10 Things Parents Give Up When They Homeschool

1. quiet days, whether at home or at the office

Photo Credit: Barker Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

2. packing brown bag lunches or scrambling for lunch money every morning

3. the morning ritual of making sure nobody goes back to sleep after their alarm sounds

4. sending your child out running to catch the bus (and driving them to school when they miss it)

5. parent/teacher conferences (unless you count walking around and muttering to yourself as a teacher conference!)

6. all-school concerts and other mandatory evening events

7. providing a doctor’s note when your child misses school due to illness

8. mandatory parent-teacher commitments and fundraisers

9. the evening homework saga

10. before- and after-school transitions (in which you’re sure your child’s best behavior is being saved for their teacher)

Photo Credit: Vannucci Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

What others can you add to this list?

 

10 Reasons Why Oak Meadow May Be the Perfect Fit for You

How can you tell if Oak Meadow will be a good fit for your family? Choosing a homeschool curriculum or a distance learning school may feel like a very big decision. There are many options available, and it can feel challenging to sort through to find the best fit.

What are you looking for in a home learning program? Would Oak Meadow be a good match for your family? See if any of the following points resonate with you.

1. Being actively involved in your child’s learning feels right to you. You appreciate your child as an individual and enjoy spending time with them. You value the deep connection between you and your child, and you trust that because you are a loving parent, you are naturally well suited to be your child’s home teacher.

An Oak Meadow education means that you, the parent, are your child’s primary teacher. As an Oak Meadow parent, you remain closely involved in every step of your child’s learning. When they need help conquering a challenge, you are right there to help them in a way that honors their unique personality. Your loving connection to your child qualifies you as the best expert on their needs.

2. Your child is keen to engage in creative, hands-on learning – and you like it, too. Learning by doing comes naturally to them, and you enjoy supporting their curiosity and efforts. 

Oak Meadow encourages students to learn experientially through real-world experiences. Take math skills out into the garden for a carpentry project, visit local historic sites, or go hiking with a sketchbook in hand. The small scale of home learning allows for one-on-one assistance with a wide range of projects. Experiments and creations can be spread out and returned to over and over. Depending on your child’s needs, you can be closely involved, or step back and allow their creativity to bloom with support as needed. The world is your classroom!

3. Your mind is open to a range of effective ways to approach education. You are eager to figure out how to help your child thrive, even if the solution is unconventional.

Perhaps traditional school hasn’t worked out as well as you had hoped, or maybe you just have an intuitive sense that it won’t be a good fit for your unconventional learner. Homeschooling and distance learning can be very helpful options for students who learn outside of the box, and Oak Meadow is easily adaptable for learning differences.

4. You believe nature should be a central theme in children’s learning. The natural world provides a multitude of catalysts for learning and growing, and it also provides a healthy environment for playing and living. 

Oak Meadow’s curriculum encourages students to keenly observe and develop a relationship with the natural world. Frequent outdoor play and exploration are encouraged and valued. The relationship between nature and the student is so important that it is a key theme throughout Oak Meadow’s curriculum.

5. You appreciate having the flexibility to adapt lessons to your child’s unique learning needs and interests. If something isn’t working for you or your child, you will modify it. You use curriculum as a starting point, then let your child’s passions guide your choices within and beyond the given material.

We know that every child is unique, and that’s why Oak Meadow’s curriculum is full of various possibilities for all kinds of learners. It’s up to you (and your child’s teacher, if you enroll in distance learning) to pick and choose from the options presented in the lessons. You might need to try different things to figure out what works, but in time, you and your child will both have a better understanding of how they learn best.

6. You believe that learning is a lifestyle that best involves the whole family. You recognize that the needs of all family members are interwoven, and you choose to create a home life that supports healthy learning and growth for everyone in the family.

Students who learn at home have the benefit of a holistic lifestyle where living and learning are totally intertwined. Siblings learn with and from each other, and the bond between family members of all ages is developed and strengthened.

7. You feel that education should address the whole child, not just academic growth. You honor the importance of your child’s passions, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and insecurities and honor the role those things play in your child’s learning.

Many educational programs focus on academics without acknowledging the many other important facets of a child’s being. Oak Meadow’s philosophy is all about nurturing learning in a comprehensive way, weaving together the many different kinds of growth and development in a balanced, holistic approach.

