Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Buying a Motor Home- Our Experience

When living in a hotel room had gotten on our very last nerve, it was clear that it was time for us to consider another alternative. Renting a house or apartment for short term, though available, was very pricey and it wasn't getting us any closer to our dream of becoming full-time RVer's.

But with all the styles and options for campers, we were torn as to what type to purchase. We needed something large to accommodate our family of 5 and our pound puppy.

A driving camper would be great, but we doubted we could afford one without a loan. And our goal is to get out of debt, not go further in. Neither of our vehicles were really equipped to pull a large travel trailer or a 5th wheel, and we weren't in the position financially to upgrade. That means we'd need to hire a company to move our camper when needed or we were stuck.

We began window shopping, visiting dealerships and RV shows, touring the displays and finding many units that looked like they'd be perfect. Judging by the price tags, it was clear a used model was in our future. But even at that, we needed to be frugal.

When it looked like finding something to fit our budget was impossible, I ran across a dealership that advertised a camper that we thought might work. It cost more than the cash we had on hand, but we were hopeful we could deal with them a bit. Though the unit drove well and appeared in great shape, there were a few issues that should have been glaring problems from the onset.
  • The camper was only 24 ft. long, not a lot of space, huh?
  • The 'bathroom' was not a separate room, rather there was a curtain that could be pulled closed around the commode when in use
  • Everything was in that one room. Can you say, NO PRIVACY???

We reasoned that with it being relatively small as far as campers go, it wouldn't require as much gas to go places. Besides, we were planning on being outside most of the time anyway, right?

We made an offer to our salesman who tried hard not to laugh and took our piddly offer to the manager, who politely declined. However, and this was the part that scared me, they did have ONE camper that had just happened to arrive that was in our price range. They had no idea what condition it was in, it would be sold AS IS and they needed to know immediately if we wanted it. I don't know about you, but deals like that never work out for us. And yet, we were unable to run...

In desperation we couldn't resist taking a peak at what they were offering. When the salesman directed us outside to the back lot and pointed out the camper, I couldn't look. I waited for my husband to look and when he sounded pleasantly surprised, only then did I dare to peer across the lot to a large Class A motor home. It certainly looked better than the other, but looks are deceiving. So we had a peak inside. There were certainly a few obvious benefits to this new camper.

  • It was 31 ft. long, doesn't sound like a lot but believe me 7 feet can make a huge difference!
  • It had a bathroom; with a door
  • It had a separate bedroom with a door

I was beginning to become hopeful. Maybe this was the camper the Lord had planned for us after all. My husband and I were beginning to get a bit excited and decided it wouldn't hurt to take it for a test drive. It seemed perfect but even at that, we were cautious. We told the salesman we'd think about it. He gave us a day.

We prayed about it, talked to friends that gave us pointers of what to look for and decided to go back for a thorough look through. We decided if everything worked, well ... if the air conditioning at least worked, we'd take it. After all, we'd been visiting in our home state of Ohio and were planning to leave in two days. We did not want to go back to a hotel room!

In the end, we decided the camper was a huge blessing. We wrote a check, packed what belongings were essential to life on the road and away we went, back to Alabama. And this time not to a hotel, but to a perfect mountain top campground- just in time for spring showers.

We had embarked on a new adventure. And it would take a bit of getting used to.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Questions to ask when making a hotel reservation

Though staying in a hotel room is no longer an event that we look forward to in our household, you may love the idea of packing up and having a special break away from home. Though I can’t give you a precise formula for finding the perfect hotel room, I can offer a couple suggestions and encourage you to ask a few questions prior to your arrival that may help ensure your stay is a pleasant one.

First, you need to determine what are you looking for in a hotel. Do you plan to spend quite a bit of time in the hotel or resort? If so you may want to ask some specific questions to ensure there are no surprises. If you plan to be out most of the day, you may simply be looking for someplace to rest your head and won’t be that particular. Either way, read on.

For over a year, I worked as a front desk representative at a very nice hotel. During that time, I was amazed at some of the questions that I was asked. So if you feel that yours are silly or off the wall, don’t fret, it has probably been asked before.

