Foundation of Homeschooling

Homeschooling - it sounds like a hard thing to do. Honestly, sometimes it is. But often difficult things are the most rewarding. And homeschooling has been rewarding for our family.

We are on our eleventh year in our homeschooling journey. I call it a journey because it is an ever changing road that we decided to walk down. I never thought we could make it this far. Somehow it has just worked for our family. Now it just seems a normal part of life. Teaching our boys spelling and math has been an extension of teaching them to eat with a spoon and to walk. Each year we evaluate each boy to decide if it is best for them. So far, homeschooling has been successful for each of them and so we continue on our road of learning together. I must admit, over the years I have learned as much as they have, not only about phonics and history but more importantly about myself.

Today, I wanted to answer a few questions about homeschooling that I have been asked over the last decade...

1. Why did you decide to homeschool your children?

I had an excellent example, my sister in law, that homeschooled before me. Silently, I observed them for years mulling it over in my mind. I would ask myself, "Can I do that?" When our oldest, went to Pre-K, he started getting in trouble. He was a very sweet boy and obedient but wiggly as most boys are and so he became very unhappy. We decide to give homeschooling a try. And then I knew, "I really can do this!"

Jared on his first day of Kindergarten - at the kitchen table

2. What is your philosophy of education?

Our philosophy is simple: Build a foundation of faith. Add to that the basics: math, science, grammar and writing. Polish it off with an understanding of history and good age appropriate literature.

Teach them they can pick up any book at any time and learn something from it. Encourage each one in their strengths and help them along in their weaknesses. And have a little fun along the way.

Guess what we are studying here.

3. What has been the best thing about homeschooling for you?

That's hard to pick just one thing. I'll give you the top two:
Character development has been the biggest plus in homeschooling our boys. It has given us the opportunity to know them better as they have grown, deal with issues that arise (and they always do), and mold and shape their character in a way that we never could have without homeschooling.
And second, they remain the best of friends to the point that they all still want to share a room together at ages 17, 14 and 11. I hope that this will last their entire lives. The truth is that friends come and friends go but close brothers last a lifetime.

4. What has been the hardest thing about homeschooling?

The knowledge that we are soley responsible for their education. It can be an overwhelming thing if you dwell on it. Now that I have one that will soon be off to college, I realize that taking one step at a time down a long path is the best way to get there.

I when I feel like I'm failing, I comfort myself in the thought that no one wants my children to succeed more than I do.

5. How do you know what to teach?

Now days, there are endless options for curriculum. Most are very user friendly and require little work for the mom-teacher. This is a great thing especially when you have multiple ages. Whenever we can combine history, literature, or science and still be age appropriate for each child, we do.

Here is my list of go-tos: 
  • Math U See
  • Apologia Science
  • Easy Grammar
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • Spelling Power
  • Wordly Wise Vocabulary
  • and my favorite - Sonlight literature and history

6. What do you do if there is something you just don't think you are qualified to teach?

It wasn't until high school that this even became an issue. With our oldest son reaching that stage a few years ago, we started taking advantage of private and group tutoring for science and math. Letting some very qualified ladies teach the things that were out of my comfort zone has worked out great for us. It has allowed me to still oversee the completion of the schoolwork and step in to help if needed but leave the heavy teaching to someone else. This year, I am trading off a subject with another mom. Her girls come to take drawing from me and she teaches writing composition to my boys. I love that. I also love that she doesn't mind teaching them outside even if it's on a fence post.

7. What about socialization?

There are so many opportunities for socializing with other homeschooled kids that you can not have enough time to do schoolwork. Over the years, my boys have been involved with a homeschooled Boy Scout troop and a weekly PE class as well as art classes, pottery, playgroups, book clubs, and even a Shakespeare club. I had a woman ask me once how my children were going to learn to stand in line. Funny, we were at that very moment in a check out line at Walmart. Is that really socialization anyway? Good socialization, in my opinion, is a child being able to relate and communicate with any age of person, something that homeschooled kids often do well.

8. If "school" doesn't take as long at home as it does in a classroom, what do you do with the rest of the day?

Oh, that has been the fun part and one of the reasons we built this farm. Keeping kids busy is important. Boys, especially as they get older, need something to do that makes them feel important. And they sure don't need more time in front of a screen. We have tried over the years to encourage life skills and hobbies.

Doing things like properly saddling your horse and taking it for a ride,

building something on their own,

caring for animals (yes, even falcons),

playing thinking games,

or even working for spending money, are all ways that our boys spend their days.

"Find something that you love, and do that", is what our boys hear us say on a regular basis. Education should not be all about the books.