Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How we homeschool

Our homeschool year begins on Monday.  We "school" August-April since May is a lovely month in the south; whereas, by August we're so tired of the heat that we hole up indoors.  Now I actually believe that real, valuable learning happens all the time - regardless of whether we have a book open.  Still, I've been crossing my t's and dotting my i's getting ready for the official homeschool year with it's routines and new materials.  I'm reaaaaady.  And boy are they!!!

Aria's coloring

It's hard to know how to talk about homeschool here because there are so many aspects:  why, how, when, curriculum, etc.  I don't know where to begin, so I decided to start with Jodi's question from that personal things post this April:  "I'm dying to know what your days look like as a crafty person/business woman/mum/ 'teacher'. All my homeschooling friends say it's too big to school and work from home but I really want to make it work. And I think it will be an important part of my kids' experience."

This is something I totally worried about in the beginning.  I have been working 2-3 days a week since having children so my work has always been a part of our life together.  Fortunately, I work "from home" and we are incredibly blessed to have family to watch the children.  Right now the kids enjoy one day with each set of grandparents per week, granting me 2 work days.  That's perfect for us!  I enjoy the break from parenting, value the relationships they're forming with grandparents and they're thrilled to get away from home.

volunteers

Because, yes, otherwise we're at home.  I believe home is were it's at, at least in the younger years!  At home we do some book work, they take part in weekly chores, explore art and make up endless creative games together.  I believe that homemaking is incredibly valuable and important.  Now I don't love cooking or cleaning or gardening, but it's the stuff that makes life.  Plus, I have to sew.  Like all the time.  So, it's great to be home!  (Saves money too that I pretty much never go shopping).

I've found it absolutely SO EASY to fit our schoolwork into 3 "days".  Granted, we've only done the younger grades, so it may get more challenging, but maybe not.  I actually think it will continue to work!  This coming year Aria is in 2nd grade and Liam in Kindergarten.  Our school morning goes from 8 to noon.  During the rest of the days we do laundry, cleaning or playdate depending on the day.  It's super common for homeschoolers to finish school by noon.  Without the distractions of a traditional schoolroom and one-on-one attention, kids learn fast.  Plus, I can easily see what she gets and what she doesn't.  If she gets it, we can just move on.  No need to repeat, repeat, repeat.

take a picture, Mom!

Every year I adapt, planning things a little different as needs change and my experience grows.  This year we are continuing with a block system.  We do Bible and language arts every day, but our main lesson alternates between math and history/science on a monthly basis.  Studying something like math in a month-long block helps the school year move along with interest and also allows me to see what she's really grasped/maintained over time.  As of first grade, they also have music once per week.  Aria's been learning the pennywhistle from my husband, who is a musician.  He teaches her at night because "school" can happen any time.  There is some "school" that happens on the 2 days they're not with me too.  Grandma taught an herb unit during Aria's Kindergarten year.  They're always gardening and cooking with my mom.  And you should hear what they learn about history/politics from my Dad.  Just ask Aria.

at playgroup

What about socialization?  Oh, that's a great perk of homeschooling - I get to choose who they socialize with!  During these formative years I love surrounding them with friends who teach them social skills that don't make me wince!!!  The kids they're learning to love are good kids with conscientious parents.  Hey, and they're my friends too, so win-win.  We've always had a weekly playdate, usually at my house.  The kids also see diverse peers at other weekly events.  I believe it's primarily my job to teach my kids desirable social skills.  Being near at hand puts me "in the game" to have a strong influence. 

silly girl

What about extra-curriculars like sports or dance or music or something?  1. I believe in under-scheduling my kids.  Too many commitments is not healthy at a young age (studies show) and it's good for kids to have time to be "bored".  Creativity happens there!  2. There's tons to do at home.  We have a farm, people.  They have a tree house, woods, giant sand box.  Ok, I kind of feel like I'm bragging now, but truth be told Brandon and I have really prioritized our earthy home environment.  It's not fancy, but it's very connected to life.  3.  They get to choose one extra-curricular starting at 4 years old, like dance or gymnastics.  This year Aria chose a 2-day a week homeschool program for her "extra" and it'll be on the days I work.  Liam is doing a Swim & Gym program at the local YMCA.  Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds so that many programs now cater to homeschoolers with daytime scheduling (no dinner-time dance class!) and cheaper rates.  It's pretty awesome.  

