How Did You Find Other Home Schoolers?

AKA – How did I find friends who understood what I was doing? and How did I find friends for my children?

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In my area, a suburb of a large metropolis, there are thousands of other home school families. However, when we started, we didn’t know any of them. It was kind of scary thinking that we were jumping into this venture without any company.

I started searching online for local information related to home schooling. Somewhere along the way, I found a link to a Yahoo Group for a home school group in my suburb. After filing out some contact information, I was approved to join the group. There I became one of hundreds of other home schoolers in my town! I was sooo excited!

I was also able to discover other local home school groups and co-ops by searching online. (A co-op is a group of families that get together to share learning experiences. Often times, each mama will lead a class and the children rotate between classes. It is an excellent format because it exposes kids to other teachers, but it is still a home school format.)

A quick side note: Shortly after joining the group, I found out one of my favorite homeschool bloggers had recently moved to our area and was a member. I was giddy! Unfortunately she had some server issues, so her blog isn’t what it once was, but if you are interested, you can find her here. She has TONS of information on American Girls, Mad Science, Lapbooks, and more. You might have to search for topics in the search bar, but there is lots of good stuff there.

We started attending events set up by different mamas in the group. I found friends who could relate, and so did the boys. It was a heaven-sent treasure.

The group has changed throughout the years. There is definitely an ebb and flow to it. Some years are boisterous and fun, others are more reserved and focused. Either way it has been a blessing to me and to my family.


What About Community Service?

Like many home school families, we believe that community service and volunteer work is important.

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My husband and I want our boys see us volunteering for leadership roles as well as serving under others. (Hubby may have taken this a little too far, as he is on the board of at least 5 separate organizations.) We want them to know that a community works together, and if we just sit at home and take care of ourselves, our community suffers. God put us here to do his work, whether that is in church or somewhere else. We get to be a light by serving others.

I volunteer with the woman’s ministry at church. I occasionally volunteer with our local home school group when a need is presented. And, I volunteer to organize certain field trips for families in our home school group. Due to the roles I serve, the boys don’t often get to help me, but they do see that we value serving.

My husband frequently gets to recruit the boys to help him. When Hubby is running an event, he has the boys assist clients and help to run errands, fetch water bottles, etc. to help the event run smoothly. The boys do real work on those days. And they come home tired, but feeling so pleased with themselves because the work was good.

Quite a few years ago, a group of home school families got together to deliver one Meals on Wheels route a week. One mama organizes the group. She has it set up so that 6 to 8 families share a route. They all rotate weeks delivering meals on Friday mornings.

Our family was able to join up with this group about 5 years ago. This is a community service that the boys look forward to every time. They love feeling useful. The MOW clients, usually senior citizens, adore seeing them. I love that we get to serve a need in our community, and that we get to “be the face” of home schoolers to those who might think that home schoolers are unsocialized hermits. {smile}

Do you volunteer? Do your kids?
What does community service mean to your family?


Cheap Whiteboard?

Two years ago I posted about our inexpensive whiteboard.

Go read it. I’ll wait. 🙂

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So now you’ve seen how easy it is to get a huge whiteboard. I figured I’d share about how it looks today.

Since installing it, our whiteboard has held up quite well.  It still looks good. There is some slight wear and minor scratches. It doesn’t have the same durability as a high quality porcelain whiteboard, however, it still works well. When it starts looking dingy, I spray it with rubbing alcohol and rub it down with a towel. Then it looks good as new!

I have recently read that some families have had success with polishing the melamine board with car wax to help revitalize it. We will try that when the time comes. If all else fails, I figure that we can replace it when we have difficulty cleaning or using it. That would still be cheaper than buying a porcelain board that is a fraction of the size we would like.


School Must Haves

Through the years I have found a few items that truly have helped our school day move along more smoothly.

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Here are a few of my favorites.

Electric pencil sharpener. Not a battery operated one, but one that actually plugs into the wall. It saves time over a hand crank. It saves pencils. When we had a hand crank sharpener, it would eat up cheap pencils, you know the cute ones that are in the Dollar Spot at Target or the ones that kids seem to accumulate. While I still prefer the good old yellow Ticonderoga pencils, the electric sharpener makes almost all pencils easy to sharpen and use.

Ticonderoga pencils. (See previous paragraph.)

A large whiteboard. (More on this in tomorrow’s post.)

A computer for the boys. I know this is a complete luxury item, but it helps us SO much.

Maps. I love maps. We have world maps, US maps, Texas state maps, and Texas county maps in our school room. I have them hung with O-rings on the bottom of the whiteboard. If we need to look at a map we just flip it to the one we need.

Timeline. Having a visible time line on the wall has been very helpful for the boys to understand that things in the past didn’t necessarily take place at the same time. They now know that George Washington didn’t know Abraham Lincoln. Also, that Texas was annexed as a state at the same time the Irish Potato Famine hit Ireland.

A library card. This is like having Charlie Bucket’s Golden Ticket. Our regular trips there enlarge our world exponentially.

What items help your day go more smoothly?


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