Common Questions
Do you plan to save money by taking advantage of the continental breakfast? Then you’ll be disappointed to arrive and find out that the advertised breakfast is simply donuts and watered down orange juice or coffee. Find out exactly what deluxe continental breakfast entails. Does the hotel offer laundry facilities? Do you sell laundry supplies? Are there safes in the room? If you reserve the room on your credit card, when will the room be charged (though rare, some hotels do charge the credit card at the time the reservation is made rather than upon check-in). What is the cancellation policy? What discounts do you offer? AAA? AARP? Corporate? Military? Sr. Citizen?

Traveling with Children
Inquire about special rooms; some hotels have larger rooms that would be especially appealing to a family. If your children are young, it would be best to request a quiet, first floor room. What features does the hotel have that appeal to families with children? Is there a game room? Vending machines? Pool? In room movies or game systems? What are the hours for the pool? Does the hotel offer pool parties? If so, are any scheduled for the date or your arrival? Does the hotel offer complimentary cribs for infants or toddlers? If this is requested in advance, the crib may be set up and waiting for you when you arrive. A nice touch if you’ll be arriving late. Will you need extra bedding? Request this ahead of time. Be specific about what you need. Do you need a roll away bed? Is there a charge? Microwave or refrigerator? If one is not located in your room, is there one in the lobby that can be used? What attractions are in the area that would appeal to families with children? Do they offer family specials or packages?

Traveling When You are Disabled
Ask for a description of the handicap accessible rooms that you have? Are the handicapped rooms on the first floor (believe it or not, they aren't always on the first floor or close to the door)? How far of a distance is the room from the parking lot? Is someone available to help me with my luggage? Do you provide shower stools or is there a built in seat in the shower?

Traveling with Pets
It's sometimes difficult to find a hotel that allows pets so you should certainly ask before showing up with yours. Is there a charge or deposit for cleaning, etc.? Is the deposit refundable? We’ve found that when we travel with our puppy, we don’t like walking him through the interior corridors when he has to go outside so ask if the hotel has the interior or exterior corridors. If pets are NOT permitted, is there a kennel nearby that they can recommend?

Traveling for Business
If you need to use the Internet make sure that it is free and that it can be accessed from your room. We’ve been to hotels where Internet is only available in various ‘hot spots’ located within the hotel. At least you’ll have Internet, but wouldn't you be more comfortable at a hotel where it can be used INSIDE the room? Does the hotel have a business center? Is a copier, fax machine or printer available to you? Is this complimentary? Is there shuttle service from the airport to the hotel, etc.?

Traveling with Groups
How many rooms need to be rented to receive a discount? Is it possible to keep the rooms close together? Are there adjoining rooms? Is there a room that can allow your group to have a ‘private’ breakfast each morning? Do you have room for a bus to park on site?

Romantic Getaways
Perhaps you’re planning a romantic outing with that special someone. Does the hotel offer a romance package? If so, find out specifically what it entails. Do they have whirlpool suites? Is the whirlpool separate from the bathroom? How big is the whirlpool? Can they describe the room? Can candles be burned in the room without setting off the smoke alarm? If you have something delivered to the hotel (flowers, balloons, etc.) can it be placed in your room in advance for a special surprise? Believe it or not, it was common for people to stop by to look at our whirlpool suites.

Parking Questions
This may not seem like a big deal, but if you are planning a stay at a major resort area or larger city, you'll want to know the answers to these questions before your arrival. Is parking on site? Is valet service offered? Is there a charge for parking? If your family is driving more than one vehicle, is there parking available for both? Is there room to park a motor home, tow-dolly, trailer, etc. on premises? Often, people like to see their vehicle from their room. If you are one of those people, request that ahead of time if it's a possibility.

Other Questions You May Not Think Of
Is there a restaurant, bar or nightclub in the hotel? Are safety deposit boxes available? Do you have a gift shop? Is it possible to exchange currency for international travelers? Does the hotel offer cash advance on credit cards or is there an ATM on premises? Do they rent DVD players or movies? If you will be staying in a resort area, is shuttle service to the major attractions offered? If so, is it continuous, what type of schedule is there? Does it have to be scheduled in advance? If you are a single woman you may want to ask if you would feel safe in the area- especially when it is someplace you're unfamiliar with or if you'll be arriving late. You could also ask if they could recommend an alternative.

