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New HS Mom: I would LOVE some advice and encouragement!

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    New HS Mom: I would LOVE some advice and encouragement!

    Hello All,

    I am a new homeschooling mom and will be doing the full core curriculums with my rising 2nd grade son and rising 4th grade son.

    Despite only have 2 boys, I am very nervous! I have always wanted to try homeschooling but never could pull the trigger. With Covid-19, I have been frustrated with the remote learning program our school has in place and decided to switch to MP for the next school year.

    I have read through all the Best of K-8 threads but still have a desire for more encouragement. By background, both of my boys are very bright and love to learn. They are intense for better or worse and can, at times, be defiant in their own ways. My younger son struggles with writing (he is a lefty, gets tired and has poor handwriting, although improving) and has never done cursive. My older son got straight A's at his rigorous Catholic school for 3rd grade. He is very capable but terrible at taking feedback (very defensive and a perfectionist). Neither of my boys have taken Latin. My strengths include history, math, literature and organizational skills. My weaknesses include science, patience and perfectionism! I do not know any Latin. I have no background in teaching. I have a B.A. in history and an M.B.A. and used to work in financial services (many years ago!).

    So, given all of that, here are my questions:
    1. If you were to choose 1 or 2 MPOA classes for 4th grade, which, if any, would you choose? Options include Latin, Greek Myths, 4th Grade Math. I’m leaning toward outsourcing Latin. Although I know there is also an online streaming curriculum we can get to help. Then I could use that and outsource Math to MPOA. What do you think?
    2. I’m afraid my kids will hate me for taking them out of their school… AND we can’t experience any of the benefits of homeschooling since COVID-19 has everything shut down in our area… I think we will be very isolated. They do love to play together and are only 18 months apart in age. I’m praying that God prepares their hearts.
    3. If we start by 8:30am, can we get all the work done? My second grader can be very needy and not independent.
    4. Would it help to set up a school room? Or continue to work at our dining room table which feels more cheery and out in the living/kitchen area? I am happy to switch to a school room in our den if we can get more done.
    5. Do you all have any success stories to help keep me going? I’m scared I’m going to mess it up and they won’t get a superior education. They’ll get an inferior one due to me! Education was highly encouraged in my childhood (definitely was an idol for my parents and me). How do I shake that idol and yet continue to pursue excellence? There is a difference between learning to glorify God vs. getting into Harvard (my heart is split and yet I know I cannot have 2 masters!). Any help here would be much appreciated.

    Dear Elena,

    Don’t worry, you’ve got this. You’re hitting homeschooling at a time when the resources are readily available. If I had to choose one class for you to use MPOA, it would be Latin, since you have not previously studied the language. Sit in on the classes and try to keep ahead of them. You can cram in a lot of Latin learning by watching those Cambridge Latin Tutorials on Youtube or the Great Courses Latin classes (both geared toward adults), although they use the classical pronunciation. Second and fourth grade math are pretty easy to teach.
    The kids are probably going to say they miss school when things aren’t going their way. It’s what kids do. There are benefits and disadvantages to both. MP is likely to be more challenging than even a rigorous Catholic school, and there are not 20 or more other students as a buffer between the student and the teacher. No hoping she calls on someone else for the answer or doesn’t look over your work too carefully. You’ll get to see some of the best parts of your kids and some of the worst. One of my friends started homeschooling her son when he was 13 and soon after wanted to call all his former teachers and apologize. She had no idea how difficult he was to motivate and how easily he was distracted. Reasonable expectations, prayer, and a good sense of humor can get you through the rough days.
    You don’t necessarily need a school room. There is something to be said for not being on top of each other all day. “He’s making noises. He’s tapping his pencil. Does he have to turn the pages so loudly?” But each son might like a his own place to work that doesn’t need to be cleared off for each meal.
    It’s nice to have a starting time, but be ready for life to intervene. Your second grader will finish the day before your fourth grader, and at that age will probably be done by lunch time. It all depends on how focused they stay on the task at hand.
    The corona crunch won’t last forever. Soon you’ll find a wide variety of homeschool groups and after school activities that fulfill their need for contact with peers.
    You definitely can get a rigorous education through homeschooling. My oldest was shocked at the education levels of other college students who had been overachievers (“all AP classes”) at public and private high schools. They had been exposed to far less history, literature, logic, and classical studies. Most had studied conversational Spanish or French. In group projects the professors usually wanted her to do any in-class writing, because she was the only one with legible cursive. She came out of college still a pro-life, conservative, Catholic. I’d love to say she is fully on the homeschooling bandwagon, but right now (at the ripe old age of 23) she plans to have a career and send her children to public school. I’m waiting for God to laugh at her plans.
    If you keep the Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam mindset, you’ll be fine.
    DD 23 College grad, married, employed.
    DS 20 Autistic, beautiful, unemployable.
    DS 17 HS grad. Twelve years of MP. Hopes to be a chess-playing priest.
    DS 15 Teaching me to give up the reins. Does MP work when not in ballet classes, at rehearsals, stretching or playing chess.
    DD 13 Nine years of MP. Chess player, marksman, WSJ fan.
    DS 10 Six years of MP. Chess player, ballet dancer, archer.
    DD 8 Four years of MP. Chess player, occasional dancer. Actually gets to write in the Student Guides.


