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Meet Teresa! Learn how she this science teacher turned homeschooler is helping her son and others to learn science better!
Tell us about you and your family.
I live with my husband and my 9th-grade son. I’m an author and work at home. My daughter has moved out and on. She works at Disney. We live in the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, GA.
How long have you been homeschooling?
I started 15 years ago when I learned my son had something different about him and my daughter came home crying every day from school. As a then, teacher, it was an odd move and I have since then become a staunch homeschoolist. (My word).
Tell us briefly about your homeschooling approach.
My kids are totally different. My daughter was highly self-directed. My son’s Asperger’s means he needs my help and guidance, needs more video, more hands on experience. And his high intelligence means he keeps me challenged and thinking outside the box.
Year-round homeschooling or traditional calendar homeschooling for this teacher turned homeschooler?
We used to year round school but now that he’s getting older and his studies are harder, he needs a break so we take off for the summer and travel.
Tell us about your homeschooling routine.
I am an author so I get up and get coffee and work until he gets up. When he wakes up, I get him started on some things. My son takes breaks. I don’t. We usually leave the house around 2 to run errands to get home before Atlanta gridlock. We do dinner, watch something educational as a family usually having to do with what my son is learning. Then when my husband goes to bed, my son and I work together more on schooling. We get into some of our best conversations at night! I love our night schooling.
Complete the sentence: Our homeschooling happens mostly at…
Home and in the car and in hotel rooms and coffee shops. As I write this we are at a coffee shop and he’s doing American History.
What have you picked for your curriculum next year?
I have a degree in science so I write most of his science. We’re doing chemistry next year so we’ll use The Periodic Table of Elements Coloring Book and The Fearless and Simple Guide To The Periodic Table, then a Chemistry textbook and a local junior college for lab experience. I will probably download quizzes from Teachers Pay Teachers. I have a collection of interactive chemistry sites where he can play with lab simulations.
I can’t find a World Geography one yet. I want one that combines physical with political with cultural. Yeah, I don’t ask much do I? I don’t like large curriculum packs. They don’t fit an Aspie’s limitations with their high intelligence.
We’re using Holt Grammar Text and Student workbook I found on Ebay for $30.
I just grabbed a math pre-algebra workbook off Amazon, I can teach him the math and I supplement with videos on Khan Academy and YouTube. I check his work and download tests off Teachers Pay Teachers. I use a lot of channels on YouTube especially Crash Course https://www.youtube.com/user/crashcourse and rely heavily on Netflix.
We take a LOT of field trips to make what he learns, be REAL. Today when we leave here, we’re going to a nearby abandoned textile mill on the river with an abandoned water wheel. We’re studying the industrial revolution and the rise of textile mills.
Next year we will go to EPCOT to see different countries’ foods and architecture.
For reading we’ll be doing books on mental health and goal setting like Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, Who Moved My Cheese, things that help be more business minded, goal oriented, help with Aspie tendencies to be meek or not challenge themselves. Also next year we will add reading biographies of scientists because they show how to stick to something, perseverance, goals, failure as a process, etc. I wrote my own book report sheets that slowly wean him off questions into eventually writing his own full report and I bound them into a booklet. I wrote my own travel report so he can learn about travel writing, restaurant critiquing, just different types of writing and bound those into a booklet. And we’re co-authoring a book so that will help with his writing skills and business and economic skills.
Also next year we will add reading biographies of scientists because they show how to stick to something, perseverance, goals, failure as a process, etc. I wrote my own book report sheets that slowly wean him off questions into eventually writing his own full report and I bound them into a booklet. I wrote my own travel report so he can learn about travel writing, restaurant critiquing, just different types of writing and bound those into a booklet. And we’re co-authoring a book so that will help with his writing skills and business and economic skills.
List 3 books about homeschooling that really impacted you.
Being a former teacher I really didn’t need any. I saw that what happened at school, happened at home. Getting overwhelmed, burn out, distractions, emergency plans ready, make up days, books that didn’t fit all, meltdown, failure, are normal in all education settings. Like right now, I have piles of work that haven’t been graded since Feb. I don’t care. I’ll get to it here in a few weeks when he finishes schooling and his standardized test.
I don’t doubt myself or stress, got that over with in my first years as a teacher. I don’t care what other people think and I don’t feel the need to compare myself with other homeschoolers. I don’t need encouragement in teaching at home, it’s much less stressful than teaching in a school setting. I need it in not taking enough time for myself, although I’m working harder to change that. Playing drums, working out, pedicures, binging on The Twilight Zone, have been good for me. I will do this more. I hope I have written books that have helped homeschoolers with their fears of science and relaxing on pressures and failures. I had a mentor in my first years as a homeschooler in handling family and the public. She was a lifesaver. Thank you, Ren.
Your family is going on an unplanned trip, not much time to pack, you must homeschool the kids while traveling and you can only take 5 of your homeschooling resources/books with you. What would you take?
Laptop and the booklets I made and his workbooks. They travel light and are easy to fill in, plus the laptop is a thousand resources in one LOL!
If you had the chance to start homeschooling all over again today with the knowledge and experience you have now, what would you do differently?
Care WAAAAY less about what family or neighbors thought. I spent too much time on that in the early years. It was freeing when I finally quit.
Teresa Bondora is the author of The Periodic Table of Elements Coloring Book. She writes science lessons and materials to help homeschoolers teach science. She can be found in the mountains whenever possible.