Will You Join Me in Exploring "Work and Homeschool" Issues in 2014?



Dear Readers:

Having taken a bit of break in December from blogging, I'm gearing up to tackle the issue of working while homeschooling again in earnest in 2014.

One way I'm doing that is through a new private Facebook group. Yes, the old Facebook page is still up and running, but I'm increasingly interested in exploring ways to create a sense of community around the topic of working while homeschooling. I'm finding that private groups are more effective than pages and are useful for things like special, topical chats.  (Plus, we can turn down the static of Facebook in private groups.)


Here's the banner for the new, private FB group.


Another item on my 2014 to-do list is to bring back my private workshops on how to begin homeschooling. The HWHS book will be integrated into my old online course and the content will be geared to secular homeschoolers who will work either full- or part-time.

If these things sound interesting to you, I encourage you to join me in the new private group. I'm going to give that group priority access to events.

(Oh, and feel free to invite your friends.)

Best wishes to you and yours in the New Year, 

Pamela Price

P.S. I also have a new Facebook group for my main blog, Red, White & Grew. It focuses more on lifestyle topics and writing. If that interests you, come join us!


{Giveaway} Here's Your Chance to Win a FREE Year Subscription to the Award-Winning Bookboard Service






The waters in the gulf turned calm after a brisk Thanksgiving week.


Disclosure: I am a member of Bookboard’s Blog Ambassador program. I am compensated, from time to time, with free products and monetary payments. Any views expressed in this post are completely my own.

We spent several days at the end of November in Panama City Beach, Florida. It was a wonderful trip--even with the cold front dropping the temperatures and stirring up the waters in the Gulf of Mexico.


Fortunately, when the weather got rough, we had some games and art supplies--and the Bookboard children's book subscription service--to keep us company. Did you know that the Bookboard folks regularly feature thematic collections of books, including this one with a beach theme?


Pictured above is a page from Lobster's Secret by Kathleen Hollenbeck and illustrated by Jon Weiman as delivered to us in Florida via Backboard. Don't the colors in the illustrations just POP on the virtual page?

Award-Winning Service


In  case you haven't heard, 2013 has been a very good year for Bookboard, the innovative children’s digital subscription library. Not only have the service's reviews been outstanding, but the company has also been recognized with several recent awards including the coveted Family Choice Award, a WebEspy, and a National Parenting Publications award.

More than that, the Bookboard team has built a solid following of families--families just like mine--who value the quality of the content available through the service. As of this posting, the service offers 400 books for kids, all accessible electronically and matched to each individual child's reading level. That's a phenomenal number of books, all of which are curated by the company's in-house librarian.

I've written about the service--and its value for working homeschool parents in particular--before here, here and here. If you've been on the fence about trying it out, then I've got some news that might help you take the plunge.

Giveaway Details

This holiday season the folks at Bookboard have graciously offered to readers of How to Work and Homeschool a chance to win a one year subscription to the service (a $59.88 value).

All you have to do register for a chance to win is:


  1. Leave me a quick note in the comments section of this post telling me why you're interested in this amazing service;
  2. Sign up for a FREE TRIAL of Bookboard using this specific link; and
  3. Read one book from the service no later than midnight PST on Thursday, December 5, 2013.


The winner will be selected from random by the very nice Bookboard team on Friday, December 6.

That's it--you leave a quick comment, sign up for a free trial, read a book from the curated collection with your kid (or kids), and then you've got a chance to win a free year of Bookboard.

Good luck, everyone!

P.S. I also invite you to join me in following Bookboard on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.








{Homeschool Tips} Using Screen Time (Guilt-Free) in a Homeschool Setting


This post contains one sponsored link.*

For all the fretting, hand-wringing, and mommy guilt that appears when the topic of "screen time" comes up with parents, more and more homeschool parents are relying upon iPads and computers to fill up hours in the school day.

Is that a good or a bad thing?

Tough call.

If like me you balance work and homeschool with a minimal social support system, then technology can be a real lifesaver, er, job saver.  I know in my career, as a writer and consultant, there are some weeks when technology is utilized more than others. High volume technology weeks for our son track with my deadlines and appointments.

I believe that the issue of "is computer/screen time a good or bad thing" is a question with too many variables to warrant a pat answer.

For me, responsible use of technology hinges upon two central questions:

1. Does the technology involve age-appropriate content that moves the child forward in a desirable area?

We have deleted apps and restricted access to website that we feel are inappropriate. For the most part, our kid uses iPad applications that reflect academic or social goals. Oh, sure, we have Angry Birds but the apps that hold his interest the longest tend to have some sort of educational bent to them.

Note that "educational" doesn't have to mean games descended from Frogger but with cutesy language lessons incorporated. In fact, some of the best options bring real world experiences into the virtual world. Take for example the Bookboard subscription service* and Dragon Box. Both are dynamic, modern spins on old-fashioned experiences: reading books and learning the underpinnings of algebra. (These two particular apps are so popular here that I actually keep them, together with MindSnacks, on our lesson plan rotation.)

2. Are parental and child attitudes to technology positive?

If you want to have kids that have responsible attitudes about technology, then you need to start nurturing those attitudes from the moment you allow access. For example, use a timer or schedule to keep track of who has been online for how long. With older kids talk about how it feels physically when one stays on too long. Ask them to compare that sensation to running, swimming, or playing or other outside, physical activities. (That conversation will clue you in to what your kids need more--or less--of.)

Parents, if you work out of the home--and if your job involves heavy computer use, be sure to visibly take breaks--in other words, model healthy usage--in your own routine. Kids don't really grasp that Mom is making money from writing. Much of what we do looks like it could be play to them as well.

Parents: I'd love to hear from you on this topic.

