People tend to be pretty interested in homeschooling when they hear that we do so.  I get asked a lot of questions.  I never mind the questions, because I asked lots of questions to others before we began.  Genuine curiosity is always fine (sometimes there’s some judgment, but whatever) and we’re always happy to share our experiences.

So what’s a typical day of homeschooling like?

Well, there’s no typical day.  That’s the thing with homeschooling… every day is different, even two days at home.  I can’t speak for all families, but I know for us, we have a blend of consistency and variety that keeps us going.  Some things stay the same- we try to start around the same time (although I don’t wake up my kids, unless we have somewhere to be. They’re not late sleepers).  Some things are done daily- math, vocab, a little history, reading, and practicing piano.  Then, we rotate through other tasks- science reading and experiments, spelling, geography, writing lessons and projects, foreign language studies, cooking, typing, chores, outdoor activities, crafts or art projects.  If I’m working on something more in-depth with my older daughter, my younger one will sit and read, create something with some craft supplies, play an elaborate game with the dog, set up a fort, or sing and dance around. There’s homemade GAK on the ceiling and glitter that’s permanently cemented to the table, and the dog has worn everything from underwear to dresses, but we’re always creating.  On nice days, we’ll sit on the deck or in the yard and work, and on cold days, we may cuddle up in bed or on the couch under blankets.  By mid-day, we’re often out for the afternoon, going to a co-op class with other homeschool families, science club, dance class, or a meetup at the park.  On other days, we go on field trips to museums, local businesses, or theater performances.

How do you have the patience?

Who says I have patience? Ha ha.  My answer is that the patience to homeschool is like a muscle… you don’t have it at first, but it develops over time.  I see homeschooling as an extension of parenting. There are great moments, good moments, and pretty crumby moments.  Sometimes things are going just right, and I marvel at how my children are thriving.  Other times, they’re fighting over who gets to sit on the yoga ball or who gets the green mechanical pencil, and I wonder if we’re doing the right thing.  Most days are better than not, and when something is not working, we look at what’s going on.  In my opinion, homeschooling is a gift.  It’s not something I have to do, and I expect my children to respect our time together. If they’re not willing to make it work, we don’t have to continue.  Knowing there’s a safety parachute if necessary makes those challenging moments bearable.

What do the kids learn?

Everything.  Traditional school subjects, plus whatever else they’d like.  Gardening, cooking, sewing, foreign language, dance, reading unit prices in the grocery store, how to make phone calls to businesses, tennis, about animals and nature, music, household chores, the US capitals, human sexuality, Brazilian money, government.  You name it, we’ve probably discussed it, read about it, watched a video about it, or learned from someone who knows more than we do.  We’ve toured a baseball stadium, veterinarian office, countless museums and historical sites,  and so many businesses in  the community.  When you homeschool, you get to learn a little bit about everything, and then a whole lot more when you find something you love.

Do you not want your kids around others?

Yes, I was really asked that.  Of course I do! In fact, since homeschooling, we’ve developed an even larger network of friends, joined more activities, and are home less than we were before.  My kids take dance classes, belong to Girl Scouts, have joined town sports teams, attend classes and field trips with other homeschool families, and are constantly out in the community interacting with children of all ages and adults.  Most homeschool families we know do so much other than just school—volunteering, playing sports, and traveling are just some of the possibilities.

Do you homeschool for religious reasons?

We do not, and I personally don’t know anyone that does.   I do know there are large chapters of Christian homeschool groups.  Everything we do is secular, which means there is no religious affiliation.

Are you going to homeschool until college?

I really don’t know.  Most homeschool families take it year by year.  At the end of each year, we consider what worked, what didn’t, if we’re satisfied with how things are going, and we want to do going forward. So far, my children have wanted to continue homeschooling at the end of each year, and I see them doing so many special things that I’m happy to comply.  If they or I think another schooling option would be more suited to their needs, we’ll consider it at any time.

Do you think you’re better/smarter than others, and too good for public school?

I was really asked this.  The answer is, obviously, no.  Homeschooling works for my family, but it isn’t for everyone.  I don’t look down at families who send their children to school, or think I’m smarter than teachers, or other moms who don’t homeschool.

Do you need a teaching degree to homeschool?

No, you do not.  You need to find out what your district requires, obtain materials to fit those subjects, and jump in.  There are lots of enrichment courses, tutors, and classes available whenever desired.  I have training in teaching since I’m a psychologist, and my husband is a teacher, but I know people who are doing an awesome job homeschooling and do not have higher degrees.

There’s lots to know about homeschooling, and I’ll keep sharing as we go along. Feel free to ask questions or share experiences (below) with our readers.  If you’re looking for fun ways to enhance summer learning, check out last week’s blog!