Home School Family- Trish French

Northumberland Homeschool Family- Trish French

Introduction to your family (parents, kids, ages, likes/dislikes)

My Husband, Tim, and I have been married for 7 and a half years. We have a son, Nickolas, who will be 7 in September. We enjoy spending time with family and friends, swimming, playing games, cooking, and a variety of other activities. We are homebodies a lot of the time, although we also enjoy going out on adventures. We dislike big crowds.

Why did you choose to home school your children?

Tim and I decided to home school for several reasons. Nick has some anxiety in big groups of children. He often copies a lot of inappropriate behaviour, and often escalates his behaviour once it starts.   Nickolas also needs more individual, quieter, and smaller groups to learn in. We believe that without the distractions found in classrooms, he will learn and focus better.

How long have you been home schooling your children?

We will be starting to home school this summer. I will be starting slowly and by September, I plan to be starting full time homeschooling.

What home schooling method do you use?

Starting now, I plan to have a relaxed approach to homeschooling. I plan to have a structured routine set up for the fall. I know that my main focus will be printing, reading, math, social studies, basic fun science, and socialization.

Which curriculum, if any, do you use?

I plan on using the Canadian curriculum books that you can purchase at Costco, Wal-Mart, or various other stores. I also have purchased other workbooks for math and printing. Pinterest and other websites will be used. I will also back that up with educational games online. Educational games such as Prodigy, ABCYA, etc.   For socialization, I plan to be more involved in the home school group and the YWCA. I am also doing research on volunteering with Nick.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a home schooling parent/family?

As I am very new to home schooling, my main challenge is wondering if I can be a great teacher. I know I am a good mother, and I don’t want to fail Nick as a teacher.

What is the most frequently asked question you get when people find out you home school your children and how do you answer it?

I have not been asked very many questions as I am still very new at this. Most people have been very encouraging.

How would you summarize your home schooling experience so far?

So far, I am very much enjoying looking for ideas and projects for us to do as a family as well as for Nick and I to learn and grow.

What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to families who are new to home schooling?

The only advice I have right now, being so new at this, is to live in the moment and to take every opportunity to learn and grow.

Any other information you’d like to tell us about?

Focus- Written by Michelle Beazer


Do you ever feel like you are trying to juggle too many roles at once? I sure do!

Recently in a FaceBook group I belong, a challenge was put out to come up with a single word to define your personal growth goal for the year 2018.

I chose “Focus” to be my personal growth word. I want to fully partake of each of the flowers in the bouquet God had given me.

Like everyone else I am a person juggling many roles in this life.I am a Mother

  • I am a Grandmother
  • I am a teacher
  • I am a provider
  • I am a business partner
  • I am an employee
  • I am a friend
  • I am a Church member
  • I am a Sunday school teacher

I am a helper  This week I had an opportunity to try out my word. If I had not been thinking of “Focus” I may have missed the opportunity to help these precious little girls learn a much more important lesson than sewing.

I chose the Grandmother flower and told the little one “Sure you can learn, but you have to start with the same project your sister did”. Then I told the kids I needed to go make dinner. I asked the older girl to help me. While we were in the kitchen she was able to tell me how she felt her sister was “butting in” on her Nanny time. Which I was able to turnaround to “Isn’t it wonderful how you have inspired your sister to want to learn to sew because you are working so hard on your projects?”

My little granddaughter turned 10 near the end of November. For her birthday her mother asked if I could give her daughter (my granddaughter) sewing lessons. During this weeks lesson, her little 6 year old sister asked to learn to sew also. At first the older girl was a bit upset and said her sister is too young and the lessons are a Birthday present. I thought about my word, Focus. How can I use it in this situation? Which flower am I at right in this moment? Teacher or Grandmother? The teacher flower would mean Focus on sewing project. The Grandmother flower would mean Focus on the relationship and character building.

All of these roles are like beautiful flowers in my life. I am like a butterfly or a hummingbird flitting from flower to flower to taste them all. Giving each a snippet of my time but rarely truly drinking in the full measure of beauty each flower can give.


Social Opportunities for Homeschooling Families

Our Life: We Live It, We Love It, And Most Of All We Enjoy It!

