Tuesday Talk: Ask A Home School Mom: {Q&A Part One}

Welcome to Tuesday Talk!
We are so glad that you are joining us this week. 
We would love to have you join the fun, link up and mingle around. 
This weeks post is one I have been working on for weeks now and it’s all about…
Your Questions On Home School

First off I want to say a huge thanks. You have asked questions on the blog, through emails and Instagram. I couldn’t have wrote this post without your help.

Secondly I want to say how weird it feels to be starting a little series on homeschooling. I never pictured myself here, but I’ll share more about that in just a minute. 

How did you decide you wanted to home school? 

Our story is proof that God is not lacking in the sense of humor department. 

 I have to be honest, I never had a desire to home school. I didn’t like home schooling. I thought it was weird, over protective and a way for “the home school moms” to make me feel like less of a parent because I opted for public education. I wanted to nothing to do with it.

We enrolled Marissa in private Pre-K when she was 4 hoping to get her ready for Kindergarten. Summer came and she was enrolled to start public school that fall, then with only a few months to go something changed. Something crazy and unexpected. I never saw it coming.

I began to feel God leading my heart to consider home schooling.

At first I was resistant but slowly I became more open to the idea. I talked to my husband about it and his heart was open to the idea as well. In the end we both felt it was the right direction for our family so we went for it.

Now I look back just so amazed at how perfect home school has been for us. I am overwhelmingly thankful that we were led that way and chose to listen even when it scared us. It certainly wasn’t ever a part of our plan. 

But isn’t God’s plan always better?

How did you get started?

I  am pretty sure I talked to everyone I knew that was currently home schooling, had been home schooled or knew a home schooling family. I also was able to do some research on the internet. I have learned over the years that there are lots of ways to get plugged into local homeschooling groups via Facebook. Many offer classes or seminars to families wanting to know more about homeschooling.

I connected to a local home school co-op pretty quickly. That has been a huge help and encouragement to me over the past two years. Having a good support system in place is needed when you have a rough day. Everyone needs someone who’s been there, can relate to your struggles and encourage you to keep on.

How early did you start teaching the girls?
What resources did you start with?

I am not the mom who starts teaching my kids at a super young age. To say that my kids are counting to 100, know all their ABC’s and are speaking Spanish at the age of 3 just isn’t my style. 

 In our home I take the no stress approach. If the child is interested in early learning sure, if not, okay. To say I carved out hours of teaching time when my girls were 2 & 3 years old would simply be a lie. I now have a 6 year old who just scored way beyond her grade level on her placement test. I am pretty sure my approach to education was no hindrance. However, I will add that we always have been huge advocates of reading books. 
To get started I am the no fuss, inexpensive advocate. I say hit up your local Target dollar bin and pick up some $1 workbooks and flash cards. You can also find TONS of resources and games online. This fall will be the first time Emily will have a more formal preschool routine and she is four. I still plan to keep it as inexpensive as possible. Personally I don’t feel the need to use formal curriculum before Kindergarten. 
But once again everyone is different and the most important thing is doing what works best for you, your schedule, budget and child. 

How much instruction do you actually give or are your kids more self motivated?

I think at this age quite a bit of instruction is still needed. I have noticed a huge difference between Kindergarten and First grade as reading skills have improved. Some subjects such as Math and Writing tend to be more independent. But others such as History, Science and Bible are taught and will continue to be that way for years.

I like that this keeps me very involved in the process. I know what she is learning, I learn with her and we can explore what we are studying together outside of the text books. 

What curriculum/books do you use?

Just like so many other areas of home school you have to figure out works best for you and your kids. It is perfectly fine to buy math curriculum from one place and science from another. I also learned that the easiest way to find what you want is to get your hands on the books. Curriculum shows are abundant, reviews online are great and I also really like talking to other parents about what they have tried. 

I am a HUGE fan of ‘Explode The Code’ phonics curriculum. I have really enjoyed ‘A Reason For Writing’ for penmanship practice. And we tend to be pretty Abeka heavy, using it for Math, Science, Health and History. But ask me again next year and I may sing a different song.

A few other lessons I have learned.
* You don’t have to use the same curriculum every year. You are free to mix things up, remember that.
*Buy used whenever possible, it will save you lots of money.
*Each kid is different be willing to adapt for each child.

How difficult is it to set time aside for school instead of planning your day however you want?

The struggle is real, but ultimately I have to make education a priority. Does that mean every day will turn out just the way I have it wrote down on paper? Of course not. But, for the most part we have a schedule and we try our best to keep it.

To find out more about our schedule come back next week for part 2. I am planning to do a “day in the life post” so you can see exactly what a typical day looks like for us.

