ANSWERING YOUR TOP HOMESCHOOLING QUESTIONS!
Every year this time I get so many questions asking about how we homeschool, and this year it seems that there are even more than ever. So I asked you guys what you most wanted to know and compiled them all together in this list of 8 questions. Ps, I am going to be very upfront and honest and say that I don’t think I’m the most qualified to be writing this blog, but I want to share our experience with you anyway:)
Question #1 WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO HOMESCHOOL?
This answer might surprise a lot of you, but the truth of the matter is when it was time to send my firstborn off to school I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t want to give him up for 8 hours a day and give that time to someone else. Another completely honest reason why we chose to homeschool is because I hated rushed mornings. I joke and say I homeschool because I wanted to sleep in, which in part is true:) We love the morning snuggles and not rushing to get everything done at night and ready for school the next day. Its so much more laid back and we love that. As we have now homeschooled for 7 years, I believe my favorite part of it all is the fact that it keeps our family unit together. Our kids are each others best friends, even Tate and Beckett who are almost 7 years apart and Kynlee and Ruby who 7 years apart as well. They are not only siblings but classmates, friends, and companions. To see their relationships continue to grow even as they get older has been the sweetest thing. As this last year came with the pandemic and people were forced to school at home, we were so grateful that it was our normal. As the years have gone by I have also realized what a blessing it has been to be in full control over what and how my kids are learning. I get to choose when the right time is for them to learn about sensitive topics, how we address cultural issues and I can approach it all from a Biblical worldview which is huge for us. To ground our kids in a firm foundation rooted in Christ has been priceless.
Question #2 WHAT DOES YOUR DAILY SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
And this question is where Allie feels super disqualified as a homeschool mom:) I follow some amazing moms who have beautiful schedules and activities throughout the day and that is just not us. I also love my quiet mornings, so I let me kids sleep in til 8:30 so I can have some time to myself before we start the day. Our schedule consists of them waking up, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and doing their chores. Then they start their schoolwork. We don’t have set times for different subjects, it’s basically get done what’s required of you. Tate and Kynlee pretty much can do all of their work on their own now, it’s just me checking in making sure they’ve finished. I don’t sit down with them and do all of their subjects with them. I don’t “teach” a lesson. They read their lesson and then if they have questions I am available for help. So many people ask how I get so much done during the day as well as homeschool and the reality is that I don’t take 4 hours out of my day to school my kids. They school “around” me, if that makes sense. As for Beckett and Ruby, a lot of how their day looks will be addressed in the curriculum question coming up next, but I have learned to not just “fill up time” with busy activities to feel like we are schooling. I will never forget my favorite Einstein quote that says, ” Play is the highest form of learning.” And it’s so true, especially in those younger years. So much creative play does wonders for their imagination.
Question #3 HOW LONG DOES HOMESCHOOLING TAKE
I feel like this question piggy backs off our schedule so I’ll answer it here. It takes as long as you want it to take:) I know some homeschool moms that have their kids school for 8 hours a day, and for us we get done our main subjects and usually finish within 3 hours a day. This I’m sure will change as the kids are getting older, but for now that is the reality of it. One thing I had to get over is the fact that there is ALWAYS more that you CAN do, but it’s all a matter of how you want homeschool to look for you. My view of education has changed so much in the last couple of years. I of course don’t want my kids to appear “slow” or not educated, which is the reason we get our common core subjects done every day. But I also have never felt the need to do in depth unit studies or huge projects. I would rather have my kids learn worth ethic and life skills. I love that they have time to explore and create and do things that interest them. I want to raise good humans who love Jesus and make a difference in the world, and so for me if they don’t hit every educational objective that schools set I’m okay with that:)
Question #4 HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE DIFFERENT AGES DURING HOMESCHOOLING. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR LITTLES ENTERTAINED?
You buy them kitties:) Joking, but it does help:) Here’s the deal, to school with babies and toddlers is for sure the hardest, and we would make the most of the morning naptime. And you give yourself a lot of grace. When you realize that you don’t need to school for more than two hours in the younger years, it relieves a lot of those fears. Another huge boundary that helped us is we allowed no screen/tv time until all school was done. If your kids are used to a lot of screen time, this will be an adjustment, but I promise you making this a stick in the mud boundary that never changes will be sooo helpful in the long run. The first week or two they might complain but once they realize it’s not an option, it’s amazing the creativity they find and how they keep themselves busy. They learn to imagine again and have to much creative play. After our schooling is done we do allow our kids to have 2-20 minute sessions on individual screens which is also good motivation to get their work done.
Question #4 HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S REQUIRED TO HOMESCHOOL?
