What options do parents have for homeschooling?

602327_4372093584312_659699385_n

My daughter with teammates and friends during the homeschool years.

It can be overwhelming trying to decide the best course for educating our kids. With so many parents working remotely from home and schools not opening up, many parents want to explore the options available to them.

When I homeschooled my daughter for middle school, I went to a homeschool conference in Long Beach, CA called CHEA (Christian Home Educators Association) that helped me get started. Back then it was in person of course, and I was able to browse through hundreds of vendors of curriculum on every subject imaginable. I took my son with me, who is three years older than his sister. I figured he’d already made it through grades 6, 7 and 8 with flying colors and could help me select curriculum that would be as good or better than he had at our private school.

The reason why I chose to homeschool was based on several factors, including my daughter’s commitment to swimming and conflicts with her school. They were pretty strict about missing school for non-school sponsored sports or activities. Also, they piled on heaps of homework that homeschoolers don’t have to do. I loved many of the teachers, but with new administration in place, we saw changes we weren’t in agreement with.

Deciding to homeschool was a freeing experience. I remember vividly making the call to tell the school that my daughter wasn’t coming back. It was the start of an adventure. I knew several homeschool families and they directed me to a charter school that offered some in-class options as well as homeschool. They had a teacher assigned to each family that we met with to review assignments to make sure my daughter was on track. They offered standardized testing at a local college for all their students. Also, they had a huge selection of field trips such as Disneyland, whale watching, and Sea World. I was shocked when we went on our first field trip to Medieval Times in Orange County and the entire arena was filled with thousands of homeschool families.

I felt like I had plenty of support by the charter school which was Springs Charter School. Also, I hired a tutor for math because that’s not one of my strong points. I won’t say homeschooling was easy breezy. In truth, it was a lot of work and a full time job for me. But they are years I’ll never forget. My daughter told me last week that she was happy I homeschooled her. By the time 8th grade was finished, we were both ready for her to return to school and she entered our public high school.

I read with interest two articles about the decisions parents are making today to educate their children from home. Here’s an excerpt from Pandemic parenting: How do you pick a good online education option? by Marc Istook from WFAA an ABC News station in Dallas, TX.

Search google for “online educational content” and you’ll find 126,000 results. That just goes to show how many options parents have to choose from.

The pandemic has seen an increased need for these resources as parents try to help educate their kids during school closures and uncertainty about the fall.

But Lauren Minor, a former teacher and curriculum creator, explained it doesn’t have to be a stressful crisis of choices.

“Sometimes we can get paralyzed in this fear of making a decision, worried we’ll make the wrong one,” she explained. “Every option has the opportunity for the child to be successful.”

That provides some comfort, because it can be stressful trying to pick one option. Between ABC Mouse, Khan Academy, PBS Kids, Sesame Street and so many others, choices abound.

Whether it’s education-focused videos or just content to keep your kids entertained and moving, there seems to be something for everyone. Which is why it’s important to know your own child’s needs.

“What do they easily engage with?” Minor asks. “Are they more tactile? Do they like working with their hands? And then, what excites them? Do they get really excited about and feel successful when they complete a workbook page or do they feel really excited and successful when they complete a science experiment?” 

Those are the questions parents should try to answer when making their plan. 

Fortunately, many subscription-based offerings allow for a trial period. Minor explained that’s a great way to see what works for your family.

“I would recommend looking into a few trials right now and seeing which ones your child really engages with and feels successful in doing.”

76014_10150089816544612_743743_nThe

The other article I read discussed the different types of options for homeschooling, like the charter school option we selected to forming learning pods at home.

Growing interest in true, hands-on home school options as school year nears by Amanda del Castillo at ABC7News.com in the Bay Area discussed how parents can homeschool. Here’s an excerpt:

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — It’s no secret the pandemic is pushing parents to become more involved in their child’s education.

Education experts say the move toward true home schooling is growing across the state, and right here in the Bay Area. The approach is different from the distance learning expected this fall, as it’s known to be more hands-on.

While navigating options for education during COVID-19 may seem overwhelming, the Homeschool Association of California (HSC) said there’s proof that more parents are pivoting to homeschooling.

“Distance learning and homeschooling are two different things,” HSC board member and secretary treasurer, Jamie Heston told ABC7 News. “With distance learning, you are tied legally to a school. They’re telling you what you need to do. They’re directing the education.”

She continued, “True homeschooling is when you are directing the education. That doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. That can encompass using classes, or tutors, or other parents.”

Heston said parents are able to use online class curriculum and other resources to find success.

