*Note, if you want to jump ahead to the homeschool planning, scroll down to the 'several days later'
This blog has primarily followed my journey through opening my pyrography art store, but as any of my readers know, I am also a mom of 3 and a wife of almost 16 years, so naturally; there will be crossover of my personal and professional life, and as many others may be experiencing right now, or even over the past year and a half; that there is no definites and family must always take precedence; which is what will happen now as we try to figure out what will be happening with schools as the new year begins.
I will try to keep this part brief, but back in March of 2020 I; like many others; was living a very different life, I was dropping my kids off at school Monday through Friday, working towards building Marigold and enjoying tennis and lunch with my husband every Tuesday and then we all know what happened..... Since then I have had my kids home 24/7 for last 18 months or so, no extra curriculars, no seeing family and friends and doing full remote learning, all while making some of my largest professional strides, but it has at times been emotional and frustrating beyond expression, and I KNOW some of you other parents can relate.
When schools initially closed, there was no guidance, everyone was lost, so I gave it about a week before I started holding lessons in the kitchen, using whatever I had on hand and online resources and honestly, we had a lot of fun with it, but then we finished off the year with teachers holding hour meeting here and there, doing the best they could having never planned for something like this, but unfortunately that was a more inconvenient than beneficial at that point, and we were kind of dreading what we were in for when fall came. We were pleasantly surprised and I was pretty impressed with what their schools and teachers put together, it wasn't perfect, but it was so much better than what I was expecting.
As the school year ended, and covid cases dropped along with mask mandates, we all started to really look forward to getting back to normal after our fun, and less restrictive summer, but that doesn't appear to be what is happening. I will try to avoid getting too political as I think politics are one of the uglier aspects to life and at this point is very divisive, but I will say I am personally not comfortable putting my kids in masks all day, a quick trip to the store...fine, the doctor's office, ok, but 6+ hours in school makes me uncomfortable, I have little alarms going off telling me that it is at least not the right option for us. So as we wait to find out what the school district is going to do, I will be preparing for our next adventure.... Homeschooling.
I want to first say how blessed I am that this is even an option, as I know many reading this don't have the option to come up with a curriculum, work all the proper channels and implement it along with all the sports and groups we will need to attend to keep everyone socialized, but I do believe after the research that I have done, that not only can I go forward with confidence, but I believe we will thrive under the curriculum that I have put together.
• Several Days Later....
I wrote all that ⬆️ and then was distracted by one of the kids and next thing I knew, the mask mandate was put in place for K-12. So it has been a bit of a scramble ever since, but seeing as I still had research to do, it was mostly my brain scrambling trying to obtain as much information as I could get and execute, but in reality; this has been so much easier than I expected, and I am going to break down the steps I took to confidently execute my homeschool plan. This will include some resources, so you may want to have a pen and paper ready.....
What you need to know...
The first thing anyone who wants to homeschool should do; is look up your States homeschooling guidelines, which you can find by going to your States official webpage. I live in Massachusetts, so I went to mass.gov and they provided clear guidence on mandated subjects, for Massachusetts that would include Orthography (spelling), Reading, Writing, English Language and Grammer, Arithmetic, Geography, History and Constitution of the U.S, Duties of Citizenship (ethics), Health, Physical Education, Art, Music, and Behavior. At fist glance, this list looked intimidating (part of that brain scramble I mentioned), but I then broke it down..... English Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, Science (though; it was not mentioned on the government site 🧐, but come on!), Health, Phys Ed, Art, and Music. That's just looks far less intimidating and is how they will package your curriculum options. Another really great part about homeschooling is you just have to start with these academic options, but you can build your curriculum however you want beyond that, if you want to embrace nature and hands on activities, you can do it! For our family personally, we are really excited to incorporate Bible study, and to get out and do family actives for our physical education as well as trying different medias of art. The options are endless and you can embrace the things that interest your family as a whole and on an individual level with fun classes in Stem, Engineering, and even beneficial classes for kids that might be struggling socially over the past year and a half. So. Many. Options!
What you need to do...
