Welcome to Homeschooling: A Few Tips

I wrote this article in March a few years ago, not knowing how many people would be forced to homeschool in March 2020! Here are some tips and my own experiences with homeschooling. I’ll add a few curriculum links that I liked best and some fun things we did as mother and daughter staying at home. Take this opportunity to enjoy your children and family! 

 

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More time for swimming.

In an article I read this morning, “PARENTING: Consider the benefits of homeschooling” by Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman in the Herald Tribune of Florida, it lists a number of benefits to homeschooling, from learning at an individual pace to not being bound by a school calendar.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Have you thought about homeschooling your kids? Most people can easily make a list of reasons not to homeschool. That was Jody’s story when her oldest child asked to be homeschooled at the start of seventh grade.

“I’m not a teacher,” she thought. “I have no idea how to homeschool and really no desire.” But her son was serious and, after great consideration, she and her husband chose to honor his heartfelt request.

Very soon, Jody realized that children are not containers that we can pour information into. They are more like hunter/gatherers of knowledge and understanding, picking and choosing from the world around them, learning at their own pace and in their own way.

Jody’s son did not return to school until college. He’s now approaching his 30th birthday. He and his wife are both attorneys in New England.

We often tell parents that if their intention is to simply bring school into their homes, they may want to reconsider. In many cases, school does it better. But if they are looking for something unique, if they want to give their child a different experience, a more customized and pervasive education, homeschooling can be a great choice.

For starters, it gives families the time to focus on teaching important life skills and grooming character traits that will help kids become successful adults who offer strong contributions to their communities.

Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman are mothers with nine children between them, from an attorney to a pre-schooler, and one on the autism spectrum. Together they host a nationally syndicated radio show, “POP Parenting.” They are also freelance writers and international speakers. Get more information on their website, jenniandjody.com.

I found this interesting because my oldest child, my son begged to be homeschooled and I didn’t have the confidence to do it. By the time he went to high school and our daughter was beginning the middle school years, I decided to homeschool my daughter. I knew several families on our swim team that homeschooled their children and they were exceptionally personable, smart, and the kids I enjoyed immensely.

My daughter and I went to the Irvine Spectrum, an outdoor shopping mall, to meet with a person from Springs Charter School, which offers an academy and home school programs in So Cal, to get more information about their homeschooling program. We signed up that day and the next thing I did was research curriculum. I took my son, who had made it through middle school already to help me pick out materials at a CHEA convention in Long Beach, CA. I was shocked to see hundreds of vendors from Rosetta Stone to small book dealers. It was fun and overwhelming, but my son steered me through it–making sure the curriculum we selected was as rigorous as the one he had—or better. One my favorites was Beautiful Feet Books, history through literature.

What I discovered with Springs Charter school was that we were required to meet with a credentialed education specialist each month, and had to turn in all work. She made sure we kept on track and we weren’t slacking. They also administered the same standardized tests as the public schools at a nearby University classroom. We went on several of the 75 field trips offered each year like whale watching in San Diego, a trip to Medieval Times and SeaWorld. I was shocked that SeaWorld and Medieval Times were filled up to capacity— completely by homeschoolers.

 

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We got to experience New Orleans complete with several trips to Cafe De Monde.

The benefits we experienced: my daughter and I grew closer together. I was able to teach her basic life skills like banking, auto care, cooking, etc. We got to travel with my husband on business trips—New Orleans was our favorite. She got to learn at her own pace and in her own way—history lessons out by the pool or reading in the tub! She met her swim coach at the high school track in the early am when there wasn’t swim practice and ran with her. She had more time to hang out with friends. She loved crafts and had time to explore mosaics and quilting. She could work on swimming without being too tired for schoolwork or falling asleep in class.

Another huge benefit was getting to visit any place in Southern California during the week and avoiding the big crowds and lines you find on weekends. After our three years homeschooling for middle school, I went to work with my husband and my daughter entered our local high school. Although we loved the three years, it was time for both of us to move on.