8. You have a good sense of when to ask for support, either through enrollment or through our homeschooling support service. You are willing and able to reach out to others in your community and beyond to widen your child’s learning support system and make use of helpful resources. 

You know that nobody has all the answers. You trust that you’ll learn what you need to know along the way. The most successful Oak Meadow families are proactive and persistent in reaching out to those who can help them out in various ways on their homeschooling journey.

9. You appreciate the idea of a secular (non-religious) academic curriculum. If your family opts for religious education, you supplement with faith-based religious curriculum or design your own course of religious instruction that honors your family’s beliefs.

Oak Meadow is one of few providers of complete secular homeschooling curriculum. Many families come to us because they are looking for an alternative to the many faith-based programs that are available. Some families choose to supplement our materials with faith-based lessons in order to incorporate spiritual education into their homeschooling experience. Oak Meadow supports the freedom of parents to choose the best way to support their child’s religious and spiritual education.

10. Whether you are looking for a comprehensive homeschooling curriculum or an accredited distance learning school, you value the wisdom Oak Meadow offers from over 40 years of experience in supporting home learners

Oak Meadow’s founder, Lawrence Williams, began with a thoughtful vision for home education that remains an inspiration to all of us at Oak Meadow. Our teachers and counselors are carefully chosen to support Oak Meadow’s philosophy. Many of us have used Oak Meadow materials and services with our own children. We hold ourselves to the same standards we would demand for our own families. Through the years, our program has gone through countless revisions to provide families with the best possible homeschooling and distance learning experiences, and we continue to revise and update our materials on an ongoing basis.

Is Oak Meadow a good fit for your family’s needs? Hopefully you’ve already begun to gain some insights into the possibility. Our website offers comprehensive information about our company, our philosophy, our homeschooling curriculum, and our distance learning program. The educational counselors in our office are available online or by phone at 802-251-7250 to answer your questions. Contact us and let us help you find your family’s unique path to organic learning!

_________________________________________________________

This article originally appeared in home|school|life magazine in May 2016.

Note to Former Self: What I wish I’d known before our two decades of homeschooling

by June M. Schulte

When we began homeschooling in 1982, our eldest was just over seven years old, the legal age for school in Vermont. Although we were doing a lot with our children – reading aloud, making crafts, singing, dancing and so on – we weren’t quite sure which things might count as education and what was needed that we didn’t even know about. The day we received word from the State that we were okay to homeschool, our five children were ages 7¼, 5¾, 4, 2, and 10 days old. John Holt spoke to homeschoolers nearby that week, and we were encouraged by his words about the natural way children learn by doing.

Photo Credit: June M. Schulte (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: June M. Schulte
(Oak Meadow Archives)

We had searched for a good curriculum to use, and felt the one which best matched our view was offered by Oak Meadow School. Based on exchanges with cofounders Bonnie and Lawrence Williams, our eldest was placed in second grade and our daughter in first. We also bought the kindergarten curriculum to guide the younger children and, in truth, to reassure us in case our eldest had missed something important. We felt ready and excited.

Execution of the curriculum was another story altogether. Our fifth child was a newborn and a robust 10lb-er; however, he also startled very easily and had rapid respirations for his first two weeks. In years to come, we would discover he had attention inconsistencies, but in those first months of homeschooling, it translated into needing to keep the household relatively quiet (in Winter) so the baby wasn’t over-stimulated. Also, as a nursing mother, I had a series of breast infections not easily quelled with antibiotics, as we eventually discovered there were two germs involved, not one. It was a challenge!

Photo Credit: June M. Schulte (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: June M. Schulte
(Oak Meadow Archives)

By the time we were sending our first quarter report and samples to Oak Meadow, I was quite concerned, as it seemed to me we had failed miserably. I felt that the most academic thing we had done all season was make a leaf mobile!  We had also written a poem about the season, read aloud, sung songs (things that can be done with a babe in arms), and played a lot. But there were few lessons of any kind. At least I had kept a journal of what learning I noticed, and sent it along. I braced myself for the response from Oak Meadow.

What came was a beautifully encouraging letter from Bonnie Williams herself, highlighting the many learning opportunities she found evident in my journal. Being a mother of four, she had read between the lines. She noted that my older children had learned that babies come first, to make their own sandwiches, and to help one another. She assured me that there would yet be plenty of time to accomplish the paperwork in the curriculum and recommended we simply stay with it.

