I was recently asked to write a FAQ about homeschooling – and, so …here it is! This isn’t a “I have everything PERFECT – LOOK AT ME!” post. This is also not a “Homeschooling is better than Private or Public Schooling.” I have many friends who are educators in many different arenas and we have friends with children who are coming from all sorts of educational backgrounds. It’s more of a … “This is how we do it and are mostly sane.”
Is homeschooling “hard”?
I struggle with answering this one. It’s really complex. Is it CHALLENGING? Well, sure. (Have you ever worked through reading with a first grader as they learned to read?) So, if my “hard,” you mean “challenging”… then, yes. If you mean “hard” as in… knowledge hard (beyond how do I not lose my mind while they take 10 minutes to read one word out of 100)… not so much (ESPECIALLY if you find a great curriculum).
What qualifies you to be a teacher?
Usually, this question is asked with a mix of snark and just plain rudeness. They don’t actually want an answer. In that case, my answer is different. But, for those who actually want to know if they are “qualified” to teach their kids…
I’m their mom. I live day in and day out with them. I know what they excel at and what they don’t. I can teach them and mostly not go crazy. I am mostly patient (until I’m not). And, I know how to do all of the things they’re required to learn from now until end of Senior year in High School. –But, even if I didn’t… there are self-teaching curricula that you can buy. My kids thrive with one-on-one teaching and have been able to maximize their potential.
How much does it cost to homeschool?
Technically… you could do it for almost free if you don’t count paper, pens, gas to the library, internet, and netflix, and possibly a printer/ink. I’m too type-A to piece together my own curriculum, though. Personally, I need to know I’m doing as good or better than what they’d be getting in public/private school (I have high expectations of myself)… I’m not saying this is what you should do…this is just MY personality (right or wrong). For OUR family, we SPEND around $40 for 3 kids for regular school supplies and around $400/year for curriculum. Plus, I add in a few extra books. So, $500 approximately for 3 kids PER YEAR …and I can re-use everything except for a couple of cheap workbooks. If we do field trips and what-nots, that’s extra.
Which curriculum do you use?
We use My Father’s World. I’ve “experimented” with and researched others, but this is my favorite (so far!) I LOVE all things educational and book-ish (so, if you are publisher and want us to review your curriculum, send it!). The kids like, I like it… we’re all happy. It has the perfect mix of hand-on and living books/reading and it really just gives you the best BANG for your time. So, you learn more without doing ridiculous amounts of STUFF. Also, it’s mostly pick up and go… which is important for our family. We can take it when we go out of town or WHEREVER we go. It also allows me to homeschool my children in “cycles,” meaning I don’t need a different curriculum for each kid. They all learn science, history, geography, art, music, and the bible TOGETHER. Then, we repeat this cycle in a couple of years, so it really “sticks.” They have different leveled language arts and math books/workbooks that they work out of.
Currently, we are Exploring Countries and Cultures!
Which Subjects do you teach?
Depending on your state, you’ll be required to teach different subjects.
For us, we teach: Science, Math, Language Arts (Grammar, Handwriting/Cursive, Spelling, Reading), History/Social Studies, Art, Geography, Music, Life Skills, and Bible.
Don’t you worry your kids will be socially awkward/not socialized?
Um…no. I know quite a few socially awkward people, but none of them were homeschooled. I think a lot of it depends on their parents. Anyhow, my kids have MANY opportunities to play with friends. They even play on sports teams. They practice manners and “socialize” with a HUGE range of ages very often…at least several times a week (if you don’t count the DAILY interactions required of being a family of 6).
Do you test your children?
Yes. all the time. Although, we don’t do the big standardized tests because they don’t give a full picture of where a child is. They get quizzes and unit tests, though, so I can track their progress and see which areas we may need to spend more time on or re-visit.
What does your schedule look like?
