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    K I D S
    P A G E

    Made with Notepad

    Subject: Re: article for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

    Hello Mrs. Olsen,

    Would you be willing to write a Show and Tell article for our Winter issue? We would need a photo of your family, plus lots of mentions of what companies you use for curriculum and specific books and educational items. It would be about 650-800 words. Please let me know as soon as possible if you can do this.

    Thank you so much!

    Monica Cook
    General Editor, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

    Teri, please really talk PRODUCT and COMPANIES. The readers LOVE to hear what other homeschoolers use…thanks! :)

    The Olsen Family Homeschool

    Greetings from the Sonoran Desert! We are the Olsen family - Richard, Teri, Peter (14), Jonathan (9), and Joshua (4). I'm a writer, librarian, Arizona State Coordinator/forum moderator for The Old Schoolhouse, and I also maintain an educational website, Richard is a chemist/quality engineer besides being the math teacher in our house.

    The first time I heard about home education, the idea intrigued me since I was reluctant to entrust our children to the unknown influences of others. Peter was already reading at age two, so I figured that I could effectively teach him. My husband became convinced of the merits of homeschooling after hearing a speech by John Taylor Gatto and reading Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling.

    Having three easily distracted, strong-willed boys ranging in age from a preschooler to a teenager makes homeschooling a challenge. We've tried everything from unschooling and relaxed homeschooling to structured curriculum such as textbooks, computer software, and online courses. For advice and encouragement I turn to The Old Schoolhouse,, local support groups - and especially to my mom, a former teacher. Likewise, Susanne Bain, author of Home Schooling: A Better Education for Your Child, offers many practical suggestions.

    I've concluded that formal instructional time is not necessary. However, homeschooling does require having a wide variety of resources available and taking advantage of any educational opportunity that presents itself. Our homeschool lifestyle incorporates year-round learning, an eclectic assortment of materials, and lots of supplemental reading. Our home library contains approximately 5,000 books.

    While studying the childhoods of great men and women from the past, I found that they didn't always attend school but spent much of their time reading, playing, and exploring. My recently published book, Learning for Life: Educational Words of Wisdom (available at and on, contains quotes from many famous homeschoolers who made significant contributions to mankind simply by thinking "outside the box."

    In our own experience, interactive learning activities are the most memorable: making a jigsaw puzzle of the earth's tectonic plates, forming a 3-D contour map of the Gettysburg battleground; creating a backyard archeological dig; donning period attire and attending a Regency Ball; cooking a Thanksgiving feast using authentic Pilgrim recipes; observing the animals in our NWF-certified Backyard Wildlife Habitat; constructing Lego storybook scenes and models of famous structures; dressing up as Treasure Island characters and hoisting the Jolly Roger up on our sailboat mast.

    Our supplies come from various sources including my favorite homeschool catalogs, CBD and Timberdoodle. We begin with the tried-and-true Rod & Staff Preschool ABC series along with Get Ready to Learn by Nancy Champion Chupp, a step-by-step activity program for pre-kindergarten children. Then we advance to Math for Your First and Second Grader by Steve Slavin. It provides a good foundation for Saxon Math, which we've used for 3rd grade and up.

    Switched-On Schoolhouse is our basic Language Arts, Science, and History program, along with PhonicsTutor and the WordSmart Vocabulary software. We recently branched out into Runkle Geography and Apologia Science. Last year, Peter enrolled in a web-based introductory course in Space Science at while his younger brothers joined a mail-order science club at For Arizona history, we like Ali-Shonak: The Story Of Arizona (

    Peter and Jon regularly attend music, art, and other elective classes at the Knowledge House Learning Resource Center at Crossroads Christian Fellowship in New River. They are excited about the High Tech Kids program being offered there. Both boys are also members of a homeschool 4-H club.

    Although our younger children don't participate in standardized testing, Peter started taking the Iowa Test upon entering his high school years. He has consistently scored in the 98-99th percentile. Peter was recently inducted into Knowledge House Scholars, the local chapter of Eta Sigma Alpha National Homeschool Honor Society.

    Physical fitness options range from Athletes in Training Homeschool P.E. to running, swimming, mountain biking, kayaking, and hiking. Jon and Peter look forward to Homeschool Hero Camp every summer. We all enjoy traveling around the state of Arizona and vacationing on the California coast.

    The boys supplement their studies with computer games such as SimCity, Age of Empires, Oregon Trail, Zoombinis Logical Journey, The Hobbit, NumberMaze, I Spy, and JumpStart series. They are also enthusiastic fans of Liberty's Kids, Magic School Bus, Schoolhouse Rock, and Standard Deviants.

    Additional family favorites include: Bob Books; ReadyWriter by The Providence Project; Critical Thinking books; Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn; Ethics: An Early American Handbook (an 1890 reprint from WallBuilder Press); E.D. Hirsch Jr.'s Core Knowledge Series; Richard Maybury's "Uncle Eric Books" on economics from Bluestocking Press; Moody Science Classics; PowerGlide; GeoSafari; Barbour's American Adventure historical fiction series; Kids Discover magazine; Scholastic Book Clubs; DK and Usborne books.

    Readers can contact me on the Arizona Forum at TOS Homeschool Nation for more information.


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    Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
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