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An Outpouring of Support for Joy in Georgia

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, January 10, 2011
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Vol. 12 No. 3, January 10, 2011, ISSN: 1536-2035
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© 2011, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net
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Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible.

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IN THIS ISSUE:
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Notes from Heather
-- 'Class Dismissed' Film
Winning Website
-- Study Stack Flashcards
Reader Question
-- Advice Needed Please...
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

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Notes from Heather
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Class Dismissed - New Homeschool Documentary Film!

The teaser-trailer for the documentary, "Class Dismissed: Education and the Rise of Homeschooling in America" was just released and you can see it here:

http://www.3StoryFilms.com;

"From home study and kitchen table math, to perpetual recess and park days, Class Dismissed follows the stories of three ordinary American families in their quest to educate their children outside the school system.

As they each struggle to discover what path is best for their children, the social ramifications of their choices come to light, family dynamics are revealed and they come to realize that homeschooling is not just an educational choice, but also a lifestyle choice that affects the very heart of the American family.

Truth and consequence, myth and assumption all come together in this fresh look at what it means to be educated in the 21st century."

Looks like a great documentary! I'm not sure of the release date, but I read that Diane Flynn Keith, Linda Dobson and Sandra Dodd were interviewed and will appear in it, too.

-- Heather

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Your feedback is always welcome! -- mailto:heather@familyclassroom.net

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Use coupon code SNOWFLAKE to receive an additional 25% off all orders of any size!

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================
Winning Website
================

Study Stack - http://www.studystack.com

Find flashcards to study or make your own!

-- Find flashcards to study or create your own flashcards.
-- Study flashcards or use the other activities such as matching, crosswords, hangman, scrambled word, or bug chase.
-- Study flashcards anytime and anywhere by printing your flashcards or by using them with applications on your cell phone, PDA, or iPod.

"StudyStack takes online flashcards to a whole new level. The site automatically creates many other activities based on the data from your flashcards."

==========================
Last Issue's Reader Question
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We had a beautiful outpouring of support for Joy! Thank you to everyone who wrote in. -- Heather

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Joy's Question...

"I have 4 children that are all elementary aged. I have just started homeschooling them in August. I know they say that the first year is the hardest, but I am very close to putting them back in public school. I feel like such a failure and like I am failing them in their education. It is much harder than I ever anticipated. Due to financial stresses I have had to pick up a part time job. I am blessed to be able to work from home, but juggling the two seems impossible. On top of everything, I have a husband who constantly pushes me to have more educational time with the kids. It's just all around so much to carry. I know that many people have had these same issues and I was wondering what you think. Should I put my children back in public school where I feel like they will at least get an education? It may defer many arguments in our home and also allow me to work. On the other hand, my heart is so set on homeschooling them and teaching them more than just academics. I love my children more than anything and, like all moms, I want the very best for them. I'm so torn! Is there anyone who has a word of advice for a mom stuck between my life and the rest of the world?" -- Joy in Georgia

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Our Readers' Responses
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"If you are working part time you're probably feeling like you're taking away from school time. If that is truly the case during the day, you could do some of those subjects at night. Better yet, if your husband is home with them while you are working, find the subjects he is good at and schedule those subjects for those time slots and let him bring his gift of knowledge to them. I also work part time due to a financial crunch. In the evenings that I am away, my husband teaches some science, history/geography and art. He also helps them with their homework so we are not behind the next day. Our youngest is dyslexic, so we have to spend extra time assisting with reading and to read with dad makes her feel special! Hope this helps. I have been home schooling for 11 years and have found that thinking outside the box makes it easier and less stressful. Also, pick and choose what is crucial. Join a home school group if you haven't already for support and ideas. Everyday life is full of learning and remember that too many worksheets can be discouraging."

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"Joy, don't get discouraged. Many times I have questioned myself as to 'what am i doing wrong?', but the truth is, you can't do wrong unless you don't do it. Homeschool is not just sitting down and pulling out a book and lecturing your child on it, it's everything you do at home and with your children outside of the home, from cooking to watching a TV show on Discovery -- to making their bed, to brushing their teeth. Homeschooling is a matter of using everyday life scenarios as a learning experience.

