Since we started sharing bits and pieces of our homeschooling journey and lifestyle online, I've gotten lots of great questions from so many women.
When we began this adventure, I was SO hungry for any and all knowledge, wisdom, and experience I could find from like-minded homeschool mamas and because there were many women who so willingly shared their journey and understanding with me, I'm excited to try and pay it forward and hopefully help shed some light on this topic for anyone who's interested!
The following are the most common questions I receive in regards to homeschooling along with corresponding answers below.
What made you first decide to homeschool?
Let me start by saying NEVER EVER EVER, in my wildest nightmares, did I think I'd homeschool. I didn't really know anything about homeschooling other than I knew it was absolutely not for me and the people who did it were probably a little bit crazy and a little bit weird. ;) I couldn't even begin to understand WHY anyone would ever want to homeschool. It all seemed so...NOT me.
Looking back, it's funny to me that I immediately wrote off homeschooling because I'm actually very "pro alternative choices" in many areas of my life. When I became pregnant with our oldest, I immediately began researching natural, unmedicated birth, birth centers, and even seriously considered a home birth. I've always strongly believed that just because something is done one way by the vast majority of the people around me, doesn't mean that it's the only way or even the right or best way for me. I mean, I have a Master's degree in not just regular, "normal" counseling but in Art Therapy Counseling, for heaven's sake. Did I mention I also have dyed my hair pink multiple times as well as completely buzzed it all off once? I've always lived my life with the motto "different is good" but, for whatever reason, this had never crossed my mind when it came to my children's education.
But then I started following Stephanie Read on Instagram and, slowly, I began realizing that I actually had no idea what homeschooling was and that this type of lifestyle can be an amazing and powerful alternative to traditional schooling. But it wasn't until I visited Stephanie and spent some time with her family in their home, that I was able to really FEEL what homeschooling does to a family.
Being together with the Read family, in their home and their homeschool space, was something I'll never forget. In just about 90 minutes, everything I thought I knew about home educating and the "weird hippy people" who do it went flying out the window and was immediately replaced with a sense of awe and respect for what was being created by this mama and her family in their home. There was so much PEACE in their home, peace and LOVE. Everyone genuinely seemed to enjoy being together and being in their tiny homeschool room- there was almost a sense of sacredness about it. "Sacredness, Sam? Really??" I know, I know. Stay with me.
While with the Reads, I started asking tons of homeschool-related questions. I couldn't help myself. I felt totally and completely compelled to learn everything I could about how and why this was all happening in their home and how I could maybe even one day replicate it with my own family.
I even talked to the kids. I asked them what they thought about homeschooling and whether or not they enjoyed it. Every answer I got from both the kids and Stephanie herself made me only hungry for more.
Fast forward about a year.
It's the year before my oldest daughter, Hero, would start Kindergarten. My husband and I are beginning to seriously consider whether or not sending her to the Elementary school down the street is the best choice for her and our family. We begin researching other options like charter schools and even a super expensive Montessori private school but nothing felt quite right. Again and again, we kept coming back to the homeschool idea which, at this point, still felt like a crazy pipe dream. "Yes, Stephanie Read was creating magic in her home every day but there was no way I could actually do that successfully. I'd go insane. I need my space. I have zero knowledge on where to even begin figuring out how to homeschool. I run a business and wasn't willing to consider sacrificing that for one second. Yes, my children's education is important but not at the cost of my own sanity."
But something inside me kept whispering "homeschool" again and again to my heart.
That spring, my husband and I read Connor Boyack's "Passion-Driven Education" and that's when my heart really started to become more and more open to the idea of homeschooling and my ability to actually do it.
A few months later, I took a deep breath and prayed to my Heavenly Father about it. What I wanted Him to tell me in response was, "Yeah, homeschool would be cool. But don't worry. It's not for you. Go ahead and send your kids to the Elementary school and everything will be wonderful." That's not the answer I got. Instead, I got, "Yup. You GET to homeschool. Try not to worry. I will be with you." I cried a real mix of happy tears and sad tears that night.
