Homeschool Tag

One of our favorite “Nature Walks” this is at Showa Park in Tachikawa Japan. This is during the cherry blossom season.

So recently I was checking out a lot of Homeschool Mom Tag You Tube videos. It is like a guilty pleasure of mine! I love to see what others are using in their own Homeschool, what new ideas that I can try out, and just see how they overcome some of the issues with homeschool life in general. So I was watching one of my favorites (Homeschool on the Hill <–look her up!) and she suggested that viewers write their own answers to the tag in the comments section.

I am not a YouTuber and I do not comment on youtube videos (not against it.. I just do not currently do that!) So I thought that I might just write a blog real quick and answer the questions for anyone out there who still reads these blog things! 🙂

**Disclaimer: Going to post some photos of some of the places we see here in Japan and in Korea. I think most of what I have mentioned for schooling is not anything new so it is probably more enjoyable to see some of these landscape photos than just our supplies!!**

Let’s get right into it:

Homeschool Mom Tag Questions:

Do you have a set budget for your homeschool?

NO! I say no, but I am feeling really guilty for that! I do not have a set budget yet! The first year I homeschooled I was not sure what to expect. I bought a FULL deluxe style curriculum from SonLight. I wanted everything included and totally put together for me. I was really worried about homeschooling and I thought I was going to possibly rot my oldest Child’s brain! I seriously was afraid that I might mess him up for life!  This was an expensive option but it worked really well, especially for the first year. However we finished many things before the year was over. I just added more and more books and courses as the year went on. I quickly learned how this can add up so now I buy used… mostly.  I am not afraid to spend on homeschool (unfortunately!). I think its worth it. I don’t buy fancy purses or lots of designer clothes but I do spend on books! It is my guilty pleasure.

Jeonju, South Korea. Visited this famous park during the annual Lotus Festival. It was amazing! Lotus picture to follow! This was during a summer trip to see the grandparents!

1. Were you homeschooled?

No, I was never homeschooled. I went to good ol’ public school in the suburbs.

I did have neighbors who homeschooled and I always noticed that they were finished with their school day really early! They also went to college early, they were great at playing musical instruments but I also thought that they had no friends, were too “churchy” to hang out with me, and I just felt like we didn’t fit as friends. I thought it was crazy that they weren’t allowed to wear pants and just in general did not understand why on earth they would all want to stay at home with their mom ALL DAY!

Now I know many of those things to be totally different than what their life was actually like, but that was my impression as a kid who had no idea what they were really doing all day! I had no idea that they were just regular girls!

I also was some hooligan public school kid who would have probably learned a whole lot more if I had been studying with them instead of spending money at the mall to keep up with the Joneses at school!

At the Jeonju South Korea Lotus Festival. This park was free of charge and so amazing! If only we could get to Korea more often! This would be a dream to visit for school work sessions!

2. Did you know always know you’d homeschool your children?

NO, I had no idea! My oldest went to a private school and then we moved to Japan. He then attended a public school in Japan (for foreign students) but there were a lot of issues. My husband and I were really disappointed at the lack of discipline and respect that the students had in the classroom toward each other and the staff, I was even more hurt by the lack of respect the staff had for the students. They treated each other so poorly I was in disbelief. And even more importantly the academics were far behind the level that my child was already used to. So he seemed to zone out in school as it was all a bore. So we just decided to try something else.

We looked into private schools and then I considered homeschooling. In just about a week or so after visiting a private school we started to homeschool instead and that was almost 3 school years ago.

If you would have told me I would be a homeschooling parent 5 years ago.. I would have thought you were insane! Now that I am informed about the value of education that you can gain… I am a total advocate for homeschooling.

For our first year I used a boxed curriculum from Sonlight and it really helped to jump into homeschooling with ease. If you are really nervous about homeschooling… buy a boxed curriculum until you get more familiar with it and make your life less stressful! 🙂

Hamura park, near Tokyo, Japan. This was our New Years Eve nature walk! We only saw snow this year on thanksgiving! We only needed light coats for our creekside walk!

3. What are your 3 favorite books in your homeschool library?

Well books in general .. I am not going to list “books for moms” but our favorite homeschool books are usually read alouds! We enjoy read aloud time together sooooo much! it is such a fun thing to do with kids and makes homeschooling so awesome!

For fun we have read the Alvin Ho series. If you have not heard of these or read them you MUST MUST MUST! They are a laugh a minute! Even for adults!

We also really enjoyed the little house on the prairie series. We read these when we first started to homeschool when my oldest was pretty young and we enjoyed them so much. We really expanded into a lot of great historical fiction books and my son grew such an appreciation for “pioneer” times and really fell in love with that era. We also enjoyed it because he got this great taste of America while living in Tokyo! It transported him from our event world to the wide open spaces of the prairie!