There are so many resources out here for those of us who decided to take this route that it's almost unbelievable. I find that I probably do more research than actual instruction. I'm three years into homeschool with my first child and I change my style every other month. We use the Internet alot, we use TV, we use general conversation, etc. My husband also feels like I don't spend enough time instructing, but you run your homeschool the way you see fit and in a way that keeps your child interested as well as educated, otherwise you are no different that a typical public/private school.

All in all, do what makes you an the children comfortable and you can't go wrong." -- Ayanna

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"Joy -- I would like to suggest that you and your husband take a look at the reasons why you are homeschooling them. Make sure that the two of you are on the same page with your reasons and your expectations. His support is vital in your home school journey, and his expectations may be unrealistic for now. My husband, a former public school teacher, took a long time to come to the conclusion that we didn't have to show him a stack of papers each day to prove that we had accomplished something. It just never occured to either of us that this was one of the reasons for so much of our tension.

You are correct, the first year of homeschooling can be very difficult, but it doesn't have to continue to be. Depending on how long your children were in school, they may just now be getting into the swing of homeschooling. The adjustment of a super-structured schedule to a more laid-back independent learning environment can take some children a year or two to adjust to. Give it time and plan for plenty of breaks. I realized that I should only plan a 4-day week for my children, leaving a day for catching-up every week!

Does your part time job have specific hours, or are you trying to just get it done around everything else? If you are not tied to a clock, then maybe you could set up a strict schedule for yourself. Set aside the hours you need to get your work done and inform the family that they must be self-sufficient during that time. The kids could work on chores, read, do schoolwork, or just play quietly in their rooms during those times. Then when it's time to put on your 'teacher hat', you don't let anything interrupt that... no phone calls, email, etc. This is my biggest hurdle, so don't feel like anyone else is doing it perfect!

The best lesson I've learned over the years is that we all struggle to home school. Everyone forgets, misses things, has seasons where nothing seems to get done, and generally feels like a failure. But we are not failures, we are human! God gives us the strength to get through this and the grace for the times when we don't! You are not alone... and you are doing a great job! Your kids are benefiting from being with you and learning how the real world works. This is what people in the real world do; they figure out how to get things done when times are tough! Take a deep breath and relax!" -- Bonnie

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"Dear Joy -- First I want to say that I very much feel for your stress and I hope that the responses you get will prove helpful to you. That said, let's start with the 'why' of homeschooling. I believe it is important to write out a statement of why you are homeschooling with biblical foundations. I can't write out all my foundations here but you can read them on my blog to get you a jump start:

http://hearts4home.blogspot.com/2010/11/my-foundation-for-homeschooling.html

Once you've done that, there's no going back to public school because the emotion of all of it is set aside. This has helped me a lot! As women we tend to be emotional and make decisions based on that, I've been guilty once or twice. But if I can pull out my reasons for homeschooling and God's Word on the issue, I can set aside emotions and resolve to get back to the business at hand. I know you can do it! :)

Then I'd suggest looking at what it is and how it is that you teach. Teaching that many can be overwhelming, so have you considered a unit study approach? We use Weaver and really like it! I can teach my boys the same thing at the same time with things like history, science and social studies, and then juggle them with independent things like math and language arts. We usually finish up by lunch time each day. And if not, then the independent studies can be done in the afternoon on their own. They LOVE unit studies and I'm loving it too. And my husband gets to see the planner that comes with it -- he can see all the academics that gets done each day!