I'd be lying if I told you it was smooth sailing from there. About three different times, however, after that confirmation, I freaked out and told Chas that I'd changed my mind and that there was no way I could go through with this. Every time, he'd allow me have the emotional space I needed and, every time, I had another witness that this was absolutely the right choice for our family and I needed to have faith in that personal revelation I had be given.
Now we've been homeschooling since September 2017 and I can honestly say that I never could have imagined how doable, manageable, enjoyable, joy-filled, and FUN homeschooling could be. It's a COMPLETELY different lifestyle- one that I feel like is the world's best-kept secret. You couldn't pay me to have my kids go back to traditional schooling. It's changed our family in so many hugely important and beautiful ways.
Why do you homeschool?
I homeschool because I only get one shot at this precious time with my kids and I want to embrace the HECK out of every single second of this season with them. I want to be able to experience LIFE with them every day. I want to have poetically slow and intentional mornings together where we don't have to wake up kids super early and rush, yell, rush, yell until everyone is fed, dressed, and out the door in time, all going our separate ways. I want my kids to love learning, to never feel like it's a chore. I want to spend zero time on pointless homework and assigned projects. I want to create an intentional culture in our home and family that revolves around the ideals that we value most- things like creativity, service, embracing differences, hard work, and empathy. I want them to be able to PLAY as much as they want, to create what they want, to experience joy and success and frustration and new ideas and beautiful art and literature and how to be a GREAT human in this crazy world.
I homeschool because I have ONE chance to do this with my kids- to create the EXACT kind of home I want for our family and our life- and I don't want to miss that chance and all the MAGIC that comes with it. There are no second chances and when this time is gone, it's gone. I want zero regrets.
How did you start learning about all this? (I have no idea where to even start!)
The only way I know how to do anything, is by diving head-first and doing it 110%. (It's a good/annoying personality trait.) Once I decided that this was our family's path, I began reaching out to a wide variety of homeschool mamas and asking if I could sit down with them, in their respective homes, and "interview" them.
First, of course, I started with Stephanie Read. Then I went on to interview a handful of other women. Armed with a pen and notebook, and a million questions, I was able to learn first-hand from seasoned and experienced home educators, ask everything I wanted to, and get a huge amount of information in a relatively short amount of time. Almost all of these women I had never met before. They were either people I had followed online or were simply a friend of a friend. Regardless, they were all more than willingly to graciously take the time to site down with me share their wisdom.
What I loved most about this process was getting to see how every single one of these women was doing an amazing job homeschooling their kids and, surprisingly, none of them were doing it exactly the same, or even remotely similar. They all had their own priorities, their own schedules/rhythms, their own way of doing things. And they were ALL great and working wonders for their families. That's when I started feeling a tiny bit more confident in my ability to homeschool successfully. There's no one right way. There are, however, a gazillion amazing resources and ideas out there. It just takes trying on different things until you find the stuff that fits your personality, your goals, your kids, and your life the best.
After my "mama interviews," I started slowly checking out all the different resources they each suggested for me. (Some of the things I bought in the beginning, we're still doing. Some we aren't. So don't go crazy and spend a lot of money on supplies at the very start. It'll take a minute to find out what you want most out of homeschooling and what supplies will help achieve those goals for you. I'll share what supplies work best for us below.)
If you're seriously considering homeschooling, first and foremost, write down why YOU want to homeschool and what some potential goals are that you'd want your homeschooling experience to be centered around. What do you really and truly want your kids to know? What values do you want your family to focus on? What kind of intentional culture do you want to create for your family? Identifying these core values for your family and homeschool will be a huge help in guiding your decisions and keeping you focused on what matters most.
I'd also recommend talking to as many homeschooling mamas as you can about it. Research online. Read articles. Make lots of notes. Slowly, start gathering information. Be prayerful and you'll begin to find the things that speak to your heart and feel right to you.
Do I need to know about all the different educational theories and philosophies?
