Finding A Plan

We are now officially into week five of home school for second grade. I started out 100% clueless as to anything and everything that had to do with this topic. But now, five weeks later....maybe it may be coming together....sort of.

The first four weeks I was so hardcore to the books. I was being a very mean and strict teacher. We were doing sit down school work for eight hours a day. The first week, my daughter was excited. The second week, she got a bit more antsy. By the third and fourth week, I think we were both about to kill each other. LOL

Seriously though, I needed to wake up to reality. My husband told me why it wasn't working as I had planned in my head. My daughter is normally a good, focused seen year old. She always does what she is told and really loved school.

By the third week, she was hating school. Telling me she hated me as a teacher. I was so mean. I didn't want to listen. I felt like if we didn't get in eight hours a day, she wouldn't be smart. I wanted to cram as much knowledge as I could into her little brain. I just wanted what was best for her. But my husband opened my eyes. I wasn't teaching her second grade. I was teaching her college. And doing eight hours a day, with each subject lasting from 2-3 hours each was making her go crazy. And I see that now. I guess just because I can sit there and teach it, she can't sit there and remember everything.
I would get frustrated when I would go over a lesson and ask her questions about what we just read and she would just say "I don't know".

So now I know, it wasn't her, it was me. I was going in on this a tad too fast. So this week, for week five....I stepped back. I regrouped my ideas, my lesson plans, my schedule....everything. I needed to make it a bit more simple and do baby steps. I felt like I had so much to teach her that I didn't know how I would fit it all into just one year. But the fact is, I don't have to. She has the rest of her life to learn and I just need to teach her little by little til we get it all. Trying to teach 12 years of one subject into one week was a crazy idea. I don't even know how I thought I could possibly do it with a seven year old. But see now I can't. No one can.

So I broke down my schedule. Got it a bit more organized and cut down the time for the entire day, as well as the time per subject tremendously. This is what the new schedule looks like:
Of course, it may get shifted around some more as I start to using this schedule. But I think it will be a good start. It went a lot better today...I must say.

Home school varies from state to state. The laws are so different for each and every state in the USA. As home schoolers know, this is a critical thing you have to look into and get all the facts so you know and understand how to do it right and by the books.
In my state, the law states that you must have an accounted 1000 hours per school year. 600 of those are to be core based hours and the other 400 are non-core based hours. And also I believe there has to be a minimum of 180 days present during "school" hours.

Core subjects being Math, Science, History, Language Arts, etc....
While non-core subjects are P.E., Music, Art, Field Trips, Sports, etc....

So how I keep track is by a chart I made and write down what subject abbreviation it is, what the material is for that day, and the time it took to do each one. At the end of the week, I add up the core and non-core hours separately and then add them altogether. This way I can see our progress. I will be able to see as we get closer to the end of the year, how we are doing with our hours better.
So of course, I keep everything in binders {one for me and one for my daughter} and everything is labeled and organized nice and neat and everything has a place.

And I wish I had a room to have a classroom set up in. But that's not really able to happen just yet. So for now, we use the dining room for our school studies. I can't wait to have our own space to hang up things and make it more "classroom" like. It makes it hard also with an 8 month old and a 22 month old running around while I'm trying to teach her too. So the room setting is not so high on the priority list because we have access to everything we need in the dining room. I have a computer and printer set up, all of our books and lesson plans, and access to the living room to watch the little ones while we learn.

So here is our setting. It works for now. One day, I may get my really cool class setup.

And I finally figured out the most perfect reward system to get my daughter to want to pay attention, even when a subject is boring or not interesting. When she was attending public school, the teachers always had the kids names on a board and they had a clip attached to the name. If you had to move your clip down, it meant you had gotten in trouble. If you got to move your clip up, it meant you were doing something good and behaving well.

I knew the clip thing probably wouldn't work at home too well seeing is she seems to know how to walk on me sometimes and I let her get away with stuff too easily. So i started to think about what we did when I was little in school. For the record, I attended public school my entire life, except college. Then I attended a private college.

I remember in elementary school, the teacher gave us a checkbook and each week, we would get money deposited into our accounts. If we were good, turned in our homework on time, or aced a test....we would get money deposited into our accounts. If we misbehaved, didn't listen or follow instructions, etc......we had to withdrawal the money and write a check to the teacher for our behavior. At the end of each week, we were allowed to use our money on prizes in the classroom. 