We did, and I am so grateful for that. Bonnie was right. By the end of the year, we had completed the lessons in the curriculum, and our State Certified Teacher (who later opened a Waldorf school) confirmed it, giving me the greatest sense of accomplishment and peace!

Photo Credit: June M. Schulte (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: June M. Schulte
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Our children are now ages 41½ , 40, 38, 36, and 34. They all made the Dean’s List their first semester of college, graduated, and have been gainfully employed since. They are not social misfits. In fact, our eldest is a company manager, 5th-degree black belt and international TaekwonDo referee, dad, and co-owner of a horse farm with his spouse. Our daughter graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Mathematics and is a partner in a worldwide firm, a mom, and owner of a large house in Maine. Our third child has a Ph.D. and is a wildlife biologist who headed up shorebird recovery in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil spill; he is a dad, town selectman, marathon runner, and 3rd-degree black belt who teaches TaekwonDo. Our fourth child has a degree in Computer Science, works in customer support, and founded a non-profit focused on sustainability that grows food for food shelves. Our youngest has a degree in Networking and Website Development and makes websites for a good living; he is a dad, records local bands to get their music out to the public, and owns a house with his spouse.

Moreover, they are happy. They care about the world, the nation, and their local communities. They play with their children and are good friends. The many fears we had in those early days (and along the way) have been allayed. Our six grandchildren, currently age 10 years to 10 months, are intelligent, funny, sweet people.

Photo Credit: June M. Schulte (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: June M. Schulte
(Oak Meadow Archives)

I wish I could have known at the outset how it would be now. But, really, we just had to take it one day (sometimes one hour!) at a time. I’d say keeping a journal was the most important work I contributed, because it not only recorded the moments for which there was no paperwork, but it helped me notice and appreciate their slow and wonderful flourishing. On the tough days (and there were many), it was sanity-producing to read back over the last month’s journal and know for sure that we were making progress. It was what I drew from to create our end of year reports.

Note to former self:  If a child is loved deeply, is given good resources, great art materials, lots of trips to libraries, field trips when possible, hands-on exploration, and heaps of fun, they cannot help but thrive. The curriculum itself is secondary. There is no way we can give a child all the knowledge they will need in life. So we need to teach them, largely by example and conversation, to mull and articulate, to explore, discover, invent, and create; give them the tools for doing their own research, creating their own art, writing their stories, and living as caring citizens. Give your heart to it and don’t second-guess yourself too much. If something isn’t right, trust that you’ll recognise that. Turn a deaf ear to naysayers and listen to other homeschoolers who share your philosophy. Have a small group of homeschoolers you can get together with or at least some homeschooling pen pals (for you as well as the children). You are all going to be just fine.

Photo Credit: June M. Schulte (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: June M. Schulte
(Oak Meadow Archives)


June Schulte completed her college degree as an off-campus student while homeschooling her children. She applied for and was granted the maximum three semesters of Life Learning credits from Goddard College (known for its progressive approach), earning a B.A. in Home Education and Religious Studies. She then completed a three year Diocesan Study Program as well as some seminary studies. A lifelong contemplative, June also completed the two year Shalem Spiritual Guidance Program, and for 20 years has been meeting with people who are seeking spiritual guidance. Guidance seems to be most of what homeschooling was about for June, and she feels that her children taught her more than she taught them. June and her husband, Bill, have been married 42 years so far, and are the delighted Grammie and Grandad of four granddaughters and two grandsons. As the Irish saying goes, “Children are the Rainbow of Life; Grandchildren are the Pot of Gold!”

When Your Child Is Struggling in School

We’ve all had our struggles, but when it’s your child struggling in school, what can you do? A negative school experience can disrupt your child’s learning, threaten your child’s self-esteem, and create stress for the entire family.

Photo Credit: Croft Family  (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Croft Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

If you’ve tried everything you can think of but things aren’t getting better, consider bringing learning home.

Homeschooling and distance learning are both very good educational choices for students whose social, emotional, physical, or intellectual needs are not being met at school. Home learning offers a more personalized and flexible approach that can make for a happier, more effective educational experience for both your child and you.

Do you see your child in any of these scenarios?

SOCIAL NEEDS

Photo Credit: Max Zimmerman (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Max Zimmerman
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Students who have been the target of bullying can find it very challenging to feel safe or accepted on the playground, on the bus, and even in the classroom. Home can be a safer and more effective environment for learning and healing.

