~ Upcoming Teleconferences ~

February 26, 2011

Announcing two new teleconferences from URtheMOM.com coming up in March!

Each call will be on a Monday night, and each will begin at 8PM Eastern/7PM Central. Each call will be about an hour, depending on how many live questions there are to answer.

The dates to scribble on your calendar:
March 14th & March 28th.

March 14th Topic: Self-Teaching 101

I love to share the secrets of homeschooling freedom! How can you avoid burnout yet give your children the best education possible? Be on this call to learn the basics of the Self-Teaching and Mastery methods of education & how you can raise lifelong self-learners who work with excellence.

Feel free to e-mail me beforehand with any specific questions you may have that you would like to have answered and that are relevant to this call.

I’ll also open up the call and take your questions.

March 28th topic: All About College Prep & Testing

This will be an exciting call! Be on this call if you want to hear tips for preparing your student for the SAT/ACT. When should these tests be taken? How can your student prepare for the college entrance process? What steps should you take in determining the best college for your student? Looking forward to dumping a ton of info on you in this call!

Again, feel free to e-mail me before the call with any particular questions you have. We will go to a live Q&A session at the end of this call as well.

**Feel free to invite your friends to listen in to these calls. There is a limit of 250 people on the calls. Dial in at least 5 minutes EARLY to get your spot.**

CALL-IN INFO FOR THE TELECONFERENCES:

Dial 1-(507) 726-4217 and enter the Pass Code 149647 followed by # key.

If conference is not in session, system will put you on hold until the moderator arrives.

During the Conference

Conference Commands:

Press *3 – Exit Conference

Press *4 – Help Menu

Press *6 – Mute Individual Line

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If you have any questions on these teleconferences, please e-mail me at joanne@joannecalderwood.com. Hope you can join us!


~ Why don’t more parents homeschool? ~

February 24, 2011

I know it is kind of silly to ask my 5 loyal readers this question because you all homeschool. However, I am wondering what the major reasons are for parents NOT to homeschool their kids? Now this is a very serious question, and I am hoping to glean a lot of insight should I get any responses.

In this day and age, there are so many resources available for parents to provide their children with an excellent education at home. There are also homeschool groups all over the country. Most folks, I’d think, would have access to a homeschool support group or co-op of some variety. Socialization is really a non-issue these days. There are many activities available to homeschooling parents and their children in most parts of the country.

So why do parents choose NOT to homeschool? There is no right or wrong answer. I’m just looking for some reasons to fulfill my own curiosity. And become less ignorant. I’m sure economics is a big issue. But aside from that, why NOT homeschool? I ask with all due respect and with a desire to learn.

If you do not homeschool, would you be open to leaving a comment with your reasons for choosing a different educational option for your children? If you do homeschool, would you be open to listing some reasons you know of for parents to choose a more traditional educational route for their children?If you’d rather, you can e-mail me privately at joanne.calderwood@gmail.com.

Thank you in advance. I appreciate opportunities to see things from differing perspectives.


~ Motivation Happens ~

February 19, 2011

Not long ago, my resident high school senior, Franklin, asked me which Physics book I thought he should work through. We have Saxon Physics, a challenging text which contains tons of math along with physics, and another physics text that is not so heavy on the math side of things but is still a very good intro to physics.

Note: I allow the kids to do science OR history in a semester’s time. They complete the book of choice in one semester by studying the subject more intensely each day instead of flipping back and forth between the two subjects each day. In this way, the student goes deeper into the subject at one time, allowing for better understanding and retention. If the student prefers to do both science and history, he/she may.

I give a choice because choice is motivating!

Give as much choice and control to your students as possible, and they will have more motivation than if you decided everything for them.

Back to Franklin’s question: which Physics text did I recommend? I asked him what he wanted to do. His answer was, “I want to tackle the Saxon Physics because it will give me more math which will get me better prepared for college. The more I learn now, the better off I will be in the fall.”

The bottom line: Franklin wants to spend as much time as possible on the ice in college. He is going to school to play hockey, really. But he knows that the education side is important too. Do you see his line of thinking here? With a computer science major, math will be important. He is choosing to take the hard road now so he has some breathing room in the fall.

Yeah, baby. That’s the way we want our kids to think: how does what I am doing now prepare me for what I want to do in the future? If kids can make that connection, motivation happens!

Sure, there are going to be some things that the high schooler just has to study that he or she may not be particularly interested in learning. But the beauty of homeschool is that the student can choose to focus on his strengths in order to hone those skills and interests and be ready for his next step post-high school.

One of the best things we can do with our high schoolers is to have them look down the road and see where they want to be, and then backtrack to the present, see where they are right now, and help them devise a plan to get to where they want to ultimately be. With Franklin, Tim and I spent Tim with him, looking at his best plan of attack for getting to the NHL since that is his goal, no pun intended. A lofty goal? Absolutely! Attainable? Absolutely! He has a plan for getting there now. The rest is up to him. A young adult’s goals may change, but having goals in place makes all the difference when it comes to motivation.

Incidentally, I would have chosen the physics book with less math in it, if I were the one taking the course. Does that make me less motivated than my son? Not at all. I know that time is short, and I don’t want to waste time on stuff that I don’t need and am not interested in. I’d much rather hone my strengths than waste time on stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me. After all, I’m the Mom; I Don’t Have to Know Calculus (if I don’t want to.) And I don’t want to.