Questions, comments, thoughts?

  • We are leaning toward private school if we can afford it! But if not I will for sure be home schooling. That's what I went to school for anyway!

  • I use to feel like I wanted to homeschool our kids but then feized I likely wouldn't be able to get them past 1st grade math skills. Ha! I still entertain the idea from time to time but don't have a definitive path on my heart just yet.thanks for sharing all this!

  • All the different home schooling schools of thoughts baffle me to no end. It is such a daunting task. I'm sure glad there are tons of resources out there.

  • Chelsea

    I give anyone all the credit in the world to homeschool! I don't think I could do it. My best friend is planning on doing it and it just seems sooo overwhelming. Luckily there are a lot of great resources!

  • Desiree @ Macke Monologues

    Serious props to home schooling mommas!
    I'm right there with you. I don't carve time out of our day specifically for learning, but I try to incorporate educational stuff all through our day (the tide pools are perfect for discovering sea creatures, the aquarium is great to talk about larger sea creatures, etc.). But books are always a must. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I have a questionโ€ฆ Do you plan to home school through graduation?
    And, I'm sure you've heard of Lakeshore Learning, but they have some AMAZING tools (text books, hands on activities, etc.) that are great!

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Beth! We're not exactly sure what we're going to do in regards to schooling. Our thought right now is private Pre-K (hey, you did that too!) and then see how that goes. I lean more towards homeschooling than my husband, but I want to be on the same page with our decision. Thank you for including some of your curriculum resources — I have them open on other tabs to check them out ๐Ÿ™‚ One hindrance for me is budget –where can you purchase used materials? … and another is that I was never homeschooled, so it is hard for me to picture — I would definitely be interested in a day-in-the-life realistic post! Thanks again!

  • Kassi M.

    So nice to hear someone's story on their decision to home school. We are nowhere near the school decision point yet, but it's good to learn a little on the way.

  • I love this series that you're doing. I don't know much about home schooling, so this will be great! I'm interested to see what your schedule looks like, and how many 'weeks' they're doing school things.

  • Ashleigh

    Thank you for sharing your story in homeschooling! This is a great series… I invite you to please come link up and share this, starting tonight at 6p! http://www.wrightsimply.com/search/label/Linky
    I know others will love it!
    Have a great day!! xx Ashleigh @simplyWright

  • We are just beginning to discuss if homeschooling is the direction we want go in for our 4 year old. Im a preschool teacher so I know "what" to do, but having been home on an extended maternity leave this year and trying to teach my daughter and care for a baby has proved tricky; to my dismay. Have you experienced any resistance from your daughters and if so, how did you power through? Thanks for the series I look forward to more!

  • It really is something that both parents have to be on board with. We meet with a home school co-op every Friday where the girls have classes and P.E. with other kids. The worry that home schoolers won't get socialized is one of the biggest myths out there. As long as the parents provide them with opportunities, they do just fine.

    You have PLENTY of time. I waited until the last possible second. Plus you just have to look at it as a year at a time decision. Just because you home school one year doesn't mean you have to the next.

  • Thanks friend. Glad your enjoying it!

  • Private school is INSANE here. Like even if I worked it still wouldn't cover it crazy. It is a great education if you can make it work though.

    P.S. You would be a rocking home school mom :).

  • Oh friend maybe I should make that part 4 of this series. I was TERRIFIED of teaching my kid. I'd never taught anyone to read, what the heck was I supposed to do. Some how it all just works out. I can't say that we don't have rough day, or that one or both of us have never cried. But, something is just so natural about teaching your child. Plus I am terrible at math and her math skills just tested at almost 4th grade level. I guess we can just learn Algebra together ;).

    You still have so much time, no worries.

  • It is a daunting task, right?! One that you certainly don't want to jack up either, lol.

    Resources are ABUNDANT and you really just have to take home school one year at a time. Baby steps.

  • Thanks girl. I thought I never could but here I am. Oh surprise, surprise :).

    So, so many great resources. You just have to find the ones that work for you.

  • Thanks Desiree.

    I'll cover that in a post later, but honestly I don't know. We really take this home school thing a year at a time. I certainly see us continuing on through all of elementary but who knows for sure.

    I have never heard of Lakeshore but you can bet I will be checking it out SOON!

  • Thank you so much. I love sharing my story with others. Especially seeing I can from a family that didn't home school and always swore I never would.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Thanks Jamie! I am so glad that I decided to write this series. I really hope it helps others learn a bit more about what home school is really like. Can't wait to share a day in our life next week. As for the yearly schedule we are just like a public school. We do 4, 9 week quarters.

