Tag Archives: Homeschooling

Poorly Socialized Homeschooled Kids

Whistle Transparent

My seven-year old daughter is a poorly socialized homeschooled child.

Think back. Do you remember? Playing at recess when the shrill whistle blew? It shrieked, “Stop what you’re doing. Come get in line.”

At the soccer game the other night, the whistle blew. My daughter kept obviously playing while all the other girls shuffled over to the sidelines.

She doesn’t know the whistle means “STOP” and to file along with the other kids.

She’s a real competitor, and I have no doubt she’ll get it figured out.

My kids run the gamut of playmates–young to old–white Caucasian Americans to Puerto Rican–English to Spanish–doctor’s kids to farmer’s kids–athletic to artsy–Christian to Hindi.  But I can honestly say, “My kids lack socialization skills.”  And laugh.

They’ve got great interpersonal skills, but I am leaving it to the big world to teach them to get in line.  Don’t ask so many questions.  Stop when the whistle blows.

Anyone else watched as their kids “get socialized”?  How does it make you feel as a parent?  Sad?  Happy?  Deflated?  Irritated?

Happy Monday!  (So sorry I’m full of questions lately!)


In the draft bin: Butyrate/Short chain fatty acids as related to my Metametrix is still getting researched. This butyrate is fascinating stuff. Where have I been all of these years?


wpid-IMAG1179-1.jpgHere is the site I frequent the most at this point in our homeschooling.  I have a 9, 7, and 4-year-old.  The computer sits right there where we homeschool, and when we do timed math tests, I pull up “Online Stopwatch” and off we go!  Or when the house is a mess, a “countdown to clean” gets everybody pumping, too!


Have a great day!  Hope your kids are learning to their full capacity!


Our Homeschooling Summer School Rules


1.  1-2 days of Saxon Math worksheets and one day of flashcards required.

2.  Spanish lessons three times weekly are mandatory.  Twice with our tutor and once with Rosetta Stone.

3.  Piano with mom 3-5 times weekly, as her patience and stamina permit.

4.  Read whatever fiction books you want, but please be quiet and read.

5.  Playing with friends, aside from time with the Spanish teacher, comes first.  But whatever you do, don’t ask mom to play.  My mom never played with me, and I turned out fine.  And, PLEASE, play OUTSIDE.

6.  Enroll kids in lots of day camps so they’re learning, having fun, and I get a break.

7.  Sleep in as late as you want, but not so late you start cutting into my break time (day camp).

8.  No schoolwork when we go on vacation.

9.  Snacks are to be fresh fruits and vegetables.  Breakfast and lunch, too.

10.  Enjoy summer, go barefoot, be a kid.  Let me love and hug you as I watch you grow.  You are special.  And I am proud.

Looking Back Over Twenty Years

Twentieth Reunion

Last night I returned from a trip home for my 20th year high school class reunion.  Talk about painful fun.  No matter how comfortable you get in your own skin, walking amongst the ghostly memories of adolescence with people who lived them with you has an interesting effect.

Big Hair Days

Big Hair Days

People you loved, admired, and respected.  Or maybe not.  People you laughed with, laughed at, and who laughed at you. People you fought with and made up with.  People you wanted to beat and who wanted to beat you.  People who helped each other.  People who know where you’re coming from.  And whether you like it or not, these people shaped a lot of you in some way or another.

After the dinners, I was so excited to come home and tell my parents all about what Ben or Dave or Kyle was doing, and they listened.  But they weren’t nearly as enthusiastic as I was.  After putting four kids through school, they struggled to remember the faces and names that seem so clear to me:  “That was so long ago, Terri.”

Geesh.  Was it really?  I swear we all looked the same.  Talked the same.  Expressed ourselves the same way, only better.  Six hours one night, and eight hours the next, flew by, and I still didn’t get to talk to everyone like I wanted to.

I can conveniently omit whatever I want about myself when I go bravely into the big world; with these 88 people, I’m stuck.  But I don’t mind, and I’m not sure why.  Accountability?  Necessary humility?  Familiarity?  Don’t know, but I had a great time.  Just wish more of us could have showed up!

