(submitted in the Fun-Schooling Moms group in 2017 by M.L.)
I was the mother who reached out to you about my sons.
I followed your plan for the last year. (See the THE PLAN posted at the end of this story).
We have occasionally had some things change a bit, but this plan was (and is) the core of our homeschooling. We left our traditional pathways behind, and we pursued education the fun-schooling way. A year in the life, I am now ready to report.
Last January I had my 4th child. I would like to say that the reason my homeschooling method stopped working was just due to the new baby, but that would be a lie. The truth was that I had two young men who were hating school. I tried to bribe them, I tried motivational speeches, I tried buying new books. Nothing worked. They hated school, and if I was being completely honest, I hated homeschooling. It was not leading to the peaceful family life I had pictured. I cried often. They cried often. It was so hard.
I came across the Library Homeschool Journal in a Facebook ad, and the ad specifically mentioned the book being good for families with a new baby. I knew I would need to step back from our current (and 5+ year old) homeschooling routine and materials for a time- new babies are hard work! But my love of the library and the idea of a library-based journal that incorporated library-learning made me give it a go. It was a 60 day journal, and I thought I would be “all better” by the end of it, and we could resume our same old homeschooling routine.
I quickly realized that the Library journal would not work the way I intended. I reached out to you for ideas, and you – in a way I never expected – changed our lives. You responded with with an earnest desire to help my family. You changed our curriculum completely- not just the materials but the time as well. In our email correspondence you addressed some issues regarding where I had placed our chores during the school day (I had them at the beginning, you suggested putting them at the end), rotating subjects between days (giving the kids a chance to look forward to their favorite ones), and using *time* as the measure instead of number of pages- in a desire to enhance the quality of their work and cut down on rushing. You created an entire curriculum plan, and you provided the means for us to try it.
It has now been a year.
We used your method. I incorporated the changes and materials and we just did it. I am going to admit something- I didn’t really expect much to happen. I mean, the materials are SO adorable, surely they wouldn’t be as effective as my much-more-expensive textbooks. I also didn’t expect much by making the curriculum changes you suggested. How could moving chores to the end of the day help? I mean, in theory it may help, but won’t the quality of the cores suffer, or wont it throw off the entire day? If they are doing something for a set time instead of a set number of pages, surely that would just make them do less and get more sloppy, right? But because you had been so generous, you worked with me on such a personal level, and you have so many children of your own, (and maybe because I had a new baby and the recovery was the most difficult of any of my 4 children…) I decided to completely go with your suggestions. I figured I would give it a few months while I recovered.
I can say, without ANY exaggeration- this has been the BEST year of homeschooling EVER. My spouse and all of my children would agree- hands down!!! In fact, homeschooling and the atmosphere of learning changed so greatly that my then-3-year-old begged to start homeschool kindergarten so she could spend more time doing homeschool activities too! We allowed her to start and included her in our plan (modified to fit her level, of course) but now, a year later- she is STILL going strong in her education, and it is fueled with HER desire. Last year if you had told me I would have happily agreed to homeschool *3* eager little learners, I would have laughed!
I not only use your materials, I use the plan you outline on this post. The two are a PERFECT homeschooling match. This curriculum guide saved our school and our sanity. It brought peace back into our homes and our hearts! School is now something that is not feared, tolerated, or despised. No, school is seen as being FUN! The kids adapted to the change beautifully, and so did I. These “adorable” books have helped my children’s handwriting, reading, math, logic, critical thinking, note-taking, planning, science, and other skills SO greatly- an educator wouldn’t recognize them as being the same students. Moving chores to the end of the day made them stop rushing through school, as instead of looking ahead to play they only saw chores, so they saw the school as being more fun and focused more joyfully on their learning. That still baffles me- the chores are only 10-15 minutes, HOW can that make such a difference??! I don’t know- but it was a game changer in their attitudes!
