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Homeschool AMA: What About Trade School?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list, (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

PREVIEW MY BOOK! Wanna be the first to own Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling — FOR FREE?!?! Get in line for my launch team! In a few months (I seriously don’t know when yet), I’ll be choosing my launch team, my group of friends that will read an early copy of the book and tell the rest of the world about it. Wanna be the one I ask?

My beta readers will be hand-chosen from this group of enthusiastic readers.

Bonus points if you “like” and comment on blog posts and facebook posts and you email me back on emails. THAT is how I know that you want to be in the exclusive friend circle. I need to know who you are! Yay!

Ok, here’s this week’s “Ask Me Anything” (AMA, as they say):

What about moms who are more interested in their children going to a trade school, rather than a 4 year college?

— C., Texas

I devote an entire section of my upcoming book on this very issue. Read my chapter on high school for a fuller treatment on this subject. I talk about what you should consider and how you can prepare for either option.

The upshot of my answer, the boiled-down version, is to know your child. During high school, you’ll start to notice your teen’s bent as well as his unique talents. You’ll have a good idea for what he is capable of and what he most enjoys.

Many homeschool students are purposefully choosing the trade-school route. Job opportunities are increasing in many trades, and students may be able to begin apprenticing or working in their trade during the high school years.

There are two schools of thought about preparing a student for a career in trades or an education in trade schools. First, some parents choose their curriculum and courses of study specifically to prepare the teen for trade school. These classes may be less vigorous than a college-prep track while specifically meeting the requirements of the trade school.

Others choose to prepare the teen for both. They continue on a college-preparatory program of studies while giving the teen opportunities to apprentice or work a job within their chosen field.

Something to keep in mind is the finite understanding of a growing teen. Many of us grow up to become different adults with different careers than we imagined. Many of us — myself included — change careers once or twice within adulthood. A teen cannot see far into the future, nor do adults know what will happen a decade ahead.

Parents need to take all of this and more into consideration while preparing their teen for graduation. Many times after seeking the Lord and studying the teen’s talents and interests, we as parents know which path to guide our teen.

Just like everything else in homeschooling, there is no one right answer.

Do what is best for your own child and keep your eyes on your own homeschool.

I talk about this SO MUCH MORE and give you guidelines to think through this decision in my upcoming book Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It’s my prayer that will give you comfort that you are on the right path.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

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Am I homeschooling good enough?

Homeschool AMA: Am I homeschooling “good enough”?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list, (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

PREVIEW MY BOOK! Wanna be the first to own Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling — FOR FREE?!?! Get in line for my launch team! In a few months (I seriously don’t know when yet), I’ll be choosing my launch team, my group of friends that will read an early copy of the book and tell the rest of the world about it. Wanna be the one I ask?

My beta readers will be hand-chosen from this group of enthusiastic readers.

Bonus points if you “like” and comment on blog posts and facebook posts and you email me back on emails. THAT is how I know that you want to be in the exclusive friend circle. I need to know who you are! Yay!

Ok, here’s this week’s “Ask Me Anything” (AMA, as they say):

How does one not feel like a failure as a homeschool mom when other moms have children going on missions trips, writing, reading, and spelling well at age 6 while your 7 yr old isn’t reading, or their children graduate college at 12 and speak 4 foreign languages fluently.

— C., Texas

This is one of the top 10 questions I was asked to include in the book. In fact, I cover this extensively in chapter 15, so look for it there (unless maybe that chapter was re-arranged in editing).

So, sadly, I can’t tell you all of what that entails (my publisher wants you to read the book, right?). But I can try to give you assurance right now.

You are doing enough.

That’s the short answer.

Let’s take the question apart:

“Other families go on mission trips. “Great for them! You are serving God right where you are, in your “Jerusalem.” (Acts 1:8) Teaching your children about God and his love for them in your home. Serving in your local church. Reaching out to your neighbors. Encouraging your friends.  Your missing right now is right where you are. Hey, maybe later you can go on a mission trip or send your children. Maybe not. But your mission first and foremost is right where you are.

