Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old

Homeschooling 101: Advantages/Disadvantages

October 30th, 2014

Wow, it is so hard to believe that today is the last Thursday of October! Though, I must say, I am ready for November.

It is the last week of October’s Blog Series, Homeschooling 101. This week, I will be talking about some of the advantages and disadvantages, as well hearing from some other homeschoolers as well.

Advantages: For me, I have found homeschooling very beneficial to me. I was able to stay home and develop my relationships with my parents and siblings. I was also able to learn how to run a household (ex. dishes, wash, cleaning, cooking, and baking). I was also able to work since I was 12 years old, starting out by babysitting once a week.

Disadvantages: Because I loved homeschooling so much, it’s hard for me to see anything other than the advantages! It is true that you don’t see your friends every day. Depending on if any of your extra-curricular activities are with them, it might be up to you to plan non-school get-togethers.

But don’t just take my word for it! Hear what other homeschoolers and graduated homeschoolers say 🙂

Audrey D. says: “I loved being homeschooled. I have picked up a lot of skills & extra knowledge because of being homeschooled. For example, I know a billion different kinds of trees and plants because I was able to spend a lot of time outside in the woods behind my house as a kid. I grew up climbing trees, building dams & forts, scraping my knees on a daily basis and loving every bit of it! I also feel like I was educated better because homeschoolers are picky about the type of teachers we hire. Disadvantages…? Personally, none. It varies across the board, but I wouldn’t change a bit of my education!”

Autumn D. says: “Oh I highly recommend homeschool… it really prepared me well for college life now. My mom being a go-getter personality, I really learned to create the best study habits for me. Since I had 12 years to learn to manage my time, read and manage my workload on my own, I really feel prepared to take on all the homework college gives out.”

Michaela C. says: “Honestly. I don’t know where to start! First of all, I would have to say that the advantages far outnumber the disadvantages. The flexible schedule is amazing. I love the ability to learn what you choose, when you want to! I can focus so much more on the hobbies and creative activities that interest me as an individual, instead of trying to fit the certain mold that most of the world sees as “successful”. Another neat thing about homeschooling is that you are more eligible for most part-time jobs because of your availability during school hours. A bonus advantage is the fact that many household activities such as cooking, cleaning, yardwork, baking, and other chores can be integrated into the school day. The only disadvantages might be that I don’t get to see my friends who go to school as often and that I don’t get any snow days! But, as a hands-on learner, I feel so blessed by the opportunity to be schooled at home.”


So what have you thought about this past blog series? Were your questions about homeschooling answered? Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought!


Homeschooling 101: Teaching

October 23rd, 2014

Today is the fourth Thursday of October which means we are almost done with the Homeschooling 101 blog series! Next week, I will be talking about some of the advantages from my perspective and other homeschoolers of being homeschooled, but I’d love to hear your questions too! So please email any questions to me and I will answer them on next week’s post!

This week though, I will be posting about teaching. Many people often say that they can’t homeschool because they wouldn’t know what to do or they aren’t certified. I’m hear to tell you that does not have to be your reason!

And since I was not a teacher, I am going to share an interview I had with two homeschool moms. Tara D. is a homeschool mom of four kids, two who have graduated and are now in college. Janelle R. (my mom!) is a homeschooling mom of three kids. I hope you enjoy reading about their perspective on teaching.


1. Why did you choose to homeschool your kids?

Tara D ~ Our desire was to raise our children to love Jesus, to create a strong family bond with lots of wonderful memories, and to educate our children in such a way that they would be an asset to their world as adults. Homeschooling was a wonderful way to accomplish those goals.

Janelle R ~ We chose to homeschool our daughters for various reasons,  one being, to teach them to love to learn, learning doesn’t have to be forced and can be enjoyable.  Another reason was so that they would have a loving relationship with each other.  We also wanted them to be grounded in their beliefs and love for Jesus before being tested by other influences.

 Our son is in traditional school this year since we have determined that he learns best in that environment at this point.  Each child learns differently and at a different pace, sometimes being at home is not the best for them.