silly boy

So, this is my life!  Homeschool in the mornings 3-days a week.  House chores and friends in the afternoons.  I actually have more time to sew in the summer since there's no structured school, hence my craft show productivity!  On my "work days" I do mainly computer work for Stitched in Color, with a bit of sewing in the afternoon.  Otherwise, I sew in the bits and pieces of any day, after the kids go to bed at 7:30 pm and on the weekends!  When do I blog?  At rest time!  That's the golden hour after lunch when the kids have quiet play time in their room (or Aria tells looong, elaborate stories to herself.  If only you could hear!).  Everyone benefits from a little rest.  The kids don't have access to TV, so this is there daily down time.

Ok, rest time is just about over, so I've got to run again!  I haven't sewn enough lately and I'm craving it!  If you have any questions about our homeschooling, be sure to add them.  Even the really big questions... those might be good for another post someday.

Thanks for listening!

65 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing! I homeschool my kids 2-3 days a week as well; they have school at school the other two; it's a university model school.

    It's nice to see how crafting fits it. My kids are are younger and with two babies it's hard to see the crafting at the end of the tunnel.

    I'm a new follower by the way. :)

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  2. My husband and I are still years away from this issue - we don't even have any children yet! - but we definitely are hoping to include homeschooling in the way we will be raising our little ones. I myself was one of those kids who was always bored in school because I learned faster than most of the other kids, so I look forward to giving my own children the opportunity to avoid that!

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  3. Hi! I was just wondering if you were concerned about your kids getting to make their own choices outside of a parental environment? I don't have kids [I'm in my early 20's], but I grew up pretty much opposite of your description above, with a very busy schedule [that I chose!] and many activities where I was without adult influence. I personally think that helped teach time management and how to make the right choice regardless of someone steering me in the "right" direction or not. So I was just curious as to your opinion on that side of the spectrum :)

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    1. I definitely think there is a time (and it's before college!) to make sure kids get out there in the whole can of worms kind of world. But, I hope to shape who my kids are before I put them out there.

      Part of teaching time management in homeschool would be giving assignments without the step by step. So, at older ages you might give kids a week of "work" and let them figure out the daily allotments. This all really depends on the child. It's lovely to be able to be super flexible!

      Also, kids will definitely choose a busy schedule. We all tend to choose busy! But, that doesn't mean busy is best.

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    2. I was homeschooled and the "weekly" assignments really worked for me and my mom. I finished most of my school by wednesday afternoon, except for math, which my grandpa taught every morning. :)

      and we were a busy family, but we brought a lot of people INTO our busy-ness. We had property as well and there were almost constantly other people around, and we were involved in church and we each had a sort (I have three younger siblings).

      I think the down time at home really helps build sibling relationships, exploring, inventing games, pretending we were surviving on or own...it sounds like you are doing a great job and add someone who came from a very similar experience, and I'm now out of college, with a BS and am married to a godly man, I don't think you have anything to worry about! :) keep up the good work! I hope to be able to give my kids very similar experiences!

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  4. Wonderful post. I love your focus on home and family. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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  5. I have no desire to homeschool but was very interested to hear about your day. Amazing that it all fits into 3 mornings! Glad to hear it is working out so well for your family and that you seem to have found a nice work/play/blog balance!

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  6. Hi Rachel, it's interesting what you say about picking who your kids mix with. As much as I think it's beneficial to prevent children getting in with the wrong crowd, don't you think it's better for children to have exposure to a wide variety of people so that they can learn tolerance? Our capacity to learn and form judgements are greatest when we are young so personally I feel that mixing with people from different backgrounds may help children grow up without (or at least fewer) prejudices. Obviously not everyone grows up like that tho, I realise, and it definitely depends a lot on what we are taught by our parents but meeting lots of people who are different from us just helps us become more rounded adults. What do you think?