We also really enjoy apologia science books. We just recently finished the unit with sea creatures and I just feel like this since is right up our alley! It did not take us a school year to finish (I know that is why some homeschoolers shy away from Apologia) but it does not have to take you the entire year on one unit of study. However, we did hit shin hard to finish it in 1/2 of the year. We also added in youtube educational videos, books, magazine, and generally everything that had supported our science topi. We had so much fun. My son even likes to read ahead and do “extra” days of silence because he likes the flow of the Apologia books.  He is 8 but an read the section and do the notebook journal and “be the teacher” and teach me what he has learned if I need a moment to work with his sister. I know that he is really “getting it”. We will continue with the units from Apologia and have more fun with it!

 

View from one of our nearby bookstores that carries loads of education toys as well! Post on this to follow! Check for the post on our top 5 Tokyo book stores in the next post!

4. Are you the only “teacher”? Does your spouse help, outsource help, tutors, etc.

Well, I am the Primary teacher. My husband is a math genius though so he’s great at helping out in that department with extra tips and quizzes and such! We live in Japan so we also do some of our read alouds and share our work over Skype with grandparents just for fun!

In the future we will add a piano teacher as I can only teach that subject on a beginning level.!

We do participate in sports and have other coaches for that. I am sure we will use other teachers in the future but my kids are still pretty young so this just hasn’t occurred yet.
5. Where is your favorite place to buy homeschool curriculum?

Our favorite place is Amazon. We have a good deal on shipping to Japan with them. Also, this is really the only possibly was I have to get used books at a reasonable price shipped to us. Sonlight was great and shipped to us for a great rate and everything came really quickly, but for used things we have really been thankful to live in the age of Amazon!

I should mention we have used other options too but just Amazon has been the best for really cheap books by the truckload!

We have had relatives order things for us and they have used Christianbook.com. It arrived really quickly but I have never used the site myself. I hope to try some other resources as well in the near future.

For random supplies we love to find things at the “Daiso” which is a 100 yen store here in Japan. It is the Tokyo version of family dollar. They have lots of fun art supplies for crafts and school supplies.
6. Do you have a set budget for your homeschool?

NO! But I should! I try to buy used as much as I can. Of course we do use things that are new from time to time – like Singapore math as it can be hard to find a used workbook that is not filled in!  For the most part I do try and budget more since I am homeschooling 2 kids now. I also try and save the textbooks so that my younger child can use them later. I do not resell anything as we will try and use them in the future.

When I have something that we don’t love then sometimes I do give it to someone else to try as it might work for them depending on their Childs learning style.

I also prefer to give away rather than to sell because I allow my children to fold pages, hi light, and they are pretty hard on books. I would have a hard time feeling ok about selling what we have used in our homeschool! it would not be in pristine condition by any means!
7. What are 2 must have homeschool supplies?

We have some favorite colored pencils that are a brand sold here in Japan. They only cost $1.00 but we really really love them! I think they come in like 12 or 16 in a pack and the quality is great.

Our other school supply would be our “book basket” not really a supply I guess, but we couldn’t homeschool the same without it! We rely on used books under $1 for this or the library. The is a supply that we can not live without but it can be free of charge if you have the time to use your library. For us, we use a lot of Amazon used books because we do not have a lot of English books at our local libraries.
8. What’s your favorite/least favorite subject to teach?

Favorite – geography, history if we are using read alouds

least – piano! I hated piano as a child… with a passion. I am just not the best at teaching it either! I will teach the beginner levels and then my children will use a professional piano teacher. I am not skilled enough to teach a high level… not even close!
9. Are you involved in coops or homeschool groups? What has your experience been in these groups?

We have not been in a co-op before. As we are in Japan it is a little difficult to find. They do exist but the one in our area gives information only through Facebook. We do not use Facebook so I am a little out of the loop! Thats ok though! We do plan on using a group starting this summer. It will be our first homeschool group/co op in our 3rd year of homeschooling.
10. What is your approach? ( charlotte mason, eclectic, classical, etc)

I do not really follow one way! I guess that would make us eclectic. This year we are leaning more Charlotte mason as I am trying My Fathers World for our “spine”. How even we supplement this pretty heavily. My son really enjoys workbooks so we have a lot added! We have some living books mixed with traditional textbooks.

We school year round and follow a schedule pretty close to the national school year in Japan. Not on purpose just so we can be available when Appa is off from work as well!

Due to schooling year round I find that we generally go through a couple complete curriculums pre year. This is costly but we spend far less time on a lot of simple review at the beginning of each new year. It is working well so far and mixing our “type” of homeschooling has kept us interested!

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