2. What are some of the challenges of homeschooling kids of multiple ages?

Tara D ~ Our four children are spaced two years apart. They each homeschooled their grade-appropriate level in most subjects; history was the one area where we often learned material together. The early years of homeschooling were challenging, with babies and toddlers and school-age kids! Keeping to a routine (i.e. afternoon quiet times for all, whether it was napping or reading, or playing quietly) was one way we made it through those years. Learning when to close the books and make memories outside of school (i.e. taking fun family field trips for all birthdays) was another way to overcome the challenge and monotony of having the walls close in on you! :o)

Janelle R ~ The girls were 2 years apart in school,  while not a big difference, we did use their own grade-appropriate curriculum for most of the subjects.  One of the curriculum we used was a literature-based learning style and we would often sit and read together about the many great history figures in our past.


3. How did you go about your daily/weekly school schedule?

Tara D ~ I am a structured individual with a strong drive for organization and order. That said, our family woke up early enough that breakfast and all morning chores were done by 8:30. From then until lunch, or early afternoon, we tackled the books, each student primarily working independently. I created a master plan each Sunday, laying out the week’s expectation for each student. This “master plan” was a main stay in my kids’ educational experience! (ask them!) We did set a high bar for education and building a strong work ethic, because we felt those two things, together with a Godly character base, were going to allow our children to impact their culture in the future. We have two in college, one in high school, and our fourth in her last year of middle school, and all four are truly wonderful kids!

Janelle R ~ I loved schedules and would plan out their lessons for a few weeks at a time so they could see what needed to be done each day.  “School” was not just books either…we incorporated sewing,  cooking, baking, laundry,  grocery shopping, and field trips in their education also.  We were also members of many homeschooling groups through the years and have had many fun experiences with their peers.


So what do you think? Have you gained some perspective in what these teacher’s had to say?

Also, today I am featured on Anne Mateer’s blog in a Portrait of Reader. I’d encourage you to go jump over and check out the post here!

Book Review ~ To Everything A Season

October 17th, 2014

This past month, I had the privilege of reviewing Lauraine Snelling’s newest book, To Everything A Season. I must admit, I picked this book because I loved how the title fit so well with Carolyn’s life verse in Finding Faith, but I have also read some of her other books and always enjoyed each of them!


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Trygve Knutson is devoted to his family and his community. With his job on the construction crew, he is helping to build a future for the North Dakota town of Blessing. Though he loves his home, he sometimes dreams of other horizons–especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

Miriam is in Blessing to get practical training to become an accredited nurse. She’s been promised a position in the Chicago women’s hospital that will enable her to support her siblings and her ailing mother. Although eager to return to her family, Miriam is surprised to find how much she enjoys the small town of Blessing. And her growing attachment to Trygve soon has her questioning a future she always considered set in stone.

When a family emergency calls Miriam home sooner than planned, will she find a way to return? If not, will it mean losing Trygve–and her chance at love–for good?


My Review for To Everything A Season:

4 stars – I really enjoyed it

As I began reading the book, I noticed instantly that it picked up where Lauraine Snelling had left off in her other books. I will say, that I might have been a little lost had I not read another one of her series that was set in Blessing.

Nevertheless, the character lines instantly grabbed me and I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next. I did enjoy how the Bjorkland family saga continued on and also the different plot twists in the story. The family matriarch, Ingeborg, had amazing faith in God and it was inspiring to see how she could give God anything and let him have control of the situation. She also was so “in tune” with God, that she could hear the whispering of the Holy Spirit as she went about through her day.

The only thing I will say that I did not enjoy was the fact that Miriam, the heroine, was not mentioned until half way through the book. Her story will obviously continue through the others in the series, but it was a bit disappointing since I expected to read about her story.

Other than that, I really enjoyed reading To Everything A Season and would recommend it to anyone who has read earlier books of Lauraine Snelling’s and who enjoys historical fiction!

This book was given to me by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

Homeschooling 101: Curriculum

October 16th, 2014

20141015_191115“What curriculum do you use?” This is another big question that homeschoolers get asked! There are many, many options out there for either self-paced, online, or physical classes to take.

For me personally, I was always trying something new and experimenting with what worked best for my learning style. For most of the elementary years, my sister and I would use the same program, but once we each reached high-school, we each did what was best for us!

