The answers to this question are infinite. There are hundreds of ways to educate your children at home! Curriculum companies and learning resources now abound, unlike the days when the idea of home education was foreign to most parents and educators alike. Today I will tell you just a bit about how we have approached homeschooling in our family.
A View of Homeschooling in my Family
When our family began our homeschooling journey, we were still in a very schoolish place. We were coming straight out of a private school and I expected to do school at home. I did not have anyone telling me that it could or should look any differently. So I began my search for appropriate curriculum for my children on the internet. I ended up going with a workbook type of program for my son and a Charlotte Mason, kind of a *unit study program, for my daughter.
*Click on the link for a thorough explanation of the term unit study, but this is basically studying a particular topic or time period for a specified amount of time before moving on to a different topic or time period.
“A good unit study involves learning about one topic in an interesting and engaging way that will captivate the student and make them want to learn more and continue to think about the things that they are learning.” ~Amanda Bennett
Neither I nor my son enjoyed the workbooks. I did not like the separation that it created and he didn’t either. We both felt that he was missing out on what was happening with my daughter and I. We loved the unit study! I learned alongside my daughter and I was able to see the world that opened up to her through learning to read and in being read to daily by me.
By the end of our first year of homeschooling I knew that we were not a workbook family.
We ended up using another unit study curriculum with both children the following year, and I actually included our youngest child when possible, too. It was a wonderful year! It involved a lot of work, and our home still seemed like a school many days, but we all relished our afternoon reading and Q & A times. There were days when I would choke up from the stories I was reading aloud to them, and I was so proud of my children for their participation. We all learned so much that year!
It was a time of growth for me in particular, as we had moved that year and were living in an area where we knew absolutely no one. Our reliance on God grew. I was also learning more about what homeschooling could be. Many families love and thrive with school-at-home methods. That is wonderful! For us, it did not work well. It simply was not what I desired for my family, nor did I feel it was what God was calling me to. Near the end of my first year of homeschooling I had acquired a few booklets from Lifestyle of Learning. Little did I know it at the time, but the words within those pages would spark a change in my thinking that has grown and changed over the last 7 years. My thoughts about education are very different from what they were when I first began this journey. And God is still changing me as we continue.
Though we are not a ‘workbook’ family, that is not to say that we never use workbooks or textbooks. We have, and do. It really depends on the child, the season of our lives, and the topic about which we are trying to learn. For example, we moved and added two babies to our family between March of 2009 and October of 2010. During that time my children did a lot of learning on their own, and used several textbooks to facilitate their learning. I didn’t even always keep up with the grading. You want to know what happened? They still excelled on their end-of-year tests! Big surprise. I can say that now, as I am more ‘seasoned’, but in the earlier years of this journey those were things that I worried about. They are valid concerns to new homechooling parents. I want to encourage you that your children are learning, even on the days when it may not seem that way. There are a multitude of ways to learn and things to learn about. Most of them are not even learned sitting at desk listening to a lecture! So when you have a day, or even several, that you think “all is lost” and that you need to make it up, do not despair. God redeems the time!
Our family is living proof.
Now that we are entering our 8th year of homeschooling, we are planning and preparing a bit differently for our homeschooling year than we did in years past. For the first time, I asked my children what they wanted to learn about and actually ordered resources based on their answers! We will be watching dvd’s as part of our family learning this year. The topics are as varied as cooking, crafting a great sentence, and nutrition. My older three children are taking art classes each Friday at the local homeschool co-op; my younger daughters will tag along and learn to be patient while we wait on their siblings. My children will also meet new friends, play games, help prepare lunches, take care of younger siblings, continue to help maintain our home, enjoy movies and video games, utilize apps on the iPad, write posts for their own blogs, and participate in field trips and park days planned by one of the other homeschool groups in which we are involved. This is all a part of learning!
It is how we homeschool.
Next week I will share a bit about various homeschooling methods, curriculum, and other useful resources. I hope you will join me to learn more about HOW to homeschool with Homeschooling Methods, Curriculum, and Resources.