Homeschooling our children is very important to us. It’s something we knew we wanted to do from the time I found out I was pregnant with Seahawk. We never considered any other option, and now that we’re ten years (almost eleven!) into parenthood and five years into homeschooling, I’m so glad we made this choice. I wrote on the “School at Home” page of our 2013 family yearbook that teaching our children at home is one of my greatest joys as a mother, and I truly mean that. Of course there are days when I wonder what it would be like if the older two were off at school for 8 hours a day. Then I come to my senses and remember why I wanted to be a mom! (Hint: It wasn’t so I could ship them off somewhere the minute they turned five so I wouldn’t have to “deal” with them until they were 18.)
So, how do we balance living simply with homeschooling? There are so many different styles of homeschooling out there – almost as many styles as there are homeschooling parents – and it’s all just a matter of finding a balance. I’m going to go over the way I teach today. This is not a tell-all, do-it-this-way-or-you’re-awful kind of post. This is just what works for us, and if you can take some or all of what I say to make your homeschool day easier or better for you, then that’s awesome. If not, that’s awesome too. But enjoy a little glimpse into our day.
We wake up between 8 and 8:30 each morning. I prefer to be the first one up so I can have a little bit of quiet time before the day starts. That doesn’t always happen though. I’m working on getting the kids into a routine that involves them getting dressed, making their beds, and reading a chapter from their Bible before they come out for breakfast, but that’s still a work in progress. We eat breakfast around 9 (typically just cereal or toast, but sometimes biscuits or pancakes). On the days he’s working from home, Will takes Small Fry out in the mornings so the older kids and I can do school more easily and efficiently. (He works in the afternoons on those days.) Ideally, by 9:30 we’ve started our school day.
I’m a visual person, so I need my kids to “do” something for school, not just read a bunch of books and call it a day. I do know that they can learn so much from reading different books – and we run a very literature heavy school – but it still gives me an odd peace of mind when they do paperwork or projects. We’re somewhere between “school at home” and “natural learning.” The first thing we do is bring out the schoolbooks. After reading a blog post last year on homeschool organization by Jamie at The Unlikely Homeschool, I totally took her idea and bought magazine racks – one for each kid. These have been worth their weight in gold for the simplicity it’s brought not only to our school day, but also to the bookshelf in my sewing room where I keep all the school stuff.
Everything we need for a given day (except for the read-aloud books and pencils) is in those racks. Right now, our main focuses are:
- Spelling – Spelling You See
- Bible – Apologia’s What on Earth Can I Do?
- Literature – Little House in the Big Woods study by Progeny Press
- Cursive Handwriting – This is different for each kid. Munchkin just finished up Logic of English’s Rhythm of Handwriting, so he’s been writing a letter to someone each day; so far this week he’s written to his pen pal in Utah and his great-grandmother in Southern California. Seahawk is working through Patriotic Penmanship, a practice workbook that we received for another review. He likes it because the lessons are very short.
- Math – Learning Wrap-Ups
We’ve been working our way through An Island Story: A History of England for Girls and Boys and The Burgess Animal Book for Children this year, too, but we’ve got so much other stuff going at the moment that we’re taking a break from those for a while.
On a normal day, we manage to finish all but one of our subjects before lunch – which one varies from day to day. I don’t let the kids choose what they learn per se, because they’re still young enough that there are tons of things that are non-negotiable (times tables and proper spelling, for instance). To help them feel like they still have some control over their own education, then, I let them help decide what order we do the subjects in.
At the end of the school day, all the books get put back in their magazine racks and the racks put away on the shelf until the next day. And that’s how we keep things simple – and organized! – in our homeschool.
What’s your favorite homeschool organizational trick?