So according to our place value chart we are currently on day 32 of our current school year. We only put a straw in it on the days we actually do school *granted we are learning everyday, there is a difference on school days*.

How has it been going? Fairly well I would say, have I been keeping track of the lesson plans I made though…no. In fact *grabs lesson planning notebook* THIS is the first time since about the end of our first week that I have actually looked at this. I know, For Shame!, but I just haven’t got into the habit of checking plans.

We are still fairly new at this formal school thing. We started this school year *only our second year!* in July, but I had made my lesson plans to start in September, so things are slightly off, but I think we are doing pretty well. Obviously we aren’t behind my original plans, which is always nice. Considering when we started we do need to pick up the slack on some of the things we have been falling behind on.

I had also originally planned about a three week break at about our 20th day mark, but that was due to a family vacation we were trying to plan, which was part of the reason I went ahead and started us back in July. Along with having the materials, it being too hot to do much else, and I really just wanted to get it all underway. Anyways, things have changed so I don’t know when we will be taking our break, but suffice it to say by the time we do get to our three week break things will be going very well *I hope*.

So here is where we *should* stand: At our 30 day mark according to my lesson plans we should be on spelling list number six, week six in our daily handwriting lessons, chapter six in language arts, history studies should be on Ancient Egypt, lesson #24 in math, and for our science studies we should be learning about Earth’s atmosphere.

Here is where we *actually* stand:

We are on Spelling List #3 because when I gave Child#1 the other two test he flew through them so I decided to devote that time to allowing him to just play, and I would quiz him randomly on words from the word lists I have created until after the holiday season when the words on the lists start to get more difficult.

Daily Handwriting has been sporadic, I found a handwriting workbook at the bookstore on base and thought that would be better for now. It is something Child#1 can do independently which gives me time to work with Child#2. Once Child #1 goes through that workbook then we will start back up with the handwriting lessons from Writing With Ease.

We are only on Chapter #3 in our Language Arts curriculum, since when I came across the HOP deal I decided to incorporate that into our schooling. So the goal has been one week HOP, one week Language Arts. It doesn’t always work that way since we should be on Chapter #4 if we really did stick to the switching, but if Child #1 is really getting into the HOP lessons I’ll let him keep going for another week. His reading has gotten even better so it’s worth being off on our Language Arts work.

As for History we are tackling Ancient Egypt so we are pretty much on point for that, and we have lots planned for this subject, so it may push us a little behind. As far as I‘m concerned though the fun we will have will be worth it.

With Math we are on about lesson #20, so we are a few lessons off, but we haven’t been doing math lessons on the days when we originally planned. Mostly because we have been slacking, still moving from summer mode to full on school mode, still getting our homeschooling bearings *which is another reason why I wanted to start early*.

Lastly Science, we are still on the solar system, but will be moving to Earth studies very soon. So not really off too much on that one. Especially since Child #1 *and even Child #2* knows the solar system very well, I think it’s worth the extra time we’ve taken.

*I didn’t mention Social Studies because I have thrown our formal text on that out the window for now, I will wait another year or so on that one, and focus more on life lessons, current events, and tying into historical time periods for now*.

Other things that have found themselves temporarily thrown out *aside from the Social Studies text*:

Our art curriculum has found itself neglected since it wasn’t jiving with us. It is a great curriculum and I look forward to using it, but right now the boys aren’t ready for it. It is far more enjoyable to allow them to do the art that falls inline with our History work, instead of doing formal art lessons. So right now art is just fun coloring, History linked, and random crafts. Maybe next year *or possibly the year after that* we will pull out the art curriculum and use it full-time.

Our Japanese cultural learning is coming along great, especially with the addition of a new weekly activity, that should really help immerse us even more. The language learning needs more work, but we have some plans being laid to make fluency happen *and I can‘t wait until we are fluent in the language trust me!*.

I also came across an item online that will help keep us on track, but I’ll share more on it when it arrives.

Well I think that is about it! Our first 32 days haven’t been easy, but they haven’t been too difficult. Homeschooling is definitely a process, it will take some time to learn our rhythm.