Make a list of the questions you want to ask before you call so you don’t forget anything when making a reservation. Once again, I hope this information is helpful, if I forgot something, please leave a comment and let us know what questions you ask. Happy Traveling!

A Few Fun Stops

I know my blog posts have been a bit nonexistent lately and I do apologize. My computer crashed a couple weeks ago and it took me some time to replace it. But, now that it’s here, I promise, I’ll get busy adding some more posts. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out where we’ve been the past few weeks, here are a few posts from my other blog:

Disney's Christmas Carol Train comes to Atlanta, GA

I have to admit, after our first experience in Atlanta, I swore I'd never step foot in the city again. Well, I know the Lord has a sense of humor, because it wasn't long before my husband’s job led us back to the very place I intended to avoid for the rest of my life. Though I wasn't initially excited, a friend challenged me to make the best of our visit by finding five really cool attractions to visit. Well, that was a challenge I was up for and when we returned, not only did I find some really awesome outings to go on with my family, but I also discovered some reasons to return ... again ... and again ... and again.... (read the entire post here)

What'll ya have, what'll ya have?

When we planned to visit Atlanta several months ago, I sent out a plea on one of the yahoo groups I belong to asking for some recommendations of what we should or could do in the city. One of the suggestions I received over and over was to eat at The Varsity, the world's largest drive-in restaurant. Though we planned to go several times, we just hadn't made it. Until today. And it was worth the wait. Visible as soon as you exit I-85, the famous red V icon beckons you. (read the entire post here)

The B-17 Aluminum Overcast

This past Tuesday we found out that an historic WWII plane would be flying into our area and would be open for tours for two days only. Having studied that time period last year in school, and having two boys that are particularly interested in historic war planes, my husband and I knew that this opportunity was not to be missed. Thankfully my husband had a short day of work already planned on Wednesday so we were able to view this fascinating marvel. On the short drive to the airfield, my boys were taking turns impressing us with their knowledge of the B-17’s. Were they excited? You bet! (read the entire post here)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Jesse Owens Memorial Park

Sometimes I get a bit stir crazy and can't wait to get out of the camper when it seems as though the four walls are closing in around me. I have to admit that the past few weeks I've felt this sensation a bit more than usual. I seem to have an inner urgency to begin checking names off my list of all the places in Alabama that I want to see before moving on down the road. I'm not quite sure why I feel this way, as I'm pretty sure we'll continue to be in the area for a while yet. But in the meantime, that means a few field trips for my kids and family outings, when my husband is interested in joining us.

Last Thursday it happened to be a lucky, impromptu field trip day for the kids. Normally that would be the day for our afternoon biology class, but it happened to be cancelled, so we took a field trip to the Jesse Owens Memorial Park. Easy to find, the park is located on a county road just outside Danville, Alabama almost an hour southwest of Huntsville. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were immediately greeted by a friendly volunteer outside the Visitor's Center, asking if we were there to see the museum, which we were. He directed us to the top of the hill where the facilities awaited us.

Though our first stop was inside the museum to see the memorabilia and exhibits, I think I really made a mistake by telling the kids about the Long Jump Pit outside. They were so eager to see how far they could jump that they weren’t about to watch the 45 minute film highlighting the 1936 Olympics in Berlin where Jesse won four gold medals. We hastily made our way through the museum before moving to what the kids thought of as the ‘good stuff’ outside.

We all enjoyed touring the replica of the small sharecroppers home that Jesse was born in and lived in with his parents and nine siblings, until moving to Cleveland, Ohio when he was nine. Upon entering, you will hear a narration telling you a bit about the home and Jesse’s early life.

On the grounds you’ll also see a replica of the 1936 Olympic Torch lit in 1996 by Ruth Owens, his widow. The focal point of the grounds may be the impressive 8-foot tall bronze Statue of Jesse Owens, depicting him running through the Olympic rings.