Because I loved reading and learning about history, my mom was able to tailor my studies to compliment that. For two years, I used a curriculum called Sonlight. Sonlight is a literature based program that involves reading lots of books. So if you or your child loves to read, this is for you!

In middle school, I used the Abeka program. Abeka offered pre-recorded DVDs and workbooks. Therefore, you had a teacher actually explaining what you should do and then you would have homework to follow up. Now, this was not virtual (live) and so it was flexible, though there was a day that you had to be finished for the year.

In 9th grade, I attended ALC, a class which met once a week at a local church. Here I took three classes and was able in interact weekly with my classmates and teachers. In 9th and 10th grade, I also supplemented with other curriculum such as Math-U-See, Apologia (science), LifePac (language/grammar), as well as extra-curricular activities—choir, drama, and orchestra.

Finally during my junior/senior year, I participated in a dual-enrollment program through Belhaven University located in Mississippi. Dual-enrollment is a wonderful opportunity for high-schoolers. This means that you are taking college classes that count for college credit as well as high-school credit. Amazing, isn’t it! By the time I graduated from high-school, I had 12 credits to put towards my college degree and I even graduated a year early!

A part of my schooling was also the learning process of publishing a book. Like I said earlier, homeschooling is designed to cater to your needs and interests. This gives you the freedom to learn what you enjoy learning about! During my high-school years, I spent a lot of time researching writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. I was also able to use my writing and my book itself as writing projects that needed to be submitted.


 Now, read what other homeschoolers are saying about their curriculum:

Audrey D. says: “Homeschoolers use a variety of curriculum. There’s a few popular math ones, a popular science one that is pretty widespread, but it depends on where you live and whether or not you do most of your school at home.”

Autumn D. says: “I used MathUSee for mathematics and Apologia for science. Loved them both, especially Dr. Jay Wile’s science, because it really prepared me for higher intense science in college now.”

Michaela C. says: “I use Sonlight Curriculum, a very literature-based program. I am constantly learning new things in an unconventional way, because of the flexibility offered by Sonlight. I have been blessed to learn using this curriculum for 8 years. The best part is that I don’t have to write up my own schedule with Sonlight, because they already have it all laid out for easy use. Any avid reader would love this style of education, plus it’s a Christian company, so a lot of the studies have a Biblical core. I also take a Chemistry class at a one-day-a-week educational community in my area.”

Kaitlyn R. says: “I’ve used several curriculum in the course of my schooling so far. The great thing about homeschooling is that you can choose what you want to learn. In the beginning of my homeschool years, I used the Sonlight and Beautiful Feet curriculum. I also used Math-U-See for, well, math! Later on, I switched to A Beka, which is connected to Pensacola Christian Academy in Pensacola, Florida. This curriculum basically follows a single class and teacher throughout the school-year. These classes are video-recorded and loaded onto a DVD for homeschooled students to buy and watch at home. The recorded class includes everything a student would experience in a brick-and-mortar school (except for live student-teacher interaction – but that’s where the parents come in). You would purchase textbooks, test booklets, etc. and follow along with the class, along with completing the homework the teacher explains at the end of class. I did this curriculum from 6th to 8th grade. For my freshman year of high-school, I signed up for PA Cyber, which is a live, online public school. This includes live teacher-student-classmate interaction, as well as real deadlines and scheduled class times. Then for my sophomore year of high school, where I am currently, I switched to traditional home schooling again. I am using Khan Academy (free quality online videos) to supplement my science and math lessons.”


So what do you think? There are tons of options for curriculum out there and there is really no right or wrong! Also, watch tomorrow for my monthly book review. And don’t forget to stay tuned for next Thursday’s Homeschooling 101: Teaching!

Homeschooling 101 – Socialization

October 9th, 2014

“Are you socialized?!?” After asking why I wasn’t in school, this was the second question I was always asked. I am talking to you now, I always think to myself, but outwardly I just smile and say “yes I am.”

I am sure they were wondering if I actually got around to seeing other kids since I did my school at home. Believe me, I did!

