Monday, September 24, 2012


First of all, one more link to another blog on Co-ops! If you haven't already linked to Roxana's page, you should!

From the Teachable Moment 1997:

" 'Who wants Cream of Wheat for breakfast?'  I asked my children one recent morning. Three of them answered in the affirmative. The youngest, Matthew, was emphatic in his no.

'Please make lumps in it,' begged Lindley. I know the ideal way to make Cream of Wheat is without the lumps, but for some weird reason, the kids and I love them.

As I started spooning the lumpy mixture into the bowls, the enthusiasm level was high. And by the time the bowls made it to the table, Matthew had his own bowl and was anxious to dip in.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines enthusiasm as 1. rapturous interest or excitement or 2. a subject or activity that inspires a lively interest. Another homeschool mom and I were discussing how our level of enthusiasm influences and affects the kids and their experience homeschooling. We had both had the experience of starting out homeschooling years ago with great enthusiasm and it waning somewhat as the years rolled by. The experience of our younger children has not been the same as that of our older children.

That discussion has provoked some pondering on my part. I've decided that as we first started homeschooling, my enthusiasm level may well have approached the rapturous. While it may not be possible to maintain that level over years, I hope it will be possible to maintain a lively interest in subjects and activities.

I've sought to identify areas that hinder my enthusiasm. Some of these I can actually do something about. However, I have to accept that in other situations, I may have no control since other people are involved. But just identifying that something or someone may be dampening my enthusiasm can actually help.

Our best homeschooling experiences in the past have been ones where at least a couple of us were enthusiastic and then it spread. I hope to do my part not to hinder another family member's enthusiasm. What is better in life than sharing something you're interested in with the people you love most in the world?"

Now, going back to co-ops. Matthew was affected as his siblings left the home, one by one, and then all of a sudden he was an only child homeschooling when all he had known was this group homeschooling and all of the ideas and enthusiasm floating around in the air. It was around this time that we were invited to join the LIFE Co-Op mentioned above. It came in the nick of time for Matt! I will be forever grateful to Roxana White for organizing it and opening the door for Matt.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Our youngest son was invited to participate in a local co-op organized by a  friend halfway through his homeschooling high school years. The level of organization was way beyond any classes our local support group had organized over the years. The following post and link is from our friend who organized that co-op based on one she and her children had participated in located in another state before their move here.

We Needed LIFE

"I am an eclectic homeschooler. Of course, I didn’t know that until we were well into our 2nd year of homeschool.  I just thought I was all over the place.  I knew my girls were doing well, I knew homeschooling was right for us, but I wondered if everyone else was as all over the map as me. We are now in our 14th year, and I have learned that there are quite a few of us still mapping things out.

As part of our journey, somewhere along the way, I became involved in a large co-op that was based on classes. Actually, I thought all co-ops were class-based.  It wasn’t until I moved to Florida 6 years ago that I learned there are different types of homeschool co-ops.  After trying several of them, because that’s what we mappers do, I really began to miss what I had been familiar with.  It worked for us. This type of co-op offered 3 class periods, with a choice of classes in each period.  There were classes for nursery through high school.  After co-op on Friday mornings, we all went to the park for lunch and fellowship.

Because class-based co-op worked for us, and there was no such co-op in my area, one day I somehow found myself mapping out a plan to start one.

L.I.F.E. began 4 years ago. 

Learning in Family Education Co-op Classes has been a challenging and rewarding experience for me, my children, and the families we have grown to love.  Each semester brings changes. The classes are never the same, many of our families have been with us from the beginning, some are new, all are welcome.

If you are a mapper, someone who loves to plan and likes variety, and you are looking for a support group or co-op in your area, I encourage you to try a class based co-op.  It could be a great supplement to your core subjects, a great resource, and a great way get a breath of fresh air on your journey.  If there aren’t any in your area, consider starting one.  There are many resources to help you get started.

Please visit this link to learn more:      

Saturday, September 15, 2012


As a follow up to the last post which was written by my father in law. From the Teachable Moment October 1997

"The sleepy dog looked up at the veterinarian-her vision becoming blurred by the anesthetic. Wait, was there two of the veterinarian? No, just the kindly doctor and her shadow- a homeschool kid checking out her work.

