Thursday, April 30, 2009

KRS 159

Jill's Journal: No one will be able to say I’m not going into homeschooling with open eyes. I just finished reading Kentucky Revised Statute 159 on education and an 80-page accompanying booklet in layman’s terms about the legalities of homeschooling (both federally and specifically in the state of Kentucky).

I just want to make sure all my “i”s are dotted and all my “t”s are crossed, especially with my children’s futures at stake. Now armed with much more knowledge than I should conceivably ever need on the subject, I believe I’ll be able to accomplish that with flying colors.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Mailman?

Jill's Journal: I got some homeschooling advice from an unlikely source today: the mailman! I answered a knock on the door to see a sheepish-looking mailman going through my mail. He said, “I’m sorry, honest truth is I’m just being nosy, but I’ve noticed you’ve been getting some homeschool information lately and I’m really curious.” We ended up having a lovely conversation!

He proceeded to tell me his daughter was homeschooled for two years, his wife is a Christian school teacher (4th grade), and his sister homeschooled all of her children from start to finish (and they were all brilliant and are now in college on major scholarships). He raved about homeschooling, but wasn’t entirely sure what curriculum his family used. He said his best piece of advice was to join a homeschooling co-op because he said the support and shared knowledge with other parents is invaluable.

The mailman left with a promise to return in the next few days with a list of names and numbers of people for me to talk to and network with – talk about full-service! That was awesome.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tidbit Tuesday

Jill's Journal: Random tidbits swirling around my mind today, most dealing with homeschooling as that’s my major focus at the moment:

*I’ve learned that the term “umbrella program” has different definitions for different groups. What we’re planning to do is more commonly called “all-in-one curricula,” a comprehensive package, or “school in a box.” It’s meant to recreate the school environment at home and comes with extensive guides for the “teacher.” The concept was originally developed for isolated families, such as missionaries in the field.

*I’ve got more research to do, but I believe I’ve narrowed down our homeschooling program to three major choices! Extensive information on each is due to arrive in our mailbox any day! More to come.

*I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my mother a year or so ago. I said something to the effect of swearing I would never homeschool. Not for me, I said. No desire, I said. Oh, how we eat our words sometimes.

*And speaking of my dear Mom and the rest of our parents, Rob and I remain very trepidatious about telling our family members (on both sides) about our venture. We think they’ll have a difficult time understanding our desire to step outside the box and do something entirely different. And it turns out we’re not the only ones. Found on a website, “One of the most difficult parts of actually doing a trip of a lifetime is gaining the support of your family and friends. It’s not that they really don’t want you to have this incredible experience; it is that we are all resistant to change, and your leaving means adjustments in their lives.” We anticipate that will ring very true for us.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Bluegrass RV

OK, so I've decided its been too long and planning this stuff is just too daunting - so here it is, raw, real, and flowing.

I took the girls shopping on Sunday. I'd hoped Jill would nap - heck, I had hoped the girls would nap and I wouldn't have to go, but they got caught up, like ya do... and I found myself on the North side of town looking for a project. Why not RV shopping right?

Bluegrass here I come. As Jill noted earlier, we'd opted to go across the street last time, because this place look used-car to me. BOOOYAH - I can read... I got there at 1, they opened at 1, and it seemed like they weren't sure they wanted to be there. We parked, got out, went into an RV that was open (what a boon actually) and when we came out were treated to a guy that asked 3 questions, decided we weren't ready to buy that day, and quickly shuffled us to 'visit me in the office on your way out and I'll get you a brochure'.

Regardless it was an good trip. We got to see another version of a bunkhouse, and I finally got to see what a loft was all about. The problem is that all these trailers were 30 / 31 feet. OH what I can do with another 8 to 12... Clearly these are not FT'ers. Though, they did teach me a lot about space, adjustments, and what I might be able to do for a desk.

On another note, I haven't researched it yet, but I think I might just be comfortable in a 6'6" or so Travel Trailer. No saying now that I can just throw that out. We went, we saw, I stood up, and it wasn't overwhelmingly small... Not the most ideal, but if it includes everything I want to have, I can take 6'6"....

Highlight of the day is that I asked the girls - Do you think you could do this, sleep this way and have fun - and they enthusiastically said yes not knowing they didn't have a choice. Its not a matter of if - it is entirely - when.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

We're Not Alone!