Yes...and no. Obviously, the more educated and aware you are about educational theorists/styles, the more understanding you'll have surrounding the why behind what you're doing but don't get overwhelmed by it all and let that hold you back. You will absolutely learn as you go and it's ok to let it be just another piece of the whole process. I'm willing to bet that you're naturally inclined to doing things that would technically be termed as a specific style/theory but you just didn't know it!
To start, I'd recommend checking out Charlotte Mason, Montessori, and Waldorf education. That'll give you a great foundation.
To learn more about each of these different theories, this post has some excellent book recommendations!
If you read nothing else, please read Teaching From Rest. It's a super short, super fast read and is incredible. Even if you don't ever plan on homeschooling, it's hugely worthwhile for anyone.
I also highly recommend The Unhurried Homeschooler: A Simple, Mercifully Short Book on Homeschooling.
The more I homeschool, the more I'm learning that the best outcomes always result when I simply follow my own heart/gut instincts on what my kids need most right now, focus as much as I can on that, and try my best to let everything else fall to the wayside. Less is more.
What curricula/resources do you use?
For Goldie (preschool), we use The Peaceful Preschool curriculum from The Peaceful Press and completely LOVE it! It's everything I want for a preschool experience and nothing I don't. There's literally close to zero prep and it allows me to simply PLAY with my kids- and that's coming from someone who doesn't particularly enjoy sitting on the floor and playing with her kids. But I genuinely adore the simple activities that this curriculum initiates and the literature it's based around is top notch.
For Hero (Kindergarten), for history, we are doing the Early American History curriculum from Beautiful Feet Books and have been so, so happy with it. One of the things I've discovered about Hero since we began homeschooling is that she loves history and this curriculum has played a huge part in continuing to fuel that passion for her.
For STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) activities, we subscribe to Kiwi Crate. Every month, a new box is delivered and has everything we need to have a wonderful and fun learning experience. I literally couldn't be happier with our Kiwi Crates and Hero get SO excited whenever we get one.
For math, we use Math-U-See along with a combination of worksheets via Teachers Pay Teachers and various "everyday math scenarios" like learning about fractions while measuring ingredients for banana bread, playing with different household "manipulatives" to visualize concepts, etc.
Another resource that I've been really happy with is Teachers Pay Teachers. Hero actually really enjoys doing worksheets and this site is such a great place to find tons of really fun and engaging worksheets on a variety of topics. We've gotten a few of the big math and literacy packets from The Moffatt Girls. For example, we're currently working our way through this packet of worksheets and have really enjoyed them. I also recommend the seller, Help A Child To Read.
Our Book of Mormon Story Book that we read every morning is here.
We're also working our way through a bunch of read aloud "chapter books." So far, we've read "Little House in the Big Woods," "Pippi Longstocking," "My Father's Dragon," "Mr. Popper's Penguins," "All-of-a-Kind Family," and are currently reading "Charlotte's Web." It makes me so happy to see our little bookcase full of beautiful literature and know that I get to chose the kind of books I want my kids to be exposed to and we genuinely love spending time reading together.
Bravery magazine is a must. Non-negotiable. Exposing my kids to diverse and courageous women both in history and today, is a huge priority of mine and Bravery allows us to not only learn about these incredible history-makers but also love them as humans. Because of Bravery, my girls think women like Jane Goodall and Mae Jemison are cooler than Disney princesses. SOLD.
I also use each Bravery issue as the basis for a week-long unit study in which I supplement with additional books, worksheets, and project/activity ideas from Pinterest. For example, we learned all about the solar system in conjunction with the Mae Jemison issue.
We started reading Little Leaders for Black History Month this past February and highly recommend it. Hero adores it. I also supplement our regular history studies with this book throughout the year.
This dry erase world map is an invaluable resource. Hero is fascinated by geography and it's so helpful to be able to quickly and easily identify places on a readily accessible map as we come across them in our learning. (It's amazing what my preschooler soaks up, as well. The other day, Goldie used the word "Europe" in a sentence.)