I’ve also made a change as far as how often we will do school, instead of following a traditional calendar like I had originally planned we will do year round schooling. It just seems to make more sense to us, and works with our hectic lifestyle. I still haven’t figured out how we will do breaks, how often, that sort of thing. But I’ll share more on where I’m going with it later *when I actually figure it out*.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I was reading the other day over at Finding the Fantastic in Everyday Learning about making a homeschooling crest. I thought to myself for a minute should I do it…and then before I knew it my mind was racing with ideas. So of course I did it. First I had to decide on a mascot. What would best fit our family? I figured it would be pointless to ask the boys to make this decision since, they will one day realize that Spongebob and Anpanman really aren’t as cool as they are to them now. So what would stick with us as a mascot? Well I decided on dragons. My husband has collected dragon statues/figurines for years. They fill our bedroom, and a lot of the items we purchase if there is a dragon option we are going to get that one.

So it made sense for our homeschooling crest to have them, since if we had the money *and the space* they would be EVERYWHERE in *and outside* our home. The boys love them as well, so it was a win/win situation. After deciding which mascot we would have, I plugged in “dragon crest”, found a template, and set off altering it to fit our needs. I left the dragons red from the template, since they looked cool, and worked well with what was floating around in my head. Then I made the black background, the blue oval which got rid of a lot of extra little details from the template that didn’t work with my wanted end result.

Then there was the shield to fill in, after tweaking the colors, making sure the basic outline and colors worked I added an Earth to the center of the shield since the world is literally our classroom. Afterwards I added our school name: Holmes Schooling *it’s on everything we have that is school related because back when I was thinking of a school name I thought how clever our name is close to homeschooling…and we are homeschooling*. Corny? Perhaps, but it was the only thing I could think of, and it’s pretty simple, self explanatory; and most importantly we like it.

After all that I had to find our motto…it was pretty easy to come up with “It’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey” I think that sums up our life in more ways than one. I picked Japanese as the language for our motto, because we reached the decision to homeschool once we got to this country. I had been thinking about homeschooling before we left, but The Spouse wasn’t for it. It wasn’t until we got here that he came on board and we officially started our homeschooling journey. So this country is very important to us, on so many levels as well.

Finally, I thought the shield needed a little something else, so I added the Latin words for Live, Laugh, Love. That put the final touches on our homeschooling crest. It symbolizes us to the fullest, at the top is our family name, the name that shows we are a unit. Our name is flanked by the mythical creatures we enjoy, whose power we find alluring and mysterious. We balance our nomadic world traveling lifestyle with laughter and lots of love. And lastly we embrace the journey that we are on, because it is what will continue to shape us for the rest of our lives.

Like our crest? Want one of your own? Well head over to Finding the Fantastic in Everyday Learning to find out the how-to’s on homeschooling crest! Once you have your crest made then you can head over to CafePress and upload your image. From there you can have it put on t-shits, coffee mugs, thermal cups, tote bags, you name it and you can put it there!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Every homeschooler knows how hectic life can get. Some weeks are far more hectic than others. For us this week The Spouse is on 12 hour shifts, there are karate lessons, a lesson/enrichment planning powwow with a fellow homeschooler, daily errands, and I have a very annoying sunburn that is screwing with my ability to think clearly.

So this week I pulled out my laptop, cookbooks, and my memory to piece together our week of meals. So with everything going on I will at least not have to spend 30 minutes staring into the refrigerator hoping that dinner will generate itself without any help from me.

So here we go:

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie *it was yummy!…unfortunate my picky “it has vegetables” eaters didn’t agree*
Tuesday: Grilled Pork Chops with Pasta Salad
Wednesday: American Chop Suey Casserole
Thursday: Chicken in Mushroom Gravy
Friday: Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Vegetables
Saturday: Fish and Chips *yes I mean fried fish and French fries it just sounds cooler to call it fish and chips*

So what yummy foods do you have planned to help make your week flow a little smoother? Want to share them with other menu planners *or get some ideas for your own menu*? Well head over to the Menu Planning Monday post on I’m an Organizing Junkie to share and discover.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

For history we are currently studying Ancient History *since we follow a classical approach in regards to history*, and our focus for the next couple of weeks will be on ancient Egypt. To kick off our studies we headed to an Egyptian Mummy Exhibit the local museum was hosting. *Pictures weren’t allowed inside so I don’t have any photos from the exhibit itself…just the massive poster outside the exhibit room*.

The boys loved it, despite not having one of those handy headphone sets to tell us about each piece *they only had them in Japanese*. My goal with our history lessons is to allow the boys to actually step back in time and experience the time period as much as one can in the 21st Century.