  • Thanks for the invite I will be sure to check it out!

  • I did do that too :). It really is a decision that you both have to be on board with. I may be the teacher, but he is the principal ;). Budget is tricky. When buying materials I reminded myself of all the stuff I wouldn't be paying for at public school and that helped a bit. I have bought used stuff from SO many resources. Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist, off local facebook groups, Some local book stores sell used curriculum and then there are these crazy local curriculum sales too. It is out there. Sadly at Kindergarten age a lot of the books are "consumable" and have to be bought new. But I was still able to purchase everything for Kindergarten for under $100.

  • When we started homeschooling Emily was about 2.5. My biggest struggle was Marissa wanting to play with her sister and not do her school work. What worked for us was taking full advantage of nap time and doing school in small segments at a time. She was rewarded with play time in between getting her work done. Which helped her to not get frustrated and me to get breaks, a win win. Thankfully Kindergarten was so laid back that even with stretching our day out we had no problems completing our work. I think the biggest thing for me was just to make sure I was taking full advantage of the biggest perk that homeschooling offers, flexibility. If something wasn't working I had the freedom to change it.

  • Thanks for sharing all this! I am excited to see your DITL and how you guys fit everything in! I'm also headed over to your prek pinterest board. I really appreciate your approach to not forcing structured learning when they are young. Callie and I read a lot, play and all sorts of other things and I integrate learning when it fits. I appreciate the moms who do structured stuff it has just yet to work for us. Even though i'm starting callie in school at 3 it's not really because of this huge emphasis on structured learning. Callie's school in the fall calls themselves a nursery school not preschool and they are very montorssari based without that title. I like the flexibility they have and the kid interaction more than the learning per say. So much is learning at this age anyway! Great post and topic – can't wait to read more!

  • Love this idea!!!! So great to share your story and how God directed your path to homeschooling (same for me)…I had NO desire to homeschool, but God put the desire there.

  • Ashley

    Oh this was so helpful! I saw many of my questions up there and love your answers!! As a former teacher I have to agree with going at the pace of your learner, they are all different and what works for one doesn't necessarily mean it will work for the other.

  • It's always interesting reading about how families home school! Like you I'm pretty sure I don't want to home school, but the other day my hubby kind of brought it up. Homeschooling would mean I wouldn't be able to go back to teaching though, which would make me sad! Thanks for sharing Beth your experience thus far! Some questions I have… Do you plan on homeschooling through high school? Do you find you have to defend your choice to moms who send their kids to public (or private) school?

  • Ah that is so exciting and encouraging to hear! I always joke that it was like God calling Paul. I was quite the persecutor of homeschooling. Maybe I should change my name ;).

  • Yes there were! I had so many questions I tried to break them up into categories. Thanks for asking some good ones! I always think that teachers would make such great home school parents. It is so true, everyone is different. Doing things on a smaller level in a home I often have to remind myself of that. My girls are different, things just aren't going to be the same for them.

  • Thanks friend! I am so nervous about doing one of those posts, Thursday is the day though, wish me luck! I hope you find some good stuff. I am going to be all over Pinterest this summer working on lesson plans! Forcing structure where it isn't welcome usually results in tears for mama and the kiddo. Life is to short for that. I have definitely learned to pick my battles. Callie is going to have SO much fun at Pre-K this fall. I am so excited to hear about her adventures.

  • Yup I swore it off until months before. I felt like such a hypocrite when I decided to go for it, lol. Well technically you would go back to teaching… just in a different way ;). Hehe he! I always think that former teachers must make such wonderful home school mamas. You are so welcome. I am so glad this post has been helpful to others.

    I will probably touch on those later but…honestly I don't know. We really take this home school thing a year at a time. I certainly see us continuing on through all of elementary but who knows for sure.

    No. I think because of my position of where I was, never wanting to home school, I kind of balance out. I really take no stance about what I think is better and fully believe what works for us doesn't work for everyone. Public school doesn't work for everyone, neither does home school. I think having this laid back, whatever attitude relaxes people about the subject. It helps other to feel like I'm not judging them, so why should they judge me.

  • How do you not get soooo intimidated though? You know, with the subjects you feel you are terrible in as well?

  • I don't know. It just feels right I guess. I know that answer isn't a lot of help.

    Plus you have to consider where you start. Writing letters and Kindergarten math were pretty easy for me ;). The reading was a bit intimidating but it came very natural for her (thank God). Things are pretty well laid out in teacher books so it's pretty hard to mess up. I don't get intimidated until I think of Algebra and thankfully that is still a few years away. The rest of it has been easy and fun to learn with her. I learn new things all the time. I think one of the biggest myths about teaching is that you have to know everything about something to teach. I don't think that is true at all. A good teacher learns with their students.

