Homeschoolers and Public School “Specials”

Two years ago we decided to try to enroll in "specials" at our local public school.

Recent laws were passed stated that homeschoolers have the right to attend extracurricular classes a their local public schools. To my understanding, the school still gets to make the final decision to allow this or not but Vilonia schools have been super sweet about this.

I let my oldest, Maggie choose two "specials" when she was going into the second grade. She chose art and music. The school found a home room class to pair her with so she went to those classes with them on their assigned days. The office staff were so friendly and welcoming. The first week I walked her past the office to check in and then to the art or music class to make sure she knew where she was going. After that, she just checked in at the office and walked herself to class. The home room would walk back to their classroom after each special out the front of the school. This allowed Maggie to line up at the end of the line and come straight out to us where we were waiting in the car.

She did this for two years at the elementary school, taking music and library the next year. This year, my middle child, Izzie is going into the second grade so she was allowed to attend specials {our rule, not the school's}. Maggie moved up to the intermediate school. The new school does it a little differently, having her walk to the home room class and then walk in line with them to the special that day. Both girls chose music and P.E. this year.

We learned of another homeschooler who takes a math class at the intermediate school and then stays for that class' specials every day of the week. I don't know much about this but am encouraged at the chance to use this resource if needed. We also know several families that have been allowed in choir, band, and sports!

We love this opportunity because it offers social interaction with kids their own age, a class where they're learning fun things that I likely wouldn't spend as much time on, and gives them a taste of public school just for fun. An added bonus is that it gives us a contact at schools to better love and serve our community through. God is good; just when I begin to worry about my kids "socialization", He shows me my children's strengths, social sides, and that we actually ARE "in" our community through the fact that our kids already knew a minimum of four kids in their classes.

Do you homeschool? Have you ever considered this FREE option for extracurriculars?

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Rothacher Academy 2017/18: curriculum and organizing the entire Year

Yesterday I *started* the next steps in the process of planning, sorting, and organizing our entire school year.


One of the first and scariest questions people ask when they find out we homeschool is, "what curriculum do you use?" Sigh.
For some this might be an easy question but for me, it's untangled with guilt, defensiveness, weight, and a long pause.

We use ... whatever. Due to finances, too many options, different learning systems, and my tendency to over analyze things-

  • We use things people have given us and Recommended.
  • We use cheap, all-inclusive but sparse workbooks, usually from SAMs Club- great for getting an idea of what basics are expected at each grade level yet sometimes a little low on leveling.
  • We use free printable materials found online.
  • We use books, field trips, and life.
  • We use/create/do lots of unit studies.

I've pictured what I currently have for each child as well as what we [three oldest] will be doing together.

We just had our Vilonia Homeschool Coop planning meeting for the year. We brought all our ideas for field trips, educational tours, holiday parties, and seasonal meet-ups. The first thing I did in planning our Rothacher Academy school year was mark down in my planner when those coop meetings were likely happening.

Then I started on the first week in September and numbered out our weeks of school, skipping the weeks for holidays or busy weeks we'll need a break. That way I knew which folder to plan holiday until studies. I also add each child's activities {and times}. Everyone in the house has an assigned color so I just use that color pen to save space by eliminating the names. VHC field trips are penciled in until confirmed times/dates. 

These are the workbooks I will tear the pages out of and divide up among the weeks. I make sure to include each subject each week but not necessarily for each page. We tend to do school work 3-4 days a week.

The Daily Language workbooks were found at Mardel's in the clearance section. The Comprehensive Curriculum workbooks was found at SAMs Club. Hooked on Phonics set was found on an online yard sale via Facebook.
The Multiplication Wipe-Clean Workbook was found on Rainbow Resource Center in the clearance section. Teaching Textbooks Math 5 {cd rom set only} was found NEW on Ebay.

Story of the World was found at a used homeschool book sale in South Carolina by my SIL. The audio cds {we have the entire set of 4} were found cheapest on Rainbow Resource Center along with the planets coloring workbook via their clearance section. Spelling Connections has an entire kit and came from a friend who did K12 online public school but no longer needed this.  Just Write was either given to us or I found it on sale on Amazon.

Along with these, I also find lots of fun, often FREE printable materials online via blogs I've found on Facebook or Pinterest. I also utilize Teachers Pay Teachers, Typing.com, and only use educational FREE apps for the kids 20 minutes of iPad time each day.