Jill's Journal: During my hours and hours of homeschooling/RVing research, I came across a delicious discovery: we are most certainly not the first family to be doing this! There are hundreds upon hundreds of families, just like us, on the road right now! They live in an RV, they homeschool (some call it “roadschool”), and they THRIVE. Some have been doing it for years, some have many more kids than we do (some even keep having babies on the road), and they all love it. It’s a veritable community – groups meet frequently for rallies, some have online forums, etc. This is all a comfort in that we knew we could do it, but it’s fantastic to hear we’re not alone, it’s been done, and it’s been a success!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Positively Daunted

Jill's Journal: Score for book #2 in preparing for this undertaking. I just finished “Top 100 Picks for Homeschool Curriculum” by Cathy Duffy. Several pages in, I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea there were so many different options, methods, etc. for homeschooling. Literally.thousands.of.choices. Ooooy.

One must take into account everything from learning methods to philosophy of teaching to education/style approaches. And if you can narrow all that down to one particular route or a combination of approaches, you’ve got another kazillion categories with another trillion subcategories under those – and then you get to search for one of the curriculums that might compliment it IF you choose to go with a pre-packaged curriculum as opposed to designing your own curriculum. Again, it’s all just overwhelming. Positively daunting.

But, I plodded through the book and am actually feeling quite encouraged. Fired up, even! I think an “umbrella program” is probably the best way for us to go, at least starting out. It’s where you find a pre-packaged program (and believe me, there are hundreds and hundreds to sort through) you agree with that basically provides an entire year’s study for you as opposed to choosing a different one for each subject (the latter of course provides the very best, custom-designed fit for each student).

Apparently experienced homeschoolers think that pre-packaged curricula is for wusses, but I’m okay with that – I’m not here to please them and just want to do the very best for my family. There’s not as much flexibility in umbrella programs in comparison to other homeschooling methods, but that’s actually good for us since we do plan to return to conventional schooling after our venture and I don’t want to stray too far from traditional methods. Plus, I’m not overly creative and I like the security of it all being laid out for me to follow.

This is a huge decision and really a very big step to have made this much progress. Good thing I’m starting early! Narrowing it down this far is actually quite monumental! Now to sort through the bazillion umbrella programs out there…I’m going to be researching until the cows come home.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Living Aboard Your RV"

Jill's Journal: As much as I love to read, actually enjoying a book rarely happens with little ones about. But this time I was persistent, which meant sometimes half a page every three days and sometimes 20 pages in one day. The end result was reading from start to finish “Living Aboard Your RV” by Janet and Gordon Groene.

It’s touted as “The Complete Guide to a Life on Wheels.” At times it was overly simplistic, but they tried to cover everything, which I do appreciate. It was a wonderful surprise to realize we had actually already thought of just about everything they brought up – everything from dental care on the road to mail forwarding to generators. And that in itself was very rewarding – just knowing that we’re going about this the right way, with our eyes open and our bases covered.

However, the best thing about the book was three realizations it gave me. First, it never occurred to me to sell most of our belongings. I just assumed we’d put everything in storage until we returned to a stationary home. But many things don’t weather storage well and why pay storage fees for stuff we barely use now or for furniture that may not fit into a future home anyway? The thought of purging everything unnecessary – none of it which is valuable – is quite appealing to me. We’ll obviously keep the sentimental things, but most everything else can go. For instance, this desk at which I’m currently sitting…why keep it?

Second, I always thought Rob would handle all the maintenance of the RV. And by that I mean not only the vehicle-type of maintenance, but also all the RV systems -- hooking up when we arrive at a new location, handling gray water, black water, etc. But this book made me realize it is vitally important for me to know all these things too.

And third, we’re going to get our whole family passports before we go (our adult ones have expired and the kids have not yet needed them). Not only is a passport the best form of identification around, but it would certainly enable any impromptu visits to Canada when we’re near the border. (No driving the RV into Mexico, thank you very much. I’ve been to several cities and beaches in Mexico and love it, but the thought of driving our entire life (especially young children) over the border into a sometimes-lawless place that preys on tourists…well, we’re brave but not stupid!)