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    1. Ah, you put into words exactly what I was trying to ask a few comments above this. And much more eloquently!

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    2. Thanks to you both for speaking up and posing a serious question. I like those =). I know this is something that many disagree about and we are all just doing our best.

      Personally, I don't at all want to expose young kids to difficult/challenging/negative examples. We did that when Aria went to preschool and it was so annoying to see her coming home with bad habits. Kids this age are like sponges. They soak up everything without a filter. When they're older and have a filter they can see bad behavior and choose not to participate (Aria's there now and that's partly why I'm comfy with her going to a new homeschool program). But when they're younger, no filter and almost no impulse control means they easily take on negative behaviors.

      What's going to create a more kind child... A 5 year old who watches other kids tease kids for being "fat", "stupid" or "gross" without any adult correction, which will definitely happen at school. Or, a 5 year old who sees peers and older kids and adults treating each other with kindness, despite our differences day after day (mostly, we try). And then when we mess up, we apologize or teach our kids to apologize and make amends?

      I don't think it's a service to a young child to ask him/her to make judgements often. I think these minds are young, open and trusting. After we fill them up with goodness they can go out there and look at the bad and decide that good is better. That's a hard thing to do (even us adults mess it up).

      As far as outright prejudice, new science is showing that we really need to talk about these issues from a younger age than most might expect and directly. See Nurture Shock by Bronsen. Studies discussed in the same book show that racist/separatist behavior grows in larger groups of kids. Mixing with those that are different in small groups where relationships will most certainly form is probably of more use than sending a kid to a large, super-diverse school.

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    3. I didn't read Rachael's comment about "choosing who they socialize with" as being about prejudice, or against any group or race. I understood it to be about keeping her kids away from other kids with foul language, no ethics or morals, mean kids, etc. Her kids are little, and there is plenty of time later for them to be making their own decisions and deciding who would be their friends. I think a parent should be the prime influence on their children at this age, not some slutty little 6 year old who allowed to watch too much MTV!

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    4. I will say this kind of teasing does not happen at every school. Our kids attend a private school and that kind of language would *never* be tolerated (fat, stupid, gross). I have also heard that our public schools are hardcore in enforcing their anti-bullying policies which include that kind of language. Zero tolerance. I'm not saying it doesn't happen anywhere, but it's certainly not the norm everywhere.

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    5. I definitely don't disagree with any of your comments Rachel - I think we'd just be tackling the same issues from different viewpoints! I think also, it's slightly different in Britain, what with it being a smaller country and much more uniformly diverse than the US - there are very few pockets of areas left where there are people of just the same social background which means exposure (good or bad) is inevitable. I agree about children being sponges but I think it is possible for them to learn "good" behaviour from larger, school groups as long as parenting at home is adequately balanced. I don't actually have children yet, I'm in a mixed race marriage myself so when we hopefully do, I think (i hope!) our children will be tolerant of others as they will automatically be exposed to two different cultures from the off. And we will make sure that they do get to mix with lots of different people (children and adults) as to me it really means a lot.

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    6. Sabs, my reply came out pretty "aggressive" in text. But, I really do love that you brought up the question and I agree that it's not a black/white issue. There are negatives and positives on keeping kids in a more controlled environment vs. giving them more exposure.

      It's good to be reminded that those kind of teasing comments I mentioned are being treated seriously by schools nowadays, as Rachel said. At Aria's preschool the negative social pressure was much more subtle. It was a "friend" who was her best buddy some days and would refuse to play with her and buddy up with someone else another day. It broke Aria's heart when she was rejected, but she loved and adored the kid on days when she was welcomed. I didn't feel this was a healthy situation for a 4 year old!

