Tag Archives: homeschooling

Apologia Science

One of the great things about homeschooling today is the huge variety of curriculum available. Some families prefer to use an entire curriculum produced by one publisher; for our family, however, I’ve found I like to use texts from different publishers for the subjects we study. For science, my favorite is Apologia.

The Apologia Young Explorer Series was written for upper elementary/early middle school. We’re enjoying our third book this year, Exploring Creation with Zoology 3: Land Animals of the Sixth Day. Other titles available are Astronomy, Botany, Zoology 1:  Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day, and Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day. Middle school and high school subjects include General Science, Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Each one is written from a creationist perspective.

Although I enjoy science, teaching it has never been my strong suit, and there have been years I struggled to fit it into our school day. What a shame, since children love learning about nature, and science readily lends itself to hands-on activities. But I don’t have that problem anymore — the Apologia texts make it so easy. The information is clearly presented, and within each chapter are interesting and fun activities that correlate with the lesson.

And these books are so user-friendly! The beginning pages feature contact information where you can find help by mail, phone, or on the web. Then comes a brief description about what the lessons include. The next couple of pages are my favorite – complete lists of all materials needed for each activity or experiment found in the lessons.

The writers of the text state that it can be read aloud to younger students or worked through individually by older students. I’ve found this to be true. While I’m reading the Land Animals text to my fourth and second grader, my seventh grader is working through the General Science text on his own. His book not only includes experiments but also review questions that I have him answer in complete sentences. Tests and solution manuals are also available for the subjects for older students.

All in all, the Apologia Science series gets an A+ from me!


I’ve read where many homeschoolers barter for goods or services, and I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I’m one of them!

I teach art lessons to children, and I know how costly lessons can be. Three of our children are involved in music lessons, and although the teachers have given us a very good price, the cost can add up over time. So when parents ask me if I’d like to trade, I understand, and I’m happy to oblige. The barter has always benefited both families.

At one time, I had two art students whose family raised goats. Each week, we traded art lessons for fresh organic milk, something I wouldn’t have been able to afford had I purchased it at the farmer’s market. Now I’m trading lessons for homemade organic bread. The mom who bakes it even grinds her own grain. It’s good for my family and tastes delicious, and it’s something that would be too costly for our grocery budget. It’s a wonderful trade!

I’m also trading a class for a class. One of my daughters spends a couple of hours one day a week at a nearby horse farm, where a friend who works there teaches her all about horses. My daughter feeds them, waters them, cleans the stalls, and learns about the different types of saddles, bridles, and bits. She also has opportunities to ride. In exchange, the friend’s son comes over once a week to practice his reading skills with me.

If you’re on a more limited budget and don’t have the funds for classes for your children, you might want to consider bartering, too. You can trade off household or yard help, childcare, sewing services – whatever you can offer. Don’t be afraid to ask – the worst a teacher can say is “no, thanks,” but you might just receive your “yes!”

Colloidal Silver

Living in the country near wooded areas, we often come across poison ivy around our home. Sometimes the children come across it before I do, as was the case when my daughter, then five, broke out with a reaction. What started on her arms soon spread to her chin and cheeks. Not having much experience with poison ivy, I searched the internet for advice and information.
Some of the sites I found recommended using colloidal silver. It’s created by binding silver particles to water with an electric current, forming a natural antibiotic that can be used against infections. The silver disables an enzyme that bacteria, viruses, and fungi need to produce oxygen, in essence suffocating them. I couldn’t find any harmful side effects.
So why hadn’t I heard of it before? Apparently, colloidal silver was a common remedy until the mid-1930s, when it fell out of use. I decided it was worth a try, so I purchased a small bottle at the health food store.
Colloidal silver comes with either a spray tip or a dropper, so I chose the spray. I squirted the silver all over my daughter’s arms and face and told her not to wipe it off at all. We did this several times that day.

When I checked her the next day, the rash had stopped spreading and appeared to be improving; the following day showed even more improvement. By the end of the week, it had cleared up so much that it was difficult to tell she had ever been infected.