So I decided that this would be the way to run our behavior method. So today, she got her own checkbook. I was going to design my own checks, but decided it would just be easier to scope the internet for some to use and save a bit of time instead of opening up Photoshop and Illustrator and play around for a while.

I found a very helpful site that basically was using the exact same method I remember using so it worked out perfect. And the best part....there was a tutorial for how to put the checkbook together to make it look and feel like the real deal. So now I had a plan to help teach her some math skills as well as get her to behave the entire day.

Here is how our checkbook turned out. I also created a cover for my daughter to color and apply. She had a lot of fun doing this. Of course, she only wanted to use her very favorite Monster High character, Lagoona Blue as the subject matter.
To see how to make your own checkbook, check out Cathe's Blog Just Something I Made. She has a tutorial as well as a PDF downloadable file. I took the file into Photoshop and just whited out over the information I wanted to change {such as the check numbers so I could print multiple with different numbers} and saved them. I'm so glad someone else also thought about this because it really is a cute idea. I loved it when I was little and my daughter seemed to love this reward system today as well. She was excited to pay attention and learn LOL

So far in the first five weeks, we have covered a lot of topics and issues. And I have been trying to throw in a lot of fun things in there. Such as exploring bat caves, hiking, making our own paper, painting, watching educational videos, etc....

So here are a few fun things we have began to do. I wish I would have taken photos of more of the things, but that's ok. I know my winter break, my photos will be bombarded with craft photos.
So this has begun a new adventure for us. But even with the few struggles in the beginning, I think it will work itself out as well get to find a plan through this. I have been told by so many that the first year is the hardest. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. It hasn't been horrible, just a new and different experience for us both.

56 comments

  1. Great post. I'm going to be supplementing my daughter's education. This year will be super easy as she is only in kindergarten and its only part-time. We're not too keen on the education system in Saskatchewan compared to Nova Scotia, where we're from.
    Hope you guys have a great school year!

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  2. This is such a great idea Rebecca! This is our third week of homeschool kindergarten and it's going ok, but I'm finding that he gets so bored when reading time comes around, I decide to use cash as a reward ($1 for every five stickers he gets on the calendar) but this checkbook idea is really good. That way I can withdraw money from him if he misbehaves!!! Where do you get your homeschool ideas? Email me when you have a chance!

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  3. Katherine LacabeSep 16, 2014, 8:51:00 PM

    This was super duper interesting to read and I look forward to reading your trip through home schooling. (I used to be a teacher).

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  4. Speaking as a veteran homeschooling mom (16 years), the first year is the hardest, but then you figure out what works and what doesn't. Hang in there :)

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  5. I love how organized you are! We're planning to homeschool when the toddler gets older so I need all the inspiration I can get :)

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  6. Home-schooling is such a crazy concept to me, it didn't exist, at least to the extent it does today, when I was growing up. But I see posts like this and it makes me want to have experienced this, this is teaching kids in the real world - I love, love, love the checkbook idea. When I graduated from high school and went off to college I was clueless about money - your daughter will be a super star!

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  7. I always enjoy reading posts about homeschooling because I was homeschooled all the way through high school. We used a curriculum that used a lot of independent learning. My mom read to us and did spelling with us, but other than that we did our work on our own unless we needed help. One of the great things about homeschooling is that you can have a lot of flexibility with your schedule! It sounds like you are learning the best way to set up your week. It's nice to be able to change it up when you need to!

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  8. How awesome! You are so well organized. The checkbook is an awesome idea. I used to use it my classroom along with making my students pay rent for their desks (fifth graders). If they couldn't keep track of their money, they would lose their desk and have to sit on the floor. It sounds extreme, but it showed them the value of money and taught them about want vs. need.

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  9. I think this is fantastic. I like how you teach just one subject a day, so much easier for children to take an interest and absorb one subject at a time.

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  10. What a great way to stay organized!

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  11. So cool! I could never have the patience to do home schooling but so appreciate someone who can! It sounds like it will be learning curve for everyone but that you have great ideas to make it happen! Enjoy!

    xoxo
    The Accidental Mama
    http://theaccidentalmama.com

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  12. Such an ambitious undertaking! I'm glad you are starting to get the hang of things!

