How We Homeschool, Then and Now

Girl balancing books on her head, not how we homeschoolOver the years, I’ve bounced back and forth between homeschooling methods for my children. Except for our very first homeschooling year, I’ve tried to let the child help determine how we homeschool them.

How we homeschooled our first year…

Our very first homeschool year was a train wreck. I wanted so much to be a good teacher and teach my children everything that we burned out our very first year. I couldn’t wait to send my kids back to public school the following year even though I still secretly wished it had worked out for us.

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Homeschooling was so difficult! I made it SO HARD when it definitely did not have to be.

Well, my kids went back to public school and for the first few months, things went smoothly, no problems at all. Then, we had a big problem. My daughter was being bullied for her faith and not just by students.

I knew what I had to do…

First, I made a complaint to our county board of education. (Two days later, the teacher in question was removed from the classroom and subsequently fired.) Then, I immediately withdrew my daughter from public school, enrolled her in homeschool, and started making plans to give homeschooling another try with my other children as well. This experience was the confirmation I needed to try once more.

My daughters were older and in the 6th and 9th grades, and my son would be in the 1st grade when we started homeschooling again the next fall. This time I decided to use textbooks with the older girls, but in more of a workbook format. We used ACE Paces. I crave some type of structure and this satisfied my desire to teach my kids at home and actually feel like they were learning something I could physically grade and calculate. The older also took music lessons from some other homeschooled children.

My son and I decided on Five in a Row as his curriculum. He loved it and so did I.

For the most part, this next year wasn’t so bad. It was still challenging, but we survived and had some fun too.

How we homeschool now…

We’ve tried several different homeschooling methods since our first year. I’ve settled on being an eclectic homeschooler. Every year we try to incorporate some of the Charlotte Mason learning style, apologetic science, and lots of reading. Those are the only requirements I give myself while researching each year’s curriculum.

We mainly stick to the basics – language arts, math, science, and social studies or history – in some form. If the kids express interest in something, we learn about it too. We may even take something away to have room for whatever it is they want to learn.

We don’t overschedule…

I’ve found in the last few years, if I overschedule my kiddos, they don’t absorb as much. So, I just don’t do it! I try to keep lessons no longer than 30 minutes and have them do only the number of exercises needed to learn the skill. I also learned from our first failed year of homeschooling that overscheduling school subjects leads to burnout.

Overscheduling mom also leads to burnout! So, don’t overschedule yourself. I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s true. There are times when we are genuinely busy, but there are also times when things that can wait get rushed. As a homeschool mom, your husband, if you have one, and children are your first priority. Everything else must play second fiddle for your sanity. The best advice I can give you is to PRIORITIZE your life to avoid burnout.

What about groups and co-ops?

We don’t do co-ops, we never have. I learned early on by talking to others, that co-ops and groups seem to have drama involved.

I would like my kids to be involved with others their own age, and we do have homeschooling families in our church. So, maybe a small homeschool group involving our church will be in our future.

You can read more about what we do with our days in Our Imperfect Homeschool Routine.

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