sleep in years. Maybe even a decade -- the oldest princess is 12, after all. (Don't get me started on preposterous preteen pretensions... ) I digress.

Sometime last fall, in the midst of floods and Christmas and deciding to move, I also came up with the brainwave that I needed to start a business. So I put out a few feelers on some skills that I had, namely, research and networking, along with all things office management related (I can do taxes like nobody's business.. and I enjoy it!! More proof of craziness?) I was asked for a website.

So I started a website. Turns out purchasing a domain and setting up a site isn't actually that hard. I was surprised. I don't know how good my quality is, but it seemed to pass muster, as I actually got a client. (Woo!) Then I was asked a question. So I ended up posting a blog post on my new website.

I started thinking about what I wanted to do with this. I started looking up information on blogging, and marketing and email lists and all that fun but awfully intimidating stuff. Confusing terms like SEO and "opt-in" and "freemium" and affiliates ... whirled around my head like seeing stars after being hit by a ball.

Then, in my interaction on Facebook (since you must interact on Facebook in order to build a following and attract customers), I ended up referring some people to this blog, to answer questions.

Originally, this blog was meant to be a journal of sorts.  It was simply a place for me to write my heart out, to try to put words to my feelings and to sort out my experiences and memories. I started recording my experiences and my solutions to questions I was seeing frequently, so that I could simplly post the link to that post without re-writing the answer all the time.

Then I started using it to experiment with things for my new venture. I played with Google Adwords, and with MailChimp, and with Google Drive to share files. I test things like domain names and hosting with this blog. And all of a sudden, I started seeing my pageviews increase.

I think I'm insane.

And yet..

...the right resources have showed up right when I asked the question. Like, literally, I'd be wondering about how to do something the night before, and the next day I'd get an email or see a facebook post on the exact subject I had a question on.

...the opportunities keep coming. I'm being selective about some, because I know my time is limited, and my priorities are still my girls. But I'm amazed at the options that God keeps setting before me.

...the network I need keeps expanding. I'm meeting more people, more of the right people all the time. People I can help, people who can help me, people who support me and who seem to even like me. It's humbling and inspiring at the same time.

All this tells me I'm on the right track.

So I invite you to join me on my journey. Follow me by email, or click to join my email list. The adventure is ramping up, but I feel like we're still getting started!

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Birth Story: Light of Joy

C.Guoy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I conceived my second daughter the night I got engaged. The first inkling of her coming happened about two weeks later, when I had a craving for, of all things, broccoli. I'm not known for my preference for vegetables.  I was a bit of a picky eater as a child, and to be honest, I'm not that much better as an adult. But it was so strong that I actually went out of my way, coming home from school (I was in college at the time) to purchase a head of fresh broccoli from a local grocery store. I'm sure I looked quite odd the whole bus ride home, smelling that broccoli, my mouth watering the whole time.

When I got home, I started preparing dinner. I looked at that broccoli and started chopping off the little florets, before it dawned on me that I didn't have a clue how to cook broccoli. Did I boil it? Steam it? Could I just microwave it? I placed a call to my mother, and when I asked her how to make broccoli, I'm sure she was quite startled. There was a pause, then she gave me instructions on how to boil or steam broccoli, and then there was another pause. I was busy with my first daughter, almost 4, and I didn't think much of it. Then she asked me what I thought was a rather odd question: was there anything I needed to tell her? I laughed and said of course not, and hung up to happily cook and eat my broccoli.

It wasn't until I was eating the broccoli, hugely enjoying it, that I almost choked. It finally dawned on me what my mother meant by that odd question. I thought about it, and thought about it some more. I decided to test in the morning. I don't remember why I had tests in the house, but I did.

First thing in the morning, I did the test. And of course, two pink lines showed up right away. I stood there, shaking a bit. I came downstairs, waiting for my fiance at the time to come over after he had finished his shift, still staring at the test. When he walked in the door, I showed him right away. He didn't have a clue what it was. I explained, and his eyes got really big. He was absolutely still for a moment, before dropping everything to hold me tightly.

We had already set the date for our wedding, and he didn't want to change it, though I thought maybe it would be better. But instead, I went shopping for a dress that would allow for an expanding belly, and 6 months pregnant, I walked down the aisle. It was quite a challenge to plan a wedding, attend college, manage morning sickness and prenatal appointments, while still parenting and housekeeping. But I accomplished everything.