Growing up, I was a part of three different co-ops, drama group, art class, orchestra, choir, plus I worked. Nowadays, there are many options out there are many ways to be socialized for those who are looking for some.

One of the benefits to having so many options is that different activities are for different personalities, and that’s okay! My sister, who was three years younger than me, was also involved in a gym class as well as running track for the public school. In the same way, she was not involved in drama and orchestra like I was. This just goes to show that not everyone has to do the same thing. As a homeschooler, you are free to go about what you would like to do.

The past two years, I attended a writer’s workshop and a writer’s conference. Both of these activities put me out there on my own, before I was even graduated! Not only was I able to interact with like-minded individuals (writers), but I was also able to interact with people ranging from my peer group to older adult.

When you are homeschooled, socialization isn’t just limited to the school you go to, but rather, a multitude of different activities allowing you to meet lots of people who are homeschooled or not.


But don’t just take my word for it! Read what three other homeschooled students have to say about being socialized:

Audrey D. says: “More homeschoolers than you think don’t actually do all of their school at home. Many are involved in classes once or twice a week with other homeschoolers – and they’re not just siblings. My highschool choir was over 100 homeschooled kids! I got plenty of ‘socialization.'”

Autumn D. says: “Co-op, homeschool classes, and work.”

Michaela C. says: “The question asked almost without fail by a person who has just been introduced to a homeschooler. My dictionary says that to socialize means to “make fit for companionship” or “to take part in social activities”. So basically, going by that definition, unless you live under a rock, YOU ARE SOCIALIZED. 🙂 That said, I am blessed to take part in quite a few activities outside of the home. I sing in three choirs, go to two youth groups, attend church regularly, and attend a Chemistry class at an educational community. All of these provide extensive peer interaction as well as opportunities to talk with a variety of other age groups. Homeschooling has been a blessing in that I have the chance, through life situations, to cultivate a very deep and highly communicative relationship with my wonderful parents and both of my siblings. So next time you meet a homeschooler, don’t ask them the daunting and uncomfortable question, “how are you socialized?”, but instead ask them what their favorite group activities are, or treat them like you would any person who goes to school. I hope you are privileged enough to get to talk with a homeschooler at some point, but if not, I hope this helped you to see things from our perspective a little better!”


So what do you think?? Are homeschoolers socialized?

Also, stay tuned for next Thursday’s post on Homeschooling 101: Curriculum!

Homeschooling 101: Introduction

October 2nd, 2014

I was homeschooled. And I would not change any of it for anything. Now if your mind is starting to spin with questions, don’t worry, because that’s why you are here. Being homeschooled, I have learned that people have a lot of questions, and most likely, it’s not because they disagree, but rather, they just don’t know what to think about homeschooling. They don’t know what it is.

Throughout the month of October, I will be touching on some of the basic and broad questions that I have received throughout the years. Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular these days because of the opportunities that are becoming more readily available.

And just so it doesn’t seem like I’m the only one doing the talking, I want to hear your questions!! Are there any questions that you have just been dying to ask a homeschooler? Please email me, and I’d be happy to touch on it in one of the upcoming posts.

To start off as an introduction to Homeschooling 101, I’d like to tell you about my journey. I have been homeschooled for eight years and I can’t say that I have ever regretted it. Fourth grade was my first year home. It was absolutely wonderful to be home and have my parents foster my education. Though I was in school second and third grade, I had been home for first and I knew what it was like. I am very much a homebody and introvert, so staying home was just my style.

Now that’s not to say that homeschooling is just for introverts, because it’s not. There are many different avenues and social outlets for even a person who is very much an extrovert. Then again, homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but it was for me and my family.

I could definitely say I developed a love of learning from being homeschooled. Now, that is not to say that I enjoyed doing school every time I was supposed to do it, but as I got older, I enjoyed it more and more. I was able to learn things based to my likes and interests and also be apart of many extracurricular activities (which we will touch more on in the following weeks!)

I would encourage you to check by my blog next week as I answer the ever so popular question of “Are You Socialized???” Well what do you think? Are homeschoolers socialized? You’ll just have to come on by next Thursday to see for yourself!

Rachel Rittenhouse

Christian fiction for ladies young and old