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  13. I love how structured you are! If I ever homeschool someday, I need to use a schedule like this!

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  14. Weekends With WinterSep 18, 2014, 6:38:00 PM

    You are one organized and creative mama! I can tell you care a lot about your daughters education and I hope you guys continue to grow in your practice. Quick question-why home school? Do you not like the schools in your city? Does your daughter still get a chance to interact with other children? I've always wondered this about the subject but have never gotten the chance to ask.

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  15. Awesome post! Good luck with home schooling!

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  16. This is a great idea. So organized, I am impressed.Looks like some fun activities.

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  17. We decided to homeschool because we were not too happy with the system here as well. And other issues like safety and things. I was a mess during the summer trying to figure out how to even get started. But I'm really happy we decided to and enjoying it now. I wish you tons of luck on your daughter's kindergarten year as well :)

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  18. I actually really like the sticker idea. That is really cool. I think I will also try to use that in our day as well sometime. But I know you saw my email and I'm so glad to help as much as I can seeing as I'm learning so much everyday with all this. And I wish you tons of luck as well. I know we can do this together and help each other out. Thats what friends are for :)

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  19. Thank you. I must say, the only teaching I did was being a piano teacher...so this was all a bit scary for me. But I'm loving it now. I'm learning a lot as well as my daughter. It's a good experience for us. Now that I'm getting it slowly, I think it can only get better from here :)

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  20. The checkbook idea has been really helpful. It has turned around her attitude and made her want to pay attention more as well as helping out with chores and everything else. I'm slowly getting the hang of it. I really do love being able to help mold her and see how she is growing as a person

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  21. Thank you. I have been hearing this a lot lately. The first year is the roughest. Especially when they have been in public school and now removed from that environment. But she seems to be having better days. Once she gets used to it and we continue a schedule, I think it won't be so bad for her :)

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  22. That's awesome! And thank you. I'm trying to be super organized. I honestly sit every night redoing my notebooks and planners... I don't know...I just can't seem to get organized enough LOL

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  23. Homeschool was a very scary idea for me at first. It was my husband's idea and he wanted it more than I did. But now, I'm really starting to love that we decided to do this. Since i never experienced it or knew someone that really did....it has been such a foreign concept to me as well. But now, it's growing on me. And I was the same way...I wasn't really good with money at all. I got a lot of phone calls from my dad cussing me out about the bank account LOL

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  24. That is really awesome! I love hearing about people who have been through this and can shed some light. It makes me feel like it can work out and it will be all worth it. Right now, I'm trying hard to keep it fun but really pressing hard on knowledge. One day, we will get our balance. But I'm changing things everyday to see what does work. And yes, I try hard to do everything scheduled but there are some days where we go over or have to switch things around and I do love that flexibility.

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  25. I have heard many people talk about that same concept for having students rent out their desks and pencils and other supplies. I think that is a really fabulous idea and way to teach them about the value of things in real life, just like you said. I think once she hits around 4th-5th grade and if we are still homeschooling, I will also do something like that was well so it becomes more of a life lesson too.

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  26. Thank you. Actually, we are doing around 6-8 subjects a day, depending on the time and the day. Friday, we are mostly only covering PE and tests, but all the other days, we are doing one subject every 30 mins. I've gone over time on some and under time on others. So some days, we may only get about 4-5 subjects in a day instead

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  27. Thank you. I am trying but I keep switching it up :) One day I'll find the perfect way to stay organized and happy

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  28. The patience thing I thought would be a bit easier. But now I feel it's helping me with my patience since I'm always the "mean" mom...I'm trying to be a bit more relaxed and focused on her needs rather than just forcing it down her throat now. It really has been a big new lesson of challenges and dreams for the both of us

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  29. Thank you! Me too. I hope within the next few weeks, we find even better ways to grow and learn. And I hope some of the beginners stress starts to wear off

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  30. Thank you :) I never imagined I would ever be the one to home school but I feel that now that I am...it drives me crazy not to have everything in perfect order. I think that's always a downside too cause I'm constantly redoing everything to make it perfect

