Last week I was out on account of a sickness, so I am resuming my homeschool posts! I promise homeschool won’t take over my blog forever! Just getting these posts out of the way, and then I’ll resume to our daily musings. ;)
In my last post, I talked about some of the “why’s” of homeschool, and I’ve compiled some of the questions I’ve been asked a lot to answer here.
How DO you homeschool?
Logistically speaking, it’s not hard. Check with your state laws – Utah is quite homeschool-friendly. I mailed in a simple affidavit that states I will be in charge of my child’s education until further notice. Then I drove my kids away from their last day of school, and we were homeschooling! We planned what we’d do for the year with the help of every awesome homeschooling mom on the internet, and we got started.
There are ten million ways to homeschool – picking your own curriculum, doing more of a private school type approach, all the way to teachers on the internet for 100% of their subjects. This can be overwhelming when choosing, but it also allows all the freedom. I have built a school year picking and choosing things I liked from different places and being open to tweaking things as we go. Each week thus far has been a bit different than the last, still finding our sweet spot!
What does a typical school day look like?
We have, and probably will continue to tweak things because we’re in the early stages. At first I was trying to get going in the mornings with school, but quickly realized that would feel like schooling allllll day with the toddler interruptions. So I had the idea to work on our daily habits in the mornings, and we don’t sit down to our school table until after I put Major down for a nap.
So here’s our natural flow so far:
-Wake up (everyone can wake up slowly which is fantastic!) I try to wake up before the kids and ready my house, work, school, etc. for the day.
-Walk Finn and exercise (this one is for me, but now the girls are home we do it together a lot)
Breakfast, prayers, and scriptures at the breakfast table.
The girls clean up breakfast, unload/load dishes, then head upstairs to tidy their rooms and get ready for the day.
(After breakfast I head to my office to get any work of my own done, I can figure out exactly what our schedule is like today, etc.)
After our habits are done (house is tidy, we’re clean and ready for the day) we usually go outside for our read aloud chapter book. Sometimes we have a lesson to go with it, or something fun – like last week in Little House on the Prairie when ‘Pa Ingall’s’ went to town and brought back crackers and pickles for a special treat, we snacked on that while we read. We love putting ourselves in the story any way we can.
Then we make lunch!
Honestly – I was most worried about this extra chore in my day, but it’s actually been the most pleasant! The older girls basically make lunch while I oversee, then we sit together at the table and finish up reading.. they’ve usually asked for “one more chapter” of something or other, so I read while they eat.
After that, Major goes down for a nap and we all meet in the school room.
We have some subjects that are “family style” like our daily journaling, character lessons, spelling and language arts (both girls are on the same grade level on some things, so we teach more family style than most)
They each do their math lesson on the computer.
We have handwriting or typing after that.
We each do about a half hour of personal reading (me too! I’ve got stuff I’m studying this year as well.) on the green couch in our school room.
During this time, I set up some coloring and play areas for Grae in the kitchen with an audio book. That keeps her entertained for longer than I thought! She’s in and out of the school room a bit, which is fine as long as she’s not interrupting the girls while they work… she has some books she can work on, but she won’t do formal school stuff at home stuff for a bit.
Once our school work is done, we usually head to the kitchen to bake something, or go for a walk, or nature journal, or water color, or craft… the options are endless, and they can usually fall into a category like “science” or “music appreciation” or “nature observation” without even having to direct the children to learn about the things. :D Blessed day!
That’s it! Our school day is through, and my house is mostly tidy, my work is done, the girls have learned and loved, and we all make dinner together! How about that?
There is also plenty of time to play with their school friends after school like the rest of the world does! So you’ll often find them riding their bikes with their pals just like a couple of regular school kids. ;)
How do you get your chores like shopping/laundry, etc. done?
Good question! I’ve always avoided shopping like the plague, so there’s no change there. ;) online groceries and amazon prime for everything. Ha! If I have to shop, then I use it as an opportunity to teach the kids about shopping! So many things to learn, (especially about how to behave while shopping). The older ones are assigned a younger one to assist with (They hold that child’s hand, help me keep an extra eye on that child, help them in and out of buckles..), and they usually get rewarded in some way (me too) for a successful outing together. This tactic must work, because my kids are all pretty good when we’re out.
Laundry and housework – much the same! My girls actually wanted to learn how to do laundry, so they’ve been engaging in all the parts of our laundry system. I feel like learning laundry is the #1 skill I use, and I never learned it at all in school…. SO – them learning is a priority! We’ve been doing our laundry folding while we listen to audio books since last year, we like that. Soon I may let them take over the washing. Muahaha! (Kidding. Sort of.)