First we started with going on an archeological dig as an intro to Ancient History, then they boys got to be cave boys for a day when we entered the Stone age. Now for our Egyptian studies we will be extending our fun.

Some of the things that will be used:

History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations
Spend the Day in Ancient Egypt
Egyptology Search for teh Tomb of Osiris
Free Ancient Egypt Unit Study and Lapbook
*I don’t know if we will make the lapbook, but the library list that comes with this unit study will come in very handy*
Facts and Recipes
Explore the Pyramids
A Child’s History of the World

Both History Pockets and Spend the Day have activities that will help guide our studies along with the Free Unit Study. We will also devour books I plan to scoop up at the library tomorrow morning, and enjoy some fun hands on digging/discovery items that some friends of mine told me about. All of this will be the build up to our Egyptian Festival! Which we will be doing with another homeschooling family we are very close to.

We will don handmade traditional Egyptian garments and jewelry, partake in traditional Egyptian games, and dine on traditional Egyptian food and beverages. It’s shaping up to be a great time.

I absolutely love all the wonderful things we can do since we are doing school at home! Not even the sky can limit all the wondrous possibilities we have.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I know it's not yet Thursday in the states, but it is here. :)
This is my first post for Secular Thursday and I’m very excited about it. So what should I talk about? Well I figured I would discuss something I want. All homeschoolers have something they long for, but what does this secular homeschooler want? I really want to live close to a friend of mine who is also an Atheist homeschooler. She was one of the first non-theist with children that I actually got to know and helped show me that I really could raise children without religion. I didn’t have to hold on to something I no longer deemed useful. She has been encouraging, supportive, and loving, in fact downright motherly at times when I needed a non-theist mother the most.

Unfortunately, she lives in the states, and her state doesn’t have a base we would ever be stationed at. So the likelihood that we would ever be close enough to enjoy sharing this homeschooling journey together in person is highly unlikely.

I long to share this journey with her in person *not just online*. To be able to hit a natural science museum with another godless homeschooler who shares my passion for science and the passion for instilling critical thinking in our children. To meet for morning coffee, while enjoying cookies, and sharing/relating with one another the difficulties of being the minority in the minority. To share our struggles, our successes, to exchange ideas, and support.

Yes, I can find those qualities in most secular homeschoolers *in fact I have in a few theist homeschoolers that I‘ve had the pleasure of meeting in person and/or online*, but they can’t relate in the same way as someone who shares my personal beliefs would be able to.

It’s hard enough to find secular homeschoolers it’s another to find a secular family *completely free of/from religion* that homeschools as well and lives near us *talk about a needle in a haystack! It’s more like finding a piece of hay in a needle stack!*.

I’ve embraced the path we have chosen not just in schooling but as far as my husband’s career and the places we will go because of it. I look forward to the adventures we will be able to take because we aren’t limited by a school schedule, but I will always long for that friend who relates to me on levels that are too complex to put into words. *Not to discredit the wonderful friends I have made over the course of my life, you all are indispensable to me, but there are some things only a non-theist who homeschools as well will understand.*.

Maybe one day we will be in the same state long enough to stroll through a science museum, stop for lunch with our little heathens, and then get lost in the shelves of a local bookstore. Until then we will enjoy the beauty of email and FB, when we aren‘t scraping the remains of this mornings experiments off the ceiling.
Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Or better know as the EPIC fail. For science we are currently learning about the solar system, so to show the awesome power of the sun we made a solar oven out of a pizza box. The goal was to make s’mores…and while they did turn out pretty good…we thought there would be better results considering how long they were in the oven.

The epic problems:

1) The pizza box we used was not as secure as it should have been in order to keep the heat in. I ended up taping around it, in an attempt to lock heat in. But it didn’t work out that well.

2) We used regular kitchen plastic instead of a heavy duty plastic, which for one didn’t fit right so I had to use two pieces which created an overlap that I am sure let heat out. And two it wasn’t secured tight enough to keep heat from seeping out of the sides.

3) We did it early evening time *around 2-3pm* instead of early in the day about 1130am-12pm when the sun is highest in the sky. There was also a good helping of cloud cover by this time, versus early in the day when the sky was clear. It was hot and humid like always, but the sun rays are the most important part when using a solar oven and we didn’t have enough of those.

So what would we do differently? Well instead of making a solar oven out of a used pizza box, we will use a regular box and follow THESE instructions.