Mature, developmentally advanced students may have a hard time fitting in with their classmates. They may crave connections with older friends or adults who appreciate subtle references and sophisticated humor. Home learners have the flexibility and time to connect with people of many different ages and backgrounds.

Shy children and those who lag behind their peers socially benefit from developing friendships one-on-one or in smaller, handpicked groups of peers. Home learning provides shelter from social challenges and allows families to foster their own community with others who respect each child’s pace and personality.

EMOTIONAL NEEDS

Photo Credit: Robinson Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Robinson Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Students who are easily frustrated in school can benefit from learning at home with one-to-one attention, loving support, and the flexibility to work through stressful moments in healthy, constructive ways such as taking a break, exercising, or calming themselves in whatever way works best for them.

Low self-esteem can make school a big challenge for those who need extra support and thoughtful guidance. With home learning, students and parents can maximize the chance of success and ensure a positive outcome. Children for whom comparison to their peers is traumatizing find that individual, at-home learning removes social pressure and allows them to focus on their own personal goals and progress.

Photo Credit: Kai Schatzman   (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Kai Schatzman
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Children who are highly sensitive benefit from learning in a familiar environment with low stimulation. Removing the stress of home-to-school and classroom-to-classroom transitions allows students to focus their limited reserves on learning instead.

Some children resist authority and need a high level of autonomy to be able to engage in learning activities, which can lead to classroom disruption, noncompliance, and frustration. At home, learning can be as self-driven as the student and parent desire.

PHYSICAL NEEDS

Photo Credit: Angelina Marsella (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Angelina Marsella
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Students who need a lot of physical activity, such as highly active or kinesthetic learners, struggle in classrooms where students are expected to sit quietly most of the time and move around only on a set schedule. Learning at home is a welcome relief for active children who need to pace or hop while integrating new material or take frequent breaks to run around so they can focus effectively at other times.

For students with physical challenges, particularly those with conditions that involve fatigue, navigating a school environment can be exhausting. At home, resting is easy, and lessons can flex to take advantage of “up days” and minimize work on “down days.” Comfort can take priority, and adaptations are much easier to arrange when the parent is the home teacher.

Medical challenges can disrupt learning for a child who is in and out of class often or for long stretches of time due to doctor’s appointments, hospital stays, and periods of convalescence. “Homeschooling” can happen anywhere, not just at home, and how you define the “school year” is up to you.

INTELLECTUAL NEEDS

Photo Credit: Caitlin Marsella (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Caitlin Marsella
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Students who are academically gifted often yearn for breadth and/or depth beyond the limits of a typical classroom. Home learning has no such limits. These learners can indulge their curiosity as thoroughly as they wish and supplement their learning with hands-on, experiential activities.

The unique needs of intellectually challenged students are also well met at home, where learning can capitalize on their strengths and bolster their weaknesses. Students who haven’t measured up to their classmates in school often experience freedom and relief when they find themselves to be the norm in their own home classroom.

For students who are both gifted and challenged, home learning can bridge a gap that might otherwise be difficult to fit into a single grade level. Some are ready for a high level of academic challenge in one or more subjects but need remedial work in other areas. These needs, which might be cause for concern in school, can be easily met at home, where students can work at an individually appropriate level and pace in each area of study.

SCHOOL CHOICE

When public school options are weak and private school options are unaffordable, what choices remain? With distance learning, you can have a strong academic program without paying private school prices. Or you can choose to homeschool independently and set your own schedule and standards while enjoying as much flexibility as you wish.

Photo Credit: John Paul Huber (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: John Paul Huber
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Students who have a deep passion for an activity may find that neither public nor private school allows enough flexibility to fit in enough training, practice, and/or pre-professional preparation. Because home learning is flexible, portable, and individual, it allows the freedom for gifted athletes, artists, performers, and others to pursue their dreams without compromising their education.

Families that travel often or live “on the road” benefit from using a continuous family-friendly program that can travel with them wherever they might go.

HOME EDUCATION

Switching gears to learning at home can be a welcome relief. Removing stressors allows students to use their inner resources for learning and growing, not just managing to get through each day.

Photo Credit: Nielsen Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Nielsen Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Begin by exploring an accredited distance-learning school or a highly respected homeschool curriculum program. Families transitioning from school to homeschool can find support from educational counselors, homeschool support professionals, distance-learning teachers, and others. Homeschool organizations and informal homeschool groups also provide connection and community.