How do you navigate technology use in your homeschool setting?
What mistakes have you made?
What have you learned?


* FCC Disclosure: I am a brand ambassador for Bookboard and receive compensation for referrals to the site through my social media accounts, including this blog. The opinions expressed here are my own.

{Homeschool Tips} A Message of Support for Parents Who Aren't "Loving" Their Homeschool Experience

My friend Brenda has a post up on her blog from a reader who is hurting:

I don’t know how to fall in love with homeschooling like you and everyone else. I enjoy reading your blog because you seem so relaxed about the chaos, but you seem to be in love with homeschooling.

Am I the only one who hates it? I don’t want to put my kids in public school, but I feel like I am doing them a disservice when deep down I don’t even want to get up in the morning and face the day. I am overwhelmed and not sure what to do.

Brenda offered her own advice, and then she invited her readers to weigh-in.

Here's my response, which I left in comments:

When I work with new homeschool parents–or established homeschoolers who are seeking to reinvigorate their commitment, I often find that unease comes from using techniques and approaches that aren’t well suited to the learning style of the parents, the kids, or both. It may be time to reconsider one’s approach to home learning or even take a break from it and embrace unschooling or something close to it for a few weeks. (The holidays are a great time to do that because math abounds in recipes and crafts and cultural history abounds, whatever your faith.)

I’d also be curious if you have the kind of intellectual stimulation and social support in your life to energize yourself. Sometimes I find we get so focused on our kids’ learning outcomes and “socialization” that we forget that we adults are learners and social beings, too. I’ve got a small tribe of women and men who keep me going, and they aren’t all homeschoolers, either. 

Hope this helps. Good on you for speaking up and not suffering in silence.

Do you ever struggle with "not loving" homeschooling? How do you handle it?

And if you haven't already heard, I've created a new private How to Work and Homeschool group on Facebook where parents can work through challenges like these. This is in addition to the public page. You are welcome to join both or either of them.



What It's Like to Work and Homeschool as a... Freelance Writer



My part-time "day job" is as a freelance writer. It's a big deadline week for me, so the kiddo is accompanying me on interviews. He's getting older now and I have started to see elements of my work as learning opportunities for him.

Today alone we've discussed all kinds of useful things--story sources, ethical journalistic behavior, how to find a story idea, approaching people, and how to explain to your editor that you need to switch topics because you found a much better story.

I even had him proofread one of my articles and offer up suggestions. As it happens he had a great idea, reminding me of a detail in our encounter with the story source that I'd forgotten. What he suggested is the kind of thing that readers love, so he seems to have a natural gift for writing.

Tagging along with me, he also heard a lot today about artmaking and the importance of supporting small businesses. He expressed, too, a desire to make and sell his own gift cards using his own artwork. Very cool.

All in all, it's just another day working and homeschooling, both of us learning new things along the way.

What a gift it is to share with him.

I'd love to hear how you combine your career with homeschooling. Please leave a comment.



Pamela Price is the author of  How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips, and Strategies from Parents (GHF Press). She is also the founder of an award-winning blog, Red, White and Grew.

Congratulations to Bookboard, An Award-Winning Children's Book Subscription Service



 FCC Disclosure*



As I mentioned last month, I'm pleased to be a blog ambassador for Bookboard, the innovative children's book subscription service.

Having blogged for many years--and having been approached by various companies who wanted my endorsement, I was slow to accept a brand ambassadorship offer until I found a product in which I could believe and feel confident about recommending.

Bookboard fit that bill for me.

As it happens, I'm not alone in recognizing the product's value for parents and children. Earlier this week the company received a much-coveted 2013 "Family Choice Award" recognizing the best in children's and parenting products.



From the official award announcement:

Bookboard is unique in its ability to motivate and engage kids to read more. Christine Ying of TechCrunch reported, “Bookboard has really identified something to keep my kids engaged and motivated…” “In addition, the service provides a curated reading experience so kids can easily find the next great book.” Jordan Shapiro of Forbes commended, “A thoughtful librarian delivered instantly to your home.  {More}

In addition to sharing news about the award, Bookboard announced this week a new gift certificate program that is perfect for holiday gift giving.

 
The gift of Bookboard for an entire year is especially suitable for working homeschool families since it allows us to transport hundreds of books easily on an iPad. New books are added all the time, too, and the company takes a lot of pride in sharing collections of books tied to seasonal themes. (For examples, see their Pinterest board.) The content on the service is curated by a real, live, professional librarian, and the books offered are matched to a child's learning skills and interests. (Parents also have the power to exclude or add books as they see fit.)

If you're still not convinced that you want to add the gift certificates to your holiday wish list--or to purchase a gift certificate for a family on your gift list, I would like to personally invite you to experience a free trial. I think you'll find that Bookboard brings the best of technology and childhood literacy to your electronic device in an engaging and convenient way.

Are you curious to learn more about the company and what led to its creation? Check out this article from Christian Science Monitor.


Update: Since I shared this post, Bookboard has received another award, the National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Award in the "Family" category.

*FCC Disclosure: I am a member of Bookboard’s Blog Ambassador program. I am compensated, from time to time, with free products and monetary payments.

How Many Parents Work and Homeschool?

This short post appeared first over on Sulia, and I thought perhaps it should be cross-posted here.

According to Catherine to a 2012 post over at A Spirited Mind (she used 2007 Census stats and reportedly verified them with a Census employee), the numbers look like this:
  • 808,000 families homeschool with both parents in the work force,
  • 509,000 families homeschool with one parent in the work force and one at home,
  • 127,000 families homeschool with a single parent who works, and
  • 64,000 families homeschool without a parent in the work force.

I suspect that the current number is much higher, given the rise in interest in homeschooling.