Twenty Year Later…Any Regrets

One theme of this blog is giving up a career for your kids.  As I journeyed to my reunion, I looked back at the twenty years–pharmacy school, medical school, residency, career, and now staying home.  Every minute was worth it, and I’d change very little, except the ability to have more confidence and to shed worry with more ease.

I am having a blast staying home with the kids, and for now, I don’t want to change it.  I don’t get bored.  Every irritation is a problem to be solved.

Clothes all over the floor?  Where can I put hampers to stop that.

Backtalk and hate stares?  How can I use more words to explain what I think and feel to prompt them to explain to me in a conversational voice what’s happening in their growing brains with words?

Math struggles?  How can I help?  What can I change?  The learning environment?  A new technique for long division?

Eating junk food?  How can I explain anti-nutrients and nutrients to them so they can look at food as “function” rather than taste alone?

Are they on the computer too much?  Perhaps I am, too, and I need to get off and read aloud to them or read a book to myself.

Am I feeling personally unfulfilled?  I try to pursue things I have wanted to do and never had time, like learn Spanish and understand piano theory better.  I don’t know how I became a nutrition learner and started this blog.  I never desired that.  Oh, well.

The kids are growing older, and I keep myself open to change.  People ask, “Do you think you’ll go back to work when the kids are older?”

Couldn’t tell you.  I am here today.  Twenty years ago I was there.  For now, we are content, and that’s all I ask.

Are you content?  Are there any creative ways you can find to get there if you’re not?

All the best, always–


Why We Homeschool

Nature walk leaf identification.

Nature walk leaf identification.

We are two medical doctors who planned on homeschooling before we even had kids, as soon as hopes of living close to my family faded away.  Whaa, whaa.  We are entering our fifth year, and we absolutely love it still.  I laugh when people say, “Well, I suppose you can go back to work when you put them in high school!”

Personally, I’m just biding my time here in this trying elementary school period.  I can’t wait for the good stuff:  trig, calculus, physiology, and chemistry!

“Put them in school…”  I don’t think so!  We’ve got a clause in our will about continuing homeschooling!

The list below doesn’t even begin to capture all the reasons we enjoy homeschooling, but it’s a start.

1.  For ease of travel planning.  Homeschooling allows us to schedule our trips without a fear of truancy or teaching our kids it’s okay to skip out on obligations.

Homeschooling allows us to up and leave whenever we want to go visit family in another state.  No begging partners to get spring break or Christmas vacation off.

2.  For foreign language introduction at a young age.  We’ve all read that language development occurs most easily in children, how learning

We got to observe this baby robin cracking out of its egg.

We got to observe this baby robin cracking out of its egg.

one language facilitates the brain’s ability to learn other languages, and how children who learn a language as a child don’t struggle with an accent.

I want to give my children the gift of language; Spanish is a part of our curriculum.  The ability to share with more people, gather ideas from more people, learn from more people, help more people, and read another culture’s literature is invaluable.

3.  For accelerating learning in areas of academic strength.  Homeschooling allows a parent to closely observe strengths and move ahead when indicated.  I closely observe each one of my children, like I used to observe the vital signs in my ICU patients, using all the clues to tell me what’s going well and what’s working.  There’s no boredom from unneeded repetition of already mastered material.  We plow onward.

4.  For decelerating progression and working on areas of academic weaknesses.  For one child of mine, there was a few years of angst when it “just wasn’t clicking.”  Slow in phonics, reading, handwriting, and poor concentration in math.

The glory was–I could slow down and wait. Take different approaches.  Look up or ask for help.  We found a great place called “Core” in Sumter, SC where they helped her with pencil grip and hand strength for handwriting.  Rather than force phonics and silent reading, I read aloud to her.  Her verbal understanding was [is] phenomenal.  Math, we continue to work on concentration.  Homeschooling shines when you’re a parent who takes interest in tailoring learning to each child.

Mandatory instrument learning prior to graduation.

Mandatory instrument learning prior to graduation.

