Homeschooling


Writing about homeschooling yesterday made me think that I should tell you a little bit about what we're doing here and how our days flow. Every homeschooling family does things differently, and it's always neat to catch a glimpse into another family's life. I love homeschooling my children, and although I realize it's not for everyone, I would love to see more parents give it a try. It's fun and not all that hard. I see it as another aspect of our every day life.

When you start talking to homeschoolers, one of the first things you realize is that there are many different approaches. There are official names for some of the philosophies, and since I don't really understand what each of them means, I'm not going to list them or tell you about them. I just know what we do. My general philosophy is to keep our schedule on the looser side and follow my children's cues. I don't push, I don't decide everything they do, I don't keep us on any particular track. My role is to support and guide them.

I may suggest to 'A' that we do some math or reading work, and she is the one who decides if she wants to do it. We work on it for as long as she wants, and then put it away. This works very well for now. At her age, I don't feel comfortable telling her to do some work that she clearly doesn't want to do. I would feel differently if she was 10 years older though. Sometimes adults and young adults have to spend some time hammering away at a project that isn't always fun to do. Not all the time, but sometimes. There are things I have to do for work projects that I dread. I do them because I enjoy the other aspects of the job and I know it all has to be done. That's just life.

One of the big questions is, "do you use a curriculum?" I do and I don't. I see many opportunities for learning throughout the day, and not all of them are tied to a curriculum or a book. When we spend time outdoors, observing the natural world, we're all learning and there's no curriculum involved. We're learning about the changes that take place outside throughout the day and throughout each season. The garden and the woods are home to creatures that are helpful and friendly, and also home to some that are not. Plants need sunlight, water and nutrients in order to grow, and we see it take place in front of us. The outdoors is not the only place the girls learn. When we go shopping or to the library or on another type of excursion, they are learning. They learn about driving directions, planning a route, spending money, making choices, interacting with people of all ages, how to leave a place feeling satisfied and happy, and how to remember to go to the bathroom and take a drink from the water fountain when they pass one. When we're at home and they help me with laundry and cooking, they're learning how to take care of the home we all share, how to help out and be useful, how to identify tasks that need to be done, and how to prioritize the housework. When they play "Laura and Mary," they're learning about reading comprehension, role playing and theater, history, how to be courteous to one another, and how to take turns.

I do use the RightStart math curriculum and so far 'A' and I both like it. I also take math books out of the library and our favorites right now are those written by Greg Tang. 'A' doesn't work on the math curriculum every day. I may ask her 3 times a week if she's interested, and she'll say yes to me twice or so.

I'm following this book for her reading work. She's less enthusiastic about sitting down and learning to read than she is about math. I don't push it. We'll get there. I would be shocked if one of my children grew up not liking to read. I would rather have them ease into it on their own terms.


So how does our day flow? The girls wake up sometime between 7 and 8 am. 'A' has gotten in the habit of opening her curtains, making her bed, changing out of her pajamas, putting her pajamas away, and brushing her teeth before she comes downstairs. She usually spends about 20 or 30 minutes on all of this before I see her.


The girls play for a bit before breakfast. By the time we sit down to breakfast, it's 8:30. I make breakfast and serve it to them, and they clear their dishes and put them in the dishwasher. Now it's 9:30. Breakfast takes a long time because we talk about what we're doing today, what we did yesterday, and all kinds of other things. Lately they've been asking about the clock and wondering how to tell time. I try to explain a little bit and then they say they don't get it. I'm not surprised. They're a little young for the concept. Then the next day at breakfast they ask all over again.

Some mornings we leave the house right after breakfast and go to swimming lessons or an art class that is geared for homeschoolers. 'H' has gymnastics during the week. Sometimes there's a nature class at the state park. That's about it for scheduled morning activities. The library has story times but I haven't felt the desire to attend any yet. Our days are pretty full.

If we don't go somewhere in the morning, I'll ask 'A' if she wants to do a math or reading lesson. The girls will usually play "Laura and Mary" or build something with blocks. We might play outside, or tend to the yard. Now that the weather is cooling off, I'll be doing more indoor crafts with them during the day.


Lunch is at noon. We all sit around the table and have something light - a sandwich or some soup. Clean up is the same as it is at breakfast: we all load our dishes in the dishwasher.

The time after lunch is usually spent at home. Sometimes I'll read the girls a story. Usually I prepare dinner and tend to some housekeeping issues while 'A' and 'H' play or draw. Once a week we leave the house in the late afternoon to attend 4-H or Daisy's. I used to go to the gym in the afternoon and bring the girls to the child care room. I got out of practice and I need to work that back into our schedule. Occasionally we'll visit a museum or take a field trip to visit someplace new in the afternoon. I don't do that more than once a week. Not one of us benefits from the feeling of being "on the go". I try to keep it all to a minimum.

Dinner is at 6 pm every night, and after dinner Jeff usually gets the girls in and out of the shower and reads them stories while I clean up the kitchen. I often have at least one recipe or work in progress in the kitchen, so I tend to my project and clean up while he spends some time with 'A' and 'H'.


What I've found so far is that it's all one big learning experience for all of us. I overscheduled us in September and paid for it with my physical and emotional health. It's easy for me to sometimes look at my weekly calendar, full of so many "empty" spots, and sign us up for any number of things. I forget that those 5-hour unscheduled blocks of time at home are the times we spend together relaxing, learning, making our home a little cozier and our relationships a little deeper.

That's essentially what we do here. Simple. Happy. It makes sense to me.

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About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!