The easiest homemade play dough recipe. This is so much better than the store bought stuff. Promise.
For art, Art Workshop for Children is EVERYTHING. I'm a huge, huge believer that art for littles should be almost entirely process-based with zero product-focused "cute crafts." This book has a huge variety of incredible process-based art experiences for kids and it also describes the reasoning behind this type of approach and how to lends itself to increased sense of identity, play, exploration, creativity, independent decision-making, confidence, and success for kids within their own art making experience. The author's Instagram account, Art Bar Blog, is also amazing.
For our daily tea time, we love reading a story or two out of our collection of "Best in Children's Books." It's a vintage series that is so delightful and lovely in every way! They are out of print but just a quick search on Ebay and even Amazon will bring up some.
We do sensory bins about once a week, twice if I'm feeling particularly loving. ;) I followed this tutorial and made a bunch all from items found at the dollar store.
Whenever we get out any sensory bins, we always use our Gathre mat. There's no way I'd be able to allow sensory bins and not claw my eyes out if we didn't have a Gathre mat. It makes cleanup only about a 3/10 on the nightmare scale.
My girls also really love our "play trays." A play tray is basically just some kind of flat, tray surface (we use large plastic salad bowl lids that I found at the Dollar Store). Then, I give them a bit of play dough and allow them to choose some objects from our selection of different small toys and manipulatives- nearly all of which I got from the Dollar Store. For example, we have small wooden peg dolls, small plastic toy animal sets, "gem stone" pebbles, silk flowers, beads, etc. Once the girls choose a few things for their tray, they sit at their desks, I turn on some music, and they simply build, create, and imagine beautiful little worlds with the objects and play dough on their tray. This same general concept is often referred to as "an invitation to play."
I also really love the book suggestions from Simply Learning here and all the books on the book list for The Peaceful Preschool curriculum which correspond with each letter of the alphabet are excellent.
You can check out my homeschooling Pinterest boards here. I have them organized by subject.
But what about socialization for your kids?
This is another huge common misconception/misunderstanding about homeschool. There is a fair amount of research on this topic and the findings are very interesting. I'd definitely recommend checking out this article written on the subject.
I've also rounded up a few other blog posts and articles that address the topic well:
For us, we live in a very social neighborhood with tons of kids. My girls have play dates almost daily. When it's warm out, I actually rarely see my kids from about 1pm-6pm as they're running around the neighborhood (usually barefoot) with their buddies. Hero also participates in a weekly ballet class, weekly art class (at the elementary school down the street), and we attend church as a family every week.
Let's just say that I am never concerned about my kid's "socialization" opportunities. ;)
How long are you planning on doing this for?
Honestly? I hope it's for a while but I always want it to be my kid's choice so they can feel empowered and a sense of ownership over their education. I'll homeschool for as long as they want to. If they ever decide they want to try public school, however, that can absolutely do so.
Do you think public school is evil/wrong/bad?
Not at all.
I do, however, feel that the public education system in our country is broken in many ways. I simply don't agree with a lot of what drives public education in the United States today and know that I can do a much, much better job of giving my kids the kind of education and schooling experience that they deserve and that I want for them.
Do you ever have time to yourself? I can't imagine not having time alone while my kids are gone at school.
This was a HUUUUGE fear of mine. Probably the biggest one, to be honest, before I started homeschooling. The first thing people almost always say to me, when they find out I homeschool is, "That's so awesome. I could never do that. I just need my space and time alone for myself." The funny thing is, though, I'm actually EXACTLY that same way. I'm the type of mama who NEEDS her space, and lots of it, or else I go crazy.
