The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling

The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling

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by Barbara Frank

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IS HOMESCHOOLING STRESSING YOU OUT? Do you wonder whether your children are learning the right things? Does it seem like the longer you homeschool, the harder it gets? Do you sometimes ask yourself how other moms homeschool their children, keep their houses running smoothly and still hang onto their sanity? IF YOU ANSWERED “YES” TO ANY OF THOSE

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IS HOMESCHOOLING STRESSING YOU OUT? Do you wonder whether your children are learning the right things? Does it seem like the longer you homeschool, the harder it gets? Do you sometimes ask yourself how other moms homeschool their children, keep their houses running smoothly and still hang onto their sanity? IF YOU ANSWERED “YES” TO ANY OF THOSE QUESTIONS, JOIN THE CLUB. During over twenty years of homeschooling my children, there were times when I became so overwhelmed that I almost gave up. Getting through those tough times taught me strategies for making homeschooling easier. The habits I established and the mindset I developed turned me into a “homeschooler for the long run.” I am so glad I never gave up on homeschooling! I want to encourage you to hang in there, too. That’s why I want to share my strategies with you.
"The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling" is packed full of Barbara Frank's advice gleaned from homeschooling her four children, including one who has Down syndrome. Readers will learn how they can: . Get past the "public school" way of thinking by customizing lessons for each child. . Boost their self-confidence by learning how to measure what their children have learned. . Reduce their stress level with "115 Organizing Tips for Homeschoolers." . Free themselves of attitudes and habits that make homeschooling harder than it has to be. "The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling" will encourage current and prospective homeschooling parents alike.

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Editorial Reviews

Eclectic Homeschool Online
What would the perfect homeschooling book look like? Well...for me, it would clearly be written by an experienced homeschooler. It would also be written to me - meaning both that it would not be above my head and it would cover topics that are pertinent to me personally. It would also contain plenty of practical advice and concrete examples. Gee...sounds like The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling. ...Honestly, this is the best I've read in a while. Frank approaches her topic openly and honestly, with a voice that sounds more like your best friend's than some vaunted homeschool speaker's.
—Larissa McKay
Otherways Magazine
I recommend her guide to new homeschooling parents. It's neither dryly theoretical nor boastfully self-congratulating. It's practical, encouraging, and unintimidating, without
underestimating all that homeschooling involves. If you're not new to homeschooling, but low on energy and enthusiasm for it, this guide is for you, too.
—Carol Goudie
....(T)he truth is there is no perfect home school. Even though I know that already, how empowering it is for me to read Barbara Frank's book The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling.... This guide is an excellent resource both for those just starting out and the rest of us that need some good old-fashioned encouragement and empowerment.
—Kathy Davis

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Cardamom Publishers
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Changing My Game Plan

(excerpted from The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling by Barbara Frank, published by Cardamom Publishers, April 2008.)
Like many people, I began homeschooling by imitating the schools of my youth. I bought a boxful of curriculum, divided it into daily assignments, and taught my kids right out of those books.

And there wasn't anything especially bad about that, except that after the initial excitement wore off, my kids started to get bored. Instead of being excited about doing school, they ranked it right down there with making their beds and setting the table-something we have to do, so let's get it over with.
That was not in my game plan. I didn't want them to be bored. I was bored in school, and I still recalled how bad that felt. I wanted my kids to enjoy school.
What I soon realized was that while they might have been bored with school, my kids still loved learning. They enjoyed visiting museums. My daughter read through stacks of books without my telling her to do so. And my son drew beautiful, detailed pictures that were not assigned by me.

I even became bored by the assignments I was teaching the kids, and it must have been around that time that I came up with the idea of playing store. I labeled some items in our pantry (using prices written on sticky notes), then dug up all the spare change I could find.

I became the storekeeper, and the kids became the shoppers. They'd choose an item from the pantry and pay me for it. Often I had to make change for them. Soon they were buying more than one item at a time and figuring out how much they owed me. Before long, they started taking turns being thestore-keeper. This became a game they enjoyed for a long time, but I think I probably learned the most from that experience, because I saw that homeschooling didn't have to be boring, like formal school was for me as a child.

This success led me to become more creative with our homeschooling. Since my first two children were only 18 months apart, they studied most subjects together, and that made it easy to come up with math games. Their favorite math game came about by necessity. I was pregnant with our third child, and spending a lot of time on the sofa. While beached there, I'd hold up a flash card, and throw it to whichever child gave the correct answer first. The child who collected the most cards won. Since the kids were very competitive with each other, they soon learned their math facts (which I'd been unsuccessfully trying to force into their heads by using written timed drills, as advised by our curriculum). This way was much easier and a lot more fun.

Making learning fun started to seep into other areas of our homeschooling. I made a little game out of putting the books of the Bible in order. I made small cards with the name of a book on each, and then let the kids put them in order. This way they were using their hands along with their minds, which is always a good way to learn. Soon they could get those cards in order pretty quickly, so they began timing themselves. Naturally, they began comparing their best times, and that led to me making two sets of cards so they could compete directly against each other. Before long, they could quickly find any book of the Bible. And they'd had a lot of fun getting to that point.

Such successes led me to loosen up in our homeschooling, and to be open to using games and other activities. More importantly, I soon came to see those things as at least equal in importance to bookwork. I bought Cuisenaire rods for math, which worked so well that I ended up giving up the formal math cur-riculum we'd been using, and buying the Miquon Math series instead (you use rods with them). Three of my kids eventually worked through Miquon with the rods, and then went straight into Saxon 54 or 65 with no difficulty.

I also used treasure hunts to teach them, first to follow directions (they were small then so I put pictures on the clues instead of words), and later to read (I switched to clues in short sentences). They begged me to do this all the time. There was no boredom or sighing in this kind of school!

Of course, as they reached their teen years, our use of games decreased, and they had to buckle down to more bookwork. I was concerned that at some point they might have to go to school, and I wanted to keep them at approximate grade level in case that happened. Fortunately, it never did, but by high school, they had regular bookwork and the games had run their course (other than playing educational games like Rummy Roots� or ElementO®). But while they were younger, we had lots of fun learning through play and games, and I think I learned a lot from seeing that. Maybe that's what it takes to get a formally schooled mom to let go of that old training and accept that learning doesn't have to be boring for kids, and shouldn't be boring, either.

It's a good thing I learned that lesson too, because playing games has become the backbone of Josh's homeschooling experience. I've used games to teach him the alphabet, sight words and numbers. He can't just sit and learn easily from formal schoolwork. I've had to get creative when it comes to teaching him: letting go of my overdependence on bookwork with my older kids prepared me for working with him.

Barbara Frank has four children, ages 15-24. "The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling" is packed full of Mrs. Frank's advice gleaned from over 20 years of homeschooling her children, including one who has Down syndrome. Learn more about this book at

Copyright 2008 Cardamom Publishers/Barbara Frank

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