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One of the biggest aspects of my life is homeschooling my eight kids. I am always on the lookout for ways to simplify that process, especially on the road. With that in mind, my children and I have been testing the Yearly Membership of SchoolhouseTeachers.com, an online curricula resource, for a few weeks now. I’m going to yammer on about it for a bit, but first, some background:
As you know, we live in a travel trailer towed by a Chevy Express van. We (we as in my hubby, Steve) tow “home” up mountains and down, around hairpin turns, over harrowing heights. Have you ever seen The Long, Long Trailer with the inimitable Lucille Ball and Dezi Arnaz? Remember the scene where they’re teetering on a mountain top on the brink of disaster because Lovable Lucy overloaded the trailer with rocks?
That’s me–Lovable Lucy. Except instead of a Cuban-American husband, it’s a Filipino-American husband. And instead of rocks, it’s books. And instead of ending up with a box office hit and a big fat check, we ended up with a dead transmission and a big fat bill.
Roadschoolers, ironically, have very little weight allowance for books, which makes schooling a little more challenging. I know–whaaaaa! That’s why we have to get a tad creative with everything from where to store the toilet paper to how to educate eight kids in 240 square feet of space with no weight allowance for los libros, which is Spanish for “the books,” which I had to teach los niños without using los libros. Now do I have your sympathy? I didn’t think so.
SchoolhouseTeachers.com is an online curricula resource which offers its members nearly 200 courses plus other perks, and it’s growing like my stomach at a Christmas cookie buffet. The courses are available online through classes, videos, or printable downloads. I’m not going to list every subject you’ll find there because 1) I’m too lazy, and 2) okay, so there is no number 2. Go to the SchoolhouseTeachers.com course list and see for yourself, or see what’s available grade by grade.
Wow, right?! A family could use SchoolhouseTeachers.com as a supplement to their studies or as an entire curriculum. That saves a ton of space and trailer weight, people.
How have we been using SchoolhouseTeachers.com?
I’m so glad you asked, because I’ve been itching to tell you about the Tinkers Club, partly because I love saying “tinkers.” Tinkers tinkers tinkers! (If you say it real fast it sounds like stinkers.) My son (who just turned 10 last week) is loving the Tinkers Club. It’s all about inventing, so he’s gettin’ down and dirty with tools and junque we scrounge up at thrift stores (because, as you know, The Simple Homemaker tries not to keep junk on hand, so, ironically, now we have to hunt for other people’s junk). He is so into it that he was thrilled to receive safety goggles for Christmas–safety goggles, people! And I wasted money on Legos.
We are also just beginning the Charlotte Mason preschool study written by homeschool mom Brittney Jordan. As you know we are not into an intense preschool program, nor am I interested in spending money to teach my child to count. But being child number 7 in a roadschooling family means that someday the you-specific activities and the nature study get pushed to the background in favor of group activities and an 8-mile hike. This ideal program ensures that little Ellie and I (and our many tag-alongs) are doing something in nature together, in books together, and in handicrafts together each week…key word: together. Love it!
This week’s topic is snow, which offers and interesting approach to nature study. I think I still have snow stuck down the back of my neck–family snowball fight not pictured.
I’m also setting my older children on the task of translating the Spanish Bible stories for Spanish-speaking preschoolers. Why? Because I can, and because they don’t speak Swahili or Latvian, but if yours do, then by all means check out the Latvian and other foreign languages! They don’t have enough Spanish for my liking, but there is Latvian!
Here’s my favorite aspect of SchoolhouseTeachers.com:
My first baby girl was born, like, yesterday, and last week she turned 19. That’s years! Time flies…fast…like a fast flying thingie. We did some pretty fun stuff in school (apparently not enough vocab study if this writer is saying “thingie” and “stuff”), but if I could do it over again, I would have had more lessons that she really wanted to study and fewer that I felt we had to know to appease the social service workers that never showed up at our door.
With SchoolhouseTeachers.com, I
feel comfortable am totally excited about letting my children pick a couple of courses at a time that they want to study (after Bible and math are finished). I’m confident that they will be learning something. It may not be the same things I learned in school and promptly forgot as soon as the test was over because I never used it in real life and wasn’t interested in it in the first place, but that’s totally okay! That said, I might “make” my 19-year-old take this for her writing business:
I don’t love everything about SchoolhouseTeachers.com.
For example, I absolutely do not like their cute little drawing of the ark for the preschool flood study. The flood was not cute, and the ark was not cutesie. For the love of all things truth, draw the ark its actual size in proportion to an elephant, so kids could see that a lot of elephants could fit on that behemoth. Kids would have an easier time supporting their beliefs when (not if) they are attacked if they had the truth in their heads. Thousands of people drowning–so not cutesie.
I also don’t like the amount of clicking required to get to the course, but they’re in the process of fixing that, so forget I said anything. In fact, I’m crossing this off right now.
And there will be things you don’t like, which is why it’s totally great that there are nearly 200 courses–pick what you like and leave the rest…like how you pick the M&Ms out of the trail mix and leave the raisins. ‘Fess up. You know you do it.
Technical details for my fellow roadschoolers:
For us travelers, internet connection and data limits are issues. While some of these courses are videos that will consume data, others are made of printable or downloadable lesson plans that can be downloaded at the library or RV park and stored on your computer to be pulled up whenever you want and wherever you are–even boondocking.
The studies do not require that you buy books, but access to a library does help for some additional recommended resources. Obviously, that part is not ideal for the traveler, but, well, read the paragraph about The Long, Long Trailer and you’ll agree with me that not having access to all the books a person would like to have is better than plunging off a mountain peak with your entire rig, family, and collection of