Monday, August 24, 2009

Homeschooling: A Family Activity

Over at Jen's today she has a little (ha!) discussion going about homeschooling and the reasons/concerns people give her about why they "could never do that!" The concerns are very common; I've heard them too. As usual, you will find excellent answers to those problems in the comments.

Another excellent post to read is Mrs. G's guest post over at Pioneer Woman's ranch.

To distill it all down to a couple of sentences -----

1. You have to really want to homeschool. Whether you believe it's what God wants you to do, or you have your own reasons for taking your children out of school, that has to trump all those excuses and fears for not doing it.

2. As one of Jen's commenters said, it's a lot like parenting. You have to work it out for your family. If you're going to homeschool, you'll find a way to solve those discipline problems. (Believe me, you will; homeschooling magnifies those issues.) You'll find a way to afford it. You'll find a way to educate those high schoolers, whether through co-ops or community college or tutors.


Now that you've read through those posts, I wanted to talk about younger siblings today because that is a concern that was mentioned to me last week.

I enjoyed reading Mrs. G's post about how she and her daughter went to the library and got armloads of books on whatever subject they were interested in and spread them out on the floor to go through them. She doesn't mention younger siblings, but they could easily have fit into that scenario.

A lot of people, myself included, like to bring school home. I don't used a boxed curriculum, because I like to find things that both I and the children will find interesting. But we're still very "schoolish" here. That doesn't mean there is no place for babies or toddlers. Homeschooling is very much a family activity, not just something the schoolage kids do!

Obviously, school needs to be done in a place where those other little people can be. We used to use a room in our basement that was big enough for a sofa, a few desks, and toys. I could nurse comfortably and teach, or the little ones could play.

Learning toys are great if your child is content to play alone while in the same room with you, but they often want to be in on the action. So, let them. Yes, I said "Let them!" Bring them up to the table with you. Give them paper, chunky pencils and crayons. Buy them workbooks; check out library books. If you're reading American History, let them both color a coloring page on the subject while you read. Let them play with the math manipulatives while you teach math.

You'll be amazed at how much those little people learn when they're included! You might not even have to teach them to read.

There can also be lessons for the younger siblings. Preschool works at home, too. Take time out, while the older ones are doing seat work, to play games with them. One of the things I love about homeschooling is that I get to play with my kids more than I normally would. The older kids can also get a little break from lessons while they do preschool activities with the little ones and you throw a load of clothes into the washer.

You know, I look back and can't believe I made it through that period. I only have six kids, so other people have it harder. But there was a time, the peak of my homeschooling years (or was it the valley?), when I had:

an 8th grader,
a 6th grader,
a 4th grader,
a 1st grader,
a 3 year old,
and a baby!

(In case you didn't know, I've never taught high school. The kids have gone to a private, Catholic school, which, while excellent, has not been perfect. And if you're worried about being a bad teacher, imagine how it feels to pay for one!)

That was by far the most difficult year here, but the funny thing is that the next year was so much easier with that one, oldest child in school. Even though we missed her terribly, along with all her help. Even though I still had: 7th, 5th, 2nd, a 4 year old, and a 1 year old. Perspective makes a big difference.

I'm not an unschooler by any stretch of the imagination, but I do believe that we need to relax and enjoy this time with our children. The greatest gift of homeschooling is having your children around and being together as a family. It's not all about textbooks---learning happens in lots of ways, hopefully all the time. It doesn't fit into a certain number of hours per day: 8a.m. ---2 p.m. It's not necessarily best if all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. It's best when you have a good day together and enjoyed each other's company and learned something together.


  1. Whomever said you have to want is was so right. I have heard all of the reasons why folks can't do it, too -- with the saddest being, "my kids would drive me nuts." If you want it to happen, it will happen. Sacrifices must be made and mom must get a backbone, but that's what happens when mom works outside the home too. It's my profession and I have to work at it!

  2. interesting post, thanksfor sharing!

    my brain boggles at doubling my troops...but then I think of the several friends I know who have TRIPLE my number and I nearly pass out!! ;0)

  3. True, true!!! Yes, it's a jumbled, happy mess , but funny thing - is that we all learn together. What a rich environment!!

    Was it hard to let your Highschoolers go? What made you decide to send them to school? Are you glad you did?
    All things I'm contemplating right now. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experience!!

  4. My husband and I have been throwing around the idea of me homeschooling the kids, but like you said I'm afaid I'll be a bad teacher. I taught high school until I stayed home with them. But I don't feel like I can teach the creativity they need while they're young. I do know when they hit 7th or 8th grade we will keep them home. So I still have 6 years if we go that route


Thanks for dropping by! I would love to hear from you. Have a beautiful day! :-)


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