5.  For socialization among people of all ages. It doesn’t make sense that society funnels kids of one age into a classroom of 30 kids with one adult.  At recess children are around 100 other kids just as silly as they are, with very minimal supervision.  On the other hand, at our homeschool functions, we have eighth graders teaching drawing to elementary school kids and fifth graders helping second graders arrange “electrons” in their proper orbitals in our once monthly chemistry class.  In our home, my 9 year-old learns to amuse my 4-year-old so I can teach my middle daughter.  At the grocery store, the girls interact with the cashier.  At nursing home visits, the kids make crafts with eighty year olds.  On Tuesday nights, they get to dance their hearts out with kids their age at ballet class.  On Friday mornings, us moms try to hold periodic coffees so the kids can play together and “get socialized.”  My kids are learning respect for ALL ages, young and old, and, I hope, learning that each person has a gift to teach us.

6.  To allow time for extra kinds of learning.

  • Sewing lessons (from an acquaintance)
  • Spanish lessons (from a tutor)
  • Drawing lessons from You Tube
  • Piano lessons, specializing in playing by ear and chords and scales (from mom–that’s me)
  • Gardening
  • Cooking
  • Specific delves into areas of history that they find fascinating
  • Nature walks
  • Arts and crafts of their own choosing

7.  To provide an atmosphere in which personality strengths and weaknesses are observed and molded, in a loving and caring fashion, without belittling, mocking, or teasing.  Here in my home, I hope to give the kids the tools they need to not be undermined by the world and what other people think about them.  We socialize enough that my kids have been made fun of, talked about, had hurt feelings, gotten angry, and been irritating.  But I am there.  I see it.  I help them acknowledge their role in the drama.  Or the fairness or unfairness of the other people.  Together we work to help them understand a little better what’s happening and how they’re feeling.

A craft one of the girls made up.

A craft one of the girls made up.

8.  To allow a diverse curriculum:  Spanish, Latin, poetry, art, piano, sewing, cooking, math, science, classical reading, intensive phonics, grammar, and so forth.

9.  To avoid the rat race of pick-up, drop-off, remembering lunches, remembering party days, remembering to bring home or take back books and homework.  School has a lot of unnecessary “busy-ness” which makes it pretty stressful for parents (and kids).  I really feel this gets minimized in homeschooling.  Recently I had to deal with having just one kid in preschool.  The snacks, “dress-up” days, field trips, and parties were difficult to keep up with.  I couldn’t even imagine having all three in school.

10.  To provide instruction in day-to-day habits, such as making beds, making lunch, sorting and folding laundry, and watering the garden.  Sad to say, I don’t think I ever did a load of laundry before I left my mom’s house.  For the first year of college, I was washing my clothes in Downy only.  I thought it was detergent.  A crying shame.

Dr. Seuss party.

Dr. Seuss party.

11.  To share the quality time of day together before we’re all exhausted in the evening. 

12.  For one of the biggest challenges in my life.  “What do you mean?” you ask.  E-mail me.

Mission statement:  To raise daughters who are physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy.

Our Poetry Collection

We do a lot of poetry reading and reciting in our homeschool.  Never underestimate the power of a poem!  Its utility spans grammar, phonics, vocabulary, art, and imagination.  Memorize the poem to stretch the neuronal pathways of the frontal lobe and provide beautiful phrases to bring to mind in life’s times of beauty, pain, love, or sadness.  Copy the poem and find long E phonics patterns.  Discuss the usage of commas, colons, and hyphens.  Find exceptional vocabulary used in context.  Illustrate the poem.  Just enjoy the poem’s words flowing around the recesses of you mind.