I didn't know how this was going to work out at first but it's honestly very rarely an issue now. In fact, I feel like I even have more time to myself now that I homeschool. And here's why I think that is: now that I homeschool, I'm spending about 2 hours a day doing school with my kids. During that time, I'm 100% present with them and engaged, from start to finish. We're doing activities, and projects, dance parties, tea parties, field trips, and play time. I'm being with them and seeing them in a whole new way and on a whole new level than I ever had previously. As a result, this kind of close interaction effectively fills my kids' "mama cups" to the point of overflowing. By lunch time, they are totally and completely able and willing to happily leave me be and go play on their own, with each other, or with a friend.
In essence, after we've spent our mornings doing homeschool, they don't need me in the same way they needed me when they would come home from a day spent at school (Hero did two years of preschool outside the home and Goldie did 6 months of preschool outside the home). It's a completely different dynamic, a total lifestyle shift, when you homeschool and it never ceases to amaze me how much more independent (of me!) and content (without me!) my kids are now.
This isn't to say, however, that we don't have hard days or that there aren't times when I need to lock myself in a room for a minute to take a break and have some peace. But what mom doesn't do that every now and then, right? That's just a part of being a mom sometimes- there are always going to be challenging days. BUT I for sure don't feel like I have more of those days now than I did before. If anything, it's less. Which, even as I'm typing this, I'm shocked by. But it's true. The freedom that homeschooling brings extends to us mamas as well!
But I'm not a teacher/have no idea HOW to teach.
Have you ever taught your child how to do something by themselves? Have you ever read to your child? Done homework with them?
If you have, then guess what!? You've already homeschooled! It's not even your job to teach them, per se, so much as it is to simply love them, present them with good resources/supplies/ideas, and provide them a safe and supportive environment in which to explore and learn. You've got this.
How do you know what you're supposed to be teaching them and if you're doing enough?
As someone who's only experienced the public education system their entire life, I feel like I had to really make an effort to almost consciously unlearn much of what I have always thought was the "right" way to do things when it came to education. This included letting go of an arbitrary, out-dated, universal standard of progress and growth measurement for a child's education. I believe that children should be allowed to learn and grow at their own unique pace and not pressured to "keep up" with certain markers or milestones.
Stephanie Read (I know, I know, I love her) recently posted some great thoughts on this topic:
"'There is no question of failing or passing, instead there is joy.' One of the reasons we chose the path to home educate was to instill a love of learning and knowledge. Education is a privilege not a punishment. We don’t test. We don’t compare or grade. The kids work at their own pace. I expect their best work and to give it their all. Their best is always good enough, whether it’s academically, physically, or just helping with chores around the house. We just keep working, trying our best each day. There is no finish line because there is no race. Our society pushes the idea that your education is finished when you graduate but we continue to learn and grow don’t we! I have learned far more in life than I ever did sitting in a classroom. I wonder if we have it backwards. Instead of spending the best years of our life at a desk learning how to live, I think living provides every opportunity to learn what we need to know."
When it comes to anxiety about whether or not you're doing "enough," this was definitely something I personally struggled with a lot in the very beginning. Here's what I've discovered, though. One of the gifts of homeschooling is learning to trust yourself and have faith in the process on a whole new level. You are enough, your kids are enough, and you are doing enough. More than enough.
Similarly, it can be easy to fall into the trap of seeing what other homeschooling mamas are doing with their kids and automatically feel like you need to immediately and mindlessly copy everything they're doing "because if they're doing it, it must mean it's the 'right way/best thing' for my kids as well" (or maybe that's just me, haha). Same thing can happen when I'm browsing Pinterest- idea overwhelm. When I feel this way, I try to remind myself that there are always going to be more things I could be doing, always. The beauty of homeschool, however, is that I have given myself the power to actively say no to things so we can have the time and space to focus on what I've already decided is of MOST VALUE to my children and our family as a whole. Hold to those values and have faith in them. Again, another reason why identifying your core education/family values and goals at the very beginning is so crucial- they'll help keep you on track.
Aren't you afraid of your kids falling behind?
Again, I'm not measuring their education against anything but their own, best efforts each day.
And honestly? My kids know SO much. Just sayin. ;)
How much does it cost to get started?