      Welcome to MP and homeschooling in general! I remember when my father told me I should consider homeschooling after complaining so much about the private school where we sent my eldest. I balked! I said I'd pray about it, and the Lord sent THREE random strangers to cross my path within the week to extol its virtues and offer some level-headed guidance. If I'm honest, I had probably judged some narrow-minded homeschooled parents, and this was my turn to shatter my preconceived notions about the home school experience. I was also afraid that I didn't have the patience to tolerate my spirited children But when the Lord calls people to something, He equips His saints. :-)

      Here's my 2 cents on your questions:

      Intro/background: You're going to do great. All that is required is that you can read a guide and follow the prompts. Memoria Press has done the hard part, and those Teacher's Manuals are a treasure trove of helpful information. There are also videos to peruse all summer (and Sodalitas 2020 you can attend virtually this year). This forum and the telephone customer service is hands down the best part of MP! I have called in a few times to discuss short essay final exam grading and preparation tips, placement help, long-term goals and more.

      I have a lefty and a reluctant writer. I think you'll find helpful the advice to roll into a full core gently by answering the question in the guide orally, and picking 1-2 questions in each guide to develop in complete sentences and write on the board for the student to copy. You may not find this as necessary with your rising 4th grader, but modeling a concise, grade-appropriate answer is key in the first quarter of the year.

      1. If you're moving straight into First Form Latin, that's a good one to do with MPOA as you start Prima Latina with your youngest. The only downside would be that you may not be as good at staying on level with him, and he may quickly surpass you where you can't help. I'm saving MPOA for maybe Third Form because I find that if I teach Latin to my eldest, I learn it with her. I'm okay with not knowing the answer to vocabulary that is farther ahead. You can always look it up or ask here. I would definitely consider MP4 lit in MPOA. That would definitely free you up to teach MP2 lit with the youngest. Math at this age is easy with the R&S guide, and many (boys especially) are self-motivated to finish early. It doesn't take expertise or mental bandwidth to teach it. GM is just so fun, and if you don't have a working knowledge of the stories, it will prepare you to teach other subjects that reference it down the line.

      2. Perhaps this IS the best time to do this, because MANY school districts are already tenuous about opening in the fall. If there were any kind of resurgence of illness this fall, students would once again be left with wholly inadequate distance learning or partial (some are talking every other day half class size) away schooling.

      3. You can absolutely get everything you need to get done when starting by 8:30. I've taught 2 years with 2 children, and it's always a balance of needs, but they get more independent each year. I might recommend 8:15 because it gives some wiggle room, and definitely feel free to stretch that first week into 2 for non-MPOA classes to get the feel of it. Perhaps even get the MP2er up and running 2 weeks early and bring in the older son as the MPOA classes begin.

      4. We have an incredible school room, but my two like to work without distraction. I get my eldest going first in our "classroom", then I work with my youngest at the kitchen table, and I walk back and forth between the two. This year, my youngest has graduated to the classroom because he has more board work. My eldest has asked to have her desk moved into her bedroom, but I'm on the fence about it because even as a rising 4th grader, she lacks motivation when not directly watched. Don't make lots of big changes or feel like you have to drop thousands into remodeling a school room. It tends to make spouses jumpy. ;-) After my 2nd year of homeschooling, my husband gave in and did a lot more to help make my life easier, but he could see it played out over weeks and months, and the experience helped us make it exactly how we wanted it.

