I have a friend who is interested in homeschooling, but, like most of us, has a few reservations and a lot of questions. I had an epiphany last week and decided to put the power of the internet and my online community of homeschool blog moms to work. So I’m running a series in which I will interview some homeschool bloggers for input on how they do it. I thought I’d start with myself and make it a link-up for anyone who wants to answer on their own blog. Fun for the whole internet! Link it up below!
How I Homeschool: In Which I Interview Myself
How long have you been homeschooling?
Our family has been officially homeschooling for 3 full school years, although we participated in a homeschool preschool co-op the year before that. But I don’t count preschool as school, so obviously I don’t count that.
How many kids are in your family? How many are homeschooled? Are any schooled in a more traditional way?
We have 4 children and are expecting number 5 in November. Currently only the oldest 2 ‘do school,’ but we’ll be adding a third in the fall. Technically, Gabe’s in an academic limbo called Transitional Kinder, so we’re going to keep it light. Like preschool basically. Which, as I said above, I don’t really count. So I’m not even sure why I mentioned it.
What laws, if any, are there in your state regarding homeschooling? How does your family meet compliance?
In CA, families can homeschool in one of three ways: register as a private school by filing a Private School Affidavit (no oversight by the state except for submitting the yearly application), hire private tutors, or enroll in a school (private or charter) that oversees the schooling. We are enrolled in a charter school. (There are some great benefits and some negatives, but when I started writing them out I realized it may need its own blog post. Feel free to ask in the comment boxes, though, and I’ll try to answer.)
Switching gears here: if you could summarize your homeschool philosophy in one sentence or mission statement, what would that be?
Hmmm that’s a tough one. Alright, I’ll give it a try.
“Mission: to raise my children to know and love God, have a strong moral compass, enjoy good literature, art, and music, have the skills necessary for survival and success in the world, and to be critical thinkers.”
Sheesh. That sounds both awkward AND pompous.
What is your homeschooling style?
I am probably considered eclectic, but my overarching style is Charlotte Mason.
Do you follow any set curriculum?
I use the Mater Amabilis free curriculum guide as a basic framework, but rely heavily on what the library has in stock. For math I use Singapore Math, which I really like, and Life of Fred when we need a break from “real” math. (LoF is actually real math too, but don’t let the kids know that, okay?) I supplement with the materials we’ve chosen to use in our co-op. They include: R.E.A.L Science Odyssey and History Odyssey, both published by Pandia Press, and Meet the Masters for our fine art studies. (You can see most of my homeschool posts with a whole lot more detail on our curriculum thus far by clicking the Homeschool tab at the top.)
What do your best homeschooling moments look like? What do your not-so-good moments look like? How do you stay on track?
Our best moments happen when we’re all enjoying a lesson together, Usually this happens during read-alouds or while listening to music or a book on CD in the car. When the kids clamor for more, and I’m smiling too, I know it’s a good moment.
Our worst moments are when I forget what’s important, when I worry more about checking things off a list and ignore the kids’ needs. Symptoms: I nag and worry and act generally insane.
How do I stay on track? Well, usually it’s all up to me to regroup, but our social events help me relax. Co-op, park days, chatting with other homeschool moms. All of these help tremendously. (I’m an extrovert and I neeeeeed community.)
But I recently came across a book that I think I’m going to have to print out and wallpaper my kitchen with. Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace by Sarah Mackenzie (of Amongst Lovely Things) is just the antidote for the crazy that is the end of the school year. A highly recommended e-book for your summer reading.
How do you keep any non-school-aged kids busy?
Well. I kind of don’t. I should, I know, but mostly I just tell them to go outside. When they get tired of that, I grab Legos or the train set. When they get tired of those I give them “school work.” And when they get tired of that, I say we’re done schooling for the day. It usually works out okay, but I’m sure I’d benefit from a more structured environment.
If you could give any homeschool advice to a new mom starting out, what would it be?
Don’t pigeon-hole yourself into one particular style or curriculum, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. It’s okay to start slowly, or to go back and change your mind. And find other homeschoolers in your area! I cannot overstate how valuable it’s been for me to have a community of other homeschoolers around. I did it on my own for 2 years in South Korea, and coming back here has been like cool water on a hot day. I feel so refreshed!
Okay, that’s enough blathering from me. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have in the comment boxes.
For any who’d like to link up, feel free to use my questions or to make up your own.
OH! And be sure to check back often for more interviews and to see any new links.
The other interviews in this series: “How I Homeschool.”
How I Homeschool: Elizabeth of Following the Trails to Heaven (High School Series)