We don’t have a “schedule” as much as we have a routine. I tried using a schedule, but every time it got off-track, I’d feel like a failure…I just don’t like the rigidity. SO, instead… We usually try to start school at 8:30 AM. We usually do BIBLE, then MATH (because they are “freshest” in the morning)…then, LANGUAGE ARTS… then, HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY, and SCIENCE. ART and MUSIC are generally last. Typically, I get my 1st graders started on math and then get my 3rd grader started on her math. As their math gets harder, I may have to do something differently so I can offer them help as they need it… like, let one read a school book or do easier practice problems or spelling work on the ipad while I’m teaching another child their math. USUALLY… we finish up around noon or 1PM for lunch. We eat, they take naps (or read in bed), then we do art, music, extra reading, geography games, or work on life skills in the evening.
When does your school-year begin?
Depends on when we get out of school. USUALLY, we start the beginning of JULY. This year, we finished up early May so we started back up last week (mid-June). It gives us a HUGE buffer for when things come up (like trips or sicknesses or life changes). OR, if we come to a subject that the kids just really want to dive deeper on, we have time to do that, as well. We can take off all of December, if we want and on our birthdays…which is pretty cool! (There is a minimum number of school days required by the state and we MORE THAN cover those…usually we have about 50% OVER the minimum.)
How do you teach 4 kids?
I have a toddler, two 1st graders, and a 3rd grader. Technically, the “toddler” isn’t really taught beyond practicing fine/gross motor skills, counting/alphabet and trying to keep him from dumping things out of boredom/anger. My 3rd grader is a pretty fluent reader, so she helps her younger siblings practice reading. She can also help them with math. It’s a win-win for all of us. They love it, she loves it, and mommy loves it! We have a basic “buddy” system in general that helps with everything else… the oldest girl is paired with her younger sister and the oldest boy is paired with the youngest brother. (Also, I mentioned the “cycle” system, which helps a TON.)
What do you do over the summer?
Over the summer, we don’t really have a set routine (other than when we start our day, nap-time, and meal-time ranges). This year, we kept working on reading and math workbooks. I also asked all of the kids to give me a suggestion of what they’d like to learn about (ex. whales, castles, snakes, etc.) Then, for each week, my goal was to focus on one subject (using library books, websites, documentaries/youtube videos, movies, etc) AND one life skill AND a creative play activity. It’s been pretty freeing and lots of fun!
How do you feel good enough?
Ah, well… how do we ever feel good enough about anything?
Honestly, for me, I give it all back to God. Every morning, my husband and I pray together that I would have peace and patience and that God would make sure our children will get whatever they need from our homeschool day. Second, I really feel comfortable with our curriculum. Third, my husband and I both agree that I can’t homeschool AND vacuum/clean house at the EXACT same time. AND, when we are home ALL day, we make bigger messes. Which means… we have to expect less. I can teach our kids OR I can clean. Granted, I do clean and cook many nights (via crockpot and fast/easy meals that I post on here), BUT the house isn’t spotless. We both agree that our kids’ hearts come before the chores… and because we are in agreement, it’s easier to not feel like I’ve failed. As far as feeling “good enough” to teach your children? Let me just say this, dear mama.
You ARE good enough.
I’ve had some really great teachers and some that were not great at all. You know what the difference between them was? It wasn’t how smart they were or how many facts they knew. It was how much they cared and how much effort they put in to making learning special for me.
They worked their bums off, and I knew it. They cared about me.
Who else is more QUALIFIED than a child’s mother to LOVE them and teach them to love learning? –I have some GREAT friends who are teachers, and THIS is why they are great… because they LOVE their students and help them to LOVE learning.
Don’t worry about doing it all or not doing enough. Choose a curriculum that you feel comfortable with and have researched and then just trust God. The first few weeks will be the “figure it out” weeks, as I call them. They are the ones where you begin to learn to balance your homeschooling schedule/routine. After that, you will slowly learn how to add back in the other things like cleaning/cooking/life with homeschooling. Stick to the basics FIRST and once you’ve got those down, THEN you add in the art/music/field trips/pinterest ideas/crazy science experiments.
YOU CAN DO THIS.
Do you have any other questions not listed above that you’d like to ask?
Or, do you want to link your own FAQ up in the comments?
I’d love to hear from you!