My topic for this month is shadowing. One of the suggestions from a seminar I attended on homeschooling older kids was that it's best to get them out of the house on a regular basis. Late middle school and early high school is a great time for them to start checking out careers. Shadowing differs from apprenticing in that in the former, the student will follow someone around and observe the work involved. This is usually done on a short term basis, maybe for a few hours a week for a month. In apprenticing, the student would actually work with the selected person and learn skills on a long term basis.

Since Jared is interested in becoming a veterinarian, we felt it was important that he obtain an accurate picture of what the job entails. Also, Shelley thinks she might have an interest in dentistry, so again, we wanted her to get in there and observe.

It's always easier to set this type of project up with someone you know. However, depending on what your child is interested in, you might have to use contacts around you to put you in touch with the right people or even approach someone cold turkey. Be prepared to do a little bit of education on homeschooling and let the person know your student has expressed an interest in their career. It should go without saying that if your child doesn't have an interest in doing something like this, you shouldn't force them. You would not want to take up someone's valuable time with a teenager's bad attitude.

It's a good idea to check on the appropriate clothing to be worn. Also, review manners and as many situations as you can think of so your homeschooler will be able to handle himself with ease and confidence.

Expressions of appreciation to all involved will probably go a long way towards making it easier for a future homeschooler to get her foot in the door. There's also the possibility that shadowing might turn into an apprenticing avenue for the student.!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grandparents and Homeschooling: From a Dilemma to an Adventure

From Teachable Moment October 1997 written by Skip Evelo:

In my last blog, I mentioned reactions relatives sometimes have. Here is an honest article that my father-in-law was willing to write after we had been homeschooling for six years or so. I appreciated it then and I still appreciate it to this day.

" You're going to do what? Homeschool our grandchildren! Have you lost your minds? Don't we have a vested interest in our grandchildren? Even though you two have college degrees, you aren't teachers. Where did we fail as parents? Oh! We had many questions and many more doubts.

Okay, so they'll study at home. What about their social relationships with other kids? Do you want them to be "hermits"? I can just see it now;  Jared, Shelley, Lindley and even Matthew laying in bed till around nine AM. Then a leisurely breakfast watching TV, maybe a little Nintendo later, then it's time for lunch. Later Mom exclaims, "My goodness, we've got to study now! Get your books. Let's see, we'll try some Math and maybe a little English, then you can go out to play". At this rate, it'll take them forever to learn anything!

That's how we felt about this "home schooling thing". And that was six years ago. And after much enlightenment and observation on our part, we've completely changed our minds and attitude. It's nothing like we imagined it to be.

In our opinion, our grandchildren, thanks to dedication, hard work and yes, persistence of their parents, are receiving a well rounded education, and in my opinion, receive a more advanced and structured learning experience than they could ever receive in public school. To those parents and grandparents who are just a little skeptical about homeschooling, let me briefly outline a normal day in the life of a homeschooler.

My oldest grandson, Jared, age 14, is presently attending a special religious seminary class sponsored by our church, so he arises early enough to meet at the church at 6 AM. By 7:30 AM, he is back home and begins his studies. The others are up by this time, have had breakfast, and will start their lessons soon after. Even Matthew, age 5, is in homeschool kindergarten. The kids are being tutored by their mother. For several hours a day, they complete their lessons interspaced with numerous field trips and participating in learning circles and groups with other homeschool children. Much of their studies and research are accomplished by utilizing the family computer in addition to frequent visits to the local library. Through the process, my grandchildren are exposed to a multitude of learning experiences and I am amazed at the knowledge they possess.

One unique facet of their learning experience is the opportunity to explore various career opportunities. Jared has a desire to become a veterinarian, so arrangements have been made for him to spend three hours a week "shadowing" or observing a local vet, while Shelley, age 13, has some thoughts of becoming a dentist, so she is "shadowing" a local dentist. These are special projects that they have elected to complete. You tell me that they would have these opportunities in public school!

Yes, we're sold on homeschooling and both my wife and I support my son and his wife and our grandchildren in their decision to seek a well rounded education."