Since that time, we’ve found a lot of uses for our little bottle of silver spray. We apply it to minor burns, cuts, and scrapes. We spray it in our mouths when we come down with colds. I’ve even applied it to sores and cuts on our pets, and it works just as well. I read online where others have used it for sinus infections, sore throats, acne, boils, and athlete’s foot.

A word of caution, however: don’t overdo it. Apparently, California resident Paul Karason not only rubbed it on his skin, but he also drank so much of it that it’s turned his skin blue.

Seeing It Through

My second child, now ten, has been so easy to raise – she’s compliant, eager to please, and easy-going. When she has a new interest, she pursues it with a passion. Until this past fall, we had very little to work on regarding character issues. That’s when we discovered she has difficulty seeing things through.

It actually began about two years ago, when she decided she wanted a horse. She was so certain that she even chose to stop taking ballet lessons so the money could be saved for a horse. But purchasing a horse and all we needed to care for it was a big step for us, and we needed to more to be financially ready. In the meantime, I said, how about getting a puppy? We used to have two dogs, but we had to give one away when it kept killing our chickens. Another dog would be fine.

Because it would be a while before we could get a horse, she agreed, putting all her energies into the project. She read about all the different breeds and saved her money for dog toys and treats. When someone offered to give her a dachshund they couldn’t keep, she was thrilled…for about a two weeks.

As the novelty of dog ownership wore off, my daughter began looking again towards a horse. I might have thought that a dog just wasn’t a good choice, except that over the years she’s also tried a kitten, a bird, a hamster, and a guinea pig, all of which she eventually gave up to her siblings. There was a bigger issue here than just finding the right pet.

The struggle with commitment was apparent in her music studies as well. She took piano for a while, but quit as soon as I would let her. She began flute lessons last fall, and now she already wants to quit taking those. What would happen if we bought a horse?

I’m not worried about it anymore. This is an area where she struggles, but it’s also an area that she can improve. We’ve talked about it and decided she can learn to stick with something. She can learn to follow a commitment through to the end, even if things become difficult or uncomfortable. She might whine and beg, but I’ve determined that I won’t let her quit. We see the problem, and we have the time to work on it together. And we’re still saving for that horse.

No More Chicks in the Bathtub

Well, my husband has made it official: he’s tired of raising chicks in the bathtub. Actually, I’ve been the one raising them in bathtub, and he patiently (and sometimes not so patiently) has gone along with the idea. Although it’s been an annual spring event for the past four years, truth be told, I think we’re all ready to see the tradition go.

However, as far as raising chicks go, the bathtub served as a great temporary home until they were large enough to keep outside. We used the bathtub in our second bathroom (yes, we still showered in the other one!), which was extra deep and didn’t have a shower fixture anyway. I spread newspaper in the bottom, purchased a small chick waterer, and set up a clamp light with a regular bulb above them. They had natural lighting from the window over the tub, and we could shut the door to keep the cats out. The children could go in any time and pick them up and hold them. It was perfect!

Well, it was mostly perfect. These chicks were from the feed store, so they didn’t have a mother to keep them warm. Thus, the light served as their heat source, and it had to be left on all the time when they were very small. They couldn’t follow a regular day and night pattern and were often cheeping while everyone was trying to sleep. And, as they got bigger and started to fly, it became harder to keep them in the tub and the mess contained. One day, when my husband opened the door to the bathroom, about ten chicks flew from the edge of the bathtub right at him. He said it reminded him Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds….

I love to watch chicks grow, and I would probably give it one more try this spring, except that the kids’ interest seemed to wane quite a bit last year. Towards the end of the chicks’ house stay, I was the only one taking any interest in the little birds and their well-being. We still have hens outside that will lay, set, and have new broods of their own, so we won’t be totally chick-less. We’ll just sleep a little better at night.

Homeschooling for Character – Mine!

Last week I had a bad day homeschooling – before breakfast was over, I was already angry and frustrated with my children. They weren’t being obedient, and everything was taking twice as long as it should have. I stormed out of the room, muttering something about how maybe next year they should all attend school.

