Friday, March 20, 2020

Homeschool Isn't Really Scary

Karen Arnold/

Homeschool Isn't Really Scary

To all the fans and readers of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack series, you and your families are in my prayers during this national and world health crisis.

As a former homeschool mom and grandmother, I want to reassure those who are now in this position without planning or desiring to be homeschoolers. It can be done, and it's not that hard.

My Homeschool History

I started homeschooling my son in the seventh grade without intending to. Gangs threatened him. In my opinion, the public school officials weren't taking appropriate protection measures, so I brought him home to homeschool. Over the next few years, I completed high school with him and the senior year for my daughter. I later had experience helping them homeschool their children from an early age.

First, take a deep breath and relax. It does you no good and it stresses the kids if you are overwhelmed by this. Take a week, or even two, to decide how to go from here. In the meantime, there are lots of cable television shows and documentaries the kids can watch and write short 1 or 2 paragraph reports on. Or even record a short verbal report on the computer.

Books and Magazines as Textbooks

Do you have books in the house? Magazines? These can be used as reading textbooks. Share your favorite age-appropriate books with your children. Take 30 minutes to an hour a day and read out loud to them. It gives you family time and will create memories they will cherish.

Next, take stock of what you can do. If you have Internet available, and if you're reading this you do, search for fun resources. There are lots of paid sites, but there are tons of free resources, too!

One of the most effective and appreciated (though not at the time) courses I insisted upon was Independent Living Skills. Both boys and girls need to learn to do basic cleaning, cooking, and maintenance. You might even teach how to sew on a button or make a garment from a pattern. If you don't know how to do these things, check out YouTube, and learn along with the kids. Make it a family affair.

Online Resources

Project Gutenberg
You have resources available to you that I didn't have when I first started homeschooling. We used the library extensively. Unfortunately, most libraries are closed, but that doesn't mean you can't get books to read or study.

You can even get old schoolbooks for the kids at Project Gutenberg. You can download text files, HTML files, PDF files, audio files, and sometimes MOBI files for your students to read or listen to. Click the image to the left to learn more.

They will have most, if not all, the classics. Books from Plato to Jane Austen and more are free. They also have some of the early Progressive Readers used by public schools many years ago.

Here are a few other online resources:
The TeachersCorner
TeachersPayTeachers Free Worksheets
The Online Zoo
History for Kids
Cursive Writing Worksheets
Math Games

Have older kids? Try these:
Khan Academy
W3Schools Computer Programming Courses
Grammar classes
YouTube Training videos on everything from Karate to Sewing to Science and more

And check out the resources under the Homeschool Links heading on this page:


All these sites have resources that will make your homeschooling efforts easier. And you can find even more with a Google or Bing search.

Homeschool Isn't the Same as Public School

Remember, homeschool isn't the same as a public school. Because you don't have the bell interrupting, because you don't have twenty or more kids to wrangle, and because you don't have set schedules, homeschool is more relaxed. Or should be. Kids can read at the dining table, in bed, or on the living room floor. It doesn't really matter where learning occurs as much as it does that learning happens.

Have your children document their school activities using journals. Another great idea is to have the kids produce an online newsletter for family and friends detailing their activities and what they've learned. A friend of mine did this with her teens. Writing assignments were highlighted as feature articles. It can be done easily with Word, Google Docs, or OpenOffice.

OpenOffice is a free and open productivity suite that is free to download in Windows, Linux, and OS X versions.

Relax and enjoy the opportunity to see what brilliant kids you have.
With all the resources available, homeschool can be fun for all involved. After all, if you include an Independent Living Skills class, you can get help with sewing, gardening, dishes, cooking, laundry, cleaning, and much more.

Even younger children can learn these things. Many lessons can be included, such as science/chemistry in cooking, engineering and building in sewing, and health in food preparation and cleaning. They learn and you get needed help. And they get a grade which gives a little incentive to be more active with helping.

Activities that also count as learning:

  • Making bread
  • Crocheting a potholder
  • Knitting a scarf
  • Sewing a purse
  • Building a model of a famous place with Legos
  • Listening to authors read their books on YouTube or listening to audiobooks
  • Learning or practicing cursive writing
  • Watching zoo videos about animals
  • Watching historical documentaries
  • Teaching children to use the washing machine and dryer
  • Loading the dishwasher while discussing health
  • Creating a personal cookbook of favorite recipes
  • Researching family history
  • Studying your Bible

Peter Griffin/
Even playing games is educational. Yahtzee, Monopoly, Life, Clue, Candyland, Solitaire, Checkers, and Chess among others, all
help with thinking skills, and can give rise to discussions about math, money, and strategy.

Yes, math, grammar, and other school subjects are important, but these things are just as important.

My son once told me that if I hadn't insisted on the Independent Living Skills class, he wouldn't have been able to feed himself or keep his clothes clean after he moved out. Of all the classes he took in high school, he appreciated that one most.

Final Thoughts

My father was a carpenter. Years ago, my mom and I were working with my daughter and her friends to teach basic sewing machine skills by helping the girls make a simple apron. He made some comments on the quality of their work, and they challenged him to sew an apron. He did, surprising them. Dad told them, "Building is building, whether you're using fabric, plastic, concrete, wood, or steel. All require thought, measuring, and cutting. Each piece has to fit the next to make the whole work. The same concepts apply."

Homeschooling is similar, in that many pieces need to fit together. The good news is that they often overlap. Your kids enjoy Legos? Great! Have them build something for art class. Your kids love to draw? Great! Have them draw a scene from their favorite book or a historical event.

Homeschooling isn't just sitting down and doing lessons or worksheets. Homeschooling is broad and covers almost any activity the family can do. Make it fun for all involved.

Take care,

Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series

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