Many high schools will arrange for their upper grade students to do some sort of shadowing outside the school in their chosen career paths. The difference is that those students usually only get to do one internship versus homeschooled students can start at younger ages and can do whatever their parents are able to set up with whoever the students want to shadow! A big advantage!

I loved this quote our newsletter editor placed right after the article from my father-in-law.

" Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned, and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly." Thomas Huxley

PS: Jared did not become a veterinarian; he is an accountant. Shelley did not become a dentist; she is a registered nurse. Lindley is also a nurse (she was a junior volunteer at CRMC) and Matthew is a college student.

Monday, September 10, 2012

And What About The Relatives?

In writing about the value of a good support group, I am planning to share a separate one on co-op groups soon. I have an expert friend who is going to send me a blurb, plus a link to her blog. 

Now, there is another support group we must not forget. That is the one of extended family...our relatives. Oh, what is that I am hearing? Sarcastic laughter? What? You didn't get total, no holding back support from your extended family when you so enthusiastically announced your idea to homeschool? Well, this blog post is just for you! Although I hope that many of you are experiencing more support from relatives than those of us twenty and thirty years ago.

One of the great joys of working the annual FPEA convention over the last few years was the turnout of grandparents coming along with the parents to support, learn and here's the great part for some help pick out and even buy the curriculum! Yes, I must admit to a tinge of jealousy! But in fairness to the relatives of many years ago....

The proof wasn't in the pudding all those years ago. Homeschooling was not seen as just another educational alternative in those years. The options that homeschoolers take for granted (at least in FL) such as extracurricular activities legisation, Bright Futures Scholarships, Dual Enrollment and Florida Virtual School were not available then. The legislation to make homeschooling legal in the state of FL was not even passed until 1984 - 1985. Even after it was passed, it was on a recommend to veto list to the Governor. Before homeschooling was made legal, our pioneer families in the state could forget about going to the park to have homeschool day once a week. Please visit for more history on how homeschooling began and the options that HEF has accomplished for homeschoolers. A big handclap for Brenda (and Craig) Dickinson!

Our own experience with announcing we were embarking on the homeschooling adventure was met with the reactions that many of you have experienced. Your parents absolutely thinking you are out of your minds. Brothers and sisters cracking up laughing at the idea. Friends giving you strange looks or maybe just outright blurting out how crazy you are!

Some grandparents feel offended and think new homeschooling parents are making a negative statement about the quality of education they received growing up and are passing judgment on the grandparents. So defensiveness pops up.

Many relatives are worried the children will be ruined. The, ahem, socialization dilemma discussion gets underway immediately. Not to forget the graduation, prom, and what about college questions.

Not to worry! Do your homework so that you can educate everyone about the facts of homeschooling. We're way past the days when the proof really wasn't in the pudding! I will post in a later blog some answers regarding the socialization question. That one is so outdated!

After you have educated your family members regarding home education, do all you can to involve them. Invite them to an FPEA convention in May or a local homeschooling field trip or park day. Locate some good homeschooling books for them to read. See if they would take the kids to a field trip or share with them some of their own passions or knowledge about a subject. If they are the type of grandparents to volunteer in your child's school, you can probably count on them to be volunteers in your homeschool program too! Maybe they will help buy some of the curriculum or at least purchase some of the more fun homeschooling stuff for birthday or Christmas presents!

If you aren't winning any points and are even dealing with angry relatives ( I know so many who went through this) just persevere and keep plugging along. You don't need everyone's approval to teach your children. While it is nice to have approval and feel supported, you can still get support from homeschooling friends and support groups. As you proceed ahead, you will hopefully see the opposition melting away. And hopefully, you will then have some extra volunteers for your homeschooling program and some recognition of your hard work and sacrifice to educate your children.

Please don't let negativity catch you in its web! Don't waste your time and energy once you have done the basic education on disenchanted or angry relatives. You will need your energy for your homeschooling life. I also recommend that you not waste time bashing public schools. We are fortunate in America to have different options for education. Home education is just one of them. It is not necessary to tear down other forms of education. Yes, public education needs to be iimproved. However, some private schools and even some home school environments could use improving too. Why waste time on those debates?

My next blog will be a reposting of an honest article written by one of our relatives after we had homeschooled a few years. Hopefully, this will encourage some of you!