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    7. Have emailed you (cos I forgot it was from here and pressed reply by mistake!) Not aggressive at all! I think it's a fascinating subject - and it makes for more interesting reading when everyone has different opinions!

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  7. I enjoyed reading this post, thanks for sharing! I don't home school, but I enjoy reading about people who do. We also believe in under-scheduling and though our children will be subject to social situations out of our control at school, we are involved in extra-curriculars as a whole family and so that my husband and I have many opportunities to model appropriate social skills. We also choose to surround ourselves and our children with people who have similar ideals as us much as possible, because I know children seem to pick things up quickly from peers.

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  8. Oh, you are making me miss our homeschooling days greatly! Those years were such a blessing! We homeschooled all the way through high school and it was the best thing we ever did. I know that homeschooling isn't for every one, but it was the most amazing journey for us. Our boy is now serving our country as a Marine and our daughter is headed to Vet School. They both took college classes at 16 and professors ask to meet us and brag on the kids. Not telling you that to brag, just letting you know that homeschooled children can and do succeed in the 'real' world, educationally, socially, and emotionally and it sounds like you are giving your children a wonderful environment in with they will surely thrive. One last note. I have nothing against public education. Living out and ranching just made this the best choice for us. Thank you for giving us a peek into your day. :)

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  9. Hi Rachel! I love reading about how homeschooling mamas make it all happen. One of my favorite blogs for that is www.balancingeverything.com - have you heard of it? Jessica is awesome and she's shared quite a bit about her curriculum, so you might find something useful there.

    We don't homeschool - my oldest will be starting kindergarten this year at our local Catholic school - but I feel very similar to you when it comes to under-scheduling our kids and surrounding them with other kids who share a similar moral background. I'm glad you're able to make it all work!

    I'd love to read more about your curriculum if you're ever interested in sharing a closer look at what/how you teach. Great post!

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with homeschooling. I have always been curious about how people do it and now understand it that much better. :)

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  11. Loved to hear about your homeschool journey. I homeschooled my two children and my 'secret' motto was "Let's put the HOME back in HOMESCHOOLING!!" :D BTW - you CAN do it all the way through high school - we did and many others we know did too. Both of mine were accepted to college and offered scholarships, they are well adjusted, well socialized young adults.

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  12. Thanks for that post. We only started homeschooling my 9yr old in April, so I'm still feeling very new to it and it's always so interesting to hear how other people do it.

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  13. Sounds like you're doing an awesome job Rachel! I was homeschooled all the way through high school and I thought it was great! Took a basic class at the local community college before heading off full time to a university.
    Thanks for sharing, I'm planning on homeschooling my son when the time comes in another year. So flexible!

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  14. Well, Rachel, I can say from taking your handstitched class that you are a GREAT teacher!

    I enjoyed reading about your day. We don't homeschool but we've considered it. We live in a big city where we have lots of schooling options. Ultimately we decided on a private school that was in line with our values and also has incredible diversity. Given we have a daughter who we adopted from Ethiopia, it was important to us that she was not 'the' diversity in whichever schooling option we chose, especially given she's already being raised in an Anglo family. But I love to encourage others who've chosen to homeschool. I have 3 aunts who homeschooled through their kids' high school years and it is an enormous commitment. In that time, it's been interesting to see how mainstream homeschooling has become. As we were wading through our own schooling decision: private-public-homeschool, I was very surprised to see how controversial it is, and how many held incredibly strong opinions about only one way being 'right'. I say - whatever works for one's family is the right way. That's going to look different for everyone.

    What kind of animals do you have on your farm?

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    1. Such a good point that it's what works for any given family that counts. Just as all kids are different, every family is different. I don't believe that one way is the "right" way for all. I just feel passionate that this is a great way for us right now!

      We have pigs and ducks (for eggs). We figure 2 animals for food means it counts as a farm =). We're putting up a fence now in order to have a meat cow hopefully come spring.