Other moms have children … writing, reading, and spelling well at age 6 while your 7 yr old isn’t reading.” So what? I’m serious. So, so, so what? Your child is “normal” (which is, I know, subjective. But I’m talking about the standard accepted rate of learning). This is all about childhood development. Children learn to read and write sometime between age 5 and 10. Really bright students that go on to achieve much academically. With that range, it seems like a lot of children achieve that milestone around age 6, you are right. But not all!

I had two that read well at 4 but didn’t right well until 6 or 7. I had another who didn’t read well until 7 or 8. There was no difference in their understanding and capabilities by middle school. I have one right now who is 8 and loves to read, but she’s not that great at it. I’m not worried in the least.

My research bears this out: many learned researchers consider this broad range the average experience of children. This is one of the difficult things about standardized learning like you see in classrooms: children who are not mature enough to read and write are passed along, struggle, and become discouraged with learning.

We as homeschoolers cannot put that pressure on our children. The strength of homeschooling is tailoring learning to the child’s growth and development.

Now, I need to put a caveat: if you feel like something is “off” or you wonder if your child has a learning difficulty, go get her evaluated. You will either find the help she needs OR assurance for yourself that everything is a-ok.

“Their children graduate college at 12 and speak 4 foreign languages fluently.” I am against early graduation. I explain in detail in the book how I came to this conclusion. I was really curious, because who doesn’t want to raise a genius?

Like the reading rate, most teens don’t mature toward adulthood that fast. Not many preteens are prepared for adult responsibilities and the adult material necessary for learning at the college level. Or if they do go through college, they likely don’t have a deep understanding of the material and experiences they have gone through. This isn’t just my opinion; the research into child mental development bares this out.

Besides, why are we rushing a preteen to adulthood?

I raised two teens that could have graduated 1 or 2 years early. I did not let them. My husband actually put his foot down when I was tempted, at first. And I’m glad he did. Actually, one of them could have waited a year longer. Mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity is the most important.

Why are you homeschooling? The answer to that question gives you … your answer.

Who cares about speaking four languages fluently? Not me. Blessed be the ones who can do it and use it. I’m sincerely happy for them.

You are doing enough. Your homeschool is enough. Do what is best for your own child and keep your eyes on your own homeschool.

Have you ever been discouraged by the achievements of other homeschoolers? Ever been tempted — like the rest of us — to compare? How do you handle it?

Share with us in the comments!

I talk about this SO MUCH MORE and give scientific reasons to back this up in my upcoming book Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It’s my prayer that will give you comfort that you are on the right path.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

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Homeschool AMA: Is It Special Needs?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list, (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

Here’s today’s question?

How to homeschool special needs children? Specifically,  those with dyscalculia, ADHD,  APD or dyslexia. What are curriculum suggestions? To diagnose or not to diagnose? Where and how?

— Cathy, via email

This is a difficult question. I spent quite a bit of time researching and interviewing for my chapter on special needs and gifted students. I’m going to tell you one thing: I learned a lot.

I think the most important place to start is with the child herself.

  • How is she growing?
  • Has she continued to make progress at her own rate over time?
  • How does her physical development compare with the large range of acceptable norms?
  • How does her intellectual development also compare with the large range of norms?
  • How comfortable is she with her own learning and development?
  • What about her development bothers you: her stage compared to that of others, the difference between her and her siblings, what grade level work she is doing?
  • Is this a fairly new development, or has she struggled over a prolonged period of time?

I think all of these and other considerations need to be thought through before rushing to judgment.

Another concern I had while working on Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling is that most of us don’t fully appreciate how broad “normal” can be. Within physical and intellectual and character development, there is a general path of development, but every child goes at his own pace. There are frequent plateaus, a few growth spurts, and a lot of zig-zags through growth. This is a key tenet of homeschooling: no child is standardized.

