Welcome back to the third interview in the series, “How I Homeschool.” Today I’m sharing with you some insights from Anne @ Annery at Home. Anne blogs about her life: homeschooling, working from home as an instructional designer, her experiences fostering a child, parenting her two littles, and her family’s journey with fertility. She is smart, funny, and real, and her posts have been known to make me cry, but in a beautiful way. Check out her blog and go like her on Facebook.
How long have you been homeschooling?
*Counts on fingers* Four years. My oldest is going in to 4th grade shortly. I “homeschooled” preschool (we hung out with other homeschoolers for playdates and joined a co-op while she learned her letters), K, first, she attended second at a local Catholic school, then was back home for third.
We sent her to school for second because I had two babies 10 months apart. It was honestly harder to keep up with her homework from school, school activities, pick-up/drop-off than it is to keep track of the subjects we’re in.
Tell us a little bit about your family: how many children you have, how many are homeschooled, etc.
My oldest daughter is 8 (9 on July 1!). I raised a foster daughter from birth to 2.5 years. My younger daughter is 2 (on June 6!).
My oldest has been the only homeschooled one in the most common sense, but as a friend told me, “we all homeschool until we send them to school”, so in a sense, I’m “homeschooling” the toddler as well
Does your homeschooled child participate in any extracurricular activities?
We are fans of extracurriculars, and summer camps. Right now, both girls are in gymnastics. This summer, my oldest is signed up for drama camp and cheerleading camp through the local Catholic high school.
In the past, we’ve done soccer, swimming, Little Flowers (runs through the school year), VBS camps, jazz, ballet, Irish step dance, I’m sure I’m forgetting things.
The plans for the fall are gymnastics and perhaps swim team through the local public high school’s swim program. Swimming is one of those really great life skills I’d like my girls to be very good at. I get vertigo underwater, so my swim skills are stymied by a panic reflex.
Do you plan to homeschool “all the way through” high school? Why or why not?
I dunno. I’ve ordered fourth grade books. That’s as far as I’ve gotten. There are pros and cons to getting the traditional high school experience. We take it one year at a time. Homeschooling isn’t a lifetime vow, it’s just one of the many options for balancing family, education, and activities.
If they don’t go to traditional high school, they’ll start at the local community college around age 16 to get some basics like English, math and science.
What laws, if any, are there in your state regarding homeschooling? How does your family meet compliance?
I live in IL where the laws are pretty loosey-goosey. Which is great if you’re not into government reporting, but typically, where there are laws, there are resources. So, the trade-off is that we don’t get resources for schooling like some do in other states (with the exception of a little tax deduction).
If you could summarize your homeschool philosophy in one sentence or mission statement, what would that be?
The mission of our family is to be a family; to spend time together, to learn together, and to pray/grow in holiness together. Homeschooling supports this mission and will be our primary means of education until such a time as it does not support this mission.
…can you tell I spend a lot of time writing business stuff?…
What is your homeschooling style?
What’s the kind where you hand your third grader a stack of books and a list for the day and tell her to let you know if she has questions? My daughter is an incredibly independent and bright student. I think she’s asked about three questions on math this year, and her average has been very high (except in those cases where she decided not to read directions).
I think she would benefit from me being a little more hands-on. I’m working on that balance between her freaking out for me to give her space and realizing that I haven’t graded the math book since there was snow.
|Style? We got style!
Do you follow any set curriculum?
The basic framework I use is Catholic Heritage Curriculum. I love that the reading is focusing on topics that are wholesome and formative. I didn’t care for their third grade science book, I felt like I had to come up with random supplies CONSTANTLY and much of the book was left untouched. Instead, she planted things, went to museums, generally explored the world around her. We’re giving the fourth grade edition a try, hopefully it’ll work out better (or I’ll at least learn my lesson and find something else for fifth grade).
I have swapped out the history section for the Story of the World part 1, but part 2 is focused on the Protestant side of the Reformation, so I’m not sure what we’re going to do this year. I’ve bought a bunch of CDs via Micaela’s suggestions here, so I think we might do unit studies…..or she’ll just end up listening to them over and over while she does dishes and at least she’ll be knowledgeable.
For math, I am starting Life of Fred this year. We’ve used some of the books as supplementation, but this year, I am tossing the workbooks and focusing on quality over quantity.
What do your best homeschool moments look like? What do your not-so-good moments look like? How do you stay on track?
The well-planned field trip that fits into the unit we’re studying, the copious hours spent discussing Greek history, time together learning, that’s what the best looks like.
Getting bogged down with work and not tuning in to her studies? That’s the not-so-good. Luckily, my work is very cyclical and when I come back up for air from a big project, I can take some time to regroup. Although sometimes regrouping means that I spend the day playing with the kids, and they might learn without realizing it, like an IMAX movie.
Here’s what an optimum day looks like:
5am – I’m up and off to the gym
7am – Kids are up, I’m home from the gym, Hubby is off to work
7-9am – Chores are completed, everyone is dressed and ready for the day, cartoons are watched
9am-11am – Field trips, playdates, group activities ensue
11am-noon – Lunch and free time
noon – 3/4pm - Toddler naps, big kid does book work, I work/clean/craft/assist with book work.
4-6pm – Toddler and big kid play together (or watch cartoons together), I work/make dinner/hide away from people
6pm – Dinner
7pm – Toddler bedtime
8:30pm – Big kid bedtime
Other times, there is no schedule and I just find her doing really random things:
If you could give any homeschool advice to a new mom starting out, what would it be?
It’s not so scary. Really. I have no super powers that make me more capable of being around my children constantly (note the activities from 4-6pm above). But here’s the thing, if you’re the one forming your children the bulk of the time, they’re going to become the kind of people you just genuinely enjoy being around.
They will be cranky and moody, they will be sweet and snuggly. You’ll get the bad, but you’ll also get the good. And it’s oh. so. good. These little people will be out the door and in the hands of the world so soon. Don’t worry so much about the schooling. You’ll find curriculum, other homeschool moms, support groups (seriously find other moms and support groups, now!).
You might make mistakes as a teacher. Did you get potty-training the first day? I sure didn’t. After four years, sometimes I still feel like I’m failing, or at least flubbing, my way through it. I didn’t get my daughter reading early either. In fact, she was a late reader and homeschooling probably saved her from years of feeling stupid. That’s the power of homeschooling, giving your children what they need, when they need it to flourish into the unique and wonderful creations they were made to be. You’re doing great, you’re doing just fine, and if you’re worried about how you could possibly succeed, you already have the tools to succeed. You’re a caring, hard-working parent, and you’ve got this. You know these children. Who could be better equipped than you?
The other interviews in this series: “How I Homeschool.”
How I Homeschool: In Which I Interview Myself (plus a link-up if you’d like to join in!)