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  31. Thank you so much. I really care so much about her being smart and knowing everything she can possibly know. I've been learning that I don't need to push it all in her head this year. She has her whole life to keep on learning. So I'm trying to just make it better for te both of us.
    As far as your questions, I never knew why people chose to homeschool either. Since I always attended pubic school and so did everyone around me. But we decided on a few reasons why we wanted to. The biggest one was because we were unhappy with the common core standards in the country. We are just not a fan and wanted to move her away from that. Another issue was safety. At the school she attended kindergarten, they had a fake shooting to see how the kids would react if someone came to their school and was a threat. It traumatized most students in her class and she did not want to go back to school at that time. I was not happy with that at all since no one was told this was going to be happening. And then her school for first grade, we were happy with it, but a lot of kids were being harassed by men lurking near the school and trying to approach girls and we had a couple of shootings int he area near it so they constantly had school on lockdown and the kids could not leave. So we decided that we didn't want anything to happen and she would not return home.
    She interacts more with kids now that she is homeschooled than she did at public school. All the little girls in our neighborhood are her age so she plays with them every chance she gets. We are also part of many homeschool groups in our city and they meet for activities several days during the weeks o we go to the events and the kids get to participate in things with each other and talk and have fun. And she is also in karate and has lots of friends there as well. So she's a very social girl. I don't think there isn't a time where she isn't interacting with someone she knows

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  32. Thank you. I hope we survive this year LOL :)

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  33. Thank you very much. We have been trying to do at least one fun activity a day. I'm trying really hard to make this a great experience and fun year. I'm crossing my fingers that we look back on this year with a lot of knowledge and so much fun

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  34. I honestly would have no idea on where to start for homeschooling - what made you decide? Just curious. :)

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  35. I had no idea where to start either. It was just like a crazy ball of stuff going through my head. I finally started to spend hundreds of hours researching on the state laws and how other people were doing it. Someone else asked me above why we decided to pull out of public school and start to home school. SO I will just copy and paste it for you.

    The biggest reason was because we were unhappy with the common core standards in the country. We are just not a fan and wanted to move her away from that. Another issue was safety. At the school she attended kindergarten, they had a fake shooting to see how the kids would react if someone came to their school and was a threat. It traumatized most students in her class and she did not want to go back to school at that time. I was not happy with that at all since no one was told this was going to be happening. And then her school for first grade, we were happy with it, but a lot of kids were being harassed by men lurking near the school and trying to approach girls and we had a couple of shootings int he area near it so they constantly had school on lockdown and the kids could not leave. So we decided that we didn't want anything to happen and she would not return home.

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  36. Awesome post! I think home schooling can be a difficult choice for the parents and the child involved but you seem to have it sussed.

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  37. I love how organized you are!

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  38. Wow you are so organized!! I really love the chequebook idea.

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  39. I love this example of a plan. I don't homeschool but want to structure my toddlers days better.

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  40. Weekends With WinterSep 19, 2014, 4:52:00 PM

    Thank you so much for explaining this to me. I can totally understand why you would choose home schooling! I read somewhere that there was a woman who home schooled all her kids and they were all in top tier colleges and graduating by 21. One of her kids was even in college by 16! Best of luck to you, I can't wait to continue reading about your journey.

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  41. I really honestly never thought we would do homeschool with our kids. I just always though they would do public school like we did. But I guess everyone has their own reasons why. I do believe though that if it just somehow doesn't work out, we will try another way. I think though it's a great learning experience for the both of us.
    And since I started joining groups and things for homeschoolers, I've been hearing more and more about families having children that go to college super early or are just really advanced for their age. I think that is amazing. Though I know there are some really smart kiddos in public school too. One thing I can say that I do love is having my child home with me and we are finally getting the bond and time together that I missed out on when she was a baby because i was working so much. Now that I'm able to be home with her, school is bringing us together and I'm no longer feeling like I'm losing that special bond or time

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  42. It looks like you're off to a really organized start! It takes time to transition into a comfortable routine. I charter school my children, so they're home schooled with me for 3 days out of the week. We've been doing it since they started school though and my daughter is now in 6th grade. It was bumpy at the start for both of my children but once you understand their learning curves and relax a bit it is a lot of fun! We have science experiments on Fridays. We write down our hypothesis and then go foward with our experiments. There are some really good resources online and some fun physics for kids books available which are full of really cool ideas! Even baking cupcakes is a part of our enrichment time since we learn the importance of temperature measuring etc. :)

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  43. WOW!!! I learned soo much just by reading this!!! I never new homeschooling was so in loved in the sense that you have to consider sooo much! Your so clearly organized though!! I can't wait to hear how the check system works out!!! What a great way to learn that early!!!