~ Extraordinary Happens ~

February 19, 2011

I remember when my first child was three, my husband and I contemplated the idea of homeschooling. As a former classroom teacher, I knew exactly what life would be like for my perky little red-haired boy who would soon be expected to be present in a classroom from, say, 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. five days a week. Nicky was reading at age three and a half. I can still hear him reading a short story called, “Who Will Bell the Cat,” in his tiny little voice as I sat on the floor with baby Taylor and sweet little Lauren, age two. I have a tape I recorded that day which preserved for me the sounds of young motherhood and childhood. Talk about priceless.

It really was the thought of putting Nicky on a school bus and not having the pleasure of his company all day long, five days a week that caused me to think seriously about homeschooling. Call me selfish. I had been conditioned to think that sending a young child into a big, strange building with complete strangers was a cool thing to do, that age segregation was the only way to learn, that someone else should be teaching my child the alphabet and teaching him to read. Wait. He already was reading.

Tim and I had just met our first homeschooling family about this time. We were Northern transplants to the South. I had never even heard of homeschooling before moving to the South in 1987. There was one family we knew who homeschooled their children. The mom was an elementary ed-degreed parent like me. Tim and I observed their two boys who were probably ages 8 and 10 at the time, and the first thing I noticed about these boys was their behavior. They seemed extremely mature for their ages and had *gasp* respect for their parents and other adults. They got along well and acted like they liked each other.  I was impressed. After observing this family in their natural habitat on different occasions–meaning we hung out at their house–we decided that homeschooling could only be a good thing.

I knew I could teach my kids the educational stuff, but beyond that, I wanted to be the one to influence their hearts AND minds. I wanted to be together as a family. Tim felt the same way. I would say that our educational journey began at that point, but that would just not be accurate. I had already been educating and training my children! Of course it is “normal” for parents to teach their children how to dress themselves, to feed themselves, and all of those life skills that develop early in life, you know, like how to crawl and how to walk.

Wait a minute. I didn’t teach my babies how to crawl or how to walk. They learned those important skills on their own. When they were ready. There is no classroom environment necessary for what pediatricians term “Developmental Skills.” Seriously, think about that.

Why suddenly, when Nicky was age five, did I then wrestle with worry about whether or not we were doing the right thing by not turning our child over to “the professionals?”  Isn’t that kind of silly? It seems silly to have worried now, but back then I lacked confidence. Before long, however, it was apparent that we were doing what was best for our family.

The thought of teaching my young children at home soon became a reality. I think that having a college degree gave me more confidence to “teach my kids at home,” but come on! I had been teaching them since birth! I had never had a course in that part of parenting, and 21 years later, I can see that the early years of child training are of the utmost importance in building character and forming lifelong habits. I’d never had a course in that stuff. We just trusted our instincts and prayed. A lot.

Trust your instincts.

If you feel called to keep your children out of the public school system, if you want to be the one to experience the joy of teaching your child to read, to see the spark of joy when all the phonics pieces come together, and most of all, allowing it to happen at your child’s own speed and readiness level, then do it with confidence! You can raise extraordinary kids who impact the world!

Children are naturally curious, and they naturally want to please their parents. Working with my young children and watching them learn, being a part of that process, has been a source of great joy! Mentoring our young adults in the high school years has been relationship-building to a degree that we never imagined!

To have had the privilege of being part of our children’s lives 24/7 with no interference from well-meaning educational institutions has made an enormous difference in the relationships we have with our kids, and that is PRICELESS! That is the bottom-line value to homeschooling, in my opinion.

I have no more babies to teach to read. Lilie just turned nine, and Nicky–excuse me–Nick will graduate from college this year, with six other children in between those two. I have been so blessed as a mom to be able to be with  my children, to ENJOY them daily. Sure, I have a bad memory and forget the really hard parts of the early years of lots of babies and lots of diapers and all of that potty-training fun, but some things are best forgotten.

What is so cool and something I will remember the rest of my life is this incredible sense of freedom I have as a parent who is not tied down to a school system’s schedule. My husband and I have total control over our children’s lives and so do you have with your children. You can direct them in the way that you see fit.

Every family has a distinctive flavor all its own. Some families are willingly fragmented each and every weekday from breakfast until dinner time. That is the norm. That is “normal.” If parents choose to outsource the education of their children, so be it. That is the glorious freedom we have as Americans, right? I am not one who would say that every family should home school. It is not the right choice for every family, just like public schooling is not the right choice for my family.

But if you want to educate your children at home, you can do it!

That is my message to you: you can educate your children with excellence in the comfort of your own home! Heck, after about the third-grade level, they even teach themselves!

“But Joanne, how do they learn chemistry? I did terribly in chemistry when I was in school!”

My answer is: you give them the book, or you give them the online course.

I want to raise extraordinary children who grow into extraordinary adults! This is much easier to accomplish through the medium of homeschooling these days for many reasons I don’t have the space to go into at this moment. I know and am convinced that parents can teach their children better at home than teachers in a traditional schooling environment can. How do I know this?

I’ve lived it! I’m still living it!

If my first child had turned out to be a socially-shriveled-up, educationally-stunted piece of work, I wouldn’t be writing this. He didn’t have to score perfectly on the SAT to prove anything to me. I knew he was extraordinary before that happened! His perfect score was merely an outgrowth of his desire for excellence. And our next three kids have all wildly excelled in their respective realms as well, with four more guinea pigs to go. (Extraordinary guinea pigs, mind  you.)

Why settle for normal when you can have extraordinary? Every child has the potential for extraordinary! Your children have the potential for extraordinary, and I bet you already know that because you see it in them already. Nourish that potential! The public school system is not likely to do so.

My final thoughts:

Extraordinary is not random; it is the result of attitude, motivation, and mentoring.

You as a parent can provide the attitude to model, incite motivation, and be the best mentor on the planet for your child or children. Homeschooling provides the format for doing so.


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