Anyone want to volunteer to crunch some 2010 Census numbers?



5 Reasons Why You May Need to Earn Money While You Homeschool*


*Hint: It's not just about the money.

Penelope Trunk wrote a provocative piece on why one need not earn money while homeschooling. I encourage you to read it, especially since I have heartily recommended her blog in the past. She's a compelling writer, that's for sure, even when I disagree with her.

In light of her comments, I've done some reflection on what I've learned in my research into the lives and experiences of working homeschoolers.

Five of the most common reasons why parents chose to earn money while homeschooling include. Do any of these sound like you and your situation?

They need healthcare.  If you've listened to the news lately, healthcare is expensive. Full-time working homeschoolers are in the minority, but many of them do work to get or pay for medical insurance. Parents of kids with special needs who require a range of doctors and experts are common in this group.

They are single parents. Some of the most passionate homeschoolers I've encountered have been working homeschool parent who believe that their children receive the best education at home, for whatever reasons. Several of these parents I count as personal friends. And, no, they don't all have alimony checks to cover their needs, so they learn to succeed at working while homeschooling.

They intend to homeschool only for a little while (or a little while longer). Over the last two years, there's been a trend in my neighborhood for parents to homeschool only for junior high school, to get their kids past the enormous peer pressure common with pre-teens. Other parents, especially those of gifted/"2E" kids may homeschool until a better school option can be found. Still others homeschool while a child works through a grave illness, or, in the case of military families, to round out a semester in which a move has taken place.

I also have encountered moms of pre-teen and teenage kids who want to ease back into the work world. A part-time job can make that adjustment easier and give the adult something new to think about as the kids become more involved with the larger world.

They "fell into" homeschooling and have yet to make substantial adjustments to their lifestyle to accommodate the choice. For those of us with a few years of experience under our belt--and with flush bank accounts, it can be easy to forget the folks who stumble into homeschooling and have to play "catch up" with learning the joys and worthwhile sacrifices inherent to the experience. We fell into homeschooling because of a food allergy. Others come to it because of bullying, poor schools, frustrations over standardized testing, etc.

They appreciate the challenge. In my experience, most working homeschoolers are part-time employees or own their own business. I am in this demographic myself and find the intellectual pursuit keeps me grounded in the adult world.

The Take-Away: The reasons for why people work while homeschooling are as diverse as the homeschooling demographic. If you find yourself needing to work and homeschool, then know that others have gone before you and everything turned out fine. Meanwhile, we seasoned working homeschoolers should seek to further showcase those realities.

How to Work & Homeschool Giveaway on Goodreads






If you're contemplating purchasing a copy of How to Work and Homeschool this month, why not put your hat in for the Goodreads contest that ends on October 31? Together with GHF Press (my publisher), I'm giving away not one but two copies over there.

While you're over there, be sure to come say "hi" on my Goodreads author page.

Can't wait until the end of the book? Want the book right now? Purchase details are here.

Remember: The new How to Work and Homeschool Parents' Discussion Group is up-and-running now along with the regular Facebook page. This week I added a new Amazon store, and don't forget our Pinterest board.

{Self-Care & October Giveaway} Mommy Time Offers Working Homeschool Moms a Place for Renewal

Special thanks to Mommy Time* for this month's giveaway.


What are you in the mood for? A massage? Some yoga?  Mommy Time delivers.





While I was researching my book, I became familiar with the many challenges working homeschool parents face.

One of those challenges involves parental self-care.

Allocating time and energy to nurturing one's body and soul is as essential to success on work and school fronts as sunshine is to plants. Unfortunately, self-care (like sleep) is too frequently backburnered by all parents, most especially working homeschoolers.

In the coming years, as our population grows, I predict that savvy entrepreneurs will opt to reach out to working homeschoolers alongside stay-at-home parents of young children. It's only logical since our needs overlap. Just like all parents of young kids, we working homeschoolers could use some hands-on help to free us up to exercise, get a massage, and socialize a little with other parents in an inviting atmosphere.

{Homeschool + Work} 3 Steps to Homeschooling While Working Full-Time



For parents who work full-time outside the home and yet desire to homeschool, it can be challenging to see where and how to begin.

Here are the first three steps that the parents with whom I work move through in order to get where they want to be.

1. Solve the daycare issue. There are various ways to do this, depending upon your unique situation: work part-time from home/part-time at your workplace, hire a nanny, share a nanny, hire a relative (always try to pay if you can although if someone volunteers, that's lovely), downgrade and/or downsize a lifestyle/budget/household, etc.

If one parent can be at home at least part-time then this first hurdle is easier to clear. (See also my post on daycare solutions from earlier this year.)

2. Give up traditional ideas about "when" school occurs. K-12 education takes only a FRACTION of the time allotted to it in a traditional school day. This is in part because 1) large classrooms demand teacher energy and focus and 2) schools function as daycare for much of our society.

If you're going to be out of the house during the 8-to-5 hours, then remember that nights, weekends, early mornings--these are all "fair game" when it comes to scheduling time to educate your own kids at home.

3. Finally, develop a schedule that works for your family--and stick to it. The parental discipline is essential, especially if the adult(s) are gone 40 hours a week or more. (There are several useful sample schedules in the back of my How to Work and Homeschool* book.)

If you found this post useful, I invite you to join me (and several hundred How to Work and Homeschool fans) on Facebook. And be sure to check out my Goodreads giveaway of the book during October 2013.


Explore More:
How to Homeschool When Both Parents Must Work Full-Time
Basics of Keeping a Weekly Work and Homeschool Schedule
Lessons from Single Homeschool Parents

*FCC Disclosure:  The asterisk indicates an Amazon Affiliate link. I am a member of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This is an affiliate advertising program through which sites like mine earn money by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.