This is something that’s different for every state, so you need to look into it with your school district. Another great piece of advice is to find a veteran homeschool mom in your area, have them over for coffee, and ask them all the questions. They are a wealth of information! It’s also so beneficial to find some sort of co-op in your area for this very reason. You can benefit so much from having other home school moms in your corner!
Question #5 HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR KIDS GET SOCIALIZED? AND CAN YOUR KIDS BE IN SCHOOL SPORTS?
This would not be a question I would even address if it is not one of the most asked questions in homeschooling. I always think it’s so silly. Socialization occurs through a family unit just as much as it does through school. There are awkward public school kids and awkward homeschool kids, and what I have gathered is that it’s more of a product of their environment. If the parents are outgoing and social, the chances are your kids will be too. You pass on the skills you have to your children whether you realize it or not. I have never once thought of active ways to socialize my kids. That has never been a concern. Of course my kids are involved in church activities, have a lot of friends and cousins they play with, and are around adults a lot of their life so they know how to be respectful and polite in large group settings. It’s not something that we actively pursued, it just gets passed on through life situations. Also, another question was can our kids be on the school sports teams and the answer is yes. They can be a part of sports teams, if they wanted to be. We can actually have our kids be in any school classes as they get older too, so they could do a math or shop class at school, you just need to arrange rides to and from.
Question #6 WHAT CURRICULUM DO YOU USE?
This is another question I get all of the time. And the reality is is that there are soooo many options out there, you could almost drive yourself crazy wondering if you chose the right one. You need to know yourself too. There are a lot of curriculums with lots of activies and crafts and busy work, those were not for me:) But a lot of people love them! So know yourself. Our favorite book to teach my kids to read is called “Teach your Kids to read in 100 Easy Lessons” I’ve used it with all of my kids and it really does work! We supplement with BOB books and then I start them on Explode the Code for phonics. For math we use Math Mammoth. I love that it really focuses on driving home concepts and is very in depth. Sometimes we would have to say only do odd numbers because it’s a lot of work, but very effective. The beautiful thing about homeschooling is that if something isn’t working you can switch it out or try something else, and you can individualize it for each kid too. Sometimes that can get overwhelming, so if you find your self in that spot maybe finish out the year with what you have and try something new the next year. As you can tell from my curriculum, I have only listed reading and math. The rest of our curriculum comes from CLASSICAL CONVERSATIONS. Classical Conversations is a curriculum in it’s own and you become part of a group (different from a co-op in the fact that a co-op is supplementing things to everyone’s individual curriculum) whereas in CC you are all learning the same things at the same time so you have that common thread. One day a week is a community day, and each community day includes a science experiment, art and music, and also history and geography. The whole goal of CC is to learn from a classical approach, and to also Know God and Make Him Known, which is what we love. Once the kids are 9 they start Essentials which uses the IEW writing system, and the kids start writing one paper a week. They also learn latin and sentence diagraming and basic grammar. I love the accountability that CC provides for us, especially since I’m so laid back:)
Question 7 HOW MUCH DOES HOMESCHOOLING COST?
Well, the reality is that homeschooling is an investment. There are ways to get some aid from different places, but we’ve never done that so I’m not qualified to speak on that. Homeschooling can range depending on the curriculum you choose and the co-ops your in. We were a part of one co-op that cost $50/year per kid, which is insanely cheap, and now we do CC which will cost us $4000 for our kids this year, plus another $1000 in curriculum. It all depends, and you can really do it pretty inexpensive if you don’t enroll in any co-ops or classes, or you can choose to spend a lot. A lot of homeschool groups have curriculum sales, or I’ve also purchased a lot of items off of ebay second hand to help with costs. In the early years you can get away with buying barely any curriculum and using online resources for pintables for almost free:)
Question 8 HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL, KEEP YOUR KIDS MOTIVATED, BE MOM AND TEACHER?
The short answer to this is you just do it. It’s not always pretty. It all gets blurred, but you remember why you are homeschooling in the first place and persevere and enjoy all of the milestones, accomplishments, and give yourself grace in all of the hard and really bad days that you will have. Also, throw out any preconceived ideas of how you think things should look and go with the flow, because the reality is that every homeschool experience looks different. There are no two that look identical. It’s so interesting to me though, anytime I mention that we homeschool I have veteran mommas who graduated all of their kids out tell me how they never regretted homeschooling their kids, how quick it went, and how grateful they were to have that time with their kids. We live in a culture that puts so much emphasis on us moms needing our time and breaks and space from our kids. Homeschooling is very counter-cultural, and don’t get me wrong, there are times I wish I could send my kids off and get some quiet, or keep my house clean for longer than 5 minutes. But wow, I feel like even now I am reaping so many rewards to keeping my kids home, together as a family unit, and instilling in them Godly standards. There is no “easy” school choice, but I do believe I will never regret choosing this for our family.