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  15. Here in central europe we have compulsory school attendence so homeschooling is something very uncommon for me but very interesting to read about. How do you know what to teach in each grade? Are there `goals´ for each grade? Will the kids attend public schools when they are older? Will they be accepted for college with a homeschooling term paper? I hope my questions dont appear impolite, it´s really an interesting topic.

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    1. Good questions and very welcome here! But, you do raise some big questions - especially on how to know what to teach. That would be a whole blog post!

      The kids may or may not attend public school. I am able put them there anytime, but I don't forsee doing it anytime soon. I pretty much just plan a few years in advance since life can change so much that it seems impossible to know what could be best years from now. It also depends on Liam and Aria's individual needs as they grow up.

      Many, many homeschooled kids go to college. In fact, they are more "successful" at college as a group than public school kids. Homeschooling has lately been praised in the news for producing educated and well-adjusted kids in the states. It really is becoming very "normal" here.

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  16. What a great post Rachel :) I homeschool also, and enjoy reading of other crafty homeschooler's days. My oldest is heading off to his dream job schooling next Spring. And my youngest is a baby, so I have plenty more years to go. But as homeschooling is a life style for us, I'm perfectly content with that. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. Hi Rachel! I home school too and I love how you answered the questions above. Those are the same questions I always get.
    My daughter is now starting high school at home. Really once people meet her they don't have to ask about her socialization skills. She is eloquent and self assured and I think a lot of that comes from getting more chances to self direct when she started middle school. She has a schedule, knows what is expected of her, and knows that she can't blame anyone else if it doesn't get done.

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    1. Ha, yes same with Aria. She is so outgoing and confident and plain ole friendly. I think "homeschooled" kids are breaking those stereotypes these days. Homeschooling is really different than it was when I was a kid. It's a whole huge difference!

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  18. Great post! I've been homeschooling my 16 and13 yo for 3 yrs... Would do it all over again in a heart beat. I do find it harder to carve out big chunks of time for serious seeing and blogging but it's okay! Enjoy!

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  19. I think it's great that you homeschool! I love every aspect of it. I was going to try it with my oldest, but then my second son was born with multiple disabilities and that plan went out the window (I can barely manage his therapy and doctors appointments every week). I've since added two more kids and still dream about homeschooling them all. Our state just came out with K-12 completely online, so I'm considering that option.

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  20. Thanks for sharing! My husband and I don't have kids yet, but I have often thought that once we do, I would like to give them a learning environment that fits them--rather than the other way around. I went to parochial school as a child and I really learned a lot at a much faster rate than my peers in public school simply because I had more one-on-one learning time.

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  21. Sounds ideal! Our kids are grown now. Not sure there was "home schooling" when they were in school. I LOVE your being able to control to whom the kids are exposed...mostly. Have a great schoolyear!

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  22. Thanks for sharing your day. We are going to start homeschooling (ha! As if I didn't start the second they were born!) in a year, after my daughter goes to a year of preschool (though, after your comment about Aria picking up bad habits, I'll be open to pulling her out). Reading about how others do it is always interesting, though I am jealous about the family nearby. Our closest grandparents are 4.5 hours away.

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    1. Yes, it truly would not work for us without the grandparents. I could not afford to work and pay for child care. It would not make any sense! Plus, it wouldn't be the kind of care they deserve (being older kids).

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  23. Loved your answers as well. I homeschooled my 3 through high school. Everyone used to say "how socialized" they were. Adults couldn't get over how easily they conversed with others outside their peer group ... without the attitude of their peer group. Like you I loved having the benefit of their time for training while they were teachable not giving that over to someone who may not have the same value system. But one of the best things I found was that I let them have more responsibility gradually in my care, so that if they did fail it was with a loving parent to help and encourage them to do better. My children also all worked early on and earned/saved their money so they were ready for college, careers, and leaving home well equipped.