We’ll also start earlier in the day, and place an oven thermometer inside so we can check out the raising temperatures *and ensure the temps are actually going up because hot air is staying inside*. Hopefully it works next time, not sure when we will do it, but we will.

And if it works really well the second time around, we may cook in it once a week. But we will see if that is so after we actually have a successful s’mores meal!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

A friend of mine recently asked her friends’ list if they thought token economies worked. I think they can personally when handled properly and followed through on. It got me thinking about

1. How I need to go ahead and place my order with Accountable Kids, and

2. What is it I want to get out of the program.

I stumbled upon Accountable Kids while babysitting for a friend. She is a book junkie like I am so I often scan her bookcases when I’m in her home making a mental note of what I need to look up and learning a little bit about her as I go along *I’m a firm believer that ones bookshelf is a gateway into who they are, and it’s nice to see what gets my inner circle’s wheels turning*. As I scanned I saw Accountable Kids and figuring I had some time before she would return I plucked it off the shelf and began to read it.

Now we have dabbled in token economies before. First with a chore chart were every chore had a monetary value attached to it. This was mostly to help teach money and financial responsibility *saving for the bigger toy instead of blowing it the minute they got it*. I wasn’t really happy with it, since at the ages the kids are money doesn’t have the kind of value adults give to it and thus doesn’t allow for any sort of discipline measure *at least not in our home anyways*.

We currently have a family chore chart, and we all contribute to the final rewards *family movie nights, dinners out, fun park trips*, but that is more of a way to show how we all contribute to the home and our rewarded for our hard work at the end of the week. It still didn’t address some of the issues I felt were most important *accountability and consequences when one is irresponsible*.

Which is what made me nearly polish off the Accountable Kids book before my friend came home. It addressed the very issues I was trying to address. I enjoyed it’s method of handling discipline issues *I’m not all spanking is evil, but I personally want something different than what The Spouse and I grew up with*.

And most importantly it gives me a model to stick too, I think that has been the biggest problem is having a clear model we can use. What we have done has mostly just been pieced together and frankly not as affective as I would like and I know it is because of this lack of structure.

Something else stood out to me while reading the comments on the post, and it was that one commenter had said this method reminded them of Pavlov’s Dog experiment, which got me thinking on a deeper level about parenting, discipline, etc. Pavlov’s experiment is an act in classical conditioning where he used stimuli to induce a response in a dog. Even in it’s most simplest forms parenting can be seen as “conditioning”, although I prefer to not think of what I am doing as a parent in the same light as a scientist using a dog.

We start this from the time the child learns to roll over. First by moving objects out of their way *they soon recognize they can‘t have these items*, then proclaiming HOT! when they reach for the stove/oven *they soon remember they must not touch these items even if you aren’t around to tell them they are hot*, to potty training *it is called training after all* where we teach a child what to do when their body gives them the signals that it needs to go, it all adds up to producing someone who can navigate through life realizing that there are consequences and rewards *either internal or external* in life.

So it brought me to the conclusion that all parenting is conditioning in some form or fashion. The only thing that changes is the methods we use with our children. For some families it’s token economies, for others it’s grounding, bribing, time-outs, scolding, or corporal punishment.

Each method is an attempt to get the desired behavior that the parents/guardians want. Not all methods offer positive results *for instance bribing is usually done when the child is having a fit in an attempt to stop the behavior, which in a lot of cases just feeds the behavior later on so they can get their way*.

The most important thing about parenting regardless of how you look at it is that you do what you see is best for your child(ren) in a safe, loving, nurturing way. Ultimately, you want them to be accountable, confident, respectful, responsible, loving, and secure in who they are.

There are million and one different ways to do this, trust yourself and you will me amazed at where it can lead.

**For the record Accountable Kids isn’t paying me or giving me their product *I was just THAT impressed with what I read…and when it comes to books/products of this nature it takes A LOT to impress me*.**

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

Ok, I know I should have posted this weeks ago, but we got busy with school, and I got distracted. It’s here now though *woohoo!!*.

Eclectic is the easiest method to write about since it pretty much explains itself, eclectic means: choosing from various sources: choosing what is best or preferred from a variety of sources or styles. So eclectic homeschooling is when you pick and choose what works for your family in the area of schooling.

You could have a mix of Waldorf, with a dash of Unschooling, and a pinch of Montessori.

