Monday, July 28, 2008

Do I have to be a SuperMom to be a super mom?

This is something the worries the heck out of me.

I think I am just a 'normal' mom; there are some things I do really well, and a lot of things I think I need improvement on.

Recently I met a few K12 moms and first impressions tell me they are SuperMoms. They put their vegetable gardens in on time and take good care of them. They bake bread and put up awesome freezer meals for the month. I could go on and on.

Me? I love my kids, but that's maybe the only thing I'm Super at. And even then there are days I just want to mentally check out, ya know? Some days when I wish my job title was not "MOM". Sometimes I fall behind on housework or groceries or laundry or something and I'm playing catch-up for a whole week (sometimes longer!) trying just to get to a good level playing field where I feel I'm in control again.

Sometimes my boys ask me a question and I just stare at them, my face blank and my only response is "Ahhh. I don't know?"

"I don't know" a lot.

Can I still do this thing? Still have a successful homeschool? Is it really for us regular, average, or even slightly below average, moms?

This was the question first and foremost on my mind when I recently joined the K12 Parent to Parent yahoo group. The responses I received were wonderful, uplifting and encouraging. Basically they all said “you can do it!”

Most of their advice can be summed up in the following quotes that they shared with me:

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child." ~ Author Unknown

“My theory on housework is, if the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” ~ Erma Bombeck

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while
you do the work." ~ Author Unknown

So rest assured that you are not alone in thinking that you are too imperfect to be a successful homeschooling mom. One mom said to me, “loving your kids is ALL you have to be super at” (Linda D. in PA) And that’s the best advice I have to pass on to you.

Love your kids, do what you feel is right and you already are a SuperMom!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Before the Boxes Arrive ~ K12 Speaker Series

Today I attended my first online K12 Seminar with Lori Beverage and Heidi Higgins. It was really good! Up until now when I've thought about the upcoming school year, this has been my response:

"Ahhhhhhhhhh ..................................."

Yeah. That about sums it up!

So I was grateful for today's seminar because it gave me the kick in the pants I needed and taught me just exactly what needs to be done "before the boxes arrive". And I'm going to try to share what I learned with you!

Your To Do List:

Family Routine:
  • Think about what might work for your family and plan for it.
  • Be flexible and don't expect your days to go exactly as planned.
  • Your first priority should always be to your husband and your children.
  • Household chores, laundry, dishes and all those things are just distractions from what's really important.
Phone/Door Messages:
  • Let callers know that you are busy homeschooling your children between the hours of ... and to call back later.
  • Leave a note on your door that you aren't available until after school is done.
  • Don't let yourself get distracted by callers on the phone or at the door!
Trim Down Outside Activities & Obligations
  • Learn to say "no" when you get those inevitable calls for you to help.
  • Limit your childrens activities also to those things that are most important.
Family Preparations
  • Family councils or planning sessions prior to school starting can help children, spouse and extended family members come to understand what might be expected once school starts.
Home Preparations
  • Food prep ~ you'll have children home all day so you'll need snacks and lunches planned for. Consider crockpot dinners ~ these will help make dinner run more smoothly plus they make your house smell yummy!
  • Location for books and school supplies. Where will you put all of your materials? Book shelf? Loose bins? There is no set way to do this, you just need to find what works for you.
  • Distractions ~ turn off the T.V. and set aside the remote. Put away all things that might tempt your children away from their studies.
  • Clutter ~ this is another distraction thing, but the more clutter/distractions, the more difficult it is to concentrate on the school work.
  • Laundry ~ this can be a major hurdle for a lot of families. Consider letting your children do their own laundry! If you're not ready for that, at least work on it together so you don't carry the burden of all the work on your own.
  • Chores ~ the same goes for chores. Be generous in considering what your children might be able to do to help with the daily chores.
What Space You Will Use:
  • You will need access to your computer.
  • You'll need space to spread out.
  • Some families spread out to the couch, using T.V. trays even for their work. Some use the kitchen table, while others have rooms or offices set aside for their use.
  • In the end, do whatever works!
Materials You Will Need:
  • You'll need regular school supplies, including pencils, notebooks and loose leaf paper, etc.
Time You Will Spend:
  • Print daily or weekly schedules for you to share with your children.
  • Make meals a part of your schedule, i.e. snack time is at 10:30, etc.
  • Be careful not to over schedule!
  • Consider using a dry erase marker on your window or sliding door to write out the schedule.
  • has an education plan for your children which you can print out. Add daily chores and other activities like piano practice.
  • Be sure to have a cut-off point when you'll be done school for the day and it doesn't drag on and on.
  • Consider calling this your kids' Ticket to Freedom, as Heidi calls it ~ when your kids have completed their tasks for their day, they're free~
Best Strategies:
  • Plan your school days at the best time for your family, not what works for other people or traditional school. It's all about you and your family.
  • Plan 'down-time' activities.
  • Make your plan in advance of school starting, so it's ready to go as soon as you need it.
  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance.
  • Read your education objectives so your goals can be renewed in your mind.
  • Materials prep ~ be prepared for each day, it will help you to stay on top of things.
  • Don't loose sight of the the PLAN (see Family Routine.)
  • Have Fun!
  • Read.
  • Have a list of friends you can call or talk to online when things get tough.
  • Go to the OLS (online school on for help.
  • See the online tutorials for help.
  • Take advantage of yahoo groups ~ you can see the link for the K12 group in my sidebar, but you could also search for k12 groups in your state for more local groups.
Contingency Plans:

You will have your bad days. Or days when school doesn't run to so well, or you're not running so well - or your kids.
  • Re-evaluate your priorities.
  • Help someone else ~ service.
  • Do some different sort of work, preferably physical work, like gardening or household chores.
  • Focus on your health. Exercise. Play.
  • Read good books together.
  • Have a good support group of friends for yourself and your children.
  • Music ~ put on some fun, happy music to do your chores to.
  • Endurance ~ hang on! Think and act positively and your children will follow suit (plus you'll feel better too.)
  • Goals ~ keep your progress sheet handy.
Most of all, 'down days' are a great opportunity for you to model how you can overcome life's challenges!

Lori encouraged us to remember to have fun. She discouraged us from becoming 'box checkers' - so focused on completing the work that we forget what we're doing this for. Enjoy the journey!

Why Homeschool?

This is the question I get all the time from friends and family. I even have to ask myself from time to time!

First off, I have to say, I don't know. I do it because I feel it is right.

But that's just not enough information, is it?

I don't do it because I think the public school system stinks or anything like that. I have a great local school with awesome teachers and administrators.

No, our reason is much more personal and intangible.

I do it because I love my boys and I want to be involved in their learning. I want to see them grow and cheer along with them when they've mastered something and hug them when learning is hard.

I do it because I believe one mom who loves her kids is worth a zillion teachers. Not because I'm the brilliant person on the planet (far from it!) but because I'm capable, willing and--I can't say this often enough--I love my boys.

No one else will love them and therefore want the best for them, as I do. No one else knows their potential, their strengths and weaknesses, as I do.

One of the reasons I went with the K12 program is because they provide the curriculum and they also provide certified teachers who will touch base with my children from time to time and also answer our questions at any time. So I know I won't 'break' my kids or 'ruin' them.

But I can love them, better than anyone else. So between our K12 teacher and a mom who loves them (did I already say that?) my boys are sure to succeed!

So the real question then becomes, Why not homeschool?

Considering the Homeschooling Alternative

I've always been attracted to homeschooling and always thought that I would homeschool my kids. But when my twin boys were learning their ABC's and learning to how to read, their distinct differences really through me for a loop and I didn't feel up to the challenge.

Xander learned from me, and everything was great. He learned his ABC's quickly and grasped the concept of reading right away.

However, Charlie fought me at every turn. And worse, he seemed to take the low road when compared with Xander. The more Xan mastered something, the more Charlie pulled away from that subject or skill and went the complete opposite. He refused to learn from me, and his mantra became "I can't."

Oh how I came to hate those two little words!

On top of it all, the boys were developing a strong dislike for one another and I worried about their relationship in the years to come. They were each others only brother--I felt they needed to be friends, they needed to be each other's support, love and encouragement in their lifetime.

So, I did what I might have said I would never, ever do. I put my guys into preschool.


And you know? It was the best thing I ever did.

They only went for the second semester of one year and I put them into a developmentally challenged preschool as the 'typically developing peers'. This gave them the opportunity to feel really great about their own skills, but also to develop some compassion and empathy for others. Oh, and they were in separate classes!

By the end of the school year my guys liked each other again and there was harmony once more in my home.

But my experiences trying to teach Charlie had made me doubt myself and I was afraid to try again, so I sent them to public school (we have an awesome school right across the street from my house) which is where they have stayed for the last few years.

Through it all, I have always told the boys that one day, I might homeschool them. And surprise, surprise, they came to me toward the end of the school year this year and said they wanted to be homeschooled!

I know! Imagine my amazement! Happily I took them up on it. Little did they know I had already been taking some steps toward the same end, but our public school has such awesome teachers in grade three, I thought my homework and research would be put into use for the next year. I had no idea my guys would request to homeschooled so soon.

While researching homeschooling in Utah, I found the K12 site and entered my boys into their enrollment lottery. They lost. All this was before the boys' big announcement so I thought it was just as well. Amazingly, shortly after they told me they wanted to be homeschooled, I was notified that two spots had opened up for them and the boys had been accepted into K12's Utah Virtual Academy.

So that's where we are today! My boys are almost eight years old and will be going into grade three in the Fall. Well, August 26th, actually, as that's when school starts with the UTVA. I have made one small adjustment, and that is that I have chosen to transfer to the Washington County Online School rather than the UTVA because I have found some wonderful people to work with at that school and I feel more comfortable with the chain of communication. It's a small change though and really impacts little in terms of the type of school experience we expect to have.

I have started this blog in an effort to document our K12 adventure for your interest and for my sanity. I really find it helps me to write things down--always preferring to sort my problems out through the written word than in any other way.

If you're a K12 mom or a homeschooling mom, or any kind of mom, feel free to post your comments or questions. We can learn and grow together!