So right there you have everything you need know about what you will need in your curriculum and the State web page will also clarifies the steps to take; to inform the school that you will be homeschooling, and this I found to be shockingly straight forward. You need to write a letter of intent to inform the school that your child/children will be receiving a homeschool education in lieu of public school. You then attach your Ed plan including resources, and what your assessment will be, that you will send to the school district at the end of the school year (progress report/report cards are fine). That's it..... I put mine together and emailed it to our school districts Superintendent and his assistant, and from there they got it to the head of their homeschool department (didn't know that was a thing). I do suggest you either email it or send it certified, so you can prove you sent it and did your part. This is especially important because you will; after this point begin your plan as scheduled, there is no need to wait for the approval letter.
When it came to putting together my curriculum, I did a lot of research (huge theme in my life) and the options seem endless and from what I am told, there will likely be trial and error depending on your kids learning style. Fortunately; there are a lot of free resources that may make weeding out the less effective programs easier. I have opted to purchase a 180 day class course and supplement with some purchased activity books (not like the ones by the crayons at the store 😉), free apps, free printables and I also have an abundance of historical and scientific reference text books that I will be putting lessons together from. That was vague I know, but I will list exactly what I am using, where to get them and the cost (roughly).
• powerhomeschool.org ($25 a month, 7 classes)
• Khan Academy (free app)
• Go Noodle (free app that will get them moving)
• Spectrum Workbooks ( I bought these off Amazon $7-$17 roughly a book, and will show other similar options)
• K-5 Learning (printables)
• Enchanted Learning (printables)
• 123 Homeschool (printables)
• Brain Break Activities (app)
• LIBRARY ( don't underestimate the resources that the Library provides....and it's just so fun there!)
Of course this is just a small list compared to all that is out there, but it is what I am starting with and I will be giving updates on how these pan out.
What you need to have....
One of the more obvious things that you will need when implementing a complex curriculum is a computer/laptop. I imagine that a lot of houses are like mine, that unless needed for work or school, we just don't have any laptops. My husband has one for work, but otherwise, we have approximately 10 million cell phones and tablets. So we needed to get 3 laptops 😬 there are rental options, which I don't have any information on unfortunately, but I did manage to get 3 laptops for $220 before taxes. I looked around quite a bit, but found the best option to not spend a fortune for now, was ordering from a tech company through Walmart. Walmart.com has a lot of restored laptop options and that is the route I took... Kids, your getting a Dell 😂. My thought process on this is three new computers would run us close to $1000, and that is certainly worth the cost for reliable equipment throughout the school year, but I try to be frugal; so I figure, as these computers inevitably don't last forever, we will replace them (hopefully one at a time) with some longer lasting options. So if you are more comfortable going in with a reliable and overall better equipment, that is certainly a great option, but if you are concerned about cost, there are some pretty good options. I might also suggest as far as supplies goes, you can probably find some good options at free will /salvation army stores, they carry some electronics, probably nothing too great, but also a ton of books and inexpensive projects, for instance we are going to buy some ugly framed art and do an art class painting over the original art to reimagine it in our own way. Also consider checking out Amazon, Walmart, Target (dollar bin!!!) And the dollar stores to find counters, fake money, learning clocks, arts and crafts as well as organizational supplies.
You now know what you need to know, what you need to do, what you need to have, and some resources to help get you through, so now it comes time to execute. The way I went about this, once I had all this in front of me; was I chose a template for my letter of Intent To Homeschool via Google images search (so easy) and just copied that format with my own information. I created my education plan; including my resources and a rough schedule and confirming that I would adhere to my states 180 day/900 hour curriculum standard and let them know I would keep progress reports and report cards and that, that is how I would be submitting my end of the year assessment. I then emailed it to the superintendent and his assistant and they passed it along to the appropriate person. That's it.... Now, all I have to do is implement our education plan. This seemed so daunting going in and it turned out to be so straight forward, I am just so excited to get started!
I hope that laying it out like this might help anyone else who finds themselves suddenly jumping into this world that they know nothing about.
I am constantly researching, learning and trying new, fun ideas with the kids, so if anyone ever has any questions pertaining to homeschooling, is looking for resources and ideas, or wants any clarification on the information in this blog post; please feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I will try to help in any way that I can.
Thank you so much for reading, leave a comment below if you have any questions, or better yet; any tips and advice of your own!
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