 

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Sailing in Santa Barbara during the homeschool years.

Are you homeschooling now because of COVID 19? Have you ever considered homeschooling before? What were your reasons for homeschooling or not homeschooling?

 

Boomers: Do Not Call Your Child’s Office

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My kids who are now in the workforce. No, I don’t call their offices.

This is an actual memo that went out to a company this week. I am not making this up. My daughter sent this to me and said “You boomers are wildin’!” She was shown this by one of her coworkers who said it was sent to one of his family members at work.

It has come to my attention that we have had over 10 calls from parents about various subjects as it relates to their kids.

You are adults now and your job is YOUR responsibility. If you have a concern or need more information about the Coronavirus, 401k, Benefits or anything else that relates to work you need to communicate with your manager. If you can’t or don’t feel comfortable talking to your manager then please talk with HR.

I DO NOT want to hear again that someone’s parent called in HR or anyone else at our company for that matter to ask a question. You need to step up and be the responsible one as this is your job and you are an adult.

If your parent calls in that will be your final day.

Isn’t that something? Who are these parents? I would never, ever call my children’s HR or workplace. Of course we all want to know how our children’s companies are handling the coronavirus but I rely on my kids to let me know. For example, my son’s company has everyone working remotely. I’m really ashamed to be in the same generation with these people. How will these kids ever make it in the world?

IMG_0279What are your thoughts about a company having to issue a memo like this?

Parent Tip: Follow Your Own Advice

I wrote this during my daughter’s freshman year at college. I was transitioning from age group/high school swim mom to college swim mom. I loved all my swim mom years, but the freshman year was super exciting because of all the “firsts.”
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I’ve written several articles about not focusing on your swimmer’s times.

I have a confession to make: I have been so worried about my daughter’s times this year. She was adding 30 seconds to her 1,000 and mile. And more than 15 seconds on her 500. I believe she was swimming times she had as a 13-14 year old and she’s a freshman in college!

Open Water Nats at Lake Castaic, July 2014. Photo by Anne Lepesant.

Open Water Nats at Lake Castaic, July 2014. Photo by Anne Lepesant.

Trust the coach. I have written that more than a few times. My husband and I tried to relax and not worry. But, why was she swimming so slow? I’ll admit it. I was freaking out.

The freshman year is a big adjustment. She not only had to get used to living away from home for the first time, i.e. taking care of the daily aspects of her life and school. She also had a major change in her workouts, was training at altitude, and started weight training.

At one of her last dual meets of the season, the head coach told us that Kat was doing very well. That the coaches could see the progress she was making in practice. That was reassuring to us. After all, we never watched her in practice. We only saw her in dual meets. And saw those times…

Two weeks later we were at her conference meet. It was shaved and tapered time. She got a best time in the 500 by two seconds. This was the first drop she had in that event in almost two years. Then she swam the mile and dropped a whopping 16 seconds.

But, who’s focusing on times? It’s more important that my daughter loves her teammates, her coaches, her classes and is having fun. Right?

Like I said before. Trust the coach. Don’t focus on the times.

Practice at the home pool.

Practice at the home pool.

Have you ever not followed the advice you give to other parents? 

Does Parenting Ever Get “Easier?”

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My kids once liked to wear the armrest covers from our beach rental as hats.

I remember getting advice when my children were babies and toddlers from complete strangers who said, “Don’t worry, it will get easier as they get older.” An example of that was at a drug store and my son sat on the rubber mat of the automatic doorway and cried and cried. He wanted to get a pinwheel and he proudly brought his own dollar to buy it. He didn’t understand that the cashier was taking it away from him for good! He wanted it back.

I’ve been through babyhood to adulthood with my kids and I will tell you — it does not get easier. I have a friend who had four kids old enough to babysit my young kids. She used to be a “mom mentor” to me. She said, “It doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.” Other words of wisdom from her were “Bigger kids, bigger problems — like wrecked cars and flunked college classes.” Yes, I found these words to be true.