{Homeschool Tips} Awesome, Portable Learning Resources for Elementary-Aged Kids




Yes, that's my motto as a freelance writer/author and homeschool mom.

Have kid. Have iPad. Will travel. 
Consequently, I'm always looking for portable, quality educational products. Featured below are three stand-out options we've come to rely upon this academic year.

Horrible Histories

This semester, we've seen both versions--the off-the-beaten path Scholastic one (via Netflix) and the knock-your-socks-off CBBC series. Hands down the CBBC version wins our vote for best of show. Quirky, clever, and filled to the brim with all the gross-out humor of the Terry Deary books on which both series are based, the CBBC one is as much fun for me to watch as it is for our son.

Note that the gross-out humor is strong with the CBBC version, but the trade-off is that our kid really did learn his Western civilization. I know this because I dusted off my B.A. and M.A. in history and tested him orally. I was floored at what he'd learned and retained. (If your kids--or you--are weirded out by potty humor and talk of public executions as family excursions, then please steer clear.)

We watch Horrible Histories via YouTube.com, which means as long as we've got WiFi access for the iPad, we're good to go. We've seen all the seasons now and are awaiting the rumored creation and release of a feature film.


MindSnacks

We've used the MindSnacks French app before, but this semester we're both enjoying the Spanish version. It's a great way to learn vocabulary and spelling in particular. I assign two rounds of it daily to supplement our foreign language curriculum (which is largely DIY because I have yet to find anything I like). I play MindSnacks, too, and allow my son to watch me complete the more advanced levels. This seems to have encouraged him to keep progressing on his own.

We love Bookboard!

Bookboard

Back when we started with the children's book subscription service this summer, I wasn't sure how long we'd last. Our kiddo was an "early reader" and appeared to have all but given up his interest in picture books, which are heavily promoted as being central to the Bookboard experience. (There are, however, plenty of text-only readers for advanced readers in Bookboard. They just don't photograph as well as the graphically oriented picture books!)

We've been Bookboard subscribers* for a couple of months now, and we both remain very happy with it. In our household, it's a supplement to our own books and library books. Our kid enjoys the "gamification" of unlocking new books, which are tied to his interests and abilities and therefore keep him engaged. For me, the portability (WiFi required) is a real help when I need to work away from home and with him in tow.

To try Bookboard for yourself for free, visit their website.


*FCC Disclosure: I am a member of Bookboard’s Blog Ambassador program. I am compensated, from time to time, with free products and monetary payments. 

I am also a member of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which is an affiliate advertising program through which sites earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
 
Any views and opinions expressed in this post are completely my own.

What People are Saying about "How to Work and Homeschool"

I'm loving this round-up my publisher put together of nice things said about the book thus far.

Colleen Pence, San Antonio Mom Blogger
“I love it because it’s thorough and hopeful and helpful and chock full of amazing resources for non-homeschoolers as much as it is for homeschoolers.” [Read more]

Jen Merrill, Laughing at Chaos

If you’re working and want to homeschool, or homeschool and want/need to work, or are already doing both and wondering how others manage everything, you really need this book.” [Read more]

Susan Sachs Lipman, Slow Family

“Most helpfully, Pamela outlines different homeschool/work scenarios and schedules, based on family needs, that would help any family consider the best way to tackle homeschool and work, philosophically and practically.” [Read more]

Jimmie Lanley, Jimmie’s Collage

“You will find something in this book that resonates with your own particular working situation.” [Read more]

To read a sample of the book on this website, click here. To preview it via Amazon, click here.

Image credit The Graphics Fairy

{Book Giveaway} How to Work and Homeschool




I'm so very grateful to the many loyal readers who have helped to spread the word about How to Work and Homeschool this summer. The book launch was very successful, and I have to credit it to good friends in real life and online!

Several people have left nice reviews on Amazon, and then there were the terrific, thoughtful reviews and comments during the blog book tour.

Now, as I promised on the Facebook page, it's time to give away a copy of the book here on the blog. This giveaway is a celebration of a successful book launch! Woohoo! And because this giveaway is an act of gratitude, I'm going to make it easy for you to register for a chance to win.

Simply leave a comment below about why you want to read the book. Deadline for registration is Friday, September 13 at 5PM CDT. The winner will be selected at random from the comments only and announced the following week on my Facebook page. One quick comment--that's all it takes.

If you'd also like to pin this post to Pinterest or give me a follow and shout-out on Twitter or Facebook, then that would be much appreciated. But it's not required for this giveaway

Note, too, that if any of you are interested in a Skype-based Q&A author chat with me for your homeschool group or co-op this academic year, note that you can message me via the Facebook page and we'll see what we can set up.


Explore More:

Read an excerpt

{FAQ} How to Homeschool When Both Parents Must Work Full-Time



As you might guess, this question is a common concern for prospective working homeschool parents.

Since I (and a few readers!) just answered it on the How to Work and Homeschool Facebook page, I thought I'd share it here for anyone else facing this challenge:
".... I'm curious how people handle childcare when both parents work during the day and homeschool. My job requires that I work school hours, and I really couldn't find another one that pays as well for working part-time. Want to be able to keep my options open for ds, but I can't put our family into debt for it. Any advice would be welcomed."
And here is my response:

While researching the book I found parents in similar situations:
  1. relied upon family members or friends who were available to child-sit;
  2. changed their schedules or work location (telecommute) so that one parent was home at all times;
  3. downsized homes, cars, etc.;
  4. opted to afterschool rather than homeschool;
  5. opted to only homeschool for a short period of time to address a specific need (ex. pulling a child out for a few months to a year in order for them to then re-enroll in a new school or special program).
Some did a combination of the above.
Note that daycare is the BIGGEST hurdle for most parents, making afterschooling the most common solution.