Eclectic isn’t just limited to a variety of homeschooling methods, but can also refer to the materials used. Instead of just one box curriculum a family may take a portion of the curriculum from one company, the reading list from another, and then their own ideas to make a curriculum that fit’s the needs and beliefs of their family.

So a quick recap:
Eclectic homeschooling is all about putting together the pieces that work best for that particular family.

So would this method work for us? Yes it would, and honestly it is what we have pretty much been doing. I don’t use a box curriculum because, they are either religious or I don’t like the way they flow.

I see education as a ladder, with one concept leading to another concept, and so on. I feel strongly that subjects, concepts, material should be taught in this manner. So I supplement the curriculums and textbooks we do have with books I’ve handpicked as well as activities, worksheets, and anything else I can get my hands on that will allow our schooling to flow in the manner I think is best for family’s educational adventures.

I don’t really see any negatives to eclectic homeschooling other than the fact that it can be overwhelming having to make sense of everything you are putting together. That has been the one downside to what I’ve been piecing together over the past year. I’m often up late at night on evenings when I am doing planning/prepping, whereas if we were strictly traditional (box) homeschooling I would have everything I needed already put together. That time spent though while sometimes exhausting seems very worth it, when I think of the end result *a personalized education for both of our children that respects our beliefs and our desire for a hands on, critical thinking, fact based education for them*.

So I finally found a method that works for our madness. I’ll go into more detail as to what we will use from each method previously discussed and what core materials we will use to tackle the madness.

I’ve also linked to the other posts in my Method to the Madness post, so you have a one stop shop for the methods I’ve covered! Now I have to go make sense of the chaos that is our dining room table…one bit of chaos at time.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

*I already had this typed up and completely forgot to post it before the Unschooling Method post. Anyways, enjoy!*

We are currently experience some “lovely” weather, so hopefully I can present you with two of the last three homeschooling methods posts. I make no promises, but we are new school year quickly approaching I need to churn these out in order to give myself time in the evenings for lesson prep.

So without further adieu here is the Unit Studies Homeschooling Method.

The unit studies method isn’t a set of guidelines, but instead it is a way of handling subjects. With unit studies you take a topic you want to cover, lets say weather, and then you incorporate it into every school subject. Literature would have to deal with weather, Science would discuss the ins and outs of weather, for History/Social Studies you could cover the way weather events have impacted people, and so forth. Unit studies are ideal for families with more than one child *especially large families* the reason for this is because you can pick a topic and then pick the materials that are appropriate for each child’s abilities. Instead of in the traditional method where you cover multiple subjects, with unit studies you are just covering one topic/subject and forming your lessons around that subject.

So instead of having to plan for multiple subjects that all cover various different aspects, you are just planning for that one subject and tweaking the books, hands on activities, etc., for the child who will be using it. Unit studies can also be used with something called lap books, which are basically project books made out of folded file folders and the child fills it with things they have done during the unit, or facts they have learned during the unit. There are kits you can buy or you can do it yourself, whichever works best for your family and your budget.

In some families unit studies are child-led where the child picks the subject/topic they want to learn about and the parent brings in the various elements, unit studies are good for those doing child-led homeschooling but still want some sort of structure/direction in the things being taught.

So a quick recap:

Basically unit studies allow you to teach a topic through the various core elements of schooling (literature, science, history, social studies, math, art, etc.) getting rid of the extra cost in having to buy traditional textbooks or boxed curriculums. Lap books are also used sometimes in this method to help reinforce what has been taught and to also act as a way for the child to look back on what they learned.

So would this method work for us? Yes and no. While it would allow me to just plan for a chosen subject instead of for each grade level, I do like having each individual subject at least in the elementary years. It ensures that we get the basics down, once the boys enter the middle grade levels then I could see us using the unit studies method. It wouldn’t just allow us to save money on textbooks, but also allow us to be on the same page with what we are learning. We wouldn’t use just unit studies though because there are books I want the boys to read that may not fit into an actual unit. Unit studies would also be ideal for our summer learning. In fact that would probably be when it would be used the most if we incorporate them in our learning.

It would allow us to still get in some light schooling that would be mostly reading and hands on activities. I like the idea of lap books and had planned to do something similar to it *like the Good Books advocated in Waldorf Education*.

