I know I promised this last week, but the next day our laptop got sick, and we lost so much stuff. For awhile, there was nothing but a black screen. Blah. No fun. Anyway, things are at least working now, even if all our pictures and files are gone. :-( Hopefully, when I hit "publish" this post will work and it won't direct you to a funky site.
OK, so, without further ado, here we go.
I cannot tell you the amount of times I am asked questions about homeschooling. I guess people think that since we've been doing it so long, we must be experts.
The truth is, every single year, we learn more. Every year, I change things up. I feel like a newbie, every single year! AND...I think most homeschoolers would say the same. We all have the same insecurities, even if we don't admit it.
Let me start at the beginning though.
Homeschooling is a very personal choice, and not a choice that is right for everyone.
We went into this with much prayer and soul searching. We believe that home is where God wants our children right now. There are so many reasons for this, but I won't get into them, because it's different for everyone. If you feel the Lord calling you to homeschool, follow the calling! If not, then maybe homeschooling isn't the best choice for your family. If at any point, we feel God is telling us to send them to school, we will.
We started homeschooling our eldest when he was in preschool. I was so excited and ambitious. He is now 15, a sophomore, and still homeschooling. We have always said we will homeschool for as long as it works for us, committing only to one year at a time. We homeschool the rest of them as well. This year we have a sophomore, a seventh grader, a fourth grader, and a second grader. We also have a 4 year old who will be doing preschool work, and a 1 year old who will be hanging out alongside us.
So what curriculum do we use? This is such a difficult question to answer. The answer is different for everyone. Not just every family, but every child as well. We have had years where we use a boxed curriculum. Those years we have used Alpha Omega Lifepacs, or ACE Paces. We also did a partial year of Sonlight. I say partial, because this curriculum was most definitely not for us, although some people absolutely love it. The boxed curriculum was mostly in our early years. For the last several years, we have been eclectic homeschoolers, taking curriculum from all over. The one thing that stays consistent is our math. We use Math U See, and love it.
This year, with the younger kids, we will be using unit studies. This is our first year doing unit studies, but I'm pretty excited about it. They are much more hands on learners than the older two are, so I'm thinking this will be a great fit. The eldest has his high school courses to take, and the second one will work on some unit studies, but mostly middle school courses.
Like I said, every year we find something we like, and something we don't like. It truly is a trial and error thing.
How do we do it? This also changes every year as our family grows. When we have a small baby in the house, we do our schooling when the baby sleeps. I don't have a strict time schedule, that isn't practical for us. We also have many doctors appointments. On those days, we make sure to get math and language arts done. This is the glory of homeschooling, you start to realize that everything is a learning opportunity, and what is in books is just a small portion of life. My kids are learning all the time, even if their nose isn't in a textbook. Therefore, when we can't be around the table, learning math facts, we know that it's ok! There will always be time for math facts!
A typical day (HAHAHA, that's really funny, there really isn't anything typical in our house, but if there was, this is what it would be!) looks like this: I have to start my day with prayer, if not, the day falls apart. Normally, I try to have prayer time with the kids too, but I must admit that sometimes falls to the wayside. We eat breakfast and do our morning chores. Again, I don't have set times for anything. Some days we get started early, and are done with our school early. Some days we get started late and aren't done till dinnertime. We just go with the flow! I then meet with the two eldest and go over what they are doing for the day. They are independent by this point and can do their own thing. Naturally, I'm here to help should any problems arise. During that meeting time the four youngest are playing, after all, play is a child's work! I then get started with the younger kids. We sit at a table and start with whatever we want that day, usually we start with math, but not always. The four year old always wants her own worksheets, and the one year old plays, or colors. We work on school for awhile(I told you, no schedule!), usually until they start getting antsy. Since I have mostly boys, this happens often! At that point, if the weather permits, it's outside to work off some energy! When they come back in, it's more school, then lunch...unless we started late, then it's lunchtime after playtime. After lunch, it's back to work. With the little ones, we can then work until we are done. The older ones have more work so may need another break. Although, in my house, they aren't required to sit in one spot until their work is done. There is lots of movement, so they may not need another break.
That's it...in a very large nutshell. Life happens, and like I said, that is what a perfect typical day looks like!
I want to clear up some common misconceptions about homeschooling. I often hear, "I couldn't homeschool because I'm not organized enough." or "I don't have the patience to homeschool". I am not organized. I struggle to be organized, but I just wasn't born that way. I really try, but usually fail miserably. It's ok though. Even with not being the most organized person, my kids are excelling. Why? I think because I love them and want them to succeed, so even though it may not be as organized as Miss Olga Organized, it still gets done. I also am not the most patient person. I have some children who can be very trying. I cannot tell you how many days I retreat to my bedroom, on my knees, to regroup. I tell God that I know we are doing this because it is His will, but that He has to finish the day for me! I then go back, and we get on with things. I also remember being yelled at in school, one teacher would through chalkboard erasers at us, we got hacks from the principal! I know that even if I yell at my kids, they know, without a doubt, that I still love them, and nothing they can do will cause me not to like them.
It really IS ok to be less than perfect and homeschool!
Oh, before I close, if you are considering homeschooling, the first thing you need to do is look into your local laws. Every state has different laws and requirements. The easiest way to do this is by googling it! Good luck in whatever choice you make, and please, if I left out anything, or if anything isn't clear, leave me a comment. Like I said, I don't claim to be an expert, but I'll do what I can!