“We are homeschooling Gabe for kindergarten but we’re not the weird kind of homeschoolers,” I told our babysitter when I was interviewing her.
Homeschooling just sounds a little sad and lonely, right? At least to me. Like, the mental image I get when I hear the word “homeschooled”…isn’t positive. But here we are. Finishing our first real year of homeschooling (and last year we sorta homeschooled). Maybe I should call it independent learning or home-based education or something? (Or just get over myself.)
Why We Decided to Homeschool
I think the idea first got planted in my head when a coworker told me she and her siblings were homeschooled for elementary school so that they would learn to love learning. I had never heard that reason before – it kinda blew my mind.
The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Sitting at a desk learning with 20 other kids might not be the best way to learn for a young human. Sometimes kids start think they are “bad” at school or they get labelled as a “bad kid.” Or that school is boring.
I can’t really explain it, I just had a little tug in my heart or brain every time someone would talk about homeschooling. “Be quiet,” I told my heart/brain. “Homeschooling is soooo not for me.”
The little seed of this weird, so not me idea of homeschooling was watered.
Mike and I both chose to work in jobs that aren’t 40 hours a week in an office – we get to spend a lot of family time together. I want to go on trips. I want to be able to take my family to NYC the week before Christmas without having to tell my son’s school school or have anyone tell me that he’s missed too many days of school.
We also wanted to let Gabe learn how he wants and when he wants instead of being in a formal classroom setting for 7 hours a day – at least while he’s so young. Schools here don’t get out till June 22! That is late.
Progress at his speed
We’re able to tailor the content to wherever he’s at. He’s strong in math, so we can do curriculum above his “grade.” Things he struggles with, we can repeat till he gets them.
It doesn’t have to be a big deal
We aren’t going to do this forever. I’m not making a statement about The State of Education in America or pledging to keep Gabe out of a traditional classroom forever just by choosing to educate him at home this year (and next year).
I don’t think I’m better than anyone for doing this, it will probably/definitely change one day. It just happens to be what works for our particular family and our particular child.
Once I realized the stakes weren’t crazy high and that I didn’t need to worry what others think of my parenting decisions, I was willing to try. For a year at a time – probably a few years of elementary school.
How We Homeschool
Suuuuuuuper laid back
My overall strategy is to do every subject every day, then have Gabe in at least one class a week. He’s done a nature class, science class, art class, and swimming class. Mostly to get used to being in a classroom, having a teacher, working with kids stuff.
He’s 6. He’s in kindergarten. IT WILL BE FINE. (I tell myself that a lot.)
I just got these folders, numbered them, and put the stuff for each subject each day in a folder.
So right now, nearing the end of his kindergarten year, his folder look like this:
Folder 1 – Reading. Either a book or a reading comprehension sheet.
Folder 2- Math. We’re working on Singapore Math 1B and just do a lesson a day.
Folder 3- Phonics. Working through Phonics Pathways – he reads a page (like, learning the ea words have a long e sound) and then he practices writing words from dictation.
Folder 4- Geography. The daily geography worksheets are awesome and have a little lesson for each day.
Right now we don’t have a folder 5 since we’re winding down, but it usually includes science or character development or something.
Simple but he’s learned tons this year. We do his schooling while our toddler is napping.
Resources We Use
Reading & Writing
- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons – painless and taught him how to read
- Phonics Pathways – teaching him how to read more fluently and spell
- Explode the Code
- 100 Words to Know by 1st grade – so many fun activities! He loved this.
- Teach Your Monster to Read website
- Lots of reading aloud – especially love the Magic Treehouse books for some history
- early readers from the public library
- Handwriting without Tears
- Singapore Math (1st grade & kindergarten) (and base ten blocks) – Gabe LOVES this math curriculum. (And Christian Book has the best prices)
- Kumon Telling Time
- Kumon Counting Coins (and this play money)
- Magic School Bus Chemistry Lab – hands on science experiments with concepts of pH, base and acids, measuring liquids, chemical reactions, evaporation, fungus and decomposition, surface tension and more.
- Daily Geography Practice (This publisher had a ton of stuff on Zulily for like 50%! It was great)
- Field Trips- History museums, science museums, art museums, hydroelectric plant – I mean, I guess your whole life is a field trip when you’re homeschooled?
What I love about homeschooling
Our kids get to play together a LOT. I love that they get to be around each other so much.
All the “whys” above – flexibility to go to a museum on a Tuesday morning, enrolling in classes that interest him, etc.
I LOVE teaching Gabe. I LOVE getting to see him make connections. I LOVE seeing his progress and knowing exactly what his strengths and weaknesses are for every subject area. Perhaps this is the part of me that decided to major in elementary education reawakening?
What I don’t love about homeschooling
Worrying. Worrying others think I’m judging them or am dogmatic. Guilt I’m not participating in public education, which is so important. Worrying I’m making the wrong choice since it’s a different choice than most people around me are making. But I imagine no matter what we’d do for his education, we’d worry a bit. That just seems to be par for the parenthood course.
Frustrating days are frustrating. Working with your child when one or both of you is grumpy is HARD. That is all.
Pressure to do more. I guess this is part of worrying and kind of an internal problem? But I sometimes feel like I’m not doing it right, or doing enough. I actually had to stop following people on social media who act like things are perfect and that homeschooling their child is a magical journey of love and flowers. (I mean, I guess unfollow people on Instagram who are like that in general.) It’s a it’s-not-you-it’s-me situation.
Overall, we love doing Gabe’s education at home for now. We love the family togetherness, we love the flexibility, and we love how he gets to learn at his own pace and what interests him most.
I don’t think this is right for everyone! But several people have asked me to share about our experiences homeschooling – I know it can be helpful when you’re interested and not sure where to start.