But some children have very real needs. How do we know? And then what do we do?

First of all, we take a deep breath and pray.

Secondly, we seek to appreciate the broad range of child development (the numerous growth and developmental outlines in my book will really help with that).

Thirdly, we work gently with our children to help them overcome momentary difficulties (the moment might last a year, so there’s that).

Fourthly, we go with our gut. If something seems a little off, we ask for help. A pediatrician is an excellent place to start because we don’t often appreciate enough that learning is a physical activity. Besides a great check-up, the pediatrician can also give another perspective on the child’s overall development. And of course, the doctor will have some great suggestions for other experts.

Next, we might seek an evaluation. There is likely a learning center right down the street from you. Some public school systems may do a free evaluation. Your pediatrician would have information on others.

Finally, we get help if we need it. This is where we need to be flexible homeschoolers. We can get tutors, we can join a co-op, we can hire therapists, we have so many tools at our disposal.

When it comes to individual diagnosis, I don’t have time to talk about it all today. There are many things you can do to support your child and to ease learning. The magic of homeschooling is just that: meeting your child’s needs right where he is.

Have you homeschooled a special needs student? How did you get him diagnosed?

Share with us in the comments!

I really do go into much more detail on special needs and specially gifted students in my book Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. It’s my prayer that will give you comfort that you are on the right path.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

Homeschool AMA: How Do I Protect My Marriage?

Hi! Thanks again for sharing your homeschool questions with me! In these Homeschool AMA posts, I’m sharing with you some of the great research I’ve had fun with while writing Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling! For several weeks, I’m answering YOUR questions. Got something on your mind? Catch me on Facebook, join my email list , (where I share so much more real-life stuff!) or contact me here. Whatever you want. I can’t wait to talk with you personally!

Here’s a question I actually receive quite a bit.

How do you keep your marriage strong while homeschooling?

— Cathy, via email

My friends, you’ve messaged me and emailed me this several times. It’s an issue we all face, a question that a lot of “here’s how you homeschool” resources miss. But sometimes we wonder or we struggle and we really don’t want to mess this up!

How do we protect our marriage while homeschooling?

So, here’s the thing. I only started homeschooling because of a knock-down, drag-out fight with my husband. No way did I want to homeschool! He made me do it.

And homeschooling doesn’t really work if you aren’t in agreement. He negotiated the “only one-year” clause, so I could stomach that. And you can see how that ended up …

We have not always been in agreement about our homeschooling since then, either. But we, again, have usually negotiated something, often a trial period of a new strategy. That has worked for us.

How do we keep our marriage from falling apart — or even strengthen it — while homeschooling? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Make the marriage more important than the children. Every day of the week.
  2. Make the family more important than the homeschooling. Always.
  3. When a disagreement arises, see 1 and 2 above.
  4. Take time out from homeschooling on a regular basis. If my head is clear, I can look up at the bigger picture of, again, number 1 and 2.
  5. Schedule regular time alone with my spouse. I go out to eat every Friday. My friend spends early morning hours having coffee with hers. Just SOME time needs to be sacred marriage time. We can’t cultivate what we never spend time for.
  6. When a disagreement arises, take a deep breath and remember it’s not the end of the world. Almost nothing is worth that knock-down, drag-out fight like I had. Learn from my mistake and calmly work it out.

Ok, do you have more ideas? Comment below and share them!

And seriously, I’ll tell you ever, ever so much more in my book. It’s just the truth–my publisher won’t let me say it all right now. Even though I really, really want to.

This question is answered in way, way more detail in my upcoming book, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. In it you will find developmental milestones, what your child will learn academically during this time, and even how to “teach” Early Learning through real life. Be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann

Am I Preschooling Enough?

Homeschool AMA: Am I Preschooling Enough?