Which gives a mom more stress? Changing endless diapers or hearing that your child flunked an exam in college? Or, when I got a call from my son over a week ago who said he was knocking on doors for the election and a person “self-quarantined” for Coronavirus answered the door and took materials from him. I got a call from him minutes ago saying “Mom. I have a fever. I have a sore throat and cough. Those are the symptoms.” I’ll take the drudgery of picking up dirty clothes off the floor and changing puked on sheets any day of the week compared to what I’m feeling this minute!

In an article in The Week called Why ‘It gets easier’ is a parenting myth by Claire Gillespie, she discusses that having babies who are dependent upon you for everything is tiring, but as children enter their teens, we are faced with a whole new batch of problems.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Hang in there — it will get easier.”

The well-meaning words of a fellow parent. Someone whose kids were older and more obedient than mine — on that particular day, a fractious 3-year-old wrapped around my leg as I tried to wrestle his 10-month-old sister into her stroller.

I’m not usually one to take unsolicited parenting advice, but this I clung to.

Nine years later and I’m still waiting for it to get easier. Okay, so my son doesn’t form a vice around my calf in the supermarket parking lot anymore, but life with a kid on the cusp of teenagedom is just as challenging as the pre-school days. And while my almost-double-figures daughter is a lot more helpful during shopping trips, she’s as challenging as she was before she could walk and talk, just in completely different ways.

After a lengthy gap, I’ve gone back to the beginning. This time next year, I’ll have a toddler and a teenager. We’re already taking bets on who’ll be the most erratic. I reckon the odds are pretty even.

In some ways, that well-meaning bystander in the supermarket parking lot all those years ago was right. It does get easier, insofar as kids become more independent. They learn how to feed themselves, use the bathroom, get to grips with zippers and buttons and laces. They need you less for all the practical aspects of parenting that take up so much precious time during hectic mornings. When they start school, you even get a few hours’ respite from being at their beck and call.

Being in the position of comparing a very young child with two significantly older ones has confirmed to me that, as exhausted as I am from breastfeeding on demand and changing endless dirty diapers and simply being “on duty” around the clock, kids are easier when they’re younger.

Founder of Your Village Erin Royer-Asrilant, who has a master’s degree in psychology and a specialty in child development and family relationships, agrees that while the most physically taxing years were when she had three toddlers, she now faces other, more emotionally difficult parenting challenges.

“As my children have become more aware and spend more time out in the world, they have come up against things that I, even as a parenting expert, have to do some problem-solving to figure out,” she says. “There have been numerous occasions when my kids have had issues with something a teacher did or said. One time, my son was so distraught because he wasn’t voted to be on student council that he couldn’t stop crying when he got into the car after school that day.”

An unavoidable part of growing up is dealing with, well, grown-up stuff. My 90-year-old grandfather is currently seeing out the end of his life in hospital, and my two older kids have lots of questions that I don’t know the answers to. Mainly, they want to know what will happen to him when he dies. Years ago, when they asked me the same thing about our kitten after she had to be put to sleep, they accepted a vague response and were comforted with cuddles. These days, I can’t get away with bluffing.

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My toddler and newborn. I didn’t get much sleep back then.                                                                                                                 But now I have new reasons to lose sleep!

 

Here’s my question, do you think parenting ever gets easier? In what ways do you think it does or does not?

Lifeguards Warn Parents to Put the Phones Down

I read an article posted by FINIS, Inc. called Parents distracted by smartphones can lead to kids drowning, lifeguards warn, written by Scott Stump for Today.com. (FINIS, Inc. is a swim technology and equipment company whose mission is: “OUR VISION IS TO HELP EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD ENJOY THE WATER.”

Think about how scary it is to be a distracted parent, supposedly supervising children in the water. Take your eyes off your children at the pool for a moment and they could be gone. Forever.

Once again, I’m thankful for the lack of technology in the 1990s when my kids were little. I watched them like a hawk at the pool and beach. I loved to sit and read outside, one of my favorite pleasures, but when the kids were on duty, I was on guard.