What Curriculum do you use?
I went in depth about our curriculum in THIS post. The best part of homeschooling though, is how customizable it is. – I prioritized curriculum that would include a christian education, that was “open and go” (no or little lesson planning on my part), and the subjects that made me feel anxious (math) I chose to do mostly as an online course. I picked and chose different curricula and styles that seemed like the most natural fit for us.
I’m actually not even using a set curriculum for some subjects, as I’ll just make my own lessons to go along with different books we’re reading or units we’re studying. We’re currently doing science, art, and history this way, but may change to something more structured later… or maybe loosen up our structured things to more like this. Not sure! That’s the beauty of homeschool!
Do your kids miss their friends at school? How did you help them transition?
What about socialization?
This is absolutely the #1 stigma attached to homeschool, I’d say. In some ways I get it because I had the same stigma, and I think when I was growing up homeschool was even that less popular, and possibly more extreme-type families? I don’t know. But I do know that homeschooling is becoming more and more popular, and the homeschool families I actually know are very normal families… like my own. I would consider us a “normal” family, but then again… who defines normal?
My girls are a product of their own experiences, and they are wonderful, sweet, creative, kind, loving, naturally giving, pure little followers of Good. They surround themselves with good friends, as do we as their parents, and we together have built a great social network of people we love and love us. We deal with people all over the place – as do other people in the world. It’s really actually so silly when you break it down. We aren’t turning into hermits – we’re just reading a few more books at home. ;) Our life is just the same – but just room for more. We hope that by choosing this path, we are able to help build the confidence and characters of these good little souls, and so if that seems unusual to some in a pre-teen aged girl, then that’s okay. My job as their mother is to guide them on the path I think is best for them, not the most socially accepted.
Also, I went to public school with plenty of weird kids – so I think it’s safe to say kids are just who they are, weird or not, and it’s our job to love them as parents either way. I’m saying this, but I actually have four very cool kids… In my humble opinion, of course. Wink.
Isn’t this a lot for YOU to take on?
Last year I looked what I was taking on, and what I had a choice to take on (with much help from the book Essentialism, which I totally recommend!) I realized that school was the number one sucker of our time as a family. This is when we were in public school. I also didn’t enjoy this particular thing, so with it being the number one thing my family spent time on, I felt I needed to look further into it.
Once I landed on homeschool, I realized that MUCH less of our time could be spent on “school” and we could gain MUCH more time as a family. We also have a lot more time for extra curricular things I wouldn’t do last year. (I’m SUCH a believer in kids being kids!) Of course it was a lot to research and initially figure out, but now that we’re doing it, I don’t feel like we spend much more time on actual school work than we were doing homework last year. (If your kids do homework, you basically do homeschool.) So I believe there’s a misconception, not how much time and effort homeschool takes, but how much time and effort public school takes. Another thing I had to consider is that with recess and lunch breaks and free time, your kids aren’t actually doing as much table work as you probably think. So it likely evens out for the girls workload, but their free time is spent here at home rather than in breaks at school.
Although my daily rhythms do indeed look different than our school days last year, I have only found that we each have more time to pursue the things we love and want to explore – myself included. I am reading more than I ever have, writing a lot (albeit not on the blog – sorry about that!), working with my hands, serving others and the Lord, building my own testimony and education as I teach my children. It doesn’t feel as though I took on a mountain of work, but simply shifted to a workload that feels more purposeful.
Last week in a day that was overwhelming, I asked Mr. Miller what he thought – I can live up in the clouds, but Mr. Miller is always on steady ground. Did I make the right choice? Am I capable of such a task? I asked these questions in exasperation. He said, “Honestly, school this year has felt MUCH less stressful than school last year. Our house actually has never felt more peaceful.” Oh boy, did my over-worked heart need to hear those words. My work does have a great purpose, and peace in my home and in our hearts is the utmost important.
These questions are actually fun to answer because it helps me see too why I’m doing this. My only hope in sharing is that I may inspire each person to look at their own lives, and choose to live it with a bit more intention, in a way that makes your heart feel more joy. If I gather a tribe of like-minded homeschooling mamas, wonderful! But these words are to inspire more than just those that feel the same as me, but hopefully as a way that inspires courage to live a life you want to live. These words give purpose to the way we want to live. Homeschool isn’t necessarily the goal, wholeness and happiness is the goal. ♥