Hi! Thanks for sharing your homeschool questions with me! I’m having so much fun talking with some of you one-one-one (you haven’t written to me yet? Contact me!). I’ve been straining my brain to complete Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling, so it is nice to finally put some of this research to good use!

Last week I answered Jena’s question about how to teach Early Learning. This week, I got a follow-up question from Sarah. We had a great email conversation about it, but here’s the gist of her question:

Is it important for me to jump into a co-op of some sort, so that my child will have friendships?

I don’t know where he is getting these words, but he often says ” I want to see all of my friends!” Of course those can be the strangers at the park.

He can recognize all of his letters in ASL, almost all written letters, He counts to 20, he knows where he lives…what else is he supposed to know? Daily, I wake up wondering what have I forgotten to tell my kid?

Sarah W., via email

She actually got two great questions in there, so I’ll tackle them one at a time.

How does my Homeschooling Early Learner make friends?

Lots of ways! The wonderful thing about little ones is that they generally reach out naturally to make friends. They just love people. So, of course, your little guy wants to get out there!

Do you have to join a co-op? no. Should you join a co-op if you want to? absolutely. Homeschool your own way.

There are co-ops with great little-learner activities. I personally have never been to a co-op, though my best friend started one, and it seems like every homeschooler around me is active in a co-op. I’m the anomaly. Join a co-op if you want and enjoy it!

I have socialized (let’s all roll our eyes and laugh together) my little ones in lots of ways: Sunday School, Wednesday night church activities, VBS, homeschool park days, community recreational sports … We made more friends than I wanted. Really. My child’s social calendar cannot compete with my own when he is only three years old, for Pete’s sakes!

Also, sometimes when my children were whining for time with friends, they really meant they were bored at home. So I cranked up the field trips: more zoo, more museums, more library time, stuff like that.

So if I kept up with taking the children to the regular weekly activities and a field trip every other week, I heard no complaints. They were plenty “peopled” out by the end of the week.

What does my homeschooling Early Learner need to know?

A lot, but not what you think.

One of my favorite parts of Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling is answering this very question age-by-age. I got to delve into how children develop in their character, minds, and academics to sift out what is expected, what is extra, and what to do with it. It is a lot of information, but so, so, so much fun to put it all together!

Sadly, I cannot paste this huge chapter right here. Because you need the whole thing to get a clear picture. But I’ll give you a quick answer.

Your Early Learning child is growing at a rapid pace emotionally, mentally, and physically. You already know that. But you probably think you might miss some window of opportunity if you don’t take advantage of this special time period that everyone shouts is the most important for a lifetime of learning.

But what they don’t tell you is what your child really should be concentrating on for this time. And that’s your exact question to me. And I’m not going to give you a list of academic goals you should have for your child from age three to six.

Because you shouldn’t have one.

Your child has a lifetime — a lifetime — to learn about literature and history and science and even algebra. He only has a few short years to learn how to look at the world with wonder and to playfully interact with everything around him. That is the most important part of your homeschooling right now.

Yes, Early Learners often reach a few nice academic milestones:

  • learning letters
  • counting
  • mastering personal hygiene
  • practicing small motor skills
  • beginning phonics and perhaps reading
  • understanding patterns and time
  • acting out simple math situations and perhaps memorizing facts

But look back at that brief list. What is the most important? I’ll tell you what — it’s not reading and memorizing math facts. That is what the rest of elementary school is for: learning the basics of English and math to apply toward higher grades.

Relax and enjoy the Early Learning years. More importantly, let your child relax and play through the Early Learning years. That’s what it’s all about.

This question is answered in way, way more detail in my upcoming book, Everything You Need to Know About Homeschooling. In it you will find developmental milestones, what your child will learn academically during this time, and even how to “teach” Early Learning through real life. Be sure to keep an eye out for that.

Do you have a question? Be sure to comment below, message me on Facebook, or use my comment form. I would LOVE to hear from you!

Your friend,

Lea Ann