I get so distracted by phone now, I can’t imagine what would happen if I had young kids. I drop everything and my fingers and face go to my phone when my blog blings or I hear a text’s tri-tone. (What’s a tri-tone you ask? You know the sound. It’s the sound you hear when a text comes in. Here’s the the story behind it.) In any case, we can all get distracted by our phones and when kid are in the water, we need to turn off our phones or leave them in our bags. That’s for their safety, which is more important than any call, text FB post or tweet we are driven to look at.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The world’s largest lifeguard association has issued a warning that parents engrossed in their cellphones while kids are swimming can be a deadly mix.

The German Lifeguard Association is claiming that parents absorbed in their cellphones is a growing problem that has contributed to children drownings. Germany had 279 drownings in the first seven months of 2018, according to the association.

“Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: When your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away,” German Lifeguard Association spokesman Achim Wiese told The Guardian.

Drownings are the second-leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 14 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Parents distracted by texting or social media present a growing problem when it comes to keeping kids safe while swimming.

“A lot of parents don’t realize that it only takes seconds for a child to submerge and potentially drown,” Mary Beth Moran, director for the Center for Healthier Communities at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, told TODAY’s Stephanie Gosk.

“It can take seconds and you’re not necessarily looking for them, and all of a sudden they’re at the bottom of the pool.”

With warmer weather ahead of us, take this warning to heart. There is a suggestion in the article to share the watching responsibilities with other adults. It’s a lot to ask one parent to be on duty the entire time. If you get a call or text and need to reply or answer, ask another parent to watch your child while you get out your phone. Also, take turns with another parent or friend to be the parent on watch for a limited amount of time each, say half an hour or so.

Children love being in the water and we can’t rely completely on lifeguards to keep them safe. Our kids are our first priority and responsibility. kat and rob beach

What advice do you have to keep our children safe in the water?

Tips on better ways to discipline your kids

randk 11When I look back at my parenting days when the kids were young, I honestly can’t remember many times when I had to discipline them. They will say I was strict — more strict than their friends’ parents — so you’d think I was heavy-handed with discipline, right? Maybe I’ve just gotten old and have forgotten why or when I had to discipline my kids.

One thing I do remember clearly was them fighting over sand at the beach — throwing sand in each other’s faces and knocking down sandcastles. How did I handle them fighting? Mostly with time-outs. What didn’t work at the beach was to make them pack up and return to the house. I tried that and discovered that I liked being at the beach and I was the one who lost out! They were perfectly happy to be back in the house in front of the T.V.

In the Santa Maria Times there is a great article by Claire McCarthy, M.D. Harvard Health Blog, called Discipline of children: How to avoid long-term negative effects.

The article talks about the negative consequences of yelling or spanking your kids. Dr. McCarthy said studies show it doesn’t work and may cause aggressive behavior, mental health issues and substance abuse. It also hurts the relationship between the parent and child. In addition to discussing negative consequences of aversive parenting, she gives tips for positive discipline techniques. I highly recommend reading the entire article. Following are Dr. McCarthy’s tips for disciplining your children:

An alternative approach to discipline is in a loving, proactive way. Teach the rules ahead of time rather than waiting for your child to break them and reacting then — and be as positive and empowering as you can. Here are some tips:

  • Have realistic expectations. Babies are going to cry, toddlers are going to get into things they shouldn’t, school-age kids sometimes lie to avoid trouble, and teenagers — well, they do all sorts of things as they assert their independence. Not that you have to ignore or condone these behaviors (well, you might have to just deal with a baby crying; that’s not misbehaving), but it’s important to understand the stage your child is going through as you discipline. At each checkup with your pediatrician, talk about what to expect next in your child’s development.
  • Set clear limits. No should mean no, and there should be house and family rules for kind, safe behavior. Each family will have slightly different rules, but they should be clearly stated and known to everyone. Not only that, but when it comes to rules you need to:
  • Be consistent. If something isn’t allowed, it’s not allowed. If you give in sometimes out of sheer exhaustion or because you weren’t super-committed to that rule, kids will pick up on that immediately. Which means that you need to choose your rules carefully (meaning: Pick your battles).
  • Have predictable and clear consequences for breaking rules. Giving kids a heads-up is helpful (“I am going to count to three, and I need that to stop, or we will have a consequence”). The consequence should be something they don’t like — sending them to their room where they play with toys may not do the trick. “Timeout” is one option, where you put the child in a boring place for a minute for each year of age and don’t interact with them. You can also take toys or privileges away.
  • Reinforce good behavior. Say things like, “I love it when you … ” or “That was so nice that you did that!” or “Because you behaved so well today, let’s read an extra story tonight.” Children like praise and may be more likely to behave well when they see that it’s worth their while.
  • Be mindful of your own needs and reactions. Parenthood is hard. Sometimes parents need a timeout themselves. If you feel yourself getting really upset, make sure your child is somewhere safe, and then take some time to calm down.

What methods of discipline do you use for your kids and how well does it work?

Who believes Operation Varsity Blues parents are innocent?

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Proof my daughter swam her way into  college.

Seriously? The attorney for the famous couple of the Instagram influencer is saying that they are innocent to charges of bribing USC to get their kids in. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times today called New evidence backs Loughlin’s and Giannulli’s innocence, lawyer says explains why they think they are innocent.

Rick Singer was the college consultant who set up a fake charity and took large sums of money from parents to guarantee admission to universities. In Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli’s case, they paid $500,000 to have their daughters admitted to University of Southern California on the crew team — and neither daughter had ever been rowers. I guess we’re supposed to forget that the parents had pictures of their daughter taken on an erg or that they had someone photoshop their daughter’s head on a rower in a boat. That’s not suspicious at all, right?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

BOSTON —  Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, said Wednesday that new evidence shows the couple is innocent of charges that they bribed their daughters’ way into USC.

An attorney for the couple said in a legal filing that prosecutors provided the defense with notes written by the admitted ringleader of the college admissions cheating scheme that support the couple’s claim that they believed their payments were legitimate donations, not bribes.

“This belated discovery is devastating to the government’s case and demonstrates that the government has been improperly withholding core exculpatory information, employing a ‘win at all costs’ effort rather than following their obligation to do justice,” attorney Sean Berkowtiz wrote.

The filing came on the eve of a status hearing in the case scheduled for Thursday at Boston’s federal court in the sweeping college admissions bribery case. It was expected that the judge would set a trial date for the parents still fighting the charges at that hearing.

Now, the couple’s attorneys are asking the judge to postpone the setting of the trial date in light of the new evidence, saying “it is the only fair way to protect the defendants’ rights.”

Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits even though neither was a rower. Authorities say the money was funneled through a sham charity operated by college admissions consultant Rick Singer, who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme.

Lawyers for Loughlin and Giannulli have argued that the couple believed the payments were “legitimate donations” that would go directly to USC as a fundraising gift or to support Singer’s charity. They have accused prosecutors of hiding crucial evidence that could prove the couple’s innocence because it would undermine their case.

It comes down to some notes by the less than honest Singer that supposedly hold exculpatory evidence for Loughlin and Giannulli. Do you think that it will be enough to prove their innocence? I guess we’ll find out in the fall when the parents go to trial.

My daughter diving in a competition with her club team at the East LA City College pool.

I am particularly annoyed with these parents in the college admissions scandal because I watched my son get rejected by eight of the nine universities he applied to. He worked so hard in high school to get into the schools of his dreams. He was valedictorian, had great SATs, participated in extracurriculars like swimming, Junior Statesmen of America, and wrote and performed music with his band. My heart ached for him and now I learn that many of the spots were taken by parents cheating the system for their kids. Also, my daughter earned her scholarship through years and years of hard work as a student- athlete. How many of those spots were taken across the nation by kids not even in a sport — and taken away from someone else who worked for ten or more years to get there?