Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Kind of Homeschoooler...

So what kind of homeschoolers are we?

We’re not your typical homeschoolers…which makes us your typical homeschoolers, I guess.  Part of the beauty of homeschooling is the great flexibility and ability to customize, so I’m not sure that there is a “typical” homeschooler.  In fact, I prefer to see individuals rather than types when I’m looking at people, anyway.  

We’re not Charlotte Mason, but we love living books.  

We’re not Unit Studies, though we love to follow a theme across subject lines when we don’t have to force it.  

We’re not Classical, though we find the trivium a useful structure.  

And so on, for a million other systems.  

I guess you could say we’re A La Carte homeschoolers…we take what we like/find useful and put them together.   Perhaps, in the end, this is typical as well.  

Who’s the “we” here?
In one sense, of course, we is my husband and I and our children, but I also team teach with my sister.  We add students and divide duties.  We have a classroom at each of our houses, though the main one is at her house.  This works well for us!  So frequently when I say “we”, I will mean B and I.  

Here are a few more particulars:

We have a first grader and two preschoolers who turned five during the school year, so we’re in our second year of homeschooling.   My sister has a three-year-old who just stays for school when she feels like it and an infant who is way too much of an adorable distraction to go down to the classroom!  

Last school year, I was panicking over teaching my strong-willed kindergartener because sometimes we clash quite dramatically, so I hired my sister to teach him.  I took the then four-year-olds sometimes, doing library storytimes or just letting them play.   They did one day of preschool with B, and once or twice a week, I would have my oldest, too, and would read some Sonlight read-alouds to all of them.  Then our family traveled for my husband’s job for two months and I had to do school; it wasn’t that bad!  And then my sister had a baby, so I was on deck again.  I suppose that built my confidence a little; when this year rolled around, I found myself full of ideas and enthusiasm for school, so we joined forces.  

Here’s how we break it up:

We use Sonlight language arts. (B teaches this.)

We use Rightstart math.  (B again.)

When it comes to science, we pick a topic, study it, find books at the library and activities on Pinterest and take it from there.  This has been mostly B this year, though I step in occasionally.  Next year, we plan to use Apologia, though highly supplemented with our own ideas, I’m sure.

We own A Reason for Handwriting and All About Spelling.  Ahem.  That’s B’s job and I don’t ask too many questions.  

I do Social Studies—this year, we are studying world cultures.  I pick a continent a month (roughly), find living books, activities, field trips, etc.  

Practicing French Fruits
I also teach French.  Do I speak French?  It is all I can do to stay ahead of the kids!  Isn’t that the craziest thing you ever heard?  I did take two years in high school.  I try hard to expose them to lots of native speakers—we watch youtube videos, Little Pim, listen to cds in the car, play an app called Gus on the Go, and more.  I pick 10 or 20 words a week that I feel pretty confident in my pronunciation of and do our activities around those.  I went to college to teach English and consequently am a little more secure in my classroom technique for languages, so I enjoy French class.  I think the kids do, too!  But if I could find a native speaker teaching a class nearby (heck, within a couple hours of us!), I think it would be a great way to give them some classroom experience with another teacher.  However, despite a few promising contacts, nothing has panned out so far.  So for now, soldiering on.  

Art is incorporated into the other subjects, though we’d like to do more with it as a subject in it’s own right. 
Of course, there is more to know, but that's more than enough for now!  Tomorrow, I’ll share a little bit about our background and maybe some personality quirks that effect our teaching style and decisions.  

What kind of homeschooler are you?

Oh and PS—one more thing.  We don’t think everyone can homeschool or should.  Do what’s best for your family! 


  1. I think one of the coolest things about homeschooling, is how much you (as a parent) learn yourself!