When your child is struggling in school, remember that you have options! Home learning may be the perfect choice. Keep your expectations flexible, trust yourself to make good decisions, and let your heart guide you to do what’s best for your child and your family.

12 Ways to be Flexible During Your Homeschool Day

If you’re a student who is learning at home, congratulations! There are so many ways you can benefit from the flexibility that home learning allows. Here are a few possibilities. Can you think of any others?

  1. Follow your body’s rhythms. Go to bed when it feels right, then wake up when your body is done resting. If you need a mid-day nap, go ahead and take one.
  2. Wear whatever you like. Stay in your pajamas all day if you want! There are no dress codes when you’re learning at home.

    Photo Credit: Kim Bessent (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: Kim Bessent
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  3. Get comfortable! Choose any room in the house or a nice spot outdoors. Put your feet up if you want to. Find a quiet spot without distractions. You know your needs best.
  4. Organize your day as it makes sense to you. If you are sharpest in the morning, concentrate on academics at that time of day. If you’re a night owl, save your work for when you feel most alert.
  5. Set your own pace. Skim over topics you already have experience with, and spend as much time as you need on topics that are challenging or unfamiliar. If you get excited about something, dig deep and enjoy! Take your time when that feels right. You are the captain of this ship.
  6. Get up and move around! If you’ve been sitting and focusing on academics for awhile and you start feeling antsy, put down your work and go outside for some fresh air and exercise.

    Photo Credit: The Allen Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: The Allen Family
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  7. Eat when you are hungry. Put off breakfast if you want to. No need to wait for lunchtime to roll around if you get hungry sooner than that. Snack at will. Listen to your body!
  8. Make the most of your energy highs and lows. Optimize your productivity by working hard when your energy level is high and giving yourself a break when you need to take it easy. There’s no external schedule to follow, so you can mold your work flow to your needs.
  9. Enjoy a change of scenery. You have the freedom to take your work anywhere you go! Take advantage of the opportunity to travel and explore. Even if you stick close to home, you can get out and work in the library or a cafe or a beautiful park.
  10. Visit popular spots when crowds are smallest. Weekends and afterschool hours are notoriously busy for libraries, museums, historical sites, and other attractions. Show up on a Monday morning and you may just have the place to yourself.

    Photo Credit: Wendy Hawkins (Oak Meadow Archives)
    Photo Credit: Wendy Hawkins
    (Oak Meadow Archives)
  11. Integrate life with learning. Balance your academic work with the other kinds of work that are important – housework, animal care, community service, volunteer work, and/or a paid job if you have one. Your role in your family and community are just as important as your role as a student.
  12. Relax! There’s no hurry to go anywhere. Put your feet up and enjoy the peace and quiet while you learn at your own pace and in your own way.

A World of Thanks: The Gift of Homeschooling

by Morgan Wiebke, homeschooling parent

I’ve been a parent for almost ten years now and a homeschool mom for going on three. If you had asked me four years ago whether I would ever homeschool my children, I probably would have laughed out loud. I mean, only weird people homeschool, right? The people who can’t function in society, or are bullied and are not safe in a traditional setting, or [insert any number of scenarios that would never apply to MY family].

Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke
(Oak Meadow Archives)

It wasn’t until my oldest son was actually in public school that we started to doubt the system. He is a smart kid, a really smart kid, who also happens to deal with Sensory Processing Disorder. We didn’t really think that mattered too much, as he’s been in therapy his whole life and was thriving in school. Until he wasn’t anymore.

He developed anxiety and was increasingly overwhelmed with the simplest of tasks. He was quick to tears and always tired. His school work was still perfect, though; he was at the top of his class, so it wasn’t a surprise at all when his teacher told us he had tested 3-5 grade levels ahead of his peers. We were thrilled! What parent wouldn’t be?

But then we realized, if he’s already so far ahead, what exactly will he be doing in school this year? His teacher said there wasn’t really anything she could do with him; he’d just be filling a seat. We approached his teachers and the administration about ways we could work together to help him grow and thrive, but we were unequivocally shut down. He no longer fit into the neat little boxes that they require kids to fit into, and not a single person within the school system was willing to help my son.

Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke
(Oak Meadow Archives)

When my husband and I sat down and really thought about that, along with our son’s newly developed anxiety and personality changes, we decided to take matters into our own hands. Several friends of ours were homeschooling, and we loved their kids. We spent months researching what this change would mean for our family.