And finally, the highlight of the trip, the Long Jump Pit. As the kids said, that’s not something that you find at every park or museum and it was certainly new to them. They spent several minutes preparing the pit and then each took turns trying to jump further than anyone else- though no one came close to hitting the 26 ½ foot mark that Jesse held the record for until it was broken in 1960. I don’t think we have any long jump candidates in this family but they sure had fun trying.

The museum is free unless you have a group of 10 or more, but donations are appreciated. We enjoyed our trip here, even though it was brief and I’m sure there’s at least one aspect that the kids will remember forever.

What'll ya have? What'll ya have? A trip to The Varsity downtown Atlanta

When we planned to visit Atlanta several months ago, I sent out a plea on one of the yahoo groups I belong to asking for some recommendations of what we should or could do in the city. One of the suggestions I received over and over was to eat at The Varsity, the world's largest drive-in restaurant. Though we planned to go several times, we just hadn't made it. Until today. And it was worth the wait. Visible as soon as you exit I-85, the famous red V icon beckons you.

Around back, a delivery truck was unloading. According to the brochure, that's only one of three or four that arrive throughout the day guaranteeing that only the freshest ingredients are used to prepare the treats that are served to thousands of visitors a day. Check out these facts: 2 miles of hot dogs, 2500 pounds of potatoes, 300 gallons of chili, and 3000 pounds of onions are devoured each day at The Varsity!

Stepping inside, you'll see the wall of fame, a collage of notable Who's Who that has eaten the world famous cuisine/fare. Elvis, our favorite redneck Jeff Foxworthy, Ryan Seacrest and Presidents Carter, Bush and Clinton, have all darkened the threshold of this landmark.

Instantly you'll hear the famous What'll ya Have, What'll ya Have bellowing from the food service workers waiting to introduce you to the taste of a Naked Dog, Rings or famous F.O. Yes, The Varsity even has a lingo all their own. The service is quick and well practiced. It's clear to see how they could serve 30,000 people on game days.

Fascinated with the diner decor, we chose a window booth on the upper floor overlooking the parking lot where we had a magnificent view of downtown Atlanta.

The fries and onion rings were so delicious, we ordered a second time. I've not ever eaten greasy rings like them but they were yummy. The F.O. or Frosted Orange was like drinking a push-up, the first few sips were yummy, but after that the tangy sweetness was a bit much. My husband didn't care for the chili on the hot dogs, comparing it to Skyline Chili and though my kids loved the burgers, it was certainly the onion rings that got our vote for favorite menu item served at our table.

So, if you find yourself passing through the Atlanta area, don't pass up an opportunity to eat at the World Famous Varsity! Just be sure to grab a napkin or two on the way to your table.

Thumbs up from our family though more from atmosphere than anything else!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Monte Sano State Park Huntsville, Alabama

This is an adapted version of a post that was first listed on my original blog, also titled Live the Adventure.

Monte Sano, Italian for ‘mountain of health’, is located just outside the Huntsville City Limits and offers over 14 miles of hiking trails. It is rumored that the mountain air of Monte Sano is cleaner and fresher than the surrounding area.

As a full-time RV Family, we can choose to live anywhere that our money and time can take us and this wonderful state park located atop a mountain seemed to be an awesome choice for our first home on the road. With bike trails, hiking trails and a disc golf course, there is something sure to please everyone at Monte Sano State Park. Well, since we didn't pack bikes and don't know how to play disc golf- though it certainly looks like fun, and we plan to learn- we chose to take advantage of the good weather, between rain showers, and enjoy the scenic views from the trails. We found several surprises tucked away in the woods of Monte Sano.

Located amid the Bamboo and Weeping Cherry trees, we found an enchanting Japanese Tea House in the midst of a Japanese Garden, minutes from our campsite. But you don't have to be a camper here to discover this neat little hideaway, just drop by the camp store and you'll see a sign pointing the way.

This wasn't our first trip to Monte Sano State Park, when we were in Huntsville two years ago, we discovered that this was a great place to hike. Perhaps you can see why we enjoyed it from the pictures I've included.