I have purchased some poetry collections, and I want to give a brief review of them in case others are interested in acquiring poetry material for their homes and children.

wpid-IMAG1519-1.jpgThe Barefoot Book of Classic Poems compiled and illustrated by Jackie Morris is a favorite in our collection.  The poetry selections contains all the classics you remember enjoying, from Shakespeare to Hughes, and the watercolors evoke as much emotion as the poem on the page.  Just leave this book around on the living room footstool, and it is sure to draw some human spirit into its bursting pages.  About 75 poems in all with accompanying illustrations for each and every poem, some magical and some natural, honest depictions.  This book is worth buying to keep in your library.  The poems are diverse, and they are NOT all geared for children, thus the attraction of the book for me.  It is not a book that will be outgrown.  My children and I will always be able to come back to it to find something to mull on.  See on Amazon.

wpid-IMAG0563-1.jpgWhere the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein delights my children and I to no end.  His simple drawings paired with his poems are genius and never fail to bring a smile, except on the serious ones, which may bring a sad little smirk.  Really, his work is amazing.  No childhood is complete without hearing Shel Silverstein read aloud.  We also have A light in the Attic, but we like Where the Sidewalk Ends best.  See on Amazon.

The Best of James Whitcomb Riley: Riley, an Indiana poet, helps me share my Hoosier roots with my children. wpid-IMAG1517-1.jpg If you have any farming heritage or rural, small-town background, you’ll enjoy his poems.  He uses native dialect which sounds like our Uncle Ron, and he uses strong rural imagery which takes us to visit Papa Bear’s farm.  Riley’s poems depict common people and themes, often rural based, which tug at your heart.  “Little Orphant Annie”, “Granny” and “When the Frost is on the Punkin.”  Riley’s poems touch a string.  A simple string.  He reaches back into childhood and pulls the happy memories (of swings, stories, and watermelon) and the bittersweet memories (growing up, dying, and changing).  I would not part with my Riley collection.  His words bring smiles and tears to my eyes, and I hope my children come to love his works as I do.  A must-read to get you started on Riley is “The Bear Story.”  These are real poems, for real life, spoken on a real level.  See on Amazon.  The Amazon link is in paperback, but I much prefer the hard cover.

wpid-IMAG1520-1.jpgPoetry Speaks to Children, edited by Elise Paschen and illustrated by Judy Love, Wendy Rasmussen, Paula Zinngrabe Wendland is a pearl because it provides a CD with poems read by the poet!  The poems chosen are comprehensible to children as young as, maybe, three years old, and the illustrations are simple and straightforward, appealing also to the younger crowd.    However, there are many cultural selections and many poems of various length and depth to be enjoyed by all ages, and the fact that you can actually hear the author’s own reading of the poem makes this book and CD appeal to all ages.  The CD has some background noise on older readings and some of the readers’ voices aren’t clear, but hearing the writer’s own vocal interpretation is stirring.  There are 95 poems, and 51 of them are read.  The book is not physically beautiful, but here is the perfect example of, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

wpid-IMAG0564.jpgWhisper and Shout:  Poems to Memorize (edited by Patrice Vecchione) is a book I’d probably borrow from the library to peruse, make copies of the poems we want to memorize, and to find poets I and the kids liked.  I don’t feel this one adds much to my collection above.  There are very few pictures to draw in unsuspecting children.  Just plain black and white.  The poems are to be for memorization, but many of them are poems without rhyme scheme.  For beginners, lack of a rhyme scheme makes memorization much more challenging.  I do like that the back pages provide a paragraph or two about each authors and a couple of their works.  And the works themselves are adequate.  See on Amazon.

Part 8: Finishing Our Third Grade Curriculum

Finishing up the ever-exciting commentary on our third grade curriculum!  <Smirk.>

Our third grade year is coming to a close in a few weeks.  Third grade was fun.  My daughter seemed to start as a young child and emerge with the makings of a young lady.  All of her prior skills sharpened, and she enthusiastically took on more complicated things and demanded more independence, every now and then reaching back to feel if I was still there.  Although intensely longing for her independence, when she reached back for my reassurance, I grabbed that precious, small but growing, hand and hugged it to me with all the strength, love, and guidance that I have.


My oldest daughter began learning cursive in first grade and we hit it really hard in second grade.  In third grade, we have been just been fine-tuning print and cursive handwriting along the way.  Why did we start cursive so young?  Let’s just say “backwards letters.”  I read somewhere that children struggling with printing backwards may do well with cursive, since you “can’t make cursive letters backwards.”  The concept in practice worked moderately well, but let me tell you, you can make cursive backwards!