Keep in mind that when homeschooling a child does not spend an entire day working. So a caregiver during a parents working hours need not be responsible for schooling.
(See the schedules at the back of my book for examples of how to make this work.)

Experienced and veteran homeschool parents: tell us how you do integrate full-time employment with homeschooling in comments!



{Homeschool Tips} Homeschool Curriculum Choices for Working Homeschool Parents (Pre K to 2nd Grade)



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com and Bookboard.com.

With the academic year gearing up, I have received several questions about what sort of curricula we use in our homeschool setting. In the wake of my new book's release, I also get the question "What curricula work well for working parents?"

Today I will answer both questions with one post by summing up our personal experiences. Note that I also have two Pinterest boards, one for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school year, that may be helpful, too. (I update them as we move forward through the year.)

Preschool & Kindergarten

When we began homeschooling during our child's preschool years, I gravitated naturally toward the child-led Reggio Emilia method. That approach worked brilliantly for us through most of first grade. In fact, even as we begin second grade, we continue to include RE methods, although now I refer to it as project-based homeschooling. It's a wonderful middle-ground between traditional, seated homeschool pedagogy and unschooling. It's also very compatible with working since children are taught to take initiative and let their passions drive them.

Reggio Emilia is still new here in the states. When I started out, I had to piece together how-to information from reading online and picking up books written for early childhood educators. Nowadays Lori Pickert's book Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners  is available, and it's an outstanding introduction to the concept. Lori demonstrates that the approach works well for older kids, too.  I recommend her book constantly to my clients/workshop participants and in online forums.

For parents who need something more structured--or for parents with younger kids who want to "do school" with older siblings, June Oberlander's Slow and Steady Get Me Ready will work until the start of Kindergarten.

First & Second Grade

Now that our son is older, and although project-based learning remains at the core of our learning, I've come to embrace the idea that workbooks offer us a chance to practice executive function skills daily (see video below).

For example, our son "earns" computer time during the week by completing workbook material during two short "schoolwork sessions" daily.  The overarching lesson in this work, for us, is that "we do our work first and play later" not "you will master every page in this book." (We do tend to skip around.) Moreover, I need prompts to integrate topics such as science and math into our day. Workbooks help.



We've experimented with different brands, but I have to say that we're both sold on the Spectrum curriculum materials  by Carson-Dellosa. The text is clearly written and the pages are colorful without being cloying. I anticipate we will continue to use them through 8th grade. I've read where public school teachers have praised Spectrum for grabbing the attention of energetic, curious learners who bore easily. This doesn't surprise me one bit. (Homeschooling tip: Doing a portion of the workbook lessons orally helps keep the momentum up, especially for gifted kids with writing skills that lag; just be sure to leave ample time for handwriting practice daily. Spelling and math are good topics for this if you have a kid who is handwriting resistant.)

When it comes to history, I'm enormously picky and I have yet to find a packaged curriculum or guide that impresses me. We currently use two history encyclopedias from the UK (prepared by a team of scholars) and generally let project-based homeschooling guide our sequence of study. We also refer to the the popular What Your [Child] Needs to Know Core Knowledge series on occasion for reference.

Last year, we studied French and Spanish simultaneously. This year, we're dedicating a semester to each at our son's request. This will allow us to go into greater depth and (hopefully) move beyond simple vocabulary. First up is Spanish, for which we'll use Spanish for Children, a collection of CDs by McGraw Hill, and Side by Side Grammar. For texts, I like the small, blue Skill Builders Carson-Dellosa language books  but--much as with history--I find that language workbooks for kids come up short, being little more than a repetition of vocabulary. (If you're interested in French, you can see a round up of my favorite affordable apps for the language here.)

We supplement with the Life of Fred series and Logic Links by Mindware for math. On the technology front, the Brain Pop and Brain Pop, Jr. apps are great, as is the Bookboard* subscription service, which is new to us but proving to be a wonderful addition to our iPad. I'm also loving the e-book Let's Play Math: How Homeschooling Families Can Learn Math Together and Enjoy It! as a means of helping integrate math into our lives more organically.

That's our curriculum round-up, which of course is subject to change as we move forward with the academic year.

Now I'd love to hear what works for you--especially if you have older kids--in comments or over on Facebook.

Looking for more great curriculum ideas? Be sure to check out  Curriculum Week, part of the iHomeschool Network (Not) Back-to-School Blog Hop.


* FCC Disclosure: I am a member of Bookboard’s Blog Ambassador program. I am compensated, from time to time, with free products and monetary payments. Any views expressed in this post are completely my own.



{Blog Book Tour} How to Find a Job After (or While) Homeschooling



This week, as part of the How to Work and Homeschool blog book tour, I'm discussing how to start a job search after you've taken a break from your career.  The host for this week's stop is Jen of Laughing at Chaos. (Thanks, Jen!) Here's the intro:

Although many families are turning to homeschooling while the parents continue their existing jobs and careers, there are far more parents (primarily mothers) who seek to find a part- or full-time job after having homeschooled exclusively for several years. In most instance their children are older and are therefore more independent and self-directed in their studies, or the kids have left the proverbial nest altogether.

Sometimes these veteran homeschoolers wish to return to an old career path; other times they may want to give some thought to changing fields. For parents in this situation, it’s beneficial to employ tried-and-true job search techniques. Yes, if you ever used your college career center, then this material will sound familiar.

If you’re in this situation now–or anticipate being in it down the road, I’ve designed a series of steps to get you started. {More}


{Self Care} Naptime for Busy Homeschool Parents: It's Not Just for the Kids, You Know

Speech by Author Sara Mednick on the topic of napping.