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  24. I couldn't have said it better. We home schooled with our two sons from age 7 and 5, to 17 and 15, we never looked back! Its not easy to do this kind of lifestyle, but the relationship we have with our two grown up sons is what our friends envy. Though I didn't hear about how much discussion of decisions gets done, I support the idea of 'really parenting' your kids. They are yours to steward, encourage and expose to the world when you think they are just about ready for the real world.

    Our sons participated with our parties just as much as we did with theirs. They saw alcohol consumed in good ways by us and bad ways by others the odd time. But learned how to communicate with adults was their prize ability as they grew. This kind of sharing, never drove a wedge of dissent between us, it just encouraged openness and respect.

    We completely believe that the most significant skill our sons learned from us was to discuss all major decisions with our kids. Of course in the beginning it was a discussion about which park to choose and why. But then came war, poverty and sex. We each took turns only speaking when we had the "apple" and we took notes if it was heated! We solved our communication issues this way, arguments over chores and how to find a job.

    Our sons tell us this allowed them to see the reality of raising children, paying the bills, voting, getting along with the neighbors and being a good citizen. We held these meetings each Sunday night, set our schedules together as our sons had grown into young men and took part time jobs, but still participated with the home chores.
    Homeschooling Mama's & Papa's go for it. Be all that you are meant to be. Parenting and teaching your kids is the best time of your life. Don't let the nay sayers achieve conditional learning.
    Thank You Rachael for this discussion!

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    1. One of my favorite goals of homeschooling is to stay close as a family - not only me with the kids but the kids with each other. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story!

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  25. Oh thank you! I've just started feeling a bit discouraged about homeschooling. (It always happens when my house is a mess and I'm getting ready for market!) This post gave me such hope and encouragement. Thank you! xx

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    1. Jodi,
      Be encouraged, homeschooling is a calling, reinforcing your inner pioneer. :) Remember...."when the oxen are away the stable is clean"....another way of seeing this...when the children are grown and gone, your house will be cleaner, quieter, things will be different. Life is about messes, messes mean something is happening, [in the beginning out of the chaos, God created heaven and earth] museums on the other hand, are always the same, everything in place, clean and tidy.

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  26. A very sweet and motivating post ;)

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  27. So great to hear from other home schooling moms! I home schooled as a teen, and I'm so happy that my girls are starting out at home right from the beginning. I completely agree that it's our responsibility -- and joy -- as parents to direct where and how and with whom our kids are learning. It's been such a blessing for our family!

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  28. Perhaps one of the best parts about being a parent is the ability to thoughtfully (and prayerfully) make decisions for our families. An interesting post. So different from our life in a large, diverse, "urban" school, yet the outcome sounds the same: the ability to watch as your child learns, makes good choices, and thrives in their environment.

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  29. I have found this so enlightening.

    My husband is a private school boy and I came from public school. How I've found us to both be very productive members of society ( we have great jobs, well behaved children) etc., we have only considered private school (until Kindergarten) then assumed public after. I am now considering leaving my lob to spend time at home, putting my children in 2 - --1/2 days a week so I can "work". I guess the rest falls under home schooling. I don't know where to start. I know when I was working full time, they were learning, coloring , singing, dancing, etc all day. Except my daughter who likes to rest all afternoon. How do I supplement their creativity? Basically how do I get started? I think its a pretty big question....I don't think I am in it until they graduate but who knows? I'd like to make sure the next 3 years go well.

    Thanks again for the discussion!

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    1. I don't know how old your children are, but one book that paints a picture of an "ideal" home environment for Pre-Kindergarten is Heaven on Earth. It's a Waldorf-style philosophy (secular, not religious) that I really respect.

      For older kids choosing an approach and/or curriculum is a huge task. One book that helped me see different ways/approaches to homeschooling is Homeschooling Methods (erasers on cover). It does a great job of describing different approaches to give you the "big picture" glance of how homeschooling could look. But, it also has a Christian perspective, just so you know.