We took this photo from the scenic overlook. We spent quite a bit of time here, as this was the only place in the park that we were able to get cell phone reception. It is particulary beautiful at sunset and offers incredible views of the Tennessee Valley below.

Though Monte Sano doesn't offer educational Ranger programs, if you'd like to learn more about the park, they do sell a guidebook for teachers in the Campground Office that will lead you on a self guided tour of the outdoor classroom. There is also a small brochure for young children that will introduce them to the history of the park. Speaking of which...intrigued by the history of Monte Sano, we spent some time at the library learning about this beautiful place.

There is a romantic legend that tells how Monte Sano got it's name. A young man, Monte, the son of a pioneer settler fell in love with a beautiful, young Indian maiden, the daughter of the Chief. The couple would meet often and secretly and make plans to marry at Inspiration Point. One night, Monte told his lover that the marraige they had been planning could never be. Not only did his father object to the union, but so did the chief. Sadly, the maiden cried "Oh, Monte, say 'No', and not able to bear the thought of living apart, they both jumped to their deaths from Inspiration Point so they could be reunited in the 'happy hunting grounds'.

So, what about you? Do you have a state park nearby that you like to visit? or one you've enjoyed while traveling?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Get Wild in Ohio

Growing up, I spent many summers with my grandparents' in their vacation home in Cumberland, Ohio. Don't misunderstand me, when I say vacation home, I'm not talking about a lake house or mountain retreat. Just a quaint home, in a small town, two hours south of their home, but near my aunt and cousins so they could relax and visit family. Much of their time was spent tinkering around the house, hunting for bargains at garage sales or fishing. In the evenings, we'd sit on the front porch and watch the rise and fall of "The Big Muskie" across the hillside.

Once it was dark, we'd sit on the upstairs porch and watch for shooting stars. The Big Muskie, the largest dragline ever made and one of the seven engineering wonders of the world, was a famous landmark in those parts for nearly 30 years and still is, even though it's no longer operational and dismantled. The Muskie would run around the clock, scooping thousands of pounds of earth with each scoop. The land that the Big Muskie mined is owned by AEP Ohio, and in an effort to reclaim the land, the power company donated nearly 10,000 acres of land to waht is now called, The Wilds.

Today, that land has been transformed into North America's largest animal conservation center for endangered species! Visitors to The Wilds can choose from several tour options that will take you on a guided 'safari' bus that will entertain and educate all members of your family, young and old. You may see over 25 species of rare and endangered animals native to Africa, Asia and Northern America which include Rhinos, Giraffes, Zebras, Oryx, Bactrain camels, Pizewalskis Horse, Onager, Bison, Red-crowned Crane and more. We last visited two years ago and they were completing a new carnivore section that I can't wait to tour! The tour guides are all friendly and knowledgeable and make frequent stops for you to view the animals and snap photos from the safety of the bus.

After you've enjoyed a leisurely tour on the busy, viewed the educational displays, and strolled throught the gift shop, you may be hungry and chose to eat at the on-site restaurant or travel to the nearby Miner's Memorial Park for a picnic lunch. Here you will see all that remains of the Big Muskie, the enormous bucket that in the course of service, moved twice the amount of earth that was moved when constructing the Panama Canal. You can see up close why it was such an impressive feature to the landscape for so many years. You'll be astaounded at the massive size of the bucket, nearly as large as a 12 car garage. An entire school marching band once posed inside for a photograph. You will also understand how I could watch it night after night from miles away when I was young.

Mammoth Caves National Park: A Trip Underground

This post has been moved from my original blog, titled Live the Adventure.

One of our favorite stops in Kentucky is Mammoth Caves National Park. Known as one of the oldest tourist attractions in the United States, this national treasure is part of the longest cave system in the world with over 365 miles of caves.

