Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Homeschool: Different Philosophies of Education

We are about to complete our second year of homeschooling.  We started after my daughter attended Kindergarten and cried  at times because she wanted to learn "hard stuff." Homeschooling allowed her to move at her own pace and accelerate those subjects she loved (for her its reading and math).  But our two years of homeschooling have been completely different, and I'd like to share to give hope to any new homeschooling families. First some frequently asked questions:

But doesn't she miss her friends? (Or, isn't important to be around other kids?)

Alex is in ballet, tap, Awana's, Sunday School, soccer, and weekly homeschool co-ops and field trips. She has play dates.  She sees her friends a lot! She also chooses which friends she wants to schedule playtime with, instead of being with the same kids all day who may or may not give her the kind of socialization we both want.

I think homeschooling would be too hard.  How would I know what to teach?

There are a gazillion different homeschooling options available.  From cyber schools where you work with a teacher, to curriculums such as Sonlight that include everything you need including detailed plans and explanations, to simply deciding on what your child should be learning and crafting your own curriculum (keeping in mind state laws and related state standards).

What if we don't like it?

You can always send your child back to school. Homeschooling isn't for everyone!  But we are glad we tried it the past two years.

Let's Talk Curriculum and my Experience in Homeschooling

Now let me discuss our experience in homeschooling.  My philosophy of education has changed while I've been teaching and I have homeschooling friends with various styles as well.  Some friends have a school room and a set school day.  Other friends don't want to have their homes be set up like a classroom and allow learning opportunities for their children all day.

I started out with Sonlight curriculum for our 1st grade.  We purchased Core B with Grade 2 readers and Singapore 1A and 1B math.  The boxes came with wonderful, beautiful, delicious books bursting full of scrumptious knowledge.  We were so excited to get started. Both my little girls loved it.  We loved reading on the couch, on the porch, at the beach, at Disney World, at our picnic table...get the point? I would absolutely recommend this program.

Around January or so, Alex got really interested in China.  So, we took a break from the curriculum (because we could) and she ventured into some deeper study about China.  Same thing happened at a later time about the Philippines. It was pretty cool that we could just stop and focus on what she loved. Jumping forward a year, her current interest is being an architect, so she is currently designing a home with a free online design program.  I love being able to nurture and feed her interests.

Okay, back to Sonlight.  Like I said, I would absolutely recommend this program.  However, the university-trained teacher and perfectionist in me wanted to do everything in the curriculum.  The material states repeatedly NOT to attempt this as its just not possible.  Sonlight wants to give you options.  I tried it anyway and constantly felt like I was behind. But I wasn't.  Why would I be behind?! If I could go back in time, I would have not attempted to do everything and just enjoyed the time and learning that was occurring.

Forward to Year 2: I had planned to school year-round, but I gave in to the "but all the other kids have off school" whining. Then I discovered what every teacher notices...regression.  Math that she had mastered in June was gone by September.  (We are scaling back, but still continuing this summer to avoid regression).  When school started in the fall, I decided to not purchase the next complete year of Sonlight right away. Instead, I did homeschool the "hard" way. Knowing my child's educational needs and strengths, I crafted our day based on what we wanted to learn. I purchased just a few books. We paused the math curriculum when she needed more time in multiplication facts and telling time. We read books that challenged her for "reading class" and other books for fun reading. (We are currently reading through the Narnia series together). Language Arts focused on parts of speech, journaling and various writing skills.  Imagine how my heart felt when she wrote and illustrated a book on her own for fun. For Mother's Day, she wrote her own poem. History we read more in our Sonlight books and are about to embark on a study of the 50 states. Science is whatever cool non-fiction books we find from the library and apply (like the poisonous black and white caterpillar that turned out to be just Japanese beetle larvae.) I also read through the standards for our state to make sure I'm not missing any areas that she might need should we send her back to school.  And for us this year, it works.

If we continue to homeschool next year, I'm pretty sure we would purchase another complete Sonlight core. Or maybe do something different when fall comes.

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is the ability to change things up and find out what works. Any questions? Leave them in the comments.

The children are making homes with thatched roofs like they were reading about in history.


  1. Do you think you will ever go back to homeschooling again?

  2. Hi! We are thrilled with their school, but I'm considering it slightly since I'll be home with baby next year!

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