This completely depends on you and what you're wanting to spend. With a little resourcefulness and creativity, can absolutely begin homeschooling without spending a dime. For myself, I knew that there were some supplies and resources that I wanted to have access to and so was happy to spend some money and make that upfront investment, for both myself and my kids.
For both kindergarten and preschool supplies, books, and curricula, I've spent probably close to $800 on all our materials. But again, that is not at all necessary. There are tons of free resources online, the library is a great alternative to purchasing books, and Pinterest/IG homeschool accounts can give you a wealth of ideas for using what you already have to create a rich and beautiful homeschooling experience.
What is tea time?
This is actually something that we've only recently implemented into our days and it's been such a wonderful experience for us already! I had seen other homeschoolers doing daily tea times and thought it always looked like a great idea, but we just never got around to it. Then I came across this article, and immediately knew that we could no longer go without this important ritual.
A few things I'll say about our tea times. First, my girls are obsessed with tea time. Goldie always says it's her favorite part of homeschool and Hero, my social butterfly, will come racing home from afternoon play dates because, "I don't wanna miss that!" We drink either Celestial Seasonings herbal teas or simply milk and have a variety of small snacks. We usually read a few poems from "The Lama Who Had No Pajama" (linked above) and then whatever other books the girls choose. One of our "Best in Children's Books" is a tea time favorite. This is also a time when my girls get to practice life skills like setting a table and clearing dishes. This is their tea time and, as part of that, they get to participate in getting the table ready for it and then cleaning up afterwards. It's been great practice for them.
What are some of your favorite field trip ideas?
We do school M-Th and then get out and go on a field trip on Friday. Some field trips we love include the library, park, aquarium, craft store, zoo, bakery, hikes, grandma's house, pumpkin patch, farm, outdoors anything, roller skating rink with bounce houses, children's museum, and a donut factory tour.
I also want to expose my girls, especially, to a wide variety of different working women and women entrepreneurs. For example, we visited a hair salon that my hair stylist manages. The girls got a tour of the whole place, learned all about what it takes to run a salon, a goodie bag of free product samples, and they each even got to have neon-colored hair extensions put in their hair! (My girl, Ali, went waaaay above and beyond the call of duty!)
Again, homeschooling allows me to even be intentional in the kind of field trips we go on. Because I value being a working woman/a creative/an entrepreneur, I get to choose to teach my daughters about all that as well!
How many hours a day do you spend homeschooling?
Because homeschooling is a whole lifestyle, I basically consider our entire day as being a part of homeschool. But, if we're talking only about the time we spend together in our school room doing focused and structured learning/activities, I'd say, on average we spend about 90 mins-2 hours a day. It's amazing how much more we can get done in a much shorter amount of time than if they were attending public school! And we waste almost no time standing in line at the drinking fountain. ;)
How do you feel about screen time?
My kids watch a 30-minute Netflix kid's show 5-6 days a week after lunch. Besides that, I occasionally let them watch an extra Netflix episode if it's been a long day and the weather is bad outside. We watch a movie once every maybe 2-3 months. And that's kinda it.
What are some of your favorite learning apps?
We've made the conscious decision to not own an iPad or tablet. While I know there are tons of great learning apps available for kids, I actually don't want my children learning from screens. In my opinion, even if it's teaching my kids, a screen is still a screen and there isn't anything they can't learn without having to utilize an app. Basically, as part of the privilege homeschool affords me to effectively curate my kids' entire learning experience, it was a relatively easy decision for me to not have learning apps play a role but, instead, to engage, as much as possible, with the real world and real books and real materials.
The one exception to this, however, is, every now and then, we will watch a super short educational video on YouTube (5-10 mins long) to supplement our learning but I've found that once I even allow that much, it's like candy and my kids immediately start asking for more and more so I really try to avoid it whenever possible.
What are your favorite websites/IG accounts for homeschooling?