Rotating the subjects instead of doing the same set daily was brilliant! The children no longer fear their least favorite subjects… in fact, they HAVE NO least favorite subjects!!! What!?! I know, right! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?! I have no idea!!!! They voluntarily do math, reading, research, spelling- I mean, they actually CHOOSE it. Mind blowing! The final structural change was to use time blocks instead of pages. I seriously do not know how this works- but it does. I now have beautiful, brilliantly, carefully done schoolwork that makes my heart leap for joy, and makes them rush to me to show with pride. Pages that were once pencil only are now leaping with color- even from my eldest, who *never* liked to color or do any type of art. Miracle, I tell you.
I love the books. The books in this plan were SO perfect for this age!!! There are also SO many pages, and the workbooks are totally treasures we will keep to show the grandchildren! The Dyslexia games is fantastic. I love that we were able to easily print another set for my daughter to do- so she has her own “schoolbooks” too! What a totally perfect item for EVERY family!! I found myself asking if I could do a page here and there- there is something stimulating yet relaxing about them. They are truly a family favorite! None of us have Dyslexia, but we all benefit from your Dyslexia games!
Math Genius is brilliant- what a unique approach to math! The book passively teaches in such a fundamentally different way- at first I was not sure about replacing their old math program, but now see they have made HUGE leaps with this book!!! The book has had them voluntarily doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, division- but because they see it as building inventions, and they aren’t being drilled- they see this as FUN! This is truly a genius of a book!
Making Money. HOW PERFECT! Kids in the US are surrounded by materialism. One of the things on so many minds (of adults) in the US is money. This book is FANTASTIC. The book goes through various professions, and we researched (kids learning HOW to research without realizing it!) each job and wrote about them. The kids learned SO much about so many different professions, and I love that you incorporated such a diverse range of options- from laboratory research scientists to vloggers and dog walkers! BRILLIANT! There are sections that discuss amounts of education necessary as well- which passively gave the kids motivation to work harder in school. Seriously, this is a brilliant idea!
10 Subject Portfolio, oh how I love thee. Let me count the ways! 1) This thing is massive. GIANT. So many pages. What a super investment! 2) 10 subjects! This book is perfect for everything! 3) This book allows the kids space to journal, record, plan, and dream. This – in my opinion- should be a staple for all homeschooling families. It keeps everything all together in one beautiful book. 4) There is space where space is needed, and not when space is not. This book was designed perfectly for us. 5) In states where record keeping is necessary, here is ONE book that can do it perfectly- this makes record keeping easy and ideal!!!
Spelling- can kids learn spelling from a “Fun-School” book? Honestly I didn’t think so- but my kids loved your spelling books so much I wasn’t about to fight them on it. I figured we would finish out the spelling and go try the next thing (spelling was never one of our best subjects). A few weeks ago my son wrote a letter. In an ENTIRE page, he misspelled one word, and the word was phonetically written correctly (it was one of those strange English words that follows no rules whatsoever). I was shocked. Between his copywork, his find-words, his journals, notes, and your spelling books- his spelling had grown by leaps and bounds!!!! I no longer cringe when he has to write in front of other people, fearing I will be judged by his lack of spelling. Nope- he is a GOOD speller!!! How. Did. This. Happen? Answer: Your spelling books work. Shocked, but SO pleased. Spelling can be effective while being fun!!!
Thank you so much, Sarah. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, and to troubleshoot my homeschooling. Thank you for creating these amazing homeschool tools, materials that allow young minds to flourish like I never thought possible. I am in tears of gratitude for your creative homeschooling approaches. I never thought such progress in my children was possible. I didn’t think such dedication and motivation was possible. I didn’t think “fun” schooling – for us- was possible. It IS!!!! THANK YOU!
*The Library journal is STILL one of my very favorites. When I say it wouldn’t work the way I intended, it was because I had serious flaws in my homeschooling approach. Flaws that your plan eliminated and which I had never been able to diagnose. Upon remedying the flaws, the Library Journal fit in perfectly and was used happily!!! (click here for THE PLAN)