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  44. I homeschooled last year. Just for the one year. I started off exactly like you and had a very similar schedule! I will say homeschooling was the best thing I ever did and I loved every minute of it. I miss it, but I had to go back to work and my daughter got into the school we originally wanted her in finally and she is really happy now. I will always treasure the memories though of being together and being able to focus solely on her for 7 hours a day.

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  45. Great post and tips! I'm really bad at planning. One of the reasons why I think I would suck at home schooling.

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  46. I read through the comments before asking this question. Since I was curious as to why you were doing homeschool with your daughter. Do you think she is ever going to miss out on school traditions - football games, being a part of a sports team, or going to prom?

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  47. Thank you :) And you know, my daughter has been begging us to homeschool her since she started school. It was more of the shock to me that I would be responsible for being a teacher of all things now to her. But I'm so glad I am. I think she is learning so much and doing a good job now. Some days are better than others.... but even public school kids have those as well

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  48. Thanks! I'm trying to get even more organized. I got more calanders to write down even more detailed descriptions of our lesson plans

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  49. :) Thanks! Yes, the checkbook has done a major turn around in her having a lot more attention and interest in her school work. It worked for me as a kid and I see it still works today :)

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  50. I was the worst .... absolute worst with schedules. My husband would constantly argue with me that I needed to get all our children {especially the babies} on a schedule. And nothing I did worked. I was just exhausted and stressed to the max. Homeschooling has done so much wonders for not only providing a structured schedule for my daughter I'm teaching....but it now has my babies on a schedule of their own and makes life a lot easier and happier too

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  51. I'm so glad to hear from another mom who is experienced with this. It makes me feel more comfortable knowing that it can be a wonderful thing. That is awesome you have been able to school your kids for that long. It was hard at first since she has only known public school. But we are slowly getting there. I've always been told, no matter what, the first year is the hardest. And I have been stalking Pinterest like crazy for lots and lots of ideas and help

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  52. Thank you. I never knew there was so much to it as well. My state is one of the more "relaxed" when it comes to what rules you have to follow. So I'm thankful for that. Some people I know, the state laws are almost unbearable to homeschool. Each week we both learn from he mistakes we made in the past week and what we know will continue to work. It's hard but I know it will be so worth it :)

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  53. That is wonderful! I honestly don't know if this will be our one and only year or if we will continue. I hope to continue only for a few reasons as to why I really don't want her back in a public school. But I can totally understand all your reasons. Having t get back to work is a tough one...I was always the working mom and recently was able to be a stay at home mom finally. I don't know how long it will last, but I'm taking as much of an advantage as I can before it may end.

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  54. LOL...I hear you. I was the same way. The worst with schedules. Especially with the kids. But this has forced me to be super organized and I'm honestly loving it :)

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  55. Thank you for the comment...and the questions! I have been getting asked a lot of this from a few friends lately :)

    What is great about most states when it comes to homeschooling, the child is allowed to attend any event or sport in the district. Whether they attend public, private or homeschool.
    My state is really awesome about this. My daughter is in sports right now. And when I was in high school, I played Lacrosse. And some of the girls on our team were homeschoolers. So they allow you to participate as long as you meet the age requirements and live within the district. And the homeschool association actually has their own teams for sports and programs as well. So they do everything as if they were in public school. Have football games, proms, field trips... it's all the exact same, except the kids are taught at home, but still allowed to do everything a public school child can do.
    And if we do decide to homeschool up to high school, she could either go to public school prom { as long as she is going with someone who attends that school} or she could go to the homeschool group prom. So they really don't have any differences there. I really like that because she can be involved in any sport without feeling like she needs to be in a public school to do so.

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  56. So glad you are finding a better way to do things. It really is a process. You WILL make mistakes, but you'll learn from them. You'll be an expert by the end of the year, I'm sure. And if I end up homeschooling Kaylee, I can hit you up for awesome advice. :D

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