After the wedding, my husband and I decided that we would move closer to his work, somewhere that was going to be a tad more affordable than where I lived. This was.. also a challenge. Our wedding was the end of March, our honeymoon the first week of April, and baby was due the long weekend in August. We moved for July 1. Yes, at 8 months pregnant I packed a house and child up, at 9 months pregnant we moved, and I was completely unpacked by July 10.

My birthday was the end of July, about a week before this child was due, and at a routine appointment, my midwife suggested doing some things to encourage labour.... on my birthday. I really didn't want to do this, but reluctantly I agreed. As it turned out, that wasn't necessary.  We had planned on a home birth, so I had prepared everything at our new house, and my midwife handed me their "birth box" filled with all the supplies they needed.  Our old house was 20 minutes away from the clinic, but our new house was 45 minutes away.

July 21, my husband and I went to bed as normal. Just before going to bed, I waddled to use the bathroom, as every very pregnant woman does frequently. As I was rising, I noticed a single drop of bright red blood on the seat. I stared at it for a moment, before cleaning up and going to bed. I wondered if that was significant.

Turns out it was. About midnight, I felt a twinge. It was enough to wake me up, but I shrugged it off and rolled over to go back to sleep.  A couple of hours later, there was another. Again, I chalked it up to baby stretches and shifted position.  My husband got up around 4 am for his work shift, and as he was getting ready, I felt a definite, painful, cramp. When he left around 40 minutes later, there was another. I couldn't sleep, and I was starting to feel a certain excitement. I told him to keep his cell phone handy, just in case.

I went onto my computer, and did a search for a contraction timer. I'd never gone into labour naturally, but all the reading and conversations from my midwife told me that there is a rhythm to this process. Not only do contractions have a regular time between, but during as well, a sort of wave that peaks and ebbs. I logged into a chat room while timing things, knowing that my excitement wasn't going to let me sleep. (Today, if I were pregnant, I would have gone back to sleep, lol!!)

By 7 am, I knew that these were real contractions. Not only that, they were approximately 5 minutes apart. I called my midwife. I told her my conclusions, and talked with her. She asked me when a contraction was happening, and when the next one came, it left me a tad breathless, but I was so excited I was laughing. Apparently you aren't supposed to be able to laugh through a contraction. She asked me to come in to the clinic to be checked, because of the 45 minute drive, and she didn't want to come out for what she thought was a false alarm.

I called my husband. His work was normally at 15 minute drive, but he made it home in about 5 minutes. I woke my daughter, and got her dressed. He was frantic, almost to the point of panicking, but while I was excited, I also knew we had to remember some things. I grabbed the things I had set aside for baby, and a change of clothes for me, and packed a bag for my daughter. I asked my husband to call his parents, who were to watch my daughter for us. They agreed to meet us at the clinic.

By the time we got into the car, the contractions were about 2 minutes apart, and stronger. Much stronger. We got onto the highway for the 45 minute trek into the clinic, and now I was the one urging my husband to hurry. I didn't want to have this baby in the car on the side of the highway!

We got to the clinic about 8 am. I had to pause every few steps for the contraction, and the clinic was on the third floor, with no elevator. When I walked into the clinic, my midwife took one look at me, and apologized. She said she had no need to check to see if I was in labour, but asked if she could check to see if we had enough time to go home for the home birth I had wanted. A few minutes later, she regretfully told me that we would just "borrow a room" at the local hospital, which happened to be across the road.

Slowly, we walked across the road, and walked right into the hospital. She had me walk into the maternity ward, and by 8:30 we were all checked in. My husband met his parents, with my daughter, and updated them. My midwife handled all the paperwork that I hadn't filled out, not planning on a hospital birth. By 9 am, I was in a bathtub, laboring hard, my husband anxiously holding my hand. A first time father, he was on the verge of panic almost the whole time, and very emotional about the whole thing.