I was terrified, as the only homeschooling families we knew were religious, and we are very much not a religious family. Were we going to have to compromise our ideals in order to do this? Was I going to have to spend money on curriculum that I’d have to edit out most of the things we didn’t believe? I was increasingly overwhelmed and wondered if we’d made a mistake.

Because I had researched the importance of “deschooling,” I knew I had some time to decide. We had two full months of letting our son explore things he was interested in and spending time as a family reconnecting. Time was running out, though, so I sat down and scoured numerous homeschool pages on Facebook and stumbled across Oak Meadow. I immediately went to the website, where the word “secular” jumped out at me. Hey, we’re on to something here…

Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke
(Oak Meadow Archives)

I kept reading, and it felt like a light went on over my head. Oak Meadow’s educational philosophy felt just right. It was nature based, with a relaxed approach to academics in the early years, a strong focus on emotional growth as well as academic, hands-on learning, and plenty of arts and crafts. This was literally everything I had been looking for, and here it was, all packaged up in a complete open-and-go syllabus.

I requested a copy of the curriculum guide immediately. The day it arrived, I handed it directly to my husband and told him our search was over. He agreed to give it a try, and I ordered the second grade curriculum the same day. We couldn’t wait to get started. I registered my new homeschool with the state; we lived in South Carolina at the time, so I followed protocol to keep things legal.

Our first day was spectacular. My son fell in love with the animal stories. He was excited about creating his Main Lesson Book and worked diligently without complaint. We began to see changes in him, changes we had been waiting his whole life to see.

Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Our little boy who was born afraid of textures and getting dirty was outside digging in the woods, bringing us the worms he’d found and the caterpillars he spotted climbing the trees. He woke up well rested every morning – when his body was ready to wake up and not when an alarm clock told him it was time. He spent endless hours outside, exploring, and taking notes in the nature journal he asked me to make for him. The anxiety disappeared, his confidence soared, and for the first time ever, I felt like he would have the opportunity to grow into the well-rounded and happy boy he was born to be.

When we saw how incredible Oak Meadow was and how life changing this curriculum could be, we knew immediately that his younger brother would love it just as much. We had already decided to “hold him back” a year because he has a late summer birthday. We finished kindergarten this past spring, and it was one of the most magical years we’ve ever had. He was six when we started, and even though he “knew” just about everything that was covered, we had seen the possibilities for growth beyond what can be measured with lists and bullet points.

Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo Credit: Morgan Wiebke
(Oak Meadow Archives)

And we were right. He was enthusiastic about his lessons every single day and eager for what came next. We scoured nature for letters and shapes, had scavenger hunts, and painted in the creek. We read stories in the shade of the trees outside, then relaxed in the grass and spied the clouds for anything recognizable. Our year was inspiring, building confidence in a way nothing else had up to that point, and a deep love for learning was instilled.

Our family has grown closer since we decided to homeschool, and we have numerous plans this year to connect with the lessons like never before. We plan to travel out west as we study westward expansion and have half a dozen trips to landmarks throughout our state planned for our state project.

We’re gearing up to start first and fourth grades in a couple weeks, and this begins our third year with Oak Meadow. We couldn’t be happier! We are thankful every single day that a curriculum as inspiring and wonderful as this one exists and that we are fortunate enough to make it happen.

We are extremely excited to see what this year holds and can’t wait to share our journey with other Oak Meadow families along the way!

____________________________

Morgan Wiebke is a mom to three homeschoolers, ages 9, 7, and 3. Morgan says, “We LOVE to travel (that was very high on our list of benefits to homeschooling). I’m very crafty and enjoy all things related to creating something from nothing. I sew, embroider, draw, paint, DIY house projects and pretty much anything else you can think of. We recently relocated from the Carolinas to Delaware and are very excited to explore and learn about a new part of the country.”

 

10 Things You Don’t Miss When You Homeschool

Some of the hallmarks of school are blissfully absent for homeschoolers. Here are ten key examples.

1. the morning alarm clock – Homeschoolers can design their schedule to honor their body’s natural rhythms. Many wake each day only when their body is refreshed and ready.

Photo credit: The Hoag Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Hoag Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

2. homework – When homeschool work is done, it’s done! There’s no additional pile of work to add on at the end of a long day.