And then I realized…it wasn’t them — it was me. I hadn’t required obedience. I once heard a speaker say that obedience is doing something right away, all the way (completely), in a happy way. That morning, when I asked them to do something, they whined, argued, and complained. They certainly didn’t do what I asked right away or in a happy way. And while I should have followed through with what I said, instead I gave in…and gave in… and gave in…until the disobedience made me so angry I blew up. And there went the day – it’s hard to recover after that.

I always wonder why they act so surprised when I get angry—they know they’re not following instructions. But then again, why am I always so surprised they don’t obey? They know I don’t follow through with what I say, so they push as far as they can, hopefully not so far that I fuss at them. The problem didn’t start with them – it began with me.

For the first time, I realized that teaching my children at home requires me working on my character as well! It would be very easy to put everyone in school and not have to worry about it. They’re great kids, and most of the time they are respectful, courteous, and kind. If they were in school, my time to interact with them would be more limited, and I wouldn’t have to deal much with the issue of obedience. I’m confident we would get by, and they would turn out fine.

With this new perspective, however, I’m glad we’re homeschooling. The constant interactions with my children are quite revealing, showing me areas where I need to change. And I know that as I do, they’ll change as well. So I told them I don’t plan on sending them to school next year after all – I have a lot more growing to do!

Bringing back the fun

A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through a box of old school items, and I found a reading bingo game I made for my oldest boy when he was still very small. Now I have another child learning to read, so I pulled it out, and we’ve played it a few times. She loves it, even though it’s made of scrap pieces of poster board.

Since then, I’ve found several other homemade items from long ago. How clever I used to be! So what happened to my creativity over the past five years or so?

Life happened, and I really am still creative. I made the game when I had just one young elementary student, and I wasn’t concerned with pre-algebra, latin, and essays. But the game was a good reminder: learning can be fun, no matter how old you are. Many board games are good resources – Boggle and Scrabble encourage spelling; Balderdash requires creative writing. Here are some other easy ways I’ve found to make learning more enjoyable:

1. Take a nature walk.
2. Plant some seeds in small containers. Place them on the windowsill and watch as they grow.
3. Go on a money hunt through the house. Count the coins you find.
4. Make supper together.
5. Write a letter or draw a picture and mail it to someone special.
6. At the grocery store, pick out 3 fruits or vegetables you’ve never tried before.
7. Put some objects in a paper bag. Have your children reach in, pick one up and feel it, then guess what it is.
8. Fold five pieces of copy paper in half and staple along the folded edge. Write a story or draw pictures in your homemade book.
9. Put on a play about your history lesson.
10. Using a camcorder, make a newscast about your family’s activities.

Top Ten Reasons Why I Homeschool

I find it’s good to remind myself every now and then just why we homeschool – it helps renew my resolve to keep at it. Here’s my top ten list of reasons, in no particular order:

1. Homeschooling puts my children’s character education back in my hands. Because we spend so much time together, I see the character issues that we need to work on, things a teacher of 25+ students would never have time to deal with.

2. I attended public school a long time ago. Even then, a lot of things came up that I was just too immature to handle well. Many children today do grow up too fast – they’re expected to respond to pressures that only adults should face. I want my children to enjoy being children, and homeschooling allows them to do that.

3. Because I choose the curriculum and books we use, I know just what they’re reading and from what point of view.

4. I can tailor their lessons towards their individual learning styles. I’ve found what works for one child often doesn’t work for another.

5. When we work hard at the schoolwork, we’re usually able to finish most of it before lunchtime. This leaves more time to explore subjects the kids are really interested in.

6. The shorter school days also allow more time for extra activities. Right now we participate in boy scouts, music lessons, PE, sewing club, and a literature discussion group. It sounds like a lot, but we’re still home with no errands to run 2 – 3 days a week.

7. On the days we’re home, the kids have more time for play and creativity. My girls (ages 8 and 10) still enjoy playing with dolls and making scrapbooks, and my boys (ages 5 and 12) both like building with Legos.

8. I know my children’s friends and who they hang out with. I know their friends’ parents and siblings as well.

9. I love how homeschooling has affected the relationships within the family. All four of my children are very close to each other, even though there are seven and a half years between the oldest and the youngest.

10. I love to learn! Every day I’m learning something new right along with my children. If they can keep a love of learning into adulthood, then I did my job well.