How old are your children?
We have three boys. They are 11, 9, and 6 years old.
Why did you decide to homeschool?
Homeschooling was never something I dreamed of doing. Quite the contrary, I dreamed of the day I would send them off to school and lighten my load at home. We moved here after the Kindergarten year had started for my oldest. We didn’t know what neighborhood or school district we would settle in, so we just decided to homeschool Kindergarten, since it’s not even a ‘required’ grade. For first grade, he attended the public school that we intended to be our neighborhood school in Black Forest. Due to delays, we were still commuting the next year, but his brother was in half-day Kindergarten, too. After 2 months of driving to the school 3 times a day, being in the car 3 hours a day, it just became simpler to homeschool until our home was settled, at least. Well, now we’re settled and somewhere along the way we worked out the kinks and frustration of homeschooling, feeling like I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, and we came out the other side committed to long-term homeschooling and loving the flexibility and adventures it allows our family to have.
What curriculum do you use?
I don’t have a single set curriculum. I’ve always used the internet as a huge teaching resource, as well as library resources, and LOTS of good books. I used to follow what the state education standards were for individual grades. With multiple grade levels, though, it has become easier and more enjoyable for our family to combine some subjects, like History, Art, and Latin. We have used “The Story of the World” audio CD’s from the library, as well as Veritas Press for elementary history. After a few years homeschooling, I did a lot of research on homeschooling methods and discovered that I was basically a Charlotte Mason-style teacher with a little bit of Classical method thrown in.
I start formal math in first or second grade using Saxon math. They’ve done well with this program, and my oldest has worked independently with this since 4th grade. Anything that one child can do on their own is a good thing and allows individual teaching time for another child. Before second grade, there are plenty of hands-on math activities that include the standards in the books without the ‘sit still and listen to me lecture’ style of a textbook.
Science is nature journals, gardening, raising animals—we have 3 dogs, 2 cats, a bunny, 14 chickens, 4 goats, and a red golden pheasant, lots of experiments (I have a degree in Biochemistry, from my previous life), and a little bit of Bob Jones University Science workbooks.
My older two children are enrolled in the Cottage School Program at The Classical Academy East one day per week. This gives them the opportunity to experience a classroom setting, participate in a music concert and an art show each year, plus group classes such as Ameritowne that just aren’t possible at home. They are learning very thorough grammar there using Shurley Grammar.
What does your homeschool day look like?
The kids get up at various times, so everyone is on a slightly different schedule. My early riser has on rare occasions had breakfast and completed Math, History, and Grammar before anyone else is even downstairs yet! Generally, we will have breakfast and rotate through individual subjects for a couple of hours, take an outdoor break (or basement if there’s weather), then complete a short assignment or chores while I fix some lunch. After lunch, we do much more relaxed studies together and can include sketching video lessons, reading, building, craft projects, dog training, handwriting, animal care, etc. In the later afternoon, we will all get together in the living room for a snack and tea time along with a good audiobook or audio history lesson. We always keep maps and globes handy for when we are reading or listening about places so we can find them. In the evenings, after dinner we will do a short bible study around the table. Bedtime includes everyone piling in our bed for read-aloud novels, poems, or stories.
Does your husband support/help you in a specific way in your homeschooling efforts?
My husband has warmed to the idea of homeschooling as he sees them thriving and doing well on the state required testing. He travels occasionally for work, so it has been great that we can come along on some of the longer trips. We’ve been coast to coast seeing museums and field trips this way. He is also active in Boy/Cub scouts, 4-H, and occasional soccer & hockey teams with the kids. He’s been supportive by building chicken coops, dog kennels, shelving for homeschooling supplies, and accommodating more chaos and less clean than might be achieved if we didn’t homeschool!
What are your children’s interests and future goals?
They love climbing on anything, building forts, swinging on a rope to reach the sky, playing with creatures big and small, and would all love to become Lego Master Builders someday.
I have 3 children: ages 14, 12, and 9.
When my firstborn child was about 15 months old, I accompanied a friend to a homeschool conference. I'd never even heard of 'homeschool'! I went more to hang out with a girl friend than anything else. While there I heard a speaker talking about how God has given our children to us as a gift. The more he talked about the relationships built with one's children through homeschooling and the equipping done for real life in homeschooling, the more I knew this was something I was being called to do.
I have been what is sometimes referred to as an 'eclectic' homeschooler, using a variety of curriculum to meet the changing needs of my children and our family. I've always felt I should teach a subject in a way that is enjoyable and many times I found unit studies to fit the bill. However, as I now am homeschooling a high school student, a middle school student, and an elementary student, I felt the need to consolidate much of the instruction I give in a 'one-room school house' type setting. I now use 'Tapestry of Grace' as my main curriculum. It is a history based curriculum that adds philosophy, art, geography, government, and writing together. Everyone is learning about the same time periods at their own levels. This enables us all to learn from each other. On top of that, I add Saxon Math, Apologia Science, Easy Grammar, Spelling Power, and foreign language (Latin).
For us, mornings work best to do our harder work. We also try to stick to a schedule so we all work on the same subject at the same time. (That keeps my stress level at a manageable level!) We start with some subjects over breakfast (Bible and History discussions). We move into math, foreign language, language arts (grammar, spelling, and writing) and science before lunch. After lunch we have read-aloud time and more discussions. The day is wrapped up with the kids doing their reading assignments and their household chores.
As my children grow their interests change and it is fun to watch it unfold. My oldest went from a 1st grader who wanted to be a vegetarian children's pastor on a horse ranch...who still ate chicken nuggets (Ha!) to a teenager considering working as a writer or missionary. My second child wants to teach art or choir and be a mommy. My youngest child at one time wanted to be a detective. The problem is, he can't keep up with his own comb! Now he wants to be a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys...and a singer! (I guess they don't have to comb their hair. Ha!)