Growing up in a small town I was very impressed with the amount of activities there are for children and homeschooling families. With Tuesday swim lessons (Port Hope), library Wednesdays (Cobourg), Forest Friends Thursdays (Welcome) and sport day Fridays (Baltimore), there are lots of opportunities for families to get together. Can’t make a weekly commitment? No worries. Most programs are drop-in friendly or offer a short weekly session so no long-term commitment is necessary. Monthly field trips (Northumberland County, Durham County, Peterborough County, GTA), summer camping (Kinark Outdoor Centre), and track and field meets (Oshawa) are also offered throughout the year. With all of these social opportunities, how can families not feel connected?

As far as academic requirements are concerned, Ontario has few guidelines as to what is deemed appropriate for a parent/caregiver to teach their children. This offers every family the opportunity to teach what their child loves to learn, at an age-appropriate level, and help foster a love of learning right from the start. Being Catholic, our family decided to choose a religious curriculum from Virginia. Seton offers a wide variety of materials that cover all your basic subjects (math, reading, history) as well as a few others (art, music). Since the curriculum is based in the United States, we have opted to also incorporate Canadian history/geography, local sciences, and French.



Considering that our children are still very young, free play is still very much a part of our daily routine. The children wake up and play until breakfast. After a quick morning prayer and breakfast, our oldest chooses what subject he wants to do first. This is either an independent lesson like journaling or spelling/English or an instructional lesson such as science, history, or math. After the 10-20 minute lesson is complete, he engages in free play, either independently or with his younger sister. During this time, I either review the work he completed or begin preparing for our daily outing. We complete 2-3 lessons in the morning before heading out to our daily activity. These activities vary every day but are usually the same every week, with few variations depending on the occasional field trip or the need for a “down day.” Upon returning from our activity, the children play or nap (only the youngest), depending on the time of day, while I attempt to complete some household chores. Afterwards, we complete the rest of our academics, usually 1-2 lessons depending on how many were completed in the morning and then it’s free play the rest of the day until suppertime. After supper, when Dad gets home from work, we share with him our completed school work, talk about our daily activities, and have family time. This involves grocery shopping, playing games, reading books, or watching TV. This is also the time we speak the most French and incorporate other daily lessons to ensure comprehension and understanding.

Our lives may seem very structured, but for us, it is this type of routine that helps us grow and learn together. The children know what is expected of them every day, and we know that they are getting the social interactions necessary to become successful and independent teens and adults. Our days do not always run smoothly. Our weeks are not without the occasional meltdowns, temper tantrums, or sibling rivalries; but it’s our day, our way, and our life. We live it, we love it, and most of all we enjoy it! Live in Northumberland County, Ontario? Visit www.northumberlandhomeschool.com to learn more about local opportunities for your homeschooling family.

Teaching The Challenging Child

Have you ever had to deal with that kid who, no matter what you do, seems to just balk at everything? Have you both ended up in tears because you just can’t seem to connect? You talk, and everything you say seems to go in one ear and out the other? When you are trying the tenth curriculum this year, trying to find the one thing to spark this kid’s interest in learning?

Well, I sure have! In fact, I seem to be faced with this problem every couple of years. Just when I think I have found just the right curriculum mix so I can sit back and coast, my little angel will show signs of boredom or start struggling with the material.

I always find the answer eventually. The pathway to the answer is always the same. I have to give it up.  Not give up on my child and not give up on homeschooling. Give up my struggling heart to my Father in Heaven. Search the Scriptures, and humble myself in prayer. When I lay it in His hands, the answer we need will come.

Many times the problem turned out to be something entirely different than I had expected. The only consistent thing has been how startlingly different the answer has been each time! And different for each child . . .

For one child, the problem was sensory issues with her clothes. She simply couldn’t focus on anything because the seams in her pants and the terry in her socks drove her to distraction. Another time, the problem for my son was his energy levels made it necessary for him to move while he composed any essays or creative writing assignments. The answer was to have someone act as scribe for him as he walked around the room. My second daughter needed more time at home. She was overwhelmed with “extracurricular” activities.

As I have gone through this process many times now, I spend less time struggling on my own and more time praying for guidance for my children and asking God what His will is for each of them and our family.



The Homeschool Socialization Myth

By Jeanne Crosbie

I Forgot to Socialize the KidsI am pretty sure that, as homeschool parents, we have all heard the question, “What about socialization?” And we have all probably found it odd because one of the reasons that we do homeschool is to avoid some of the issues surrounding socialization.

Dictionaries state that socialization is:  to teach one to behave in an acceptable way in society by learning and adapting our behaviour to society’s customs, attitudes and norms.  So then, the real question becomes, how does one become well socialized?