You may be surprised to hear me say this, but if I could wish anything for every homeschool parents, it'd be the gift of a nap. If you doubt that you need a nap, then you need to read Sara Mednick's Take a Nap! Change Your Life: The Scientific Plan to Make You Smarter, Healthier, More Productive (Workman Publishing, 2006).

This book changed my perception of napping for the better. I don't do it every day, but I do try to "honor" the sleep pressure that hits during "siesta" time in some way. I've been known to nap in the car while our kid takes a class--provided the weather is cool enough and I'm caught up on my paid work.

When I respect and honor the wakefulness rhythms in our lives, I find that everyone is happier and more focused. It doesn't work for every family, granted, in our hyper-scheduled lives, but it's worth attempting some dedicated "recharge time"--be it a nap, mindfulness meditation, prayer, or some other sort of relaxing activity to nourish body and soul--every day.
 

Want to learn more about the book? Then check out the book's Amazon page below, which I've linked to through my Amazon.com affiliate account.


{Organization} Make the Most of Your Space by Converting Dining Room to an Office


I've found in my research that many homeschool parents are willing to reconsider how they want to use existing spaces in their homes. This is especially true of work-at-home parents who find they need to carve out space to keep their work materials.

We moved our farmhouse-style table to the breakfast nook a few years ago, laid down some hardwood in the former dining room, purchased bookshelves and a desk, and voila! I had an at-home office for my freelance work. Recently I added two low wooden filing cabinets behind the couch. The rest of the furniture is inherited and showcases collections of stemware and other items. I love it!

Given the small size of our family, this was a practical solution. We seldom used the dining room anyway and the small table that was in the breakfast space has a new home in the playroom.

I'd love to hear from other homeschool parents who have made similar decisions to adjust their homes to fit their lives.

{Review} Colleen Pence of San Antonio Mom Blogs talks about "How to Work and Homeschool"

From today's post:

How to Work and Homeschool is completely relevant to work-from-home parents who may not be homeschoolers. Through Pamela’s research, practical tips, advice, sample schedules, and frank discussions on the issue of creating a work/life balance, entrepreneurial parents will find the resource they’ve been looking for to help them, and their children, thrive.  {Read More}

Facebook Chat with the Author


Tuesday, July 23
8:00 PM to 8:30 PM CDT


If you've read "How to Work and Homeschool: Practical Advice, Tips, and Strategies from Parents" (GHF Press, 2013)--or you are contemplating doing so, come chat with author Pamela Price at Facebook.com/HowtoWorkandHomeschool.

More events can be found on the Calendar page.

{Reader Survey} Share Your Experience as a Working Homeschool Parent



At the end of How to Work and Homeschool, I invite readers to share their experiences as working homeschool parents.

I am serious about that invitation because I want to hear diverse perspectives and experiences on the topic. 

Along those lines, I have three options for you to share your story:

• You can leave a comment here on the site. (You may choose to be anonymous.)
• Leave a comment on my Facebook page.
Take the survey that I used to research the book. (Again, you may choose to remain anonymous.)

Keep in mind that your responses may (or may not) appear in my future writings on the topic.

{GHF Blog Hop} What Successful Single Homeschool Parents Have to Teach Us

Today's post is my contribution to the June 2013 Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop. This month's topic is "Homeschooling With/Without a Partner." More links are at the bottom of the post.




When I began my research for my  book about working homeschool parents, I made a special commitment to spotlight the "unsung heroes" of home education: single parents.

Why?

For starters, I was struck by the fact that their demographic is given so little attention in "how to homeschool" manuals. This type of marginalization is unfortunate because as more and more families choose to homeschool, we inevitably will attract more single parents to the home education sphere.
As more and more single-parent homeschool families appear at our play groups and homeschool co-ops, how can we--as a community--help them succeed if we don't know what works for their particular family structure?

Second, and anecdotally speaking, single homeschool parents (mostly women) are more likely to work outside the home and therefore have a unique perspective on the homeschool lifestyle.  In other words, I think that they can teach the rest of us a thing or two about the work/live/play/learn balance.

In my experience and research, I've learned that single homeschool parents succeed by:
  • Putting education first. Not only do they prioritize education on the weekly calendar, they make it a priority in their own intellectual lives. Several of the single parents that I encountered while researching the book pursued their own degrees or professional development in tandem with homeschooling.
  • Building communities of support. Be it through online groups or within their communities (and ideally both), these folks know that to succeed with home education, kids and parents alike need a steady flow of encouragement and nurturing in order to flourish. 
  • Practicing excellent time management. Since most single homeschool parents are also working homeschool parents, the successful ones keep a watchful eye not only the calendar but also energy levels. They look to create a balanced schedule and work to evade burnout on extracurricular activities.
  •  Embracing innovation. Technology is a boon to home educators, be it through access to online courses or through the use of iPhones to monitor what's happening at home from one's desk at work. For single parents working outside of the home, technology--used wisely--can be a useful tool.
  •  Keeping a level head about homeschooling in general. Successful single homeschool parents tend to approach home education one day and one year at a time. They tend to resist "all or nothing thinking" and are open to other alternatives, including traditional public or private schools. This mindset is less stressful and more realistic. After all, one just never knows when change in life might require a change in schooling, and it's wise to have back-up plans in mind--even if one never uses them.
Is it any accident that these descriptions fit successful homeschoolers in two-parent households? No. A resilient, determined spirit is a resilient, determined spirit, whatever a person's current relationship status.

Are there particular challenges to being a single homeschool parent? Absolutely, which is why I dedicate time to discussing this demographic in the book, if you're interested.

Right now, however, I'd love to hear your perspective on this topic.