Could we be strictly unit studies though? No. Not in our heavy schooling times. Textbooks give us a base to spring from, we also don’t teach completely opposite topics. The way we have science and history laid out Child #2 will be learning what Child #1 is learning, he just won’t be expected to retain the things Child #1 will be expected too, at least not yet.

By the time Child #2 is ready for formal lessons he will have a good background just from being present while Child #1 is learning. For instance when formal lessons start for Child #2 we will be back to covering Ancient History so Child #1 will be going more in depth with it while Child #1 is actively learning(retaining) it for the first time. So I will be planning for the same topic just on varying levels *like unit studies, but it will just be for each individual subject*.

I like being able to mix and match things in our schooling, so if they are at the reading level for a great novel like Huck Finn, we don’t have to worry about planning our history around that time period. We can just enjoy the book, learn about it, discuss it, and let it take us wherever. All while still having our separate history lessons that take us where they will take us depending on the time period. For us each subject is like its own separate little world, occasionally they collide, but not always.

So can it work for us: yes to some extent, is it a perfect fit for our family: no. If we had a larger family I could completely see using unit studies exclusively, because it is cost effective, time effective, and does produce great results. But for our goals it alone wouldn’t work.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I saw THIS on a thread over at Secular Homeschool and I really feel like it is meant to be shared with all.
Enjoy *tissues will be needed*.

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

All homeschoolers are accustomed to DIY *Do-It-Yourself* projects at some point in time. They tend to be cheaper, easier, and just as affective.

Well this week I did a little DIY project, which was very successful. All I needed was a piece of printer paper, some crayons, and our Sweet Treats Counters.

I took the paper and made patterns in some of the colors represented in our Sweet Treats Counters.

Then I let Child #2 at it. First by sorting the colors, then having fun with his patterns.

Quick, Easy, and Free. What more could a homeschooler ask for?!

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

We are a month into our new “school” year and things are going fairly well. I’ve made a few more changes *which I shall share later*, finally received some items I had been waiting for, and I am still trying to find that balance between wife/mother/teacher/self. Hopefully by the end of this month I will have worked out the balance issue *it would help if I actually sat down and wrote out my commitments and when they will get my time…so I‘m not working on them during the day…note to self do that later!*.

Even though we have been in full school swing for the past month, the rest of American schools are just starting the back to school dance. This has its advantages for us homeschoolers since we can refill our stock piles of supplies at some great discounts. Since we don’t currently live in the states I asked my father to get us some school supply items which were cheaper at his local store than they are here.

While rattling off my list we got into the discussion of what we are doing this year, are the boys headed for traditional school? The answer was of course no, but I didn’t have to endure the stereotypes. In fact my family is far more supportive than most families, I also went to college for education so I know that changes the way they see things. Of course my school experience is also what sends me on a rampage when I hear “parents should have a degree to homeschool” but that is a rambling for another day.

Anyways, what he did say was “make sure you have a way to keep records and stuff, you don’t want to not do that”. Now given the ages of the boys I don’t really do grade keeping, but I do keep track of what they do. We have a two drawer filing cabinet, one drawer for each boy. Each cabinet has folders for grade level and subject. I keep their finished workbooks/worksheets/art projects *that fit* inside this cabinet. Unless it is in one of their binders *we have one for Language Arts/Handwriting/Japanese, Science, and History at the moment*.

Once they get older *probably 4th-5th grade level* I’ll actually keep grades. I don’t see a need to make a big fuss about grade keeping in the lower grade levels, I think it puts way too much stress on a child. I will put a 100 on a math worksheet if Child #1 got all the questions right *as an incentive to keep up the good work*. If he didn’t get them all right I don’t put anything, instead I circle the ones he missed and when he completes them correctly he receives his 100. I think this shows him that he has the power to correct his mistakes and the importance of taking his time and ensuring he always double checks his work.

But what will we do once we reach the level where I should have some grades to appease the school system and family? Well I have already put together a binder that we use *aside from the grade book portion*. In it is a calendar, weekly lesson plan, book list, field trip form *mostly used for planning purposes and to keep track of where we have gone so we can flip through when they are older and reminisce about our time here*.

Everything we use in our Family/Lesson Planner can be found HERE. That is right all you need is a printer in order to keep track of grades and pretty much everything else. And don’t worry because mommy made transcripts are taken by public/private schools as well as colleges, and they will even take a portfolio.