Prayerfully consider their learning styles and your teaching style and the many wonderful styles of learning out there. If it is too much like 'school at home' it can feel so overwhelming. Let go of your ideas of school and seek God on HIS idea of learning. (That's what my blog is about above.) I hope this helps a little. But I mostly want to say, hang in there, it is worth it. The first year is hardest even without added struggles that you've had. It takes a few years to get a groove going. You can do this! There are christian homeschooling message boards that can be very helpful too. I have one of many posted on my blog that you can find encouragement from. The homeschooling community loves to hold each other up! :) Keep up the good work, Joy!" -- Christa

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"I don't have the answers but I wanted you to know that I can empathize with how you feel. We have always homeschooled and I don't think there is one year (or week) that has gone by that I haven't thought to myself, 'Maybe I should put them in public school so they can get a *real* education'. Then, we keep plodding along, living paycheck to paycheck and I have my kids take a standardized test (in the state we are in, it is required at a certain grade level). All three of them ace the test (as in get a near perfect score), and then I kick myself for doubting what God has called me to. Or, someone will compliment my kids in a social situation or I will get guidance about a curriculum choice at the very time I was about to go sign them up for public school.

It just seems that for me, I am always looking for the 'perfect solution' for my kids and it doesn't exist, but God leads. I don't have to tell you that putting them in public school will not solve all your problems (just like homeschooling won't). Ask God to show you what He wants you to do, and then begin to listen and look. There is nothing wrong with sending them to public school, if you feel that is how you are being led. My oldest is in 7th grade and I never dreamed that we would still be homeschooling, both from a financial perspective and from an 'I can't do this' perspective. All that to say that, if you are supposed to be homeschooling, you will hear and you will know what you need to do. From there, it's about managing stress, communication between you and your husband, trusting God with every area of your life (finances, kids, marriage, etc.), and perhaps relaxing your expectations. You will never, ever be the 'perfect' anything, but God fills in the gaps -- which is a great, great thing and the way it's supposed to be! :) I know I didn't solve your problem, but hang in there! We have all been there." -- Jill T.

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"Dear Joy -- Who can give your children unconditional LOVE? Who can hug and kiss their children while teaching them what they need to learn in life? Who truly knows your children inside and out? Who cares about your children more than you do? Who can best know your children's needs? These are questions I continue to ask myself into our family's third year of homeschooling. Don't give up! The first year is the hardest in anything you may do. Think back to the real reason why you decided to try homeschooling. You love your children -- so then show them by doing the best thing you can for them by homeschooling. I work 20 hours a week outside of the home, volunteer 70 hours a month to my religious convictions, home school 2 wonderful children (now in 4th and 7th grade), and work hard at being a good wife and mother. I will admit, I do have help from my mother who lives with us -- she is very supportive, but my husband is still apprehensive about it. I still have my days of doubt, but I truly believe in my heart that I am doing what is best for them, especially with all the problems in the public schools (bullying, gangs, etc.). Sign-up for as many newsletters as you can and read them, as they can give a lot of encouragement and help in areas you're not sure of in all aspects of your homeschooling. Each year will bring its own challenges, and you will continue to work through them with your children. Remember practice makes perfect; the more you put into homeschooling the more enjoyable it will become. Always look for the positive (the half-full glass vs. half-empty) and add onto it. Wishing you the best!" -- Joy Z. in Illinois

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"I don't know you or your situation, so all I can share is what I've learned in mine:

1. Let your husband be the provider and quit your part-time job, even if that means living on little and going without. Your confidence in his wisdom and in his providing may enable him to do more than he thinks he can!

2. Homeschooling is hard and takes time and work -- especially at first. But as with every good thing, it is so rewarding and so worth it. Don't give up just because it's hard. If you have felt this is right for your family, God will open up a way.

3. Simplify your curriculum. Don't try to teach four separate classes in every subject. Especially when you're starting out, just concentrate on the building blocks of learning: math skills, reading skills, and writing skills. History, geography, and science will often fit in along with those basics (reading and writing can be done about history and science topics). Do history and those subjects all together and have fun -- use them to help your children love learning. 'Love of learning' will last much longer than a memorized list of countries or bones. It will put your children on their way to learning to teach themselves, which is all education can really do in the end.

I wish you and all new (and old) homeschoolers the best! You are doing an amazing work. It will be worth every effort!!" -- Julie in Utah

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"Joy -- I just want to encourage you to continue homeschooling, at least through the end of the year, for several reasons. First, I have had a child go back in the middle of the year, and it turns out it's a lot of work for them to pick up in the middle of a grade at school. It will probably *not* save you time and frustration to work with four new teachers in the middle of the school year. Second, it *will* get easier. The first year is usually harder than we imagine it will be.