By 10 am, I hit transition. I was shaky, emotional, and my midwife calmly led me to the bed to lay down. The contractions were nearly constant now, and I could literally feel my baby sliding down the birth canal. The urge to push hit like a truck, and I couldn't help it. I moaned and yelled my baby out, and just two pushes, the rush of wetness and release came. My water broke with her crowning and she came out all at once, screaming, at 10:22 am. She was so much bigger than my first daughter, all of 7 lbs 7 oz. She was bald and had the bluest eyes I'd ever seen. The midwife put her on my tummy, as the placenta was delivered, and asked my husband if he wanted to cut the cord. He deferred, as he was literally sobbing almost as much as out daughter was.

She and I were each all cleaned up, and she was settled in my arms so we could get to know each other. Those eyes were so bright, so clear, that I just stared into them. Her father went to call the important people, his parents, then mine, and shortly after, my daughter and his parents arrived to meet our newest. My older daughter wasn't actually all that impressed. She promptly told me she'd ordered a baby brother, not a baby sister. We all laughed, and I had her sit in a chair, so she could hold her new sibling.

After everything was cleaned up and calmer, I got up and showered, and dressed. The difference between my first birth, and this one was remarkable. I felt amazing, despite the lack of sleep and having just had a baby. My midwife said that in an hour or so, we could go home!

Which led my husband to go down to the car to get the car seat for our new baby. To my surprise, he sheepishly came back up shortly, and confessed that in the excitement, he had left the car seat at home.  My midwife stared at him. I just started to laugh, and reminded him that I'd asked him to install it a few weeks early, and he hadn't done it. The midwife told him that we couldn't leave until she had seen our baby in the car seat, strapped in properly, so off he went. It was going to be an hour and a half at least before he could return, and he took my oldest with him.

The midwife and I hung out in the hospital room, while I just cuddled with my baby. I dressed her in my going-home clothes, the same outfit my oldest had worn home from the hospital. She had nursed some, and then fallen asleep. The midwife couldn't leave me there, but because she was there, I wasn't bothered by any nurses or attendants. It was one of the best experiences outside of my home birth I could have had.

My daughter and I, just days after her birth
Finally my husband came up with the car seat, and we were ready to go quickly. My daughters and I and my husband .. one small happy family.  I felt so awesome after this experience, that we were in church the next night! It was pretty cool to show up with our newest baby in my arms, to greet our friends and acquaintances with this new baby, just a day and a half old. But what better place to take a newborn than to church?

We named our daughter a princess name, that means light of joy. My little girl, now almost 8 years later, despite challenges and delays, frustration and fear, has been such a joy. She reminds me daily that even the smallest things can be celebrated, that joy can be found in the details, and that no matter what the circumstances, there is joy.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Homeschool 101: Curriculum

It would be impossible to list every single option for homeschooling curriculum.  As homeschooling has grown, so have the amount of choices, and it would be easy to get overwhelmed.  Which program is best? Which one gives me the best value for my money?  Are there free options and are they any good?  How do I pick???

Homeschooling curriculum can be divided into 3 different choices:  all-in-one, also known as a boxed curriculum; subject based curriculum; and supplements.

All-in-one curricula are just what the name suggests. A company has done all the work of creating and matching up curriculum for every subject, and created all the lesson plans and schedules for you. All you need to do is pick your grade, make sure you have the craft and school supplies necessary, and away you go.  You can pick boxed curricula in many different methods, and there are both religious and secular options.  Popular ones include Abeka (religious, school-at-home), Sonlight (religious, charlotte mason/literature), Bookshark (secular, charlotte mason/literature), ACE/PACES (religious and secular options, school-at-home), Classical Conversations (religious and secular options, classical), and Khan Academy (online, secular, school-at-home).  Another option here is to check out a company like Timberdoodle, and select your boxed package yourself.

Subject-based curricula are plentiful. These are, obviously, individual curriculum options for each subject. So you would use one package for math, a different one for language arts, another one for history, etc. Often you can subdivide further by topic -- pick one curriculum for spelling, another for studying plants, a third for learning how to draw animals, and so on.  Many programs here will be better for a certain style of learning over another. For example, Handwriting without Tears is a penmanship program that helps even children with learning disabilities to learn how to form letters, because not only does it have a workbook, but uses large wooden pieces, chalk and chalkboards and rhymes and songs to teach children how to form their letters.  You can mix and match easily with subject based curriculum, which makes it much easier to tailor your child's academic program to his abilities. If he's reading early reader books, but ready to learn multiplication and division, it's much easier to get two different levels of language arts programs and math curricula. You do have to plan out your schedule yourself, but you get a greater variety and flexibility with subject based curriculum over a boxed curriculum.