“So, you’re directing the education but you’re not necessarily doing all of it yourself,” Heston added.

She also serves as a moderator of several local home school groups, and is a home school consultant.

Heston explained she usually points parents in the direction of Charter Schools. It’s a public school option that offers resources, and teachers to support homeschooling.

“Generally, for families who are going to just home school for a short time and pop back into school… I usually recommend using a charter because that’s still a public school, but you’re doing the day to day work at home.”

According to the article, it states the charter schools have huge waiting lists, but I think it’s still worth checking out. They may have alternatives and several different programs still available.

The article gave advice to comply legally in California for homeschooling, which is important.

“Create a small private school in your home, which is how I’ve always home schooled,” she said. “And that’s filing the private school affidavits and keeping a few things on file. The government has no say in how private schools are run. So, you have a lot of decision making and a lot of responsibility as a small private school.”

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) lists three options to comply with California’s Home School Law:

  • Option 1: Homeschooling as a home-based private school
  • Option 2: Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP)
  • Option 3: Homeschooling via instruction by a private tutor

In the South Bay, A TEAM Homeschool Community Executive Director Ann Wolfe said the pandemic is forcing parents to become more involved.

“Parents are more engaged, more on-board,” Wolfe told ABC7 News. “Listening to their kids, and not just expecting somebody else to do all the educating.”

She’s home-schooled for nearly 20 years.

“A friend and I decided to start our own,” she said, referring to the A TEAM program. “And we brought in teachers to teach those things that we didn’t want to teach. We started in our homes and then eventually went into facilities, church facilities, and expanded our programs.”

Now, Wolfe provides support for home-schoolers.

“The ranges from everything from PE to physics, and from Kindergarten through 12th grade,” she explained. “Ao people can pick and choose- a la carte- whatever classes they want, whatever days they want, to round out their homeschooling curriculum.”

About the growing interest, Wolfe explained, “I just see all these Facebook groups popping up- Pandemic Pods.”

“People coming on home school groups that have been around for a while and asking, ‘Hey, what do I do about this? How do I home school legally?’ And all these different questions,” she told ABC7 News. “I’ve received emails from people saying, ‘I’m considering homeschooling for the fall. Can you tell me something about your program? Or how do I do this?’ And so, a lot more interest in homeschooling that I’ve never really seen before.”

35645_1520560497767_2438958_n

The swim team offered lots of fun times with friends, teammates and coaches.

Have you considered homeschooling during the pandemic? If your schools aren’t reopening what are your plans?

Day 89 Shelter in Place: More Change

IMG_5888

The park near my home where I’ve been walking Waffles.

I have two big changes in my “new normal.” One, because our city pool hasn’t opened up yet, I finally dove into our backyard pool to swim. It’s too short to do more than ten strokes, so I ordered a swim bungee cord that connects to a velcro strap that goes around my waist. It took me a day or two to figure out this is really good exercise — although I don’t swim as long as I would at Masters in the city pool. When you swim against the bungee, it’s resistance training and I get really sore!

I’ve done five days of swimming and I’m making progress. My back and arms are killing me. I should have started this 88 days ago, but hey I’m doing it now! When I take off the contraption, I feel free like I can fly through the water. This has to be good for me in addition to my daily walks.IMG_5883

The second big change comes tomorrow. My girl and Waffles the pug have decided to return to their lives in the Bay Area. I do know this is for the best but wow. I am going to miss them both. I’m getting a little teary-eyed at the thought.

One of the blessings of this horrific pandemic has been the time we got to share together while sheltering in place. It gave us time together for several months that I doubt would have ever happened without COVID-19. I’m happy for her to move on with her life, but yes, I’m going to miss her and Waff.

IMG_5743

Waffles on my lap. I’m going to miss this good boy!

How is your life changing through these days?

 

 

My first two tips for swim parents

This is one of my first posts about being a swim parent. It’s fun to look back on an article that prompted a slew of other articles with tips about swim parenting. I’ve definitely learned a lot about mistakes I made with my kids as well as relished the friendships we made along the journey. At the time, these two tips were so important to me that I believed they were the “top two tips.” Today, I would put them somewhere lower down the list! 

katswim2

My daughter has almost completed her age-group swim experience that began at age 5. She has a few weeks left with the team she’s been with for 13 years — and then she leaves for college.

If swim parents of USA Swimming age groupers were to ask me for advice I have two top tips.

ontheblocksNUMBER ONE.

Never lie to your coach. Reinforce to your child to never lie to their coach.