I use these folders to always have something ready for the week. Ideally, I will lesson plan weekly, adding to each thing or preparing lessons but in case...life, I have a basic plan ready for each week. I pull it out and place it into their baskets where their history binders and other books are stored. They grab them each morning after morning chores, daily chores, breakfast, table chores, and activity classes at the public schools and get to work. Most days, we finish before lunch after a couple of hours of working.

How do you try to organize your homeschool to keep everything/one moving? Are you like me, modge podge curriculum or do you do a specific all-inclusive one?

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Little Girl, Big Book

Mags is a big dreamer!

She currently wants to learn how to install side rear window wipers. She feels kids would highly benefit from this invention on rainy days.
This dream has led her to the "research" section of the public library, learning all she can about repairing wipers in hopes of figuring out the engineering of her endeavor.

<<disclaimer: I'm terrible at letting my kids lead in learning. Mags has begged for months to go research. I've been overwhelmed and reluctant to take her. I'm also reluctant to encourage things like this bc I am unqualified and don't know how best to assist her. Although, THIS is my desire- for her to be a life long lover of learning.>>

#rothacheracademy #girlsinSTEAM

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Reluctant Reader

I *caved* this school year and allowed Iz to listen to audiobooks for rest time rather than solely reading.
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She is winding down the end of her 1st grade year and is a reluctant reader. She's always done things in her own way and in her own timing. In any other realm, I'd be claiming this trait as a victory. But when it comes to something that I've claimed as my responsibility, to educate my child, I honestly feel embarrassed. Not of my Child but of My inability to infuse her with the desire to learn this skill.
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#homeschooling comes with its own list of insecurities, comparisons, and self-made-expectations. I can say out loud to anyone who questioned my child's level of reading with research and facts about children learning at different paces, children needing tons of unstructured play time to develops, and how my main focus in homeschooling isn't state mandated standards. The #realness is, I feel shame in my perceived failure.
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Insert Audiobooks:
Instilling a love for STORY is a must for a reluctant reader to, well, wanna. We have been hunting down great stories. Classics. Sillies. Coordinating sometimes with big sis' reading list. I am starting to see fruit. The desire to know the story. The independence will soon take over the lack of confidence and she will will herself to learn this skill; like all the others this far.
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This week's story--> #judymoodyandstink The Big Bad Blackout 
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Using a Responsibility Chart for Multiple Children

I found this awesome Responsibility chart made by Melissa and Doug at a consignment event. It comes with all kinds of magnets to create a very unique chart.

How to Use a Responsibility Chart with Multiple Children

I think most families use it as a kind of "sticker chart" by rewarding kids with smilies when they do something. BUT you know I can use very few things for just their intended purpose. I use the magnets to assign jobs for the week. The kids rotate jobs each week so they learn to do all the household chores. I've also started assigning table chores to be done after eat meal. I paired the most difficult household chore with the simplest table chore.

I use the bottom dry erase part to group things they're all supposed to do daily- the ones they don't earn commission for doing.

Over the years, the commission pricing has changed a lot. I'm still a cheap mamma living on a tight budget but I understand the benefits of paying my children to do some chores so they are learning to manage money...even if its not a lot. These days, I pay based on the difficulty of the chore. I also use commission that can be visually seen in a single coin. They're learning the value of coins, and mamma can easily count it out on pay day. 😉

  • Laundry/clear the table earns $0.25
    I load/start laundry every night and the children move the clean load into the drier the next morning and then sort it into each bedrooms' basket when its dry
  • Dishes/wash the table earns $0.10
    I load/start the dishwasher [usually just] every night and the children unload/put away all the clean dishes the next morning; most dishes are down low for this reason
  • Trash/Dog/Sweep earns $0.05
    Our dog sleeps in a kennel every night and the children let the dog out in the morning and feed the dog once in the morning and once at night
    They empty the small bathroom trashcans every morning, occasionally help their daddy take out the big kitchen can, and the night before trash day they help take the outside cans to the street and bring them in after it's been picked up

Each child in our house is color coded meaning, they know based on the color on the chart which chore they're on that week. Color coding may seem odd, but with lots of littles its super helpful in lots of areas. {ie Cups: they get a single cup per day and we can always tell who lost theirs}

Responsibility Chart {with cousins}

This chart is how I broke it down when my niece and nephew came for a week. THEY ask to be put on the chore chart for the record. And yes, it's in age order. We start "training" our children on chores around 2 or 3 years old and by 4, they "get to be on the chore chart".

This chart is very helpful for our family. Do you use anything similar? How does it work for your family?

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