When I first began homeschooling, I immediately started follow ALL the homeschooling and child education Instagram accounts. I quickly found, however, that seeing a million different ideas and resources and people's different days/schedules constantly in my feed only made me feel overwhelmed, anxious, and inadequate. It also made me feel like I had to do every single thing that everyone else was doing- all at the same time. I unfollowed all but my few favorites and quickly felt much better, lighter, and more confident in focusing on what we were doing. Here are my current favorite IG accounts and websites:
The Good and the Beautiful (we don't currently use the curriculum but I've heard great things and I'll probably look into it for Hero next year)
What are the hardest parts about homeschooling?
The kids. ;)
What are the best parts about homeschooling?
The kids. ;)
For me, homeschooingl is merely an extension of mothering so yes, just like motherhood, the kids are both the hardest and the greatest parts of it. Here are some thoughts I shared on IG that centers around what I love most about homeschool:
For whatever reason, before we began homeschooling, I always thought that the actual time spent doing homeschool would feel like a burden, like a chore to be completed before we could get on with the rest of our day. But honestly? Our school time is actually my most FAVORITE part of the day.
Now that I’ve learned what works well for Hero and we’ve established a good little rhythm, it’s SUCH a delight.
In just a few short months, I’ve been able to watch Hero get better and better at reading, develop a love for history and geography, create some amazing artworks, learn scripture stories through scripture study, explore math through games (last week, we practiced money counting with a pretend toy store), build different STEM activities, read some wonderful books together, master the art of banana bread, and, of course, lots of fun field trips and lots of imaginative play every day.
And what’s more- all this is SO much easier and doable than I ever thought it would be. Sure, we have our share of challenging days, but by far and away, this homeschool thing is buckets of wonder, joy, and peace and has already blessed our lives in huge, important ways.
Now that we've recently added Goldie (our preschooler) to our homeschooling, it's only brought more wonder, fun, and joy.
Another one of my favorite homeschool blessings has been simply freedom and TIME.
Time for Hero to learn how to help wash Shepard. Time for sisters playing and imagining together in the kitchen sink. Time for little relationships to grow and strengthen into something bigger than anyone expected.
I'm so afraid I'll ruin my kids!
You won't. I promise.
You're the very BEST parent/teacher for your children specifically.
I could never homeschool my child. We just butt heads too much already.
I totally get this. In fact, when Goldie decided 6 months into attending preschool outside of the home, that she was DONE and wanted to do homeschool preschool, I really, really struggled with that. Goldie and I have a complicated relationship at times and I was not emotionally prepared at all to have her be staying home with me and Hero all day, every day. I hate to even admit this but I even felt resentment towards her because Hero and I had just barely found a great homeschool rhythm and I was sure that adding Goldie to the mix would completely mess it all up and make things so much harder because of how difficult she can be for me to parent sometimes.
Guess what? I was totally and completely wrong. Including Goldie in our homeschooling has been the exact thing that we were missing- but didn't even know it. She has brought so much fun and play and laughter to our days. And, what's more, it's been the exact thing that me and Goldie's relationship needed- but didn't even know it.
Sometimes what we want most isn't at all what we need most.
And sometimes we don't get what we want but, instead, what we need.
What are some of your must-have favorite materials/supplies?
pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, notebooks, writing composition notebooks, construction paper, white "printer" paper, scissors, glue sticks, Elmer's glue, tape, stapler, folders, homemade play dough
I also really love the suggestions for minimalist supplies here.
For preschool supplies, I got lots of what was recommended here.
watercolors, tempura paint, paint brushes, watercolor paper, tissue paper squares, stickers, feathers, pom poms, and everything that this book says to get.
I followed this tutorial post on how to make a bunch of different sensory bins all from the Dollar Store.
What if my husband isn't on board?
This is something that I personally can't relate to because, luckily for me, Chas was not only 100% on board from the beginning but was often more in support of homeschooling that I was, especially at first. Having a supportive, understanding, and empathetic spouse has been so vital for me as I feel like homeschooling is more than just me and the kids only- it's a complete lifestyle choice for our entire family, my husband included.