So, tell us:
  • Are you a single homeschool parent? 
  • Do you know someone who is? 
  • What have you learned from your/their experiences?

Leave response in comments or over on my Facebook page.


 A sample of participating blogs follows:
A complete list of June 2013 blog participants can be found here later today.



Coming Soon! The "How to Work and Homeschool" Book Tour




The "official" release date for How to Work and Homeschool is still a few days off, but I'm pleased to announce some upcoming events which I've added to the site calendar. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for additions/changes.

August 12, 2013
Blog Book Tour Stop: Jimmie's Collage


August 5, 2013:
Blog Book Tour Stop: Laughing at Chaos

July 29, 2013:
Blog Book Tour Stop: Slow Family Online 

July 22, 2013
WOAI San Antonio Living (television appearance)

July 19, 2013: 
Blog Book Tour Stop: San Antonio Mom Blogs
#GTCHAT on Twitter @ 6PM CDT with @GTCHATMOD  (Find and follow me at @RedWhiteandGrew )

July 15, 2013:
Official book release date (subject to change)

July 8, 2013:
Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop

{Homeschool Tips} Why Homeschoolers Need Not Fear Tests





We've lost touch with the idea of testing as "assessment" of student understanding (rather than simply progress) and the evaluation of teaching effectiveness.

In the homeschool community, that problem may be compounded when families opt out of traditional schools because of frustration over standardized testing. They just don't want to deal with testing at all.

Yet, done right, testing can be invaluable in the learning enterprise.

Yes, friends, testing has its place in homeschool settings! You just have to figure out which type to employ, when, and why.

In my latest homeschool workshop, a teacher-turned-homeschooler reminded me of the two types of assessment, formative and summative.

I share here the definitions with you, courtesy of the Association of Middle Education:

Summative Assessments are given periodically to determine at a particular point in time what students know and do not know... 
Summative assessments happen too far down the learning path to provide information at the classroom level and to make instructional adjustments and interventions during the learning process. It takes formative assessment to accomplish this.
Examples of summative assessments include end-of-chapter tests, end-of-unit tests, and standardized exams.

Formative Assessment is part of the instructional process. When incorporated into classroom practice, it provides the information needed to adjust teaching and learning while they are happening. In this sense, formative assessment informs both teachers and students about student understanding at a point when timely adjustments can be made. These adjustments help to ensure students achieve, targeted standards-based learning goals within a set time frame. Although formative assessment strategies appear in a variety of formats, there are some distinct ways to distinguish them from summative assessments.
Examples of formative assessments include things like pop quizzes but also include observation, dialogues with the child to determine progress, and even portfolios.

Formative is especially well-suited to homeschooling because we have a uniquely close relationship with our pupils.

Remember: sooner or later, be it for college or grad school admission, to pass the bar, get a driver's license or to qualify for a government post, our kids will encounter tests. 

We'd be remiss as home educators not to prepare them for that inevitability.

So I wonder... how do you use testing in your homeschool setting?

Image created via Behappy.Me

{Homeschool + Work} How Libraries Might Serve Working Homeschool Parents

 It's really easy for me to imagine a space like this
one--Parman Branch Library in San Antonio, Texas--
filled with working homeschool parents. 


A post over at MindShift has me contemplating the relationship between homeschoolers and libraries.

The piece cites an unnamed librarian who responded to a Pew Research study on library services in the digital age:
"I believe public libraries should move away from being ‘houses of knowledge’ and move more towards being ‘houses of access.’ This is what the public is asking for and we are here to serve them.”
Houses of access.

Houses of co-working, too, perhaps?

It's no secret that huge chunks of my forthcoming book were written at the downtown branch of the San Antonio Public Library while our son attended science camp at the local children's museum. On more than one occasion, I typed furiously on my iPad (thank heavens for Evernote!) while our son played on the grounds of the Parman Library location.


As home education becomes more popular, we will see more and more working homeschool parents in search of collaborative spaces in which to crank out work with peers while their children read, research, and perhaps attend micro-courses.

Libraries, I hope, will pay heed to that demographic and respond.

Does your library reach out to homeschool families? If so, how?

Note: I've extended registration for my How to Homeschool workshop until Sunday, June 2 at 5pm CST. A few spaces remain for the workshop which is come-and-go and therefore incredibly convenient for working parents to attend. Details are here.

{Giveaway} How to Homeschool Workshop Giveaway!


I'm pleased to announce that I have two tickets to giveaway for next week's How to Homeschool virtual workshop (June 3 - 7).

This is my fifth time to offer this online course.*

If you are seriously contemplating homeschool, this workshop may help save you a lot of stress, strain, and money.

Yes, money.

Because we spend so much time in the workshop helping you determine the "right fit" for your family's homeschool experience, you're less apt to purchase the "wrong" kind of curriculum. The group is small and therefore personalized.

This workshop is both faith-based and secular friendly. And we're really good at helping you discern how to juggle homeschool, work, volunteer, and caregiving responsibilities.

• For a complete description of the class, see my EventBrite.com page. •

Interested in registering for a chance to win one of the two free spaces that I have available?

Here are the four ways that you can enter the giveaway:

• Leave a comment on this post at HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com about why you are interested in the workshop.
• Tweet this message on Twitter:

Yes! Working parents CAN homeschool their kids. HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com c: @RedWhiteandGrew

• Repin this post on Pinterest.
• Leave a comment on the HowtoWorkandHomeschool.com Facebook page.

The giveaway registration deadline is 5PM CDT Thursday, May 30, 2013. The winner will be selected at random.

Prefer to purchase your own ticket for the workshop. Click here.

* Please note that a working Facebook account is required of all workshop participants.


{F.A.Q.} Can We Both Work Full-Time and Homeschool?