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    2. thank you for sharing your method and thoughts on this. with small kids, schooling is a much talked about subject in this house. while i love the idea and atmosphere created, i am so overwhelmed about where to start. thank you for these book recommendations

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  30. I've never home schooled so I haven't had the benefit of the experience when reading your post. I do however, think that if you can do it then it is wonderful. It sounds like you have thought a lot about what to do when home schooling and I can't possibly imagine that your children will be bored .... and like you said, if they are bored, then there's room for creativity. I think it's good for children to be bored sometimes, it's not good for them to always be stimulated and like you said .... definitely room for creativity. Enjoyed reading your post.

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  31. :D
    Homeschooling ROCKS!
    Our children are now quite grownm in their mid to late 20's, and there are still times we gather for homeschool fieldtrips as a family. :) By far, homeschooling our kids was an awesome adventure and wonderful time...I miss those days.

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  32. I totally agree about the under-scheduling leading to creativity. Just in my own family, I (being the first and the experiment) was only allowed to join one thing at a time. If I signed up for softball, I couldn't do soccer. It helped me prioritize and it did leave me time to be "bored." No kid likes being bored so I played outside, used my imagination and did lots of art projects. My sister was a joiner. She played on several soccer teams at one time and was always busy since she was very young.

    I became an interior designer and she hasn't found her creative side (and complains about it). She also got a kick butt scholarship based on those soccer skills though, so I'm not judging what's best for each individual, but I can see the correlation between being "bored" and nurturing creativity.

    I do like these peeks into your home school life. We haven't had any kids yet and are far from making these decisions, but the school system in our area is pretty lacking so it is something I think about. Thanks for taking some of the mystery out of it and making it a more realistic option.

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  33. This is so awesome! Thanks for sharing Rach! I've thought about homeschooling my kids, but I didn't know what that would look like with everything else I have going on. I appreciate that you are sharing your knowledge with us!

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  34. I love the relaxed way you approach teaching. I think this story is particularly valuable to knew home educators because it gives several good tips about not stressing out.

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  35. Thanks for this post rachel. We didn't really investigate homeschooling until we met some families who were doing it and felt they just seemed so confident and happy! You seem to manage your time really well and thats the beauty of homeschooling, learning happens all the time! My children attend a Steiner school and we are very happy with the way their learning is fostered, but I do wish I had known and understood homeschooling a little bit more before we made our schooling decision.

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  36. Hi Rachel I was really interested to read about your homeschooling so many people are choosing this way and I don't blame them. Our grandson is five and he is blind and my daughter is choosing to homeschool him. There is only one blind school in Ontario Canada and he would have to board, now who would do that to a five year old. He has already learnt the braille alphabet and is now getting familiar with the touching of it. I believe you can teach children all the time and they don't always have to sit a desk for hours. This will be a new experience for us. We take Jonah three days a week because his mom has to go to dialysis so we will be helping out some. I think it is brave and wonderful for the young mothers to take on schooling their children. Congratulations If you have any suggestions for me on home schooling let me know. Blessings to you and your family.

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  37. We homeschool and love it! Hopefully our country's law makers will allow us the freedom to raise our children the way we see fit and not make it illegal the way it is in other countries. It helps that enough generations have been doing it now and people can see "the proof in the pudding". I thought you might be interested in my new favorite homeschool book. It's called Project-based homeschooling by Lori Pickert who blogs at project-based-homeschooling.com. You ARE a project-based blogger so this way of learning and mentoring will come naturally to you I think. :-).

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    1. Thanks, just requested it from my library!

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    2. thank you, elizabeth! :)

      rachel, we’ve been talking in my forum about mixing work with hs’ing — i’m going to link to this post. i think a lot of people will be interested in seeing how you balance the two.

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    3. I just got this book last week from Amazon and have only made it in a few pages so far, but it seems promising. I homeschool my two boys (4 and 6) and am due with a third child in July. We definitely plan to homeschool for the long term. I look at my kids and the freedom they have to learn whatever interests them whenever they're ready to learn about it and I can't imagine sending them to a dry, boring public school where they have to sit for hours and learn only what's deemed "worthy". They are already so much smarter and well adjusted than other public schooled children we know. I don't say that to be rude either. It's just what I've seen.