NUMBER TWO.
Respect the planning that goes into a year-long swim calendar and schedule your vacations accordingly.

diveThe lying sounds ridiculous and obvious, right? Your child never lies. You never lie. But, you’d be surprised. Even if you truly fall in the category of the family that never lies, others do lie. What happens if your child is asked by another swimmer to not tell why they missed practice? Or, what if your child knows that a teammate is at Disneyland and not sick in bed and the coach asks her point blank? It all comes out in the end — so avoid this embarrassment — and never, ever lie. When a coach finds out the truth, which inevitably will happen, your swimmer will lose credibility. How does he or she get that trust back?

blurryswimThe second tip is also a matter of respect. If your swimmer is a serious year-round swimmer, there will be a certain point in their career when you just can’t take off whenever you want. Time-wise, it’s usually around the age of 12 or 13 for girls. Perhaps a little older for boys. I bet you didn’t know that the coach has training cycles and plans out an entire year’s practice in advance — sometimes plans 2 to 3 years out or longer? I bet you didn’t realize that when you go visit Aunt Sally for a week at Christmas you may be missing a huge workout week that is setting up your swimmer for success for the rest of the season? Respect your coaches and their training cycles. They actually put in vacation weeks during their year’s plan. It’s so much better for your swimmer to have your family’s calendar and the team’s on the same track.

katdiveMy two cents worth. What advice do you have for successful swim parenting? If you have a tip, please post it below!swimblog5

What to tell your daughter on graduation night

Graduation has been difficult this year with COVID-19. Instead of the normal ceremonies and all-night Disneyland celebrations in Southern California, we’ve had drive-through ceremonies and grad signs posted in yards. I wrote the following story during my daughter’s celebration of graduating from high school. I believe this message resonates for parents and graduates today. 
katwide
Today my little girl graduates high school. What a joy she has been to raise, teach and hang out with. I remember her kindergarten interview where she had to be tested for one of the coveted spots at St. Theresa’s. She had fun buns on her head and ankle high “Britney Boots,” marketed for little girls dreaming of becoming Britney Spears. She boldly entered the kindergarten class and announced to the world that she was “Robert’s little sister.”

IMG_4888Today, I have a tall, wise-cracking young lady with a big smile and sparkle in her eye. If I could tell my daughter three things she needs to know for her next adventure called college, what would it be? 

katpromharryFirst…

“To thine own self be true.” Don’t worry about what other people think. Do what you know is right. This famous quote is from Polonius to his son Laertes, before Laertes boards a boat to Paris in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Even though it’s pretty old, it still resonates today.

katsurfSecond…

Happiness is not having a boyfriend or being thin. My mom would tell me the worst things when I was my daughter’s age — mainly focused on the need to “have a man” — or that “a man would make me happy.” This must be a throwback to my mother’s generation, where a woman’s identity and self-worth were wrapped up in a spouse. Instead, I will tell my daughter that happiness is found within yourself — by doing something that you love. Once you find happiness in yourself, only then can you share it with others.

swimmer4Last…

Don’t worry about what your career or major will be. You will figure it out. Don’t feel pressure about it. Most people going into college that have a major, change their minds anyway. Get your basic requirements out of the way and then after taking different classes you will discover what you don’t like and what you do like.katandrobert

 

And most importantly, not even on the list — I love you.

 

Utah Swimming and Dive  Kat WickhamWhat three things would you tell your daughter on graduation night?

Day 40: Shelter in Place

IMG_5610

Robolights

Amazing that it’s been 40 days and the three of us are still speaking to each other. I will say the novelty of my husband working from home has worn off. Having my daughter home has been a rare treat — although I’m not sure she’d say the same.

We have to walk early in the morning because the sun gets too hot by 8 a.m. What is surprising is the number of people out and about has quadrupled this week. I think it’s because we’re all out at the same time to avoid the heat. Yesterday and today, I went for my daily walk to the park and just don’t want to be that close to other people. So, I’ve veered off to walk the streets of our neighborhood. I enjoy looking at the architecture and landscaping. One house is famous for its Christmas display called Robolights. The artist, Kenny Irwin, has worked on this place for more than 30 years and it’s quite fascinating even without its hundreds of thousands — or millions — lights that glow during Christmastime. Here’s a story about the future of Robolights which may move out of the city due to unhappy neighbors and zoning regulations.

IMG_5609

Robolights statues.

Something fun we’ve been enjoyed is playing smash ball in the pool. It’s a game we played at the beach for years. We end up laughing and smiling and staying cool while it’s more than 100 degrees outside. We’ve played so much that I can barely raise my arm.