One of the confusing things about choosing subject-based curriculum is figuring out what program will work best for you and your kids.  In math, for example, you can choose between a mastery-based program, or a spiral program. Mastery based means that the curriculum will cover a topic in depth, before moving on to the next one, and won't review previous topics - an example would be Math-U-See. Spiral means that the curriculum teaches a new concept, offers some practice, teaches a different concept, offers practice, goes back to review the first topic, practice, and continues around and around, switching back-and-forth with frequent review of previously introduced ideas. A typical spiral curriculum would be something like Singapore or Saxon math, and generally most public schools use spiral curriculum for math. As a parent, you'll need to choose which style of program works best for you before choosing which program suits you better.

Some curriculum choices may combine two or three subjects in one curriculum. For example, Tapestry of Grace is a religious-based unit-study-method history curriculum, that offers religious studies, language arts, music, and art alongside the history.  If you were to use Tapestry of Grace, you wouldn't need to get a separate language arts or art curriculum.  You would need to get a math curriculum though, for a well-rounded education. Similar options include Mystery of History, and Five in a Row/Come Sit by Me (Canadian version).

In language arts, there are a number of choices. You can obtain an all-in-one language arts program, to cover everything necessary for that grade (ex. spelling, reading, writing, penmanship, grammar, etc for 4th grade), or you can use separate options for each area.  Some programs will offer stand-alone options for each area of language arts, with sister programs for the other areas. For example, All About Spelling, a worktext style program, also has All About Reading and All about Grammar as well. Some of the all-in-one programs will let you purchase just their language arts programs separately from the complete curriculum.  So you could get Abeka readers and language arts, and use Saxon for math, and a completely different publisher for science and history.

With both science and history, you'll find a difference in the secular and religious programs. The secular programs will teach science and history from the viewpoint of evolution, and the religious ones are mostly from the Christian worldview of special creation. When picking out your curriculum, do be aware of what the starting point is.  For religious science programs, check out Apologia or God's Design, and for secular science programs, you can look at Pearson, Supercharged Science, Elemental Science, Building Foundations, Noe Science or use any topic specific kit found in your local Scholar's Choice or Amazon (Magic School bus science kits offer great topic choices for primary and middle school grades).

There are free and low-cost options for all your curriculum needs. Free and low-cost all-in-one curriculum often don't include the novels or resource books, but instead will give you booklists that you can purchase separately or borrow from your local library.  Check out Ambleside or Easy Peasy Homeschool for options online.  Other options to find free and low-cost curricula (with just the cost of printing) include one of my favorite sites CurrClick and EduCents.

One of the best ways to check out curricula choices is at a homeschool convention.  You can talk to the vendors and ask questions from the experts. You can handle the material and see for yourself if it really is the best fit.  You can purchase direct, or take advantage of the free shipping offers and order. Another option is a used homeschool book sale. Here, homeschoolers and former homeschoolers offer used-but-still-usable curriculum at much discounted prices from brand new. Plus you get the option of asking questions from someone who used the curriculum, to find out first hand how it may work for you and your family.  Or, like me, you can shop around and get books online, either from homeschool used book sale groups, or from websites like Amazon.  A great homeschool book online store is Rainbow Resource.

For more information on all the various curricula choices, check out Cathy Duffy's reviews.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Homeschool 101: Priorities

One of the biggest myths about homeschooling I see over and over again is that people think somehow homeschooling will be easier. People seem to think that if you pull your child out of public school, magically all the issues you have with your baby and school will disappear.  There is this image out there of smiling children reading stories or building models or writing papers (with beautiful penmanship and perfect spelling), while mom is doing housework or leaning over said child to point at something in their book, also smiling (with perfect hair and makeup!).  It goes with the images of parenting that some people have before they have their first child -- that they will never say xyz or give their child certain things, because those are marks of "bad" or "lazy" parents.  And those of us with a child roll our eyes because we know that children will do the most unexpected things and when you're sleep-deprived and desperate, you'll do lots of things you said you'd never do.