For third-grade handwriting, I simply picked up a workbook or two at McDonald’s (no, kidding, Office Depot or somewhere like that, just nowhere “fancy” and certainly not expensive!) to remind ME how to make the letters, and we worked through them.  If I didn’t like the way some letters were presented in the book, I’d teach her my own way, or both ways and let her pick.  As long as she CAN write nicely and CANwpid-IMAG0516.jpg read cursive, I’m good.  We also picked up a cursive Jokes and Riddles practice book because my daughter has a great funny bone.

Aside from the handwriting workbooks, we just incorporate handwriting practice into other lessons.  For example, there will be times when I ask grammar to be done in her “best” handwriting.  Sometimes it is stunning.  Other times, well, you can clearly see my daughter hates the physical act of handwriting.

Aside:  Now, by the end of third grade, my daughter is finally, on her own, catching and correcting it when she makes backwards letters.  Usually, they say the formation of backwards letters should disappear by the end of second grade, so it was a bit disconcerting to see this still around during her third grade year.  However, my husband clearly remembers that he, too, had this problem as a child, so we just watched her closely for any other signs of learning barriers.


We have satisfactorily used The Story of the World (Susan Wise Bauer) for the last three years.  We are on Volume 3:  Early Modern Times.  The history book contains 42 concise, fairly interesting lessons, and we cover 0-3 lessons per week.  I also buy the Activity Book, which has maps, coloring pages, suggested reading, and hands-on project ideas.  There is also a “test” booklet, but we did not buy it because I like to quiz my children aloud to assess learning.  The activity book is chock-full of stuff to keep you super busy if you choose.  If we tried to do much in the way of supplemental reading or projects, we got behind this year.  In first and second grades, we had less other school material to cover, and we really threw ourselves into history and the recommended reading and projects.  Now that my daughter’s curriculum has broadened due to increased learning capacity, we stick basically with the history book lesson and move on.

Generally, I read the chapter aloud to both of my school-aged kids at the same time, making commentary, asking questions, and having the kids go to the map and show me the places we’re reading about.  (I invested in a huge wall map and I think it helps their geography knowledge a lot.  Well, at least it helps mine.)  While I read, they look at and/or color the activity pages.  Conversely,  they’ve got CDs with the lessons read aloud and you could check them out from the library or maybe purchase online.  This would free up some hands for supper making.  We rented them from the library sometimes, and the kids liked the break from mom.

There are four volumes of The Story of the World.  It is recommended to do one volume each year, and at the end of four years, begin the cycle again.  I believe I will stick with the curriculum, and hopefully begin incorporating more supplemental reading and projects as the girls gain independence.  Perhaps, then, in high school I can add in testing from the booklet.  I don’t know.  We’ll see.


Probably like most home school families, we count extracurricular activities as PE.  We have participated in formal dance, tae kwan do, gymnastics, basketball, and swimming activities.  Weight-bearing activity and sunshine are important for the physical body, and so anytime I can get my kids to play outside, we do.


I have two main religious homeschooling goals to accomplish before my kids leave my house.  One, that they know it is the love of Christ which bridges all divides they’ll ever face.  Two, that they learn some Bible history.  Currently we’re working on both, but we have far to go on the Bible history.  This year we memorized and wrote out all the verses on Sing the Word from A-Z and have been working through Egermeier’s Story BibleSing the Word has been enjoyable for us, and I love learning the memory verses to catchy music and singing, sometimes dancing around the room as we learn them.  Egermeier’s Story Bible brings the Bible alive on a personal level for the children, and even me.  Miscellaneous fun reading comes up on St. Patrick’s Day, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, as well as other days.  One book we all particularly enjoyed this year was Dangerous Journey:  The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress by Oliver Hunkin.  Spellbinding!

I guess that’s it.  I have not formally taught arts and crafts this year.  My kids do that on their own, above and beyond anything I could ever dream of or do.

If you care to comment, please do!  Or e-mail me with any questions about what we used for our third grade curriculum.