The Best of Both Worlds?

Everybody homeschools for a different reason. For some, it’s having a religious based curriculum where God is the center of all learning. For others, it’s the freedom from so-called ‘standards of education’ and arbitrary timelines for learning. There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are families. It’s important to know your goals so that you can make decisions that will help you achieve them, and most of our goals reflect our reasons for home education.

I have never regretted pulling my kids out of public school, and the older they get, the more thankful I am for this blessing. While I want to protect them from unhealthy influences, I never wanted to raise my kids in a little homeschool bubble. I want them to be in the world, just not of the world.

For the last two years, we have been taking advantage of a provision in our state’s homeschool law that allows us to attend public school for whatever classes and programs we want to participate in. Both of my children have been able to join the school band – an experience I just can’t recreate in our home. My kids also have done art, Lego, computer, and PE classes at our local elementary school. To me, this is a little bit like having my cake and eating it too. The kids get to see their neighborhood friends, do projects and performances they can’t do at home, and since they are there for a focused activity, the objectionable influences are nil.

This arrangement is certainly not for everyone, but if you are looking for ways to involve your children in large group activities, it might work for your family. We are blessed to have extremely good public schools where I live, so it makes the situation really great for us – but I know that’s not the case everywhere.

If you’re interested in having your kids take a class or two at the local public school, I suggest first looking at your state’s homeschool law to see if it’s allowed (I mean hey – we pay for the schools – we should be able to use them!) If you are legal, then I would contact the school’s guidance counselor to get them registered. Keep in mind that most guidance counselors are not used to homeschoolers trying to attend for 1 class, and you might have to be persistent. I find I sometimes have to ‘educate’ school administration on what my rights are. ūüôā

Just remember that if your kids do attend, all the rules and regulations of the school apply to them while they are there. That means dress code, attendance, and grades will matter. My daughter gets a report card that is part of her permanent record for middle school band. Be sure they are committed to stick with it before you go through the headache of getting them registered.

Do any of you have your kids go to public school for certain classes or programs?

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Throwback Thursday: Homeschool Art With Literature

Homeschool-art-supplies

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One of my best friends (also a homeschool mom) and I were sitting in her living room the other night organizing our old homeschool books for the big sale our local homeschool organization holds each year.  As we sorted textbooks and readers we started reminiscing on curriculum and projects we had done over the years that we really enjoyed, which led me to start this series of Throwback Thursday posts to discuss them.

The very first thing that came to my mind was when we used Teaching Art with Books Kids Love for our homeschool art.  I was able to find this book at our local library, and I just kept renewing it as needed.

At almost 200 pages, this book is divided into lessons that teach the elements of art, styles, and principles of design.  Each chapter gives a brief but thorough lesson on each topic, and lists a few examples of fine art that exhibit the topic discussed.  It also lists 2-3 picture books that are illustrated in the same manner.  Finally, there are art projects to do that reinforce what is taught.

I felt like the information provided in each lesson was in-depth enough for us, so it was the only source I used.  I would read to them the lesson and then we would look up online the fine art examples listed.  In the next art lesson that week we would read the picture books suggested (picked up at the library) and I would have the kids point out to me where they see the art topic shown in the illustrations.  The final day of art that week we would do our project.

This required very little planning and prep on my part. ¬†I thumbed through the book at the beginning of the year to make a list of supplies, which I bought up front. ¬†Then each week or two I would write down the picture books and pick them up on our next trip to the library. ¬†That’s it. ¬†After that all I had to do was open up and read!

Most of the projects are done on white drawing paper with pencils or on construction paper with pastels. ¬†I found everything we needed at Michael’s in their Artist Loft brand for about $15 for the whole year’s supplies. ¬†We put their creations in a notebook, and by the end of the year they had quite a little gallery of art they were proud of!

On a side note, even though I did this art program when my kids were long past easy readers and picture books, it really opened my eyes to how much fun they are to read – even as an adult. ¬†I always love introducing material to my kids by way of connecting it to things they are familiar with, and I think having the picture books as our ‘text’ really made the art concepts easy to understand and remember. ¬†The picture books we studied ranged from illustrations of realistic watercolors to graphic arts and everything in between. ¬†By looking at a book of silly alphabet letters rather than a cubist painting, the kids felt much less intimidated by creating art of their own. ¬†They were free to be as creative as they wanted with no expectations on trying to make ‘fine art’ themselves. ¬†The result was true masterpieces, and lots of learning!