      Some people question me about homeschooling because I don't have my children reading and writing yet. I agree with Rachel's method that more formal education is better saved for when they are a little older. We do read with them often (I love books!) and they enjoy listening and asking questions (even if there's no pictures). They are both able to write and can read if I ask them to sound words out, but I think it's best to wait for them to really become interested in this before shoving it down their throats. There is much research to support this also.

      I have enjoyed these posts very much! Will there be more to come? I'm always so delighted to find more mom's out there that are crafty and homeschool. I sew or knit pretty much every day.

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    4. So glad you enjoyed Project Based Homeschooling, Stephanie! I did end up reading it and really enjoyed it. In fact, we put some new ideas into practice in Nov/Dec. I just blogged about homeschooling for K last week. My next homeschooling post (maybe late Feb) will be about our experience with doing projects a la Project Based Homeschooling. I'm so glad my readers enjoy my rambles on this off-topic. I love to share!

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  38. Such a fascinating topic. I'm from Oz where in my state homeschooling is allowed as long as you register with the state authority but it is pretty unheard off. I'm currently training to become a primary school teacher and there is so much to cover and consider. I would really struggle to fit everything into just 3 mornings so hats off to you.

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  39. Whoa it took me a while to get through all the comments. This subject is very close to my heart and pretty important in our household. We haven't started schooling yet because, my oldest is only 3yrs, but we are already preparing and reading and researching a lot right now. Seeing the picture of your schedule is very helpful. I would eventually like to have dedicated days for work, right now I just work whenever I can fit it in and get a break. I feel right now I am just trying to get a little structure and balance in our lives, so that when we do start schooling its not a shock. I'm hoping Gwenyth will be adjusted to routine and structure by then. For now I am just trying to teach her basic life skills, how to interact with others, throughout our daily lives, with occasional activities. One of thing things that you mentioned is it is wonderful that you can teach any time of the day. My husband is a fabulous teacher and will be doing a huge portion of the English Studies and Bible studies in the evenings with Gwenyth. I will probably join in too. I am looking forward to starting!

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  40. I found this post really interesting. It's great to know how you go about making everything work. My question for now is: Do you follow a curriculum? If so would you recommend it? If not, why not?
    Ok, that's an extended question. Oh, just one more! When do you think you might homeschool until?

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    1. Yes, those are big questions! I think the right curriculum is going to vary child to child and family to family based on personalities and individual learning styles. With my family I've especially enjoyed Enki Education (Waldorf inspired/evolved), Math-U-See and Explode the Code (phonics). We're continuing with all three of these and trying some new things this year.

      I have no idea how long we'll homeschool. There are lots of factors that go into that. But, I don't have any plans to stop at this point.

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  41. I homeschooled for years. You sound like you are doing a fantastic job. I am just sending my son back to public school this year. He is in high school, and DH wants him to have a high school diploma. I couldn't agree more with the things that you said in your post. The hardest part of homeschooling is the socialization issue. There is plenty of time for the education. The fact that you take time to teach your kids the responsibility of chores is more than MOST families ever take time with their kids to do. They just don't want to be bothered spending that time with their kids. We had a wonderful time homeschooling, and it did get more difficult to do as he got older to do the science, and it got more difficult for me to teach his math at the point we were at now because he was smarter than I was. So,it was time for him to go back, LOL.

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    1. I too worry about when they get a little older. I love english and reading/writing, nature study, creative studies, but I am horrible at the math/science/history part of things. The great part for me is that my husband is really, really smart and I know he'll be able to supplement what I can't in those areas. I also think there are enough tutors, online courses, tele-courses and the like that I can't see sending them to school just for a few subjects.

      I so enjoy being home with my kids and knowing what and how they're learning. Being able to teach them myself and have the freedom to travel whenever we want is very important to me. There's just so many things that we would all (my kids and I) miss out on if they were at school all day.

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