3. school lunches – Whether you pack them or buy them in the cafeteria, school lunch options are limited, and health is all too often sacrificed for convenience. Homeschoolers can enjoy all of the natural, healthy options their parents make available in the fridge or pantry.

4. permission slips – All of those endless slips of paper to sign and return magically disappear when you bring learning home instead!

5. detention – Homeschool discipline is simply an extension of regular parenting. There’s no need to compel a student to “stay after school” to make a point.

Photo credit: The Huenink Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Huenink Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

6. report cards – Homeschoolers don’t need report cards because their parents keep ongoing tabs on how their learning is going. Some homeschoolers even consider grades optional.

7. parent-teacher conferences – There’s no need for a meeting because the home teacher is also the parent. As one bit of homeschool humor asserts, “I’m not talking to myself; I’m having a parent-teacher conference!”

8. shortened recess – Recess can happen anytime and as often as it is needed!

Photo credit: The Bessent Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Bessent Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

9. the bell – The bell to signal the end of the class period or school day never interrupts your work or that wonderful book you’ve just delved into. And you never spend any time watching the seconds hand go round and round as it counts down the boring minutes to the end of class. You might wish there were more minutes in your day, though!

10. the end of summer vacation – When school vacation ends and school kids head back inside school to their lockers, desks, and workbooks, yours can keep playing outside as much as they want.

What are some other things that you don’t miss when you homeschool?

12 Clues That You Might Be Homeschool-Minded

Are you homeschool-minded? Even if you do not homeschool, you may have some of the key traits that also characterize homeschoolers.

Photo credit: The Cloud Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Cloud Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Homeschool-minded parents are open to possibilities. They recognize multiple ways of learning, and they seek out ways to engage with their child in the way he or she learns best. They also recognize multiple solutions to the question of education. They see public school and homeschool as two potentially valid choices among many. If the status quo is not working for their child, they seek a different solution with an open mind.

Homeschool-minded parents don’t turn their child’s whole education over to others. They recognize the value of being regularly involved with their child’s learning. They search for materials to support, supplement, and enliven learning at home. They take an active interest in their child’s passions and go out of their way to support them. They recognize that school grades are never a complete assessment of a child’s well-being, character, or potential.

Photo credit: The Rockhounds (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Rockhounds
(Oak Meadow Archives)

Homeschool-minded parents enjoy engaging with their children. They seek connection through shared pursuits and experiences. They find common ground by learning more about the things that interest their child so they can foster this connection. They consider themselves lifelong learners, always seeking to grow through new inquiries and experiences. They sometimes learn things from their children, and when this happens, they feel proud.

Are you homeschool-minded? Even if your child is not homeschooled, homeschooling might be a natural fit for you. How many of the following statements can you relate to?

 

1. You enjoy being with your child much of the time.

2. You take it upon yourself to find out ways to support your child’s learning when they are excited about something.

3. You believe there is more than one right way to learn.

4. You recognize that academic pursuits are only one part of a complete education and that learning happens outside of school walls as easily as within them.

5. Your child’s well-being matters much more to you than his or her grades.

6. Your family’s mealtime conversation includes things like word games, math challenges, and a discussion of what everyone is reading.

7. Your home is your favorite office.

8. When school vacations end, you fantasize about keeping your kids home with you instead of letting them go back to school.

9. You’ve been known to allow your children a day off from school “just because.”

10. When your child sits down to do a craft or project, you are tempted to join them – and you sometimes do.

11. You consider it your responsibility to personally teach your children the things that matter most to you, rather than leaving the job entirely to their teachers.

12. You find yourself often saying things to your child like, “How could we find out more about that?” and “Good question. What do you think?”

Photo credit: The Yengst Family (Oak Meadow Archives)
Photo credit: The Yengst Family
(Oak Meadow Archives)

What does “homeschool-minded” mean to you, and how does it play out in your everyday life? Do you think you might ever make the switch to homeschooling – or have you tried it already? Why or why not?

Even More Advantages of Homeschooling

Photo credit: The Main Family. (Oak Meadow archives.)

1. Children can follow their interests and passions deeply, encouraging sustained engagement in learning.

2. Listening to their bodies regarding when to sleep, eat, play, etc. helps children remain connected to and responsible for their physical needs in a healthy way.