Homeschooling solves a lot of problems. Homeschooling also presents you with a different set of problems. Homeschooling is not "easier" than public school. It's just different. It's still work. I may not have to pack lunches, search for hidden notes, remember school fees, sell the fundraisers, drive to parent-teacher interviews/school plays/field trips, walk to and from school/bus stop twice a day, or the host of other annoyances that are part of having children in school. I still have to make lunch, I still have to buy school supplies, I still have to drive to field trips and extracurriculars -- and I only wish for fundraisers!! 

The reason you are homeschooling is important to think about though. There are good reasons and there are bad reasons. If you are choosing to homeschool for a poor reason, you will probably end up with more frustrations and may give up very quickly. Homeschooling isn't just an educational choice. It's a lifestyle choice. If you aren't prepared to make those adjustments, you will quickly find that you simply traded one set of issues for another. 

So why are you looking at homeschooling? Common reasons include issues with the school, political reasons, religious reasons, academic reasons and health reasons. The underlying desire must be the same, no matter what the trigger is -- you must WANT to homeschool. But the reasons you have for homeschooling may help determine your philosophy, which will then help you pick a method, determine curriculum and plan out your homeschool schedule. 

Issues with the school may be social: dealing with bullies on the playground (or in the classroom, from the teacher!) or difficulties with getting special needs met and accommodated. Here, when a parent chooses to keep their children home, deschooling becomes essential. The damage done from a toxic environment needs healing. See this post and this post for more info on how to deschool. During that deschooling time is when you'll figure out your philosophy, methods and probably be able to pick a curriculum (or not, as the case may be), and plan out your homeschool schedule. 

Political issues are the trending concerns with public school. Currently they are issues with "common-core" or state standards, sex-ed and an anti-religion/anti-parental-rights slant. If these are your concerns, when you pull your kids out, again deschooling is a necessity. You and your children will both need time to reconnect (especially if they have been exposed to extreme anti-parental bias). Do not stint on the time to deschool. I promise you, when you resume more formal academics, if you do, you'll find your children have not actually missed any learning time, and may actually have gained ground on their peers, if you are comparing. Take the time to learn about your children's learning style, and research the various philosophies and methods carefully to pick the best fit for your family's lifestyle. 

Religious and academic reasons to homeschool are easier ones to find methods and philosophies to fit, but are harder ones to sift through to find the true "why" for your homeschool. When these reasons color the choice to homeschool, envisioning a homeschool life often gets stuck in the methods and curriculum, instead of a true vision. The key here is to figure out the result you want, and work backwards. Why is a rigorous academic standard so important? What do you hope to achieve by making sure all areas of education are studied from your faith worldview and values? Picture your children as adults and work backwards to determine your real reason for homeschooling. What is the most important thing? 

Some people homeschool for health or career reasons. Perhaps your child has a severe allergy or disorder that makes public school dangerous to their health. Or maybe they are an actor, and travel a lot for their talent and career, and you homeschool them so they can keep up with their studies as well as their passions. Here, you still need to have an end goal in mind, but your choices in methods and curriculum will be determined by your family's lifestyle much more than other reasons. 

Whatever your initial reason for choosing to homeschool, you must determine why. Why you homeschool determines your priorities - family, academia, travel, health, faith, etc. -- and that will determine your philosophy and method. In turn, those will narrow down your curricula choices and from there, your plan of action and schedule.  It all starts with knowing why you are homeschooling. It's like a business choosing a mission statement. All the values of the organization, the culture of the organization, their focus and priority, will be determined by the mission statement, and brought in line with it. If an organization's mission statement is about profit and shareholders, than customer service isn't necessarily going to be the highest priority.  In homeschooling, if the main reason is about rigorous academic standards, than you'll probably not be all that concerned about enrolling your children in swim class or soccer.  Having your why pinned down will help you decide if that situation is ok with you and your family. 

If you need help figuring out what your homeschool "why" is, click here for a free printable worksheet.  Just remember there is no right or wrong reason to homeschool, there is just *your* reason.  Some reasons will help you stay the course better than others, but it's still your choice. Ultimately, homeschooling is a decision best made for each individual family, without comparing to another's family. You're the parent - and the teacher - you get to decide! That's one of the best parts about homeschooling.