      5. My favorite joke to my aunts and uncle who have been so impressed by the Memoria Press Classical Christian education we've provided our kids is that they'll decide to be hair dressers or mechanics. And that's okay, too. We don't get to pick what they like or what they eventually do. Whatever they do, it WILL be to the glory of God. My father is an Ivy League grad, and he spent the better part of 2 decades making less than $8,000/year as a pastor to a rural community (raising 3 kids toward the end). But he was the best darn pastor he could be, and we had an incredible childhood after he retired and we traveled the world. It's funny that my grandfather, who came from a long line of doctors, threatened to disown my father after he changed his major from pre-med to getting an M. Div. But it all worked out. Education is education. God's plans are God's plans. Aim high; be content with where the end up. MP is my happy landing place.
      Mama to 2, Married 18 years

      DS 6-MPK with SC1 Phonics & Math
      Fall 2020


        Elena M
        Welcome! I have nothing to add. These ladies are right. I'm so glad you found MP!
        Festina lentē,
        Jessica P

        11th year HSing · 9th year MP
        @ Home, HLN, & Latin online
        11th, 9th, 6th, 3rd

        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School


          Hi! Just hopping on to say I have a rising 2nd grader and 4th grader as well. (I happen to also have a B.A. in History.) Welcome!

          This will be our fifth year homeschooling, and also our fifth year using Memoria Press. We've had a really wonderful experience thus far and I'm looking forward to what's to come. It sounds like you're coming to all of this pretty aware of what you're getting into as far as your own and your kids strengths and weaknesses and I think that will help a lot! Also I can only imagine that excellent organizational skills are a big help to homeschooling. I, unfortunately, wouldn't know, being a hopeless scatterbrain myself.

          1. We've not used MPOA yet but I want to just mention that Latina Christiana, the suggested Latin option for 4th grade new users, is very doable for a parent new to Latin themselves.
          2. I actually have found a hidden blessing in COVID-19 for our homeschool-- the narrowing of our outside activities has given me a chance to refine our homeschool "practice." We miss our friends and classes very much, but there's an increase of peace in our home as I work out some kinks that we had just been living with while we were busier in the fall and early spring. This might prove helpful when starting out.
          3. 8:30 is a very good starting time. I shoot for 8 in our home, but it's 8:30 many mornings, and we're able to finish by 3ish. (That's with three students and one toddler.) I think others are able to finish more quickly than this.
          4. We work at our dining table, lacking space for an official school room, and it works out really nicely. I will sometimes teach a lesson at the table and then send one of my older two to the desk in their own room to do the related written work, especially if the kids are distracting one another more than usual.
          5. I'm not far enough along to have success stories, per say, but I will say that I'm so thankful for the culture of learning and growing together that we've built in our family, and I think using Memoria Press has been a big part of that. It's always really wonderful to get to the end of the year and to realize how much each kid has grown and learned. Also, my MIL who homeschooled 7 kids and turned out two National Merit Finalists is really impressed by the Memoria Press materials FWIW.
          Last edited by AudreyN; 05-18-2020, 05:14 PM.
          2019-2020 5th year with MP

          DS9 MP 3rd
          DD7 MP 1st
          DD5 MP JrK


            Hello and Welcome!

            MP is such a great path to follow - I am so glad you are going to be starting on this new journey! You have so many great questions, and everything that has been shared thus far is great advice for you. We are long-time homeschoolers, too, and have been so happy with MP. I know it is so tempting to have it all figured out on Day One. Try to resist that, and think of this more like a transition. It will be really difficult to get really good at everything this first year. And that is totally normal! Try to maintain some levity in the midst of setting up all these new routines. Every single MP family I know has figured out their own homeschool life - even though we all use the same materials! You will too. Keep prayer at the forefront and you are going to do great.