We have visited Mammoth Caves on numerous occasions to hike, camp and explore the caves. We've been on several of the tours, but our favorite so far has been the Historic Tour. The tour begins outside of the cave with a bit of information on what to expect inside. All I could remember from the ranger was that we'd travel through Fat Man's Misery- at which I was positive I'd get stuck- oh, we'd also travel through Tall Man's Agony. I pictured my tall boys hitting their heads upon the cave ceiling. Not to fear, I did not get stuck, but the boys almost did hit their heads! Although we laughed and snapped pictures with our cell phones while in the midst of Fat Man's Misery, twisting through the narrow knee high passageway, our laughs escalated as the floor seemed to rise beneath our feet and the ceiling dropped suddenly. We realized the path had led us to Tall Man's Agony. We proceeded through the passage in a stooped posture that I know looked as ridiculous as it felt. The remainder of our tour included climbing over 100 stairs to the Mammoth Dome and exiting at the same way we'd entered.

The Historic Tour follows a 2 mile trail through the cave that takes just over 2 hours to complete. I would consider this tour to be moderately strenuous due to the number of stairs (around 400) that you will encounter and the steep hill that you will climb at the conclusion of the tour to the Visitor's Center. This tour is best suited to children that are able to walk on their own for the duration. There were some young children (preschooler's) on the tour and most parent's ended up carrying their children most of the way. However, as our tour concluded, there were two little boys that appeared to be around 6 or so that had enough energy to run up the steep hill to the Visitor's Center while the rest of us were huffing and puffing along.

Mammoth Caves has tour options for all ability levels from a leisurely 1/4 mile jaunt through the cave to a very physical, strenuous 6 hour trek climbing cave walls and crawling through tight spaces for the more adventurous among us. Cave tours range from $5 to $48 per adult, with slightly lower prices for children and seniors, and are offered every day except Christmas. I would strongly urge you to reserve your tickets prior to your visit, especially if you are traveling during the summer or busier seasons. My husband and I first stopped at Mammoth Caves on our honeymoon 17 years ago and were disappointed when we found all tours sold out even though it was early in the day! You should also remember that this attraction is located in CST when you begin making your plans.

The national park has curriculum materials available on the website if you'd like to make a field trip out of your visit. In addition to the material on the website, I also found this book, The Cave Book, from the Wonders of Creation series to be a good resource to combat the evolutionary content presented. Children between the ages of 5-12 may also enjoy the Jr. Ranger Program. To participate, simply stop by the gift shop to purchase the ranger booklet for around $5 to see what requirements your child would need to meet to earn their own badge and certificate.

If you have a budding geologist on your hands, you may want to stop at nearby Big Mike's Rock & Gift Shop. We have stopped here on several occasions just to buy rocks! If you hang around long enough, it seems that they always offer some kind of a special on the rocks. This is a great place for cheap souvenirs!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Legend, Landmark or Roadside Attraction? Say Hello to the Big Chicken

On one of our trips to the Atlanta area, we drove by this huge eye-catching structure, known by the locals as a landmark and by passers-by as a roadside attraction, legend has it that planes to the nearby air force base have used it to navigate. I wanted to take a picture, but that was one of the times I'd left my camera in our hotel room. I vowed that on our next visit, I'd be sure to drive by and photograph this 56-foot tall fowl, with rolling googly eyes and a moving beak, known by locals as 'The Big Chicken'.

Though the attached restaurant is now a KFC, the original eatery began as a hamburger joint. When the owner began selling chicken and needed publicity to get his diner noticed, he had the chicken idea. The landmark became so loved by the community that when it was damaged by a storm in1993 and rumored to be torn down, the intense public outcry encouraged KFC to repair the chicken for a cost of $700,000. Today you’ll find the chicken near the intersection HWY 41/North Cobb Pkwy and HWY120/Roswell Rd. If you're in the city, make sure you drive by. It's not to be missed!

We love to visit roadside about you? Any cool sites in your neck of the woods?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Choices, Choices, Choices: Choosing Curriculum

This article was originally posted on my original blog.

Okay, I have to admit that I struggle a bit in this area. Not that I don’t select the right programs, I do, I just tend to buy too much! And then, I feel guilty because I don’t use everything that I have. I suspect this year will be a bit different. I don’t have the extra room for storage, unless I plan to use my books as pillows. Don’t laugh…this could be a real possibility. Right now, I have a huge Rubbermaid tub sitting outside the door of our camper, full of books and curricula, because we don’t have room for it inside. At least, not when our motor home is parked. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to part with the contents, though I know that must be done and soon. So, I’m going to use the advice I give to people when I’m speaking and I’m going to make some good curriculum choices for our family this year as I narrow down our resources.