  • Love reading this and hearing about your journey!! So awesome how you followed God on this!

  • You know I loved this post! Way to go keepin it real!

    Our schooling philosophies are pretty darn near identical to each others. Which is cool ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm excited to check out some of the curriculum links you shared!

  • Thanks Keri. It is shocking, scary and hard when God calls us to something we never wanted to do. But obedience in following Him through those time is so good. I am so thankful He softened my heart and we went for it.

  • Thanks friend.

    That is awesome. Yes indeed, take a look! If you have any questions about any K stuff don't hesitate to ask. I am not sure I know exactly what I am doing, but we survived two years with great test results so I can't be doing to bad right?

  • Thank you for sharing all your tips and tricks! I don't think I'll be home-schooling (but you never know) but I definitely do want to do pre-k curriculum at home.

  • You are so welcome! Good call adding the, you never know part. Hehe! I really need to learn to stop saying that I won't do something.

  • Thanks for sharing this with me. It makes SO much sense friend. I have seen examples of what public education can look like and I am just not interested either. I have no doubt in my mind that she is doing far better being at home right now. Best of luck to you in your search. It is so awesome to hear a parent willing to do whatever they need to give their child the best start possible. If you ever need anything, I'll be around :).

  • I love that there are so many different options open to us as parents nowadays for teaching. Our family felt like a public school wasn't working for us anymore and I was about to commit to homeschooling when a divinely inspired path opened for us at a wonderful charter school. I love hearing your tips, because so many of them can be used for enrichment activities at home and even breaks and summer!

  • Elizabeth

    I'm not sure if you plan to address this in future posts but I would be interested to know either what Emily does when you are teaching Marissa (like if you're not actually teaching her yet since she's younger) or how you keep the subjects age appropriate. Like you probably wouldn't teach Marissa and Emily the same topics at the same time, right?

  • This is very interesting. I work in the public schools and more and more families are opting to homeschool. We are losing teachers because they are opting to homeschool rather than stay in public schools. I must be honest, I think about it every single week. I feel like I need to research more. I have a child that thrives being around her peers and is extremely independent. I can see where home school wouldn't be a good choice but then again with the fact she is beyond her grade level and not getting anything very challenging I see it being a great choice. I look forward to reading more in this series. Thank you! Blessings.

  • I understand your comment so well!!!!!

  • Me to Jen! I have never head of a charter school. Now you have me all kinds of curious about what they are. I guess I will consult google on that here in a second ;). YES! It is so true how many home school tips can be applied during breaks and summer. We take summers off, but we don't take summers off. If you know what I mean :).

  • I will make sure that I address that. A lot of people have been asking so I'll squeeze that into my next Q & A.

    They do learn a lot of the same subjects at once. Not really because I am wanting Emily to learn about some of it right now, but she wants to be with us, so why not! It is amazing to see how much she retains.

  • Thanks Jess! I am so excited that people are really enjoying this series. I expected it to go over well, but not this well :).

    I will make sure I squeeze that in on my next Q & A post. You are not the only one asking!

  • It is crazy isn't it?! I know many teaching families that are pursuing the home school route. Actually, almost every teacher I know home schools their kids or their husband is a teacher and the wife home schools. Clearly it is very obvious that the flaws of public education are very clear to those involved in it and their hands are tied so they make the best choice they can.

    My favorite part about home school is keeping my child challenged when needed and being able to draw back when things get hard too. She sets the standard and I love that.

    Socialization is a huge sacrifice. But being involved in Awana, church, and a home school co-op classes have been great outlets for Marissa. She has never complained about feeling isolated. It just takes a bit more work on the parents part to make sure those interactions are being made.

    Thanks for reading along!

  • It's great! Homeschooling sounds so intimidating so it's great to have posts like this from seasoned moms! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I know that a lot of kids are successful in public school (me!), but I'm so nervous to do a trial and possible error! :X Thank you so much; I definitely think I'd move mountains for this kid to learn and grow successfully without any huge hitches.

  • Thank you! It's such a mind-boggling situation haha.

  • Meghan Flinn

    I totally agree that learning things at a young age should be done in a fun and organic way. I have found Noah learns the most through reading, puzzles, art, and educational tv shows (gasp!), when he isn’t even aware he’s learning! One of the major reasons I sent him to a nursery school/play based preschool rather than one that boasts curriculum.

    • Yes! Love that so much. Being tuned in to how your kid learns and feeding that is awesome. I have really noticed it more as my girls have gotten older. Marissa is definitely a visual learner.