            2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
            DD, 19, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
            DS, 16
            DD, 14
            DD, 12
            DD, 10
            DD, 8
            DD, 6
            DS, 2


              I am making the assumption that you will be using the 4th Grade Core for New Users for your oldest, and the 2nd Grade Core for your youngest. Based on that, you would be doing Prima Latina with the younger and Latina Christiana in one year with the older one. I personally think you could teach those, but if you really want to outsource a course to MPOA, I would choose LC. Then you could focus on PL with your younger son which would help you feel comfortable with Latin, it would give you a chance to see how LC is done through MPOA, so that you could then plan to teach LC over the next 2 years with your younger.

              Since you feel that math is a strength of yours, I wouldn't outsource that one. You are also perfectly capable of teaching Greek Myths! MP gives you plenty of resources to be successful with all of these. I always cringe a little when homeschool moms feel the need to say, "I have a teaching degree," or "I don't have a teaching degree." You don't need a teaching degree to do this, and someone with a teaching degree will not necessarily be a better homeschool teacher. You have all the skills you need to do this! More importantly, you have the rightness of heart to do this - a strong value for education with a right understanding of the proper place of that.

              All the best,
              Kristin - Administrator for Vita Beata (discussion classes for MP users)
              DD18; AFROTC and Aerospace Engineering Major
              DD16; Junior


                Welcome! I just wanted to say, as a fellow perfectionist, that everything you're feeling right now is completely normal. I can also say that you need to really prepare for the mental game you're going to play with yourself as your first year progresses. The first year is a huge learning curve for the whole family. You'll have good days and you will have bad days. It helps me to write down my favorite quotes that keep me positive on the bad days. "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly" is one of mine. Maybe not the best one, but it's one of my main ones. Even if I don't do as incredible of a job as a classroom would, my children will still have a great education. Another thing that has really helped me is to see the bigger picture of every subject. I'm a box checker. There is nothing that panics me more than not checking a box in that curriculum manual (and there are many). I have to remind myself of the bigger picture of the subject. It's ok to not check every box if you are accomplishing the bigger picture. Things like only doing 1/2 the math problems, listening to Greek Myths instead of reading it, answering lit questions audibly instead of writing them when you're having a rough week are all examples of this. While writing every answer in our workbooks may be the ideal, there are just some weeks where it can't get done and that is 100% ok because the purpose of Literature is not writing and grammar. It's great exposure and practice for the child to write, but I don't see it as it's main purpose. The reading and relating everything together is the purpose (at least to me, maybe I'm wrong in that).

                As for keeping up encouragement, I'd say to get connected to other moms, read up on the forums here, read articles on the MP site and in the catalog, and devour all the Sodolitas videos. That's what I do whenever I start feeling defeated and checking private school tuition cost. When you have struggles, reach out on here and be encouraged to either change or push through whatever your challenge is.

                Also, know that this is a very solid curriculum that can be trusted. It's been proven over and over. One of the best things I was told in the beginning was simply this... trust the curriculum. There is so much out there that sounds lovely and fun, yet those things really only distract. My new theme for this school year (thank you @pickandgrin) is "eyes front". Don't be pulled by the green grass you're gonna see on the other side.

                And as for outsourcing, I'd honestly not worry about it at this age. The curriculum is written in such a way that it is very easy to teach. Children should be "at the elbow" until around 3rd anyway and I think you'll find it will be smoother for you to be involved than to try and moderate and active boy on the computer. You're lessons will probably be smoother with you in charge and not bound to another schedule. I was planning on MPOA for 4th this year but then realized the subjects that scare me are DVD classes anyway.

                Anyway, you're gonna be an amazing teacher. The fact that you got on here asking for advice proves that. You're passionate about your children's education and that tells me that you're going to be awesome at this!


                DD 9yr (3rd)
                DS 8yr (2nd/3rd)
                DS 6yr (1st)
                DS 4yr
                DD 2yr


                  I don't have any advice just encouragement, you can do this and you are not alone. I will have a 4th grader and 2 2nd graders next year. We started MP this year and I am amazed at how much they all have learned despite how much I feel like I am lacking. It is a delightful curriculum.
                  N - 3rd grade at HLN
                  G - 1st grade at home
                  A - 1st grade at home


                    Thank you all SO MUCH! I am extremely grateful for all of the responses I received. All the personal stories, experiences, recommendations and perspectives are GOLD. I am feeling much better after having received so many thoughtful, encouraging and helpful responses.

                    Thank you all! You have given me a gift.