The most important step to choosing curriculum is to pray. Several years ago, I read Ignite the Fire, Freedom is Real Education by Terri Camp when I was in a rut. It was an excellent book and I was so excited after I read it that I recommended it to everyone that I knew. This book helped me to realize that it was my duty to pray over the choices I made for our homeschool. I needed to pray and listen to the answers that God gave me when it came to the areas I needed to work on with my children. Could it be academics? Spiritual issues? Personal issues? When I began to listen, I was amazed how the Lord directed me and how much our homeschool changed.


You should also come up with goals for your children and write them down. When you write them down, they become personal and real and when you’re really stuck, you can go back and read them over and over. When your child is finished with their home education, what do you hope they will have learned? Is your goal simply to have taught your child how to get by, for some children, the answer will be yes. They will just need the necessary skills to survive on their own. You may spend exuberant amounts of time teaching and reinforcing the skills that this child will need to function in society without you.

Do you plan for your child to go back to a public or private school setting at some point? You may want to follow a scope and sequence much like the schools use.

Do you have a child that is headed to the military or college? You’ll want to know the requirements before your child is ready to graduate. Many colleges now require 3years of foreign language. Now it’s not a big deal for your child to take that class later, that is certainly an option, but you will pay for it and it will certainly be much cheaper to pay for it now than later. You also need to make sure you are taking the right types of classes. General Science and General Math aren’t going to get you closer to that admission. Educate yourself so you don’t hinder your child later.


What about learning styles? Talkers, Watchers and Doers: Unlocking Your Child’s Unique Learning Style by Cheri Fuller by is an excellent introduction to auditory, kinesthetic and visual learning styles. Though it’s not written for homeschoolers specifically, and doesn’t give curriculum suggestions, it will give you some wonderful ideas that you can incorporate in your home when teaching to different learning styles and bends. And, if your child doesn’t learn quite like everyone else, you’ll be encouraged to read the chapter about famous people that struggled and yet succeeded. A must read!

This past spring, the kids and I visited Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s Birthplace. While we were there, the docent told us the story of the day that Annie Sullivan made an incredible breakthrough at the water pump. By pumping water into Helen’s hand while simultaneously signing the word w-a-t-e-r, a light suddenly went off in the young girl’s head. Helen finally understood. Helen was blind, she couldn’t learn visually. She was deaf, she couldn’t learn auditorily. But she could feel. She could touch. And her teacher used that mode to get through to her. That day, Helen learned 30 other words and from that moment, she was no longer trapped in that dark world. Don’t we want that for our children? We want that light to go off in their heads. We want them to be successful.


When my child was three and we began working on learning the alphabet, he could have cared less. He was not at all interested. I’d get picture books from the library about the ABC’s, I’d color with him in coloring books with letters, and he just didn’t care. He wanted to spend all his time playing with his toy dinosaurs. So, my mom found a dinosaur book that had a dinosaur for every letter in the alphabet. It wasn’t long before he not only knew the alphabet, but had also learned all those dinosaur names as well. I’ll never forget A for Apatosaurus, B for Brachiosaurus, C for Ceratosuarus (though this doesn’t say the hard “c” sound) D for Diplodocus …my child now amazed everyone when he was playing with his felt board or plastic dinosaurs because he was so tiny and had memorized all those incredibly hard words. The experience also taught me that if my child was interested in a subject, he would learn easily and the teaching was no longer a struggle. My advice? Teach to your child’s interests. You’ll save yourself some frustration and your child will retain what they’ve learned a lot longer.

Finally, remember that you don’t have to teach your child everything there is to know. That’s impossible. But you should teach your child how to learn. Learning doesn’t end with the last day of 12th grade or with that last day of college. Learning should be a lifelong process. Give your child the skills and tools they will need to find the answers on their own. My husband has always told me, if the kids can read, they can learn anything. What fabulous advice. He is so right!

How do you choose curriculum?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...