As word has spread about my new book, I have begun to receive some version of this question regularly:
We love our jobs, and we do not want to give up salaries and insurance. But we think we want to homeschool our kids. Can full-time working parents do that? If so, how?




Here's my answer:

Yes, it can be done. Parents are working full-time and homeschooling their kids. 

My forthcoming book includes a list of schedule options for full-time and part-time working parents. The schedules will help you visualize how to accomplish what you want to do. I also talk at length about how single working parents homeschool their kids.

You can watch this page for updates on the book's release. It is due to be published by GHF Press in July 2013. The price will be under $6--a real value for working parents.

If you need additional support transitioning to the homeschool lifestyle--or if you just can't wait for the book, I offer workshops and private consultations for a fee. Some people express surprise that I charge for consults. I charge because, as a working homeschool parent myself, I generate revenue through my writing and coaching. (Click here for details.)


Childcare is often the single biggest hurdle for working homeschool parents. On that topic, I also suggest that you look for a copy of The Four-Thirds Solution: Solving the Childcare Crisis in America Today at your library or via Amazon.com or another retailer.

Finally, please be sure to take a look around this site and follow me on Facebook.


Disclosure: this post contains affiliate-links for Amazon.com.

{Homeschool Tips} You Don't Have to be a Math Whiz to Homeschool Your Kid




Supper... or a study in fractions?

Many would-be homeschool parents are afraid to dive in because they project 2, 5, or 10 years out and think "I sucked at X so I can't teach X and therefore I can't homeschool."

Note this well:



 I'll say it again, because it bears repeating:

Just because you homeschool doesn't mean that you must always be your kids' only teacher.

You can outsource all kinds of lessons and topics via your network of friends and family, tutors, or for-profit learning centers. Or, you may learn like I did, that if you change up your approach to a topic--releasing yourself from how you learned it--you may find new ways of teaching that work better.

Whatever you decide to do, and however you decide to do it: more power to you!

This post originally appeared via my feed at Sulia.com, where I frequently write about homeschooling and other lifestyle topics.

A Lovely Compliment About My Forthcoming Book

My friend Colleen wrote this about my new book on Sulia.com this morning:

Although I don't currently have plans to homeschool, I'm eager to read it to learn how she's successfully working and homeschooling at the same time.

My son is home sick today and I'm working on several deadlines. I'd love to learn some of Pamela's tips for getting work done while caring for (or teaching) small children.
{Read more}
Here's why I love this post (besides the obvious "flattery will get you everywhere, Colleen" aspect):
  1. All parents homeschool in one way or another or at one time or another. The "walls" between the worlds of home, private, and public school are permeable and will become even more so as we reconsider how education is "done" in this country, embracing new concepts like "flipped classrooms."
  2. Caring for and teaching children are pretty much the same thing. They are always learning and we're always teaching. Homeschooling embraces that idea--and afterschoolers are now embracing it, too. I think the book will help both groups of people set aside time to honor those natural impulses.
  3. This book isn't really "my" book as much as "our" book. Over 100 parents contributed their stories and ideas on making homeschooling and working fit together.
 I'd love to hear more from those of you who anticipate reading it, too! What are you hoping to learn from it?

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{Homeschool Tips} Simple Stealth-Schooling Strategies

This post is part of a blog hop sponsored by Gifted Homeschoolers Forum. (Links to other blogs appear at the bottom of this post.)

We love stealth schooling here.

Except of course that our kiddo doesn't know the term or that we do it as often as we do.

Our roots in stealth schooling--or "sneaky teaching"--go back to his preschool days, when we wholeheartedly embraced the Reggio-Emilia approach, a child-led educational method. ("R-E" is a basis of the popular "project-based learning.") Back when he was a preschooler,  I would make a point to listen and look for what interested him and then make materials related to that topic accessible to him for exploration.

This is how, when he was 5, he came to love a pretty sophisticated app on the human immune system designed for much older children. He'd voiced an interest in the topic, and I kept providing him resources on it. Eventually he became proficient at explaining things like how T-cells work, making a short video on the subject by using the Show Me app.

Remember: our children's brains crave information and if we pay attention to their words, actions, and behaviors, we can tune into what they seek. Stealth schooling builds upon our awareness as parents, creating meaningful, lasting learning for our kids! 

 Here at home, I find that when I listen to what my son's interests and try to meet that demonstrated "need to know," then he is not only more receptive to the information but also more likely to remember it.

If you'd like to incorporate stealth schooling strategies into your homeschool or afterschool setting, here are some simple ways of so doing.

Make materials accessible: Books, art supplies, media, and other materials on topics of interest can be selected for their age appropriateness and made readily accessible for independent exploration.

Conversation: While one doesn't want to inundate a child with too much information on a topic, conversation--free-flowing, two-way chat as opposed to a one-way lecture--is a marvelous way to determine what a child knows about the topic already. (You might be surprised!)

Show and tell: When it comes to topics like character development or basic life skills, children learn by watching us. So, if your child shows an interest in cooking, get in the kitchen with him or her and collaborate on a project.

Can you think of other stealth school tips?

If so, I'd love to hear them in comments.


More About the "Stealth Schooling" Blog Hop


Be sure to check out the other bloggers writing on the topic of "stealth schooling" this week. A complete list can be found here, but I will continue to add links to this page as the posts come online.

Wenda Sheard
Building Wingspan
Mommy Bares All
Little Stars Learning
A Voracious Mind
Chasing Hollyfeld
Cedar Life Academy
Thea Sullivan 
Buffalo Mama
Sprite's Site



***

Facebook Office Hour TOMORROW Night!



On Tuesday (May 7, 2013), I will be taking 
your questions about working while homeschooling. Details are on my Facebook page.

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