Socialization is done through training—interacting with and modeling the behaviour of others in one’s surrounding environment.  Others being adults and peers.  Children raised in a peer-dominant environment quickly begin to perceive the behaviours of the peer group as the accepted norm and model it themselves.  They falsely believe that more people act this way than is actually true.  (“But Mom, everyone else is doing it!”)

The institutional education system creates just such an environment.  Large groups of children  of the same age are placed together in a setting that has little discipline, accountability and few expectations.  Everything is provided, except responsibility, as they are trained to be passive and compliant while being passed on from year to year.  With the increase in single parent families and two parent income families, children spend more and more time in a peer dominant culture and their focus shifts from parents to peers.  (Wasn’t this the plot for Lord of the Flies? Remember how well that turned out?)

In a parent-dominated environment, children interact with adults who model good behaviour and have more meaningful conversations.  Knowing that they have caring adults in their lives that have certain expectations of them creates responsible and accountable youngsters.  Free to become independent thinkers not dependent on peer values, they can resist being influenced, and are better able to direct their own thoughts and actions.

And contrary to popular belief, homeschool families are actually average people from all walks of life.  On a regular basis, they leave their homes to participate in their communities just as fully as anyone else.  Opportunities are provided to interact with a wide variety of different people.

Many studies have been conducted that compare homeschool children to traditionally educated children.  None have shown homeschool in a negative light with respect to either academics or socialization.  In fact, most research shows homeschooled children to be more mature and have better social skills with fewer behavioural issues than their institutionally educated counterparts.

It would seem that the only thing homeschool children are lacking is the negative pressure to conform to the poor standards of peer group behaviour, making the argument that children must be around other children in order to be properly socialized, rather absurd.  In fact, one may wonder if the shift towards increased institutionalized care of our children at a younger and younger age might be the cause of many of society’s modern ills.


“Social Behaviours: Public vs. Home Educated Children”, OFTP website

“Socialization: Homeschoolers Are in the Real World”, by Chris Klicka,                                        HS Legal Defense  Association Website

“Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts”, by Isabel Shaw,                                                                        homeeducation.com

Testing as Learning

By Jeanne Crosbie

   northumberland homeschool studying  I came across an interesting article in Scientific American (August 2015) titled “Building the 21st Century Learner”, which presented the most recent research on learning from the fields of cognitive science and psychology.  The findings are practical and easily implemented by any homeschooler.

               The article states that, when done right, testing, a much disparaged practise these days produces: i) a better recall of facts and, ii) a deeper more complex understanding.  Engaging in related learning activities before and after testing can further enhances these effects.

               Testing puts into play a process called retrieval practise.  It is not enough to merely read material, one must also in the course of studying be able to recall and present the studied material.  Every time we call up or “retrieve” knowledge from memory, our memory changes.  Mental representations become stronger, more stable, and more accessible.  Memories are altered in anticipation of future need or demand.  Calling up information from memory, versus rereading information, produces higher activity in certain areas of the brain improving the retention of related information through memory association.  Studies have proven this to be the best, most effective method of learning.  Retrieval has been proven to be superior to concept mapping, highlighting and reviewing notes, all of which have been shown to be the least effective ways to study.

               Using testing for retrieval practise involves presenting learning material, followed by recall by the learner, without access to the original material.  Recall may take the form of written notes for the older child or oral narration for the younger child.  Repeated at spaced intervals over the course of days, weeks or months ensures retention of knowledge.  Charlotte Mason, the beloved and still much followed 19th century British homeschool proponent, knew this. What she termed Narration, the assimilating of information followed by its retelling, required children to focus and then allowed their minds to classify and connect the information given.  In the act of retelling or “retrieving”, one’s mind acts on the material in an original way, choosing what to leave in or out.  And we cannot narrate what we do not know.  In another nod to past wisdom, flashcards, much maligned by modern educators as “kill and drill”, used in small doses, at spaced intervals, are also highly effective learning tools.  (Quick: what’s 9×7?!)

               Retrieval practise has also been shown to foster both Transfer and Metacognition. Transfer being the ability to take knowledge in a known context and apply it to another unfamiliar context, while metacognition is our ability to think about, and manage our own learning.  Feedback from tests and exams can provide valuable information to help us direct our own planning of how to best approach a given learning task, and evaluate our progress toward the achievement of that task, thus providing a much deeper learning experience.

               Testing done right can be much more than an assessment tool – it can boost learning too.