3. Spending significant time together builds a strong parent-child relationship.

4. Time and energy are free to be invested in the family instead of in the needs of the school system.

Photo credit: The Vannucci Family. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: The Vannucci Family.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

5. With no dress code, it’s perfectly possible to spend the day in the comfort of pajamas!

6. There is freedom to make nonconforming choices about appearance without the risk of peer pressure.

7. Homeschooled students who are on either end of the academic bell curve have no reason to be self-conscious about how different they might be from their peers.

8. Learning can happen at its own pace, which means quick learners can accelerate and slow learners can take all the time they need.

Photo credit: Gabriela Guberman. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: Gabriela Guberman. (Oak Meadow archives.)

9. Flexible scheduling throughout the year makes it easy to take a “leave of absence” from formal learning for traveling, attending a special event, managing a health issue, or healing from trauma.

10. Complete oversight of your child’s learning means the parent’s educational priorities are always front and center.

11. Individual attention means an infinitely flexible, personal approach to learning for each child.

12. You can rest easier knowing that you are doing what your child needs.

Want to read even more? Check out these previous blog articles: 12 Advantages of Homeschooling and 12 More Advantages of Homeschooling. Then comment and let us know if you can think of any advantages that we left out!

What is Distance Learning?

This week is National Distance Learning Week. Oak Meadow has been a resource for independent homeschooling families for 40 years, but did you know that Oak Meadow is also a distance learning school?

Photo credit: Sarah Justice. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: Sarah Justice.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

Distance Learning at Oak Meadow means that enrolled students (and parents) have an ongoing relationship with one or more experienced Oak Meadow teachers, who guide them through the year. On a regular basis, students are expected to submit academic work to their teacher, who provides feedback, evaluation, and support for their progress through the year’s lessons.

Most teachers and students do not meet in person, but they get to know each other well through letters, photos, emails, phone conversations, and video calls. Some families choose to travel to Oak Meadow’s yearly Open House, where they have the opportunity to meet with faculty and staff in person. Distance learning allows teachers to work easily with students around the world.

Oak Meadow encourages independent thinking through supported learning. Oak Meadow parents (and sometimes other caregivers) are essential in their role of home teacher. Success with Oak Meadow requires the loving involvement and support of a home teacher. Students may work independently according to their ability, while the home teacher is present and available to help support the student in his or her learning.

The home teacher is also the critical link between Oak Meadow teachers and their students, especially in the elementary grades. It is essential for parents to communicate well with the Oak Meadow teacher about the student’s needs throughout the year. With good communication that fosters a clear understanding of the student’s needs, Oak Meadow teachers can adapt curriculum and assignment expectations to better fit an individual student’s strengths and weaknesses.

It is the home teacher’s responsibility to maintain an ongoing connection with the Oak Meadow teacher and ensure that work is submitted on time. Home teachers work closely with their children to help them stay organized, understand their lessons, complete work within the expected time frame, and understand and incorporate their Oak Meadow teacher’s feedback.

In the elementary grades, students work with one teacher for all subjects, and it is often possible to remain with the same teacher for multiple years. In high school, Oak Meadow teachers specialize by subject but often collaborate to understand the most effective approach for students they have in common. Oak Meadow teachers get to know their students well through their interactions with the student, the parent, and Oak Meadow staff and faculty who have had interactions with the family.

Oak Meadow is an internationally accredited distance learning institution and provides full academic credit to enrolled students. We have a full-time registrar who ensures that all records are complete and meet current standards. Our students receive academic transcripts and can earn a high school diploma from Oak Meadow School. Thorough documentation of our rigorous program has helped many of our distance learning students make the transition to more traditional secondary and/or post-secondary schools.

In some areas, homeschoolers struggle to satisfy strict state requirements regarding the content and/or delivery of education. In more locales, enrollment in an accredited distance learning school is accepted as the educational equivalent of independent or private school enrollment, making it easier to file the necessary documentation for homeschooling. (Check with your local school district or Department of Education for more information on the requirements that apply to your situation.)

Oak Meadow’s faculty and staff meet regularly and work together to ensure that all enrolled families’ needs are being met as well as possible. Our enrolled high school students enjoy the benefits of our staff guidance counselor, Keri Arsenault, who is available for support services. We also have a college counseling program for students who are interested in pursuing post-secondary education.

The structure, connection, and support provided by Oak Meadow’s distance learning program make learning at home possible for some students and families who might not otherwise homeschool. Distance learning with Oak Meadow allows families to enjoy a highly-regarded, accredited education with the help of supportive teachers — at home or on the road.