Major accomplishments that my daughter and I have done are cleaning out the food cupboards and the laundry room plus making homemade tamales. I’m almost done with another goal — cleaning out and reorganizing all our files. That’s something I’ve dreaded doing but have needed to do since we remodeled the guest room a few years ago and everything got thrown into boxes. A few more weeks of this shelter in place and my home may be more organized than it ever was before.

Life seems scary at times, but we are all in this together. I love my family and friends and I don’t know if we’ll have a new normal or not. But, we will continue on.

IMG_5613

Frank Sinatra Estate

What are your favorite things to pass the time during shelter in place?

 

9 Thoughts About Shelter In Place: DAY 21

IMG_5481

One of my favorite streets on my morning walk.

21 Days. Isn’t that something? My daughter came home a few days before we got the order. I’m so glad she made it here. She’s been a joy to have around along with her fur baby Waffles. We have plenty of room to have my husband, me and my daughter all working from home — together — yet apart.

Here’s a few thoughts I have about these strange days:

ONE
I go from super calm and productive to anxiety ridden from day to day.

TWO
I’m losing track of the days and the time. Twice I have woken up thinking it’s 6 a.m. and started the coffee only to look at the clock in the kitchen that reads 11:40 p.m.

THREE
My routine of daily three pages of writing, my three mile walk and Bible readings to start my day are more important than ever. All three help me stay grounded.

FOUR
I’m reading lots of good books. Sitting in my back yard in the sun reading is one of my favorite things to do.

FIVE
10,000 people have died in our country. My heart goes out to all the people suffering and losing loved ones.

SIX
We are now told to wear masks when we leave the house. I’m using a make-shift one from my quilting supplies. It’s hard to breathe during my morning walks, though, and my glasses fog up.

SEVEN
My writing jobs are completed and turned in and now I’m in uncharted territory without every minute of my day focused on meeting deadlines.

EIGHT
My daughter and I cleaned and organized the food cupboards and the laundry room. It feels good to have clean spaces.

NINE
I’m reaching out to family via phone and email. It’s important to stay in touch with your loved ones.

IMG_5474

My new morning walk look.

What are your thoughts about sheltering in place during the pandemic?

Swim Parents: Facing the Final Meet

I wrote this two years ago, a few days before what would be my daughter’s final swim meet. I have friends who are experiencing this bittersweet feeling today. I feel for them. It was such an emotional rollercoaster ride sitting at our daughter’s last college meet. The good news is I’m transitioning from swim mom to Masters swimmer and I’m now officially a “rowing mom” with our son now competing in regattas.

10989205_427382057417968_1053048555776130980_n

PAC 12 2015

There I’ve said it. My daughter’s last meet is days away. It’s her senior year and her final meet will be the PAC 12 conference meet in Federal Way, WA. I’m kind of jumbled up on how I feel about it. I love being a swim mom and I find myself looking back on little moments with nostalgia and sadness. I will miss going to her meets.

My husband and I were browsing through the App called Meet Mobile this morning looking at different conference results from local schools where our children’s friends are swimming like UCSB and UCSD. I realized that I know a couple of the seniors’ names, but other than that there aren’t a whole lot of swimmers I recognize.

The past few years haven’t been all rosy. After a great freshman year, she got a high ankle sprain chasing after Trax, the public transportation train in Salt Lake City. That meant she couldn’t push off the walls for weeks during long course season and didn’t get her Olympic Trial cut. I think that was a devastating blow to her at the time, although it doesn’t seem like such a big deal now.

Then at last year’s PAC 12s, she got the flu. A really bad flu where the coaches didn’t let her swim or even out of her room until the final day of the meet. It was decidedly weird sitting in the stands for PAC 12s and not having a participant in the meet. Her last and only event she gave it everything she had. I was so nervous I thought I’d faint. I wasn’t sure if she was going to survive that mile-long race, but she did. Her coach said it was a “heroic swim” and he was so proud of her. It was close to a best time.

This year she’s been fighting through a bad shoulder injury. I worry if it was because she started swimming so young, so intensely or for so many years? What should I have done differently as a swim parent? Make her stop? Let her take time off?

She will take time off this year. But what I’m hoping for is next year, after my surgery and I’ve healed, that she will swim with me at a Masters meet–so I can be a swimmer and a swim mom all in one day.

 

img_6591

My daughter’s coaches and teammates cheering for her during the 1650 at last year’s PAC 12s.

Any bets on if I’ll cry at my daughter’s final college meet?