I will say that I recently spoke with a friend of mine who recently began homeschooling. She told me how at first, her husband was totally against it. But then, 6 months in, she said that he's homeschool's biggest fan! He totally understands and hugely values it now that he's given it a chance and seen the benefits and goodness of it all.
I think for many of us, it's easy to reject/fear that which we don't understand. If you feel like your husband's hesitation is coming from a place of either misinformation or a lack of real, correct information about homeschooling, I'd suggest asking him to partner with you in exploring and learning more about homeschooling together. Encourage each other to practice being open minded and curious together before jumping to conclusions or making any hard and fast decisions. Do the research and have faith and trust that you'll both be able to work together to find the right path for your family specifically, whatever that path ends up looking like.
Aren't you worried your kids won't know how to deal with hard stuff like mean girls and tricky social situations?
I was severely bullied in middle school and high school for four years. I had zero real friends at school. That experience almost completely broke me and the poor choices I made in the aftermath of that (in various attempts to heal myself and find love and worth) nearly destroyed my entire life.
Some people say that those kinds of bullying experiences are necessary for building character, resilience, and personal strength. I actually don't agree with that at all. Yes, I came out on top eventually but the heavy cost in how that experience negatively affected my life was huge. In fact, nearly 20 years later, I still struggle with issues that stem from that time in my life.
I absolutely believe that if I hadn't experienced bullying, I'd still be as strong and resilient as I am now- if not more so. I'd be strong and brave and empathetic because that's who I am naturally, as a human. I don't credit being bullied with gifting me these qualities. No. Those were mine for the taking, from the day I came into this world, because I am and always will be a powerful woman, worthy of love and goodness and capable of so, so much- not because I went through what I did but in spite of it all.
I feel the exact same way about my children. I look at them and I see, so intimately, the glory and power and goodness within each of them. And I know that as I continue to love them with all that I am and all that I have every single day and show them, by example, how to learn from failure, work hard, be courageous, and always kind that they will continue to grow and strengthen that innate power within them more and more.
I don't need a bully or a group of mean girls to help me make my children strong. They're already amazingly strong and they have me, their mother, to help them become more so. I have no doubt that they will be able to stand toe to toe with whatever this life ends up throwing at them and meet their own, individual challenges in life with faith, strength, and self-worth.
Similarly, my kids are able to practice social kids daily with both each other and their peers outside the home as they navigate friendships, playing, and working together successfully.
Can I run a business/work and also homeschool?
I can't speak for anyone else's work schedule and business demands but, for me, I've found homeschooling and running a business to be completely doable simultaneously. Not the easiest thing in the world, but absolutely doable. But almost anything really worth doing is going to be hard, right?
We have also recently hired a nanny. She's currently only coming 4 hours per week but even that small amount is already making all the difference for my work productivity and just overall mental health and emotional self-care. Even if I wasn't homeschooling and/or running a business, I'd still want a nanny. It feels non-negotiable now and just a quality of life thing as a mama. (I also have friends who coordinate "nanny swaps" with other mamas as a free childcare alternative idea.)
What does a typical day/homeschool schedule look like for you?
We don't have a hard and fast set schedule and every day is a little different but, for the most part, I try to maintain a consistent and predictable rhythm. It usually looks something like this:
The girls wake up and have breakfast with Chas while I sleep in a bit. (THE best.)
Sister quiet play time while I clean up breakfast, (hopefully) take a shower, and feed Shepard.
The girls make their beds, get dressed, and brush their teeth.
We go downstairs to the school room and start our school day. (Usually between 9:30am and 10am)
School time until lunch at noon.
The rest of the afternoon is filled with more sister play time, ballet class and art class for Hero (both once a week), friend play dates (almost daily), errands, and nanny time (usually two hours for two afternoons a week). Afternoons is when I also do the bulk of family/home maintenance stuff like dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc.
Tea time at 3pm. (Unless they're with our nanny or choose to continue playing with friends.)
Play time until dinner.