You don't say what grade levels your children are, but if at all possible, I would encourage you to find a program that would allow you to combine some of all of your children in one set of work. My Father's World, Sonlight, and Heart of Dakota all offer top-notch programs that could stretch to cover some or all of your children. This could help you fit in *more* academic time while teaching them all at once.

Finally, keep in mind that you are all learning something new. It's a foreign experience for many families simply to spend all day together, much less school together. Take it easy and consider easing your academic demands for the next few weeks or months. Spend time reading together, enjoying the outdoors, laughing and playing games. If I had to pick a couple of 'have-to' subjects, I would say keep your math and reading/writing, but everything else can wait until you are on an even keel. If devotions or Bible are part of your school day, consider doing that first thing in the morning with the whole family together. It can really set the tone for the day." -- Anne M.

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"I am homeschooling my two girls for the first year as well, and have thought about putting them back in school. My husband passed away in July of 2009 and I could not afford to keep them in the private Christian school they were in. To me, public school is not an option. My advice would be to hang in there! I wish that I had started homeschooling them earlier -- then they (and my husband) would have had so much more time together. They are children for such a short time; enjoy this time together! Teach them *how* to learn and they will do just fine!" -- Kathy K.

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"Joy -- I know the feeling of discouragement too -- the feeling that everything is chaos and nothing ever seems to get done right (the way I want it.) I have four children who are now age 13-17 (youngest 13, twins 16, oldest 17). That means I have 3 kids in the same grade because of how their birthdays fall. I know how crazy things can get and how impossible things can seem. What really helped me was a change in my perspective. I had to realize that I wasn't a public school and I want something better than a public school can produce. If you put your focus on creating routines, your life will improve greatly. Work with them for about a week on each new routine and teach things in manageable pieces. Once they learn a routine, you have to require them do it. Start with what they are required to do when they get up, then add in the things they need to do before bed. Then break the rest of the day into pieces and teach what to do. Before you know it things will start to flow more smoothly. When my kids were little we did school-type work for fun as a reward for getting their 'chores' done. When everyone works at the same time it seems fair. Rewards for completed 'jobs' can be regular privileges like coloring, TV, playing with LEGO, etc. Pick whatever privilege they enjoy. Anything they enjoy doing waits till they are done helping. My kids have become very good helpers and everyone wonders how they learned to be so helpful. Teach them that everyone works and all the privileges are rewards for doing your part. Let your kids help you; everyone likes the feeling of doing something important and doing it well. Don't give up on homeschooling -- just spend time teaching them how to *live* and everything else will fall into place." -- Alisha

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"One thing you could do that will help with your time is to teach science and history with all of your children together. You just take each topic and teach it, giving the older children more in-depth assignments and the younger children less. For example, your youngest might write a sentence and draw a picture, the next one write a few sentences and draw a picture, the older ones can write 1-2 paragraphs depending on their level. Same with vocabulary words. You give the older children more words and the younger ones less and appropriate for their age. This way all four of your children are learning about the same thing at the same time and you only have to teach it once rather than four different topics in science or history. Also depending on their ages/grade levels, you could do the same with reading, spelling, grammar and math by grouping the two older ones and the two younger ones. There are many good books out there on unit studies if you need help." -- Cheri L.

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"Hang on tight. Sounds like you got a bumpy start. Maybe you are expecting to cover too much for the first year. I don't know the ages of your children other than they are elementary age, so I assume that means they are from 5 to 13 years old. The first and most important thing is that they are now together as a family. This can be very bumpy at first as they learn to be together again. They must see each other as important people in their lives instead of pests or giants who don't care. Simplify the learning plan. Have the older ones read science or history stories or even classical stories to the younger ones. Have the younger ones draw pictures of what they have heard. Have the older ones write about their thoughts and views on what they have read. Have all focus on one line of history and of science. The older ones can read more challenging books than the younger ones. Have older ones assist in teaching the younger ones to read and do basic math. The best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. (I've learned it myself in teaching my daughter!) Much of this can be done using the resources at the local library. This is a very cost effective manner of schooling. There are also many sites offering free items to use with various books. It doesn't have to be expensive to teach your own.

I am sorry that you have found it needful to have an outside job. This has obviously made the transition much more difficult. Maybe you or your husband see a certain number of pages completed with checkmarks on them as education. This will make it more difficult if you are practicing 'school at home' than if you would allow your children to explore their world with you as their guide. I am wishing you the very best. Do not be so hard on yourself. One-on-one instruction is the best teaching method available. If your children were back in school, they would only be getting at most 15 minutes of direct interaction with their teacher in a week. (And that is an overly generous estimation!) If you are giving each 5 minutes a day of undivided attention, you have already outdone the school system. Don't give up!" -- Tracy

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"The great thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to do it during 'regular' school hours and handle it alone. I would encourage you to broaden your school day and invite your husband to participate more. For example, how about having your husband teach the kids a subject when he comes home from work? My husband loves history, science and geography (me, not so much), so at night, after dinner, he'll do those kinds of lessons with our son. He also teaches some other subjects on the weekend like finance, tech ed, and phys ed. Husband not on board? Maybe another relative or neighbor would be interested. If you aren't tied to having lesson plans, unschooling is homeschooling too. Hang in there!"

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"Dear Joy -- Congratulations on following your heart with homeschooling. I, too, felt called to homeschool despite having several (5) early elementary kids who don't work well independently, no teens to help, a 'supportive' but more-pushy-than-helpful husband, a part time job, no help with housework, etc. I still struggle daily, but I've found some ways to lessen the load a little.

First, I took time to make a master schedule for myself, for my homeschooling, for my housework rotation, etc. I force myself to stick to the schedule or at least use it as a basic guideline of what I want to accomplish each day.

Secondly, in regard to school, I found ways for my kids to be 'with an adult' as much as possible: I bought cassette players, headphones and jackboxes. I checked out library books on tape for the preschoolers. When I need a quiet moment with the older kids, I plug headphones into the jackbox so 2+ kids can *silently* listen to educational books read by an adult. I bought Teaching Textbooks math curriculum, so the kids plug headphones into the computer and have a private tutor for math (amen!). For other subjects, like science, I use a cassette player to record myself reading the textbook and going over the questions and answers. I make these recordings in just a few minutes, either late at night or early before the kids awake -- keep these forever so you can use them with the younger kids in a few years! During the school day, one child may be listening to me 'teach' science, while another does math with the computer, and 1 or 2 more listen to ABC books on cassette. This allows me to truly be one-on-one for subjects like reading or handwriting in which I need to hear and see that they are making progress and using proper form.

To expand on my homeschool schedule: we do group prayer, Bible study, calendar, Pledge of Allegiance, an America song on CD, Latin and a Latin song on CD together with all 5 kids. After that, our day is scheduled in 20-minute blocks of time, and the 5 kids rotate between one-on-one subjects with me, computer subjects (TT Math), Mom on cassette recording subjects, independent workbook subjects, walking on the treadmill (P.E.), etc. I teach 2 kids together when possible: my 1st and 2nd grade sons do the same year of science together, and Language Arts too; my twin preschool sons do most subjects together. Later in the day, we do group American History and a group craft project that usually falls under the category of Art, History or Religion. Silent Reading time in the afternoon is a lifesaver, too, and allows me to catch up on housework or out-of-home job duties. All together we do about 7 subjects per day.

Don't forget that chores are great character builders, even for young kids. We start our morning routine at 8am and have 1 hour until school starts. In that hour my 5 kids and I make all the beds, wipe down the bathrooms with diaper wipes, clean up from breakfast, bring all dirty laundry to the laundry room, and do morning hygeine and dressing. It is a frantic hour, truly, but worth it, as when schooling is done, at least the bedrooms and bathrooms look nice. We make it fun by playing 'cleaning tornado' or listening to upbeat music like 'Flight of the Bumblebee'.

It took us a while to develop this schedule into a real routine... some days don't look anything like the above scenario, but many days do, and that allows us to really achieve a lot. We also do 2 hours of school every weekday during the summer. We focus on the subjects that each child struggles with the most, so they can either catch up from the school year that just ended or get a head start on the year ahead of us. It's very helpful.

For a while I paid a local homeschooled teen to come into my home for 2 hours a day to help me co-teach the little ones. Teens work for little money and have experience from helping their moms teach younger siblings. They can bring great energy and fun into your homeschool!

Keep your chin up, pray throughout the day, and try to be more efficient. Enjoy your kids and remember that homeschooling is such a blessing -- and there are so many moms who would love to, but must work full-time out of the house." -- Cindy

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"Dear Joy -- A long time ago, before I started my homeschooling journey, a friend and homeschooling mother of 10 told me not to worry. She said that if you spend 5 minutes of one-on-one time with your child, that is more that they get in the public schools, and if you teach them to read, then they will do the rest. I have found it so true! My children do indeed teach themselves. I spend the time they need answering questions and helping with problems, but with seven, you cannot give individual instruction in every class. When they are young, I take the time to teach them to read using phonics, I teach them how to find the information they need, and give them the encouragement to be the best they can be. I tell them they cannot fail as long as they try their best. They can only fail if they don't try at all. Children will learn if given the opportunity. We provide books of all sorts for a variety of interests. When we find what each is interested in, we provide more books on that particular subject. You obviously love your children, and they know that. Give them the best you can, and let them show you how they can do the rest. Good luck!" -- Mary

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"Joy -- There is nothing more honorable than a mother's love for her children, and your sacrifices are not in vain.

Feeling like a failure sometimes goes with the territory. But just because you feel like a failure, it doesn't mean that you have failed. Success is defined by the end result. Go back to the reasons that compelled you to choose homeschooling in the first place. They must have been very powerful and heartfelt reasons. Following your heart did not lead you astray. Circumstance and pressure are what you are now contending with. They seem to be the enemies that attempt to rob us of all of our most important endeavors.

Things take time. You are facing a whole new lifestyle that will grow and change as the years continue. Trial and error are to be expected. Welcome them when they show up as just another place to begin.

Be patient with yourself above all. Seeking encouragement and advice is good, but ultimately you must follow your own heart. Your heart has taken you this far. Follow your heart.

You were created to be the mother of your children, and no other teacher has been endowed with your abilities as the best educator for your children. Stay strong. I'll be praying for you." -- Rose

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"First off, you're NOT a failure -- you just need to get organized! My college professor told me science is 10% research, 90% organization, and I think this also applies to life and homeschooling. Having four children so close in age will make it easier; my kids are also close in age and we did that on purpose so we could be covering a lot of the same topics with them at the same time and, no, you won't have to redo stuff for the little ones (except for continuing to reinforce early math and reading) -- you'd be surprised what they retain. Set up your daily teaching as if you are a one-room schoolhouse -- for example, math at a certain time for everyone on their level and all in the same room; if someone finishes early then have chores ready to hand out (stickers on the washing machine buttons make it so anyone can throw in a load!) until everyone is ready to move on to your next topic. For us, Friday afternoon is movie day for the kids and I use that time to get ready for the next week, doing whatever photocopying needs doing and organizing math lessons. Carve out time to get organized!! Also (I feel the need to point this out), you now work one and a half jobs, so all the housework should NOT fall to you. Make Saturday morning family cleaning time and get everyone helping -- and don't worry about it during the week -- you're too busy!" -- Elizabeth G.

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"Dear Joy -- You CAN do this! I don't have 4 children, but I used Five in a Row unit studies and my son learned so much. It really seemed effortless! You do have to work to locate the books (they're so amazing I bought them all -- ebay is a good start), but after that you just follow her general schedule. I won't go into detail (you can go to the website, but I would suggest you buy Vol. 1, get the first few books (you can request the rest from the library to always be ready), and dive right in! We LOVED it -- and I just can't tell you how much he got out of it. We made a beautiful notebook (don't panic -- we just did one page a day to basically just document or enrich what was learned -- for ex., one page would be a map of wherever the book took place, etc.) that we still look back on. And, I too work part time out of my home. I'm lucky enough to be able to 'do school' each morning and early afternoon, and then I work from 2:30 to 5:30 or so. I know it's got to be hard. I don't know the ages of your children but I think if you get them really enjoying the mornings (or whenever you spend the time with them), they'll happily busy themselves when you need to work. It gets easier as they get older!" -- Trish in NY

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"Joy, I wish I could give you a hug! Home schooling is hard and a lot of work, just as parenting is. I've taught in the classroom and I homeschool -- and hands down, home schooling is harder! However, it is well worth it. I would say you and hubby need to sit down and 'get on the same page'. What are your goals? What do you mean by 'more educational time' with your kids (isn't all of life educational?) Home schooling IS a job for you and adding another part-time job is very tough. Could you cut back somewhere -- clip coupons, take in a child or two to care for instead? Also, maybe you need to cut back in your curriculum. Stick to the basics: math and reading. Beyond that, do what you can. Maybe read a historical fiction book, discuss it, map it, etc. for a month and then the next month read about something scientific and do some group research on it. The greatest discouragement for a home school mom is trying to do TOO MUCH. I do this all the time. Also, have the kids do jobs to help with the house. Make a list that is to be done daily and let them make their own lunches. This freed up time for me to do other work. Lunchtime has always been mom's 'time out' so I could go and shut the door and be by myself. I would try some other avenues before I sent them back to the public school. Keep on keeping on!" -- Deb H.

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"Hi, Joy -- Oh, how I wish I was in Georgia to give you a hug! This is definitely a more challenging road than most but you can do it. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when I compare myself with other homeschool moms or my kids with other homeschool kids or kids that go to a public or private school. I have always homeschooled (just graduated my oldest last June) and often remind myself when I feel like quitting that God called me to do this and I pray it through. I too have been blessed with a part-time job that I mostly work at home -- but go into the office to write checks one day a week -- so our school week looks different than most. We work together 4 days and on Wednesday they do more independent work. I personally was getting frustrated about 7 years ago and found a different way of teaching by using a 'Charlotte Mason' approach. This way really works for our family. You may just need to look at the material you are using and decide if that is what is making it harder for you. What works for one family doesn't mean it will work for all families, even if the material is great material. What works for one of your children may not work for others. I like to teach things like History, Geography, and Literature all together and separate things like math on each child's level. It just makes it easier if we are all studying the same thing. I also school year round so that I can take a week off every six or seven weeks and still get in our state's mandatory school days/year -- this refreshes us all." -- Jodi-Marie from Maryland

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"Dear Joy -- I encourage you to continue schooling your children at home. I have done so since the beginning and now have four -- 13 x 2 and 10 x 2. We adopted one of each, so it's not really two sets of twins. The relationship I have with my two birth children is worth its weight in gold. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I have led a small group for homeschool moms for six years and several of them work part-time. Yes, it's a juggle. Yes, it's a struggle. But I believe that the education you can provide is far superior to that they would get in an institutional setting. I believe that with all my heart. Nobody cares more for their character and walk with the Lord than you do. No school can provide the same teacher to student ratio you can. Perhaps you need to adjust your school model as we all come to this thinking what homeschool looks like, based on our own years in public school. The key is to do some things together, but some as independent work. You can adjust your schedule accordingly and have the older ones help with the younger ones when you aren’t available. Don’t give up! I encourage you to give it more time!

I've had my own prayerful, tearful struggles with our two adopted children. Others tell me they would be better off in public school, but yet my heart tells me that this is where they will learn to be part of a family and where they will heal the holes in their hearts. Think of it this way. Satan doesn't want you to do this, so he will use your need for money and your feelings of inadequacy to lure you away from it. God put this in your heart. God will provide. God uses our inadequacies and He makes them strengths. I don't think it's God telling you to enroll them back in the public school. Pray that the Lord will show you the way." -- Michele in Colorado Springs

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