There are also online methods of keeping track of lesson plans, grades, and everything else us homeschoolers do. I’ve used them before but find that I often forget to go back and fill things in. I also didn‘t care for the basic version, so if I go back to this method later down the line it would be when we *The Spouse and I* think it is worth investing in the plus version *probably when we start the middle school years* for now though pen and paper are far my affective for us in this area.

So what method do you use to keep track of everything your little one(s) are doing?

Copyright(c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

*Now before I rant I will state (in order to not fall into generalizations) that not all members of the freethought community(Atheist, Scientist, etc.) are againist homeschooling, even if they don't homeschool themselves they can see the value it has. This is directed at the rest of the community that doesn't see any value in this method of educating.*

I’ve pondered the following question a time or two before and even more here recently. What is the deal with the scientific and Atheist communities hating on homeschooling? I would think given the situation with the TX school board, the ratings of various states in the area of teaching evolution, and the nonsense brewing in Louisiana; these two communities would completely understand and support parents who are aiming for comprehensive fact based education for their children and chose to opt out of the public school system in order to ensure this.

Which leads me to wonder if any rational level-headed human being can admit that there are some serious problems in our public school systems, with lack of critical thinking skills in our youth, piss poor science, and the arts disappearing left and right, why is there so much hostility in the science and Atheist communities towards home schooling *both communities generally label themselves as rational thinkers*? I’ve been following the PZ post on homeschooling, I haven’t bothered to post a comment because the comment section is being filled with anecdotes and you can tell your story a million times that doesn’t mean it will change someone’s mind. And the opponents to homeschooling are spouting generalizations that are often spouted when talking about homeschooling, which gets really old, really quick.

What I wish as an Atheist homeschooler is for the scientific community to realize that there are parents out here doing the best we can to ensure our children get a comprehensive fact based education, so instead of kicking us even further down *because we are currently taking flak from ALL sides*, actually stand behind us and work with us. Help to develop curriculum materials that ensure not only Atheist homeschoolers but other secular homeschoolers actually have textbooks/workbooks/materials in general that are based on FACTS. Instead of pointing at us like the evil monkey from Family Guy, encourage us for taking the stand to raise free thinkers and take their educations in our own hands when the public system has shown its inability to educate them.

No I’m not anti-public school homeschooler, there is a lot of potential in the public school system. Does that mean I want to waste my kids time and my own attempting to make the system work for us when we have the ability to do it ourselves, No. Does that mean I completely agree with all the reasons someone may have for homeschooling, No. I don’t agree with indoctrinating (I loathe indoctrinating) *hence the issues I take with actions happening in the public school system*, but should homeschoolers lose their rights to homeschool because of a section of homeschoolers? Hell no. Should there be across the board standards that ensure all youth are getting the same basic knowledge, yes of course. But our public schools don’t even have these and they need these. So instead of attempting to attack what some of us have found as a solution to the public school problem you should be more concerned with actually fixing the PROBLEM. Novel idea I know, but hey it’s amazing what can be done when the problem is addressed and fixed instead of pointing around at other sub-issues.

THEN we can address the issues in homeschooling and there are issues in the movement anyone who is unwilling to admit that is just as deluded as someone who thinks homeschooling as a whole is evil. It has its good and bad. For our family and a growing number of families the good issues out weigh the possible bad issues, especially when compared to the alternatives.

So to recap *aka my list of demands*:
1. Fix the problem with public education instead of blaming us for it, stop assuming having our children in public school will some how magically fix all the problems in the system. You don‘t believe in magic remember.

2. Work with those of us who are doing all we can to ensure our children get a comprehensive fact based education, seriously I shouldn’t open a book and have to correct it *even textbooks used by public schools have this same problem!* So those in the scientific community bust down some doors and get your asses in there so we can get some solid science in books, non-believing and secular homeschoolers WANT this and public schools NEED this.

3. Drop the socialization/socialized/isolation issue. You are educated you know what socialization means and you know a public school isn’t needed for this.

4. The scientific method is not based on experience and generalizations alone. It is based on testing and finding answers. You can assume all day long that all homschooling families use homeschooling to program their children to be science-free drones and that generalization would prove to be completely untrue when actually tested. So don’t make generalizations instead actually learn about homeschooling so when you speak it is based in fact.

These are all I ask. And I don’t think that is asking too much from a community that boost critical thinking and facts over all else.

A Happy Atheist Homeschooler.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes